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Old 06-07-2022, 06:30 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Arrow Smaller Ecomods have better Return On Investment

Howdy!

I'm the creator and owner of Champrius, the Champion Camping Prius. I'm a mathematician by training and am interested in bringing various aeromods and ecomods mainstream. I've participated in three successful startups, and did business consulting for many years.

I have seen lots of quality data about the fuel economy increases gained by various mods. But there is much less data about their economic impact on the owner, which is one of the compelling value propositions for many decision makers. Some people want to save the planet, and some want to save their wallet.

Let me give a concrete example. When I first bought my car Champrius, she got 39 MPG. I spent $600+ dollars and 4 hrs+ of time getting her a tune-up and new tires, which increased mpg to 42, or ~ +7% increase. When I did grille blocking, I spent $20 and 30 minutes of time to get an equivalent outcome (actually slightly better). Presented in that way, it's a no brainer to do the ecomod. It's cheaper and faster. And as a product pitch, to be able to say: "Buy this $40 widget and you'll save $20/10K miles driven" is also a no brainer purchase decision.

Moreover, there is also long term revenue. There's a notion in business called Return On Investment (ROI). That's how long it takes a money saving improvement to payback the initial amount it cost; the cost / ROI is the rate at which it generates "extra" revenue (assuming zero maintenance). As such, I've not only tracked the FE improvements for the various ecomods but also their ROI.

I've noted an important trend that ye ecomodders might be interested in, which is that small ecomods have much better ROI than large ones. When I first started ecomodding I was gung ho and slapped a boat tail on my car, and saw huge mpg improvements. But that cost a lot of upfront moola, had a lot of risk, and took a long time to pay itself off (~35K miles).

If I had to do it all over again, I would do it much differently. First, I would begin with deletions with near zero cost or time. Second, I would do all the small ecomods with low ROI (< 10K miles) and highest cost/ROI rates. Third, I would then use the savings from that to fund larger projects.

Another benefit of doing taking the small to large route is experience accrual. I made some major (and costly) mistakes on my large mods, which being expensive, cost me a lot. It makes a lot more sense to make our novice mistakes on low cost parts and materials than high cost.

In the end, it all came out in the wash. I've already saved more in gas from my mods than the original price of my car. But I could have saved enough to be halfway into a new car had I taken a different approach. Meaning, to focus on the mods that save money at a faster rate rather than those that improve fuel economy more.

Anyhoo, I hope other modders out there can benefit from my experience. I certainly don't get any benefit from it.

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Old 06-07-2022, 06:46 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Excellent points.

I will add the caveat that it generally is difficult to accurately account for everything. The price of fuel is extremely volatile, for instance, so assumptions about price have to be made. Then it's hard to estimate how long a given mod might take. Often I spend a lot of time just thinking or reading about it first, followed by an initial attempt, and later refined. This is even for the extremely simple mods (the only I've tried) like using pipe insulation as a grill block. Finally, accounting for the benefit requires careful measurement prior to the mod, and after the mod. It isn't enough to look at the average MPG prior to the mod, and then observe it after the mod because the other variables aren't held constant.

So, I'm absolutely in favor of your approach to modding, but quantifying the benefits requires rigorous testing methodologies.

As an aside, you might appreciate my attempt at calculating vehicle cost of ownership linked in my signature. Always appreciate feedback on how to improve or clarify it.
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Old 06-07-2022, 07:01 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redpoint5 View Post
Excellent points.

I will add the caveat that it generally is difficult to accurately account for everything. The price of fuel is extremely volatile, for instance, so assumptions about price have to be made. Then it's hard to estimate how long a given mod might take. Often I spend a lot of time just thinking or reading about it first, followed by an initial attempt, and later refined. This is even for the extremely simple mods (the only I've tried) like using pipe insulation as a grill block. Finally, accounting for the benefit requires careful measurement prior to the mod, and after the mod. It isn't enough to look at the average MPG prior to the mod, and then observe it after the mod because the other variables aren't held constant.

So, I'm absolutely in favor of your approach to modding, but quantifying the benefits requires rigorous testing methodologies.

As an aside, you might appreciate my attempt at calculating vehicle cost of ownership linked in my signature. Always appreciate feedback on how to improve or clarify it.
Hmmm... I agree with you that price volatility of gas (especially now with the war in the Ukraine) makes it difficult to precisely quantify real ROI. BUT, if we kept track of and published how much each mod cost and how much time it took, we could easily make the decision what order to do them in. That's independent of the price of gas, and the more relevant information to an ecomodder, especially a beginning one.

By the way, we of course also need to know how much fuel economy improvement we get from each ecomod. So the figure of merit we want is something like:
+% FE / ($ Cost) * (Hr Complete)
and we'd want to do them in order of larger merit first.

The 65+ Vehicle Mods is already sensitive to this data. With a little extra legwork we could quantitatively order that page by which mods to focus on first, vs. which can be defrayed until later. All we'd need to do is add a Rating on it which was the figure of merit above, normalized from 0 to 10 or somesuch.

I was actually just talking with about Total Cost of Ownership with a friend of mine who was about to buy a car! I'll direct them to your calculator and take a gander at it myself. Thanks!
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and ask in depth questions here:
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The goal is 70 mpg this time around.

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Old 06-07-2022, 08:30 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Acura TSX - '06 Acura TSX
90 day: 24.19 mpg (US)

Lafawnda - '01 Honda CBR600 F4i
90 day: 47.32 mpg (US)

Big Yeller - '98 Dodge Ram 2500 base
90 day: 21.82 mpg (US)

Prius Plug-in - '12 Toyota Prius Plug-in
90 day: 57.64 mpg (US)

Mazda CX-5 - '17 Mazda CX-5 Touring
90 day: 26.68 mpg (US)

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I advocate the use of spreadsheets for most decision making, even subjective decisions like what to eat for dinner.

I made a spreadsheet where I listed various dinners, and rated 1-5 how much I liked each one. Then I had my wife rate each dish. Then I rated how difficult each dish was to prepare. My preference added to my wife's preference, and divided by preparation difficulty shows which dishes we should have more frequently.

Similarly, I have a spreadsheet of tasks I want to accomplish. I rate how important each task is and how long it will take to complete. The tasks are then ranked with the easiest and most important being the ones to focus on, with those most difficult and least important at the end. I never look at this list because then I'd have to do the things on it rather than the things that interest me.

Anyhow, mods could easily be ranked by % improvement vs cost/difficulty to implement.
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Old 06-07-2022, 09:49 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I'm 100% onboard with quantifying returns on investment, and I too keep spreadsheets. Now that you mention it, I will try to be more rigorous with my next vehicle in documenting costs and ROI.

That said, I don't really Ecomod to save money, at least not anymore. I mod to reduce fuel consumption, and to personalize my car. I buy a car I know I can love, and one that's frugal, and my tinkering actively displaces more expensive hobbies.
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Old 06-08-2022, 09:13 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redpoint5 View Post
I advocate the use of spreadsheets for most decision making, even subjective decisions like what to eat for dinner.

I made a spreadsheet where I listed various dinners, and rated 1-5 how much I liked each one. Then I had my wife rate each dish. Then I rated how difficult each dish was to prepare. My preference added to my wife's preference, and divided by preparation difficulty shows which dishes we should have more frequently.

Similarly, I have a spreadsheet of tasks I want to accomplish. I rate how important each task is and how long it will take to complete. The tasks are then ranked with the easiest and most important being the ones to focus on, with those most difficult and least important at the end. I never look at this list because then I'd have to do the things on it rather than the things that interest me.

Anyhow, mods could easily be ranked by % improvement vs cost/difficulty to implement.
That is awesome! I forwarded this post onto the little woman, I think she will like that post.
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Old 06-08-2022, 12:17 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Talos Woten View Post
By the way, we of course also need to know how much fuel economy improvement we get from each ecomod. So the figure of merit we want is something like:
+% FE / ($ Cost) * (Hr Complete)
and we'd want to do them in order of larger merit first.

The 65+ Vehicle Mods is already sensitive to this data. With a little extra legwork we could quantitatively order that page by which mods to focus on first, vs. which can be defrayed until later. All we'd need to do is add a Rating on it which was the figure of merit above, normalized from 0 to 10 or somesuch.
Variation between different vehicles will make it difficult to be very precise. But I like the idea.

Another thing to consider is how long you plan to own the car, and how long it'll take for a mod to pay itself off. If the break-even point isn't before you sell the car, it's not worth the effort.

I also refuse to do some popular mods, because the ROI just isn't there. For example, I won't build a boat-tail for my Prius, because it would take a significant amount of time and resources. I'd rather focus on cheap easy stuff that gets results.

That said, there are some people who do such things just for the joy of it. And I respect that. It's fun to watch someone build it. But I'll leave that to them.
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Old 06-08-2022, 12:51 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Presented in that way, it's a no brainer to do the ecomod.
Unless it needed tires. They're a wear item while the grill block is not,.
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Old 06-08-2022, 05:21 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Anyone checked the effectiveness (time, energy, etc.) of making all of your excels?
I do it too, fyi :P

Anyhow, some of the calculations give error messages due to dividing by zero - pumping tires, engine braking, ecodriving, etc.
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Old 06-08-2022, 08:02 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Cool Story Time

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ecky View Post
That said, I don't really Ecomod to save money, at least not anymore. I mod to reduce fuel consumption, and to personalize my car. I buy a car I know I can love, and one that's frugal, and my tinkering actively displaces more expensive hobbies.
Let me share with you a story that deeply affected me. I consulted for many years in the energy industry. It was obvious decades ago that we (as a species) needed to transition off fossil fuels and onto sustainable and renewable energy. But the major energy companies refused to do so because it was too expensive.

Enter renewables over the last couple decades. The price per kWh installed of things like solar and wind kept dropping, but were still more expensive than fossil fuel plants. Eventually they became lower total cost of ownership, and still energy companies resisted transitioning. And then the literal second it became cheaper to build renewable plants than fossil fuel burning ones, every major energy company on the planet rebranded themselves as green and started building environmentally friendly power plants.

The lesson I took away from that experience was that the way to catalyze large scale positive change is to arrange things so that people make more money doing the right thing. All too often "doing the right thing" is synonymous with "paying a premium". What to eat healthy and organic? That will cost you more. Want to use ecologically friendly products? +15% markup.

Ecomods are an enviable position that it's one of the few strategies out there where doing the right thing (use less transportation energy) already makes more money (by paying less for fuel). It's also a double whammy where the ROI horizon is something a real consumer would consider investing in, i.e. something that pays back within 1-4 years.

Anyhoo, my goal is catalyzing positive social change, and ecomods seem like a ripe area. That's why I'm so keen on getting fiscal data in addition to the FE. It will identify the mods / products most suitable for widescale deployment. Oh, and I'm also a cheap *******, so it also suits my misery mindset.

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Currently building Champrius 4.0! Follow starting here:
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and ask in depth questions here:
https://ecomodder.com/forum/showthre...tml#post669277

The goal is 70 mpg this time around.

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