How to Drive a Hybrid Car for Maximum Efficiency

Posted on February 9th, 2011 by

It should come as no surprise that as gas prices rise, consumers increasingly place fuel efficiency at the top of their lists of important vehicle attributes when making their purchase decision.  The more expensive gas becomes, the less of it drivers want to use.

That’s one big reason hybrid sales climb when prices at the pump go up. Hybrid owners recognize the advanced technology in their vehicles offers them superior fuel economy and the opportunity to make fewer trips to the gas station. Goodbye to gas calculators, hello auto insurance estimate calculator, and there you will see savings that this new Hybrid will bring you. Or you can go to a dealership near you, from Peoria Nissan AZ to other dealerships around the country; they will answer any questions you may have.

While hybrid owners know the experience of driving a hybrid is as seamless as driving a traditional gasoline powered internal combustion engine, they too seek to maximize their personal fuel efficiency.  There are a number of techniques that will help them do just that.

Hybrids are equipped with a unique regenerative braking feature, which allows the inertia of the car to recharge the hybrid batteries when the brakes are pressed. When a driver is in city traffic, up to 94 percent of the energy normally lost to friction can be recaptured for battery recharging.  To do that, it will be useful to learn a “pulse and glide” technique.  When drivers see that they will need to slow down their vehicle or come to a stop, it will be beneficial to start braking early and gently. The sooner the driver brakes the better it is for capturing energy to recharge your battery that can be used to drive in electric mode or to run accessories. Brake too hard and the mechanical brakes will override, without regenerating any energy.

Pulse and glide also applies to acceleration.  Smooth acceleration to posted speeds should be followed by taking your foot off the accelerator until the speed drops about 5-10 miles per hour and then gently accelerate back up to the posted speed.

When possible, anticipate traffic lights and stop signs.  When you know you are going to have to stop, coast to the stop light or stop sign or gently step on the brakes to recharge your battery.  And of course, avoid jack rabbit starts.

Hybrid drivers should also minimize the use of heated seats, air conditioning and other power drawing accessories. They draw electrical energy, which comes from the high voltage battery through the DC/DC converter and that energy would need to be replaced by utilizing the engine or through regenerative braking.

Several other tips will benefit both hybrid and non-hybrid vehicle owners seeking increased fuel efficiency. Make sure tires are properly inflated because low tire pressure will negatively impact fuel economy.  Keep windows closed to improve aerodynamics and minimize carrying any unnecessary weight in the vehicle.  When possible, avoid idling in traffic or in drive through lanes, plan your errands to minimize trips and park at the first available spot – driving around the lot looking for a better one just wastes gas.

One final note for hybrid drivers, take advantage of the information your vehicle feeds back to you on your driving style. A number of hybrid models are equipped with gauges and displays that help coach drivers on how to optimize the performance of their vehicles.  In some cases, the feedback is instantaneous, providing drivers with real time information useful to alter their driving behavior.  Of course the real reward is better fuel economy and fewer trips to the gas pump.

Written by Jennifer Moore, Ford

Ford currently offers three hybrid choices for consumers, the Fusion Hybrid and Lincoln MKZ hybrid rated 41mpg in the city and the Ford Escape Hybrid, an SUV that delivers 34 city mpg, all class leading.

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