VW Claims Guinness Fuel Economy Record

Beating any hybrid on the road today, the Volkswagen Passat TDI Clean Diesel just entered the Guinness Book of World Records, setting the record for lowest fuel consumption for a non-hybrid car, gas burning (non-electric) car.

Volkswagen is thrilled, what automaker on the planet wouldn't want to land these bragging rights?

Getting an incredible 78 mpg (about km per litre), the Passat TDI Clean Diesel beat the previous record by about 10 mpg. It also beat the hybrid vehicle record by more than 13 mpg.

Wayne Gerdes, an automotive journalist famous for hypermiling drove the Passat with electronics engineer Bob Winger as his co-pilot. Hypermiling is the art of finding unconventional ways to increase a vehicle's fuel economy, often through driving techniques, some of which may be disruptive to other motorists.

The two set out from Volkswagen of America's headquarters in Virginia on June 7. After covering 8122 miles and all 48 states, they returned on June 14th. The pair used only 104.94 gallons (397.4 litres) of fuel during the entire trip. Gerdes was also the driver when the hybrid record of 64.5 mpg was set in a Kia Optima Hybrid last year. The team's goal this time was to beat the previous diesel vehicle record of 68 mpg.

The new record is a testament to the potential of Diesel vehicles in the global efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

A typically equipped manual 2013 Passat TDI running on clean diesel should get an average of 31 mpg (city) and 43 mpg (highway) with an average driver behind the wheel, the highest mpg diesel currently available in the U.S. The version of the Passat that won the record benefited from a few extras, such as Continental PureContact with EcoPlus Technology tires, but the true fuel savings came from driving techniques.

Gerdes offered a few fuel conservation tips of his own. He suggested that drivers plan their routes in advance, practice lighter acceleration and braking techniques and obey speed limits. These are probably much more manageable than certain hypermiling techniques that involve the minimization of ancillary losses by turning off the radio and AC, and less dangerous than ones that may involve tailgating larger vehicles.

While diesel vehicles have not yet proven popular in the United States, they count for about 50 percent of all vehicles sold in Europe, and have many Canadian fans. In both Europe and in Canada, automotive fuel is expensive, and diesel provides a lower cost alternative. While diesel fuel in Canada is priced comparably to gasoline, and is sometimes slightly more expensive, the fuel economy offered by diesel engines is significant. In a recent study conducted by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute it was shown that over a three year period, the cost of ownership of a diesel vehicle is 17 to 46 percent less than that of a gasoline powered vehicle.

In Canada, the 2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI Clean Diesel starts at $26,575 and is available in three trim levels.

Volkswagen is not the only one beating hybrids with diesel. Mazda's SkyActiv diesel technology is racking up some impressive numbers lately too.

By Linda Aylesworth -


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