Today is the end of the winter fuel economy competition; I have some space in my tank so I get to report one last time tonight. A new contender showed up out of the blue almost near the end, he already had the records from his regular entry and only needed to transfer them to a competition entry. As of this writing, I am in 6th place. Some of the people in my division have only entered one or two tanks in non-hybrids. With 11, going on 12 fill-ups, I thought I was a shoe in for most number of stops at a gas station, but I didn’t even come close on that mark; it is a relief because I think I may have covered the most miles during this competition.
This morning’s commute was very rewarding from a fuel economy standpoint. I understand that cooler air produces more power, but cold air also increases all kinds of friction and resistances. First there is air resistance, rolling resistance, internal friction in all the car’s systems, the battery performs less effectively and more.
The tank of fuel I just polished off yesterday was my first tank since January 10, where I was able to obtain over 60mpg. That was on my way to Detroit for the North American International Auto Show, all highway and not particularly difficult to do even under the conditions I was driving into. It was my first time driving in snow or seriously having to deal with below zero temperatures in the negative teens!
I filled this particular ethanol free tank in Irmo on February 10 where I was able to squeeze just 9.232 gallons of unleaded into the tank. 729.6 miles later the gas light was had just turned on and I needed another data point for the winter fuel economy competition I’m participating in that ends this Saturday the 28th. The fuel economy for this tank rang in at just 60.754 Miles per Gallon.
The last few days of colder weather have really placed a hit on my fuel economy. When we were having days where temperature was up in the 50s and 60s I was looking at a 65mpg tank. Three days makes a difference, when I parked from getting lunch yesterday (2/23) the tank was down to 59.2 mpg.
The cooler weather also affects the small 12 volt battery that Honda has equipped the HCHII and the 2nd Gen Honda Fit, I do put some load on the 12v system with the engine and IMA system offline and the car won’t take much of that in these temperatures. In the summer I was usually good for a good 10-15 min listening to the radio with the DC/DC converter offline (that’s what I’m calling it, its actually an advanced technique but no matter), but in the colder weather under 40 degrees when I last timed it, the system could only take about 1-3 minutes before I had to start the car.
First, I want to thank all the Fuel Station owners who opt not to put ethanol in our gas if they are not required to do so by law.
Many areas of the country are required to use oxygenated gasoline because their air quality is so poor. For a long time this was done with MTBE when that became illegal, or at least frowned upon, in most parts of the country due to concerns about contaminated groundwater gasoline retailers switched to Ethanol from MTBE.
I had a customer yesterday, express concern over the way their CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission or Constant Velocity Transmission) felt when compared to a relative's conventional automatic transmission.
The main concern was that the car felt sluggish, conventional wisdom would suggest that the smaller engine on the Civic Hybrid is the source of the concerns. One must figure in the way a CVT works and the instant torque provided by the IMA (Integrated Motor Assist) Motor. The HCHII can keep up with (or outpace most) traffic if watching based on one’s position relative to the other cars on the road, or based on the speedometer. Judging by feel will make the car seem slower than it actually is due to lack of shift shock.
On a conventional automatic transmission, there are four, five, six, or now seven separate gears with separate gear ratios. The Civic Hybrid when equipped with an automatic transmission uses a CVT transmission; specifically it uses a CVT with two cones and a belt. The belt is tensioned by the two pulleys, which can vary their diameters together to provide different gear ratios. They do not need to disengage to switch ratios, but on a regular automatic the engine must temporarily be disconnected from the wheels while the car changes gear ratios (by changing the physical gears)
On a conventional AT (Automatic Transmission) when you want to go faster, the engine must also turn faster (excepting overdrive and torque converter lockup to some degree). When you get out of the engine speeds where the engine’s peak power output is, you must change the gear ratio to get the engine back into its power band to continue to accelerate rapidly.