Can “EcoDriving” Really Improve Fleet Efficiency?

By Pankaj Arora

The concept of Ecodriving has been around for some time now. But has it managed to deliver any concrete and measurable gains in the business? I recently listened to a number of podcasts from variety of sources like the Stanford Social Conversations, Aspen Insitute, MIT, and Greenbiz and came across some real quantifiable examples of companies efforts on Ecodriving in the past years.

UPS found out over their thousands of truck fleets, that by not waiting and idling to take left turns but instead taking 3 right turns to reach the same place – they saved about 3 million gallons of fuel annually.

Walmart found out that by separating the engine and the generator to run the air conditioning was a good idea – shutting down the engine while the driver slept at night on long distances, they saved $25 million/year on fuel costs. Putting spoilers/fins at the back of the trucks also proved useful – at highway speeds they reduced 5-8% fuel usage.

Stonyfield farm got a 40% reduction of CO2 from trucks on the road by ensuring they are packed to capacity and by separating coolers to cool the food from the engine.

Xerox, by driver training and reducing the miles traveled by their field service technicians through better scheduling, routing, GPS and remote diagnostic services, made substantial savings.

Simple, yet ingenious. All of the above examples are classic cases of savings through good ecodriving practices. According to EcoWill, a European Commission’s endorsed website, Ecodriving is about driving in a style suited to modern engine technology: smart, smooth and safe driving techniques that lead to average fuel savings of 5-10%.

The Alliance of Automobiles Manufacturers, USA, lists down comprehensive list of good ecodriving practices like avoiding rapid starts and stops, using air conditioning only at higher speeds, using navigation and avoiding idling among many other useful pointers.

Technology in aid

Automakers are using technology to help spread the message. Not only the premium car makers like BMW and Audi have vehicles that come installed with ecodriving assisted technology but small mass cars from Suzuki also have Idling stop systems that enable engine to stop automatically while waiting at traffic lights.

Suzuki's entry level Alto and SUV Escudo

There’s Ecodrive indicator that lights up if you’re actually ecodriving. A Fuel efficiency indicator shows how far your car will take you on a gallon of fuel. Then, there are changes in transmission and reduction in vehicle weight and air resistance done to assist ecodriving practices.

Fight from EV’s

When we’ve got hybrids and EV’s proliferating into the eco-space, would ecodriving still be an advantage and pose a significant savings potential? Probably not. Eco-driving is an end-of-pipe solution that tries to minimize the damage already done. At best, it inculcates good habits in the society – it delivers change that is hard to come by. And this change makes good sense, regardless.

Ecodriving can also be uncomfortable at times. It can mean giving up convenience and comfort – the reason for the car. I’ll not drive with a baby in my car in the 44 degree celsius summer heat and wait till I hit a high enough speed to put on the air conditioner. Rather, I’d turn on the A.C and let it run for 5 minutes till the temperature reaches a comfortable level before stepping in. Fuel saved may not justify the inconvenience.

Individual behavior though an important component – is not enough. Highest impact, as always is driven by the business sector. It makes absolute sense when tiny savings multiplied over thousands of truck fleets scouring all over the country everyday, add up to humungous earnings leading to an overall reduction in the carbon footprint. Ecodriving has certainly driven business costs in the south direction – but permeating deep into individual behaviors is still a tough ask.

Pankaj Arora is an Engineer and has worked in the automotive styling for 12 years. To expand his understanding of Sustainability he is studying online MBA in Sustainable Management from Anaheim University. He writes for his blog at

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5 responses

  1. ecoDriving techniques are all about the conservation of energy, gas or diesel. This does not change in an electric vehicle. Until the charging infrastructure for EV’s is built out, EV drivers must make the most of every electron in their “tank”. ecoDriving (eDriving?) could mean the difference between the flatbed and getting home. Fleet drivers used to 100 litre tanks and a gas station on every corner will need to be retrained as to how to ecoDrive and maximize the range of their EV.

  2. Yes! Of course it can. Not only can fuel savings of 5-8% (like you mentioned above with the truck spoilers) make a real dent in carbon emissions, it adds up to real money savings, too. Though a behemoth like Walmart or UPS will get see the biggest monetary benefits from these kinds of savings, businesses of any size can realize very important things by acting more efficiently.

    Indeed it may be even MORE important for smaller businesses to take advantage of such efficiencies because every little thing that they can do to build a competitive advantage must be enacted if they are to succeed.

    Bradley Short

  3. Momentum-Meter EASES ECO DRIVING

    Miami, Florida May 4, 2011
    GREEN TECHNOLOGY manufacturer Inc manufactures the long awaited Momentum-Meter, a new consumer friendly car instrument that helps reduce fuel consumption (US Patent # 7,411,140).
    With the recent launching of Eco Driving in the USA (see Momentum-Meter is recognized as the instrument easing eco driving for everyone, from the student to the professional truck driver. Eco-Driving is becoming the new way of driving of the 21st Century worldwide.
    “It may take ten years for car manufacturers to create and redesign higher fuel efficient cars, fifteen years to find and exploit fuel fossil reserves in the US and maybe twenty more years to develop safe nuclear energy providing 50% of our electricity,” said the inventor, Tom Delor. It takes only a few seconds to stick Momentum-Meter to your windshield and plug it in your cigarette lighter to upgrade your car to a fuel efficient car. “Momentum-Meter was developed and tested during the last three years, and we now manufacture it in Clearwater, Florida,” added Delor, a retired ex-aeronautical engineer who co-invented this device to help his school teacher daughter to save gas. “It all started with my daughter and I’m always looking for a good reason to spend some time in my workshop,” added Delor. As a Speed-O-Meter indicates the speed of your vehicle, Momentum-Meter indicates its inherent momentum telling the driver when to coast (moving the vehicle effortlessly) using the force of the inertial mass generated by Newton’s second law of motion, instead of fossil fuel, diesel, bio fuel or electricity. Green light indicates you can coast, red light indicates you need to use fuel to maintain the car’s speed. It’s like a personal trainer telling you what to do and continuous improvement is acquired. Eco-Driving is becoming the new way of driving worldwide.
    “Every driver can take advantage of their car’s momentum to drastically increase their fuel efficiency with Momentum-Meter,” the inventor said. “You will save 20% to up to 50% of fuel the very first time you use it”. To make it work for everyone, it had to be simple and visual. Momentum-Meter is very simple; just react to the device’s lights to save fuel. “I personally save 48% but it still depends on the driver’s skills and motivation.” concluded Delor. About GREEN TECHNOLOGY manufacturer
    GREEN TECHNOLOGY manufacturer, located in Clearwater, Florida, is the developer and manufacturer of this long awaited new instrument for cars. The device uses simple visual cues to allow drivers to take advantage of the moving vehicle’s momentum. It really does not matter if the vehicle uses gas, ethanol, or electricity or if the vehicle is a small or an eighteen wheelers. Retired ex-aeronautical engineer Tom Delor is the co-inventor, and patent attorney John Rizvi from Fort Lauderdale, Florida said: “When Tom presented me his work, I was skeptical because it was utterly simple and logical, thus I believed it’s not new. “It took thousands of years to put wheels on our luggage because nobody thought about it. Comparatively, nobody thought about showing the momentum of a moving vehicle until now”, replied Delor. With the energy crisis, necessity became the mother of all inventions and the United States Patent Office by issuing the patent confirmed that Momentum-Meter is a genuine new invention.

    More information:
    Contact: Jacqueline Correa
    Account Executive

  4. What are the odds of going back to horses and bullock carts? Will Governments enact laws that will promote & monopolize transport via public systems? (.. eg: like the Mass Rapid Transport systems in Singapore?) What good does a Prius do to a common man who can’t afford one? The article on eco driving practices provide valuable insights and a compelling story for the business sector, asking them to re-look at the way they currently operate their fleet of air borne and land driven machines. Implementing such intelligence for the benefit of transformation or change in the way corporations currently operate fleets will be humanity’s collective success in its race against time.

    1. Good to read some engaging comments on the topic that’s left to personal choice rather than rooting out the problem. As Adi stated, Mass transport system is one of the effective ways to work the problem at the root. Pressurizing individuals and asking them to bear the externaities is one of the unpleasent options – but it’s again promoting more of the same thing.
      Until the time, car makers are able to drive the costs out of the hybrids/EV’s, ecodriving in developing countries would be a pipe dream, where people are just beginning to get the taste of their first car – let’s just hope it’s hybrid!

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