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Friday, July 18, 2008


While high oil prices undoubtedly have advantages for the environment and society in general, forcing many commuters to finally realize that public transport is the way to go, those of us that don't have that option are suffering somewhat. When you have no choice but to pile into your car every day and hit the highway to get to work, there's not a hell of a lot yo can do to escape the high price of petrol.. or is there?

Hypermiling is a growing movement worldwide which utilizes non-aggressive driving to improve vehicle fuel efficiency. By slowing down, anticipating traffic movement and not madly racing from robot to robot and stop to stop (where you'll have to waste energy braking anyway) the mileage achievable on a tank of fuel can be stretched quite significantly.
Interestingly enough while some extreme hypermiling tricks such as rolling through stops and drafting could potentially increase your accident risks, the simpler methods such of those mentioned above are actually likely to improve road safety. You'll be safer and saving money.
I started my own minor hyperkiloing (stupid imperial systems..) experiment a few weeks ago. I limited my speed to 100km/h on the highway and strictly sticking to the speed limit in other areas. I don't accelerate rapidly away from stops and pay attention to upcoming stops, coasting to slow down instead of rapidly breaking.
Yesterday was my first refuelling since I started made these changes and I was pleasantly surprised. While the R525 to fill my 50l tank was hardly cheap, I got some satisfaction out of the fact that instead of getting my usual ~650km to the tank, I had squeezed an extra ~90km out of it and reached ~740km! My daily commute is 18km one way, so with the current petrol price of R10.50/l here are a couple of ways to look at this improvement:

  • That's an extra ~14% out of my tank, that's just over R70 worth of fuel.
  • It's an extra 2.5 full days worth of extra work commuting per month.
  • Annually this will save ~1.6 tanks of fuel, which is ~81l of petrol or ~R850 (probably much more as oil goes up).
  • My mileage has improved from ~13km/l to ~15km/l or..
  • In the popular alternate notation from ~7.6l/100km to ~6.7l/100km.



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