Prius Personal Log  #121

May 19, 2004  -  May 25, 2004

Last Updated: Sat. 6/12/2004

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5-25-2004

Reporting Efficiency.  By the single tank, that isn't always the easiest thing to do.  At 487 miles today, I decided to fill up.  The last bar wasn't blinking yet, but since I have to fill up again on 5/31 to get statistics for the month I just did it.  (And the price of gas is very, very likely to go up the closer we get to the holiday weekend anyway.)  Anywho, I doubt that unfamiliar pump stopped at the correct time.  Though that would be nice, the fill calculated to 62 MPG.  With the Multi-Display showing 55.3 MPG and the temperature still being on the colder side (for Minnesota in the Spring), that calculated value seemed a bit too high.  Adding in the next tank should help balance out to the actual MPG.  We'll see.  Realistically, my average for this month will likely come out to just under 54 MPG.

5-25-2004

Unsatisfied.  I wonder how common this will become?  Hearing about the media attempting to find those disappointed about their hybrid is really troublesome.  But it is a reality now.  I thought it was bad when individuals did that.  Now reporters are too.  Dang!

5-24-2004

Comparing First Sales.  Looking back at what happened with Prius won't work for the new hybrids.  The market was dramatically different back then, so the same measurement no longer applies.  People didn't even know what a hybrid was.  Now the "Car of the Year" is a hybrid.  Talking about a profound change!  People in general weren't interested in a compact hybrid.  Now, the hybrids are growing bigger and more powerful.  There wasn't squat for real-world data available then.  But now a reputation has been established.  In fact, we can read news reports daily on hybrids.  Awareness has been dramatically increased.  The talk about hybrids only being a "stop gap" has ended. Fuel-Cells are finally getting recognized as an unrealistic solution to our current problems.  Gas was dirt cheap back then.  That is obviously having a profound affect on attitudes now.  People are starting to become concerned about efficiency.  Things are quite different now, so direct comparisons are not realistic.

5-23-2004

Incomplete Draft.  I finally got a good jump on the new "Owner Expectation" document.  It's far from even a rough draft, but there's enough there to at least give people an idea of the intent of the new document.  That's a decent start.  Slow progress is much better than no progress.

5-23-2004

Declining Sales.  It's happening, exactly as predicted.  The Priustoric times will be a memory in just a few years. Yeah!  The dinosaurs that once ruled the land didn't possess the ability to cope with the changing environment like the mammals did.  Their specialization of diet allowed them to grow to enormous size.  But then when that food supply began to diminish, so did their numbers.  The very same thing is happening to the monster-size SUVs, now that gas is becoming too expensive for them maintain a steady diet of.  Their reign is ending.  The age of hybrids is beginning.  Size & Power won't be the only factor of appeal anymore.  Much better balance with other factors, like emissions & efficiency, will finally be a reality.

5-23-2004

Manual Transmission.  Stop asking if there will be one!  That doesn't make any sense in a vehicle that doesn't even have a transmission in the first place.  There are no gears, so there isn't anything to shift.  There is no torque-converter, so that aspect of an automatic is missing completely.  In fact, there is no concept of ratio adjusting either.  All that's there is a power-split device, nothing else.  It is permanently engaged, connecting input & output components.  It looks and acts very much like a differential.  Thrust is simply routed.  That's it!  In other words, a manual transmission is impossible.

5-23-2004

Best Acceleration.  I get asked which is more efficient, really fast or really slow acceleration.  The answer is neither.  Both extremes are inefficient.  The best choice is somewhere in the 70% range for engine output.  Unfortunately, I'm not sure how to describe what that means in terms of pedal-pressure.  With a good ear, you might be able to hear that in terms of RPM sound differences.  You basically just have to play.  Don't let the current MPG value mislead you.  It's the average that actually matters.  Observing the Multi-Display, you eventually notice that average climbing.  When you do, you've found the ideal way to accelerate.

5-23-2004

Advertisements.  I routinely watch "Meet The Press".  It's an intense weekly political talk/discussion/debate show.  I've notice a large percentage of the advertisements are based on Energy & Petroleum production.  That's rather interesting.  Politics are obviously tied to the same audience.  Hmm?

5-23-2004

$2.12  That's the highest per gallon price I've ever seen for gas here.  I wonder how much higher it will climb over the next few months.

5-22-2004

Hummer Sales & Sightings.  Both are down.  Are the soaring gas prices to blame?

5-22-2004

Ford Delay.  I can't believe it.  They are doing it again!  The revised, revised promise to finally deliver the Escape-Hybrid in August has just be revised again.  Those in the Midwest will have to wait until early next year for the chance to buy one.  Apparently, there isn't much interest in hybrids here.  The east & west coasts are supposedly the hot spots, so that is where Ford will exclusively sell their first hybrid initially.  What the heck?  I see hybrids every single day here.

5-22-2004

MFD.  Some newbies have got quite a chuckle out of that abbreviation.  They think it is a rather nasty curse.  And realistically, certain people actually are thinking that when they see it.  The "Multi-Display" is viewed as an empowering tool, an aspect of control taken away from the automakers that don't want you to be that well informed.  So I'm sure some executives against the new ground Prius is breaking aren't thrilled.  As for me, I realized the reference ages ago and stopped using it to prevent any offensive misinterpretation.  An since acronyms are problematic in my field (computer programmer), I try to avoid them unless absolutely necessary.  They contribute to confusion.  Stick to "Multi-Display".  We'll find some other way to irritate those against Prius.

5-21-2004

All or None.  Why does the all or none mindset surface routinely?  When discussing ethanol or bio-diesel, people focus on total replacement rather than just partial.  How come significant reduction of gas or traditional-diesel doesn't get more attention?  After all, blends of both are already available and already proven effective.  I feel this is a extremely important thing to discuss, since fuel-cell acceptance requires the total replacement current fuel as well.  And because the most feasible form for hydrogen to be available is still a total mystery, its importance should not be overlooked.

5-21-2004

More Photos.  Guess what...  My album will continue to grow, there are still a few more photo-shot sessions from last Winter that have yet to be sorted through.  Stay tuned.

5-21-2004

Winter Snow Photos.  There are 29 from last Thanksgiving, early in the morning (before the feasting began).  A bunch of snow fell the evening before.  So when the morning sun started illuminated the beautiful landscape, I couldn't resist.  Look closely at the silver on the Prius itself.  The "chameleon effect" is easy to see.  The blue of the sky and yellow of the sun reflect from the paint.  Check'em out... photo album 73     photo album 74     photo album 75

5-20-2004

Anti-Hybrid People.  Oddly enough, one particular taught me quite a bit about how people sometimes view situations.  He had good arguments for a particular non-hybrid PZEV.  Unfortunately, that technology caused MPG to be slightly worse than a traditional vehicle.  And reducing efficiency is something I just plain won't support.  He also tried to throw support behind a few vehicles that provide better MPG but aren't any cleaner (smog-related) than many other common vehicles.  The lesson learned was that unbalanced fixes really aren't a valid solution.  Thankfully, Prius delivers both improved emissions and improved efficiency.

5-20-2004

Without a Speedometer.  Imagine what the driving experience would be like.  We take that performance measuring tool for granted.  How long do you think it will be before the same is true for the Multi-Display?  Having a touch-sensitive screen in your vehicle is extremely rare.  But all Prius have one.  Owners really can't imagine driving without one... much like a speedometer.  People have speed information readily available, whenever they want it.  Yet, there is no efficiency meter of any sort.  Those driving traditional vehicles are completely clueless about current efficiency.  The best some can do is a running average.  That's it.  They have no clue how speed or cold or time affect performance.  That's not true when you have a Multi-Display.  The data is right there, starring you in the face.  You can't help noticing it.  You'd miss it not being there, much like driving without a speedometer.

5-20-2004

Intrusive?  That is what chief engineer, Mary Ann Wright, for the Escape-Hybrid said when comparing the Ford design to Prius.  What the heck was she talking about?  No one I asked even remotely have a clue what she actually meant by the "intrusive"  Was that just a tactic to avoid further comments?  Noticed how she completely avoided details.  Being vague is a simple way to mislead.  Don't fall for it.  Demand actual facts.

5-20-2004

On The Sticker.  Most people have no idea that just a few years ago many of the large vehicles were not even required to post estimate MPG values on the vehicle.  Did you?  That spot on the window-sticker was literally completely empty!  (I sure wish I would have taken a photo of that.)  The fact that something is now shown there is a huge improvement over having nothing at all.  Now, people are finally starting to question the accuracy of those numbers.  That's great!  However, shooting the messenger (Toyota) makes no sense at all.  The source providing & requiring those numbers (EPA) is what the effort for change should be focused on.  There are many automakers.  All plan on building & selling fuel-efficient vehicles in the near future.  Getting only Toyota to post numbers differently will cause the problem to get worse, not better.  (So quit picking on just Prius!)  Making all the automakers change is the more sensible pursuit.

5-19-2004

Cold Weather Info.  Now that it is warm out, the winter questions have begun.  That figures...  -18 F degrees is the coldest I've ever played in with a Prius.  It started up without any struggle at all and provided plenty of heat (which allowed me to take photos of the Multi-Display without needing to wear gloves).  The battery-pack works flawlessly.  In fact, there's no way to even tell that it's cold.  The overall capacity is reduced due to the cold (a normal aspect of NiMH), but since keeping the battery-pack from overheating is totally, completely a non-issue when it's that cold out, you'll discover that the hybrid system allows you to charge and discharge more.  That's pretty "cool"!  (nasty pun, my bad)  The only problem in the extreme cold is actually with the same component as in traditional vehicles, only the symptom is different.  The 12-volt auxiliary battery can't always provide enough power.  Fortunately, all it needs to do is feed the computer and a few relays.  It doesn't have to power a starter for the engine.  So even in a weak state, it still provides enough juice to startup the hybrid system.  As for the ability to start when it is -40F (an extreme only the elite ever have to deal with), you may need to take an extra step.  Removing the 12-volt and bringing it into the house with you will do the trick.  And since it is located in back rather than under the hood, it and the connectors stay absolutely clean.  The mess normally caused by an engine is non-existent in that location.  What else...?  Ahh!  Did you know that Prius has something even better already built-in than a block-heater?  There is a 3-liter thermal storage device that is filled with hot coolant from the engine every time you shutdown the hybrid system.  Then when you restart it, that coolant is pumped into the head of the engine before attempting to begin combustion.  It provides one heck of an warming benefit for the engine.  The intent of the device is to get the emissions system up to maximum cleansing ability as quickly as possible.  But there is that side benefit of cold-weather starting too.

5-19-2004

Bubble Effect.  That was odd.  While cruising along the highway at 65 MPH, a head-on downpour of rain hit the Prius... but just the front!  A bubble formed over the back, forcing the rain to float over the back of the car.  The window on the hatch remained dry!  It was amazing when I confirmed that it was actually happening as I was seeing it.  Because the moment I slowed down, the back of the car was immediately enveloped in water.  Cool!

 

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