September 2nd, 2009

The 100 MPG Challenge Revisited - Who are the Champions of Fuel Economy anyway? Part One

Posted by NRG SVR in 100 MPG Challenge, Fuel Economy

By Keith Hebert, Fuel Efficiency Analyst

Send Keith an e-mail. To order a Scangauge, visit here.

Hopefully you are wondering by now, if you have read any of my latest articles, just who are the champions of fuel economy anyway? With all the hypermiling drivers getting 100 mpg or better, who has achieved the highest? Maybe you’re thinking there must be some Guinness Worlds Record holder(s)? Or perhaps you’d like to know who has made a lasting contribution to the world of fuel economy?

In the five years that I’ve been closely following fuel economy trends in both the passenger vehicle and class 8 highway tractor truck market, I’ve come across nearly everything you can imagine. Including a whole lot of hype for products and concepts that clearly don’t help you get better gas mileage. On the other hand, I’ve also seen what works in person, come across hundreds of websites, and read about as much on fuel efficiency as one can. As a Fuel Efficiency Analyst for two different trucking companies (each with 200+ vehicles), I’ve been able to take a mere curiousity to the next level, and make a difference on a massive scale. I estimate the fuel savings as a result of programs I’ve implemented have resulted in savings of 2,500,000 litres or 660,000 US gallons, annually. That’s close to 7,000 tonnes of Co2, never mind a lot of money.

And with that, here is Part One of my own list of ‘Fuel Economy Champions’.

1. Helen and John Taylor

Helen and John first came across my monitor in 2006 during their Around The World in 78 Days’ record setting journey. They are in fact, holders of 82 driving records of one kind or another, including many Guinness Records. Here’s an excerpt from their fuel academy website:

Adventure. Insanity. Challenge? What inspires two people to drive 30,000 kilometres (18, 000 miles) around the world, through the harshest of extremes, with minimal air conditioning or heating, using less than 40 tanks of fuel? And why would we support it? The simple answer is that John and Helen Taylor, and Shell share a passion for fuel economy. And together we’ve taken economical driving to a new level and set a new Guinness World Record for the lowest round the world fuel consumption.

2. Advanced Technology Vehicle Program (Transport Canada)

I know I just finished asking in a previous article ‘what has the government done for us lately?’, but the story of how the diesel smart car came to Canada is truly fascinating. It was actually Transport Canada staff who had been testing several smarts acquired in Europe, who ended up convincing Mercedes-Benz Canada to bring the car over. The ATVP Program had been showcasing their european vehicle fleet at autoshows across Canada, and staff could tell there was a built in market just chomping at the bit to get behind the wheel of a frugal sipper. This from the former ATVP website:

The Advanced Technology Vehicles Program (ATVP) has been in operation since June 2001. The goal of the ATVP is to support Transport Canada’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation sources and achieve a transportation system for Canada that is sustainable. The program is aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from on-road vehicles by:

* evaluating the fuel efficiency, emissions and safety performance of advanced technology vehicles;
* identifying opportunities and market potential for the introduction and use of advanced technology vehicles;
* identifying barriers to the introduction and use of advanced technology vehicles and recommending remedies;
* raising public awareness of advanced technology vehicles; and
* supporting Transport Canada’s environmental programs.

I had a chance to visit the ATVP program and drive some of their vehicles back in September 2005 during my own hypermiling across Canada journey. Thanks again to Brian Bond and John Neufeld.

The program has now been renamed and has a new website ecoTECHNOLOGY for Vehicles. Although their website is a bit clunky to navigate, you can read their Summer 2009 eTV Newsletter for more information.

3. Darin Cosgrove,

The tagline on Darin’s website is ‘fuel efficiency geekery’. No doubts about that. That said, Darin is the most thorough backyard fuel efficiency technician I know of.

His website contains a plethora of information on vehicle modifications and test protocol, and although originally geared towards owners of the Geo Metro / Suzuki Swift / Pontiac Firefly cousins of the late 90’s, the site has actually grown, and continues to grow in applicability. Everytime I go there, something new is found. Who knew there was a ecomodder in 1930? Speaking of which, Darin’s other website is a great resource with discussion forums for those who wish to delve into the world of replacing the highest gear in your manual transmission or taping cardboard on your honda Civic to reduce it’s wind drag.

In all seriousness though, Darin has so much material to share, you really should just go and visit. And he’s a fuel economy champion to me personally, because he introduced me to the ScanGauge fuel economy computer back in 2006 not too long after it hit the market.

Part Two to follow later this week.

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