Fuel for thought

Australians rank fuel efficiency as their top priority when purchasing a new vehicle, according to an extensive consumer survey.

The survey of more than 9500 drivers in 11 markets across Asia Pacific, conducted by GlobalWebIndex on behalf of the Ford Motor Company, also showed more than four out of five Aussies believe fuel economy is more important than power.

Ford Australia President and CEO Graeme Whickman said the survey showed consumer attitudes towards power and fuel efficiency were shifting and industry sales were supporting the change.

Four of five Australian respondents claimed they knew of techniques that enabled them to drive their car for maximum fuel efficiency, and 80 percent said they made a concerted effort to drive efficiently daily.

Yet when asked to detail key fuel-saving driving techniques, most weren’t able to correctly identify a significant number of simple steps towards reducing fuel consumption.

“We conducted this survey to get a better understanding of what drivers know about fuel economy and how they choose their vehicles,” Mr Whickman said.

“The results show there is quite a lot of confusion among Australians about what constitutes fuel-efficient driving.”

The survey revealed that:

  • One-third (33 percent) of Australian drivers did not know that harsh acceleration and braking could have a dramatic effect on their car’s fuel consumption.

Reality: Aggressive driving – such as braking harshly or taking off too quickly – is the worst offender when it comes to wasting fuel.

  • One in five Australian drivers believed that keeping the engine running while idling would save more fuel.

Reality: Turning the engine off and restarting it again is more fuel-efficient, as proven by start-stop technology.

  • 70 percent of drivers were unaware that cruise control could deliver fuel-efficiency benefits.

Reality: Cruise control is a secret weapon against wasting fuel. It keeps drivers from needlessly driving faster than they should, and it helps maintain a constant speed, which means you don’t waste fuel through unnecessary braking and acceleration.

  • Only one in 10 drivers used GPS to map the quickest route before heading out.

Reality: It seems obvious, but the longer and further you drive the more fuel you’ll use. GPS will also allow you to save time and money by avoiding heavy traffic.

  • 40 percent of respondents didn’t know that driving in hilly terrain could hamper fuel consumption.

Reality: A long drive on undulating mountain roads will use more fuel than driving on flat, straight roads, with more stress on the engine and heavier acceleration and braking.

  • Only around one-quarter of respondents knew cold weather (24 percent) and hot weather (27 percent) affected a vehicle’s fuel efficiency.

Reality: When you put your vehicle through extreme environments, it’s going to need more fuel to run. If you need an easy comparison, just think of yourself in extreme conditions.

  • Less than half (47 percent) of those surveyed knew that removing heavy items or clutter from the car helped save fuel.

Reality: Excess weight in the vehicle can wreak havoc on your vehicle’s fuel consumption. Every gram costs you fuel, which in turn costs you money and will have you filling up sooner.

  • One in three Australian drivers was unaware that regular maintenance and keeping tyres inflated helped save fuel.

Reality: Regular maintenance maximises your car’s efficiency, while keeping your vehicle’s tyres at the recommended pressures reduces fuel economy and tyre wear.