Will Coast for Gas

June 13, 2008

Hypermiling. Ever heard of it? Neither had a guy at my office until another co-worker told him that’s what he was doing with his efforts to conserve gas and increase his miles per gallon (MPGs). All I could think of when he described how he was trying to cut down on gas consumption by accelerating slowly after a stop or coasting down a hill, was if that jerk was driving in front of me, I’d have slight road rage tendencies. But apparently, it really works and stories about hypermiling are popping up in news outlets across the country. Although I suspect the recent surge of coverage isn’t American’s desire to be more green, rather it’s the $4 a gallon price of gas.

The kicker is, it’s not a new craze or trend as some trend spotting agencies claim. In fact during WWII gas rationing days, many people used these techniques to increase their MPGs. The trend died off as cars became more efficient and gas more plentiful and resurfaced during the Eisenhower days. Shell even held its first Eco-Marathon (formerly known as the Mileage Marathon) in 1939 in search of vehicles that offered the most MPGs.

In recent years, the term hypermiling was coined and forward-thinking environmentalists implemented the practice to increase their MPGs and decrease their carbon footprint. A typical hypermiler uses the steps listed here to increase their MPGs. And, like all things in life, there are those who do it to the extreme. In researching this topic, I found people who drive with one shoe off to better feel the accelerator pressure, examples of people stripping their entire car interior to reduce weight and suggestions for how best to reduce drag behind an 18-wheeler (i.e. tailgating).

My colleague claims he’s doing it for financial reasons, but I think he’s a little smug about the environmental effects as well. Either way, he uses less gas and saves $8 a week using his new hypermiling techniques. Hypermiling’s basic principles seem easy enough for anyone to adopt whether it’s for the earth or their wallet. I just hope those who jump on the hypermiling bandwagon don’t jump offif gas prices decrease.