Hypermiling? Local Man Says It Works

With gas prices still hovering around the four-dollar a gallon mark, driving techniques to improve gas mileage have gotten more popular lately. So-called "hypermilers", drivers who employ an array of fuel-saving tools, are getting eye-popping results when it comes saving gas. Jack Williams took a ride with one of the nation's best hypermilers, Dan Bryant.
"Most of the time, the numbers that I'll hit will be in the 70-80 mile per gallon range. On a really good day, I'll see a couple of 90's. On a very good day, maybe once, twice a year, I'll have a commute where it's over 100 miles per gallon."

With the windows rolled down and the moon-roof wide open, Bryant is sweating his way through a hot afternoon in a brand-new Toyota Camry Hybrid. He instinctively uses every advantage he can find to get better gas mileage as we approach a traffic light.

"The engine just cut out. We're in a free coast, so I stopped burning gas about two or three light poles ago. I know this route well enough to have the light-timings. It's green, but it's going to be red by the time we get there."

Hypermiling is defined as exceeding the EPA's estimated fuel economy for any given car. Bryant says many drivers don't think about their driving habits.

"This guy right here for example, he was behind me and he actually accelerated so that he could be past me, but now we're at the exact same spot. All that acceleration that he did about 200 yards back was totally for naught. It gained him absolutely nothing."

Bryant says the so-called "efficient band" in most cars is around 45 to 50 miles per hour. He says simple things, like accelerating gently from a stop, keeping tire pressure high enough and anticipating traffic conditions can really improve gas mileage.

"What if you found a gas station where the gas was a dollar off? Would you go there? Yeah, of course I would. Most people are really excited about that, but by hypermiling, you can cut your fuel use by 25-percent, and that's like a dollar on every gallon."

Consulting a small gauge that's plugged into the dash, Bryant keeps track of his rpm's, water temperature, acceleration rate and real-time miles per gallon.

"There's not too much that you can do other than listen to the radio and even that gets boring, well, no offense, some of that can get boring after a while. Hypermiling will give you something to think about. I actually get excited when I get in the car because I get to go, I wonder if today I'm going to have a really good drive. I wonder if today I'm going to catch all the lights."

"The more people we can turn-on to getting better fuel economy, the better off we're all going to be in the long-run."

Wayne Gerdes is the Tiger Woods of hypermiling. He coined the term about three years ago and holds the record for fuel efficiency, 213 miles per gallon in a Honda Insight about a month ago.

"All hypermiling is is placing yourself 3-6 blocks out from where you're going to be before you get there, and how can you not react to the situation but adjust to a situation before you have to react to it. As you saw Dan driving today, the numbers that come out of any vehicle, including the hybrid that he was showing you today, are incredible." 

To find out more about hypermiling visit CleanMPG and Houston Hybrid and Hypermilers Club.

Above image: Dan Bryant.
Bio photo of Jack Williams

Jack Williams

Director of News Programming

News Director Jack Williams has been with Houston Public Radio since August of 2000. He's also a reporter and anchor for Houston Public Radio's local All Things Considered segments...