Shell team proves driving smarter can save 30%

Mileage has been an obsession of mine since I started driving. Back then 50 cents a gallon was considered outrageous.

I lived out in the sticks, about 10 miles from the outskirts of town when I got my first (and only) motorcycle, a Yamaha 100. It sipped fuel. Good thing because the tank only held a little more than a half gallon.

But the bike was only good for summer months.

How not to save fuel

At 17, I purchased something winter-worthy and that I could afford -- a 1963 Ford Galaxie for $300. The dark blue four-door featured a 352 cubic-inch big block with a two-barrel carburator and a two-speed automatic transmission.

Efficiency wasn't in its repertoire. I could watch the needle drop during any kind of serious acceleration. This was unfortunate as I drove amongst a lot of Mopar and Chevy enthusiasts.

Shell demonstrates how it's done

I thought of this little anecdote while listening to Lindsey McAndrews of Shell Canada Ltd. explain the Shell Smarter Driver Challenge, which reportedly has set a Canadian record for fuel efficiency by driving across Canada from Halifax, N.S. to Vancouver, B.C. in a 2012 Volkswagen Passat.

"Canadians tend to buy the bigger vehicles," McAndrews says, explaining the ample leg and elbow room. "It's going to be a realistic demonstration of how far that car can go using the least amount of fuel."

According to, the team shaved its gasoline consumption (the team only used Shell New Nitrogen Enriched Bronze gas) by 30 percent. The coast-to-coast jaunt covered about 6,300 kilometers and consumed less than five tanks of fuel.

"Throughout the trip, we were in awe of not only Canada's scenery but also our team of drivers," say John and Helen Taylor, challenge coaches. "They proved that anyone can follow these 15 simple techniques and see significant improvements in their fuel economy."

The team of drivers included McAndrews and other Shell representatives, Alex Debogorski of "Ice Road Truckers" fame, Globe and Mail automotive columnist Lorraine Sommerfeld, Shell's Energy Diet Challenge winner Simone Kitchen-Kuiack and representatives from environmental non-government organizations Pollution Probe and the Pembina Institute, Global Energy World reports.

Drive smoothly

Those 15 tips from Shell are pretty basic, including things like driving smoothly and keeping your car maintained.

"I didn't realize fun was that much work," says Debogorski.

I drive a 2000 Passat station wagon, so this intrigues me. I also prefer a larger vehicle. Maybe it's blowback from those years in the Galaxie. Of course, I also love my 74 Super Beetle.

Driving sensibly is a challenge, but this team shows that it can be done. And shaving a third off your gas bill is one heck of an incentive.