Chattanooga-made VW car breaks world record
by Special to the Banner
Jun 30, 2013 | 317 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Volkswagen Passat broke a world record for gas mileage — 77.99 mpg.  Drivers were Wayne Gerdes and Bob Winger.
Volkswagen Passat broke a world record for gas mileage — 77.99 mpg. Drivers were Wayne Gerdes and Bob Winger.

HERNDON, Va. — Volkswagen of America announced this week that a Chattanooga-produced Passat TDI Clean Diesel car had set a new Guinness World Records achievement in the “lowest fuel consumption — 48 U.S. states for a non-hybrid car” category.

The car reached a gas mileage rate of 77.99 mpg — more than 10 mpg better than the previous record of 67.9 mpg. It also beat the hybrid vehicle record of 64.6 mpg by more than 13 mpg.

It departed from Volkswagen of America’s headquarters in Herndon on Friday, June 7, and arrived back on June 24, having covered 8,122 miles and visited all 48 contiguous states.

The car and its drivers, Wayne Gerdes and Bob Winger, were greeted in Herndon by Volkswagen employees as well as Virginia state delegates Tom Rust and Jim LeMunyon.

"Breaking a world record is a huge accomplishment, and I'm especially pleased that Volkswagen of America ... is doing its part to make its products more environmentally compatible and less dependent on foreign oil by using cutting-edge diesel technology,” Rust said.

Jonathan Browning, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, said covering the 8,122 miles on 104.94 gallons of fuel was “nothing short of astonishing” and showed “just how economical” the company’s vehicles could be.

Browning added that the company had been producing at least six TDI Clean Diesel models that achieve an EPA estimated fuel economy rating of 40 mpg or better on the highway.

Gerdes, founder of the website was the primary driver. An automotive journalist, Gerdes has made a career out of “hypermiling” and has set mileage records in more than 100 vehicles, as well as achieving the record for lowest fuel consumption in the lower 48 U.S. states with a hybrid vehicle at 64.6 mpg. His co-driver was Winger, an electronics engineer long involved in energy and conservation projects.

“We felt we had a good chance of beating the existing record with the Passat TDI,” Gerdes said, “But to smash it by averaging 77.99 mpg is really impressive and a testament to the potential of Volkswagen’s TDI Clean Diesel vehicles. Obviously, we employ some specialized techniques to achieve such figures, but there’s no reason why owners of TDI vehicles shouldn’t be able to achieve great mileage with a few simple pointers.”

Gerdes suggested average drivers plan in advance by looking for obstacles or changes in topography instead of having to react unusually quickly, and using downhill momentum to help climb hills. Slowing down at intersections so a driver does not have to brake suddenly and obeying speed limits could also help maintain good fuel economy, he said.

The 2013 Passat TDI uses Volkswagen’s advanced direct-injection Clean Diesel engine to achieve EPA estimated highway fuel economy of 43 miles per gallon when equipped with the six-speed manual transmission. The company has claimed that this enables the Passat TDI to go up to 795 highway miles before needing to refuel.

For the world record attempt, the drivers fueled the Passat with Shell ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel, available at nearly 8,000 Shell stations nationwide, and Continental PureContact with EcoPlus Technology tires, which have Tg-F polymers to help reduce rolling resistance and improve fuel efficiency. The record-setting Passat TDI was equipped with a Linear Logic ScanGauge II to precisely measure fuel economy and a Droid RAZR MAX HD by Motorola smartphone to provide Guinness World Records tracking requirements and long-lasting connectivity.

The 2013 Passat TDI Clean Diesel (manual transmission) vehicle was given EPA estimates of 31 mpg in the city and 43 mpg on the highway. Actual mileage will vary and depends on several factors including driving habits and vehicle condition, the company said.

Founded in 1955, Volkswagen of America, Inc., an operating unit of Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. is a subsidiary of Volkswagen AG, headquartered in Wolfsburg, Germany. The company’s operations in the United States include research and development, parts and vehicle processing, parts distribution centers, sales, marketing and service offices, financial service centers and the manufacturing facility in Chattanooga. Volkswagen of America sells the Beetle, Beetle Convertible, Eos, Golf, Golf R, GTI, Jetta, Jetta SportWagen, Passat, CC, Tiguan, Touareg, and Routan vehicles through approximately 600 independent U.S. dealers.