What is the new economic option of Google Maps worth?

Last week, Google announced the arrival of a new option on Google Maps, to show motorists the most energy-efficient route. Here is what it says for different routes tested.



Last week, Google announced the arrival of a new option on Google Maps, to show motorists the most energy-efficient route. Here is what it says for different routes tested.

Alternative, less fuel-intensive routes: this is what a new option in the Google Maps application offers. First launched in North America, this tool has been available since last Wednesday in several European countries, including Luxembourg.

Wirtschaft, Google Street View Car, Photo: Anouk Antony/Luxemburger Wort

The internet giant is currently working on a hardware update for Street View. By September, the complete update will be carried out.

To activate it, on your smartphone in particular, you have to go to the Google Maps navigation settings and then to the route options. In addition to the three choices that existed until then – “avoid expressways”, “avoid tolls” and “avoid ferries” -, now appears the line “prioritize fuel-efficient routes”.

“Less steep, less crowded” routes

When displaying the different possible routes on the map (the fastest, the shortest, etc.), the most economical is indicated by a small green and white sheet. Just below is the percentage of energy saved by this route. The distinction can be made according to the motorization of the vehicle: gasoline, diesel, electric or hybrid. Each user can therefore indicate which one concerns him.

Specifying the savings, Google Maps indicates that, “generally, fuel-efficient routes are less steep, less congested and carried out at a constant speed”. In its communication, last week, at the time of the launch of the option in 40 new countries including Luxembourg, Google explained that the new functionality would have the potential to save up to one million tonnes of CO₂ emissions per year. , the equivalent of more than 200,000 cars withdrawn from circulation each year.

Up to 30% savings for a hybrid vehicle

But what are these economic routes? To find out, we had to wait a bit. Indeed, on Wednesday, the option was not necessarily available on all devices. “The (gradual, editor’s note) deployment will take place in the coming days,” Google said at the time.

This Monday, at midday, we tested this option on a smartphone where it is now available. We have chosen several routes, carried out on a daily basis or to go on vacation. Sometimes the most economical route is also the fastest: for example Esch-Luxembourg or Thionville-Luxembourg.

This Sunday, a new segment of the Luxembourg tramway – 1.2 km between the central station and the Bonnevoie high school – is inaugurated. The opportunity to recall the commissioning of previous sections, and to discuss future extensions.

For others, the results may be interesting, even surprising. Thus, to rally Diekirch to the capital around noon, the journey by the A7 (52 km) was estimated, at that time, taking into account traffic conditions, at 47 minutes. That is the same time as taking the N14 and N30 roads (40 km), a route designated as economical: it made it possible to save 17% of petrol or diesel, 29% of energy for an electric vehicle and up to 33% for a hybrid engine.

Long-term savings

Still at midday, the Luxembourg-Trier journey was faster by taking the motorway only (46 minutes for 55 km). But when exiting the highway at Grevenmacher to continue by road to Trier, it was only 3 minutes longer, for 4% petrol or diesel savings, 9% energy for an electric vehicle and 13 % for a hybrid car. If carried out every day, this “economical” route can actually prove to be financially advantageous in the long term, especially with a hybrid engine.

For a slightly longer journey, let’s admit a person having to connect the European institutions between Luxembourg and Strasbourg, you have to be ready to extend your journey by half an hour (2h50 for the economy option, against 2h20 for the faster) for an almost zero gain in gasoline or diesel (1%) and quite relative for an electric or hybrid motor (6%).

A longer four-hour alternative to Cannes

Finally, there are long journeys, for holidays for example. Again, the results are random. If, this winter, you want to go skiing in Alpe d’Huez, you are really in no hurry and you drive an electric or hybrid vehicle, Google Maps offers you a route two hours longer but 20 km shorter , which would save, according to the two engines mentioned, respectively 15 and 17% of energy.

09.09.08 illustration mobility luxembourg, photo.  Marc Wilwert

Bordering Luxembourg, the community of municipalities of Cattenom and surroundings wants to speed up mobility projects, with dedicated bus lanes on the main roads towards the Grand Duchy and connections that would be free.

As for a Luxembourg-Cannes trip, it’s downright praise of patience: while the fast option indicates 9h15 of road, the itinerary with the small sheet displays a duration of almost 13h, for 20% of energy savings for an electric and hybrid motor… but only 2% for a heat engine.

If this economical option of Google Maps has the merit of existing and is part of the current and necessary trend of reducing energy consumption, it is aimed above all at those who like or can take the time behind the wheel. Remember, finally, that in terms of mobility and reducing the carbon footprint, Google Maps has long offered routes using public transport.

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