The price for fuel, along with the concern for overuse of fuel and its effect on the environment, has been increasing dramatically over time. Evidence of this would be the growing trend that is the hybrid and electric automobiles, but, even with the technological advancement of these types of vehicle, the abolishment of gasoline-powered engines is far from becoming a reality. We believe this is the reason Ford has developed their MyFord Touch system with the ECO-Route option. The MyFord Touch system enables drivers to get better gas mileage by “coaching” them on their fuel economy performance and the Eco-Route option provides the most fuel efficient route a driver could take based on calculating historical and real-time traffic data in conjunction with the posted speed limits. Ford even adds a cute little picture of growing leaves and flowers to “promote” fuel efficient driving (really?). Yes, really, unfortunately that is what it takes to save money and the environment.
Hit the jump for the full story plus some fuel-saving tips.
Ford seems to be taking an active interest in "going green". "The majority of our efforts are aimed at fuel-economy leadership," Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford. "We want to provide affordable fuel economy for millions of customers." Ford also said that the automotive industry must introduce more fuel-efficient vehicles in order to meet the challenges of diminishing oil reserves, global warming and a desire by customers to spend less money on gas.
Ford has also provided us with a list of driving tips to boost fuel economy. Turns out if every driver practiced these tips then we could reduce an EPA-estimated 15% in fuel economy. That’s more than 22 billion gallons of gas.
Slow down and watch speed
Accelerate and brake smoothly
Check your tires
Be kind to your vehicle
Minimize the use of the heater and air conditioner
Close your windows when traveling at high speeds
Use the right oil
Consolidate your trips
Ford’s advanced new in-vehicle system – MyFord Touch – offers an array of real-time information on fuel economy performance that can coach drivers to get more miles to the gallon and save on fuel costs. In addition, MyFord Touch’s map-based navigation system offers an
Eco-Route option that quickly calculates the most fuel efficient route a driver can take to get from A to B.
MyFord Touch is the latest innovation from Ford to help drivers optimize fuel economy. It builds on the fuel efficiency “coaching” concept Ford pioneered on its Smart Gauge™ with EcoGuide cluster for the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid and Mercury Milan Hybrid as well as the all-new 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. The system provides real-time fuel economy data and promotes fuel-efficient driving by showing a graphic of growing leaves and flowers.
“We have learned that when we provide drivers the information and tools in an interactive and entertaining way, they want to drive more fuel efficiently,” said Jim Buczkowski, director of Global Electrical and Electronics Systems Engineering. “MyFord Touch provides an unprecedented level of information and interaction so drivers can make the choice to be more fuel efficient.”
The green road home
When a driver provides a destination to the navigation system, MyFord Touch accesses historical and real-time traffic data as well as posted speed information to calculate three navigation options: Fastest, Shortest and Eco-Route.
Eco-Route is not necessarily the fastest or shortest route but is the most fuel efficient. Typically, it charts a course that avoids congested freeways while maximizing the use of major roads where the driver can maintain an efficient rate of speed. When Ford of Europe engineers tested the feature, they achieved up to a 15 percent improvement in fuel economy using the Eco-Route.
“When drivers use Eco-Route – particularly in combination with MyFord Touch’s fuel-economy feedback and fuel-efficient driving techniques – they can achieve a noticeable increase in fuel efficiency,” said Jennifer Brace-Mezigian, Ford user interface design engineer.
In addition to its Eco-Route feature, MyFord Touch enables drivers to monitor and track their vehicle’s real-time fuel economy performance and mile-per-gallon averages for the past five, 10 and 30 minutes in the form of a bar chart next to the fuel gauge on the display. Drivers can customize the amount of information provided to meet their needs and hone their eco-driving skills over time.
“MyFord Touch not only gives drivers information they can use to improve their driving habits, but also expands on that capability by engaging the navigation system to give drivers a variety of options,” Brace-Mezigian said. “The benefits will be greater because MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch will be widely available in the future.”
The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that the U.S. uses about 150 billion gallons of gasoline annually. If every driver practiced eco-driving techniques, which can result in an EPA-estimated 15 percent benefit in fuel economy, more than 22 billion gallons of gas would be saved.
Eco-driving techniques tested by Ford showed that motorists coached in eco-driving can significantly improve the fuel economy performance of their vehicles. Here are simple tips that any driver can use:
Slow down and watch speed – Drive 55 mph instead of 65 to save fuel. EPA estimates a 10 to 15 percent improvement in fuel economy by following this tip. Also, aim for a constant speed. Pumping the accelerator sends more fuel into the engine. Using cruise control whenever possible on the highway helps maintain speed and conserve fuel.
Accelerate and brake smoothly – Accelerating smoothly from a stop and braking softly conserves fuel. Fast starts, weaving in and out of traffic and hard braking wastes fuel and wears out some of the vehicle components, such as brakes and tires, more quickly. Maintain a safe distance between vehicles and anticipate traffic conditions to allow for more time to brake and accelerate gradually.
No idling – Today’s engines don’t need a warm-up. Start the car immediately and gently drive away. Don’t leave your car idling. Prolonged idling increases emissions and wastes fuel. Turn the engine off in non-traffic situations, such as at bank and fast food drive-up windows, when idling more than 30 seconds.
Check your tires – Keep tires properly inflated to the recommended tire pressure. This alone can reduce the average amount of fuel use by 3 to 4 percent. Under-inflated tires increase rolling resistance and reduce fuel economy. They also wear more rapidly. Check the vehicle’s door-post sticker for minimum cold tire inflation pressure.
Be kind to your vehicle – Maintain proper engine tune-up to keep vehicles running efficiently. Keep the wheels aligned. Wheels that are fighting each other wastes fuel. Replace air filters as recommended. Use a fuel with good detergent additives to keep the vehicle engine clean and performing efficiently. Always consult the owner’s manual for proper maintenance.
Travel light – Avoid piling a lot of luggage on the roof rack. The added frontal area reduces aerodynamics and will hurt fuel economy, reducing it by as much as 5 percent. Remove excess weight from the vehicle. Unnecessary weight, such as unneeded items in the trunk, makes the engine work harder and consumes more fuel.
Minimize use of heater and air conditioning – Use heating and air conditioning selectively to reduce the load on the engine. Decreasing your usage of the air conditioner when temperatures are above 80 degrees can help you save 10 to 15 percent of fuel. Use the vent setting as much as possible. Park in the shade to keep the vehicle cool and reduce the need for air conditioning.
Close windows at high speeds – Don’t drive with the windows open unless you keep your speed under 50 mph. Driving with the windows open at highway speeds increases aerodynamic drag on the vehicle and lowers fuel economy.
Choose the right oil – Use good-quality oils with the viscosity grade recommended in the owner’s guide. Ford recommends SAE 5W-20 oil for most cars and trucks to provide the best fuel economy. Only oils “certified for gasoline engines” by the American Petroleum Institute with the starburst symbol should be used.
Consolidate trips – Plan ahead to consolidate your trips. This will enable you to bypass congested routes and lead to less idling.
For additional information on how to save on gas, visit the Driving Skills for Life Web site and click on the “eco-driving” module. Ford’s eco-driving initiative builds on the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers’ comprehensive nationwide effort to promote eco-driving at www.EcoDrivingUSA.com