7 fuel-saving tips from Holden
Holden shares some useful fuel-saving tips and we speak with the company’s vehicle development manager to find out how car manufacturers are making cars more frugal.
If you go anywhere these days, you’re sure to end up in a conversation with a fellow driver about rising fuel costs. Holden reached out to us to share some pointers on increasing sound fuel economy. By using them in combination with shopping around for petrol and using independent chains, you could save a small fortune when topping up your car.
Fuel-saving tips direct from Holden
|Suggestion||Why it works||Possible fuel economy improvement|
|Pump up your tyres||Maintaining your tyres at the correct air pressure can give you as much as a 3.3% fuel-usage improvement. You can check your owner’s manual for the recommended pressure. Note that if you’re going on a long motorway journey or carrying a lot of stuff there’s a higher pressure rating you should use. Besides, properly inflated tyres will last longer and perform as designed in emergency maneuvers, wet conditions and braking.||Up to 3.3%|
|Replace your air filter||A car’s engine is protected from airborne debris by a filter. Over time, dust and silt clog up the air filter, restricting the engine’s airflow. This can cause an increase in fuel usage. Replacing the filter is a quick and cheap job, and could improve your fuel economy by up to 10%.||Up to 10%|
|Use the throttle judiciously||A car uses the most fuel under heavy acceleration. It is better to gather momentum slowly and maintain it. Avoid having a heavy right foot and remember hard braking shaves off speed, which is a waste of energy. Look far ahead and anticipate having to slow down. As a result, you could experience a 33% reduction in fuel use, especially on motorways.||Up to 33%|
|Don’t idle||When your car is parked, with the engine running, you are achieving 0.0L/100km fuel economy! It’s also illegal to leave a vehicle unattended with the engine running, so switch it off where possible to save fuel. Yes, an engine uses a slightly increased amount of fuel to restart, but sitting for 15 minutes without moving will burn an entire litre of fuel on some cars! Switching off also cuts your emissions, benefiting the environment and those around you.||Up to 100%! When the engine is off, you use zero fuel.|
|Use air conditioning sparingly||Did you know using climate control can cause you to burn 10% more fuel? For the best possible fuel economy, Holden recommends drivers favour using a higher fan-speed, rather than lower temperature settings. Also, if you're travelling below 64 km/h, try rolling down your windows instead. Above speeds of 72 km/h, air resistance makes air conditioning more economical.||Up to 10%|
|Get into high gear||If your car has a manual gearbox, use higher gears wherever possible. Higher gears stress the engine less and allow it to work at lower revs. In an automatic car, easing up on the throttle will trigger the gearbox to change up to a higher gear.||A car is at its most efficient in top gear.|
|Use cruise control||Because cruise control can minutely adjust the throttle with more care than a human driver, Holden suggests you should use it where possible. It’ll also prevent you from speeding. If you have a car with an economy mode, use it.||8-16%, depending on vehicle size.|
Holden’s fuel-saving efforts
We took the opportunity to speak with Holden’s vehicle development manager Jeremy Tassone about the efforts that the automotive brand has put in to improve fuel economy and reduce the impact fuel costs have on a driver’s wallet.
Could you tell us a little more about the measures and development work that is undertaken in order to further fuel economy and efficiency at Holden?
“Fuel economy is a huge focus throughout all of Holden’s vehicle development programs. At the start of the process, technology content is added to vehicles to improve their economy, including things such as automatic engine stop-start, active fuel management (which cuts cylinders in our six-cylinder engines when they are not required), direct injection, variable valve timing, intelligent battery charging, grill shutters to control engine cooling whilst optimising aerodynamic drag, just to name a few.”
“Once the hardware is set, the development process begins. Having six and nine-speed transmissions allows us to optimise fuel economy by keeping engine speed low while providing great driveability by changing down gears when required.”
Tassone explained that Holden even has to choose the right set of tyres to ship with cars.
“Tyres are selected to give great rolling resistance while retaining the excellent handling characteristics our customers are after.”
“All of our petrol engines have individual cylinder spark advance control to ensure best possible efficiency by increasing spark advance when the driver uses higher quality fuel, to take advantage of the higher octane ratings. With this spark control system in place, and variable valve timing, combustion is continually optimised to ensure the most energy is gained from every drop of fuel,” Tassone continued.
“As you can imagine, all of the above leads to years of optimisation before a car is ready for our customers, but that’s the job we love!”
How are Holden vehicles tailored to suit Australian drivers, conditions and roads?
“Our engineers put a lot of time and effort into making our cars fine-tuned for Australian conditions. There are three main focuses for fuel economy when it comes to Australia – fuel quality, temperature conditions and common driving speeds. For that reason, we ensure most of our vehicles are safe to run on standard unleaded petrol (unless specified as PREMIUM PETROL REQUIRED). All of our vehicles will automatically adjust to take advantage of the higher octane rating if the customer chooses to use it.”
The engineer also explained how Australia’s weather and road speeds present some unique challenges.
“Given we can face some pretty hot conditions, it is important that the cars are still optimised in 40°C heat. Also, as our country roads are predominantly 100-110 km/h speed limits, we do a lot of work to ensure top gear is available and usable at these speeds, giving our customers the best possible range.”
What would be the biggest or most significant development you are most proud of?
Tassone is most proud of the Holden stop/start ignition systems.
“I think the auto stop-start systems in our Astra, Equinox and Commodore vehicles are the best I’ve ever driven, and totally easy to drive. I get so used to it; it annoys me when I’m in a car that doesn’t switch itself off!”
How do you imagine petrol and diesel cars will fit into the vehicle market, in say, five years time?
When asked about the future of the automotive industry, the development chief envisioned a scenario where electric vehicles will complement internal combustion powered transport.
“Because of the vast distances some of us travel, and the loads we need to carry or tow, I think internal combustion petrol and diesel cars will be still with us for a long time to come. Electric vehicles will continue to grow in volume, particularly in the cities and for multiple car families, so these will definitely start to become more popular over the next ten years.”
How much more fuel efficient are modern Holden cars than they were ten years ago?
Impressively, Tassone said Holden had made a 2% improvement in fuel usage over the last ten years.
“Our cars have improved by around 2% per year for the last ten years, and a lot more in some cases, so that’s huge!”