Article and photos by Steven Bochenek

From early Tuesday morning until midday Thursday last week, the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) conducted Eco-Run. A circuitous drive from Ottawa to Montreal by 22 writers in new ‘green’ cars, this journey was peppered with stops for press conferences and learning opportunities.

2013 AJAC Eco-Run
The coveted Green Jersey
The coveted Green Jersey. Click image to enlarge

Why? Two reasons:

1) To show off, in one place, some of the greenest choices currently available to eco-conscious consumers wishing to purchase a new vehicle. Auto manufacturers supplied their newest and best examples of the latest fuel-efficient technologies. And if you’re not in the market for a car?

2) To demonstrate how to drive eco-consciously. Making your current tank of gas last is also smart environmentalism. Besides, with a few simple choices you can save up to 25 percent on fuel.

Eco-Run was also a competition determining the most fuel-efficient driver among us. Here’s how. Each car was fitted with a device that measured the driver’s style. At the end of each leg, the devices’ builders – clever eggheads from a company called MyCarma – would interpret the data and determine which of us drove most wisely. At the end of each day, a driver was awarded the coveted ‘Green Jersey’.

(Some dealerships have these MyCarma units. They’ll let you borrow one for a week, so it can log your driving habits. When you return, they’ll have a better picture of your style and needs as a driver. Then, ideally, they’ll put you in the car that would draw the best fuel economy for you.)

The Eco-Run cars we covered in a separate article.

Before participating in the Eco-Run Green Jersey competition, each writer had to complete a 25-minute video test of their driving skills and knowledge. You can try it here or just read on. These few changes to your driving habits can save you up to 25 percent at the pump. Some will seem obvious but you’ll be surprised at what you didn’t know – and how easy it is to change habits for significant fuel savings.

How everyone can drive for better economy and ecology.

Don’t spill the scalding coffee (aka accelerate gently). Switch to Eco mode if your car has it, and don’t launch yourself after lights or stop signs. Imagine there’s a full coffee on your dashboard and you don’t want to spill a drop. Better still put one there, preferably scalding hot, for more profound learning.

2013 AJAC Eco-Run2013 AJAC Eco-Run
2013 AJAC Eco-Run. Click image to enlarge

Stop jerking around (aka maintain steady speeds). Avoid excessive use of the brake. Pushing hard to start and stop to ‘get there sooner’ increases the use of fuel disproportionately. Use your cruise control when it’s convenient. Drop your speed going uphill and let it go downhill.

Anticipate traffic while in it (or think). Allow space between yourself and the car in front to minimize sudden slowing. It means less work (and longer life) for your brakes and tires, plus up to 25 percent savings in fuel.

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