There’s a new app on the market that helps trucking companies get better gas mileage, save money on fuel, and allows drivers to have some fun in the process.
“Drivers typically get paid by the mile, and so naturally they want to do as many miles as they can, as fast as they can,” says founder and CEO Jeff Baer. “But driving fast isn’t the most efficient way to move a truck. And the cost of fuel is 30 to 40 percent of operating expenses for most trucking companies.”
PedalCoach, the first product from start-up company LinkeDrive, works with a Bluetooth plug-in that wirelessly converts ECM data from truck’s diagnostic port to a red, yellow, and green speedometer display on a smartphone or tablet. A driver knows if he or she is driving in the most fuel efficient manner if they’ve managed to keep the app meter green.
By turning driving into a game, PedalCoach reinforces fuel-saving techniques like going slow up hills and changing gears at the most efficient times. Truckers earn a point as well as an audible “cha-ching” every time they travel a mile in the green zone. Likewise, a driver may hear a “ding” when they do things that suck up fuel, like race towards a red light then brake.
The app is currently in use commercially in more than 100 trucks in five fleets. The app also shows a leader board of trucks – adding a competitive twist to the game. PedalCoach shows each fleet of trucks and which drivers are moving their loads the most efficiently.
Baer, a former sales exec at the battery-maker A123 Systems and powertrain engineer at Ford, says that the advanced technology of the app may save trucking fleets between three to ten cents per mile. He says that some of that money typically gets paid to drivers who meet the company’s fuel efficiency objectives.
PedalCoach users pay about $100 to $150 each month for service, according to Baer, and save roughly $600 each month in fuel costs.