So, I was in North Carolina last month, riding back from my cousin’s wedding reception (conga-rats A&A) and the topic of conversation was the minivan we were riding in, a Honda Odyssey my other cousin just purchased. This Odyssey model is a class leader on fuel economy due, in part, to a 6-cylinder engine that shuts off half of the cylinders when you don’t need the power and turns them back on when you do. Honda calls the technology Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) and also uses it in the Accord Hybrid to improve engine efficiency (GM and DaimlerChrysler have the technology in limited applications too).
Though the VCM technology is cool, the real topic of conversation was more low-tech. My cousin really loves the light that goes on when the minivan is operating on half its cylinders, saving fuel. In fact, she found herself learning to drive in ways that maximized the amount of time the light stayed on—part game, part money saving strategy. I have heard similar stories from hybrid owners about how they enjoy using the instantaneous fuel economy readouts and other onboard feedback to help them learn to maximize their fuel economy.
With gas prices over $2 per gallon and the US spending $350,000 every minute on petroleum imports, wouldn’t it be great if every driver had more ways to improve their fuel economy, even by just a bit? If every car and truck came with a very visible fuel economy meter for instant feedback on driving habits we would have a great new tool to save some money at the pump. I have to admit, I am thinking that this may be something UCS should tackle… stick around and see.
For now, those of you who DO have any sort of fuel economy feedback, take advantage of it!! I challenge you to try to squeeze out an extra mpg or two.
For those of you who don’t, check this out for a few helpful tips. Lets see what we can do as consumers and drivers to help reduce oil dependence.
The auto industry is still doing a relatively poor job of making high fuel economy choices available to the public, and Congress certainly doesn't seem to be helping us out, either, but on this Independence Day weekend, there is no reason you shouldn’t make the choices you can to be a bit more patriotic and help cut down on our oil import habit.
Happy 4th, everyone!
Posted by: DJF