Fuelishness! -- The FuelClinic.com Blog

Fuelishness! Feed: $700B Gains from Energy Efficiency; Bio-Engineering Algea; Cash for Clunkers FAIL; Cellphone Use as Deadly as Drunk Driving; Merits of a Gasoline-Diesel ‘Cocktail’



Case Study: John’s Jetta

A few weeks ago Kathy called me and told me she needed a “case study” to add to the new press kit she was developing  – something that illustrated the benefits of using FuelClinic.com from a member’s perspective.

I went to the database and back to my feedback emails, and found a few members who were obviously using the system regularly, were interested enough to communicate with me about the site and ideas or problems they had, and might possibly want to participate in a case study. I sent a few requests, received a few responses, including one from John Guercio.

From logs and emails I knew John had been using the system a long time, and when I asked him if he’d be interested in talking with Kathy he said “sure”. While I knew he was a “regular”, and I had assumed he was benefiting from using the site, I didn’t have any idea how he had been using the system – pushing it to it’s limits, and saving himself thousands of dollars.

Here’s how it starts:

John was used to receiving an occasional $2,000 expense check for his mileage. But when his company put him on a strict $750 a month expense plan, John knew it was time to take control of his MPGs and start paying better attention to the pain he would soon being feeling at the pump.

To do this, he turned to FuelClinic.com, the Web’s premiere online fuel efficiency tracking and driver improvement resource. His main interest was in tracking his Jetta’s miles per gallon for work-related trips to determine whether or not the new stipend was helping him make money, or causing him to lose it.

Find out how well it worked out for John, how he was able to track his expenses, improve his fuel mileage, decide NOT to get that new car he was looking at, and saved thousands of dollars in taxes last year.

Read the rest of it online, or download the PDF version.

If you are interested in participating in future case studies, please send a note to me at feedback@fuelclinic.com – we are currently looking to create a case study detailing how a small business w/ a small fleet of vehicles has used FuelClinic.com in some way to save money, improve mileage, or track consumption.

Thanks John! Thanks Kathy!



Announcing “Eco-Driver On Board”

I’ve been working on the FuelClinic idea now for a few years. When talking to people about FuelClinic, I’ve found that many times I’ve put people into the “glazed eyes” trance when trying to explain what FuelClinic is, what is can do for them today, and what it will be in the near future. 

In an effort to explain our idea, to motivate new drivers, and to reduce the glazed-eyed stares – we’ve created a new animation to help explain what FuelClinic “for consumers” is all about. 

 

Learn more about eco-driving and how you can take control of your oil habit. Use FuelClinic.com to help monitor and manage your own oil consumption, find proven methods for improving your own efficiency in the car you already own, and join the thousands of people who have decided to do more with less. Save money, reduce foreign oil dependence, cut emissions – and improve the safety of yourself and the other drivers on the road.

While FuelClinic is quickly growing into something much bigger than it’s roots, we will always endeavor to provide consumers with the information, tools, and suggestions they need to monitor and improve their fuel efficiency while improving their personal safety, and the safety of those traveling the roads around them.



What to do about a most Inconvenient Double Hockeystick Graph?

June 19, 2009 · Filed Under Eco-Driving, Oil Industry, Reducing Emissions, Saving Money · 1 Comment 

I write a lot about the price of oil because it is the single most important indicator of coming hardship and suffering for those of us surviving on the thinnest margins. Those of us who are “scraping by” and have to go without other things in life to put gas in the tank, or work hard at a job that barely pays enough to justify the drive in each day, or those small business owners who are fighting to keep their dream alive – their employees working – and their deliveries and service calls on time.

I maintain that hyper-inflated fuel prices contributed to and certainly compounded last year’s global economic collapse. Yes, there were (are!) deep systemic problems with toxic mortgages being traded by Freddie, Fannie, and the rest – and the system had been failing (with warnings) for some time.

But the promise of oil prices skyrocketing at a dizzying speed well into the foreseeable future pushed the teetering economy off the cliff. Citizens and businesses didn’t know how they would survive in a world of $5/gal, $6/gal or $10/gal gasoline. We didn’t know how to plan for our future, so we did the only thing that made sense – we stopped spending money – on everything – including houses and cars.

It took a global economic meltdown to stop oil from reaching $5/gal, $6/gal or $10/gal in the US.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the oil-price hockey stick with a hook. Today I’ve updated the chart to include the last few months where oil continues to climb again at a dizzying pace.

 500px-brent_spot_monthly_june09

So, what are you going to do about it?

I promise you it really is possible for you to spend 10% to 25% less for gas – while driving the same distances you normally do, without buying anything to add to your gas or bolt in to your engine, and without become a road hazard or nuisance to others around you.

The “trick” is to adopt some very practical and efficient eco-driving habits – and leave inefficient aggressive driving habits behind. You are leaving up to 25% of your gas money “on the table” when you drive aggressively, in a rush, competing to get to the next stop light, only to arrive at your destination in about the same amount of time.

You bought that gas with  money you’ve already paid taxes on, and being thrifty with your after-tax money is akin to giving yourself a “virtual” pay raise roughly equal to the money you saved plus your tax bracket (around +33%). Saving gas money is even more satisfying, because those virtual pay raises are paid by the oil companies.

How much of a pay raise do you want to give yourself today?



$3-per-gallon Gas a New “Pain Threshold” for Car Buyers

June 16, 2009 · Filed Under Automotive Industry, Eco-Driving, Saving Money · 1 Comment 

Orlando Business Journal

Americans are less optimistic today than they were earlier in the year about gas prices going down, according to a new survey by Kelley Blue Book.

Eighty-seven percent of new car shoppers last month said they think gas prices will go much higher, up from 66 percent in April.

The prospect of higher gas prices also is having an impact on purchasing decisions.

When asked what they would be most likely to compromise in their next new-vehicle purchase, shoppers cited engine size as the top item likely to be sacrificed, followed closely by vehicle size.

In addition, 73 percent of those who saw gas prices increasing in May said they plan to change their spending habits if gas prices were to go much higher.

“While we may not see the $5-per-gallon gas experienced in some areas last year, current economic conditions compounded by the pain at the pump may make $3-per-gallon gas a new threshold for car buyers – the point at which they change their mind about what vehicle to buy and how they spend their money,” said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book and KBB.com, in a news release.



Five Ways to Save Gas Money Every Day

FuelCinic.com is more than just a website where you can track your fuel mileage – we’re starting a program to help educate drivers on how they can start saving money right away – using techniques that have been developed over the last several years. Some people call these techniques “thrifty driving” or “hypermiling” – but they are more commonly known as “eco-driving”.

Here are the 5 “golden” rules of eco-driving:

  1. Shift up as soon as possible
    Shift up between 2,000 and 2,500 RPM. If your vehicle has a powerful engine, many times you can shift up as low as 1,800 RPM. Up-shifting early maximizes your engines mechanical advantage and improves fuel mileage. Experiment with this technique in an area without traffic to learn how your particular car handles during early up-shifting. (Note: With a manual transmission, up-shifting much too early can cause stalling.)  
  2. Maintain a steady speed
    Use the highest gear possible and drive with low engine RPM. Avoid accellerating in cases where you’ll have to rapidly brake, such as stop-lights or stop-and-go traffic congestion. If you have an automatic transmission with an economy mode, make sure you use it. Avoid using “sport” mode.
  3. Anticipate traffic flow
    Look ahead as far as possible and anticipate the surrounding traffic patterns. Slow early if the cars ahead of you are braking or stopping. Allow tailgaters and aggressive drivers to pass you safely. 
  4. Maintain rolling momentum
    When you have to slow down or to stop, decelerate smoothly by releasing the accelerator in time, leaving the car in gear.  Many times a red light will turn green before you must stop completely. By maintaining some rolling momentum you will decrease the amount of fuel needed to accelerate back to the posted speed limit.
  5. Smooth is efficient
    If you follow rules 1 thru 4 you are well on your way to being a “smooth operator”. If you adopt these simple techniques, and combine them with an overall stress-free smooth driving style, you can slash your fuel consumption by 25% or more (some tests reflect 31% average). Discover what works for you. Leave a little sooner for appointments, let aggressive drivers pass, chill out with commercial-free music (iPod, satellite, CDs).  

Getting involved with your fuel efficiency is the key to making real improvements to your fuel mileage. Chances are that you can achieve near-hybrid MPG performance in the vehicle you already own. Tracking you MPG in real-time using an on-board instrument will show you exactly what works and what doesn’t. Tracking your mileage over time will help you understand the long-term benefits of fuel savings.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be bringing you additional information that will help you save gas money.



Fuelishness! Feed: Oil firms above $60; Venezuela builds oil rig with China; The end of the gas guzzler; Will transform US auto fleet; Safety could suffer

  • Oil firms above $60 – Oil prices have been on an upward trend since mid-April on equity-led rallies. They have recovered from below $33 in December after a plunge from record highs above $147 in July.
     
  • Venezuela set to build first oil rig with China – China buys 300,000 barrels of Venezuelan crude every day, and is eager for more from the Latin American country as part of its global quest for a diverse range of energy supplies.
     
  • The end of the great American gas guzzler – President Barack Obama will unveil new fuel efficiency standards today in an effort to limit the release of greenhouse gases by cars and trucks. 
     
  • Obama’s new rules will transform US auto fleet – The new rules would bring new cars and trucks sold in the United States to an average of 35.5 miles per gallon, about 10 mpg more than today’s standards. Passenger cars will be required to get 39 mpg, light trucks 30 mpg.
     
  • Safety could suffer if we boost mileage by making cars smaller – The National Academy of Sciences, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Congressional Budget Office and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have separately concluded in multiple studies dating back about 20 years that fuel-economy standards force automakers to build more small cars, which has led to thousands more deaths in crashes annually. 


“Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry” Fails CAFE Standards

The was a minor kerfuffle last week as one blogger did the math and determined that the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry would fail CAFE fuel economy standards…

The vehicles owned by the Obama administration’s auto team were released in a list today by The Detroit News. While Detroit is focusing on the fact that the “Big Three” are underrepresented amongst the auto-owners on the federal task force, I just did some back-of-the-envelope math and made a shocking discovery…The federal task force fails CAFE standards.

I’d like to mention that both the CAFE and EPA ratings have very little to do with _actual_ fuel mileage (fleet or personal), and can be exceeded in nearly any car by anyone taking the initiative to practice simple “eco-driving” techniques.

Obama’s task force could track their actual fuel mileage using their existing cars on a website like FuelClinic [www.fuelclinic.com] and use the eco-driving techniques to show the nation the easily repeatable efficiency improvements _anyone_ can make – and it wouldn’t cost a dime.



When do consumers really go green?

Check out this recent Pew Research Center poll data: 

Economy, Jobs Trump All Other Policy Priorities In 2009 
http://people-press.org/report/485/economy-top-policy-priority 

“Going green” must be economical in order to be widely embraced. We need to be able to be greener and save money at the same time. “Green” must also mean jobs, economic recovery, and strength – not “going without”. 

The poll indicates “global warming” is losing ground in the public’s attention span. Judging by the Pew poll, and my own little poll at FuelClinic, it’s simply not a strong motivator right now – it’s in dead last place. 

I suggest that any persuasive new argument/marketing approach regarding developing “green” initiatives should not be based solely around global warming (or it’s new name “climate change”). 

Instead a strong argument would focus on immediate and mid-term cost-savings, creation of jobs, benefit to national economy, and improvements to energy security. The long-term payoff being plentiful clean energy for the future and improving the environment. 

But, it all boils down to money. In the end, the tipping point is the same as always – the wallet. It must be cheaper.



POLL: What’s more important to you: Saving Money on Fuel, Reducing Carbon Emissions, or Cutting Foreign Oil Dependence?

There’s a new poll on the homepage of FuelClinic.com – half-way down on the left, asking users and visitors what’s more important to them – saving money on fuel, reducing foreign oil dependence, or reducing carbon emissions and pollution…

>> http://www.fuelclinic.com <<

The results so far are very interesting. Visit and have your vote.



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