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Discussion Starter #1
I am interested to hear what other drivers are doing. I find that when I drive a lot of highway miles the battery easily tops off during engine assisted decelerations. If I am driving locally, however, my battery charge decreases a few bars and I find myself downshifting to increase regenerative braking to keep the SOC high. I never downshifted with other cars, worrying I was putting too much stress on the clutch. What are you other 5 speed drivers doing :?:
 

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I'm doing the exact same you are doing William. Have you replaced your clutch yet? I'm only at about 28,500 miles on the car.

~Martin
Recycled
2000 5 Spd
 

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I just brake in my current gear until I get low enough to just before when the Insight would restart the engine to prevent a stall. Then I shift into neutral and physically brake the rest of the way. If I'm under 20mph then I get idle-stop as I continue to slow. This is the same as described here:

http://www.insightcentral.net/KB/faq-ef ... html#regen

Downshifting you lose regen in the times you have the clutch in, and the car will sometimes not resume regen when you get into the lower gear. I find that this happens if I'm braking.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I have not replaced the clutch. It shifts perfectly. I don't know if others have replaced their clutches yet. Martin, I too find I sometimes lose regeneration if I downshift. If you quickly put your foot on the accelerator and return to braking you will activate regeneration in the lower gear. This takes a bit of quick footwork though.
 

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I agree with Tim, and that's how I drive.
That is why it's better to keep the engine between 2000 RPM and 4000 RPM when cruizing in slower city traffic during stop and go driving. That will ensure there is plenty of regen braking without downshifting.
Ideally one should only downshift if the intension is to accelerate again (after a turn for example). Downshifting to lower gears before coming to a complete stop puts unneccessary extra wear on the clutch and synchos in the transmission.
The only time when slipping the clutch is neccessary (for less then 1 second) is starting from a complete stop. All other times the clutch should be engaged instantly. To be smooth rev matching is essential. Slipping the clutch to smooth out the gear changes is poor technique.
When driven properly the clutch should last the life of the car or at least 200,000 miles!
Sorry, I started going off topic.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Guillermo how does your rdriving between 2000 and 4000 RPMs affect your city mileage?
 

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William said:
I find myself downshifting to increase regenerative braking to keep the SOC high.
William,

I found that downshifting doesn't increase regenerative braking much, if any. Don't let the green charge gauge fool you into believing regeneration would cut off as soon as the green bars go off!

For example, braking in 5th gear to a stop will make the lights go out at 30 mph. However, recuperation continues down to 20mph, where I push the clutch to prevent stalling.

I don't think downshifting will buy me a lot more charge, since time is lost shifting and more energy goes into engine friction.
 

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Downshifting to lower gears before coming to a complete stop puts unneccessary extra wear on the clutch and synchos in the transmission.
I find fault in this statement.
It all depends on how you are downshifting. If, for instance, you do not match revs between engine and tranny and just shift down, then yes, you will mess up your clutch plate and syncros.

But if you match revs before you downshift then it is smooth and you are not contributing to increased wear on your transmission parts. This has the added benefit of increasing the revs during the regen and extending the time before it cuts out. If you read your owners manual closely it says to maximize battery regeneration downshift while slowing or coming to a stop. Downshifting while braking requires a bit of fancy foot work. You would idealy want to heel/toe (rev match) brake. Heel/toe means you push on the brake pedal with your big toe while rotating your heel to push on the gas pedal to increase the engine RPM to about 2500-3000 while the left foot is depressing the clutch pedal and you are shifting into the lower gear. Sounds difficult doesn't it? Or so you would think... It's really quite easy and natural to do. Try it in your drive way with the engine switched off to get the feel for it.

Note: this technique is for a 5 spd only.

I downshift all of the time. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Sparky:

I will have to try this heel/toe maneuver.

Armin: Thanks for the feedback
 

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I will have to try this heel/toe maneuver.
That is fantastic. :)

One thing to add... If you feel you can't accomplish the heel/toe technique then there is a modified technique to match revs. I call it the throttle blip. When slowing to a stop... depress clutch, rev engine to 3000-4000 RPM (blip gas pedal/quick), shift down, release clutch smoothly, apply brakes. You realistically only get one down shift out of this techinque, but it is quite usefull none-the-less. Keep in mind to anticipate when and where you are going to stop. Both of these techniques will require mindful fore thought and execution. I would recommend practising this technique on an empty street or parking lot first.

One more thing... each gear will have a different corresponding mimimum engine RPM. 2nd to 1st is about 2000 RPM, 3rd to 2nd is about 2100 RPM, 4th to 3rd is about 2600 RPM, 5th to 4th is about 3000 RPM. These numbers are only general estimates for minimum RPM while downshifting at slow speeds (consult the owners manual for actual RPM ranges. Your actual speed will vary the revolution speed you will need to match. The faster you are driving the higher you will need to rev the engine before shifting down to match the rev of the engine to match the tranny. For example, If you are driving 50MPH at 2300 RPM, you will need to increase you RPM to about 3500 RPM before downshifting. The lower gear is traveling at a faster rotation than the higher gear you are currently in. Thus the term rev matching.

Have fun and be safe :)
 

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William,
I'll elaborate from my brief summary I stated above.
In city driving where there are traffic lights I keep the RPMs at about 2500 and if your light footed you keep easily cruize in lean burn mode.
When i'm on the highway when there is literally stop and go traffic I leave a lot of space in front of me and keep it in 1st gear. Reving up to 4000+ RPM and then engine braking. Most of the time I can drive without stopping and without touching my brakes when all the other cars are standing still 50% of the time. This technique prevents my battery from draining under these conditions that would otherwise cause a lot of auto-stop and it seems to give the best fuel efficiency since i'm maintaining a narrower range of speed then everyone else.

Sparky,
I'm glad you brought this up. I was sending out a feeler to see if anyone wanted to get into this topic on advanced shifting techniques :wink:

Downshifting to lower gears before coming to a complete stop puts unneccessary extra wear on the clutch and synchos in the transmission.
This statement is true for 99% of manual transmission drivers.
I heel and toe all the time and I've started working on double clutching rev matching in the last few months.... :D
When done well double clutching heel and toe is the ultimate, most ideal manual driving technique. But expect to spend years mastering this technique.

This is great article on heel and toe shifting:
[/url] http://www.turnfast.com/tech_driving/dr ... ltoe.lasso

The only time I downshift before stopping is if i'm in 5th gear travelling at high speed and my battery is at 80% charge or less. I double clutch rev match from 5th directly into 3rd gear and lightly press the brake for maximum regenerative braking without using the brake pads until the very end.
 

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I found this on the web but I lost the link.
Welcome to the world of advanced shifting techniques that will extend the life of your clutch and syncros to the point that they will outlast your car.
G

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------


PROPER MANUAL TRANSMISSION DRIVING TECHNIQUES

What follows is a collection of writings which I have posted at various times on this website in an effort to help answer some questions regarding the proper manner in which a manual transmission should be operated. While there are certainly many ways to drive a car with a manual transmission, there is really only one correct way. I was most fortunate to have learned these techniques while I was still in my teenage years. In so doing, I was able to avoid developing entrenched habits before they became really bad habits and difficult to correct. It is my hope that this helps you learn what I have learned and perfected over the years. If you do, you will reap the rewards, both financial and in the knowledge that you have mastered a technique that few do in their lifetimes. Have fun!



Under normal driving situations (not racing), when you start out from a standing start, you do so with the lowest possible RPMs, get the clutch out to full engagement as soon as you can while adding throttle. If you do this correctly, the transition will be smooth and seamless, and the wear on your clutch disk, pressure plate, release bearing, and flywheel will be minimized.

If properly designed (sufficient size and clamping pressure, etc.), and properly installed with no defects (correct torque, non-faulty equipment, alignment, etc.), then the next, and most important, factor to the life of the clutch assembly is the operator.

THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO REASON WHY A CLUTCH CANNOT LAST THE LIFE OF THE ENGINE UNDER NORMAL DRIVING CONDITIONS.

When I speak of engine life here, I am referring to life before a serious teardown or part replacement such as a timing chain (200,000+ miles) or headwork. If you cannot get at least 100,000 miles out of a clutch, you are doing something terribly wrong. Obviously, racing constitutes a whole different approach and, as such, does not come under this.


Don'ts:

Do not use any more engine speed (RPMs) than absolutely necessary to get the car rolling in first gear.

Do not hold the car on a hill with the clutch.

Do not wait for a traffic light to turn green with the transmission in gear and the clutch depressed.

Do not rest your foot on the clutch while driving.


Do not ride the clutch in any gear (obviously you will to a small degree in first to start off).

Do not down shift by just removing your foot from the gas, moving the shifter into a lower gear, then releasing the clutch slowly.


Do's

Start off smoothly and with low engine speed, and shift in such a manner that if you had a passenger on board, they would not even notice the shifts.

Hold the car on hills with the brakes.. that's what brakes are for. NEVER hold a car on a hill with the clutch. The amount of heat generated by doing this is incredible.

While waiting for a light to change or while sitting in heavy traffic, put the transmission in neutral and get your foot completely off of the clutch petal. Leaving it in gear for extended periods heats up and shortens the life of the release bearing. The normal condition of a clutch is fully engaged so it stands to reason that's where it should be most of the time.

Resting your foot on the clutch petal while driving engages the release bearing.. see above.

Avoid riding the clutch as much as is humanly possible. You will extend its life significantly.

If you do not know how to properly downshift, DON’T. Use the brakes (should do this anyway), and avoid downshifting any more than necessary. Improper downshifting is analogous to riding the clutch because that is what you are actually doing. Learn how to properly downshift first and save yourself the frustration of premature clutch failure.


Clutches are wear items, heavily affected by heat caused by friction. In a front wheel drive car, they are costly to replace, so unless you like shelling out a lot of money periodically for the replacement of these components, learn the correct way. Learn it until it becomes second nature like breathing.

I spent some time teaching a lady with whom I worked 10 years ago these techniques when she purchased a new '92 Honda Accord LX. When I last spoke with her, she had well over 140,000 miles on the original clutch with no signs of slippage. So I'm not jerking anyone's chain here. Learn to operate a manual transmission correctly and you will reap the rewards by saving a lot of money. Plus you will be one of the few who know how to do this right.


I don't mean to set myself up here as some kind of guru because I am not. But I have been driving manual transmissioned cars for over 40 years. I have spent the time to perfect the process into an art form because when done correctly, that’s what it is. When I sold my '88 Mustang LX 302CID, it was 6 years old and had 77,000 miles on it. When the buyer drove it, he asked me when I replaced the clutch because to him, it felt very positive. I told him that I had never replaced it and that it was the original unit. I added that it wouldn't make any sense to replace a clutch after only 77,000 miles since that is not very much wear. He had a little bit of a hard time believing this, but he did buy the car. Three months later, he called me up to let me know how much he liked the car and to tell me had had not wrapped it around a tree. He again asked about the clutch and I again told him that it was the original clutch.

I used to own a 1966 Chevelle SS396/360HP. I was the original owner of the car. For a period of about 2 years, I was street racing the car frequently on the weekends. At 83,000 miles when I sold it, it would still break traction in all four gears and the clutch had no slippage. It was tight and strong. Now granted, American cars have traditionally had stronger clutches than Japanese cars. This is changing because the Japanese are putting larger and stronger (torque) engines in their cars.



Downshifting

Ah yes, downshifting. If I had to name just one facet of manual transmission errors-of-operation, this would probably be it.

To understand how to operate a manual transmission, you have to know how the clutch assembly and transmission work, and I am going to take the assumption that most do on this forum. I will only clarify synchronizers. They serve to match the speed of the gears in the transmission as the shifter is moved to a given gear. Now for downshifting.

Let's say you are in fourth gear and you are approaching a stop sign, so you decide to downshift from fourth gear into third. What most people do is just remove their foot from the throttle, depress the clutch while moving the shifter from fourth to third, then start releasing the clutch slowly until they achieve full engagement. If you do this, what you are actually doing is riding the clutch in third gear. After all, the engine has returned to idle (or close to it), you get into third, then just ease the clutch out which pulls the engine from idle up to the RPM's at which it will operate at whatever speed you are traveling in third gear. Here is the correct way to do this in steps that I will break down in a moment.

Raise your foot off of the throttle.

Depress the clutch.

Start the shifter up into third.

As you pass through the neutral gate, let the clutch out (doesn't have to be all the way) while at the same time blipping the throttle to increase engine speed BEYOND that which it will operate in the chosen lower gear.

Depress the clutch again.

Engage the chosen lower gear.

Let the clutch out while adding throttle.

As the engine RPM's decrease they will be met by the engaging clutch and opening throttle.

This should be a simple, smooth, fluid motion and you will know you've done it right if there is no jerking as the clutch comes out in the last step. Now for some details.

As you move into the neutral gate with your foot off of the throttle, the engine RPM's will be returning to idle. This is the point at which you want to blip the throttle a bit while at the same time engaging the clutch some. You want to get the engine turning faster than it will when you are in the lower gear you have chosen. The reason is that you want to spin the gears up to a speed that equals that at which they will be operating when you finally release the clutch in your downshift. If you do this right, there is no clutch slippage because the engine and the gears in the transmission will be spinning at the same or nearly the same RPM's. No slippage means you will get into gear with full engagement of the clutch sooner and with virtually no wear. To best understand this, you really need to know how a clutch assembly and transmission work together to deliver power from the engine to the drive wheels.

This takes a lot of practice, but if you get it down, you will be heads and shoulders above just about anyone else who drives a car with a manual transmission. You will begin to notice the mistakes other are making when they drive. Learn from their mistakes and it will both save you money and make you a far better driver.

So it's in with the clutch, start the shifter into the chosen lower gear, while passing through the neutral gate, blip the throttle and at the same time engage the clutch a bit to spin up the gears, then back in with the clutch as you get into the chosen gear, then finally release the clutch in one smooth operation.

Here's another little tip. Say you are waiting at a light for the green and your transmission is in neutral like it should be with your foot completely off of the clutch petal. When the light turns green, instead of just depressing the clutch and pushing the shifter up into first, pull the shifter partially into a higher gear first, such as second or third. The gears in those selections are not spinning as fast as the gears in first. By starting the shifter into a higher gear before you go to into first gear, you will cause less wear on the synchronizers and they will last far longer because they do not have to stop gears which are spinning at a higher speed. For cars which do not have synchronized reverse, definitely do this and you will not experience the grinding affect when shifting into reverse.


Say you are driving normally, shifting up through the gears to the one in which you wish to be for cruising. As you disengage the clutch and move the shifter to the next higher gear, you might notice a slight resistance just before you finish the shift. What you feel is the synchronizer for that gear forcing the drive gear(s) from the input shaft and the gears selected to "mesh". That is to say, their speeds are forced to equalize so that as they engage, there is no grinding and no damage to the gear teeth. That said, we can move to double clutching.

Double clutching was a technique that came about when earlier manual transmissions did not have synchronizers. If you did not double clutch, you would experience some serious gear grinding when shifting.

If you did not have synchronizers in you transmission, you would have had two choices when shifting gears: (1) put up with some really serious grinding and damage/breakage to gear teeth, or (2) manually match the speed of the gears in each selected shift so that you would eliminate the problems just mentioned in #1.

Suppose you are traveling in second gear, the engine is turning at 2500 RPM, and you are getting ready to shift to third. At the road speed you are going, let's say that once in third, your engine would be turning at 1800 RPM. When you remove your foot from the gas, the engine is going to loose RPMs quickly and by the time you get into third, the engine might only be turning 1200 RPM. Without synchronizers, you would need to raise the engine back up to 1800 RPM in order for the gears to mesh. By blipping the throttle and at the same time letting the clutch out some when you are passing through the neutral gate, you will both increase engine RPM and increase gear speed. As the engine RPMs fall back off, they will reach a point at which you will be able to complete the shift.

Now downshifting is much like this, only in reverse. In other words, you are going from a higher gear to a lower gear so if your engine was turning at 2500 RPM and you wanted to shift to second, You would want to blip the throttle enough to raise engine speed to perhaps around 3200 - 3500 RPM.


When you are upshifting, the RPMs fall off and most people find it pretty easy to adjust to this and to add throttle at the right time so that when the clutch comes back out, they have the proper RPM's for the gear selection/road speed.

However, most people downshift by (1) removing their foot from the throttle, (2) moving the shifter into the next lower (or chosen) gear, then (3) slowly releasing the clutch while adding little or no throttle. This is NOT the proper manner in which to downshift. What you are doing in effect, is riding the clutch in reverse. In others, you probably wouldn't dare attempt to start your car off in third gear because you would have to add a lot of throttle and really slip the clutch to get the car moving. When you downshift like the example I just gave, you are doing something similar to starting off in a higher gear, though it does take more energy to get a car moving from a dead start. Now if you double clutch during the downshift, you are spinning up the gears and the transition to the next gear will be quite smooth.


Junkyard asked a question about the concept of “passing through the neutral gate”. You don’t stop or stay in neutral. You are just passing through, so to speak. In your second question, you said I had mentioned to put the car in neutral when downshifting. Not exactly. Try this with the engine off.

Put the car in fourth. Depress the clutch and shift to third and let the clutch out. Now do the same thing, only this time as you pass through the neutral gate, let the clutch out some or a good deal and blip the throttle, then clutch back in, get into third, clutch comes out for the final time. That is the movement you want.

Incidentally, blipping the throttle is just a little stab at the petal, enough to raise RPMs to the desired level. You do not want to be on the throttle long because you will be in the process of shifting. Yes, this does take a lot of practice and may not come easily for many, but it is the best way, in fact the only proper way, to downshift because it very significantly reduces clutch and synchronizer wear (especially clutch), and once you get the hang of it, you will be able to do it quite fast.

The bottom line to all of this folks is to match engine speed to wheel speed in a given gear, and to do it in such a manner as to eliminate undue trauma to your drive train. I do this all of the time and have been downshifting like this since my very early 20's. I actually learned it from a magazine article (as I can best recall). If you know how a manual transmission and clutch assembly operate, all of the components and how they perform together, you will understand the beauty of the process.

Oh the grinding noise Junkyard hears when he starts letting up the clutch too quickly is most likely due to not having fully engaged the gear teeth and they separate (pop out of gear). That or he actually begins engaging the gear teeth before the clutch is fully depress so there is still some flywheel/disk/pressure plate contact.

One of the things I noticed right off the bat on my SE was that the clutch began to engage much too close to the floor for me (a contributor to the problem Junkyard has had). It was starting to engage about 1 inch from the floor, so I adjusted it out to 2 inches and it is fine. If you do this, just make sure you have the required toeplay, otherwise you will prematurely wear out your release bearing.


The purpose of letting the clutch out some as you pass through the neutral gate is to spin the gears up in preparation for the speed at which they must be at for the lower gear selection. This will allow you to get into that gear very easily. When you depress the clutch, you disengage the crankshaft from the transmission. The gears in the transmission will begin to slow down. By letting out the clutch some (or completely) in the neutral gate, you once again, MOMENTARILY, engage the full drive train and get the gears spinning. Only this time since you have blipped the throttle, they'll be spinning faster. As they slow down from the higher speed, your clutch will be coming out for the final time with the transmission in gear and the mesh will be smooth.

Try it both ways. Do it first the way you do it and notice that you have to add a little bit of force to get the shifter into gear. That's because the synchronizers are doing their job of gear speed meshing. Now try it the way I outlined and if you do it right, you will have virtually no resistance as you slip the shifter into your chosen gear.


Instead of going right into first as the light starts to go green, try starting the shifter into second gear.. don't have to go all the way into gear, though it won't hurt. This slows the gears down just as though you had gone on into first, but it's much easier on the synchronizers. And you won't get the "crunch" you mentioned when you have to move quickly.



To prevent rollback; practice, practice, practice, practice.

One way to do this is to find a nice little hill someplace where you won't be a bother to anyone. Take along some masking tape and mark off two sections with the tape a foot apart. Your goal is to keep the car from coasting back more than 1 foot.. of course you do not use the clutch to hold the car.. use the brakes. As you learn to do this, find another hill a little steeper. And so on, and so on.


__________________
PVick
2002 Alty SE, Silver/Charcoal
214CID V6, Manual Trans
 

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"Don't let the green charge gauge fool you into believing regeneration would cut off as soon as the green bars go off!"

Why do you think that? Have you put some sort of meter on the generator to see that it really is still generating?

Personally, I can feel the regeneration cut out when I'm slowing down. If I'm not using the brakes, it will gradually slow at a constant rate until it reaches a speed that depends on what gear I'm in - about 40 mph in 5th, 17 or so in 2nd - then according to the gauge regeneration will stop, and at the same time the car will begin slowing less quickly, exactly as if the drag caused by regeneration were removed.

So what I do generally is to slow in a particular gear until I get to where regen would cut out, then downshift. Quite often this means shifting directly from 5th to 2nd, since I've never noticed any regeneration in 1st.
 

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I have always downshifted. Normally I downshift to 2nd if I am in the city, and 3rd if I am on the highway. Because of this, my battery is rarely more then 2 bars discharged. Most of the time, it is completely charged. I also seem to get better then average mileage (right now I am getting 70 MPG in the city, crawling through slush) which I know has something to do with my driving habits. I DO NOT follow the advice given in the InsightCentral FAQ as it seems contradictory to what I have observed in the real world.

Heel-toe shifting is easy and saves wear on the clutch and transmission. Also, a downshift means beautiful regen down to 10MPH or so. Hell, I hardly use the friction brakes anymore. :)
 

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james said:
"Don't let the green charge gauge fool you into believing regeneration would cut off as soon as the green bars go off!"

Why do you think that? Have you put some sort of meter on the generator to see that it really is still generating?
Yes, I have a meter connected to the battery current sensor. It's quite telling!

james said:
Personally, I can feel the regeneration cut out when I'm slowing down. If I'm not using the brakes, it will gradually slow at a constant rate until it reaches a speed that depends on what gear I'm in - about 40 mph in 5th, 17 or so in 2nd - then according to the gauge regeneration will stop, and at the same time the car will begin slowing less quickly, exactly as if the drag caused by regeneration were removed.
What you feel is the engine coming out of auto-idle-stop! While you are braking to a stop, the recuperation current reduces fairly smoothly with falling revs. However, once you hit a certain number of rpms, the car will add idle gas again. This reduces engine drag (and may even propel the car somewhat).
 

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Those are both great articles on heel/toe driving technique. :)

I generally like to down shift all the way from fifth the second while on the freeway. Seattle traffic is pretty slow and go, so l like to be in the appropriate gear just incase I need to get going again ASAP. Also, this is habit from performance driving at the track.

How many of us have some sort of track experience? We can share our track knowledge with the regular drivers in the Forum. I'd love to invite some more Insights in my area to our club track events. :)
 

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I have racing and track lapping experience.
In fact, I'm an in-car instructor for Ian Law Racing's Car Control School, and track school.

http://www.carcontrolschool.com
 

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"Yes, I have a meter connected to the battery current sensor."

I'd be interested to know where & how...

"What you feel is the engine coming out of auto-idle-stop!"

I could believe that. Strange, though, that the charging display would choose that exact same moment to show no charging :)

Seems to me that whichever one is really happening, downshifting when the green bars go away is the more efficient. Either you maintain regen, or you stay in fuel-cutoff mode longer.

Not to mention that the amount of power generated is going to depend on the rate that the generator's spinning...
 

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james said:
I'd be interested to know where & how...
Ah, yes, need to write that up sometime. But it's probably OT for this thread. The summary: connect some wires to the hall-effect current sensor that measures battery current. bring the wires to the cockpit and connect to a battery-powered panelmeter. Calibrate the panelmeter against a DC current clamp.
james said:
Seems to me that whichever one is really happening, downshifting when the green bars go away is the more efficient. Either you maintain regen, or you stay in fuel-cutoff mode longer.
My thinking here is this:
When I'm braking down in 5th, it takes only a few seconds to go down from 30mph to 20mph. Even if I was the master of the heal/toe/pinky-finger-in-ear technique or whatever, it would still take time to shift. During that time, Id be getting zero recuperation and use more gas, since I'd be stepping on the gas according to the instructions. In summary, there isn't that much to be gained. In fact, I'd venture to bet that you loose some. So I just choose a relaxing drive with maximum recuperation.
 

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My style varied with the environment:
HIGHWAY:
Red-line the engine for max acceleration... then cruise at ~50 mph.

STOP-N-GO:
Same method, but I use the "hold clutch and coast" method.


Getting good MPGs in stop-n-go traffic is difficult, and I try to avoid it.
 
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