10. I love pinching pennys.
9. I hate conceding our income to the nasty ogres of PigOil.
8. It's an irresistable engineering challenge.
7. I want to do what I can for the environment.
6. I want to reduce my contribution to the world petropolitical chaos.
5. I hate being addicted to oil.
4. I feel it's a better way of supporting our troops.
3. I think hypermiling driving technique should be an Olympic event (like curling).
2. It's a trans-generational social avocation.
1. Just because.
BTW, I too lived in Berlin (late 60s) as a kid. My folks got gas from the military for $015/gallon and the exchange rate was 4 DM/$ and something like 13 DDR marks/$! History repeats...sometimes in strange ways: the president of Mexico will soon be saying "President Bush, tear down this wall!" But I digress.
Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one. - Albert Einstein
I taught defensive driving as a job while I was in university. As part of my training for that job, each instructor had to research and present a short seminar to the class from a list of driving topics. Guess which one I picked?
Ever since then, I've had a FE bee in my bonnet.
Around that time, I also spent a fair amount of time in performance driving courses & road course racing schools. I loved the challenge and satisfaction of driving as fast & smooth as I could, and paring down the lap times. Way fun, but far too expensive.
Hypermiling is just as much a challenge & test of skill as driving at 10/10ths on a track, but it's something I can do all the time, on public roads, and not get arrested!
Plus, you've got to love that it's the opposite of expensive (depending on how crazy you go with mods/vehicles).
I spend lots of time on the highway commuting - why not try to spend less getting to work? I mean, I could just throw it away but why?
Seriously I commute about 550 miles a week. Just a few simple and quick calculations show the amount of money wasted by even getting 35 vs. 45 mpg. I was already driving a car that had great potential for mpg anyway, so I figured why not? I love personal challenges too, so this fits right in.
I also fit into the "tinkerer" type that DaX speaks of - I generally do more planning than actual tinkering, but I do enjoy both.
I'm cheap too. I love to shop around, especially for gas. I like to spend the least amount of money to get a good deal. That's why I drive about ~3 miles to pay 8-13 cents cheaper per gallon. If gas seriously hits $3.50 then I'll only use my car on the freeway. Anything short distance or on the streets I'll try to take a bus or ride a bike.
Ever since I started learning about drag coefficients I have been transfixed by the idea that you can effectively spend almost nothing on fuel if it is done right. Just the fact that in a typical 25mpg car:
-petrol engine is 30% efficient, so we lose 70% of the initial energy there;
-Cd might be 0.35. Considering that the best Cd is probably on the area of 0.14 for a car, or better, that's 40% efficient (losing 60% of energy)
-most cars have perhaps twice as much frontal area as they need to, so that's 50% efficiency there;
-most cars are over-engined, using a 2.0 litre at least where a 0.5cc will do, hence 25% efficient. (overestimating here)
-most cars are under-geared, hence there is maybe a 20% gain to be achieved by a more appropriate higher gear.
-most cars weigh probably twice as much as they have to, if not more.
If we multiply all these efficiencies together,
Engine * Cd * Frontal Area * Engine Size * Gearing * Weight
= 0.3 * 0.4 * 0.5 * 0.25 * 0.8 * 0.5
= 0.006 = 0.6% efficient.
Even putting petrol engines in the impossible to reform category, that's still something like 2% efficient, meaning that it's possible to reform fuel efficiency by two orders of magnitude. And even discounting engine size, there is still a 300mpg gain to be made.
Hence the 25mpg car could be getting 300mpg to do much the same job (getting one person from A to B).
The situation then seems grossly, horribly, amazingly inefficient. It also seems as though this low hanging fruit is virtually dangling on the ground. I might have overestimated some of the efficiency gains, but even so, an order of magnitude is imminently achievable.
And engineers just LOVE efficiency gains.
Aside from that, rising oil prices mean inflation and even higher oil prices as the various fiat currencies devalue. All this means is that it pays to insulate ourselves from rising gas prices NOW before the herd wakes up. And that's what we are doing here.