You're a modern global citizen who wants to do your best to protect the environment and cut down on our fossil fuel usage, but you can't go completely carless. Saving a few bucks on fuel wouldn't hurt either, with
stuck in the stratosphere. Finding an ultra-efficient vehicle, therefore, is a must. The Prius seems to be all the rage for mileage conscious motorists, but it doesn't give a big enough edge over gas-sipping superminis, or even a few compact
, to really make it a true bargain. But there are a number of computers onboard, and anywhere we find computers, we typically find hackers. The Prius and other
are not immune. But rather than wreaking havoc with unsuspecting drivers, these hackers have taken it upon themselves to
their cars to maximize mileage. These hackers are part of a growing trend in Japan and are known as
, or "mileage maniacs." Takashi Toya is one such nenpimania.
Toya is just one of approximately 100 mileage maniacs in Japan who try to outdo each other and post the highest mileage from their Priuses. According to this Bloomberg article, he has streamlined his already slippery car by fitting special tires, taping plastic and cardboard over the engine, and blocking his grille with foam rubber. He also drives without shoes. Not sure why, but it was an interesting detail that made us tend to side with Toya's wife, who reportedly thinks he has joined a cult. Seriously though, Toya's mods and the computer hacks he's done add up to as much as 79 mpg. And that doesn't even make him top dog. An Akita prefecture resident nicknamed ``Teddy-Girl'' has recorded almost 116 mpg. That's enough to drive from Dallas to Los Angeles without a gas stop to refill the 12-gallon tank on the Prius.
Thanks for the tip, Michael!