Speed reduction to improve fuel consumption

“A reduction of 10 kilometres per hour on motorways has an impact on consumption. Dropping from 120 to 110 is relevant, because at high speeds there is a high variation in consumption”, said Sofia Taborda, an expert with company OCCAM, who has carried out a study on eco-driving for the national Automobile Association ACAP.

Such a form of driving that reduces maximum speeds and, above all, avoids brusque starts and stops, would allow savings in the region of €800 million in fuel and 1.7 billion tons of CO2 per year, the ‘Eco-driving in Portugal’ study suggests.

It further claims that, as well as saving in the region of €800 million, Portugal could also reduce fuel consumption by up to 20 percent if drivers were to adopt driving techniques that are more efficient and better suited to current car technology.

“The variation [in consumption] is not linear. For example, going from 100 to 140 doubles consumption but the speed has less than doubled”, Mrs. Taborda explained.

In the specialist’s opinion “this measure [reducing motorway speeds by 10 km/h] could have practical results.”

Despite having already been published last year, the Eco-driving study is enjoying refreshed interest after the Spanish government recently announced that from 7 March this year it will be reducing its motorway maximum speeds from 120 kilometres per hour, to 110 km/h in a bid to reduce fuel consumption.

Spanish Internal affairs Minister Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba reassured his people that the measure was just “transitional”, brought on by the recent rise in crude oil prices.

As well as the new speed limit on motorways, speed limits in populated areas will also be dropped to 30 km/h. In Madrid, Spain’s capital city, public transport prices will be slashed.

While Sofia Taborda doubts that bringing speeds down in populated areas will contribute greatly to major change, she did applaud the public transport initiative.

“Regarding lower speeds it doesn’t really make any sense, because we’d be in third gear. It is here [in the lower gears] that there is higher instantaneous combustion”, she explained.

Commenting on the Spanish government’s backing of public transport, Sofia Taborda described it as a “fantastic measure.”

“Given current circumstances it is an excellent opportunity to review public transport. We see that more and more people are leaving their cars at home, so it is an excellent time to invest in improving what public transport has to offer.”

The Spanish Government has predicted that its upcoming changes will reduce petrol consumption by 15 percent and diesel by 11 percent.


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