Digital Driving Coach - An app that helps you drive better
3rd Mar 2018 6:00 am
A mobile-based application that promises to make one drive more efficiently. We examine its benefits.
Fuel efficiency is of utmost importance to most Indian car buyers. But when it comes to maximising the kilometres you get from every litre of precious fuel, most drivers are only familiar with the basics – shift up early, downshift only when you have to, and use as little throttle as possible. However, to take it to the next level, drivers need some help from the car’s ECU itself. In which range is a car the most efficient? When is the engine ‘lugging’ or burning fuel without making useful power? And just how much should you allow the car to coast? The answers to all these questions are now available, and in real time too. How? We’ve got our hands on a new smartphone-based application that not only answers these questions but also promises to make your driving style more efficient. This then seems to be the need of the hour, but is it effective?
Developed by a Bengaluru-based company called EngineCal, CarIntell is a device that is connected to the car’s OBD (on-board diagnostics) port, from where data is sent to the smartphone app via Bluetooth. Aimed at reducing tailpipe emissions and improving fuel economy, the company looks to provide a rather simple solution (with a clever back-end) that can save you money. The app does this by collecting various data on air-fuel ratio, boost pressure, engine speed, etc, and making tons of calculations at the back-end, based on certain pre-set algorithms using which it throws up suggestions for the driver to achieve better fuel efficiency. The alerts from the app include high-fuelling warning and a gear shift indicator, both of which give out visual and audible warnings, so the driver isn’t distracted and can stay focused on the road. The software can also identify any oddities with the engine at an early stage and caution the owner about the issue that needs attention.
Keeping most parameters constant (including the driver), we decided to try and see if the app really made a difference. And we were pleasantly surprised. We managed to extract a full kilometre per litre more (in city driving conditions) by just following the gear shift patterns and easing off the accelerator. So this app does create a very positive impression and going by our test, it actually works quite well. Other features of this app include a head-up display with the vehicle speeds and rpm, trouble codes, if any, useful locations on the map like fuel stations and service centres, and it also displays the max torque produced at the flywheel of the vehicle.
Now that brings us to the question – do we really need this app, especially when modern cars have gear shift and real-time fuel efficiency indicators? This depends on just how serious you are about fuel economy. Simply put, the audible warnings and drive data continuously alert the driver, coaxing an improved driving style. It’s actually a very useful learning tool for inefficient drivers and owners who keep wondering why their car isn’t very efficient (despite their chauffeurs being in the highest possible gear at most times). So, if one really wants to maximise fuel efficiency and better their driving style with the help of real-time data, CarIntell is a good way to learn, one that could even pay for itself by saving you money on fuel.
In addition to this, the company behind CarIntell has built another really useful app called Engine Insights which can perform a scan and identify the current and potential problems in a car’s engine. This app is mainly designed for used car dealers and service centres, and that’s a completely different world.