GPS systems that save gas

Instead of just getting you where you're going, some in-car navigation systems can get you there more efficiently.Instead of just getting you where you're going, some in-car navigation systems can get you there more efficiently. By Peter Valdes-Dapena, senior writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Ordinarily, you want a GPS navigation system to show you the quickest way to get where you're going. But with gas prices over $4 a gallon in some cities you might rather know the way that uses the least gasoline.

Some new navigation systems can now do that.

But if you're in a rush you should know this: Sometimes using less gas might take a little longer.

While ordinary GPS routing relies on data like the expected average speed on various roads, "Green Routing" or "Eco-Routing" adds in other factors, said Mark Burfeind, a spokesman for TeleNav, a digital mapping company that supplies an "Eco-Route" system used in some Ford Motor Co. vehicles.

Among the factors Ford's "Eco-Route" system looks at:

  • Hills -- Going uphill uses more gas.
  • Curves -- Slowing down then speeding up around curves uses more gas.
  • Stoplights and stop signs -- Having to stop -- and then get going again -- uses more gas.
  • Traffic -- Stop-and-go driving, idling and driving at very low speeds all use more gas.

Of course, many GPS systems already take traffic into account, but it's given greater importance when calculating an "Eco-Route." There may be cases in which driving through a traffic jam would be quicker because it's more direct, but driving around it would actually use less fuel.

Also, slower roads can be more fuel efficient. Once a car is going fast enough to use its highest gear, every mile per hour faster reduces fuel economy. So driving on a 50 mile per hour road, provided its straight and without stop lights, might be be preferable to a 65 mph rural freeway.

Compared to using the "fastest" route, Ford says its researchers found that using the "Eco-Route" option offered as much as 15% reduced fuel use in some of their vehicles. Map data company NavTeq, creator of a similar system that will be used by Hyundai in Europe, estimates a more modest 6% improvement. To top of page

Find Your Next Car
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 25,219.38 19.01 0.08%
Nasdaq 7,239.46 -16.97 -0.23%
S&P 500 2,732.22 1.02 0.04%
Treasuries 2.88 -0.01 -0.48%
Data as of 12:39am ET
Company Price Change % Change
General Electric Co 15.05 0.20 1.35%
Bank of America Corp... 31.97 -0.24 -0.75%
Micron Technology In... 44.21 0.71 1.63%
Advanced Micro Devic... 11.82 -0.37 -3.04%
Ford Motor Co 10.61 -0.15 -1.39%
Data as of Feb 16
Sponsors

Sections

Idaho's governor last month said that insurers can sell plans that don't meet all of Obamacare's mandates. Blue Cross of Idaho plans to debut such policies soon. More

The FCC head is being probed by the agency's inspector general about whether he inappropriately favored Sinclair, according to a lawmaker. More

The 4% rule has long been the standard as far as retirement plan withdrawals go. But it certainly isn't perfect. More