Thursday, December 01, 2005
Save Gas: Avoid Brakes!
If you want to save fuel, at least 20% and maybe much more, avoid using your brakes. Every deceleration is matched by a corresponding acceleration. That wastes fuel. And if you come to a stop, you waste a lot more fuel. According to Pakistan Energy and Environment Management Center, a car coming to a complete stop can use 6 times the fuel of a rolling stop.
Below are three behaviors that I believe would cut down on fuel consumption if enough drivers buy in.
1. Accelerate Faster!
2. Obey the speed limit on surface streets.
3. Use your horn! Communicate.
The variation in speed and driving style causes traffic. Reducing variation will cut down on traffic and reduce both drive times and the frequency of fuel wasting stop/starts. Accelerating faster prevents backups from forming and lowers the number of cars that will have to stop as they join the flow of traffic. It also moves more cars through the queue faster once traffic has formed [that means less stops]. To accelerate faster, Dr. Mark S. Dougherty, a professor at Dalarna University in Borlange, Sweden who is involved in fuel-saving research, found that the best way is to use about two-thirds of available power and change through the gears relatively quickly [Next time you’re at the front at a traffic stop, try this. The space between you and the following car is how many more cars can be passing through every traffic signal. That’s a lot of fuel. Now multiply that by the number of cars that accelerate too slowly.]
Obeying speed limits allows for better planning of traffic light timing and better use of speed limit planning. The road system determines the average speed of your journey far more than your top speed while driving. It’s the intersections and turns that affect you average speed and drive time the most. Allow yourself to slow down to avoid stops. Accelerate Faster and Drive Slower. Result: shorter driving times, and less stops.
On one occasion, I drove north on Rochester Road here in SE Michigan. When the light turned green and the car in front of me didn’t quickly accelerate, I gave my horn a friendly tap. Often the cars would accelerate slowly, exceed the speed limit, and the slam on the brakes at the next light. When I could get around such drivers, I would accelerate quickly to the speed limit, or slightly below, and cruise. The cars would eventually speed passed me. Because they would queue up at the light and take their time accelerating, I would have to stop despite the light being green for several seconds. I, again, would tap my horn and accelerate quickly to the speed limit. The drivers started catching on, and we all began smoothly cruising through several traffic lights at a time.
While this instance was special because of the small/moderate number of cars in our traffic pocket, it is much more difficult to communicate/model smooth driving behavior if there is a large queue, slowly dispersing at a green light when you arrive. There is too much in view [too much to be aware] for drivers to analyze your driving or care about one car honking its horn. However, if several cars used their horns and modeled smooth driving behavior, I think it would drive the message home.
I am confident that an effort to coordinate speed limits and traffic light timing along roads in any community, and switching as many Stop signs to Yield signs as possible, follow by a large campaign to promoted smooth driving, focusing on the three simple behaviors I listed above, will have surprisingly beneficial effect on fuel consumption and reduce drive times.
This would have the added benefit of making drunk drivers easier to spot.
I think cabs that double as a delivery service in metro areas would also be a good idea.
Update: Welcome Chicagoboyz.
Update II: I've also noticed electronic speed limit signs in some communities. I see potential for networking these signs and traffic lights so that the postings vary. Speed posting could tell drivers what speed to drive to avoid hitting the upcoming traffic lights! Same could be done with GPS systems.
I think I saw an accident every day for two years at the intersection of 275 and 96. Now that slows traffic.
And eventually, the fast driver will get ticketed.
I think fast changes in speed are better when accelorating and slow changes when decelorating.
He's right about the faster acceleration being more fuel efficient. BMW did a study several years ago that showed that a fuel injected gasoline engine is best operating at two points: torque peak at cruise, and at almost 100% load at low RPMs.
My MO is to take off briskly, and when moving keep the gas floored and shift at around 2500 or 3000 RPM. I typically beat the rated mileage of my truck for city use by a good 6 mpg... roughly 23 city and 26 to 28 highway.
What in the world makes you think that accelerating faster is more fuel efficient?
# posted by Anonymous : 11:59 PM
The throttle is still the primary, limiting factor in the amount of gas your car's engine will burn irrespective of engine or vehicle speed.
Too little throttle, and your car will never make it up to the requisite speed limit in time to catch the next green light.
Too much throttle will ensure hitting the next green, but will waste gas in the process.
There is a "Sweet-spot" on the throttle, BUT it is NOT 2/3 for EVERY car! A 4-cyl economy car will need far more throttle to reach terminal velocity than a 6-cyl will.
The idea is this:
Let's say that your car's engine is a 6-cylinder that gets you 18 mpg in the city. Starting from a dead stop always will use the most amount of gas, while approaching the speed limit, the least.
Torque, not horsepower, is what gets you going from a dead stop, so the goal would be to get to the RPM level, as soon as possible, at which your torque is maximized, while keeping an even pressure on the gas pedal.
Once there, you can back off opf the throttle and let 1st gear take you up to maximum HP (typically close to the red line).
BUT, don't immediately upshift when you get there because your revs (RPMs) may fall off too soon if your max HP is a lot lower than the redline, and you'll be spending too much time going from 2nd to third.
I'd let it go past that max HP point before you upshift into 2nd.
If you own a 2006-2008 Honda Civic, then you know that the engine deliberately keeps the revs high between shifts.
I have a V-6, and because of its power output, it requires more modulation of the gas pedal than a regular 4-cyl would.
My gas-saving strategy is to depress the gas pedal by 1/4 and right before it hits the redline, I shift into 2nd.
The reason for doing this is because, from 1st to 2nd, my car has to overcome the largest proportion of rolling resistance, which is from a dead stop to 20-25MPH, while still providing enough momentum to allow me to ease off of the gas to shift into 2nd.
From about 3,000 to 6,000 RPMs is my engine's sweet spot since it is in this range that both maximum torque and maximum horsepower occur.
My goal, then, is to keep the engine from falling below 3,000RPM for all upshifts. By doing this, you'll notice that the higher the gear you are in, the less work needed to keep it above 3,000 for the next gear change.
In 1st gear, because of its high ratio, it does not require a lot of throttle to get to the maximum HP level and redline.
Of course, all of this depends upon the traffic signal behavior on the streets you travel. If you are going to hit successive red lights, no matter what you do, then you should drive as slowly as possible, between lights, to minimize breaking time and idling time at the red light.
However, if you know from prior experience that you can make the next green light by accelerating up to the speed limit as quickly as possible without using more than 1/2 throttle and without exceeding the speed limit,then do it.
The worst thing to do is to accelerate quickly from one light only to have top brake sharply to the next light.
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