Hypermiling or eco-driving is the practice of driving a vehicle in the most fuel-efficient way possible. It can be done with any vehicle and is a great way to lower running costs without spending a penny on modifications.
The term’s origins can be traced back to the US in the early 2000s when rising fuel prices prompted drivers to adopt fuel saving driving techniques, although there have always been eco-conscious motorists out there who have driven in this way.
Here we will cover just what the best methods are to help you get the most out of every drop of petrol or Watt of electricity.
What is the purpose of hypermiling?
Quite simply, the purpose of hypermiling is to help you get the most out of your fuel by adopting specific driving techniques. It all comes down to saving money, and with steadily rising fuel prices it has become an increasingly popular way to lower running costs. But how exactly do you do it?
The first step in your journey to hypermiling enlightenment is to look at your daily commute from a number of different angles. Driving techniques are important, but choosing when, and if, it is even necessary to drive is just as crucial. An efficient car helps, but it needs to be well maintained, too.
Tips to get you started
- Ensure that your tyres are correctly inflated
- Regular servicing will keep your car operating efficiently
- Don’t drive around with unnecessary items in your car – less weight means better efficiency
- Only use your heating and cooling sparingly –drive with your windows up on the motorway to reduce drag. Remove roof rack for the same reason when you aren’t using them.
- Anticipate the road ahead – harsh acceleration and braking will detrimentally affect your economy- Driving with minimal use of the brakes is a popular technique among hypermilers and it is quite possible to allow the regenerative braking on an EV to do most of your braking for you
- Don’t cruise around the parking lot looking for the closest parking bay to the entrance, look for the bay that requires the least amount of driving to get to
- Avoid rush hour and heavy traffic where possible – However, EVs actually deliver their best mileage in slow, stop-start driving
- If your vehicle has switchable four-wheel-drive, then only engage it when you require it
- A cold engine uses more fuel and warming it up is also detrimental to fuel economy – so avoid short trips wherever possible. EVs don’t need to be warmed up but driving in extreme weather conditions will lower your range.
- If you drive an EV then try to keep the charge between 20-80% as this extends battery life and avoid preconditioning the car (having the heater or air conditioner on while you are shopping) to extend your mileage.
Some extremists go as far as turning off their car while coming to a stop, driving on the painted road markings to reduce rolling resistance or tucking up closely behind large vehicles to reduce drag.
Needless to say, these are all potentially very dangerous things to do, and hardly worth the potential fuel savings if you end up crashing.
What are the best cars for hypermiling?
A car that has a high claimed MPG is your first step towards maximising your hypermiling results. Small cars with small engines will do well in the city, but larger ones may produce better results on the motorway as they won’t have to work as hard to maintain momentum.
The latest engine technologies and hybrid drivetrains also make a big difference, a Mercedes C-Class plug-in hybrid can do 471mpg if you make the most of its 68 miles of electric range.
A small diesel engine can also deliver impressive fuel economy if you drive long motorway miles regularly, the Peugeot 208 diesel will do 74mpg in mixed driving conditions and even more on long trips.
Driving electric cars as described above will also help you get the most out of each charge, in this case you look at the miles per kWh rather than MPG. The Volkswagen e-Up tops the EV efficiency list with 5.3 miles per kWh. Just remember that EVs deliver their best range in short city driving scenarios rather than long steady speed drives.
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