Prius Personal Log #144
September 4, 2004 - September 7, 2004
Last Updated: Mon. 10/04/2004page #143 page #145 BOOK INDEX
Victim of the Press. Unfortunately, I had to reply to a post with this today... Those "facts" are based on the grossly uninformed reports (and some that were written to intentionally mislead). You have fallen victim of the press, sorry. All throughout the first 2 years of Prius rollout, the car was slammed for alleged low sales. In reality, 100 percent of the quota was sold immediately. It's a simple trick. Those writers just focused on the actual quantity being purchased, rather than the fact that there was only a finite amount available. Had Prius been available like any other vehicle, where an ample supply was always in stock, a depiction of true market demand could have been derived. Instead, there was a just fixed quantity. Toyota stated they'd only build 15,000 that first year. So no matter how high the demand was, only 15,000 could be sold. Those reporters didn't care about that, nor did they care that people were waiting 6 months for delivery either. All they did was divide 15,000 by 17,000,000. That provided a result of just 1/10 of 1 percent of overall sales in the United States. What you also don't realize is that Toyota corporate owned the test-drive models, not the dealers. That forced the dealers to keep one on the lot at all times, since they obviously can't sell a vehicle they don't even have the title to. The every third month, Toyota corporate would send a new test-drive model. That provided one on the lot for immediate sale, no delivery wait. And still another fact you were clearly unaware of is that Toyota used Prius in rental fleets. So from time to time, you'd suddenly discover a dozen on the lot all for sale with only minor mileage on them. I'm sorry that you've been mislead by those reports. But I was there and very actively participated in that history. In fact, the very reason I created my website was to help those endure the horribly long delivery wait. So if there is anything else about the history you'd like to know about, please ask. Remember, it is very difficult to distinguish between those that don't have the whole story and those that have been told a different story by someone either poorly informed or has the intent to make hybrids appear to be a failure.
Unproven Technology. Don't you love when some uses a horribly vague statement like that? Many of the components, like the Engine & Inverter & Planetary-CVT & Motors, have been in the hands of owners since late 1997. Not a whole lot more is needed to prove they are well built. Plenty of data is already available. What else is there? Just the battery-pack, though NiMH is already extraordinarily well proven for reliability & durability. That technology gets used everywhere, it's no big deal. The only outstanding question is expected life. That's it. But even that is has limited meaning, since blue-book values are quite low by 180,000 miles anyway. What else is there left to prove?
Horsepower. How much horsepower do you need? That's my reply whenever someone asks how much horsepower Prius has. If the person responds with an actual number, so will I. If not, it is clear they don't have an understanding of how much is required in the first place. And I certainly don't want to contribute to the "more is better" brainwashing. So I don't reply. No reason to get upset, or worse, say something to offend the person. It's that simple.
2005 Prius. I'm on a roll today. Here's yet another new webpage. It provides details & prices for the newest model... 2005 prius
Purpose. One reason many of us purchase a Prius is to endorse the technology. We are well aware that Toyota intends to offer a hybrid system in each of their passenger vehicles by 2010. We also know they have a corporate goal of increasing their United States marketshare to 15 percent by that same date. The issue will no longer be what size or model of vehicle you drive, it will be what type. Purchasing a dirty, gas-guzzling, non-hybrid version of a vehicle then just plain won't make any sense. Purpose will change for everyone as time proceeds.
Prius History. As I was preparing this new webpage, I revealed it to a few owners to get some feedback. One of them responded with a "I didn't know that happened". Obviously, we have now tapped into a new Prius audience. The market has spread to those that don't realize the history behind the technology. That's cool. It also explains some of the misunderstandings. Without knowing the past, it is much harder to determine what the future hold. Hopefully, you'll find this summary of Prius events over the past decade I've prepared helpful... history
2004 Maintenance. Created a new webpage to inform about the schedule for HSD (specifically, my 2004 Prius). You'll find it here... maintenance 4
In the Future. It's going to get pretty fun a few years from now. I have a bunch of friends that own classic Prius. Their miles will slowly build up. At that point, we'll be able to squash the remaining misconceptions just by the overwhelming volume of data alone. There will be so much that statistics won't even be necessary anymore. It's not a whole lot different from other "profound" new technologies. Like when some questioned how well front-wheel drive would actually perform in real-world conditions. Obviously, we've progressed beyond that. The same goes for airbags. They clearly have proven their worth as the years have rolled by. Hybrids will too.
Introduction. It's been awhile. Here's an update...
I have participated on countless forums to discuss hybrids over the past four years. And with over 80,000 miles of Prius driving experience in the hostile climate of Minnesota under all imaginable driving & traffic conditions, I have an overwhelming amount of data supporting my endorsement in the full hybrid design Toyota has created (called "HSD").
MPG claims are mostly attempts to mislead. Simply make the person present the actual data in detail. That always clarifies the issue. In the cases where traditional cars are reported to achieve impressive efficiency, you will often find that the data is highway-only in nature. So what they are telling you is true; however, they don't tell you that MPG is considerably lower when they slow down. City & Suburb driving is typically quite disappointing for those same vehicles. That is not the case with a hybrid using HSD, where MPG climbs when you slow down.
EMISSIONS are almost always totally ignored in traditional verses hybrid debates. There simply is no contest. A hybrid that delivers both great efficiency and great emissions is what the anti-hybrid people fear most, and that's exactly what the HSD system does. Prius, for example, delivers a real-world mixed-driving average of about 49 MPG and an emission rating of AT-PZEV. Just say, "Show Me The Data!" The traditional vehicles just plain cannot compete with that, especially if it uses diesel.
TRANSMISSION is another argument problem. Those against hybrids often use data from manual transmission vehicles, which is highly deceptive. Since 90 percent of the market in the United States prefers a transmission that doesn't require shifting, forcing them to switch to one that does require it is just plain wrong. But they know quite well that automatic transmissions don't get anywhere near as good MPG. Fortunately, the full hybrids use a CVT, which doesn't require shifting yet it delivers even better efficiency.
COMPLEXITY is another point which carries no meaning. A full hybrid eliminates many components found in a traditional vehicle. To further simplify the design, the transmission is always engaged, no changing of contact surfaces ever. As yet another benefit, the motors are brushless, so no replacement is ever needed.
BATTERY life is quickly becoming something those wanting hybrids to fail a topic to avoid. Real-World data is beginning to confirm the lab test results. It shows that capacity is diminished somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 miles. After that, you take a MPG hit since capacity is reduced. That's it! Acceleration isn't even affected, because there's more than enough capacity still remaining for that and most of the time a full hybrid doesn't even use the battery-pack when accelerating anyway (the electricity is generated on-the-fly by the engine instead) Anywho, Toyota is now providing a 180,000 mile quote whenever people ask about battery-pack expectations.
PRICE is key to many discussions. What isn't is the fact that neither mass-production nor third-party supplier has begun. Without that, real comparisons cannot be made fairly. Production costs will obviously drop once that begins; it is a well documented fact in economics... especially in the automotive industry. So always look at the long-term outcome, not what is happening at the current moment.
OTHER factors that affect efficiency are commonly not addressed at all. Tire-Pressure makes a huge difference; soft tires hurt efficiency. Another factor is overfill of engine oil, too much causes an internal hindrance. Still another is the reality that winter-formula fuel holds less energy, so MPG will naturally be less. Yet another is that cold are is more dense, which causes greater resistance. And of course, break-in is often forgotten; a new vehicle will always report lower MPG than one that has a minimum of 10,000 miles on it.
In summary, I don't fall for the message posts that don't acknowledge all of the criteria I just mentioned. Because if they don't, they are not being objective.
Interesting Development. I hadn't really expected this.
Being so preoccupied with documenting everything I possibly could, the
spread of quarreling down to such a level hadn't occurred to me. But
thankfully, I now have my personal own logs to refer back to for helping
others. You see, online forums have flourished over the past few
years. This is much different than when Prius first debuted here back
in 2000. There are discussion groups all over throughout the internet
now, "local" communities as opposed to the massive entities I had dealt with
in the early years. So the same old debates are emerging again, in
these new localities with entirely new audiences. That means the same
old vague & deceptive posts are appearing all over again. Ahhh!
It's quite frustrating to get an email request from someone helping to
support my cause in their "neighborhood" and not be able supply them with
strong rebuttal material. The problem is our adversaries simply
ignore what you say and instead just proclaim the same misleading info over and
over and over again.
Sound familiar? That's the very same crap I had to deal with!
When people are not well informed and they are fiercely loyal to a brand, no matter what you show them they won't care. It's the nonsense of politics in the automotive world. Neither deals with change well, especially when it is necessary and requires a long-term gain state-of-mind. I'm at a loss for how to help. We know those with anti-hybrid sentiment are insincere at best, some even down right lie. They are clearly non-objective too. But with the nature of online forums, following a line of thought is quite difficult, making deception remarkably easy. And to further complicate matters, most people don't have a basis of comparison available. They weren't ever aware of how their traditional vehicle actually worked, so when they hear about how hybrids respond to various conditions it is literally the first time they ever gave that situation any thought. Learning the truth takes time, something most people are not willing to expend. Prius owners learn the benefits firsthand, by simply observing the behavior over time from their own vehicle then getting confirmation of what they concluded online from other owners. Perhaps that will ultimately be the only solution. After all, teaching by leading is by far the best method anyway. You turn into a leader simply by being among the first to give it a try and the struggling to find a way to share your experiences with others.
So... I guess I talked through the dilemma enough to find that my recommendation to others is to read through my logs and reply to those anti-hybrid message posts any way you can. Don't let them frustrate you either. Remember, the silent forum readers will be less critical of you if what you always provide detail and allow them to draw their own conclusion. The anti-hybrid folk will eventually get frustrated and attack you on a personal level, which wrecks their own credibility by showing they don't really care about being objective or having constructive discussions. Good Luck!