Google Maps could soon tailor the route information it gives you based the kind of car you drive, potentially giving you a different route depending on whether you use an electric car or a more traditional petrol-powered vehicle.
In our guide for using Google Maps to reduce your fuel usage and save money on gas, we recommend using the most energy-efficient route. This option sits alongside the usual fastest and shortest route options, and if you choose it you'll be directed along the route that's calculated to consume the least amount of fuel (which may, or may not also be the fastest or the shortest route).
However, the most efficient route for one type of engine might not be the best for another. So to get around this it looks like Google Maps will in the future let you select what type of engine your car uses – gas/petrol, diesel, electric, or hybrid.
That’s based on the latest 11.39 beta build of Google Maps, which (as spotted by 9to5Google) includes references to selecting your car’s engine type to get fuel-efficient route suggestions. Another line of code suggests you won’t have to share this information right away, or at all, if you don't want Google to know too much about you, and you’ll also be able to change your engine type in-app too.
Despite its inclusion in the latest beta, this feature is still very bare-bones, and isn’t actually usable – instead being hidden deep in the app’s code. While it’s likely we’ll see it fleshed out in the future there’s no guarantee that it'll happen anytime soon, if at all – and even if the next beta update includes this feature, it’ll still be a while before it comes to the official Google Maps release.
Analysis: every bit counts
Fuel-efficient routing won’t be an immediate or massive game-changer in terms of how much fuel we use. But combined with adopting other fuel-efficient measures (like using better tires and driving more carefully), it could make a significant difference.
For those of us enduring high fuel prices at the pump, this change can’t come soon enough. And while gas prices aren't such a pressing issue for electric vehicle owners, electricity prices are also rising, and recharging can be time-consuming.
Google Maps isn’t the only service thinking about creating custom routes for different vehicles. Apple Maps could soon recommend the best routes for people riding electric bikes.
As the range of vehicles on our roads continues to diversify, we’ll hopefully see more companies introducing services designed to make our journeys as efficient as possible.
Looking to reduce your carbon footprint today? Here are the best electric bikes we’ve tested.