2007 AA/ALD MPG Marathon

Unparalleled Parliamentary praise and all party support

10 September 2007

The 2007 AA/ALD MPG Marathon has received unparalleled Parliamentary praise as two Government Ministers have endorsed the environmental and economic messages the event will send to UK drivers.

The marathon, which takes place on 3-4 October, has also won all-party support for its attempt to raise awareness of Eco-driving.


The 350 mile round trip from Basingstoke to Torquay will see 30 vehicles attempt to achieve higher miles per gallon than the manufacturer's best estimate through 'Eco-driving' - economic and environmentally responsible motoring that helps drivers 'cut the carbs' that are linked to climate change.

The event, which is to set off from and return to the AA's headquarters in Basingstoke, will be launched by Susan Kramer, the Liberal Democrat Shadow Transport Minister.

Backing from local MP

Local Conservative MP Maria Miller has given her backing to the initiative, although she could not be present because of her party conference in Blackpool.

Maria Miller said "The AA is an important part of the Basingstoke business community and it's a great honour that the organisation hosts this event in terms of its start and finish. The environment is a major concern, not just for politicians, but for all of us to show we can do our bit. The MPG Marathon is an attempt to demonstrate how we can get involved in reducing carbon emissions in our everyday driving. I am delighted that the event is happening in our town."

Ministers' support

Both the Secretary of State for Environment, Hilary Benn and Transport Minister Jim Fitzpatrick, who is responsible for green fuels and vehicles, have supported the initiative.

In his letter of support, Hilary Benn said: "It is important to raise drivers' awareness of the impact of their vehicles on the environment and the individual economic benefits that arise from eco-driving. Moreover, it is a clear signal to the vehicle manufacturers that they also need to respond to the challenge of climate change by reducing the carbon emissions of their products."

"I believe that events like the AA/ALD MPG Marathon have an important role to play in promoting eco-driving and will also complement the current Government 'Act on C02' communications campaign. I wish you success with your event."

Transport Minister Jim Fitzpatrick adds: "Encouraging fuel efficiency and smarter driving is a big part of our Act on CO2 campaign, which aims to reduce the environmental impact of transport. The AA/ALD MPG Marathon will help demonstrate how effective smarter driving techniques are in cutting CO2 emissions and helping motorists save a tidy sum on fuel costs. I look forward to seeing the results of the event - may the greenest driver win!"

A message to all drivers

David Wallace, director for AA Business Services, said: "This event has rightly attracted cross party support because it sends a message to all drivers that they could and should do more to improve their miles per gallon. This is not a political event, but an example of common sense driving the political agenda and educating motorists to do their bit."

Last year's winner

The event will take place on October 3rd and 4th, almost exactly one year to the day when the Toyota Aygo squeezed 83.44 miles per gallon in the 2006 MPG Marathon. Posting a 21 per cent improvement on the manufacturer's fuel consumption figures, the Aygo 1.4 diesel became the overall winner over the 350-mile journey from Bristol to Newquay and back.

The sponsors expect 30 vehicles to take part. They will represent a mixture of different models – from small hatchbacks to LCVs – to sweat the vehicle's assets to produce a better MPG.

On the day, the AA will be entering two regular business drivers, one of whom will have undergone AA driver training (part of AA Risk Management Solutions), to demonstrate how driving performance can reduce fuel bills.

The AA has also offered its Corporate Driver Training to other competitors to help them achieve even higher MPG.

With volatile fuel markets and daily reports highlighting the issue of climate change, the AA and ALD Automotive see the initiative as encouraging Britain's 30 million motorists to do their bit, and save money into the bargain.

Growing support

David Yates, marketing director for ALD Automotive, says: "The MPG Marathon is rapidly becoming a barometer of good driving practice. More manufacturers, sponsors and drivers are getting involved which means the message about reducing C02 and saving money is getting across to a broader motoring public in real terms."

If you want to take part

Event organiser Ross Durkin adds: "Apart from the political approval that we have received in recent days, the 2007 AA/ALD Marathon has attracted a lot of interest from last year's competitors and, more importantly, new drivers wanting to test their abilities on this gruelling challenge. We would like anyone interested in taking part to visit the official website www.mpgmarathon.com/2007."

Eco-driving – how much can you save?

The aim is to see how much you can improve on your current average fuel consumption or the 'official', manufacturer's figure.

If your car has an onboard computer that records fuel economy (miles per gallon / MPG) then take a note of the overall average fuel consumption you're getting now and then see how much you can improve it by following the advice below. (it should be possible to re-set the computer so it starts recording a new average MPG)

With no onboard computer, you'll first need to find out the official, manufacturer quoted fuel consumption for your car. You may see three different figures quoted, 'urban', 'extra-urban' and 'combined' – it's the third, 'combined' figure that you want. You can look-up fuel consumption data on the Department for Transport's website www.vcacarfueldata.org.uk/ or can find it with other car specification data in our car buyer's guide.

Fuel saving tips

  • Leave promptly – Don't start the engine until you're ready to go. This avoids fuel wastage due to unnecessary idling and ensures that the engine warms up as quickly as possible. (In winter months, scrape ice rather than leave the car idling for a long period to warm up).
  • Easy does it – Drive smoothly, accelerate gently and read the road ahead to avoid unnecessary braking.
  • Change up earlier – Change gear as soon as possible without laboring the engine – try changing up at an engine speed of around 2000 rpm in a diesel car or around 2500 rpm in a petrol car. This can make such a difference to fuel consumption that all cars in the future are likely to be fitted with Gear Shift indicators that light a lamp on the dashboard to indicate the most efficient gear change points.
  • Cut down on the air-con – Air-conditioning adds to the load on the engine and so increases fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Use it only when necessary rather than leaving it on all the time. (You should run it at least once a week throughout the year though to maintain the system in good condition.)
  • Stick to the limits – Drive at or within the speed limit – the faster you go the greater the fuel consumption and the greater the pollution too. According to the Department for Transport driving at 70mph uses up to 9% more fuel than at 60mph and up to 15% more than at 50mph. Cruising at 80mph can use up to 25% more fuel than at 70mph.
  • Don't be idle – If you do get caught in a queue avoid wasting fuel by turning the engine off if it looks like you could be waiting for more than three minutes.

Drive Smart - More fuel saving advice from the AA

Measuring fuel consumption

With no onboard computer you can calculate average fuel consumption over any period by following the steps below.

  1. Fill the tank and record the mileage
  2. Keep a record of any subsequent fuel purchases (it's not necessary to completely fill the tank again until you're ready to work out your mpg.)
  3. Ideally go back to the same pump at the same garage you first filled the car and fill the tank again to the same level
  4. Now divide the total mileage since the first fill by the total number of litres used and then multiply by 4.546 to get miles per gallon (for example if you've covered 1000 miles and used 101 litres of fuel, your average mpg = (1000/101)x4.546 = 45mpg)

Key sponsors of the MPG marathon

AA Business Services: The organisation is keen to raise awareness of how risk assessment and practical driver assessment and training can help businesses to save money through reduced fuel consumption, as well as improved driver safety. It will be entering two identical vehicles, with one driver undergoing its practical driver training in advance to allow the comparison in fuel consumption. AA Business Services will also be ensuring the integrity of the event by lending logistical and scrutinizing support.

ALD Automotive: ALD is one of the UK's leading providers of vehicle financing and manages more than 46000 vehicles. It is also one of the largest car leasing operations in Europe where it manages over 650000 vehicles across 37 countries. The company's involvement underlines its own core issues of risk management and environmental solutions in the corporate market. ALD is confident the MPG Marathon will establish itself as a major corporate fleet and manufacturer event in the coming years.

Quartix Ltd: The leading manufacturer of advance vehicle tracking technology is providing the telematic support to the MPG Marathon 2006 because the ethos of the event fits in with reducing fleet fuel consumption and the associated environmental benefits. Its automated reporting facility will be used to ensure fair play amongst the competitors, but its 'day job' is to assist employers with duty of car compliance leading to improved health and safety.

Michelin: The tyre sponsor for the 2007 MPG Marathon. The company has a strong pedigree in the fleet market and has extensive links with the contract hire and fleet management sectors, as well as end-user fleets. Michelin's fuel-saving 'Energy' tyres will be fitted to a number of the vehicles taking part in the MPG Marathon, providing them with improved fuel consumption through the tyres' lower rolling resistance.


10 September 2007