TTAC Desert-to-Burning-Desert Eco-Challenge. Day 1

Mike Solowiow
by Mike Solowiow
ttac desert to burning desert eco challenge day 1

When the aircraft touched down in Oklahoma after a 36 hour journey from Abu Dhabi, my entire unit clapped in elation. We couldn’t stop smiling as we deplaned the plane, and my Commander shook my hand and say, “Welcome back, thanks for all you did, and don’t do anything stupid on your vacation.” So what better to do to celebrate my return to the greatest nation on the Earth, than create a race!

Ok, so maybe not a real race, lest my officer commission be revoked and my flying wings stripped from my chest. So I pondered, and thought, and decided a fuel efficiency challenge was in order. Audi did it with Autoblog. Top Gear did it with irony. And now TTAC will do it, in our own unique style. So far, only one car has been fielded, my own 2006 Volkswagen Jetta TDI, with its thundering 100bhp.

The goal of the race: determine how much fuel savings are possible in real world driving over 2000 miles of highway, backroads, and cities, without resorting to dangerous and idiotic extreme hyper-miling techniques. As in I will not be following three feet behind a semi on an icy road in Colorado.

The Jetta TDI manual, already an SCCA champion, normally gets an EPA rated 35/42mpg. I routinely get 36mpg in town, and 42 – 43mpg on the interstate. By driving conservatively, and within reason, we shall see what type of mileage is possible out of a normal diesel-powered vehicle.

The route started yesterday as I journyed west on I-40 towards Las Vegas, Nevada where I will arrive on the 27th. From Las Vegas, the journey continues on again towards Breckenridge, Colorado on the 30th. Departing Colorado on the 9th, I will finish the challenge loop on the 10th, back in Oklahoma City.

Regularly updated blogs will keep you abreast of just how much fuel I’m saving, and other adventures that will happen along the way. I welcome you to post your own fuel efficiency figures whether you are traveling just to your office, or all the way to Dubai (which by the way, is very overrated).

I know: the suspension’s killing you. Check back later for more glacial hijinks. The results so far:

929 total miles traveled

21 total gallons of Diesel used

$31.41 total cost of fuel

44mpg average

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2 of 22 comments
  • Menno Menno on Jan 26, 2009

    Chuck, gasoline car owners could "potentially" make their own drop-in substitute motor fuels from crops, too. It's called Butanol (or, bio-butanol, if you wish). Except that the processes are - um - a lot more difficult! Butanol is a 4-carbon alcohol (2 more carbons than ethanol), and butanol is also deadly poison, so the gummint should have no biz hassling anyone for making it - they could not accuse you of making "moonshine" for sale (unless you plan to kill off all of the clientele - not a great business plan, I'd say). Of course, governments being what they are, I'm pretty sure it'd be against the law to produce your own Butanol. Perhaps bio-diesel is at least sustainable for some folks if the whole economy does a 1932. Major fly in the ointment in that newer diesels can't be run on the stuff, of course... Nice work on your MPG's chuck.

  • Usta Bee Usta Bee on Jan 26, 2009

    From what I've read on another site about biodiesel and various oil use in diesel engines, is that sunflower oil gives the best MPG results overall.