Prius Personal Log  #128

June 19, 2004  -  June 23, 2004

Last Updated: Sun. 9/05/2004

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6-23-2004

Oil Change Observations.  I drained the dino (real) oil out of my 2004 Prius at 2,000 miles.  It was thick, dark, and not as "slippery" feeling as the more aged 3,000 mile old synthetic I drained following that.  This evening, I repeated a similar observation.  I compared the 3,000 mile dino oil from my friend's 2004 Prius with the 5,000 mile old synthetic from mine.  Again, the dino oil was in worse condition than the synthetic.  And way back when I had my 2001 Prius, I did a comparison between 7,500 mile dino oil (well past break-in) and 7,500 mile synthetic oil with similar results.  So... we got two conclusions we can non-scientifically draw.  One is that draining out the break-in dino oil before 5,000 seems to be a good idea.  The other is that synthetic oil appears to age slower.  Hope that helps.

6-23-2004

Profit Argument.  They are at it again.  By forcing a short-term only point-of-view, their arguments simply don't apply.  Expecting Prius (and HSD) to reach the end-state so quickly is just plain not realistic.  I really hope lurkers pick up on that.  Please look at the long-term plan instead.  What happens today does not necessarily represent what will happen tomorrow, or next month, or next year.  An entirely new product, designed from scratch, is entitled to several years of market-building.  People are just now beginning to understand what the potential of hybrid technology, in 2004.  In 2003, most believed hybrids could only be small & slow.  In 2002, people thought you had to plug-in to recharge the battery-pack.  In 2001, people didn't even know what the heck a hybrid was.  That's actually pretty rapid progress.  Just think what market-potential 2005 will bring.  Planning on high-volume production & sales will finally be realistic.  Doing it any earlier would have meant risking the entire investment.  Waiting didn't cost them squat.  They still made loads of profit from the corporation as a whole, where their competition continued to report losses.  Long-Term.  Think about it.

6-23-2004

Losing Jobs.  It's getting ugly.  The same vague & misleading references I see in the online discussions are now showing up in the political arena too.  Claims are being made that the proposed increased in fuel-economy standards (from 27 MPG now, to 36 MPG by 2015) will cause jobs to be lost.  My question is how?  That certainly doesn't match the pattern I've witnessed in other businesses; in fact, it is just the opposite.  Regardless, they made the claim.  But then they changed the number.  Now it is bigger.  What does that mean?  Did they jump to a wrong conclusion earlier?  Is their data incomplete?  What heck are we suppose to believe.  And then to make matters even worse, it was pointed out in a newspaper article today that the numbers shared with workers in Detroit were not just for them.  They were for the entire country, which obviously lowers the impact of the original statement dramatically.  I think the whole topic is silly.  Hybrids open up a whole new world of opportunity.  Rather than just pushing the "more is better", which only translates to larger & faster vehicles.  You will be able to explore far greater appeal potential, taking advantage of electric motors to provide smoother & rides rides with more torque yet being far less space-intrusive while also being cleaner and more efficient and (this part is fantastic) should ultimately prove more reliable.   Hmm?  Maybe that's what they mean losing jobs.  If a vehicle is more reliable, the need for replacement is less often...  Actually, that is a load of crap too.  Since the population is ever increasing and competition from overseas continues to grow more fierce, we should be doing everything in our power to make domestic built vehicles as appealing as possible.  (By the way, the volume threshold required to begin producing Prius in the US instead of Japan is close to being met.)  So not exploring what hybrids have to offer is like shooting ourselves in the foot.  Why ignore that potential if it means jobs could be saved, or even increased?

6-23-2004

3.5 inches!  Where did you get that from?  I've heard some odd ground clearance claims, but that one certainly takes the cake.   Some still-unknown-to-us source must have posted that grossly incorrect information.  No wonder I keep getting email about height concerns.  Geez!  The actual clearance is 5.25 inches, which I manually measured.  And it hasn't proven even the slightest bit of a problem.  I bet with the dominant vehicle now being in the Truck/SUV category, with cars not being a majority choice anymore, high ground clearance is being perceived as normal... even though it is overkill for winter driving in the northland.

6-23-2004

Dealer Sightings.  When I pulled into the dealer's lot today for my 15,000 mile service and SSC-40D, I spotted 4 new Prius with "sold" signs on them waiting to be delivered.  Then while I was waiting, I saw another brought in on a truck.  2 Salsa, 2 Tideland, 1 Silver all within a very short time-span at one dealer here in Minnesota.  I'd say that's an indication of a pretty good appeal factor here... though I might be to blame due to all the in-person promotion I do locally.  Regardless, it sure is nice to see all of them.  Unlike that recent comment from a Ford press release stating the demand in the Midwest isn't that high.

6-23-2004

15,000 Mile - Oil Change.  The time had come again.  Doing this change myself proceeded without a glitch too.  It's becoming quite routine now.

6-23-2004

15,000 Mile - Service.  This was an "Intermediate Service".  So the following was done:  Tires rotated, Inspection performed (suspension, steering, exhaust, etc.), Driveline components lubricated, Brakes cleaned & adjusted, Fluids topped-off.  The cost for that was $143.96, and it was quite routine.

6-23-2004

SSC-40D.  I had it performed today.  Contrary to what you may have heard, it is not a recall.  It is a Special Service Campaign, hence SSC.  The difference is that recalls typically involve some type of safety issue.  This doesn't.  Operation of the propulsion-system isn't affected at all.  It is an update for the diagnostic system, hence the title "On-Board Diagnostic".  They will update one of the ECUs so it can better communicate with the ODB scantool the mechanics use.  With this, some system faults may not be recognized.  In other words, you could get a master warning light without any detail (error codes).  If the dealer is experienced with this type of update (which some are getting good at now, like mine), downloading to the tool, uploading to the Prius, and testing the system takes around 1 hour.  And of course, the work is free.  I had this update done along with my 15,000 mile service (less the oil change) last week.  It took 2 hours total and everything worked out fine.  By the way, there is a standard now for identifying ECU updates.  The dealer puts stickers, with details filled in, on the driver's door-jam and under the hood.

6-22-2004

300,000 Plan.  I haven't talked about this in a long time.  It was a big deal years ago.  For Toyota to plan to build 300,000 hybrid systems per year beginning in 2005 was an amazing concept.  Now it poses no challenge.  They will easily be able to reach that goal.  The plan is proceeding right on schedule.

6-22-2004

Changing YOUR Affect.  The misunderstanding about intent is common.  They often attribute my actions with my needs, not realizing my goal is quite different.  I intend to change the emissions of others.  That's much, much harder.  Changing your habits is inappropriate.  You are entitled to choices.  They should not be taken away; however, they should be kept in check.  That means whatever vehicle you buy for whatever purpose you want it should be clean & efficient.  You don't need to move closer to work or drive less on your time off, but that SUV better not be a gas-guzzler.  The technology will soon become available for it to be much improved, the same vehicle inside but under the hood quite different.  Just look at the upcoming Highlander-Hybrid as a prime example.  It will actually accelerate faster than its traditional counterpart, while at the same time use less gas and emit less emissions.  Pretty cool, eh?  I'm trying to provide a solution where everyone wins.  We both get something appealing in the end.  So if you are fighting me, take a step back and look at the big picture.  Your affect may not be what you thought it would be.

6-21-2004

MR2 Hybrid.  Today, Toyota announced a possible hybrid version of their popular MR2 sports car.  That's cool.  But even better is the fact that it could be available next year!

6-21-2004

Too Cold.  Unfortunately, the weather now is like it was a whole month ago here... all week long... with record lows too.  I can't stand it!

6-21-2004

California Desert Prius.  Got another great contribution from a 2004 owner to share with every... owner:  ron

6-21-2004

Another Sunset Photo.  Managed to get another terrific sunset with the Prius, of course... photo album 77

6-20-2004

Cost-Per-Mile Trickery.  Have you ever noticed how MPG and the price of a gallon of gas are rarely disclosed?  Not knowing how the numbers were calculated is a simple way to mislead.  And if you really want to be deceptive, all you have to do is trick people into thinking that price for gas will be the same for the entire duration.  Expecting it to not cost more 8 years from now is totally unrealistic.  Consumption is growing rapidly worldwide, especially in the still-developing countries.  And with refinery capacity already at maximum, the only way to increase is to build new ones... which hasn't happened for decades in the United States (we've been limited to the same 150 for quite some time now).  The higher the price-per-gallon, the lower the cost-per-mile for a hybrid.  (Those against hybrids don't want you to know just how much favor swings for hybrids after a certain threshold is exceeded.)  And of course, how representative of real-world the MPG they select for the calculations is always a subject of refute.  So don't accept any number you are given unless detail about how it was calculated is also provided.

6-20-2004

Photo Album Book.  I created a new document to index the 17 most recent pages.  It's an offline method of viewing the thumbnail pages for all the Prius photos.  Take a look... photo album - book

6-20-2004

Replacement Deception.  It continue, of course.  Why would someone replacing battery-pack modules 8 years from now pay debut prices?  Why wouldn't they pay prices of that time instead?  That would be around 2012.  Toyota has stated that every passenger vehicle they build will be offered with the option of having HSD by 2010.  So both production & competition will increase each year until then.  How could the cost possibly remain the same, as some have claimed?  Every new technology is expensive at first, then it drops significantly as volume increases.  We've seen that countless times now in the computer industry.  Also, if it really was that expensive then, why in the world would someone replace every module?  Why not just one-half or one-third of them instead?  That would obviously save them a bunch of money.  Arrgh!

6-20-2004

Afraid to discuss HSD.  That's how the diesel debates are working out.  Instead, they feel the need to talk down the only configuration currently available, Prius.  If their intent really was objective, detail about the hybrid technology wouldn't be undermined immediately upon posting it.  Distracting people by talking down a specific vehicle accomplishes almost nothing.  They'll have to do the very same thing all over again when each new HSD-equipped vehicle becomes available.  And eventually, many will see right through that deceptive technique.  (I'm a bit on the lonely side currently.)  HSD is Hybrid Synergy Drive, the design Toyota engineered to blend a combustion-engine with both a generator-motor and a thrust-motor, allowing for seamless & rapid switching of power needs.  This is what the topic of discussion should be, not any particular vehicle package.  But they resist acknowledging that reality.

6-19-2004

Sunset Photo.  Look closely at the new photo I just published.  If you turn the brightness why up on your monitor, you can see the "1701-A" license plate.  Sneaky, eh?  I got really lucky last night, having the digital camera & tripod with me at the time and being able to find a location without any horizon obstruction.  And of course, there's always that anticipation that the clouds will prevent the sun from peaking out at the very last moment before it disappears.  See the sweet digital capture here... photo album 77

6-19-2004

Larger Tires.  What is it with the obsession a few have about larger tires?  There is a MPG penalty from having a larger tire, in the city & suburbs.  Rollerbladers know that "from a stop" concept well.  By increasing the wheel size a few millimeters, starting up again becomes more difficult.  And sharp turns become harder, so we really need to find out what "handle better" actually means with respect to Prius.  My guess is that handling is improved at high speeds only, with a penalty when going slower.  On Rollerblades, cruising is definitely improved with larger wheels.  And since long sustained trips is what I prefer, that is a welcome change.  It allows me to glide further between each stroke.  Perhaps that translates to a highway cruising MPG benefit for Prius.  Hmm?  In short, like everything else in life, there is no magic solution.  A trade-off is required if you select either extreme.  Fortunately, there are choices in the middle... like the tires that come standard on Prius already.

 

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