By Hyun Jin Cho
Sustainability Management Team
Kia Motors Corporation
As this piece is being written, oil prices are hovering around $130 per barrel. In the face of today’s sky-high oil prices, there seem to be two main options available to drivers. One is leaving their cars at home, which most of us don’t intend to do; and the other is ‘eco-driving.’
What is ‘eco-driving’ you ask? In short, it is how efficiently you can drive your vehicle. The five simple golden rules of eco-driving are as follows:
1. Avoid speeding and maintain a constant speed.
2. Change gears as soon as possible.
3. Avoid sharp acceleration and sudden braking.
4. Check tire pressure frequently.
5. Move with the traffic flow.
Eco driving can reduce exhaust gas emissions, help prevent accidents, lengthen car life and save energy. Tests have shown that eco driving can enhance fuel efficiency by 10 to 30%. However, the practice of eco-driving is subjective amongst drivers. Other than the UK, where the driver’s license test incorporates the concept of eco-driving, changing bad driving habits and separate education on eco-driving is easier said than done.
To help drivers master the five golden rules, Kia Motors included the Eco Driving System in the enhanced Lotze (known as Magentis or Optima in overseas markets), which was launched domestically on June 12th. It will be the first car in Korea to feature such a device.
A green lamp will come on to indicate high fuel efficiency driving (eg, traveling at a constant speed), while a red lamp will indicate low fuel efficiency (eg, sharp acceleration, sudden braking). A white lamp will come on to show normal fuel efficiency or standby mode. The system is designed to encourage eco-driving by providing real-time feedback to the driver.
During a recent real-life test drive in Korea, Kia Motors submitted 10 units of the Lotze in an eco-driving event. Through the 7km route, 100 drivers were asked to drive the course using in their usual driving habits. After receiving special instruction from trainers, drivers were then asked to run the course again applying the Eco Driving System.
Based on the test drives that day, the highest fuel consumption rate was 13.8km/ℓ while the average was 12.5 km/ℓ. The figures were 10 to 20% better than the Lotze’s official fuel consumption rate.
The system is expected to be included in overseas models, as well. Kia Motors will continue to hold campaigns to promote economical and eco-friendly driving habits to help drivers better cope with surging oil prices.