How I Learned to Cruise at 99 MPG: 10 Eco-Driving, Hypermiling Tips from Ford’s Hybrid Team

April 26th, 2009

Ford’s hybrid experts and world record hypermiler champion Wayne Gerdes have set up headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia for the “Ford Fusion 1000 Mile Challenge.” They’re pushing the new 2010 Ford Fusion hybrid to go 1,000 miles on a single tank of gas. When I received an invite to check out the action and learn a few tips for improving fuel economy, I couldn’t resist going, despite having to drag my whole family there on a beautiful early Saturday morning.

This video shows some highlights from my “eco-driving” lesson. Using just a few hypermiling techniques, I was able to improve my gas mileage by nearly 10 MPG! I clocked 38.4 MPG prior to my “eco-driving” lesson, and 48 MPG afterwards! What’s more, I actually hit 99.9 MPG on the downgrade of a hill. Now that was exciting!

10 Tips for Maximizing Your Fuel Economy

#1. Reduce Your Speed
The trick to hypermiling? Drive very s-l-o-w-l-y. Speed increases aerodynamic drag (wind resistance) and mechanical friction which reduces fuel economy.

#2 Coast & Glide
Coast to the Highest Point of the Hill and then Glide Down Hills . (You’ll see Tom Rolewiszc, Ford Fusion Hybrid Main Calibration Expert, explain this in the video).

#3 Avoid Using the A/C and other electrical and mechanical accessories
If you crack the driver and back window, you’ll create a cross-breeze. Use of air conditioning can reduce your fuel economy by up to 25% at low speeds.

#4 Don’t Accelerate Quickly or Brake Heavily
This reduces fuel economy by as much as 33% at highway speeds.

#5 Lighten Your Load
Excess weight decreases fuel economy. That’s one reason I was amazed that I still managed to shave 10 MPG off a typical drive , despite the fact that 5 people and 2 carseats were in the car. (I stayed near the posted speed limit as opposed to crawling along, as most hypermilers do).

#6 Take Flat, Smooth Roads

Hilly, mountainous, or unpaved roads reduce fuel economy.

#7 Tune Your Engine
A poorly tuned engine burns more fuel.

#8 Watch the Weather

Did you know you get better mileage on beautiful sunny days than on rainy or snowy days? It makes sense: less resistance against the car, and better traction.

#9 Drive to your furthest destination first.

Then, as you are heading home, stop at the closer destinations in order from furtherst to closest so the car is warmed up for the longer portions of the ride.

#10 Avoid Idling.
Consider shutting down your engine if stopped for more than 7 seconds as that is all the fuel it takes to restart today’s fuel-inject engine

Want to learn more? Check out CleanMPG, a site run by hypermiler champion Wayne Gerdes.

Was it a fun day? Look at this Flickr stream for pix of OrganicMania_DH and the Eco-Kids at the Ford event.

Have you tried hypermiling? Do you have other fuel economy tips? Leave a comment and share!

— Lynn

Copyright 2009 OrganicMania