California Autos Examiner

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Local Writer Boosts Prius Mileage By 30 Percent, Reader Must Now Drive 55

Roadshow: How Gary boosted his gas mileage by 30 percent - San Jose Mercury News

San Jose columnist Gary “Mr. Roadshow” Richards recently bet a reader that he could boost his mileage by at least 20% by slowing down. The result was a “claimed” 30 percent improvement by driving 60 or under in his Prius. Gary said he achieved this by, “Stay(ing) in the far right lane under 60. Going downhill with no one behind me, ease off the pedal. On a city street with a red light ahead, glide to the intersection. Every hill, every light.”

As agreed prior to the bet, the reader then slowed down to 55MPH and rang up a 14 percent in fuel economy, but also added twenty minutes to his commute—not enough of a payoff in the reader’s mind, “It makes absolutely no personal economic sense for me to drive slow,” the reader stated “My time is worth more."

Okay, let’s deconstruct the article. Firstly, Roadshow states “Drive his preferred speed of 75 mph vs. 55 mph, and he would buy me a tank of gas if I improved my mileage by 20 percent.” That sentence doesn’t make any sense. I think he meant to say drive 55 instead of 75 and improve by 20 percent and he’d buy him a tank of gas. Roadshow claimed he went from 42MPG to 59.9MPG “a 30 percent improvement” but that’s actually a 42.6% improvement. So one of Gary’s numbers must be off. Further evidence of a numerical fumbling can be gleaned from Gary’s claim that his 59.9MPG was a “10 mpg better than Prius EPA estimates.” I’m not quite sure what numbers he’s referring to, the current Prius gets 48MPG City and 45MPG Highway. Add ten percent on top of either of those numbers, and you’re still well short of 59.9. The previous generation Prius put up lower MPG numbers, so scratch that explanation. The reader’s claims of reported a 14 percent boost in mileage are more believable even if the math behind it (14 percent improvement 24 1/2 to nearly 29 miles a gallon) is a bit off.

In general I like Gary's column and enjoy hearing about the latest construction projects in the SF Bay Area. Why the deconstruction of Gary’s column? Meh, I don’t know. I’m starting to cut back on what I eat now that my cholesterol is sky high and this might be making me a bit cranky. I’m well aware that my own blog has had massive grammatical and spelling errors, so I shouldn’t be casting any stones. However, I’m a bit skeptical of a 30% improvement without some crazy hypermiling techniques.

Okay my rant is over and I promise to be cheerier for the rest of the day.

photo source: Jacqueline Ramseyer

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