Prius Personal Log  #146

September 12, 2004  -  September 17, 2004

Last Updated: Sun. 11/21/2004

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9-17-2004

Winter Cruising.  Today's incorrect bit of information about Prius was about winter efficiency when cruising on the highway.  Obviously, someone came across some cold weather data and thought it only applied to Prius... not realizing traditional vehicles also have lower MPG as the temperature grows lower.  The fact that Prius still does better is pretty easy to prove.  So, I will.  Think about it.  Only a small amount of horsepower is needed to sustain a high-speed cruise.  The large engine of a traditional vehicle is gross overkill for such a simple task.  But since so many people are obsessed with the need for aggressive acceleration, the engine is made that large.  Since the engine in Prius is smaller, there is less waste... which saves gas.  To add to that advantage, the engine uses the Atkinson-Miller pumping cycle, rather than Otto in traditional vehicles.  It is a more efficient... which saves gas.  To benefit even further, the engine is run at an optimum RPM and the resulting excess thrust is used for electricity generation.  That is not only more efficient, it also provides electricity... which both help to save gas.  Want even more?  How about having a drag coefficient being lower than the other vehicles?  That aerodynamic advantage is more efficient... which saves gas.  Now do some comparisons.  You'll see that the real-world MPG from the traditional vehicles is clearly better.  And of course, there's no question that the emissions are much better.

9-17-2004

Side-By-Side Comparison.  I couldn't believe it.  There were two silver Jettas parked right next to each other today.  Both were waiting to pick someone up, sitting there with their engines running.  And it was blatantly obvious that one was a diesel.  As clear as day I could hear the clatter of the diesel engine over that of the gasoline engine.  If anyone ever tells you diesel is "as quiet" as a gasoline, they are lying.  I've had a number of not-so-friendly diesel-supporters attempt to convince me that the clatter sound from a modern diesel is negligible, that you won't really notice the difference between it and a gasoline.  That is absolutely false.  Don't believe them for a second.  I don't know how they could possibly think someone could overlook such a difference.  Arrgh!  And of course, that doesn't even acknowledge the reality that Prius is noticeably quieter than a traditional gasoline engine.  In fact, at times Prius is dead silent even though it is still running.  When will they learn?

9-17-2004

Being Green.  It does not mean buying a higher MPG vehicle, like some of the upcoming hybrids promotions imply.  I wonder how much of a problem that is going to become.  Both the "mock" and high-performance hybrids pretty much totally ignore SMOG related emissions.  All they really do is increase efficiency under certain conditions.

9-17-2004

Understanding EPA.  There is still a clear problem with the understanding of EPA estimates, to the extent where expectations are being incorrectly made and people are being mislead.  That's an unfortunate reality that will hopefully change soon.  http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/info.shtml ...provides details, which reveal the false assumptions I've seen posted in online comments far too many times.  Testing conditions just plain do not match the real-world situations most people actually encounter.  Make note that the EPA values themselves are not what people actually think.  They are not just the big numbers you find on the vehicle's window-sticker.  There's quite a bit more.  Here's the text from the 2004 Prius window-sticker... "Actual Mileage will vary with options, driving conditions, driving habits and vehicle's condition.  Results reported to EPA indicate that the majority of vehicles with these estimates will achieve between 51 and 69 mpg in the city and between 43 and 59 on the highway."

9-17-2004

Refusing to answer the question.  Sound familiar?  It's the same problem I've had with hybrids that I'm now witnessing with politics.  Sorry to be blunt, but I'm sick & tired of President Bush telling us that the reason to invade Iraq was justified.  We all agree with that.  It is a non-issue.  Quit trying to distract from the actual issue.  Over and over again, both democrats and even some republicans keep asking a different question about Iraq.  Refusing to answer it is not appropriate.  But that's what keeps happening.  We continue to get comments about why instead, even though we actually asked how.  How come the decision was made to alienate our allies and place the entire expense burden ourselves on ourselves by doing it ourselves?  It's that unilateral decision that ticks me off.  The fact that the bill is now $200,000,000 (that's correct, 200 BILLION dollars) is really troublesome.  Remember how much was allocated to helping out the hydrogen initiative?  It was only 2 billion.  The war, got 100 times more.  And hybrids got absolutely nothing new.  They got less, in fact.  The existing deduction was actually reduced.  Imagine how much better we could have spent that money and how much we could have saved by not doing it all alone.  Hmm?  So the moral of the story is to step back and look at the big picture, then force those not being objective to answer all the questions.  (But be fair and give them ample opportunity to provide comments as well... after they finally answer.)  Countless times in the past I've had to deal with the same issues in the hybrid world.  The most common is how diesel-supports refuse to even acknowledge smog related emissions.  They simply tell you something else every time you ask the question.  Don't fall for that diversion technique.

9-16-2004

Regret.  You'll find countless messages of praise from Prius owners.  The car has an unusually high satisfaction-rate.  But not everyone is happy.  There are a handful of owners that different expectations than what they actually got.  My brother encountered a Classic owner a few years ago that hated the car.  Her purchase was based entirely on Toyota's reputation.  She had no knowledge of Prius itself and no clue just how much attention would be drawn by owning one.  Some people prefer to have a plain vehicle that blends into the crowd, Prius is definitely not one of them.  Even though the look is relatively subtle, the demand for the technology isn't and neither is all the media attention.  So I suspect there will be a massive surge in demand once the extremely common vehicles like Corolla & Camry begin to offer HSD.  That is a choice which will please other consumers, the non-Prius type that desire the technology without anything else to draw attention.  Then, there will be nothing to regret.

9-15-2004

Wet Driving.  It's been really wet lately.  Yesterday, we got a ton of heavy rain.  That gave me lots of time to give the HydroEdge tires a work out.  And I did.  It's really fun.  The special design directs water through the deep channels in the tread.  You can feel the difference too.  I think the channels are so long that it actually creates a suction effect as the wheels leave the ground and get exposed to the air-pressure change.  That's a benefit beyond what I expected.  I just figured water was just directed to a controlled flow.  Apparently not, because the feeling while driving on wet roads is great.  It's actually making me welcome the first snow, rather than the usual denial that warm season has ended.  I bet that deep tread that comes all the way to the edge of the tire will really make a difference when cornering on snow & ice covered roads.  Then I'll be able to provide a strong recommendation for the tires.  Right now, I have that "incomplete research" feeling right now.  Only I final piece of data is missing.  That's it.  Even the MPG difference is a non-issue now.  I know, patience.

9-15-2004

Lifetime Average.  At 20,328 miles, it calculate to 49.3 MPG for my 2004 Prius.  That's pretty darn good considering the fuel I use is E10 (which lowers efficiency by about 1.7 MPG), I switched to high-traction tires (which lower efficiency by about 3 MPG until broken-in, then by about 1.5 MPG less afterward), and I live in Minnesota where winter-formula fuel and the extremely cold temperatures absolutely kill efficiency (in all types of vehicles).  In simplistic terms, the expectation this next year is to average mid 40's in the winter and low 50's in the summer.

9-14-2004

Misleading Environmental Statements.  This one today was from a money magazine.  They usually ignore the environmental aspect entirely.  So this one doesn't surprise me, "Zero to 60 doesn't matter as long as you can get where you're going and get there safely with minimal impact on the environment".   The author was misleading the reader into believing that improved MPG equates to cleaner emissions.  In reality, we (hybrid owners) know that it really only means a reduction of Carbon Dioxide, which is not related to pollution at all.  In fact, some high-efficiency engines are known to have worse smog-related emissions.  So unless you see a rating like SULEV or PZEV actually listed, don't believe the vehicle is actually cleaner.  And of course, we all know that an efficient engine in stop & slow traffic does rather poorly in comparison to what HSD in Prius can deliver in the same situation.  Lastly, if he thinks 0 to 60 doesn't matter, he obviously hasn't studied the advertising aspect of the American automotive market.  People buy into that whether they need it or not.  Sorry to be harsh, but someone has to make sure reports are objective.  Not mentioning essential information, whether intentional or accidental, will mislead.

9-14-2004

"Failed" Diesel Hybrids.  Interesting.  Comments today were made about Precept, claiming it was a failure.  What really happened was when you-know-who got in office the funding for the PNGV project was dropped.  That abruptly ended all development of those American hybrids... which were already suffering from patent-right quarrels.  In other words, the technology worked and development should have continued.  It makes you wonder about the ever-changing stories GM has been telling about their upcoming hybrids.  First that they weren't even worth it, that fuel-cells were just around the corner anyway.  Then they suddenly embraced hybrids saying a "full" type would be available from them in 2006.  Then they changed it to a "mild" in 2007.  Now they are saying the "mock" type is all they plan on selling.  Then when you hear about Precept (or the other PNGV vehicles) already having existed as a full-functional prototype back in 2000, you wonder why they have been stepping backward.  Each iteration of hybrid becomes less impressive.  So, my question is: Why?  What is their motive?  Do they actually even have an ultimate objective?  Or is really nothing but just making the chairpeople, stockholders, and employees happy in the short-term?

9-13-2004

"D" Batteries.  Did you know the "original" model of Prius (98, 99, 00) used battery-pack modules consisting of just "D" type rechargeables bonded together.  Size, Weight, Capacity, and Thermal concerns were all strong enough reasons to create the advanced module form-factor in the "classic" model of Prius (01, 02, 03).  It was a gamble that paid off so well they decided to develop another module with even greater energy-density that was powerful enough to satisfy the needs a HSD system (04, 05) and be installed in larger vehicles which would provide the ability to tow.  So now opportunity is knocking for the other batterymakers.  They are obviously not going to let Panasonic monopolize the entire automotive NiMH battery-module market with Toyota.  I wouldn't be surprised at all if Honda (who still uses "D") hasn't already had talks with some for that very reason, especially since I know of a new company trying to capture part of this market (the founder is the former CEO of GM).  And of course, Ford is facing the very same situation.  Their first hybrid used "D" batteries too.  These are aspects of the developing hybrid market often overlooked.  The potential for reduced costs and the spread to other vehicles is tremendous.

9-13-2004

EV mode not here, why?  There is always the opportunity that an after-market provider could offer a beefed up battery-pack that takes advantage of the EV mode (a level beyond stealth that is already built into the vehicle, but not enabled).  And a handful of owners have already taken it upon themselves to prove this substantially improves the power & efficiency of the system by doing exactly that.  So we know for a fact that the potential exists.  It's just a matter of using it.  The market isn't ready though, so Toyota see no need to push it.  But imagine what could happen later.  Imagine what how resale market could be changed with the knowledge that the system can easily be enhanced beyond what it was actually sold as.  The vehicle would retain value beyond what many had ever anticipated.  It's that new opportunity the current market has no clue how to deal with.  Just look up a vehicle in the used-price guides.  No where is there any acknowledgement of aftermarket enhancements.  So one of this magnitude is an unknown, with obvious potential but not monetary value... yet.  Patience.

9-13-2004

Triple Sighting!  Today's driving experience was great.  I was disappointed for not having seen any over the past 60 miles of driving.  Then all of a sudden, within just a 2-minute span, I saw 3 Prius.  It was great!

9-13-2004

Multi-Display Envy.  Apparently, the copy-cat syndrome is emerging.  The 2005 Nissan Altima will offer a Multi-Display very similar in look and placement to that of Prius.  It's not a hybrid and likely won't deliver much more than just a navigation system, but that's a fantastic start.  The appeal for features beyond the basics we've had for decades is growing.  Consumers want more and the automakers are beginning to deliver.  Yeah!

9-12-2004

Air-Conditioner Filter Document.  There's a new maintenance document available now.  The first was on "Changing Oil".  It got downloaded 8,000 times.  That was more than enough incentive to consider creating another when the need presented itself.  Last week, it did.  So I did.  Rather than having the dealer charge me $19.78 labor for changing the air-conditioner filter, especially if it wasn't necessary yet, you can now easily do it yourself.  Just download a copy of the new document I created. Here's a link... air-conditioner filter

 

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