Prius Personal Log  #104

February 9, 2004  -  February 14, 2004

Last Updated: Sat. 6/12/2004

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2-14-2004

Wind Farm Photos.  Here's what we saw on the trip back from Iowa with the two Prius... photo album 65

2-14-2004

Navigation System Photos.  Here's what you see when setting a NAV destination... photo album 64

2-14-2004

Discussion Reduction.  It has nothing to do with lost interest.  It is the fact that many questions now have answers.  Threads simply don't grow like they did a few months ago because of that.  And of course, now that some actually have there Prius, they are driving it rather than participating online.  And that's what we ultimately want anyway!  So, mission accomplished.  Stealth has been achieved. (bad pun, I know)

2-14-2004

Hmm?  You think the EPA testing is a problem now, just wait until the "EV Mode" that the rest of the world already has becomes available here.  And did you know it could be actually be retrofit into an existing US 2004 model?  All of a sudden, without even trying, it's really really really easy to achieve well over 60 MPG in city driving.  So if an uproar comes from the misinformation of the EPA values, Toyota already has a solution available by offering this upgrade to allow the system to run in extended stealth-mode.  But then again, not everyone will understand it.  In fact, I have a gut feeling it wouldn't be used properly... which will ultimately result in lower MPG, not higher.  Makes you wonder, eh?

2-14-2004

Stealth at -2 F degrees.  Wow!  That was an unexpected pleasure today.

2-14-2004

Blinding Brake Lights.  Having focused mostly on the impressive cosmetic & safety benefits of the LED brakes lights, I overlooked a benefit of the "traditional" ones also on Prius.  They aren't actually that traditional.  Yes, they use an old-fashion bulb.  But no, they don't use a colored lens.  The back plastic is completely clear.  And it is that elegant look which that provides that threw me.  The color for the light itself comes from a small color filter instead.  So by stepping back for a moment, like where I was today when blinded by a traditional vehicle in front of me, you'd notice that even if the back plastic is complete missing you still won't get blinded.  That outer most covering isn't actually functional like on traditional designs.  Toyota improved upon something else with Prius, and I hadn't even noticed until today.  Cool!

2-14-2004

Inappropriate Measures.  There is one very significant factor that many anti-hybrid folk are completely ignoring, making there arguments seem credible.  But we know they are not.  Almost none of the 04 Prius are actually past break-in yet.  So of course efficiency is lower.  Many have only owned there Prius for a month or two.  Claiming their results, with a such a new engine still and not being familiar with the operation of the system yet, is clearly inappropriate.  Once a minimum of both 6 months and 5,000 miles has been exceeded, then the data begins to become representative of what the vehicle can actually deliver.

2-13-2004

A Different Approach.  Unlike traditional with engines, the one specifically designed for Prius is optimized for rapid heat output.  Without having done that, the PZEV emission rating would not have been possible using only a minimal amount of gas.  Prius also has that 3 liter thermal storage system for the coolant, keeping it hot overnight and warm for up to 3 days.  Moisture is burnt off rapidly, even with short trips.  It works.  It is well proven.

2-13-2004

via john1701a.com  I'm getting lots more comments nowadays about how some keep tabs on the hybrid world via my website, stating the online discusses have grown too large and suffer from extreme diversity.  So to that I say, "Thanks!"  Being able to offer the option is nice.  I try to provide enough benign content on the website so those of all beliefs can satisfy their desire for Prius related stuff.  The personal logs do get a bit commentary though, but that's much better than standing up on the soapbox in those discussions all the time.  We must reduce emissions & consumption.  The technology used in Prius is a realistic solution to achieve those goals.  So however you get your info, remember that knowledge is power.  We'll get the job done one way or another.

2-13-2004

Is it even viable?  When will people finally stop asking about manual transmission availability, hoping for the ability to force maximum power.  For hybrids like Prius, RX400h, and Highlander, the answer is no.  That's because the don't even have a transmission.  They don't have any gears either.  There's just a permanently engaged power-split device, which is already optimized for maximum power.

2-12-2004

Bonus Safety.  A car didn't bother to stop for a sign today, it pulled out blindly in front of me.  So I hit the brakes and the horn.  As a result of my arm reaching, the sleeve of my jacket pressed on the voice-recognition button.  That automatically silenced the audio system.  That instant quiet at the moment I needed undivided attention was a very unexpected safety benefit.  Excellent!

2-12-2004

Should cost less to maintain.  HSD was designed from scratch, with the intention of increasing reliability.  So from an automaker's point-of-view, that means reduced warranty payments and increased sales due to higher consumer-satisfaction ratings.  The system eliminated a transmission, which is a complex (and expensive) component that commonly requires major repair or replacement late in the vehicle's life.  There are no gears and there is no torque-converter.  Instead, there is just a permanently engaged power-split device.  A simple component like a differential, which almost always lasts the entire lifetime of the vehicle.  Fluid has been eliminated from the steering system.  So there's nothing to ever check or change.  The engine is has 2 fewer pistons, which obviously eliminates parts (and cost).  And it doesn't get used as often, never runs as hot, has a much lower redline, and has much less stressful starts than a traditional engine.  So it should last longer.  The AC motors are brushless, so they never need any maintenance.  The battery-pack is designed to last the life of the vehicle, so that shouldn't ever need any maintenance either.  There is an extra fluid to change, the coolant for the inverter, but the process to do that is similar to anti-freeze.  So that's not a big deal.  Brakes don't get used as often, since the regenerator-motor handles most of the declaration needs.  So the shoes & pads should last longer than normal too.  Computers have been in traditional vehicles for years.  So reliability to the one in HSD should be similar, they almost never need servicing.  Realistically, that's it.  The HSD system should actually cost less to maintain.  So if anything, consider costs a wash, no more than a traditional vehicle.

2-12-2004

30's Forecasted!  I can't believe the worst of Winter here in Minnesota finally seems to be over.  Yeah!

2-12-2004

Over-Generalizing.  Using a term like "SUV" is not a good approach, since anything from a Highlander-Hybrid to a Hummer could be lumped into that single category.  Yet, people are doing it anyway.  And an article this morning misrepresented "hybrids" by generically referring to them as if they all worked the same way.  Arrgh!

2-12-2004

Up & Down Prices.  Gas is doing that unexplainable fluctuation thing again.  For it to swing 20 cents suddenly makes no sense.  The industry has had decades to perfect their distribution system.  Wild changes like that simply shouldn't ever happen anyway.  But they do.  How the heck is hydrogen distribution for fuel-cell vehicles going to be established when the reputation for gasoline isn't even that good.

2-12-2004

SSC-40A.  Special Service Campaign, it's like a preemptive recall.  Toyota will update the 2004 Prius already on the road with a software change for an error-catching routine.  I've never heard of anyone ever having actually triggered the condition.  But as a computer programmer myself, I clearly understand how important it is to continue testing code even after deployment.  So I'm pleased Toyota is taking the proactive approach.  I'm also pleased that this SSC provides mechanics with first-hand experience using the upgrade process.  That could open up opportunities later for non-essential upgrades, like Multi-Display enhancements.

2-12-2004

Washed Finally.  I had no choice but to endure the salty look, until today.  It warmed up enough to wash the Prius without fear of the door freezes up.

2-11-2004

Wow!  The temperature is suppose to climb above freezing next week!  It has been below freezing since the end of November here in Minnesota.  So as you can imagine, I'm almost to the point of euphoria just by the thought of the MPG my Prius will be able to deliver with temperatures that warm.  Yeah!

2-11-2004

Upgrades.  Did you know the computer in Prius could be upgraded?  That could make things interested someday.  For now though, they only do it when necessary.  In fact, there is currently a SSC (Special Service Campaign) for those that got early 2004's so dealers can do exactly that.  (Yes, it includes mine.  But I'm quite glad that Toyota is being so diligent about tweaking the software for best operation under all conditions.)  Did you know that the battery-pack can be upgraded too?  I know of 2 owners now that have actually connected battery-packs in tandem.  One was with the same NiMH battery-pack, another was a Lead-Acid type.  They now both get even more impressive city MPG.  Also, a few schools have taken the next step.  Since the system is electric based, rather than using technology from back in the 20th, it makes a fantastic prototype platform for engineer & chemistry students.

2-11-2004

Smoother Idle.  I just noticed something.  The idle, especially during warm up, is smoother now than it was when I first got the 2004.  I didn't realize break-in of the engine would actually be that noticeable.  Cool!

2-11-2004

PSI info.  A word of warning about tire pressure would be appropriate at this point.  Did you know that for every 10F degree drop, PSI decreases by 1.  That catches quite a few people off guard with the arrival of winter.  They have no idea their PSI dropped below the safety threshold.  Too soft is actually more dangerous than too hard.  Another benefit of running higher PSI is the fact that tires naturally leak.  So without even a temperature change, the tires will soften anyway.  That means running a little above the standard pressure does have its benefits.  Or if you prefer, you can do like some owners and pump them up to the max.  Whatever you decide, remember to check PSI routinely.

2-11-2004

Tire Pressure.  Some old rules aren't always true now.  The one about not over-inflating tires certainly fits that criteria.  You can actually pump the PSI all the way up to the max-cold rating without worry about bulging.  I've been running my 44 PSI rated tires at 44 PSI without any road-contact change whatsoever.  The tread is wearing completely even across the entire width of the tire.  That particular problem of yesteryear simply doesn't exist anymore (for good quality tires, anyway).

2-11-2004

Manual Heat.  After turning off the Auto & A/C options, pressing one of the speed buttons for the fan will invoke the manual mode.  Then you'll get a continuous flow of air at the specified temperature.  The catch is, it won't stop when the cabin temperature reaches the specified value.  For me, that actually works pretty well.

2-10-2004

Production Increase.  People are naturally speculating about what's going to happen with the 2005 model-year.  I think the production for Prius will increase quite a bit.  After all, a purpose (among many) of automakers is to make money.  Ignoring such a hot product like Prius would be self-defeating.  From engineering to training, all are complete now.  Now just scheduling more parts from suppliers and planning for larger volume output is what's needed.  So why not go for it?  Everyone will win by doing that, even the other hybrids since an endorsement for them takes very little effort with Prius carrying a such strong momentum.

2-10-2004

Colder Today.  The average driving temperature for my commute was just 14 F degrees.  Bummer.  Oh well.  I can be happy with the average on the Multi-Display dropping to 47.1 MPG.

2-10-2004

More Regen.  These hints of warmth recently have increased the electricity regeneration to levels higher than I'm use to.  Sweet!  I can't wait to find out just high they will go.  3.5 symbols is my record, set back during the first few weeks of owning the 2004... before Winter arrived.

2-10-2004

The Green List.  The 2004 edition just got announced.  #1 didn't use gas for a fuel.  #2 was only a small 2-seater.  #3 was Prius.  No surprise, eh?  Also as no surprise, the brand new diesel SUV now on the market ranked the very lowest on the list, dirtier than all the rest.  And among the top 10, none were produced by the "Big Three".  I bet you saw that one coming too.

2-09-2004

Sweet!  Super Sweet!!  The temperature today was 45 F degrees warmer than just 10 days ago.  Yeah!  Needless to say, my MPG has skyrocketed.  After a 48 mile commute today, plus 4 miles of other driving, the Multi-Display now shows a glorious 48.6 MPG.  Yippee!  And that's with a temperature of only an average of 26 F degrees!!  I can't even imagine how wonder efficiency will be when Spring finally  arrives. An additional 45 F degrees warmer will be like heaven.  Hooray!  This technology we all call Prius is amazing!!

2-09-2004

Time to use the "Priust" Pulpit.  The recent mention of "global warming" got me preparing a sermon again...  If we have affordable technology available to reduce CO2 emissions, why not use it?  The benefit should be obvious. Less oil consumption means less dependence on imported oil.  Prius does that for us, as well as also significantly reduce NOx emissions at the same time.  Not even trying is never a good choice.

2-09-2004

Don't poke the bear.  I know, it's best sometimes just to sit back and not say anything.  But unfortunately, there are several people with several sticks all poking several bears...  I have actually noticed lately how some EV supporters that once embraced hybrids have now grown completely quiet about them.  So it's not just the mild verse full hybrids setting the pace.  Hopefully the raising of awareness (just one light poke) will work like a controlled burn, avoiding any big flames.  That approach proved very effective with fuel-cell technology.  In summary, focus on the goals, not the technology.  Can a particular technology really deliver extremely clean emission and achieve impressive MPG while also being both affordable & reliable?

 

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