In the past two weeks I've written about tools and techniques that challenge bad behavior by reminding us of their impact. These included fake fat to remind you of the negatives of snacking, a meeting cost tracker to show you how much money you are wasting in ineffective meetings, and a death clock to remind you to do something important with your life before your time runs out.
This week I found another example from The Challenge Dividend archives. Back in June 2006 I wrote about an idea to improve gas mileage by giving drivers a feedback gauge to show them their current miles per gallon. Well, maybe someone in the auto industry is reading, because the USAToday reports that many new cars are now featuring fuel-efficiency gauges. Examples include:
- Nissan - Efficiency meter is in a few select cars but is coming for all.
- Ford - Mustang, Edge and Fusion have a "fuel use bar chart like the one denoting signal strength on cell-phones."
- Chrysler - Has a visible "fuel saver mode" that shuts down cylinders whey they are not needed
- Honda - Some models have a "dashboard light that illuminates when gas mileage is optimal."
The impact of such devices is unclear. Nissan estimates that the gauge can cut gas use by 10%. While, small, 10% is proof that The Challenge Dividend works here - a small challenge helps people improve their habits in a way that saves gas, money and the environment.
The other outstanding story here is the fact that this improvement has come from several car makers at once without the government forcing such a move. This is a big point, as historically we look for government to regulate the automotive industry. Even big corporations can move quickly to do the right thing.
And going forward, car brands will now compete to give their drivers better and better information about their fuel consumption. 10% here and 10% there, and eventually we're talking about some real improvement in our environment and a reduction in dependence on Mid-East oil.