Who doesn’t like a challenge?
Automotive history has more than its share of stories about pushing a vehicle to its limits—take Ford’s legendary 1966 victory at Le Mans, where innovation and racing prowess won the day together. Off the track, however, there are drivers who push their cars to another kind of extreme—they aren’t about speed or power, but rather fuel efficiency.
Hypermiling is the art of efficiency. In practice, it’s all about changing driving behaviour to make a car as fuel efficient as possible—something savvy hypermilers do in seriously impressive ways. In one case, a world-renowned hypermiler was able to consume just 1.6 Imperial gallons per 100 km in a Ford F150 with EcoBoost® on a 3,638 km-long road trip across the U.S.
He filled the tank twice.
Some practices are more extreme than others (and Ford certainly does not endorse them), but there are a number of core principles that hypermilers use to great effect. To Go Further on a tank, we just might learn a thing or two from them.
1. Take the scenic route, and slow it on down.
There’s nothing more idyllic than a road trip with wind in your hair and freedom at your fingertips. The journey can be as meaningful as the destination, so why not slow it on down and take in the view? By going from the highway to the scenic route, you can reduce your speed and squeeze a few more kilometres out of each tank. For example, increasing your speed from 100 km/hr to 120 km/hr can use up to 20% more fuel1.
2. Prevent your tires from being the next deflategate.
When your tire pressure is too low, your engine must overcome greater drag caused by the increased surface area of tire touching the road. According to NRCan, running on tires that are under-inflated by just 56 kilopascals (8 psi) can increase fuel consumption by up to 4%. It can also reduce the life of the tires by 10 000 km.
3. Maintain your vehicle.
While hypermilers aren’t necessarily modding their cars, they do keep them finely tuned—especially when it comes to anything related to efficiency. Use OEM oil, follow the vehicle’s recommended service intervals, including; wheel alignment, air filters, and fuel filters if equipped. All are critical to have in good order when it comes to reducing fuel consumption.
4. Quit idling.
Watching the minutes drag by while you wait for something? It’s time to turn off your car—letting your vehicle idle for more than 60 seconds burns more fuel than turning off the engine and restarting it. The Ford F-150, Escape, Fusion and other Ford models are available with an Auto Start-Stop System, which switches off the engine when the vehicle comes to a stop in certain conditions (thus consuming no gasoline), and re-starts it the moment the driver releases the brake pedal. The Auto Start-Stop feature fuel efficiency improvement amounts may vary from model to model. Stated improvement applies to the 2015 Fusion 1.5L Ecoboost® with Auto Start Stop only.
5. Accelerate and brake smoothly
Aggressive accelerating and braking takes a toll on fuel efficiency—precisely why hypermilers take their time gaining speed and why they try to avoid applying the brakes unnecessarily. Aggressive driving can increase fuel consumption by up to 15%1 in the city. If conditions allow, coast to a stop. Most fuel injected engines will cut fuel when the accelerator is fully released. Anticipate traffic so you can accelerate and brake as smoothly as possible.
6. Choose efficiency.
Your car choice, of course, has an impact on efficiency. Take the Ford Fusion—whether you choose the 1.6-litre EcoBoost, the Fusion Hybrid, or the Fusion Energi Plug-In Hybrid, you can still save at the pump. And, Ford has many fuel-saving technologies designed to let you Go Further. For example, Active Grille Shutters automatically increase your vehicle’s aerodynamics, and Electric Power-Assisted Steering (EPAS) replaces a belt-driven hydraulic-assist pump with an electric motor, reducing the weight and load on the engine. Our Hybrids are equipped with Regenerative Braking to convert wasted energy into electric power to help charge the battery. Our Hybrids can also help you improve your fuel saving techniques with the aid of the Fuel Economy Coach and the Braking Coach.
7. Minimize mass.
Are those golf clubs still in the trunk just in case? What about those tools you haven’t had a chance to unload yet? Get rid of ‘em. And while you’re at it, give your vehicle a spring (or all-season) cleaning and remove the extra mass inside your vehicle. Fuel usage can increase by up 1% for every 25kg carried1. Carrying cargo on the outside of your vehicle can also reduce your vehicle’s aerodynamics and use more fuel.
8. Watch the tachometer.
Where some people rely on their engine’s sound to know when to shift gears, the tachometer’s reading can provide a more accurate, hypermiler-friendly way to do so. The tach measures your engine’s RPM (Revolutions per Minute) —essentially how hard it’s working. Less RPM means less gas burnt—something that will make a difference over time. Or, if you prefer to shift by speed instead, your Owner’s Manual will provide the recommended upshift speeds for optimum fuel efficiency.
Most accessories draw power from the engine. Reducing the use of AC, heated seats, etc., leaves more power available for the engine. The AC alone can increase fuel consumption by up to 20%1 so park in the shade to keep your vehicle cooler and use less AC.
You don’t need to be a hypermiler, but you can squeeze out a few more clicks and up your car’s efficiency by following a few of their basic principles. Now the only question is, what are you going to do with all of the money you’re saving – road trip, anyone?
1 Natural Resources Canada Fuel Efficient Driving Techniques http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/efficiency/transportation/cars-light-trucks/fuel-efficient-driving-techniques/7507
2 2015 Fusion 1.5L EcoBoost®, 6-speed SelectShift transmission with Auto Start-Stop, fuel consumption ratings of 9.4L/100km city, 6.3L/100km hwy, 8.0L/100km combined. 2015 1.5L EcoBoost®, 6-speed transmission without Auto Start Stop, fuel consumption ratings of 9.9L/100km city, 6.5L/100km hwy, 8.4L/100km combined. Based on Government of Canada approved test methods. Actual fuel consumption will vary. Fuel efficiency improvement on the 2015 Fusion 1.5L Ecoboost® with Auto Start Stop may not be same for other vehicles equipped with Auto Start Stop