Grandfather-grandson duo plan on 70-mpg road trip


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A Utah Valley grandfather and his grandson are off on a grand adventure on a long-distance drive to Alaska. But what makes their trip extraordinary is how much, or little, gas they plan to use getting there.

Gas now costs more than $4 a gallon, and many folks are abandoning some traditional gasoline-powered cars because they get, maybe, 15 miles per gallon. How would you like to do way better than that?

One Utah man says he can do it, and he's driving 3,000 miles to prove it. In his diesel-powered VW Beetle, with a license plate reading MAX MPG and a specially-made drag-reducing fin, Ernie Rogers and his grandson Garrett are off on an epic drive.

Grandfather-grandson duo plan on 70-mpg road trip

From Salt Lake to Anchorage, 3,050 miles, Rogers says he can do it using just 42 gallons of gas. "I expect to get 70 miles per gallon," he said. "I got 70 the other day without the drag reducer."

Their trip comes just as Ford Motors announced an $8 billion loss, and as consumers dump SUVs for more fuel-efficient cars. Rogers, a retired aerospace engineer, calls that "terrible."

Rogers says there are three simple things, each saving gas, any driver can do to get better mileage: One, don't drive so fast. Two, experiment with engine oil to find one which gets the best mileage. And three, get the most efficient tires -- usually the same as off the factory floor -- and keep them well-inflated.

Grandfather-grandson duo plan on 70-mpg road trip

Rogers did those things, and now his normally 50 mile-per-gallon car gets 70-plus. It's a worthy standard, in this age of limits, grandpa and grandson are proud of.

"Just to stand out and make an example for everyone so you kind of feel like you're leading," Garrett said.

Rogers said, "We've only been driving cars about 100 years, and in that 100 years, we've almost used up all the oil, and we'll just move on to something else. We have to learn to live within our means."

Rogers and his grandson expect to get to Anchorage on Monday. We'll check in with them and see how much fuel they use.

They just crossed into Canada, and due to some rough-road conditions, so far, they're not getting 70 mpg. They are, however, getting 65 mpg, which still sounds pretty good.

E-mail: jdaley@ksl.com

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