It was recently reported that an Australian couple had set the new Guinness Book world record for highest fuel economy getting 64.42 miles per gallon (mpg) across the 48 connected American states. Well, that record has been broken by a pair of hypermilers who just completed the 48 state trip with a fuel economy of 64.55 mpg.
Wayne Gerdes of Illinois and Chris Bernius or New York drove a 2011 Kia Optima Hybrid on a 14 day, 7,899 mile journey through each of the 48 contiguous states. At the end of their journey the American team had set a new record for fuel economy with 64.55 mpg. The former record holders, Australian couple Helen and John Taylor, used a Chevy Cruze Eco to achieve the previous record of 64.42 mpg while spending 22 days on the road and traveling 9,552 miles.
The American team used hypermiling techniques, as did the Australian team. Hypermiling is a unique style of driving to get the best fuel economy possible. Hypermilers use tactics to get such great mpg like emptying the vehicle spare ties and other features to cut weight; drafting behind 18-wheel trucks; accelerating and turning gradually; and using the brakes only when necessary. Hypermiling is a common tactic used by hybrid and electric vehicle drivers.
The American team did use a hybrid vehicle to set the record, a 2011 Kia Optima Hybrid; while the Austrian team used a Chevy Cruze Eco in their record attempt. The Eco is not a hybrid or electric vehicle—the Eco runs off gasoline. Given the slight difference between the two outcomes of similar trips with one team using a hybrid vehicle and one team using a gasoline powered vehicle; the very slight variation in mpg is indeed interesting and could spark debate between the hybrid/EV camp and gasoline/diesel camp.
As for the vehicles themselves, the 2011 Kia Optima Hybrid is estimated to get a solid 40 mpg on the highway while the EPA puts an automatic Chevy Cruze Eco at 37 mpg highway and a manual Chevy Cruze Eco at 42 mpg highway. The 2011 Kia Optima Hybrid will have a base price of $26,500 and the Chevy Cruze Eco has base sticker price of $19,000.
Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. Being an Eagle Scout, Andrew has a passion for all things environmental. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail.