Ford Motor Co. has released test results showing that drivers, when properly trained, can boost their fuel economy by an average of 24 per cent. “The 48 total drivers who took part in the validation tests saw results ranging from 6 percent fuel economy improvement to more than 50 percent, depending on their driving style and ability to master eco-driving behaviors,” according to a release from Ford. “Eco-driving instructors coached drivers to employ smoother breaking and accelerating, monitor their RPMs and drive at a moderate speed.”
It makes one wonder how much fuel could be saved if all cars — not just plug-in hybrids — had dashboard monitors showing instant feedback on fuel economy (i.e. MPG or 100 km/litre) and all drivers were required, as part of getting their license, to take a half-hour training course on eco-driving.
Certainly 15 per cent improvement in fuel economy is possible, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. If the U.S. uses close to 150 billion gallons of gasoline annually, and if every American practiced eco-driving and got the EPA-estimated 15 percent benefit in fuel economy, “more than 22 billion gallons of gas would be saved,” says Ford.
Obviously, some dogs just can’t be taught tricks. But providing this kind of training to corporate and vehicle fleets is a start. And some dogs do want to be taught tricks, so perhaps there’s a small business opportunity down the road for teaching one-hour eco-driving courses.
Drew DeGrassi, president of Pro Formance Group, which helped conduct the tests with Ford, says the opportunity for savings is real. At the same time, he doesn’t exaggerate the potential. “It’s not the end-all solution for America to obtain energy independence, but it is an important part of it.” Such training, combined with more efficient vehicles that run on electricity or alternative fuels, can go a hell of a long way.