Prius Personal Log  #149

September 24, 2004  -  September 29, 2004

Last Updated: Weds. 7/06/2004

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9-29-2004

Selling for high MPG.  That's what some believe Toyota is emphasizing right now.  Step back and look at the forest.  50 MPG is actually a compromise for cleaner emissions.  Toyota is already selling Prius for greenness, only people don't know it... yet.  The catch is people aren't ready for that right now.  Too much focus is being put on reliability and cost, making emissions a very low priority.  So Toyota is taking the quiet approach.  Rather than making a big deal about the new technology and selling only a handful of them.  They are keeping extremely quiet and selling thousands and thousands of them using MPG is the primary reason for purchase.  Then later (a few years from now) they will announce that they are already 1/2 million of their green vehicles already on the road... which will be a massive endorsement for their product after the fact, a huge reputation booster that the other automakers won't be able to compete with.  In other words, think long-term.  The green message will come shining through.

9-29-2004

Projected Market Value.  That's was I've been saying about the sticker price for Prius since the beginning.  Toyota was setting a market expectation that mass-production will eventually balance the cost to.  That sure is working out nice based on what we've seen so far.  Cool!

9-29-2004

46 F Degrees.  Two mornings in a row it's been that cold.  Dang!  Fall has definitely arrived.

9-28-2004

$50 now.  That was what the price per barrel of oil reached today, for the first time ever.  What kind of problems will that end up causing?  Everything is at a minimum effected by that, since delivery trucks depend on oil.  Food products are worse due to the farming equipment requiring oil too.  And of course, the entire economy suffers since the cost of living goes up.  You get the idea.  It's bad.

9-28-2004

Mild.  Since most of the mild hybrids provide no improvement whatsoever to SMOG related emissions (only ULEV), I am strongly against them... and it's beginning to show now.  MPG alone isn't enough, especially when it isn't even as good as a "full" hybrid.  Just look at the stop & slow commute nightmare lots of people have to endure everyday.  "Mild" isn't enough to cope with that.  The road congestion is expected to get much worse too, with population growing far faster than road capacity.  If those hybrids were cleaner and competitively priced compared to HSD (in other words, less expensive), then mild could be worthwhile.  But they're not.  And that all-time high price of oil ($49.64 per barrel) yesterday should have been a shock of reality to people.  We no longer have the luxury of a "mild" pace anymore.  Within the next couple years a massive number of people are going to be begging for full hybrids.  Shouldn't we do everything we can (as well-informed owners) to help make sure that can actually happen?  Spread the word about how gratifying the ownership experience has been, how seamlessly the technology fits into your everyday lifestyle, and how much sense the design makes as you learn more about it.

9-27-2004

New Standards.  Remember the battle for a VCR video-tape standard over 20 years ago?  You should.  That knowledge is beneficial every time sometime new comes along, since there is almost always a competing product hoping to become the favorite.  VHS won the battle due to licensing, plain & simple.  The fact that it wasn't technically the "best" choice for quality is a fantastic reality.  Not everyone's priority is the same.  Designs need to accommodate that type of flexibility to be successful... or just happen to be exactly in the right place at the right time.  The video-tape was a brand new opportunity the porn industry could capitalize on.  And they did, big time!  They purchased licenses in large quantities and flooded the royalty holders with massive piles of money.  Sony absolutely refused to allow that type of content to be distributed on BetaMax.  So the momentum for VHS players and VHS rentals had a boost that put that format over the edge, giving it both a monetary and a volume advantage BetaMax couldn't compete with.  And as you have probably already guessed, HSD is designed with flexibility in mind.  The ability to favor emissions, efficiency, power, or any combination in-between are all possible... and it just happens to be in exactly the right place and exactly the right time.  Today, the cost of oil just climbed another 76 cents above the highest price ever, putting it at $49.64 per barrel.  That is a horrifying reality that clearly points to gas prices climbing to the highest price ever.  That puts Toyota is a very, very favorable position to capitalize on.  And it sure looks like they are already becoming a standard setter.  Will there be any realistic competition any time soon?

9-27-2004

How long does the engine run?  That question was asked about battery-pack recharging.  The belief was that once it got low, the engine would continue to run until a full charge-level is achieved.  That isn't close to correct.  It doesn't actually even try for that much.  The engine will run just long enough to get the charge-level back to the into the preferred zone (the blue bars).  In other words, only a minute or two.  Last year, while trapped in absolutely awful winter congestion, my charge-level dropped into pink (2 bars).  Even with the camera right next to me, I barely had enough time to snap 2 photos before it was already back into the blue and the engine shut off.  And that's in the Winter!  In the summer without the A/C running, the engine might not startup at all.  The system will just wait until the next time the wheels move before doing any recharging.

9-27-2004

"Full" Hybrid.  So... what do you think of the "Hybrid Electric" label on the Prius stuff I provide?  Years ago when Prius was first introduced in the United States, that term had a strong meaning.  Since then, the value of it has faded.  Now, a new identification term seems to be emerging.  I hear it mentioned every single day on the radio now.  Ford is promoting it to death.  The media is using it a surprisingly a lot too.  And naturally, I support the need to be more specific than simply calling any new vehicle technology "hybrid" without mentioning a specific brand.  Will "Full" Hybrid do?  That's what I'd sure like to start using.

9-27-2004

$2,000 Deductible.  It's back.  The current administration allowed it to expire.  So the few hundred dollars that it actually worked out to was being reduced 25% each year, down to nothing 2 years from now.  Well today, they reversed that decision by reinstating it instead.  Thank goodness.  Not getting a credit was irritating.  Having the deduction expire just poured salt on that wound.  Now we at least something.  After all, it is the most fair way of helping to promote the acceptance of hybrids.

9-26-2004

Speedo/Odometer Photo.  I needed a newer one for the Prius documents.  So I took this close-up... photo album 81

9-26-2004

New Prius Owner.  Here's another one.  She just got it 2 week ago... owner:  Susan

9-25-2004

Base Price & Standard Equipment.  The skewed comparisons are occurring already.  People are comparing the well-loaded 2005 Prius to the well-loaded upcoming Accord-Hybrid... which seems fair, until you discover you can get a Prius for $10,000 less.  But they don't tell you that... which means the person is either poorly informed or they are intentionally trying to deceive.  That's quite frustrating.  Fortunately, I don't do that.  Some people simply want an extremely clean vehicle that delivers fantastic efficiency.  Those are the people that would like to know they can find an affordable model.  And to their delight, they'll find out the base price of $20,875 includes all this standard equipment: CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission), Automatic Climate-Control with Electric A/C, Anti-Lock Brakes, Traction-Control, Cruise-Control, Power & Heated mirrors, Power windows, Power door locks, AM/FM/CD with 6 speakers, Keyless-Entry remotes, Cast Aluminum Alloy rims, Tilt steering with audio/climate controls, 60/40 Split-folding rear seat, Multi-Display with trip computer, Digital Speedometer (glare-eliminating type), Rear Defroster, LED Brake Lights, Intermittent Rear Wiper.

9-25-2004

Bizarre Comparisons.  The upcoming Accord-Hybrid has stirred bizarre comparisons again.  Back in 2000, it didn't make any sense at all when the 2-seat, manual hybrid was compared to the 5-seat, CVT hybrid.  But lots of people did it anyway.  Now in 2004, are we going to see this newest hybrid that specializes in acceleration compared to one that specialized in both emissions and high efficiency?  The two have absolutely nothing in common.  With different purposes so extreme, it just doesn't make any sense.  There is a 20 MPG difference in highway efficiency and even greater in the city, plus a $10,000 price difference.  Why not discuss the potential of the technologies instead?  After all, both Toyota & Honda have already announced new configurations will follow.

9-25-2004

Close Encounters.  Today's owner story was exciting.  But not as exciting as some.  Parking side-by-side to another Prius is just a close-encounter of the second kind.  Just wait until you have an experience the third kind, where 3 Prius all meet at the same place at the same time.  I've had the privilege once now, and a friend of mine did just this last weekend... except his was even better... all 3 Prius were Brilliant Blue Classics.  Sweet, eh!?

9-24-2004

Have you ever noticed... how debates are never on the same terms?  The same thing that is currently happening in the political arena has been happening with hybrids for a loooong time.  One side sticks to the facts, and the other side attacks the person's character.  I put up with it as long as it remained a source of information, despite not being all that constructive in nature.  But now, that well has grown completely dry.  The same old nonsense continues even in my absence.  I sure hope those newbies know what they are in for.  All they care about is winning in the short-term.  Those ignoring the facts and making it personal have no interest at all in the long-term outcome.  That's sad.

9-24-2004

Recent Hybrid Developments.  My take on the upcoming hybrid market is that I'm just glad Honda is finally helping reverse the stereotype they created.  The whole first year I owned my Prius, their only hybrid was a constant source of irritation.  (Thank goodness the owners were kind.)  Almost everyone I mentioned having a hybrid to immediately responded with "that little Honda".  Arrgh!  So many people were under the impression that saving gas meant having a very small, 2-seat car was awful.  No one believed the technology could be used in larger vehicles nor could it be powerful enough to compete with a traditional design.  Well, now they will know it can.  And I feel better about that the impressive people will get now.  They will finally discover the variety of hybrid designs possible is much wider than they ever imagined.

9-24-2004

Negative Responses.  Most of the reactions on the friendly hybrid groups stem from unclear expectations.  Like when someone says "better", what the heck does that actually mean?  (Detail, please!)  And never in the history of automobiles has a first-year model been flawless.  Fortunately, the HSD Prius is dang close to that and Toyota has provided tweaks on a fairly timely basis.  That's what I expected.  It makes me wonder what people expect from the other automakers, who don't have reputations for quality as high as Toyota.  Hmm?  Naturally, there's the lack of comparison data too.  I get a kick out of how people make comments about the electric steering... having no idea of the benefits from the fluid-less system or the fact that some traditional traditional vehicles have switched to it too.  Then you have the not-so-friendly hybrid groups.  They get down right hostile at times.  Personal attacks ultimately result from anything you post, since they have an extremely difficult time finding any problems with HSD.  And that's the key, discuss the technology rather than the only vehicle it is currently offered in.  HSD is very well thought out and quite refined now.  By the time it is offered in a wide selection of vehicles, the appeal will totally be a non-issue.  Those that give you grief now will quietly disappear eventually.  Just wait it out until then.  It's well worth it!

9-24-2004

All-Time High.  It finally happened.  The highest price ever per barrel of oil occurred today:  $48.88

9-24-2004

75,000 HOV Permits.  It's official.  California will allow 75,000 hybrids that are capable of achieving highway efficiency of at least 45 MPG to drive with only a single occupant in the carpool-lane until 2008.  Ford is quite upset.  They still say it is an Anti-American action, since only the Japanese automakers currently offer hybrids capable of that.  My response is, too bad!  They once had the #1 selling midsize car in the United States, but then they allowed that title to crumble in favor of pushing SUVs instead.  If they want sell hybrids that also meets that qualification, they shouldn't fight new laws that promote them.  That doesn't even make any sense.  The other problem with their argument is that it is is harming our country, since they know quite well that Toyota is currently seeking a site in the United States to begin building Prius at.  That will employ American workers.  Creating new jobs is a good thing... and so it doing things to help increase the appeal of hybrids.

 

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