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Toyota Introduces Eco Drive Indicator to Encourage Better Driving; Up to 4% Improvement in Fuel Economy

29 September 2006

Ecodrive
Eco Drive Indicator. Click to enlarge.

Beginning in October, Toyota Motor (TMC) will equip its new Japanese-market vehicle models using automatic transmissions with an Eco Drive Indicator, a feature intended to encourage environmentally considerate driving.

The indicator is designed to help reduce CO2 emissions through helping drivers increase their vehicles’ fuel efficiency through better operation.

Based on a comprehensive determination that takes into consideration such factors as accelerator use, engine and transmission efficiency and speed and rate of acceleration, the Eco Drive Indicator, located on the instrument panel, lights up when the vehicle is being operated in a fuel-efficient manner.

Toyota hopes this will raise driver awareness toward environmentally considerate driving and contribute to fuel economy.

Although results may vary depending on the level of traffic and conditions such as the frequency of starts from stop and of acceleration as well as distance driven, Toyota says that the Eco Drive Indicator can improve fuel efficiency by approximately 4%.

Toyota believes that sustainable mobility rests on three pillars: vehicles, the traffic environment and people. The Eco Drive Indicator represents one of TMC’s driver-awareness initiatives.

September 29, 2006 in Fuel Efficiency | Permalink | Comments (32) | TrackBack (0)

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A nice gesture, but it is only a dummy light that hardly approximates the Prius'/Camry/Lexus hybrids' consumption display.

I find that the mileage indicator on my Prius is an effective way to improve gas mileage by making it very clear when I am driving efficiently and when I am not. This eco drive indicators seems like a cruder approach and not as effective. There are degrees of efficiency; the indicator seems too binary. But I guess they have determined it is 4% better than nothing.

Come to think of it, mileage indicators should be required on all vehicles. Maybe it would be a wakeup call for some of our, shall we say, drivers of our more inefficient vehicles.

At least Toyota is making an effort. That is a lot more than most automakers.

Ah, geez. It's the equivalent of that damn 'Shift' light so many manual transmission vehicles have. Just what I need, more f*&%$@! useless lights on the dash.

My family had a 1984 BMW 528e until several years ago. If you recall the "e" was supposed to stand for economy. The 528e had a fuel economy gauge with a reading (we found out later) that was basically directly proportional to engine manifold vacuum. I doubt this is effectively much better. Its not hard to calculate and display instantaneous fuel economy digitally, why don't they just do that instead of a nanny light? Oh yeah, because that has been done widely before, and that wouldn't generate any positive media.

I sure am glad this comes from Toyota, and not GM. If it were GM, the derogatory rants and raves would be boisterous. I guess since its Toyota, its a best thing, and one more way in which they lead the pack.

This is good. It is simple and will modify the way some people drive, especially if gas is expensive. BMWs have had this for years - I had one and it did change my driving habits.

What would be interesting would be to go further and "green tune" the car, in the way that guys tune up cars, you could opt to tune down yours for better gas milage, like the way Ford put low rolling resistance tires on the focus.

What would be useful would be a list of best performing tyres for each car type which is kept up to data and perhaps puts the top 3 tyres in each section.

This would take quite a bit of work but would be a good job for the goveenment or the EU or someone with public funding.
- JM

Mark A,
Maybe the reason GM doesn't have this dummy light is that it probably would not function properly, or they couldn't rig it so that it would ever light up.
Why would GM want this? it might steer driver awareness toward environmentally considerate driving/fuel economy which is a greater priority elsewhere.

mahonj,

a google search will lead to a few different studies done on tires. They don't indicate grip and handling but they do show rolling resistance. Then you go to tirerack's website and you can find lap times for different tires on the same car with the same driver and grip measurments (braking, slalom, road holding) under wet and dry conditions. Combine the two pieces of data to make the best compromise in handling vs. rolling resistance.

Some modifications for more acceleration do improve gas mileage...if you don't try to make use of the acceleration in excess of what you had before (some minor mods to get a car from a 16 sec 1/4 mile to a 15.8 sec 1/4 mile may yield a 5% improvement in fuel economy if you use the same acceleration that gets you to 16 sec). Example: lightweight rims and light weight tires of the same diameter as your stock rims and tires can allow you to accelerate at a faster rate but if you don't change your driving habits you can save some gas (with the caveat that the rims would have to have close to the same aerodynamic profile as the stock rims as well). 10% weight reduction improves gas mileage by a few percent AND will allow your car to accelerate faster (not to mention recover quicker from transitions such as a slalom or emergency lane change when someone cuts you off). Smaller serpentine belt or removal of accessory belt on the A/C gives a very small benefit in fuel economy & acceleration as well. Raising the static compression ratio gives more torque throughout the engine operational range and lower gas consumption (but if you raise it too much you need to use higher octane gas...raise it too little and the cost of custom pistons and labor far outweigh the very small fuel economy and power gains). ETC, ETC, ETC.,

GM has had an 'Instantaneous MPG' display on many of their fuel injected vehicles for at least fifteen years that I know of and probably quite a bit longer than that. It's trivial computationally for fuel injected engines, whereas the old manifold vacuum gauges labeled 'mpg' are more an indication of engine health and not really an accurate measure of mpg. I'm curious to know if there's anything more than a vacuum switch involved in this 'feature'.

This is absolutely moronic. If they were so concerned about fuel economy, then they wouldn't be driving automatics in the first place. Take the $1000 you could save by not buying an automatic and the dough you save by getting better mileage with a manual, and be happy. Plus you wouldn't have a nanny light annoying you. Regardless, no driver should need a computer to correlate the cause "pressing the GAS pedal MORE" returns the effect "MORE GAS is consumed". If they do implement this "feature" then it better be possible to disable it. I would never buy any car with this thing equipped.

This is absolutely moronic. If they were so concerned about fuel economy, then they wouldn't be driving automatics in the first place. Take the $1000 you could save by not buying an automatic and the dough you save by getting better mileage with a manual, and be happy.

Scion xB
4 cyl, 1.5 L, Auto(4), Regular
30 cty/34 hwy

4 cyl, 1.5 L, Man(5), Regular
30 cty/33 hwy

Times have changed.

Test drove the Camry Hybrid last night and had a chance to play with those feedback gauges. It's confusing at first to have all that extra information on the dash, but it's nice to be able to test driving behavior against marginal fuel economy -- basically it's a simulator/trainer for getting more out of each gallon of gas, which especially takes practice with hybrids.

jw-

Do you have the gearing ratios for those gearboxes on the Scion? I have seen cars before where the automatic could get similar mileage and realized it was because they were geared differently. If this is the case it doesn't prove a manual isn't more efficient. How long would I have to search to find an example of a car that gets better mileage with a manual?

t

"Maybe it would be a wakeup call for some of our, shall we say, drivers of our more inefficient vehicles.

I think the wake up call comes when they need a c-note to fill their tank.


I have used one of these consumption indicators on an 80s mercedes 190. It pegs when you are accelerating at any rate and then when you are cruising it settles into the mid-range. How does this help?

JRod.


My vehicle has a MPG guage, it encourages me to drive gently. It makes driving slower almost fun.
The thing I like best is getting better mpg than my friends that have cars with engines 1/2 to 3/4 the displacement of mine.

ri,
the prius consumption display makes gentle/slow driving most rewarding - a must see!

"Mark A,
Maybe the reason GM doesn't have this dummy light is that it probably would not function properly, or they couldn't rig it so that it would ever light up.
Why would GM want this? it might steer driver awareness toward environmentally considerate driving/fuel economy which is a greater priority elsewhere."


Yes GM could make this "function properly" or "light up". Witness their OLM.

The point I was making is that everything "Toyota" is automatically good, whereas everything "GM" is bad or worse. You proved my point.

jw-

Do you have the gearing ratios for those gearboxes on the Scion?

Nope. I'm sure you can find it somewhere, though.

I have seen cars before where the automatic could get similar mileage and realized it was because they were geared differently. If this is the case it doesn't prove a manual isn't more efficient. How long would I have to search to find an example of a car that gets better mileage with a manual?

That's not the point. You chided people for choosing automatics over stick and generalized that stick will always be more efficient. Apparently this is no longer true. Noticed it when I was at the Scion dealership last night.

Apparently technology is getting to the point where an automatic can outperform manual shifting - which is a good thing, since the vast majority of vehicles sold in the US are automatics.

I drive stick, btw.


More on the automatic vs. manual: Even though manuals have the potential to be more efficient than automatics in most cases, I'm not convinced that most drivers of manuals actually drive in such a way that they're more efficient. Too often they shift too late when accelerating, for example, and trade efficiency for extra power.

The autos are not more efficient (unless we are talking CVTs or you are calling an automated clutch manual shifting tranny an "automatic"). The gearing selection is done to obtain better fuel economy. The acceleration times (normally slightly worse for an automatic) become much worse for an auto versus manual if the fuel economy is similar through gearing. If the performance (acceleration and fuel economy) is not equal between the auto and the manual then they do not have equal efficiency. You could force a manual transmission to emulate GM's "skip shift" [see Corvette] to achieve better fuel economy on a standardized test but that doesn't make that transmission suddenly more efficient (especially when you factor in acceleration along with fuel economy).

Isnt this the same thing that was in american cars in the 1990's when it whould give you average miles per gallon and instant economy when you hit the instant button it would show high gas millage when you were coasting or light on the gas( i had it in my dodge)
It was down right dumb

This is a step in the right direction, but I would like to see more Pavlovian style behavior modification at work to improve mpg. How about creating a massaging driver seat, and give the drive a good massage every time he/she does the ecologically-correct behavior? Or a pleasant and sexy female voice (or male voice for the female driver) coming on the speaker to give positive compliment like "You're so cool...You're so smart...or you're so kind and considerate..."(or negative feedback) upon efficient or inefficient driving? And how about an electric jolt or other unpleasant stimuli if the driver happens to be leadfooting. We now have the technology for all those things that were deemed sci-fi just a few decades ago.

I'd also like to see (or hear) the on-board computer to remind a driver to, upon erratic driving: "Hey, put down that cellphone...or, Please kindly keep your eyes on the road..." Or upon repeated high G's maneuvering: "Careful, Sir, you do have a wife and 4 kids to support, ya know $%^*..."
Or during a date and upon erratic driving: "Hey, mister, keep your hands to yourself, will ya?" ;) For that, you'll need a female perfume detector in the passenger seat...perfectly doable in the post 911 era with sensitive chemical sensor technology on a chip!

Patrick:
You are absolutely right, most gadgets considered to be performance-oriented save fuel consumption too. I want to add that independent suspension and all-disc brakes, which allows more aggressive cornering due to better road holding, also improves vehicle control when we need it most: on slippery road. It decreases road accidents and saves lives.

JRod:
Automatics usually are geared softer then manual. That compensates somehow for their mechanical inefficiency. But that does not mean sluggish performance: at low RPM torque converter multiplies torque so effectively (2 times), that from stand-still to about 40 km/h automatic outperforms manual. Manuals catch-up later, but mostly because it usually have 1 gear more then automatics. That’s why dedicated drugsters prefer automatics. Usually manual transmission is markedly more fuel efficient on cars with moderate power engines. Regular cars sold in US/Canada have more powerful engines, like 120hp per 1200 kg car. In this case fuel efficiency of automatics and manual is practically identical. 140 hp Honda Civic with 1.8 liter 140 hp engine – standard in US/Canada – makes 30/38 mpg on 5-speed manual and 30/40 mpg on 5-speed automatic.

It is absolutely untrue that slow acceleration saves gas. Gasoline engine is more efficient when it works on wider throttle. Usually that means that auto transmission upshifts at much higher RPM, which kills fuel efficiency. The best way to save fuel on acceleration is to accelerate firm (but not full gas to avoid over-riching of mixture on older cars) until RPM reaches it shifting point at light acceleration – you have to remember this RPM, then gently lift gas to provoke upshift, and accelerate further. Naturally you have to have tachometer, which on automatics is considered “performance” gadget too.

I installed fuel/air indicator on my car, which by the way indicates exact moment when injection of fuel stops completely at overrun, and when it resumes at low RPM. Adjusting my driving to prolong “no injection” mode, I managed to reduce my fuel consumption by no less then 5%, especially on mountainous highway. Automatic transmission allows more effective use of this technique.

Actually GM already has this feature on the 2007 Saturn VUE Green line

I used to own a vehicle that featured a digital display near the rear-view mirror that allowed you to monitor both instantaneous fuel economy and a rolling average over the last 100 miles or so. I found that I only consulted it occasionally (you DO want to keep your eyes on the road, after all) but that doing so caused me to make subtle changes to my driving style that resulted in a few percent improvement in fuel economy.

Toyota's eco light (presumably green) on the dash may achieve much the same effect at a lower cost. However, drivers associate light signals on the dash (especially yellow, orange or red ones) as safety-related warnings so there is a risk that they could get distracted or annoyed by the eco light until they get used to it. It might be wise to counter that by making the transitions gradual, even if that adds some cost. In addition, a more stable rolling average mode would be welcome. After all, what you typically care about is whether your driving style earns you kudos in general rather than right now.

Note that in Austria, environmental awareness training is now reportedly part of driver's ed. As in most other EU countries, you have to be 18 to take your test and afaik you have to take a minimum number of (fairly expensive) classes from a state-certified instructor.

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