Many drivers—particularly hybrid owners—are proud of their ability to squeeze a few extra miles per gallon out of their cars. Hypermilers take things a little more seriously, coasting into every stoplight and driving well below posted speed limits in the pursuit of maximizing their fuel economy. Helen and John Taylor of Melbourne, Australia have gone even further, turning hypermiling into their life’s work.
This summer the Taylors are in the United States, aiming to drive through all 48 contiguous states in a 9,600-mile trip. The pair (who in some ways might be considered hypermiling “purists” because they seem to prefer achieving hybrid-like fuel economy in non-hybrids rather than test the limits of battery-assisted cars,) will traverse the country in an unmodified 2011 Chevy Cruze Eco with a manual transmission.
During at least one stretch of the trip, the Taylors will attempt to travel 2,000 miles on a single tank of gas, achieving nearly 160 mpg over a segment that one might imagine will include a lot of downhill driving. Under normal conditions the couple estimate that they will be able to achieve a 23 percent increase in fuel economy simply by employing standard green driving techniques, like those they teach at their Melbourne-based Fuel Academy, which holds workshops around the world showing drivers how to cut their petroleum consumption.
Over the entirety of the trip, the Taylors will attempt to break their own U.S. record of 67 mpg, set in 2009 in a Volkswagen Jetta TDI. The Chevy Cruze Eco gets an EPA-estimated 42 mpg on the highway, while the 2009 Jetta TDI gets 41 mpg.
In 2008, the Taylors set the world record for diesel fuel economy when they circled the coast of Australia in a diesel-powered Peugeot 308 HDi 110 in 25 days, posting the American equivalent of 75.6 mpg on the trip. In 2006, the pair drove around the world, traveling 18,470 miles in 78 days and averaging more than 52 mpg.
The couple currently hold 88 hypermiling records and have taken on sponsorship from Shell Oil in their unrelenting pursuit of higher gas mileage. On Shell’s Smarter Driving website, fans can check in on the Taylors to monitor their progress. Currently, the couple are in the second week of their trip, passing through the northeast United States.