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The AA ENERGYWISE Rally is on this week and it is a timely reminder that everyone can drive using less fuel.

AA General Manager Motoring Services, Stella Stocks, says while modern vehicle technology plays a large part in fuel efficiency, the Rally's drivers are also using a number of eco-driving techniques to help them reduce their fuel consumption.

Simple eco-driving tips include:

1. Avoid short trips Combine several tasks into one trip or walk. About a third of New Zealand car trips are less than two kilometres in length. Cut down on unnecessary driving and reduce your fuel bills, mechanical wear on your engine and contribute to better air quality.

2. Drive smoothly Lay off the pedals when driving around town. Accelerate smoothly and slowly away from green lights and stop gradually for red lights. Change gear early (but don't labour the engine). If you drive an automatic, allow the transmission to change up early by accelerating on a light throttle. Don't accelerate hard from rest, but let the car move off gently.

3. Look ahead Check what's happening, maintain a safe following distance and you'll keep at a more constant speed. Look ahead and ease off the pedal if the traffic lights are about to change, speed limit changes or traffic stops. It's better to slow down early than brake late.

4. Corner smoothly Don't brake hard for corners and then accelerate out. Slow gently, negotiate and exit the corner on a light throttle.

5. Make hills work for you Lift off the throttle as you crest the hill and use the car's momentum to get you over the top. Build up speed before an uphill stretch.

6. Love your car A little love goes a long way. Regular servicing, the right tyres for the conditions, correct tyre pressure and wheel alignment can all make a difference and save you fuel. A well-maintained car can use 10 to 20% less fuel than a poorly maintained one.

7. Watch your air con Only use air conditioning when absolutely necessary as it tends to eat fuel, up to 10% more in fact. Other features such as the rear window demist can also be a drain, so make sure you switch them off when they've done their job.

8. Keep your load down Sounds obvious, but a heavier vehicle means the engine has to work harder. So take those golf clubs out of the boot after the game and remove the bike rack when you're not using it.

9. Reduce idling time Don't park for long periods with your engine idling and avoid peak hour traffic whenever possible. If you are going to be stationary for more than 30 seconds, switch off your engine.

10. Don't speed Driving faster doesn't necessarily mean you'll get there faster. By travelling at 100km/h instead of 110km/h you can cut around 13% off your fuel bill.

"Many of these fuel saving tips are be used by the drivers who are competing in the 1,780km fuel efficiency Rally."

"With 91-octane petrol now over $1.80 a litre, and many people also concerned about our high fuel use generally, there are a lot of good reasons to change the way we drive," says Ms Stocks.

"A good start is to regularly check your tyre pressure and not carry unnecessary weight in your vehicle. Well-serviced vehicles are also more fuel-efficient. Drive gently and turn your engine off, when you can and when it is safe to do so, instead of idling.

The 2010 AA ENERGYWISE Rally takes place 11-14 October and competitors will drive around the North Island promoting fuel efficient vehicles and fuel efficient driving techniques. The Rally takes place every two years and is jointly organised by the AA, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA), and Gull Petroleum New Zealand which provides the fuel for all vehicles.

The results of the 2010 Rally are as follows:

The Supreme Award, for the car that cost the least to complete the Rally, including fuel and road user charges, went to the new hybrid car, the Honda Insight S, costing just $147.83 to cover the distance.

The Driver Award, for the team that achieved the greatest percentage improvement on the manufacturer’s fuel consumption figure, went to Emma Gilmour, Donald Holder and Stan Tucker driving the Subaru WRX STI, beating the manufacturer’s figure by almost 23%.

The Environmental Award, for the car that completed the distance with the lowest overall CO2 emissions, went to the Toyota Prius which emitted 102.11 grams CO2 per kilometre.

The Class and Category Winners are:
Small - Honda Jazz 1.3
Compact - Honda Insight S
Medium - Toyota Camry Hybrid
Large - BMW 520d SE Sedan
Small Lifestyle- Mitsubishi ASX Sport 1.8L 4WD Diesel
Large Lifestyle - Subaru Outback 2.0D Euro Spec

Petrol - Suzuki Alto AMF310GL
Diesel - Mini Cooper d
Hybrid - Toyota Prius

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