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Nissan's new gas pedal pushes back to save fuel

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Nissan announced Monday that it has developed an accelerator pedal that pushes upward when it senses that the driver is using more fuel than is necessary.

Motor Trends reports that Nissan says that it's ECO pedal system, which can be turned off, will improve fuel efficiency 5 percent to 10 percent.

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The system will also have a display in the car's instrument panel that glows bright green when the car is accelerating at optimum fuel-efficiency. The display flashes when the driver is accelerates out of the optimal zone until it turns amber.

Reuters reports that Nissan will roll the system out next year, but that the company did not specify which models will be equipped with it.

Jalopnik is unimpressed. The popular automotive blog says that the ECO may be "one of the worst ideas we've yet heard of":

Although you'll be able to turn the system off, this type of technology is yet another example of an unnecessary feature designed to nanny drivers too stupid to realize they're supposed to reduce their speed and speed fluctuation to maintain high fuel economy. Frankly, we're more concerned what will happen when a driver needs to overtake another vehicle at high speed on a highway or just as scary — crossing a dotted middle line to pass a truck. How much would it suck to be in the oncoming lane? This feature needs to die before it even hits the streets.

I admit that I share Jalopnik's wariness (although I should add that I'm the type of driver who tends to get a little freaked out just by cruise control). I suppose that whether the ECO pedal would be safe under the conditions Jalopnik describes depends on how hard you need to stomp down on the pedal to attain the speed you want.

But I think the idea of a glowing fuel-efficiency light is brilliant. Like the creators of the Power Aware Cord, which glows depending on your electricity consumption, Nissan deserves credit for coming up with a simple way to improve our energy literacy.

[via Grist]