Sunday, October 30, 2011

Fill-up, Sunday, October 30, 2011

499.5 miles
7.924 gallons

63.04 mpg
3.73 L/100km

Wentworth's complete fueling history

Nothing exciting to report. Getting very difficult to control mileage with weather getting cold and highway driving...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fill-up, Sunday, October 16, 2011

499.8 miles
8.612 gallons

58.04 mpg
4.05 L/100km

Wentworth's complete fueling history

It was a low tank, with the MFD reading around 63 of 64 mpg, but I was really surprised by the very low calculated result of 58 mpg for the tank, which I haven't seen in regular (i.e. not a roadtrip) driving since last February in the freezing weather. This was a tank of 60°F weather! wasn't altogether accurate, as the bladder somehow filled A LOT, and then some, with some fuel spilling out at the end. We'll stick with the official numbers anyway, good motivator to do better next tank!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Fill-up, Monday, October 3, 2011

494.2 miles
7.73 gallons

63.93 mpg
3.68 L/100km

Wentworth's complete fueling history

Colder weather, shorter trips...

Had a killer 20-mile ride I was excited about somewhere in the tank, looked like this:

Yeah, yeah, it's net downhill :-) Still, on the way there I can get 60 mpg on the uphill, so not bad overall.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Fill-up, Wednesday, September 21, 2011

500.8 miles
7.502 gallons

66.76 mpg
3.52 L/100km

Wentworth's complete fueling history

I have pictures of the tank sitting on my camera, but I've just moved and apparently haven't taken the USB cord with me (EDIT: they're here now!). They'll be edited in soon. Interestingly, the Prius MFD actually read 66.8 mpg, which is exactly what I got. First time for everything!

Mid tank, looking good.

End of the tank, little down.

My new life (read: new location and thus commutes) is full of short, mileage killing trips. The tank started out nicely up in the low 70s and slowly declined to 66.8 mpg as I did short trips between clients' houses and cold starts just to go the grocery store. I participate in a food co-op, so multiple people have jobs to do. I can't just go when the car is warmed up and most efficient, I have to wait for a time to open up with someone else's schedule.

I also have a new trip of about 30 miles or so which will happen roughly twice per tank, of 60+ mph speeds over very hilly terrain. After that part of the trip there is some pulse and glide, but the two times I've done it so far I've gotten 60 mpg and 57 mpg, so it's a huge drain on gas.

I'm certainly not complaining. A commercially available vehicle netting 67 mpg in less than ideal fuel economy conditions? Sounds pretty good to me :-) I just need to mentally deal with the fact that 70 mpg is very unlikely to happen these days with the new commutes. First day of autumn today, too, and those lower temps are eating away a little at every trip's mpg...

Friday, September 16, 2011

Seasons are a-changing

First autumnal evening in the high 50°Fs tonight, and an immediate and obvious shift in the opening mileage of my trip, with the magic 157°F mark reached slowly and deliberately over a lengthier distance than the summery usual. Achieved around 66 mpg on a trip where I would get around 70 mpg. Small, but a sign of the seasonal drop to come.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Things I don't like about my Prius

Well, I've owned a 2007 model year for 9 months, here we go:

Actual problems
-Poor visibility when looking over your shoulder on the driver's side.

Kinda sorta problems
-Gas bladder is a pain, but it was rectified in newer model years. It doesn't actually affect anything important, it's more a "first world problem".

Hypermiling problems that would not affect normal people
-Very touchy traction control. Again, mostly irrelevant to actual operation, but when hypermiling it's annoying to lose so much regen just from going over a teeny bump in the road and having the car switch almost entirely to hydraulic braking.
-10 seconds of idling under 6 mph needed to switch to full hybrid operation. Probably the worst from a hypermiling standpoint. This has been fixed on the newer models.

I'll update this, but that's all I can think of.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Fill-up, Thursday, September 8, 2011

520.0 miles
7.748 gallons

67.11 mpg
3.50 L/100km

Wentworth's complete fueling history

Surprisingly I got over 67 mpg. I say surprisingly, since I thought the last fill-up was partial, but even if it was, it looks like the summer blend or something is boosting my mileage nicely, since for a couple fill-ups now the actual numbers have been high relative to the Prius display.

This tank also includes some new trips which will become habitual for me, including a weekly several mile jaunt which will probably get me 30 mpg each way (ouch). I have a new 20 mile trip over which I only managed 57 mpg, and that was in warm weather! No way to hypermile around hills other than to find an alternate route, so I'll work on that for this week.

Pictures may or may not be coming, computer was on the fritz, may have lost the data for some time...

Monday, August 29, 2011

The results are in...

Summer Road Trippin' in August

2,539.8 miles
42.785 gallons of 87 octane gas
59.4 mpg

$152.41 was spent on all this travel, which included leaving Vermont, passing through Boston and Rhode Island, then NYC for an evening, DC for a weekend, continuing through Virginia down through Knoxville to Nashville, where I hung out for a week, and then the 1100 mile trek back by way of Ohio and Pennsylvania.

I will say that the number of gallons seems off to me by about 0.7 gallons, since I had what was likely a partial fill-up today due to the Prius bladder. Even with that extra 0.7 gallons added in, I'd be at 58.4 actual mpg for the entire, mountainous, hilly, highway trip. Maybe next time I'll get 60...

Some of the more memorable pics, using mostly the Prius display, so numbers below are inflated by an mpg or so:

To DC from New York, 66.8 mpg over 240 miles

Frustrating start to the day in Pennsylvania driving home. Mountains, hills, decrepit panel pavement, winds - my least favorite place to drive. During the entire trip there were plenty of mountains (or at least huge hills) to navigate, taking down entire tanks of gas by several mpgs over just a fraction of the total driving time. The worst was when I arrived at the pump with 57.0 mpg on the display!

After the last fill-up during the trip, I headed to a rest stop in New Jersey right across from NYC (I felt the earthquake!). I was so tired of driving, but even more tired of getting poor mileage through Pennsylvania, so after a little fast food fill-up for myself, I headed home for the final 190 miles or so, completely focused on hypermiling the rest of the way. I was mostly between 55 and 60 mph, sometimes speeding up, sometimes slowing down, depending on traffic. The tank started progressing upwards.

A little more...

And home.

You read that correctly...67.0 mpg for the last 190 miles or so from NYC. A couple things about that. While I did "cheat" and do the last 35 miles on roads that I knew (read: slower, hypermiling), some of those were still 50 mph roads. Secondly, when getting off the highway onto said slower roads, I was already over 65 mpg on the Scangauge. And finally, the Scangauge underestimates quite a bit. We could conservatively say it's really 68-69 mpg for the last 190 miles, most of that highway travel. Thrilled :-)

While it was awesome to see friends and family (especially old friends!), I'll be happy to avoid those long, all-day drives. Also can't wait to get back to getting some good mileage, and the challenge of finding fuel efficient routes from my new place of residence this coming year!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

NYC to DC on the highway, 66.8 mpg

Well, I'm sort of on vacation and had been busy with work...but sometime later I'll have to do an updated highway driving post. Tons of other people have gotten it before me (namely Hobbit), but finally finding it on your own and being able to implement is pretty cool.

66.8 mpg (so about 66 in real life) over 240 miles from NYC to DC

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Fill-up, Wednesday, July 13, 2011

about 484.0 miles
about 7.562 gallons
unknown $/gallon

about 64.00 mpg
about 3.68 L/100km

Wentworth's complete fueling history

A friend borrowed my car for a romantic dinner with his lady friend, and when he returned, he had oh-so kindly filled up the tank for me (I'll have to buy him a drink or something...), so without the receipt I'm estimating mpg based on Scangauge (62.8 mpg) and Wentworth (65.0 mpg). Close enough, probably off by a couple hundredths of a gallon at most.

Nice figures considering all the mountainous driving I did since getting here. Roundtrip to Burlington one day got me only 56-57 mpg or so. Other days had some low 50s when I was trying to test some things related to regenerative braking up and down hills, and I know when my friend drove it they got 45 mpg for the 32 mile roundtrip. It continues to impress me, here because the car can get 45 mpg in Vermont when driven normally.

I believe one pip was down already, possible it was a bladder-instigated partial fill, we'll find out if the next tank (in August!) is lower than expected.

(Note to self, subtract 17.1 miles from next tank)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The most Prii per capita - Vermont :-)

It just so happens I'm in Vermont for the summer for work, and it just so happens I see a Prius anytime I'm within a stone's throw of any street at all. What typically happens at this point is that I attempt to conceal a hybrid squeal/cry of delight.

For every 159 Vermonters, there exists one Prius in this state, the highest per capita concentration of Prii in the country. Heavenly.

Three Prii - none of which are even mine!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Drive through the mountains to Vermont

Got the car all packed, left just a little past 5 in the morning. Had a huge bag, my bike, a fan, a lamp, loose clothes on hangers, a bag of shoes, another bag of stuff, my computer, my work bag, and other shtuff. I wish car reviewers would stop calling the Prius a compact :-)

Now the trip. Oh là là.

Everything was going smoothly. MPG starting out was a little lower than usual with all the extra weight in the car, but I was hanging right around 70 mpg for the first couple hours. Roads were also wet in some places creating some unwanted friction, and I did get some rain, but not nearly as much as I thought, which was great. Pulse and glide, pulse and glide.

A big percentage of the trip was at 50-55 mph. Surprisingly, even with mountains, this returned very nice results. Holding steady on somewhat flat or rolling parts of the mountains (ignition timing 13/14, throttle position 17/18) at 55 mph would show an incredible 80-90 mpg instant when battery was around 61% state of charge. The technology is really just staggering when you sit back for a second and think about it.

There were some very steep and high RPM mountain climbs, but everything seemed to sort of even out. My Scangauge mpg had fluctuated some, but was back between 68 and 69 about 150 miles into the trip. I really thought Andy was gonna win the Facebook contest for guessing my mileage (he guessed 67 mpg).

And then disaster (was that dramatic enough?). On Route 103, the Vermont DOT had closed various bridges, completely blocking the entire route - WITHOUT PUTTING UP ANY WARNINGS OR DETOUR SIGNS. You can guess I was swearing profusely as I had to throw away all my momentum, turn around through a little neighborhood, and drive back the other way. Keep in mind this was on a 50 mph road, so it's not like I could just pulse and glide for 100 mpg the whole time.

I then had to stop and ask directions, and luckily the locals knew of the crazy backroads to get around it. Problem solved...

...or not really. I had to spend three miles on a dirt road for the detour. Since it was wet outside, it was really a mud road. In just three out of the 150 miles I had travelled so far, my mileage dropped 6%. There was no traction and the engine really had to work to push the car along. Gliding was almost useless since the mud would slow the car 5-10 mph in mere seconds.

Muddy Wentworth


Anyway, I was able to get a little bit back over the rest of the trip, but I was quite (and later downgraded from quite to a little) ticked that Vermont DOT's lack of consideration (or competence?) caused me to drive about 22 miles extra, wasting a third of a gallon of fuel.

End result:

65.7 mpg over 245.5 miles. In reality this would be around 67 mpg or so. Tank down to about 68 or 69 mpg from 74 the other day.

In other news, to clean up, Wentworth just had his first carwash, and looks sparklin' clean right now. Here's the before:

I was told the construction blocking route 103 would be complete by the time I come home. I wonder if 70 mpg is possible back through the mountains...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mid-tank checkup, 75 mpg

No more driving (I think!) until the big 223 mile trip on Thursday. There will be lots of 50 and 55 zones, even though I'm avoiding highways, so methinks these numbers will not stay, but let's post them here for comparison after the trip:

75 mpg displayed over 108 miles

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fill-up, Sunday, June 19, 2011

511.4 miles
7.392 gallons

69.18 mpg
3.40 L/100km

Wentworth's complete fueling history

June 2011 average officially at 70.00 mpg! OK, 69.995... :-)

I filled up at the same BP station. MFD read 70.5, actual was only 1.8% off at 69.2 mpg, so I'll continue to fill up with this magic gas that nearly eliminates the overestimation of the computer. Scangauge said 67.2 for the tank. I'll keep it down there, actually, I prefer to have conservative readings to keep me motivated.

Of course, in my writing down of figures from different devices, resetting trip meters and consumption displays, texting Fuelly to get instant mpg, I forgot (again!) to take a goshdarn picture.

So as soon as I remembered, I caught one of the gas station to work. This was my tank mpg this morning over...a whopping 2 miles :-)

I did actually take a picture a couple days back (just remembered it) cause I finally got the MFD back up to 70 and wanted to record that magic moment.

I sadly had to put 70 miles on the new tank today, and some more coming this week, but then just 230-240 miles to my summer job where I stay fairly automotively stationary, so I likely won't fill up until July or August. New one sitting at 75 mpg on the display, but we'll see how the mountains of Vermont affect that number.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

With Wentworth and the Wind Turbine

Wentworth seeks out like-minded machines.

Friday, June 10, 2011

64.5 mpg + 105 mpg = 80 mpg roundtrip

I had to do a devilishly short trip of about 6.5 miles for Chinese food (don't ask) that typically involves driving uphill on the highway. Ordinarily you'd get in the mid 40 mpgs even with careful driving. Luckily my engine was warm, I got into S4 within maybe 20-30 seconds of the engine turning on. I was in no rush, so I took the little backroads to cut down on highway driving, and only had to take it a little ways. Primarily uphill, but managed 64.5 mpg on the way there over about 6.5 miles.

But, oh, the way back...

105 mpg over about 6.7 miles of net downhill. I was at 120-130 mpg most of the time near the end, but had to get back up some hills to get home.

80 mpg or so roundtrip.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Fill-up, Sunday, June 5, 2011

Holy crap.

523.9 miles
7.399 gallons

70.81 mpg
3.32 L/100km

Wentworth's complete fueling history

I think this pretty much puts to rest claims of any other sort of car matching hybrid mileage, but I digress... :-)

I paid $28.85 to drive 524 miles. Insane!

The weather was getting warmer, and I specifically went for a record tank. I almost would have thought it's a bladder fluke, but for several reasons:

1. The last couple tanks I modified pulse and glide style, and all of them have shown much better results.

2. The average of my last three tanks is now standing right at 68 mpg hand-calculated, and 70 mpg fits right in there.

3. I've now calibrated Scangauge hopefully once and for all around the numbers for the last several tanks (I didn't reset it the entire time), so I was expecting numbers slightly higher than what I'd been seeing. I estimated around 68 for tank on the "low" numbers, so 70 again is quite realistic.

4. I did have some awesome longer drives (to and from Boston, seen here and here), so that brought up the mpgs some, but also some short trips that averaged those nice figures down a little. May not be reproduceable in my normal commute, we'll see.

What this means for me is that I'll continue to pulse somewhat gradually, dealing almost exclusively with terrain instead of RPMs, kW, whatever. I aim for the speed I want at the top of the hill, that's it. I use RPM sometime for accelerations from low to higher speeds, that's it. Longer pulse means better battery charging, and I watch SOC to make sure it's not too low, and it makes a good difference. Besides that, the cool thing is that I barely need the Scangauge for my driving. 71 mpg just driving. I actually use the engine much more these days than a few months back, and also feel myself more with the flow of traffic.

Of course, when no one else is on the road, I pull out the crazy hypermiling.

Second big conclusion is that I now am a fan of BP Invigorate gas. Whether it's really something special or just the summer gas mix is in effect I don't know, but it's irrelevant. I've been filling up at a BP station and getting this mileage, so that's going to continue. I filled up at a different BP station than normal today to compare to my usual one.

EDIT: I hadn't reset my mileage consumption screen in three tanks. It showed 68.8 mpg I believe (had a camera in the glovebox for the occasion, forgot to take picture amid all the math I was doing at the pump) over the 1500 or so miles, and actual calculated was 67.98 mpg. This is scarily accurate, I believe the quality of the gas has something to do with it, since Tom explained very nicely on PriusChat how computer mileage calculations would be exactly the same even if you threw water in your tank.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Killer mileage

41.1 miles, mostly pulse and glide, Scangauge very conservative. MFD would read around 86 for this result. I got redirected twice cause of Memorial Day celebrations, hard to believe it would have been higher without the slowing and accelerating for low-speed detours.

In case you're wondering, the Prius display is showing the average over the last three tanks, doesn't reflect the craziness that is the current tank.

One of the main things I did, just like the previous day to Boston, was to have relatively long, gentle accelerations that would go with the terrain. This would allow me to keep the state of charge as high as possible (I basically had 6 blue bars all the time, would try not to dip below 58% SOC). This might mean the engine is on longer, but if you can go up a gentle uphill at 30 mph getting 40-50 mpg and simultaneously charging the battery, I don't see how it can be beat from a daily driving, practical standpoint.

Interesting thing about that - now that I'm "trained" with a Scangauge, I frankly don't need it once I'm in stage 4. Everything I did today could be done without it. I will keep it, however, to know when the coolant reaches that magic 157°F :-)


Boston and back. It was a long but rewarding trip. I was coming from work, even farther from the city than home, so I drove about 77 miles, almost all on back roads. I took the highway for a small portion where I knew the speeds were quite slow around Providence, so I could go 50 mph safely in the right lane.

The start, averaged about 75 before getting on the highway:

I knew I'd lose a little, but 9 miles at 50 mph versus 25 mph would be a nice little chunk of saved time. I only got down to 71.8 mpg or so after that stretch, and quickly bounced back up near 75. But then the streetlights came - lots of red ones. See the couple bars on the left? There were more like them:

Somehow bounced back to 74 for the trip - helps that the last bit of Washington Street/South Street is downhill, I could make sure the SOC was decent enough (actually was in 60s at end, even with all the pulsing and gliding!) for the final crawl up Huntington.

Wentworth had a good view of the city all day.

Hanging out.

Awesome day of hanging out and eating Ethiopian food with my sister and some friends. Wish I had more than a cell phone cam for stuff like this, but check out the sailboat in the Christian Science Center reflecting pool.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hybrid as a sound investment

So I've had Wentworth for a solid six months, and financially, I could not be happier. The car is actually worth more by several thousand dollars than when I purchased it thanks to rising gas prices, even though I've driven it 7,000 miles. Everything's running smoothly, no costs in terms of repairs, and about $20 spent on changing the oil myself. Now here's the really cool part:

I've saved $857 in the last six months on gas alone. Check out the spreadsheet (edit: note that as of publishing I had saved $857. This spreadsheet will automatically update to provide the most recent figures).

There's a notable increase in gas savings the higher the cost of a gallon of gas, check it out in the last three months of the spreadsheet when prices skyrocketed.

And this is where I'd like to address a classic hybrid concern...

"But Mike, your battery is old technology, and will last a couple years at most. I hear it costs $5000 to replace, so your savings mean nothing."

This is adorable and all, the problem is that you might've heard that on TV somewhere by a talking head, and it is wholly untrue. Naturally, the fear of high costs and pricey repairs stick well with the public, but in reality, if it even does ever fail, the Prius hybrid battery typically lasts north of 150,000 miles. Recent failures I've read about on PriusChat have been closer to 200k miles, and a Vancouver taxi reported replacing theirs at 300,000 miles. So driving 15,000 miles a year, I'm really not concerned about a possible repair seven or eight years from now.

Even if there is early failure, reported prices at PriusChat for a refurbished battery shipped and installed come in under $2000. With literally millions of Prii on the road today as hybrids settle more into the mainstream, this price has nowhere to go but down. If this happens at 200k miles, you're paying a penny a mile. Hardly a concern, especially given I'll save that much in gas money after about 14 months of ownership.

Stop worrying about the battery, everyone - remember, your single biggest cost when owning a vehicle is gas, pure and simple. If you keep a vehicle for a reasonable life, it's quite possible you'll pay more in gas than what you paid for the car over that period of time.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Fill-up, Tuesday, May 25, 2011

Last week's partial fill-up:

493.6 miles
7.000 gallons

Plus this weeks fill-up:

511.7 miles
8.095 gallons

Equal the total:

1,005.3 miles
15.095 gallons

66.60 mpg
3.53 L/100km

Wentworth's complete fueling history

I can't believe these numbers. I want to say it's just the bladder, but if it is, my gas tank is getting smaller by a gallon a week. I did very conservatively adjust the Scangauge so that the numbers I see are likely just below the real mileage, but this seems like too much.

Then again, I did just implement some new pulsing and gliding the last week or so, and I've been getting mileage 5-10% better than usual as a result.

I also have been filling up at a BP pump, the gas that comes with BP's Invigorate additive. Supposedly more energy content to the fuel.

Maybe it's possible. Maybe it's not. In any case, I do hope the numbers are accurate, since I'm going for a record this coming tank (already at 65 mpg after a day of driving, including a short trip), and would love a precise record of it if all goes well.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

There's no right way to drive the thing - trip record to work

68.3 real mpg at the least from the Scangauge (this would read about 72.7 mpg on my Prius' display) over about 27 miles.

I am insanely ecstatic at this result. This route, even with warm temperatures in the past few months, always presented me with mileage challenges I couldn't quite meet. It would be common to see 60 mpg on the display, if I even got that high. High 50s were commonplace and a struggle. Hills galore, and most of it over the threshold for a Prius glide - the engine runs most of the time on this route.

The "discovery", or rather what others have known for a long time but which can only be found out through personal experimentation, is that there's no "correct" way to do it all. There's no one highway technique, and there's no one RPM or kilowatt setting at which you accelerate. I used Super Highway Mode and Warp Stealth, hard accelerations and light accelerations, no EV and some EV, all depending where I felt it was needed.

In some cases I accelerated much more lightly during pulse and glide. I've always *guessed* (though can't prove - anyone??) that turning the engine on and jumping directly to a good burn at 1600-1800 RPM can waste some energy. You know, when you hit the gas and you see instant numbers in the teens, then twenties, maybe if you're lucky 30 mpg by the end? At the beginning you just hear the engine rev on and get no torque - just seems like gas blasted into nowhere. So today I would turn it on gently, and aim for, let's say, 30 mpg (light engine, in other words) for the length of two telephone poles, and then try to glide for at least 6 more, for segment mileage of 120 mpg. The result was that my first 20 minutes looked like this one from the other day, even though today I was driving in rush hour, and the picture you just saw was from empty roads on a Sunday morning.

This also counteracts the nasty habit of hard accelerations in pulse and glide to slowly drain the battery (longer glide time = more battery use), until your accelerations are wasted giving 15 or even 20 amps to the battery. Higher state of charge, better mileage - what's next, free apple pie for Prius owners? :-)
EDIT from the next day:

Another awesome run on a totally different trip using same ideas. I've never done anything like this. 75.8 mpg over 20 miles, which would have read over 80 on the display!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Fill-up, Tuesday, May 17, 2011

493.6 miles
7.000 gallons *partial fill-up*

Wentworth's complete fueling history

The gas station was closing. I don't think it was the fuel bladder for once, I think the guy inside cut me off at exactly seven gallons - I had under one gallon to go, and also several minutes until they were supposed to close. Now it will be another two weeks before I find out my actual mileage. It's nice getting good mpgs, but I never need to get to a gas station.

Trip A showed 493.2 miles with two of the ten pips left (plus the 0.4 miles before I remembered to reset the trip odometer from the last fill-up, for 493.6 total miles), but I went for the cheap gas day. Plus I have to drive a cat to Boston tomorrow and needed to be sure I could last 130 miles or so. Long story :-)

MFD shows 66.5 mpg over 493 miles for the tank, thus my estimates of about 62-63 mpg. Earlier in the day it had been up to 66.9 mpg for the tank, but coldish temps (high 40s°F) and some downpours/wet roads quickly put a damper on it finishing up. Wentworth was surprisingly of little help - I had to stop the car once on the drive home and restart since Wentworth was doing his temperamental coolant thermos filling or some such nonsense - I was in stage 4 but could not get the engine to shut off for a glide. Thus the 75 mpg bar below for the first five minutes - the engine was already warmed up. The others, you can see, are rather mediocre in that weather. This is what that route can look like, even in cold weather.

And this is what it looked like today...


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Love thy parking lot

This is Wentworth parked today, right next to the exit of the parking lot.

Here is everyone else, close to the building, but nowhere near the exit.

I know, I know. This looks like some extreme nutbag case of getting your money's worth for every last drop of gas in the tank. In a small parking lot, well, yeah, that's true :-D. In a large lot like this, if you're interested in upping your mileage, the lesson is to always park facing out right near the exit. Always. No exceptions. Unless everyone starts doing this, in which case I'll have to retract my position so I can get the good parking spaces :-)

You're basically getting around 0 mpg as you wallow around in traffic right near the startup. Remember, miles per gallon can't simply be averaged together. If you get 5 mpg for the first minute as you idle, check your phone, turn on the radio, then slowly progress out, and then get 25 mpg for the next minute when you're driving at speed, you can't say you've gotten 15 mpg ([5 mpg+25 mpg]/2). Those low miles per gallon act very heavily as a weighted average. If math bores you, skip the next paragraph and just read the point below (secondarily, go buy a math book).

If you patter around at 12 mph for a minute, at, let's say, 5 mpg for 0.2 miles, you've used 0.04 gallons of gas. Let's say you manage to go another minute at 35 mph, getting 25 mpg in any number of large, shiny sedans with more horsepower than you can shake your fist at, thus covering 0.583 miles, using 0.023 gallons of gas. Altogether you've covered 0.783 miles on .063 gallons, for a whopping 12 mpg.

The lazy person rundown for scenario outlined above:

One minute at slow speeds getting out of a parking lot = 5 mpg.
One minute driving at 35 mph = 25 mpg.
Total "average" mpg = 12 mpg.

Or(!) park near the exit, get right up to that 25 mpg cruising speed. Sure, you used a little on startup, so let's knock you down to 20 mpg. You can see, though, that you'd be off on your trip already with 66% better mileage (20 mpg versus 12 mpg) when compared to the standard close parker. Gas prices are, incidentally, interested in these sorts of percentages, and will reward you for thinking about them ahead of time.

And that's why you always park at the exit of a parking lot.

P.S. Love this sort of stair stepper action! Bar on far left was accelerating up to highway speeds, yet still above 50 mpg over those five minutes. Next from left is highway, as is the next 75 mpg bar. After that lower speeds for better hypermiling in traffic. Tank is looking good, 66.7 mpg display over 396 miles. Should be low 60s in reality.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Special place in hell reserved for hills

Four guesses where the hill is located on this chart.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Fill-up, Tuesday, May 3, 2011

478.0 miles
7.687 gallons

62.18 mpg
3.78 L/100km

Wentworth's complete fueling history

A quite disappointing tank by a couple mpg, was thinking it would easily be 63 or 64 (MFD read 66.2 MPG for 478 miles). Had to re-calibrate the Scangauge down a bit more, probably the bladder playing tricks again.

Somedays you just want to move somewhere where it's flat. Yes, Rhode Island has a surprising number of hills in certain spots. In most spots it's relatively flat, but how do you think we get anywhere? We take bridges over water. Steep, steep, bridges.

I'd like to illustrate a little terrain lesson. There are hundreds (thousands?) of people who ask at PriusChat: why do I only get 45 mpg?


Besides the 10,000 variables (that's an approximate figure) that could play into it, terrain is enormous. Three days a week I get 25 mpg over the first 2 miles of my commute going up a big hill while the car's not yet warmed up. To do that, I use:

0.08 gallons of gas

I then can usually get over 100 mpg for the next 6.4 miles (I know these figures cause it's the distance to my Toyota dealer!). Once I calculated 136 miles per gallon on this segment when I got all green lights! It's wonderful for gliding after you get up that first hill. 6.4 miles divided by 136 mpg =

0.044 gallons of gas

Together, that's 8.4 miles on 0.124 gallons of gas, or 68 mpg or so.

Let's pretend I could get 50 mpg on the first two miles, say if that large hill weren't there and I could hypermile somehow. That would be 0.04 gallons of gas, plus the above second segment of 0.044 gallons of gas, for a total of 8.4 miles travelled on 0.084 gallons. The numbers are purely coincidental, but you can see that's precisely 100 mpg. If I had flat terrain the first two miles, I would get 100 mpg to my dealer.

But I don't get 100 mpg. I'm a 60 mpg driver, and that's still a good thing. And maybe you're a 50 mpg driver, or a 40 mpg driver, which is also great (average economy of new vehicles sold in 2010 was 22.2 mpg). Sometimes terrain just decides our mileage for us, and we can't do a damn thing about it - except complain on a blog :-)

Some positive notes:

This tank did see my first prolonged highway run over 60 mpg, and I had a whole bunch of nice trips above 70 mpg.

It looks like I'll likely stay in the low 60 mpgs for some time given my current commutes. Next year will be interesting, I'll be living elsewhere and will have a different commute altogether. Time will tell if the new terrain will be kind or not...

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Highway Hijinks

62.5 mpg over 50.5 miles

This car does not cease to amaze.

After driving with Hobbit that one day on the highway, I had a much better idea of what was going with his sweet spot posts. My way home that day was mildly successful, netting me probably around 56 real mpg with the hilly ride home.

Since then, I've been able to work the 15 kW routine into regular driving, including pulsing and gliding during my commute, for really wonderful figures, in spite of hills and stoplights run amok.

That being said, really quality (60+ mpg) figures have still eluded me on the few pure highway trips I've taken. Well, this morning I had the perfect opportunity to try again. I had gone up to a friend's last night (73.8 mpg over 37 miles, thank you Hobbit for 15 kW pulsing and gliding!), and then had to drive straight to work today, a drive of about 50 miles. Rather than go for a couple hours on the backroads, I decided to man up and just take the highway.

Before we start, please keep in mind that all figures noted in this post are from a calibrated Scangauge, and are very close to the real deal.

Starting out in temps of 48°F in a car that had sat overnight, I got to the highway after about 1.5 miles of 30 mpg warmup driving. I got right up to speed of around 65 mph, then tried the 15-18 kW acceleration trick combined with warp stealth downhill. For a good deal of time. I had really wanted to stick with it all trip, but the downhills didn't seem long enough to make up for uphill burns. Even when I was accelerating at the upper end of the high-torque sweet spot, I couldn't get to a high enough speed to justify using warp stealth by the top of each hill. I'd spend most of the time accelerating.

After 16 miles of this, my mileage was creeping up, it was in the high forties, then low fifties somewhere, but the whole thing was so much effort, especially with the terrain, and the five minute mileage bars were nothing special - all over 50 mpg easily, but not much higher than 60 if at all. I'd have to drive all day like this to get the average fuel economy up into the 60s.

Now, I should mention that I don't consider this a critique of Hobbit's style (the guy has got some!), but rather of my ability to control and use it properly. As the speed limit slowed to 55 anyway, I thought I would try Super Highway Mode.

The results were immediate. Next bar near 75 mpg, next somewhere in the 60s, and so on. Another 19 miles into the trip (about 35 miles in of the 50 total miles), the mileage figures were in the upper 50s, flirting with the 60 mpg mark.

I kept on, and finally 60 was broken, and it kept trekking higher - until the 2500 RPM hills came. The last 2.6 miles were hypermiling land, but even before I got to that, the mileage was still handily over 60 mpg.

So, the next logical question is how...

I travelled largely between 50 and 55 mph, set 50 as a floor for part, then 55 for another segment to see if it would still work (it did). At a given speed, I held 14 IGN on Scangauge, or occasionally 15 IGN if I really needed it (IGN on Scangauge shows ignition timing, by the way). If my speed floor was hit, I would accelerate back up a couple miles per hour faster (or just to the top of the hill if the terrain made that choice logical) at the most efficient accelerating output possible (so 15 to 18 kW) and then flipped right back to IGN 14.

That was it.

While at IGN 14, the mileage tends to be between 60 and 85 mpg. I had always thought you would lose excessive speed this way, but it wasn't the case. Using IGN 14 you slowly accelerate on the slightest downhill or even a flat (I got up to 60 mph a couple times without trying). At IGN 15, I accelerated more quickly than I thought on flats, and if you get to your speed floor on an uphill, it would usually only take a couple seconds of an efficient burn to get sufficiently back up to speed to use IGN 14 or 15 again. Unlike the warp stealth technique, the harder burns are not long at all, but quite short to bump you up a couple mph at the most. The result was that almost all time was spent between 60 and 80 mpg.

I rarely used warp stealth this trip, though I did some, especially in the second to last five minute mileage bar you saw in the second pic above (yes, that 100 mpg bar was at 50 mph, I just knew the terrain well at that point in the trip and could exploit it) and on longer downhills where I wouldn't lose much if any momentum. It was probably the most I've ever used the engine in a trip - I kept gas burning almost the entire time.

Some thoughts:

-I realize not everyone has a wide highway with Sunday morning traffic where they can go 50-55 mph. That being said, 55 mph is the speed limit in many places, and this would conceivably work at 60 mph, though with reduced efficiency, which would be perfectly acceptable in my area, especially in the right lane.

-If I take out my warmup of 1.5 miles at about 30 mpg (0.05 gallons) and the last 2.6 miles of hypermiling off the highway at 75 mpg (0.03466 gallons) from the 50.5 mile trip that used 0.808 gallons of fuel, I get a 46.4 mile trip using .7233 gallons of fuel, or slightly above 64 mpg for average highway cruising mpg throughout the trip - and that was with hills. Anyone driving on flat ground could definitely coax their Prius into better results.

-This was an astoundingly refreshing, stress-free way to drive. I absolutely love hypermiling, but it typically involves a corresponding hyperawareness of everything around you, both within the engine and without the car. Personally I'm constantly looking ahead and in every mirror to make sure I don't block a stream of traffic with a glide. It's always constant motion and thought. With highway driving at IGN 14, all you do is keep it at that one metric. That's it. If you want to go faster you go into familiar 15 kW territory for a several seconds, then back to normal. The speed fluctuations are very minimal, so if you're already in the right lane, you don't have many people flying up on your tail. You're just driving. Easy. Even if I could get the hang of Hobbit's technique, I think I would choose this one for the simplicity and relaxation I got out of it. I absolutely loved it.

-If you go onto the highway for 6 miles a day, don't expect to have a 60 mpg average. My average started low during the trip and worked it's way up gradually like I mentioned. This technique would work wonderfully on long road trips.

I don't think I've left anything out, it really was that simple. I was absolutely ecstatic to have beaten 60 mpg on the highway. Think about this: with the adjusted highway estimate for the 2007 Prius being 45 mpg, a result of 62.5 mpg with SHM at 14 IGN is 40% better than the EPA! Please ask any questions if you have them, and let me know if you're able to achieve good results on longer highway trips.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Trip record from URI, 72.4 mpg

This post is less for public consumption, more for me to keep track of trip records on one of my favorite routes and give myself some helpful notes for the future. Great route, so many driving challenges, fun and interesting ride.

-Outside temps mid to high 60s.
-Engine coolant started around 80 something° F, lower than previous record.
-Grill blocked for first several miles, took out at stop sign for rest of trip.
-Stage 4 later than previous record.
-69.4 mpg at end of Saug. Previous was 72.0.
-Biggest change: tried to maintain 15 kW at all accelerations even at low speeds, no babying the engine. This seems to have given me better mileage over latter half.
-Was able to be going a couple mph at tough uphill light before start, but then was stopped at the next one still uphill. Also stopped behind a school bus (kept rolling probably 10 mph) and used engine much more to pass the bus to avoid future stops. One or two more traffic light stops.
-End result 72.4 mpg on dialed down Scangauge, 71.1 mpg previous record.

EDIT: Next day, I got 72.3 mpg on same route. Remember, this is the dialed down, relatively accurate Scangauge, not the overestimating display. Thing was, I got stopped at basically every single stop light. Outside temps were actually 10°F cooler than yesterday. The change from yesterday was that I always accelerated at 15 kW, even at the start of the trip (yesterday I started trying it halfway through). Easily would have been over 75 mpg if I didn't stop and start 6 times, including the big uphill light. Ended with much higher state of charge, too. Absolutely incredible, this maximum torque thing...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Hypermiling attempt #2, 92.4 mpg over 14.9 miles

Attempt numbah two:

92.4 "real" mpg
from Scangauge

With the warmer weather and recent talk of hypermiling on PriusChat, I couldn't help but go out (even on an otherwise busy day!) for a little under an hour of fuel economy practice. With my limited time, the only place nearby was up the big hill in my town, on some back roads with low speed limits and relatively sparse traffic. The biggest problem was the route: I could only drive for about 5 minutes before coming to the end of the road, and would have to do a 180 to go the other way. There was also a stop sign in the middle. This means I had to stop every 2.5 minutes.

I didn't glean too much from this run, other than some useful ideas regarding pulsing and gliding on slight hills. I actually tend to get better mileage in the middle of one of my commutes - I can usually get over 100 mpg for fifteen minutes straight if I don't get stopped at too many lights. This run was interesting for me since I was trying to use lower speeds for a change, not more than 35 mph, sometimes lower, and also seeing what's possible while stopping so much.

While the best results on flat ground historically tend to be between about 18-20 mph on the low end and around 34-35 mph on the high end, I found slowing to 18 mph on a hill and then accelerating to be a bad idea. You're still trying to accelerate with a gas engine going at relatively high RPM but low torque with the slow speeds. This results in a longer burn time to reach the desired speed.

The simple solution is - well, there isn't one, but at least in the particular terrain I was on, I did try to go a little faster, keep momentum, and make sure I came into the hills with some speed, which I would sort "artificially" maintain with a very short pulse to not destroy momentum while cresting at the top. Using a small amount of EV while heading into the hill (not more than 10 amps, so it's less than warp stealth use) will help keep it moving a tad more than jumping straight to gas, but without a huge drain on the battery.

I don't have specific segment mpgs, but the 5 minute segments approaching the hills with more speed, air resistance be damned, easily yielded better mileage visually than the other bars.

Finishing up the stop and go section of the trip, I had about 88 mpg on the Scangauge. I tried an interesting, circuitous, and mostly downhill route home to get it up to 92 :-)

Meanwhile, still searching for an appropriate road for pulsing and gliding near my home - without stop signs or lights!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Fill-up, Friday, April 22, 2011

483.1 miles
7.910 gallons

61.07 mpg
3.85 L/100km

Wentworth's complete fueling history

Whew, first tank over $30, gas is indeed getting pricey!

This tank started out terribly, with a couple trips out of the ordinary. One roundtrip was about 14 miles at under 50 mpg (with hypermiling!), and there was an evening where I took the highway in a heavy rainstorm with constant heavy winds and 40 mph gusts. I got the lowest mileage of any "lengthy" trip ever on Wentworth that night, a nightmarish 46 mpg (nightmarish is used lightly - the worst mileage imaginable in my car is over double the mileage of the average American passenger vehicle).

I still managed over 60 mpg for the tank, which is more a testament to the slightly warmer temperatures than anything else. It means that besides the trips I listed above, I averaged around 63 mpg. I'm pretty sure I could get near 70 mpg for a normal tank in warm weather and great conditions, but I have a feeling I'm going to be much more limited than most in the attempt by the terrain of my commutes.

Maybe I should start parking at the top of the big hill near my house and walking a couple miles home? :-) Seriously, for most of the week that would make a huge difference. I've previously calculated using about 20% of all the gas in a 27 mile trip in the first 2 miles, a trip that I do at least three times a week. On that commute the other week, with the big hill at the beginning, my 5-minute mpg bars were as follows:

25 mpg, 100 mpg+, 95 mpg, 100+ mpg

Maybe just for one tank I could take drastic measures for the fun of it!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Wentworth's first oil change

As the original intention of this blog was to document my ownership in addition to my fuel economy notes, here's a rundown on Wentworth's first oil change.

It happened to be my first solo oil change(!). A friend who's building his own car and likes to do some racing showed me how to change the oil on one of his cars. That same weekend he also showed me how his car can go 0-60 in about 4 seconds, and what it's like to travel over 100 mph (which was awesome!), though of those three things the oil change seemed the only thing in common with the Prius that I could try myself.

I should mention that this thread on Priuschat was also a great resource.

Clearance is quite low on the Prius, and being difficult to get to the car's floor jack point(s), I forewent my neighbor's borrowed hydraulic jack and instead bought a pair of Rhino Ramps 8000 for about $47 total with tax, which I'll be able to use for many years. It was easy to get up on the ramps, and didn't scrape as far as I could tell.

This last pic also shows Wentworth's wonderful makeshift grill blocking. Better contains heat in the engine and allow it to warm up faster in cooler weather - for better mileage, of course!

I needed a 14mm socket for the wrench. (don't bother reading the computer screen in the background, it's just this post in the works!)

Now under the car we can see the oil drain plug (and a bunch of rust, that's for another day, though).

This thing was on tight. I believe it had only been previously changed at the dealer by the first owner, and being the skinny, opposite of brawny sort of guy I am, after struggling with it for awhile, I had this terrible feeling that after buying the filters and "crushable" washers in bulk that I'd have to go to the dealer anyway to get it changed.

My dad suggested gently hitting the end of the wratchet wrench with a hammer, or warming up the engine for two minutes, but luckily I found a slightly longer wrench before I had to try any of this. All it needed was a little more leverage, and it came off no problem.

I then saw why Hobbit suggests unloading the suspension on the driver's side for an oil change. It took forever to drip out, what seemed like much longer than when my friend showed me on his car, and would've drained much more quickly if it were tilted a little bit. Not an option with the ramps, though, so no big deal, just took longer.

Then came the filter. I had bought an oil filter wrench which conveniently attaches to a ratchet.

Oil filter and filter wrench (and Mac!).

On the ratchet.

Fits right onto the filter.

On the car, the filter's really wedged up there. Not really knowing what the hoses around it do, I just tried not to touch anything else!

At first it wasn't working too well, and there were a couple minutes of medium level panic when I thought I wouldn't get the filter off after draining the engine of all its lube (ruh-roh!), but in the end it worked out. There's no possible way that would've come off by hand - the oil filter wrench was essential.

I also learned a valuable lesson (which I'm sure all of you know - humor the newbie with some laughter): push UP on the oil filter while unscrewing it to keep the gasket sealed so that it doesn't drip all over you as you continue to unscrew it. Oil covered hands after the filter...

Drain plug back on with a new washer, new oil filter with a little oil smeared around the gasket snugly hand tightened to avoid the über-tightness of the dealer, and in went three quarts of 5w-30 up top. Since it's almost summer and since my engine has been used to it for almost four years, I'm going to stick with that weight even though we've heard recently 0w-20 is alright even on older model Prii. No need to make my car the test case.

I then ran the engine for a minute, then let the oil settle so I could check the level and add a bit more.

Cleanup as I waited for the oil to drain into the pan:

The oil ended up so light on the dipstick that I couldn't tell where it went up to, so I may skip this in the future. I put in another half quart. Today after I drove somewhere, I checked it and found it slightly below the top dot, so it appears 3.5 quarts is absolutely perfect for the 2004-2009 second Gen Prius (mine is 2007), I'll just aim for that in the future.

All done!

Such a cool little beast under there. Can't wait to try the transaxle fluid at some point...

Altogether a good deal. Took me way longer than everyone else in the world, being my first time, but learned a lot, and it didn't cost much. Filter from a pack of 10 was $4.80 total, and $1.40 for the drain plug washer. Oil was oil. Easily under $20 for the change, and was a lot of fun!