Motorists 'Wasting' up to £7.7bn of Fuel

AA President enters MPG Marathon to show how technique can cut costs

08 October 2008

a petrol filler nozzle

Britain's motorists could save themselves up to £7.7 billion per year on fuel by learning to drive in a more economical and efficient fashion, according to the AA. Eco- drivers can improve their fuel efficiency by 10 to 15 per cent.

Furthermore, British motorists are wasting as much as three miles per gallon of fuel for every journey by travelling too fast, driving with the air conditioning on and window open, or revving the engine too high.

For a family with two vehicles running on petrol, achieving an average of 30 miles per gallon and travelling 10,000 miles each year, a fuel saving of between £333 and £500 per annum could therefore be made. By driving more efficiently, wear and tear on tyres and brakes is reduced, while the inherent decrease in speed will also help improve driver safety.

With fuel prices rising throughout 2008 leading to shortages and panic buying on the forecourts, it is timely that the start of this year's MPG Marathon ('Miles Per Gallon' Marathon) falls almost exactly a year after petrol broke the 100 pence per litre barrier in October 2007.

AA President Edmund King President of the AA, Edmund King, led an AA team for this year's entry into the 2008 MPG Marathon, the rally with a difference, from Bristol to Macclesfield - then back again.

Check the route for the MPG Marathon »

With the aim of the competition to drive economically, the winners are the teams who record the highest overall miles per gallon and the greatest increase in miles per gallon against the manufacturers' stated figures.

To help him prepare, Edmund completed the AA's Eco-driver Training that provides specific on-road tuition to help improve fuel efficiency and driver safety. Edmund drove a Fiat 500 1.3 Multijet with ecoDrive technology which records and analyses information about driving style and helps to use less fuel.

AA comment

Edmund King commented on the event, "Despite fuel prices falling in recent weeks, the cost of filling a car with fuel is still very high.

"Motorists up and down the country have felt the pinch, so the MPG Marathon is a timely reminder of how a few simple techniques can cut as much as ten to fifteen per cent off the fuel bill. Such a saving could pay for a family holiday or even be put towards a new car; either way – driving more economically can cut hundreds of pounds off the amount we pay for fuel each year.

"In preparation for this challenge I undertook the AA's Eco-driver Training course and used these skills to try and cut fuel consumption by fifteen per cent by maximising economy. It's a testament to the success of the course that almost anybody who takes the course can cut their fuel expenditure by at least ten per cent, as well as reducing the chances of accidents by correcting any bad habits."

"Last year the AA drivers narrowly missed out on victory, but for this year's race we're hoping we'll be at the head of the field and at the bottom of the fuel consumption charts."

AA Advice

To help you get the most out of your vehicle, the AA has provided a number of useful tips to increase fuel economy:

  • Air-conditioning will drain power from the car and therefore lead to increased fuel usage. If you can avoid using it, leave it turned off
  • Having the window open increases drag and therefore decreases your fuel economy. Providing it's not the middle of summer, you'll save the pennies by leaving them closed
  • Change gear as soon as possible to avoid labouring the engine. Using a higher gear will mean the engine operates at less revolutions per minute (rpm), which can make a difference to fuel consumption
  • Aggressive driving will increase the wear on tyres, which will in turn lead to higher fuel consumption. Driving within the speed limit and with a level head will not only help you preserve your tyres but is safer for yourself and other road users too

More eco-driving advice »


Estimates of value of fuel wasted is based on a fuel saving of 15% for 31 million vehicles (total number of UK motorists), running on petrol valued at 110 pence per litre, achieving an average of 30 miles per gallon and travelling 10,000 miles each year.

Estimates of overall fuel saving based on figures from DSA

Edmund King drove a Fiat 500 1.3 Multjjet with EcoDrive technology. EcoDrive analyses the data coming from the motorist's driving and produces reports will help to use less fuel, reduce CO2 and driving costs. EcoDrive is free and can be installed on all Fiat cars with Blue and Me

Edmund King's co-driver was the BBC's transport correspondent, Tom Symonds who reported on progress for BBC national and regional stations throughout the event.

BBC transport correspondent Tom Symonds was taught how to save fuel and money behind the wheel in a lesson with AA Driving School instructor John Pollock. Watch the video on the BBC website

60% of AA members in a recent AA Populus poll said they would consider taking up eco-driving.

How did they do?

Tom and Edmund travelled 404 miles, used 25 litres of diesel and achieved an overall fuel consumption 73 mpg.

Read and watch Tom Symonds' end of event report and interview with Edmund King on the BBC News website.

Join the discussion in the AA zone


31 October 2008