DEARBORN, MI – What if EcoDriving techniques such as gentle acceleration and maintaining proper tire pressure were a part of every driver's training? That's what Ford Motor Company is asking as it continues its promotion of fuel-saving driving behaviors to policy makers, dealers, and fleet customers. Having recently verified that eco-driving techniques can result in an average 24-percent fuel savings, Ford is exploring several opportunities to promote "green" driving practices with everyone from everyday drivers to government officials.
At the consumer level, Ford is exploring the feasibility of a fleet training pilot program, and it is reaching out to its dealer body to create EcoDriving awareness with car buyers. In addition, Ford is engaging policy makers about the possibility of integrating eco-driving techniques into drivers' education.
"Improving fuel economy requires commitment from all stakeholders including automakers, regulators, fuel producers, and consumers. Ford will continue to do its part to improve fuel economy with new technologies across its vehicle lineup," said Susan Cischke, Ford group vice president of sustainability, environment, and safety engineering. "As part of our fuel efficiency strategy, we strongly encourage our customers to put EcoDriving tips into practice."
EcoDriving refers to specific driving behaviors that can improve fuel economy, save money, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and promote safe driving. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that the U.S. uses close to 150 billion gallons of gasoline annually. If every American practiced EcoDriving and got the EPA-estimated 15 percent benefit in fuel economy, more than 22 billion gallons of gas would be saved each year.
The cornerstone of the EcoDriving philosophy is that achieving maximum results lies in the cumulative effect of implementing all the eco-driving tips, said Drew DeGrassi, president and CEO of Pro Formance Group, a Phoenix-based firm that provides coaching in EcoDriving techniques.
"Probably the two most significant fuel-wasting behaviors that can easily be remedied are jackrabbit starts and stops, and failing to anticipate traffic conditions," DeGrassi said. "Smooth acceleration and braking, combined with an awareness of what is going on around you on the roads, will go a long ways toward a more fuel efficient and relaxed driving style."
EcoDriving experts suggest the following practices for motorists to use to maximize their mileage:
- Slow down and obey the posted speed limit. Aim for a constant speed, drive with the flow of traffic, and use cruise control on the highway.
- Smooth acceleration under 2,000 RPMs and smooth deceleration and braking by anticipating traffic flow, signal status, and stop signs also saves fuel.
- Avoid idling. Turn the engine off in non-traffic situations, such as at drive-up windows, when idling more than 30 seconds.
- Check tire pressure monthly to ensure it is at the recommended level. This can reduce the average amount of fuel use by three to four percent.
- Maintain proper engine tune-up to keep vehicles running efficiently. Keep the wheels aligned. Replace air filters as recommended.
- Travel light. Avoid piling a lot of luggage on the roof rack. It reduces aerodynamics and hurts fuel economy.
- Minimize use of heater and air conditioning. Decreasing usage of the A/C when temperatures are above 80 degrees can help you save 10-15 percent of fuel. Use the vent setting as much as possible. Also, park in the shade to keep car cool.
- Close windows at high speeds. Don't drive with the windows open unless going under 50 mph. Driving with them open at highway speeds increases aerodynamic drag and lowers fuel economy.
- Planning ahead to consolidate trips will enable you to bypass congested routes, lead to less idling, fewer start-ups, and less stop-and-go traffic.
Ford's EcoDriving initiative builds on the recent launch by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers of a comprehensive nationwide promotion at www.EcoDrivingUSA.com.