While many topics are still open for discussion, few doubts remain over the fact that cars pollute. First, let’s start with the facts: overall, the transport sector is responsible for 25% of global energy-related CO2 emissions, 75% of which are caused by internal combustion engine cars and trucks. In times of global concern over emissions, the sector has not managed to lower its impact on the environment. As stated by Karima Delli, a Member of the European Parliament, in a recent post “while the economy as a whole has seen a drop in greenhouse gas emissions for the period 1990-2015, this is not the case for transportation”.
This clearly poses a number of problems. The correlation between CO2 emissions and climate change has been proven time and again. The latest IPCC report clearly underlines the catastrophic consequences if we don’t limit global warming “well below 2°C”. Another even more direct threat from car emissions is air pollution. A study published recently in the European Heart Journal found that air pollution could be causing an estimated 8.8 million extra deaths globally rather than the previously estimated 4.5 million. In addition to the environmental and human costs, car emissions also have a negative impact on our economies through disease, and extreme weather events.
To fight pollution from combustion engine, electrification has been promoted worldwide as the most effective solution. There is little doubt that the world will transition to EVs sooner or later, with some countries clearly leading the way. The Norwegian Road Federation (NRF) just announced that almost 60 percent of all new cars sold in the Nordic country in March were fully electric. But while some countries, such as Norway, have put effective incentives in place speeding up the adoption of clean mobility, the share of EVs is still marginal in most countries: in China, the market share was 2.2 percent in 2017, and in the United States just 1.2 percent, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).
So, while the world transitions to EVs, what can be done to reduce the impact of petrol and diesel cars? Eco-driving might hold part of the answer.
Changing old habits is never an easy thing to do. So why not use a coach? From that simple idea, WeNow has developed a solution to help drivers reduce their fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. The WeNowBox is a device which is plugged into the car and collects some of the car’s data, such as consumption, cost of rides, mileage, time spent in the car, CO2 emissions, etc. This data is recorded in the WeNow app and compared with the “ideal” energy efficiency for a similar type of car, which assigns each travel with a driving efficiency score. WeNow then gives the drivers personalised advice to improve their driving habits and reduce their fuel consumption. Common tips for fuel-efficiency driving include accelerating gently, keeping a steady speed, or shifting gears early. Since its creation in 2014, WeNow has measured that fuel consumption reduction can go up to 10 percent.
While eco-driving is not a new discovery, WeNow’s innovation lies is in its combination of an eco-driving solution with a carbon offsetting scheme to make trips completely carbon neutral. Indeed, once the app has helped drivers reduce their fuel consumption, they can compensate for their unavoidable emissions by financially contributing to projects that remove the equivalent amount of carbon produced. “In practice, that means you invest between 4 and 10€ (depending on the project) for every ton of CO2 emitted by your vehicle (one ton of CO2 = around 4,000 miles)” as indicated on WeNow’s website. Thanks to its offsetting program, the French startup has neutralised 337’870 tons of carbon emissions.
For now, WeNow has concentrated on the B2B market by working with large companies which have a fleet of vehicles and can make substantial savings thanks to the app. But the company is now looking to expand on the B2C market and sell its device directly to private car owners.