King of the mileage-maxers, Wayne Gerdes, NASCAR Sprint Cup Ford Fusion pilot Carl Edwards and Ford's own hybrid engineering aces Steve Burke, Sherif Marakby, Gil Portalatin and Tom Rolewicz have put their bid in for entry to the Hybrid Hall of Fame by completing a multi-day marathon in an unmodified 2010 Fusion Hybrid that saw them cover 1,445.7 miles on a single tank of gasoline. For the record, that's more than double the car's official EPA range of 700 miles. Starting at 8:15 a.m. last Saturday in Mt. Vernon, Virginia, this cadre of dedicated eco-runners finished at 5:37 AM Tuesday, when the fuel finally ran out in Washington, D.C. During its 69-plus hour enduro, the Fusion Hybrid remained running at all times. In addition to setting a personal best mark for this mid-size gas-electric sedan that likely won't be eclipsed any time soon, the drivers also managed to raise over $8,000 in support of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
The original goal of running 1,000 miles without refueling was achieved just after 9:00 a.m. on Monday, when the car's 17.5-gallon tank was still one-third full. With most driving confined to loops on the George Washington Parkway but the occasional foray into more congested D.C. traffic, the Fusion Hybrid Challenge team averaged a stellar 81.5 mpg at just under a 25-mph pace. Beyond starting out with fresh oil, tires set to the 44-psi manufacturer-recommended maximum pressure and hand-filling the fuel tank to get every last ounce of gasoline on board, the team employed numerous mileage-enhancing techniques from the Gerdes' MPG playbook to help minimize the amount of excess engine loading and maximize the impact of available momentum. Two prime keys to the success were relying heavily on the trusty "Pulse and Glide" approach to maintain pace in traffic and allowing the car to coast in neutral whenever possible.
In conjunction with this mileage challenge event, Ford also held a series of clinics for media and consumers with other stock Fusion Hybrids to demonstrate the real-world potential of using these simple-yet-effective methods to help step up the mpg in any vehicle. They included everything from the obvious elimination of jackrabbit starts and excessively hard braking to limiting the use of any non-necessary electrical systems like audio and climate controls or keeping the car's windows rolled up at higher speeds to help reduce aero drag.