Let’s Define Hypermiling

6 Feb , 2016  

I’m in the process of recording these articles in a series of videos.  Click the image to the left to watch them.  While there, be sure to subscribe to the channel.

It’s probably a good idea to establish a good understanding of what exactly hypermiling refers to.  There are a few different explanations on the web, so why not throw out another one?  In short, hypermiling is exceeding the EPA’s fuel efficiency rating for a vehicle.  That’s it.

Attempts have been made to create more complex explanations and some of them exceeded their complexity goals.  I am of the belief that the explanation should simply be the goal and not include any of the methods involved in achieving it.  To me, the definition is the “what is it” and the method is the “how do I”.  All the methodology will come in detail later.  This post is all about the “what is it”.

Before I get to the examples, let me point out that the definition of hypermiling should fit to any vehicle.  Many people think that hypermiling is only for hybrids or other advanced tech vehicles.  Those people are mistaken; hypermiling is a technique that can (and should) be applied to any vehicle at all times.  After all, not everyone wants a hybrid but most people want to save money on fuel.  Hypermiling helps them save money regardless their individual vehicle.

Case in point: Bradlee Fons of the Milwaukee Hybrid Group worked with a delivery company who owned multiple large delivery trucks.  By teaching just a few simple techniques and creating a friendly competitive environment, they were able to reduce their overall fuel consumption and save money, which directly improved their overall business.  So if a bunch of delivery trucks can save money for a company then perhaps you should consider saving money for your family.

At one point, members of various online forums suggested the idea of creating “levels” of hypermiling.  Here’s an example with real-world numbers:  Let’s say someone is driving a conventional 4-door sedan that is listed with an EPA mileage of 30 miles per gallon (MPG).  That is the benchmark.

  • Average Driving: 100% EPA = 30.0 MPG
  • Hypermiling: 105% EPA = 31.5 MPG
  • Ubermiling: 110% EPA = 33.0 MPG

As you can guess, this is not at all that scientific or stringent.  Originally, anything above EPA was considered an achievement and was enough to separate the average drivers from the hypermilers.  But then, some people, most notably drivers in Japan, enhanced and refined their hypermiling to the point that they were routinely achieving more than 110% EPA.  This was such a phenomenal feat, the term “Ubermiling” was created.

It might be tempting to look at the 1.5 MPG difference between regular driving and hypermiling and think to yourself, “that doesn’t seem like such a big deal.”  You’d be surprised.  After all, we’re not talking about a single trip here; we’re talking about an average: all the good days and the bad days over the course of an entire tank, entire year, or total ownership of the vehicle.

And that’s only part of it.  If you have a 2015 Ford Explorer, you’re looking at an EPA rating of 20 MPG.  So the numbers become 20/21/22.  Sounds easy, right?  Not so fast, Kowalski!  Even that one or two MPG improvement over a full tank can be a huge challenge.


So that’s it.  Hypermiling simply means that you are consistently achieving higher than EPA mileage on whatever vehicle you are driving.  My goal in this post was to set the groundwork so you would have a pretty good frame of reference every time I use the term ‘hypermiling’.

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2 Responses

  1. […] In my next installment, I’ll do my best to provide the definition of hypermiling and a bit of backstory to help set the groundwork: Let’s Define Hypermiling […]

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