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Tracking your driving to save fuel

Personal data collector will help drivers adjust their gas-guzzling habits

Published May 16, 2014

MyCarma compares fuel use in vehicles

VANCOUVER—Race cars have used data-collection devices for several years, as have commercial fleets, but the concept is relatively new for personal transportation.

MyCarma, a division of CrossChasm Technologies of Waterloo, has been providing data collection since 2007 and, although it has focussed on fleets, will be marketing a unit for personal use within a month. The first product will be for electric and hybrid vehicles, with a gasoline engine version to follow.

The system was beta-tested during the third-annual EcoRun, conducted in British Columbia recently by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada.

During the three-day event, 18 vehicles from 12 manufacturers were driven by journalists to showcase the latest advances in fuel efficiency and to demonstrate ways we can all reduce fuel costs by modifying our driving habits.

Through its software, MyCarma is able to not only log fuel use, but also how the vehicle was driven, in terms of braking, average speed, acceleration, etc.

“Our mission is simple,” says Matt Stevens, co-founder and CEO of the company. “We are here to save you money and go green, using accurate data for fuel efficiency.”

In 2004, Stevens was part of a group at the University of Waterloo that entered a 17-school North American competition to make vehicles more fuel efficient. Waterloo was the only Canadian school, and it won.

“GM gave us an Equinox and said, ‘make it fuel efficient’,” recalls Stevens, who has a PhD in chemical engineering. “We won, and this allowed us to land good contracts with fleet owners wishing to cut their operational costs.”

Stevens works with fleet managers to not only purchase vehicles based on fuel efficiency, but to also analyze driving habits of its employees.

For example, let’s say a city-owned fleet uses a pickup truck for bylaw enforcement duties. MyCarma can test the vehicle for fuel use, along with costs, and then recommend an energy-efficient replacement.

The company would then provide several recommendations for replacing the pickup, such as a hybrid truck that would reduce fuel use by 80 per cent and emissions by 88 per cent, or a hybrid car that would save even more fuel. A fully electric car wouldn’t work due to the limited range between charges.

MyCarma has developed a less-complicated system for personal auto use. Not only will this system demonstrate your fuel consumption and driving habits, it will also help compare your current car with suggested replacements.

In addition to fuel use, the report takes into account your daily distances, city or highway driving, and personal driving habits.

The fleet system costs $599 per vehicle, plus $40 per month to analyze the data. Stevens says the personal-use system will cost about a third of that.

“Our goal is to help the world be green, and be able to get the right technology in the right spot and get the most out of vehicles,” he says.

Transportation for freelance writer Tim Miller was provided by the manufacturer. Email: wheels@thestar.ca.

The Toronto Star for Wheels.ca

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