Prius Personal Log  #109

March 6, 2004  -  March 13, 2004

Last Updated: Sat. 6/12/2004

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3-13-2004

Intentional Deception.  To continue to call a vehicle "economy" without explaining what the qualifications are is completely inappropriate.  How can we possibly have any type of constructive discussion?  Please define what "economy" means.  All that fell on deaf ears.  That figures.  Based on the traditional economy classification of "small, cheap to buy, cheap to operate, only basic features", Prius just plain doesn't fit.  It is definitely not small, there are many smaller vehicles on the market.  It is averaged price, not cheap.  It is actually cheap to operate though.  And it is loaded with features, some of from luxury category too.

3-13-2004

"The Park"  I do it often, parking the Prius at the end of the parking lot.  First and foremost, that virtually eliminates the possibly of getting a door-ding.  Secondly, it ensures that I get my exercise by have to walk further.  Lastly, it draws attention to the Prius.  People notice it there, wondering what is so special about it that I would do that.  So figure it out.  Sweet!

3-12-2004

Clueless.  When talking about your Prius, have you noticed how most people have absolutely no clue what the heck MPG they actually get?  Taking the effort to physically document your MPG is a big step, something you'll really appreciate later... when others finally take notice of the genuine benefit hybrids provide.  The traditional vehicles will fade to just a memory after awhile, with so few actual details about their true (lack of) performance.

3-12-2004

Do the math.  Did you know you couldn't divide by zero?  Some people don't.  0% is how many Prius are available on dealer lots for purchase.  The entire limited quantity is spoken for already.  The backorder list is so long that you really couldn't buy a 2004 even if you wanted to.  Lack of stock is causing the true customer demand to be impossible to determine.  So implying a demand statistic is clearly misleading and of no actual merit, since there are ZERO available.

3-12-2004

Proof.  The temperature dropped down into the teens, yet MPG didn't take that much of a hit.  I obviously now have Summer formula gas in the tank, rather than the Winter stuff.  I had no idea it could make that big of a difference, but it did.

3-11-2004

Losing Perspective.  Too small for a family seems to be the emerging theme now.  Considering the fact that just 4 years ago vehicles like Taurus & Camry were actually smaller, that comment is very much just an opinion.  Families used to consider that size just fine.  Now their desires have changed.  We should make sure that fact is well known; otherwise, it is very difficult to be objective.  Losing perspective is a harsh reality we have to deal with.  "Super Size" is now common, rather than being rare like it was.  People want bigger now.  They don't necessarily need it though, since the past has already proven it wasn't required.

3-11-2004

Official Show Vehicle.  That's the title the 2004 Prius received at the Twin Cities Auto Show this year.  So... now I'm scared.  The plan is to go there Saturday and field questions, like I did when the classic first became available.  People were in awe about the technology and then absolutely shocked to find out I already owned one.  Now when they find out that I'm on my second and have 3.5 years and 68,000 miles of experience, it should really be... interesting... exciting... scary.

3-11-2004

Does MPG decrease as size increases?  I get asked that often.  And the answer is possibly, but not for the reason you think.  Larger vehicles are expected to do more than smaller vehicles.  The size difference is not proportional.  So the MPG decrease is geometric, not linear.  In other words, the HP increase is greater as size increases.  For example, a vehicle that is 20% larger will provide 50% more power.  And a vehicle 30% will provide 100% more power.  That engine-only reality is the way they build them, not the way it has to be.  So with that expectation of power comes the acceptance of a non-proportional drop in MPG.  Whether that same acceptance will occur with large hybrid vehicles remains to be seen.  Who knows?  Hybrids could change this aspect of vehicle configurations too.

3-11-2004

Unproven Technology.  I wonder how long some will continue to assert that?

3-11-2004

Comparing Toyota to Honda.  The hybrids are quite different.  The most important fact to keep in mind is that Toyota's primary goal is to REDUCE EMISSIONS and Honda's primary goal is to INCREASE EFFICIENCY.  That difference is significant, and by no means obvious.  In fact, it is commonly not realized.  Studying the design though, it does become apparent.  Toyota has an electric motor 5 times larger than the Honda and offers the ability to drive using just electricity.  Slow moving heavy commute traffic is where pollution is worse.  Emissions are drastically reduced in these conditions, by having that ability to crawl along without the engine needing to run.  The steering & A/C are electric too.  So that also reduces having to run the engine as often.  Honda requires the engine to run for almost all functions; however, that engine is well tuned for that.  So if you do nothing but high-speed cruising on highways and don't ever have to deal with heavy commute conditions, the resulting efficiency will be rather impressive.

3-11-2004

It felt "adequate".  That's a common misconception... still.  The 50kW motor in Prius is so smooooooooooth that you won't feel anything.  There is no vibration from it like you'd get from an engine.  So perception is skewed.  To judge adequacy properly, you really need to focus on what you see on the speedometer and not what you feel.

3-10-2004

Diesel vs. Hybrid.  The debate rages, but only on paper.  On the road, that hybrids have shown an edge.  On the Road Rally I participated in, that data was revealing.  The 2001 Prius got 48.5 MPG.  The Civic-Hybrid got 46 MPG.  And the Jetta TDI Automatic only got 42 MPG.  With a 2004 Prius, it would be rather obvious.  The difference could be a whole 10 MPG better.  And that's not even taking into account the fact that the emission improvements needed to clean up the diesel will likely cause a minor decrease in efficiency.  What exactly is there to debate about?  A engine-only diesel simply can't compete.

3-10-2004

New Server.  Today, I was able to transfer the website over to a new server, one providing greater memory & bandwidth & capacity.  Sweet!

3-09-2004

Speaking of not fast enough...  They estimate it will take 10 YEARS before the first oil is extracted from the new sites in Alaska.  Building more capacity quickly just plain isn't possible.  That's a very serious problem that money simply can't solve, no matter how much you have.  And obviously when you are trying to reduce the prices of gas, adding cost to the drilling process isn't wise.  In the end, time is the greater factor of concern.  There simply isn't any way to speed the process up.

3-09-2004

Running out of Oil... and Time.  That article in yesterday's LA Times brought up this interesting fact:  "At some point, however, production simply won't be able to match demand.  Oil is an exhaustible resource: The more you produce, the less remains in the ground, and the harder it is to bring up that remainder.  We won't be "out of oil"; a vast amount will still be flowing? Just not quickly enough to satisfy demand.  And as any economist can tell you, when supply falls behind demand, bad things happen."  That "not quickly enough" part is what those claiming there's plenty of oil available fail to mention.  Having it available in the ground does not help you at all when you want to pump it into your tank but can't... because it couldn't be extracted, shipped, refined, or delivered fast enough.  Remember there are only a finite number of drilling rigs, boats, refineries, and trucks available.  And since they are already being used at maximum capacity, there is simply no way to get them to work any faster.  This is as good as it gets.  If demand continues to increase (insert monster-size SUV comment here), then we are screwed.  Making more gas available isn't possible.  The current infrastructure can't deliver anymore gas, even though there's still plenty of oil available.

3-09-2004

Deep-Discharging.  That's what most people do when using NiMH batteries in portable devices.  Doing that will wear them out rather quickly.  That is why Prius does not allow you to deep-discharge.  It also delays charge cycles as long as possible too.  How you use batteries makes all the difference.

3-08-2004

Three 2004 Sightings.  It was a good day today.

3-08-2004

Maintenance Issues or Problems?  Maintenance concerns get amplified grossly out of proportion online.  People are significantly more prone to post a negative than a positive.  (That's a well proven fact when it comes to the programming profession; feedback about software is almost exclusively negative.)  So you really don't get a true picture of what the real story is online.  But at gatherings you do!  Gatherings offer opportunities for personal, off the record, thorough, immediate, verbal feedback.  That's quite different from any message forums you'll ever encounter, a huge perspective change.  So that's why I routinely hold them.  And over the past 3 years, I've discovered that hybrid reliability is much higher than the impression you get online.  (Another thing I've discovered online is that some people intentionally deceive, certain forum types make it very easy.  That's a much harder to do that at a gathering.)

3-08-2004

Toyota Prius Awarded Title of "Best Engineered Vehicle for 2004"  Need I say more?

3-08-2004

Profit.  It is still a misconception about hybrids.  Most have no clue that Prius already did make a profit!  It took several years of tweaking, but the classic model did in fact end up earning money.  Now with HSD, the same thing is planned.  This year's production was intended to be modest, enough to stir interest and help build a reputation.  Then next year, 2 more hybrids using HSD would be released at modest volumes.  That would bump the worldwide production for the following year to 300,000 in addition to introducing 2 more hybrids.  The catch is that certain parts (like the battery-pack modules) are provided by third-party suppliers.  Getting them to suddenly bump up their production isn't easy, or cheap.  So contracts need to be negotiated well in advance.  Patience.  It has already been proven possible on the small scale.  In a few years the same will happen on the large scale.

3-07-2004

45.6 Lifetime MPG.  What a relief.  It is finally climbing up.  That continuous drop caused by Winter was really bumming me out.

3-07-2004

Hybrid Configurations.  Besides the hybrid different design types, there are various configurations available.  For example, the upcoming Highland hybrid will use the larger of the two engines available for that platform.  There is a very high probability that a Highlander hybrid which uses the smaller engine will follow afterward (especially since that same engine could be used in a Camry hybrid).  By offering 2 different engines for the same platform, you get hybrids with 2 different optimizations.  One would be for maximum speed & power.  The other would be for maximum efficiency and minimum emissions.  Most people don't realize that the hybrid system could be altered that way, for the very same body type & style.  But it can.  And once this is discovered, the attitude about hybrids will change.  Even more will embrace the change from engine-only designs.

3-07-2004

Summer-Formula Fuel.  It appears as though that is what my Prius is now drinking.  That should help bump up the MPG.

3-07-2004

Than a hybrid.  The use of "than a hybrid" is a very misleading identifier, yet I see it far too often.  It lumps all the different hybrid designs into a single category.  Comments so imprecise, are just plain not objective.  Just disregard them.

3-06-2004

Naive or Denial?  Some expect engine-only designs to survive!  I think they've has been standing a little to close to their tailpipe.  Even if all engine-only vehicles delivered PZEV and they could somehow compete with the efficiency of a hybrid, what about reliability?  Hybrid engines will continue to get smaller and will be used even less as the design continues to evolve.  There simply is no logical argument to prove more pistons & values running more often is better.  Study the hybrids closely.  There are even more improvement opportunities than there are with engine-only designs.  A bunch of configuration options are possible with the electrical system.  Just look at the simple fact that you can alter both battery size & type.

3-06-2004

No Awareness.  That's pretty much the story about MPG before hybrids came along.  People quite simply didn't notice the fluctuations factors like temperature make.  Interesting, eh?

3-06-2004

Navigation System Photos.  These show the next Gathering location... photo album 67

3-06-2004

MPG Discrepancy.  This was a good question posed today, "How does the MPG calculation compensate for some of the fuel being used to charge the batteries?"  That's easy.  It's just distance divided by injections of gas.  Neither is a precise measurement though, since revolutions of a tire and the amount of gas are only approximations.  And of course, when you are counting hundreds of thousands of them, the margin of error is amplified.  The draining & charging of the battery-pack makes no difference.  Distance & Injections are still accounted for during those times (which is very, very frequent).

3-06-2004

Attn: Prius Gathering Hosts.  They say necessity is the mother of invention...  The growing pains my website has been experiencing is bitter-sweet.  I have had to pull even more videos off to keep it alive, despite the plans to switch to another server & setup.  The page-hit increase is rather scary.  Fortunately, I'll be able to continue providing new photos.  Unfortunately, the count of sacrificed videos is now at 26 and looks like number 27 (the new 2004 Prius "universe" commercial) might not make it online for a long time.  So I've devised a new method of content distribution.  If you are hosting a Prius Gathering (in the US) and would like offline copies of my website, just send me an email after posting an invitation to everyone.  I'll postal-mail you some CDs to share with those that attend.  My entire website will then be available to you at rates faster than even the fastest online connection.  All of the removed videos along with the +800 photos, plus all the other goodies, on a convenient disc that can be accessed exactly the way my website is via the internet.  Hope this helps... and encourages the growth of gatherings!

 

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