Prius Personal Log  #119

May 5, 2004  -  May 11, 2004

Last Updated: Sat. 6/12/2004

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5-11-2004

Prius Jargon.  Back when the term "stealth" was first coined for Prius, the ability to "coast" (no energy arrows) was extraordinarily rare; so it's frequent emergence on the 2004 is naturally a bit confusing.  Personally, I'm not even aware of when it happens since I rarely use the "Energy Monitor".  Not having MPG on that screen originally made it far less useful than the "Consumption" screen.  So I don't use it that often.  "Consumption" has that immediate-bar that is remarkably easy to see with just peripheral vision and I like watching that MPG average slowly climb up.  In short, I don't know when I'm "coasting".  As for stealth, that is when the engine is stopped (not just off) and you are powering the wheels exclusively with electricity.  So coasting (or working the "deadband", as some regard it) is part of stealth, just like regen is.  Then there's "warp stealth".  That's when the engine shuts off but remains spinning, like when you drive down a hill on a highway.  This is why we tell newbies to "just drive it".  There's lots of hybrid stuff always happening while you drive, but you certainly don't need about it to enjoy the experience and achieve very pleasing efficiency.

5-11-2004

Stealth at 73 F.  Wow!  It was great!!!  With a hot engine and the air that warm, the Prius glided along effortlessly.  Sweet!

5-11-2004

LED Brakes.  I was parked in the dark, just sitting there in the lot observing traffic on it before starting the Prius.  Then an upcoming SUV caught my interest, so I carefully timed the moment when I'd step on the brake.  And just as she was about to pass by, I illuminated the LED brakes.  I could actually she her mouth the word "Wow!"  She stopped and pointed out the beautiful lights to her friend.  They just sat there in awe.  It was pretty sweet observing how something typically overlooked, like brake lights, could capture so much attention when presented using new technology.  Sweet!

5-11-2004

Sonic Boom Effect.  When a jet traveling faster than the speed of sound passes by, you don't actually hear it until long after it has disappeared into the distance.  In other words, people won't associate this problem with gas prices being caused by the surge in monster-size vehicle sales.  But that is in fact what has happened.  Oil refineries have been running at maximum capacity for quite awhile still.  So there literally isn't any way of delivering more gas.  But with so many monster-size vehicles (gas-guzzlers) replacing more efficient vehicles, the demand for gas continues to grow.  And since the supply isn't, price is going up.  Using up stored reserves and acquiring gas by other means isn't cheap and it can't continue indefinitely.  Something will though.  Obviously drilling for more oil is worthless, since the refineries already have all the oil they can handle.  So what will it be?  Hopefully, there will be a very bright spotlight shined on hybrids... where they are finally taken seriously, rather than getting brushed off as a fade.  Boom!

5-11-2004

$2.05 per gallon.  It's official.  That's the highest I've ever seen it here.  And naturally, at work today, the opening topic for both meetings was focused on that price... directed at a certain someone with a certain hybrid.  That's was exciting!  I had been warning people that it would definitely surpass $2.00 per gallon during the upcoming holiday weekend, since prices have always been increased for Memorial Day.  It happened sooner.  I've also been saying that someday it will exceed that threshold, then stay there and never come back down.  Kind of makes you wonder when, eh?

5-10-2004

Vacation Payback.  People expect Prius to provide a payback (via gas savings), yet they never expect any type of payback for a vacation.  Why?  A vehicle is something you get to enjoy for years and year and years, a vacation only lasts a week or two.  That's it!  If a person chooses to uses their "discretionary income" for an elaborate vacation, rather than a car, why isn't that questioned?  After all, it is what I do.  Instead of flying to Hawaii, I just drive up to Northern Minnesota.  That is drastically less expensive.  By doing that, I literally save thousands of dollars and still have a very enjoyable vacation.  The end result is money that can be used for a sweet vehicle instead.  And besides being able to afford a model with all the goodies, I get the gas savings anyway.  Whether it matches up dollar for dollar makes no difference for me.  I get to enjoy the Prius every single time I get behind the wheel.  So remember to take the big picture into account, spending of your entire income, not just select portions of it.

5-10-2004

No Link.  By the way... Not including a link for that political endorsement on my homepage is quite intentional; otherwise, people may think it is a paid advertisement.  It's not.  I'm simply expressing an opinion, just like a bumper-sticker on a car does.

5-10-2004

Engine Starting.  Being of no surprise at all, the "frequent restarting" question continues to come up again and again.  People have been taught over the years that 90% of all engine wear occurs at the moment of starting.  That was true, but has no relevance for hybrids which use an entirely different method to get the engine running.  The reason is that traditional designs use a rather violent startup procedure.  A teeny-tiny motor just barely gets the engine spinning (~100 RPM), then fuel is injected & ignited.  The engine is then totally on its on to rapidly increase the spin to idle speed (+1000 RPM) before a loss of momentum causes a stall.  Engine starting in Prius is entirely different.  The hybrid system uses a much larger motor (which is already spinning and will continue to even after startup) to spin the gas engine to a minimum of 800 RPM.  Then it waits until oil-pressure is established before injecting fuel and producing a spark.  This process enables a very smooth startup, significantly reducing burden on bearings, pistons, and cylinders.

5-09-2004

Something to Share.  It's always nice having these available when someone asks about my hybrid.  So, time for an update...  website cards 7    website cards 8    website cards - print

5-09-2004

False Expectations.  With all the freaking out by the news media during last winter about Prius not achieving EPA estimates, it's extremely clear that the general public will not understand the teeny-tiny MPG improvement of that "less than mild" hybrid system.  For that matter, they won't even be able accurately measure the actual data.  That really makes me wonder what the heck will happen.  Prius owners, including myself, are achieving the EPA estimates now.  I doubt any reporter would ever admit their own misreporting, but... do you think any will lash out at others for jumping to conclusions by falsely accusing Prius of not delivering?  And then, of course, we have to deal with the misconception that all hybrids are cleaner than traditional vehicles.  They aren't.  People need to be taught the meaning of the SULEV and PZEV emission rating labels, informing them that they are significantly cleaner than ULEV.  Reducing smog-forming emissions has absolutely nothing to do with increased efficiency.  But many people think it does.

5-08-2004

Another Article.  I made the news again.  This time, it was on the front page of the St. Paul sunday newspaper.  Cool!  The focus of the article was on how hybrid owners achieve great mileage.  Since after all, we do change after awhile.  That great Multi-Display raises awareness with the greatest of ease.  You observe patterns, noting what conditions influenced the really high or really low MPG results.  By the way, the early edition actually included a small photo too, a motion-shot of me driving the Prius.

5-07-2004

Awareness.  That is what this week's lesson was on.  With politics continually coming up as a discussion topic, it was senseless ignoring it yet again.  Members (who really only want to discuss Prius) finally came to the conclusion that it was appropriate to raise awareness, since there is a genuine connection between hybrid technology and politics.  So, spreading of information is something that we can encourage now.  The catch is to not include an opinion, just stick to the facts.  I took that suggestion to heart.  I have publicly endorsed the presidential candidate I feel very, very strong about.  There is now a subtle image on my homepage.  It simple states "John Kerry, President" along with a URL for those interested in doing research themselves.  I didn't provide any comments or even a link.  It simply raises awareness for whom I believe should be elected six months from now.  Fortunately, that decision about what to do came easy.  This other was not.  Someone (yes, another trouble-maker) has been undermining my efforts to promote Prius for over 2 years now.  As you could probably guess, it was a Honda hybrid owner that strongly believes all hybrids should be treated equally.  I don't.  ULEV is not the same as PZEV, period.  Pretending that it is doesn't help anyone, it only deceives.  The fact of the matter was that virtually every time I did that pointed out an advantage for Prius or drew attention away from that person made that person absolutely furious... which always resulted in a carefully crafted response to alter the course of the discussion without drawing any attention.  That had been going on for over 2 years, publicly.  Privately, I was sent a number of hostile responses from that person.  But since those weren't hurting anyone but me, I felt there was no need to trouble the discussion group with them... until the acceptance of raising awareness was given a blessing.  So when that person tried the same old deception recently, I finally went public.  Not everyone was well aware of what had been occurring, especially since newbies join daily.  Had I known that they would be so supportive, I would have done that ages ago.  But then again, I had no idea that what had started originally as a simple misunderstanding could get so blown out of proportion over a long span of time.  Though, this certainly isn't the first time change has caused an unwelcome response.  Oh well.  Lesson learned.  Hopefully, that person will now back off.  It's just like growing up.  Each stage of life is inevitable; change cannot be prevented.  It's how you deal with it that builds your character and leads you down the right path.  Kind of makes you wonder what the heck will happen with this coming election, doesn't it?  Something will happen.  And as long as you are aware...

5-07-2004

Showing Off Your Prius.  Mine (both models) have been on display many, many times now.  What people actually like most is when it does not look like a show car... since they want to picture themselves behind the wheel.  If you make it look too impressive, they disconnect from thinking they could ever get one of their own.  When we showed off the cars at the Hybrid Road Rally, they were plastered with squished bugs and had travel-necessities & promo-materials piled in the back seats (a rather messy sight).  That impressed the heck out of the onlookers... since they could obviously relate to that... a real-world vehicle.

5-06-2004

Record-High Gas Prices.  I saw $1.95 all over the place today.  The news reported a few stations that had exceeded $2.00 per gallon.  That's the highest ever for this area.  The national-average is at an all-time high too.  We've officially passed the threshold.  And as the expected result, sales of monster-size SUVs are taking a hit.  March statistics showed a profit-pleasing "strong" acceptable level.  The recently released April statistics show the table is rapidly turning to a "panic" level.  Sales for the more realistic-sized SUVs are really starting to climb now.  That couldn't have been better timed.  The acceptance of the upcoming hybrid SUVs that size will be overwhelming.  Cool!

5-06-2004

The Correction.  Needless to say, Toyota released a clarification today, pointing out the grossly incorrect article from yesterday that was circulated by newspapers throughout the nation.  Thank goodness.  It was scary to see how quickly that false information spread.  But at the same time, it was interesting to see that so many are now interested in hybrids.  The understanding that they are going to entire change the automotive industry is now recognized... so people are now wanting to find out in what way.

5-05-2004

Gotta have a sense of humor.  Today, there was an Associated Press article claiming that emergency workers who cut through the doors of a hybrid vehicle may receive an electric shock.  That information isn't even remotely correct.  There aren't any power cables there.  In reality, they are actually along the center of the body.  That's deep within the vehicle, no where near any emergency extraction point.  The reported voltage was totally incorrect too.  The battery-pack delivers only 201.6 volts, not 500 volts.  The system runs at 500 volts via an inverter that increases the voltage on-the-fly.  But it shuts down automatically if there is an accident, as a response to the emergency system (airbag & side-curtain deployment).  So the reported danger was a complete fabrication, based on erroneous assumptions.

5-05-2004

3.4 percent Reduction from E10.  Someone hunted down a Chevron report for me.  It stated "E10 has 3.4% less energy per gallon than regular gasoline (111,100 vs. 115,000 btu/gal)".  That means last month's average for me could have actually been 52.5 MPG, rather than 50.7 MPG.  Oh well.

5-05-2004

E10 Reduces Efficiency.  The fact that only E10 is available in my area is a mixed blessing.  That 10% ethanol blend in our gas is helping to reduce emissions, helping to support our local farmers, and helping to evolve the production process.  The drawback is that it reduced efficiency.  I certainly can't complain about last month's calculated average of 50.7 MPG.  But since many people aren't aware of the fact that my Prius uses a less efficient fuel, I feel a bit cheated.  Does anyone know by how much?

 

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