In July President Obama announced the new fuel economy standards for automakers. By 2025, cars and light-duty trucks will be expected to get 54.5 miles per gallon. In early August, the administration announced the first-of-a-kind fuel efficiency standards calling for fuel saving of up to 20 percent by 2018 for commercial trucks, buses and other heavy duty vehicles. Politics aside, just how in the heck will these cuts happen?
Perhaps the University of California Riverside can help. The university just received a $1.2 million grant from the Department of Energy to study and evaluate technologies that provide feedback to drivers so they can cut harmful emissions and reduce fuel use by up to 30 percent.
The three-year project will look to the concept of eco-driving, which to now, only exists as a field of study on a small scale. Eco driving includes a dashboard-mounted fully integrated feedback system for drivers that, according to researchers, can improved fuel economy by up to 30 percent.
Eco driving practices include obvious things such as calculation of the most fuel-efficient route, keeping vehicles well-maintained, avoiding rapid starts and stops and avoiding unnecessary idling. There are also some more unusual elements of eco driving including providing audio feedback to the driver to avoid such fuel guzzling practices as excessive idling, speeding, and aggressive acceleration/braking. Additionally, researchers hope to provide continually updated algorithms for individual vehicles and drivers based on real-world fuel consumption data from the engine control unit of each vehicle.