0 comments 📅02 December 2014, 23:36

Going to work by bike instead of taking a car? How to transport goods in order to lower emissions? When will hybrid cars replace the traditional ones?

The reality

The most obvious way to move from point A to B is to use a car (which also includes public transport), motorcycle, a bike or on foot. It goes without saying that the two last choices are the most ecological ones, with the bike being a rational alternative for short trips in the city.

The advantages over city transport or cars include time and money savings, healthier lifestyle and individual contribution to protect the environment. However, the decision of switching to a bike is not easy. First of all, the bike should be used more often than just for a weekend spin. It is necessary to overcome the stereotypical images of a bike as the tool for improving fitness, a sports utility or a rural substitute of a car. Once we leave these mental barriers behind, we can try to calculate the benefits of using a bicycle.

The undeniable and most significant advantage of going to work by bike is practically 100% predictable time to arrival. It very rarely exceeds the standard, set by cyclists themselves depending on their speed. Factors such as traffic or other unpredictable events are simply taken out of the equation. Another very important advantage of a bicycle comes in the shape of financial savings (petrol, car maintenance, public transport fees). Even a monthly calculation of savings can be a shock for some.

It is important, however, to mention that a bicycle is not an ideal solution for everyone. Factors which can cause problems include the quality of the infrastructure, distance, sanitary equipment at the destination, the weather and the time of the year. Ultimately, everything depends on the motivation and ambition of the cyclist.

What about the costs? These are usually one-time ones. The highest is the cost of purchasing a bike, then the accessories and finally quite minimal costs of maintenance.

Let’s come back to four wheels for a while. How can we be more eco? First of all, we can use newly developed electric cars which unfortunately are still not very popular, very expensive and limited by short range on one charge. I expect that the above mentioned downsides will be eliminated within the next decade or so and the electric cars will dominate the urban transport. Another proposition comes in the form of hybrid cars constituting a mix of an electric motor and an internal combustion engine. They are becoming more popular now, but still remain a dozen or so percent more expensive than traditional cars. The benefits are obvious – petrol consumption several dozen percent lower than in case of traditional cars. The higher popularity of these cars can be explained by intensive marketing efforts on behalf of the producers. What is missing is the lack of personalised offers showing real savings to individual users. Such calculations could prove to be the winning argument to convince drivers to switch to new technologies.

Eco now

If we are not interested in a hybrid or in a fully electric solution, then what? Can drivers of normal cars be eco? Yes, they can! Sometimes we don’t fully realise how much our driving style can affect fuel consumption. Among the simplest solutions available is the proper use of the momentum. Speaking in plain English, it is necessary to keep constant speed (within legal limits, of course). Putting the vehicle in motion requires much more petrol than keeping its speed on a constant level. How to do it? It is necessary to keep a watchful eye on the traffic and take actions to ensure smooth driving. Is it enough? We performed a road test and followed the above mentioned rules. We managed to save one litre on every 100 kilometres. In order to verify the data we employed a very sophisticated telemetric system which delivered rather objective data. The system conclusively showed very limited instances of sudden braking throughout the distance of almost 430 kilometres, indicating the higher level of awareness on behalf of the driver.

The result was quite surprising – a 1.6 petrol engine crossover consumed average 5.53 litres per 100 kilometres.


Photo: System Combo firmy Keratronik

Data from the test:

Vehicle: Mitsubishi ASX 1.6 petrol

Start: Slovakia, Sromowce Niżne, 543 (183 m), 2014-02-16 13:57:59

Finish:  Poland, Masovia, Piaseczno, (33 m) 2014-02-16 19:53:45

Driver: MB

Average speed: 73km/h

Distance: 429 km

Engine work time: 5:52:47

Average petrol consumption:  5.53 litres/100km

Savings compared to car manufacturer specifications:  1 litre

Estimated annual level of savings on the distance of 20 000 km: approx. 315 euros (average cost of annual car maintenance).

To sum up, there are a number of ways how to be an eco-driver. We can start from the choice of the method of transport, followed by the use of available automotive solutions and finally by adapting our driving style (which, by the way, will not only decrease our costs, but also improve safety).

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