Prius Personal Log  #137

August 1, 2004  -  August 6, 2004

Last Updated: Sun. 8/29/2004

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8-06-2004

MPG Cycles.  The up & down of MPG due to the seasonal changes really tests your resolve.  4 times now I've went through that "trauma" in Minnesota.  But it sure brings a whole to exhilaration to the arrival of Spring.  Wow!  Seeing that MPG climb as the weather gets more and more beautiful is incredible.  The experience is much like that excitement that children feel as the end of the school year approaches.  Each day gets better and better!  The down side is Winter.  But the way Prius handles it is astounding, so it a way you actually look forward to it a little bit... knowing everyone else on the road won't be as well off as you.  Yes, it's a smug attitude... but since my quest is to make HSD available for everyone, I'm suppose to show off what the technology has to offer.  Anywho, just over the past few weeks I went through another one of those MPG cycles.  The new tires really took a toll on the efficiency.  The course surface and sharp edges of the tread took about 2,000 miles to wear down to the normal level.  With a treadwear rating so high (760, that's really hard rubber), it's to be expected.  But today's fill up realize a wonderful surprise.  At the pump, I calculated a fantastic 54.8 MPG.  Yippee!  I wasn't planning on getting that from these high-traction tires, especially when also using E10 (a 10% ethanol mix with 90% gas).  But it happened.  Sweet!

8-06-2004

2005 Prius Packages.  For a year now I've been displeased about how people are referring to the Prius packages by number, rather than using the id letters... knowing that Toyota would eventually consolidate the choices down to the most popular ones... which would result in renumbering, causing confusion since the new numbers would be both different and lower.  And sure enough, that is exactly what happened.  The id letters didn't change though.  Can we finally switch to using them instead?  It sure would help new owners and those researching the purchase of a 2005 Prius.  Just ask yourself which makes sense, keeping track of the fact that package #9 in 2004 is now #6 in 2005, or the fact that "BC" last year is still "BC" this year and will likely remain "BC" next year.

8-06-2004

New Market.  The auto industry is beginning a massive reconstruction.  With oil prices at an all-time high, makers like KIA gaining surprising amounts of marketshare, new technology providing entirely new opportunities, and the ceiling having been reached for size & speed & power, and consumer wants different from in the past, this isn't your father's business anymore.  Those traditional approaches are not working well now.  Change is inevitable.  Will you fight it or accept it with open arms?

8-05-2004

Escape-Hybrid EPA testing results.  Ford has official numbers to begin advertising with now.  The 2WD version got 36 city and 31 highway.  The 4WD version got 33 city and 29 highway.  That will obviously be an image boost for SUVs in general, since their overall average 17.9 MPG.  But how will people actually react?  Most have no clue how good their MPG is in the first place.  So they have nothing but those EPA numbers to compare too.  That doesn't account for the time you spend in stop & slow traffic... yet it is the very thing the hybrid will excel in.  Unfortunately, that isn't really what a SUV is actually designed for.  But at least the use of a hybrid system will help.  Personally, I'm sticking with my hatchback.

8-04-2004

Another Sunset.  I discovered another photo (#31) in my archives, something I had originally overlooked... photo album 77

8-04-2004

Oil Prices.  They hit an all-time high today.  No wonder the negative attitudes have been well pronounced lately.  The need for non-traditional solutions, like hybrids, is becoming quite obvious.  In fact, the concern about inevitable change is so high the stock-market took a nasty hit today... just by the news of the oil price high.  The price of gas isn't expected to be effected by this for another 4 to 6 weeks.  But as you can imagine, everything will be affected.  Fuel for delivery trucks will cost more.  So naturally, the product they are delivering will bare that in a higher price.

8-04-2004

Did you know?  The current set of reviews state they drive the vehicles hard.  Have you wondered what that actually means?  I can imagine high-speeds with lots of lane-changes, which I don't do.  But it could also be accelerating quickly when starting from a stop.  I actually do that.  When the light turns green, I drop the pedal (no all the way) and rapidly put several car-lengths between me and the next vehicle.  Owners call that "brisk" acceleration.  It is a step below aggressive acceleration, like with "jack rabbit" starts.  That quick launch is a benefit the HSD design offers.  The responsiveness of the 50kW motor and the fact that an engine is most efficient when it is used at about 70% potential is a key to keeping those MPG numbers up there.  Prius are not slow, as the electric misconception lead some to believe.  And it is so remarkably smoooooooth (thanks to the motor & CVT), it doesn't have a sensation any different from a traditional acceleration either, even though it is noticeably faster.  It feels "normal", in fact.  Try it.  You'll like it.

8-04-2004

Good Times Ahead.  The 300,000 goal has made the news again.  As planned for years now, Toyota is expecting to reach that worldwide hybrid system production level late in 2005 (though, originally it was stated as "sometime in" and we all hoped it was early).  Regardless, it is still in the works.  You may not believe that based on what you read though.  An article today stated production this way "Toyota sold 53,293 hybrid vehicles worldwide in 2003".  That made it appear as though the numbers are still that small.  Mentioning that the 2004 level was 130,000 would have pointed out the significant increase that has already taken place.  But it didn't.  Instead it mentioned upcoming increase, and in an inconsistent manner (monthly rather than annual).  Oh well.  The goal initiated years ago is proceeding regardless of how it is reported.  The remaining capacity need still looks pretty realistic too.  The establishment of the anticipated production in the United States could be what gets them there.  Allowing the existing capacity to serve the rest of the world using the volume originally sent here, then us opening a facility locally should make everyone happy.  Hooray!

8-04-2004

It was inevitable.  They are now claiming my tire upgrade was actually a cover-up scam, that the handling of Prius is inferior with those standard tires.  They are using the same old lame tricks too.  (When will they learn that others can see right through that?)  Sighting vague reports and non-relevant "facts" just doesn't cut it.  I simply point out real-world detail in response.  After 4 years of other owners helping to keep me properly information, my data is rather extensive.  For example, they used a report from a lengthy test-drive of Prius to establish a credible comment of bad tires.  All I had to do was point out that a great majority of vehicles require equal tire-pressure in both the front & back tires, but Prius doesn't.  No where in the report was tire-pressure mentioned.  The tester was likely totally unaware that Prius requires a 2 PSI bias in front.  Not knowing that is an invitation for reduced handling.  Did you know that?  (Here's a tip: tire-pressure requirements are printed on the driver's door-jam of the car itself.)  Anywho, it's not a cover-up.  What I'm really doing is getting a jumpstart on data-gathering for high-traction tires.  More times than I care to admit, owners of the classic model have requested advice about high-traction tires from me and I wasn't able to provide them with any personal experiences.  Now I can.  The upfront expense to me is simply my way of saying "thank you" for the other owners being so supportive.  So later when the comes for replacement of the standard tires, I would have accumulated quite a bit of real-world experiences with these to share with them.  That's well worth the crap a few with ill intent give me as a result.

8-04-2004

Thinking Different.  That's interesting.  Someone sent me an email stating had thought he "had me pegged as a Mac user".  From an outside perspective, that makes a whole lot of sense.  Their slogan is "think different".  They take great pride being able stick out in a crowd.  It is an honorable select group to be a part of... but that's definitely not me... or most all of the Prius owners.  The discussions online are entrenched on the topic of how HSD will become the new standard, how it will become an incredibly popular choice in the next few years, how (as it has said on my homepage) that Prius is "driving a better future".  We don't what to be different.  We want to be part of the new age of reduced emissions & consumption for everyone.  All will be the same.  All vehicles, no matter what size or type, will be cleaner and more efficient.

8-03-2004

Conversion Loss.  Yes, there is a power conversion loss going from mechanical energy to electrical, and the reverse is true too.  But the fact that alone is not the whole MPG picture.  There are more elements to the entire equation.  The existence of the 2 electric motors (and the PSD) allow the gas engine to run at a more efficient RPM than normal.  The engine uses the Atkinson-Miller cycle instead of Otto (which isn't as powerful, but is more efficient).  And the engine is smaller than normal contributes to efficiency too.  All that combined provides a greater MPG savings than the loss from the power conversion alone.  That's an overall benefit.

8-03-2004

Poor Planning.  That's the latest accusation against Toyota.  The anti-hybrid crowd is trying to convince others that the excessive demand and huge shortage is totally on the part of the automaker.  To that, I say it sure looks like the poor planning is on the part of all the other automakers, not Toyota or Honda.  They are the only ones that were prepared for the upcoming change in consumer priorities.  The desire for reduced emissions & consumption is finally gaining appeal.  How come they didn't see that coming?  Toyota planned for it.  In fact, Toyota will have sold 250,000 Prius by the end of the 2004 model year (a few weeks from now).  That's one heck of a head start for when the mainstream demand finally begins (in 2006).  Right now, the situation is no different than what several other recent popular non-hybrid vehicles have also endured during their initial rollout.  So by the time Prius supply will have caught up to demand, the other automakers will only be debuting their first hybrid.  That's poor planning on their part.

8-02-2004

On the soapbox.  The phrases "JUST THE FACTS" and "SHOW ME THE DATA" are coming in very useful now.  The problem with many of the abrasive online discussions is the initiator was overly vague and refused to acknowledge detail provided by others afterward.  In other words, they draw the conclusion for you rather than allowing you to gather data and decide for yourself.  For example, the upcoming service campaign for the hood seal can be perceived in a variety of different ways, including a "recall" by some.  I want to hear about actual experiences, not speculation.  Why not just sound off if you have or haven't had any problems related to this?  Someone is always going to reach for that panic button anyway... especially the newer owners that have just recently joined the hybrid realm and may be a bit overwhelmed still.  Having actual experiences to refer to is far more productive in reply.  And after having dealt with Prius for over 4 years now and problematic cars for 20 years before that, I feel there is no need for all the anxiety encountered online.  There are far more owners with Prius that run perfectly than the few that have trouble.  And of those few, some didn't actually have a real problem.  It was a simple misunderstanding of what the HSD system was doing.  Regardless, reports get amplified way out of proportion and distorted each step of the way.  It's the nature of the forums, online discussions tend to get out of hand very easily.  Unfortunately, there really isn't a good suggestion for countering every disruptive post either.  Heck, some people just crave attention.  So providing a rebuttal is the best thing you can do to satisfy their desire, rather than allowing it to grow.  My favorite reply now is "SHOW ME THE DATA".  It helps to at least reveal what the intent of a claim.  If they don't even try, odds are that they are not sincere.  You get the good with the bad.  It's a fact of life.  How you deal with it is what builds character... even if it means jumping on the soapbox from time to time.

8-01-2004

Not actually answering the question.  It's very interesting that the hybrid dilemma has a direct parallel to the problem in Iraq.  When the question of "HOW" we should have done it is posed, the answer is almost always that the disempowering of that leadership was necessary.  Well, duh!  Most everyone agrees with that answer.  But it is not a response to what was really asked, and it frustrates & saddens me that people fall for that.  The actual question was not "IF", it was "HOW".  And the proper response should be that we took a unilateral approach, rather than waiting for the United Nations and building a strong multi-national alliance.  See that difference?  Some don't what to hear the proper answer though.  Some prefer to focus on the other, as a diversion, since it won't stir much negative feedback.  In fact, it usually triggers a sense of agreement.  But it doesn't actually answer the question.  The same is true for hybrids.  We are getting a lot of "IF" answers, rather than "HOW".  Imagine what the hybrid dilemma would be like if articles & surveys all asked what type of hybrid should we be supporting instead... a question of "HOW" they should be built, not "IF".  That would be far more effective, especially since the answer involves more than just a yes or no in return.  And what about the future?  How do you proceed, both with hybrids and Iraq.  Imagine how difficult the next problem will be.  Someday, some other country will require military action to resolve a problem.  When the United States offers to do that, do you really think the question should be "IF" rather than "HOW".  The same thing applies to hybrids.  The next evolutionary step will be to take advantage of that "EV button".  So we should ask:  HOW many miles would you like to be able to drive using it?  HOW much of an extra cost do you think people will be willing to pay for it?  HOW fast should the maximum speed be with it?  HOW advantageous do you feel the feature would be for you?  HOW would you like to use it?  HOW would you like it to activate & deactivate?  HOW would you like the information for it on the Multi-Display to be presented?

 

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