Can you lick your elbow? No, you can’t… but can you really get over 100mpg in a non-plug-in hybrid? That’s the $60,000 question of the day. Everyone knows that gas prices are on the rise, and they won’t be dropping anytime soon. Besides getting a new car (insert plug for being a dealership here, wink-wink), there are techniques that you can do to lower your overall fuel consumption over the course of time, and the word hypermiling refers to the practice of using such techniques to an extreme degree, even for sport. For example, there was this guy in a Prius who got 138 mpg on a closed course during a hypermiling event in Indiana a couple years ago. While events like these can be fun, not everything that goes on is necessarily safe, or even road legal.
First rule of hypermiling: Never burn gas unless you have to. Although next to impossible while driving a motor vehicle of any kind, this task is easier in a hybrid than it is in anything else, especially in a Prius. With the EV mode engaged, when a light turns green, just get a rolling start. Literally, roll. When you accelerate at a decently respectable rate, you’re unnecessarily burning refined, 87-octane dino-juice that costs you too much money to waste like that (shame on you and your decency). Once you’re at hypermiling speed, oh… call it 30mph, you can back off the throttle. Maybe in a mile or two you’ll be at 35, who knows. If you’re going downhill, through it in neutral, or if able, cut the motor (granted, this will also cut your power steering and braking ability, so this is not recommended). The only time we would recommend cutting the motor would be in a drive through – considering you’re spending the majority of your time stopped anyway. Rule of thumb – if you know you’re going to be stopped for anywhere over 30 seconds to a minute, or even longer – it’s probably ok to turn the engine off. With fuel injection and other technologies, it takes less fuel to get started back up again than if you had spent that time idling your engine.
Once you’re at cruising speed, this is where things can go either really well or really badly. For starters, roll up your windows and put the top up (if applicable). Second, turn the A/C off. Most importantly – slow your roll. If you do the speed limit, or just under (magic speed is somewhere in the vicinity of 50-55 for most cars), you’ll get insane mileage compared to what you’d otherwise get at 65mph, 75mph, or even faster.
Yeah, and that stop sign? Second rule: True hypermilers don’t stop. Stopping requires getting going again, and that kills the planet faster. If you have to stop, just roll out slow when you get started again. And in most traffic situations, not only is stopping mandatory to thwart the 5-0, personal injury, or perhaps death – it’s just common courtesy. Stopping on an incline is even worse, because you have to use even more gas getting up that hill.
Third rule: It doesn’t matter what you drive. Ok, so it’s not really a rule, but it’s worth mentioning that anyone can be smart about how much fuel they use. Fundamentally speaking though, your fuel economy capabilities are a direct function of the vehicle you drive. It’s also worth mentioning that we have a variety of vehicles in stock that can achieve 30 mpg, 40 mpg 50 mpg, or even more. Interested? Go to www.mungenast.com and search by fuel economy category.