Prius Personal Log  #131

July 3, 2004  -  July 9, 2004

Last Updated: Sun. 9/05/2004

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7-09-2004

The "Low Sulfur" Misconception.  Don't fall for the "low" argument.  It is a misconception those against the importance of the SULEV & PZEV emission ratings like to spread.  They imply that if gas isn't "low" sulfur it must be "high" sulfur, making you think there is only one extreme or the other.  In reality, that isn't the case.  Here in Minnesota, one of the brands of gas that doesn't meet the "low" requirement maximum of 80ppm has 102ppm of sulfur.  That's darn close.  In other areas of the country, some gas is as dirty as 500ppm.  Knowing that, puts things in perspective.  Nationally, all gas will meet the "low" criteria by the end of next year.  That means a large portion of the gas used over the lifetime of a 2005 hybrid will be the clean stuff anyway.  So hopefully, this misconception won't have much of an opportunity to deceive many people.

7-09-2004

Trombone Analogy.  Think of the CVT like a playing a trombone.  The instruments has no keys.  But if you work the slide right, you get amazing music.  The CVT has no gears.  But if you work the pedal right, you get amazing efficiency.

7-08-2004

Politics... again.  Planning for the future is great.  But at the expense of tomorrow, no way.  Unfortunately, that's exactly what the federal hydrogen project is doing.  All of the funding is for fuel-cell vehicles & infrastructure develop.  Not a single cent of that can be used toward full-hybrids, even though much of the same electronics could be used in fuel-cell vehicles too... electric-motors, electric-steering, electric-A/C, electric-heaters, by-wire shifting, by-wire brakes, by-wire interfaces, etc.  And of course, any efficiency improvements made to them for hybrid used would also directly benefit fuel-cell vehicles.  Remember, a fuel-cell is an energy converter, not a propulsion system.  Also, keep in mind that hydrogen can be extracted from many sources, including gas.  Did you know that?

7-08-2004

Stealth at 44 PSI.  The first 111 miles with the new tires were at 35 PSI (front, the rear tires are always 2 PSI less).  I didn't realize just how much that softer tire pressure would affect stealth cruising.  At or above 35 MPH was very difficult to maintain that way.  But at 44 PSI, no big deal.  I can glide along my favorite suburb roads using only electricity, just like I always have.  Yeah!

7-05-2004

Alignment.  Since I was going to the trouble of buying new tires, I thought I'd make sure they performed as well as possible and lasted as long as possible.  So I had an alignment done.  The back was fine (which I'd be surprised if it wasn't).  The driver-front was off a tiny bit.  The passenger-front, to my surprise, was off more than I'd care to admit.  (All those small potholes in the Spring are likely to blame.)  Glad I decided to have it checked.

7-05-2004

Tire History.  The tires for the classic Prius were "less than ideal".  That is thoroughly documented in these logs, as well as the pleasing solutions we came up with: a variety of alternate tires & specifications that would provide owners with choices.  The standard tires for the 2004 are much better, but some would still like to know what works best.  That's what I'm helping to research now.  But have I ever mentioned my first tire problem?  That was with my 1994 Taurus.  It was a little after midnight, so I had the road to myself and only 3 blocks to go before reaching my house.  The tires were at the very end of their life (barely any tread left) and it was the day after a straight-line wind storm blew through... the storm that had peeled many of the roof shingles and even some of the tar-paper off of the houses in my neighborhood, including mine.  Needless to say, those nasty little nails were all over the place.  And sure enough, my tire caught one.  That resulted in a very loud explosion. I immediately knew what had happened, so I dropped the pedal and raced right through the stop-sign I was approaching.  Then rounding the corner into my neighborhood (1/2 mile from the sign), there was another explosion.  At the next turn (just 250 feet away), I felt the last of the air drain out.  The rim smacked the ground.  But I was only 40 feet from my driveway at that point, so I continued.  The next morning I could see dark rubber marks where I had driven without any air left.  The tire condition was rather amusing.  There was only a single hole along with a small tear.  I expected a lot more damage, especially having experienced two explosions.  Unfortunately, that still left me with the immediate need to replace all 4 tires.  I wish I could look have looked up real-world data back then like you can for Prius now.  My choice for new tires was adequate, at best.  Knowing what I know now, I could have done much better.  Oh well.  It is that very experience that raised my awareness of tires in the first place.

7-05-2004

Upgraded the Tires.  This morning, I discovered a piece of metal (probably the blade of someone's tool) had punctured a tire.  That flat was not a welcome sight.  Then finding out the slice had damaged it beyond repair really stirred my emotion.  So... after doing some shopping with that silly looking banana-yellow donut-sized spare in place of the flat... I finally decided that rather than just replacing the standard OEM tire with another (since it is just an ordinary tire, nothing special) this was a good opportunity to upgrade.  That way, when other owners later approach replacement time themselves, they'll have the data I collected with these to help make with the decision.  (Lack of real-world data was a problem with the classic Prius initially.  So I got a jump on this one!)  The tires are I bought MICHELIN HYDROEDGE .  They are almost twice as expensive, but they should last quite a bit longer.  So price wasn't a big deal.  Handling on the other hand is.  These premium tires provide a real improvement, especially on wet roads.  That I consider worthwhile, despite the likelihood of a MPG penalty.  After all, achieving maximum safety was a primary reason for me buying this Prius in the first place.  On RAIN, which there was plenty of to test late this evening, they are great.  You can feel them cutting through the water rather than the normal ride on top effect.  On SNOW, they should be better (as advertised).  We'll see.  The deep grooves look well placed for slippery driving where traction for digging is needed.  On DRY roads, tight corning is definitely better.  I'm quite pleased with that aspect.  The potential for a MPG drop isn't exactly pleasing, but hopefully it won't be much.  Stay tuned for reports and I test various driving conditions.  I got the tires for $113.35 each, including tax, labor, a valve-stem, road-hazard coverage, and disposal of the old tire.  They have an 85,000 mile warranty.  Tread-Depth: 11/32,  Traction: A,  Temperature: B,  Treadwear: 760,  Revs: 856,  Speed-Rating: 86T,  Max-Load: 1168,  Max-PSI: 44.

7-05-2004

The real problem.  The amount of oil available (petroleum not drilled for yet) doesn't matter if you focus on the real problem: SMOG forming emissions.  And of course, there is still the danger of environmental damage caused by the extraction process and the possibility of a spill.  Let's not forget that.

7-05-2004

Euro Safety Testing.  Prius was awarded a 5-star rating by the Euro NCAP accolade.  Prius also got class-best (34 points) and the highest ever child protection score (43 points).  Sweet!

7-04-2004

Sightings.  They are routine now.  I can plan on seeing a few every time I go for a long drive.  Yesterday's sighting was especially fun.  On the drive to my sister's place, I spotted 4 other Prius, 2 classic and 2 new.  One one of each were within seconds of each other.  And one was just plain crazy, an entire family in a Salsa 2004 was waving furiously at me as I drove in front of them at a 4-way stop.  I waved back with a big smile.

7-04-2004

Most-Popular Misconception.  It has got to be "Global Warming".  The name itself contributes to this.  People are commonly under the impression that it only means permanent warming of the air.  They have no idea there are several other factors involved, including cooling of the air.  The term was coined back in 1980, when the concern about environmental impact on the planetary-scale first emerged.  The wording was a poor choice.  But it stuck.  And it did accomplish the goal of raising awareness.  And not that the evidence of it has become overwhelming, those that openly spoke against it are totally silent, wanting nothing to do with anything air quality.  The actual impact "Global Warming" has is the way it affects weather patterns.  The increased CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) levels, caused in part by cars & trucks, creates turbulence in the pressure systems.  The result is warmer warms and colder colds.  The recent surge in 110-year record-breaking temperatures is a blatant indication of this.  Another effect deals with storms.  There are more of them recently and they are most violent in nature (higher wind, larger size, longer duration).  Evidence of this is rather obvious too.  Those that are well informed are growing very concerned.  The need to new technology, like hybrids, is much more urgent that people realize.  That goodness there is no reason to panic though.  HSD already exists and is proving to be a viable solution for a very large number of consumers.  Phew!

7-04-2004

Ending Misconceptions.  I wonder if some former rivals stopped debating with me because they eventually discovered that they were actually supplying me with material to end the very misconceptions they were depending on to support their own needs.  On the hostile forums, I don't reveal (due to posting policies & restrictions) my website.  So at first, many don't have a clue that what they are arguing about will in part end up in my logs.  They think I am a die-hard enthusiast about that particular car.  But then they find out I am a strong supporter of HSD, not just Prius, and that I focus my efforts on long-term benefits for everyone.  So ending the misconceptions that they exploit is a priority very high on my list.  And I do that by pointing out how they are taking advantage of a particular situation by being vague, hoping you will be mislead... which, unfortunately, is exactly what many television commercials actually do.  So, you can imagine how much of a challenge that is.  But with the overwhelming amount of data I have collected, it becomes increasingly more difficult for those with ill intent to be successful.  With the "Industrial Revolution" long in the past now, though some are desperately trying to hold on to it still, the "Age of Awareness" will bring power to the little guy.  We'll be able to make informed decisions on our own, rather than unknowingly being mislead by believing misconceptions.

7-04-2004

More Wagons.  I'm totally amazed.  It didn't occur to me how quickly the end of the SUV reign would actually come.  It took years of build up... until every automaker, from every aspect of appeal, offered one.  The market had become completely saturated.  There were so many choices available that sales were just beginning to get difficult, as the competition grew desperate.  Then suddenly, gas prices shot up.  The market as a whole tanked.  Everyone began to lose.  No, as if overnight, the tamed down SUV is the "in" thing.  That lower profile and very aerodynamic look makes the vehicle look just like a fat wagon.  The very type of vehicle people used to hate (though larger now) is becoming very popular again.  The tall & fierce look is out.  Bye Bye SUV.

7-04-2004

TDI Club.  I checked out that diesel discussion forum today.  It was overwhelmingly obvious that the enthusiasts there drive only manual transmission vehicles and mostly just for highway cruising.  Stop & Slow commutes weren't discussed at all.  The TDI is clearly not a good choice for that, based on the sympathy that given whenever "city" driving was mentioned.  And of course, emissions were totally absent from any post I could find.  An interesting find was that I got confirmation that biodiesel does cause efficiency to be lower.  Golf was the obvious favorite.  It's size is very similar to that of the classic Prius.  MPG averages for it were deceptively similar to the new Prius though.  However, we know that in mixed driving (which is much closer to real-world expectations for the average consumer) the MPG really suffers.  Prius has a significant edge with respect to efficiency.  And there is no contest at all when it comes to emissions, Prius is dramatically cleaner.  In other words, there is absolutely no need for me to continue this line of research.  Pointing out any more problems with (non-hybrid) diesel will over serve to upset, and there's no need to do that.  Long-Term innovations will overcome the current limitations anyway.

7-03-2004

Prius Racing.  In August, the Bonneville Nationals Speed Week meeting in Utah will include a souped-up Prius, yet another way of proving the configuration can be modified to serve more than just a maximum-efficiency purpose.  I've always said that was possible.

7-03-2004

Gas Gauge Explanation.  Interesting.  The attitude has transformed to curiosity now, rather than frustration.  So, I must try to satisfy that desire to know more...  The gauge was calibrated to provide indication of a 9-gallon non-emergency capacity.  You actually have more gas inside, but it won't show you that intentionally.  The reason is to prevent you from ever running out of gas, since doing that is very hard on the battery-pack.  Too many pushed too far, with the classic Prius.  Consequently, there were a disturbing number of out-of-gas incidents reported.  So with the new Prius, Toyota decided to decrease the measurement scale.  That obviously worked.  However, the behavior baffles new owners, especially since they think the gauge is linear.  The gauge is actually non-linear.  That means each block represents less gas as get closer to empty, not a consistent amount.  The benefit is greater precision as you get closer to empty.  Also note that the blinking of the last block is not a warning, it is an indicator (which coincides with the "Add Fuel" message shown on the Multi-Display).  It is not intended to be interpreted the same way as the "almost empty" light in a traditional vehicle. I instead, it is telling you that it would be wise to fill the tank within the next 20 to 30 miles.  So you can actually push beyond that range (for emergency use), but it is not recommended since the bladder reduces overall capacity sometimes (making capacity beyond 9 gallons difficult to measure).  Does that help?

 

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