Hypermilers and hypermiling ~ Hybrid Car Review
Hybrid Car Review: Hypermilers and hypermiling

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Hypermilers and hypermiling

Hypermiling is the term applied to greatly exceeding the EPA rating for a vehicle. It's most often applied to hybrid vehicle drivers who apply certain techniques. For instance, there are some hybrid drivers who can, by the technique of "pulse and glide", can get over 100 mpg in their Toyota Prius.

When hypermiling, their are several special techniques that can be applied, but you should always start out with the basics. I've already covered most of the ways you can save money on gas, no matter what kind of car you drive. These methods include regular maintenance on your car, including oil changes and checking the tire pressure. You should also avoid jackrabbit starts and try to use cruise control or overdrive when you can. You should also keep your speed down and your windows closed.

The special technique applied to hybrid cars with the biggest gain is called the pulse and glide. According to Wikipedia, the pulse and glide "method is a trick that can be used with hybrids to minimize ICE waste. The idea is to optimize acceleration in order to reach the optimal threshold of the hybrid engine. At this point, some vehicles (when the accelerator is minimally pressed) will glide in electric only mode."

First accelerate up to 40 (or so). Avoid using energy from the battery, but don't accelerate too quickly either. Once there, you can start the glide. Gliding is the point where you are not taking any energy from the engine at all (hence the name). In order to glide properly, you need the right readout (i.e. Prius energy screen). If you can put yourself into that halfway point where there are no arrows point anywhere on the energy screen, you've successfully put yourself into glide. You will need to ease back on the accelerator, and then push it back down slightly to get into this mode.

A warning to anyone trying the pulse and glide, however. This technique should not be used in high traffic or high speed areas. Not only is it dangerous, but it will be infuriating to your fellow drivers. So don't do it. Also, if you (or your passengers) are in a rush, this may be frustrating. Keep in mind that courtesy to your passenger(s) and fellow drivers should be a given.

Another special technique is to use the auto-stop as much as possible. Don't try to edge up at stop lights, for instance. You can turn the gas engine back (in light or mild hybrids) on for no gain (0 mpg). You might also try to "glide" down hills, by putting your car into neutral for instance.

If you'd like to know more about hypermiling, you can find information at wikipedia. Hypermilers are usually part of hybrid driving clubs and forums.

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Anonymous said...

I read that great article in Mother Jones about hypermilers and am now getting 51-69 mpg in my Prius. Before that I was getting 43-53 mpg. With me it's all about traveling in the slow lane on the Interstate. Also taking short cuts, and avoiding hills on city streets. You just have to keep your eye on the rear view mirror so as not to get creamed by normal drivers.

Unknown said...

That's a great improvement! Congratulations. Most of the time, improving your fuel economy seems to depend on just being more aware of your surroundings. "Driving without brakes" makes a big difference.

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