Tests performed by Ford Motor Company and Pro Formance drivers found that 48 motorists coached by eco-driving experts saw results ranging from 6% fuel economy improvement to more than 50%, depending on their driving style and ability to master eco-driving behaviors. The average fuel economy improvement was 24%.
Eco-driving instructors coached drivers to employ smoother breaking and accelerating, monitor their RPMs and drive at a moderate speed. Over a four-day period, Ford and the Pro Formance drivers conducted validation tests using volunteers from Phoenix. The Sports Car Club of America verified the results.
The US consumes close to 150 billion gallons of gasoline annually, according to the US Energy Information Administration. If every American practiced eco-driving and got the EPA-estimated 15% benefit in fuel economy, more than 22 billion gallons of gas would be saved.
Eco-driving training was launched by Ford in Germany in the 1990s in cooperation with the German Road Safety Council. In the only industry-based drivers’ eco-training course, specially trained and certified instructors run programs for several target groups including fleet drivers and customers. Several of the master trainers recently traveled to Ford in Dearborn to teach the coaching techniques to drivers with the Pro Formance Group. They will now leverage Ford of Germany’s eco-driving expertise to develop a pilot program that would certify eco-driving instructors to train Ford’s fleet customers.
Hands-on instruction is critical for achieving full potential of eco-driving since instructions for eco-driving techniques must be customized after instructors have had the opportunity to observe individual driving habits and then provide coaching for more fuel efficient driving techniques, Ford says.
We are talking with fleet owners first, because they have large numbers of vehicles and drivers that could realize significant benefit from such training. Ultimately, all drivers can benefit from practicing eco-driving, and one day it may be considered mandatory as part of all new drivers training.—Curt Magleby, director of Governmental Affairs, Ford Motor Company
Among the eco-driving practices that drivers can begin practicing on their own are driving 55 mph instead of 65 mph, keeping tires properly inflated at the recommended pressure, and eliminating prolonged idling.
Ford’s eco-driving initiative builds on the recent launch by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers of a comprehensive nationwide effort to promote eco-driving. (Earlier post.)