Putting the pedal for the metal sure is a fun thing to do. But while gunning the engine from a red light and leaving the individual in the adjacent lane with your dust creates an intoxicating sense of accomplishment, it also burns a lot of gas. With fuel prices consistently well above $3 per gallon, this kind of aggressive acceleration can put a significant strain on your pocketbook.
The folks at Automatic, an app that pairs with hardware connected your car’s computer to produce personalized data including real-world fuel economy, recently examined the amount aggressive driving can cost by analyzing the habits of one of its own employees. Your data showed that the employee was getting just a fraction of their car’s — a BMW 328i — potential city fuel economy when accelerating 7 mph per second (which roughly means a nine-second -60 mph sprint).
Any kind of acceleration, fast or slow, requires more fuel than maintaining a speed or slowing down. When you stomp on the gas pedal, more fuel enters the engine and RPMs spike, giving you a surge of power. This gets you to your cruising speed quicker, but at a heavy penalty.
Accelerating at a smoother, slower rate will get you to speed a little more slowly, but it can save you lots of gas. In the case of the automated employee, accelerating at 7 mph per second meant their car was operating at a fuel efficiency of under 3 mpg. Had they accelerated at around 4 mph per second, they would have been operating at close to 8 mpg. Driving in an urban area with a lot of stop and go traffic meant the employee’s ordinarily decently fuel efficient 328i became a veritable gas guzzler.
If you’re finding that your car isn’t achieving the fuel economy you feel it should, take a step back and have a look at how hard you’re accelerating. Flooring the gas pedal is a hoot, but laying away from the gas even slightly can reap some big financial benefits.