69 entries categorized "Fuel Efficiency"

Fuel Efficiency Lessons from the 2018 AJAC EcoRun

AJAC EcoRun 2018
Photo: AJAC

Back in June, we talked about the upcoming annual AJAC EcoRun, put on by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada. It was held this year from June 20 - 23 across New Brunswick, with stops in Moncton, Saint John, Bay of Fundy and Fredericton.

AJAC has posted their summary video of the 2-day, 570-kilometre event, which includes interviews with a number of the journalists participating, spotlights on some of the 19 eco-friendly vehicles in the run, plus some scenic views of New Brunswick. This is the first time that the EcoRun was held in New Brunswick, a province with 48 charging stations and an initiative to install 12 more, putting it well on its way to being Canada's first fully connected province.

At the end of the EcoRun, the Green Jersey is awarded to the journalist who has the best overall fuel economy across all the vehicles they drove. This year it was awarded to Jim Kerr from exhausted.ca. Overall, the AJAC journalists achieved a combined fuel economy of 4.86 L/100 km in comparison to Natural Resource Canada's (NRCan) combined rating for these vehicles of 6.45 L/100 km.

At the Green Jersey award ceremony, Jim shared a few strategic tips: "I didn’t boot it very hard. I tried to keep to the speed limit ... letting off on the throttle down hills and keeping uphill speeds moderate. I kept the air conditioning off most of the time but, if it got really hot, I’d switch it on briefly. I also kept the windows closed at highway speeds, because the drag from open windows increases fuel consumption, and sometimes opened them in town."

You can read more about the AJAC EcoRun in the Summer 2018 issue of Vicarious Magazine. You can also get the detailed specs about how each vehicle in this year's EcoRun fared on the AJAC site

- Rose R.

Stop Seeing Red: Smart Traffic Lights that Reduce Congestion and Emissions

Traffic lights

One of the things I do to keep my sanity when I commute is to celebrate the little victories: someone unexpectedly letting me merge, the line at the drive-thru coffee place not having a 10-car wait and not hitting every single red light on my way from my house to the highway. This last one is really the unicorn of commuting events - it almost never happens. And, like a lot of you, I think to myself as I'm sitting at the umpteenth red light in a row, "We can put a man on the moon; why can't they just sync these lights up?"

Well, it turns out they CAN sync them up. The City of Toronto is piloting two traffic light systems that use different implementations of artificial intelligence to adjust traffic signals in real-time, ideally reducing congestion, idling and ultimately, emissions, during peak use hours.

One of Toronto's pilot systems uses video cameras to measure car queue lengths at the approach to an intersection and then makes decisions about traffic light timing. The other system uses radar detection that measures traffic flow upstream and downstream of the intersection to make similar decisions. Toronto's pilot program started in November 2017 and is expected to run through 2018.

The City has not made results available yet, but the systems being tested are similar to a smart traffic light system that was implemented in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 2012. Since the initial implementation, Pittsburg has been increasing their smart intersections over the last few years to a total of 50 intersections, with another 150 planned by 2020. So far, Pittsburgh has seen intersection wait times fall by 40%, journey time fall by 25% and emissions from idling cars on these commutes reduced by 20%.

This video features an interview with Stephen Smith, Director of the Intelligent Coordination and Logistics Laboratory at Carnegie Mellon University, where the smart traffic light system in Pittsburgh was first developed.

What do you think? If you're in Toronto, have you driven the route where these traffic lights are in place? Have you noticed an improvement in your commute? Would these work in your city? Let us know in the comments!

- Rose R.

Sweden Creates a 21st Century Electric Avenue

When I was young and we would descend on my grandparents for Thanksgiving, one of the main streets we traveled to get to their place was called "Electric Avenue." And we never failed to sing the Eddy Grant song chorus as we drove the last kilometre and pulled up to their door. The original "Electric Avenue" in the South London district of Brixton was a market street, the first such market street to be lit by electricity during the late 19th century.

Fast forward over a century later and Sweden has created their own Electric Avenue - but in this case, the road itself is electrified.


Sweden, as part of their national innovation strategy, is testing the efficacy of electrified roads. eRoadArlanda, a commercial company working with the Swedish Transport Administration and several other partners, has embedded an electric rail in a public road. When an appropriately equipped electric vehicle drives along the rail, an arm is lowered from the vehicle and makes contact with the rail. This transfers energy to the vehicle and keeps it moving as well as charging the onboard battery of the vehicle, eliminating the need to stop at a charging station.

eRoadArlanda's test is part of an overall plan by the Swedish Transport Administration to support the Swedish government's target of creating a fossil-free transportation infrastructure by 2030. Electrified-road transport is estimated to cut fossil fuel emissions by 80 to 90 percent.

What do you think? Would you drive an electric car along an electrified road? Is this a good option for reducing our fossil fuel emissions? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

- Rose R.

Start Your Engines - It's Time for the Annual EcoRun!


One of my favourite movies when I was a teen was The Cannonball Run. I loved a good road trip movie - still do. Combine that with dreamy Burt Reynolds and gutsy Adrienne Barbeau in a Lamborghini Countach and you've got a hit! I still dream about driving cross-country in that Lamborghini ...

Well, the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) has got the next best thing to a Canadian Cannonball Run. It’s their annual EcoRun: an event that showcases several eco-friendly vehicles, including hybrids, highly-efficient gasoline powered options, diesel-fuelled powertrains and electrics. Each year, the AJAC selects a portion of Canada to drive over the 4 day EcoRun. AJAC members rotate between the vehicles in the EcoRun, testing them in real-world road conditions and reporting on which are the most efficient. At the end of the event, the vehicles are ranked by fuel economy and an individual journalist is awarded the coveted Green Jersey for overall best eco-driving.

This year's EcoRun event occurs June 20 - 23 across New Brunswick, with stops in Moncton, Saint John, Bay of Fundy and Fredericton. This video from last year's EcoRun gives a great overview of what happens on a tour, including how the journalists test themselves and the vehicles with eco-driving techniques.

At the end of last year's EcoRun, Chris Chase - freelance journalist and winner of the Green Jersey - shared a few of his eco-driving tips:

“In city driving, one of the keys is gentle acceleration: go easy on the throttle, because in most city situations, you’re only going to have to slow down or stop again shortly, making hard acceleration one of the most wasteful things you can do. Once at speed, look well ahead and try to anticipate what other drivers and traffic signals are going to do. The idea is to spend as little time as possible stopped: idling and accelerating are the two states in which a car is least efficient, so the less you have to do either of them, the more fuel you’ll save.

In highway driving, knowing when to decelerate is key. For example, allow the car to decelerate a bit on uphill stretches. If you tend to drive at, say, 110 km/h on the highway, then — ideally, when traffic is light — let the car slow down to 95 or 100 km/h going uphill, and then regain that speed on the next downhill.”

For more from Chase, see his two-part interview on the Canadian Fuels Blog: Part 1 - How eco-driving saves on fuel and Part 2 - Drive smoothly for better fuel efficiency.

Once this year's EcoRun is complete, we'll do a follow-up post on the results! What are your thoughts? Would you participate in the EcoRun?

- Rose R.

Which Car is Greenest of Them All? Use MIT's CarbonCounter App to Find Out

Green cars

In the market for a new car and trying to choose the most environmentally friendly option? Take a look at the CarbonCounter app as part of your pre-buying research.

Developed at MIT, the CarbonCounter app is an easy-to-use tool that takes the 125 most popular vehicles in the US and plots them on a chart that measures both carbon emissions and cost of ownership.

The app takes into consideration not only the fuel efficiency of the vehicle in question, but also the carbon cost of creating the vehicle. If the vehicle is hybrid or electric, the app also factors in the carbon cost of the electricity in various regions.

The results are pretty interesting; most electric vehicles have much lower emissions but vary widely in cost of ownership and some gasoline and diesel powered vehicles rate better on overall emissions than some hybrids.

Check out this video about the project to see how the app works:

Does your car appear on the CarbonCounter app? How does it measure up? Let us know in the comments!

- Rose R.