Prius tank-by-tank and year-on-year

My fuel consumption is much better than last year.  My first few fuel ups from January to March 2012 were:

  1. 5.3l/100km (estimated)
  2. 5.4
  3. 4.9
  4. 4.9
  5. 5.3
  6. 4.8

By comparison, this year to March my numbers are:

  1. 4.1
  2. 4.0
  3. 4.2

Yes, 1 fillup per month in 2013.

In 2012 from the end of January to mid-March we travelled 3661.9 km using 185.79 litres at 5.07 l/100km.  In 2013 from mid-January to early March we travelled 3001.9 km using 123.25 litres at 4.10 l/100km.  That’s like improving from 46.4 to 57.4 mpg (US), 55.7 to 68.9 mpg (Imp) or 21.2 to 24.4 km/l.

Why the big difference?

There’s a number of things that have changed from when I first bought the car:

  1. Driving technique.  I am much more conscious of how to get the best from the car, specifically Pulse and Glide, Driving without Brakes (not literally) and maximising regenerative braking.  Super Highway Mode is still a bit elusive for me, but I achieved a very high level of right-foot mastery.*
  2. Engine heater and grill block.  Together these get the engine up to temperature and keep it there.  The Prius’ startup modes respond to coolant temperature; the hotter it is the more EV and power you have access to.
  3. Tyres.  I had 3 Ovation ecovision VI-682 and a slowly-leaking Bridgestone B205 at 34psi.  Now I have 2 Bridgestone ecopia PZ-X and 2 Ovations at 47 psi front and 45 psi rear.   I know that the Ovations were an end-of-lease quick-fix to having 3 bald tyres, but why doesn’t Toyota fit low rolling resistance tyres from the factory?
  4. I replaced a dead 12 volt battery in late March 2012.  This could have caused poor fuel economy by requiring more from the HV battery and therefore engine to recharge the 12 v.
  5. No cruise control on the highway.  CC doesn’t know when the accelerate except to keep the speed constant.  This includes a very handy feature of using regenerative braking on downhills.  But it is nowhere near as good as a well-placed right-foot.
  6. I ignore Distance to Empty = 0 km.  You have about 9 litres of fuel left when that warning
  7. Major Service in July.  If anything has been lurking, it will probably be found and fixed.  Improvement in fuel consumption should be obvious… unless everything was perfect beforehand.
  8. LED lights, shark fin antenna and subtle aero tweaks.  These are minor changes.  Indeed some in the eco-modder community wonder if the OEM antenna is even long enough to be affected by the air streaming over the car.  But since they make the car pretty and don’t take away efficiency, they can stay.
  9. I use 91 RON instead of the “recommended” 95 RON.  The user manual says that fuel of 90 RON or higher should be used.  However, the fuel flap “recommends” 95 RON.  Research from PriusChatters shows that 87 AKI (91 RON) produces better fuel economy than 91 AKI (95 RON) in the Gen III at least.  Particularly if you very rarely rev the engine beyond the Eco zone, the extra energy in 95 RON is not put to any use.
  10. It is dryer and probably warmer this year.  Temperature has a big effect on fuel consumption and the hot weather has helped.

The real test will be to see how much of this I can maintain during a Canberra winter.  I suspect that I won’t be much better if at all because I had already adopted a lot of fuel-saving measure before last winter.

* I drove my Citroën C5 for the first time in a year yesterday.  The steering is very heavy (but good heavy), the throttle is so quick to respond compared to ECO mode on the Prius and the brakes are very strong; a Citroën trait.  And I can’t believe how low I could have my seat and how high I could have the wheel.  I only used the wipers instead of the indicators once, but I kept trying to engage the parking brake with my foot!

 

Advertisements

Prius 90,000km service

$187.04.  Actually, $170.04 because my leasing company will be able to claim the GST.  Actually, a bit less, because I’ll pay for that from pre-tax (I think?).  After a servicing few European cars it’s nice to have one that’s cheap to service.

I turned up to pick up my car at 16:30.  There was a waiting room full customers, so I had a quick look at the Prius V i-Tech (finally!) in the showroom.  Walked back to the service reception as several people asked the whereabouts of their cars.  (It had been a busy day and still was.)  Smiling woman told me that mine was the one car that was finished.  Despite the 3 engines, 2 batteries and all those gubbins mine was the only one ready.  Cop that!

The 90,000km / 54 month service is the first one after the first major service, so it would have been a surprise if there was any drama.  I had added a check-list of my own, namely:

  • I would prefer the lightest oil you can reasonably put in.
  • Please check suspension components for wear and recommend.
  • When you rotate the tyres please use 47 psi front, 45 psi rear.
  • Please adjust fog lamps down to correct level.  I fixed them as they were far too low, but I may have gone too high.
  • And  BTW, I fitted a DEFA Engine Block Heater, so don’t panic when you see it.

I should have been more specific about the oil as I was given 10W-30, which is practically treacle.  Sure, 10W-30 has a working range from -18°c to over 38°c and recently we’ve had a lot more of the latter than the former.  But a 0W-20 oil will still work at 38°c but be lighter at normal temperatures.  Why bother?  There are fuel consumption savings in lighter oil.  My old Rover P6B 3500 got better fuel consumption with Penrite 40W-70 than lighter oils but that was because the engine was so worn.  A modern car with 90,000km (much less on the engine, when you think about it) should be just worn-in, not worn-out.

Suspension tested good.  I’m considering some stiffening plates so I wanted to be sure that I wouldn’t make things worse.

I had my good Bridgestone ecopia PZ-X tyres on the front but rotation means that the Ovation ecovision VI-682 get a go.  Fortunately, by the time it gets cold (25 April on the dot) I should have done 5000km and I’ll be able to rotate them back before the tricky road conditions start.  I just noticed that the Chinese tyres have a maximum pressure of 44 psi.  Too bad, there’s 47 psi in there now.  (The ecopias will take 60 psi or more if you’re mad.)

Fog lamps were adjusted down.  You may remember that I adjusted my fog lamps when I fitted the DEFA EBH.  The lamps might have well pointed backwards for all the light they produced.  However, I adjusted them far too high.  Now they seem very low, but better.

I got to talk to the Scottish mechanic when I picked up the car and showed him the DEFA EBH.  He was impressed.

Oh, and it does look like they replaced the air conditioning filter but didn’t charge me for it.  They’re about $50 each.

And special mention to the mechanic who discovered that the left-hand-side rear body support was loose and the bolt was cross-threaded.  Now I don’t hear a rattle when I go over a bump, something I was blaming on the loose rear spoiler.  Nice work!

No doubt I’ll be contacted by Canberra Toyota to see how my service experience was.  I’ll have to tell them about the oil, the rear body support… and the A/C filter.

Prius mods part 2 – tyres

When I bought My Red Prius (I really should think of a name) I should have paid more attention to the tyres. As the car had just come off lease, someone realised that they couldn’t hand back the car with bald tyres. So they replaced 3, leaving the barely legal OEM tyre on the back like a dog with a limp.
As if that wasn’t bad enough form, they chose was a brand I had never heard of before; Ovation ecovision VI-682 to be precise. I put some 10,000km on the tyres and I can say that Choice.com.au was generous when they awarded 45/100 for wet cornering. They may be OK in a straight line but even the Prius can overwhelm the tyres on a damp road. And any credentials they may suggest for low rolling resistance (LRR) are sketchy at best. Since the OEM Bridgestone B250 is not a LRR tyre, perhaps I’m just being a bit fussy. To replace the leaky Bridgestone, I realised that buying 1 tyre was not on the cards.
As luck would have it, Bridgestone had just released the ecopia PZ-X in Australia to join the EP100 and EP150. The PZ-X is a premium touring tyre, but delivers even better fuel consumption then the cheaper ecopias. I’ve been reading about them in Japanese Prius magazines and on http://www.bridgestone.co.jp/sc/ecopia/ (I say “read”, I mean “look at the pretty pictures while running the page through babelfish”) but Australia only had the EP100, admittedly with Planet Ark endorsement no less.
Not wanting to throw away a fairly new set of tyres, I just bought 2 for the front axle to provide some grip in the wet.
Almost regret not getting 4. The ride is so much more comfortable, quiet and dare I say fuel efficient? And the ecopia PZ-X will take 60 psi against the 44psi max for the Ovations. I’ll be putting 42psi in the front again and reporting on fuel consumption shortly.
Here’s more information, including a video from Ed Ordynski that demonstrates what a LRR tyre can do.