Prius Personal Log  #100

January 20, 2004  -  January 24, 2004

Last Updated: Sat. 6/12/2004

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1-24-2004

Unrealistic Dreams.  It was almost to the point of absurdity, but I don't let stuff like that get to me anymore.  We stopped at a restaurant.  By dumb luck, the waiter sat us right next to the Prius.  So I pointed it out through the window.  He said he'd much rather have a sports car, one that sold for about $135,000.  The thought about that never becoming a reality passed my mind.  I didn't say that though.  Instead, I pointed out that he wouldn't be able to drive a car like that during the Winter, then asked if a Prius would be appealing as a bad weather alternate.  He said, "No".  All he cared about was getting his dream vehicle... which will likely never happen.  A $20,000 (or so) Prius is far more realistic.

1-24-2004

Driftwood Pearl.  My friend wasn't certain about the Driftwood color, based the few scarce photos available.  But then he saw in bright daylight, that silver luster really pleased him.  It's really hard to describe the effect.  I attempted to capture it with my digital camera.  Stay tuned to find out if I did a good job.

1-24-2004

Road Trip:  Shooting the 2004 Prius.  That's with a digital camera, of course.  On the trip south, we made note of the locations that would offer a nice scenic background.  Unexpected, we discovered there's a rather large Wind Turbine farm in Northern Iowa.  There were 89 giant 900kW fans spinning in the Winter wind.  Wow!  It was a spectacular sight.  So naturally, we stopped on the drive home.  With so many of those giants in the background, one of those photos (I nearly froze to death trying to take, cold and lots of wind are a nasty combination) should have come out well.  It was a very excited experience, then the ending really was electrifying.  A man saw us there.  So he ran out from his house and handed us both "Info-Sheets".  How about that, they had a handout just like the Info-Sheet the Prius owners have.  It was quite informative, witnessing totally renewable energy at it's best.  I'm going to have to drive down there (http://www.zilkha.com for more info) again in the Summer.  I was definitely impressed.  And naturally, seeing green fields will compliment the current yellow ones nicely.

1-24-2004

Road Trip:  Spotting another 2004 Prius.  By amazing cosmic coincidence, he and I spotted our first Seaside just 20 seconds after leaving the dealer!  There was a beautiful Seaside Pearl 2004 Prius sitting right there, as plain as day.  What are the odds of that?  So we stopped for an impromptu photo shoot.  And just when we got setup, a man approached us (an obvious spectacle, having 3 unique looking vehicles all parked next to each other at the end of the parking lot) yelling, "Which one of you is John?"  He had instantly figured out what was happening, seeing the 1701-A license on my Prius.  He found that amusing, and he mentioned attending one of our gatherings someday.  He also mentioned having to drive north into Minnesota to buy his 2004 Prius.  (Current owners are obviously the very devoted type.)  And then, by another extraordinary sequence of events, I turned around and noticed the car parked in the next row over was a Civic-Hybrid.  How bizarre!  That was spontaneous mini-gathering!  Whoa!

1-24-2004

Road Trip:  Purchasing the 2004 Prius.  That experience was even easier than mine.  I was really impressed (and rather relieved).  We got to inspect the vehicle in the warm garage.  Naturally, I started playing with everything.  All checked out.  So then, we took it for a spin.  The salesperson sat in back and observed, having no where near as much experience with Prius as either of us.  That all went well too... until we stopped.  I got out and walked around the car, scanning for differences.  I found one too.  There was a bit of condensation in the LED section of the back-light assembly.  Could that have been caused by this first real drive in the cold?  Would it be worked out as heat was introduced inside for the first time never to return?  That's possible.  Out the seal is easier then back in.  It was non-existent the next time we stopped to.  Perhaps I'm more observant than necessary.  Oh well.  All the paperwork went without a hitch.  It was officially his Prius now, well loaded as he had been dreaming about since last summer.  Hooray!

1-24-2004

Road Trip:  Getting to the 2004 Prius.  The day was beautiful, sunny and warmer than normal.  We were driving south, from the Twin Cities in Minnesota to a dealer in Northern Iowa.  Our travel took us past the snow line, the ground became visible.  We hadn't see that in a long time.  It all set a very good mood.  We'd have great photo opportunities on the trip back.  When our highway exit approached, I clicked the "Emergency" button on the Navigation System.  On that list that appeared were Toyota dealers, all listed by distance.  The closest was obviously the one we wanted.  Selecting that, then pressing the Guide button was all it took.  When I began driving again, the NAV-Lady spoke & displayed directional information.  But we were heading toward a newly developed city, in the middle of farm country.  So when we got within 2 miles, where we had to turn off the main throughway, the NAV-Lady apologized for not having any further detail available.  Then she showed us where the dealer is located based on Latitude & Longitude coordinates and instructed us to attempt to find it using the dot on the map and the "as the crow flies" distance indicator.  It was pure GPS navigation from that point.  And sure enough, we found it by simply tracking roads that lead to the dot.  We had made it to the dealer without any trouble and right on schedule.  Excellent!

1-24-2004

Road Trip:  Locating the 2004 Prius.  Call all of the dealers in your state and the surrounding states.  Tell them to call back as soon as a Prius matching your preferences becomes available, agreeing that you will sign & fax a purchase agreement along with locking the deal via a credit-card charge immediately after getting notified.  Lots of waiting will follow.  Finally, a few phone calls, a fax, and $500 later, the deed was done.  My friend got his 2004 Prius that way.  So today, we jumped in my Prius and 250 miles later (round trip), he actually had his Prius.  Yeah!

1-23-2004

The New Misconception.  There are a number of people that believe the hybrid system will deliver increased travel distance.  That simply isn't true.  Range is actually similar to what many people traditionally get. 

That gauge was setup to provide indication of fuel-level for 9 gallons of non-emergency use.  You drive until the "Add Fuel" message is displayed, then refill the tank.  That provides an expectation, based on the MPG shown on the Multi-Display, of roughly:

40 MPG = 360 miles
41 MPG = 369 miles
42 MPG = 378 miles
43 MPG = 387 miles
44 MPG = 396 miles
45 MPG = 405 miles
46 MPG = 414 miles
47 MPG = 423 miles
48 MPG = 432 miles
49 MPG = 441 miles
50 MPG = 450 miles
51 MPG = 459 miles
52 MPG = 468 miles
53 MPG = 477 miles
54 MPG = 486 miles
55 MPG = 495 miles

So basically, you are getting distance potential comparable to that of a traditional gasoline-powered automatic-transmission midsize car. 

Expecting more has become a new misconception, due to the misleading EPA estimates for MPG.  Though, you really do have reserve capacity beyond the 9 gallons.  But it varies based on temperature (due to the bladder inside, used for evaporative emission reduction) and how gas is physically pumped into the tank.  So don't plan on routinely using it.  "Think Nine and You'll Be Fine."

1-23-2004

Market Approach.  I found this comment a reporter published today rather amusing: "You don't sell big pickups in America by bragging about their fuel-efficiency and clean tailpipes."  And of course, my response is that no clean & fuel-efficient big pickup has ever been available before.  So how could he possibly already know the outcome of those future sales?  In other words, he just applied traditional logic to a hybrid.  That isn't appropriate.  Hybrids are quite simply too different, an option never available in the past.  There's more too.  This other quote was amusing as well: "It is why GM, Ford and the Chrysler Group of DaimlerChrysler, long and erroneously perceived as environmental laggards, will soon launch an onslaught of gas-electric hybrids that truly will make the Prius yesterday's news."  Really?  Some of those hybrids are only expected to deliver a 10% to 15% increase in efficiency.  How can that possibly compete with the 100% increase Prius provides?  And of course, when Prius beginning exceeding 150,000 miles in large numbers still using the original battery-pack, it will be difficult not to hear the songs of praise owner's start singing about Toyota's design.  Also, he's overlooking the fact that Prius will eventually be upgraded again.  The 2008 model could be truly amazing!  So there!!!

1-23-2004

Bluetooth Oops!  You have to be very careful about the placement of the phone.  Being able connect wirelessly sure is handy, but it's not perfect.  I found that out the hard way.  While talking with my sister, all of a sudden I heard another voice talking to me.  That's because I had the phone in my pocket pressing against the seatbelt.  The button-lock is disabled when the phone is being used.  Leaning on the phone caused the "1" button to be depressed & held.  That hung up on my conversation in progress and connected me to my voice-mail.  Oops!  Needless to say, using an upper pocket instead is a better choice.  The one down by my waist was just asking for trouble.  Oh well, I've learned my lesson.

1-22-2004

Cold Behavior.  The temperature outside has a definite affect on how the hybrid system deals with your requests.  And cool part is (no pun intended), many don't notice the difference.  Of course, that's not totally new.  Higher idle and a different air-intake is something traditional vehicles have used for ages to deal with the cold.  -13 F degrees was the extreme for my Classic (2001).  And -6 F (so far) for my 2004.  Hard braking in extreme cold with the Classic can actually cause the engine to stall.  But since the system restarts all by itself anyway, it isn't an issue.  It's just an different behavior.  Hard braking in extreme cold with the 2004 causes the RPM to surge.  Toyota obviously prevented a stall situation by opening the throttle.  That behavior doesn't affect operation of the car at all (since RPM changes on-the-fly are perfectly normal), it sounds odd though... one of those "the car is smarter than you realize" things happening under the hood.  Another difference, that has actually delighted me, was that the charge-level of the battery-pack will climb into the "green" level (7 bars) during the extreme cold.   The engine has to run more than usual for warmth anyway, the system uses that opportunity to generate electricity.  So, the result is continued opportunities for stealth, even though it is so much colder than usual.

1-22-2004

Getting Colder.  This time it dropped to -6 F degrees, more Multi-Display photos... photo album 61

1-21-2004

Different Beliefs.  Short-Term thinking is definitely not the way Toyota chooses to run their business.  Think Long-Term, it clarifies the misunderstandings some have.  The 5 percent increase in marketshare goal is aimed for 2010, and so is the goal to have HSD available in all their passenger vehicles.  They are right on schedule and currently in the pink overall.  Each Prius model year has presented hardware & software improvements.  The 2004 Prius are flying off dealer's lot.  It is getting fantastic press acknowledge.  And based on the success so far, the upcoming new hybrids are being highly anticipated.  Why do certain people keep claiming this approach doesn't make any sense?

1-21-2004

Silver Sighting.  That excitement (just like what we experience at gatherings) revealed itself in a wonderful way today.  I pulled up along side a Silver Classic Prius, tapped on my horn, then quickly pulled forward a few feet.  The reaction from that driver in response to discovering a 2004 was responsible for the "Hello" was fantastic!  And then seeing him strain to continue looking at the Prius as I rounded the corner was wonderful.  I love doing that!

1-21-2004

Minnesota Gathering.  The time has finally come for another.  Yeah!  A good friend of mine asked me to hold up on the next gathering here until he got his 2004.  Needless to say, it took a lot longer than expected.  But this weekend, we go on a road trip to pick his up.  That'll be fun, showing up to buy a 2004 Prius in a 2004 Prius.  Anywho, I went scouting around last weekend for location #2.  The first worked out great, but it favored the eastern Twin City folk, and that's not fair to those that live clear on the other side.  So I went looking up along the 494/394/94/694 stretch of highways (the northwest).  And sure enough, I found a great location.  It's this ridiculously large Starbuck's Coffee with tons of very nice seating and a huge parking lot (for Prius photos).  photo album 61 shows the exact location, as depicted on my Prius's Navigation System map.  Gathering is a far better way to checkout the technology.  Online information has limitations.  In person, doesn't.  So if you ever want to hear those that own Prius swap stories, it's a very fulfilling experience.  Watch for future invitations.

1-21-2004

$400 Savings.  Did you know I excluded it from the "cost of my classic" computation?  The mileage was only 173 miles shy of 60,000 miles.  I would have had to pay somewhere around $400 at that point for the required routine maintenance.  That's not really any different from traditional vehicle upkeep expenses, so I didn't include it.  But realistically, it is in fact money that I didn't have to spend.  The dealer simply slapped that cost on the sticker price for the new owner.  It was readily accepted too, since it only stayed on the lot for a few days before being sold.  So that very unique timing really paid off.  And if you think that's good, think about this:  Had I traded my classic before having owned it a for 3 full years, I would have had to give back my hybrid deduction to the IRS.  Did you know that?  Thankfully, the delivery delay served me quite well... $280 worth.  (Apparently, I learned more from my accounting & business courses in college than I realized.  Sweet!)

1-20-2004

Worst Over?  The outside temp was -2 F degrees on the coldest commute this week.  The highest was 27 F, where I drove 100 miles of mostly highway.  The average for the remainder of the driving (mixed type) was in the low teens.  That resulting 378 miles ended up calculating to 40.9 MPG.  The Multi-Display said 44.9 MPG, so there was likely a bit of bladder-effect at play and I wasn't able to use my regular pump to fill up with this evening.  Nonetheless, that's pretty darn good for what was likely the coldest week of the year here... I hope.

 

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