Inflation, purchasing power crunch, global warming and now fuel shortages across the country… There are many reasons to watch your fuel economy. And for many French people far from the big cities, car journeys are almost “obligatory”, be it to drive to work, take the children to school or do the shopping. So if you can’t drive less, you must try to drive better. To find out how 20 minutes tested an eco-driving course.
Therefore, an appointment is made in Torcy (Seine-et-Marne) with Laurent Capillon, CEO of Nouvelle Route, specialist in eco-driving training. His mission? In one hour we learn to drive a clock in our hands while using as little fuel as possible. Not won by knowing our southern origins and the reproaches of our relatives on our jerky and disconcerting steering wheel. However, Laurent, all in good nature and in easy familiarity, seems confident. For us and for him: “In 80% of the cases, the same big mistakes come back. »
Release clutch and brake
So off you go for sixty minutes on the most beautiful departmental roads of the Ile-de-France and its 50 shades of pine avenues. The session is usually structured as follows: a few minutes of theory, a first ride without an indication. Then a point of improvement and a second much more efficient steering wheel. “We take the opportunity to drive from the employee’s home to work and in their own vehicle to facilitate the implementation of environmentally responsible measures as much as possible,” says Laurent. Nouvelle Route, which serves at the IDF and PACA, takes care of companies that turn to her to teach their employees to be economical, usually in a company car or with gas included in the price.
But enough of contextualization, place on the road, towards Marne-la-Vallée. After fifteen minutes at the wheel, while checking that Laurent’s gaze is not too judgmental, the latter interrupts us to take stock. Bingo, we tick almost all the wrong boxes. First complaint, the great classic, the foot constantly on the clutch: “Even if you think you’re not pressing, you stay on it a bit and rub the engine”. The result is a clutch pedal that gives up the ghost sooner and uses more fuel.
Second point where we get a friendly pat on the knuckles: our lack of anticipation. Basically we don’t look far enough and improvise braking or acceleration at the last second, not the most environmentally friendly. “Once you see a red light, roundabout or stop sign, you can just let go of the accelerator pedal without using the brake,” advises Laurent. The thing’s little scientific name—injection cutoff—allows you to brake naturally while using zero drops of gas, a significant benefit. The grail is taking roundabouts without hitting the brakes once.
A need for anticipation accompanied by a precise instruction: stop sticking to the person in front of you. “If you follow him too closely, you’ll suffer from his braking and changes in rhythm,” quickly forcing you to slam on the brakes, a hated gesture in eco-driving. It is therefore necessary to learn to look ahead in order to quickly spot future braking. A technique that, according to Laurent, makes driving more active and concentrated and therefore less boring: “Our customers say that they are more relaxed at the wheel and more attentive.”
A car that is always on the move
And just after crossing those famous roundabouts, stop signs, and traffic lights, we’re given one final technique that’s a bit more counter-intuitive: openly accelerate again, rather than using our famous technique of accelerating very gently. “What we want is a car that comes onto the market,” emphasizes Laurent. For this we don’t hesitate to shift gears quickly: the 2 must come almost automatically, and the 3, 4 and even 5 must not be asked. Instead of looking at our kilometers per hour, we are interested in the engine revolutions: from 2,000 on the diesel and 2,500 on the petrol engine, we shift into gear without being asked.
Come on, it’s time to go back and see if we’ve improved. Look straight ahead, step out of the clutch and ride as smoothly as possible. This time Laurent takes us back when driving not very eco-friendly so that we can improve. Another visit to the roads of Ile-de-France before having to park and pay the dreaded toll.
And we’re doing pretty well. On our first run, we averaged 47 km/h and consumed 8.8 liters per 100 kilometers. On the second we drove to 50 km/h, with a consumption of 6.6 liters per 100. Yes, we even drove faster: “Except for long journeys on expressways or motorways, we do not recommend slower driving, which is frustrating in everyday life and is not necessarily very profitable. Again, it’s not about driving less or slower, it’s about driving better.”
Two or three final tips by the way – check tire pressures well and don’t overload the car, any extra weight uses more fuel – a final promise to drive cleaner and here we are, in just under an hour, never getting closer to getting back onto the roundabouts same way.
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