Prius Personal Log  #105

February 15, 2004  -  February 19, 2004

Last Updated: Sat. 6/12/2004

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2-19-2004

That Button.  It provides a noticeable electric-only power increase (the normal 10kW limit is extended all the way up to 27.4kW), making EV mode a lock & hold for stealth.  The resulting dead silence & vibrationless feel are factors those seeking luxury aspects will truly appreciate.  It does also provides the ability to manually control warm-up, a genuine opportunity to increase MPG in stop & slow traffic and on short-trips.

2-19-2004

"Full" Hybrids.  Civic-Hybrid owners seem to be one extreme or the other.  Today, I had one strongly arguing that it was a "full" hybrid, just like Prius.  Here's my rebuttal:  Huh?  Even Honda disagrees.  They clearly label their hybrids as an "assist" type.  It must run the engine whenever thrust is needed.  And because it is a single motor design, it cannot create & consume electricity at the same time.  The system chooses which function to use the motor for either propulsion or recharging.  Prius on the other hand drives up to 42 MPH using only electricity.  Both its steering and A/C run exclusively on electricity as well.  And because it is a dual motor design, it can both create & consumer electricity simultaneously.  So propulsion provided by the motor can be delivered while also recharging the battery-pack at the same time.  Even ignoring the fact that Prius has a much larger motor and runs at a much higher voltage, the abilities explain why it is a full hybrid and the other hybrid is not.  That's not a bad thing either.  It's just that expecting both to behave the same way is under the same conditions is clearly a bad idea, because they won't.  A different label is required.  Otherwise, later when the EPA finally revises their testing procedures, you wouldn't get an accurate estimation of performance.  Lumping data collected from owners all into a single category wouldn't make much sense either.  Remember, a hybrid like the new Prius not only delivers fantastic efficiency in stop & slow traffic, it also does while cruising too.  At sustained suburb speeds (that's 35 to 50 MPH), you'll be very surprised.  The large 50kW motor gets used quite a bit during that type of driving.  The efficiency opportunities are plentiful.  Driving at faster speeds, the impressive aerodynamics and smaller engine aspects come into play.  So MPG is something to brag about even then.  In short, it is a very good design that satisfies the needs of many driving situations, rather than just specializing.

2-19-2004

Rather than improving MPG.  The credit nonsense continues.  It was suppose to expire this year, but instead the Bush administration extended it another 4 years.  (Dang politics!)  In short, if an automaker sells a vehicle capable of running on mostly ethanol, they are given a credit that can be used to fulfill their efficiency requirement rather than actually improving MPG.  The end result is that more gas-guzzlers can be sold, which in turn results in greater dependence on imported oil (since virtually all owners just use gas, rather than E85).  And that's exactly the opposite of what the credit was intended to accomplish, since very few actually ever put ethanol in the tank and they are actually consuming even more gas.

2-19-2004

Floor Level in Back.  It is high than a normal truck and flush with the hatch opening.  That means no bending.  What a wonderful benefit, that often goes overall.  Just reach & grab.  There's no real setting down or picking up since it is already at arm's length for the average person.  Cool!

2-18-2004

Good Timing.  Getting a Prius at the beginning of the warm season is practically cheating.  But that's what some are doing right now, including another friend of mine.  His Lifetime MPG will be quite impressive from day one.  He won't be fighting to recover from winter's harsh toll like all the rest of us... like me!  Oh well.

2-18-2004

Snowflake Gone.  I had become well acquainted with it over the last few months.  With the temperature always below 37 F degrees, it was always on.  So today when it didn't, I almost missed it.  But then it came back last 5 minutes of my commute.  I suddenly changed my mind about missing it.  That was just a reminder of how much lower MPG is when it illuminates.  But I suppose for those down south, where it doesn't freeze that often, it could be rather helpful as the "slippery road" reminder it was designed to be.

2-18-2004

Silly Arguments.  The first thing an enthusiast (someone who enjoys cars) would do is replace the stock tires with better performing ones anyway.  So any data pertaining to standard braking & handling isn't revealing of what true "performance" actually could be.  It is nothing but a silly argument.  Even really nice tires only add about $320 to the price and it is a very very very easy modification.  Also, keep in mind that some shops/dealers will even buy back the stock tires from you, so the upgrade could cost even less.

2-18-2004

Warmer Now.  It was 34 F degrees this morning, warmer than I've seen in months.  MPG started its aggressive climb up.  Yeah!

2-18-2004

Higher Temperatures.  After the seemingly endless Winter (here in Minnesota), where having the temperature rise to anything beyond the 20's is just a dream, the forecast for the next 7 days is all 30's.  That's almost unbelievable!  To suddenly get a warm snap like that will be fantastic.  The MPG for my Prius will skyrocket to levels I can't even imagine (no laughing, if you live south of me).  The higher temperatures will definitely have an effect on efficiency.  I can't wait!

2-18-2004

Not Enough Braking.  When will people finally figure this out?  It is still a very common misconception, especially since what I am about to tell you doesn't apply to those other hybrids, only Prius.  Stop & Slow has a very different affect on the system than some still think.  The battery-pack does not get depleted, since it doesn't rely on braking much for recharging.  Prius has 2 motors, not just 1.  This provides the ability to recharge whenever the system finds an efficient opportunity to do so, not just when braking.  In fact, most of the electricity is created that way.  Only a small part of it actually comes from when you step on the brakes to slow down.  That means there is absolutely no reason to worry about commute delays on the highway.  It is a complete non-issue.  After charge-level approaches low (from driving using nothing but electricity), you'll discover that the system automatically changes modes.  The next time you step on the pedal to move forward, the engine will fire up.  It will not only propel the tires, it will also send create some electricity at the same time to recharge the battery-pack.  Then shortly afterward, the engine will shut back off.  And despite that, you still end up saving some gas... enough, in fact, to make those next to you wonder what the heck you are so happy about while being trapped in traffic like that.

2-18-2004

Friday the 13th.  I couldn't resist.  Keeping up the tradition of taking night photos of the Prius on this special day was a must... photo album 66

2-17-2004

Beta Test.  I hear that still.  No product in the history of this world has ever been reproduced 250,000 times just for the sake of testing.  And that's what the count of Prius on the road worldwide will be by the end of the 2004 model year.  Claims to the effect that Prius is nothing but a testing vehicle simply make no sense.  Why would a company build a car to the point of profitability while at the same time promote its name heavily then just abandon it?  Obviously, Prius will survive.  In fact, it will thrive.  Prius will likely become a distinctive vehicle, much like Solara is now.  Of course, I could be wrong... (pause for a dramatic effect) ...the swing toward increased interest in reduced emissions & consumption could come much more quickly than I even calculated.  Prius could become far more popular than anyone imagined.  That would be sweet!  Who knows.  Perhaps heavy promotion of hybrid will be one of the very first things on the agenda for President Kerry.

2-17-2004

Battery Color.  Did you know that the lines within the battery on the Energy Monitor of the Multi-Display change color?  That makes the charge-level much easier to notice, rather than just having to count bars.  GREEN is shown when the charge-level is within the highest 2 bars.  BLUE is shown when the charge-level is within the middle 4 bars.  PINK is shown when the charge-level is within the lowest 2 bars.

2-17-2004

Simple.  No gears,  No torque-converter.  Always engaged.  With such a simple design like that, it really isn't appropriate to call the type of CVT in Prius a transmission.  It really doesn't qualify.  There is nothing but a power-split device actually.  But I guess I understand the reasoning for calling it telling.  All having to explain how a vehicle could work without any transmission at all sure would be a pain.  So we'll just keep calling it a CVT for now.

2-16-2004

Raised Awareness.  Doesn't it boggle your mind when you think about how many decades this has been happening, how many millions & millions of vehicles have been overfilled without it being noticed?  Of course, now it makes it whole lot of sense why the automakers fought to keep their error-codes private.  Though, it does make you wonder what else we haven't been aware of.  It also explains why a majority of vehicles don't have a MPG readout.  Because if they did, it would raise awareness.  You would then notice performance influencing factors, like oil overfill.  You would also notice how crappy the MPG was and how EPA efficiency testing conditions don't match actual real-world driving.  Awareness is a powerful tool.  It makes owners demand improvement, and that scares the heck out of some automakers.

2-16-2004

More Animations.  Created another by adding a Multi-Display "fade" effect... animations

2-16-2004

Drive-by-Wire.  This feature in Prius has a wonderful benefit for those with disabilities. T he can have a custom interface created for their unique need, in a much easier manner than in the past.  Think about it.  Many things can be adapted to use other devices instead.  Shifting via button.  Steering via joystick.  Braking via slide-lever.  Acceleration via a squeeze-handle.  And of course, the key has already been eliminated.  There's a whole knew world of opportunity now that things components are switching from mechanical to by-wire.

2-16-2004

Benefit.  You may not have known (or still don't know) that Toyota chose to use an AC motor either, which is more expensive.  That choice requires an inverter, to convert the power from DC.  That adds to the overall cost too.  But by having the AC type, brushes aren't needed inside the motor.  That eliminates a part that would eventually wear out.  So it is very, very safe to expect the motor to last the lifetime of the vehicle and never need any maintenance at all.  A secondary benefit of the AC type, is that you can take advantage of the inverter.  Rather than just converting from DC to AC, you can also bump up the voltage at the same time.  And increased voltage equates directly to improved efficiency.

2-16-2004

9,000 Pound Vehicle.  The nonsense continues.  An argument came up today claiming a monster-size vehicle getting 28 MPG is far better than a smaller vehicle being improved for efficiency.  That kind of short-term thinking makes me crazy.  Though, I do wonder if people ever realize that is what they are doing.  My goal is to convert all vehicles sizes & types to hybrids.  Being selective doesn't even make sense from a business view anyway.  The best way to support a new infrastructure is to include as large of a demographic as possible.  Why would you only focus on just a 9,000 pound vehicle?  Why not include all vehicles?

2-16-2004

When?  What will you do when gas climbs above $2 per gallon stays there?  It will happen someday.  And based on estimates, it will very likely occur within the lifetime of your next vehicle.  Then what?  When that time comes, you could really regret the purchase decision you made years earlier.  Considerations for hybrids should not be taken lightly.

2-15-2004

Educational Stuff.  At last, I have finished the Energy-Monitor Cutouts.  They are the first of the educational stuff for this new Prius.  They'll eventually become part of the new Info-Sheet, for the 2004.  Right now, they are available in a different format... animations

2-15-2004

Entertainment Aspect.  I find it extremely entertaining that the argument remarks against hybrids continue to get weaker and weaker.  Factors like acceleration & reliability have almost completely disappeared from online discussions.  Now it has got to the point where the way the vehicle is marketed is the only negative left.  Cool!  I also find it quite amusing that certain things are completely ignored to imply victory.  The most popular debate item is low emissions.  By simply not acknowledging that more traditional approaches waste gas, you can easily "prove" that hybrid technology is not necessary.  The truth will eventually emerge, so I'm not worried about nonsense like that.  Reducing both emissions & consumption is important, not just one or the other.

2-15-2004

Fuel-Cells... again.  The expectation for them to bypass hybrids continues.  First, fuel-cell technology is now 165 years old.  Second, what will you fill the tank with?  Until a hydrogen based fuel is available at your neighborhood filling station and at a price comparable to gas, you won't see more than just a handful of fuel-cell vehicles on the road.  So it is totally unreasonable to make any type of date prediction yet, especially when pricing for the vehicle itself is a complete mystery too.  Hybrids are here today though.  So I find it very hard to find any strong reason to simply just dismiss them.

2-15-2004

This is a great way to lose future customers.  That was an intriguing comment made today.  Toyota has actually delivered a hybrid beyond the "Auto Show" phase.  The other automakers (with the exception of Honda) have been making promises about hybrids for awhile now, yet not a single one has made it to a dealer's lot yet.  And worse, the ones that are eventually expected won't even be as impressive as Prius.  What kind of message are they sending to future customers?  Heavy back-order lists are an unfortunate reality many new-category, high-demand vehicles face.  This is nothing new.  And strangely enough, it is actually a good thing.  By stepping back and looking at the big picture, you'll see that delays of this nature really pay off in the end.  An enthusiast base is built so strong that the vehicle is pushed into very heavy production.  Just look at the PT-Cruiser as a recent real-world example.  They were deliver waits over a year for it initially.  Now they are all over the place.

2-15-2004

TV Commercials.  I turned around to look at the television.  There I saw a dashboard with a "Power" button.  I couldn't believe it, the Digital Avenue promo for the 2004 Prius was back again.  I wonder why?  Demand is so high already.  But I suppose with the Auto Shows display HSD in other vehicles now, it does make sense to promote Prius that way.

2-15-2004

Prius Photos from the Netherlands.   2004 style... Holland

 

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