1 Week and 483K Miles Later, Toyota Study Shows Helping the Environment Is at Your Fingertip

Plano-based Toyota Connected North America employees and family members drove in Eco or EV mode for a week to see how much earth-saving difference it can make. Turns out, it made a lot—the equivalent of 748 trees sequestering carbon for 10 years, with a savings of 5,091 gallons of gasoline.

Push a button, help save the Earth.

It’s not quite that simple, but a weeklong study by Plano-based Toyota Connected North America engineers and data scientists showed that driving in Eco or EV mode in gas and hybrid vehicles can have a measurable impact.

Toyota said that in the study, employees and family members drove more than 400,000 miles in Eco or EV mode for a week, and the results were a remarkable savings in carbon emissions that are harmful to the environment.

Using Eco mode can help ‘greatly reduce our collective CO2 output’

“We have the ability to use data to help empower customers so that they can make a difference,” Brian Kursar, chief technology officer, Toyota Connected North America, said in a statement. “While this study focused on Toyota-owned vehicles, we know there are millions of connected Toyota and Lexus vehicles in the U.S. If everyone drove in Eco mode, it could help greatly reduce our collective CO2 output. Given how successful this internal campaign was, we’d love to see where we can take this initiative, and we hope we inspire other automakers to do the same.”

Engineers and data scientists from Toyota Connected North America (TCNA) set out to determine how much one push of a button could reduce drivers’ carbon emissions.

One week, 483,000 miles of driving in Eco mode test

From April 19-25, TCNA recorded data in real-time from more than 2,000 participating corporate-owned Toyota and Lexus vehicles, recording more than 483,000 miles in Eco or EV mode during that week.

The company said that data scientists compared data from driving in Eco mode a baseline of daily driving taken before the campaign to measure improvements. The team sifted through more than 2.5 million miles from all participating and non-participating vehicles, Toyota said.

From that sample, Toyota the estimated collective impact of the study of participants’ emission reductions were:

  • The equivalent of 748 trees sequestering carbon for 10 years
  • 45,235,623 g of CO2 reduction of greenhouse gases compared to the baseline.
  • 5,091 gallons of gasoline saved.
  • $18,304 of fuel cost savings based on the national average.

“Toyota and Lexus drivers come from all walks of life and live in all kinds of places. Some have long commutes; some may live in rural areas with little fueling infrastructure. Our goal is to meet them where they’re at and use our expertise to help them today, no matter what they drive,” Kursar said.

TCNA said it discovered in its initial study that using the Eco mode could reduce tailpipe CO2 output in a hybrid by 4% because it already captures energy from brakes and downhill coasting.

In a full internal-combustion engine vehicle, data scientists said that using the Eco button could reduce tailpipe CO2 by up to 26%. Toyota said the benefit of Eco mode is that it remaps throttle inputs for gentler acceleration and optimizes the HVAC to conserve energy.

Using data for good—and pitching in toward a carbon-neutral society

“Toyota companies are dedicated to helping reduce carbon emissions to advance achieving a net-zero society and are challenging ourselves to how we can continually help our drivers do the same,” Olarinre Salako, senior data scientist at TCNA, said in a statement. “Connected cars open up a world to see how we can use data for good and how we can unlock the full potential of our Toyota and Lexus vehicles.”

Kursar said helping reduce carbon emissions is something that everyone will need to embrace.

“To get to a carbon-neutral society, we’re all going to have to pitch in,” Kursar said. “Pressing one button in your car to activate Eco mode is one small contribution that our data scientists have shown can benefit everyone.”

Established in 2016, Plano-based Toyota Connected North America works toward realizing Toyota’s global vision for an intelligent mobile society.

It’s an independent Toyota company and serves as a software and innovation hub that leverages big data from vehicles to humanize the driving experience, providing customers secure, seamless and contextual services.

Composed mostly of software engineers and data scientists, TCNA is a center of excellence for connected services that the company says elevates the customer experience as well as benefiting dealers, distributors, and partners.

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