Halifax to Vancouver, 6,339 km, on less than five tanks of gas.
That’s the record-setting result of Shell Canada’s Smarter Driver Challenge, where a team of drivers spent last week making the most fuel-efficient cross-continent drive on record.
“Saving fuel saves you money, saves you stress, and is a safer way to drive,” says Lindsey McAndrews, a communications rep for Shell.
“Fuel efficiency is now the number-one concern of Canadian car-buyers. It’s what people go into dealerships and ask for the most.”
The drive was the brainchild of John and Helen Taylor, who have earned a global reputation as the world’s most fuel-efficient couple. After arriving In Vancouver on Friday, they now hold 93 different world records for covering more distance on less gas.
The Taylor’s team of drivers included Alex Debogorski of TV’s Ice Road Truckers and officials from such environmental watchdogs as Pollution Probe and the Pembina Institute.
Driving a well-tuned 2012 Volkswagen Passat, they needed only 5.59 litres of regular gas to cover each 100 km. The total fuel bill, Atlantic to Pacific? Just $453.
There was no special equipment involved. Just good maintenance, and a few canny driving tips.
“Don’t speed,” McAndrews says. “You lose 22 per cent of your fuel economy between 100 and 110 km/hour. Use really steady, gentle pressure on the gas pedal. Leave a nice space cushion between yourself and the car in front of you, so it’s safer driving.”
Leaving space in front means you don’t have to use your brakes nearly as often. And that leads to significant fuel savings, as well.
“With almost no practice, the average person can see a 10-per-cent improvement in their fuel efficiency, just by being conscious of not being a lead-foot. That means you’re saving at least 12 cents a litre.”
There are other, more subtle benefits as well.
“You’re never stressed out,” McAndrews notes. “You know where you’re going, and you’re calm. You’re not flooring the gas on every stop light. You’re not riding people’s bumpers.”
And now that the record’s been set?
“Once someone sets a record, people want to break it,” she concludes.
And no one can do that, without driving smarter, better and cleaner.