One of the best ways to improve your vehicle’s fuel efficiency is to record and track your miles per gallon (or kilometers per liters).
It’s been said that we could reduce our crude oil consumption by 20-30% just by mandating ever car have a gauge that displays instantaneous MPG. The person that said this didn’t site a source or show any numbers, but even absent “facts” it’s a good point. Since I’ve gotten my Prius I’ve noticed I pay close attention to that gauge and will accelerate slower (and more efficiently), and “pulse and glide” on longer stretches to optimize efficiency. I do a lot more coasting now that I did before, and it really shows in my MPG.
Where to start?
One can’t can’t improve unless they have a baseline from which to judge improvement.
Back when I had my Newton MessagePad (130, 2000, 2000u, and 2100) I had a really sweet program called MPG by Catamount Software. Hardy (the owner, operator, programmer) for Catamount made well written software following the Unix principle of software development: a program should do only one thing, and do it well. Well, Steve Jobs killed the Newton, and I switched to Windows Mobile for my mobile platform (ironically, Palm has a Windows Mobile powered line now). Hardy went with Palm, so I lost the best MPG program I’ve ever used (even after asking Hardy and his “new” partner JaroSoft) for MPG for Pocket PC many, many times over the years.
I created an Excel Mobile spreadsheet that I entered my fill-up date into, but that was hard due to the small screen, the (then) lack of a keyboard, and the number of taps that it took to enter the data.
I turned to the web
The Government has a website up at https://www.FuelEconomy.gov/mpg/ that allows you to add multiple cars to your “garage” and enter your fill-up data there. They then run statistics for you. Unfortunately, just like almost everything the government does, they did a poor job and it’s not terribly easy/fast to get the data in or out.
Mike Dopp sent me a link to a new site/service called Fuel Frog which is a very new (less than a couple weeks old at the time of this writing) web application that lets you easily (and quickly!) input your data and immediately get stats back. What’s even more novel is that users can user Twitter to send a tweet to them in this format:
@fuelfrog (miles since last fill-up) ($/gal) (gallons filled)
They’ve got some areas to improve:
Their chart doesn’t show higher that 40MPG (which I do quite frequently)(UPDATE 05/13/2008: They upped their graph to 60 MPG today! Yeah!)
- Their benchmark statistic reads “Did you know? Your average mileage over the last 30 days has been 0.0 mpg.” Um… I don’t usually fill up more than once a month… (After an email they said they’ve added this to their list of things to look into)
My suggestions for future features:
- You cannot enter your odometer mileage, just miles since last fill-up (they said they’ve added this to their list of things to look into and noted this would be a simple way to differentiate multiple vehicles…)
- You cannot enter your total purchase price, just price per gallon (they’ve also added this to their list)
- They don’t have any badges/widgets to put on your blog/website or email/forum signature (from their email: “Yet…”)
- I didn’t see any mention of an API to allow application developers access to the date (both pulling data and posting data; think flickr, but for MPG) (LillyPad for Windows Mobile by HankLynch.com is close)
- synchronizing with FuelEfficency.gov (so you don’t have to manually enter all your data in two places, and so the government can get a real-world report of your car’s fuel efficiency)
Thinking outside the box… WAY outside (these could be 3rd party solutions that utilize the non-existent FuelFrog API):
- sending your GPS location data along with fill-up date could quickly tie into a service that shows what stations have the best prices in your area
- a quick button that sends a data/time/location stamp and an:
- accident report
- congestion report
- construction report
- detour report
- speed-trap report
- checkpoint/roadblock report (sobriety/immigration/seatbelt)
Overall, I give them a 9 out of 10 for doing one thing and doing it well, as well as overall. These guys are great, in touch with their users, and have a fabulous product! If you’re interested in tracking your fuel consumption, you owe it to yourself to