Prius Personal Log  #129

June 23, 2004  -  June 27, 2004

Last Updated: Fri. 7/23/2004

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6-27-2004

Rear Visibility.  I certainly haven't any visibility issues at all.  In fact, I love how the bar in back is exactly the right height to block headlights without obstructing the view of the following vehicle.  Along the way, I have discovered that some people rely entirely on the rear-view mirror for back visuals, rather than also using the side mirrors like you are suppose to.  This is true for all vehicles, not just Prius.  But in Prius, there is more of a need.  You can't cheat like in some other vehicles.  The upper-part of the back window is what you use all for of your regular driving sight.  The lower-part is actually only for close-up stuff, like parking, since much of it is below the top of the back seat.  Most people don't realize that.  They don't look close enough to notice that the glass actually spans a greater vertical range than with most all sedans.  Think of it as a "bi-focal" setup.  (By the way, the defroster wires cover both the upper & lower parts.)

6-27-2004

Not the whole story.  Talk of "if the electric part fails" inevitably comes up when comparing the various types of hybrids.  So, keep in mind that the odds of an electric motor/system failure are much lower than the odds of a gasoline-engine failure.  And of course, that stress on the engine due to not having a motor available to assist isn't good.  That means a system like IMA isn't a plus for that situation anyway.  And the "continue upon failure" concept actually only applies to the current in-use session.  As soon as you shut off the engine or if auto-stop activates, you're stuck.  Without IMA available, the 12-volt battery is required restart the engine instead.  And typical conversation neglects to point out that a hybrid system failure means that 12-volt will likely be dead too, since IMA is required to keep it charged while driving.  Remember, that 12-volt is what supplies power for all the auxiliary devices.  So, that "advantage" really doesn't exist.  HSD is entirely different.  Most all of the auxiliary devices are run from the battery-pack instead.  And there is no traditional starter.  All the 12-volt does is supply electricity to the computer when you push the power button.  The gas engine alone cannot move the vehicle, but the electric-motor can.  It fact, it was designed to do exactly that.  The "whole story" about HSD is that most of the other countries around the world get the "EV button" in Prius, which invokes the full electric-mode beyond the normal stealth ability.  Here is the Unites States, we don't.

6-26-2004

Learning Still.   I'm even stilling learning about the truly impressive design of HSD.  At 73 miles, the value on my Multi-Display said 64.3 MPG.  (And that's using E10, which holds less energy than 100% gasoline!)  That amazing performance wasn't expected. I was just cruising along in the suburbs, with only two brief jumps onto the highway.  Now at 109 miles, it has dropped to 59.5 MPG.  Bummer, eh?  The remarkable engineering will end up surprising lots of people in the end, especially those that try to apply traditional concepts.  HSD was built from scratch, with little concern for retooling & retraining needs.  The goal was to deliver an product that wasn't bound by the current industry limitations.  Being forced to restrain design due to "this is the way it is done" mindsets was really a pain.  Thankfully, we are no longer in that realm anymore.  The most difficult aspect I have to deal with when discussing Prius is lack of perspective.  Many really don't have a good understanding how their current vehicle actually performs.  Most are totally shocked when they see the back of my website-card.  That huge dip in MPG during the winter comes as a total shock to them.  All this time they have been under the impression that vehicles are immune to the effects of winter, that they perform the same year-round.  Arrgh!  Oh well.  Time will reveal the fact that HSD is far more capable (and less complex) than the the impression people currently have.

6-25-2004

Mind-Boggling MPG.  Wow!  64.3 MPG after driving 73 miles... photo album 77

6-25-2004

Rural Pollution.  Another misconception that gets spread quite a bit is: "by living in a rural area, my pollution isn't hurting anyone".  That is not true.  Vacationing up in Northern Minnesota has taught me a lot.  I remember back in the 1970's asking why there was always piles of foam on the shore.  The reply was that the limestone in the lake bed was reacting with the pollution from the boat engines to help cleanse the water.  And by looking at the photos of me playing in that water back then, I see that it used to be crystal clear.  It isn't anymore.  That foam is gone too.  The limestone has been completely consumed.  There is nothing available to cleanse anymore.  The air in rural areas will slowly grow more and more dirty.  That natural resistance will be lost due to quite a number of factors.  The biggest of which is just ordinary wind.  It circulates air at fantastic rates.  A storm system can blow through a metro area in just an hour, pushing the metro pollution into already weakened rural areas.  It will only get worse as time proceeds.  The NOx (smog) emissions much be significantly reduced.  You can just runaway from the problem by moving away from urban areas.  Let's leave the world for our children in better shape that it was given to our generation, not worse.

6-24-2004

Got Another.  Guess what, this evening's sunset was spectacular too... photo album 77

6-24-2004 The Final Battle.  The recent hybrid verses diesel discussions have been "interesting", for the lack of a better word.  It was the only topic of that hadn't even been thoroughly explored over the past 4 years.  And since I am seeking closure anyway, I thought I should finally go for it.  Here's a summary of what I discovered:

No diesel-supporter has any actual hard-data available.  They simply haven't bothered documenting their MPG (likely due to not ever having any competition until recently).  In fact, they were almost to the point of being offended when I insisted that they provide data to validate their claims.  So the only performance numbers we have to work with is spot-checks.  And due to human nature, those numbers would tend to favor the favorable efficiency opportunities, not a good representation of an actual average.  Current hybrid-supporters are a rather obsessive breed; they document their MPG in detail on spreadsheets.  So we have a wealth of real-world data to analyze.

A manual transmission is the preferred choice among diesel-supporters.  And because of that fact, they have difficulty accepting the reality the that preferred choice for the average consumer (90% of the US, in fact) is a transmission that doesn't require shifting... which causes notably lower MPG than a manual does... which sours the appeal for a diesel.  So naturally, when hybrid-supporters point out that their vehicle doesn't require shifting, the diesel-supporters quickly attempt to change the discussion topic.

Some diesel-supporters have admitted that they couldn't care less about NOx (smog) emissions.  So when the fact that the EPA heavily restricts sales of diesels due to that level of pollution is mentioned, they go into denial-mode refusing to accept that reality.  And when hybrid-supporters point out that a diesel vehicle capable of achieving a SULEV emission rating (like Prius offers) would be a perfectly acceptable solution, they ignore the statement entirely... since a SULEV is 90% cleaner (less smog) than the average vehicle sold in 2003 in the United States and a diesel about 10 times dirtier than average with respect to NOx.  That puts the two at opposite ends of the emission chart.

Fortunately, other diesel-supporters are quite up-front about the current state of the NOx emissions and patiently await the low-sulfur diesel to help solve that problem.  Unfortunately, when you ask whether the diesel vehicles will ultimately be able to achieve a SULEV rating, their reply is subdued at best.  No reply at all is actually more common.

60 million new vehicles are sold each vehicle worldwide.  The population is growing at a rapid rate.  The draw toward increased consumption in the underdeveloped countries is escalating at a frightening rate.  Smog continues to get horribly worse.  Breathing-related health problems are becoming very common.  Have you noticed the huge increase in Allergy & Asthma advertisements here recently?  The number of people needing those medications is increasing rapidly.  Hybrid supporters know that.  They also know that achieving the SULEV emission rating with a HSD-equipped hybrid is no big deal.  The hybrid Highlander SUV achieves it.  Prius surpasses it.

Biodiesel is an interesting topic.  It eliminates our dependence on oil entirely; however, it actually increases NOx (smog) emissions.  So rather than being 10 times dirtier, the amount increases to 11 times.  That's a big step in the wrong direction.

The fatal flaw of diesel-supporters is that they absolutely, positively refuse to acknowledge the big picture.  Long-Term plans and High-Volume acceptance is something they avoid at all costs.  It is a very bitter pill for them to swallow.  They don�t want to admit that hybrid costs are about to drop quite a bit as a result of increased production and the variety of models being offered.

Diesel-supporters like to gloss over the fact that driving any way other than highway-cruising causes a diesel vehicle�s MPG to suffer horribly.  Stop & Slow traffic is a chronic problem in ever metropolitan area.  Hybrids (especially the �full� type, like Prius) thrive in those conditions.  So rather than suffering from wasting so much fuel and contributing so much to smog like a diesel does, hybrid owners just sit there with a smug look on their face... knowing the design of their propulsion system is grossly superior to one that requires the engine to run non-stop.

They love to abruptly change the topic too, by complaining about Prius features like Bluetooth and the Navigation System.  That quickly makes the discussion totally non-construction, a very effective technique to sabotage the any intent to point out the problems with diesel.

Luckily, I am well aware of the fact that this strong anti-hybrid attitude can only thrive on forums that don't support threads.  Those that do reveal the deception very easily.  But in message-posting structures that only provide one-after-another posts with all topics mixed together randomly, it is possible for them to undermine... which explains why diesel-supporters rarely ever participate in threaded discussions.

In conclusion (to summarize this summary), diesel-supporters simply don�t have a case against hybrids... especially when you eventually point out that a hybrid could use a diesel engine.  They fear the coming change, knowing the crown they've worn for the last 20 years will soon be worn by the hybrid owners instead.

6-24-2004

Cold Spell.  It continues.  Gasp!  20 degrees below normal is too much to bare.  It was only 63F on the commute home today.  efficiency is suffering.  However... mid 50's for MPG is hardly something to complain about.

6-24-2004

Ground Clearance Mistake.  We found the source of that grossly incorrect information.  Consumer Reports apparently measure the height the same way I did, coming up with the same value too: 5.25 inches.  But they rounded up to 5.3 inches.  Then when the article got typed up, a simple transposition-typo screwed up the published measurement.  By swapping the "5" and the "3", you get the 3.5 inches they reported.  That's quite a mistake.  I wonder how well publicized the correction with be... and if anyone will even notice it.  For all we'll ever know, that typo could have scared away some potential buyers.  Dang!

6-23-2004

Meeting people with Stealth.  Today provided a brand new experience.  Two women were walking right down the center of a lane in the parking lot, totally oblivious to the presence of the Prius.  Being in stealth and not wanting to be rude in any way, I thought what the heck... and said "Hi!" as if I was walking right behind them.  They responded accordingly too, turning around expecting to greet some guy.  One was totally surprised to see a car there instead, so she quickly side-stepped out of the way (even though it wasn't moving at that point).  The other actually approached me with a hint of curiosity in her eye.  I could tell that her brain was telling her something was odd about this experience but she couldn't pinpoint exactly what it was.  So I quickly pointed out the engine wasn't running, since the car was a hybrid using only electricity at the moment.  Then I allowed the car to silently roll forward a little.  She followed.  That was a good sign!  Needless to she, I had captured her attention.  That provided the opportunity for a brief conversion.  Cool!  I should try that intentionally someone.  After all, a man is often judged by the vehicle he drives.  Prius certainly makes a unique impression.

6-23-2004

Storm Driving.  I left work today at exactly the wrong time.  The rain started to come down so hard the Prius was getting hit by leaves.  They were literally getting torn right off the tree.  I didn't know what the heck to do.  Stopping abruptly could potentially be more dangerous than attempting to find a safe place to pull into.  So I ventured on, slowly.  That wiper in back was a true blessing.  Despite the angle difference, I could obviously see what was behind me far better than a vehicle without one.  Minutes later, but what seemed like forever, it finally stopped.  Not only was the ground covered by shredded leaves, there were also large branches torn off some trees.  On the radio, they were summarizing what had just transpired.  It turns out that the storm had produced sustained winds of 70 MPH.  Needless to say, I'm quite pleased how well the Prius handled all that.  Phew!

 

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