May 4, 2009

Study: GPS Saves Miles and Gas

If you have been waiting to get a GPS, wait no longer, because NAVTEQ recently released results from a study it commissioned to understand the effects of using GPS navigation on miles driven and the overall effect on fuel efficiency. The study was conducted in Germany, among people who had not previously owned a GPS, and attached a data logger to their cars to capture trip distances, times, speed, etc. The study had three groups of users, 1) Drivers without a GPS navigation system (the control group), 2) Drivers with a GPS, and 3) Drivers with a GPS that is traffic enabled. The findings are pretty cool:

  1. Drivers with a GPS drove about 1,500 miles less per year that drivers without a GPS when you annualize the data.
  2. Drivers with a GPS get better fuel efficiency; about 12% better.
  3. Drivers reduced their trip times increased over time as drivers learned how to better use the GPS. The trip distance savings increased for non-standard trips, which I would imagine are those trips where you are not as sure of the route.
  4. Drivers who had the traffic feature had shorter trips during what would be considered Rush hours.

So, while the savings figures below are for a Euro driver where gas is higher per gallon than the US, I calculated a few figures for the US that might illustrate what a US driver might experience if the 12% increase in fuel efficiency held true as well as the 1,500 mile reduction in annual miles driven.

Savings for a Typical US Driver
Assuming a 22 MPG average in the US for the passenger car fleet, a 12% increase would represent 24.6 MPG. If you drove 15,000 miles originally, it would take 681 gallons of gas, or about $1,396 at the US average price of $2.05/gallon. With the GPS, you would drive 12,500 miles at 24.6 MPG, and you would use 508 gallons of gas totaling $1,041 per year at $2.05/gallon. A savings of $354.

If you up the quality of the systems used, I would imagine you would get better results. If you want to get better at driving more economically, try out the ecoRoute capabilities on your Garmin GPS. It's free with all new Nuvi's and is a free download for all Nuvi 205 and 705 series units.

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Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (1) | social bookmarking

March 15, 2009

TomTom Quarterly Map Updates - $39 a year

TomTom has a pretty good deal running right now that offers quarterly map updates at $39 per year which is fairly cheap when you think about regular annual maps at usually about $79 per year. That's the basic comparison that they want you to look at, and for many people that's good enough. The key thing that you will need to know is that you need to have the latest release of the maps already installed on you device to be eligible to get the quarterly map updates. If not, you need to upgrade the underlying maps at a discounted price and THEN get the quarterly map updates. I logged in with an old TomTom ONE XL that does NOT have the latest maps on it, and it offered the Quarterly Map updates for $39 and then also required the latest regular maps for $39 (about 50% off); that's back to the $79 for a regularly priced map upgrade. So, no this won't get you updated maps for $39 on that stale old unit in the glove compartment. Think of it this way; Buy the latest Map Upgrade for $79, and you get quarterly map updates free for a year.

TomTom Home is the way to go and get the updates; download TomTom Home if you need to, and then log in to see the offer.

Financially speaking, this is a smart move for TomTom; a lot of people don't participate in these types of programs, and the discount, while deep, is a lot of incremental revenue that they can drive right now without much marketing or manufacturing expense. They already sold the "Razor" and now it's time to make money on those "blades" - they have an infinite supply of them laying virtually around; it's time to make some money on them.

Thanks Jim for sending this in.

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

February 10, 2009

Google Latitude - Your Big Brother is Watching You

Google Latitude is a new product from Google that allows you to let friends and family see your location, so that your big brother really could be watching you; whoever has access to the software and who you give permission to watch where you are.

The latitude software downloads onto your compatible phone (currently BlackBerry, Sybian based systems and of course the Andriod based Google Phones - not the iPhone yet) and allows you to share your location with others who have the Google Latitude software. Once loaded and sharing, the software offers to see your location on Google Maps, and chat or SMS with that friend starting directly from the Google Maps application.

More at Google Latitude

Google has a quick intro:

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February 6, 2009

GPS Lodge on Twitter

Twittered lately? We've been on Twitter for a while and have enjoyed reading and writing in a different micro-blogging way. We have our feeds hooked up so you get the Tweet as soon as a post goes up. I have also been sending Tweets out on some quick bits that I find interesting; also passing along some of the other Tweets I find interesting.

I find the Garmin Blog, Wired (more general Tech stuff here), NAVTEQ, and GPS Business News particularly good.

One that I just found, courtesy of one of our readers, Jim, is a twitter feed of Rhode Island traffic issues, via RI DOT. RI is small enough to cover the whole state in one feed, giving you alerts on accidents - great if you have a mobile Twitter reader. Update: I have also found the State of Washington, and Oregon.

So check out the RI DOT for their feed if interested as well as our GPSLodge Twitter feed.

If you have a good source of GPS information; leave a comment below and share.

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (3) | social bookmarking

February 3, 2009

Google Earth now with Ocean Views and Historical Maps

For those who are really into mapping, Google Earth 5 has some nice features that you might like. Google Earth just got an upgrade and it now features topography below the ocean, as well as the ability to take a step back in time to see what was happening a few years back at that location - urban sprawl captured!

Brief overview of the features:

At Google Earth

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

February 2, 2009

Snowmobile GPS Maps

Snowmobiling is just one great way to enjoy winter - We are buried in snow here in MA, but on trip this past weekend to Middlebury VT, I was jealous of all the snowmobilers pulling up to the pumps to fill up and take off on another day of sledding on the trails. With any outdoor sport like this, I see the opportunity for GPS, and so do a lot of others.

This past December saw the launch of, a commercial site with maps of 27 states, available as one collection for $125, or in one of 5 large regions, (i.e. NorthEast), which at $49, may suffice for most users. says" Our Partner, US TrailMaps, has mapped over 100,000 miles of snowmobile trails, together with nearly 250,000 businesses related to the trails like parking areas for your trailers, gas stations and lodging along your routes."

An example of map coverage is here; with trails represented as the red lines superimposed on a Google Map. Head over to their site for more detail and for a view of your area.


The maps come with snowmobiling specific POI, which makes gassing up, eating, etc. lot easier on the trail. The maps are Garmin compatible, and I would recommend a larger screen handheld, like the Colorado, or the Oregon. If you are into this, you could also utilize the ruggedized Zumo too. I have traveled a lot with an eTrex, so getting into this for around $200 is feasible too; I would recommend a color version for better resolution and readability.

There are a lot of online sharing resources too, where you can get GPX files form other users, or in collections from many users, including sites like, or forums like, or There are also sites that specialize in state specific maps - like for Michigan.

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

January 8, 2009

Tele Atlas Podcasts on iTunes - Beef up on you Mapping Knowledge

Just in case you didn't think mapping was cool - Tele Atlas has their own Podcast.... They can tell you a little bit more about how data is gathered and how it can be used to get you an optimal route to your destination.

"Tele Atlas, a leading global provider of digital maps and dynamic content for navigation and location based solutions, today added a new episode to the Tele Atlas Digital Mapping Podcast Series, which provides insight into industry trends, discussion of various topics related to digital maps and location based solutions, and timely details about Tele Atlas news.

The newest episode of the podcast of the series titled, "An Expert's Perspective on Digital Mapping Trends," will feature Dominique Bonte, Research Director at ABI Research, to discuss current digital mapping trends and offers an outlook for 2009. Margot Delogne, vice president of global communications with Tele Atlas, hosts this exclusive podcast, as well as the regularly scheduled discussions with various Tele Atlas executives and industry experts.

"Digital mapping now encompasses more than roads and road attributes to support applications for navigation and pedestrian location services, including more geographical content, visual enhancements and photographic content and most notably, dynamic content, which is becoming a major and vital enhancement," said Bonte. "The digital mapping industry has also evolved to engage the community of users, and this will be a key component to maintaining up-to-date maps with increasing richness and freshness.""

at iTunes

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Navigon Software and Mapping Content Upgrades


Navigon is going to let you pimp out your existing Navigon ride with some software extras that are designed to extend your current units so that they grow with you and help you out when you get in a pinch. The new software (which you need to pay for) includes:

  • Red Light Camera Locations - yes they are in the US, and you may just get a picture in the mail wit your car going through a red light and a nice citation. This comes as a subscription.

  • Euro Maps - expand your US Navigon to handle Europe for that big trip you have planned.

  • North American Expansion Pack - Only have the US Maps? Get Canada too.

  • 3-D Buildings - cool to drive by and now your GPS can feature over 600 rendered buildings (seems kindof low, eh?)

  • Expanded POI - Missing businesses, or whole strip malls; the expanded POI set should help to get more detail and fresher content on your unit.

It seems like Navigon is taking the approach that they realize that people are hurting and don't want to go and buy a whole new GPS; thus the minor software upgrade. Yea, the things cost money, but I guess they need to make a buck too.

All available for various prices; timing this spring.

Full Press Release after the jump.......

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January 7, 2009

Garmin NuMaps - Lifetime Map Updates for GPS

Garmin announced that they are launching a lifetime map subscription program for their GPS units, offering an update quarterly. Updates will be available via download. They aren't the first to jump on this type of an offering, but it's a welcome launch. I know that a lot of people who live in areas with a lot of change, need frequent updates to keep up with the changing landscape or roads, developments and businesses. Map makers like NAVTEQ get millions of changes a month, so the quarterly updates will certainly make for meaningful changes in whole.

"Having the most current and up-to-date maps help our customers get the most out of their satellite navigation device. With nüMaps Lifetime, access to the latest maps is just a few mouse clicks away," said Dan Bartel, Garmin's vice president of worldwide sales. "For just one single fee, our customers can be certain they're be traveling with the most current maps."

NüMaps Lifetime is available in three different versions:

  • City Navigator® North America NT ($119.99)
  • City Navigator Europe NT ($139.99)
  • City Navigator Transatlantic ($149.99)

NuMaps Lifetime will be available later this month. If you only want a one-time upgrade, you can still do that with prices starting at $69.

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Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (2) | social bookmarking

November 17, 2008

TomTom New Maps Available v. 8.15

Did you get the email? TomTom's new maps are available for purchase and include a lot of updates. With millions of changes a month coming into the mapper's headquarters, it is not surprising to see some of the changes below to their maps.

US only maps cost $79 for TomTom ONE's, while North American Maps cost $99 - $109.

More at TomTom's website


Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

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