We at voice were recently contacted by Ford Motor Company. The representative from Ford said she was interested in providing college students with "relevant and up to date information" from experts, to help address "rising gas prices, smart technology and green issues (as they relate to vehicles)." We informed Ford that not too many students at the Claremont Colleges have cars, that biking tends to be sufficient means for getting around on campus and students tend to use van rentals through the College, or check out Zipcars or take the Metrolink or bus system to get out of Claremont. But, since we know 5C students are passionate about green issues—and this issue of voice is an extra-special green issue—we were curious as to just what Ford’s experts were so eager to tell us.
We wanted to know whether Ford had any sort of insight on transportation resources as they are available to Claremont College students, why students should be interested in Ford Motor Company even if they're not necessarily driving a Ford car (or won't be buying their own vehicle for another few years). Here's what Dan Pierce, environmental communications manager for Ford Motor Company, had to say in response:
Ford had the insight years ago to invest billions in significantly improving the fuel economy of smaller, more affordable vehicles, while not sacrificing the technology and fun-to-drive features we know college students care about.
For example, Ford's all-new Fiesta gets 41 miles per gallon and has class-leading in-vehicle technology. Other automakers tend to skimp on technology in small cars to make them more affordable, but Ford has found ways to include these features while keeping the car affordable. More Fiestas are sold in [the Claremont] area than anywhere else in the country, with a large percentage of those buyers being college grads and first-time buyers.
Additionally, Ford's Transit Connect Electric is an attractive option for many university campuses because it is 100 percent electric but still meets the needs of the commercial segment. Many college campuses are excited to incorporate them into their fleets to help make their campuses greener.
Finally, Ford experts have compiled eco-tips to help all drivers conserve fuel and save money at the pump, while at the same time helping the environment and improving traffic safety.
- Slow down and watch speed – Drive 55 miles per hour instead of 65 to save fuel. EPA estimates a 10-15 percent improvement in fuel economy by following this tip. Also, aim for a constant speed. Pumping the accelerator sends more fuel into the engine. Using cruise control whenever possible on the highway helps maintain speeds and conserve fuel.
- Accelerate and brake smoothly – Accelerating smoothly from a stop and braking softly conserves fuel. Fast starts, weaving in and out of traffic and hard braking wastes fuel and wears out some of the car components, such as brakes and tires, more quickly. Maintain a safe distance between vehicles and anticipate traffic conditions to allow for more time to brake and accelerate gradually.
- No idling – Today's engines don't need a warm up. Start the car immediately and gently drive away. Don't leave your car idling. Prolonged idling increases emissions and wastes fuel. Turn the engine off in non-traffic situations, such as at bank and fast food drive-up windows, when idling more than 30 seconds.
- Check your tires – Keep tires properly inflated to the recommended tire pressure. This alone can reduce the average amount of fuel use by three to four percent. Under-inflated tires increase rolling resistance and reduce fuel economy. They also wear more rapidly. Check the vehicle's door sticker for minimum cold tire inflation pressure.
- Be kind to your vehicle – Maintain proper engine tune-up to keep vehicles running efficiently. Keep the wheels aligned. Wheels that are fighting each other waste fuel. Replace air filters as recommended. Use a fuel with good detergent additives to keep the vehicle engine clean and performing efficiently. Always consult the Owner's Manual for proper maintenance.
- Travel light – Avoid piling a lot of luggage on the roof rack. The added frontal area reduces aerodynamics and will hurt fuel economy, reducing it by as much as 5 percent. Remove excess weight from the vehicle. Unnecessary weight, such as unneeded items in the trunk, makes the engine work harder and consumes more fuel.
- Minimize use of heater and air conditioning – Use heating and air conditioning selectively to reduce the load on the engine. Decreasing your usage of the air conditioner when temperatures are above 80 degrees can help you save 10-15 percent of fuel. Use the vent setting as much as possible. Park in the shade to keep car cool and reduce the need for air conditioning.
- Close windows at high speeds – Don't drive with the windows open unless your keep your speed under 50 mph. Driving with the windows open at highway speeds increases aerodynamic drag on the vehicle and lowers fuel economy.
- Choose the right oil – Use good quality oils with the viscosity grade recommended in the owner guide. Ford recommends SAE 5W-20 oil for most cars and trucks to provide the best fuel economy. Only oils "certified for gasoline engines" by the American Petroleum Institute (API) with the starburst symbol should be used.
- Consolidate trips – Plan ahead to consolidate your trips. This will enable you to bypass congested routes, leading to less idling.