What is ‘hypermiling’ – and how it can help you save on your petrol bill

As petrol prices hit a record high in South Africa on Wednesday, vehicle financing firm GetWorth says that drivers should consider joining the ‘hypermiling’ movement.

Petrol climbed by 82 cents a litre for both 93 and 05 octane fuel at midnight, while diesel is up by between 85 and 87 cents per litre.

This has taken the official petrol price up to R15.54 for 93 octane, and R15.79 for 95 octane. Diesel (0.05% sulphur content) hit R14.19.

GetWorth general manager Wesley Procter, explained that ‘hypermiling’ is the use of proven fuel-saving techniques to minimise the amount of fuel a vehicle uses no matter what car you drive.

The term was coined by Wayne Gerdes, the multiple world record holder for the most fuel-efficient driving, who started the website CleanMPG.com, a community forum dedicated to using less fuel.

Hypermiling is characterised by smooth driving and thinking ahead and Procter said that first and most important technique is how you use the accelerator and brake pedals.

“Cars are heavy and it takes a lot of energy to get them moving, so when you brake, you waste that energy,” he said.

“So brake as little as possible by keeping a decent following distance in traffic, coasting up to traffic lights, stop-signs and turns, and keep an eye far ahead for potential impediments.”

“Accelerate smoothly and steadily and as little as possible and lift your foot off the pedal as soon as you see you’re going to need to slow down or stop.

“In the same vein, keep your general speed down – fuel consumption is dramatically higher at 120 km/h than 80 km/h, but you’re also more likely to have to slow down for something when you’re travelling faster. Also remember to use hills to your advantage by coasting downhill,” he said.

Procter pointed to several other techniques with varying levels of effectiveness, including:

  • Set your display to show real-time fuel consumption – watching that number fly up when you accelerate is the quickest way to figure out why you are burning fuel;
  • Inflate your tyres regularly to the upper end of the safe pressure recommended by the manufacturer (the correct tyre pressure will also make your tyres last longer);
  • Use the lowest-viscosity (lowest weight) engine oil for your vehicle (the thicker the oil, the harder the engine must work to move its parts);
  • Turn off your engine when you’re going to be stopped for more than a minute;
  • Air-conditioning uses fuel so only so only use when absolutely necessary;
  • Avoid tail-gating as it is inefficient. Leave a gap of 7 to 10 seconds from the vehicle ahead on the highway and maintain momentum and
  • Remove dead weight and take anything you don’t need out of the car, as this can save fuel in the long run.

Procter said that hypermiling is the opposite of exciting driving , “but a large portion of our car usage is normally spent in traffic where fast driving would be reckless anyway,” he said.

“Hypermiling techniques take a different type of thought and concentration and can keep you engaged. Think of trying to beat your personal best for the least fuel used on your regular route.”

The South African Government meanwhile published several ‘simple’ fuel saving tips:

Leader of the Democratic Alliance, Mmusi Maimane, took the opportunity to blame president Cyril Rampahosa for the record petrol price.

“Over the past 100 days, we’ve seen Cyril Ramaphosa’s ANC declare financial war on ordinary South Africans. Through increases in Value Added Tax (VAT), Income Tax, RAF levy, General Fuel Levy, and so-called “sin taxes” – the South African public has been strong-armed into paying for the sins of the ANC government. This is not the change we hoped for,” he said.

Maimane said that when Ramaphosa was elected president the price of petrol per litre was at R13.76 – “Today just over 100 days later, petrol costs R15.79 per litre which is a R2.03 per litre – or 14.75% increase.

“After just over 100 days of a Ramaphosa presidency, it cost approximately R100 more to fill the tank of an average sized car. South Africans are angry – and rightly so,” he said.

The DA said it would write to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, to request for a debate of national importance in Parliament about the tax and levy structure of fuel in the country.

Sanlam meanwhile, warned that higher fuel costs could prove crippling for small businesses, with extremely tight financial controls required to survive.

“The reality is that fuel hikes have a negative impact on most businesses because every tangible product which needs to be moved from point A to B needs to be transported and therefore, incurs these extra costs. Service providers will also need to take increased transport costs into account,” said head of Sanlam Business Market, Jannie Rossouw.

Given that the SME sector is estimated to represent almost 40% of business in South Africa and is also a key employer, the mounting financial pressure felt by business owners should be of concern to everyone, he said.

Having a clear view on business finances and implementing conservative measures can help protect business owners from rising fuel levies. Reducing all costs by 10% as a blanket approach is worth considering and Rossouw suggested the following additional tips:

  • Examine your business expenses to trim any unnecessary costs;
  • Review your pricing strategy (align with market or choose a niche target market which is not as price-sensitive);
  • Consider doing away with any discounting;
  • Appoint a commission-only sales team;
  • Reconsider how to restructure overtime pay;
  • ‘Right size’ your staff complement;
  • Consider how you could decrease employees’ working hours by implementing a ‘2/3 shift policy’;
  • Set monthly expenditure budgets and monitor these;
  • Decrease your debtor’s terms.

Read: Fuel savings tips as prices reach record highs on Wednesday

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What is ‘hypermiling’ – and how it can help you save on your petrol bill