Driving cleaner pays!
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%!