At the 62nd International Motor Show in Frankfurt this morning, Fiat Group Automobiles and Microsoft unveiled “EcoDrive”. The EcoDrive solution, spearheaded by Fiat Group Automobiles, demonstrates that an auto maker’s environmental responsibility should not stop when the car leaves the production line - but extend into the way consumers drive their cars.

Today the official fuel consumption and emission figures of cars, certified by the European Union, are obtained using cars driven by professional drivers on a Roller Dynamometer Test Bench. The test takes place in optimum ambient conditions (fixed temperature, pressure and humidity) on a predefined driving cycle (fixed vehicle speed, time and gear shift points) with air conditioning, radio, lights, and other devices switched off. This ensures the results are comparable. But real emissions levels are substantially different. They depend on whether the car is driven in a rural or urban setting and on the condition of the car. And they are also heavily affected by the driver’s style.

EcoDrive collects all necessary data relating to vehicle efficiency and, through Blue&Me’s USB gate, transmits it into a normal USB key. The driver plugs this into a PC. The “EcoDrive” system presents the driver with detailed environmental performance of the car including the CO2 emission level for each trip. It analyses the driver’s style and then provides tips and recommendations on how to modify style to achieve CO2 reductions – and save money on fuel.

Fiat 500

The backdrop to the Fiat stand was a huge Fiat 500, the biggest mock-up ever to be shown at a motor show - and it came with the huge key.

Luca De Meo

Fiat CEO Luca De Meo introduces the Fiat brand to the media in Frankfurt this morning, during the press conference he announced the innovative new 'EcoDrive' concept.

EcoDrive will encourage the driver to set himself challenges – CO2 reduction targets for specific journeys or over a set period of time. And in a community site will encourage all drivers to come together and pool their savings - working towards much bigger collective targets and showing that a lot of small contributions join to have a massive impact. Based on the award winning, jointly developed Blue&Me platform, “EcoDrive” will enable drivers to better understand and adapt their driving behaviours to minimise their effect on the environment.

The partnership between Microsoft and Fiat was initiated nearly four years ago and has seen the solution rolled out across the Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Iveco and Lancia ranges. This latest ecological application was developed on Microsoft’s flexible and updateable platform Microsoft Auto, which Fiat has innovated upon to together with Microsoft create the in-car infotainment solution Blue&Me. “EcoDrive” will be available from 2008 in certain Fiat cars equipped with the Blue&Me system and marks yet another step in the innovative collaboration between Fiat Group Automobiles and Microsoft.

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Fiat will have an extensive stand packed full of attractions in Frankfurt: essential, smooth shapes combine with the colours of the Italian flag, a unifying visual element that is immediately recognisable

Photos © 2007 Interfuture Media/Italiaspeed