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Neste, HERE and PTV study finds navigators do not always propose the CO2-friendliest route

A collaboration between Neste, HERE Technologies, and PTV Group indicates that traffic-related CO2 emissions can be reduced by choosing the right driving route, especially in urban areas on short trips with private cars. Earlier this spring, Neste and its partners tested the emissions of different route options by installing measuring equipment in vehicles. According to the gathered data, navigators do not always propose the CO2 friendliest route option.

A CO2-friendly route is based on the lowest possible fuel consumption and through that to lower CO2 emissions. The CO2-friendly route can be calculated taking into account, for example, the driving length, the average speed and the expected stops.

Road transportation accounts for a significant part of all transportation-related emissions globally. If we are to tackle climate change and achieve the ambitious climate targets set by different countries and companies, we need to look at all available solutions to reduce emissions. Low-emission fuels such as Neste MY Renewable Diesel are among these, but we need to look at other solutions as well, no matter how small.

By partnering with HERE and PTV, we wanted to test the difference between the default route suggested by the navigation system and two alternative routes. Our aim was to see whether changing the route would impact fuel consumption and direct CO2 emissions.

—Mika Hyötyläinen, Vice President for Marketing & Digitalization, Marketing & Services at Neste

In the experiment, a test driver drove 13 different routes in comparable conditions three times each: the default route suggested by the navigation system as well as two alternative routes. The Technical Research Centre of Finland, VTT, then analyzed the data, after which HERE and PTV algorithms were used to scale and study the data further.

What we found out was that in around two out of three cases the navigator’s suggested route was the best choice, resulting in the lowest fuel consumption and therefore CO2 emissions. However, in about one-third of the cases, the default route was less than optimal, leading to higher emissions. If every route had been chosen and driven based on the most fuel-efficient option, there would have been 6.36% less emissions in total.

—Juhani Laurikko, Principal Scientist at VTT

The experiment was conducted in Finland in the Helsinki region. Altogether and by choosing a CO2-friendly route, drivers in the Helsinki region could reduce almost 80,600 tons of CO2 annually—this equals the total CO2 emissions of almost 20,000 inhabitants of Helsinki region or the removal of 30,000 passenger cars from the roads for a full year.

Predicting absolute fuel consumption has always been a challenge. Only by bringing together a wide range of data points, using Machine Learning and HBEFA methods could we show that routing reduces our production of CO2. Based on these results, we hope to see that environmentally friendly routing becomes a standard offering. Of course, we also need to consider infrastructure and road safety and other aspects but simply by always choosing the shortest route, fuel savings of 5% are possible if the driver is not running into stop-and-go traffic.

—Matthias Hormuth, Head of Products at PTV

We have been developing our Neste App in recent years. First we introduced paying for refueling with your mobile phone, and now the app enables users to also follow their own CO2 emission reduction. In addition, we got so excited about this experiment’s findings that we are now looking into the possibility of creating a navigation system that also provides the choice for the CO2 friendliest route. We would be eager to see this as a default option in all navigation systems in the future: it is a unique solution in that while it reduces emissions, it does not cost anything for the consumer.

—Mika Hyötyläinen


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