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Google Maps’ next big feature will save you money on gas

Google Maps
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Gas prices may not be as expensive as they once were, but they're still higher (opens in new tab) than they were a year ago. With that, and the rising cost of living in mind, knowing how to improve your gas mileage is really important. Fortunately, Google Maps’ latest feature (opens in new tab) will make it easiest to find the most energy-efficient routes.

Google’s eco-friendly routing feature first launched in the U.S. and Canada last year. The general idea is that Google Maps will use its wealth of data to identify routes that use the least amount of fuel without increasing the length of your journey too much. This new update enhances that idea by taking your car’s engine into account.

More specifically, it considers the kind of fuel your engine uses to get around, be it gasoline, diesel, electricity, or some kind of hybrid

We first heard about this new feature towards the end of July, thanks to a deep-dive into the Google Maps beta code. But, while all the preparations for the new eco-friendly routing upgrade were there, the upgrade itself was not. Google Maps has now made the feature official, and has confirmed it will be rolling out in the coming weeks.

This feature is important because, as Google notes, different types of car perform best under different conditions. Diesel engines are more efficient at high speeds, for instance, while electrified cars are better suited for stop-and-go traffic compared to a pure internal combustion engine.

googfle maps new eco friendly routing options in action

(Image credit: Google)

The upgrade was designed with the help of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and data from the European Environment Agency. Paired with Google Maps’ existing knowledge of roads and traffic trends, it means the app can figure out exactly which route will use the least fuel and energy.

Google has also announced that eco-friendly routes will finally launch in European countries not called Germany. Nearly 40 countries will get the feature, which is switched on by default, but which can be turned off in the settings if you're not concerned with how much fuel you’re burning through.

All of which is really great news for Google Maps users. Google claims that eco-friendly routing has prevented half a million metric tonnes of carbon emissions — or the equivalent of taking 100,000 cars off the road.

Even if you have zero concern about the environment, that also means drivers have saved a considerable amount of fuel over the past year. Not only does that save them money, it means there’s more gasoline for everyone else.

Now, if only Google could launch some more comprehensive tools for electric car owners. After my recent trip with a low-range Nissan Leaf, it’s clear to me that EV owners need better tools to help them plan extended driving and charging trips.

There are apps out there that can do it, assuming your car doesn’t have that ability, but they don't hold a candle to Google Maps’ navigational prowess. If Google Maps could hurry up and figure something out, it would be a gamechanger for EV drivers everywhere.

Tom Pritchard
Automotive Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's Automotive Editor, which means he can usually be found knee deep in stats the latest and best electric cars, or checking out some sort of driving gadget. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online.