Prius Personal Log  #108

February 29, 2004  -  March 6, 2004

Last Updated: Mon. 3/29/2004

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3-06-2004 "9-Gallon Rule"  The non-linear design of the gauge is rather handy, after you've observed it for awhile.  But at first, it is a new concept.  You'll see how the middle mark isn't really half.  You'll also discover that waiting until the last block on the gauge begins to flash is actually an appropriate practice.  For me, I continue my commute and fill the tank on the way home. T hat works out to about 20-30 miles beyond when the flashing started.  9 gallons of capacity is what you can expect for non-emergency maximum range.  That matches up to this distance based on the miles shown on the Multi-Display (which is reset automatically every time you add gas):

40 MPG = 360 miles
41 MPG = 369 miles
42 MPG = 378 miles
43 MPG = 387 miles
44 MPG = 396 miles
45 MPG = 405 miles
46 MPG = 414 miles
47 MPG = 423 miles
48 MPG = 432 miles
49 MPG = 441 miles
50 MPG = 450 miles
51 MPG = 459 miles
52 MPG = 468 miles
53 MPG = 477 miles
54 MPG = 486 miles
55 MPG = 495 miles
 

3-06-2004

One Size Fits All?  Why must "One Size Fits All" reasoning apply to hybrids?  It hasn't been a requirement for passenger vehicles in the past.  So it hardly seems appropriate now.  Diesel & Gasoline engines have coexisted for decades.  Manual & Automatic transmissions have coexisted for decades.  Front & Rear wheel drive have coexisted for decades.  Why must hybrids be held to a different standard?  And why are all hybrid designs lumped into a single category?

3-06-2004

The Real Problem.  It's not reflected in the online battles we've waged.  If you step back and look at the big picture, there is an actual war is on the planetary scale.  Increased storm frequency, increased storm violence, increased temperature extremes are all the result of "global warming".  And regardless of cause, you can't ignore that reality.  Not even trying to reduce the contributing factors isn't a good plan.  And we will run out of oil someday, that is not a subject of debate.  It will happen.  We just don't know when (our children will though).  We also don't know how much it will cost to extract from the difficult to reach areas or how much it will cost to refine the low-grade oil.  All we do know is that the resulting NOx from the consumption of it contributes significantly to SMOG, causing serious breathing problems for some.  So actually, there are several problems.

3-05-2004

Winter Again.  Over 6 inches of new snow fell this morning.  Dang!

3-04-2004

Role-Reversal.  I stopped by my dealer today to educate them some more.  They were on top of the Classic Prius, selling lots of them at a reduced price.  So I'd really like the same to happen with the 2004... once more finally become available.  They know me well there.  So it wasn't any surprise when I showed up with a bunch of Info-Sheets and took the time to point out a few things.  Has anyone else been able to get away with role-reversal like that?

3-04-2004

All mixed up now.  The outside temperature dropped back down to the mid 30's for this tank, yet the value on the Multi-Display has remained in the low 50's.  That either means my Prius was suddenly visited by the "Break-In Fairy" (at 8,000 miles) or my fill up with gas on Sunday, February 29th was actually the non-winter formula.  Also note that I am using Low-Sulfur E10, so that particular kind of gas might fall into the "other" category.  I don't know if I'll be able to figure this one out.

3-04-2004

Vague & Premature.  That's the best way to describe it.  Someone claimed there is a European resistance to hybrids.  That lumped all the countries of Europe into a single category while also lumping all hybrid models & brands into a single category.  The 2004 Prius has only been available for a month there.  Jumping to a conclusion like that isn't by any means appropriate, especially when taking into the fact that sales in some places were actually off to a rather very good start.  The Netherlands, for example, sold over 500 during that first month.  Only 1,000 had been anticipated for entire year.

3-03-2004

Lithium Polymer.  LiPO is an unlikely candidate for replacement of NiMH, as used in the Prius battery-pack. Yes, the power specifications look really appealing.  But then when you step back and look at the charging cycles available, you see the problem.  They are only 1/20 that of the NiMH (500 verses 10,000).  So the battery-pack we have already will dramatically outlast it.  Oh well.  Perhaps, Toyota will be able to improve energy density even further in the NiMH design.

3-02-2004

More Regeneration.  Warm weather brings welcome improvements.  I'm seeing more regen-symbols per segment now... photo album 67

3-02-2004

Price Increase.  There is one coming soon, about $300.  It's the first in 3.5 years, despite the fact that more and more improvements kept being made.  Some aren't pleased.  Others realize the money will be used to help increase the production, being more than happy to contribute to the cause if it ultimately results in inventory improvements.  In the end, it is ultimately a good thing.  Rollout has to proceed somehow.

3-02-2004

Bluetooth.  Keep in mind that the phone itself still works while inside the Prius.  So you can dial from the phone and have the Bluetooth connection automatically take over the moment dialing completes.  That means you aren't losing anything, even though every feature isn't supported.  Just think of it as gaining the hand-free ability and the interface through the Multi-Display.

3-02-2004

Second Generation.  I really don't think that is an appropriate label for the 2004 Prius.  In the software world it would be known as a "major upgrade", not a "generation".  The difference is compatibility.  For example, several major upgrades of Microsoft Word all use the same file format.  When that format is changed so it is no longer backward-compatible, so it is designated as the next generation.  The automotive world in general isn't use to routine updates.  (In fact, they'd keep using the same version until the end of time if they could.)  So naturally, there isn't well-defined terminology to identify a change.  No big deal.  The point is the fact that the upgrade works well and lots of people like it.

3-02-2004

Diesel verses Hybrid.  By the time the emissions of diesel are cleaned up enough to compete with the already available PZEV hybrids, those already available PZEV hybrids will have proven their technology beyond any doubt and their production costs would have dropped too.  What exactly would be the appeal of buying a diesel engine-only vehicle?  Hybrids will become the dominant design. The actual question will be which kind of hybrid to buy, a gasoline or diesel... especially when you take into account how poorly a non-hybrid vehicle does in stop & slow traffic.  Also, note how the article didn't reveal the price-per-gallon value used to come up with the recoup costs.  Because we all know that the higher prices climb, the easier it is for a hybrid to earn its keep.

3-01-2004

Group Stuff.  With the new Prius group having emerged, some are a bit lost about what to do.  To that I say, keep directing newbies to my website.  That's why the User-Guide and related webpages came about in the first place.  The redundancy of questions from newbies will make the vets crazy otherwise.  So that summary, answering all of the common stuff, will hopefully prevent many questions from being asked again.  I can't imagine how overwhelmed by posts we would be without that.  It would be much worse!

3-01-2004

Remember GM's Precept?  The PNGV program got ugly.  There were fights about who should get the patent rights to the technology that got developed.  But then the Bush administration pulled the plug on the program anyway.  So when the federal funding disappeared, so did that prototypes... as if they never even existed.  The focus on improved efficiency was rather "interesting" too.  They used every trick in the book.  The body shape was extremely aerodynamic.  The body frame and panels were all made of aluminum.  The seats inside were nothing but light-weight webbing, like you'd find on patio furniture.  The wiring was light-weight too.  There were no external mirrors, using cameras & screens instead.  And the exhaust system was made entirely out of titanium.  Needless to say, it was far too expensive to be realistic.  It does make you wonder why they are so far behind in hybrid technology though, knowing they were so far along back in 2000.  There plans now are to deliver their first full hybrid in 2007.  So what happened?

3-01-2004

Snowflake Melted.  It stayed off again today.  Wow!

3-01-2004

Bluetooth.  Don't let this new term concern you.  It doesn't cost a cent after you purchase the hardware.  There's nothing you need to do externally beyond getting the phone itself activated, via any cell provider.  The ability to connect is nothing but a wireless protocol, available for if you want to use it... kind of like a headset.  That's it!

3-01-2004

Temperature Influence.  With the temperature just under freezing all of last the previous tank, my efficiency calculated at the pump to 44.2 MPG.  With the temperature averaging the mid 40's this tank that I just refilled today, the number climbed all the way up to 49.5 MPG.  That's a great improvement for such a modest temperature increase.  I can't wait to see what happens when it finally gets as warm as when the EPA rating tests are performed.  (That's a minimum of 68 F degrees.)

3-01-2004

Asking about MPG.  Many are right now.  Cold weather in a vehicle that isn't even broken-in yet will yield low MPG.  Overfilled oil, soft tires, winter gas, short trips, and accelerating slowly will reduce efficiency as well.  Once you address those factors.  You'll see a rise.  But try convincing a new owner of that.  They tend to get just a little to obsessive.  Oh well.  I love seeing that kind of interest in efficiency.   My MPG today calculated to 49.5 at the pump today.  And it is bound to increase as the snow melts away and warmer temperatures arrive.

2-29-2004

They won't give up!  It must be the fear of change.  Eventually they'll accept this reality.  100% of the Prius being produced today are being sold immediately upon arrival on the dealers lot (and many times sooner).  There simply is nothing to debate anyway.  That business model is being completely fulfilled.  The future will obviously be different.  Just rewind to a few years ago.  People didn't even know what the heck a hybrid was and a number of misconception thrived.  They don't anymore and people are beginning to realize the benefits hybrids offer.  Now the questions have moved on to "What is the difference between the designs available?"

2-29-2004

Debate Concluded.  Some are still in denial though.  So they'll be happy later when an entirely new debate later.  By then, Ford would have joined in and the production volume increase opportunity for Toyota will emerge.  The surge in gas prices will become a harsh reality that will change attitudes about efficiency concerns.  Also, the 2005 model year will draw attention to the fact that low-sulfur gas will become available nationwide, rather than select locations like it is now.  That ubiquitous supply will open up a new world of emissions awareness... especially since it is a hot topic with the upcoming presidential election.  So the situation will be quite different then.  A different question about hybrids will be asked.  Any predictions on what that might be?

2-29-2004

EV Button details.  There are situations where gas is wasted, when warm-up of the engine could have happened during a more efficient time.  The EV Button allows you to inform the hybrid system that you are aware of a gas savings opportunity.  When I leave from work, the drive commonly includes stop & slow traffic for the first few blocks.  Just creeping along in traffic like that, the engine needlessly runs.  By having the EV button, I could offset the engine running to later when I turn onto the road with flowing traffic instead.  That saves gas.  The thing you need to keep in mind is the fact that engine operation is very wasteful at low RPM, like during warm-up.  Running the engine at higher RPM saves gas.  So having a way to offset certain tasks will in fact increase you MPG.  Another example is the drive from one end of the strip-mall to the other.  In my case, that's stopping at the department store to pick up a few household items, then driving across the street to purchase some groceries.  Being able to do that very short, low speed drive entirely using electricity with a cold engine provides a genuine MPG benefit.

2-29-2004

Debate Concluded.  I always wondered how that "Up to the chore" topic would end.  We have officially addressed every single aspect of debate possible, working ourselves into a deadlocked stalemate.  With the absence of any reasoning against hybrid technology strong enough to win beyond a doubt, it means hybrids have in fact worked themselves into the mainstream.   Hooray!  And how appropriate, it happened on February 29.

2-29-2004

Another Document.  Here's some more stuff I need to type up to share with others in a new document...  When you start a Prius, it automatically seeks the Bluetooth phone(s) you previously informed it about.  Then it will tell you whether or not it found it.  The "not detected" message is rather handy.  It saved me once.  Since I knew I had the phone with me, I immediately became suspicious.  And it paid off too.  The Prius system had actually indirectly informed me that the battery in the phone was dead.  So I just plugged it in on that drive.  That's much better than finding out later, when I'm away from a charging source.  The microphone for the phone is a mystery to me still.  It is very well placed, where ever the heck it is.  The speaker for the phone is the one by the driver, on the door.  When you get a call, the audio system is automatically halted.  That sudden silence is replaced by the phone conversion.  The Multi-Display automatically switches over to show caller-id info and provide a few phone controls.

 

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