The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade organization representing 10 major automakers -- BMW, Chrysler, Ford, GM, VW, Toyota, Porsche, Mercedes, Mitsubishi & Mazda – launched a very cool website called EcoDrivingUSA.com at last month’s LA Auto show. Called a “blueprint for action” EcoDriving offers a wealth of facts and tips to increase your gas mileage.
We often forget that a car is a precisely tuned machine, and like any machine it performs best when operated according to the manufacturer’s specs. But few take the time to really understand how to achieve the manufacture’s posted MPG rating. A recent study indicates that 80% of drivers don't even know how to check their tire pressure. It's not surprising then that most people fall short of reaching their car's optimal MPG simply because of poor driving habits.
A few amazing facts…
An estimated 1.2 billion gallons of gas were wasted in the US in 2005 as a result of under-inflated tires. And speeding over 60 MPH can cost you almost ¼ of your fuel efficiency (e.g. a car with a posted 28 MPG would only get 21 MPG). EcoDriving estimates that the average US driver could save about $250 (62 gallons of gas) each year if they follow the blueprint.
A while back I did a post showing how a typical US driver could save on gas through 7 behavior modifications -- pressurizing tires, unloading your trunk, using AC above 50 MPH whenever possible, reduce idling, and several more. I estimated a driver could save at least 10%. EcoDriving takes it farther. Their fun and well-designed website (which includes an intro by Gov. Schwarzenegger) offers 28 tips that collectively can save you 15% on your monthly gasoline bill. The site also lets you “test drive” your new skills through a virtual road game.
While I don’t think the EcoDriving website excuses the big automakers for producing such inefficient vehicles (as I reported earlier Toyota, Chrysler and GM all fought the CAFÉ standards which now require automakers to improve automobile efficiency), I do think the website they have produced is a great resource and an important contribution. If half of all US drivers practiced EcoDriving, CO2 emissions could be reduce by 100 million tons per year. That is the annual CO2 equivalent released by 50 coal fire power plants!
No matter how efficient our cars are, as long as we power them with fossil fuels we are still introducing huge amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. And why not learn some good habits? Less repairs, less money at the pump, and less road rage! Sounds like a pretty good future to me.