By on August 19, 2008

Terminate your fuellish ways. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AAM) is serving-up some more PC for your PC. The just-launched www.EcoDrivingUSA.com tells you how to drive your car like an old man. "Drivers don't have to wait to buy a new, fuel-efficient vehicle to start reducing fuel costs and CO2," AAM CEO Dave McCurdy insists. "Though I do encourage everyone to buy one of our new fuel-efficient vehicles immediately." But seriously folks, this is a classic deflection strategy. Or, if you prefer, it's blaming the victim. The Governator is the site's plastic surgery-intensive spokesman for the politically shape-shifting carmakers. Ahnold speaks from experience when he says we "can't wait for the politicians to take action." Yup, it's up to you (that's you) to properly pressurize your damn tires already, and hypermile yourself to a 15 percent savings on your gas bills. In fact, if we all eco-drove, we could save enough energy to power Skynet for 1000 years. Or something like that. 

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23 Comments on “Automakers Alliance: Fuel Efficiency is YOUR Problem...”


  • avatar
    dastanley

    We can also drive behind someone who’s flatulent and capture the methane into our air intakes for extra energy. Works best after dinner.

  • avatar

    The mere awareness of what contributes to fuel economy probably will improve fuel consumption noticeably. Tire pressure is a pretty good example.

    I look at all the people with roof racks and window wind deflectors and other paraphernalia mounted to their cars and can’t help but think that they contribute to increased fuel consumption.

    What about the weight of stuff in the trunk? My wife drove around for a week with 150 pounds of water softener salt in the trunk. That couldn’t have helped fuel economy. :)

    To be sure, the car is the #1 determinant, but it is not the only determinant.

  • avatar
    TRL

    I understand AAM is not exactly the boy scouts, but this isn’t exactly a bad idea. There is no doubt that the price of gas is seriously hurting some people. Not just pissing them off. Not making them scale back this years vacation. Seriously hurting their ability to make ends meet. An extra couple of MPG by driving a little less like an A-hole is a good thing to point out.

    No doubt someone who’s time is more valuable than money will flame all over this about Grandpa doing the limit impeding their progress to somewhere important (to them). Easy to say when you have the money.

  • avatar
    jaje

    I think we are all part of the blame too – not just big oil and greedy politicians – we’ve become greedy too driving uber sized urban assault vehicles and fast and powerful cars. If we would drive our cars differently and not race from stop light to stop light or stop tailgating and tapping the brakes every 5 seconds or even not going 65/70 (or the additional speeding we do).

    I just don’t get why people can’t conserve to save their own money and reduce waste (even try to recycle most of their trash). We’ve become fat lazy bastards that bitch and moan when our Cherry Garcia we eat in front of the TV costs more to buy and to drive our Expedition over to the grocery store to get 3 more gallons of it. And to add to it that we are overweight b/c we use powered everything and get upset when we have to walk more than 1 block for anything. Truth hurts but with finite global resources and how lazy we’ve become I’m not surprised this didn’t hit us earlier.

    Just in the past 2 years my family has changed the way we live (small things do matter and when millions do the small things it makes a huge difference).
    – Fluorescent lights
    – optic eyes for outside lights
    – take 5-10 minute showers max and not have the water as hot
    – I put out rain water catch basins and use it for watering now rather than the hose
    – turning up the a/c or the heat down just 1-2 degrees to still keep it comfortable
    – driving 5-10 mph below the 70 speed limit yet work traffic so not to become a rolling road block
    – get out of the left lane when not passing or adjust speed to stop those idiots who don’t pass right away but sit side by side for miles before they complete their pass
    – recycle everything you can
    – compost vegetable table scraps (no longer buy my own fertilizer)
    – bought an old 1989 180k mile Honda Civic Hatchback that gets 40mpg+
    – telecommute and live close to work / school and shopping so I can even bike there
    – get out of the front of the boob tube and live an active life

  • avatar
    Michael Ayoub

    “The mere awareness of what contributes to fuel economy probably will improve fuel consumption noticeably. Tire pressure is a pretty good example.”

    Yeah, but it’s also raising blood pressure levels on the road, or at least raising mine.

    Some people are starting to drive way too slow because the lady on the news told them that if they drive slower they could get better gas mileage. Yeah, that’s great honey, but could you please move your POS SUV out of the way? Look, you’re not saving any gas anyway, because all the drivers around you — you know, people who may have to actually get somewhere on time are going to use more gas trying to get around you.

  • avatar
    Redbarchetta

    Reduce traffic congestion, let the world get to where they need to go quicker instead of sitting every where staring at tail lights and burning gas.

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    @jaje

    – bought an old 1989 180k mile Honda Civic Hatchback that gets 40mpg+

    I don’t think a pre-obd2 car with 180k is really very good for the environment, except in the sense that reusing is better than recycling.

  • avatar
    menno

    Hi Jaje, sounds like you’re doing all right. As for the old Honda, once it swan-dives, you seem that you may have saved enough dough-ray-me to get yourself a new Civic CNG or Civic Hybrid, or as yet unnamed Honda Prius-clone. Or a Toyota Prius if you like, of course.

    Then simply drive it until it dies, which will be like 4 X longer than the car payments (even if they are stretched over 5-6 years).

    Rinse, repeat.

    Likewise, after having lived in the UK for 7 years(where “every-frickin-thing” is generally twice to four times as expensive as here in the states) we automatically do a lot of what you have described.

    Just put in a new water heater, wanted an instant hot water heater but living in “Haneyville” means we didn’t have enough water pressure. So I went with a super-high efficiency electric tank, called the Marathon.

    Doesn’t hurt that my local rural electric co-op is willing to drop $250 in my lap for doing so, either.

    Managed to get some fed tax relief from a 2005 Prius and also a 2008 Prius (there was a 2 week window to actually get a 2008 Prius AND tax relief).

    Hey, if the idiots in Washington are willing to stump up free money, who am I to argue? But that game is over, for hybrids.

    Now, they’re just dumping money in the laps of agro-biz with the ethanol stupidity.

  • avatar
    Orian

    Michael,

    If you’re that far behind perhaps leaving earlier and driving a little slower makes more sense, no?

  • avatar
    RobertSD

    You know… if everyone saved 3% in gas over a year, that would be equivalent to 102M barrels of oil. That 3% can be accomplished with the vehicles we currently have – not driving when we don’t need to, inflating our tires properly, keeping our engines tuned properly, driving the speed limit (not under), not tailgating, not sprinting from a stop light. Heck, that might be worth much more than 3%. If you add low-rolling resistance tires to your car at your next tire change, you might get as much as 6%.

    I think we fail to realize what incremental changes can do. Oil prices are down sharply in part because U.S. demand is down 2-3% over the last couple months. An additional 2-3% drop would, in fact, pull it further down. We don’t need to dump our SUVs right this second at the cost of $5,000 of lost residual value. We need to make incremental changes as a society and just change our decision making in the long run (ie – just make sure your next car is smaller).

    Unfortunately, we don’t like incremental changes in our society; small, individually-powered solutions make no sense to our TV-warped minds. Someone else has to change the world for us, and that’s why we complain and moan about our terrible lot in life (maybe we should have a Malawi exchange program) – it’s the same characteristic that has robbed us of primary health care and contributed to our spiraling health care costs. Why take care of your blood pressure now for a couple hundred bucks a year when we can give you a $250,000 open heart procedure down the road!

  • avatar
    akitadog

    The REAL issue here is that most of us live WAY beyond our means.

    Let’s say gas has gone up 1 dollar in a month’s time, and that you fill up a 20 gallon tank once a week. That’s about $80 more per month for gas than before. Are you really struggling to pay $80 more per month? If so, then you are dangerously overextended. One should already be living below their means, as in saving some money each month (which the US as a whole is not doing). That extra $80 for gas should mean that you are not saving as much money each month as you used to, NOT that you can no longer afford to fill your tank.

    So what happens to all those overextended people is that they drive too slowly, they trade in their 3-year old SUVs for a smaller car (for the same monthly payment as the SUV, due to the depreciation hit) to save a few dollars at each fill up. They feel better about their decision, when they could save so much just by changing the rest of their lifestyles, like compact fluorescent bulbs (make your money back in a month or 2), the ac and heat settings, less water use, etc.

    I know there is a subset of the population who really can’t afford such price spikes, but this group is relatively small and there are already safety nets at the fed/state/local levels not to mention community help, like food banks, shelters, fundraisers, etc for those who are hard up. While I feel for this group, I find it hard to believe that so many of the complainers have it as hard as this subset does. Most people just want to whine and maintain the status quo. Sorry, but you’ll have to go to the movies twice a month instead of 4 times, and cook for yourself once in a while instead of buying lunch every day. Jeez.

  • avatar

    How to Hypermile was a How-To of the day a couple days back.

    I’ll gladly re-budget again when prices go up as opposed to some of the suggestions on hypermiling: avoid driving on windy days, bring ice water in the car so you can stay cool with the windows cracked and the AC off, or driving at or below the speed limit is an important part of hypermiling.

  • avatar
    snabster

    RobertSD is quite right. Incremental improvements make a big difference. Two datapoints to share:

    1. Gasoline demand is down by 900K b/d. Not a huge amount — just under 5%. But China only imports 4 million b/d. So the small changes we’ve seen this year are already equal to almost 1/4 of China’s total oil imports (and a lot of Chinese oil is burned to generate electricity, not for use by cars)

    2. VMT is also down; I don’t want to rehash those numbers but I calculated it comes down to something like 10 miles per car per month. VMT is a very artificial number, but it gives you a trend line that you can play with.

    I think 10 years from now we’ll be looking at what happened to Detroit as less a mugging by oil companies than a failure to read consumer trends.

  • avatar
    Robstar

    akitadog> Well said!

    If people weren’t living over their means, a 10% hit in prices shouldn’t affect them that much.

  • avatar
    JuniorMint

    I’m going to print out this article…

    …if I show it to the cop who pulls me over, to explain why I was following 15 feet behind a semitruck at 75 MPH, do you think he’ll let me off?

  • avatar
    Michael Ayoub

    “Michael,

    If you’re that far behind perhaps leaving earlier and driving a little slower makes more sense, no?”

    I got out of school at 3:00 PM. I have to be at my job at 3:15. I can’t leave earlier.

    Oh, but Michael, you could start work later! No. I can’t. I nearly got fired because I was five minutes late. Only because my manager understood how annoying drivers like this are did I keep my job.

    Oh, well, Michael, get a new job! Yeah, easy to say… not so easy to do.

  • avatar
    jaje

    The ’89 I picked up was from the southwest and has no rust and is in great shape (and not modified – which is very, very rare). I had to pay to ship it out to where I live as rust becomes an issue over time (no car is immune from it even the galvanized steel bodies on Porsches).

    Way I see it is I can get probably 100-200k miles out of it at ~ 40mpg. Since it’s a Honda it still gets better emissions than most other cars sold at that time and is about one of the most reliable cars ever made. If it’s needed I can get a new catalytic converter if the old one is bad. Even if the engine breaks I can just buy another one or rebuild it very cheaply in just a weekend (I do have the mechanical aptitude to do so).

    Or I can spend $13k+ for a new fuel efficient car that will almost get what I can get in this one and pay full insurance and interest unless I buy it outright (and lose the interest that would accrue) or I can get buy with this little gem (I got a deal on this car). Then add the energy it took to make that brand new car versus buying one that was made about 20 years ago. I think even though this old car’s tailpipe isn’t as clean buying the old one will still be overall smaller environmental footprint.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    RobertSD: “… not sprinting from a stop light.”

    And the companion to that advice is, “Lift your foot as soon as the light ahead turns red.”

    It amazes me that people will continue to accelerate towards a red light. Lift your foot right away, save a little gas, save the brakes and maybe it will reward you by turning green before you come to a stop. 0-30-10-30-10 saves a lot of gas and break wear over 0-40-0-40-0.

    Yes, if there’s a line of cars behind you, you should move out a bit more smartly.

    Michael Ayoub,

    You have a problem that has nothing to do with people around you driving at reasonable speeds, so lay off them. If your schedule is fundamentally unmanageable, that’s not the fault of other drivers on the road. And if you can’t get from point A to point B in the time your schedule requires because a few people aren’t driving right at the limit or over, then your schedule is fundamentally unmanageable.

  • avatar
    Michael Ayoub

    KixStart, you have a good point. But let me elaborate: my problem is not people not driving right at the speed limit. No, it’s the people who feel compelled to drive 30 miles per hour on a street with a 45 miles per hour speed limit that annoy me.

  • avatar
    RedStapler

    JuniorMint :

    …if I show it to the cop who pulls me over, to explain why I was following 15 feet behind a semitruck at 75 MPH, do you think he’ll let me off?

    Not asmany trucks are flying in the hammer lane these days. Independent Owner Operators are going belly up. The 10-20% mileage boost from doing a mellow 60mph is Huge when you are burning 500 gal of diesel per week.

    Most company trucks are governed at 62-65mph.

  • avatar
    50merc

    KixStart: “It amazes me that people will continue to accelerate towards a red light.” Me too!

    And how about the jerk who rides your bumper until taking an exit, and as you’re cruising along at the speed limit you look over and see he’s now moving faster in the exit lane or access road than you’re doing on the Interstate! Hey, fella, access roads do have stop signs and traffic lights.

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    @50smerc
    And how about the jerk who rides your bumper until taking an exit, and as you’re cruising along at the speed limit you look over

    And what about the guy driving 80 kph on a 100 kph 1-lane road with no chance to overtake him… and when you overtake him, he suddenly realizes he’s in a hurry and sticks to your bumper..?

    I never drive below the speed limit, but there are a few things I do for a lot of my driving now:

    – I keep the engine between 1200 and 1800 rpm for most of the time (diesel torque is a nice thing!)

    – I don’t accelerate too much, just to brake immediately

    – I turn the a/c off when I don’t need it

    – I take the car out of gear and release the clutch, even on short stops (it has start-stop)

    If I drive that way and keep out of the cities off the autobahns, I’m able to get 50-52 mpg without much effort.
    In cities, I have never been able to get more than 47 mpg, even when driving like a saint.

    If I drive like fuel was free, I only get about 40.

    Tall gearing helps, in my car 60 mph is 1500 rpm in 6th gear.

  • avatar
    capeplates

    Driving like an old man eh this is an insult to all the golden oldies I see burning rubber down the motorways in their fired up Fiat Pandas

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