For Kevin Booker, it began as a way to try and save himself money while travelling on a 70-mile round trip every day to and from work.
The 43-year-old would travel in his car from his home in Birchgrove, Swansea, to Brecon each and every day w he works at the Brecon Beacons National Park, and began experimenting with alterations to the way he drove to see if he could save himself money on his fuel bill each week.
And little did he know that he was about to stumble on something that would save him a fortune every month, and also lead him on the path to achieving three Guinness World Records.
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“I was driving from Swansea to Brecon each day and that’s a 70 mile round trip,” Kevin said.
“Doing that all the time I kind of started seeing how I could get the most miles per gallon out of my car, mainly just to see how it affected my journey time and to make it a more interesting drive. When you do the same route for 10 or 13 years you do tend to make it a bit more interesting.
“It was about reading the road ahead and stuff and making sure you don’t stop at roundabouts – judging traffic lights as well so you don’t end up coming to a stop for a traffic light just for it to go green. It’s more kind of rolling up to it and keeping some speed t but not actually coming to a complete stop.
“T’s also things like looking at how much speed affected my journey times vs the efficiency of it. I found out by driving fractionally slower that overall your journey time is about the same, but you’re saving a significant amount of fuel.
“I kind of worked out basically that over a month, I could save a significant amount of fuel. I was saving probably £30 to £40 a month just by slightly altering my driving style. Another thing you need to be sure is make sure t’s good maintenance of your car, even things like the tightest tyres you put on your car can influence it massively.”
After figuring out the huge cost saving change, Kevin became more and more immersed into the world of ‘hypermiling’, which is driving a vehicle with techniques that maximize fuel efficiency. Those who use these techniques are called “hypermilers”.
“Over time I’ve gone for more efficient fuel cars, from petrol to diesel and always continued it, and now I’m up to doing the same thing in electric vehicles,” Kevin said.
“I have always tried to go as far as I can either on the fuel or the charge that I’ve got in the car.
“It can be harder to drive efficiently than it can be to drive a normal way, because you’ve got to be reading the road so far ahead. Like you do on your driving test, or how you are taught to drive, is the way really you should do it. Hypermiling is about reading the road ahead so you don’t have to make sudden stops or sudden acceleration, it’s all about gentle driving and just kind of judging your surroundings.”
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He ended up taking it a step further after spotting an advert in a fleet magazine for the MPG marathon, which takes cars and teams and tasks them with working out the most economical route between a number of way points, either by the use of printed maps, apps or, if fitted, factory sat-nav. He has competed in the challenge, along with the WLTP challenge many times.
“The first one I did was a bit of fun thinking nothing much would come of it, I thought I’d just have a bit of a fun drive around on a day off, and from t it’s gone on from strength to strength,” Kevin said.
And he has just achieved something truly remarkable, setting three new Guinness World Records. One for the most efficient electric vehicle from John O’Groats to Lands End in a Ford Mustang with Fergal McGrath and Paul Clifton, at 6.5 miles per kilowatt hour, and another two for the shortest charging time in an electric vehicle on the same journey – 43 minutes and 13 seconds, and only one charging stop with Fergal McGrath and Adam Wood.
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“The last six miles the car was saying zero miles remaining, stop safely now. We cut it so tightly to do that,” Kevin said.
“It’s weird, it still hasn’t sunk in to an extent, it’s weird seeing my name on a Guinness World Record certificate. I never thought when I started driving electric vehicles that I’d have not only one Guinness World Record but three. It’s really weird having triple ones to my name.
“For my nieces and nephews, the Christmas present you get as a kid is the Guinness Book of World Records. They say things like ‘Can I have a photo with you Uncle Kevin with your certificate’ and things like that. They are more excited than myself I think. It’s weird, for me, it’s about the build up. It’s like getting married, the planning is more the excitement.
“We’re looking at a few more in future. T’s equivalent challenges in other countries, but with the post pandemic world, it’s difficult to plan things in other countries. I’d like to be the person who breaks my own record than someone else do it.”
Offering his top tips on how other people can drive more efficiently, Kevin said: “The first thing is maintaining your vehicle, making sure the tyre pressures are right, that oil levels are correct, if it’s a fuel car.
“Tyre pressures are the thing, making sure they are in good condition. That is the key for the car side of it. And then it’s about reading the road ahead, focus on what’s happening. The way you should be driving normally and just try and avoid harsh stops, stopping at roundabouts, just read the way the traffic is going, and picking times of day when you travel if you can, don’t go deliberately when t is going to be a lot of traffic congestion because that’s going to be worse than if you actually drive when the roads are clearer.”
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Source: Wales Online