10 Feb
Digital cars are likely to result in fuel savings.

Next generation of vehicles to offer fuel-saving functionality

While much of the automotive industry is a continual state of flux, many of the top manufacturers' engineers are bound in a pursuit of two key goals: efficiency and safety. 

Cars are evolving from analogue machines to digital devices.

With drivers around the country using business fuel cards to get the most out of each tank, any technology that makes it easier to go further with less fuel is likely to be well-received. 

The analogue age is now long over, with cars rapidly transforming from little more than an engine and wheels to vehicles that rival space shuttles in terms of computational power. The digital age is set to herald a more efficient future for New Zealand's fleet managers, but which technology will have the biggest effect?

Cars that can see

Drivers have had the roads they travel mapped out by computers for years now. With global positioning systems replacing the humble map and allowing people to check their route without pulling over, drivers could save fuel by optimising routes and avoiding traffic. 

Naturally, what was once an indispensable piece of equipment is now being usurped by a new development. Continental's eHorizon technology is cutting out the middleman in the navigational process, allowing the car to "see" the journey ahead and prompt the driver accordingly. 

However, the technology relies on a number of supporting systems to ensure it offers the drivers the claimed benefits. Cloud connectivity is the key to its success, allowing vehicles to communicate with the surrounding infrastructure, such as changing speed limits and differing road conditions and gradients. 

On average, Continental claims eHorizon can offer fuel savings of up to 3 per cent. Over the course of an entire fleet's operations, this can result in significant savings.

Ford begins work on talking cars

While not quite like the creations in Pixar's beloved Cars franchise, Ford's latest innovation will still allow vehicles to communicate with each other. However, the talking will be done via the internet rather than through cartoon-inspired facial features. 

Ford is currently working with researchers from St. Petersburg State Polytechnic University to craft a connected car solution that allows all vehicles on the road to communicate. The technology, like Continental's eHorizon, is expected to result in much more efficient vehicles, hopefully reducing the pressure on fuel cards and the number of trips drivers make to the pump. 

With much of the global automotive research and development initiatives focusing on ways to save fuel, businesses and their drivers are likely to have a range of options with which to do so.