Prius Personal Log  #103

February 3, 2004  -  February 9, 2004

Last Updated: Sat. 6/12/2004

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2-09-2004

Why no EV mode?  You get stealth, which is fantastic, but it doesn't engage until warm-up for the emissions system is already complete.  But since some situations don't actually need that, like when you make a run to the gas station a block or two down the road or you drive to a different section a strip-mall, the engine really doesn't need to be used at all.  But Toyota has always played the conservative hand, playing friendly even though they don't have to.  Offering the EV feature immediately would devastate the competition, who only plan to offer mild hybrid designs initially.  It would also scare away some consumers that still believe electric vehicles are slow, powerless, and have a very short range.  Instead, selling the vehicle initially with the option missing then later offering an upgrade kit to add it, would be a subtle approach that should make the transition to very impressive hybrids much less disruption.  Small steps are almost always best.  Leading by example is much more effective.  Don't burn bridges... You get the idea.  In other words, patience.

2-09-2004

NAV info.  The Navigation System is very addicting.  Having an instant map available causes you to drive where you have never driven before, making up your own detours whenever you encounter a road delay.  The POI (Point Of Interest) feature is fantastic.  Being able to see location of things like near by places to eat (with names and phone numbers) allows for travel flexibility.  You just make up plans as you go, with the option to change mind along the way too.  All the data is stored on a DVD under the driver's seat.  It's surprisingly complete.  Many people likely won't bother to ever purchase an updated disc.  But you can if you want.  The interface is very user-friendly... once you've had a demo of it.  Not knowing what's available is the issue for many, since they haven't ever even seen a NAV system like that before.  Navigating using nothing but audio (not looking at the Multi-Display at all) works quite well too.  The voice-recognition aspect is rather handy.  Zooming and POI stuff is very useful.  There are other features, like climate-control, that uses voice too.  The NAV system also comes with Bluetooth support.  That's priceless.  It makes hands-free systems very jealous.  The automatic wireless interface to your cell-phone is pretty sweet.

2-09-2004

Double Sighting!  I'm leaving the grocery store this evening.  Both arms are packed with stuff.  In the opposite direction I need to walk, a 2004 Silver Prius catches my eye.  Ugh!  That meant walking over there and somehow fishing a card out of the wallet buried in my pocket without dropping anything.  I managed.  That wonderfully clean hybrid looked fantastic compared to my salt & sand covered one.  Then I walk just a few feet down the row, and there's another Prius.  A clean Classic Green one this time.  Same routine.  Left a card.  Finally, I get to walk to my own Prius.  Cold & Tired, but it was worth it.  Actually, I hope opportunities like that keep happening.  In fact, once it warms up and things dry out, I'll be able to leave Prius Info-Sheets too.

2-08-2004

Global Warming.  That effect is poorly named, since warming isn't the only end result.  The actual consequences of the increased CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) level is weather system instability.  Warming is just one effect.  Another effect is extreme cold.  Yet another is more violent storms.  And yet another is the increased frequency of storms.  We also break all time high & low temperature records on a regular basis.  In short, nature is waging war on us.

2-08-2004

Commercials are Changing.  Yeah!  I'm so glad size is losing it's importance.  Now aspects that cars & minivans offer are becoming the thing to buy.  It's about dang time.

2-08-2004

Perhaps someday...  Leaving work, I sometimes get caught in extremely heavy city traffic.  The engine running during that time causes a huge efficiency hit, one that could easily avoided with an EV button (like the 2004 Prius everywhere but the United States have).  It sure would be nice to be able to take advantage of that.  The mess it would create for the EPA boggles the mind though.  The MPG results for city driving would be so far off the scale, they wouldn't make sense for comparison sake anymore.  A new way to report numbers will have to be invented.  Having that ability will also destroy the potential market for mild hybrids.  They just plain won't be able to compete with full hybrids offering EV beyond what Stealth already provides.  And since we have officially launched an assault on a new front, by an owner in the United States actually finding a way to invoke the EV mode, the hybrid r/evolution is now proceeding at a surprisingly quick pace.  Makes you wonder what's going to happen next.  I'm very curious.

2-08-2004

EV mode.  This sounds exactly like the Cruise-Control on the 2001 Prius.  Toyota intentionally left it off for that model-year.  Then a couple of months later, a few talented owners figured out how to engage it manually.  A few months after that, Toyota provided an upgrade kit allowing 2001 owners to add Cruise-Control afterward.  Will the same thing happen again with the "EV Mode" feature?

2-08-2004

No Screen.  Ever wonder why traditional vehicles still haven't adopted Multi-Display interfaces that provide efficiency data?  For that matter, even wonder why most don't have a screen at all?  What do automakers have to hide?  Do they fear that anything bigger than a small numeric indicator will raise awareness.  Or worse, it could draw attention away from the monster-sized vehicles that provide large sales profits.  Desiring other appeal aspects could upset the delicate balance they have now.  To that, I say "Too Bad!"  The choice should now be available to everyone.  And I know darn well many will want it.

2-08-2004

"True" MPG.  How could the EPA deliver MPG estimates better?  What does "true" mean?  It's no different than what "cold" means.  Here in Minnesota, we call cold when the temperature falls below 0 F degrees.  Down in a southern state, they call it cold when the temperature drops to the freezing level.  That's over a 30 degree difference, which translates to a very significant difference in MPG.  So an automaker would have no choice but to release a chart listing the effects of every temperature the vehicle would be exposed to.  To further complicate matters, "speed" makes an even greater impact on efficiency.  Traveling at speeds slower than 20 MPH, which many encounter on their daily commute, causes MPG to plummet.  The same is true for speeds above 60 MPH, which many also drive at on a very regular basis.  So instead of one chart, you need two.  But since both the "cold" and "speed" factors have to be taken into account at the same time, the two charts have to be combined into a three-dimensional matrix.  How many people do you know that can easily read a three-dimensional matrix?  And to further complicate matters, you have to add in the reality that drive-time is very important too.  The "warm-up" factor needs to be added to correctly anticipate efficiency.  Now the numbers become a four-dimensional... mess.  Wanna add a fifth dimension?  Just consider the weight of passengers and weight of cargo.  Sixth... A/C & Heater use.  Seventh... PSI of tires.  Eight... elevation changes.  Ninth... type of gas.  Tenth... you get the point.  The purpose of the EPA estimates are to provide a basis of comparison.  And for that purpose only, those MPG numbers work rather well.  For everything else, you need real-world data.  The best source for that is actual owners, not the automaker.  So the best thing you can do is join an online discussion group... so you can get the "true" story.

2-07-2004

Color Confusion.  That online color sample Toyota provided of Tideland was just plain wrong.  For whatever reason, it looked much too green.  Emphasis should be put on the gray instead, only hinting at the green luster.  Anywho, it became a source of frustration for me.  I wanted a very accurate depiction on the website.  So I tweaked it digitally until it finally came pretty darn close to matching the samples I had.  See... colors

2-07-2004

Driftwood Photos.  There's 8 of them available now.  They were taken along a highway in Iowa, on our trip back from the buying the Driftwood.  It was warmer than up in Minnesota, so we were treated to snowless scenery (landscape rather than piles & drifts).  That was a pleasant, though brief, escape from the grips of Winter... especially with a brand new Prius!  You'll find what we saw here... photo album 64

2-06-2004

I couldn't believe it.  Just as I was starting up the Prius, I looked up through the opening in the parking ramp.  All I could see was the rim of the car the next level up.  But that's all I needed.  It was a 2004 Prius.  I couldn't believe it.  So I drove up to that level with the expectation of leaving a website card.  Too late.  By dumb luck, not only was the owner there, he was also attempting to back out of the spot at that exact moment.  Though, all I could see was the illuminated lights in back.  A pillar and other vehicles blocked the view of everything else.  Fortunately, the spot next to that Prius on my side was empty.  So I pulled it.  He stopped.  The driver was fixated on my Prius.  He was in awe.  It was obviously his first "in the wild" sighting.  Finally, the driver looked up and saw the silly grin on my face.  The same immediately happened to him.  It was my friend with the Driftwood.  The odds of us running into each other like that were incredible.  But it actually happened.  That was fun!

2-05-2004

In the news.  The attention aimed toward Prius is non-stop.  The momentum is well-established now.  People are enjoying hearing more and more about hybrids.  Sweet!

2-04-2004

Spontaneous Gathering.  It was a chance meeting, a fluke really.  Literally just 20 seconds after my friend purchased a 2004 Driftwood Prius, we spotted a Seaside parked in the lot across the street.  So naturally, he and I had to park next to it for a quick photo or two.  And by further coincidence, we encountered the owner too.  That qualifies as an official gathering by my count, 3 Prius and 3 owners. Check out the resulting photos from this (very unexpected, seemingly impossible) spontaneous gathering... photo album 65

2-04-2004

Age.  Once you start to hang with the Prius crowd, age becomes completely meaningless.  Owners are a very diverse group.  I have Prius friends aging from teens to eighties.  It's wonderful!  My generationless youth taught me well.  See, my oldest cousin is 10 years younger and my youngest aunt/uncle is 10 years older.  So growing up, I had to learn to mix in as a matter of survival.  In college, I moved on campus after my first year to take advantage of all the computer facilities (remember, it was only the late 80's) and to work my long internship.  That meant I was always the oldest in groups there I hung out with.  Later when I started my programming career, virtually everyone I worked with was 15 years older.  So I'm not sure what the heck my logical age actually could be considered.  Perhaps that's why I'm so drawn to those that support Prius.  They don't care what your age is.  Prius owners will gladly welcome you.

2-04-2004

More.  We'll have more coffee shop gatherings as time progresses.  Those work well, people can come & go as they please.  And since I always resented not having places like that to hang out at back in my high school and college years, I'm definitely going to take advantage of the opportunities now.  They're really fun!

2-04-2004

"You're just nuts"  Is that a nice thing to say about me?  I do understand why that comment would be made though.  But in reality, I'm actually quite frustrated.  The current federal administration has been very anti-environmental, very oil-dependant, and very anti-hybrid.  And rather than fighting them, I'm attempting to set a good example by showing everyone that the current mindset is misinformed.  Leading by example tends to be a far more effective method.  Am I doing a good job so far?

2-04-2004

The Most.  209,000 miles is the furthest documented distance a Prius has been driven in North America, that I've heard about anyway.  Then the driver sold it back to Toyota so they could tear the system apart to retrieve the wealth of real-world research data it had gathered.  And yes, it was still running just fine with the original battery-pack.

2-04-2004

Patience.  It's a virtue all Prius owners have no choice but to master.  The long delivery wait starts the process.  Then comes the break-in process.  Then comes the seasonal impairment called Winter.  And mixed in with all that is the patience needed to wait for those without a clear understanding of hybrids to eventually learn their value, the importance of reducing emissions & consumption.  Thankfully, it's worth it.

2-04-2004

Darn It!  I got quoted in a national newspaper today.  But they spelled my name wrong and the article itself was rather misleading.  Oh well.  I have this way of providing a rebuttal.  It will do nicely.  So... I am well aware of the fact that even negative publicity is an excellent way to raise awareness.  Curiosity will get the best of some people.  And when people research to find out was the facts actually are, they learn the truth.  Articles like that will simply be forgotten over time.  My cold temperature average for the new Prius is the same as the warm & cold temperature average combined for my classic.  And since it delivered a 50 MPG average last summer, even higher will be possible with the new one.  I have nothing to fear about bad PR.

2-03-2004

Ups & Downs.  40.5 MPG at -2 F degrees.  52.2 MPG at 30 F degrees.  I'm certainly starting to yearn for warm weather.  I can't believe I am now celebrating the fact that daytime temperatures are climbing to 20 F.  When it finally hits 60 F, I'll be in heaven.  Efficiency will be wonderful.  Then as the temperature climbs even higher, so will I.  Cloud 9 will be within grasp just a few months from now.  Yeah!

2-03-2004

Triggered the VSC.  Today was the first unintentional occurrence.  The exact moment I was passing the fire-station, a fire-engine emerged.  The door was just 6 feet from the curb, and the street was covered with snow.  Seeing that big truck coming out with siren blaring certainly got my attention.  But I did have the right-of-way and stopping would just put me in the way.  So I gunned it and rounded the corner hard.  Had it not been for the 3 warning beeps, I wouldn't have even known the VSC had intervened.  That certainly was impressive.  To me, it felt like a normal hard turn.  In reality, the car would have slipped on the slippery road.  I'm glad I invested in that safety feature.  Now I'm curious it it will trigger on rain-coated streets, when it hasn't rained for 2 weeks and I forget that water is slippery...

2-03-2004

Spotted a Tideland.  I wondered how long it would take before that happened.  Today was the day.  And I was quite proud of myself.  It was way off in the distance when I noticed it coming toward me.  Next color to look for, Salsa.

2-03-2004

Gathering Photos.  At the coffee shop, I took digital photos of 5 new Prius (Silver, White, Driftwood) and 1 classic (Blue Moon) all lined up together in the parking lot.  A sixth (Seaside) attended a little later, but after the photo session.  I also saw one (Tideland) this morning.  And I know of another (Salsa) stealthing around the area.  Here's what we saw... photo album 63

 

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