Fuel economy feedback in vehicles is one of the low-hanging fruits of green(er) transportation. We said a while ago that we want fuel economy feedback in all cars because it can change the driving habits of many people who are currently getting much worse mileage than what their cars can realistically do. When you stop to think about it, it's pretty obvious what causes good or bad fuel economy, but that's exactly the problem: Most people don't stop to think about it, or at least not while they are driving. They need constant reminders. Even while gasping at the pump most people seem to think that their current fuel consumption average is mostly out of their control, a factor of the car they drive only. Well, Toyota just made a step in the right direction, though not far enough...From Toyota:
Tokyo — TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION (TMC) announced today that, beginning in October, new Japanese-market vehicle models with automatic transmissions will be equipped with the Eco Drive Indicator, a feature meant to encourage environmentally considerate driving. This development—aimed at reducing CO2 emissions through increased fuel efficiency—is part of Toyota's efforts to combat global warming.
Based on a comprehensive determination that takes into consideration such factors as accelerator use, engine and transmission efficiency and speed and rate of acceleration, the Eco Drive Indicator, located on the instrument panel, lights up when the vehicle is being operated in a fuel-efficient manner. This is hoped will raise driver awareness toward environmentally considerate driving and contribute to fuel economy.
Ideally, all cars would be equipped with screens (they could be very small LCDs to cut costs) that show fuel economy graphs, just like in most hybrids. They should allow drivers to input gas prices in their area and have the screen show how much money they are burning (literally) -- people tend to pay attention when there are dollar signs.
::Toyota Press Release, ::Toyota Introduces Eco Drive Indicator to Encourage Better Driving; Up to 4% Improvement in Fuel Economy, ::We Want Fuel Economy Feedback in All Cars, ::Treehugger Homework: Drive The Speed Limit