Eco-driving can Reduce the Cost of Motoring

AA/ALD Automotive MPG Marathon hits the 'Eco Trail'

5 October 2007

The real benefits of 'green' driving came into sharp focus this week when competitors in the 2007 AA/ALD Automotive MPG Marathon proved beyond doubt that skilful eco-driving can dramatically reduce the cost of motoring and cut the amount of CO2 emissions produced by Britain's 30 million motorists.

Amid a blaze of television and radio publicity, 30 drivers and navigators took part in this national initiative, a round trip between AA headquarters in Basingstoke and Torquay, to establish whether eco-driving can squeeze more miles per gallon (mpg) out their vehicles than conventional motoring. The objective of the 330-mile event was to 'save pounds and the planet' as the winning drivers put the manufacturers' own estimates of fuel consumption to the test – and won.

The achievement was all the more impressive as the drivers had to deal with the glare of publicity and bright sunshine, roadworks, fog and heavy congestion during the two-day endurance trial.

Seventeen manufacturers agreed to publicly have a variety of their hatch backs, saloons and commercial vehicles put through their paces by automotive journalists, 'green' organisations and motoring safety bodies, including the AA, over this gruelling 330-mile round trip.

It was a satisfying second year victory for outright winner, the Toyota Aygo which, under the driving stewardship of James Sutherland and navigator Richard Hill completed the course using just 19.12 litres of petrol to return a staggering overall fuel consumption figure of 78.39 mpg.

Last year, Sutherland and Hill from Peak Performance, squeezed more than 83 mpg out of the Toyota Aygo 1.4 Diesel.

Second place in the competition to find the best outright fuel consumption figure went to the ALD Automotive UK team of James Hillyer and Dave McLaughlin, in a VW Polo with 74.42 mpg.

Improving on official fuel consumption figures

The MPG marathon also sought out the drivers most capable of improving on the fuel consumption figures claimed by the manufacturer.

In this category, the Mazda 3 MPS driven by Sue and Joanne Cooke who achieved 43.34 mpg against the manufacturer's 29.1, an improvement of 49 per cent.

Second place in the "percentage improvement" class went to Simon Hacker in the new Renault Twingo, with an improvement of 47 per cent.

Another entries of note was the new seven-seater Chevrolet Captiva. Although perceived in the thirsty SUV 4x4 category, the vehicle driven by Richard Sowter also sought to show what could be achieved in terms of personal carbon footprint reduction if each of seats was occupied.

Richard was accompanied by Matt Joy, Alex Finlay, Kierra Blenkinsopp, Andrew Duerden, Amelia Fletcher and Christian McIntyre, and achieved an overall MPG of 42.42, an improvement of 14.35 per cent on the manufacturer's estimates.

Van-tastic results

Vans, or light commercial vehicles were not to be outdone and proved what could be achieved if driven more thoughtfully. The LCV entries were also measured upon 'cost per tonne' per mile (CPTM) in the absence of manufacturers' combined figures.

Commercial vehicle drivers in the AA/ALD MPG Marathon clearly demonstrated the potential for fuel savings that can be achieved through skilful eco-driving.

Six commercial vehicles took part in the event that included urban centre driving, motorways and country roads and presented competitors with the sternest possible test of their driving skills.

Vehicles competed in separate classes according to their gross vehicle weight, each carrying the equivalent of half its gross payload in order to give the event the highest possible relevance to the freight industry.

The winner here was the Mercedes Sprinter driven by Dave Price and Chris Wood, recording the overall lowest cost per tonne mile of 14.85 pence.

The overall winner of the MPG for vans was the Vauxhall Corsa van driven by motoring writer John Kendell and Paul Nieuwenhuis who achieved a remarkable 81.02 mpg.

The victory sets a new benchmark by which other vans' productivity will be measured.

The objective of the MPG Marathon was to promote eco driving for all motorists to save lives, money and reduce a motorist's overall carbon footprint.

This is becoming increasingly important in the commercial world where businesses run large fleets of company cars and vans. Here reducing costs, wear and tear on the vehicles and improving fuel efficiency add to the business bottom line as well as helping fleet managers meet their health and safety obligations. In the future, the growing importance of telematics will add to this mix to help control overall business costs.

David Wallace, director of AA Business Services, one of the main sponsors of the event, said: 'This has proved that there is more to be achieved in terms of savings by investing in the right car for the job and the right kind of driver training, both of which will help save drivers and their businesses thousands of pounds, as well as making a significant impact upon the carbon footprint we, as a nation, produce every year.'

The event highlighted the increased significance of eco-driving and how it will importantly deliver business value for money and play a leading role in reducing CO2 as climate change leads to behaviour change. It will also have a significant impact upon risk management practices within businesses along with further developments in telematics and fuel technologies which will reduce a driver's carbon footprint.

ALD Automotive marketing director, David Yates, said: "After vehicle depreciation, fuel expenditure is the biggest cost facing every fleet. With fleet budgets continually under the corporate microscope, cutting fuel bills is not only financially beneficial to business but vehicle emissions are also reduced.

"Fleets should spend more time examining vehicle choice lists and by operating vehicles with low CO2 emissions, fuel economy is a major spin-off. But just as importantly, we all need to encourage employees to adopt a smoother – and ultimately safer – driving style."

Event organiser, Ross Durkin adds: "Once again the combined efforts of all the participants and sponsors delivered a first class, educational event which has proved, if proof was needed, that skilled driving techniques work and can make a dramatic impact upon miles per gallon."

Manufacturers taking part

Manufacturers taking part in the MPG Marathon were: Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Honda, Lexus, Mazda, Mini, Nissan, Peugeot, Skoda, Toyota, Vauxhall, Volvo and VW.

Key sponsors of the MPG marathon

AA Business Services: The UK's leading breakdown organisation actively promotes risk management through its practical driver assessment and training to help businesses save money through reduced fuel consumption, as well as improved driver safety. AA Business Services ensured 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 45,000 vehicles. It is also one of the largest car leasing operations in Europe where it manages 602,000 vehicles across 32 countries. ALD's involvement underlines its own core issues of risk management and environmental solutions in the corporate market.

Total: The fuel giant provided its Excellium Fuel to all competitors. The additives contained within Excellium lower fuel consumption by reducing mechanical friction therefore improving the efficiency of the engine. It also reduces CO2 emissions by up to five per cent and cuts carbon monoxide pollution from and black smoke by up to 25 per cent in cars over five years old.

Quartix Ltd: The leading manufacturer of advance vehicle tracking technology provided the telematic support to the MPG Marathon because the ethos of the event fits in with reducing fleet fuel consumption and the associated environmental benefits. Its automated reporting facility is 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 leading tyre manufacturer had fitted its 'environmentally-friendly' tyres that have been designed to reduce CO2 output


5 October 2007