Stating a recommendation aimed at hybrid drivers that may seem counter-intuitive, Portalatin says, "This is something that trips up hybrid drivers; in their excitement to use only battery power, they accelerate too slowly from a stop. While super-gentle acceleration keeps the vehicle in electric-only mode, it also drains the batteries quickly, often causing the gasoline engine to come on just to recharge the battery pack." Gil recommends this; instead of accelerating so slowly, accelerate with a bit more vigor, and then lift off the throttle. Once at speed, the gasoline engine will often shut completely off, leaving propulsion to the battery powered motor to maintain cruising speed. This technique yields maximum mileage.
The Ford engineer also pointed out that all hybrids have two fuel tanks; one holds gasoline and the other electrons (the hybrid battery pack). Both "tanks" need to be kept full to go the farthest distance, but the process for filling up on electrons is a bit different than stopping at the gas station. Portalatin recommends "Coasting and gentle braking are the fastest and most efficient way to recharge your hybrid's batteries. On our Fusion, you can see by the gauges that when you coast or apply the brakes that the hybrid system is using the car's kinetic energy to recharge the batteries. The longer you can coast or gently slow down, the more energy you can store. Keeping the batteries above 50-percent full extends the distance you can run on battery power, saving fuel."
These techniques applied consistently helped Ford's team set a new world's record for a gasoline-powered midsize sedan. The team also raised more than $8,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation in the process. Using their techniques may not enable you to double your mileage, but don't be surprised at a 10-15 percent increase.