02 April 2009

Driving hybrid

There's an interesting story on NPR this morning (perhaps you heard it? It seems a lot of our cars are tuned to NPR.) about how driving style matters—a lot—when you are driving a plug-in hybrid.
"Oh-oh. You see that heavy foot right there? You just got the gas motor to come on at 20 miles an hour," she says.

That's a total no-no if you want to get the most miles per gallon. You want to rely on the battery and keep the gas motor off. At 20 mph, there's no reason for it to kick in — unless you have a heavy foot, which, apparently, I do.

"There's no need to just kind of punch it. It'll go," Fahenstock says. "You're really not going to get to your destination any sooner. Why do you need to accelerate so quickly?"

The two solar-powered plug-in hybrid HOURCARs are of a similar (if not the same) design, and how you drive them definitely makes a big difference. If you take them out on the freeway at 75 mph, drive with jackrabbit starts, or are a complete leadfoot, your mileage will likely be subpar. If you drive them gently, accelerate slowly, and do your best to not engage the gas engine (especially at speeds below 42 mph—when the gas engine spins up no matter), you'll do better.

And, of course, every Prius in the HOURCAR fleet has a nifty screen which lets you know how efficiently you drive. (Consensus is that if these were mandated in every car in the country, fuel consumption would decline appreciably.) Next time you're out in a car, reset the mileage, and when you are done, if you have driven well, send us a picture of the screen with the great milage and we'll post it here. I'd say we'd give the best mileage a free t-shirt but … all of our members already get t-shirts!

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