Fuelishness! -- The FuelClinic.com Blog

Fuelishness! Feed: Gas Prices Up Despite Glut of Oil; EcoMode for Ford Focus; UCR Eco-Driving Study Started; Instant Feedback Important for Eco-Driving; “Grey Fleet” Eco-Driving Off-set Reduced Mileage Allowance; Auto Insurance Costs $84,000

Here’s a quick fill-up:

  • Retail gas prices rise in spite of supply glut and reduced Middle East tensions — Retail gasoline prices have continued to rise in California and around the rest of the U.S., in spite of falling oil prices, mounting optimism about Middle East unrest, and U.S. fuel supplies so plentiful that their like has not been seen in 17 years.
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  • All-New Ford Focus Features EcoMode to Help Drivers Perfect Eco-Driving Techniques — “The foot of the driver has one of the biggest impacts on real-world fuel economy of a vehicle and was the starting point for the development of EcoMode,” said Thomas Schick, an engineer with the Ford of Germany Core Vehicle Integration team who helped design the software. “This is a useful tool that creates awareness between personal behavior and fuel consumption and offers up hints on how to improve. Applying those hints and recommendations is all up to the driver.”
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  • UCR study focuses on ‘eco-driving’ — The UCR Engineering Center for Environmental Research & Technology, along with researchers from UC Berkeley and UC Davis, are conducting the study with Earthrise Technology Inc. to determine what driving behaviors lead to the least fuel consumption.
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  • Using Instant Feedback for “Eco-Driving” — Eco-driving technology and behaviors can be implemented immediately, with little cost and investment in transportation infrastructure, supporters of the technology say. It’s also a simple way of reducing transportation-related carbon emissions. The final report is expected to be published in the spring of 2012.
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  • Fleet Hero grey fleet management award — Paul Jackson, managing director of The Miles Consultancy, says there are side-benefits for staff in smarter driving courses…Jackson says fuel consumption and emissions can be cut by nearly a quarter when drivers use eco-driving techniques of reading the road farther ahead, cutting out aggressive braking and slowing at roundabouts, rather than stopping, if the road is clear.
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  • Study: Average lifetime car insurance costs estimated at $84,000 — Insurance.com based its analysis on quotes from drivers who first purchased insurance at age 21, married at 27, briefly insured two teens and stopped driving at age 75. The average premium includes drivers with all types of claims, accidents and other driving histories.


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



Set These Road Rules With Your Teen Driver Today

Every year nearly 5,000 young drivers are killed in automobile accidents in the US, and a staggering 300,000 more are injured or maimed. Car accidents account for nearly 40% of the total number of deaths for teens ages 15 to 19, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

With summer starting, it’s a great time to set or reinforce some basic safety skills and guidelines for your teen driver:

Source: Ford Driving Skills for Life

School is almost out, summer will soon be here, and teens have a license to drive. Unfortunately, with the arrival of summer comes riskier teen driving behavior. No school means more time for cruising, piling lots of friends into Mom’s car, and later nights.

Parents! Talk to your teen about summer driving and set some rules. Here are a few to get you started.

  • Buckle up! – Remind your teenager again and again how important that single little click can be. Statistics show that seat belt usage is lowest among teenagers, even though seat belts continue to be proven as the No. 1 life-saving device in accidents.
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  • Don’t drink and drive – You may assume your teen knows this, but it’s worth a sit-down talk. Make sure your teen knows the dangers of driving under the influence – or getting into a vehicle with someone who’s been drinking.
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  • No text zone – Remind your teen driver to avoid distractions such as texting, loud music and any activities that take their eyes away from the road for extended periods of time.
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  • Passenger Limit – Always set a limit on the number of passengers allowed in the car.
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  • Set a curfew – Make sure your teens know when you expect them home, and make sure they know it’s not debatable.

Parent-Teen Driving Contracts

Consider creating a Parent-Teen Driving Contract with your teen drivers. Parent-Teen Driving Contracts help establish your expectations with your teen driver, where driving privledges are dependant on safe driving behaviors you designate as important to your family. Research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (PDF) indicates that parents are the key to enforcing good driving behavior in young drivers.

Parents are big influencers of their kids’ behavior. The more involved they are, the less likely kids are to engage in all types of risky activities associated with the teen years.

The Success of Graduated Drivers’ Licensing Laws

Graduated Drivers’ Licensing (GDL) is becoming law in many states. GDL’s generally restricts nighttime, expressway, and unsupervised driving during initial stages, but lifts these restrictions with time and further testing of the individual, eventually concluding with the individual attaining a full drivers’ license. In states where GDL’s are required, accident fatalities for teen drivers has dropped by up to 30%. Even if you do not live in a state with a current GDL law, you can create your own Parent-Teen Driving Contract based on the same principles that make GDL’s successful.

It’s important to talk to your teen about the rules of the road, to clearly set your expectations of them, and outline the consequences of failing to meet your expectations.



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.



Motorweek Uses CarChip to Measure Benefits of Eco-Driving Behaviors

The CarChip Pro was previously reviewed here on Fuelishness!

Since then we’ve been selling CarChip Pros to eco-conscious motorists, cautious parents of young drivers, commercial fleet operators looking to reduce risk, and even some government agencies exploring technologies to help reduce green house gas (GHG) emissions.

Each of our customers had one thing in common – all were looking for an inexpensive and versatile piece of hardware that can provide valuable insight into driving behavior.   (You can read all about it and order one here, and if you are a FuelClinic member you’ll enjoy a generous $20 discount per unit. See details on the order form)

Recently found by a friend of FuelClinic – a segment of Motorweek that covers the benefits of fuel efficient driving (eco-driving) and they too are using a CarChip (older version) to compare results of two very different driving styles:

This clip from Motorweek proves there’s no absolute need to change your car if you want to save $$ and get better mileage. Simply altering how you drive can make an impact… in some people’s case, a significant one.



Configuring CarChip Pro for Hybrid Vehicles

I had a chance to test-drive the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid over the weekend. I connected one of our CarChip Pro data loggers to it to gather real-time data on speed, throttle position, engine load, and mass air flow. Unfortunately the CarChip Pro was not working properly with the Hybrid vehicle, and a quick inquiry to Davis Instruments revealed why, it needed to be configured specifically for a hybrid – or “Anomalous Vehicle” (something I was not aware of).

Here are the instructions for configuring a CarChip Pro for both the Toyota Prius, and the Ford Fusion Hybrid…

In the past we had issues with hybrids in general. However, we put a fix into the software that should allow the CarChip to work with Hybrids.

Below are directions on how to get the CC to work on hybrids. These were written for a Toyota, but it is the same for Ford, other than clicking on the Ford Hybrid option.

Because the Prius [and 2010Ford Fusion Hybrid] is a hybrid vehicle we must take special steps to configure the CarChip.

Open up the CarChip software with the CarChip device connected to the PC.

Go to the CarChip menu and choose “Set Anomalous Vehicle”. See Figure 1.


Following that select “Specific Exceptions”, then “Toyota Hybrid” then click “OK”. See Figure 2.

I’ll re-configure the CarChip Pro and test again the next time I get the chance. I’d like to hear from any existing CarChip Pro users who are using the device with a Hybrid. What has your experience been?



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

One of the most interesting things about “eco-driving” is that you can actually measure your progress and see the results of your efforts. FuelClinic allows you to track your overall MPG and related metrics over time, but it takes at least two receipts in order to establish your baseline, and then many more receipts over time to see if your mileage is improving or not. This is great because it’s simple, low-tech, and maybe best of all – it’s free.

But what if you wanted to dig deeper into your driving habits, to see exactly how you are driving vs. how you think you are driving. Maybe you need a little bit of help remembering to drive efficiently, some “virtual eco-driving coaching” along the way. Maybe you wanted to be able to “check in” on your inexperienced teenage driver to see that he or she is driving safely, or check to determine if your employees are doing what they can to drive efficiently and lower your fuel costs.

What is required is an interactive data-logger. There are several gadgets on the market, or soon-to-be released to the market. We’ve spent the last several months evaluating many of these devices for integration with our certified eco-driving training course using the reporting capabilities of FuelClinic, and have found several that seem very promising.

One of our top criteria is that the device not become a distraction to the driver, that it didn’t require the driver take his/her eyes off the road to look at a display or other indicators. Instead we looked for devices that gave simple auditory cues to remind the driver when his/her driving behavior exceeded pre-defined thresholds, and one that allowed the user or fleet manager to determine for themselves what “Eco-Driving Profile” to attempt to achieve.

I believe one in particular hits a sweet spot between cost, capability, ease of use, and integration potential. It’s called the CarChip Pro (and CarChip Fleet Pro for commercial use) manufactured in the USA by Davis Instruments. We’ve been testing several of the units for over a month now and have been getting feedback from professional driving school and fleet owners. Response was very positive, so I have decided to start selling these devices on the website.

CarChip-Pro-8226-Clamshell

CarChip Pro is a portable device that requires no extra wires or batteries (a USB cable is all that is needed to download the data to your computer), is installed in just a few seconds into the OBDII port that is standard on most cars since 1996, and can be moved from vehicle to vehicle easily. I’m working on a new section for FuelClinic that will provide all of the details about CarChip Pro, along with guidence on how to set-up an “Eco-Driving Profile” using the software provided with the unit.

I’m really excited about the CarChip Pro – Davis Instruments has been making the CarChip line of data loggers for nearly a decade, they are small, reliable, and have already been installed in tens of thousands of vehicles. The CarChip Pro is also one of the least expensive interactive data loggers on the market – with no monthly cellular fees or required contracts, making it attractive to parents, consumers, driving school owners, and small business fleet owners (there is also a commercial Fleet version with additional capabilities including a WIFI wireless data-download option and GPS data logging).

Stay tuned for more information about the CarChip Pro and how you can order yours (with a special discount) here at FuelClinic.



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