31 May 2007

Saving fuel while driving

In Chicago, I've seen a gallon of gasoline go well over $4/gallon, depending on the grade and the location. Fuel prices are really out of hand. Even back home in Los Angeles, it's over $3/gallon.

Some people have gone to ridiculous lengths to save fuel. These people - usually men - are called "hypermilers," and their tactics involve removing side mirrors, covering the grille for better aerodynamics, coasting with the engine off, and other drastic measures. The extreme example: a Honda Insight, rated at 66 MPG, getting 200 MPG (!).

Hypermiling involves many illegal tactics, such as drafting behind an 18-wheeler or driving near the shoulder. Only the most basic hypermiling tactics, such as avoiding jackrabbit start/stops and obeying speed limits, should be used in daily driving.

My BMW is rated at 27 MPG on the highway. I haven't done much to improve the fuel economy, but on flat terrain with some tailwind, I once averaged 35 MPG as indicated by the trip computer, with instantaneous fuel economy probably around 40+ish. Even with lots of hills and 80MPH leadfoot driving, I get at least 30, most likely 32. I'll adjust my driving on my next long road trip, and see how well my car does. On the other hand, my 4-cylinder Honda Accord hasn't done as well, consistently giving me only 25-28 MPG despite being rated at 30, regardless of my driving habits.

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