Prius Personal Log  #123

May 29, 2004  -  May 30, 2004

Last Updated: Weds. 6/09/2004

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5-30-2004

Strap-On Bike-Rack details.  The rack I just bought (for $124.99) was a "Saris Bones".  I think it's great!  So yes, I recommend others consider that type too.  Somewhere around 90 percent of the carrying weight is placed on the bottom two legs.  So the other two touching the glass are really only for balance.  (And my first hatchback was a Dodge Omni.  On that, I also had two legs for a bike-rack making contact with the glass.  It was never a problem.)  You can push those two legs touching the glass closer down to the spoiler if you want to push the rack further out.  But there isn't any reason to.  It fit very nicely that way shown in the photos.  The feet on the legs are really squishy.  They will squish down flat for an even better hold when supporting bikes (up to three).  There are two top straps, two side, and two bottom.  Each secured effortlessly, with plenty of strap remaining too (which can be neatly tucked into the middle-tube afterward).  The only rubbing that you have to worry about at all is with the two tops straps.  They ever-so-slightly make contact with the spoiler.  A simply remedy is to tie the excess strap to the rack itself.  That would lift the clamp off the spoiler.  All the straps secured very snug, in only seconds after you complete the initial fitting.  So putting in on and taking it off only takes a moment.  Happy Biking!

5-30-2004

3, 5, 8 megapixel digital photo samples.  There's a wealth of digital-camera photo samples on the website now; Prius style, of course.  I setup a tripod, then placed each camera on it to capture the very same shot.  I used a 3-megapixel Nikon 990, a 5-megapixel Nikon 5700, and an 8-megapixel Nikon 8700.  Each photo features the new Bike-Rack for my 2004 Prius.  I hope you find the samples helpful.  Online, you can view them closely to see the benefits of having greater resolution available.  (You can also see how increasing accurate the color matching is, since each of the cameras is a new generation.)  Go to the trouble of printing one of the 8-Megapixel samples, using the best mode on your photo-printer.  You'll be pleasantly surprised.  Anywho, with great printers starting at $149 now and decent 3-Megapixel cameras at $199, film is no longer the default choice.  Digital definitely offers some very appealing factors.  Here's the new page with all those photo samples...  photo album 76

5-30-2004

Mr. Clean Auto Dry.  Wow!  That stuff works great.  It is best to wash the Prius right before a photo-shoot.  Lighting is rarely timely.  That certainly was the case today!  I had only minutes to clean the car before the sun appeared.  That meant a rapid wash in the driveway was possible, but the care needed to achieve a spotless dry would normally not have been possible.  Today it was though.  I had that new cleaner.  What a blessing.  I filters the water to deliver a perfect rinse.  Then it somehow ionizes it, changing the way it reacts with the surface of the car.  That actually gives you the ability to rinse off the filtered water with stuff that can't hold on to the metal & plastic.  It seems to just roll off.  The water is almost creepy.  But it sure works wonders.  The Prius was completely dry just minutes later, without me ever having touched it with a towel.  Sweet!

5-30-2004

Hybrid Target-Market.  Currently, Highlander is available in 2 configurations.  One emphasizes power.  The other emphasizes economy.  With the Highlander-Hybrid, the first available will emphasize power.  A later model will emphasize economy.  That second will share both the same frame and the same engine as the Camry.  So despite what those short-sighted articles and online comments say, they really don't have a good grasp of the business sense for marketing.  They simply think a single design is all that you get.  That means there will be more than one target-market, each desiring a different aspect of performance.

5-30-2004

Bias Reporting.  I finally got a chance to watch that CBS report.  It had a clear negative bias, implying that absolutely no owner will ever get MPG as high as what was indicated on the sticker.  That is just plain wrong.  Some will.  Some won't.  But not everyone.  And not all the time.  If you base your purchase decision solely on the sticker without bothering to read the fine print or you choose not to purchase based on a biased report, you're the one that loses.   The info is available if you want it.  I sure hope people find it.  Mentioning all the facts, not just some, is the more appropriate way to report.  This misleading crap is really becoming a source of irritation.

5-30-2004

"Hybrid" definition.  I keep getting asked this.  And the reply continues to get refined (hopefully, easier to understand).  Here's the latest...  Hybrid means the blending of two or more (in this case, thrust sources).  Enhancing a component within a traditional vehicle, that is already required to make it work, clearly isn't enough.  This is why the "mild" hybrids GM is currently pushing really can't qualify as anything more than just a glorified traditional vehicle.  Simply having a larger battery and shutting off the engine automatically at stoplights doesn't cut it.  Something new must be blended into the existing design.  An interesting twist is that some components can be actually removed as the result of blending.  In the case of Prius, two electric motors were added along with a power-split device.  That actually provided the opportunity to eliminate the transmission, so it was (an obvious cost-reducing benefit).

5-30-2004

Countless Studies.  Over the past few years, MPG has been placed extremely low on the new vehicle buyer's priority list.  Heck, even cupholders is ranked higher sometimes.  So claims that MPG is a significant factor cannot be supported well.  People don't place as much emphasis on it as you may be led to believe.  In fact, some buying SUVs couldn't care less about efficiency (proof is that the MPG value wasn't even listed on window-stickers until just a few years ago).  Other studies have indicated that $2.00 per gallon is not a threshold for changing attitudes.  Remember, there are far less expensive vehicles that get impressive MPG and cost less to purchase, yet the monster-sized ones are still a popular choice.  Though, you wouldn't know that based on some brief articles and summarized reports.  Some actually do support the importance of MPG, now.  It's hard to know what to believe anymore.  Ahh! 

5-30-2004

Realistic Expectations.  It would be great to set some, but you can't do that without first throughout studying the performance to derive an average.  The fundamental problem with averages is that people are inherently short-sighted (sorry, it's in our nature).  They have no patience for to wait an entire year before drawing a conclusion.  So those that make a Prius purchase in the winter will be far less impressed with MPG than those that purchase in the summer.  And even then, it depends on the particular region you live in.  That means conflict will emerge.  And sure enough, it has.  A statement about what to expect, like "expect a 40 to 50 MPG average" would work well for the Classic Prius, since we have lots of owner data to support that now.  It would not work for the 2004 Prius though.  Preliminary data hints at "45 to 55 MPG" being more realistic.  I wonder if other 2004 owner will agree on that?  Setting realistic expectations is something we'd like to do.  But with some already jumping to a conclusion less than a year after the car becoming available, we have a problem.  Being objective requires being patient.  They clearly are not.  In fact, those complaining are specifically targeting Prius, not the entire industry.  Why are all the other hybrids not being included?  I hope this doesn't get ugly while we wait for the real-world data to be gathered.

5-30-2004

Profit 101.  It is a much published fact that the Classic Prius (THS) did make a profit the final year of its production.  So to assume that the HSD technology in the 2004 Prius isn't on the fast-track to achieving profit also is absurd, especially now that we know the 2005 Prius production volume will be double what it was for the 2004.  In just a few months, HSD will be available in RX400h.  About 4 months later, HSD will be available in the Highlander-Hybrid.  Following that, a Lexus sedan and another Toyota vehicle will be equipped with HSD.  That's 5 vehicles all using HSD in just the short-term alone.  It is also a much published fact that Toyota wants to have a hybrid option available for every passenger vehicle they offer by 2010.  All the evidence points to this being nothing but a large development effort, just a well thought out new product.  That's it.  No conspiracy or another such nonsense... unlike the fuel-cell promotion that won't even deliver any feasible product until at least 2010.  And even then, the fuel will only be available in very limited areas.  HSD would be a great subject of study in a Profit 101 class, a profound change in the automotive industry (ultimately driven by profit) unfolding as we speak.

5-30-2004

Seeing Pink.  Whoa!  Some owners panic when the charge-level in the battery on the "Energy Display" changes to that color.  Clearly, the use of color makes the change very easy to notice... perhaps, too easy.  They have no idea that is normal.  We've all been programmed to consider red a warning color.  So, I suppose that applies to pink too.  Anywho, when the blue change to pink (down to 2 bars), don't expect the engine to replenish the charge-level until you get out on the open road, since recharging while moving is quite a bit more efficient than doing it while sitting still.  Both times I've seen it (over the past 13,800 miles), it was when I was trapped in a very heavy traffic.  Also, when you see the blue change to green (up to 7 bars), don't expect it to last long.  The system takes advantage of that extra electricity by favoring the motor for a little while.

5-29-2004

Yup, I know him.  My cousin was chatting with some friends on one particular day when the subject of hybrids came up.  One of them had been curious and did some searching on the internet.  He found this really cool website on Prius and was really excited to tell everyone about it.  My cousin quickly realized who's website he was talking about, and pointed out that he knew that owner rather well... it was me!

5-29-2004

Prius... Always!  Real-World annual averages of around 50 MPG will be revealed as this year concludes. (My last 3 tanks have been 54 MPG.)  The acceleration-speed will be overwhelming confirmed as completely realistic.  (Flooring it to merge onto the highway is totally unnecessary.)  Supply will (eventually) catch up with demand.  You'll see Prius everywhere, especially with the new hybrid SUVs helping to endorse the technology.  Then once the Camry & Accord hybrids finally become common, Prius will become the "icon for change", the one that inspired this new age in automotive history.  Get used to it always being mentioned when hybrids are discussed.

5-29-2004

Efficiency Expectation.  So many grossly over-generalize the EPA estimates.  It's making me crazy!  Here's important factors that are very often not taken into account:  using the A/C, using the Heater, using winter-formula gas, using ethanol-blend gas, driving when it was colder than 67 F degrees, driving faster than 60 MPH, starting with a cold engine.

5-29-2004

How could MPG be so low?  Have you ever wondered how Consumer Reports got MPG results so low (35 MPG)?  Let's see... if you accelerate aggressively, only take short-trips, go straight from the "gas" pedal to the brake, never check your tire pressure, etc. ...you could probably get it that down that far.  In reality though, low to mid 40's is what people average in city driving with a 2004 Prius.  And it is looking like around 50 MPG will be the annual all-types-of-driving average to expect. Personally, I am averaging 54 MPG right now.  And the temperature outside is still far from ideal.  So my real-world average for the year should actually be above 50 MPG, quite different from the low results they reported.

5-29-2004

Suggested EPA Revisions.  Being more realistic, categories like this would far better represent the way people actually drive and give those shopping a better idea what to actually expect... in temperate weather (68F to 86F, without A/C) using 100% gas, summer-formula...

SHORT:  driving times of only a few minutes.

CITY:  driving up to 30 MPH with very frequent stops (averaging more than one every minute).

SUBURB:  driving 35-50 MPH with only an occasional stop (one every few minutes) and a duration of at least 15 minutes.

HIGHWAY:  driving 55-70 MPH with no stops at all and a minimum of 20 minutes.

WASTEFUL:  driving 75 MPH or faster.
 

5-29-2004

Negative Reporting.  Last week, some of the owners received an email asking them to share their experiences for a national news story.  It turned out that it was a "Consumer Alert", warning people about the poor MPG the hybrids actually get.  So if you have good comments, they didn't want to talk with you.  Only bad comments were accepted.  That's nasty.  Intentionally hunting for only a specific type of data is never considered appropriate in the world of science.  You are suppose to form a hypothesis, then perform research to find out if you were correct.  That is clearly not the case in the media.  They tell people what they want to hear.  Bummer.

5-29-2004

Boycott Nonsense.  It continues.  Boycotts have failed miserably, despite many many many attempts over the past 30 years.  You have to buy gas eventually.  They know that.  The real impact you can personally make is permanently reduce your gas consumption.  Buying a hybrid like Prius scares the heck out of those that force support for gas-guzzlers.

 

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