Drive your car carefully and foresightedly in urban traffic, with energy efficiency in mind. Sudden acceleration and fast driving are extremely wasteful, burning lots of petrol and money. Driving with foresight means that you anticipate future traffic situations and react to them quickly. If you are driving a stick shift and encounter a red traffic light ahead, shift down immediately and let the car coast for as long as possible instead of braking harshly. In traffic, shift up early to higher gears, as running at low revolutions per minute saves fuel – driving even in fifth gear at 50 kph is no problem.
At longer waits, for example in a traffic jam, at a train crossing or even at a long red light, it is wise to switch off the engine, as modern cars use up less energy for ignition than is wasted during the time waiting. When driving at high speeds for a longer time, for example on the Autobahn, it is most energy efficient to drive in top gear at about 120 kph. And remember to leave enough distance to the vehicles ahead to reduce braking and accelerating – and for better safety.
Additional features, such as air conditioning and heated seats, should be switched off unless they are desperately needed, because they take up lots of energy – and fuel.
Many vehicles with automatic transmission also have an eco-mode, which is worth activating.
Avoid using the car
In a city like Hamburg, with its relatively short distances and convenient public transport system, it is often best to ditch the car altogether and choose an alternative means of transport. Most neighbourhoods in the city centre are safely walkable and easily reachable by bike. For medium-distance commutes within the city, the public bus, U- and S-bahn and ferry boat systems are convenient and run frequently. And all of these means of transport are usually cheaper and definitely better for the environment.
For those rare occasions when heavy loads need to be transported, Hamburg offers many convenient car sharing opportunities, many of which even offer small to mid-size transporters. And a broken or old bike is no excuse either, as there is a growing network of StadtRad rental bikes all over Hamburg, with many stops even offering convenient (electric) cargo bikes.