Counting-Down Taxi Meter Shows How Much Money Could Be Saved On Fuel

European auto manufacturer uses the real life situation to demo its new break energy recovery system.

Spanish automaker and subsidiary of Volkswagen group, SEAT, is promoting its new energy conservation technology by offering the people of Dusseldorf discounted rides in a cab that rolls back the total fare owed every time the driver steps on the brake.

According to the US Department of Energy, only 14%-26% of the energy created from the fuel in your car is actually used to move it; the rest of the energy is lost to a variety of inefficiencies. While most of the energy, approximately 60%, is lost primarily as heat in the engine, an additional 5%-7% of the energy is lost while braking. That energy which was initially used to propel the car forward ends up being converted into heat and friction and is essentially wasted every time you brake. While that might not seem like a lot, it adds up to a pretty significant loss of fuel over the life of a car.

Unlike other areas of loss like idling or powering accessories which can be mitigated to a degree, there was, traditionally, nothing you can do about the energy lost in braking. Until, that is, the advent of regenerative braking systems. Brands like Honda and Toyota both employ the technology in some of their models, but neither brand promoted it in quite such a compelling and personal way.

‘The SEAT Taxi Fare’ is an experiential marketing initiative for SEAT’s ‘Break Energy Recovery system’. Similar to other systems, it collects the energy normally wasted when breaking and then repurposes to aid in acceleration thereby saving on fuel consumption.

SEAT Deutschland recently presented this key feature of its ‘Ecomotive’ line of cars on the streets of Dusseldorf. Rather than engaging in a riveting discussion about the intricacies of converting kinetic energy into potential energy, SEAT demonstrated the technology in a much more persuasive way; they illustrated, in real time, exactly how the regenerative braking system affects peoples wallets. Converting one of its Alhambra minivans into a cab, SEAT attached the Break Energy Recovery System to a taxi meter that counted down the fare each time the cab reclaimed energy through braking.

Outfitted with cameras, the taxi went out to pick up unsuspecting passengers who reacted in confusion as they watched, what they perceived to be, a malfunctioning meter roll back every time the car slowed.

This energy saving innovation is not an unusual direction for the automaker. Since the 1990’s the company has been developing and experimenting with various electric and hybrid vehicles. And in 2009 it was lauded for installing solar panels on the roof its main facility in Martorell, Spain which now supplies 56% of its own power. In fact, this trend extends up the corporate chain to SEAT’s parent company, Volkswagen, whose German operations supply 62% of their own power.

Often associated with youthful exuberance, SEAT identifies itself both with its German and Spanish heritage, specifically connecting with traditional cultural archetypes of passion and perfectionism. The foundation of their organization is a concept they refer to as ‘Enjoyneering,’ in essence combining emotion and technology. This fusion is something that’s illustrated extremely well in this initiative which presented the technology in a lighthearted and gratifying way.

Watch as pleasantly surprised passengers catch a ride for as little as €2:

SEAT Deutschland

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