The Toyota Fund for Europe has launched 'EcoDriving' - a new programme helping Europeans save money at the pump and cut CO2 exhaust emissions by as much as 10% through smarter driving habits.

Toyota and NGO network, Global Action Plan International, will organise up to 800 workshops, reaching an estimated 12,000 drivers across Spain, Belgium, Iceland, Norway, and the UK. Toyota will invest almost €300,000 in EcoDriving, expanding the programme to 10 countries by 2010. The first wave of workshops kicks off this month.

"EcoDriving does not mean that drivers have to purchase costly devices or modify their vehicles. By making simple changes to every-day driving behaviours, every driver, no matter what kind of vehicle they own, can contribute and benefit," said Graham Smith, Chairman of the Toyota Fund for Europe.

"The European Climate Change Programme has calculated that EcoDriving can realise savings of at least 50 million tonnes of CO2 emissions in Europe and around €20bn by 2010," he added.

The programme will target local authorities, private companies and community groups through half-day workshops that cater for up to 15 people. Under the guidance of trained supervisors, participants will learn new driving practices on specially-designed simulators that recreate the driving experience and test how far drivers can travel on 0.1 litres of fuel.

EcoDriving practices include shifting into a higher gear earlier, looking ahead and anticipating the traffic flow, keeping car windows closed and using the ventilation system. Comparable savings can be achieved through proper vehicle maintenance and planning journeys ahead of time. By having the correct tyre pressure, for example, drivers can improve fuel economy by around 3%. Removing roof load to minimise wind drag can realise fuel savings as high as 40%.

Drivers wanting more information and to participate in an EcoDriving workshops should visit  www.ecodriving-online.eu .