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A light right foot will do more to reduce CO2

Monday, 4 August 2008

Proposed Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) changes intended to reduce CO2 emissions from cars will have little impact unless driving behaviour changes as well, according to research from the IAM.

Although many manufacturers have highly efficient "eco" versions of their cars available, many drivers will unwittingly lose the benefit of the technology through poor driving habits.

The following examples of common errors by drivers increase fuel consumption significantly:

a. Under inflated tyres - tyres that are 20 per cent underinflated use three per cent more fuel

b. Roof storage - wind resistance causes use of up to 20 per cent more fuel at 70mph

c. Air conditioning - uses up to 10 per cent more fuel

d. Aggressive driving - uses 15 per cent more fuel

e. Speeding - travelling at 80mph uses up to 15 per cent more fuel than 70mph

f. Short journeys - the first two miles use up to 100 per cent more fuel

Taken together, all these items can increase fuel consumption, and CO2 emissions, by up to 45 per cent. This level of increase would mean that even the most economical and eco-friendly car, such as Ford's new Focus ECOnetic, may emit as much CO2 as a seven-seater people carrier like the Ford Galaxy, in spite of the Focus' class leading Band B VED (road tax) rating.

The extra fuel cost for the Focus would also wipe out the savings in road tax. If the Focus is driven efficiently for approximately 10,000 miles a year, the fuel bill will be around £865. Poor driving habits would increase this by more than £330 per year, far outweighing the proposed reduction of £90 in VED.

IAM Head of Technical Policy and Advice, Tim Shallcross, said: "If the government is serious about getting motorists to reduce CO2 emissions, the IAM says more investment in driver education and information is needed, rather than extra taxes that motorists suspect are more about revenue-raising than improving the environment."