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Hypermiling the Ford Escape Hybrid ...

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Old 03-22-2006, 07:59 PM
GaryG GaryG is offline
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Hypermiling the Ford Escape Hybrid ...

Gary G. - CleanMPG.com - March 22, 2006

Hypermiling with the Ford Escape Hybrid

FEH at its best in an all-city/suburban environment.


The FEH has many built-in benefits not advertised that can be used to increase fuel efficiency (FE). As with most benefits, there are drawbacks that need to be recognized or avoided whenever possible. Both the benefits and drawbacks I discuss are my own personal observations and have helped increase the FE in my ‘05 FWD FEH. This is not a complete list of ideas, but I hope it will assist you as we all continue to learn about the FEH.

In my opinion, the driver’s habits and skills play the biggest roll in hypermiling any vehicle. The EPA has set a high mark for city and highway ratings for the average driver to accomplish or compare other vehicles to. Many drivers feel that those EPA ratings are not realistic, while others look at it as a challenge to overcome. Let’s use the term “Hypermiler” as a person who can maintain FE above the EPA ratings.

The FEH stock gauges fall short in providing the driver with what I consider to be important for FE. The gauges I feel that should have been stock are: Battery Level, Digital Instant MPG, Engine Load and Average Trip MPG. Some of these gauges can be added as I did with a Scan Gauge for about $169, which plugs in under the dash. The Scangauge-II is now available which is much smaller, better looking and improved. Up until now, the high voltage battery level was only provided with the optional $2,600 Nav. System. The newest Scangauge 11 can now be programmed to read the HV battery State of Charge.

FEH - Standard Instrumentation.


The “Fake Shift” (FS) is a term I came up with to describe a benefit built into the FEH. Letting off the gas pedal as you would in a manual transmission to shift gears is where I came up with the term. With a sudden release of the gas pedal in low gear, two things happen. First, the rpm’s drop to near 1,000 rpm’s and lets the gear set move closer to overdrive to keep rpm’s low. Second, a big charge is being sent to the HV battery by the regenerative (regen) braking system (traction motor) The lower the state of charge (SoC) in the HV battery, the more charge it accepts. This is important to remember because the ICE uses much more fuel charging the battery with a low SoC via the generator/motor. The fake shift takes the load off the ICE and recharges the battery much faster to increase FE. This allows longer and the more FE electric driving.

During acceleration, the FS was used to lower RPM’s and allow the gearset to go to an overdrive ratio. Recently, I found going to a RPM range and holding that RPM till the eCVT finds the most FE way to increase speed is better. At 1800 RPM’s, I find this to be the most FE way to accelerate. This is not always an option in traffic or when you are in a hurry. The FEH’s torque curve between 1,800 and 2,500 RPM’s is very good with FE at 2400 being the next best choice to 1800 RPM’s. Holding the RPM steady and letting the eCVT change ratio’s to accelerate seems to be better on FE than accelerating to a higher RPM and Fake shifting. Looking at the torque curve for the Atkinson ICE, 3000 to 3500 RPM’s is almost flat and I would avoid that range for accelerating.

The “Low Gear Advantage” (LGA) is a term I came up with to describe another benefit of the FEH. If all conditions are right for Electric Vehicle (EV) mode, shifting to low gear (“L”) under 43 mph and letting off the gas pedal can cause the FEH to go EV at 40 mph. Just before the tach drops, it will make a slight bump which will allow you to know when to shift to neutral “N”) before EV. This helps for a smooth glide down to an EV speed you can hold in “D” (up to 37 mph in some FEH’s). This can also be used in combination with the Pulse & Glide (P&G) for the FEH. You can also preset the cruise in “D” at say 35 mph and increase the speed to 43 mph, shift to “L”, back to “D” at the tach signal and glide to the preset 35 mph in cruise. Anytime you are in “L” and let off the gas pedal, you get regen if the battery needs a charge. The fake shift in “L” will give you even a higher surge of charge.

Setup and Warm-up … The tire pressure I prefer in the stock Eco Plus tires is 50 psi, which is over the max sidewall of 44psi which you take at your own risk. Before even considering starting your FEH, I recommend setting all adjustments before starting her up. Turn the key to IG-II without starting up the ICE to provide power and then make adjustments to the windows, mirrors, gauges, etc. Last item will to include fastening your seatbelt of course. Wait for clear traffic, start the ICE, and move ASAP to begin warming up the ICE’s coolant and light off the CAT. This is the best time to recharge the HV battery since the ICE must run anyway until both the inferred CAT light off and Coolant temperature are reached which will allow the FEH to run in EV mode. During the warm up, the FEH uses the electric motors as a primary source to propel the vehicle for the first few blocks. The FEH/MMH has a built-in warm-up strategy to retard the timing and keep the engine at an idle while the electric motors provide torque and vehicle acceleration. If you allow the engine to maintain this low idle during warm-up, the cat converter will heat up faster and reduce harmful emissions and reduced the time to go EV. If you accelerate and increase RPM's, you will prolong warm-up and EV time. A few “FS” in “L” at 30 mph will aid in getting the battery SoC back up to an acceptable level for FE. Once the battery level is up after the first few blocks, I accelerate under 90% load to speed and shift to “N” and glide as traffic permits. I drop her back in “D” and Pulse back up to speed slowly. Repeat. There is no regen in “N”, but the ICE can still turn the generator/motor for charging. If the ICE takes awhile to warm up, I use fake shifts in “L” to speed up HV battery recharge and maintain low rpm’s (below 2,000). If warm up is expected to be quick from a restart during a just driven segment on the same day, a fake shift in “L” may be needed for a low battery to start EV mode quicker. The electric motors will still be primary for the first few blocks if the FEH has been shutdown for over five or ten minutes because of this warm-up strategy.

Highway driving is something I avoid, if possible. If you drive on the highway, try to stay at the max speed at 1,800 rpm’s (60 - 65mph without a headwind). If you have the Scan Gauge, drafting is a perfect way to find and maintain the best FE. On average, a good draft can yield 45 – 55 MPG at speeds of 60 - 70 mph. It’s not uncommon to see over 70 mpg during drafting. There is a safe distance to maintain which large truckers don't mine, so up close drafting is not required.

When descending overpasses, I have seen as high as 200 MPG on the instant readout. Many hypermilers that drive other vehicles would not think this is possible, but it’s the way Ford set up the Atkinson 2.3L to handle higher speeds. Take away wind resistance in the FEH at highway speeds and it cannot be beat IMHO. During hot weather where the A/C is a must, take to the highways and draft safely. The A/C does not affect FE that much when drafting. Learn to expect > 43 MPG averages when driving on the highway. Gliding in “N” with slowing traffic and off ramps needs to be considered to maintain speed when needed. Gliding in “N” with the ICE running can give you a 38% improvement over gliding in “D”. As soon as you drop below 43 mph on any slow down or stop, use the LGA (shift to "L") to drop out the ICE completely.

High percentage highway driving - Near maximum FE expectation.




High percentage city driving - Near maximum FE expectation.


The fake shift can be regulated at the lowest SoC of the battery and maintain EV mode with a yield of an average > 60 MPG. In fact, the HV battery accepts a faster charge at its lowest SoC limits. This reduces the travel distance and time with the ICE running and increases the travel distance ratio in EV mode. In other words, instead of going 1.3 miles in EV until a low SoC starts the ICE, and then going 1.8 - 2 miles to recharge the HV battery in normal conditions, the opposite happens with a low SoC and the fake shift in “L”.

An example of this method would be as follows in 30 – 43 mph city driving:

Take the FEH to 43 mph no matter what the SoC. Shift to “L” and go EV at 40 mph as stated earlier and then shift back to “N”. Glide to an EV speed of your choice, shift back to “D” and hold as appropriate. DWL (Driving w/ Load) can be an EV mode enhancer when and where appropriate. When the ICE starts due to low SoC, slowly increase speed with one fake shifts while in “L” to 43 mph. Letting off the gas pedal in “L” will be your second fake shift before going EV and shift to “N” for the glide to your desired EV speed in “D”. After the ICE starts, repeat this scenario for as long as traffic allows. The distance in EV should far exceed the distance with the ICE running if properly performed. The fake shift in “L” can work anytime below 41 mph to go into EV and can reduce the ICE run time after a restart. Never worry about the battery SoC except for climbing hills and constant speeds above 40 mph. Use the fake shift to fill the battery instead of putting the load on the ICE when and wherever possible.

Steady state speed FE

Besides the various techniques to improve the FEH’s around town FE, her steady state FE capabilities are very good in their own right. All tests were performed over a 1.0 mile distance with tire pressures set to 52 #’s in mid 90 degree F temps.

Scan Gauge - constant speed tests - MPG Results

With Cruise Control    
RPM’s1,1001,5001,5001,600 - 1,800
Run #30 mph40 mph50 mph60 mph
156.8 mpg56.2 mpg51.2 mpg42.0 mpg
262.3 mpg56.0 mpg51.8 mpg42.5 mpg
357.8 mpg56.0 mpg51.1 mpg42.5 mpg
    
Average’s59.0 mpg56.1 mpg51.4 mpg42.3 mpg
    
Without Cruise Control    
RPM’s1,1001,5001,5001,600 - 1,800
Run #30 mph40 mph50 mph60 mph
161.2 mpg60.5 mpg52.8 mpg44.0 mpg
256.9 mpg58.3 mpg50.2 mpg44.3 mpg
363.7 mpg57.2 mpg44.3 mpg42.8 mpg
456.7 mpgNANANA
    
Average’s59.6 mpg58.7 mpg49.1 mpg43.7 mpg

The differences between using CC or not at the above test speeds on an absolute flat roadway with no traffic interaction are statistically insignificant in the FEH.

Important: Many of us drive in low gear ("L") thinking we are in the same state as drive ("D"). During my tests, I accidentally left the shifter in "L" and came up with astounding results. It appears that "L" at below 50 mph, there is still regenerative braking occurring while in cruise control. This must also be the case while not in cruise control. The result I was getting was a 5.1 MPG reduction at 30 mph while in the "L" position over the "D" position. At 40 mph, I was getting a 4.1 mph reduction in "L" over the "D" position. To sum it up, I will no longer be using the "L" position in the steady state cruising mode. In addition, I believe that using "L" in EV mode may reduce fuel efficiency. This is sort of like saying the "L" position causes an accelerate or brake (regen) "L" mode, instead of an accelerate and (light regen)"D" coast mode. Based on these test, I recommend using "L" for going EV and charging the battery only. Driving only in "L" will reduce your FE.

Still the best SUV available at this time


This is a great SUV, learn how to drive it and get the most MPG possible!

Last edited by GaryG : 10-09-2007 at 02:27 AM. Reason: Added more information to extract the most out of the FEH.
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Old 03-22-2006, 08:09 PM
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philmcneal philmcneal is offline
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Re: Hypermiling the Ford Escape Hybrid ...

Extremely impressed with your findings.

edit: Don't you think the guys who hang out in the escape GH forum deserves to be linked to this article?

Also wanted to add, you have an suv and you get better mileage than me! **** I'm jealous.
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Last edited by philmcneal : 03-23-2006 at 04:12 AM.
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Old 03-26-2006, 10:49 AM
GaryG GaryG is offline
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Re: Hypermiling the Ford Escape Hybrid ...

Thanks Phil:

Greenhybrid has a number of posters I would have to say lead to information in this article. The biggest find was the "Low Gear Advantage" which Nitramjr (Ray Martin) and Pravus Prime (Rich) brought to my attention about low gear or the lack of a low gear. These two were discussing driving at highway speeds in low, and getting better MPG. They brought up the fact of the ICE shutting down under 40mph in "L", something I did not know about. Pravus Prime was raising questions as to if this harmed the FEH and added this to a list of questions to be brought up at the FEH Dearborn Event. When I got the nerve to try driving in "L" at high speeds, I found the benifits and added them to my program of driving in EV as much as posible. This added about 3-4mpg to my averages. Many thanks to both of them for those tips.

The next person who I thank for this article and knowledge to make it easy to maintain even better MPG is xcel (Wayne Gerdes). Xcel came to FEH forum on GH asking me to perform test to nail down the Pulse and Glide (P&G) for the FEH. Xcel was far more advanced for me and most of the new FEH owners on FE. Most of the things he was asking, I knew would lead to a big advancement in FE, and was willing to try. He had ask me if I had or knew someone with a Scan Gauge for some of the test. Now, the Scan Gauge is part of most FEH owners equipment as a result of his original post. As a result of some gliding test he ask me to perform, gliding in "N" has increased mpg and FE in a number of uses in EV and ICE on. All these tricks have lead me from a hard 41mpg Tank in the city average to an easy 46mpg tank. More testing is needed, but I hoping to break >65mpg round trip (RT) real soon as a result in everyones help.

GaryG
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Old 03-26-2006, 12:08 PM
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Thumbs up Re: Hypermiling the Ford Escape Hybrid ...

GaryG
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Gary,

Very interesting comments on your FE and how you do it.

Terry
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Old 03-26-2006, 06:59 PM
GaryG GaryG is offline
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Re: Hypermiling the Ford Escape Hybrid ...

Hi Terry:

Since EV mode is restricted in the FEH to about a 37mph sustained speed and wind resistance greatly increases over that speed, I take the maximum advantage of the FEH and EV I can. Travel roads under 45mph and your mileage will increase using EV to the Max.

This is a list of things I do:

1. HV Battery management: I always keep the battery less than half available now, unless driving a constant speed over 45mph which its fills after 1.8 miles anyway with the ICE/generator (much less with a few fake shifts which I due to reduce the load on the ICE). The ratio of EV and ICE On is in my opinion, 100-500% better when using the fake shift in L. If I can drive 20% ICE on 80% ICE off in EV, I can maintain better than 60mpg. The range varies with speed and N gliding.

2. Always park the FEH with the lowest posible HV battery. The ICE will always run when first started, so I use this time to increase the SoC. You can get up to speed and glide in neutral while the ICE is running and charging the battery. Great instant MPG readings on the scangauge can be seen during the normally worst time for FE. When in a 35mph speed zone, I increase to 40mph and glide just below 35mph and pulse using 1,800 RPMs (78-82% ICE Load) back to 40mph and repeat. This increases warm up from around 21mpg for 2.5miles to a increased average to 32mpg. At this point, you are ready for EV with a full battery to continue a real increase in your MPG average and a great trip average overall.

3. I accelerate to speed by holding a steady 1,800 RPMs whenever possible. When accelerating in traffic on an ON Ramp to a freeway, the best torque is at 2,200-2,450 RPM. A few fake shifts can increase to a full battery SoC while lowering RPMs and placing the eCVT in an overdrive mode quicker. I try to avoid RPMs over 1,800 and Engine Loads over 90%, but this can be unrealistic in every situation.

4. Shifting to L while decelerating will not give you the high charge that happens when you let off the pedal in L. For some reason, the release of the pedal plays a big part in the serge of charge by regen. Stay in L while in the Pulse mode to take advantage of the fake shift and regen. In the article, I stated three fake shift before the 40mph EV glide. Due to sensor problems with heat, avoid this with just two fake shifts if your having trouble getting ICE off in L. Remember to go to N and tap the brake pedal if this happens to get to EV.

5. Know where your average tank MPG is, and keep it as high as possible on every trip. If you want great MPG, pay attention to your driving at all times. Dont just drive though, operate your vehicle like a fine piece of equipment because that what it is IMO.

6. Avoid oxygenated fuels (alcohol methanol) because they really affect the FEHs Atkinson 5 Cycle ICE at least 10% mpg IMHO.

7. Draft when ever possible. The FEH loves when it is not fighting wind. Use much lower speeds in a headwind if possible. Use a little higher speeds with a strong tailwind (great for high EV speeds of 37-38mph).

8. I know the tire pressure Im at all the time with a gauge and air pump with me in the FEH. At 44psi, I feel Im safe, the tires will wear fine and the mpg is acceptable.

Hope you all can improve your FE with these tips

GaryG
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Old 03-27-2006, 09:42 AM
billy billy is offline
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Re: Hypermiling the Ford Escape Hybrid ...

Nice post, Gary. Very good info. Can you imagine the nationwide fuel savings if everyone in their FEH would employ some of these techniques? Thanks again for letting us try out your rig in Florida, it was lots of fun. See you later, Bill........
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Old 03-27-2006, 10:55 AM
GaryG GaryG is offline
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Re: Hypermiling the Ford Escape Hybrid ...

Hi Billy & Cindy

It was nice to have met you two, letting you both drive the FEH was a real pleasure. You were the best Sebring guide anyone could ask for. It was a great experience for me, and I will never forget it. Hopefully timing will be on our side again, and the four of you can stay with Rhonda and I here in Jupiter for the race next time.

Wayne and others may want here about this 32.8 mile round trip I took this morning to bring up my tank average from last week. This was on my best beach roads for driving with a 10mph headwind from the north, but I got the same tailwind coming back.

Here it is:

32.8 miles total from a warm start

63.0mpg average with battery SoC the same at the end of the RT.

.5 gallons used

Max RPM 2170

Max speed, 35mph

Average speed, 22mph

Hours, 1.4

Coolant max temp, 181F

At this speed, I use one fake shift in L while accelerating to 35mph at 1,800 RPMs. Gliding was not a problem down to ~25mph in N, but I lost 5mph going EV in N. Speed limit was 30mph along a 9.2 mile stretch along Jupiter Island that I went 4 times back and forth. A higher P&G speed from 43mph will need to be done on roads with higher limits in the near future.

I think this is the number that needs to be beat with a FWD FEH. Not bad for a Ford SUV.

GaryG
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Old 04-01-2006, 02:22 PM
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VietVet'67 VietVet'67 is offline
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Re: Hypermiling the Ford Escape Hybrid ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by GaryG

I know the tire pressure Im at all the time with a gauge and air pump with me in the FEH. At 44psi, I feel Im safe, the tires will wear fine and the mpg is acceptable.

GaryG

Gary - Went out in the garage and checked the tire pressure on my FEH after it had been sitting all night and morning and had 42psi all the way around. I know it has been posted many times about the tire pressure (from 40 to 50psi), is this reading cold (like mine is now) or hot, say after a 2-4 mile ride?
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Old 04-01-2006, 02:34 PM
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Thumbs up Re: Hypermiling the Ford Escape Hybrid ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by VietVet'67
Gary - Went out in the garage and checked the tire pressure on my FEH after it had been sitting all night and morning and had 42psi all the way around. I know it has been posted many times about the tire pressure (from 40 to 50psi), is this reading cold (like mine is now) or hot, say after a 2-4 mile ride?
VietVet'67
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Phillip the tire pressure needs to be {Adjusted-Cold} and just as a Comment only. If you don't want to worry about how much Air Pressure to put in the tires. You can always put in the (Maximum Sidewall Pressure).

My HCH II calls for I think (without-looking) 42 Lbs. Maximum Sidewall Pressure. I have adjusted it to 50 1/4 Lbs. I like the (No-Flex) ride that it gives you with the Increased Tire Pressure.

So, once again to answer your, Question? COLD

Regards;

Terry
BTW; Off Topic Here, I read all the stories on Viet Nam, interesting:
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Old 04-01-2006, 08:40 PM
GaryG GaryG is offline
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Re: Hypermiling the Ford Escape Hybrid ...

Hi Phillip:

Terry is right, I set mine at 44psi cold which will increase as the tire gets hot. The 44psi cold is max sidewall for the stock Eco Plus tires. The only reason I don't go higher is liability as I've said many time. If I have a blowout and hurt someone, I don't want investigators finding over 44psi in the tires still full which may switch liability away from the manufacturer and solely on me. We could all get sued for a crash, but the manufacturer's insurance carries a bigger stick because of deeper pockets. I prefer to have them on my side of the table unless I'm suing them. We all pay for insurance, so why not be prepared for a claim if needed.

GaryG
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