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22 November 2018

Laurens Drogendijk on environmentally friendly driving

"Don't just talk about it, do it"

Laurens Drogendijk is the director of the Band op Spanning national foundation which promotes good tyre pressure for environmentally friendly driving. Laurens is committed to finding solutions for the problems that affect nature and the environment. He believes that we shouldn’t just talk about it, but that we need to do something about it. He came up with the idea of the smart tyre pump and especially the software and technology behind it. By setting your tyres to the right pressure, they last longer, your car is safer to drive, and you drive more environmentally friendly. Maastricht Bereikbaar invited the foundation to help the city achieve the correct tyre pressure.

In the last seven years, 90 smart tyre pumps have been placed across the Netherlands and if it's up to Laurens, this number will grow to 2,500. His team has grown to five staff members at the office and a pool of 40 permanent and experienced on-call workers. There is plenty of work to do, as there are around 8.5 million cars in the Netherlands. Research shows that 60% of those cars have under-inflated tyres. This means that the population of Netherlands jointly consumes 200 million litres of extra fuel, emitting an additional 400,000 kg of CO2 unnecessarily. 

How is this possible? 

‘You know that your tyres deflate, but it's something that you notice only when it's too late,’ explains Laurens. ‘If your bicycle tyres are too soft, you feel that you need to pedal harder and that steering becomes heavier. In a car, you end up pushing the accelerator a little further in without really noticing while power steering keeps the car turning smoothly. Most people check the tyre pressure of their car about once a year when they go on holiday, and that's just not often enough. A tyre deflates by about 2 to 3% per month, amounting to about 24% per year. Driving with low tyre pressure or a flat tyre is also very dangerous, as it can cause the tyre to burst. Low tyre pressure can also lead to skidding if you need to swerve suddenly – the correct tyre pressure would have allowed you to swerve safely.’

Basically, if you have the incorrect tyre pressure, it's dangerous to drive, it costs you more money in fuel, and it's bad for the environment. So, why are we still doing it?

‘It's because it's not general knowledge yet. Even if you want to start paying extra attention to your tyre pressure, it's not as easy as it sounds. You have to know the recommended tyre pressure for your car and take into account whether it's hot or cold or if you've been driving for a while when checking the pressure. This is because the pressure in warm tyres increases, which means that you have to adjust the recommended tyre pressure.’

So, what's the solution? 

‘The solution is our smart tyre pump, which has a large touch screen with clear instructions. You enter your number plate and are given the information specific to your car and the current tyre pressure. The touch screen tells you what is happening while pumping the tyres. It also shows a warning if you have a flat tyre or if the pump is not connected to the valve properly. You can immediately see the results and what you saved in fuel costs.’ 

Why isn't there a smart tyre pump at every petrol station? 

‘Basically, it's because petrol stations don't benefit from people driving more economically. Drivers have to pay for the petrol or diesel and to check their tyre pressure. That's a pity, and it's an incredibly outdated approach too. By driving in a more environmentally friendly way, we can reduce CO2 emissions and particulates in the air by decreasing the wear on tyres.

What does the smart tyre pump cost? Are you making a profit?

Laurens laughs, ‘Definitely not! We are a non-profit organization and don't receive any subsidies. We only ask for a cost-covering fee for our products and services. We do not want to bully drivers, but rather to help them drive more environmentally friendly and safer. Everyone benefits from this and it also makes you feel better. It costs about 2,500 euros per year to place one of our pumps. This includes all costs for installation, maintenance, and software updates. The great thing is that the cost savings are many times that, because some tyre pumps deliver up to 100,000 euros a year in savings.’

What are the benefits of working with Maastricht Bereikbaar? 

‘It makes environmentally friendly driving more visible, and that is something that we all benefit from. Our team of specialists will be at MECC all day on Saturday 25 November and at P+R Noord on 15 December. If you give us permission when you enter, then we'll check your tyre pressure for free, and you don't need to wait. We place a card with the results underneath the windscreen wipers, so that you know the exact status of your tyres.’

What will the partnership with Maastricht Bereikbaar result in? 

It almost goes without saying. ‘Perhaps it will mean a smart tyre pump will be placed at the car parks at the MECC and P+R Noord. After all, Maastricht wants to become an eco-friendly city, right?’