800 + miles including 95% highway in a North American Prius is now possible thanks to SHM.
Wayne Gerdes – CleanMPG
– May 25, 2008
Bianca Solorzano introduces Hypermiling to the CBS Early Show morning viewers.
In April, CBS News - New York contacted CleanMPG for a quick interview. I replied and what was supposed to be a standard shoot with my vehicle at home turned out to be something much more.
The entire week prior to the shoot, a go-getter by the name of Elizabeth Bacelar of CBS News New York was setting up a theme story on Hypermiling. This was not going to be a story after the normal pattern of "This is so and so and he or she does this" but rather the setup of a colleague
Coming down to the wire, accommodations were finalized for a trip into New York City the night before.
Meeting Elizabeth in person for the first time proved to be just as enjoyable as the shoot scheduled for later in the morning. Creative, multilingual, multi-degreed, and tireless are words which only begin to describe her energy and enthusiasm for whatever story she may be setting up behind the scenes at CBS News. And this was only the first impression! I found out later that Elizabeth is more than simply enthusiastic but also tenacious when it comes to getting a segment completed on schedule. For the Chicago to NY City segment discussed below, she spent almost two straight days and nights in the News and Editing rooms to create a story with style, pizzazz and even a little drama!
The unsuspecting Correspondent
Elizabeth’s idea scheduled Bianca Solorzano
, a well known CBS News correspondent, to take the helm of a Toyota Prius in downtown New York City for a hypermiling clinic. She had never driven a hybrid before and is not known to be a particularly fuel efficient driver. Her first time behind the wheel allowed me to get a feel for her habits and set a baseline for her capabilities over approximately 10-miles in New York City -- a route through one of the parkways skirting the East River. With the baseline number locked in, we embarked on a quick clinic. I hoped to see her drive to a much higher mark on the way back using the tried and true Hypermiling techniques we utilize day in and day out.
The car... What car??
Bianca Solorzano and Elizabeth Bacelar of CBS News New York
in front of the Toyota Prius in the News Garage.
Because of the last minute nature of the shoot, I had not even considered attempting to acquire a Press Vehicle Prius for the NY City story. Just before boarding my flight in Chicago, Elizabeth called to tell me there was not a Prius rental to be had at LaGuardia, JFK, or any other outlets in the immediate vicinity. None of her counterparts owned a Prius either! Oh no!
It was now after 07:00 PM CST and I called Sean (Right Lane Cruiser) to access our internal Toyota Contact pages. Although there was little probability for success given the late hour, I gave it a shot. Unfortunately, all the California Toyota Media and Communication specialists had gone home for the day so I would have to try again in the morning with Toyota’s East Coast team members.
About 10:00 EST the following morning, Elizabeth and I were on two of the Hotel Business Center PCs attempting to source a Prius through Toyota. Elizabeth was on the phone with Wade Hoyt (Toyota Northeast Public Relations Manager) while I was on the phone with Shannon Raby (Toyota Press Fleet Coordinator) out of Detroit. Within minutes, these two came up with a Press Vehicle to be delivered into downtown Manhattan. You won't believe this, but less than one hour later it was there! Is it any wonder Toyota is in the lead for vehicle sales when they have people like Wade and Shannon working for them? Supplying a Prius to a media outlet within an hour of a phone call out of the blue was as close to miraculous as I have ever experienced from a car manufacturer -- let alone anybody else!
Setting up the Prius for the NY shoot
Most video shoots I have been involved in have had a single camera and sound man placing cameras in the car but what CBS News had was a garage with a slew of techs at the ready to perform said task with the latest in video gear. The final product shows just how well they did their jobs. Having an external camera mounted to the front left headlight lens, one on the right front dash and another centered between the two front seats as well as the crew following us along our merry little jaunt for the dramatic conclusion was really top notch!
Installing external video.---------------------------------------------
Installing internal video.
Placing Bianca behind the wheel of the Prius proved to be a brilliant idea as her every nuance was recorded for the Early Show segment and her FE prowess proved to be an excellent example of what can be achieved with just a little Hypermile training
Hypermiling–Maximizing Miles Per Gallon
Bianca’s drive around NY City…
43.8mpg over 10 miles while just driving it.--------------------------------------
79.1mpg over 10 miles while hypermiling.
This was the best ending anyone could have hoped for and I could not wait to see what was going to be aired in just a few days
Little did I know this story was not even close to being completed!
Upon arriving home, I received yet another call from Elizabeth and was told to expect something much larger than the shoot just completed. Apparently CBS was thinking about producing a Chicago to NY City on a single tank of fuel segment as a follow up to the Hypermiling story. I immediately started thinking about the Accord, an Insight or an HCH-I… All three could make the distance with fuel to spare given their respective large tank capacities using just the basics. Instead, I was met with the huge challenge of doing the 95+ percent, almost 800 mile, all highway drive in a Prius just like the one we drove for the clinic!
My immediate thoughts were of the Prius’ infamous fuel tank bladder limiting the total fuel capacity and the feasibility of using the Prius specific Super Highway Mode (SHM) (a technique co-discovered by Dan Bryant and myself the previous summer) for well over 15 hours.
Could SHM hold a Prius to 70+mpg all the way across the country? What about the Mountains of PA and NY? Would a very low mile Prius press vehicle hold anywhere near its rated fuel capacity of 11.9 gallons let alone achieve the nearly 70mpg needed to finish successfully? Would the weather be favorable enough to allow this Prius to cross on a single tank of fuel? All of these questions were swirling through my mind when I told Elizabeth, “Sure, no problem!”
Chicago to NY City on a single tank of fuel – The time for talk is over. Success or failure with 3.5 + million onlookers.
CBS News - Benno Schmidt and Wayne Gerdes on the Chicago Lakefront discussing the upcoming drive to NY City before official launch.
Elizabeth worked with Shannon Raby (Toyota Press Fleet Coordinator) yet again to procure (2) almost identical Press Prius’ for a 4 day period to shoot the Chicago to NY City segment. With the help of both Shannon and A&M Specialists Lou Zimmer, arrangements were made to have a Detroit based Prius Touring and a Chicago based Prius Standard delivered to my door on the Sunday evening prior to the launch. I specifically asked that the Detroit based Prius not
be refueled so that it would arrive almost empty.
While that was going on, Jud Engels (BestMapMan) had prepared elevation maps and hour by hour weather reports from Chicago all the way to NY City. Anyone who has participated in any kind of Marathon or distance FE challenge knows how important these maps and reports can be. 50% chance of rain from Chicago through Indiana, and higher probability of rain across PA once I reached that state's border later on in the evening did not look promising. The only good thing was a tail wind in the forecast for some of the way across during day light hours
Tough choice and setup
Why did I ask to have the Prius Touring delivered empty? Considering the distance to be covered at highway speeds and the limited amount of fuel the Prius carries due to both the bladder and smallish tank, I was not going to take any chances. With the help of Bradlee Fons of the MiHG, I located a gas station providing non-E10/non-RFG based gasoline just to the southeast of Madison, WI. I filled 3 containers with 13 gallons and headed home. Why the Touring? First off, it had 8,000+ miles on it vs. the Standard Prius’ 5,000+ accumulated miles. A little more scrub of the tires and the few extra miles of break in could not hurt
With the heavier wheels, some might wonder, "What was he thinking?" The Touring out of MI arrived w/out a front plate (slightly better aerodynamics) and its 16” Bridgestone’s are rated at 51# max sidewall vs. the Standard Prius’ Integrity’s at 44#. If I had to do it all over again, I think I might have chosen the Standard Prius instead.
Max sidewall was the first step for prepping my vehicle. I also gave the Prius Touring a fresh synthetic oil change and attached two blind spot mirrors to the interior A-Pillars. I contacted Dan Bryant for help setting up 4 X-Gauges including SoC (SoC), Tank FE (TFE), Current FE (CFE), and Total Gallons Consumed (FuT) on one ScanGauge. For the second I configured IGN, coolant temp (toggled to iMPG once out of Chicago), TPS, and of course RPM.
Dual SG-II setup with standard RJ45 to RJ45 connector (non-crossover) and proper parameters for Prius FE maximization – pic taken on the way back home from NY to Detroit…
I also Rain X’ed both Benno’s Standard and my Touring windows so as to alleviate or at least minimize use of the wipers if either of us ran into rain on our trip across. Finally, I loaded the 13 gallons of fuel and my goodies.
Around 10:30 PM, Theresa (a local independent producer) arrived and drove the Standard Prius back to Chicago for the morning shoot. Because I needed to stay in touch with Elizabeth via E-Mail to deliver high res pics of the Prius and Insight Marathons for the story's background, I did not begin my own trek to a Chicago hotel until well after midnight. Arriving in the parking garage with just one pip showing, I began to fill the Prius’ tank from my onboard containers.
About that fill… I arrived in downtown Chicago about 01:30 AM while still holding one pip and a nice 71 mpg segment for the drive in. I then began filling the Prius from the fuel containers -- a task which soon proved to be quite an ordeal. Fortunately -- with the slow and gentle fill -- I was able to top her off by placing almost 11 gallons into her tank. With one non-blinking pip showing when I started, I was sure she was close to her 11.9 gallon maximum rated capacity and this is exactly what I was hoping for! I gave the two empty containers to the lot attendant, leaving the last container in the Prius with another 2.5 gallons to use in the morning. Finally, retiring to my hotel I was in bed by 02:30 AM.
And fill some more…
The following morning, we had to be on location at Chicago’s Adler Planetarium by 05:00 AM. With < 4 hours of sleep and a scheduled trip across the country ahead, Oh Boy! was this going to be a long day
When I arrived at the launch site, I began the filling her from my last container again to make up for the few ounces I had used in warm-up from the Chicago hotel Parking garage to the Adler Planetarium on Chicago’s Lakefront. Between making up for the precious ounces consumed driving to the launch site and bringing the coolant temp beyond 180 degrees ensuring S4 before launch, I was forced to fill multiple times. Waiting for the video crew while the car was booted, she was losing SoC by the minute
To compensate, I forced a restart, force charged some more and once she shut down, I refilled to make up for the fuel just consumed. I had to do this 3 times before the first live launch.
The start as seen on the Early Show was scheduled at 07:00 AM CST. We were a bit late for the actual so they sealed the tank and we took off down the block for the live feed and immediately returned. Another 15 minutes passed before we left for the official drive so I had the producer remove the first seal. I refilled another ounce or two for a topped off tank and brought coolant temp back up to 181 degrees F so as to continue to hold onto a solid S4. I gave away over 2 gallons of liquid gold and my last gasoline container to one of the crew but was finally set for the trip. Both Benno Schmidt and the producer resealed the tank with the CBS logo, Benno signed the seal and the producer taped over his name so we could both start on our long trek to NY City. The time was 07:16 AM CST w/ the Odo showing 8,114 miles.
No rain, temps in the mid 50’s and barely a cloud in the sky was the reality? A little cool but I would take that over rain any day! The membership of CleanMPG must have been wishing me a good start with decent weather? Now what about those tail winds? With a bit of P&G available though the stop light to stop light mess of South Chicago at Rush, I hit the Indiana border at 85.3mpg. Across Indiana, the Prius was holding its own in the 70.3–70.7mpg range while I was traveling in the standard 48–53mph range using SHM of IG14 and TPS of 18 whenever I could. As soon as I crossed the Ohio border (time: 10:47 CST), an off the rear quarter wind began to increase and so did my speeds. 30 miles past the border, the Prius picked up to 71.7mpg. Another 60 miles and she was up to 73.1mpg. I had two quick bathroom breaks inside Ohio but only lost maybe 9 minutes total while the Prius stayed booted up through the stops.
Inside Ohio and 389 miles out, Benno had to refuel while I was only two pips down. Benno in the Standard had traveled 389 miles on 9.37 gallons for a calculated 41.5mpg and 45.3mpg per the FCD.
He was playing with the screen and reset his FCD about 100 miles prior but I calc’ed the actual from start to reset and reset to fill. I also passed him while he was refueling but it was not long before he flew by for the second time!
By the time I hit Toledo, the winds were gusting at ~20 degrees off the rear quarter between 10 and 20 mph! The way I handled this gift was to pick up speed to the 52–56mph range while holding IG14/15 and a TPS of 18/19 and allowing the MFD to fall back to minimum of 71.5mpg. Once I was close to the 71.5mpg hard deck, I would slow to 48–53mph under IG14/TPS18 and allow the MFD to rise to 72.5mpg. I did this knowing the evening wind fall-off was coming, and I wanted a 2–3mpg buffer above 70mpg before reaching the mountains of PA and NY. Daylight hours provide warm pavement which reduces RR and running lights for the night time hours is a killer… By the time I hit the OH–PA border, the SG-II and MFD were both over 72mpg and I only had to battle the mountains.
Crossing over, I was in touch with a local News Crew and unfortunately, they missed me as I dove past. They caught up about 15 minutes later. As I sat with the Prius still booted at the rest stop while they wired up both the car and me, and did all the other things they do, 15 minutes passed and I lost a whole bunch of SoC while waiting. I was pushing on them to move it the entire time we were stopped but I do not think they understood what a Prius does while powered up going nowhere and consuming 400W
They rode along for another 50 or so miles and departed at another rest area burning up yet another 10-minutes of SoC and daylight
With climbs up to a maximum of 2,200' and multiple 600–1,000’ drops and climbs in front of me, this is where the slow stuff really began. As I was climbing, I used DWL until I dropped to 45 mph and maintained no more than 2,300 RPM while toughing it out the rest of the way up. On the back side of the monsters (if there was a backside!
) I used Warp Stealth until the SoC touched a drop dead minimum of 59%. At that point I transitioned to IG14/TPS17 or IG15/TPS17 so as to not use any more SoC, maintained an iMPG in the 125–175mpg range and remained alert for any regen opportunities to bring the SoC back up over 60%. To make up some time for the slow climbs, I allowed speeds to approach 65mph on the down slopes under WS or in IG15/TPS17 as explained above. Sometimes I was tangled up with traffic but it usually only lasted a minute or two before the slope lessened.
The Finish in sight
When the Prius hit that last 1,600’ elevation climb less than 90 miles from NY City and with 3 pips of fuel still showing, I knew she was going to make it. I was actually burning a little extra fuel using the down hills to push up to 65mph and drooping no less than 50mph during the climbs.
Just before hitting the George Washington Bridge into New York and with the Manhattan Skyline in sight, I was asked to pull over and wait for a CBS News crew to tape the arrival. Stats at that point showed the SG-II at 71.3mpg, 1.1gallons of fuel still left per the SG-II’s countdown from 12.0 gallons and the MFD showed 70.8mpg. Unfortunately, 10 to 15 minutes turned into 30 minutes which turned into an hour… After 20 minutes and 53% SoC, I decided it was best to power her down. An hour from last contact, the crew arrived and filmed the Prius crossing the George Washington Bridge, down the Parkway and finally into the heart of Manhattan where I was directed to the CBS Early Show Plaza for the finale. Just before shutting her down where she sat in front of the Early Show studio, the SG-II showed 71.5mpg and 1.1 gallons left while the MFD displayed 71.0mpg and 1 non-blinking pip still left on the Fuel Gauge.
“Here we are… Woohhoo! What a drive! Thank you CBS and thank you Toyota…”
Back to a local parking garage and to sleep at a hotel in the area for a much needed 4+ hours
Driving back to the CBS News Early Show Plaza the following morning, the Prius’ MFD showed 70.6mpg after 789 miles. Upper left corner shows
the SG-II X-Gauges with 71.0mpg and 10.9 gallons consumed displayed. CBS News/Early Show Plaza with the crew getting ready.
With a cold start and short drive back to the CBS Early Show Plaza for the final shoot, I relaxed a little. The Early Show outside producer was guiding everyone to specific positions and keeping everyone on track with information about when things were going to happen -- and then the finish…
Double Your Gas Mileage By "Hypermiling" – Chicago to NY on one tank of gas.
Immediately after the shoot, Elizabeth and I took both Prius’ back to the parking garage. Afterwards, we had breakfast and I headed back to the hotel for a nice 4+ hour long sleep. Ken and his daughter were being flown out so they could spend the afternoon and evening in NY to not only enjoy the city but to drive the second Prius back to Detroit. After that, all of us would ride together in the remaining Prius back to Chicago.
We spent the day touring Times Square and the Theater district. Ken and his daughter even went to a play later in the evening.
When in NY City, you must visit Times Square.
After the tour of downtown, I headed back to the hotel for yet another nap. Less than 12 hours of sleep over the previous 3 days was really taking its toll
Jud’s (BestMapMan) supplied running updates and beautifully rendered maps as the trek continued.
Ken Gordon narrates the breaking of the Prius’ fuel tank
seal at 44th and 10th in downtown NY City.
Final fill and gallons consumed.
Somehow, another 2 miles was added to the Prius’ total mileage between drop off and pick up the following morning by the parking garage attendants? I can only imagine the number of cold starts that she went though for the 2 miles of joy riding
|Prius||Total Time to CBS Plaza||Total Miles traveled||Total gallons filled||Actual FE|
|Benno’s Prius||13 hours||803||20.411*||39.34 mpg|
|Wayne’s Prius||15.5 hours||793||11.338||69.85 mpg|
* Benno’s Prius was filled in OH with 9.337 gallons 389 miles out and 11.041 at the gas station in NY
** Both Prius’ were on the blinking pip and filled at 10th and 44th in downtown Manhattan.
Links of interest …
Pulse_and_Glide_plus Warp Stealth in the Prius II for maximum FE …
A few quick notes on the Prius-II from a non-Prius-II owner …
New Prius - "Super Highway Mode" Technique (SH).
Behind the News with CBS New York
Double Your Gas Mileage By "Hypermiling"
Prius - Chicago to New York on a single tank - Wayne's Progress.
A very special thanks to Elizabeth Bacelar of CBS News (give her the reins and she will move the world!), Bianca Solorzano of CBS News (great clinic with no prior warning
), the CBS Early Show staff, Shannon Raby (Toyota Press Fleet Coordinator – amazing how she does what she does!), Wade Hoyt (Toyota Northeast Public Relations Manager and another amazing doer), Lou Zimbler (A&M - Toyota Press Fleet Coordinator), Dan Bryant (X-Gauge setup), Jud Engles (maps, weather, updates and everything else!
), Ken Gordon (updates), Bradlee Fons (WI fuel location) and Sean Welch (updates and editing) all of CleanMPG and the entire CleanMPG membership for helping me get across with just enough fuel to spare!