Software update for your car can reduce fuel consumption, researcher says

Eindhoven (The Netherlands) - John Kessels from the technical university of Eindhoven claims that a relatively simple software update as well as the addition of a cable could reduce the fuel consumption of virtually any car on the road today.

Kessels approach is based on the idea that cars waste energy in several places; for example, he explained that cars do not accelerate efficiently and throw potential energy savings when charging the car battery or running all electrical systems without interruption.

The researcher said that a software update would allow a car to accelerate at a pace that is optimal for power efficiency. "There is only one position of the accelerator that guarantees optimal performance. Accelerating a little less or a little bit more can cause considerable loss of energy," a press release stated.

Similar to how hybrid technology works today, Kessels believes that excess power - for example derived from braking - can be used to charge the car battery and the generator, which typically charges the battery, can be turned off when it is inefficient for the engine to power it. Also, Kessels' software update can shut off parts of the electrical systems of a car, such as the rear window and seat heating, when they are not needed.

Combined, these power savings resulted in a 2.6% reduction in fuel consumption in Kessels' test, which included a Ford Mondeo evaluation car. According to the researcher, similar software updates could be applied to any car with the addition of a "single small" cable. There is no need to replace any existing parts, Kessels said.