Prius Personal Log  #118

April 29, 2004  -  May 4, 2004

Last Updated: Sun. 5/16/2004

    page #117         page #119         BOOK         INDEX         go to bottom 

 

5-04-2004

Hybrid Learning.  As a new owner, you'll be quite pleased later when you discover just how brainless efficient driving becomes.  It's just like riding a bike or rollerblading (which both benefit tremendously from efficient control) after awhile.  You don't even think about the mechanics of it.  You just do it.  The fascinating part about that is your thinking changes the same way, not just your foot control.  A friend of mine, who sat across from me at work, transferred to a different building this week.  Right away, he overheard his new coworkers discussing hybrids (which is no surprise with gas prices so high).  The misconceptions were plentiful.  That made him very frustrated!  After having sat so close to me for 3 years, he had unknowingly become very well informed about hybrids!  He didn't know that though... until he started correcting their errors.  They quickly realized how well informed he was.  Now, whether he likes it or not, they'll be asking him for info & advice about hybrids.  Hearing that certainly made me feel good.  It's proof that subtle, constant exposure to hybrids really does make a difference.

5-04-2004

"Zoom Zoom"  A representative for Mazda made this comment today, "We would rather hold off until the technology mates better on hybrids with our 'zoom-zoom' brand image.  Hybrids are not anywhere close to 'zoom-zoom'.  They are 'whuzz whuzz'."  He is either completely clueless or scared silly, one extreme or the other.  In just a few months, a hybrid will become available that outperforms its traditional counterpart.  (It zoom-zooms from 0 to 60 much faster than the non-hybrid version.)  So the hold off statement won't apply for long.  In fact, the attitude will probably change to panic... when he realizes he just shot himself in the foot by putting down the very market that could generate his company a ton of new sales.

5-04-2004

Confusion Begins.  Some have already begun arguing that the Chevy hybrid provides thrust assistance from the electric motor.  In reality, all that motor helps with is starting.  That's it.  The term "hybrid" is obviously already being diluted to the point where people don't know what the heck the vehicle actually offers.  In fact, being a hybrid could even be interpreted by some now as just meaning "not a traditional design".  This greenwashing nonsense is making me crazy.  It is total misrepresentation as far as I'm concerned, and I don't want people wasting their hard-earned money on a false belief.  Arghhh!

5-03-2004

At 12,163 Miles.  I needed a newer digital photo of the Speed/Odometer.  That seemed as good of a time to capture what it looked at as any.  So I did... photo album 73

5-03-2004

"Reduce Pollution"  More and more reports of people buying a ULEV hybrid for the purpose of reducing pollution come in.  What they heck do you tell an owner who has been deceived that way?  That emission rating is no different than 90 other common vehicles on the road today.  So all you gain from that type of hybrid is reduced carbon-dioxide due to increased efficiency.  That's it.  There is no reduction in smog-forming emissions at all.  So for people who bought a hybrid of that type thinking they were helping with the smog problem, I feel really bad.  It is obvious that I should begin promoting the SULEV & PZEV emission ratings.  Those labels don't mislead.  You really aren't getting what you think when you use them for identification, not by simply buying assuming that all hybrids are cleaner.

5-03-2004

Misconception about a Misconception.  Now I have officially heard everything.  The process of attempting to end a misconception has caused a misconception.  And of all things, it is the exact opposite.  A certain automaker is pushing that idea that a larger starter battery along with the ability to shut off the engine at stoplights is a hybrid.  In reality, there is only a single propulsion system.  So it can't possibility qualify as a hybrid, since nothing is being combined.  Anywho, that particular configuration offers no MPG benefit on the highway whatsoever.  So the effort has been to make sure people are aware of that fact, a misconception that hybrids improve MPG under all driving conditions.  That backfired with at least one person, who is now under the impression that all hybrids only offer a benefit in city driving.  Ahhh!  I don't know how the 51 MPG highway rating could be misunderstood, but somehow it was.  The upcoming variety of hybrid configurations should is going to this new market for clean & efficient vehicles really confusing.  We have Prius which puts the importance of lowest emissions above that of efficiency, sacrificing gas for the sake of cleansing exhaust.  We have some Honda hybrids that consider MPG the highest priority and others that balance between emissions & efficiency.  We have the RX400 & Highlander SUV hybrids which outperform their traditional counterpart in every single respect, except towing.  We have the Escape which seems to be an all-around balanced choice for a hybrid SUV.  Then we have the hybrid pickups, the current which offers no benefit whatsoever on the highway and an upcoming one that will offer the ability to shut down cylinders to boost efficiency on the highway.  In fairy tale land, we have hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles give the impression of being the cleanest choice, until reality comes crashing down when you realize the production of hydrogen is actually dirtier than the overall emissions you get from a gas hybrid.  Lots to think about, eh?

5-02-2004

Blind-Spot Mirror.  Finally had an opportunity to photograph it... photo album 73

5-02-2004

New "HYBRID" Label.  I had a custom one on my Classic Prius, it read "HYBRID ELECTRIC" across the top of the back window.  The size & shape of the car made it very easy to attach custom stickers that would be noticed without being too blatant and without being in the way.  It got noticed quite a bit.  Watching through the rear-view mirror, I could clearly see when it was spotted.  The reaction was always the same.  The person would get excited, then pointed and say the words to everyone else in that vehicle behind me.  Now most everyone has seen at least one hybrid on the road.  Being able to pick them out in the crowd of traffic is an entirely different matter though.  And since the 2004 Prius doesn't have a chrome "HYBRID" emblem on back like the Classic did, something had to be done.  So I went on a quest to find a way of pointing out the fact that I was driving a hybrid.  It had to be very subtle, yet still be noticeable.  I found it.  Using 2-inch iridescent stickers, I placed letters just under a little the spoiler on the lower window in back (which isn't ever used for driving, only parking).  By choosing an upper-bias location, it doesn't jump out at you and it doesn't intrude on the dark look of that glass.  But when checking out the really cool LED brake lights, you'll eventually notice those letters underneath.  And the sweet part about it is the fact that the view from the rear-view mirror is different.  From that downward looking angle, the letters appear centered rather than with an upper-bias.  The effect is certainly a surprise.  You wouldn't expect that.  And of course, the mirror cancels out the reserve-image you see through the glass by looking at it directly from inside.  So you can actually read the word properly when looking back.  In short, I am delighted by the way things worked out.  And when taking photos of it so I could show my idea to everyone else, the scenery was so spectacular (I'll admit) that I got rather carried away.  So there are lots of examples for you to view... photo album 72

5-02-2004

Sunset Photo.  The first (of many, I hope) with the 2004 Prius... photo album 72

5-01-2004

Seven Wonders of Automobiles.  That show on the "Discover Channel" today named Prius as automotive wonder number 4 of all time.  Cool!  That's pretty darn impressive considering Prius has such a short history with respect to automotive history as a whole.  I have no idea what numbers 7, 6, and 5 were.  It was just dumb luck that I happened turn on the television at the right time & channel.  Needless to say, suddenly seeing both a Classic & 2004 Prius should caught my attention.  Number 3 was the invention of the "hydromatic", for its obvious convenience over the manual transmission.  Number 2 was the VW Beetle, with a significant mention for the Cooper Mini, for the record-setting appeal factor.  Number 1 was the Ferrari, for impressive body, engine, and brake design.  That was nice overall, especially the owner comments, but the conclusion about hybrids really upset me.  They that hybrids were money losers and only served to buy a green image for the automakers.  In reality, we know that just plain isn't true.  The THS system in the classic Prius did in face make money.  In took a few years to finally turn a profit, but it did in fact happen.  With HSD, the expectation for making money is very upbeat.  With a much higher production volume, profit should come even sooner.  Kind of makes me wonder how long it will take before Prius moves up to number 3.  Hmm?

5-01-2004

Somewhat Frantic Engine.  That was the description I read today about a Prius test-drive.  Much of that is misinterpretation, not actual sound volume or erratic behavior.  The reason is that the engine has a mind of its own, changing RPM at times different than what you are used to, rather than responding with exact accordance to how you push on the pedal.  Not being able to predict that behavior (yet), means it catches you off guard which makes it more noticeable (for now).  After driving two different Prius models for a total of over 72,000 miles, I now get annoyed by the quirks of traditional vehicles.  It's amazing how your perspective changes after awhile.  The HSD system in Prius seems so natural of a propulsion system... smoooooooth, remarkably quiet at times, vibrationless at times, clean, and efficient.  And you'll end up agreeing after awhile, once you've had a thorough opportunity to make detailed comparisons.  Prius is engineered to be more reliable too, but not a whole lot of real-world data is available yet to prove that to those without engineering backgrounds.  Toyota wants to increase their marketshare, a sensible business goal.  Offering even higher reliability than their competitors will ultimately help accomplish that.  Reducing warranty claims will help to increase overall profit too, another sensible business goal.  In short, you'll be quite pleased with Prius... just don't jump to conclusions quickly.

5-01-2004

Daily News.  Did you know that Prius is in the news almost every single day now?  That's pretty sweet.  If you would like to read those published articles that are available online, just go to http://news.google.com and type "Prius" in the search box.  You'll be quite surprised by how much recent material that results in.  Hybrids are becoming a hot topic now.

4-30-2004

2 classic, 1 new, 1 owner.  Today's Prius encounters were fun.  Spotting the classic & new models on the road are expected now.  Lately, I've been averaging 3 sightings per day.  But the fact that I actually bumped into an owner in the grocery store was totally unexpected.  That's pretty sweet.  I can still remember celebrating when this area (Twin Cities) finally grew to the point where I'd spot 1 per day.  Now, even when I strike up a conversation I might "spot" an owner.  Cool!  That's a huge step beyond just explaining to people what a hybrid was.  It's only a matter of time before they are everywhere.

4-30-2004

Lifetime MPG.  That value doesn't mean much after awhile, especially since it isn't absolutely precise in the first place.  Think about it.  The third year of ownership for my 2001 Prius (starting with the odometer at 38,486 miles and going to 57,802 miles) resulted in a calculated Lifetime value shift from 44.7 MPG to 45.3 MPG.  That shift of only 0.6 MPG is actually less than the margin-of-error, which for my 2001 Prius was 2.1 MPG.  So... the shift is so small, you can't even officially count it!  The benefit of calculating the value yourself (on paper) should be obvious.

4-29-2004

More Sightings.  Today I saw 3 classic Prius and a 2004.

4-29-2004

Goals.  (And... avoiding politics.)  We need an administration that endorses GOALS.  Instead, we are getting an endorsement for a very specific technology (fuel-cells) and all other options are ignored.  That was the exact problem/flaw the "Zero-Emission Mandate" had.  It forced automakers to do things only one specific way.  And needless to say, the effort fell apart and nothing ended up getting delivered.  Saying we need to deliver "PZEV" and cut our consumption in half would be a considerably better approach.  Then the free market can deliver a product using any method they desire, as long as the GOALS are achieved.  The nonsense surrounding hydrogen is the source of frustration now.  It doesn't set a GOAL of any kind.  And worse, there isn't a deadline of any kind either.  There is no deliverable defined beyond just shifting emissions from tailpipes to refineries.  So until GOALS are explicitly laid out, you'll find many Prius owners that will continue to express discontent with this administration.  Avoiding politics is something we just can't do.  So, we have to find a way to do it without offending anyone yet still get the point across.  Focusing on GOALS, not opinions, should do the trick.

4-29-2004

Why.  If the "EV mode" is not used properly, it will actually cause MPG to be lower.  Most people simply don't understand (yet) when the proper time for it is and for how long it should be used.  And since EPA isn't prepared in to endorse such a feature, there really isn't a way to provide it and still get the AT-PZEV certification.  That's why it's not an included feature.  Fortunately, "Stealth" is available.  Stealth is the automatic version of "EV mode", where the computer decides for you when the proper time is to shut off the engine and for how long it should remain off.

 

back to home page       go to top