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PHOENIX, Ariz., August 27, 2008 - Any consumer, regardless of what they drive, can stretch gas mileage by simply changing the way they drive. Eco-driving refers to specific driving behaviors that can improve fuel economy, save money, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote safe driving. Now, Ford Motor Company and Pro Formance Group have teamed up for an eco-driving pilot program for fleets that uses certified master trainers to deliver hands-on coaching to maximize mileage in everyday driving.

Over a four-day period, Ford and the Pro Formance drivers conducted validation tests using volunteers from Phoenix, Arizona who were given individual coaching on specific driving behaviors. The Sports Car Club of America verified the results, which showed an average 24 percent improvement in fuel economy following the coaching. Results from a total of 48 drivers who took part in the validation tests, ranged from 6 percent to as high as more than 50 percent, depending on the participants' original driving habits and their ability to adapt their driving behaviors. Virtually every driver recorded some improvement.

"By working with Pro Formance to conduct validation testing, Ford is proving that eco-driving techniques are teachable and work across a broad spectrum of vehicles and drivers," said Drew DeGrassi, president and CEO of Pro Formance Group. "It's a great initiative for Ford to lead in this country. It's not the end-all solution for America to obtain energy independence, but it is an important part of it."

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that the U.S. uses close to 150 billion gallons of gasoline annually. If every American practiced eco driving and got the EPA-estimated 15 percent benefit in fuel economy, more than 22 billion gallons of gas would be saved.

Eco-driving training was first launched by Ford in Germany in the 1990's in cooperation with the German Road Safety Council. In the only industry-based drivers' eco-training course, specially trained and certified instructors run programs for several target groups including fleet drivers and customers. Several of the master trainers recently traveled to Ford in Dearborn to teach the coaching techniques to drivers with the Pro Formance Group. They will now leverage Ford of Germany's eco-driving expertise to develop a pilot program that would certify eco-driving instructors to train Ford's fleet customers.

Hands-on instruction is critical for achieving full potential of eco-driving since instructions for eco-driving techniques must be customized after instructors have had the opportunity to observe individual driving habits and then provide coaching for more fuel efficient driving techniques.

"We are talking with fleet owners first, because they have large numbers of vehicles and drivers that could realize significant benefit from such training," said Curt Magleby, director of Governmental Affairs, Ford Motor Company. "Ultimately, all drivers can benefit from practicing eco driving, and one day it may be considered mandatory as part of all new drivers training."

Ford's eco-driving initiative builds on the recent launch by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, of a comprehensive nationwide effort to promote eco-driving at www.EcoDrivingUSA.com.

"Improving fuel economy requires commitment from all stakeholders including, automakers, regulators, fuel producers and consumers. Ford will continue to do its part to improve fuel economy with new technologies across its vehicle line-up," said Susan Cischke, senior vice president of Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering. "As part of our fuel efficiency strategy, we strongly encourage our customers to put eco-driving tips into practice. It will enable them to maximize their mileage and be part of a sustainable solution."

Ford is working with Pro Formance which also provides training for Ford's Driving Skills for Life programs aimed at teen drivers. Pro Formance instructors typically come from a racing background and have an intimate knowledge of a vehicle's mechanics and their handling dynamics. They have hundreds of hours of experience observing driving behavior and communicating how best to maximize a vehicle's performance for fuel efficiency and safety.

Among the eco-driving practices that drivers can begin practicing on their own are driving 55 mph instead of 65 mph, keeping tires properly inflated to the recommended pressure, and eliminating prolonged idling. To learn more about how you can maximize your mileage, click here to see the Driving Skills For Life Eco-Driving Module and 10 Quick Tips.

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