Climate Crisis

Fuel-efficient routing: Here's how you can make your road journey more eco-friendly

Google Maps’ new fuel-efficient routing feature aims to help people make more sustainable choices

Google Maps’ new fuel-efficient routing feature aims to help people make more sustainable choices. Image: Google

Matt Brittin
President, Business and Operations, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Google
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  • Vehicles on the road account for nearly three-quarters of transportation CO2 emissions, and are one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gases worldwide.
  • To help address that, Google Maps is giving people more choices on the routes they take when they have to drive, and the impact on the environment.
  • The new fuel-efficient routing feature allows you to optimise your routes for fuel efficiency - empowering you to make more sustainable choices on the road, and to save money while doing so.

Across the world, people are making more sustainable choices. The 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer found that 75% of us globally are concerned or fearful about climate change. Google searches for ‘climate anxiety’ have reached an all-time high this year - and we’ve seen searches for sustainable goods increase by nearly 5 times in 5 years.

Every day, people turn to Google to search for information on climate change and ways they can take action. So in 2020, we set ourselves a challenge: to help 1 billion people make more sustainable choices in their day-to-day lives by 2022.

Vehicles on the road account for nearly three-quarters of transportation CO2 emissions, and are one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gases worldwide. To help address that, we’re giving people more choices on the routes they take when they have to drive and the impact on the environment.

Fuel-efficient routing, for traveling sustainably

We’re rolling out a new feature across Google Maps in Europe: it allows you to optimise your routes for fuel efficiency - empowering you to make more sustainable choices on the road, and to save money while doing so.

In addition to showing the fastest route, Google Maps will now also show you the one that’s most fuel-efficient, if they’re not the same. With just a few taps, you can see the time difference between the two routes, the relative fuel savings of each, and choose the one that works best for you.

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Since recently launching in the US and Canada, people have used this feature to save more than an estimated half a million tons of carbon emissions. That’s the equivalent of taking 100,000 fuel-based cars off the road.

In Europe we’ll also launch a new feature: allowing drivers to specify their vehicle’s engine type - whether that’s petrol, diesel, hybrid or electric - so that the route provided to you is bespoke to the type of fuel you’re looking to save.

This technology is made possible by Artificial Intelligence, a vital advanced technology for fighting the climate crisis. In this case, AI identifies all the viable routes that you could take to get from A to B, and calculates the fuel usage for each based on historic and real-time traffic patterns, road incline, road type and more. Doing that in fractions of a second allows it to find and display the most fuel-efficient route to your destination - as well as the fastest.

Of course, this new fuel-efficient routing feature isn’t the only way to travel more sustainably using Google Maps. We’ve long offered various alternative options to driving, including public transport routes and cycling directions. We recently made bike and scooter share information available in 500 cities across the globe - and we now offer information on Maps about where to find electric vehicle charging stations, including real-time information about whether or not a charger is available.

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People also use Google for longer distance travel, so we’ve taken steps to make that more sustainable, too. We’ve introduced information on carbon emissions directly to Google Flights, labelling flights that have significantly higher or lower emissions - even down to the seat choice you make. For hotel choices, we tell you when a hotel has made meaningful commitments to sustainable practices - including things like waste reduction, energy efficiency and water conservation measures - all as part of your routine search.

The climate crisis affects us all, and it can’t be solved overnight. We recognise the unique responsibility and opportunity that Google has to help in the fight against climate change - not just by cleaning up our own emissions (we’ve been carbon neutral since 2007, matched our energy consumption with 100% renewables since 2017, and aim to be carbon-free by 2030), but by helping others to do the same.

I hope that the launch of this new fuel-efficient routing feature today will help people make more sustainable choices - and beyond that, show that those little choices can make a difference. With 1 billion people using Maps every month, taking that more sustainable route really can help us drive towards a greener future.

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