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Recipe for getting 99.7 mpg from a Geo Metro
Posted Wednesday, May 13/09 in Mods & Tests
At the start of this month, alt-fuel and efficiency enthusiasts gathered in Watkins Glen, New York for the 5th annual Green Grand Prix expo and fuel economy rally. I entered my modified 1998 Pontiac Firefly (Geo Metro) in the rally, and managed to score the top result of 99.7 mpg (US) (2.4 L/100 km / 119.7 mpg imperial) in a field of 25 vehicles - including hybrids, diesels ... and even a pair of Vespa scooters! How does one squeeze 99 mpg from an old Metro? Here's the recipe - mods & driving techniques - used for the event...
The route ...
The competition covered a 79 mile / 127 km circuit around Seneca Lake in New York's scenic Finger Lakes region. Drivers had 2 hours and 5 minutes to complete the course, consisting of both urban & rolling rural roads, where speed limits varied between 35 to 55 mph. According to organizers, the time limit was based on driving no less than 10% below the posted speed limits, and included a mandatory 10 minute rest stop in the city of Geneva.
The weather was ideal: sunny & mild, and only light & variable winds. (So variable that I actually noticed tail winds in both directions!)
The mods (in no particular order)...
The driving techniques...
The dispute ...
There was some debate after the event about the accuracy of the fueling method - and therefore the accuracy of the fuel consumption figures.
Prior to the start, drivers topped up their tanks at a gas station in Watkins Glen under the watchful eyes of rally scrutineers, who sealed all fuel caps with tape and a dab of silicone.
Competitors were instructed to stop filling at the first "click" off of the fuel pump. When the rally finished (at the same gas station, under the same scrutineers' watchful eyes), competitors again used the "first click" method to re-fill their tanks and thus measure fuel consumed.
Ideally, a driver would want to actually see the fuel level in the filler neck to ensure accuracy (particularly with such small fills). But filling to the brim can be a potential problem for vehicles with evaporative emissions systems, which draw vapour from the top of the filler neck. Filling to the top of the neck could cause liquid fuel to enter the evaporative system, potentially causing malfunction or even damage. Thus the decision by organizers to use the "first click" method.
Ironically, the more efficient the vehicle - the smaller the amount of fuel used - the larger the potential margin of error in the the "first click" method.
So, the important question: was the 99.7 mpg result accurate? Short answer: because of the filling technique, it's impossible to say for sure.
But it's definitely not outside the realm of possibility.
I've regularly exceeded 100 mpg (US) for round trips under ideal conditions. And last summer I drove for a tank achieving 104 mpg (US). Considering all the stops were pulled out at the Green Grand Prix, 99.7 isn't that much of a stretch.
Other class-leading competitors...
Several other EcoModder members also competed in the Green Grand Prix, turning in some impressive numbers:
darin AT metrompg D-O-T com, or here