I first tried the Shell FuelSave Challenge back in 2009 when it was launched in Singapore. It was a media challenge that I participated in then, with a Honda Civic, and the route stretched from Suntec City to Upper East Coast and back. I encountered an incident on the narrow two-laners at Upper East Coast where I had to slam hard on the brakes and that cost me some mileage! I eventually finished third place then.
Two years on, I was invited again to be part of the Shell FuelSave Blogger Challenge! I was one of seven bloggers who stood a chance of winning one year’s worth of petrol from Shell ($5,000 value)! All I had to do was clock the most mileage out of one litre of fuel. Sounds easy? Not really…
Shell has been actively promoting fuel saving to the masses, in a bid to help motorists ‘get the most out of each drop’ and save as much as they can on ever-rising fuel costs. Shell FuelSave contains the most advanced Shell fuel economy formula and since then they have been helping drivers all over the world to save fuel.
This year, there was a Shell FuelSave Challenge for the public where 800 applicants sent in their personal fuel-saving stories and 80 were selected to take part in the qualifying rounds held over two weeks. 10 finalists were singled out to try and win the two spots on Singapore’s Shell FuelSave team that will represent the nation in the Shell Eco-Marathon Asia at Sepang in early July. Yes, these two winners will also get one year’s worth of Shell petrol and the two winning bloggers will team up with these two winning participants to form Team Shell FuelSave Singapore.
The final Challenge was held on 25 June 2011 at Road Safety Park and the 10 finalists had their Challenge in the morning, after a heavy downpour. The two eventual winners Arthur and Daniel clocked 17+km per litre and were presented with a fat envelope full of Shell fuel vouchers enough to last them for a year!
The Bloggers’ Challenge was held in the afternoon and I was in Group 2, as there were only four cars but seven of us. Wondering who the other six bloggers are? They are: Joe Augustin, Leow Ju-Len, Diana Lim, Edmund Tay, Daphne, Darryl Kang (aka DK) and me!
Here we are with Shell FuelSave ambassador Eunice Olsen:
While waiting for the first group to finish their Challenge, I was slowly getting nervous. Yes, it is just a fuel-saving competition but any contest is still worthy of feeling anxious right?
Prior to the actual driving, we were given a quick three-question quiz about fuel saving tips from Shell. One incorrect answer will get you a penalty of a 45kg extra weight in your boot; two incorrect answers will get you a penalty of the air-con temperature to be set at 23 degrees and all three wrong means getting both penalties as mentioned above.
Joe Augustin and I were “mugging” before the Challenge and I was paying attention to the presentations by one of Shell’s scientists, by Eunice Olsen and also one on Shell’s HSSE (Health, Safety, Security and Environment) – internal standards that all Shell employees must adhere to. Thankfully I got all three questions correct.. so did the rest of the bloggers except for Edmund who got all three wrong because he was more occupied with his SMSes!
Using the Honda Civic 1.8 (A), we were not allowed to turn off the air-con and we had to drive from Road Safety Park out onto ECP before exiting at Bayshore, moving on to Bedok South, coming down Upper East Coast and then getting back onto Marine Parade Road to enter ECP and head back to Road Safety Park.
I was very conservative with the throttle and my right foot behaved well during the Challenge, but I lacked some luck during the city driving bit as I kept encountering one red light after another. Eventually I clocked 16.45km/litre which I think is not too bad!
It was the other two in my group who won the Bloggers’ Challenge – sheesh, I suck – with Edmund scoring over 19km per litre and having to continue on past the finishing point as he still had some of that one litre of petrol left! Diana finished second with 17+km/litre and the rest of us were in the 16+km/litre range or less.
Group 2 consisted of Edmund, Diana and me:
To some people, it might be torturous to drive so conservatively. Actually, fuel-saving doesn’t mean driving slowly. Edmund dashed off and pressed on the accelerator immediately upon entering the expressway so he could get up to the optimal cruising speed quickly. He then had a stroke of luck when it was green light all the way down Bedok South and Upper East Coast.
Fuel-saving is not only good on your purses but also for the environment. I mean, you are going to continue driving despite rising costs of fuel right? So why not help to stretch that fuel dollar and go further on each drop?
There are many fuel-saving techniques that Shell and Eunice Olsen can teach us, but ultimately the decision to adopt these practices into your life is entirely yours. It isn’t about memorising the techniques and then trying hard to remember to practise them, but fuel-saving is a lifestyle change.
Like how one reduces food intake on a long-term basis for weight control, meaningfully putting fuel-saving techniques to use with sincerity and the willingness to do it is something that has to be a habit and not a one-off thing.
I am slightly disappointed that I missed the chance to represent Singapore at the Shell Eco-Marathon Asia but I learnt a lot this time, despite having done the Challenge before. I guess we are growing up everyday and learning is an everyday process!
Really – driving slowly does not mean having the best fuel efficiency. It’s also about understanding your driving and having some knowledge of your car, eg. its engine load and listening to the revs.
Saving one litre of fuel per tank might not sound like a lot but think accumulative, and think of how much fuel you use a year. Do your sums and I’m pretty sure the savings are substantial.
I don’t want to be nagging at you to be more conscious of your right foot when driving but do gradually adopt some fuel-saving habits, both for yourself and the greater good. It’s as simple as being more alert when you drive, eg. avoid using your handphone and learning how to anticipate better so you don’t have to slam on the brakes hard all the time.
All in a day’s work! I didn’t go home empty-handed and I have $200 Shell fuel vouchers sitting snugly in my organiser now, ready for my next Shell visit. Now that I’m better equipped and more experienced about fuel saving, I hope that all you readers will start caring more about your fuel dollars too!
Photos of the prize presentation:
And so here is Team Shell FuelSave Singapore.. do us proud at the 2011 Shell Eco-Marathon Asia yeah!
Other than the Shell FuelSave Challenges, there were also Shell Eco-Marathon Asia student demonstrations by Nanyang Technological University, National University of Singapore and ITE. Members of the public could also go for the Road Safety Games – remember playing these when you were in primary school?
You were either a pedestrian or cyclist. Now there’s a karter option too! Both times I played it when I was younger I was the pedestrian, RAAR! But that day Shell removed the pedestrian option so anyone playing it could be a cyclist or karter.
Here are 10 fuel saving tips from Shell:
1. Service Your Engine
A poorly maintained engine can increase your fuel consumption by up to 50 per cent! Even replacing dirty spark plugs can improve fuel consumption by 5 per cent.
2. Keep Your Tyres At The Right Pressure
Tyres under-inflated by just 1 psi means a reduction of fuel efficiency by up to 3 per cent, so check your tyres regularly and keep them pumped up well!
3. Avoid Carrying Excess Weight
For every additional 45kg you carry, your fuel efficiency can drop by 1-2 per cent. (So starving before the FuelSave Challenge obviously wasn’t going to work!) Therefore, clear your car of unnecessary items that add extra weight to your drive.
4. Use The Correct Oil
Using the manufacturer’s recommended lubricant can help improve fuel efficiency by 1-2 per cent. Higher quality motor oils can help your engine to operate more efficiently.
5. Drive Smoothly And Avoid High Speeds
Driving aggressively means consuming more fuel as we all already know. In fact, it will burn one third more fuel compared to driving smoothly. Avoid accelerating or braking too hard and keep your steering as even as possible. Driving just 8km/h over the speed limit can affect fuel economy.
6. Keep Windows Closed
Some people think that bringing down the windows and turning off the air-con will help to save fuel. Turning the air-con off will save you fuel yes, but having the windows down fully means having wind blowing through and that can slow you down so you are likely to compensate by pressing harder on the accelerator. Hence, if you want to switch off the air-con, you can lower the windows a little or use your car’s internal ventilation system.
7. Use Cruise Control
It helps you rest your foot and also saves fuel, why not?
8. Avoid Excess Idling
Try to turn off your engine if you are stopping for more than 10 seconds.
9. Avoid Over-Revving
Go gradual on your accelerator instead of stomping down hard once the light turns green.
10. Use Air-Conditioning Sparingly
I use air-conditioning all the time because Singapore is just so hot, but do note that using air-con does strain your engine on both hot and cold days and can increase fuel consumption by up to 8 per cent.
For more information, you may visit Shell’s website here.