What is Hypermiling?

In many ways, hyper-miling is taking our green driving tips  to the extreme. Hypermilers are drivers who take their gas-sipping cars (such as hybrids or clean diesels) and try to stretch their miles per gallon far beyond the EPA estimates for the car.  (The usual goal is 50 mpg-plus.  Hypermilers have gotten the VW Jetta TDI up to 58 mpg, and the VW Golf TDI and Audi A3 TDI to over 60 mpg each.)

While Jim Ellis does not espouse many of the techniques described as hypermiling, sometimes it can be useful to know the principles involved in this activity. For instance, many hypermiling techniques will also extend the battery range of an electric vehicle , and many can be used with ordinary gas-powered vehicles to extend the fuel efficiency.

Basic Hypermiling Techniques:

  • Pulse and Glide - This technique (also known as "Burn and Coast") which is basically accelerating for a brief period of time and then "coasting" for a given distance. Electric cars and hybrids are particularly more efficient at this technique, though it can be done in a regular gas-powered vehicle as well.
  • Coasting - you'll see hypermilers coasting to stops, instead of waiting until they're near a light and hitting the brakes, and even coasting down hills!
  • Ultra Slow Starts and Stops - Because most fuel is burned in stopping and starting a vehicle, slow acceleration out of intersections, and slow deceleration coming up to intersections will reduce the amount of fuel used in regular gasoline cars and diesels .  With hybrids  - which have greater efficiency at accelerating - the slow start is about using the battery power of the hybrid engine, rather than the gasoline portion of the engine.  The slow stop in a hybrid is to increase the power going back into the battery from the friction of the regenerative brakes.
  • Selecting the Route of Greatest Mileage - The best route for a hypermiler is one with little enough traffic to allow for steady movement, but enough traffic to benefit from the drafting of the "corridor" effect created by many cars going the same direction at the same speed.  Ideal routes also have little to no headwind and are lined with buildings or trees that act as barriers to crosswinds. Smooth-surfaced roads

Unsafe Hypermiling Techniques (not recommended!)

  • Drafting - Drafting is a practice that uses the aerodynamics of the vehicle in front of you to ease your car's passage through the wind. This technique is used by race-cars and cyclists alike to take advantage of the break in wind resistance by following closely behind a vehicle that is larger than your own, or at least roughly the same size.
  • Timing Traffic Signals - in conjunction with the starts and stops, hypermilers have found that rolling through intersections and not coming to a complete stop also increases fuel mileage. The only safe way to do this is to learn the speed necessary to time a string of traffic signals to hit each of them when the lights are green.  (Like we said, we don't endorse these practices! Some of them can be dangerous!)

You Can Only Improve What You Measure

One hypermiling technique that we do recommend is recording and monitoring your vehicle's gas mileage. One easy tool to do this is the Jim Ellis iPhone App
!  Knowing your car's gas mileage is a great way to learn whether service or maintenance are required, as well as figuring out ways to maximize efficiency.