Are you one of those motorists with a lead foot? A new study shows that the habit could be costing you plenty at the gas pump. And the loss in fuel economy is about the same, the study says, no matter what you drive.
Speed goes up, fuel economy goes down
It is obvious, of course, that the more you hold down the accelerator, the more fuel you will consume. Therefore it is only logical that a driver with a propensity for exceeding the posted speed limit will achieve lesser fuel economy than a driver who is meticulous about keeping to the letter of the law.
But by how much exactly?
A new study from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee details just how much your increased speed decreases your fuel economy. It compared 74 different vehicles on chassis dynamometers, using standards set by the Society of Automotive Engineers. Each vehicle was tested at 50, 60, 70 and 80 miles per hour.
The results may surprise you. Increasing the speed of your vehicle from 50 miles per hour to 60 miles per hour will decrease your fuel economy by about 12 percent. Accelerating from 60 miles per hour to 70 miles per hour results in a 14 percent drop in fuel economy. Speeding up from 70 miles per hour to 80 miles per hour will cost your about 16 percent in fuel economy.
And don’t think you are off the hook jut because you drive a Nissan Leaf, like those available at Everett car dealership, Magic Nissan. The study also found a similar correlation in hybrid vehicles. It found they were unable to regenerate enough power quickly enough to make up for the excessive fuel consumed when motorists accelerate.
Numbers held across automotive segments
The researchers had expected to find larger fluctuations between automotive segments. However, it found only a one or two percent deviation in the fuel economy lags between the largest vehicle tested and the most fuel-conscious compact.
Hitting you where you live
All told, that is a whopping 41 percent decrease in fuel economy when you accelerate from 50 miles per hour to 80 miles per hour. According to Fueleconomy.gov, a site maintained by the U.S. Department of Energy, that raises your cost at the pump by another $1.38 for each gallon.
Think about that next time you consider the posted speed to be just a “suggestion.”