British are most economical drivers

Data from almost half a million European car journeys and over 5000 individual drivers in the five major European markets – gathered using Fiat’s own Ecodrive technology – has shown that the British use the least fuel when driving and the Spanish use the most.

Britain’s result, which indicated that we drive at around 62% of possible fuel efficiency, was delivered by a uniquely British driving style built around ‘exceptionally smooth and thoughtful handling of gears’.

The Spanish, by contrast, drive at around 57% of possible fuel efficiency – although they were not helped by having the least efficient traffic system in Europe. The Italians narrowly beat the Spanish by achieving 58% fuel efficiency, being particularly hampered by uneven bursts of acceleration and deceleration.

Of the five nations surveyed, Germany came a close second behind Britain – aided by having the most fluid traffic system in Europe, causing the least stoppage time – and France came third, just above Italy. Individual driving characteristics of the different counties included:

– The British are masters of gear changes
– The Germans accelerate too forcefully but do well at maintaining speed once they have it
– The French brake gently but were not so good at handling gears, yet readily adopted fuel-saving gear-change techniques during the study
– The Italians had most trouble maintaining an average speed and slowing down gently
– The Spanish, although they remained at the bottom, also were best at learning new driving techniques

All the countries improved their fuel efficiency by using Fiat’s techniques – the Spanish most, by 2%; and the Italians least, by under 1%.

The results of the study highlighted four main techniques that can help us drive using less fuel. In order of their effectiveness, these are:

1. Change Gear Early. Shifting up a gear in good time helps the engine run more efficiently.

2. Accelerate Smoothly. Gentle acceleration reduces fuel-use and noxious emissions.

3. Intelligent Deceleration. Release the accelerator while the car is still in gear.

4. Achieve a steady speed. Anticipating changes in speed stops unnecessary braking and acceleration.

It was revealed that the average length of a European car journey is 6 miles. Overall, the drivers achieved an average 13% reduction in the amount of time spent stationary during their journeys, as well as a 3% reduction in journey time and a 2.5% increase in average speed.

The best achieved a reduction of 16% in their fuel usage while the average improvement was 6%. If everyone in the EU adopted the same techniques that would amount to 14 billion litres less fuel being burned a year – and a cost-saving of 19 billion Euros.

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