It takes a long time for petrol to find its way into your tank. Thousands of years to be exact. Originating from the fossils of animals and plants, petroleum (crude oil) needs to be extracted from the earth, refined into petrol or diesel, and transported and stored under precise conditions. Petrol is thus one of the biggest expenses a car owner has.
South African motorists have it tougher than most – our petrol is expensive and we consume a great deal. Out of 61 countries on the Bloomberg Global Fuel Price Index, South Africa is 55th in affordability. Additionally, only in Mexico do people spend more of their paychecks filling up their tanks each year.
Sometimes the hard work is done for you. In-car technologies can make your drive more fuel-efficient. Here are five in-car technologies from Ford that can help to limit your visits to the pump.
Adaptive Cruise Control
You might think that cruise control was introduced to appease our lazier side, but this smart feature can actually help to save fuel in two ways. When driving on highways, it keeps you from needlessly driving at faster – and less-efficient – speeds. It also helps you maintain a constant speed, which means you don’t waste fuel by unnecessarily braking and accelerating. Ford’s Adaptive Cruise Control takes these advantages one step further. When engaged, a radar sensor detects the speed of other vehicles ahead and automatically adjusts your speed to cruise at a safe distance. This means you won’t be caught off-guard and forced to aggressively brake and then accelerate again – a major cause of wasted fuel on the highways.
When you drive a car, you sometimes have to wait – in the parking lot, waiting to pick the kids up, or at the drive-through. But did you know that keeping your engine running while idling wastes fuel? When your vehicle is safely parked for more than a couple of minutes, turn off the engine. You’ll use less fuel starting your engine back up again than you will keeping it running for several minutes. Star-stop in-car technologies is also a great way to use this feature to use less fuel.
Active Park Assist
How many hours of your life have you spent searching for perfect parking spots? It’s probably not something you want to think about too much – but we have all wasted time and fuel looking for an easy and convenient spot. Fortunately, Ford’s Active Park Assist can help to avoid aimless driving around and burning through your fuel tank. The convenient driver’s aid can assess if a parking spot is the right size; if it’s a fit, Active Park Assist steers your vehicle into the spot while you control only the accelerator and brakes. It takes all the guesswork out of parking – you’ll never have to second-guess a small parking space again.
Have you ever loaned your car to a friend or family member, only for them to return it with an empty tank? While Ford’s MyKey won’t improve your friends’ manners, it may at least encourage them to drive more efficiently. A pre-programed key allows you to place limits on some in-car technologies, set your vehicle’s maximum speed and keep track of how far it is driven. Speeding wastes fuel, and fuel economy decreases rapidly at speeds above 80 km/h. By setting the vehicle’s speed limit, your guest driver won’t be able to override the set speed by fully depressing the accelerator pedal or by using cruise control.
When you drive to a new part of town or go on a road trip, it’s not unusual to get a little lost along the way. To make sure you don’t clock any unnecessary kilometers, plan ahead and map the most efficient route. A good GPS setup will do the trick, and with Ford’s SYNC® 3 with navigation, you can find the way using simple voice commands. SYNC®can also help you to view your distance covered, trip time, and distance-to-empty for two separate trips. For an extra fuel-efficient push, try combining trips. Starting up a cold engine repeatedly for many short trips will use more fuel than going on a single, longer trip. So when you have to drive for errands, get as many accomplished as you can in one trip to maximize your fuel economy.
Car manufacturers the world over are developing smarter and greener engines, and Ford is no exception. Ford’s EcoBoost 1.0-litre engine, recently named 2017 International Engine of the Year “Best Engine Under 1.0-litre” for the sixth consecutive year, is changing perceptions of the capabilities of smaller engines. The frugal three-cylinder engine provides up to a 20% improvement in fuel economy, meaning you will experience fewer trips to the petrol garage. Yet with the performance of a bigger engine (92kW), you lose none of the drivability or performance. EcoBoost technology also reduces carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by up to 15%.
The South African National Roads agency Limited (Sanral) recently reported that South Africa has a total road network is about 747 000km. According to the CIA World Factbook, this makes South Africa’s road network the tenth largest in the world, and by far the largest in Africa. For South Africans, this means there is a lot of driving to do. Combining smart in-car technologies with a more economical style of driving will ensure you go further on each tank.