The Suzuki Ertiga Hybrid is a mild-hybrid offering in the seven-seater MPV segment and with a starting price of P954,000, it is also one of, if not the most, affordable electrified vehicles for Filipinos. To show off its features, Suzuki Philippines held a competition where 10 teams were challenged to drive the car as fuel-efficiently as possible.
The drive spanned a total of 80km starting from Suzuki Auto Kawit in Cavite, and ending at Sea Oil in Bay, Laguna. The route passed through different expressways such as CAVITEX, NAIAX, and Skyway but also passed through high-traffic areas such as the local towns.
What differentiates the Ertiga Hybrid from a normal car is its mild-hybrid system. However, unlike a plug-in hybrid vehicle, it is never propelled solely by the electric motor.
During startup and takeoff, the motor simply assists the engine to reduce fuel consumption, not to increase power output. So you aren’t supposed to feel anything different behind the wheel.
The battery charges when the car decelerates and when there’s enough charge, the Engine Auto Stop Start System kicks in when the vehicle reaches a complete stop.
This didn’t work so smoothly though as there were times when it didn’t activate even with sufficient charge. Suzuki said it won’t work when the electrical load is high, but it’s hard to believe that’s the case when the aircon wasn’t even running. (Yes, our team didn’t use the air-conditioning. Not normal, I admit.)
With Seiko watches at stake, the people behind the wheel of 10 Ertiga Hybrids tried to be as economical as possible. Some drove normally, but the more competitive ones—including my team—resorted to hypermiling.
If this is your first time hearing the term, it refers to employing various techniques to maximize every drop of fuel, such as keeping the aircon off, drafting behind other vehicles, and keeping the car rolling smoothly at a constant speed.
These run contrary to the driving habits of Filipinos in a rush on the road, honking at others to get out of the way, only to be first at the stoplight. In the end, not only does this waste fuel but it also endangers other road users.
Once the results were announced, even the winners were surprised as the group swore they didn’t resort to hypermiling. Apparently driving with the aircon set to 24°C and the cruise control at 80km/h, they were able to get a fuel efficiency of 26.8km/L.
In the end, Suzuki Philippines didn’t release the rest of the results, so there’s no telling how much of a difference there was between my team and the winning one.
If there’s anything we can draw from this, it’s that my team’s attempt at hypermiling didn’t work, and the Suzuki Ertiga Hybrid can be a pretty fuel-efficient car in the right hands. Assuming the results were accurate, of course.