Volkswagen Passat Sets Guinness Record for U.S. Mileage

By Matt Schmitz  on June 27, 2013

If you go on a road trip with Wayne Gerdes, be sure to hit the restroom before you leave. He won't be stopping off for gas a lot — and he has a world record to prove it.

Gerdes (pictured, far left), a veteran practitioner of "hypermiling," this week added another mileage milestone to his list of more than 100 when he and his co-pilot, Bob Winger (pictured, middle, with Guinness World Records adjudicator Philip Robertson to the right), broke the Guinness World Record in the "lowest fuel consumption — 48 U.S. states for a non-hybrid car" category, driving a Volkswagen Passat TDI diesel sedan. The Passat averaged 77.99 mpg on the 8,122-mile trip, more than 10 mpg better than the previous non-hybrid record, and more than 13 mpg better than the record for a hybrid, according to Volkswagen.

Gerdes, founder of and primary driver in the attempt, and Winger, an electronics engineer, embarked on their long drive on June 7 from Herndon, Va., with their tires touching every one of the contiguous 48 states before they made it back on Monday. They used less than 105 gallons of diesel fuel during the entire trip.

The 2013 Passat TDI uses Volkswagen's turbocharged, direct-injection diesel engine to achieve EPA-estimated highway fuel economy of 43 mpg when paired with a six-speed manual transmission; the sedan can travel up to 795 miles before needing to refuel, the automaker said.

"Obviously, we employ some specialized techniques to achieve such figures, but there's no reason why owners of TDI vehicles shouldn't be able to achieve great mileage with a few simple pointers," Gerdes said in a statement.

The hypermiler's mpg-pinching tips include:

  • Looking 15-45 seconds ahead to plan for impediments and topography, and using downhill momentum to help crest an uphill section.
  • Avoiding heavy braking and acceleration between intersections, which consumes more fuel than coasting.
  • Obeying speed limits. Gerdes said the difference in fuel economy between 55 mph and 75 mph can be as much as 30%.
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News Editor Matt Schmitz is a veteran Chicago journalist indulging his curiosity for all things auto while helping to inform car shoppers.  Email Matt