One couple is proving time and time again how fuel efficiency has just as much to do with the person behind the wheel as the technology under the hood.
With just a full tank of gas, John and Helen Taylor of Australia was able to rack up a world record 1,626 miles, driving from Houston, Texas to Sterling, Virginia. After all was said and done, the trip took three days and traversed through nine states at an average rate of 84.1 miles per gallon, which translates to a cost of a mere 4.65 cents per mile. The previous record was 1526.6 miles, achieved with a VW Passat 1.6 BlueMotion(R) diesel in Europe.
The couple accomplished the feat using an unmodified 2012 4 cylinder, 2.0 liter Volkswagen Passat Clean Diesel with six speed manual transmission. On paper, the car has an official city driving fuel efficiency rating of 43 mpg.
"We're excited to have broken the record for the longest distance driven on one-tank of fuel," said John Taylor. "The Passat TDI was the perfect car for the trip. It offers plenty of interior and cargo space, yet is frugal enough to help us achieve this record."
Still, those who are familiar with the Taylors aren't the least bit surprised. Since 1982, they've set over 40 fuel efficiency records, earning them the title of world's most fuel efficient couple. In an interview with the Chattanooga Times Free Press, they shared some of their hypermiling techniques that enabled them to travel across half of the country without having to refuel:
They said they carefully planned the route, traveling from Houston to Jacksonville, Fla., and then to Virginia using interstate highways over three days. They tried to keep the car in sixth gear when possible.
Also, they said they drove about 5 miles per hour below the speed limit in the Passat TDI featuring a 2.0-liter four cylinder engine running on ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel.
“We’d sit on 60,” John Taylor said. “Reducing speed saved 23 percent in fuel.”
They also said they kept the car’s tire pressure at the proper mark, drove smoothly and consistently and idled as little as possible. They only used air conditioning on two occasions.
The couple added that they carried 120 pounds of luggage and drove during the daylight hours and didn’t travel more than 14 hours a day.
While all of this is obviously boast-worthy press material for Volkswagon, it also speaks to the importance of responsible driving. So often we put the impetus for solutions on engineers, CEOs and other conjurers of high tech solutions. Although much of that is a work-in-progress, innovation can sometimes start with changing the things we do and doing it better.
The latest fuel efficiency breakthroughs:
- Breakthrough could lead to 732-mile electric car battery
- Is this 400-mile electric car battery for real?
- New engine radically improves fuel economy, cuts emissions
- Gas-powered diesel engine may double fuel efficiency
- New 9-speed auto transmission is a real gas saver
- ‘Supertruck’ big rig design doubles fuel efficiency
Smart solutions for rising gas prices: