Driving on into the sunset

I have a car that gets about 30 mpg, which I thought was pretty good for a ten-year-old American car.  There are folks out there who put that number to shame, they are called hypermilers.

What sets them aside of the rest of us, the merely thrifty?  I do the basics – keep my tires inflated right, keep my engine tuned up and running well, I don’t drive aggressively, etc.  These folks take driving much more seriously and engage in a set of behaviors aimed at boosting mileage as high as possible – doubling it or possibly reaching the Holy Grail of 100 mpg.  Warning: some of these driving behaviors are extreme, and I would certainly not attempt them.

Hypermiling ideas.

Don’t speed – really, drive far below the speed limit

Drive a stick

Draft behind trucks (I really don’t recommend this one)

Don’t ever break unless its an emergency (same as the one above)

Weight loss: Don’t carry extra loads, possibly even rip out your back seat

Aerodynamics: Rip the luggage rack off your car and rip off anything else that is getting in the way of the wind, add aerodynamic doo-dads (below) if necessary

Aerodynamic tail from Wired Magazine’s Hypermiling page makes me want some sheet metal and duct tape – the paint is optional.

Stopping: turn your engine off at a traffic light

Accelerate slowly after stops

Purchase high performance after-market car parts

Avoid braking: coast and glide, slow naturally if possible

Ridge riding with a wheel along the white line to the right of the road to reduce friction

Pulse-and-glide:  Accelerate into turns and coast out

Always know your mpg

For lots more ideas and resources, visit Ecotrekker’s Ultimate Guide to Hypermiling

This all looks like a fun and interesting hobby, and we can learn a lot from the hypermilers.  Still, we shouldn’t have to engage in life-threatening behavior in order to get a decent mpg.  The auto industry has known how to increase mileage for years – adopting many of the innovations the hypermilers do: less weight, more aerodynamics, certain types of parts.  The Automotive X Prize is offering large-money prizes for production ready high mpg vehicles.  Real change – for everyone.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Driving on into the sunset

  1. lauralittle says:

    My Golly Ned! All these years I thought I was cheap, and I’m really a HyperMiler. Seriously; I do most of these practices:

    Don’t speed – really, drive far below the speed limit: Are you kidding?

    Drive a stick: I’m addicted.

    Draft behind trucks: Never. I’m too afraid of the.

    Don’t ever brake unless its an emergency: I would not go that far, but I am much more likely to coast or downshift than to brake. I always try to look ahead for any obstacle that might require me to slow down, and put it in neutral.

    Weight loss: Don’t carry extra loads, possibly even rip out your back seat: Meh, notsomuch. The stuff I carry is light.

    Aerodynamics: Rip the luggage rack off your car and rip off anything else that is getting in the way of the wind, add aerodynamic doo-dads (below) if necessary: No luggage rack and I refuse to add flying WVU flags, even on game day. 🙂

    Stopping: turn your engine off at a traffic light: Not always but often. And in the drive-through.

    Accelerate slowly after stops: Usually.

    Purchase high performance after-market car parts: Of course.

    Avoid braking: coast and glide, slow naturally if possible: Always.

    Ridge riding with a wheel along the white line to the right of the road to reduce friction: I’ve never heard that, so I just may try it.

    Pulse-and-glide: Accelerate into turns and coast out: I’ve always done this; I thought it was a safety reason.

    Always know your mpg: Obsessively. Last fill-up, a little low at 32 mpg but I let my oil get too low. I have been known to get well over manufacturer’s MPG predictions, normally around 40ish mpg.

    Thanks! That was an interesting reflection.

  2. I love this post Johanna, it reminds me of happy days in my old Ford Focus getting 56 mpg lol. I was a HyperMiler and didn’t even know it.
    Nowadays I get maybe 46mpg from my Mini, so not quite so good. I suspect because I am doing more country roads and less motorway, although the dog tells me I also corner too fast 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s