If like me you often leave the filling station thinking that the contents of your fuel tank are worth more than the actual car, Google has some good news for you. No matter what kind of car you drive, Google Maps can now help you reduce your fuel consumption and save money as a result. With the cost of petrol and diesel in particular reaching frankly frightening levels, that's something most of us could really benefit from.
This isn't a new feature, but it's new to the UK and Ireland and almost 40 other EU countries; it was only previously available in the US, Canada and most recently Germany. It builds on the existing eco-friendly routing by customising the route based on the kind of vehicle you're driving.
How Google Maps' new eco-driving settings work
This isn't just about finding the shortest or quickest route. Google Maps now enables you tell it what kind of powertrain you have, and it'll adjust the route on that basis. For example, I drive a big old diesel that's happiest on long motorway runs and painfully expensive in stop-start urban traffic; hybrid EVs with regenerative braking are absolutely delighted by the same start-stop traffic that makes my fuel gauge deplete dramatically. The calculations are based on data from the US Department of Energy and the European Environment Agency and mixed with some machine learning magic.
Of course, the most efficient way to use a car is not to drive it at all – and Google Maps' public transport, walking and cycling directions are really useful, especially in urban areas. But the reality for many of us is that we still need to drive places, and anything that enables us to do that in a more efficient and slightly more environmentally friendly way has got to be a good thing.