Tag Archives: 6

Hypermiling Not Always the Answer – Consider the Alternatives

ABC’s Nightline recently ran a story on hypermiling in which they interviewed one Wayne Mitchell, engineer for the City of Chicago and consummate hypermiler. Thanks to my friend Mikal for the head’s up on the story.

Wayne drives a Toyota Prius hybrid. He drives a hybrid and hypermiles not for the money savings (like I do), but for the saving of oil. Says Wayne, “Oil is a finite resource.” He wants oil to still be around when his kids grow up.

Wayne has an 18 mile commute. It takes him nearly an hour to get to work. Hearing this, it made me quite grateful for my situation.

My recent move cut my commute of six miles and 15 minutes to two miles and five minutes. While I spend way less time on the road, a couple of things have occurred that reduce my overall mileage. First and foremost is the colder weather. Block heaters might fix that, but I’m just not crazy enough (i.e. committed) at this point to go through the bother. Second is the shorter distance. I have less opportunity to practice hypermiling techniques.

Both the Nightline story and my own experience in having my mileage reduced because I’m now closer to work got me thinking about what my goals are in regard to hypermiling. Is it so I can brag about my incredibly high mileage and make myself feel better by looking down on gas guzzlers, or is it to use less gas thereby costing me less money?

BegleymobileThe truth is, it has always been the latter. If it were the prior, I’d get rid of my V6 Sonata and get an Ed-Begleymobile. Or I’d move to Nephi so I can travel the 40 miles to work each day and get double the mileage I’m getting travelling just two miles. On the other hand, if I were truly committed to saving gas money, I’d probably get a bicycle and take that to work instead. Doh!

And honestly, if I had the money I’d be guzzling gas myself driving around in a Corvette for the road and a Hummer for off (the big and uncomfortable, but incredibly capable H1, not those wussy H3’s).

Anyway, back to the original point of my post. If you’re practicing hypermiling techniques to save money like me, start looking at the many other methods that are non-hypermiling related that can save you gas money:

  • Move closer to work, or take a job closer to home
  • Start riding your bicycle
  • Take mass transit, like the bus or train
  • Avoid driving unless absolutely necessary (no more leisure Sunday drives)

Finally, and it really pains me to say this, but a scooter (which you can often nab for sub $2,000 brand new) practicing hypermiling would likely slaughter the mileage ratings of any very expensive hybrid vehicle (a new Prius goes for the price of 15 scooters). Personally, I recommend getting a motorcycle. Your mileage will be half that of a scooter, but at least you won’t be, you know, on a scooter.

As for me, I do things only if they’re convenient. The hypermiling techniques I employ are easily done by anybody. I don’t take it further because, frankly, I’m too busy trying to enjoy my life to make it more inconvenient for me (which is why, unlike Wayne, I wouldn’t wake up an hour early, drive in a manner that frustrates everybody around me, or take the back roads and extend my commute just to maximize my mileage and save gas). Life is short, and I really don’t want it to suck any more than it already does.

For all hypermiling tips that I’ve tried over the past year, take a look at my hypermiling category.