Obviously, hybrids can save gas, but reaching the true potential of the technology requires drivers to adopt a driving style that maximizes fuel economy. A team from the Technical University of Chemnitz in Germany and the University of Southampton in the UK attempted to quantify these driving techniques.
In “Ecodriving in hybrid electric vehicles – Exploring challenges for user-energy interaction,” published in Applied Ergonomics, Thomas Franke and colleagues explain that even drivers who are motivated to save fuel do not always follow the same “eco-driving” strategies. Based on their findings, the team presents a number of suggestions for the design of systems that encourage energy-efficient driving.
The team collected interview data, questionnaire responses and long-term fuel efficiency recordings from 39 Prius drivers. They found large individual differences in driving strategies, and found that the drivers expressed different ideas about energy efficiency, including false beliefs that could affect fuel economy.
The drivers made suggestions for advanced driving support systems, which the research team consolidated and presented as general design guidelines for hybrid vehicles. These include: comprehensive feedback; ease of perception with minimal distractions; tutoring systems that provide advice on correct strategies; automated functions; and configurability.
“HEVs are key for sustainable road transport as they can reduce fuel consumption without necessitating complex changes in energy-supply infrastructure (in contrast to plug-in or fuel cell electric vehicles). Yet, ultimately, sustainability strongly depends on the actual energy efficiency that users achieve in everyday usage. User behavior is, therefore, a critical factor with regard to the ultimate effect that such systems have on making the road transport system more sustainable.”