Prius Personal Log  #133

July 14, 2004  -  July 18, 2004

Last Updated: Tues. 7/20/2004

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7-18-2004

Age of Awareness.  You've heard me talk about this many times now, how our society is losing its naive persona.  From hybrids, many are becoming aware of how misleading the EPA ratings have always been.  And the way they are doing that is brand new, via a screen on the dashboard and the screen on their computer.  Neither of those information sources have existed in the past.  But now they do.  And last night, I saw the movie "Fahrenheit 9/11".  Wow!  What an eye-opener, as well as refreshing new method of sharing information.  And whether you agree with the content or not, it is a must-see for those that wish to be objective.  So I welcome all views that take advantage of this method.  And by lucky coincidence, there's another that will be available shortly.  It's called, "The Corporation".  People will finally have an opportunity to gather a wealth of information to make decision with themselves.  Being shoveled 30-second summaries on the news and brief articles in the paper was never enough.  Thankfully, hybrid owners already know this.

7-18-2004

Night Snow Flash Photos.  Last year, early in the Winter, I took those photos.  It took until now to catch up enough on my backlog of Prius work to finally publish them.  It was well worth the wait.  And of course, seeing all that snow in the middle of Summer is quite refreshing.  As for the photos themselves, notice the strange marks on the hood.  That's a natural occurrence. Those are the contact points where the insulation underneath is secured.  ...or it could be alien visitors.  Did you notice the "crop circles" around the Prius?  Just kidding!  Though, there are circles.  Look carefully in the background.  You'll see how I circled the Prius (my footprints), making progressively smaller ones each time.  That way, I could leave as much of the snow as undisturbed as possible.  I parked outside, knowing the late falling snow would blanket the Prius.  Then I went to bed. In the middle of the night, I got up to play outside with the digital camera, a 6-foot ladder, and an umbrella... with the hope that no one would notice.  But after 179 flashes, I bet someone did.  It was obviously worth it.  I'm thrilled with the way they turned out... photo album 78

7-17-2004

Did it again.  I took full advantage of the Navigation System today.  We wanted to cut through a city, with the hope of finding a local shortcut rather than jumping on the highway and driving around.  The computer quickly found a pleasing route.  Unfortunately, it was closed due to construction.  No big deal.  I just drove a few blocks off-course with hopes of finding my way around, without having to follow the lengthy detour.  That didn't work.  I encountered the construction again.  But I could see the layout of the entire neighborhood.  So, I didn't even need to slow down.  I made up yet another alternate route of my own on-the-fly.  It ended up saving time & distance, and the entire time the system rerouted to keep the ultimate destination on track.  That sure was handy.  I certainly wouldn't have ever tried that without having that dynamic map available.

7-17-2004

Market Brainwashing.  I'm really getting sick of listening to this advertising slogan: "It's not more than what you need.  It's just more than what you are use to."  Telling people what they need, rather than just presenting the facts, is clearly a ploy to put more money in the automaker's pocket.  It is a scam to make a want appear to be a need.  Don't fall for it.  Question their motive.  Make them explain why.  Insist on details.  Then think about what you actually use your vehicle for.

7-17-2004

More Dependable.  Someone today made the comment that he will wait until then, rather than buying a hybrid now.  So naturally, I asked what exclamation actually meant.  I wanted him to define what "more" was intended to represent.  Prius (soon to begin year #8 of production) has already surpassed the reliability of the typical vehicle.  But then again, most Toyota vehicles do anyway.  How much "more" does he want?  And to no surprise, he didn't respond.  It turned out to be nothing but a comment to imply hybrids were not worthy of consideration.  But I know quite well that vague comments don't really accomplish much.

7-16-2004

Diversion Tactic.  Remember Coach from the television show "Cheers"?  He was much smarter than he appeared.  And sometimes, he'd say something that would really make you think.  He once told Sam that his apartment had burnt down, destroying everything Sam owned.  Sam panicked.  Then Coach told him that wasn't true, instead his brother was in town... which would have originally made Sam furious (since he hates his brother).  But having first been told the bad news about the apartment, he felt relieved that it was only news about his brother.  That's just like gas prices.  I fought like mad last year to convince people that $1.65 was the most appropriate lifetime per gallon calculation value to use on the Selling-Points document.  But no.  With prices as low as $1.19 sometimes, some absolutely refused to use a price that high.  Then I watched gas jump all the way up to $2.15 per gallon.  So with the prices all last week being $1.85, no one complains.  Geez!  The general population fell for the same diversion tactic Coach used.  And now that the price jumped to $1.94 today, I bet that goes without much attention either.  Isn't it amazing how quickly things can change.  Imagine a year from today, with prices having been well above the $1.65 that whole time and several more hybrids available.  It will be like things were always that way.  People will think I'm making it up claiming $1.65 was ever considered too high.  Danged if you do.  Darned if you don't.  I guess I can't win.  Oh well.

7-16-2004

Coolant Storage & Electric A/C.   When asked to compare my 2001 Prius to my 2004, I very often forget about those two features.  That's unfortunate.  Both are special qualities that give Prius a unique each over all hybrids, not just the previous model.  The "coolant storage" is a 3-liter storage device that is pumped hot anti-freeze every time you power-off the vehicle and keeps it warm until you power-on again.  This retention of heat provides the ability to rapidly warm-up the emissions system, so exhaust cleansing can start sooner.  That means the engine can shut off sooner too... which obviously saves gas.  The electric A/C is another device that allows gas to be saved.  It runs directly from electricity (just like the A/C you have in your home), rather than using the engine to power a belt for the pump.  This allows the ability to keep the engine off as long as possible while still providing cool air.  It's an ability that is absolutely priceless at a stoplight.  In the past, having the engine run just for the sake of powering the A/C while waiting for the light to turn green was awful.  You'd watch the MPG plummet.  But no more.  The new Prius uses the battery-pack instead, which defers recharging to more efficient times.  That clearly saves gas.  Too bad I can't remember to point those two features out more often.  Dang!

7-15-2004

Summer Sunset.  Got another colorful one this evening... photo album 77

7-15-2004

More is Better.  A report today on NPR about high-MPG vehicles was the usual "more is better" story.  There was no numeric data provided, just the implication that the hybrids currently available don't meet people's power & speed needs.  They did mention that the upcoming hybrids will be stronger & faster, which showed they are aware of the developing market.  But unfortunately, it does play right into the "more is better" brainwashing.  To be objective, they must state what the need actually is.  For example, they should have said what the minimum 0-to-60 speed should be.  They didn't though... since that would have proven Prius is already fast enough.  Dropping the pedal to the floor to merge onto the highway is totally unnecessary.  In fact, if I did do that I'd squash the vehicle in front of me.  Clearly, the need they imply does not actually exist.  People may want more, but it certainly isn't required.  It's just a desire created by clever advertising.  Zoom.  Zoom.  (pun intended)  Fortunately, they were straight-forward about diesel though, stating that even with the low-sulfur version and the latest cleansing technology it still couldn't quite match what Prius already delivers.  Don't fall for the "more is better" stories.

7-15-2004

How will you know?  The newest "hybrid" offers a benefit of around 1 MPG.  I find that rather humorous.  The error-of-margin for measuring MPG is actually greater than the MPG improvement itself!  How will anyone even know what benefit they are receiving... unless they only drive on the highway, since there is a zero percent improvement for high-speed cruising.  The auto-stop ability is completely worthless unless you actually stop.  And because this type of "hybrid" lacks the ability to contribute to propulsion power, driving without any long stoplights won't really benefit either.  How exactly can they claim this is really a "hybrid" vehicle?  There wasn't even a component change from a design perspective.  All they did was increase the size of the already existing battery & starter and change the way they react.  Everything else is the same.  The three hybrids currently available and the two upcoming have much, much greater differences from the traditional design.  Needless to say, I'm not thrilled about what GM is pulling.  Perhaps if their new system didn't cost that much, then I'd be happy.  But at the same premium as a full hybrid, what's the point?  Buying less really doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

7-15-2004

So close.  It is rather odd that I just barely experienced the absolutely fantastic MPG some other Prius owners observe on a very regular basis.  But I use E10 (a 10% ethanol mix with gas) for fuel, which causes about a 1.7 MPG efficiency loss.  And now I have upgraded to premium-grade tires.  That high-traction results in an additional loss of about 2.5 MPG.  So lower 50's is the best I can hope for, not upper 50's like others.  Oh well.  The actuality is that Summer (the ideal temperature here for efficiency) doesn't last that long.  The cold, harsh reality of Winter will settle balance my emotion.  That Lifetime MPG value I calculate for my Prius will ultimately reveal itself to be significantly over that of a traditional vehicle anyway.

7-15-2004

Truth & Misconceptions.  I find it quite reassuring knowing that a genuine pursuit for the truth will reveal that some beliefs are actually misconceptions.  Traditional vehicles suffer MPG claims quite a bit too.  Seasonal temperature & fuel changes have a massive effect on them as well, but that fact is rarely ever even acknowledged.  The lack of data for traditional vehicles make virtually all EPA related claims a joke, how can we believe them?  All along people have made way too many assumptions about what the values actually mean and how they are measured.  It's as if they have no understanding that driving style & speed has any impact on efficiency.  Test results are a total mystery... as far as you can get from objective.  They don't realize that the bladder inside screws up single-tank-only measurements.  And you never see any detail on the age of the testing vehicle. I suspect most are brand new, not broken-in at all.  The tires are very likely under-inflated.  And of course, the oil is likely overfilled.  The best way we can defend ourselves against all this nonsense is to document our own real-world data.  That way, when whatever competing technology is introduced, we'll have an overwhelming amount of proof that our claims our genuine.  Because, let's fact it.  A traditional vehicle simply won't be able to compete after awhile.  That will force the other automakers to come up with something.  And that's what attention is going to be focused on, not the obsolete stuff from the 20th Century.  Search for the truth.  You'll be amazed what you find.

7-14-2004

Black Prius.  I spotted a Green Classic Prius off in the distance.  Slowly, I was narrowing the distance between us.  Finally, I caught up at an intersection.  The driver didn't notice me at all.  He was distracted.  There a Black 2004 Prius (the first I had ever seen in the wild) pulled up right in front of the both of us.  That was cool!  3 Prius all at the same place at the same time.

7-14-2004

Real Alternative.  We are definitely on the road to "mainstream" now.  HSD will become available on vehicles that are already extremely popular (like Highlander & Camry) as time proceeds.  That aspect alone is a guarantee to stir more interest in the technology.  And then there are some current hybrid owners that have intentionally sacrificed MPG for the sake of widening the appeal of those vehicles, by testing new options in real-world situations.  In my particular case, I have willingly accepted a 2.5 MPG loss to achieve a noticeable improvement in traction, by upgrading to premium grade tires.  So those that have to deal with a lot of rain, snow, and ice will know that option is available on hybrids too.  The idea of "concept" will fade.  In just a few years, people in large quantities will consider hybrids as a real alternative to traditional vehicles.  Yeah!

7-14-2004

Taller View.  Someone used this "need" excuse to justify getting a SUV: "to see over the vehicle in front of me".  Was the person really that poorly informed, or did they think most people would be dumb enough to fall for that?  The next time you have a vehicle blocking your view, just back away.  The "height" effect is dramatically reduced by simply not following so closely.  Don't believe me?  Just try it sometime.  You'll discover the over & around views improve quite a bit as distance increases... which also provides a safety benefit too!

 

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