Prius Personal Log  #124

May 31, 2004  -  June 4, 2004

Last Updated: Weds. 6/09/2004

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6-04-2004

Sales Forecasts.  How the heck do the "experts" come up with their numbers?  The latest forecast from J.D. Power and Associates is that sales will reach 440,000 units annually by 2008 (in the United States).  That is extraordinarily low, so much so I can't even find a way to consider it realistic.  That only amounts to about 49,000 units per model, assuming there will be 4 Toyotas, 3 Lexus, 3 Honda, 1 Ford, 1 GM available then.  Backorders would be absolutely horrible at that point.  Demand is already well beyond that per-model quantity.  And as people hear more and more about pleasing hybrid ownership, demand will continue to grow.  The price of gas will obviously have an influence too.  How can they expect no per-model production growth whatsoever?  That doesn't even make any sense, especially since Toyota has already announced that next year's Prius production will be double that of this year's.  Do they actually assume we are so poorly informed that we will accept whatever they tell us without questioning it?  Or is there some source of grossly incorrect information that they are forced to exclusively use?  I don't agree with their numbers at all.  They just don't make any sense based on my observations and studying I've done.

6-04-2004

True Torture.  Ask me to drive a traditional vehicle now.  I bet I would do nothing but complain.  That soft thumping of the automatic-transmission shifting would really be annoying.  The fact that the engine wouldn't stop at intersections would make me absolutely crazy.  All that gas being wasted and the nasty pollution coming out of the tailpipe would put me over the top.  Hmm.  Perhaps that where road-rage comes from... You think?

6-04-2004

Rattle.  I had totally, completely forgotten about that rattle when I first got this Prius.  It came from the glove compartment.  (Does anyone actually put gloves in there anymore?)  But it had abruptly stopped.  So I (literally) didn't give it another thought... until today.  Yesterday, I had removed a bunch of the stuff that had accumulated in there.  That emptied it out, which brought the rattle back.  Carrying a load keeps it quiet.  I bet no one else has ever mentioned this, since they all have stuff inside too.  Either that or the rubber pressure-points fit better in theirs, preventing any noise at all regardless of contents.  Anywho, another simple way of fixing is to just squirt a drop of hot glue.  So I thought I'd mention it.

6-03-2004

Hmm?  It will be very interesting to find out what the heck Honda ends up doing.  Their automotive division is on the small side.  Toyota is 2.5 times larger.  And obviously, Ford & GM have massive resources available... which they will be forced to used to somehow compete with Toyota (who is now the ranked #2 worldwide).  DaimlerChrysler will eventually get pulled into the mix too, they also have lots at their disposal.  The IMA design is quite capable.  And their planned VCM improvement for the engine will add to the near-term appeal.  But what about the long-term? "Assist" translates to "dependent on the engine".  HSD isn't (on a limited basis).  And there is always a threat that Toyota will take advantage of this by offering the "EV button" in the United States.  That could quickly sour the appeal for IMA.  Will it?  We are definitely entering a new age in automotive history.  In fact, you could say that some of us are boldly going...

6-03-2004

Refinery Bottlenecks.  I'm hearing it more and more.  The talk of increased oil production will have very little impact on the actual supply of gas.  In fact, it won't even help to drop the prices much either.  There are only 150 refineries (yes, just one hundred fifty!) in the United States.  They are already running at maximum capacity.  Where the heck is the extra refining going to come from?  We'll just end up with raw petroleum piling up all over the place, hopelessly waiting to become gas.

6-03-2004

One Last Time (part 2).  As I predicted, he didn't answer my question.  And they wonder why I accuse some of not giving straight answers.  He didn't even provide one.  Instead, he tried to divert attention by asking a new one.  I humored him.  He was not happy.  Too bad.  His question was, "If the Prius meets acceleration needs, then why are almost all other cars faster than the Prius?"  And my reply:  Because that is what sells!  People have been brainwashed to believe "more is better".  Haven't you noticed how all the headache relief advertisements push "extra strength", even though most of the time all you have is a simple headache that a regular pill will eliminate just fine?  It's called effective marketing.  Your comparisons focus solely on new vehicles, ignoring everything else.  If you want to determine what is needed on the highway, you have to actually observe what is on the highway... not what is on the showroom floor.  When monitoring traffic, you will notice quite a number vehicles that can't accelerate as quickly as Prius.  Just a few years ago, the average "performance" was slower.  And those same vehicles will remain in use for a number of years still.  Ask yourself this, what will it be like a few years from now.  Do you honestly believe the average time will continue to decrease?  If the entire population could accelerate 0-60 in less than 6 seconds, would they?  How much is too much?  Safety is compromised at some point.

6-03-2004

One Last Time (part 1).  I sure get a kick out of the few that only understand speed, where nothing else is as important to them.  So today when the topic surfaced again, I thought what the heck, one last time for arguing that could be fun...  So I did!  Here's the reply:  All you do is compare vehicles to each other, with no acknowledgement of what is actually needed.  A year ago, the members on this forum just outright claimed that a minimum of 0-60 in 10 seconds was absolutely essential.  I knew that wasn't true, since the 0-60 in 12.5 seconds worked perfectly fine for Prius owners.  But nonetheless, I appreciated the answer.  Needless to say, now that Prius does deliver 0-60 in 10 second they are quite satisfied.  More is not always better.  There is such a thing called the law of diminishing returns.  And we have officially exceeded that threshold.  If you honestly believe even greater acceleration is needed, despite the overwhelming proof that it is not, then tell us how much more and clearly state why.

6-02-2004

Ideal Weather.  It has arrived.  Yeah!  This evening's forecast for the next week's weather was nothing but totally delightful.  Yes, there will be some rain.  But that's not what truly matters.  It's the temperature.  74 F degrees was the lowest and 80 F the highest.  All week should yield very pleasing MPG.  Next week could be even better.  82 F is about the ideal, based on what I've heard so far.  That's hot enough to keep the emissions system very happy, yet still cool enough to keep you from needing to run the A/C.  I can't wait to find out!

6-02-2004

$2.05  That didn't last long.  A 16 cent jump overnight.  It sure looks like the higher prices are here to stay.  I'm sure glad I have a Prius!

6-02-2004

Prius for Dummies.  Someone had an idea today for a video of this nature.  That's something I had always wondered about.  After making those videos last year, it was only natural to wonder if I could assemble a collection answering the common questions owners have.  Basically, all I'd have to do is convert parts of the User Guide and a some of my other tips (on various webpages) from text to video.  It would be a lot of fun getting together with a few other owners on a beautiful summer day to shot some footage.  And there's no particular rush or expectation of quality.  That lack of pressure sure is nice.  Wish me luck.

6-02-2004

What Promise?  People should actually read what is printed on the new vehicle window-sticker, and not just assume the big numbers are a promise... because is isn't!  That's how the controversy aired on the news last week emerged.  The owner obviously didn't read it.  In reality, those are only estimates and are only for the sake of comparison.  There's actually a range listed, providing an approximation (not a guarantee in any sense) of what to expect.  Here's exactly what it says on the 2004 Prius:  "Actual Mileage will vary with options, driving conditions, driving habits and vehicle's condition.  Results reported to EPA indicate that the majority of vehicles with these estimates will achieve between 51 and 69 mpg in the city and between 43 and 59 on the highway."

6-01-2004

Token Vehicles.  Why do people only see the extremes?  Today, someone asked why it is expected that automakers provide clean technology in every vehicle they produce, implying that was what I was supporting since I was upset about only a single PZEV being offered.  In reality, I actually expect more than just a token vehicle.  A few will do nicely, giving us a choice rather than having only that one vehicle to decide upon.  Offering only single PZEV is just plan sad.  What I really hope for is an absolute minimum of one PZEV in each class (car, pickup, SUV, minivan).  And since sizes vary dramatically within each class, having a large & small version of each isn't that much to expect... especially since the same engines are shared throughout vehicles across classes anyway.  Please, give us more than just a token.  And while you're at it, a PZEV that is also a hybrid (which offer improved efficiency, not just improved emissions) would be really nice.

6-01-2004

Misleading Polls.  This one irritated the heck out of me.  The question was "Would you buy a hybrid SUV?"  Then they provided these choices: "Never. They're just too underpowered.", "Maybe, but gas prices would have to go much higher to justify the cost.", "Sure. It might cost more, but it will make a statement.", "Yep, I already own one!"  Did you see the omission?  The question was biased.  It assumed you wanted to purchase a SUV in the first place.  There was not a choice that said, "I don't want to buy a SUV, regardless of whether it is a hybrid or non-hybrid."  That's typical of the automotive industry.  Remember how it all started with this question: "What color do you want?"  The choice you have is black... or black... or black.  In other words, they made the choice for us but wanted owner to feel like they were part of the decision process.  Arrgh!

6-01-2004

$1.89  Interesting.  I didn't expect the price for gas to drop like that.  Hearing the news reports was rather entertaining.  They now regard that per gallon value to be low.  Has everyone lost perspective?  That price was considered outrageous just a few weeks ago.  Now it is a relief.  Go figure.

5-31-2004

53.7 MPG  Was my average for May.  Now I'm really going to have an attitude.  That dang report this week, claiming hybrids didn't deliver MPG that high, was clearly an anti-hybrid report.  Yes, they mentioned hybrids did better than traditional vehicles, but they glossed over the fact that their example was an extreme low.  In reality, the average is much higher.  As for mine, it is close to the top, but not at it.  I know of some that routinely achieve even better.  Regardless, it is possible, even though they claimed it wasn't.

5-31-2004

54.1 MPG  That's what the last 2 tanks ended up calculating to.  I figured it was right around there.  Having that pump shut off way too early last time really was helpful, despite making my fill-up data look really strange.  It confirmed my gas gauge was working exactly as it should, from a perspective I hadn't tried yet.  (Does that means I get points for being thorough?)  Now I really get to enjoy.  The upcoming warm June days should bump the MPG up even higher.  Yeah!

5-31-2004

Hitch Bike-Rack.  As expected, I'm getting email asking why I didn't get a hitch type for this Prius too.  On the 2004, I didn't want a permanent source of drag under the car for something that I will almost never use.  On most of my trips, 2 bikes will be just be placed inside... which is a dramatically more efficient.  The strap-on rack is just for those rare opportunities where I get to go all out.  Where there are more of us and we require a cooler.  I could envision 5, where the Prius handles all the bikes and a second car helps shuttle people.  (By the way, that still uses less gas than a large SUV.)  Anywho, since I would need to purchase a hitch, a new hitch-rack (my current one is pretty beat up after 10 years of use), and paint every 2 years (rust happens), the overall cost instead for a strap-on rack is about $200 less.  That's a big savings... which makes it much easier to recommend.  And you know me, I have already begun to do that.  As for getting a minor scratch or two from making direct contact with the car, the odds are so low in the first place (the rack is very well thought out), the risk simply doesn't bother me.  Sometimes, you just have to enjoy life.  Don't let what likely won't ever happen anyway keep you from spending time with friends during those precious few beautiful summer weekends.

5-31-2004

When they catch up.  I'm curious as heck to find out what attitudes about the technology will be like once owners gain the experience I currently have.  (I'm at 74,000 Prius miles driven, over the past 4 years.)  It's only a matter of time.  Some will probably wonder what the big deal was.  It will seem so natural of a transition from the traditional.  Of course, by then many misconceptions will be dispelled.  The nonsense about treating all types of hybrids as the same (despite having very different designs) will have ended too.  And there will be quite a variety of models (sedan, hatchback, SUV, pickup, minivan) to choose from.  It should be quite interesting.

 

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