How to Get the Best Gas Mileage from a Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle
This post is sponsored by Ford. All views expressed are that of our own.
Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) are designed to deliver the best gas mileage possible of a gasoline powered vehicle. What’s even greater, is the fact that PHEVs can also run on full electric energy without sipping a single drop of gasoline.
Driving technique is different in a PHEV than a regular gasoline powered vehicle however. I’ve been driving the 2017 Ford Fusion Energi for three months now, and I’ve learned how to hone my driving technique to maximize driving range. The Ford Fusion Energi is a PHEV, so it has the capability to drive in full electric mode. Range is limited to about 20 miles however. After the batteries are fully depleted, the vehicle seamlessly transitions to hybrid driving mode. If you want more detail about the 2017 Ford Fusion Energi, you can check out my post titled “A Savvy Guy’s Take on the Ford Fusion Energi Platinum“. This post will focus on driving tips to maximize gas mileage and driving range in a plug in hybrid electric vehicle.
PHEVs utilize a gasoline powered engine and/or an electric powered motor to transfer rotational force (torque) to the wheels of the vehicle. Since a PHEV has the advantage of being able to power itself from energy stored in its electric batteries alone, it’s most beneficial to take advantage of this feature to maximize fuel economy and/or range.
To simplify my message, I’ll list some dos and don’ts for maximizing fuel efficiency and driving range in a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.
- Accelerate smoothly and slowly. Fast and hard acceleration requires much more energy, which drains battery power faster and requires more fuel (for hybrid operation).
- Coast as much as possible. The Ford Energi vehicles come equipped with regenerative coasting and braking. This means that whenever your foot isn’t pressing the gas pedal, the vehicle’s batteries are turning the rotational energy from the coasting vehicle into electricity to be reused for acceleration.
- Prepare your stops and gradually brake at a consistent speed. Regenerative braking, like regenerative coasting, supplies your PHEV batteries with free energy. However, if you brake too aggressively, you’re not giving the vehicle enough opportunity to generate that valuable energy. If you anticipate needing to stop for a red light or slow down for a highway exit, start the braking process earlier than you normally would for a conventional vehicle. Apply light pressure to the brake, and ride it to a complete stop while slowing at a consistent speed. This technique takes a lot of practice, but pays off greatly!
- Favor city driving over highway travel. This the polar opposite from gasoline powered vehicles. Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles return better fuel economy in city driving conditions. Part of the reason for this is the return of energy to the batteries via regenerative braking and regenerative coasting. Highway speeds offer less opportunity for regenerative coasting and braking due to steady traffic flow and sustained high speeds. In addition, the higher speeds required for highway travel require more energy consumption from both the electric motor or gas engine (or the 2 combined when driving in hybrid mode). Stop and go traffic as found in the city lends repeated regenerative braking and coasting opportunity plus slower speeds require less energy.
- Speed. This might sound like an obvious thing, but for some of us it’s actually pretty difficult to follow! I have the need for speed, just like many people. However, the faster you drive (especially on the highway), the less efficient your engine is.
- Accelerate too quickly. Unless you’re merging into a busy highway, you should accelerate slowly. Accelerating too quickly will zap away energy faster from the vehicles batteries. It could even switch the vehicle’s driving mode to full gasoline engine to meet the demand of your heavy foot!
- Wait too long to start braking. PHEVs benefit from planned braking at a consistent deceleration. As mentioned above, regenerative braking works best when given enough distance to return 100% of used energy back to the batteries!
These are the things I’ve learned by driving the 2017 Ford Fusion Energi for 3 months. These tips will help you get the best out of your Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (if you follow them!). In fact, these tips work for full electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles.
Do you own a PHEV, Electric Vehicle (EV), or Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV)? Did you find this post helpful, or have any tips of your own? We’d love to hear from you. Please leave your comment below.