If you’re looking for something to make those long holiday drives a little more interesting, the DriveGain iPhone App promises to cut your gas bill by about 15% through teaching you to drive more efficiently.
The app gives penny-pinching commuters and cost-conscious city drivers visual and audio feedback on what changes they can make to their driving style to help them save fuel. Developed in the UK and first launched for cars with manual transmissions only, the latest version works on automatics too.
Cult of Mac talked with DriveGain CEO Simon East on the challenges of testing it with his own ride — and why the app is not like having a nagging backseat driver.
CoM: How does the software work?
Simon East: The software uses the GPS and other sensors in the iPhone to work out how you are driving your car. The software works out in real-time how you could drive using less fuel and gives you audio and visual feedback on what you are doing right and where you can improve.
CoM: Is there any kind of admonishment for driving wastefully?
SE: We worked very carefully on the driving feedback so that it is not “telling you off” all the time.
If it did this, people would just stop using the application. Instead the application concentrates on the things you are doing well and tries to limit negative feedback to correcting really big mistakes.
We were also careful to make sure that with the audio messages the application does not endlessly and annoyingly repeat feedback.
CoM: What cars does it work with?
SE: It works with all standard automatic and manual cars (petrol and diesel). The only cars we don’t support currently are hybrids and electric vehicles.
CoM: How many downloads so far?
We have had over 5,500 downloads of the DriveGain and CarEconomy applications so far. We have only just added support for automatic cars so we are expecting the take-up to rise substantially now.
CoM: Have you tested it with your own car?
SE: Yes, I drive with it all the time. I drive a Mazda 6. My experience has been that driving in a fuel-efficient way becomes an interesting challenge in itself – also, it definitely improves your attention to what other drivers are doing since a big part of driving economically is anticipating if you are going to need to slow down or stop further ahead.