Sunday, May 14, 2006

I'm often asked what I do for entertainment...

I’m often asked what I do for entertainment. I, like many other people, play video games. However, my idea of a video game is probably a bit different from most. No “doom”, no “halo”, nothing like that. I can honestly say I’ve never played my kids PSP and have used the PS2 in the basement once.

This is my idea of a video game:
I was reminded of that this morning reading this article. I am prone to say you have to drive the Prius a little differently as that article points out. Differently from the way you would drive a normal car without the “video game effect”. In that article – they averaged about 42 MPG, which is just about what I get when I drive “blind” (without the video game effect). It is the mileage reported on my car when I leave it with my wife for a week or two (she just drives it and drives it much like most people would normally drive).

However, when I turn the game on – I consistently get much closer to the 50 MPG. The game involves driving in such a fashion as to maximize mileage. With the constant feedback – I’ve found I can affect the mileage by as much as 20% - which is huge. The road I drive to work on is 65 MPH – I average between 60 and 70 on this road instead of locking in the cruise control. Slower up hill, let momentum carry me downhill and go a bit over, just to make use of that potential energy I built up going up the hill in the first place.

Every 5 minutes, the display inches over and tells me the average mileage for that period of time. The game I try to play is “keep it over 50” – on the way to work I can do that consistently. On the way home, it is more of a challenge (apparently we are “uphill” from work. When I win the game – I use exactly one gallon of gas to go to work (I pay more in tolls than gas on my 50 mile round trip).

I’ve evaluated:
  • Using cruise control and maintaining a constant speed

  • Driving “blind”, without the computer display – driving like I always drove in the past

  • Driving with the display.

Surprisingly – driving blind got better mileage than using cruise control (it was the big loser – but a necessary evil on a long trip). But driving with the display and making an effort to maximize the display results consistently in at least 10 and closer to 20% improvements (which is huge).

The one thing the article I was reading neglected to point out was that while the Jetta did a bit better mileage wise was that the Prius is not only good on the mileage – but excellent on the emissions. I really dig it when the car turns off – totally turns off – at stop signs and in creep and crawl traffic. I can scare the living daylights out of people in parking garages – this car makes no noise whatsoever (unless the tires squeak or something like that).

So, I’ll stick with my Prius for now. I would buy it again – and that probably is the best thing you could say about any product.


Anonymous Anonymous said....

Tom, I like the Prius (look and features) and considering to get one.. --but recently I had heard something about the battery that supports the hybrid having cost of 10K, ...should it need to be replaced. A rep from Toyto for the car on a recent local radio station show kept dodging a callers question about the cost and limit warranty of the battery.

Have you heard of this before or was it mention when you bought the Prius? Curious.

Sun May 14, 06:06:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

The batteries are supposed to last at least 150,000 miles. They are under warranty for 8 years/100,000 miles:

I have not heard of any sort of widespread problems with them, no.

Sun May 14, 06:37:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Noons said....

cruise control is the enemy of good mileage. I've had the one in both my cars disabled, just to stop me from turning it on. What I do now in long trips is stop every second hour for a breather: it throws away the need for the cruise control as it keeps the attention up.

Another one that I've tried with success is to put the car into neutral on EVERY downhill, no matter how short it is. Modern anti pollution devices being what they are, they actually suck in a lot of extra petrol when going downhill.

The RAV4 has gone from 24mpg to better than 28 since I've started doing this. That and a light right foot was good enough to offset the latest fuel price rises!

Sun May 14, 08:38:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Andrew said....


Interestingly a car tv show in the UK (assuming you're in the states) found that, on a manual, leaving the car in gear and dipping the clutch was more economic than shifting into neutral.


I've also played that game, quite addictive but I'm sure I become more concerned with my mpg when I ought to be concentrating on the road! I also found that you can get a significant increase in fuel economy though.
I was also under the impression that cruise control increases fuel economy but I've never really looked into it. Comes as quite a surprise!

Mon May 15, 04:50:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

The cruise control is probably a "your milage will vary" thing if anything is.

I have gentle rolling hills between my house and work - probably the worst conditions for cruise control. In the Prius, needs the most care and feeding as far as being flexible with your exact speed.

Mon May 15, 06:37:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Gareth said....

I'm not sure to be hoenst that the Prius is really all it's cracked up to be. I can often get 50mpg+ (and 45mpg+ very easily) when driving from Birmingham to Worcester (in the UK not the US!) which is about 35 miles. The speed I maintain is usually in the 70-80mph range.

What do I drive... well it's something that I understand Americans have a low opinion of but has come a long way. It's a diesel! Specifically a SEAT Leon diesel (which is the same engine as in the Audi/Volkswagen TDi cars).

The point is that you don't necessarily need to go hybrid to get good MPG figures!

Mon May 15, 08:11:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Gareth said....

Apologies, didn't see the bit about the Jetta later on. (Note to self - read whole post!)

I still believe however that many Americans simply dismiss diesel however due to their old image of being smoky smelly beasts.

Mon May 15, 08:20:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous DvE said....

Now I've heard (I don't know where anymore, so it could be false!) that creating the batteries for this car cost more emmisions and energy to create than it gives back when using it in a car.

Sorry, might just be spreading a rumour here but it's something research.

Mon May 15, 09:43:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

Then research it? Before spreading rumors???

This is like not using something in the database because "you heard from a friend that overhead a conversation where someone was saying they heard from someone that says they read something about feature X being slow".

Mon May 15, 09:46:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous RobH said....

I own a '04 TDI Jetta and its excellent. Not only are we averaging 56 mpg (thats the AVG), it has incredible passing power.

Note to "noons", NEVER take your car in and out of drive into neutral. If you do, ensure you are at a stop and you do NOT accelerate quickly after "dropping" it into drive.

My dad was a mechanic for 20 years. A lot drivetrain problems stem from this behaviour.

Mon May 15, 11:01:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Jonathan Jacobs said....

Tom, I average 50 mpg also; closer to 45 in the winter and around 55 in the summer. Does the cold/hot effect your mpg as much as it does mine?

Mon May 15, 11:07:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

Yes, the "heat" affects it - in the winter, it does not do as well until it warms up (long drives).

Mon May 15, 11:16:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Gabriel Paulovic said....

.. may be a bit off-topic, may be not:

"Aliens Cause Global Warming"

.. if nothing else it roots for scientific approach, so it is probably on-topic ... :-)

Mon May 15, 11:19:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Mark J. Bobak said....

Cost effectiveness of owning a hybrid vehicle:

Interesting read...


Mon May 15, 01:14:00 PM EDT  

Blogger cycloscott said....

Tom, for PS2 games, give Katamari Damancy a try. Good harmless fun from Japan. You start with a tiny sticky ball, which you roll around picking things up. Bizarre concept, but supremely well done. By the end of the game, you're picking up skyscrapers and clouds.

Non-violent and just as much fun for kids and adults.

Mon May 15, 01:16:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Alberto Dell'Era said....

But when driving on an highway (so at constant speed more or less, minus the "potential energy" hills), how could the regenerative braking kick in if not marginally ? I think you should play the videogame in a city, there the hybrid should make a real difference ...

In fact even with my Alfa Romeo 147, which is not exactly designed for fuel economy, I can easily get 25 km/l (58.8 mpg) or at the very least 20km/l (47.0 mpg) at 70-80 mph on an highway, by using the same driving style you described. In a city ... ahemm ... a "tad" less :(

Mon May 15, 05:01:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous mikito harakiri said....

After my laptop battery died just in 2 years, I would think twice about buying hybrid.

"At a 100% charge level, a typical Li-ion laptop battery that's full most of the time at 25 degrees Celsius, will irreversibly lose approximately 20% capacity per year. This capacity loss begins from the time it was manufactured, and occurs even when the battery is unused. Different storage temperatures produce different loss results: 6% loss at 0 °C, 20% at 25 °C, and 35% at 40 °C. When stored at 40% charge level, these figures are reduced to 2%, 4%, 15% at 0, 25 and 40 degrees Celsius respectively."

Mon May 15, 06:55:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

Mikito - perhaps you should research the failure/replacement rate of the batteries actually used in these cars - which have been out for considerably more than two years.

Then we can discuss the pro's and con's of buying a hybrid.

Mon May 15, 08:02:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Kurt said....

Now - 50 MPG is not something a Dane can relate to :-).
Luckily - google calculator can help - just type "50 miles per gallon in kilometers per liter" and the answer is: 50 miles per gallon = 21.2571853 kilometers per liter. That I can relate to - and pretty impressive I must say.
Along the same lines you can compare prices for petrol :
"10,25 danish kroner per liter in US $ per gallon" answers : 10,25 (Danish kroner per liter) = 6,65222434 US$ per US gallon.
No wonder that Europeans in general choose smaller cars...

Fri May 19, 08:01:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Clemens Utschig - Utschig said....

the equasion gets to roughly 100 km/s per 5 liters, which is what a good diesel engine makes too (and I bet a diesel is more fun). Sorry guys - but welcome to european lifestyle :-). Nevertheless saving the nature is cool too - as most things in life a compromise...

Sun May 21, 03:34:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Flado said....

4.7 litres per 100km is impressive, even to Diesel fans like myself. But it's nowhere near "the wall". Take a look here (this review of the VW Lupo 3L is quite old and maybe things have changed since 1999...)

Incidentally, I play that game too - albeit without the nice AWR-like charts, my car has a more v$sysstat-like display of moving average over the last 1000km - but I have yet to reach the 5 l/100km (47 MPG, thank you Google) mark...

Wed May 24, 12:05:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous chamila said....

Warranties for less - An additional 5 years & 100,000 miles for any car. Backed by a 130 year old A Rated Insurance Company and DuraLube. Become an affiliate and make $500 per warranty sold. Even when you sell it to yourself. Great for friends and family, car washes, used car dealers, mechanics, transmission shops anything to do with automobiles.

Join HubPages, where you can write about a topic you love — for free! Includes potential to earn royalties and commissions.

Fri Mar 21, 05:51:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Sorry, might just be spreading a rumour here but it's something research.



Mon May 05, 08:48:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Very good article. This article makes some interesting points. You made a good point, reading your article is a kind of enjoyment. Thank you.
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Mon Jun 23, 03:36:00 AM EDT  


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