If you can measure it, you can improve it
Feedback is very important. If you don't know how you are doing, it's very hard to improve. That's why the big screen in the Toyota Prius helps you drive more efficiently, and that's why we should make electricity meters easy to read and put them inside houses.
ECO Pedal by Nissan: Coming in 2009
With the ECO Pedal, Nissan has come up with a new way to get fuel economy feedback while driving. The way it works is simple. When the system is on, "each time the driver steps on the accelerator, a counter push-back control mechanism is activated if the system detects excess pressure, helping to inform the driver that they could be using more fuel than required." After a while of this pavlovian regime, you can't help but learn which behaviors the car "approves" of and which you should avoid.How Well Does the ECO Pedal Work?
Studies by Nissan have found that the ECO Pedal system can provide fuel savings of 5-10%, depending on driving conditions. That's not quite as good as a stop-start anti-idling system (10-15%), but nothing's keeping car makers from using both systems in combination.
ECO Pedal Indicator
The ECO Pedal system can be turned on and off at the preference of the driver. When it is activated, an indicator lights up in the dash (shown above).
According to Nissan Global:
The ECO Pedal system is fed data on the rate of fuel consumption and transmission efficiency during acceleration and cruising, and then calculates the optimum acceleration rate. When the driver exerts excess pressure on the accelerator, the system counteracts with the pedal push-back control mechanism.
At the same time, the eco-driving indicator incorporated on the instrument panel indicates the optimal level for fuel-efficient driving. Driving within the optimal fuel consumption range, the indicator is green. It begins to flash when it detects increased acceleration before reaching the fuel consumption threshold and finally turns amber to advise the driver of their driving behavior.
Update: Nissan is Licensing Fuel-Saving ECO Pedal to Other Automakers
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More on Nissan's ECO Pedal
Nissan's Official Press Release on ECO Pedal
Nissan Introduces Eco-Pedal Intelligent Accelerator Pedal System