South African motorists have it tougher than most – our petrol is expensive and we consume a great deal. Out of 61 countries on the Bloomberg Global Fuel Price Index, South Africa is 55th in affordability.
Additionally, only in Mexico do people spend more of their paychecks filling up their tanks each year.
While you cannot control the cost of fuel, you can control the way you drive, making filling up your tank a little easier on your wallet.
Derek Kirkby, technical director at Ford Driving Skills for Life, says that aggressive driving is perhaps the biggest culprit for high fuel consumption.
“Don’t use your accelerator like an on and off switch,” said Kirkby. “Rather, anticipate the traffic situation. Accelerate gradually and smoothly. Then change to the highest gear as early as possible and keep your gear changes between 2000rpm and 2500rpm.”
Sometimes the hard work is done for you. Cars come packed with technologies that can make your drive more fuel-efficient.
Ford has compiled a list of five technologies that can help to limit your visits to the pump.
Adaptive Cruise Control
You might think that cruise control was introduced to appease our lazier side, but this smart feature can actually help to save fuel in two ways.
When driving on highways, it keeps you from needlessly driving at faster – and less-efficient – speeds. It also helps you maintain a constant speed, which means you don’t waste fuel by unnecessarily braking and accelerating.
Ford’s Adaptive Cruise Control takes these advantages one step further.
When engaged, a radar sensor detects the speed of other vehicles ahead and automatically adjusts your speed to cruise at a safe distance. This means you won’t be caught off-guard and forced to aggressively brake and then accelerate again – a major cause of wasted fuel on the highways.
When you drive a car, you sometimes have to wait – in the parking lot, waiting to pick the kids up, or at the drive-through.
When your vehicle is safely parked for more than a couple of minutes, turn off the engine. You’ll use less fuel starting your engine back up again than you will keeping it running for several minutes.
Ford said its Start-Stop technology automatically shuts off the engine when you come to a complete stop. When you release the brake, the engine restarts smoothly and quickly – making it even easier for you to avoid unnecessary idling.
It can be difficult enough managing your own driving habits, but it can be nearly impossible to control someone else’s, which can be a real problem if you’re the one footing the bill.
Ford has developed a smart key technology, which is a pre-programed key that allows you to place limits on some in-car features, like setting a vehicle’s maximum speed and keeping track of how far it is driven.
Speeding wastes fuel, and fuel economy decreases rapidly at speeds above 80 km/h. By setting the vehicle’s speed limit, a guest driver, or perhaps a heavy-footed student won’t be able to override the set speed by fully depressing the accelerator pedal or by using cruise control.
Effective GPS technology
When you drive to a new part of town or go on a road trip, it’s not unusual to get a little lost along the way. To make sure you don’t clock any unnecessary miles, Ford recommends planning ahead and map the most efficient route.
Here, a good GPS setup will do the trick.
For an extra fuel-efficient push, try combining trips. Starting up a cold engine repeatedly for many short trips will use more fuel than going on a single, longer trip, the automaker said.
So when you have to drive for errands, get as many accomplished as you can in one trip to maximize your fuel economy.
‘Green’ cars are fast becoming the norm in many countries, and a the ultimate fuel-saving tip is to turn to a more fuel-efficient and green-tech vehicle when you next purchase one.
Car manufacturers the world over are developing smarter and greener engines, and Ford said it is no exception.
Its EcoBoost 1.0-litre engine provides up to a 20% improvement in fuel economy, meaning you will experience fewer trips to the petrol garage.
Yet with the performance of a bigger engine (92kW), you lose none of the drivability or performance. EcoBoost technology also reduces carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by up to 15%.