Thursday, September 17, 2009


September 17, 2009

Did I tell you I named my car Rosie, after Erin's bear?

There is something about Rosie that I think would help a lot of people--even my friends who still need larger, less-gas-consuming friendly vehicles, like space shuttles and battleships to get around town. Rosie has a range of gauges, but one has shaped my driving habits in ways I never suspected it would.
Look at the picture on the bottom left: there's a little mock up of a battery on the far left and within the long, flat geometric figure there's the abbreviated word CHG in white one end and PWR on the other. In the center you see a lighted squiggly that reads: ECO. When I brake the CHG lights up and I get more bars on my battery. This requires no skill and not much effort on my part. However, when I accelerate, something else happens. If I start out at a relaxed pace, the ECO light stays on and the light within the flat bar edges to the right. If I take a jackrabbit start, the space above PWR goes all RED, and the lovely, glowing ECO snaps off, irritated with my selfish, perhaps even boorish, behavior.

I don't know if you ever played little mental games with yourself: not stepping on cracks in the sidewalk (to keep your mother's back healthy), putting on your left shoe and left sock before you do your right shoe and right sock, or just in general competing with yourself. I read a blog entry this week about a man who assured victory for his basketball team one evening by keeping his tongue inserted in the opening of his beer bottle for an entire quarter of the game.

I have not started driving with my tongue in a beer bottle to assure my safe arrival. However, I have become obsessed with interested in Rosie's gauge. It's a comfort to know that I can have PWR if I want it, say when I want to drag race with the car next to me as the light turns green, but under ordinary driving conditions, it has disciplined me almost into a Stepford driver. No more jackrabbit starts for me. Gentle is the driving word of the day. I studiously avoid having the ECO light blink off, disappointed in me that I couldn't control my heavy foot. I can't help watching it.

Others probably have more spunk than me, or at least a healthy disregard for authority, but if you are like me, this gauge will trick you into being a more economical driver, just by showing you the red.


  1. Love the name! Tom and Ray (you know, from Car Talk) just did a segment on this a few weeks/months ago and they have a counter-intuitive suggestion for how to accelerate most efficiently. Basically, internal combustion engines when placed under load are less efficient - likewise, when cruising at a reasonable and consistent speed they are most efficient. Accelerating slowly may consume less energy compared to accelerating more quickly at any particular moment in time, but driving is a series of acceleration periods mixed with constant-state driving and deceleration. Point is, getting to speed as quickly and efficiently as possible is how to achieve maximum fuel economy (along with driving at 60mph or less and coasting before braking). The above techniques are banned in Southern California by the way, where everyone must drive as aggressively as possible, alone, in their Escalades...

  2. Obviously someone was not too conscientious about those sidewald cracks.


  3. Sorry, should have written "sidewalk."