Prius Personal Log  #107

February 26, 2004  -  February 28, 2004

Last Updated: Sat. 6/12/2004

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2-28-2004

Hybrid Terminology.  We've been through this before...  Labeling all designs of improved emission & efficiency technology as "hybrid" is very misleading, and something the automakers would love to pull a fast one on us with.  (Make note of how many different car designs they have come up with then slipped into the "light truck" category so they wouldn't have to comply to the stricter efficiency standards.)  Certain automakers have already attempted to call their barely improved compared to traditional designs as "mild".  That just plain is not fair to the Honda hybrids, since Insight and Civic-Hybrid offer much more of an improvement... hence the adoption of Honda's own "assist" label to identify the category their hybrids fall into.  Toyota's design is obviously quite different.  It is neither "mild" nor "assist".  And according to a USC publication, in addition to several others, the system in Prius is labeled as "full".  All hybrids are not the same.  Each design has a unique strength.  Not identifying that isn't appropriate.  Using a label that is brand-specific isn't either.  So you can see my concern to find appropriate & acceptable terminology before confusion gets out of hand.  If "assist" and "full" don't fulfill the need, I urge those to feel that way to speak up.  Suggestions for better terminology are definitely welcome.

2-28-2004

Rising PSI.  With the outside temperature finally rising, so will the pressure in your tires.  Knowing that today would be the warmest I've experienced for months, I checked the PSI before taking off this morning.  And sure enough, the 10 degree increase did in fact increase PSI by 1 exactly as the professionals have always claimed would happen.  So I squirted out that excess pressure, since the warmth had push PSI to 45 and 44 is the manufacturer recommended maximum.

2-28-2004

Adventures in Warm Weather.  Today the temperature briefly tapped the 50 F degree mark twice while I was running errands.  And as predicted, efficiency increased as a result this recent temperature increase.  The value on the Multi-Display (now at 306 miles) climbed from 50.3 to 51.4 MPG.  Excellent!  And of course, my Prius wasn't the only one at play.  One the way to the mall, a Tideland 2004 pulled up behind me.  In the parking lot, I spotted a Blue Classic.  Then when leaving, fortune favored me.  I had the lucky opportunity of stopping right next to a brand new Silver 2004.  So I honked and waved.  The driver went nuts when she noticed I was also in a Silver 2004.  It was great!  Then once back on the highway, a White Classic zoomed by.

2-28-2004

Gas Saving Only.  Taking an objective look at the numbers, the anti-hybrid crowd "gas savings only" argument doesn't actually work.  Hybrids really are the better choice.  Say 2004 Prius only gets a real-world calculated average of 48 MPG.  Say a comparable traditional car gets a real-world calculated average of 36 MPG.  Driving 150,000 miles you get the following values at the specified gas prices:

$1.65/gallon:  traditional=$6875,  hybrid=$5156,  difference=$1719

$1.95/gallon:  traditional=$8125,  hybrid=$6094,  difference=$2031

$2.25/gallon:  traditional=$9375,  hybrid=$7031,  difference=$2344

$2.55/gallon:  traditional=$10625,  hybrid=$7969,  difference=$2656

It should be obvious that as gas prices go up, the hybrid savings go up too.  And expecting the price per gallon to remain low the entire lifetime of the vehicle (that's at least 8 years) is not a financially wise decision.  In fact, in parts of the country the prices are already climbing back up to record levels again.  Expecting traffic conditions to remain the same is unrealistic too.  Commute delays continue to get longer as the population gets bigger.  Hybrid efficiency improves under those conditions, traditional efficiency drops.  So you end up saving even more with the hybrid as time goes on.

And if you step back and look at what vehicles the same size as Prius get for efficiency ratings, you'll discover the EPA combined city/average average for the midsize class is 25.8 MPG.  That makes the 36 MPG value very, very generous. You'll also discover that the 48 MPG value is underrated.  Actual owners are reporting higher efficiency.  So if you want a more realistic estimate of 150,000 mile driving savings, try this...  At $2.10 per gallon a traditional vehicle getting 31 MPG would cost $10161 and the hybrid at 51 MPG $6176.  That's a difference of $3985.  Notice how the "gas savings only" argument backfires.  You actually do save enough with a hybrid.  So even if you ignore the other benefits a hybrid offers, it is still a wise financial decision.

2-27-2004

Hybrid Stereotype.  The current configuration of hybrid available is not representative of the potential the technology actually offers.  So don't let anyone convince you of that.  And like with me today, don't let someone attempt to imply a stereotype to that effect.  Favoring emissions & efficiency is the current focus, hence the particular configuration.  The upcoming Highlander-Hybrid actually out-accelerates the traditional version, yet it is also cleaner and more efficient.  So you still get improvement, it just isn't as extreme.

2-27-2004

Matrix.  Remember my fascination when it first came out?  It obviously helped lead to fascination with the 2004 Prius.  That large hatch area is great.  And if you look closely, you'll notice the similar window-line.  Practical vehicles are what I'm drawn to, if you couldn't tell.

2-27-2004

$1.79 for a Gallon of Gas.  The up & down of prices continues.  I wonder how high it will climb this time, and how long each of the swings will last.  So much for having a stable industry.  Those days are long gone now.

2-27-2004

After Thoughts.  It was really a debate how much detail to include on the Info-Sheet.  Some have wondered if not mentioning the thermos bottle and the tank bladder is selling the Prius short.  But for those that experienced the draft versions of the classic version, the memory of "how much is too much" probably still lingers.  Our goal was to simplify the technology as much as possible.  So I still believe that's a good idea to leave out that detail.  In fact, I'd like to create another document later that actually does address the technical details.  SE/SS, HID, VSC, NAV, Bluetooth, and Voice-Recognition get nothing but a brief mention right now.  And obviously, just a phrase is no where near enough detail to properly do those sweet features justice.  To most people, they'll end up being meaningless items listed anyway.  Some simply just wait the basics.  The means these after thoughts seem to confirm this approach was a good one.

2-27-2004

Cold, then Warm.  I was really bummed when yesterday's morning commute temperature only got up to 27 F degrees.  It screwed up my "above freezing" tank of gas.  Oh well.  Today's commute drive home easily made up for that.  It was 43 F degrees!  That's like tropical for Minnesota!!  Anywho, after 197 miles the Multi-Display is now showing 50.2 MPG.  Yeah!

2-27-2004

Misleading Data.  Based on the data I have collect, the demographic of middle-age, well educated, professionals being the primary purchaser of Prius is misleading.  Now believe those only-right-now facts.  Things will change rapidly in the near future.  The newest generation of buyers craves the opportunity to get a hybrid, having little interest in traditional design.  Yes, some put preference on speed & power; nonetheless, they desire it to be delivered using the latest & greatest technology.  Also, what does "buyer" have to do with actually driving a Prius?  Middle-age, well educated, professionals are the very group that buy a new car for their child.  So unless you know who the purchase is for, the data could easily mislead you to drawing the wrong conclusion.  Think about it.  As a parent, what would you want your child (young adult) to be driving... a vehicle that can deliver nerve-racking speed & handling ...a vehicle that can squish anything it encounters... or one that teaches responsible consumption & emission lessons in a fun way?  Prius is obviously the best purchase choice for that particular demographic.  Don't be mislead.

2-27-2004

A luxury car? Not!  I am amused when I hear comments like that.  Trying to fit an "abandon traditional design, start from scratch instead, built for the 21st Century" vehicle into a traditional category is like trying to push a dog through the cat door.  It just doesn't work.  Applying old-school logic is misleading at best.  Prius is in a category of it's own.  Over time, others will join in.  Right now, it's alone.  This is nothing new.  In the past other vehicles have created unique categories too.  Can you say "Minivan"?

2-27-2004

It's done now!  All that work really paid off.  The next big update will be in April when my odometer reveals a 5th digit (10,000 miles).  I'll update that photo and replace the 2 on front.  If there are text or photos alternations requested, I'll also do them then.  There's high-resolution copies in both DOC & PDF format now available, in addition to the small online version.  Just follow the permanently link on my homepage.

2-26-2004

When you want attention.  The gay marriage hoopla involved a Prius today.  That was the vehicle a well known actress stepped out of with her female companion.  Prius is obviously being portrayed as a icon for change.  I wonder in what other circumstances it will now be used.  Hmm?

2-26-2004

Red Carpet Phenomenon.  At the Oscars this year, some stars will be arriving in a Prius rather than a limo.  Cool!  Here's the ones I know of so far:  Charlize Theron, Sting, Robin Williams, Jack Black, Tim Robbins, Keisha Castle-Hughes and Will Ferrell.

2-26-2004

Almost there...  The first edition of the new 2-sided document is just about complete.  This 2004 Prius resembles the one for the Classic Prius, which got downloaded, printed, and photocopied, then distributed to those curious about Prius and hybrids.  Having something made by owners, not Toyota, has proven very effective.  And the fact that it's cheap to reproduce doesn't hurt either!  I find it really nice being able give something to those that catch me in a parking or at the gas station.  It raises the odds that curiosity will be further stimulated after those chance (and oh too brief) encounters.

2-26-2004

Custom Copies.  I was asked for permission for someone to create a UK version of the Info-Sheet.  My reply is: Yes!  You may alter the content.  In fact, I appreciate the translation help.  There's no way I could do it proper justice from an "American" perspective.  Those here in the states can do local customization to.  That is the reason I will be providing a DOC version.  That way, you can just open the document in MS Word (or compatible software) and alter what you see to meet your particular needs.

2-26-2004

Closer.  Now the text suggestions & corrections that y'all provided (thank you very much, by the way) have been applied.  Once that gets the thumbs up to that, I'll make the high-resolution versions available (in both DOC & PDF format).  Then you will actually have an opportunity to look at the intended way the document is meant to be viewed: on paper.  I'll continue taking photos.  So if a better candidate emerges later, don't be surprised to see an update applied, especially since I'll be routinely updating the Speedo/Odometer photo anyway.  By the way, an interesting emotional experience resulted for this work, something I had no idea would happen.  When starring at the classic version looking for inspiration for this new version, I got overwhelmed with emotion from the photos on the top of the front page.  Realization that those very exciting pioneer years are over hit me.  I had a absolute blast on the trips that took me to those very scenic photo locations.  Now that Prius is gone, just a fond memory.  Of course, let's not forget that I have an even better one now and I'll create some great memories with it too.   Anywho, take a look at the 2004 text available now.

2-26-2004

"Smart"  Emphasize the word "Smart" in SE/SS (Smart-Entry/Smart-Start).  It works even better than a first impression provides.  On both front door handles and the hatch in back, there are small black buttons.  Pushing one of them will trigger a beep and flash the lights to inform you the SE/SS system has just been locked.  That means you never need to touch the SE/SS device in your pocket or purse, someone doesn't need to hold a door open until all the other passengers have got out, and you don't need to ever wonder if the system is really locked or not.

2-26-2004

Misrepresentation.  The Corolla comparisons are growing a bit irritating.  It is a compact car, not a midsize like Prius.  Corolla is also just a single vehicle, not a true representation of what the entire class offers.  The midsize class average for 2003 based on EPA Highway is 30.8 MPG.  EPA City is 22.8 MPG.  EPA Combined is 25.8 MPG.  Prius very clearly doubles the EPA rated values for the class it is in.

2-26-2004

How high is too high?  For most of the tires we've tested on Prius, the maximum cold pressure listed on the side of the tire itself is ok.  The days of uneven wear have are gone.  Tires are built much better nowadays.  Over the past 67,750 miles of Prius driving (over 3.5 years with a 2001 then a 2004), I haven't had a lick of trouble.  There was no evidence of accelerated wear in the center at all.  In fact, many have discovered that tires last longer overall with higher pressure.  I started with 38/37 (that's front/back PSI), then 42/40, then finally settled on 44/42.  Handling hasn't been the slightest of an issue.  MPG has obviously been improved.  Road noise increases some and the ride is stiffer.  In short, you have absolutely nothing to lose by giving a higher tire pressure a try.  Play with different PSI levels until you find a pleasing result.  (But remember, having 2 PSI more in front is important for proper weight balance.)

2-26-2004

100,000 mile club.  As the reports trickle in from the oldest owners, I'm getting jealous.  Having started over again at zero just a few months ago, that distance seems so far away... many years, in fact.  I think I should be allowed to add my mileage figures together.  Forgetting about the first 59,827 miles just doesn't seem right.  So, I will.

 

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