My Pontiac Firefly / Chevrolet Metro / Geo Metro / Suzuki Swift welcomes fuel efficiency nerds everywhere

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Latest fuel economy stats
for my '98 Firefly 1.0L 5-speed
  best: 2.3 125.1 104.2
 worst: 6.4  44.1  36.8
prev.3: 3.3  82.3  68.6
   all: 3.8  73.4  61.1
L/100km | mpg IMP | mpg US
Jul 28/07: more, graph, calc.
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Best non-hybrid MPG: Mitsubishi Mirage
Highest MPG for a new car: Mitsubishi Mirage?
Mitsubishi's 1.2L, 3-cylinder Mirage is the first new non-hybrid car that can match an old Metro's mileage. The company says 44 mpg (US) highway, 37 city. (Some drivers are already beating that in various economy driving contests.) How? An efficient engine, very light weight and aerodynamic design.

Cheapest to own? 2015 Nissan Micra Forum
2015 Nissan Micra Forum
The Micra's fuel economy isn't its most notable feature -- the $10,000 price is. That makes it one of the cheapest cars to own. And its 109hp, 1.6L engine and good power-to-weight ratio means it's fun to drive too.

Latest 10 posts:
1. Recipe for getting 99.7 mpg from a Geo Metro
2. - famous aerodynamic Honda Civic gets a web site
3. Snapshot: effect of tire pressure on rolling resistance
4. 65+ vehicle modifications for better MPG
5. Metro mania: forget stocks, put your money in old Geos!
6. 100+ Hypermiling / ecodriving tips for better gas mileage
7. Experiment: how long should a block heater be plugged in?
8. Everything old is new again: Car and Driver magazine modifies an econobox to improve MPG
9. Project Convertible XFi: alfresco efficiency
10. The floor is yours: MetroMPG opens a fuel efficiency forum
11 ... 64. Show all posts

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Good MPG forums: I spend a lot of time at and have also been known to lurk around

Chevrolet Aveo forum - discussion of the Chevrolet Aveo and its siblings (Pontiac Wave, Pontiac G3, Suzuki Swift+, Daewoo Kalos).

> Lots more Metro links...
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Send me a note:
darin AT metrompg D-O-T com,
or here

MetroMPG has opened a fuel economy forum
Read about the project here, or go straight to
ScanGauge fuel economy computer Save fuel with a ScanGauge II fuel economy computer.
I personally recommend this tool. I've owned both versions (I and II) and can't say enough good things about it. If you're serious about saving fuel, get one.

For more information and to order, visit EcoModder.

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Posted Thursday, August 16/07 in General

the ForkenSwift By this time last summer I had already run a bunch of fuel economy tests and tinkered plenty with the Blackfly. This year, if it's not obvious already, I've done precious little.

To the fossil fuel-powered car, that is.

I've actually been working on a variety of other vehicles, and in the spirit of the Blackfly, the common theme running through the entire fleet is efficiency. (Most of them even save fuel by replacing some dino juice driving.)

So here's where my tinker time has been going this summer...

Continued inside...

Posted Wednesday, May 30/07 in Driving efficiently

116 mpg XFi Judging by the visitor log, there's a lot of interest in the pulse and glide driving technique. It's one of the most frequent search engine queries that brings visitors here.

In recent years, pulse and glide may have been popularized most by drivers of Toyota's Prius hybrid, partly because it's just so darned easy to do in that car. But contrary to a misconception held by some, this extreme fuel saving method wasn't developed by hybrid drivers, nor is it limited to hybrid cars. In fact, it has been used for decades by participants in extreme fuel economy competitions like the Shell Marathon for experimental vehicles.

A group of just such people - grad students and researchers at the University of California (Davis) - demonstrated the technique (calling it "burn-and-coast") to a writer from Road and Track in 1992. With some coaching, the writer pulled off 116 mpg (US) on a closed course in a bone stock Geo Metro XFi.

Continued inside...

Posted Tuesday, April 24/07 in Mods & Tests

Inside the Blackfly beats the heart of an XFi Is the camshaft a car's heart? Maybe that's the wrong metaphor - it could be the fuel pump. Oil pump? Hmm... Maybe there's no perfect camshaft bio-medical analogy. I came up with the heart comparison because I've had valves on my mind lately.

Valves were also on the minds of the engineers who designed the uber-efficient US-only Metro XFi. Their "economy" camshaft was one of several mechanical improvements that increased the XFi's EPA ratings by 15% (city) and 18% (highway) above its thirstier siblings (the garden variety 3-cylinder Metros).

In pursuit of better fuel economy, a few American members have already transplanted XFi cams into their regular Metros. Recently, I followed in their pioneering footsteps, thanks to a friend who performed a cam-ectomy on a junkyard XFi in Utah and sent the prize north across the border on a medevac flight... I mean UPS.

Continued inside...

Posted Saturday, March 10/07 in Mods & Tests

snow board rack I went snowboarding a few weekends back (with 5 other people via diesel van), and couldn't help thinking about aerodynamics & efficiency.

Partly that's because I'm a lousy snowboarder. To keep from coming to a dead stop on the flat sections of the (easy) runs I tend to ride, I sometimes have to crouch way down low (minimizing my frontal area) to maintain to enough momentum to "coast" to where the run drops off again.

But mostly it was because of what I saw in the ski hill parking lot: a sea of roof racks and roof-top carriers. I wondered how many people were aware of the magnitude of the fuel consumption penalty they cause. I wasn't entirely sure myself, so I did a quick comparison and saw some dramatic results first-hand.

Continued inside...

Posted Wednesday, February 21/07 in General

Many the FE nerd's favourite tool: the SG2 The ScanGauge has become such an indispensable tool for fuel efficiency enthusiasts that some people, when shopping for second-hand vehicles, have stopped considering pre-1996 models to ensure that a ScanGauge can be used.

In other words, it has quickly become the fuel saver's favourite gadget.

With this in mind, I set out to learn more about the history of the ScanGauge and its inventor, Ron DeLong. I recently spoke to Ron on a range of topics: his background, how the ScanGauge came to be, and some future plans for the magic little box.

Continued inside...

Posted Wednesday, February 7/07 in Suzukiclone info

Rick's modified 1993 Metro XFi I like learning about other Suzukiclone owners who have been bitten by the efficiency bug. Not only is it a great opportunity to pick up new tips & techniques, but profiling them here has the added benefit of making me seem a little less, um, "extreme" by comparison.

With that in mind, meet Rick. Rick is a genuine motorhead - he's taken his considerable mechanical/technical experience honed on a fleet of traditional high performance cars and applied it to his 1993 Metro XFi to maximize its fuel economy performance for his daily commute. Thus he has also become an econohead.

When it comes to improving efficiency, Rick definitely leans more toward the "mods" side of the "mods + driving technique" formula. The fact that he's been able to average nearly 53 mpg (US) / 4.4 L/100 km / 64 mpg (Imperial) from his XFi, in hilly country, without using any "special" driving techniques is a testament to what he's accomplished mechanically.

Continued inside...

Posted Thursday, January 25/07 in General

2006 web site stats 2006 was quite a year for It was the first full year the site was up, and apparently (judging by the visitor stats), you efficiency nuts really like reading about driving techniques, mods and experiments on the Blackfly:

  • With a few exceptions, most of the mods achieved only small MPG improvements, but when you add them up, they totalled a healthy 28% boost in fuel economy

  • "Unconventional" driving techniques yielded the biggest results: 38% better fuel economy, and that's with the mechanical/aero mods excluded from the calculation.

Here's a summary of the mods, driving techniques, and 2006 web stats, plus a preview of what's in store for 2007.

Continued inside...

Posted Monday, December 18/06 in Mods & Tests

floating transaxle "Nerd gear" is the description my brother in-law and I came up with for the key feature of our ideal transmission: we decided that auto manufacturers should offer a much taller-than-usual top gear (a nerd gear) as an option in an otherwise "regular" transmission.

Why? Because too many small engines spin at 3000+ RPM at highway speeds, which we declared to be unnecessary and wasteful in the hands of an attentive driver.

It's true that a car with a nerd gear would see slower top gear performance (acceleration & possibly max speed), and it would require the driver to shift to & from top gear more often (depending on load/terrain). But if you're willing to tick the box labelled "nerd gear" on the option sheet, we figure you're probably willing to pay a little more attention to proper gear selection for the fuel economy payoff.

So I did it - or something very close to it: I swapped transmissions in the Blackfly, and was rewarded with a healthy improvement in fuel economy.

Continued inside...

Posted Tuesday, November 14/06 in General

homemade bicycle trailer As strange as it may sound at first, my car's average fuel economy has declined because of a small cargo trailer I built this summer to pull behind my beater 10-speed bicycle.

That's because driving techniques typically permit me to get higher fuel economy in sub/ex/urban driving than I get on longer (higher speed) highway trips. So every time I use my bicycle instead of the car for a local trip, the proportion of highway driving in a given tank of gas goes up, and my overall fuel economy goes down!

Continued inside...

Posted Monday, October 23/06 in Mods & Tests

Alternator optional How much energy does a car's electrical system use? Would shifting the electrical load from the gasoline-driven alternator to just the battery return a measurable fuel economy improvement? Will a modern computer-controlled car even run properly off its battery alone? Inquiring minds want to know!

My curiosity about this topic was piqued when I read about a guy who installed solar panels on the roof of his VW bus, added a couple of deep cycle batteries, and ditched his alternator. Apparently, the panels and the extra batteries were enough to drive round-trip from Texas to Seattle.

So, I tried it (minus the solar panels on the car). And it turns out that not only does running without the alternator result in a real MPG gain, it turned out to be the largest single fuel economy improvement of all the mods I've tried to date. But there's a big caveat: the immediate fuel savings may not make financial sense in the long run when you consider the effect on battery life.

Continued inside...

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EcoModder fuel economy forum Note: MetroMPG has opened a fuel economy forum
Read about the project here, or go straight to

darin AT metrompg D-O-T com, or here