Eco-driving includes avoiding hard acceleration and maximizing utilization of engine braking.
Guillaume Vernet, project manager at Intelligent Transport Systems at Volvo in Lyon, France, says it’s difficult to provide a general figure for fuel savings but cites the 10 to 15 percent range in areas with frequent speed changes.
For the past three years, Volvo has participated in eCoMove, a European Union research project, in collaboration with other companies. One of the areas under eCoMove that Volvo has conducted research into was methods of consistently aiding drivers to drive as fuel efficiently as possible.
The project includes a dashboard screen (pictured) that provides information about driving behavior. “The control system in the truck or coach senses if the driver is accelerating too hard, if the driver’s foot moves too quickly from the accelerator to the brake or if the vehicle is in too low a gear,” Vernet says. “This information is displayed on the screen for the driver.”
The next step is to incorporate map data and GPS, which Volvo says is especially helpful in heavy-duty vehicles. “By incorporating map data and GPS, the driver can receive advance information of such items as an upcoming roundabout or a lowering of the speed limit,” Vernet says. “The screen informs the driver that it is time to ease off the accelerator and engage engine braking.”
The third stage included in the research project is wireless communication with traffic lights that signal the time remaining until the lights change to red or green. The driver thus knows what speed to maintain to avoid stopping at the traffic light.
Volvo says it has used professional drivers when testing the new tool, both in a simulator and on the road, and the response has been positive.
Model year 2012 vehicles achieved an all-time high fuel economy of 23.6 miles per gallon, according to an EPA report published last week. This represents a 1.2 mpg increase over the previous year, making it the second largest annual increase in the last 30 years.