Eight drivers, Shell Canada and a 2012 Volkswagen Passat teamed up this summer to set a new cross-Canada fuel-efficiency record of just 5.59 L/100 km.
Dubbed the "Smarter Driver Event", the team of drivers had some professional help in conserving fuel from John and Helen Taylor, who recently completed a world-record-setting drive of over 2,600 km on one tank in a factory-stock 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI Clean Diesel.
One of the Taylors rode in the Passat's passenger seat next to whoever was driving, sharing their fuel-saving driving techniques and showing how a few simple changes to one's driving habits can make a big difference.
When not driving, the other team members followed in two Volkswagen Touareg support vehicles.
The car was a 2012 Volkswagen Passat equipped with a 2.5L five-cylinder engine and a six-speed automatic transmission. No modifications were made to the vehicle other than a thorough pre-trip mechanical inspection.
With room for five, 170-horsepower engine, automatic climate control and satellite radio it made for an ideal cross-country tourer.
Between Halifax and Vancouver, the team encountered all the varied driving conditions a normal Canadian family might experience on their own summer vacation, including sun, wind, rain and traffic jams.
The initial goal for the exercise was to make the trip on just six tanks of Shell Bronze-grade, the company's top-selling blend.
Once all the facts and figures were certified, after their arrival in Vancouver, they had covered 6340 km on just 4.69 tankfulls, for an average fuel-consumption rate of 5.59 L/100 km.
The average range was 1,352 km per tank and the total gasoline cost for the trip was $452.90.
That's a new Canadian record for fuel efficiency, Volkswagen says.
Which inevitably raises the question: "What could they have done with a Passat TDI diesel?"
Without the Taylors riding shotgun, you may not be able to duplicate that feat. But you probably can improve your fuel economy for the better by adjusting the way you drive – as well as by choosing a fuel-efficient vehicle.
In fact, as Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) demonstrated during the recent AJAC (Automobile Journalists Association of Canada) Brighton-to-London Eco Run, how you drive can make a difference of 25% or more in your fuel consumption.
That was also the message Shell and Volkswagen were trying to get across.
Volkswagen has a worldwide initiative it calls Think Blue, which is about more than just saving fuel. Small lifestyle changes, outside the vehicle as well, can have significant impact on energy consumption, and it is these changes that the company is trying to encourage.