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Brits and Germans are Europe's best ecodrivers

It is widely believed that northern Europeans drive more economically than their counterparts in southern Europe.

Unwilling to ever concede victory to the North, proud southern Europeans like me say, “Prove it.”

Fiat just answered that challenge by providing evidence that the North does beat the South – by a small margin, I might add – in overall green driving.

Drivers in the UK scored 63 percent out of a possible 100 percent in Fiat's eco:Index score, which measures optimal engine management while driving on specific routes.

Drivers in Germany were second with a 62 percent score followed by France (60 percent), Italy (59 percent) and Spain (58 percent).

Fiat's scores are based on data collected from the 50,000 drivers who have downloaded the automaker's free eco:Drive software, which is designed to help a person reduce fuel consumption on a set route – such as the commute to work.

The software, which is vehicle and fuel neutral, is available in any of the estimated 900,000 Fiat models equipped with the Blue&Me data interface.

After the driving information is downloaded from the vehicle to the vehicle owner's computer, the software analyzes how the driver's performance on a specific route compares with computer-calculated optimal driving behavior.

The driver is advised on how to improve performance – such as shifting gears at the right time and accelerating and decelerating in a smooth and progressive manner. Those who followed the advice for 30 days made the fuel-saving changes a permanent part of their everyday driving behavior, Fiat said.

There were other interesting findings from Fiat's data.

&am p;#149; Drivers who followed the fuel-saving advice reduced their consumption by an average of 6 percent. If sustained, that reduction would slash CO2 emissions by 1.1. metric tons and reduce fuel costs by 600 euros during the typical five-year life cycle of a subcompact car.

• The top 10 percent of drivers reduced fuel consumption by an average of 16 percent. If that improvement continued it would result in a CO2 reduction of 2.9 metric tons and fuel-cost savings of 1,580 euros.

• If all European drivers followed the eco:Drive suggestions, Europe's fuel consumption would be reduced by 37 billion liters a year and CO2 emissions would be reduced by 90 million tons, which is more than the annual output of a country the size of Portugal.

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