I’ve always been a bit sceptical about the whole eco-driving process. Crawling away from traffic lights and driving around without the air-con on don’t ever feature highly on my list of journey “must dos”.
Today, however, armed with an open mind and an unusually light right foot, I took part in the BP Ultimate GB Fuel Efficiency Challenge in a Ford Focus 1.6-litre ECOnetic.
For half an hour, I drove around a set course in mid-morning London traffic to see if BP and Anthony from Millbrook’s Proving Ground could teach me to be a more fuel-efficient driver.
Anthony told me that there are three main driving techniques you can use to become a more fuel efficient driver and, in turn, save up to 30 per cent on you fuel bills.
First, make sure you don’t over rev the engine before changing gear. As a rough guide, it’s time to change up when you see 2000rpm on your diesel’s rev counter, and 2500rpm on your petrol’s.
Second, don’t over accelerate, as hard acceleration can seriously dent your fuel economy and in turn your wallet.
And finally, always try to keep the car moving. Sounds a bit obvious, but plan ahead when you reach a junction and anticipate what’s going to happen, and this too will gave a noticeable boost to your fuel consumption.
Other things too can make a difference – removing excess weight, keeping your air-con off around town, using the correct tyre pressures – but if you stick to the three main rules, Anthony reckons you could save more than £600 at the pumps each year.
And how did I do? Well, I managed 54.34mpg over the course, but Anthony said more than 60 would be achievable if you were really being eco-friendly.
My right foot was still a bit heavy at the start, and I did tend to go above 2000rpm before changing gear, but by the end I was enjoying creeping up to junctions and trying to keep my momentum going. Whether the queue behind me enjoyed it as much is a different question, however.