US car giant Ford is to include information on economical driving as standard on its MyFord Touch in-car navigation system, the company confirmed last week.

The new fuel economy settings will allow drivers to set another route as well as the standard "fastest time" or "shortest distance." The "eco-route" option will instead chart routes that avoid congested freeways and maximize the use of major roads where the driver can maintain an efficient rate of speed.

Ford follows the lead of GPS manufacturer Garmin, which last year provided a free upgrade to its GPS mapping devices to calculate the most fuel-efficient routes.

Ford's software will also be able to monitor and track the vehicle's real-time fuel economy performance and mile-per-gallon averages for the past five, 10 and 30 minutes in the form of a bar chart next to the fuel gauge on the display. Drivers can customize the amount of information provided to meet their needs and hone their eco-driving skills over time.

From this summer, the software will be standard on the Ford Edge in the US, and will be available globally on the new Ford Focus when it launches in 2012. It will also be standard on all vehicles from Ford sister brand Lincoln.

"Everybody cares about fuel efficiency, we're finding that it's not just Hybrid owners that want to have better fuel economy anymore, everybody wants it," explained Ford's Jennifer Brace-Mezigian." As long as you have the navigation system, you will have Eco-Route as an option."

Ford says that its engineers achieved a 15 percent improvement in fuel economy using the system in Europe.

Last year, a study by GPS-mapper NAVTEQ found that drivers with navigation devices were 12 percent more fuel efficient that those without as fuel consumption dropped from 8.3 to 7.3 l/100km - worth some €400 per year in fuel savings.

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