09 December 2008

Word of the year: Hypermiling

In a year when gas prices topped $4.00 per gallon, the word of the year is hypermiling.

What is hypermiling? Well, according to Wikipedia it is:

Hypermiling is a term used in North America that refers to a set of techniques used to maximize fuel economy. Those who practice the techniques are referred to as "hypermilers." The term was originally coined by Wayne Gerdes, who is considered by the media to be one of the top hypermilers in the world, and is known to hold the record for gas mileage in some common vehicles, including 30 miles per gallon in an Acura MDX and 59 mpg in a Honda Accord.

Okay, but HOURCARs are all Priuses, so why hypermile? Well, two reasons:

1. Hypermiling can significantly increase fuel economy even in Priuses. My record is 69.5 mpg over 58 miles. That's right, 60 miles on a gallon with gas to spare.
2. The Prius makes it easy. If you switch to the "consumption" option on the touch screen, the Prius will tell you your current mileage and your mileage every five minutes for the past half hour. This makes it easy to adjust your driving on the fly. By avoiding jackrabbit starts, driving evenly and slowly on the interstate, and not braking unless necessary, you can hypermile, too!

If you reset the mileage at the start of your trip, you can see how well you can do (note that drivers of our two solar-powered plug-in cars have a bit of an advantage). Shoot us an email if you do really well. Pictures are cool, too. We'll post 'em if they're good.

A few tips:

* The optimal speed for the Prius is 41 miles per gallon. Above that speed, physics dictate that the gas engine spin even if it is not powering the drive train, increasing drag.
* During cold weather, mileage will suffer, especially after a cold start. This is because the Prius is optimized for emissions, so the gas engine warms up the catalytic converter to better emissions.
* Drive as smoothly as possible. The Prius's brakes do recover some energy, but braking always loses some energy. If you see a red light ahead, let off the gas and coast, and when you leave the light, accelerate firmly but evenly.
* And, of course, safety first.

For more information:

* The hypermiling website
* An article in Mother Jones about hypermiling.
* A great depiction of how a Prius's powertrain works.
* Stats about watt hours and drag (a bit geeky. Okay, really geeky.)

1 comment:

Mike said...

Wayne Gerdes is the man that coined the term: Hypermiling. On December 4th,A new Guinness World Book of Records record was set when the CleanMPG team of Wayne Gerdes, Justin Fons, and Jennie Chen achieved an average of 68.54 mpg in a new 2009 Honda Civic Hybrid sponsored by American Honda and Scangauge! The record was for the highest mpg on a contiguous drive through 48 states.