News October 04 2007

Fiat and Microsoft now telling you how to drive

Fiat and software giant Microsoft have joined forces to help teach motorists to drive their cars more economically and to reduce emissions in the real world and under the conditions faced by drivers every day.

Fiat models fitted with EcoDrive will allow their owners to download fuel consumption, driving conditions, emissions and how the car was driven after every journey and replay this in their personal computer, with suggestions on how driving differently on the roads used by the Fiat's owner can save fuel and cut emissions.

Official fuel consumption and emission figures, which are legally required to be displayed, are obtained using cars driven by professional drivers on a Roller Dynamometer Test Bench. The test takes place in optimum ambient conditions (fixed temperature, pressure and humidity) on a predefined driving cycle (fixed vehicle speed, time and gear shift points) with air conditioning, radio, lights, and other devices switched off. This ensures the results are comparable.

But real emissions levels can be substantially different. They depend on whether the car is driven in a rural or urban setting and on the condition of the car. And they are also heavily affected by the driver's style.

EcoDrive collects all necessary data relating to vehicle efficiency and, through Blue&Me’s USB gate, transmits it into a normal USB key. The driver plugs this into a PC. The EcoDrive system presents the driver with detailed environmental performance of the car including the CO2 emission level for each trip. It analyses the driver's style and then provides tips and recommendations on how to modify style to achieve CO2 reductions – and save money on fuel.

EcoDrive will encourage the driver to set himself challenges – CO2 reduction targets for specific journeys or over a set period of time. And a website will encourage all drivers to come together and pool their savings - working towards much bigger collective targets and showing that a lot of small contributions together can have a much larger impact.

Based on the award winning, jointly developed Blue&Me™ platform, EcoDrive will enable drivers to better understand and adapt their driving behaviours to minimise their effect on the environment.

The partnership between Microsoft and Fiat was initiated nearly four years ago and has seen the solution rolled out across the Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Lancia ranges. This latest ecological application was developed on Microsoft’s flexible and updateable platform Microsoft Auto, which Fiat has used to create the in-car infotainment solution Blue&Me™.

“EcoDrive” will be available from 2008 in certain Fiat cars equipped with the Blue&Me system, which will debut in Australia in 2008 in the new Fiat Ritmo (Bravo in other markets).

© 04/10/07

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