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Driving cleaner pays!

March 28, 2007

Ideally I would like to eliminate my need to drive to work, but in the case that I can’t, I am going to minimize my transportation carbon footprint as much as I can. And the government might help me do it!

The Canadian government recently announced the ecoAUTO program, which provides rebates to people purchasing fuel-efficient cars and light trucks. (Whether I agree about the light trucks, or the E85 vehicles is another matter entirely.) As of March 20, 2007, cars with a combined rating equal or better to 6.5L/100km will be eligible for up to a $2000 rebate. How will this help me? I’m thinking of getting a smart fortwo.

Right now the smart fortwo isn’t listed as eligible, because the ecoAUTO program has only listed eligible 2007 model year vehicles, and there is no 2007 smart fortwo. (It’s a 2006 carryover, awaiting the newly designed 2008 model this fall.) A list of eligible 2006 model year vehicles will come out soon, and the smart will be there. With a combined rating of 4.2L/100km, how can it not be? [UPDATE Apr.12/07: the list of ecoAUTO-eligible 2006 model year vehicles is now available. Thanks, Sarah!]

Looking into fuel-sipping vehicles, of course I got caught up in other fuel-saving techniques. There are the obvious ones, like ensuring proper tire pressure (or even maximizing tire pressure), shifting earlier (for those that like manual transmissions), accelerating more slowly, using cruise control, and driving slower. Those techniques really do work, too. I had been averaging about 8.0L/100km on my commute, but after slowing down and driving a bit more gently, I saw my fuel use drop to 7.2L/100km. A 10% improvement without even trying! Some of that change may be attributable to the change in weather, but it was enough positive reinforcement to take me to the next step.

Maximizing the above techniques, I set out to see how thrifty I could make my vehicle. With only a few round trips under my belt, I have managed to get my round-trip fuel consumption to 5.9L/100km in mixed rural and city driving. While it’s not fabulous, it’s a great improvement! I’ll continue to refine my technique, and see if I can’t dip into the mid 5s.

If you are truly serious about getting the most mileage out of your vehicle, then you must learn and master the pulse and glide technique. I have tried it a bit, but am not comfortable with the technique yet. It works well for flat roads, but I have yet to adapt the technique for my hilly commute.

UPDATE! I checked my car’s trip computer today as I left work. Normally I get just over 600km to a tank of gas before the fuel light comes on. Today leaving work, I had put over 400km on since my last fill, the fuel gauge was showing half full, and the trip computer told me I had 470km until empty. Woo!! I’ve improved my fuel economy by a whopping 33%!

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. March 28, 2007 2:04 pm

    If you play your cards right and get an HEV, you can also qualify to get $2000 off your sales tax — in addition to the up to $2000 you get from Mr. Canada: http://www.fin.gov.on.ca/english/tax/refund/vpaf/

    perhaps a Prius is in your future…

  2. March 28, 2007 7:30 pm

    I really liked the smart cars – but, on looking at them closer, decided they wouldn’t be practical for our multi-dog, tall-husband, soon-to-have-kids household. If you get one, however, you are hereby notified that you are required to take me for a test drive! 🙂

  3. March 28, 2007 7:38 pm

    Oh! And while the pulse-and-glide sounds great, and would make for better gas mileage, I’d turn into a big ball of road rage if I were following you while you were practicing it!

  4. March 28, 2007 9:42 pm

    Actually, the Prius is the ideal vehicle for pulse and glide, as it automatically turns the engine off for the glide portion; all you need to do is press or lift off of the gas pedal.

    However, a Prius is too pricey, and it runs on gas. I’m looking only at diesel, simply because it’s the one internal combustion technology that has a chance to survive peak oil.

    I don’t do pulse and glide with traffic behind me. People already don’t like the fact that I’m doing “only” 90 in an 80 zone!

  5. April 2, 2007 8:02 am

    I’ve never heard of the pulse and glide before. Thanks for the info.

    That car is very cute. Unfortunately, it doesn’t accommodate the 2 children (and possibly more in the future) that we have (along with their ginormous car seats). We are (still) waiting for Toyota to release a mini-van here, but our cars won’t hold out much longer! For now we still manage to squeeze into my Corolla.

  6. April 2, 2007 8:03 am

    Oops.. I meant to say HYBRID mini-van.

  7. Sarah permalink
    April 12, 2007 12:37 pm

    2006 Model Year ecoAUTO Eligibility

    The list of cars eligible for rebate are listed at this link:

    http://www.tc.gc.ca/programs/environment/ecotransport/2006ecoautoeligibility.htm

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