Why can’t we be more like the Germans? Not only could we then negotiate the group stages of the World Cup at a briskly confident trot, but we could also save lots of money by planning our car journeys properly.

But, oh no, moan multinational producers, procurers and purveyors petroleum products Royal Dutch Shell, hapless, sloppy old Johnny Brit muddles his way through an entirely unnecessary extra £310’s worth of Shell’s planet poisoning product every year. And, of course, Shell are really unhappy about all this additional revenue.

So now Shell have produced something called a “Smarter Drivers” study, which minutely examined what 11 two-car families around the country were doing with their cars over a six-week period.

Having had a good laugh, Shell invited each family to a day of ‘special training.’ This involved being shown how to drive smoothly – possibly with the aid of Michael Booblay CDs – and efficiently.

Participants were introduced to concepts such as maintaining a constant speed, keeping tyres at the correct pressure, cutting excess weight, taking care while drilling in deep water, removing roof racks when not in use, and looking after their vehicles.

The Daily Telegraph reported that one of Shell’s Guinea pig broods (note: a Scottish family) saved 62% on their fuel bills. One suspects the aspect of the programme entitled ‘changing your driving patterns’ may have played a role here. The average saving, however, was just 1.9%.

Clearly embarrassed at the enormous profits today’s petrochemical giants are forced to endure, Shell’s Dave Woods claims “Shell wants to help drivers and families get the most out of every drop and ultimately save money.”

And the story does have a happy ending for Shell after all: following the experiment one family sold one of their cars, two switched to more fuel-efficient models, and “ six families also replaced driving with walking, cycling or public transport on regular journeys such as commuting or the school run.” Result!

Standby for McDonald’s forthcoming ‘Eat fewer burgers – Don’t be so fat’ campaign, and Tesco’s ‘Do you really need that?/Could you buy that from a local shop instead?’ in-store danglers. No one wants to make excessive profits, after all.


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