Prius Personal Log  #138

August 7, 2004  -  August 12, 2004

Last Updated: Sun. 1/02/2005

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8-12-2004

Pep Talk.  I have been intensely battling the anti-hybrid crowd on Edmunds since December 2002, knowing that the debate skills I gain from those small-scale online attacks will properly prepare me for the inevitable all-out assaults certain groups and automakers will soon launch against us.  Because the reality is that it will get worse before it gets better.  There's a lot of money to be lost by those not ready for the growing demand of hybrids.  Just like in the early 70's, some automakers got caught completely off-guard.  It's like they were in denial that the market would ever desire something different from what they were pushing.  And with both the population growing scary rate and the developing countries advancing far faster than anyone ever imagined, it should not really come as any surprise that worldwide supply of oil is having trouble keeping up with demand.  Thankfully, I am part of a rapidly growing group helping to endorse the HSD technology... by just driving around their Prius. Yeah!  And we are very well prepared for this upcoming conflict.  All the sharing of experiences in those friendly online forums is priceless.  And advice from the big guys helps too.  The comments former President Clinton made in an interview the other day were fantastic.  He specifically pointed out the dishonest tactics some used during the 1992 election campaign.  Sound familiar?  It's happening in both the political arena again and now with hybrids too.  I'm not able to voice my thoughts as much as I'd like to nowadays in the friendly groups.  But that's not because I've abandoned those efforts, it's because I'm off trying to put out the fires some people keep lighting.  Arrgh!  So I tell those owners to keep doing what your doing.  Enjoy their Prius.  Tell anyone that's interested about the real-world experiences they have with it.  Even though it will be a struggle for awhile, it will still be quite rewarding (besides the great MPG and low emissions).  My average sighting-per-day count is now up to 5.  Excellent!  It's incredible getting to see Prius all over the place now.  I remember when I celebrated that average reaching just 1 per day.  And it will continue to get better and better.  As of the end of the 2004 model year, we'll have about 107,000 Prius on the road in the United States.  That total is expected to grow to at least 187,000 by this time next year.  Hooray!  Don't let those dang misleading articles upset you.  That kind of crap will eventually die down.  With so many of us on the road, it will be very hard to distract from the obvious success after awhile.  Yippee!

8-12-2004

55, 54, 55.  Those are the temperatures of my three most recent morning commutes.  It's well below normal.  That's pulling the MPG down.  August has always been the best month of the year... but it certainly doesn't look like that for 2004.  In the next few days we are suppose to have a brief warm up, then it will get cold again.  The feel is more like October.  Bummer.  They say summer is brief here in Minnesota, but this is ridiculous.  Thank "global warming" for the climate shifts.

8-12-2004

Reverse Beeper Discovery.  The first thing many new Prius owners do is permanently turn off the reverse beeper.  It's a rather annoying sound that comes on inside the car (not outside) when you shift to back up.  The problem has been that some mysteriously can't get the disable process to work.  Then after struggling for awhile, they miraculously do it... and we have never been able to figure out why, until today's discovery.  A very observant owner figured out the missing step.  If the odometer is already set to ODO, you still have to cycle through the TRIP-A and TRIP-B options back to ODO anyway.  The act of doing that is just as important as it being on the ODO setting afterward.  Who knew they'd design the sequence to work just like a combination lock?  But they did.  And know that we finally know that, all owners not wanting to hear that beeping won't have to anymore.  Cool!

8-11-2004

The younger crowd.  Their desire for high-tech conveniences is raising the bar for everyone.  Those resistant to change will observe how amazingly convenient the totally new features like SE/SS are, and they will eventually desire it themselves.  It is no different that the switch from VHS to DVD.  The adoption rate for the players & recorders vary widely.  In the end though, the entire population will end up using them.  After all, manufacturers stop production of the older technology once sales drop to unprofitable margins.  But by then, competition is so strong that prices are cheap anyway.  Just look at how tiny the VHS displays in stores are currently.  Everyone is offering DVD now, and the prices are already reasonable.  So VHS is diminishing. Change takes time.  And it's well worth waiting for it to happen.  How long do you think HSD will take to become common?

8-11-2004

Uphill from here.  Things are really getting interesting.  There is no hope for gas prices now.  They are destined to climb up and stay up!  Back when I created that "Selling Points" Prius document, I had to argue forcefully to get other owners to support me that long term $1.65 per gallon wasn't anywhere near high enough for long-term ownership calculations.  Some thought I was nuts trying to encourage people to consider Prius based on a price so high.  Now, just a year and half later, some would be delighted for prices to be that low.  Many would give it much thought for awhile still.  But... eventually.  I wonder kind of effect that reality will have once it finally sinks in.  Hmm?  A guess would be that interest in the Classic Prius grows.  People will likely become curious about how that hybrid faired over the years ...which would lead me to wonder how they will react to discovering how well it actually was designed... and how some of us figured that out way back then, when others were claiming hybrids were nothing but fad with no potential.  To me, it's obvious.  Whether the hill is close or far, it's still there... we will eventually have to climb it.  Shouldn't we prepare for it?  Leaving the burden for our children, which at that point no more preparation time will be left, is a poor choice.  Yet, that's what our administration is pushing.  Drill now.  Worry about the problem later.  There's more than enough for us, and some magical solution will just happen to miraculously appear for our children just in the nick of time.  And there aren't many people actually suffering from breathing-related problems.  All those advertisements on television for allergy & asthma medications are just hype.  Few actually need them.  And it won't ever get any worse either.  Vehicles aren't getting any bigger or less efficient or dirtier...  You get the picture.  It won't be a pretty one if hybrids aren't allowed to evolve.

8-11-2004

 

Resale Value.  This is the latest vague attack to make hybrids look bad.  It was the same old technique, simply make a claim without providing any data whatsoever.  So I did.  I just looked up two Kelley Blue Book trade-in values samples after 8 years of use with the vehicle still in good condition at 150,000 miles... 1996 Toyota Camry DX Sedan 4D, 4-Cyl. 2.2 Liter, Automatic, Front Wheel Drive, Air Conditioning, Power Steering, Tilt Wheel, AM/FM Stereo, Dual Front Air Bags: $1,680  and  1996 Toyota Camry XLE Sedan 4D, V6 3.0 Liter, Automatic, Front Wheel Drive, Air Conditioning, Power Steering, Power Windows, Power Door Locks, Tilt Wheel, Cruise Control, AM/FM Stereo, Cassette, Single Compact Disc, Premium Sound, Dual Front Air Bags, Front Side Air Bags, ABS (4-Wheel), Power Seat, Alloy Wheels: $2,915.  Also note that selling the vehicle yourself would provide a higher return.  However, that "good" rating is rather generous.  Most vehicles that old only qualify as "fair".  And if you have been involved in even a minor body-damaging accident, expect "poor".  In other words, once a vehicle has reached the 150,000 mile mark and it still runs just fine, you are at the "better off just keeping it" stage.  And remember, the price of gas 8 years from now will have a profound affect on resale values.  But most importantly keep in mind the fact that there really isn't a difference in selling price when the odometer goes beyond 150,000 miles, since much greater emphasis is placed on vehicle condition at that point anyway.  The point is the resale value is pretty low regardless once it reaches that age.  Don't let people convince you that any car is worth a large amount of money... because it's not.  However, the HSD design was engineered to last longer.  The easier than usual starting, the fact that the engine isn't used as much or ever revs as high, the lack of any transmission shifting ever, the careful protection of the battery-pack from ever being allowed to deep-discharge, the ability to generate electricity on-the-fly rather than always needing to use the battery-pack... you get the idea.  There's genuine potential for a rather impressive lifespan.  Then we'll see what the resale values really are.

8-10-2004

Frugalympics.  See that article in the September 2004 edition of "Car & Driver"?  Their summary hit the diesel supports right where it hurts the most... in the MPG category!  Here's the numbers... Toyota Prius: Highway 50 MPG, Suburb: 54 MPG, City: 52 MPG, Racing: 18 MPG.  Volkswagen Jetta GLS TDI AT: Highway 42 MPG, Suburb: 42 MPG, City: 33 MPG, Racing: 17 MPG.  And if that wasn't enough, Prius was faster too. 0-60, 0-100, 5-60, 30-50, 60-70, and 1/4 mile were are better than the Jetta.  So there!

8-10-2004

Rollout Strategy.  Oh!  People are crying "conspiracy" already, claiming Ford's attempt to deliver hybrids is nothing but a publicity stunt.  Not even giving an automaker a chance is wrong.  I say, give them a chance to screw it up themselves.  You never know.  They actually could triumph.  The approach they have been taking is one I agree with.  Selling a limited quantity at projected-market-value rather trying to squeeze profit from a brand new product immediately is a wise way to proceed.  That long-term approach really could pay off, especially since the design is a full hybrid... which provides a wealth of future upgrade opportunities.  Not betting the farm solely on quarterly profits shows a great change of pace.  Give them a benefit of doubt.  Watch how this rollout strategy unfolds, you may be pleasantly surprised.

8-09-2004

Sightings.  Wow!  I'm seeing Prius everywhere now.  It's great!

8-09-2004

Sunset Photos.  Would you believe even more, with the Prius, of course... photo album 79

8-08-2004

Hybrid Success.  It's becoming rather obvious lately.  With Ford having begun production of their first hybrid just a few days ago, those that resist change are really starting to put up a fight now.  I think they are freaking out over all the positive attention that Escape-Hybrid is getting.  Their greatest fear is becoming a reality.  People are accepting the idea of hybrids.  The draw toward Prius (built so far away it wasn't really a threat to them) is now happening for a domestic built vehicle too.  Ha! Ha!  The desire for what the new technology can offer is something they can't really fight.  Growing appeal has no body, no physical essence for them to protest.  So watch for negative attacks on the vehicles themselves.  Notice how those against hybrids will resist debates about the technology itself.  Instead, they'll try to keep the discussion narrow.  Don't let them.  Simply ignore those efforts by asking for actual data.  Because when you gather all the facts and look at the big pictures, "full" hybrids really shine.  Both Prius and Escape-Hybrid will demonstrate the potential.  The upcoming hybrids from Toyota & Lexus will reinforce it.  We've reached the summit.  The hardest part is over now.  It's a slow, gradual increase in momentum from this point on.  Phew!

8-08-2004

Computer Nerd.  Remember that term from a decade ago?  Over half the population of the United States now fits that definition.  Yippee!  So many are now taking advantage of technology the way "nerds" used to in the past, it isn't even thought of as an extreme anymore.  In fact, it is now an expectation.  Look at how many use email, surf the internet, listen to MP3s, read news & weather online, burn CDs, play & record DVDs, have notebook computers & handhelds, talk on cell-phones, scan photos, take digital photos, print digital photos... need I say more.  It has been the norm.  The 21st Century is here.  How is the hybrid going to be any different?  Toyota is proving the technology is totally realistic, capable of handling any situation a driver can expose it too.  That's the hardest step.  Now comes the price-drop phase, where increased production & acceptance causes the reduction of cost.  After awhile, the "hybrid" term will become as outdated as "nerd".

8-07-2004

FreedomCAR Study.  The PNGV project had made it to the prototype stage.  Working models had been demonstrated.  The reality of much more efficient vehicles was as hand.  Then the project was very abruptly cancelled back when this current administration came to power.  Not a single vehicle made it any further.  All was literally lost, including all that federal funding.  What a waste and a let down.  Bummer.  Toyota was not allowed to participate though, so they established their own endeavor over in Japan.  Their frustration from not being included let to great automotive advances.  THS in the Prius resulted.  HSD later followed.  FreedomCAR was created in place of PNGV.  We are still waiting for that supposed benefit of this program instead.  Nothing so far.  But there is at least something happening.  They are studying the success of the Japanese hybrids.  I expected research & development, not road-testing.  But hey, at least it's something.  The data, all accumulated in Arizona, consists of the following:  6 Insights (5 CVT, 1 Manual) driven 347,000 miles resulted in 46.0 MPG.  4 Civic-Hybrids (all CVT) driven 284,000 miles resulted in an average of 38.0 MPG.  4 Classic Prius driven 380,000 miles resulted in an average of 41.1 MPG.  And 2 (not broken-in yet) 2004 Prius driven only 16,000 miles resulted in an average of 44.6 MPG.  The efficiency will definitely increase a little as the vehicle ages; break-in effect is well documented within the industry.  That makes Prius the clear winner.  Yeah!  It also provides me with a wealth of data generated by non-owners, from those that literally just drove the car as if it was a traditional vehicle.  Want to see that data for yourself?  Just follow this link... http://avt.inel.gov/hev.html

 

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