In car navigation has very quickly become one of the most relied on pieces of gadgetry inside the vehicle and with good reason. No longer having to print out directions from the computer or rely on memory alone to get from point A to point B is a huge benefit. Coupled with live traffic updates and road work conditions, GPS units have become a very useful device. They may be even more useful thanks to a recent study done by a research firm called NuStats that points to an decrease in the amount of money spent on fuel by GPS owners.
How much fuel can you save? According to Navteq, the company that funded the research project, up to a 12% increase in fuel economy was noted by people using a GPS unit. Of course some of this can be attributed to not getting lost, but 12% is still a respectable number. Most of this most likely came from being able to track traffic and construction.
The test consisted of 3 different groups of drivers. The first had no GPS given to them. The second was given a basic GPS that provided maps and directions only. The final group was given a more advanced unit that provided real time traffic and road work updates. None of the participants had previously owned a GPS unit.
Another portion of this increase can most likely be attributed to lack of driver confusion. When we are driving and get confused about which way we are supposed to go, we tend to speed up and slow down more than usual. (Admit it, you do it too) This burns fuel very rapidly and when prevented, could lead to a huge increase in fuel economy alone. When paired with being able to avoid heavy traffic and construction zones, the 12% gain is very feasible.
This isn't to say that by in buying a new GPS, you will see the same jump in miles per gallon, but you never know. Considering many units can be purchased for close to $100, even a 5% increase would pay for itself very quickly. (Here's a well ranked one on Amazon.)