Prius Personal Log  #106

February 20, 2004  -  February 25, 2004

Last Updated: Tues. 3/30/2004

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2-25-2004

A little warmer now.  The temperature during the last 2 days of commute driving has been in the mid 30's.  And based on this evening's forecast, it looks very likely that the temperature will remain that way through the remainder of this tank of gas.  That will make this one the first tank I've driven since break-in completed where the temperature was above freezing on every drive.  And so far, things are looking really good.  94 miles into this tank, the average shown on the Multi-Display is 49.7 MPG.  The warmer weather is most definitely pushing the efficiency up.  I can't wait to experience what true warmth will bring.  MPG in the 50's throughout the entire warm season sure sounds exciting.

2-25-2004

Getting closer.  A low-resolution copy (intended for just online viewing) of the "assembled" document is available now.  It obviously still needs a lot of refining.  But nonetheless, you can see the progress I'm making.  The next step is to do a bunch of in-person, on-paper showings.  (So yes, there will be another gathering coming up.)  That is by far the best way to get detailed feedback, especially since color & size are very misleading when viewed on a computer monitor.

2-24-2004

Gas Prices are abruptly climbing.  Now more may understand why I'm struggling to create that Info-Sheet.  When you own a Prius, you'll attract a lot of attention at gas stations and in parking lots.  And virtually all of those experiences will be very rewarding.  To be able to satisfy the curiosity of an onlooker by answering a few simple questions then handing them something with more info & photos that they can keep is great.

2-24-2004

Not Affected.  GM has halted production of its new CVT in their Saturn Ion & Vue because of a mechanical problem (and has not yet released the reason why).  That CVT design has absolutely nothing in common with the one in Prius.  Ion & Vue use a Cone & Belt type of CVT.  Prius uses a Planetary type of CVT.  So before any rumors even have a chance to start, be confident in having the knowledge that Prius is not affected by this at all.  In fact, to feel even better, just remind yourself that the Planetary design has been used in Prius ever since its debut in Japan way back in 1997.

2-24-2004

Rough Draft.  The 2004 Info-Sheet is in the works.  My current objective is to figure out what images are important, how big the images should be, where they should be placed, and what caption (if any) is needed.  I am uncertain if samples of the Multi-Display itself are valuable for this particular document.  Showing the "Air Conditioner", "Energy Monitor", "Consumption Screen" are all realistic candidates, as with the version for the Classic Prius.  But we could also include a few of the optional ones too.  So I'm interested in feedback of what makes sense for this one.  The purpose is to provide a summary of Prius in a form that can be duplicated on a single piece of paper for handing out to people as an introduction, just enough to stimulate interest without being overwhelming.  And sure enough, it has worked in the past, driving some to seek detail.

2-23-2004

Is something wrong?  That's a common question from new owners.  Not all the sounds you hear from under the hood are the same as they are with a traditional vehicle.  Nothing is actually wrong, it's just different.  And take it from me, that is a definite design improvement over technology from yesteryear.

2-23-2004

Greater Potential.  Did you know that if you drive a Prius down the side of a mountain the battery-pack will allow a "full cycle" to occur?  That allows the system to completely top-off the charge-level, bringing it all the way to maximum.  The experience delights all owners that have ever tried it.  They are able to maintain highways speeds without using the engine, feeding exclusively off of the battery-pack for a propulsion needs.  It only lasts a few minutes, but it clearly demonstrates that the system offers greater potential than you'd initially expect.

2-23-2004

Every third post.  Some thought I had fallen into a trap.  It was actually an intentional debugging technique that programmers use to squeeze requirements from users that are uncertain what they really want to accomplish, when they only know that they somehow need to "fix" a problem.  That technique is extraordinarily effective.  But it is boring as heck having to repeat slight variations of the same message content over and over and over again to finally flush out what's really important.  And if you haven't guessed yet, that's what I do professionally.  Having the ability to tolerate that to find what the user really truly wants has (thankfully) been very rewarding... in the end.  The process itself is "less than desirable" though.  And in this case, I have gained very insightful info from the "sparring" it takes place on that particular thread.  Each iteration the rebuttal becomes more refined.  I'd never actually try the same anywhere else, just on that specific forum.  The uniqueness of this actually encourages it, due the limited posting structure.  And like the host said, it is acceptable if it remains on a polite level.  So I'll continue debugging.

2-23-2004

Ahhhh!  It was a bittersweet experience.  I recorded that fantastic new Prius "Universe" commercial onto DVD.  Pressed stop.  (Then took a moment to gave thanks.)  Little did I know that there would be second commercial for Prius, different from the first.  I couldn't believe I had missed it.  Dang!  Oh well.  Someday they will likely air it again, watch for "Black & White Dots".  And I was still fortunate enough to get the first, so I can't complain.

2-23-2004

Broken Promises.  Remember the pledge Ford made in 2000?  They promised to improve the fuel economy of its SUVs 25 percent by 2005.  That pleased outraged consumers and relieved the pressure the environmentalist groups had been giving.  Now it turns out that they not only will deliver, they actually regressed.  Fuel economy has grown worse.  I sure hope the Escape-Hybrid really becomes a reality.  Improved MPG late, rather than never is better than nothing.  It looks as though they are actually trying now.  Of course, I probably won't ever believe a promise like that again.  Far too many actions nowadays are driven by business decisions, not doing what's right.

2-23-2004

Mainstream Vehicle.  I think it is official now.  Prius is recognized as a genuine purchase choice now, something likely to be spotted on the road in the crowd of everyday traffic.  Of course, the technology is not well understood yet.  But that's the next step.

2-23-2004

Degraded Charge-Level.  That means very little for HSD hybrid systems, like Prius, since it has two motors instead.  The second motor provides electricity on-the-fly.  In fact, there is so much of it available that even when climbing a steep hill the battery-pack isn't normally needed at all.  So degradation really makes no difference.  Just the opposite actually happens.  Most of the time you climb a hill with a Prius, the battery-pack will have more stored electricity available at the top than what it did when you started the climb.  That second motor provides enough electricity to not only feed the propulsion motor but to also provide recharging.  But don't forget, this isn't true for one motor hybrid systems.  They can each provide thrust or recharge, not both at the same time.

2-22-2004

Emissions alone doesn't sell.  Not many are willing to pay a little more for a little less.  But that's what the non-hybrid PZEV deliver.  The emission cleansing ability reduces MPG.  That's no true of hybrids though.  And there have already been that have willingly paid a lot more for a lot more, since that's what Prius delivers.  Focus on emissions alone is simply not enough.  So just cleaning up traditional vehicles won't accomplish much.  People just aren't interested in paying for that.  The fact that hybrids offer much more is what will change the industry, not the sidesteps being taken now with the non-hybrid PZEV push.

2-22-2004

Stepping Forward.  This quote today didn't make me too happy, "I didn't have to take a step backwards to get the economy".  Those suffering from breathing related problems, like asthma, don't appreciate comments like that.  And there are quite a few, just take note of all the television commercials for breathing related medications.  Sacrificing emissions for the sake of economy is not a valid choice in my book.  That's why hybrids are such a good choice.  The Highlander-Hybrid proves it, in fact. You get both an economy improvement and an acceleration improvement without increasing emissions at all.  In fact, the emissions are actually cleaner.  "Economy" cars just plain can't compete with that.

2-22-2004

Dashboard Photo.  I got a really nice night shot of the dashboard with the system started.  It wasn't easy though.  I had to rush, to the extreme.  The photo was taken during the exact moment the sun was setting, using an 8-second exposure.  That meant adjusting the internal & external lighting at a far fastest pace than normal.  I experimented with the 4 different overhead light combinations inside while also spreading a blanket along the outside of the Prius to eliminate outside glare & reflection.  The effort obviously paid off... photo album 67

2-21-2004

Speedometer/Odometer Photos.  I needed some photos of that indicator cluster... photo album 67

2-21-2004

Hatch Photos.  It finally got warm enough to play.  I took a variety of digital photos showing internal hatchback configurations.  See... photo album 66

2-21-2004

Another Bluetooth-Enabled Car.  And this one runs entirely on batteries!  It's a little on the small side though... It's a pocket-size electric car that you control via a Bluetooth phone from Sony Ericsson, the same phone some of use with our Prius.  Cool, eh?

2-21-2004

Leading The Way.  The purpose of a fuel-cell is to create electricity.  So the more a hybrid becomes dependent on electricity the more it leads the way to the future.  Prius can propel itself using only electricity, and it does routinely.  The A/C system runs exclusively on electricity.  And so does the steering system.  There are even small electric heaters that help to delay the engine from having to restart.  As battery technology improves and costs continue to drop, Prius will take advantage of electricity even more.  Just imagine those electric heaters getting bigger, allowing the engine to remain off a lot longer, even in the dead of winter.  The motor will take on more propulsion duties as the supply of electricity increases.  Just think, later on you could have the option of plugging in your Prius.  That would delay the need for the engine to restart even longer.  Eventually, it will get to the point where the engine will be removed and a fuel-cell put in its place.  So when discussions about what type of hybrid offers greater potential, "assist" or "full", it should be fairly obvious that a full hybrid like Prius is leading the way.

2-21-2004

Collecting Colors.  I have started collecting photos featuring each color, to help those making that tough purchase decision... Salsa Red

2-21-2004

International Owner Stuff.  Even more Prius photos from outside the United States... country:  UK

2-20-2004

Determining Intent.  One of the reporters that interviewed me for a hybrid article really stood out.  There were several things he did that didn't match what others had done in the past.  And sure enough, an anti-hybrid article resulted.  Fortunately, it did help to raise awareness.  Quite a number of people found my website as a result.  A few even sent me email stating they did some online searches in an attempt to determine whether that what was written was really revealing the true story or just a limited sampling of select data.  Finding my detailed data, rather than just vague facts really made them happy.  Reading only partial stories is starting to make me crazy.  Too many times reporters have lumped all types of hybrids into a single category and have made gross generalizations based on limited research.  Thankfully, they aren't all like that.  Every now and then, I run into a reporter that asks lots of questions and allows me to present the data I feel most important to share with others.  So basically, you just have to read with care to determine intent.  Some articles are so good they are worth framing.  Other articles aren't worth the paper they are printed on.

2-20-2004

Getting from here to there.  I'm glad some are helping to point out that things will be different shortly.  Consumers will begin understand the pros & cons of the variety of designs available.  That will have a profound effect on what the market for hybrids shapes into.  The "assist" design is totally dependent on having an engine, hence the name.  That doesn't make it bad.  In fact, it will probably end up making lots of owners very happy, resulting in continued sales and rollout to other vehicles.  The "full" design can run exclusively on electricity.  That opens up a whole other world of opportunity.  Alternate power supplies can be used later on to power the vehicle, like a fuel-cell.  See the point?  "Assist" is a good step toward the future.  "Full" actually is the future.  There are many philosophies about what the best way is to get from here to there.  Those that choose a "full" hybrid today have made the decision to take a bigger step.  They feel the greater risk is well worth it.  That's really no different than they way people invest in retirement plans.  Some select good old reliable bonds that earn rather low interest but are pretty much guaranteed to provide a small payoff and others take their chances with risky stocks hoping for a very large payoff.  There are many different roads to the future.  Which will you take?

2-20-2004

Terminology Confusion.  Some are focusing solely on voltage to identify hybrid type, hence some rather confusing conversations.  And there is a new category of "less than 60 volts" setup to prevent the upcoming 42V systems from being classified as hybrids.  But that's it.  Ignoring abilities and simply focusing on voltage doesn't even make any sense.  The document published last year right after the 2004 Prius was announced officially established the Type I, II, III.  Those categories did in fact list voltage as criteria, but not the only criteria.  They also included power.  Type I = Low-Voltage & Low-Power, Type II = High-Voltage & Low-Power, Type III = High-Voltage & High-Power.  So obviously, the two different types of hybrids currently available clearly fall into different categories.  So, think of it as an attempt to lump the "more than 4 cylinder" or "more than 150 horsepower" engines all together.  That simply doesn't make sense.  Consumers should be aware of that so they can make a well informed purchase decision, so we need to point out differences.

 

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