Jul 032012

Nissan Leaf Electric Vehicle

Nissan Leaf Electric Vehicle

Automobile Journalists Association of Canada

As we all know, fuel prices are on the rise. This doesn’t seem likely to change in the near future, so the only way to avoid spending a fortune on fuel is to use less of it. As a result, both consumers and manufacturers are having to come up with new ways of making their vehicles fuel-efficient, and this is what the May’s AJAC Eco-run was all about.

Journalists Drive Eco-Cars

AJAC stands for the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada. The event involved letting 23 AJAC journalists drive a variety of new eco-cars from Brighton to London in Ontario from May 8th to May 10th. The focus of this event was to put the most innovative eco-car technology to the test, and to see how much fuel consumption can be effected by driving habits alone. Economic driving research is particularly useful to consumers, as it shows them how they can lower their fuel consumption without splashing out on a swanky new hybrid car.

Drove Leaf, e-Miev, Focus Electric and Smart ForTwo

A range of vehicles were used, including the popular Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi e-MiEV. There were also some unreleased modes, like the Ford Focus Electric and Smart ForTwo Elecrtic Drive. The Eco-Run route covered various terrains and driving conditions in order to get an idea of how eco-driving works in different settings. All cars were tested on how they performed in heavy traffic, on motorways, on rural roads, and on suburban roads.

Mistubishi i-Miev (Electric Car) or E-Miev

Mistubishi i-Miev (Electric Car) or E-Miev

Journalist Eco Driving Tips

As a result of the AJAC Eco-Run, journalists came up with some eco-driving tips, including gentle acceleration and keeping a steady speed. Drivers are advised to use cruise control when possible, rather than constantly alternating between pressing and releasing the gas pedal.

Plan Stopping Ahead of Stopping

They said drivers should also plan ahead to avoid unnecessary stopping, enabling them to keep momentum, therefore maintaining speed and using less energy. It’s also beneficial to release the clutch and ‘cost’ to decelerate instead of using the brake pedal, but only when this is safe, of course. Finally, when a vehicle is stationary for more than 60 seconds, for example in a car park or at a red light, the engine should be switched off.

Maintenance for Fuel Economy

Maintenance is very important for fuel-economy, and air filters and oil should be changed regularly. Also, drivers should try to keep their vehicles as light as possible by avoiding carrying unnecessary loads.

How Vehicle is Driven

Charging an Electric VehicleThe Eco-Run proved that it’s not only the vehicle that makes a difference when it comes to efficiency; it’s all down to how it’s driven. According to AJAC bosses, drivers can use up to 20 per cent less fuel just by adopting their eco-driving tips.

However, choosing the right vehicle is still a big factor. Drivers should carefully consider which model is most appropriate for the kind of driving they do. For example, electric cars are most appropriate for urban driving and short journeys, as they need to be within reach of charging stations.

More Range Needed? – Get a Back-Up

However, those who want an electric vehicle but need to put it to more use should opt for a plug-in vehicle like the Toyota Prius Plug-In or the Chevrolet Volt, as they have back-up systems for when the battery starts running low.

Motorway is Best

For motorway driving, petrol and diesel vehicles perform the best, as it’s more efficient to run them at one speed for a long time rather than stopping and starting them all the time. Hybrid vehicles generally performed well all-round, as they can use energy produced by decelerating to put back into the battery.

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