Seven year ago (seven?!) when I started writing this blog, I would have never believed that a chart like this would be possible:
For 25 straight months, the state’s oil production rate has increased by more than 25 percent year-over-year, notes economist Mark J. Perry, a professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Management.
“Output in America’s No. 1 oil-producing state — Texas — continues its phenomenal, meteoric rise,” Perry wrote on his Carpe Diem blog. “That production surge has to be one of the most significant increases in oil output ever recorded in the U.S. over such a short period of time.”
It’s hard to say if this output can be sustained for any amount of time, or if it’s a last gasp effort to recover the oil left on the table to profit from the current high price per barrel. This oil renaissance has been happening around us for a few years now, and frankly, I never understood how big it was until today, when I saw this graph. I haven’t been writing about fuel for a while, instead concentrating on driver related safety, but this has my attention again in an unexpected way.
What do you think – is this an “oil bubble”? (Related: Is the word “bubble” being used too often to describe just about everything? Are we just living in a “bubble”, and didn’t know it?)
While Eco-Drive Chicago offers a variety of environmental benefits for the City of Chicago, perhaps the most compelling reason to adopt the program is based in economics. Recent studies have shown that eco-driving practices can lead to a sustained improvement in fuel efficiency of 25%, with short-term improvements reaching as high as 50%. Given that the fuel budget for the City of Chicago’s Department of Fleet and Facility Management is $25.7 million, fuel efficiency improvements of a more modest 15% would amount to $3.86 million dollars in fuel savings annually (if all fleet vehicles drivers were trained). These savings could increase dramatically if the price of fuel rises in the years to come.
While point estimates are not yet available, eco-driving training may also result in reductions in fleet maintenance costs, insurance premiums, and accident liability deductibles, as well the recapture of otherwise productive work time that is now spent refueling vehicles. On the whole, Eco-Drive Chicago: Saving Millions, Reducing Emissions 2 implementing eco-driving training programs will result in significant and sustainable net fiscal savings for the City of Chicago.
Ford unveiled it’s new crossover, which will be available in 100 markets – but not the US.
Autoblog — Ford has unveiled the production version of its EcoSport crossover at the 2012 Beijing Motor Show. The small five-door utility should offer buyers plenty of functionality in a compact and efficient package thanks to a range of drivetrain configurations including a 1.0-liter, three-cylinder Ecoboost engine. The small-displacement engine is good for 118 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque, which should be more than enough to move the little machine around. All told, Ford says the EcoSport will see duty in over 100 world markets, though the CUV isn’t expected to show up in our neck of the woods.
Here are all the PR details:
An SUV for the Urban World – Ford Reveals Fuel-Efficient, All-new Ford EcoSport in China
Created for the urban environment, the all-new Ford EcoSport offers contemporary design, smart technologies and a high driving position – all in a compact, agile, fuel-efficient shape
Powered by an array of powertrains, including an all-new 1.0-litre, three-cylinder EcoBoost™ engine, the aerodynamically honed Ford EcoSport is designed to be a benchmark in fuel economy while giving customers the performance feel of a larger engine
Packed with aspirational appeal, craftsmanship and sophistication – including the Ford SYNC driver connect system with voice control – the all-new EcoSport offers a compelling alternative to the small car in big cities
BEIJING, April 22, 2012 – Ford today revealed the production version of the all-new Ford EcoSport and announced plans to build the compact, fuel-efficient urban SUV in China, in addition to India, Thailand and South America.
EcoSport’s global debut at the 2012 Auto China in Beijing means customers in China will soon be able to choose an aspirational sports utility vehicle alternative to a small car. The Ford EcoSport offers a confident stance, a high driving position and robust character on top of the agility, manoeuvrability and fuel efficiency that comes with a compact footprint. It’s the perfect combination for the city – ready for work and ready for play.
Within a contemporary design aerodynamically honed for fuel economy, the EcoSport is full of smart technologies, features and craftsmanship that offer customers more than they would expect in this segment.
With a number of powertrain solutions, including Ford’s newest, most advanced engine the 1.0-litre EcoBoost™, EcoSport is designed to be a benchmark in fuel efficiency. It also offers the Ford SYNC driver connect system with voice control and many other innovative features in a spacious and comfortable interior with new levels of craftsmanship as well as outstanding quietness and refinement.
“The Ford EcoSport reflects our commitment to serve our Ford customers in China and around the world with the cars, utilities and trucks they want and value,” said Joe Hinrichs, president, Ford Asia Pacific and Africa. “EcoSport delivers outstanding quality, great fuel efficiency with the 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine, superior safety and really smart design with SYNC.”
The production reveal of EcoSport follows rapidly after the vehicle’s global preview in January at the Delhi Auto Expo as well as in Brazil, where Ford EcoSport was developed by a global Ford development team. In addition to production in Chongqing, the EcoSport will be manufactured in Camaçari, Brazil, Rayong, Thailand, and Chennai, India, and will be offered in nearly 100 markets globally.
EcoSport joins Ford’s family of small global vehicles, which will reach an annual production capacity of 2 million units by 2015.
“The all-new EcoSport is designed and engineered specifically for customers in global growth markets using Ford’s global SUV engineering expertise and reflecting our commitments for quality, leading fuel economy, safety and smart technology,” said Raj Nair, group vice president, Global Product Development. “We’re delivering innovative products like this to drive our global growth.”
Ford is showcasing its top-of-the-line model, the EcoSport Titanium, on stage in Beijing, painted in distinctive Mars Red. A similar model is being revealed today in Salvador, Brazil, as EcoSport’s global launch momentum builds.
EcoSport Titanium has 16-inch aluminium alloy wheels and a chrome grille.
Inside, EcoSport offers a stylish, modern and well-equipped interior delivering new standards of craftsmanship and quality. The cabin – spacious for five people and their gear – has been engineered to deliver outstanding levels of comfort and quiet operation for customers.
In addition to Ford SYNC with voice control, among EcoSport’s available innovative technologies are Smart Keyless Entry, Ford Power Start, and a cooled bin in the glovebox.
EcoSport offers advanced safety items, such as dual front airbags and side curtain airbags, as well as Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS) and Electronic Stability Program.
To take the stress out of driving, the EcoSport comes with an array of driver-assist features including Hill Launch Assist and rear parking sensors.
Its agile, manoeuvrable chassis features electric power-assisted steering (EPAS) for outstanding steering response and improved fuel efficiency.
Beautiful, agile, modern
The new EcoSport is an affordable compact SUV that is ready for work and ready for play.
It targets benchmark performance in fuel economy, driveability and performance to redefine expectations in the compact SUV segment.
The new Ford SUV’s main characteristics were defined by consumers in all of the regions in which it will be sold. The design and flexible use are part of the new vehicle’s differentiated plan, which besides the agility and practicality for urban use, offers power and robustness for more adverse terrain.
The elevated stance and purposeful posture give the new EcoSport the appearance of a higher class vehicle. Its agile and contemporary lines convey confidence, refinement and an adventurous spirit, within a modern and smart package. All this contributes to EcoSport’s aspirational appeal.
“The new EcoSport is full of personality,” said J Mays, group vice president, Design, and chief creative officer, Ford Motor Company. “Customers around the world immediately recognise its capability and SUV robustness that is achieved with aggressiveness. It is friendly and it’s a vehicle that really makes you smile.”
Powering growth in China
Reinforcing Ford’s commitment to offer a full portfolio of vehicles in China, the all-new Ford EcoSport will be the second of 15 new vehicles that Ford plans to introduce in the country by 2015. This is part of a bigger plan to bring more than 50 new vehicles and powertrains to the Asia Pacific and Africa region by mid-decade, underscoring the unprecedented expansion in the region.
“With its superior fuel efficiency and a comprehensive suite of smart technologies, the EcoSport is well-placed to power Ford into a new segment not only in China but also in other growth markets in Asia,” said Hinrichs.
Ford’s aggressive expansion plan in China is being supported by several new investments to increase production capacity.
It was announced earlier this month that Ford and its joint venture Changan Ford Mazda Automobile (CFMA) will invest approximately USD 600 million to expand capacity in Chongqing by 350,000 passenger vehicles, raising total capacity in China to 950,000 units by 2014. The new investment will increase Ford’s total investment in China to approximately USD 4.1 billion.
CFMA already operates two assembly plants and an engine plant in Chongqing. Additional facilities – a USD 500 million engine plant and a USD 350 million transmission plant – are currently under construction.
We’re very happy today to get referenced in a Yahoo Finance post about the winners and losers in the run up on gas prices:
The efficiency complex. When push comes to shove, Americans are really good at figuring out how to do more with less, and how to get more for their money — and then turning those ideas into businesses. When oil soars, websites such as Gasbuddy.com, which points users to cheap gas in the area, experience a surge in traffic. And firms like Propelit, whose software enables trucking fleet managers to monitor the driving habits of employees (and provide incentives for them to drive more efficiently), or FuelClinic.com, which coaches consumers on ways to drive more efficiently, find that their sales pitches go over much better.
We are in the “winners” camp, apparently members of the “efficiency complex”… I’m not sure I renewed membership this year, what with the fuel prices driving up my transportation costs and all.
None the less, very happy to be of service, coaching consumers on ways to drive more efficiently.
What to expect over the next few months… rising food prices that will lag behind fuel prices by a month or two, as most of our food is transported more than 1,500 miles from farm to your local market. Super-commuters will be hit hard, as just getting to work will become more and more expensive.
Will we hit $6.00 per gallon as some predict… what do you think?
The Heritage Foundation points out that hammering the American consumer with high gas prices to make electric and hybrid cars more appealing is consistent with Obama administration policy and Chu’s philosophy. That explains the refusal to allow the building of the Keystone XL pipeline and to allow drilling in wide areas of the U.S. and offshore areas.
The consequences of the policy are not likely to be of benefit to the Obama administration. The Republican National Committee has already issued a video highlighting the spike in gas prices and the failure of the administration to address the issue.
From Automotive Fleet:
WASHINGTON – Ford announced it plans to more than triple its production levels of vehicles equipped with its EcoBoost engines. In addition, the company is expanding the number of vehicle models available with EcoBoost engines, from seven in 2011 to a total of 11 in 2012. The automaker added that by the end of 2012, nine Ford models will get an EPA-certified 40 mpg highway…
Eco-driving study from University of Michigan confirms results of similar studies from around the world
The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) study on eco-driving found that vehicle maintenance, driver training, and route selection can reduce a vehicles fuel efficiency up to 45%. (Download the study as a pdf.)
Business Fleet magazine brings the news to the thousands of business fleet managers in the January/February 2012 issue (pages 20, 21) which includes this chart showing the sample scenario where a 36 mpg vehicle may end up delivering less than 20 mpg if every factor considered in the study is included.
While earlier studies from around the world have previously come to similar conclusions, these studies were usually focused on finding inexpensive ways of meeting Kyoto Protocol targets, of which the United States is not a signatory to. (As of December 2011, Canada has opted out of Kyoto as well.)
The fact that American institutions are now conducting and publishing studies on the various positive effects of eco-driving… and that the concepts are working their way into the business fleet management lexicon… is a very positive development in my opinion, and well past due.
So what’s been taking so long, and why are we finally accepting it? Tell me what you think in the comments.
Source: Automotive Fleet
Overall, gasoline demand was reported at a little more than 8 million barrels per day, which AAA said is a 400,000-barrel-per-day year-over-year decline and at the lowest level since 2003, according to a recent U.S. Department of Energy report.
Despite ample supply and low demand for gasoline, though, the national average for gas prices is still up 10 cents over the previous week, with impending refinery shutdowns and high crude oil prices pushing prices up, according to AAA. The national retail average price for a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline was $3.38 on Jan. 17, a penny more expensive than one week ago, 15 cents more expensive than one month ago, and 28 cents more expensive than a year ago.
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.
Originally Posted at FleetBlogs
With the recent announcement from FedEx that they are considering implementing eco-driving training and indicators into their fleet management systems, the world leader in overnight delivery once again leads fleet operators in setting best business practices that improve operational efficiency and safety.
Already known for running a very tight business, FedEx found itself eco-driving earlier this year in Japan after the combination tsunami and nucular disasters disrupted fuel supplies across Japan. If FedEx Japan wanted to continue to make deliveries, they needed to squeeze every kilometer they could from every liter of fuel they had. Given the circumstances, FedEx says eco-driving had become an “operational imperative”.
For Japan, Eco-Driving was not just about a contribution to the environment – it was a necessity. How the couriers used the 5 tips when it counted helped us to be there for our customers who were depending on us more than ever for critical shipments.
FedEx driver Zhang Jingwei (pictured) wrote about his ongoing efforts using eco-driving methods taught by a specially trained instructor from Isuzu. Both Ford and Isuzu have been leading the fleet eco-driving research globally over the past 10 years.
By modifying traditional driving methods according to expert theory, fuel consumption could be significantly reduced by up to 25%. The expert also explained that the reduction of fuel consumption reduced carbon emissions, which helps the environment.
Earlier fleet eco-driving studies done both in Japan and around the globe – geared mostly at reducing greenhouse gas emissions – have indicated that modest changes to driving behavior can reap substantial and tangible rewards in improved fuel mileage, using existing equipment and standard sourced fuel.
At a minimum it seemed any fleet could save from 5% up to 25% or more from their fuel consumption – or in the case of FedEx – get deliveries to those who needed them – by training their drivers to use “eco-driving” techniques. Most studies indicate a 10% improvement is easily achieved, with improvements of 25% or more not uncommon. As a side benefit – the most fuel efficient drivers are also some of the safest drivers, according to one trucking company study of their own internal operations.
A recent announcement from University of California, Riverside of the first large-scale scientific study into eco-driving in the US – funded with help from the Department of Energy to the tune of 1.2 million dollars – will likely confirm the findings of previous studies conducted in Europe, Asia, and around the world.
When logistics giant FedEx considers implementing innovative efficiency techniques, the business community takes notice. Eco-driving techniques aren’t new, or somehow unique, but when applied consistantly across fleets of any size the affect on the bottom line can be substantial. Programs can be developed in-house for almost no cost, or can be outsourced to providers who can quickly get your entire fleet trained.
Last month BrightFleet.com, an industry leader in online risk assessment and mitigating driver training, announced the availability of a fleet focused computer based eco-driver training program that allows fleets of any size to quickly roll out comprehensive eco-driving training to their entire fleet.
“Eco-driving” may have had a slow uptake so far in the US – where we enjoy a relatively inexpensive and plentiful fuel supply, but with the uncertain economy and unpredictable natural disasters that can quickly interrupt fuel supplies regionally or nationally – time may finally be right for these simple and cost-effective methods to become part of the smarter standard business practices that will be adopted by innovate fleet operators for years to come.
Source: Smart Blog
While American cities are synchronizing green lights to improve traffic flow and offering apps to help drivers find parking, many European cities are doing the opposite: creating environments openly hostile to cars. The methods vary, but the mission is clear — to make car use expensive and just plain miserable enough to tilt drivers toward more environmentally friendly modes of transportation.
Cities including Vienna to Munich and Copenhagen have closed vast swaths of streets to car traffic. Barcelona and Paris have had car lanes eroded by popular bike-sharing programs. Drivers in London and Stockholm pay hefty congestion charges just for entering the heart of the city. And over the past two years, dozens of German cities have joined a national network of “environmental zones” where only cars with low carbon dioxide emissions may enter.
Likeminded cities welcome new shopping malls and apartment buildings but severely restrict the allowable number of parking spaces. On-street parking is vanishing. In recent years, even former car capitals like Munich have evolved into “walkers’ paradises,” said Lee Schipper, a senior research engineer at Stanford University who specializes in sustainable transportation.
Read the full article at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/27/science/earth/27traffic.html
Have you ever been driving along without a care in the world, then you glance down at the fuel gauge and notice that the needle is below the empty mark? You’ve forgotten to fill-up, and you are not sure how much gas is left in the tank… you know where the next gas station is, but it’s not very close…
You lift your foot off the gas pedal a little, slow to a more gingerly pace, coast up to stop lights just hoping that it will turn green before you have to stop, then you slowly accelerate trying to get every last quarter-mile from those last few quarts of gas sloshing around at the bottom of your tank.
Congratulations! You just became an instant eco-driver, no special training required.
But you don’t have to be motivated by the anxiety of being stranded at the side of the road in order to improve your fuel mileage considerably, and as often as you wanted to. The same “techniques” that you instinctively understood would help you with a near-empty fuel tank can also help you go much further on every gallon of gasoline you buy.
Here are the top five techniques that are proven to work on every vehicle.
- Accelerate Gradually – You don’t need to hold up traffic or drive like you left your coffee on the roof. Just accelerate more gradually than normal. Be the slowest off the line, and relax knowing that you are going to get to the next stoplight in about the same amount of time as everyone else.
- Leave Your Aggression Curbside – We’ve all done this. You are in a rush, you didn’t leave early enough to give yourself enough time to account for traffic, and traffic has been slow. You are tailgating the knucklehead in front of you hoping that he’ll move out of your way. The first chance you get you dart over to the fast lane and “make up time” with a little extra lead in your foot. You may think you’re making time, but studies show that drivers who time lights and traffic patterns arrive at their destinations sooner than drivers who drive aggressively. Relax, leave a few minutes early, stop jockeying for “position” with the cars around you, and you’ll find you arrive on time, in a better mood, and with more gas left in the tank.
- Avoid Stopping – Don’t try to tell Officer Friendly that you were saving gas by rolling through stop signs, they can’t be avoided. But the proper timing of lights and traffic patterns like smoothly merging into traffic can go a long way to helping you maintain your momentum. Any amount of momentum you can keep means less work needed to re-accelerate. Avoiding having to start from a total stop will save fuel every time. This takes a little bit of practice to get right, but with a little effort you’ll be negotiating traffic like a pro.
- Loose the Need For Speed – It’s simple physics. The drag on your vehicle increases with speed. The more drag, the more work your engine needs to do to maintain or increase that speed. Work = Fuel. Sure your speedometer on your car goes all the way up to 150 MPH, and the traffic on most major highways zips along above the posted speed limit, but neither is an excuse for not slowing things down a bit if you want to save money on fuel. Stay out of the way of all those filthy rich people who have money to burn, move over to the slow lane, and enjoy the warm feeling of giving “big oil” the bird as you continue to drive to your destination – on your terms.
- No Excessive Idling – This one is a little different, and not my favorite. I don’t recommend turning your vehicle off at stop lights or when you are engaged in stop and go traffic, unless it’s clear that you are in a backup that isn’t going to be moving for many minutes on end. Even then, re-starting a car with a hot battery and hot starter can sometimes be iffy (especially in older cars). The last place you want to be stranded is in the middle of a backup. But there are times when idling is done excessively, more often out of laziness or poor planning. Idling gets exactly zero miles per gallon. Idling in a drive-thru lane is costing you money. You might want to park and walk inside instead. Idling while you eat lunch and listen to the radio is another way to waste gas. Idling to “warm up” your car is a waste, unless it’s winter, and you want the heat to work.
There you have it – five top ways to improve your fuel economy. Most drivers can easily improve 10%, some may get up to 25% or more, depending on how terrible their driving habits were to start with. You can track your progress for free on http://www.fuelclinic.com and see for yourself.
There are 15 more eco-driving tips online at: http://www.fuelclinic.com/eco-driving-tips/
And don’t let the “eco” turn you off, manly-men can eco-drive too!
All signs are pointing to a continued run on fuel costs here in the US, with many experts predicting $5.00+ per gallon prices common by mid-summer. This is despite a continuing slump in crude oil demand here in the US – now at a 12-year low. This paradox between low demand and high prices has many wondering what’s really happening in the market, and where will it go from here.
Some industry advisors blame commodity speculators for the gouging at the pump, while others say a booming Chinese market and weakening dollar are to blame for near-record pump prices. Still others claim it’s the work of the Obama Administration to raise energy costs in order to make alternative sources of energy competitive in price. (After all he did promise to do just that during his campaign.)
Regardless of the cause, the reality to commuters and business owners is a painful reminder of the summer of 2008 when rocketing energy prices caused a wide ripple effect on prices in nearly every sector of the economy. Many businesses were in a panic about paying surging fuel costs while keeping prices low and people employed. Consumers felt it everywhere, but especially at the pump with painful total sale costs per tank of gas.
So what will $5 per gallon gasoline mean to you?
Will you choose to car-pool, buy a more efficient car, walk or bike to work (where possible), take fewer trips, buy gasoline on discount-days, adopt eco-driving habits, or cut-back in other areas of spending to afford your normal driving habits?
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.
Source: Pew Research Center
Concern about prices –especially gas prices – appears to be a key factor in the more negative perceptions. Nine-in-ten (90%) say they are hearing mostly bad news about gas prices, up from an already high 77% in February. About six-in-ten (62%) say they are hearing mostly bad news about food and consumer prices in general. That’s up from 49% one month ago.
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.
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
In an effort to save energy and money, the State Highway Administration has cut back its overhead lighting on a six-mile stretch of the highway. If results from the year-long test are favorable, officials say, the state could reduce lighting on other highways…
…The experiment has raised concerns about safety in some quarters. For many motorists, a well-lit roadway is comforting, and many studies over the decades have shown that bright lights — in the right places — can save lives.
Highway officials said that even with fewer lights, the illumination of Route 100 will remain well within federal standards. But AAA Mid-Atlantic still has concerns about the test.
“With the nation’s motorists aging rapidly, we need to keep in mind they tend to have more difficulty seeing to drive safely at night. We worry that deactivating highway lighting could curtail motorists’ safety,” said AAA spokeswoman Christine Delise.
Bob Stanton is one of the most forward-thinking fleet managers in the country. He runs the Polk County, Florida government fleet, and has been referenced here in Fuelishness! and BrightFleet.com several times for his experience implementing a highly successful eco-driving program in Polk County. Today he gives a insight into his motivations and successful execution of his program in an article published at Government Fleets called “Incentivizing Drivers to Conserve Fuel“.
By only reading industry publications, one might presume fuel conservation success can be achieved by technology alone through the use of alternative fuels, hybrid, or all-electric vehicles. The Clean Air Act of 1990 certainly steered governments in that direction and now, 20 years later, it’s clear that legislation failed to achieve tangible results. Governments at all levels nationwide have collectively invested billions in technology, which at best has yielded marginal fuel conservation success, and at worst, the technology, hardware, and vehicles have been scrapped at enormous cost. A negative return on investment (ROI) is certainly hard to justify for any organization, public or private.
Mr. Stanton makes a great point, that the focus on a technology-based approach to fuel efficient fleets has nearly completely ignored the contributions of the vehicle operator to the safe and efficient use of the vehicle.
…In summer 2008, Polk County went where few other fleets have gone — to its drivers. All studies show the largest single contributor to fuel use and/or conservation is the driver. Polk County decided the quickest route to meaningful fuel conservation was to target driver behavior and modify it where possible.
A three-pronged approach was used to modify driver behavior. First, the maximum travel speed of the County’s on-highway vehicles was limited to 55 mph. An in-house Eco-Driver training program was developed to train, reinforce, and promote driving habits proven to reduce fuel consumption and assure driver buy-in, and the County added an incentive program to allow employees to share monetarily in their own conservation success.
There are numerous studies, from reputable government and industry sources around the word, that have shown a direct relationship to operator performance and fuel efficiency, with additional benefit to driver & general road safety.
As noted above, the driver is the greatest single factor influencing fuel economy. According to Bridgestone’s Real Answers magazine, up to 35 percent of a vehicle’s mpg is directly attributable to the driver.
The County endeavored to modify behind-the-wheel driver behavior by developing an in-house “Eco Driver” training program to educate drivers about the simple driving techniques that result in tangible mpg improvements.
Bob Stanton’s own project has netted Polk County significant benefits in fuel efficiency and accident reductions:
Over the two years since implementation, Polk County achieved the following results:
- Fuel consumption reduced by 13.4 percent, or 436,000 gallons.
- Reduced 6.2 million lbs. of carbon.
- Reduced preventable accidents by 22 percent.
- Crash damage severity reduced by 35 percent.
These results are irrefutable. The overall hard dollar savings seen by Polk County due to these incentives have exceeded $1.5 million. The cost of the program is minimal. Beyond the $800 decal cost and the one-hour training time, the program has cost the County nothing.
Even the incentive payouts came at little cost. The incentive payouts originated from dollars saved versus dollars spent.
As a result of its success, the Polk County School Board adopted the 55-mph restriction in May 2010 and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is currently studying the program for statewide adoption.
As oil prices continue to rise to pre-economic-collapse prices at the same time austerity measures are being discussed at state and federal levels, eco-driving is a proven method that fleet drivers and average motorists can take immediate action to see real reductions in both fuel consumption and accident rates.
Back to back bad news about fuel prices in the New Year.
It’s “certainly possible” that the price of a barrel of oil will push above $100 a barrel, Daryl Guppy, CEO of Guppytraders.com, told CNBC Thursday. “Once you move above $100, then $110 is just clear freeway straight to that level,” Guppy added.
The former president of Shell Oil, John Hofmeister, says Americans could be paying $5 for a gallon of gasoline by 2012.
In an interview with Platt’s Energy Week television, Hofmeister predicted gasoline prices will spike as the global demand for oil increases.
“I’m predicting actually the worst outcome over the next two years which takes us to 2012 with higher gasoline prices,” he said.
Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst with Oil Price Information Service says Americans will see gasoline prices hit the $5 a gallon mark in the next decade, but not by 2012.
“That wolf is out there and it’s going to be at the door…I agree with him that we’ll see those numbers at some point this decade but not yet.” Kloza said.
Gasoline prices have been steadily rising. Last week, gas prices crossed the $3 mark for the first time since October 2008. According to AAA figures, prices are up 4% from a month ago and 16% from the $2.585 average a year ago.
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.
Fuelishness Feed! Nissan’s ECO Pedal; Fuel Prices Unlikely to Fall; And the Stingiest Car Is…; Just 99 MPG?; Green Truck Summit
It’s been a while since we’ve had a Fuelishness! Feed. What a better day than Thanksgiving to gorge on some eco-driving news:
- Nissan Licenses ECO Pedal Technology — “When the ECO Pedal system is on, each time the driver exerts excess pressure on the acceleration pedal, the system counteracts in advance with a pedal push-back control mechanism (tactile indicator) to support drivers for more effective, fuel-efficient driving. Studies show that effective eco-driving behavior with ECO Pedal drive assist contributes to improve fuel efficiency from 5 to 10% (based on internal measurement) in many driving conditions,” Nissan informs.
- Fuel Prices Unlikely to Fall Anytime Soon, says AA — “In the short-term, fuel prices will inflict more pain on drivers and business,” says Luke Bosdet, a fuel expert at the AA. “It may well be an ordeal we have to endure before a recovered economy restores a less volatile fuel market, though commodity speculation continues to cast a shadow.”
- And The Stingiest Car Is … — The Volkswagen Golf Blue-E-Motion. The plucky little electric car, with 115 bhp, a top speed of 86mph and 0-62mph time of 11.8 seconds won the race. “It’s a testimony to the abilities of the Golf Blue-E-Motion that it won despite the fact I’d never competed in any sort of eco-driving challenge before,” said Jim Holder, driver of the winning car.
- Just 99 mpg: Isn’t it Time to Focus on More Than Plug-ins? — Significant and cost-effective improvements in fuel economy were also suggested and supported very recently at the LA Auto Show by several automakers, particularly Hyundai which is forecasting industry-leading plans for improving fleet fuel economy without increasing vehicle costs. Similarly, the X-Prize also demonstrated that 100 mpg is achievable without the need for either hybrid or plug-in technologies.
- Green Truck Summit 2011 Offers Glimpse into Future — “Our industry is in a very exciting period of evolution,” says Doyle Sumrall, NTEA senior director of business development. “As innovative manufacturers continue to develop new green technology, fleets and the businesses who support them must understand how and when to use that technology to improve their operations and environmental impact. The Green Truck Summit is a unique gathering of technical experts, thought leaders and peers who all share their knowledge to provide solutions for today’s issues, as well as guidance into the future.”
A nice surprise in my morning Google Alerts on Friday, as FuelClinic is included in an article about 5 Veteran-Owned green businesses at Ecopreneurist.
Veteran’s Day usually involves lots of flag-waving, parades, and expressions of gratitude for military service… all well-deserved by those who dedicate a portion of their lives to the armed forces. We tend to focus on the concepts of national security and defense in these celebrations… but, equally as important, is the spirit of serving the greater good that these men and women often carry with them after separating from active duty…
As we continue to study the ways that communication can be used to change peoples behavior I’ve come across this video from BDI in London, and thought I’d post it for comment.