Every Drop Counts: Nissan to Equip Cars with Fuel Efficient ECO Pedals

The 1990’s were the host of many great fads. Furby, Tamagachis, string theory, the examples are as numerous as the many incarnations of Prince. Fast forward to 2008, and it seems that America’s fads are finally becoming practical. Hypermiling is the new hoola-hoop, and it’s even more convenient because there is more than one way to do it. While some prefer drafting and coasting in neutral whenever possible, most drivers just watch their tachometers.

Nissan motors caught on to this trend in driving, and is set to release the ECO pedal on all 2009 Nissan motor vehicles. On a basic level, the ECO pedal uses a computer to watch the tachometer for you, and adjusts your acceleration accordingly through pedal resistance. When a driver accelerates inefficiently, the pedal will push back on the driver to ensure smooth acceleration. Remember that combustion engines waste the most gasoline during acceleration because of the higher rotations per minute (RPM) that the engine has to endure. The pistons of the engine fill with gas and combustion takes place at a higher frequency, sacrificing fuel efficiency. Of course, the counter-pressure is just a reminder to the driver, Nissan is not enforcing hypermiling.

The ECO system pedal is constantly receiving data from the engine on the rate of fuel consumption (for both coasting and accelerating), and calculates the optimum acceleration rate. Internal research done by Nissan shows that the ECO pedal will increase fuel efficiency anywhere between 5-10%. The system will also include an eco-driving indicator which changes color based on fuel efficiency. I’ve only seen BMW’s with mile per gallon monitors, but something tells me that BMW drivers don’t pay attention to fuel efficiency. At optimal acceleration conditions, the ECO light is green, and turns a sickly yellow during unfavorable conditions. The ECO pedal also has an on-off switch, which many will probably find useful for merging on to highways and the like.

Hypermiling is not a new phenomenon. In a recent article from Wired, people reportedly began hypermiling as early as World War II. There are definitely much safer ways to increase fuel efficeincy, and Nissan has taken advantage of this demand. On a speculative note, I’d find it awfully strange if no one else followed suit or hasn’t been working on an ECO pedal of their own.

More posts on making every gallon count:

You can find a pictorial explanation of Nissan’s ECO pedal here.

Photo from Nissan Motors.

Anthony Cefali

Anthony is a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison majoring in biology as well as English. He became interested in the biofuel initiative after getting a job in the Raines Lab of Petroleum Alternatives at the university turning sugars into biofuels. He is the first to admit that he doesn't fully understand everything that he does or is trying to do, but enjoys doing his bit to help the environment. Anthony has very few plans for his future, but is interested in how natural systems work and how urban development changes these systems. On a good day, Anthony enjoys riding his bike really far away and reading Kurt Vonnegut books.