DriveGain goes freemium with CarEconomy iPhone app

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DriveGain, the UK startup that helps motorists learn to drive more efficiently and save fuel, is dipping its toe in the freemium waters. It’s released a free iPhone app – CarEconomy – that does one thing: show your average fuel economy as you drive.

But, taking advantage of Apple’s App Store in-app purchasing, users can upgrade to add additional features, and there are ads for the full DriveGain app (see our previous coverage) as the company hopes to up-sell even further.

CarEconomy differs from existing fuel economy apps, says DriveGain, in that they require the user to actually type in mileages and how much fuel they have put into their car when they fill up. In contrast, the CarEconomy app doesn’t require any user input, a user just selects their vehicle and then begins driving.

Of course, many modern car models come with their own fuel economy meter as standard, although Simon East, CEO of DriveGain, points out that this isn’t always the case with smaller cars in Europe and the U.S. CarEconomy works with any petrol (gasoline) or diesel car with a manual (stick-shift) transmission, while support for cars with automatic transmissions will be added shortly.

As for the in-app and paid-for upgrade, it adds the following:

  • An instantaneous fuel economy meter that shows (in MPG, l/100km, l/100miles or km/l) how much fuel you are using at any given moment.
  • iPod music controls that allow you to control music playback from within the application.

DriveGain is founded by Simon East, an ex-Psion exec and former VP, Technology of Symbian who subsequently founded Cognima (ShoZu), and Dr. Phil Dixon, who has a background in racing car simulations and was a recent Vehicle Performance Engineer with the Renault Formula 1 team. Located in Amersham, UK, the startup is currently bootstrapped.

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