Aggressive driving is one of the biggest culprits in lowered fuel economy.
Ford Motor Company - May 24, 2006
Ford Escape Hybrid's head to head.
- Gas prices this Memorial Day weekend are 34 percent higher than a year ago.
- Ford Motor Company tests show consumer habits have a larger impact on their fuel bill, costing consumers up to 38 percent of their fuel economy.
- Based on test results, consumers can save up to $1,056 by improving driver habits and vehicle maintenance.
DEARBORN, Mich., May 24 - According to AAA, gasoline prices are a record $2.93 nationally, 34 percent higher than a year ago. However, Ford Motor Company tests show consumers can recoup almost 40 percent of their possible fuel economy by using six painless fuel economy tips.
These tests show that inefficient driver habits alone can sap up to 21 percent of possible fuel economy. In addition, inefficient driver habits and vehicle maintenance can rob consumers of up to 38 percent of their possible fuel economy.
According to AAA, an estimated 31.4 million Americans will travel by car over Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of the summer vacation season. With so many travelers on the road this weekend, and countless more family road trips coming this summer, these simple tips can have a profound impact on both the family pocketbook and the national fuel consumption.
“There is a direct correlation between fuel economy and the driver’s behavior and vehicle care,” says Ford Hybrid Vehicle Engineer Stephen Hunter. “These tests illustrate just how much control the driver has over his or her fuel bill.”
|Vehicle||Average Test Mileage|| Total fuel cost, at $3.00 per gallon||Economy % change|
|Fusion V-6 (efficient driver)||31.5 mpg||$47.62||21 percent increase|
|Fusion V-6 (inefficient driver)||26 mpg||$57.69|| |
|Escape Hybrid (efficient driver and vehicle care)||27.88 mpg||$53.80||38 percent increase|
|Escape Hybrid (inefficient driver and vehicle care)||20.24 mpg ||$74.11|| |
For the test, Ford tested two pair of vehicles over the course of 500 miles.
Test 1: Driver behavior increased fuel economy 21 percent
The first test used two Ford Fusions, equipped with a 220-horsepower, 3.0-liter V-6 engine, and fuel-saving, 6-speed transmission, EPA rated at 21 miles per gallon in the city, and 29 mpg highway. For evaluation, the vehicles were prepped identically, and were concurrently driven over the same 500-mile route. The only variable was driver behavior, including the three most common habits that lead to decreased fuel economy:
“Warming the car up before departure, or idling for more than 30 seconds, is a waste of fuel,” says Hunter. “Modern cars actually reach operating temperature faster if you start the car and leave immediately. Just shutting off the engine and going into a restaurant, rather than idling in the drive-through, will save you a considerable amount of gasoline.”
For the test, the inefficient driver idled the engine for 20 minutes: a five minute warm up before leaving, five minutes sitting in a fast-food drive through, and two five minute rest stops. The efficient driver started the engine and left immediately, and shut off the engine at the fast-food restaurant and at two break stops.
“Aggressive driving is one of the biggest culprits in fuel economy,” says Hunter. “Just slowing down 10 miles per hour on the highway can save you 15 percent. In addition, avoid jack-rabbit starts, racing full-throttle just to stop at the next red light. Also avoid big changes in speed, such as jumping on the gas to pass two cars, just to get caught in traffic again. These won’t save you much travel time, but will drain the gas tank faster.”
For the test, the inefficient driver applied full throttle at every opportunity, trying to reach the posted speed limit as quickly as possible. For freeway driving, and average speed of 75 miles per hour was set, with constantly varying speeds in an effort to maintain that target speed. The efficient driver applied moderate throttle, and made every effort to avoid unnecessary acceleration or deceleration. For freeway driving, an average of 65 mph was set, with an emphasis on maintaining a smooth, consistent speed.
Excessive air conditioning use:
“Saving money can be as simple as turning down the air conditioning, just to bring the cabin to a comfortable temperature,” says Hunter. “Try parking in the shade so that the cabin doesn’t heat up while the car is parked. If the cabin temperature is greater than the outside temperature, open the windows to let the heat out of the cabin, rather than relying on the AC alone. Setting it to ‘Max AC’ forces the air-conditioning compressor to work overtime, where a lower setting often makes the cabin just as comfortable, but is more efficient using the air-conditioning compressor.”
For the test, the inefficient driver used the “Max AC” setting for the full 500 miles. The efficient driver set the Fusion’s electronic climate control to 68 degrees, letting the system automatically select the most efficient use of the air conditioning compressor.
Test 2: Driver behavior and vehicle maintenance combined increased fuel economy 38 percent.
For the second test, two Ford Escape Hybrids were used. The Escape Hybrid was the first SUV on the market to offer full-hybrid technology, pairing a 2.3-liter gasoline engine with an electric motor and battery pack. As a result, it delivers up to an 80 percent increase in fuel economy over a comparable V-6 Escape. The four-wheel-drive Escape Hybrids used for the test are rated at 33 mpg city, and 29 mpg highway. For evaluation, the drivers employed the same efficient and inefficient behaviors as with the Fusion test, driving concurrently over the same 500-mile route. However, the two Escape Hybrids were prepped to illustrate the three biggest vehicle care habits that impact fuel economy:
Incorrect tire pressure
“Correct tire pressure is critical for safety, and a key factor in maximizing your fuel economy,” says Hunter. “Under-inflation increases rolling resistance, which forces the engine to work harder turning the tires, with an estimated 1 percent decrease in fuel economy per pound of under-inflation. Yet, of the 100 consumer vehicles we recently hosted for a fuel economy clinic, a full quarter of them had at least one tire under inflated by more than five pounds per square inch.”
For the test, all four tires on the inefficient driver’s vehicle were set at 10 pounds under the recommended pressure. The tires on the efficient driver’s vehicle were set at the recommended pressure.
Dirty air filter
“A dirty air filter can have a significant impact on fuel efficiency,” says Hunter. “Like a person suffering an asthma attack, a dirty air filter prevents the engine from breathing properly. To compensate for the restricted air flow, the engine consumes more fuel to deliver the same amount of energy. To keep the engine operating at peak efficiency, check your air filter before long trips, and have it replaced at regular intervals.”
For the test, the inefficient driver’s vehicle used a soiled filter that impeded air flow to the engine by approximately 25 percent. The efficient driver’s vehicle was equipped with a new, clean air filter for maximum air flow.
“Aerodynamic drag is a measure of how hard the wind pushes back on a moving vehicle,” says Hunter. “As the drag increases, so does the amount of fuel required to maintain a constant speed. Avoid anything that increases the wind drag, such as cargo toppers or bug deflectors. As a general rule, if an aftermarket item increases the wind noise heard inside the vehicle, it’s also increasing your fuel consumption.”
For the test, the inefficient driver’s vehicle was equipped with an 8 cubic-foot cargo topper on the roof rack, and a pair of bicycles on a hitch-mounted rack. The efficient driver’s vehicle was equipped with a pair of bicycles on the roof rack, and an 8 cubic-foot cargo container strapped to a hitch-mounted cargo platform. Although both vehicles carry the same amount of cargo, placing the bicycles on the roof causes much less wind drag than the roof-mounted cargo topper.
“This fuel economy test shows how much impact the consumers can have on their own fuel economy,” says Hunter. “Although the amount of impact will differ on every vehicle, these six tips will benefit every driver, and every vehicle. And, if you extend that fuel economy over a full year, your gas savings can be significant.”
Using the Fusion test results, a driver covering 500 miles a week for a year could save $523.64 in gas over the course of a year just by modifying driving style (total fuel cost multiplied by 52 weeks per year). Using the Escape Hybrid test results, improving driver habits and vehicle maintenance could save $1,056.12 per year.
For more fuel saving tips and statistics, consumers can go to www.drivingskillsforlife.com
, and click on the Eco-Driving module.
About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures and distributes automobiles in 200 markets across six continents. With about 300,000 employees and 108 plants worldwide, the company’s core and affiliated automotive brands include Aston Martin, Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lincoln, Mazda, Mercury and Volvo. Its automotive-related services include Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford’s products, please visit www.ford.com