Start a Green Business: An Eco-Driving School?

eco-driving.jpg“Eco-driving”, or “Hypermiling” are terms used to describe driving habits that maximize fuel efficiency. Using these techniques, drivers were recently able to get 1,445 miles on a single tank of gas in a Ford Fusion Hybrid, which is double what Ford originally suggested the car could attain. While this may or may not turn out to be the norm (the drivers were likely a lot more committed to Eco-driving than any of us will be), it definitively shows the potential for efficiency gains.
So is there a market for entrepreneurs to create Eco-driving schools? You bet. Doubling our fuel efficiency could potentially save Americans $900 to $1,800 per person, depending on the type of vehicle. So who among us wouldn’t spend a small portion of that to learn Eco-driving? What parent would pay for a traditional driving school especially if they were footing the bill for their kids’ gas? In fact, marketing to parents would be even stronger based on the increased safety behaviors inherent in Eco-driving techniques.

Sweden has mandated that all driving schools teach Eco-driving. It’s been successful as part of a broader effort in that country to reduce oil consumption, which is down from 77% of their fuel mix 20 years ago to 23% last year. Other countries are sure to follow, especially those that have signed on to climate change accords and are looking for ways to reduce overall GHG emissions.
Even without government incentives and mandates, driving school companies can differentiate themselves from competitors by offering Eco-driving. Check out EcoDriven Driving School, for example. The company is remarkably easy to start. A hybrid car, a certification, insurance and a website, and you’re on your way.
Just FYI, Eco-driving techniques include:
* Keeping a safe distance from other vehicles so you can anticipate slowdowns
* Releasing the gas pedal a good distance away from stop lights and signs so that you can coast and slow down naturally without as much braking
* Going slower on average (i.e., staying at the speed limit)
* Using easy starts and slower stops…avoiding fast changes of speed
* Using A/C and heat sparingly
* Closing windows at high speeds
* Avoiding bumps and potholes that cause erratic speed shifts
Scott Cooney is the author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and practices Eco-commuting on two human-powered wheels.
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Scott Cooney, Principal of and author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill, November 2008), is also a serial ecopreneur who has started and grown several green businesses and consulted several other green startups. He co-founded the ReDirect Guide, a green business directory, in Salt Lake City, UT. He greened his home in Salt Lake City, including xeriscaping, an organic orchard, extra natural fiber insulation, a 1.8kW solar PV array, on-demand hot water, energy star appliances, and natural paints. He is a vegetarian, an avid cyclist, ultimate frisbee player, and surfer, and currently lives in the sunny Mission district of San Francisco. Scott is working on his second book, a look at microeconomics in the green sector.In June 2010, Scott launched, a sustainability consulting firm dedicated to providing solutions to common business problems by leveraging the power of the triple bottom line. Focused exclusively on small business, GBO's mission is to facilitate the creation and success of small, green businesses.

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