One thing that can put people off buying a hybrid car is the sometimes low MPG figures obtained by road testers.
However, with just a few easy to apply techniques it is possible to see a great improvement without affecting journey times by a significant amount or holding people up.
Indeed, when I first hired a hybrid car I achieved 51mpg but using these easy tips I was able to increase this to nearly 77mpg(vs. the 80.7mpg ‘official’ figure):
1) Correct tyre pressures
Making sure that the tyres are at the recommended pressures is important. It is also sometimes possible to use a recommended eco tyre pressure setting to gain another increase, although this can come with a reduction in ride quality so I prefer to stick to the standard pressure recommendation.
2) Gentle electric eco acceleration
Hybrids have an eco power gauge – using the first half of the eco band when possible results in making good use of the battery and motor.
3) Efficient cruising speeds
In the UK the maximum speed limit is 70mph, whereas in parts of Europe theirs is around 80mph.
Rough data shows the difference in MPG you can obtain from different cruising speeds:
70mph – 60mpg
(80mph where allowed – 50mpg)
Therefore nearer to 60mph rather than 70mph produces the best results, even where you are allowed to go faster – as long as you aren’t holding up traffic. The difference in journey times from a 10mph speed change is often measured in just a few minutes.
4) The length of journeys
Starting from cold and bringing the engine up to temperature uses a lot of fuel. Therefore short journeys will be less efficient. The longer the journey the better the overall mpg will be, so if you can combine several short trips into one longer trip it will increase the results.
5) Putting the petrol engine to work (Pulsing)
If you go above the first half of the eco band the engine will start – engines are more efficient when they are working so increasing the acceleration when that happens (if safe to do so) to the top of the eco band means that the engine will be running more efficiently.
If you see that you will have to stop ahead then lift your foot off the accelerator to begin the slowing down in advance rather than initially using the brakes. Although energy is recovered from braking, some will be lost in the conversion process. The petrol engine will shut down giving you free travel. This also leads on to my last tip:
7) ‘Stealth mode’
Many hybrids can run on electric power up to 30/40mph – you can take advantage of this when you are cruising by lifting your foot off the accelerator and then very gently reapplying it. That way you remain on the electric motor rather than having the petrol engine run at a low work level.
When running in ‘stealth mode’ on the electric motor and also at low speeds you do need to be aware that you will be much quieter than a normal car, so should watch out for pedestrians and animals who may not have heard you.
Disclaimer – as always, safety is the number one priority above economy. You can access the highway code online here.