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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Preliminary Results from a Field Experiment of Three Fuel Economy Feedback Designs


Energy feedback to drivers is one method to engage drivers in energy saving driving styles. In contrast to the occasional broadcasting of general driving tips, in-vehicle energy feedback gives drivers access to accurate information about their specific driving situation on an ongoing basis. The increasing prevalence of such feedback in new vehicles suggests a belief that ongoing, in-vehicle feedback is better. However, there is little reliable evidence of the effectiveness of energy feedback in real-word driving in passenger vehicles. This study begins to fill this gap. Participants are given a commercially available fuel consumption display and recording device to use in their personal vehicle for two months. For the first month the display is blank as the device records a baseline of driving and fuel consumption. For the second month the display is switched on to show drivers one of three feedback designs. This paper presents preliminary results (N=36) of a larger study that will include 150 drivers along the California-Nevada Interstate-80 corridor. Using a mixed-effects linear model, an average decrease of 13 between 2% and 8% in fuel consumption (gallons/100 miles) between the without- and with-feedback months, depending on the feedback designs, is found. Categorizing trips into types based on distance and multiple speed characteristics, there are differences in the apparent effectiveness of feedback across trip types. Most trips average approximately 5% reduction in fuel consumption. The long distance highway trip type showed only a 1% decrease in fuel consumption between the two study periods.

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