Google Maps adds sustainable routes to do by car

The Mountain View maps are now more "green": the option relating to the choice of the most ecological route behind the wheel has been included

Route on Google Maps
Route on Google Maps

What if taking a longer road made us consume less fuel? When it comes to travel by car, in fact, even the type of stretch to be covered affects the consumption of petrol, diesel or electricity. Are there any climbs? Is it a fast or discontinuous road due to the presence of numerous traffic lights? There sustainable mobility today it also passes by the chosen route, e Google Maps he finally gives us a hand by helping us to opt for more environmentally friendly routes.

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A journey by car can also be more sustainable based on the type of route chosen
A journey by car can also be more sustainable based on the type of route chosen - Photo iStock

This is how the navigator today is "greener"

Not only routes by bike, on foot or by public transport. There sustainable mobility must necessarily also pass by journeys made by car which, with the right precautions, they can become more efficient also from the point of view of consumption. An intuition that can make the difference and which the mountain view colossus, always attentive to environmental issues.

From the first week of September, in fact, up Google Maps one has been implemented new feature: now it is possible not only to choose the fastest route or the one that does not involve tolls, but also the one that impacts less on the environment from the point of view of petrol, diesel or electricity consumption. Sometimes taking longer to reach a destination does not mean consuming more fuel, because part of the consumption also depends on the type of road you choose to travel. And besides being good for the environment, this option It's also good for your wallet.

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Jost Capito, CEO of Williams Racing, with staff dealing with sustainability
Jost Capito, CEO of Williams Racing, with staff dealing with sustainability

How much do cars pollute around?

Before I find out how the new green option of Google Maps works let's take a step back to understand the impact on road traffic at the level of climate-changing emissions. To provide us with an answer is Our World in Data, one of the most important projects dealing with climate change statistics. The graph speaks for itself: the transport sector contributes to the 16.2% of greenhouse gas emissions emitted into the atmosphere globally. In particular, the category that weighs the most is undoubtedly that of vehicular traffic on the road, responsible for 11,9% of polluting emissions.

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Graph of greenhouse gas emissions by sector
The Our World In Data graph illustrates greenhouse gas emissions broken down by individual sector: that relating to vehicular traffic on the road reaches almost 12%

Carbon dioxide is unfortunately on the rise

As regards, however, the carbon dioxide emissions alone, the situation is getting worse. According to a chart available at The report of Statista and published in theAnnual European Union greenhouse gas inventory 1990–2020 and inventory report 2022 ofEuropean Environment Agency (EEA), road traffic is the major cause of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere, accounting for 26% in the Old Continent alone.

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Graph with carbon dioxide emissions broken down by sector in the European Union
Statista's graph shows the results of the study conducted by the EEA regarding the most polluting sectors in Europe in relation to CO2 emissions

Things got better, but…

Of course, over the years things have improved, mainly thanks to the construction of ever more fuel-efficient cars. The graph below from the EEA shows the average CO2 emissions of new cars: from the point of view ofecological footprint of cars a clear improvement is noticed which, however, is not enough.

This is why the possibility of choosing more sustainable routes, even if done by car, is excellent news. After all, together we can make a difference, even when it comes to traveling on the road with a vehicle with a combustion engine.

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graph showing the average CO2 emissions of new cars
The EEA graph shows that new generation cars emit less CO2, although the set target was not achieved in 2020

How does the novelty of the search engine work?

September is an important month for those who travel on the road: Google Maps has in fact implemented, also for Italian users, the possibility of choose the most sustainable path to reach a destination. But how does this new option work? Very simple: it will be sufficient to specify how your car is powered (petrol, diesel, hybrid, electric) to have among the several route options even the one it emits less climate-changing emissions because it is more fuel efficient.

In fact, the shortest or fastest route does not always coincide with the most sustainable one. If, for example, diesel engines are more efficient on fast-flowing roads, hybrid or electric engines perform better on discontinuous flow roads, such as city and urban ones characterized by the presence of traffic lights, roundabouts and right-of-way. Specifying the type of engine of your vehicle therefore allows the most used navigator in the world to calculate which is the route that makes the car more efficient in terms of fuel consumptionof whatever type it is.

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How Google Maps works for choosing the most sustainable route
This video shows how the new Google Maps option works for choosing the most sustainable route to reach any destination

A big technological upgrade for everyone

It is undoubtedly a big technological upgradewhich we should all give a chance. Needless to say, in fact, that when we talk about energy efficiency e ecological transition, tech is a big trump card, and Google knows this very well. In particular, this newly implemented technology has become a reality thanks to the joint work of three different entities: the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) of the United States Department of Energy, which had the intuition, the European Ambiente, which provided the data, and Google itself which cross-referenced everything with driving trends from Google Maps to create advanced machine learning models based on the most popular engine types in a given part of the world.

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Traveling by car can contribute to lowering polluting emissions into the atmosphere
Traveling by car can contribute to lowering polluting emissions into the atmosphere - Photo iStock

By how much will emissions go down?

It will then be sufficient choose a more sustainable path for reduce carbon dioxide emissions? Surely this new option will not solve the problem tout court, but it certainly is step forward towards the decarbonisation of the sector transport he, by 2030, will still have to reduce its impact on the environment by 55%.

In the meantime, the first data arrives from Google. After launching in the US and Canada, it has been estimated that being able to choose more sustainable routes has helped avoid releasing more than half a million tons of Co2 into the environment. This new feature of Google Maps is also available in Italy and each of us can give it a chance. Taking a few more minutes to reach a destination could allow humanity to live longer on the planet: and the game is certainly worth the candle.

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The Google Maps logo
The Google Maps logo