Prius Personal Log  #116

April 16, 2004  -  April 23, 2004

Last Updated: Sat. 8/27/2005

    page #115         page #117         BOOK         INDEX         go to bottom 

 

4-23-2004

Earth Day Event.  I showed off the Prius this evening, part of a local celebration for environmentally focused high school students.  None of the generic questions were asked.  All of them were "second level" in awareness, where each person already had basic knowledge of hybrids and desires to learn more.  That was interesting.  It's nice confirming in-person that the rollout of hybrids is progressing to the next step.

4-23-2004

Upcoming Hybrids.  The list is ever-changing.  Supposedly, this is the latest...  2004 Chevrolet Silverado FAS, Dodge Ram Contractor's Special, Ford Escape, GMC Sierra FAS, Honda Accord, Lexus RX 400h, Toyota Highlander;  2005 Acura MDX, Acura RL, Honda Odyssey, Honda Pilot;  2006 Ford Futura, Nissan Altima, Saturn VUE BAS, Toyota Camry, Toyota Sienna;  2007 Chevrolet Malibu BAS, Chevrolet Tahoe AHS II, Dodge Caravan, GMC Yukon AHS II, Lexus LS;  2008 BMW 3 Series, Chevrolet Silverado AHS II, GMC Sierra AHS II, Toyota Tundra, Volkswagen Passat.  That looks great, until you realize most don't offer much.  In fact, some shouldn't even be allowed to be called hybrids.  Unless they significantly reduce emissions & consumption, what's the point?

4-22-2004

Break-In is complete when...  you drive a 130 mile highway trip at 65 MPH while using the A/C (the outside temperature was as high as 84 F degrees) with 4 adults packed inside climbing a few very steep hills while fighting a 40 MPH headwind the way there and a +40 MPH crosswind (with a little from behind) on the way back and still manage to achieve a calculated 460 mile tank average in the end of 50.5 MPG.  I couldn't believe that was possible... but it actually happened.  40 MPG was the result of that highway trip.  So unless a miracle would happen, that tank average would have been awful.  But sure enough, just like on the Hybrid Road Rally with my 2001 Prius, the pressure from the stressful drive loosened up the moving parts.  Efficiency suddenly shot up to 60 MPG afterward!  It was amazing!!!  But then the temperatures dropped all the way down to 39 F... which obviously pulled down the performance.  But that was only to 55 MPG.  The overall result was 50.5 MPG.  I can't wait to find out what a normal week of driving in warmer weather will provide.  Routine mid-50's sound good to me!  (In other words, don't stress out when you have to take a stressful trip.  In the end, the MPG gain afterward is well worth the MPG loss from that demanding event.)

4-22-2004

Misinformed Intent.  I hear this quite a bit, "getting a hybrid would help out the environment".  Too bad that don't realize that some of the hybrids currently available to reduce smog-related emissions at all.  They are only ULEV, just like 90 other traditional vehicles currently available.  Unless it specifically says SULEV or PZEV, there is no improvement in that respect.  Those suffering from breathing problems will not be helped at all.

4-21-2004

Repeat Questions.  At this point, I've heard it all countless times.  But newbies keep asking.  Today, it was about the back window.  So I replied with this:  The bottom section of the back window is lower than on all sedans, below the seat tops.  So you actually only use it for viewing close up stuff (like parking), much like you'd do with bifocal eye-glasses.  All of the usual driving stuff is viewed exclusively through the top section.  That divider really doesn't ever get in the way... except when you have a tailgater, then in blocks out most of their headlights so you don't get blinded from behind (which is really nice).

4-21-2004

Expected Life.  Apparently, the EPA has calculated that a passenger vehicle will last an average of 9 years.  (It's hard to know for certain though, since different regions of the country encounter different aging factors.)  For here in Minnesota, I came up with the same average by real-world observation... lots of data collecting... you know, scanning the roads for other Prius and making note of everything else while I'm at it.  So figure by year 10, most of the vehicles now being put on the road will be leaving it.  That sounds about right.  Many other notable improvements in automotive design have taken similar amounts of time to become ubiquitous.

4-20-2004

Battery-Pack Details.  201.6 volts is the voltage of the battery-pack, not 500 volts like that electric motor consumes.  The voltage is stepped up to 500 volts on-the-fly by the inverter during the process of converting it from DC to AC.  There are 28 modules inside the pack.  Each consists of 6 cells that are 1.2 volts each.  The total weight is 99 pounds.

4-20-2004

Replacement Misconception.  Just watch the Multi-Display video of the Classic model "Energy Monitor" sometime.  You�ll discover how little the battery-pack actually gets used during non-stealth driving.  (Stealth is when the engine shuts off while you are driving.)  All those other times the motor is being used to provide thrust, the electricity comes almost exclusively from the engine itself... rather than the battery-pack.  Knowing that, it becomes much easier to understand the claims that state the battery-pack will last the entire lifetime of the vehicle.  In other words, you probably won�t ever have to replace it.  And even if you did, they should be quite affordable by the time the warranty expires.  (Right now, production is limited so costs are high.)  And if that doesn�t enlighten you, how about the fact that the battery-pack isn�t used like regular rechargeable batteries?  Normally, you�d use them until they are drained completely.  That act of deep-discharging harms them, shortening their life.  Instead, Prius recharges early to prevent that.  The result is life much longer than you�d normally expect from rechargeables.  So the need for replacement is unlikely.  Also note that the battery is actually a pack.  So individual modules could be replaced, no need for all of them at once.

4-19-2004

Tideland.  Yet another great looking 2004 Prius... owner:  stephanie

4-19-2004

What good is a Hybrid SUV?  A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.  SUVs are obviously the most wasteful (features not utilized) of the common vehicles.  A successful raising of their efficiency means the threshold will automatically be raised for everything else. Just think how easy it will be to sell hybrids of other vehicles when the worst performance is 27 MPG.  Also think about how pathetic SUVs currently getting only 15 MPG will be regarded as. Momentum for hybrids will increase rapidly once the first few SUV hybrids become popular.  The fear & misconceptions will vanish.  People will deny that there was ever any resistance to the technology.  It will be as if there was never any doubt that hybrids would be the next natural step in automotive history.

4-19-2004

Whoa!  Spring has Sprung!!!... photo album 70

4-19-2004

Weighted Average.  I was totally bummed this morning.  A misleadingly low average of 46 MPG was still starring at me in the face, despite my commute this morning yielding 56 MPG (after the warm-up segment).  That extreme was what the reporter doing a MPG story tomorrow will see... until I came to my senses during lunch.  All I needed to do was document the current values then press the "Reset" button.  Later on, I could calculate what the overall value on the Multi-Display would have been by simply using weighted averages.  All you have to do is just divide distance by MPG.  That will give you the amount of gas the computer thought you used.  Then you just add that first chunk before reset to the second to reveal the total gallons.  Dividing that into total distance is the final step, which provides the overall MPG value.  Thank goodness I thought of doing that.  After the drive home from work, a true representative of typical commute efficiency (when the temperature is 59 F degrees) was showing.  That extreme was just a memory to be documented.  Now I see an absolute amazing 61.1 MPG average on the Multi-Display.

4-19-2004

Gas Prices.  The have officially reached a national all-time high.  Now what?

4-18-2004

Hybrid Adventure.  You'd think after driving 70,000 miles in Prius I would have experienced every possible scenario.  That wasn't the case.  Today's was a brand new adventure.  It was 73 F degrees, the warmest for the 2004 so far (currently considered hot for us in Minnesota), causing a fierce wind blowing from the south at a constant 40 MPH.  I needed to travel directly into that for 60 miles with 4 adults in the Prius at 65 MPH while running the A/C.  All that stress was an obvious extreme, one I was quite curious about.  And sure enough, the Prius came through like a charm.  Taking on that wind was no big deal.  Climbing hills under that load didn't even cause the system to slow down.  An average of 40 MPG was the result.  That's a very respectable value under those conditions.  On the way home, the wind shifted.  It was now coming from the side with some push from behind at times.  The temperature was now 84 F degrees.  With the A/C running, driving home at 65 MPH, the overall average rose to 43 MPG.  I'm quite pleased with that too.  Conditions won't normally be that radical.  The wind will be much lower and the internal weight won't be so heavy.  MPG will definitely be higher.  That's great.  This bigger, cleaner, more powerful Prius really delivers.  By the way, during the drive I spotted 4 new Prius, 2 Civic-Hybrids, and 2 Insights.

4-18-2004

"Passive" & "Aggressive"  The auto industry is settling on terminology for hybrids.  They have come up with two identifying labels for the two types of hybrids available now and in the near future.  They are: "full" & "mild".  That is making some Civic-Hybrid owners furious.  They feel their type of hybrid should not be considered different from that of Prius, despite the fact that the designs have absolutely nothing in common.  The IMA system that Honda uses isn't actually used much, just to provide assist power when needed.  And recharging is primarily limited to just regenerative braking.  So perhaps a label of "passive" may be more appropriate.  The HSD system that Toyota uses electricity heavily, providing power from the electric motor very frequently.  And the creation of electricity is nearly constant, always occurring when the gas engine is supplying thrust.  That would seem to imply that a label of "aggressive" could be fitting.  What do you think?

4-18-2004

Calling it a "Car"  When did people start using the word "car" to identify a Ford Explorer?  Based on my observations, the movie "Jurassic Park" was the first ever to push the concept of a SUV being regarded as a passenger vehicle, rather than a truck like it really was designed to be (note the features).  That idea of calling it a "car" was a brilliant marketing approach.  It worked fantastic, allowing Ford to climb out of the brink of bankruptcy by creating demand for a high-profit vehicle.  So obviously, I'm curious how to take advantage of that kind of marketing approach to help establish demand for HSD in all types of vehicles... including SUVs.  Any ideas?  Or could it be that "hybrid" becomes so well accepted that nothing beyond it is necessary?

4-17-2004

The Trip Home.  That was interesting.  After having made quite a few quarter-mile cold-engine runs, the average was down to just 47.3 MPG.  As expected, all that had obviously killed expectations of high values.  So I was really looking forward to watching MPG rise as I drove south.  And sure enough, as the distance increased and the time of day progressed, I watched it climb.  Phew!  From 48 F degrees all the way to 73 F (the warmest I've ever driven in).  The average climbed all the way up to 52.1 MPG.  And that's will lots of highway driving!  I can't imagine what it will be like when the temperature average is even higher and I go back to my daily commute of mixed driving.  Low 50's will be achievable with the greatest of ease.  Yeah!

4-17-2004

Filling the Tank.  Did you know that I don't rely on distance much?  Not always having low-sulfur gas stations conveniently available, I tend to fill up when there is one near by.  (Thankfully, that will change with the upcoming January 1, 2006 national deadline.)  Then of course, I simply want to take advantage of low prices.  So if I catch it at a good time, I'll fill up whether I really need it or not.  That's an easy way to save money, especially since I don't get a choice the end of every month.  That's when I have to conclude monthly statistics.  I must fill up then.  So whatever the reason, just remember there is one.  That means what you see on my data pages by no means represents the maximum distance I could have driven before needing to stop for gas.

4-16-2004

Tax Deduction.  Did you take a "Clean Fuel" deduction on your federal income taxes for purchasing a Prius in 2003?  I did, and I unexpectedly feel into a better bracket/category/situation than 3 years ago.  It yielded a $500 return this time.  Cool!

 

back to home page       go to top