Barb’s going to hate me for this, but I’ve officially joined the ranks of the hypermilers. I couldn’t have picked a better time to do it as she’s away on business all this week. See, I’ve been trying to hone my skills on the last few tanks of fuel, but quite honestly, it was driving her batty as a passenger. "Stop driving like a granny" was her common retort, which is only marginally better than the "Make a legal U-Turn" that my GPS shouts when I go off-route and it can’t keep up.
Anyway, the inititiation was pretty simple and involved no hazing or car washing. I simply hit up the forums at CleanMPG and registered myself and my car.
Most of the vehicles are small, light and highly efficient like theHonda Insight and Toyota Prius. There aren’t too many Hybrid SUVs likewe have: we took stock of one of the first Toyota Highlander Hybridsthat rolled out of production in 2005. So to be honest, I can’t competewith some of these folks that can average 80-plus miles to the gallonfor an entire tank of fuel. I’ve got a few factors against me with theSUV: poor aerodynamics, a 6-cylinder engine, greater weight and the AWDoption that kills fuel efficiency in the Pennsylvania winters.
Still, as you can see by the graphic above, my first tank as a hypermiler yielded more than the EPA fuel estimate for my vehicle.And the techniques actually weren’t that difficult… I think thehardest part was listening to all of the passengers complain when I wasdriving under the speed limit. Some of the approaches to fuelefficiency are simple common sense: drive slower and smoothly, maintainyour vehicle properly and choose are route with fewer stops. The moreadvanced techniques? I’m taking them up one-by-one as the situationallows because you still have to drive safely as folks are flying byyou on highways. It simply wouldn’t be safe to drive 40mph on a 65mphfreeway during a peak traffic time.
In any case, I’m allowing for more time for all of my travel these days and to be honest: I’m actually enjoying the ride more.It’s less stressful and I’m noticing things on my travels that Isomehow missed before. As far as the die-hard hypermilers? When youlook at the vehicle logs for all of the registered drivers, you’ll seethat collectively they’ve saved over 172,000 gallons of fuel so far. Isuspect that’s based on how much fuel mileage they see over thebaseline EPA estimates. Regardless: you don’t need a "hybrid" vehicleto join the ranks. Take a look in the forums and you’ll see variouscars of all makes and models. You’ll also see pleny of passionatedrivers that are doing what they can to get the most out of every dropof gas. Take a look: you might learn something that saves you just afew bucks a week. It all adds up and could come in handy when as yousave for the next gadget on your wish-list.
Special thanks to Dan Bryant in Houston. Our recent mention of hisnews spot got me interested in this and James arranged an e-mail intro.Dan even has a Facebook group for the Houston Hypermilers right here if you’re interested.While I’m happy with my amateur status, Dan’s a professional at this.He participated in a Hypermile Challenge last week and averaged 129 MPGon the 16 mile course!