Prius Personal Log  #101

January 24, 2004  -  January 30, 2004

Last Updated: Sat. 6/12/2004

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1-30-2004

Reality.  The confusion continues.  This quote posted today says a lot, "A hybrid has two drivetrains, separate but interconnected".  A lack of understanding between MILD and FULL hybrids has clearly been revealed by that statement.  The belief that Prius (and HSD), which is a FULL hybrid, is interconnected is a misconception.  The power-split device (also known as the "Planetary-CVT") is a single drivetrain.  Just one, not two.  And it is always connected, no shifting like the interconnected reference implies.  MILD hybrids are those with a motor attached to a traditional system.  That is not true of a FULL hybrid.  It was followed by this quote, "more-complex computer logic and wiring to synchronize the two drivetrains' complementary operations".  Study how an automatic transmission works, you'll be surprised how much more complex it is in operation.  As for computer hardware, what makes you think it is more complex than the way a traditional vehicle works?  Haven't you ever noticed all the computer modules in a traditional vehicle?  And from a logic (software) point-of-view, there is absolutely no correlation between complexity and likelihood of failure.  Once the programming is proven to work, it will continue to do so its entire lifetime.  Software does not ever wear out.  The same old algorithms run over and over and over and over again.  Never changing.  Always responding the same way.  And beliefs like that almost always conclude with a statement just like the one this time, "I sincerely doubt it paints a profitable picture".  So I ask why?  The Planetary-CVT is an elegantly simple design, built from scratch using a non-traditional approach.  Reduction of physical complexity can result in a reduction of cost.  And for an automaker to ever seek a way to earn more profit is silly.  Why would they want more money for selling a product for the same price as a competitor yet earning more for each sale... what would ever make a company want to find a way to accomplish that?

1-30-2004

Real Winter.  Yesterday was my coldest Prius experience ever, though my classic did come close a few times.  It was -11 F degrees on the commute to work.  In the partially shielded from the wind area where I park, the temperature climbed all the way up to -2 F.  The Prius started the engine effortlessly after sitting there for 9 hours (laughing at the cold).  Then when I pulled out into the open air, the temperature on the Multi-Display revealed that it was -6 F.  Today's commute was -18 F.  That's my all time coldest drive in a hybrid.  The highest temperature I've seen all week, it was just 9 F.  That's nasty.  Then there was a drive at 2 F.  All the rest were sub-zero.  And I've now been on 3 separate photo shoots with this current tank, where I sit stationary or go very slow with the engine running almost the entire time.  That greatly deflates the MPG value, exaggerating the effect of the cold.  But guess what... The Multi-Display is currently showing 36.2 MPG after 174 miles of horribly cold conditions with more engine running than usual.  That's truly amazing performance!

1-30-2004

The Big Picture.  It is a well known fact that the Classic Prius money did not lose money the final year and half of production.  Claims about subsidizing are wrong, don't believe them.  True, the current model isn't in the black yet, but all new models of all new vehicles go through a recoup phase.  So it is perfectly normal.  And since HSD will be used in 2 more vehicle models this year and 2 more next year, the road to profit is well paved.  It's only a matter of time now.

1-29-2004

Brrr!  Dropped to -9 F degrees, Beige photos this time... photo album 62

1-29-2004

Logical?  I've heard this comment a few times now: "Because it is less complex, will cost less to maintain & repair."  That's great!  There's no actual logic in that statement, it's just an assumption without any facts.  It's like claiming that because a traditional vehicle has more physical moving parts than a full-hybrid, it is more likely to breakdown.  Think about that claim.  Isn't some kind of proof needed?  That's called jumping to a conclusion without supporting facts, just speculation.  A full-hybrid runs the engine far less and it uses motors without any brushes.  Those facts alone would make a debate for hybrids favorable.  Actual numeric data is required before drawing a conclusion.

1-29-2004

"It's not more than what you need"  I'm really getting sick of hearing that advertisement slogan for a monster-sized truck.  A certain automaker is telling us what we need again!  It wouldn't be so bad if we actually had a choice, but we don't.  There's nothing even remotely close to a hybrid available too.  We get more than we need of power, size, emissions, gas-guzzling... waste.  I can't wait until other aspects of ownership become so popular they are the "what we need".

1-29-2004

Milk.  Our economics mindset is way out of whack.  One gallon of milk costs twice as much as one gallon of gas.  That's rather absurd.  Heck, even a gallon of purified water costs more than a gallon of gas.  That doesn't even make any sense.  So expecting it to stay that low the entire lifetime of a new vehicle you buy is really pushing your luck.  That just plain isn't realistic.  A more sound economic outlook would be to plan for the increase and count your blessing if it doesn't happen as soon as you thought.  Otherwise, you may be in for one heck of a surprise later.

1-29-2004

-11 F Commute.  The cold isn't going away.  Ahhh!

1-28-2004

Warming the ICE.  (That's the Internal Combustion Engine.)  The 2004 Prius actually warms up faster than a traditional vehicle.  The engine is specially optimized for heat capture, since both you and the catalytic-converter need heat right away.  To top that, there's a 3 liter thermal storage system that captures and retains hot coolant from the previous drive.  Warmth arrives very quickly.  It is -13 F right here right now (in fact, just an hour ago I took Multi-Display photos to prove it, see: photo album 62 ).  The drive to the photo location, where the road is smooth and there are no street lights and no street traffic, is just under 3 miles away.  It takes 5 minutes to get there.  The resulting first segment on the Consumption Screen displayed the system achieved 30 MPG on that drive.  That's the third time I've noted getting that in sub-zero conditions.  Heat is already pouring out of the vents at that point.  About 10 minutes later, even with the heater still running, the engine shut off.  That allowed me to drive using nothing but electricity, which is totally amazing.  Even the classic model couldn't achieve that feat.  You'll be very pleased with the cold weather performance Prius offers, even if your drive is rather short.

1-28-2004

Cold Weather Estimates.  How could the EPA provide more fitting data?  The act of performing the tests to also take temperature into account would be a difficult feat.  And what do most people consider cold anyway?  Freezing-Point is cold for some.  I consider that a warm winter temperature.  Right now, it is -4 F degrees here (Minnesota).  Many would consider that far more extreme then they will ever encounter, so data for that level would be meaningless to some.  I don't think that though.  The low for two days from now is forecasted to be -18 F degrees.  Eeek!  And then of course, you have to take into account the fact that driving conditions change at the sub-zero level.  Black-Ice caused by exhaust freezing and dropping to the ground immediately after leaving the vehicle really screws up traffic, slowing it down drastically, making it very difficult to predict... something the EPA could never duplicate accurately... which would making even just an estimate rather vague.  So if you want real-world expectations, you have to use real-world data for comparisons.  Estimates just don't cut it.

1-28-2004

Wow!  Tied my photos coldest ever -13 F degrees.  Blue to complete the set... photo album 62

1-28-2004

A long wait?  You think your wait was long...  I waited 6 months for delivery of my 2004.  I waited 8 months for delivery of my 2001.  And I have already been waiting 4 years for hybrids to become so popular that the sales quantity of a single model for a single year in the United States exceeds 150,000 vehicles, making hybrids an undeniable replacement for the traditional engine-only design.  Next year is hinting at that becoming a reality.  Yeah!

1-28-2004

Well Said.  Toyota's President Cho stated the situation admirably during his New Year's address for 2004.  "Toyota believes that there is no future for the automobile industry if automakers do not address environmental issues, and consequently we are committed to further broadening and deepening our environmental activities...  Toyota engineering expertise alone did not make the Prius what it is.  The commitment to the environment as a socially concerned corporate citizen of the global economy is what sets Toyota apart.  That vision and commitment formed the Prius blueprint and the engineers executed the plan brilliantly.  There is no reason to doubt that Toyotas throughout the line will continue to become cleaner and more fuel efficient.  The Prius is no fluke."  And this response posted by a Yahoo group member follows up to that statement rather well, "As a patriotic American, I sure hope one of our domestic automotive giants gets with the program before it's too late for them.  Automobiles are changing, customer's expectations are changing, and change rewards innovators and is very unkind to the slow-footed."

1-27-2004

-4 F degrees, both ways.  That's one heck of a cold commute.  Will Winter ever end?  Thankfully though, efficiency is still quite impressive.   39.8 MPG after 98 miles on this tank, half of which included that nasty -4, is definitely nothing to complain about.

1-27-2004

Aftermarket Considerations.  Anyone that has dealt with aftermarket parts clearly understands that automakers choose the path of least liability.  And quite frankly, trusting a consumer to keep their promise that they will maintain proper PSI is a huge gamble.  Having that buffer makes the lawyers very happy.  Suppliers of the goodies you add afterward, don't have issues of that nature.  They don't have to provide warranties for the entire vehicle, only the parts the build.  And for those of us that do diligently maintain, it's no big deal anyway.  Risk is adverted by proper research and routine upkeep.  And in the case of tires, the evidence is overwhelming that we made a very good choice.  Tread wear is even across the entire width of the tire, proving the harder ride is not compromising load carrying abilities.  Also note that the tire itself is rated for the higher PSI, so that criteria is never exceeded.  Other aftermarket options can prove worthy too.  What will you install on your Prius afterward?

1-27-2004

From 76,000 to 130,000.  That's what Toyota is boosting the 2004 model-year production to worldwide.  Bummer.  That's still not sufficient.  The United States won't get anywhere near enough to fulfill the demand.  Sure makes me wonder what next year will be like.

1-27-2004

Any P185/16R15 Tire.  Did you know that any will work on this Prius?  1,102 pounds was the load requirement for the Classic.  XL tires provided that at 35 PSI.  At 35 PSI with standard tires, you'd only get 1,019 pound, but they could easily handle a greater load by simply increasing the tire pressure.  Standard tires for the 2004 model, provide 1,168 pounds at 35 PSI.  The switch to a larger tire size eliminated the need for XL.  Without even using a higher PSI, you already have more than enough of support.  So, any standard tire will do on the 2004.

1-26-2004

Stop the madness!  The growth rate of my Prius photo collection is occurring at an overwhelming speed, far faster than I can select, prepare, and publish.  Today, the snow came down heavy again.  So naturally, I went ballistic with the digital camera, tripod, and umbrella.  That brings the not-yet-sorted-through collection count up to 7 different shoots now, totally 966 photos. Ahh!  And worse, Saturday's gathering is bound to add to it.  I'm glad to be blessed with very appealing-to-the-eye photo opportunities (despite freezing my fingers each time), but making them available on a timely basis just isn't going to happen.  But sorry, you'll have to wait until late Spring to see those Winter photos I just took.  So like always when dealing with Prius, patience.  At least you know I'm still working on adding more.  Better late than never, eh?

1-26-2004

Searching.  You'll be absolutely amazing how much the Navigation System knows.  And then you'll discover how much you take advantage of it, driving on roads you never ventured through.  Shortcuts and instantaneous detours are like going on an adventure, because you really don't have any clue where the heck it will take you.  But you don't care since you can't get lost (if you press the "mark" button beforehand, of course).  The system will guide you back to any marked point effortlessly.  It's great!

1-26-2004

"B" to the rescue.  I highly recommend using engine-braking for controlled slowing on slippery roads.  Just yesterday I got to test that ability out 3 times.  It is a very effective way of decelerating without taking any risk from the brakes whatsoever.  And shifting into "B" on-the-fly is effortless.  You can do it simply by reaching, then pulling down.  Toyota very strategically positioned the shifter for that, so you could activate "B" even when driving attention is at tense levels.  Try it.  You'll like it.

1-25-2004

15% less recharging using "B".  Someone else installed a meter to the electrical system.  And sure enough, his finding confirmed what had been eluded to by others.  Except rather than saying "B" mode causes a reduction in captured electricity, he actually stated the exact amount.  It's 15%.  In other words, don't use engine-braking unless absolutely necessary, since it will reduce your overall efficiency.

1-25-2004

Even colder photos.  On Thursday, it got down to -6 F degrees on the Multi-Display.  So of course, I had to take digital photos.  And this time, rather the screen color being Gray as with the previous set of photos, they are Green.  See... photo album 61

1-25-2004

Cold Weather Revving.  It sounds & feels odd, but it's not a problem.  Since the transmission is always engaged and never actually shifts, it is impossible to "slip".  What you feel is purging from the emissions system.  It takes advantage of the engine running to perform a cleansing of captured vapor from your previous drive.  With the classic model, the engine would fire up after putting the Prius into park.  With the 2004, it instead does the needed "housecleaning" during warm-up on your next drive.  I like that much better.  The running of the engine after I got into the garage was annoying.  Though it did only last a few seconds, so it's hardly something to complain about.

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.

 

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