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The Hybrid-Tech Texan Talks About Hybrid Tour

August 11th, 2008 · 4 Comments · Ask the expert, Green Houston Topics, Uncategorized

One evening while on the computer doing some research I ran across an update from Michael Garfield about him doing a Hybrid Tour Across Texas with Dan Bryant and thought it sounded interesting so I clicked over to see what was going on.  It turns out that the two were going to drive around the State for an estimated total of 879 miles to see if they could do it on one tank of gas in a Toyota Prius.  What!? I’ve got to see this.

Watching the Tour, I personally found it interesting and amusing (if you watch some of the videos on his site) and thought I would share some of his tips with my readers.  When everything was wrapped up Michael Garfield, The Hybrid-Tech Texan himself, agreed to do an interview to talk about the tour to talk about the benefits of Hybrid Vehicles and what they found out.  During this entire tour they used Hypermiling Techniques to squeeze as much gas per gallon as possible.

So, first off  and to get everyone up to speed I wanted to know what exactly the Hybrid Tour was all about?

The Hybrid Tour Across Texas was to spread awareness about fuel efficiency and the effect that driving behavior has on it. I wanted to see how much money can be saved by driving a hybrid car around the state and at the same time compare mileage to a “hypermiler” driving the same type of car. Dan Bryant is a Houston-based hypermiler who uses certain techniques to maximize his MPG.

What was the number one thing you learned on your journey?

I learned there is a lot more interest in this topic than I’ve ever seen before. In the topic of what MPG you achieve in your car was generally about as exciting as discussing tax code. People seem much more tuned in with the price of gas.

What exactly is Hypermiling?

Each car (not truck) sold in the US has to pass an EPA inspection and rating system. As part of that each car is given an MPG rating for the city and highway. These numbers are on the window sticker of all new cars (not trucks). A hypermiler is simply someone who’s daily MPG is above the EPA rating for their car (window sticker).

Have you calculated an estimate of savings with the Hybrid Prius during the trip?

Best case vs worse case? I had a friend that claimed to get 15 mpg on the highway. So the difference between my friend driving their car and Dan driving his over the same 844 miles comes out to about 44 gallons (Dan used 12.3g, my friend would have used 56.3g). That’s $176 between driving the wrong car poorly and driving the right car correctly.

What was the main difference between the Mpg between you and Dan?

The main four factors were Driving style (about 15 mpg), Driving speed (about 9 mpg), Passenger weight (about 2 mpg), and Accessory Load (about 2 mpg). By far driving style and speed had the biggest effect. Hypermilers employee dozens of different techniques to increase efficiency, some for hills, some for windy days, and some for flat roads, but they all work. In the simplest since, what Dan concentrated on was keeping engine RPM and vehicle load constant. There are minor (very minor) inefficiencies involved with increasing or decreasing an engines RPM. Although minor, they are very frequent, so keeping a steady RPM helps significantly with efficiency. Keeping speeds in the 55-60 mph range is also significantly more efficient than 65-70 mph range due to the effects of wind resistance.

What is something that most people would not know about Hybrid vehicles?

In many studies Hybrids are projected to have a smaller repair bill than conventional cars. For example, there have been Prius drivers that have gone over 100,000 miles on the original brake pads since they Hybrid Synergy Drive does most of the braking. The transmission is also substantially simpler than a conventional car. There is no starter or alternator either, and since the car operates for extended periods without the gas engine, the wear on the gas engine is substantially less. Even starting and stopping the engine is less stressful in a hybrid since the control system primes the engine for each start and stop.

What is the biggest misconception of Hybrids?

Battery Life. A Prius has two batteries, not one. The 12v (car) battery that all cars have, the Prius has as well. It is used for certain start-up procedures. It is just like any other 12v battery and can be found under $100 and has a similar life span to any other 12v battery. The “other” battery is called the “traction” battery and it’s used to power the electric motors that assist in moving the car. The “traction” battery is designed to last longer than most conventional cars. In California it comes with a 100,000 mile warranty. Prius taxi cabs with over 300,000 miles still have no significant wear on their traction batteries. In actuality it is probably one of the least replaced components of any vehicle on the road today.

What do you feel the Future holds for Hybrid Vehicles?

If gas prices continue as they have for the last 5 years, it could be over $9 / gallon in 5 years or even over $20 / gallon in 10 years. I think most people are going to require cars that get at least 40 mpg, and right now most of those cars are Hybrids. The cars that are built and designed today will be the ones that are still in use in 10 years. So if gas prices continue to climb, I expect any car getting 40-50 mpg will be highly sought after. Hopefully there will be many models getting that mark, but most of them on the road will probably be the Hybrids being designed today.

I learned a lot by following the Hybrid Tour and reading through Michael’s Blog.  Did You?  A huge Thank You to The Hybrid-Tech Texan for taking some time to answer these questions for us.  All who stopped by, don’t forget to check out his site for more information on hypermiling (which by the way he says some can also work on Non-Hybrid cars) and just some fun videos about it.  Here’s one I thought I would share with you all.

If you are wanting to hear more from The Hybrid-Tech Texan make sure to tune on Saturdays from 11a-2p on 950am!

Hybrid Tour Dallas from Ray Cortez on Vimeo.
Pictures and Videos property of Michael Garfield The Hybrid-Tech Texan.

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