Fuel efficient driving: data fusion will be the game changer

écoconduite, économire dénergie au volant
04/12/2021

Anticipating accelerations and braking, using the right engine speed… These changes in driving behavior reduce gas consumption by up to 25%. However, it is difficult to maintain these habits without regular training. But thanks to new technology as data fusion (GPS, engine rpm…), eco-driving applications will help drivers to reach these numbers in the long run.

A fuel-efficient driving, or Eco-driving, is a more economical, more ecological, and safer driving. This concept shows promising results when properly applied but its low adoption rate shows that it is not that easy to apply its rules. In fact, a report by ResearchGate shows that 88% of the drivers surveyed endorse eco-driving, but only 50% know more than one valid tip. ALTEN is one of the world’s leading automotive engineering companies and is exploring applications and connected platforms solutions to democratize eco-driving.

Eco-driving: how to reduce fuel consumption like a hypermiler?

Hypermilers are automotive enthusiasts and eco-driving perfectionists who do everything to achieve minimum fuel consumption. Whether they are thrifty, environmentally conscious, or both, their credo is to apply all available fuel-saving techniques.

For example, a couple of British hypermilers drove 15,000 km in a Peugeot 308 HDi 110. During the trip, they consumed 3.1L/100km, 36% less than the average consumption of this vehicle.

Wayne Gerdes, another major figure in the movement and holder of several world records for hypermiling, gave three of the most important tips in an interview:

  1. Regulate your speed.
  2. Don’t race to the next red light, let someone else do it for you.
  3. Check tire pressure and don’t carry dead weight.

The On The Road toward 2050 study showed that fuel consumption was directly related to the “aggressive” factor of a driving.

The gas consumption of a Ford Focus in a city was measured while varying the driving behavior.
The results varied between 6 L/100 km and 18 L/100 km, a difference of 300%, as shown in the graph below.

Relationship between aggressive driving factor and fuel consumption

Relationship between aggressive driving factor and fuel consumption, source : On The Road Toward 2050, “Opportunities for Changing Traveler and Driver Behavior”

Why is it difficult to practice fuel efficient driving daily?

Despite the possibilities of high results and a growing ecological awareness, eco-driving is still not widely practiced. This is mainly due to a lack of knowledge or training of drivers.

Even if some principles of eco-driving are natural, others are more difficult to apply in an optimal way or are not well known by the public.

A study by the German road safety authority shows that initial training is a very good way to achieve good results (25% fuel savings on average after training) but that these results melt away quickly (reduced to 10% savings after one year).

Etude Henning (2008) sur les résultats des formations écoconduite initiales

Henning Study (2008) on the results of initials eco-driving trainings

It is difficult for a driver to apply all the principles of eco-driving perfectly and still drive safely. In addition, some of these rules imply additional driving efforts or travel time. Therefore, the adoption rate of fuel-efficient driving remains low.

Hypermilers are passionate. They achieve good results because of their efforts and regular practice.
But not everyone is a hypermiler! Unless…

Connected applications makes fuel efficient driving easier

For a few years now, professionals in the road transport sector have been developing solutions that are more effective than the initial fuel-efficient courses: eco-driving applications.

To apply this sustainable driving in the long term, regular reminders and advice are needed, as well as a visualization of the results day after day. Coaching the driver via connected applications allows a lasting change in his behavior.

These eco-driving applications serve to optimize the economic, ecological and safe character of a journey. They give advice, remind newbies of the habits to adopt and optimize the results for the more experienced ones. Eco-driving applications let the rules inspired by hypermiling to be applied without the driver realizing it.

For car manufacturers, the implementation of an eco-driving application on their vehicles would make the consumers more aware of ecology and reduce the carbon footprint of their vehicle fleet. These two effects are very interesting because European governments are implementing increasingly strict CO2 regulations on manufacturers. In 2020, 5 of them were hit with a total of €500M in fines, due to the excess of their fleet carbon emissions.

Example of fuel efficient driving application

Driving Eco2 application natively installed on the dashboard of Renault vehicles

Nowadays, there are different solutions for driving assistance:

  • Solutions that are integrated into vehicles such as Renault’s Driving Eco 2.The latter “scores” the driver’s journeys according to 3 criteria: anticipation, acceleration and gear changes.
  • Solutions in the form of telematic boxes such as Masternaut.Thanks to integrated accelerometers, the device alerts the driver if braking or starting becomes too abrupt.
  • Smartphone applications like Geco Air.The application accurately calculates the vehicle’s carbon emissions thanks to the GPS signal and a database of vehicles. The application then serves as a comparison tool with other means of transportation.

Nevertheless, each of these solutions uses only a limited number of data sources. The effectiveness of these applications is reduced: their advice is less relevant.

DID YOU KNOW?

ALTEN Labs go further with the “Happy Drive” project. This application would aggregate 5 different sources of data (see diagram below). Hence, it will offer more efficient advices and result would be close to what a hypermiller can achieve.

Diagram of a connected eco-driving application: the example of ALTEN's HappyDrive application

Diagram of a connected eco-driving application: the example of ALTEN’s HappyDrive application

In the case of fuel efficient driving, merging different data is more valuable thant using isolated sources.

With these data sources, there are many ways to coach drivers. For example, by merging topographic and cartographic data, the application would be able to advise the optimal speed in the case of a descent or in anticipation of an intersection. We can also imagine that an application could keep a history of everyone’s trips, and then generate advice based on which driver was the most economical on a given trip.

Likewise, applications can use the community effect to democratize eco-sensitive behaviors. Indeed, it would be possible to create scoreboard for drivers according to their emissions for example. The consumer could be encouraged to be more fuel-efficient than other drivers or even to do better than his previous record.

Finally, these educational apps are becoming more and more efficient and complex but also more and more accessible and enjoyable to use. Other application used those principles of gamification (as the strategic attempt to include video games functions) to engage users (Waze for example). Connected applications could be the key to make eco-driving more accessible in the long terme.

To join one of ALTEN’s projects related to the energy transition, go to alten.com/careers

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