Husband and wife team make fuel economy their life calling
John and Helen Taylor are besotted with driving cars, whether it is to set speed and distance or fuel consumption records. The Taylors, who now live in Australia, have set 46 speed and 47 speed economy records over the years, dating back to the 1980’s.
They visited South Africa in 2006 to promote a new Shell fuel (Unleaded Extra), and set a record for the 5 City Challenge, going from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, Durban, Johannesburg and Bloemfontein and then back to Cape Town – 3 812 km – averaging 4.98 l/100km in a 1.6-litre Volkswagen Golf petrol. They used 3.45 tanks of fuel at 55 litres a tank, using a total of 189.81 litres. Fuel cost at the time was R1 112.45.
Another exploit involved driving a Peugeot 308 HDi on a 6 000 km route around Britain’s coast in 175 hours, averaging an amazing 2.2 l/100km, which equated to 2 400 km on a tank!
Much of their time is spent educating fleet operators and governments on ways to reduce fuel usage. They also stressed how being an observant driver by always being aware of traffic conditions around your vehicle will make you a safer driver.
Take off gently from a standstill and change gears with engine revs going no higher than 2 000 in either a petrol or diesel vehicle before making a change into a higher gear. (They said they had noticed that South African drivers tend to hold lower gears far longer than necessary and did not change into higher gears quickly enough).
Observe traffic flow and any obstructions. Rather slow down as soon as one sees an amber or red light so you can try and get through the intersection without stopping when the light goes green.
Engine idling is a no-no. They mentioned seeing trucks and buses often standing idling – sometimes without a driver aboard – and this was a big fuel waster. Stop the engine whenever you see a situation where you may be stationary for a length of time.
Correct tyre pressures are critical. They did a check at one of their conferences in Holland and found 97% of the vehicles in the parking lot had incorrect pressures.
Don’t carry heavy articles such as golf clubs in the luggage compartment if you are not on your way to play golf. On their trip to South Africa they were able to take out 200 kg of unnecessary items from one car’s boot, which would save significant amounts of fuel.
They said that sensible use of air conditioners in South Africa would also save fuel. Generally, they found local drivers put the setting on high to get a quick cool down. The Taylors advocate starting on a temperature just below ambient and then taking it down gradually, if necessary.