Fastskinz Vehicle Wraps May Not Be an Easy Solution to Increased Miles per Gallon
Not too long ago, a company called Fastskinz released a product that was supposed to increase your average fuel mileage by up to 20%. The idea was fool proof, simply cover you vehicle with a made-to-fit skin and viola, instant boost in miles per gallon. Sure it sounds great, but does it actually work? According to a test conducted by our friends at Popular Mechanics, it may actually decrease your fuel economy.
Ideally, as you travel along, Fastskinz are supposed to disrupt the barrier usually present between your vehicle's exterior and the surrounding air. In doing so, drag is reduced and less fuel is consumed. There is a much more technical breakdown of the whole process on the Fastskinz website if you would like a more in depth explanation.
So, do they really work? Popular Mechanics took a pair of identical Ford Flexes and wrapped one of them in the Fastskinz coating. The other was left completely stock. Each fuel tank was precisely filled to the maximum amount and all 8 tires were pressurized to the recommended 35PSI. The vehicles were then driven at highway speeds until the fuel tanks were essentially empty. Along the way, the in-dash MPG readout was recorded and then compared to the other vehicle.
At 139.9 miles the unwrapped Flex was showing an extra 1.2 miles per gallon by the in-dash system. By 271.1, that margin had decreased to 0.4mpg, still in favor of the unwrapped Flex. By the conclusion of the test, a total of 430 miles had been covered and the in-dash metering system was still in favor of the skinless Flex by 0.8mpg. To make sure those numbers were fairly accurate, the team returned to a fuel station and again refilled the vehicles, taking care to accurately measure the amount of fuel needed to top off the tanks. Once everything had been totaled and averaged, the Flex with the Fastskinz covering equipped managed 24.52 miles to the gallon. The stock Ford Flex returned 24.55 miles per gallon.
So where did the claim of improved aerodynamics and more miles per gallon come from? While nothing detailing the method of testing can be found on the Fastskinz website, there is a blog entry that describes an increase in performance that was seen while riding a high performance motorcycle. The rider, Leslie Porterfield, currently holds 3 land speed records and attributes an additional 3 mile per hour in the standing mile to the Fastskinz cover. She also went on to tell about a drastic reduction in turbulence at high speeds.
So does the Fastskinz coating work on some vehicles, while others will see no change? The possibility does exist, and could very well turn out to be the case down the line. For now, I think better driving habits are the best way to get the most out of your fuel.