Sunday, August 16, 2009

Is your driving turning the Prius into a monster?

We have a small but somewhat interesting group of hybrid owners that in addition to trivializing the principle of fuel saving driving techniques, are also bent on promoting the notion of a driving attitude unsurprisingly dubbed "Just Drive It".

According to these folks, "Just drive it" is all a Prius owner needs to know in order to materialize the benefits of the technology, nothing more. In other words, just power up the vehicle and drive it as you would any other car and let the hybrid power train management take care of the rest.

Then again, if it were not for the additional fuel savings and lower emissions potential that these hybrid vehicle's can offer when used properly, perhaps the "Just drive it" principle would have at least one merit to stand on: Never-ending mediocrity.

Why should you hypermile and not "Just Drive it"?

Hypermiling is a fuel saving discipline that is based on a toolkit of basic, intermediate and advanced techniques.
The governing principle is quite simple: While operating within the legal boundaries of the traffic Act, use one or more basic techniques and you'll surely increase your vehicle's fuel economy (and lower its emissions). Use a few more and you'll not only beat the EPA rating for your car but you'll do so by a very wide margin -- made even wider by the updated ratings released in 2008.

In short order, this is just a small sample of what hypermiling can do for you:
  • If you cannot or do not want to buy a fuel efficient hybrid vehicle, then hypermiling can help you improve your current fuel economy by as much as 50% or more. In some cases, the improvement can be quite dramatic and depending on the vehicle, the lower fuel consumption will rival and often better that of any hybrid when driven in less optimal ways. Despite the demonstrated and documented evidence, this is something some Prius owners stubbornly dismiss.
  • If you own a hybrid vehicle, hypermiling will not only greatly enhance the benefits that the underlying technology offers over their non-hybrid counterparts (significantly lower emissions and astounding fuel economy potential), but you'll also open up a whole new dimension of rewarding driving enjoyment that is ultimately beneficial to us all.
  • By using any of the sanctioned CleanMPG hypermiling techniques, a driver will become inherently more aware of his/her surroundings and preempt much of what happens with a driving attitude that is not only safer but also more defensive. In contrast, "Just Drive It" is just that. No encouragement for change in driving habits, meaning that you'll likely continue to drive inefficiently and oblivious to the implications built into the act of driving.
  • Hypermiling will produce measurable benefits in almost every identifiable area, and even more so with almost any hybrid technology currently on the market. Be it HSD or IMA, hypermiling will truly transform these architectures into the environmental powerhouses that they are.
  • For those of us who have tried hypermiling, the alternative is akin to waste and sadly so characteristic of the 20th century ways of thinking. In a world of diminishing resources and limited hybrid vehicle supply, hypermiling and ecodriving are the single most important driver centric activities that can truly leverage the inherent potential of the technology available, today.
  • You purchased a brand new hybrid vehicle and you paid a noticeable premium for the vehicle's content and technology. It is only obvious and in your interest, to fully utilize the benefits of the technology you paid for. Refusing to do so by ignoring the built-in hybrid specific instrumentation is a sure way to erode the financial return on your expenditure. Hypermiling will not only accelerate the rate of return but also accentuate it to unheard of levels.
So there you have it. A simple set of just two options is offered for your consideration and reflection. Along with our collective impact and aided by the constantly evolving automotive technology we can either choose hypermiling as the complementing half of the ideal solution...
...or we can continue to endorse the lesser examples of driving mediocrity as seen on our roads on a daily basis.

For all our sakes, please choose wisely.

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