Prius Personal Log  #130

June 28, 2004  -  July 2, 2004

Last Updated: Tues. 7/20/2004

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7-02-2004

60.2 MPG after 83 Miles.  Wow!  I'm off to another great start.

7-02-2004

Displacement Measure.  It has begun.  That question has been posed by the "obsessed with size" crowd.  Volume is meaningless when dealing with electricity.  So the size of the motor is a worthless identifier for power potential.  (Of course, that's true for gas engines too.  But most aren't aware of the contributing factors, like compression, stroke, and redline.)  Instead, it is measured with respect to electric draw.  For Prius there are two, a 10kW and a 50kW BRUSHLESS AC.  For Civic-Hybrid, it has a 10kW BRUSHLESS DC.  Which introduces a less obvious difference, the flow of electricity itself... AC or DC.  Plus, you also need to take into account the voltage feeding it, which isn't necessarily the same as what the battery-pack supplies.  For Prius, the DC current from the 203.6-volt battery-pack is converted to 500-volts of AC for use by that bigger electric-motor.  For Civic-Hybrid, the DC current is taken directly from the 144-volt battery-pack unchanged.  But for the upcoming Escape-Hybrid, another factor is introduced.  Its 70kW motor won't actually be used to its full potential.  The "smaller" motor in Prius actually delivers greater torque than what the Escape will be setup for.  Confused?  Don't let that worry you.  The flexibility of design is the very thing that empowers hybrids with such enormous potential.  Just focus on what the system delivers, not how it is setup.  But later, when there are lots of choices available, we'll have to address the technical aspects of each in great detail.

7-02-2004

Up & Down Commute.  The warm, humid air really made my now broken-in Prius very happy today.  It started at 58.1 MPG on the Multi-Display with a freshly filled tank.  It climbed all the way up to 65.9 MPG on the drive to work.  The trip up the efficiency scale was wonderful.  Unfortunately, it had a lot of downhill.  So the trip home was upward in elevation and downward in efficiency (like usual).  After a total of 43 miles, it dropped all the way down to 60.5 MPG.  Isn't that depressing?

7-02-2004

All or None.  What is it with this "all or none" perspective?  It is either this or that, only one extreme or another.  No wonder some have a hard time with hybrids.  They offer the best of several worlds.  Realistically, to avoid getting too fixated with any particular approach, goals should clearly be defined.  That way use of government money, which is suppose to help our future, can be much better accounted for and accepted.  Just look at the "hydrogen" mess.  That money is being provided without any requirement to actually deliver anything specific and within any specific timeframe either.  What the heck is the benefit of hydrogen?  Overall it is dirtier, less efficient, and quite a bit more expensive.  But the "must use hydrogen" attitude is blinding some from the intended purpose... since no goal was ever formally declared.  A hybrid could use a variety of fuels: gas, ethanol, diesel, bio-diesel, and even hydrogen.  A hybrid can use a variety of engine & motor sizes.  A hybrid can offer configuration variations of emissions, efficiency, speed, and power.  Why do some insist that it can only be one way or no way?  Arrgh!

7-01-2004

The Big Picture.  I had bad transmission problems with my Taurus, then the engine died.  The quest for something better is actually what introduced me to Prius.  The discovery of that entirely new approach to managing power transfer really made an impression.  Finding out that it also delivered improved efficiency & emissions sealed the deal.  But trying to sell people on improved engineering or emissions is a daunting task, to the point of almost being futile.  The desire for improved MPG is a different story though.  The draw to that is quite compelling.  That is what makes Prius such a good advertising device for HSD.  It will lure people into researching the technology.  Then when they find out the vehicle of their choice (sedan, hatchback, wagon, coupe, minivan, pickup, SUV) will later offer the HSD option, they'll be hooked.  That sale will be pretty easy once the market is finally established.  In fact, people will later wonder how there originally could have been any resistance to the technology.  Interesting, eh?

7-01-2004

Battery-Pack Charge-Levels.  When the indicator drops down to 2 bars, some owners have panicked.  Rather than seeing the color actually change to pink, their brain tells them that it appears red... which they have been conditioned to assume it is a warning.  In reality, it isn't.  Even without any bars at all (which is virtually impossible to ever happen, since the engine will begin recharging long before that), that doesn't mean it is empty.  It just shows the common operating range, just like the gas gauge.  You've actually got a reserve that isn't displayed.  Anywho, pink is simply easy to see, since it contrasts so well with green & blue.  And that's the point of changing... not having to count bars while you're driving is quite handy.  The unfortunate part is that I haven't promoted that fact anywhere.  In fact, the only readily available source of even seeing all 3 together was on the Info-Sheet, until now... battery-pack charge-levels

7-01-2004

Limited View.  I hope everyone doesn't base judgment on me by simply reading the most recent posts on a single forum.  Different forums has different "attitudes" (for lack of any better word) due to the members participating and the format, as well as when hot topics flare up from time to time.  That provides a very limited view of a person.

7-01-2004

Cost Misconception.  It's a common problem when discussing the battery-pack.  Quoting debut prices implies that they won't drop at all by the time people purchasing now drives a minimum of 150,000 miles.  Yet, the trouble-makers do exactly that all the time.  All new technologies carry a premium at first, not pointing that out is misleading.  The fact that high-volume production has not begun yet and the fact that the same modules will be used in other HSD systems need to be stated, since that will be a significant influence toward causing cost-reduction.  There will also be third-party supplier competition later.  (Sanyo, Duracell, Energizer, Rayovac, and others will obviously not just sit there and watch Panasonic monopolize the entire module market.)  That will obviously help drop the prices consumers pay.  Lastly, the fact that not all modules need to be replaced at once should be mentioned.  And finally, the criteria for replacement must be stated.  Right now, there is no proof at all that replacement will ever be needed.  It is only implied based on battery experience that does not even match the cycling-technique used by HSD (which is hardly objective).  So whenever you see a cost quoted, don't hesitate to question it.

7-01-2004

Extended Warranty.  The question of whether or not to buy one comes up on a regular basis.  Here's my take...  I didn't all 3 times I was faced with the decision.  The first was when I got my 2001 Prius.  The second was at 36,000 miles, when the bumper-to-bumper expired (the final opportunity to extend).   And the third was when I bought my 2004 Prius.  Toyota makes remarkably reliable vehicles in the first place.  And after studying THS/HSD for well over 4 years now, I can see that it offers a huge advantage in reliability in the long-term.  Though, for the sake of piece-of-mind (especially for those that don't have engineering and/or automotive educations), short-term comfort can be acquired from getting an extended warranty.  An interesting side note is that I did purchase an extended warranty for my 1994 Taurus.  It paid for itself twice over too.  That was the very reason I went on a quest for better technology, in fact.  I wasn't impressed with what the 20th Century had to offer.  Prius provided the solution I was looking for.

6-30-2004

Mind-Boggling Tank.  The results of that remarkable start, in the end, calculated to 59.0 MPG after driving 358 miles.  I'm calling that my best tank ever, even though it was actually cut short due to the need for month-end statistics.  So naturally, I took a photo of it to document the momentous event... photo album 77

6-30-2004

Extra Weight.  This anti-hybrid argument is starting to make me crazy too!  It is nothing but a deception.  Even though Prius does carry two motors and a battery-pack, it doesn't have a transmission.  (The Planetary-CVT doesn't count.  But even if it did, it is only the size of the palm of my hand.  That's it!)  Anywho, these curb-weights reveal the truth.  Corolla=2,590 and Camry=3,168 and Prius=2,890.  Notice how the weight of Prius is exactly as you'd expect for its size.  Also note that the battery-pack is actually only 99 pounds.  If that sounds like a lot, just consider that the full-size spare I had for my classic Prius weighed 32 pounds.  And since the 2004 Prius uses a bigger tire (15-inch instead of 14-inch) it would weigh even more.  That quickly puts things in perspective.  There is no "extra" weight, it is totally normal in comparison to a traditional vehicle.

6-30-2004

Vehicle Survival.  Those diesel-supporters are now trying to push the idea that because a diesel engine will last so long (well in excess of 300,000 miles), the vehicle will too.  Yet they have still failed to provide any proof that a vehicle itself can actually survive longer than even 250,000 miles.  The reality is that rust, corrosion, chipping, and interior deterioration will get the best of it by then.  So the distance beyond that is basically completely worthless unless you include an itemized list of the replacement of all the aged items too.  Realistically, it doesn't matter anyway.  The desire for change (human nature) will get most people long before that anyway.  But if you don't believe that simple consider that... Glass gets chipped up really bad.  Seems begin to leak.  Cushions become uncomfortable.  The carpet becomes nasty.  Rattling develops.  Plastic cracks.  Buttons break.  Bulbs burn out.  Spills happen.  Children (or worse, teenagers!) happen too.  And if that isn't enough, what about brakes, shocks, and other vehicle operational components that have nothing to do with the engine?  Want more still, what about when the A/C system develops leaks?  Repressurizing the doesn't do any good.  You have replace piping and related components.  At some point, you just decide to buy a newer vehicle instead... especially once you consider how much safer it will be.

6-30-2004

June Average.  It was 54.4 MPG for the 1,792 miles I drove.  Sweet!

6-30-2004

Got Farked.  Whoa!  My website was discovered, big time.  Someone on http://www.fark.com posted a link to my first Multi-Display page, photo album 4, and suggested digitally altering a photo from there.  Quite a few manipulated images were posted as a result, a few of which were very amusing.  I got a good laugh from it.  But what impressed me was all the attention it drew.  In those 4 days of activity, over 21,000 referrals to the website resulted.  And I bet virtually none of them would have visited otherwise.  That's a fantastic way to introduce Prius to new people.  Cool!

6-29-2004

The shelf is getting full.  What will Toyota do with all the awards Prius (and HSD) keep winning?  The caption in today's newspaper revealed yet another one.  "International Engine of the Year 2004" was declared by a jury consisting of 56 renowned journalists from 24 countries.  So... when was the last time (or ever) any new vehicle has won this many awards?

6-29-2004

Playing Offense.  It has been pretty interesting lately.  There are so many owners now defending Prius by providing real-world that I have the opportunity to take the initiative instead.  I can confront those spreading lies head-on.  It was bad enough in the past when Prius was misrepresented.  But now it is outright nasty.  Thankfully though, much of that misrepresentation is fading.  It was sparked by all those reporters early this year, claiming MPG was horribly low but not telling you that the only data available was from driving Prius that are not even broken-in yet during the dead of winter... which the well-informed know is when the worst efficiency occurs.  And now that it's warmer and the Prius are broken-in, there isn't a single article about the false claims that had been made.  You have no idea how much I'd love to see a report pointing out how so many jumped to incorrect conclusions by using that misleading data.  Oh well... back to playing offense.  Today provided the best example yet.  A person compared his 6-month data to my 8-month data.  And when I pointed out that the mileage he had associated with that time-frame was off by nearly 4,000 miles, he blew me off stating it didn't matter.  Which of course ruffled my feathers.  So I posted all of my data, in detail, but without any comments or opinions.  Just the facts (numbers).  He then attacked my characters, rather than just acknowledging what might have originally started out as an honest error and moving on.  That's where I got him.  The role of offense is to get them to breakdown and lash out, rather than being objective & constructive.  It's a bitter role to play, but so many like attacking me.  Having the flagship hybrid, they are actively seeking an opportunity to make a name for themselves anyway.  And by discrediting me, they could.  But since I am always quoting facts, rather than jumping to conclusions, it is virtually impossible for them to make any progress.  I just keep presenting the same data over and over again... which just happens to be quite beneficial to lurkers of the forum.  They learn from that repetition, discovering that my intentions are sincere despite what the others have claimed.  Fortunately, it doesn't last long either.  Those spreading the lies grow tired of the debates quickly and flee as soon as a few owners finally speak up verifying that what I said (although it likely could have been worded better) really was correct.  So all works out in the end.

6-28-2004

Long-Term Discussions.  The anti-hybrid folk obviously can't handle that mindset.  Long-Term discussions make the plans for HSD technology very, very appealing from a business perspective.  And the consumer perspective will soon realize the variety of power configurations offer lots of potential for future vehicles & models.  But they don't want people to discover that.  Discussing the 2004 Prius is totally pointless, since production for it ends in just a few days.  Long-Term discussions are quite constructive, don't let anyone convince you otherwise.  People are very interested in what the future holds, to help with a purchase decision.  But some will impede that information exchange to prevent them from losing an argument against hybrids.

6-28-2004

Yet another award.  And this one doesn't even need any explanation or comment, I can just quote the headline in the release today: "The Toyota Prius continues to collect accolades as the innovative hybrid-synergy drive sedan will receive a Gold Award at the 2004 Industrial Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) competition, presented by the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA)".  Cool, eh?

 

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