EcoDrive: A Backseat Driver With the Planet and Your Pocketbook in Mind

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[social_buttons]fiat ecodrive

When I say the name Fiat, what comes to mind? If you’re American, the words, “Fix It Again, Tony” may come to mind, recalling the days when Fiats were a more common sight on these shores, and had a less than stellar reputation for reliability. But if you’re in Europe, a very different set of words may come to mind: Efficient. Stylish. Innovative.


Yes. The latest example of that is EcoDrive. What is it, aside from a catchy name? It’s an application that analyzes how you drive, and tells you how you can improve it. This backseat driver has a motivation: Helping you save gas, money, and reduce emissions, on vehicles whose average CO2 emissions are the lowest in Europe.


Fiats with a USB port and Blue&Me, a car interface system, insert a thumb drive into the car and it records how you drive, noting speed, acceleration, braking, etc. Remove the USB drive, go plug it into your computer, and the EcoDrive application analyzes how you’ve done, giving you specific feedback on areas of trouble and opportunity to improve.

Over time you can see your progress, EcoDrive showing your results both visibly and numerically, as in pounds of CO2 reduced, gallons of fuel saved, and how much money that equates to. Turning being efficient into sport, it allows you to set challenges for yourself. When behaving in an ecologically sensitive manner can turn into something more than just a benevolent gesture, putting it in a real world personally relevant context, that’s when change of this sort can accelerate.

Connecting all those drivers out there is EcoDrive’s community aspect, where you can see and share with others the progress being made, challenges you need help overcoming, and most powerfully, see how much difference you all, collectively, are making. This too is a key I see: Connecting people to others so that they see their efforts being more than just something done in isolation, not having much of an impact.

EcoDrive, along with Community Pulse, the community resource use feedback system, and EcoBee, the smart thermostat system that gives real time and historical data to users, are all part of a growing and what I see as highly potent trend: ecofeedback, or eco metrics if you like. Having context for where your actions stand in relation to others and your own over time has been proven to create a dramatically bigger impact.

A recent example I learned of while at the This Way To Sustainability conference was that when the dorms at CSU Chico had an energy reduction competition, the ones that had kiosks displaying energy use saved 40% more than those that did not. Knowledge truly is power.

Readers: Where else do you see examples of ecofeedback? Are you working on something yourself? Where else do you see it being effective?

More reading:

High Transportation and Shipping Costs Got You Down? : Ecopreneurist
Castagna Electrifies the Fiat 500 : Cleantechnica
Fiat’s Concept Bugster Buggy Spreads its Legs in Brazil : Gas 2.0

Image Credit: Fiat Ecodrive site


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