Volkswagen Passat TDI Sets Guinness World Record For Fuel Economy Around 48 United States

Monday, June 24, 2013
Phillip Robertson, adjudicator of Guinness World Records, congratulates Passat TDI record drivers, Wayne Gerdes (left) and Bob Winger.
Phillip Robertson, adjudicator of Guinness World Records, congratulates Passat TDI record drivers, Wayne Gerdes (left) and Bob Winger.

Volkswagen of America announced Monday that it has set a new Guinness World Records achievement for the “lowest fuel consumption—48 U.S. states for a non-hybrid car” category with a stellar 77.99 mpg — more than 10 mpg better than the previous mark of 67.9 mpg. The achievement also beats the hybrid vehicle record of 64.6 mpg by more than 13 mpg.

The Passat TDI Clean Diesel departed from Volkswagen of America’s headquarters in Herndon, VA, on Friday, June 7, at 12 p.m. and arrived back on June 24, having covered 8122 miles and visited all 48 states. The car, along with drivers Wayne Gerdes and Bob Winger, were greeted in Herndon by Volkswagen employees as well as Virginia State Delegates Tom Rust and Jim LeMunyon.

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

Jonathan Browning, president and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., said, “To cover 8122 miles on just 104.94 gallons of fuel is nothing short of astonishing and shows just how economical our TDI Clean Diesel vehicles can be. Even for everyday drivers, the mileage benefits of our TDI engines are significant: Volkswagen has no fewer than six TDI Clean Diesel models that achieve an EPA estimated fuel economy rating of 40 mpg or better on the highway.”

Wayne Gerdes, founder of was the primary driver. 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 Bob 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,” Mr. 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 suggests:

  • Plan in advance: look for impediments or topography 15 to 45 seconds ahead, rather than reacting to where you’re currently driving. Use downhill momentum to help crest an uphill section.
  • Allow the rabbits to win the race to the stoplights. Heavy braking and acceleration consume fuel at a far greater rate than coasting between intersections.
  • Obey speed limits: The difference in fuel economy between 55 mph and 75 mph can be as much as 30 percent or even higher in some cars.

The 2013 Passat TDI uses Volkswagen’s advanced turbocharged and 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. This enables the Passat TDI to go up to 795 highway miles before needing to refuel.

Clean Diesel engines are just one part of Volkswagen’s approach to sustainable mobility, encapsulated by the Think Blue philosophy. Volkswagen employs a wide range of powertrains—diesel, electric, hybrid, and intelligently downsized turbocharged gasoline engines—in its quest to be among the most eco-conscious automakers in the world. That approach extends to the factories in which the cars are built and the processes by which they are made.

For the attempt, the Passat TDI used 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 MAXX HD by Motorola smartphone to provide Guinness World Records tracking requirements and long-lasting connectivity.

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