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.
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.