November 23rd, 2015

Driving along in my automobile

For a long time now I've tried to drive economically - no heavy accelerating, using the cruise control and keeping an eye on my average miles per gallon. This August I took delivery of my new Motability car which is an SUV with a 2 litre engine and is a petrol/electricity hybrid. I wouldn't have been able to choose this had the government not been giving a £5000 cashback on all hybrid vehicles.

I find I'm driving it quite differently as it has a different set of ideals for economical driving. Where using cruise control saves 5% on fuel with diesel or petrol engines, with this it doesn't as I need to keep the gas pedal steady (as much as possible) rather than let the engine take over. If I put it on 'save' then it will use the petrol engine to go up hill and if I brake or go down hill it will charge the battery. Once the battery is fairly low I put it on charge when we are climbing long hills and then back to save for the downhills.

I'm used to 57 or there abouts being the most economical speed, but as this has a 2 litre engine it prefers to go a bit faster and I'm finding that 63 is about right. It is lovely to handle in town and at 30 mph the electric engine is wonderful. It's the first automatic car I've had where there is park, reverse, neutral and drive - before I've always had 1,2,3, drive, neutral and reverse. It also has a maximum speed control where I can set it for 30 mph - the town speed limit - and I could accelerate all I wanted but it won't go over 30. Not that I use it for that I'm getting used to what it feels like at 30.

I'm always pressing Eco - if you want warm air and the windows de-misted it has to use the petrol engine as the battery doesn't generate heat - save - don't use the battery for fast driving - charge - top up the battery when going up hill - and normal for driving in the neighbourhood where there is more than enough battery to get us to and from the local town and doctors. I'm still learning my way with it, but it's fun too.