Prius Personal Log  #9

May 20, 2001  -  June 10, 2001

Last Updated: Fri. 7/04/2003

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6-10-2001

It's a small world after all.  My brother went to a class reunion yesterday.  That resulted in a very unexpected discovery.  His roommate's father, the guy I briefly meet many years ago when I helped my brother move, helped to develop the original Prius engine.  Whoa!  I had crossed paths with my destiny years ago and didn't even know it.  Sweet!

6-10-2001

Drive-Thrus are a blast.  At the window, I hand the person money and a website cards 2.  Some recipients could care less, others get so excited they call others over to the window to check out the car.  In this case, it was the latter.  The reaction was fantastic.  I quickly handed out cards to everyone that had flocked there, about 8 people I believe, then silently drove away.  It was very fulfilling (and so was the "Peanut Buster Parfait")!

6-09-2001

Severe Summer Storm.  I'm cruising down the highway with the bike on back getting about 45 MPG.  Then all of a sudden the sky turns black, trees start to bend over from the fierce near head-on wind, and I begin to get pounded by pouring rain.  Oh! Oh!  Having a significant aerodynamic compromise on the car, a bike on a rack, I didn't know what to expect.  But to my surprise, the Prius handled fine.  I wasn't too thrilled that the MPG dropped all the way to 30 though.

6-08-2001

The "MPG Fairy" made an unexpected visit.  MPG climbed all the way to 67.8 when after filling the tank then driving down hill.  On my routine drive, that had never happened before.  But I figured it would plummet as soon as I got out on the highway and drove back up.  That didn't happen!  After driving a total of 33 miles, it only dropped to 56.4 MPG.  Whoa!

6-06-2001

Maximum Acceleration.  I had a Trans Am behind me and a "muscle" car on the side.  Both looked very ready for the light to turn green.  So I said, "What the heck!"  From a dead stop, I punched the pedal all the way to the floor.  Boy was that ever strange.  In a traditional vehicle, that would have opened the throttle all the way resulting in a roar from the engine and possible over-spinning of the tires followed by a significant lunge forward.  In the Prius, the computer knows that's quite wasteful.  So instead, the engine just revved a little more than usual, the bulk of the thrust came from the motor.  I had no idea it would be that brisk & smooth from a state-of-rest.  (And neither the either of those cars!)  Since rapid acceleration has only ever been needed when the Prius was already moving, I had never tried it that way.  (Now I suppose I'll end up craving the sensation occasionally.  Or worse, you'll send me an email saying you had to try it yourself after reading this.  Sorry.)

6-06-2001

Weird Weather.  I'm really getting tired of it.  We've been keeping track of weather for over 110 years now. Breaking records on a regular basis shouldn't be normal at this point.  December 2000 was both the second coldest and second snowiest in Minnesota recorded history.  The 90's were the hottest known decade.  Right now is day 17 of a cold spell.  (My MPG is suppose to be in the low 50's, not the temperature.)  And the number of storms has increased.  Thank goodness hybrids are now on the road to help reduce this trend by not emitting as much pollution and carbon dioxide.  Every little bit really does make a difference.

6-05-2001

I couldn't get behind him.  It was really frustrating.  I needed to get off the highway.  Being polite, I tried to get behind the huge pickup rather than zipping in front of him (though having that power available, I was tempted).  He slowed down.  So I slowed down even more.  Then he slowed down again.  At that point, I needed to use the brakes in order to make the exit.  That's when I noticed what he was doing.  He was checking out the car, trying to stay as close as possible to get a good look inside.  I hadn't realized I was competing with his sense of curiosity!

6-05-2001

Exactly one year ago.  I was freaking out because I had just placed an order for a 2001 Toyota Prius.  Back then, barely anyone knew what a hybrid was.  I felt quite alone.  Who would have thought that it would have resulted in so much enjoyment and such a huge website.  Whoa!

6-04-2001

15,000 mile service.  I drove into my Toyota dealer's service area, then walked over to the counter to tell them I was there for my appointment.  Without even saying anything, someone looked up and said, "We need more of your cards."  That was completely unexpected.  Apparently, they recognize my Prius and I there now.  Cool!  Anywho, to get the 19-point inspection, oil & filter change, and rotate the tires, it took a little less than an hour.  And the bill was effortless this time.  All I had to do was sign right next to the $0.00 amount.  Free service sure is nice.

6-03-2001

Stealth-Mode in rural areas.  You fly through farm country at highway speeds.  Then all of a sudden you have to slow down to 30 MPH to drive through a very small town.  That used to be really annoying, now it's a blast.  A brief moment in stealth is very satisfying.

6-03-2001

Energy-Monitor was my favorite today.  The wild spring temperature changes got me fixated on the Consumption-Screen.  But today, driving through southern Minnesota (about 1 hour south of the Twin Cities) on the very hilly back roads with the bike on back, I needed to see what the engine, motor, and batteries were doing.  Seeing the car climb right up the steep inclines using only electricity from the engine was fascinating.  It's nice knowing the battery power is available if I need it, but it is even better knowing how long the batteries will last since they aren't used all the time.  Being able to generate electricity on-the-fly is a great feature many people overlook.

6-03-2001

3 MPG less with the bike-rack.  Dragging a bike sideways behind the Prius attached to a receiver-hitch rack didn't affect mileage too much.  I can live with a 3 MPG (or so) drop.

6-03-2001

Bike-Rack fits in the trunk.  The Taurus was never tall enough, but the Prius is.  Boy, is that ever handy!  And people think the trunk is "small" just because it isn't excessively deep.

6-03-2001

Driving with just electricity is kind of weird on dirt.  That's what I said to get the attention of the people in the dirt parking lot with me.  It worked.  They were instantly curious.  So I handed them a card and mentioned a little about the hybrid.  They replied with a number of questions, then left.  They went east, I went west.  When I returned 2 hours later, I saw the bikes on their car.  But where were they?  Sure enough, I caught them checking out the Prius.  They laughed!

6-03-2001

11 Summer Photos!  I couldn't believe the time had finally come.  I celebrated by driving about 1 hour south of the Twin Cities into farm country.  The clouds were very puffy & turbulent.  The foreground was a vibrant green.  The bluffs made a great background.  And the bike was on the receiver-hitch rack (which provides perspective, showing how big and practical the Prius really is).  Everything was perfect for a new set of photos: photo album 17

6-02-2001

Sunset! Another colorful photo opportunity.  This one actually caught me by surprise.  I was sitting at one of the highest points in the valley watching the sun go down with my digital camera when I suddenly realized I was in a parking lot.  All I needed to do was walk backward about 40 feet to include the Prius in a photo.  So I did.  The results are quite pleasing: photo album 17

6-01-2001

Rainbows! A colorful photo opportunity.  Isolated storms passed through the area.  When the sun came out, there was a dark background of large very active clouds.  The recipe for rainbows.  I jumped in the Prius with my digital camera.  It wasn't a pot-of-gold I was after, it was colorful Prius photos.  And I got some!  See: photo album 18

6-01-2001

2002 Prius made its debut.  Well, sort of. You can order it now, but delivery won't be until September.  Nonetheless, we all know what's happening with the next model year in the United States.  The base price didn't change.  There are 2 new colors: Blue Moon Pearl & Brilliant Blue Pearl and 4 new options: Cruise Control (which can also be installed in 2001 models), Daytime Running Lights, Navigation System, and Side Air-Bags.

5-31-2001

47.3 MPG average for May 2001.  That's not bad, especially when you consider there were quite a few days with temps in the 50's.  And at one point, the thermometer dropped all the way to 39 F degrees.  Watching my MPG also drop wasn't fun.  But I definitely can't complain about the end result.

5-31-2001

The Taurus.  I've mentioned it on a few occasions but never really provided any details.  It's a 1994 Ford Taurus LX with 105,000 miles.  I bought it new and (unfortunately) ended up with a lengthy major repair list.  But it works surprisingly well now (for a gasoline-only vehicle).  I use it to keep myself in-check.  Driving about 100 miles per month, I'm able to compare a traditional vehicle to a hybrid on a regular basis.  Those experiences are always eye-opening.

5-31-2001

Toyota Hybrid System Presentation.  The Internet is very handy.  On the Yahoo Club, Dave (aka: ee_of_ee) asked if anyone would like a copy of the PowerPoint presentation he had just given.  I jumped at the chance and asked if it was ok to publish.  I got it and permission was given.  So I converted the file into a form that everyone could quickly & easily access regardless of what software they were using or how fast of a connection they had.  Wanna see it yourself, just click this link: presentations

5-31-2001

Whoa! The Prius really is taller.  That's what my dad said when he looked into my open garage.  The Prius was parked right next to the Taurus, that made the bigger size obvious.  Too bad it's so much harder to see that size out on the open road.

5-26-2001

Lots of Hybrid Rubber-Necking now.  Wow!  Ever since President Bush mentioned hybrids in his energy plan last week, I've had a ton of people pass me slowly with their head turned all the way to the side to check out the Prius.  It's pretty obvious that "hybrid" is now a term more people understand.  Excellent!

5-24-2001

The temperature dropped to the mid 40's, so did my MPG.  This morning was the worst, it was only 39 F degrees.  Seeing MPG in the low 50's turned into just a distant memory.  I wasn't happy.  Isn't it suppose to be close to summer now?

5-23-2001

Another segment on the local news.  This one was 5 minutes long.  It covered new diesels, Insight, and Prius.  With the next generation of diesel, they mentioned the higher than gasoline MPG, were pleased with how quiet it was, but complained about the rough vibration.  (Unfortunately, they forgot to include the fact that current emissions are so dirty the EPA limits how many can be sold.)  The Insight got a great review for a little, sporty car that gets outstanding MPG.  They were "pleasantly surprised" with it.  Then came the family car, Prius.  The seamless electric transition was lovingly praised.  Power and acceleration were comparable to other V6 sedans on the road.  And they concluded by saying, "when you see what you're seeing at the gas pumps, the new technology starts to look pretty logical".

5-22-2001

Brakes, they should all be like on the Prius.  When I want to stop or just slow down my hybrid, all I have to do is step lightly on the brake with a constant pressure.  The computer automatically determines what ratio of regeneration and conventional braking is needed.  Too bad the brakes on traditional vehicles aren't like that.  Instead, you have to press firmly to slow down then push even harder when you want to come to a complete stop.  So when someone drives a Prius for the first time, they think the brake is touchy not realizing that's the way brakes should have been built all along.  Oh well, at least new drivers in the future won't have to deal with 20th century technology the way we did.  They'll just hear stories that start this way: "Around the turn of the 21st century, there were still vehicles on the road that..."

5-20-2001

The receiver-hitch is easy to notice now.  Yesterday was my first day working underneath the Prius, out in the driveway, listening to music, enjoying the pleasant weather.  The job of painting the hitch properly finally began.  I put a thick layer of brush-on primer over everything, including the inner shaft (that got a bit messy).  The nice glossy-black finish will soon be on.  But in the meantime, the hitch is a very noticeable rusty brown color.  Ick!

 

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