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06 July 2012

Story from the road in Kotse.com and Shell FuelSave's Save on Your Summer Road Trip

Words by Niky Tamayo | Photos by Ken Tamayo
 
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It was a special Sunday last June 10, 2012 for the winners of Kotse.com and Shell FuelSave's “Save on Your Summer Road Trip” contest. So maybe summer’s over, but that didn’t stop us from treating them and a bunch of their friends to a road trip and having fun. Ford Philippines was also kind enough to lend us three brand-spanking-new Fiesta Sport Plus' for the drive so we can find out for ourselves just how frugal their hot hatch really is.
 
Over the summer, Kotse.com and Shell FuelSave held a contest asking people to send in a photo showing their best fuel saving habits. The winners received free fuel and other goodies from Shell FuelSave, as well as an invitation to Kotse.com's FuelSave Workshop on a summer road trip. During the out of town workshop, we got to see some sights, eat some good food, and learn a bit about fuel economy. We also got to watch Pacquiao beat Bradley to within an inch of his life, only to lose on the judges’ scorecards. At least we were well-fed.
 
Getting the Ball Rolling
Fuel economy is perhaps foremost on most people’s minds, nowadays. Despite the recent price rollbacks, gasoline prices are still hovering near P50 per liter. But, as we demonstrated during the drive, simple changes in behavior can help decrease your fuel consumption greatly. 
 
After a scrumptious breakfast at UCC Café at the Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, four of our winners and the Kotse.com Crew headed towards the trip's first stop at the Shell Station along the SLEX in Muntinlupa. After some coaching and familiarization with the Fiesta and its 6-speed dual clutch transmission, we allowed them to take the wheel and try their hand at fuel saving. As they found out, by simply sticking to an 80 km/h limit, they easily managed to increase their typical 13 km/l highway economy to 15-16 km/l. 
 
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Our next stop was at the Sol Y Viento Resort in Los Baños for lunch, which included a three-course meal and a ticket to the live viewing of the Pacquiao-Bradley fight that should have ended with a knockout, but didn’t. Afterwards, we had a short lecture on simple fuel-saving driving and car care tips. These included such basic ones such as airing out your car before starting it (to lessen load on the air-conditioning), lowering your AC settings, checking tire pressures (as espoused by Silver prize winner Joseph Conrad Borlongan), and keeping your speed down. Merely minimizing idling time, parking time, and AC usage has the potential to save P10,000 or more in fuel costs a year. Think about that.
 
Besides these simple techniques, other tricks taught included momentum driving, pulse, and glide and hill-driving techniques, which our winners got to explore on the trip home. We had been mulling making them demonstrate their fuel saving techniques, but tint-master and Bronze prize winner Lee Jefferson Capillanes didn’t bring any tint to install, and well... pushing cars up the side of the mountain didn’t sound like such a hot idea for car-pushing advocate Peter Chua.
 
Sadly, swimming was not on our schedule either (maybe next year), but we took time out to pose by the pools for a group photo. Too bad. The weather was good for swimming, and the water was nice. 
 
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Putting into Practice
On the way back to Manila, we took a detour out to Santa Rosa to visit the Nuvali EcoCentrum. Perhaps it’s a bit ironic to classify a man-made lake as Ecological, but it was nice feeding the teeming masses of carp frolicking in the lake. 
 
Late in the afternoon, our group of winners also got a chance to demonstrate what they’ve learned during the drive home. By applying more advanced fuel saving techniques, our trainees were hitting over 19 km/l. Not a bad result for the 1.6 liter four cylinder Ti-VCT Fiestas hauling full-loads over hilly stretches of the South Super Highway. Of course, some credit has to go to the Ford Fiesta’s six-speed dual clutch transmission and Shell's FuelSave Unleaded. Unlike other automatic transmissions, it uses no torque converter. This means less drag on the engine during acceleration, as there’s no sloshing fluid inside to sap away power. Even better, the computer automatically shifts to neutral at a stop. The two extra gears gives you a wide range of cruising speeds, but best economy is found at 50 km/h in 5th gear and 70 km/h in 6th gear. 
 
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Slower is usually better, but not in this instance. At a steady 70 km/h, one team was doing 20-21 km/l, while the other car,  driven by Econ-button crusader Nelebie Becher at 60 km/h, was doing a mere 18 km/l. When trying to get maximum economy, it pays to know your car! 
 
For his 20 km/l highway performance and 19 km/l mixed drive, Peter Chua received a bonus prize at the end of the day... a brand new Fiesta! Okay, so it was only 1/18th the size of the ones we drove, but it was the right color, at least. In the end, nobody went home empty handed, or on an empty stomach. And hopefully, with the lessons we taught that day, their daily commutes won’t leave them with empty pockets, either.
 
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