Ecodriving is like jogging and visiting the dentist; we know we should visit them more regularly and they can be beneficial, but we probably don’t do it enough. The term itself might not be the most exciting, but it’s important: it simply describes the energy-efficient use of vehicles, usually leading to a reduction in fuel consumption that also benefits the driver through reduced costs.
Eco-driving is no longer the future – it’s the present. Once a niche interest, perhaps even a hobby for those who like to calculate how much mileage can be squeezed from a single tank of petrol (there’s even a phrase for those who can take it to its extreme – hypermiling), now the top trade magazines and websites push the green car as a paragon of virtue and something to aspire to.
Those looking to become a true ecodriver should consider the Auto Express best green cars top 10. Perhaps unsurprisingly the distinctive BMW i3 is at the top of the list, with a range of anywhere between 80 and 125 miles depending on driving. At 168bhp there’s also enough grunt for those who want a little punch to the drive as well.
Other cars on the list include the Volkswagen Golf Bluemotion, Seat Leon Ecomotive and the Ford Fiesta ECOnetic – the clues are in the names. If you’re driving one of these, you can be assured that you’re doing your bit for the planet.
As well as companies that have been established for decades there are also newer contenders, and recently one global giant has announced its bid to reshape the mass vehicle market.
Tesla and its inspirational founder Elon Musk launched the Model 3 Electric Sedan in California last week, with a competitive price of $35,000 – tens of thousands of dollars cheaper than its predecessors.
The car looks great too (pre-orders are rocketing) and will also boast autopilot hardware as standard, allowing it to move autonomously, using sensors to change lanes, adjust speed and more. Musk said its range on a full charge will be around 215 miles.
The car will not ship until late 2017, but even for those with the motoring equivalent of a coal-burning factory, methods do exist to at least help cut down on the several trips to the garage.
A combination of smarter driving and maintaining the car in an appropriate way, is the best approach. The Energy Saving Trust recommends careful use of gear changes, for instance. Cutting down on use of the air conditioning systems, taking fewer short journeys, and removing heavy items from the car when not in use, such as roof racks, are other ideas.
Haulage companies have also taken the baton of eco-driving, and the results have encouraged. The ecoDriver Project – EU-funded research into CO2 emissions and fuel consumption reductions – found that companies adopting certain environmental methods and technology have achieved up to a six per cent reduction in energy usage. Overall, speed and acceleration and deceleration times have also improved. Combine this method with various safety solutions from technologically savvy companies such as Brigade Electronics, and haulage companies can lead the way in responsible and safe motoring.
The eventual aim of the ecoDriver project is to achieve a 20% saving in fuel consumption, so there seems to be still some way to go. These results and the endeavors of influencers such as Tesla prove that we are now in the era of eco-driving – rather than waiting for it to happen.