As North American car customers continue to opt for smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles, and manufacturers try to accommodate these changing tastes, many drivers are also abuzz over other ways to control how much fuel they burn on a regular basis. One new trend in driving is called “hypermiling” and it helps some of the most die-hard fans of fuel economy to control how many miles per gallon they get out of a vehicle. Hypermiling adds a lot to strategies for those who hate burning gasoline: with some tactical driving techniques, drivers can actually increase their fuel economy well over EPA estimates for what they are driving.
A recent study from NPR’s Marketplace examines the practice of hypermiling, with a reporter riding along on a hypermiling test drive. In this case, the vehicle of choice was a somewhat outdated minivan, adding to the challenge of getting more miles out of less fuel.
The NPR story and other reports detail some of the ways that hypermiling drivers save gas. These include riding in the tracks of previous drivers to avoid moisture under tires, as well as hiding behind semi trucks to reduce wind drag. Hypermiling drivers also rigidly control their acceleration and braking, which is a major way to avoid burning large amounts of gasoline with significant speed changes. As NPR reports, some of these tactics, such as fast merges and borderline tailgating, are pretty dangerous, and even somewhat illegal. That means there is a large gray area in what can be considered “common-sense hypermiling” and a more extreme daredevil version that is probably not worth the risk.
The bottom line is that while hypermiling can teach drivers a lot about how to use a vehicle, it’s not for everybody. Those who have our time with changing driving practices can still improve their fuel economy by selecting some of the best new vehicles on local dealers lot’s that achieve the 40 miles per gallon standard set by the American government. Look for some of these cars as 2012 models start to populate your local lot inventories, and always be sure to check on the best current model pricing, as well as timely offers from manufacturers on rebates, incentives and low-interest financing offers. Do the market research before you buy to get more for your money, and possibly save at the pump in future years.