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Auto$mart driver training

Get a head start on your competition by offering the Auto$mart driver training program.

This course comes in a package of 5 learning modules. They provide key information on how driving affects the environment, how to drive more efficiently, and what to consider when purchasing a vehicle. You can download the program right here.

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Instructor’s Guide
(PDF, 1.5 MB)

Provides learning modules that focus on buying, driving, and maintaining a fuel-efficient vehicle. Explains how to include this information in your existing in-class driver education program.

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Student’s Guide
(PDF, 1.1 MB)

Allows you to stay “on the same page” as your instructor throughout the lesson by ensuring that the answers to all questions are at your fingertips.

Explore Auto$mart’s 5 learning modules

Module 1: Driving and the environment


Auto$mart Unit 1: Driving and the environment


Canada consumes more energy per person than almost any other country largely due to our reliance on automobiles.

Together, we own about 25 million vehicles and drive more than 300 billion kilometres each year, consuming up to 44 billion litres of gasoline.

Understanding the relationship between driving and the environment is about some basic concepts. And a couple of important strategies you can use right now.

What we’re going to talk about is, quite simply, driving like the future depends on it. Because, it does.

Ready? Here we go.

A car/truck/minivan/SUV/motorbike/scooter is a wonderful thing. It’s about freedom. Independence. Mobility. Adventure. But there’s a problem. Vehicles with an internal combustion engine produce greenhouse gas emissions that are very harmful to our environment. Here’s the simple equation.

  • Vehicle engines produce carbon dioxide (CO2), and CO2 is the principal greenhouse gas
  • Greenhouse gas emissions affect the Earth’s climate
  • Climate change compromises the survival of living things

A vehicle produces about 2.3 kilograms of CO2 for every litre of gasoline it burns. The average conventional vehicle in Canada produces 3 times its weight in CO2 every year. For a 1,400 kg car, that’s 4,200 kg of CO2. Multiply that by 25 million vehicles, and you’ll see that, together, we’re generating over 100 billion kilograms of carbon dioxide each year. That is disastrous to life on Earth.

With more than one vehicle for every two people, Canada has one of the highest rates of car ownership in the world.

Our climate, vast land mass, and dispersed population partly account for this but as you will learn in the following units, we can significantly reduce the impact of our driving by adopting energy-efficient driving practices.

We can also purchase the most fuel-efficient vehicle that meets our everyday needs – like zero-emission vehicles.

Since energy is an ongoing expense, using less fuel will save you money for years to come!

Did you know?

With more than one vehicle for every two people, Canada has one of the highest rates of car ownership in the world.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is essential to all life on the planet. Without it, the Earth’s average temperature would plummet by 33 °C, creating an environment too cold for most species to survive. CO2 is also the principal greenhouse gas (GHG) and too much of it is just as dangerous for the planet. Current levels of CO2 are contributing to a global rise in land and ocean temperatures, with detrimental effects.

Find out how the vehicles we drive contribute to climate change—and how thinking about fuel efficiency can minimize the amount of GHGs we produce.

Module 2: The vehicle for you


Auto$mart – The Vehicle for You


This is it – the new car decision.

Choosing the most fuel-efficient vehicle that meets your everyday needs can save you money and reduce the impact your driving has on the environment. Fuel consumption can range from less than 2.0 gasoline litres equivalent per 100 km for a battery-electric vehicle to more than 20.0 litres per 100 km for a large SUV. So, driving 20,000 km a year can cost from less than $500 to more than $4,000. And annual CO2 emissions can range from 0 to more than 9,000 kg.

So how do you select the vehicle that fits your needs?

Natural Resources Canada’s Fuel Consumption Guide and fuel consumption ratings search tool at will give you reliable numbers. The EnerGuide labels you’ll find on the windows of new vehicles for sale at dealerships also give you these numbers.

First, let’s look at the world of hybrid and electric vehicles.

Hybrid-electric vehicles, or conventional hybrids, use an internal combustion engine and a battery-powered electric motor to improve efficiency. Hybrid batteries are recharged with electricity generated by the vehicle. The typical hybrid offers fuel savings and CO2 reductions of 20 to 40% over a comparable internal combustion engine vehicle.

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are hybrids that have high-capacity batteries that can be recharged by plugging them in, giving them an extended electric range capability. This means that drivers may use no gasoline – and produce no tailpipe emissions – for much of their daily driving. When the batteries are depleted, the vehicle operates as a conventional hybrid

Battery-electric vehicles use electric motors powered by high capacity battery packs. They do not burn any fossil fuels, so they emit no GHGs or other pollutants. When the batteries run low, they must be plugged in to recharge - And remember, the cost of electricity per km is much lower than that of gasoline. When possible, you can take advantage of off-peak electricity rates while recharging at home. Consult your utility provider to find out the best time to charge.

There are thousands of public charging stations across Canada. Visit Natural Resources Canada's Electric Charging and Alternative Fuelling Stations Locator Map to find one near you.

Knowing the different charging levels and their speeds is also an important part of driving an electric vehicle. Level 1 charging uses a standard 120-volt wall outlet and adds about 8 km of driving range per hour. Level 2 chargers use a 240-volt system and can add 30-50 km of driving range per hour. Level 3 chargers, or Fast Chargers, use high voltage systems that can provide significant range in a short period of time. This type of charging is ideal when going on longer trips.

Now let’s look at our fourth powertrain option

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles use compressed hydrogen gas and fuel cells to power the electric motor that propels the vehicle. The vehicle’s fuel cell converts hydrogen into electricity, which charges a battery that powers the electric motor. Fuel cell vehicles emit water vapor and warm air only – zero harmful emissions.

One more powertrain type: Internal combustion engine vehicles use gasoline or diesel to generate motive power. The burning of fossil fuels produces GHG emissions, primarily CO2, that contribute to global climate change, as well as other smog-forming emissions that impact health and the environment. Look for fuel-efficient technologies – such as a smaller turbocharged engine, cylinder deactivation, variable valve timing, direct injection and idle stop-start systems. These can reduce emissions and save you money

Remember - with a little research, and a lot of thinking about your everyday driving needs, you can find an energy-efficient ride that’s perfect for you!

Did you know?

The average Canadian motorist drives about 50 km a day—well within the range of a BEV, even under the most energy-demanding winter conditions.

Dispel some myths about electric vehicles and learn about the different powertrain options, such as plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and battery-electric vehicles (BEVs). Learn what to look for when shopping for the most fuel-efficient vehicle that meets your everyday needs.

Find out how to save money and the environment by finding the right vehicle. Check out the fuel consumption ratings search tool. It will give you the fuel consumption ratings, CO2 emissions, and estimated annual energy costs for light-duty vehicles sold in Canada.

Module 3: Before you drive

Did you know?

The fuel consumption of a mid-size internal combustion engine car increases by about 1% for every 25 kg of weight it carries.

Regardless of the vehicle you use, think before you drive.

Before you get behind the wheel, adopt a few habits to help you stay safe, save money, and reduce the environmental impact of your daily driving.

Module 4: Behind the wheel


Auto$mart Unit 4: Behind the wheel


Point 1: Accelerate gently

Yep. It’s called the accelerator, or the gas pedal. But you might want to think of it as… the money pedal.

See, every time you push this pedal hard… it costs you money.

Fuel money. Because accelerating hard might be sort of fun but it can use up to 15% more fuel and that, my friends, is what they mean by false economy.

And when you take your foot off the money pedal, you pretty much need to put your foot on the brakes. The harder you have to brake, the more money it costs you, too.

Ka-ching! Tires, brake shoes, pads, rotors, drums, suspension parts like shocks, springs, tie rod ends, ball joints, wheel bearings. Sound expensive? It is. So easy on the gas when starting up from a standing stopped position is more than just environmental responsibility.

Gentle acceleration is… well… money in the bank.

All right, let’s move on, on to point 2.

Point 2: Maintain a steady speed

Hey, we all know people who are “all over the place”. And they drive us nuts because they seem so… inefficient. Well, having your speed all over the place is kind of like these people… inefficient.

First, it’s hard for those following you to judge distance and avoid negative interaction with you, as in… hitting you.

Second, it’s unbelievably inefficient. Your engine is revving unnecessarily; you’re on and off the brakes, causing wear on pads, rotors, shoes and drums; you’re constantly upshifting and downshifting, putting unnecessary stress on your transmission and driveline. And if your vehicle is electric, it takes a toll on your battery, reducing its range … not to mention the fact that you’re stressing yourself out for no good reason.

Third, and most important, driving at a steady speed saves money on fuel. 

When you keep your speed even, you maximize your vehicle’s ability to use all the things that make it fuel-efficient: everything from aerodynamics to efficient engines to great helpers like cruise control.

So get a rhythm going. Get a beat. Catch that groove. Drive steady, real steady. And listen to the sound… of money in the bank.

Got it? OK, awesome – here’s point 3.

Point 3: Anticipate traffic

You can predict the future! You can be master of time, space, and dimension!

No. Really. You can.

By studying the clues and cues offered by the traffic ahead of you – things like:

  • A light ahead turning yellow, or even the walk signal beginning to flash
  • Brake lights on the horizon, not just right in front of you, but as much as half a kilometre ahead or more
  • Evidence of clumping of cars ahead
  • A sudden change in weather conditions, like the sudden onset of rain, sleet or snow
  • Signs pointing to construction activity or detours

All these things can tell you key things like whether to gradually slow down, whether to change lanes well in advance, whether to accelerate or maintain your current speed.

And all this is possible because you focus on the future – seconds or minutes in front of you… and metres or kilometres in front of you. It’s a skill you can learn and master.

The result?

Your anticipation saves you stress, saves wear and tear on all the running parts of your vehicle, and saves you from using fuel or electric battery stores unnecessarily.

So, by anticipating, you can answer this question: “What’s in my future?”

Simple. Money in the bank.

Point 4: Avoid high speeds

Hi. Today, I’m going to give you an amazing deal. I’m going to give you just one tip that could reduce your fuel consumption by 20% on the highway. No strings attached. Yep. 20%. All you have to do… is be smart.

Let me explain. On the highway, simply slowing down from 120 km/h to 100 km/h saves you 20% on fuel. A wonderful bonus when you consider that there are a lot of other reasons why driving at high speeds is just, basically, a very bad deal.

  • Your reaction time is compromised when everything is going quickly
  • Your vehicle may be stressed to the max, putting tires and suspension, for instance, at their outer limits
  • It is generally very, very illegal to drive over the speed limit, and the faster you go, the more certain you’ll be saying goodbye to car keys, license, vehicle, and any kind of affordable insurance rates.

But there’s another way to think about it, too. Remember we talked about “the money pedal”? Well, you're pouring fuel through your car’s engine at a huge rate when you speed, especially because, today, most cars operate most efficiently between 50 and 80 km per hour.

Here’s the bottom line. By not speeding and adopting the other fuel-efficient driving techniques, the average Canadian driver of an internal combustion engine vehiclecan keep about $500 in their pocket every year and reduce vehicle wear and tear, and greenhouse gases and other nasty emissions which compromise our environment.

So, use your head, and your skills. Keep the speed down, for all kinds of good reasons. It’s safer, makes more sense and… it’s money in the bank.

Still with us? Ok, on to point 5.

Point 5: Coast to decelerate

One of the hardest things to do behind the wheel is… well… nothing.

But doing nothing can save you money, can make your vehicle last longer, and can help the environment, too. Let’s talk about it.

Usually when you drive, you’re either accelerating, maintaining current speed, or braking in order to get to a standing stop again, right?

But there’s one other technique, and that technique is called coasting.

Remember when you were young and had your first bike? You’d pedal like mad… then you’d get tired… and you’d coast. You’d let your body rest until it was time to go fast again. When you coasted, you gradually lost speed because of wind resistance and friction.

With a vehicle, coasting means you plan the phases of each segment you drive, whether it’s a block or a few hundred kilometres.

  • You accelerate, gradually.
  • You maintain your speed, with small adjustments.
  • When you know you will be stopping in the future, you coast, allowing the vehicle to slow down.
  • Then, you brake. And you’ll find that you brake less because you’ve slowed down by coasting.

Most vehicles today are equipped with fuel-injection systems that automatically shut off fuel to the engine when the accelerator is released.

In electric vehicles, coasting to slow down and avoiding hard braking will allow the brakes to recapture most of the energy used to slow the vehicle down. This is called regenerative braking, and helps you get the most range out of your vehicle’s battery.

So coasting – doing nothing – means you’re employing good thinking and driving skills, and using the technology to help you save fuel.

Do you hear that sound? It’s the sound of coasting. The sound of nothing… except money in the bank.

Did you know?

Your actions behind the wheel can impact your vehicle’s energy consumption by as much as 25%!

Simple driving techniques can save you money and prevent thousands of kilograms of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere each year. Applying these techniques to driving an electric vehicle can help you optimize your battery’s range.

Learn how to reduce your fuel consumption and costs through 5 simple fuel-efficient driving techniques.

Module 5: Winter driving


Auto$mart – Winter Driving


Well… it doesn’t matter WHERE you live in Canada these days – winter… is coming!

As a new driver, it’s important for you to get a handle on driving safely and efficiently in winter.

No question - winter driving conditions affect fuel efficiency. A drop in temperature from 24°C to 7°C can increase an internal combustion engine vehicle’s fuel consumption during city driving by 12 to 28%. It’s the same deal on the highway. Cold, dry winter air is denser than warm, humid summer air, and that increases wind resistance. As a result, highway fuel consumption increases by about 1.3%.

Roads are rougher in the winter, too, as you deal with a mix of snow, ice, slush, water, salt, gravel and sand – things that increase your rolling resistance. Snow and ice also increase wheel slippage, which causes higher fuel consumption. When you put it all together, fuel consumption can increase 7% to 35% because of poor road conditions. All of this… and more: heating, defrosting, heated seats and mirrors, and other accessories draw more power from the engine, and that increases fuel use.

Winter has the same affect on electric vehicles, too. At -18°C, EV battery range is reduced by an average of 29%. There are benefits to driving an EV in the winter though - nighttime charging, preheat functions, and better or equal traction to traditional vehicles.

So what are some things you can do to make winter more bearable behind the wheel?

Try to avoid extreme temperatures when parking. Keeping your vehicle in a garage during the winter will help lessen cold weather's impact on your fuel consumption and unnecessary wear and tear on vehicle components. In the case of EVs, protecting your vehicle from extreme temperatures can help to optimize your charging time and driving range.

Pro tip: Many EVs have programmable pre-timed heating systems that can warm up the vehicle cabin and battery while plugged in to a charger. Warming the vehicle while it’s plugged means you won’t need to crank up the heat inside the vehicle and can extend your range by 10 to 15%.

And since a warm internal combustion engine is more efficient than a cold one, a block heater is a good idea. Use one with a timer set to turn on 2 hours before you start the engine. The engine will then start more easily and reach its peak operating temperature faster.

Eliminating unnecessary idling is an easy step you can take to reduce fuel use, save money and limit GHG emissions. Ten minutes of idling burns from a quarter to a half litre of fuel and emits 600 to 1,200 grams of CO2, depending on the vehicle and conditions. That’s a waste of fuel and money. In most cases, you need no more than 60 seconds of idling from a cold start on winter days. Driving at a moderate speed for a few minutes is the most efficient way to warm the engine, drivetrain and the cabin.

Tire pressure fluctuates with temperature, decreasing in colder temperatures. Measure your tire pressure at least once every month and more often with significant temperature changes to ensure the proper level of inflation. Operating a vehicle with tires under-inflated by 56 kilopascals (8 psi) can reduce the life of the tires by more than 10,000 km and increase fuel consumption by up to 4%. Every little bit matters!   

All right – we’ve covered the important stuff: now get out there and drive carefully and efficiently this winter!

Did you know?

Cold temperatures reduce the driving range of both electric and internal combustion engine vehicles.

Weather, temperature and road conditions can significantly increase energy consumption. Whether it’s an internal combustion engine vehicle or an electric vehicle, it works harder to offset driving conditions.

Learn how the cold can affect your vehicle’s energy efficiency and 5 ways to lessen the impact.

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