Take that, Prius!

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I've never been impressed with the Toyota Prius' fuel mileage knowing that, 20 years ago, Geo Metros were getting more than 50 mpg without all of the batteries and maggot-shaped styling features of the Prius. (I've also never been so underwhelmed by the look and feel of a car's interior as I was with the Prius.) So any way to give alternatives to one of these cars is always a plus for me, especially when it comes from the Ford family. Here's the latest news I have received over the wire showing the results of Ford's green efforts, led by William Clay "Bill" Ford Jr. (For the record, Bill Ford has beenenvironmentally conscious well before Toyota has been loading its lots with gas-sucking TUNDRA's, SEQUOIA's and the like.)

Fusion Hybrid Averages 81.5 MPG, Sets World Record with 1,445 Miles on Single Tank of Gas

- Drivers trained in mileage-maximizing techniques achieve 1,445
miles on a single tank of gas in a 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid - averaging
81.5 mpg in Washington, D.C. - and set world record for
gasoline-powered, midsize sedan

- The Fusion Hybrid 1,000-Mile Challenge proves that fuel-efficient
driving techniques can nearly double a vehicle's EPA-rated fuel economy

- The demonstration of the Fusion Hybrid's ultra high-mileage
potential also raised more than $8,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes
Research Foundation

WASHINGTON, April 28 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Drivers trained in
mileage-maximizing techniques such as smooth acceleration and coasting
to red lights were able to get an extraordinary 1,445.7 miles out of a
single tank of gas during a fund-raising effort in Washington, D.C.
that concluded today. They did it by averaging 81.5 miles per gallon in
an off-the-showroom floor, non-modified 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid, the
most fuel-efficient midsize car in North America - nearly doubling its
U.S. certified mileage.

The Fusion Hybrid 1,000-Mile Challenge started at 8:15 a.m. EDT on
Saturday, April 25, from Mount Vernon, Va., and ended this morning at
5:37 a.m. on George Washington Parkway in Washington, D.C. After more
than 69 continuous hours of driving, the Fusion Hybrid finally depleted
its tank and came to a stop with an odometer reading of 1,445.7 miles -
setting a world record for gasoline-powered, midsize sedan.

The challenge team, which included NASCAR star Carl Edwards, high
mileage trailblazer Wayne Gerdes and several Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F)
engineers, raised more than $8,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research
Foundation (JDRF) by exceeding the goal of 1,000 miles on a single tank
of gas. The Fusion Hybrid's official estimated range is approximately
700 miles per tank.

"Not only does this demonstrate the Fusion Hybrid's fuel efficiency,
it also shows that driving technique is one of the keys to maximizing
its potential," said Nancy Gioia, director, Ford Sustainable Mobility
Technologies and Hybrid Vehicle Programs. "The fact that we were able
raise much needed funds for JDRF while raising the bar on fuel
efficient driving performance made the effort doubly worthwhile."

Maximizing mileage

A team of seven drivers prepared for the challenge by learning a few
mileage-maximizing techniques, most of which can be used in any vehicle
to improve fuel economy, but are especially useful in the Fusion Hybrid
where the driver can take advantage of pure electric energy at speeds
below 47 mph.

CleanMPG.com founder Wayne Gerdes, an engineer from Illinois who
coined the term "hypermiling" to describe the mileage-maximizing
techniques, provided the pointers. They include:

 -- Slowing down and maintaining even throttle pressure;
-- Gradually accelerating and smoothly braking;
-- Maintaining a safe distance between vehicles and anticipating traffic
-- Coasting up to red lights and stop signs to avoid fuel waste and brake
-- Minimize use of heater and air conditioning to reduce the load on the
-- Close windows at high speeds to reduce aerodynamic drag;
-- Applying the "Pulse and Glide" technique while maintaining the flow of
-- Minimize excessive engine workload by using the vehicle's kinetic
forward motion to climb hills, and use downhill momentum to build
speed; and
-- Avoiding bumps and potholes that can reduce momentum

"You become very aware of your driving because you're constantly
looking for opportunities to maximize mileage, and a more aware driver
is a safer driver, too," said Gil Portalatin, Ford hybrid applications

In addition, it is important for Fusion Hybrid drivers to manage the
battery system's state of charge through the use of regenerative
braking and coasting, and balancing the use of the electric motor and
gas engine in city driving to avoid wasting fuel.

Fusion Hybrid drivers also can stay more connected to the hybrid
driving experience with Ford's SmartGauge(TM) with EcoGuide, a unique
instrument cluster that helps coach drivers on how to optimize
performance of their hybrid.

The Challenge

The Fusion Hybrid 1,000-Mile Challenge team took turns driving
several routes in and around the national capital over the course of
approximately three days and nights. The route involved elevation
changes, and ranged from the relatively open George Washington Parkway
to a 3-mile stretch in the heart of the city that is clogged with
roughly 30 traffic signals.

"The Fusion Hybrid works brilliantly," Gerdes said. "When you don't
need acceleration power while driving around town, the gas engine shuts
down seamlessly. There's not another hybrid drivetrain in the world
that does that as effectively. The Fusion engineering team really
knocked it out of the park."

Ford NASCAR star Carl Edwards took time away from the high speed
world of professional car racing to contribute to the Fusion Hybrid
team's success in D.C.

"It was exciting to be an active part in this challenge. The fact
that it will help spread the word about the Fusion Hybrid's great
mileage, and help out a great charity, makes it even more special,"
said Edwards, whose '99' team has used fuel-saving techniques to win
races. "There's no question that the Fusion Hybrid will help consumers
save fuel when they drive it. Having driven the car, I feel strongly
about how great it is - so strong that I've purchased one myself."

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