Originally intended to document my experience of DeLorean ownership, focus is often radical and strange, boring and obtuse.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Hypermilers Use Cardboard

Cardboard. If it's good enough for some people's houses, it's good enough for my car.

Cardboard is amazing. I particularly enjoy corrugated fiberboard. It protects goods during shipping, and can contain a cornucopia of surprises like pizza, TVs, or gold.

It can also save you money.

We drive a Honda Insight. Besides pure electrics or modified hybrids, it is the most environmentastically friendly car available, achieving 86 mpg (around 72 mpg U.S.) and emitting a mere 80 grams of CO2 per km, 10g less than the Smartcar, over 400g less than most Ferraris and a billion grams less than John Travolta's 707. In the summer, we can also achieve even higher results - around 100+ mpg when drafting big rigs or going downhill. This is called hypermiling (getting higher than the EPA mileage rating)

But there's a problem.
The Insight is TOO efficient. In the bitter, cold Canadian winter the engine rarely reaches the temperature where the auto-stop feature kicks in. Meaning, the car won't shut off at red lights or stop signs because it's too busy shivering.

Some insightful hybrid owners, if you'll pardon the pun, came up with a fantabulous way to keep more heat in the engine, based on the old truck and van rad blocks. All it takes is a piece of that miraclulous cardboard.

With nowhere near laser precision, I cut the cardboard into the shape seen above, with instructions from the dudes on the Insight forum. By sliding the cardboard between the rad and the a/c rad, it blocks cold air and lets more heat build up in the cooling system.

In the summer,
extra heat will cause the plastic car to melt into a bubbling sunlight-waterfountain-Gremlin-ooze puddle. Therefore, the rad-block, which is 25 cm high and 40 cm wide, also has a 3 cm wide tab for easily pulling it out in the springtime.

During my first test, I discovered a the cardboard rad-block actually did save me a bit of cash. A normal summertime drive up the escarpment, kind of a giant cliff of doom, to visit friends typically pegs us around 4.5L per 100 km (63 mpg). In freezing winter weather, with a full tank of fuel and both of us in the car we usually only get around 6.0L per 100 km (47 mpg). But with the new cardboard rectangle air deflection grid thingy, we made the same trip at 5.6L per 100 km (50 mpg).

If the trip were 100 kms, we would have saved half a litre of fuel. That's two mooses and a maple leaf! Do you know what I could do with FIFTY-ONE CENTS? Buy half a litre of gasoline! Wow! Three cheers for corrugated fiberboard!

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Blogger mmat said...

i'm gonna have to hunt down some tricks like that for my car. the Yaris gets a terrible 5.9 to 6.2 liters per 100 km in the summer and around 7.5 to as much as 8 in the winter if it's really frigidly cold. but maybe if i invested in a block heater that might do the trick, although it would run up the hydro bill at home.

9:53:00 AM

Blogger Patti said...

You are so so smart, but sometimes... I just think you have a wee bit too much time on your hands there LOL

2:47:00 PM

Blogger Martini said...

mmat, you *could* plug the block heater into your neighbour's outlet...

Thanks Patti. I think.

3:08:00 PM

Blogger Katie said...

In the hometown, people will do that with their older vehicles. However, they don't put the cardboard inside of the engine or where ever it needs to go, nope, on the outside of the grill. It's awesome!

7:26:00 PM

Blogger Michael Manning said...

That's the car Meryl Streep drives! Plus John DeLorean's last car was an Acura (made by Honda) Canary Yellow NSX, so you're in good company!

8:50:00 PM

Blogger Martini said...

Meryl Streep drives an Insight?! That's the gol-dangedest thing I've ever heard.

10:20:00 PM

Blogger SJ said...

We never have to worry about too cold over here. Must be a sweltering 35 Celsius + outside now...where's my Swiss chalet when I need it.

4:11:00 AM

Blogger Akhor said...

We also recently purchased a new vehicle, however it's not near as efficient as yours.

However, simply trading one of our gas guzzling v-6's in for a v-4 import, has been a huge savings in gas. However, this does not equate directly to huge savings, as now my wife shops at all the furniture stores in town before dropping the bomb of needing new... everything. Maybe we should sell our four vehicles and buy a transit pass. This would make it much more difficult to bring home new furniture.

11:39:00 AM


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