Federal Highway Research Institute


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Eco Driving

Information on efficient and environmentally conscious driving

Illustration of a car with a green exhaust plume Picture: Dominique Bruneton / Getty Images

In the context of the work on Green NCAP, BASt is involved in the EU project GVI (Green Vehicle Index). The aim of the project is to provide purchasers of motor vehicles with comprehensible information regarding the energy efficiency, as well as pollutant and climate gas emissions of new motor vehicles appearing on the market.

As a part of the GVI project, BASt has developed an information brochure on the subject of efficient, environmentally conscious driving (Eco driving). In addition to legislative measures such as the tightening of emission limits or infrastructure improvements, the individual driving style and usage of motor vehicles significantly determines the impact on the environment. Eco driving refers to a broad spectrum of measures that can help to reduce harmful pollutants and to decrease the fuel consumption and the related CO2 emissions, and finally to improve the ecological footprint of a vehicle.

Eco driving already begins before a trip is performed, either by choosing an alternative means of transport – public transport or bicycle instead of motor vehicles - or when it comes to purchase by choosing a vehicle depending on individual mobility requirements. Additionally, car pools can be formed or a vehicle can be rented according to need. A daily updated, digital route planning can help to avoid congested traffic and thus to save fuel and time. Furthermore, vehicle maintenance can also be related to the field of predictive measures, since properly maintained and correctly adjusted vehicles have the potential to consume less fuel and ultimately release fewer CO2 emissions. This includes, among other things, correctly set tire pressures and axis adjustments to minimize the rolling resistance, the fulfilling of required inspection intervals – in particular oil changes to minimize inner-engine friction, as well as the removal of heavy dirt layers to optimize air resistance characteristics.

Illustrations for the eco-driving guidance Copyright © 2021 by Green NCAP & GVI.

In the EU, 3 billion litres of extra fuel are consumed each year due to insufficiently filled tyres. Finally, the use of electrical devices as well as vehicle air conditioning systems leads to increased fuel consumption and emissions, so it is recommended to use them sparingly.

In terms of vehicle technology, drivers can be advised to drive in an environmentally friendly manner by using sensors and assistance systems. Already established systems such as the start/stop function, tyre pressure monitoring systems, cylinder deactivation devices or gear shift indicators are supplemented by engine control functions to achieve a fuel-saving driving style - these include functions such as cruise control (speed control) or the sailing function (temporary switching off of the combustion engine while driving).

Last but not least, the individual driving style significantly determines the emission of pollutants and greenhouse gases as well as the wear emission rate of the vehicle. Heavy acceleration or braking processes as well as high speeds lead to increased fuel consumption and associated emissions.
Combining such technical innovations with individual driving behaviour patterns can help to minimize the negative effects of traffic and to improve the traffic-related environmental footprint.