It’s a no-brainer: cut speed, save money, and hit Putin where it hurts

Poor Eamon Ryan, he never gets a break.

earlier this month, with fuel prices hitting record highs and the Government announcing a cut in excise duty, the Transport Minister suggested we drive slower to cut down on our fuel consumption and therefore save money.

This perfectly reasonable suggestion was immediately slammed by opponents, with Sinn Féin’s David Cullinane leading the charge.

“As people face very steep increases in petrol, diesel and home heating, the leader of the Green Party Eamon Ryan tells motorists to slow down,” he declared. “God almighty, how more out of touch can you get?”

Yet just days later, the International Energy Agency (IEA) brought out a 10-point plan to cut the West’s dependence on oil – especially that coming from Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

If fully implemented by the world’s advanced economies, the IEA said the plan would lower oil demand by 2.7m barrels a day within four months – equivalent to that used by the cars in China.

The first item was that speed limits should be reduced by 10kmh on highways. A lot of the other ideas made sense; Encouraging more home working, making public transport cheaper, incentivising walking, cycling, car sharing, hastening the adoption of more EVs, and promoting more efficient goods delivery systems.

Others are more radical, with large cities having car-free Sundays and alternate private car use. I can see Dublin City Center Traders Alliance loving that.

Two of the IEA proposals – avoiding business travel when alternatives exist, and preferring high-speed trains and night sleeper services to planes – resonated with me. Taking a night sleeper across Europe or the length of Britain is one of the greatest joys I have experienced, and I hope to do more.

But slowing down is the thing we can do immediately – and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland says that by reducing to 100kmh from 120kmh people can save 20/25pc of their fuel.

Turlough Downes, professor of astrophysics and mathematics at DCU, weighs in with the science and was tweeting earlier this month that above 80kmh “the majority of your fuel is being used to push the air in front of your car out of the way”.

The good professor, who has now swapped his 2012 diesel Seat for an EV, recently told the Claire Byrne Show on RTÉ radio that, based on the “physics of drag”, speed gets “squared in a mathematical sense” as you drive faster.

As you double your speed, air resistance goes up by a factor of four. “If I’m driving at 100km an hour and I increase my speed by 20pc, up to 120km an hour, so it increases by about 40pc. And because you’re spending most of your fuel on dealing with the air resistance, it means your fuel goes up by about 40pc as well.”

So in his rather nice way, rather than the sleepy character portrayed by Oliver Callan, Eamon Ryan had good sense and science on his side all along.

Many of us will remember times, including the oil crises of the 1970s, when limits on speed came in to help fuel supplies. Now we should do it again – to save money and stand in solidarity with Ukraine.

The temptation of a big Mercedes

Unfortunately the hypocritical part of me came out at the same time as the IEA plan – and over the long bank holiday weekend I was driving the Mercedes-Benz CLS 220d Coupe.

I chastise myself now, but for a few days it was a case of ‘do as I say, not as I do’. If there was ever a car built for fast motorway driving it is the Mercedes CLS, almost the mother of the low-slung four-door coupe that no self-respecting premium marque can now do without.

The CLS is a long, sleek, beautiful beast that hugs the road and eats the miles. The two liter diesel engine will take you to 100kmh in 7.5 seconds and onto 235 kmh if you so desire. But just think of the air resistance!

Yet at more normal speeds it claims consumption of around 6l/100km and with a CO2 of 148g/km it comes in on the €270 road tax band. Not bad for a car absolutely packed with kit, not to mention the ‘open-pore ash wood’ trim and the ‘macchiato beige ‘Leather seats.

It was undoubtedly the smoothest car I have had this year. However, such coupes test my flexibility. In the back, the head room was restricted—and while there are belts for three, woe betide anyone in the middle. The boot has a lot of room but the opening could be wider.

It is a superbly safe car with precise, predictable steering. Once in, and cocooned in your low and sporty universe, you are ready for a fast drive across country or continent. It’s almost begging you to do it. However my conscience did creep in, and the idea of ​​a sleeper train grew!

The test car would set you back €85,296. You will get a beautiful machine, inside and out. But everything has a price.


Wayne Griffiths, President of Seat and Cupra

Seat leads on style

Meanwhile on Wednesday, Seat and the Volkswagen group announced the biggest single investment in Spanish industrial history. This is a €7bn electrification program that will lead to the establishment of a battery cell factory in Spain.

The plant at Sagunto, Valencia, will be the Volkswagen Group’s second gigafactory after Salzgitter (VW has six planned in total) and its first based outside of Germany. The move, together with the electrification of plants at Martorell and Pamplona, ​​could lead to the creation of 3,000 jobs and make Spain a major hub for e-mobility.

In addition, the Seat/VW premium-striving marque Cupra has announced its intentions to expand its electrified vehicle line-up with a new compact SUV. The vehicle, which is due to begin production in 2024, will be available in different powertrains, including a mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid with an electric range of around 100km.

The new SUV is one of four new models soon to join the Cupra range. In 2024, the Cupra Tavascan and the new SUV will hit the market, followed by an urban EV in 2025, with one further car to come. Cupra plans to double its sales in 2022.

The marque has a lot of style and is worth taking into consideration. It’s a no-brainer: cut speed, save money, and hit Putin where it hurts

Fry Electronics Team

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