For quite some time, we’ve been enjoying rather low prices in gasoline, hovering around 40 to 45 pesos per liter. That doesn’t mean we should spend time idling along pick up points with the aircon on. Like taxes, gas prices will eventually go up. With that, Shell invited members of the media for an Eco run to Batangas to share ways of making your liter of fuel go farther with FuelSave.

For this eco-drive, a fleet of Mazda 2 sedans and hatchbacks were used for the run. With a combination of SkyActiv tech and FuelSave, the aim was to use as little fuel as possible from the metro to Batangas. A series of challenges await us along the trip, demonstrating the importance of planning trips and driving smart.

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To kick of the drive, we convened at Shell Bonifacio Global City to fill up our Mazda 2 to the brim. The fuel flaps were then sealed which are to be opened only at the final pit stop. Ahead of us lay mixed driving conditions ranging from busy metro streets, highway stints and tough provincial town centers. For this drive, I was paired with C! Magazine’s Carlo Tirona.

From the start, it was already a challenge. Faced with BGC’s morning rush, gridlock greeted us as soon as we left the station. It was tough as we had to fight the urge, inching in traffic with light throttle pressure. Hindering our progress were traffic lights that had rather long intervals between us. Because we were simulating real-world driving, we can’t shut off the engine and had to keep the aircon running. Not a good start for all of us then.

We were finally out of BCG’s gridlock and onto C5 leading into SLEX. It was time to recoup the fuel we wasted in rush hour. It was an easy drive to our first stop and challenge, which was Shell SLEX. Shell’s challenge for us highlighted the importance of planning trips. Using a convenience store run, we were tasked to pick up items with as little time and steps as possible. Teams had to plan which aisles to go to first to avoid having to go through them twice, maximizing the trip and spending as little time possible.

After the first challenge, we began our extended highway trip, which took us from Shell SLEX all the way to the second pitstop in Seda Hotel in Santa Rosa. While on the road, our team did our best in making the most of momentum, looking far ahead to avoid braking at the last minute. The downhill sections of the highway also allowed us to gain momentum as we made our way. We soon exited the highway and made our way to Laguna.

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We arrived in the second stop where George, Louis and Stefan Ramirez, the event marshalls, presented to us tips on making the most out of our liters. For this stop, Georges Ramirez demonstrated fuel saving tips, while Louis Ramirez showed us how not to save fuel by doing a series of aggressive and last minute maneuvers in a closed course. Stefan Ramirez on the other hand showed the modern eco-assist systems to maximize vehicle efficiency. Georges Ramirez showed us that anticipation and light application of the pedals are the key to economy, as well as the concept of momentum conservation. At the end of the run, he merely consumed 7 liters per 100 kilometers (14.3 km/l). In contrast, Louis Ramirez’s aggressive demonstration yielded 13 liters per 100 kilometers (7.7 km/l). While aggressive driving may get you ahead by a few minutes, the Ramirezes demonstrated the dramatic differences between keeping a cool head and finding every gap in traffic.

Lunch was on hand after their demonstrations and we were on the road afterwards. This time, we were headed into the heart of Batangas, making it the longest drive of the trip. After doing the highway drive, I switched seats with my partner Carlo Tirona, and served as a pair of extra eyes looking out of hazards and cars that may slow down our pace and force us to step on the brakes. This particular leg was much harder than the city and highway drive as this part combined both. Making things tougher were STAR tollway’s steep inclines. Fortunately, we applied the lessons from the previous stop in momentum conservation. We did our best gaining speed in the rather short downhill parts of STAR but there were times the inclines dramatically slowed us down, occasionally forcing us to squeeze the throttle a little more.

Once we reached the provincial roads of Batangas, we were faced with Jeepneys suddenly stopping, roadworks and cars parked on the side of the road. Again, the lessons learned from the previous stop were used but in a much more challenging environment. Our reason for going to Batangas? We were to play the role of “Active PTA Members” in Alupay Elementary School. The road going to the said school was twisty with various elevation changes. Our maximum concentration was needed, and Carlo and I wanted to be the most efficient drivers for this run.

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Alupay Elementary School was finally in our sights. There, we played the role of PTA members and taught the children the importance of packing smart. We played a simple game of what should be loaded in cars for going on specific kinds of trips. The game emphasized the importance of planning trips to avoid carrying excess weight, which makes fuel efficiency suffer and leads to more waste. The children were very enthusiastic during the game and even made logical debates why sometimes, carrying a big item is better than carrying many small items. We ended our time in Alupay Elementary School by imparting fuel saving tips for them to share with their parents.

It was a short drive from Alupay Elementary School to the fuel stop. It was now time to reveal how much fuel we used in around 152 kilometers of driving. Carlo and I set a goal of 15 kilometers per liter (km/l) at the start of the trip. We were pleased to find out that we eked out over 20 km/l throughout the drive. No aircon shut-off, no underspeeding on the highway and definitely no free-wheeling. Our extreme patience and concentration paid off in the end as we were the most efficient drivers for the trip. It was tough and we were both a little tired but the result made it all worth it.

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After the fill up, we made our way to Acua Verde beach resort. We found it amusing that even when we weren’t competing for the most efficient drivers anymore, we were all still applying the lessons learned from that day. It’s safe to say we all learned a lot from the drive and it has made us more efficient and safer drivers on the road. Needless to say, Shell’s FuelSave drive was an education for all of us and it was a great experience to be a part of it.

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