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-   -   Have you ever given 1-on-1 ecodriving instruction? (Here's how I did it.) (https://ecomodder.com/forum/showthread.php/have-you-ever-given-1-1-ecodriving-instruction-23772.html)

MetroMPG 10-23-2012 10:04 PM

Have you ever given 1-on-1 ecodriving instruction? (Here's how I did it.)
 
2 Attachment(s)
To a willing participant? (Grumbling from the back seat / passenger seat doesn't count! :D)

I used to teach in-car defensive driving many moons ago. It was a part-time job to help pay for school. One of the 15 lesson plans supposedly focused on fuel-efficient driving techniques. (I say "supposedly" because if the driver was still having a hard time with the basics like successfully turning corners, well the instructor wasn't going to be spending a lot of time talking about preserving momentum and the finer points of "driving without brakes".)

But that was ages ago, and the overwhelming majority of the kids going through the course didn't really seem to care about saving fuel anyway. (Not unexpected, really, since most weren't paying the bills!)

I tells ya, though: it sure is nice teaching someone who is genuinely interested in the subject, and I did that today for the first time in forever.

The student:

A retired newspaper reporter who was at an ecodriving seminar I gave to a local environmental group about a year ago. She was doing this out of personal interest though, not for a reporting gig.

She's actually a guinea pig for the rest of the group.

The car:

(And by that I mean her car...)

http://ecomodder.com/imgs/2000_toyot...037748727.jpeg

2004 Toyota Echo (Yaris) sedan, 1.5L, automatic
EPA city / highway: 28 / 36 MPG (US)
Compare Side-by-Side

The route:

~15-minute long city loop that included lots of turns & traffic lights

The execution:

I asked her to bring the car fully warmed up. I plugged in the ScanGauge, set the engine displacement & reset the trip meters.

And... we're off!

Lap #1: She drives to establish a baseline, with no coaching at all (which was harder to do than you might think - since we were talking around the subject of fuel economy for most of the drive and I had to bite my tongue from giving her pointers along the way). I make an effort to keep a good conversation going so she doesn't subconsciously start to focus on driving "nicely".

Lap #1 results: pretty decent! 30.8 mpg (all US gallons). She's already 3.8 MPG over the city EPA rating - 14%! But there are a few obvious bad habits that can be tuned up.

Intermission: Tire pressure check! Placard is 32 all around, max sidewall is 44. They weren't horrible - ranging between 24 & 36 PSI. I split the difference and set them all to 38, warm.

Lap #2: I drive the route, and explain what I'm doing. I don't do anything fancy or scary - no howling tires through high-g turns, and the engine stays on the entire time, though I shift to N for long lights. Just plenty of anticipation, planning, "driving without brakes" & timing the traffic lights. Results: 37.2 mpg - 33% over the EPA rating.

Lap #3: She takes the wheel again and I coach her along. Results: 34 mpg - 21% over EPA.

http://ecomodder.com/imgs/attachmentecho.jpg

She really seemed to enjoy it - thinks her husband will want to try it too.

The high point -- when the light bulb seriously went on and a big smile plastered itself across her face -- was coaching her toward a very stale red light. 4 lane road, 2 lanes each direction. There was a line of 4 cars stopped in our lane (left), and only one car stopped in the right. We had already been coasting for a while, and I suggested a lane change to the right would give us more coasting distance and the light would probably change before she needed to brake at all. Sure enough, it worked perfectly and we ended up gliding past a gaggle of stopped cars that had sped away from us at the previous light. Classic.

Post game discussion:

Reviewed the main points. Reviewed the numbers: showed her that even though she was already probably an above average ecodriver, reducing fuel use another 10% was easy, and 20% was within reach. Suggested she get an MPG gauge to keep her motivated. She took notes, but I also emailed her a "report card" afterward.

We also spent 30 seconds discussing highway tactics: dead simple - slow the eff down. :)

The whole session took an hour and 10 minutes.

I'll probably do more of these with other members of the environmental group, maybe once every week or two.

----

UPDATE: more sessions & results ...

http://ecomodder.com/imgs/more-results.jpg

As of mid-November, I've documented 4 more sessions: You can find the summaries of ...
  • Session 2 (in a 2009 Honda Fit 5-speed) in post #30;
  • Session 3 (in a 2007 Toyota Camry hybrid) in post #41;
  • Session 4 (in a 2009 Honda Civic LX) in post #45.
  • Session 5 (in a 1997 BMW 328i Sport) in post #48

2000neon 10-23-2012 10:41 PM

I don't have the patience to teach, ;). Good for you though! It says a lot about your driving when you can jump in a new, unfamiliar car and get 33% over EPA right off the bat!

MetroMPG 10-23-2012 10:54 PM

I think just about anybody here could have done it. It's not rocket surgery! (Also, local roads, so I'm familiar with the traffic lights, patterns, etc.)

As I said, it was pretty mild ecodriving, too. 40%+ would have been pretty easy if I'd been killing the engine.

She actually did ask about shutting off the engine at long stop lights. I said that in my car, the engine is off most of the time I'm stopped. I didn't push it though - comes across as pretty extreme to a normal driver.

HydroJim 10-23-2012 10:59 PM

Awesome! I've started teaching my mom, but it's hard to break 25 years of driving habits. She seems to get 28 mpg combined in her 2008 Jeep Patriot with the CVT. I believe the EPA is 24 combined, but it's hard to read the chart because she has 4WD, but it is normally off. I've been trying to convince her to get a smaller car, but for whatever reason, she doesn't seem to want to budge. Funny thing is my ford focus has just as much cargo room as the patriot and with snow tires probably handles comparably in the snow. Women. :confused:

MetroMPG 10-23-2012 11:10 PM

Hey - show your mom the picture I made for her. :) (2wd model though...)

http://ecomodder.com/forum/showthrea...2-a-21152.html

HydroJim 10-23-2012 11:27 PM

she already drives pretty slow on the highway because the speed limits used to be 55 around here and she still feels 65 is unsafe, so luckily she saves a lot of gas there

The worst thing is that she does a lot of city driving and she's too afraid to use the autostick to force lower engine RPM's. I've tried explaining that the computer does most of the work, but I don't try to push the subject.

niky 10-24-2012 03:09 AM

Never taught one-on-one. Did teach to a small group, and inside the car, only one was really attentive. Pretty good result. Our car got better economy than the one with the other coach. They made the mistake of going too slow, hence their car kept kicking into 5th gear.

-

Yeah, we were pretty much limited to mild pulse-and-glide, engine-off at stoplights and hill-momentum stuff. Contractual obligations prevented me from preaching coasting in neutral or EOC...

MetroMPG 10-24-2012 09:30 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by niky (Post 335865)
They made the mistake of going too slow, hence their car kept kicking into 5th gear.

That's interesting - I had the same experience yesterday and learned about the "going too slowly" mistake. That was unexpected!

Because I was emphasizing not rushing in to situations where she would be forced to brake, she started over-thinking things - sometimes driving a bit too slowly, or beginning to coast too soon, and a couple of times it cost her extra fuel.

EG: We were slowly approaching a red light where we were going to turn left. There is a brief (2-3 car) advanced left-turn signal on these lights. I started to say, "it is possible to over-do things and go too slowly..." when the left turn arrow came on while we were still half a block away. We missed the left turn signal and had to wait through an entire light cycle because there was a steady stream of oncoming cars. Oops!

Of the 3 laps we did on this route -- 2 hers, 1 mine -- my lap happened to have the highest average speed, and the lowest fuel consumption.

Daox 10-24-2012 09:57 AM

I've taught one on one once. I was asked to do a driving session by the local drive green group (aka hybrid group). It went quite well I think. He had a manual transmission Tercel and I taught him the basics of timing lights much farther ahead than normal people, reducing brake use, keeping speeds low. Then, we got to the fun part and did some P&G instruction. It took a little bit (as it did when I got instruction on it), but he got the hang of it. He later went on to get on the top 10 list here on EM. :)

MetroMPG 10-24-2012 10:12 AM

Good story - training a top 10 driver! (And the student has become the master....)

We don't have any hybrid groups in this town, though a few old-timers have told me they used to run the occasional economy rally in the old days in their (now defunct) sports car clubs.

euromodder 10-24-2012 01:49 PM

Local "ecodriving" schools teach engine braking ...

'Nuff said, I presume.

niky 10-24-2012 11:28 PM

The problem is liability.

When I gave my first eco seminar, it was sponsored by Shell and Ford. (they paid for the food, the cars, the gas and the venue). Shell had their own fuel saving guidelines and I had mine, and I had to mish-mash the two into a coherent whole.

I was under strict orders not to promote stuff like EOC (not that I practice it, or easily could... as the cars used were dual-clutch automatics) or neutral coasting, as the safety nannies at those companies didn't want their names attached to a seminar preaching such heretical stuff.

Hell... we had a small row over tire pressures, too.

Of course, we know what best practice is. Those schools likely know what best practice is. But due to legal liability, they can't teach it to their students.

MetroMPG 10-25-2012 10:09 AM

Liability is definitely an issue. Common sense and discretion dictates that you don't teach someone something they may not be able to handle either.

I have a bit more lattitude since I'm not doing this for compensation, and don't have to answer to a sponsor. (That said, I was still pretty conservative in what I taught this driver - what I thought was appropriate for her skill/comfort level.)

Now I'm more curious about your background, niky. (I looked to see if you had posted an introduction when you joined - I didn't see any in your first dozen or so posts.)

niky 10-25-2012 11:24 AM

I write for an online magazine. Started back in 05 or 06 though I've been in the club scene since the late 90's and know a bit about retuning and modifying. Currently working for one of Top Gear's online outlets after stints as Road Test Editor at two others (Philippine market only) and sporadic contributions to thetruthaboutcars.com, and I'm on the technical committee for the local Car of the Year awards. Oh, and I moderate a video game website. Wiggy, huh?

First joined here to learn, inspired by the MetroMPG website, which I first spied years ago. Some of what I taught at that seminar and eco-drive (for kotse.com, back in June) came from here and there, and some from research culled around the internet. I like it here because it's not as full of the endless bickering over AGW, oil politics and EV versus ICE as other "green" sites. ;) Just straight talk about modification and proper driving. :D

Ecomodder is a cool place to be. And without it, I wouldn't have gotten the chance to do that seminar. ;)

YeahPete 10-25-2012 11:32 AM

I've done a bit with my wife every time I drive her honda fit. I usually net about 47-48 mpg. Now she likes to keep track of the milage. I just show her to time the lights, coast, conserve momentum.

She claims to have once got 58 mpg on the highway going 55 mph. I call BS. no way she beat my mileage. I do know that day she had high tailwinds though so its possible.

I also show people at work when I get to drive. I'm pretty much banned from driving now :P. Apparently they don't like pulse and glide or going slow.

MetroMPG 10-25-2012 12:02 PM

Sounds like a fun resume, niky.

MetroMPG 10-25-2012 12:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by YeahPete (Post 336063)
I also show people at work when I get to drive. I'm pretty much banned from driving now :P. Apparently they don't like pulse and glide or going slow.

Ha! That's why I mentioned "...to a willing participant". :D

slowmover 10-25-2012 02:10 PM

My [ex] wife was willing enough when we got together. It was mainly the smoothness of better driving versus one particular aspect of the comprehensive whole (safety, insurance cost [accidents/tickets], vehicle longevity/reliability and then fuel economy).

Establishing new habits takes time as most of us learned to drive in our teen years where emotions may over-ride rationality . . later in life, with slower reaction speed and less overall energy those "bad habits" need to be approached in the overall sense of things wanted & needed. Separating need from want is a workable approach.

She wants to drive a Jeep, fine. She wants to drive a Lexus, fine (she did both along the way). Driving each of them well called for appealing to the motivation in buying them in the first place as each had strengths and weaknesses while onroad.

Over EPA wasn't hard when done in this manner.


Outstanding description, by the way, of you & your student!! :thumbup:

.

MetroMPG 10-25-2012 02:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by slowmover (Post 336107)
It was mainly the smoothness of better driving versus one particular aspect of the comprehensive whole (safety, insurance cost [accidents/tickets], vehicle longevity/reliability and then fuel economy).

The cool thing is: teaching (conservative) eco-driving habits goes a long way to addressing those other goals.

The student recognized this, too. She went from focusing quite a bit on the car in front of us, to taking in the bigger picture and smoothing out her reactions/mechanical operation overall - especially after we got her to increase her following distance and look further ahead.

Proactive > reactive.

slowmover 10-25-2012 02:51 PM

The cool thing is: teaching (conservative) eco-driving habits goes a long way to addressing those other goals.

Yes, I see it as there being no real differences among them. And why I limit myself on some practices so as to be consistent in an overall fashion.

Habits are crucial when underway. One set is sufficient, IMO.

.

MetroMPG 10-25-2012 10:45 PM

satisfied "customer" feedback
 
Well, she wasn't really a "customer" (because the lesson was gratis), but I thought I'd share part of the e-mailed feedback I got today.

Confirms the idea brought up in the past few posts that ecodriving = safer driving:

Quote:

After watching you drive and then having you coach me, I am astounded at how much more aware I am of distant traffic lights! And how much my foot hates to touch the brake! I expect most drivers are like me: driving is a habit and we don't think much about what we are doing. You teach that driving well requires an ever alert mind. Think how much safer the roads could be.

I haven't had to drive since Tuesday, but when I do, I'll probably be more aware of the things that I'm not quite clear on yet.

I would heartily recommend your lesson to anyone who is interested in knowing how to be a better driver and get more mileage out of their car. As the price of gasoline increases relative to the amount of money people have to spend on their cars, there could be a real demand for what you offer, particularly since you are able to demonstrate the effectiveness of the tips you give.
I like the comment about not driving since Tuesday. Best way to save fuel is to not drive!

MetroMPG 10-31-2012 12:27 PM

An announcement was made at the group's meeting this past weekend, and 6 people (3 couples) signed up for an ecodriving session.

Late models: Honda Civic sedan (5-speed); Honda Fit (5-speed); Toyota Camry hybrid.

I'm going to dole them out about one per week.

Funny: the female halves expressed the stronger interest - the guys, not so much. ("I'll just observe... I don't really think I need instruction," was heard a few times.)

turbovr41991 10-31-2012 01:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MetroMPG (Post 337147)
I don't really think I need instruction

You learn how to drive on old inefficient cars and expect the same techniques to be just as useful on today’s vehicles. That is just not the case. To make matters worse, the changes made in cars today really is not advertized.


I saw an HX for sale the other day on craigslist and the guy said “it runs great but had a slight miss at highway speeds." The miss would go away though when he floored it. He listed off loads of parts that swapped out trying to fix the “issue” but he and his mechanic could not figure it out. I told him it was the lean burn feature and explained how it worked and he was shocked. He started sighting examples of how it worked and felt and started putting all the pieces together. Suddenly he realized his car was fine and it was MEANT to “miss” at high speeds. Crazy…

I found myself guilty of this. When I first joined this forum I was “all about” gas mileage, but when I exited off the highway or came to a stop from high speeds, I always coasted to a stop. Little did I know, there was a thing called DFCO (deceleration fuel cut off). This little trick goes against everything I had every learned and I would have NEVER discovered without someone pointing it out to me over and over again until I understood what it really was. It was my own stubborn mindset that did not allow me to embrace this new technology.

sheepdog 44 10-31-2012 05:42 PM

PLEASE video tape these sessions for the benefit of (me) and all the new people coming here. There is a decided lack of informative practical ecodriving videos on youtube.

Gealii 10-31-2012 05:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sheepdog 44 (Post 337183)
PLEASE video tape these sessions for the benefit of (me) and all the new people coming here. There is a decided lack of informative practical ecodriving videos on youtube.

+1 i plan on it one day if i ever get time

rjstegbauer 10-31-2012 08:03 PM

Re: I make an effort to keep a good conversation going so she doesn't subconsciously start to focus on driving "nicely".

I've noticed that I cannot ecodrive when I'm having a conversation, because ecodriving itself takes so much concentration.

I *really* wish the car would do most of the work. Perhaps when we get robocars, but that's another forum.

Peace,
Randy

MetroMPG 10-31-2012 08:23 PM

Same here - I typically don't even drive with the radio/tunes on in the city.

As for cars doing most of the work - that's one of the nice things about a "full" hybrid vehicle. In city use, they do quite a bit of the fuel-saving work whether the driver is paying attention or not (mostly in terms of shutting off the engine when it's not needed, and capturing/reusing braking energy that would otherwise be lost).

rjstegbauer 10-31-2012 10:34 PM

Re: Me too.

So for me, I only ecodrive when I'm alone and on a long trip, where I can even do EOC where safe. However, I need to remember that my van has the auto fuel cut-off when there is no pressure on the gas pedal.

If anyone else is in the car, I can't even do DWL because the other people complain that I'm driving too slow. Sigh.

These are even more reasons why we need robocars.

Peace,
Randy

turbovr41991 11-01-2012 10:34 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rjstegbauer (Post 337225)
I need to remember that my van has the auto fuel cut-off when there is no pressure on the gas pedal.

If anyone else is in the car, I can't even do DWL because the other people complain that I'm driving too slow. Sigh.

I have the opposite problem now when I drive my 97 Ranger. I only drive it 1-2 times a month, but when I do, I always downshift to slow down as if it had DFCO and it does not have it... So trying to use it uses more fuel! I quickly catch myself, and switch to the old methods, but still. Just shows how complicated it has gotten.

My wife is getting better at anticipating traffic lights with me. She will put up with coasting up to a light if it is red, trying to maintain speed, etc... But just yesterday she was complaining I was not going the speed limit when there is really not room to go the speed limit. There will be a large gap in between the car ahead and us, but the gap remains the same and she just compains... I am not really sure what makes being on the persons bumper going under the speed limit any better, but in her mind it does. Hopefully she comes around to that.

MetroMPG 11-01-2012 04:19 PM

Session #2 - in a Honda Fit 5-speed
 
1 Attachment(s)
Well this was interesting:

http://ecomodder.com/imgs/attachmentfit.jpg

Again, an above average driver to begin with - a farmer with a solid understanding of the basics. On his "baseline" lap, he handily beat both the EPA city rating AND the much tougher NRCan (Canadian) city rating.

He even checked & adjusted the tire pressure yesterday, depriving me of a "teachable moment"!

But here's the funny thing: on his last ("coaching") lap, he ended up with the same MPG as his baseline lap! Doh. It happened there was more traffic & he hit more red lights on that lap, yet despite these obstacles he came in with the same MPG. That meant he definitely drove more efficiently... and he understood that point.

But the session lacked the satisfying punch of pointing to higher MPG at the end and saying "ta-daaaa!"

Fortunately, my demo lap went well and showed him what was possible. Again, nothing fancy: Engine stayed on. Just plenty of anticipation, planning & minimizing brake use.

---

That was my first time in a Fit. Neat car! Too bad about the terrible gearing (too low). If it had a proper highway/cruising gear, this would be a killer MPG machine... which would of course cannibalize Insight sales. Which is why we'll never see it. Yay for marketing strategies.

sheepdog 44 11-01-2012 05:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MetroMPG (Post 337338)

Wait a second, They don't put Civic Hybrid wheels on a Honda fit do they?

MetroMPG 11-01-2012 05:40 PM

(I wondered if anyone would notice that...)

They did in Canada.

For a few years we had a federal "feebate" incentive program that penalized/rewarded low/high MPG vehicles. The 5-speed Fit's fuel economy fell just outside of the "rebate" reward threshold (theoretically affecting sales), so Honda Canada modded the car to get it into the program: they added LRR tires, the lighter, more aerodynamic hybrid wheels, and changed the alternator control logic. That improved fuel economy enough to get it into the program.

Same with the base Civic 5-speed - it also came with the hybrid LRR tires/wheels & hybrid deck lid spoiler (maybe underbody panels?). So all our base Civics looked just like the hybrid model for a few years, until the program expired.

sheepdog 44 11-01-2012 05:50 PM

Good to know in case i wanna buy a used Fit in the future. Get it from Canada! How much mpg increase did they get?

MetroMPG 11-01-2012 05:59 PM

It wasn't a big change. They only had to improve 0.1 or 0.2 L/100 km to get in the program. Something like going from 6.1 L/100 km to 5.9 L/100 km, or about 38.5 MPG (US) to 39.9 MPG on the NRCan combined rating.

eco_generator 11-02-2012 12:38 AM

Our Fit seems to like pretty hardy pulse and glide. Drive steady state and the mileage drops like a rock.

euromodder 11-02-2012 07:21 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MetroMPG (Post 337338)
Fortunately, my demo lap went well and showed him what was possible.
---
That was my first time in a Fit.

It just goes to show what's possible, despite it being your first time in a Fit.
If you had as much time in the Fit as the farmer, you'd likely do even better.

MetroMPG 11-02-2012 12:32 PM

There's definite potential to get much higher numbers.

Remember though, I'm not using any techniques in these sessions that a "normal" driver would consider extreme.

ps2fixer 11-03-2012 02:14 AM

I like the graphs, interesting to see the effects of the teaching.

I would also like to see some ecomodder videos on different methods besides the simple ones like tire pressure. Quick example... P&G I thought was 10-20mph change from high to low, but when I met up with Weather Spotter, he drops from 55 to around 25mph, much more extreme than I thought it was, no wonder my first attempts failed so badly. It was also interesting sitting in the car with the boat tail, I could see around the car pretty well compaired to what I thought it would be like.

Someone should make ecomodder class videos :), something kind of like ABA testing, but maybe more of a BAB demostration (eco driving vs normal vs eco again).

Daox 11-03-2012 09:58 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ps2fixer (Post 337621)
Quick example... P&G I thought was 10-20mph change from high to low, but when I met up with Weather Spotter, he drops from 55 to around 25mph, much more extreme than I thought it was, no wonder my first attempts failed so badly.

Haha, yeah I normally P&G from 5 over to 5 under unless there is no traffic then I extend it a bit more. I don't think I've ever done 55 to 25 though! :)

ps2fixer 11-03-2012 10:06 AM

That is probably why Weather Spotter went from ~55mpg steady speed to 65-70mpg P&G lol. I have an automatic, so P&G is kind of hard on the starter, and eats up most of the gains :(.


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