No, it is not a 200 miles per gallon carburetor, nor a secret fuel additive. ValueGauge is a unique electronic display to advise drivers of driving habits that yield the best value for their fuel expense and time, and avoid waste. ValueGauge has revealed a new time- and fuel-saving and emissions-reducing technique that is legal and safe and worth doing. Fuel savings of over 10% can be achieved with no travel time penalty.
Miles per Gallon (MPG) or Liters per 100 Kilometers has been the traditional measure of vehicle fuel efficiency (output/input) since the days of the Ford Model T. Although valid as an average over a drive cycle or trip, a “live” or instantaneous MPG value tells an incomplete story. In the search for something better, I first recognized motorists’ priorities to be 1) Safety, 2) Travel Time, and 3) Fuel Expense, in that order. Consequently, a more useful measure of fuel efficiency would relate travel time in hours (output), and fuel cost in Dollars or other currency (input), which can be compared to individual’s sense of the value of their time in $/hour. Dollar Fuel cost per hour of travel is not a meaningful measure; instead, consider change (delta). I defined Dynamic Fuel Cost (DFC) as the ratio of the Change in Fuel Cost for a Change in Travel Time, in $/hour, and formulated the math (think Calculus). I then developed and patented ValueGauge, using a microprocessor and display (available from contest sponsors). ValueGauge obtains data from the vehicle On Board Diagnostic Port and computes and displays DFC during: 1) Acceleration, 2) Steady Speed, and 3) Deceleration.
ValueGauge yields different conclusions than the historic fuel-saving suggestions. First, ValueGauge finds the long-standing advice to “accelerate moderately, avoid jack-rabbit starts” does not save fuel, it only costs travel time. Second, today’s highway speeds are affordable for most drivers at current fuel prices. Third, ValueGauge has revealed the best way to SAVE fuel, that remains undiscovered by the “experts”! When slowing, ValueGauge has found the best VALUE ($/hour) is realized simply by anticipating slowdowns and stops, first coasting (lifting off the accelerator), followed by braking. Coasting to half of steady speed recovers 75% of the fuel burned to accelerate, instead of wasting it as brake heat. The fuel saved is worth the extra additional time for most drivers, and can often be offset by a faster rate of acceleration. Brakes are for race car drivers, car magazine writers, and sissies!
I drove my SUV in a 15 mile test loop and measured a 10% improvement in fuel mileage by my recommended techniques, with the same travel time. Who knew?
ValueGauge can be constructed as a stand-alone unit, an “App” for smartphones, or a software addition to the OEM display. A limited number of hand-built prototypes of ValueGauge are available for purchase or demonstration, and the technology is available for license. Drive Safely!