Business people running company cars - and indeed fleet managers - have plenty of reasons to think about the greenness of their choice when selecting new vehicles. There are hefty tax implications associated with how much CO2 emerges from the exhaust pipe for every mile travelled, and of course it costs cash to put fuel in the tank. Only the most profligate user-chooser will still opt for the biggest luxury limo their company will swallow.
But beyond choosing a more efficient car, maintaining correct tyre pressures and avoiding wasteful bouts of traffic-light grand prix, there is another big factor affecting the cost of motoring, both economic and environmental. There is the route you choose to drive from A to B.
Basic physics tells us that a car will use more energy to travel the same distance if it moves at a higher speed. The extra energy spent overcoming increased drag and friction cannot be recouped simply by arriving and switching the engine off sooner. In the real world, a journey composed of 80mph motorway bursts plus periods spend crawling in tailbacks may take much the same time as an A-road journey with a more constant speed, but it will definitely burn a lot more fuel.
Nobody wants to sit and calculate fuel usage before they set off, however. Today’s business drivers rarely even consult a map: they would much rather plug their destination into a satellite navigation system and follow whatever route the software selects.
Fortunately, UK-based startup Camvit has been working on a way to make navigation software better at providing a range of options, allowing the driver to make conscious trade-offs between the predicted journey time and other factors.
Rather than simply providing a single, optimised route from A to B, Camvit’s Choice Routes program will instead calculate a series of routes with broadly similar predicted arrival times. It can then calculate the secondary fallout of each route - not just distance and travel time but the carbon output and, in the future, the likely road-pricing cost.
When embarking on a journey, the driver is able to decide whether to sacrifice a few minutes of travel time to save bags of CO2.
If you’re interested in learning how the Camvit system works - it’s a bit complicated - we’ve provided a full explanation in another article.
Camvit is currently talking to the major navigation software suppliers to employ its innovative software, and is open to offers from other interested parties. “If the techniques prove popular, we would hope to see Choice Routes become available as standard, or at least as a ‘give me choices’ button, in most journey planners,” said Camvit director Alan Jones.
You can’t buy Choice Routes software off the shelf just yet, but the promised benefits mean that it, or something very like it, will surely become readily available within the next couple of years.
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