Fuelishness! -- The FuelClinic.com Blog

A study on perceived usefulness of eco-driving assistant systems in Europe

The ecodriver-project.eu study “A study on perceived usefulness of eco-driving assistant systems in Europe” released this week show there is a great deal of interest in eco-driving, good deal of belief that the benefits are real, but no interest in paying for this kind of technology/service.

While this has been our experience with a consumer-based product (like our FuelClinic), there is considerably more interest from fleets interested in incorporating similar programs into their larger operations, since the cost saving benefits are multiplied well above what your average motorist would see (in addition to the safety and collision reduction side-effects of conservative eco-driving).

So what’s the most effective way to change the behavior of motoring public at little or no cost? How about a piece of duct tape over the fuel gauge?

 



The US Military Going Green, Again Leading By Example…

Green isn’t just for camouflage any more. The US military recognizes the need to become more efficient, less dependent, and more sustainable.

From a green economy perspective, this legislation could not be more important. The military’s huge demand for energy translates into enormous market pull. By creating a market for biofuels and green technology, the military can spur further research and drive down the price of clean energy to levels that would be competitive with traditional energy sources. According to analysis presented at a congressional briefing on the Defense Department’s Deployment of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, section 526 sends positive signals to the green energy sector by reassuring clean energy producers that their investments will be met with steady demand from the DoD. Such stability is critical for any burgeoning industry.

Read the rest at the Epoch Times.



Examining the effects of an eco-driving system on driver distraction

April 11, 2011 · Filed Under Distracted Driving, Eco-Driving, Science, Technology · 1 Comment 

Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane Australia is seeking participants for a study on potential effects of an eco-driving system on driver dsitraction.

One of the possible causes of driver distraction is in-vehicle driver assistant systems such as eco-driving systems. Eco-driving systems send messages to drivers so that driving performance can be improved in terms of fuel efficiency.

The purpose of this research is to better understand driver distraction caused by in-vehicle systems, in particular, eco-driving systems. This project may ultimately assist in decreasing the number of road fatalities.

The driving component of the study will be conducted in the CARRS-Q Advanced Driving Simulator.

One of the key aspects of the FuelClinic Methodology for eco-driving (using CarChip) is that a simple audible feedback tone is used to remind the driver of previously trained behavior without requiring them to look at a display. There are many gadgets with visual feedback that one can assume might prove to be a distraction for drivers, and this study may help establish if this is in fact true or not.



Changing Your Driving Style Can Save You $400 per year – or more

March 13, 2011 · Filed Under Eco-Driving, FuelClinic, LinkedIn, Technology, Twitter · Comment 

Source: Discovery News

“When people get instantaneous feedback, they can say: ‘Oh, look how bad my mileage was,” said Matthew Barth of the University of California, Riverside. They can also see the driving changes that bring improvements in their mileage.

The continuous feedback is important. When people just get advice on driving in ways that save fuel — like avoiding quick starts or slowing down on the highway — they tend to fall back into less efficient driving habits. “The problem with the static advice is it doesn’t really stick,” Barth said.

The mileage feedback encourages more gradual starts and stops and slower highway speeds.

With eco-driving, “you become a less aggressive driver,” said Jack Barkenbus of Vanderbilt University. “It encourages you to get your foot off the pedal a little bit more. You’ll find that on the interstates, going slower really makes a difference.”

Barkenbus said that a 10 percent decrease in fuel usage — and therefore in driving-related CO2 emissions — is a realistic possibility. If one-third of Americans did this, he estimated in a paper published last year, it would save the equivalent of taking almost 6 million cars of the road, or eliminating seven large coal-fired power plants. Those who dropped their usage by 10 percent would save around $200 to $400 per year.

Read the rest



Fiat eco-driving trial cuts emissions by 6%

Source: TheENDSReport

A five-month ‘eco-driving’ trial involving 5,700 drivers achieved an average fuel saving of 6%, Fiat reported in November.

The most improved tenth of drivers in the trial, covering five EU nations including the UK, reduced fuel use by 16% on average.

Drivers were given a USB ‘memory stick’ which plugged into cars to record data on acceleration, gear changes, average speed and deceleration. Data was then analysed by Fiat’s ecoDrive software on home computers and tailored advice given on how to improve driving to cut fuel consumption and emissions.

The UK’s Committee on Climate Change and the now-abolished Commission for Integrated Transport have advocated eco-driving as one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce transport CO2 emissions.

Our own eco-driving results are not too far off – with an average 5.03% improvement from our 3,500+ members of FuelClinic.com, as measured over the last two years.

Motorists who also use the FuelClinic-Configured Car-Chip as an in-vehicle eco-driving coach see even better results. When properly configured to warn drivers of inefficient driving like excessive acceleration, inefficient top-speed, and aggressive driving, the device provides important immediate reminders about driving behavior to drivers.

Immediate in-car feedback is important to maximize returns on eco-driving training and programs, but must be done in a manner that is not distracting to the driver. Simple audible feedback is the form of “warning beeps” reminds the driver that their current action is “missing the mark” set for their eco-driving goals.

The full FIAT Eco:Drive Report is available for download. It is an excellent study, and I have been studying it for a few days now. I will add it to our “Research Library” shortly. In the mean time, you can download it from FIAT.



Car or computer? How transport is becoming more connected

Source: BBC News

Italian carmaker Fiat has been compiling data from the Blue&Me navigation systems installed on many of its cars over a six-month period.

It may be the largest such data harvest done by a major carmaker.

“We can extract a number of data – on how the pedals are used, petrol consumption, braking,” says Candido Peterlini, vice-president for product development at Fiat.

It developed eco:Drive from the data collected from 420,000 car journeys of 5,700 drivers in five countries.

Cars with this function allow the driver to download data about their journeys to a USB stick, which they can plug into their home computer.

It will tell them how to improve their driving – for example, by changing gears less.

Mr Peterlini says the plan is to make this response instant soon, via the on-board computer – so that a driver gets told how to improve their driving while they are cruising through town – and then integrate it into live traffic maps.

“The plan is to tell you the most eco way to drive, by changing your behaviour, taking in traffic conditions and the structure of the road” such as how steep it is, Mr Peterlini says.

Read the rest here



Video Report on Google Car That Drives Itself in Traffic

Here’s a video peak at some of the hardware and software systems at work inside the Google Prius that has been driving itself around San Fransisco traffic over the past few months.



Seminole Voice: FuelClinic and CarChip Pro help create smarter, safer, fuel efficient drivers.

A very nice article yesterday in the local Seminole Voice paper regarding FuelClinic and the use of the CarChip Pro to monitor and improve driver behavior.

Daniel White’s truck is its own back seat driver. When he jabs the gas too harshly or brakes too abruptly, it tells him to take it easy. Now he says he’s a better, more efficient driver, all because of a little box that watches how he drives, then beeps when he’s driving too aggressively.

“It’s a nagging beep that teaches me to be a better driver; I call it my paradigm shift,” White said. “To me it’s just one of those ah-ha (moments); I get better gas mileage just by driving better?”

White is speaking about the CarChip Pro, a new Zippo lighter-size device that plugs into his truck’s on-board diagnostic port to record information about that way he drives, directly from the truck’s ECM computer.

The device can be set to a certain speed, and alerts drivers when the speed is reached, as well when they are accelerating too quickly or braking too harshly. The chip helps drivers become aware of their driving habits and trains them to become better drivers, while saving money on fuel, and decreasing carbon emissions.

Click over to read the rest.



Fuelishness! Feed: Ford’s Focus on Eco-Driving; Pentagon’s Algae Fuel Research; Oil over $80; Lithium Supply for 1M Hybrids; ‘Stuck With Cars’ Discussion

  • Ford’s new Focus on eco driving — It’s about being careful and not wasteful, both when it comes to the way a car runs and, indeed, how it is built in the first place and here Ford is reducing its carbon footprint with a range of sustainability initiatives.
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  • Pentagon Researcher Promises Cheap Biofuel for Jets — Pentagon officials have been talking for years about weaning their jets off of fossil fuels. Now they say they’re only months away from producing a cheap fuel made from algae — for less than $3 a gallon.
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  • Oil above $80 as traders eye low interest rates — Oil prices rose above $80 a barrel Monday in Asia, extending a three-week rally as investors expect the U.S. central bank to keep interest rates near zero to help fuel economic growth, which would boost crude consumption.
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  • Energy for Electric Vehicles Dealt a Blow by Bolivian Lithium Production — Unfortunately for those who are expecting electric cars to spring out of the woodwork in the next few years (remembering that the President’s plan calls for 1 million plug-in hybrids by 2015) Mitsubishi estimates that the world will need 500,000 tons per year at full ramp up. The Salar di Uyuni deposit in Bolivia holds at least 9 million tons, although the country has, in total, perhaps as much as 73 million tons.
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  • Stuck With Cars — Every weekday, tens of millions of Americans get into vehicles that are full of passenger space which won’t be used, with engines capable of horsepower and speeds that won’t be attained, holding fuel tanks that could power the car for distances that won’t be traveled. The result of all this over-engineering is that cars cost way more than a vehicle for daily commuting need cost, and they consume way more energy than a vehicle for daily commuting need consume.


Test-drive: 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid – Examiner.com Car of the Year

A few weeks ago I took a 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid for a test drive, at the invitation of Michael Block at the Orlando Examiner. He’s been gaining momentum as a car critic over the past year or so, with some thoughtful insights and interesting ideas about modern automobiles, alternative engineering, and fuel efficiency. Give his site a visit.

I found the Fusion Hybrid to be very easy to be comfortable with. The only problem I found was also mentioned by Block – the lack of “toe room” over the pedals – thanks to the “knee airbag”. I think if I was wearing work boots or other “heavy” shoes, it would have been even more annoying.

Instead of re-writing, let me urge you to read Block’s excellent review.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Fusion Hybrid is, as Ford calls it, “the most fuel-efficient midsize sedan in America.” Up against other hybrid family sedan offerings, such as the Toyota Camry Hybrid, Nissan Altima Hybrid, and Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid, it does indeed come out on top with its city rating of 41mpg and highway rating of 36mpg. Observed fuel economy was 35.2mpg, not quite matching the EPA estimates. But considering that most subcompact hatchbacks which are substantially smaller, lighter, and less powerful struggle to achieve the same figures, it’s quite commendable nonetheless.



Dublin City Council is asking all drivers to reduce their carbon footprint by three per cent.

January 21, 2010 · Filed Under Community, Eco-Driving, Reducing Emissions, Technology · Comment 

About the Eco-Friendly Driving Campaign

Dublin City Council, in partnership with Codema, Dublin’s sustainable energy agency, is asking all drivers to reduce their carbon footprint by three per cent. This eco-friendly driving campaign is part of the MINUS 3% project, which aims to reduce Dublin City Council’s energy use by 33 per cent by 2020.

Dublin City Council has more than 900 vehicles on the streets of Dublin every day. Nearly all of these vehicles are diesel engines that are serviced regularly to keep them in tip-top condition. While all of these vehicles are needed to do the work of the Council, they create a lot of carbon emissions. However, good driving habits that incorporate smooth and safe driving techniques help to reduce these emissions while also delivering benefits in terms of road safety and savings in fuel consumption.

With the help of our professional drivers, adopting more eco-friendly driving habits will save 280 tonnes of carbon dioxide. This is the equivalent to 74,000 litres of fuel or €90,000, based on current fuel prices.

Dublin City Council is also running Occupational Driving Training Courses for all our drivers which include the principles of eco-friendly driving. This part of the course passes on tips to our drivers as to how to use their vehicles as efficiently as possible and we know that we can depend on our drivers to achieve the target of a 3 per cent reduction in our carbon footprint. You may also have noticed the eco-driving posters in your depots to further reinforce the messages of this campaign.

I’ve encouraged the Dublin City Council to utilize our free FuelClinic.com software presently available online to help them measure the success with this program.



“Drive like there’s a glass of water on your dashboard”

January 11, 2010 · Filed Under Fuelishness!, Technology, Video · 2 Comments 

“Drive like there’s a glass of water on your dashboard” is one of the visualizations supposed to help drivers moderate jack-rabbit starts, wild turns, and sudden stops.

Engineers in Japan have responded:

Surely a fun demo of an interesting stabilizer system using an accelerometer to determine g-forces on the car/glass of water, apparent built on an open-source hardware framework called Arduino I have been looking at lately for a project of my own.

Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It’s intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments.

I’ll keep you posted.



87 mpg while driving a Ford Focus – But you still can’t buy one in the U.S.

Source: Independent.ie

PUTTING economy driving into practise was the aim of a group of drivers who took part in a Wexford to Dublin charity challenge. The Charity Eco-Drive Challenge was won by a driver who achieved a fuel economy figure of 87 mpg while driving a Ford Focus 1.6 TDCi Style.

Organised in December by Ger Boland and Enda Newport from Ford dealer Boland’s of Ferrybank, Wexford, the Charity Eco-Drive Challenge saw six drivers tasked with driving from Wexford to Dublin (Stillorgan Park Hotel) and back to Wexford using as little fuel as possible.

Each driver’s fuel consumption was analysed and from the six drivers, Michael Forde of Curracloe, Co Wexford, came out on top with the most economic result of 87 mpg for the round trip. Among the six participants, the range of fuel consumption figures achieved went from Michael’s 87 mpg to 64 mpg.

To ensure fair play, each of the six participants drove the same route in identical Focus 1.6 TDCi models of the same age and similar mileage. The winning driver was given the option of nominating a charity to receive a donation of €1,000. Michael nominated the Wexford Women’s Refuge to receive an early Christmas present.

Speaking about his strategy for the challenge, Michael Forde said: “I wasn’t too concerned about maintaining a steady speed, the secret to eco-driving is engine revs.

“So long as I could keep the engine revs in the range of approximately 1500 to 1800, I knew that I would end up with a very respectable fuel consumption figure.”

Michael also highlighted tyre pressure as being another important element: “Most motorists don’t realise it but incorrect pressure settings mean more fuel used.”

The Ford Focus 1.6 TDCi Style with alloy wheels, air conditioning, fog lights and Bluetooth, is available for around €21,750.

Once again a modern factory-built diesel-powered automobile has achieved astonishing fuel efficiency numbers in a driving competition. This isn’t futuristic technology that is “just around the corner” or “not yet cost effective”, these are current versions of diesel-powered cars that roll off of assembly lines in other parts of the world every day – and are affordable to ordinary people.

So, why are we in the US not yet able to buy these ultra-efficient little diesel-powered cars (Ford Focus ECOnic, Mini-D) that are “old news” in other parts of the world (as of 2007 about 50% of new cars sold in Europe have diesel engines) and then choose to run them on modern bio-diesel fuels that are slowly coming to market?

Embracing modern diesel engine technology also avoids the chicken-and-egg problem that other alternative fuels suffer from… US-based drivers can fuel their zippy and efficient little diesel-powered cars and light trucks, easily getting better than 60 MPG every day on petroleum-based diesel, then get even “greener” when the bio-varieties gain investment and availability (thanks to the greater number of vehicles on the road that can consume their products).

Or you can brew your own bio-diesel – or buy from a local bio-diesel producer – more on that later…

AS an aside, Rudolph Diesel, the man who invented the engine design that still bears his name “was also a well-respected thermal engineer and a social theorist. Diesel’s inventions have three points in common: they relate to heat transfer by natural physical processes or laws; they involve markedly creative mechanical design; and they were initially motivated by the inventor’s concept of sociological needs. Rudolf Diesel originally conceived the diesel engine to enable independent craftsmen and artisans to compete with industry.”

Diesel was a brilliant inventor and understood exactly how competitive his engine would become, but did he realize that the industries his engine would “threaten” a hundred years later would be the oil industry and the tax man?



Get a CarChip Pro at eBay Auction

You may have noticed we are now selling a great eco-driving device called CarChip Pro, manufactured by Davis Instruments in California, at a great discount via the FuelClinic website.

You’ll be reading more here in the near future about the CarChip Pro and how it can be used for several things related to Safer, Smarter, Fuel Efficient Driving – including using it with a particular set of Driving Profiles as a real-time eco-driving feedback device that will not distract the driver.

The other day I placed one brand-new CarChip Pro on auction at eBay, giving you a chance to bid on a brand-new CarChip Pro.

I’m trying to come up with a monthly contest idea, where the winner is awarded a CarChip Pro… any suggestions on what kind of contest would be interesting?

Related: Introducing CarChip Pro w/ Eco-Driving Profile to FuelClinic Users



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