Prius Personal Log  #145

September 8, 2004  -  September 12, 2004

Last Updated: Mon. 2/14/2005

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9-12-2004 Dashboard Rattle Fix.  A couple of weeks ago, a noise appeared.  It was too subtle and didn't happen often enough for me to locate the source though... until I started poking at the dashboard and made it worse.  It was the reflector that displays the projection of the speedometer/odometer cluster.  (By the way, did you know that was just a reflection?  The actual illumination equipment is located deep within the dashboard, not up against the windshield.  That's why what you see appears to be within a deep, dark tunnel.)

Anywho, I decided investigate.  Pulling up on the dashboard (it's secured by clamps that just push tight) above the reflector revealed the problem.  There was a teeny, tiny bit of space above the reflector allowing it to jump up when the car hits a bump... which caused the rattle I was hearing.

So, it was obvious that I needed something to set directly on top to hold it in place.  That object would have to be black, since it would need to cross through the visible vent opening for the defroster to the closest & most secure part of the dashboard.  It would have to be flexible enough to endure the routine bouncing of the dashboard.  And it would have to be tough enough to take both the extreme heat & cold the car would be exposed to over the years.  The length needed to be about 6 inches, the width about 1 inch, and the height about 1/8th inch.  Well, by dumb luck (or fate?) I had just purchased that exact object, a man's comb.  Sure enough, it worked perfect too (though I did trim off the teeth that would have otherwise shown through the vent).  The plastic was made for bending & temperature conditions like that.  The spine was ideal for strength.  The teeth work great for gripping.  The length was sweet.  And of course, the black color conceals it well (though most of it fits underneath a support for vent anyway). 

I was shocked to discover how well the dashboard secured down on top of it.  And with the nearly invisible fit and the dead silence it now provides, what the heck!  That fixed it.  It was a quick, easy, and cheap too.  Now I'm curious as ever what others will think of my bizarre ingenuity and if they will actually try it themselves, should the need arise.

9-11-2004

Reduce, not Eliminate.  Is it that obvious that I drive by both a electricity plant powered by coal and a gas refinery everyday on my way to and from work?  That makes me long for fields of far more environmentally friendly energy sources, ones that clean & renewable.  Just adding that to the scenery would be wonderful.  We don't need to eliminate use of coal & oil, but we sure need to make efforts to reduce the consumption of them... and that isn't what's been happening.  In fact, I've witnessed exactly the opposite.  Each person has been consuming more and more, not less.  That's why the full hybrid is such an elegant solution.  Without having to give up your vehicle of choice, you can achieve that reduction.  However, there are certain people trying to convince the market that isn't a good idea, that we should just drill more instead.  Don't let them win.  Instead, spread the word that reduction is realistic.  And who know, some day total elimination may be realistic.  But right now, it certainly isn't a requirement.  Just adopt technology that helps reduce.

9-10-2004

New Trend.  I wonder why quite a few new owners are voicing concern about the battery-pack charge-level not reaching full.  Hmm?  That is definitely a new trend.  Perhaps it is an indication that Prius is really expanding it's reach, way into the mainstream.  In the past, new owners already understood that having "the blues" was good thing.  But now they don't.  Delivery wait is even longer.  So there is ample time to research.  I bet the newest buying Prius are not the type to study aspects of vehicle operation online.  That's unfortunate.  There's a wealth of information free available that can help with the wait and enhance the ownership experience.  Oh well.  At least they begin participating online afterward.

9-10-2004

Celebrating Hybrid Ownership.  Today marked the start of year #5 for me.  I still clearly remember 4 years and 1 day ago when the salesperson handed me the keys to my first Prius.  The experience boggled my mind.  I couldn't believe that remarkable technological accomplishment was all mine!  Yippee!!!  Now I have a massive website and so much data there really isn't much left to prove.  But there was one tidbit grabbing my curiosity.  I wondered what my average combined MPG was over the past 4 years, what kind of fuel reduction I had actually achieved (reduced emissions is a given).  It turns out the 80,155 miles traveled required 1730.931 gallons resulting in an overall value of 46.3 MPG.  Sweet!  This new year will be really fun.  Awareness of Prius & HSD is proceeding quite well.  So I'm not expecting any battles on that front, especially when it comes to winter.  Living here in Minnesota has already proven everything about the cold season is no big deal for a Prius.  And of course, MPG should be better this time.  This 2004 is now broken-in.  What else is there?  I suppose the nonsense with the "mock" hybrids GM is pushing may become somewhat of an issue.  And perhaps the first hybrid from Ford will stir the market in an unexpected way.  We'll see.

9-10-2004

Anti-Hybrid Media.  It's not just people posting comment in online forums; however, the motives of reporters are usually different.  Yes, there are some that genuinely want hybrids to fail.  And there are some that just want a story that will draw lots of attention.  But many are simply poorly informed.  Virtually ever single article I have ever read on hybrids have had several errors in it.  They just guess about how HSD works, which leads to incorrect performance estimates.  They likely have no clue just how different HSD really is.  The most common error is assuming 15 MPH is the upper limit for the electric drive (aka "Stealth").  In reality, it is actually 10kW.  If you remain under that draw on the battery-pack, the charge-level is above 42 percent, and the catalytic-converter is hot, you can maintain up to 42 MPH (for around 3 miles under ideal conditions).  After all, sustaining a city-speed cruise doesn't take anywhere near as much horsepower as accelerating.  Then again, with some practice & patience, you can actually accelerate from a dead stop to 42 MPH without the engine starting.  But accelerating isn't an efficient use of the stored electricity.  You are better off using it later.  So allow the engine to run, then shut off once you get going.

9-10-2004

ICE Only.  Still to this day, the well informed continue to make comments about ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) only abilities.  As far as I'm concerned those are anti-hybrid maneuvers, since I know quite well that the people posting them already understand how HSD actually works.  On many occasions I have posted that HSD wasn't ever designed to work that way.  100 percent of the time thrust is being sent to the wheels by the engine, electricity is also being generated.  Remember, the A/C, steering, 2 small heaters, and many of the accessories (like the lights) require electricity to run anyway.  And the engine would not be able to maintain a constant RPM at an efficient rate without that ability to generate electricity at the same time.  Where the heck would that excess thrust goes otherwise?

9-10-2004

Greenwashing.  I found this comment posted today rather enlightening, "I am amazed by how companies are scrambling to get hybrids into the market."  It clearly indicates the greenwashing is working.  Many of those intended vehicles clearly do not qualify as a hybrid.  To be a hybrid, it means there is a blending of "more than one".  In the Silverado, only a single propulsion source exists.  All they did was just increase the size of the starter & battery and enable an auto-stop feature.  It is nothing but a glorified traditional vehicle labeled as a "hybrid" to trick the market into believing GM is doing more than they really are.  That's why I have come of with a solution for that abuse of term hybrid... simply call the Silverado a "mock" hybrid.  Hopefully, the use of "mock" will encourage GM to quickly coin a trademark term for their technology.  After all, if they're serious about competing they'll want something of their own they can market (advertise to death) anyway.  So it is in their best interest to not generically calling their traditional vehicle enhancement a hybrid... since it isn't.

9-10-2004

Winter #5.  This year will be bring the fifth winter for me to experience in Minnesota with a Prius.  There are already literally hundreds of winter photos on the website showing those experiences in Minnesota over the past 4 winters, including a commute at -18F.  Dealing with winter is totally a non-issue, so much so that you'll make those with traditional vehicles rather jealous.  Engine warm-up time is no longer than it takes for you to buckle your seatbelt.  Clearing the windows and keeping you warm is impressive even with the engine off.  The traction-control and ABS do there job pretty well.  (VSC is handy too.)  As an extra perk, the "B" mode is a feature that only Prius offers (engine braking, which reduces the odds of the wheels slipping on tight slippery turn when unanticipated deceleration is required).  And of course, your winter MPG will clearly be superior to what any traditional vehicle can handle... especially since the normal road speed reduction due to fresh snow is a benefit to the hybrid system.  Have fun this cold season.  I know I will!

9-10-2004

Hybrid Mentality.  It is changing, since initial rollout & education is obviously complete.  It is now mutating into the "niche group" phase.  So the massive "all hybrids" phase is history and the "one specific vehicle" phase is over too.  In other words, there are a variety of online forums and information sources to choose from now.  So... we need to nurture the newest one and wait.  It may seem counterintuitive, but it will work.  Eventually, another phase will emerge.  It is rather difficult to predict what this one will be, but nonetheless change will be inevitable.  My guess is that either "full" hybrids will unite, leaving the "mild" and "mock" types to fend for themselves, or brand loyalty (like HSD) will become a unifying factor.  It's hard to tell, since so much depends on supply, gas prices, and who gets elected as president rather than the actual technology itself.  I can't wait for that next phase.  I'm really looking forward to getting the opportunity to do more offline line with other owners.  Perhaps a club will take form.  That would be fun.  In the past, the right ingredients for something like that to sustain itself simple did not exist.  But now with the momentum of hybrid interest building and the success of the technology become apparent, new opportunities await.  Sweet!

9-09-2004

Happy Anniversary.  Today is the big day for me.  4 years ago to the day I made it my crusade to assist with the rollout of hybrids, to do everything I realistically could to promote the technology.  It was the day I purchased my first Prius.  I knew that would take a commitment of 4 years to be able to achieve such a goal... especially since so much education along the way was required.  Needless to say, mission accomplished.  All the work really paid off.  Lots of people are interested and the website is loaded with a ton of self-serving content.  So, I'm done.  From this point on, it's simply a hobby.  (And yes, it took a ton of effort on my part to learn to scale back.)  I'll update the website (lots of new photos) and participate online, but it won't be on the grand scale anymore.  There's simply no need.  I can participate in other aspects of life knowing that I did my part to help out.  Yeah!  I'm sure glad hybrid acceptance progressed so well.

9-09-2004

The Blues.  Some new owners believe charging should be more aggressive, pushing the level into green (7 to 8 bars) as much as possible.  That isn't the case.  Blue (3 to 6 bars) is actually the "happy place".  Keeping the charge-level in the middle is what will insure the longest possible battery-life.  That means you should hope that your adventures into green & pink (1 to 2 bars) are only brief ones.  In other words, the longer you have the "the blues" the better.

9-09-2004

Asthma.  It now officially affects 25% of our young.  And to no surprise, one of the suggestions to deal with that is to move away from the urban areas to somewhere with cleaner air.  That doesn't actually solve the problem, it is just a way of dealing with it.  Unfortunately, many people don't have that option.  And worse, it won't last forever.  Eventually, the cleaner areas will become overwhelmed with pollution too.  Reducing smog-related emissions is very important to those suffering from breathing-related problems.

9-08-2004

Suspicious Prices.  Why is the price of gas so low?  $1.79 per gallon doesn't correlate with the near-record-high oil prices.  It's about $0.25 too low.  I think the federal subsidies is abnormally high.  We sure are going to have to pay for that later.  I wish the prices were more reflective of what it actually costs.

9-08-2004

9,000 Pre-Orders.  Toyota is doing the honorable thing, by using the entire supply of battery-pack modules available to fulfill the backorder of Prius.  Unfortunately, that has caused the number of orders for the upcoming Lexus hybrid to 9,000 already.  (By the way, Lexus is the luxury division of Toyota.)  I wonder how large that number will grow to by the time deliveries of that Lexus finally begin.  Hmm?

 

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