Prius Personal Log  #150

September 29, 2004  -  October 1, 2004

Last Updated: Mon. 10/04/2004

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10-01-2004

The Next Generation.  It's hard taking another step.  You want the next generation to benefit from your experience as much as possible before handing off command to them.  So you keep leading the battles against the bad guys, hoping they'll learn as much as they can from observation along the way.  But there's a point of diminishing returns, where you are better off providing your resources elsewhere.  Well, that's the struggle I've been facing lately.  The bad guys (anti-hybrid people) are still at it.  I have a massive arsenal to retaliate with and the skill to wield those weapons with great precision.  But the time has come.  Now that there is a large group of HSD owners, my efforts would be better spent with them.  No more fighting.  Thankfully, the weapons just words.  But the battles will continue.  For whatever reason, some want hybrids to fail.  But now with the expectation of over 200,000 owners in the United States by the end of the 2005 model year, they will be better served by my cheerleading rather than my defending.  So that's what I'm going to do.

10-01-2004

When do you care?  Most people couldn't care less about new vehicles until they are actually interested in or in need of buying one.  After all, it's like hearing about the latest computer when you know you're going to be stuck with the one you have for quite awhile still.  So, you'd rather not know.  Hybrids and the ever-increasing gas prices are breaking that pattern though.  People are now becoming interested.  Again, it is much like the Presidential Election.  It will affect so many people so soon, people are finally beginning to pay attention.  And sure enough, the most prevalent comment resulting from the debate was "I wanted to find out what the candidates had to say about the issues".  Does that surprise you?  It frustrates me a little to hear that some people haven't found out until now.  For the last 6 months, those issues have been discussed in great detail by those candidates.  All the debate really did was summarize what they've been saying all along.  So naturally, the same is probably true of hybrids.  It wouldn't surprise me at all now to hear some people visiting my website for the first time are shocked to discover there was the Classic model of Prius. 

10-01-2004

Did you notice?  The commentators of the Presidential Debate last night sure did.  It was the very same thing I've had to deal with for years when asking questions related to hybrids.  Some of them never actually get answered.  You end up getting detail about something closely related instead.  Just yesterday, I asked that "10 MPH" question specifically mentioning the "second" occurrence of auto-stop, because I genuinely wondered why a certain CVT hybrid had that particular requirement.  The reply was a fairly decent description of how both the Manual & CVT models for that brand handled the "first" occurrence.  No where was any mention of "second".  But the guy did point out "10 MPH" with reference to "first".  So to those not paying close attention, they may not notice the fact that he didn't even try to actually answer my question.  He completely side-stepped it.  The reason was he knew I was pointing out a shortcoming for that type of hybrid.  Posts on other forums show complaints about it.  But none explain why it is that way.  The message only mentions how MPG suffers under those conditions.  So for a very long time, I've wanted to learn more about that engineering.  Those that know clearly don't what me too though, because they know I'd use that knowledge to help win debates.  And I would too!  So, they withhold it from me by side-stepping the issue.  That makes me wonder if the questions & answers in that debate I saw on television last night had the same underlying dynamics.  From personal experience, I have good reason to wonder.

10-01-2004

Freeze Warning.  It's suppose to get that cold tonight.  In fact, the term "hard freeze" was used.  (Of course, that is welcome news to those that suffer from seasonal allergies.)  Tomorrow is only suppose to get up to the mid 50's.  Fall has obviously arrived.

10-01-2004

Another Hybrid.  Hyundai introduced their "Click" hybrid.  Unfortunately, the article announcing it was horribly vague.  And nothing on Google revealed any details either.  They all just generically used the word "hybrid" to indicate "new technology that uses less gas".  There was neither a mention of how that was accomplish nor if it would provide any smog emission benefit.  Needless to say, my promotion of the terms "Full Hybrid" and "PZEV" is about to kick into high gear (pun intended).  Those automakers with good intentions could suffer from those that abuse of generically calling any new type of vehicle "hybrid".  We'll prevent that from happening by being more specific about what the vehicle is actually designed to deliver. "Full Hybrid" means it can deliver a full range of electric abilities, not just "mild" or "assist" or one that only offers auto-stop.  And of course, "PZEV" is obviously a clean rating awarded by the EPA.

9-30-2004

100,000 Prius in 2005.  Yeah!  Another surprise!!!  Toyota just announced a boost to the upcoming quantity.  It's even higher now.  We get 20,000 more than the original 30,000 increase.  That works out to double what was provided in 2004.  Yippee!  Getting that many is fantastic.  We'll see Prius all over the place.  I spot several everyday already.  I can't image seeing that many.  Wow!

9-30-2004

New Owner Observations.  The knowledge gained from the Multi-Display is fantastic.  That non-intimidating data new owners observe stimulates learning more about the system.  Today, a new owner baffled by seeing no activity to or from the battery-pack wondered if something was wrong.  He had no idea that was an inherit part of the design.  Kind of makes you wonder what the non-owner believes, eh?  The PSD must rotate the generator to both keep internal pressure balanced and to be able to rapidly take advantage of discharging & recharging opportunities.  So it does.  And at times, you will see exactly that on the Multi-Display.  Rather than a seemingly wasteful activity, it is actually gainful.  In fact, it is a strength that the mild hybrids envy. The upcoming Accord-Hybrid will offer the ability for low-demand A/C to run using only electricity.  That sounds great... until you question where that electricity will actually come from.  Unlike Prius having two motors, that system only has just one.  That means it cannot supply electricity constantly like you see with Prius.  When you observe a CVT Civic-Hybrid, you'll see that battery-pack (which has a much lower energy density than the HSD system) is managed rather well... avoiding forced recharging (which really hurts its MPG) by relying almost entirely on regenerative braking, yet still being able to take advantage of the charge-level available.  That works well.  But certainly doesn't leave much for the A/C to use.  Watch the Energy-Monitor screen.  You'll be delighted with how responsive the flow of electricity is, rapidly changing for just a moment to seize a brief efficiency benefit.  It's surprising smart and impressively responsive.  But it couldn't be that way if that smaller motor wasn't used as a generator at the same time (while the engine is providing thrust to the wheels).  Cool, eh?  That original Toyota slogan of "Prius Genius" comes to mind.

9-30-2004

Toyota Surprises.  This isn't the first time Toyota has been well prepared to surprise us.  They delivered an upgrade to the Classic Prius a whole year earlier than I had anticipated it.  What a great move!  Keep'em coming Toyota.

9-30-2004

A new Television Commercial with Prius!!!  Just a moment ago, while watching an episode of "Blue Collar TV", something new from Toyota caught my eye.  It was a tire rolling around, from scene, to scene, to scene...  That was so intriguing that I was glued to the television wondering what the heck the point was.  The tire just kept going and going.  Then it rolled by a Prius!  Naturally, I screamed with excitement.  Although I was hoping to see a Prius at some point, I had no idea it would be the chosen vehicle for the commercial.  Sweet!!!  Anyone have any idea what the announcer actually said afterward.  I was so thrilled by that surprise, my attentiveness was obviously distracted.  So, I completely missed it.  Hopefully, it will be on soon again and I'll actually get a chance to record it.  Wish me luck.

9-30-2004

How Far?  Questions from the curious about the electrical system are common.  Unfortunately, that still includes the dang "plug in, how far can you drive" question.  So, to harmlessly vent off my frustration due to that obvious misconception and to quickly move on to the next question, I've come up with this silly reply:  "It depends on the length of the cord".

9-30-2004

4 MPG difference.  That's an amazing coincidence.  Both the monthly & lifetime averages shown on my homepage are now exactly 4 MPG different.  The non-informed will look at that and quickly jump to the conclusion that the HSD model delivers 4 MPG better performance than the Classic.  They won't realize it's actually higher.  The initial break-in of the car and the second set of tires impaired the first-year numbers.  Just wait until they see the results of the second year.  That's the true measure.  But they'll have to dig for the data.  It won't be displayed on the homepage for too much longer.  The Classic data will be removed and a grand-total will be added at the bottom of the homepage.  I'm going to alter the requirement for the "100,000 mile" club to allow owners to combine their household numbers.  After all, that still counts toward the goal of reducing emissions & consumption.  So for me, at the end of the month when I establish that total for me, it should be around 82,500 miles.  And by the time it reaches 100,000 miles, that difference between the two Prius should clearly register as a 5 MPG difference.

9-30-2004

"Full Hybrid"  The time has now come to give my full endorse for that term.  (I know, bad pun.)  This message comment posted today convinced me it was finally time, "I'm surprised how many people think that the Honda system is equivalent to the Toyota system."  That is actually where the "hybrid electric" originally came from.  There was no "full" or "mild" term back then.  So we actually called the IMA system a "hybrid gasoline".  Too bad that terminology got abandoned.  Clearly, something more than just "hybrid" was needed.  Still to this day I too run into owners themselves that have no clue what the differences are.  But after all, most people don't understand how a traditional vehicle works either... or even how to properly maintain it!  Using the "Full Hybrid" term should help people make more informed purchased decisions.  They'll understand from the start that there is a fundamental difference in design due to that non-brand-specific identifier.

9-29-2004

I wondered when... and how.  The "divide & conquer" is happening from within.  I always knew the friendly friction would cause more solid divisions.  They are obviously solidifying now.  It's the Honda hybrids I'm talking about.  The first generation always had sides.  One was the manual transmission.  The other was the CVT.  That in itself was enough, but not the charge-level management from the battery-pack is pushing a large wedge between them.  And then you have the second generation.  The clear improvement that brought made things a bit awkward.  Well, now the third generation is on the way.  That's really making a mess of things.  You get different answers from different people when asking about the importance of various features.  In other words, within their own group there are now disagreements.  That is further separating the "who supports what" classifications... or whatever the heck you want to call them... because none can seem to agree on how any of it compares to HSD.  It was inevitable.  Thank goodness the Prius owners haven't had to deal with issues like that... which actually makes me wonder why.   Hmm?  Perhaps it's the quantity.  There are very close to 100,000 Prius in the United States alone right now, with another 75,000 on the way this coming year.  And the following year is promising to be even more fruitful.  There is no question of its success.  Heck, even the resale values of the used ones give owners a good feeling.  The future should be really interesting.

9-29-2004

Auto-Stop.  Now that discussions about hybrids are rapidly growing, the misconception about auto-stop (a simplistic version of what Prius offers) is rapidly growing.  To trigger auto-stop, you must come to a complete stop.  In some traffic, that simply won't happen that often... or at all, especially in temperatures colder than 40 F degrees.  To make matters worse, some type of timing mechanism must be implemented to prevent the engine from shutting off when you actually still need it.  That shortcoming reveals itself rather obviously with the Honda IMA.  After coming out of auto-stop, it will not go back in unless your speed gets up to 10 MPH in the meantime.  So the engine will continue to run even though you come to a complete stop afterward, which means there is very little benefit in some routine commute delays (like on-ramps & bridges) and drive-thrus.  And then you've got the problem of having to power belt-driven devices, like the A/C.  Using it requires the engine to run, which prevents auto-stop from being available.  Factors like that are what make a "full" hybrid (like Prius) far more appealing.  They offer the ability to send power to the wheels without needing the engine.  The engine can shut off and remain off during slower driving (42 MPH for Prius, 25 MPH for Escape-Hybrid).  So the potential for much greater savings is possible.  Some (like Prius) don't rely on the engine at all to power the A/C, they use the battery-pack instead.  In other words, there is a lot more to stopping the engine than first impression implies.

 

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