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Major Google Maps change to save Aussie drivers money as petrol prices jump again

Changes to the Google Maps app could help drivers save money while helping the environment.

Google Maps has unveiled a new feature designed to help drivers navigate the most energy-efficient way home. The change allows users to compare the fastest route with the one that uses less fuel.

Announced as a sustainability initiative for the popular navigation app on Earth Day, the option will also likely be a welcome money saver as cost of living continues to bite household budgets in Australia. It comes after NRMA data showed the average fuel price in Sydney last week was 222.9 cents per litre, after a 23.3 cents per litre rise.

The app also now includes the location of charging stations for EV drivers. There are currently only 3,000 public charging stations nationwide, totalling 7,000 individual plugs.

A driver returning to his car at a petrol station, with a bowser in the foreground and a board in the background showing fuel prices.
As petrol prices soar in Australia, a new Google Maps option could help users save money. (Source: AAP)

The new features will be rolled out across Australia on Monday. Motorists will be able to enter data about their vehicle's engine type and the fuel it uses so the most sustainable route can be found.

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Google Maps’ Andrew Foster said the change will help drivers find sustainable transport options “more quickly and easily”.

Other Google Maps options to help reduce emissions

In Sydney and Melbourne the app will also be updated in the coming weeks with public transport and walking options when the travel time is comparable.

“This feature prompts people to consider more environmentally friendly alternatives," Foster said.

"It builds on our long-standing partnerships with local transport authorities to promote public transport and provide real-time information including schedules and route options on Search and Maps,” he said.

A screenshot of the  Google Maps option showing drivers the percentage of fuel they can save by switching routes. Source: AAP/Google Maps
The new Google Maps option will advise drivers on the percentage of fuel they can save by switching routes. Source: AAP/Google Maps

A separate update to its Google Flights app will allow users to estimate the emissions before choosing an air travel route.

This mode of transport creates around 2 to 3 per cent of global emissions, and is generally worse for the environment. A plane trip between Sydney and Melbourne would generate 185kg of carbon per person, while a petrol car would create just 105kg, according to The Guardian.

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