Prius Personal Log  #152

October 9, 2004  -  October 12, 2004

Last Updated: Sat. 11/20/2004

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10-12-2004

$52.51 per barrel.  It went down, after briefly exceeding $54 though.

10-12-2004

Comparing HCH.  Here's a few details...  A weakness of the CVT Civic-Hybrid is stop & slow traffic, like many people experience on their daily commute.  MPG suffers under those conditions.  Auto-Stop will not re-engage unless speed reaches 10 MPH. (Classic & HSD Prius doesn't have a speed requirement for the engine to shut back off. In fact, the engine will usually remain off when you creep forward.)  Auto-Stop is limited when the temperature drops below 40 F degrees.  (Classic Prius has a limit of 20 F degrees. HSD Prius has a limit of -15 F degrees.)  Auto-Stop halts the A/C blower.  (Classic Prius keeps it running when on low, even with the engine off. HSD Prius has electric A/C, so the relevance is minimal.)  Assist relies primarily on regenerative-braking for electricity.  That means once that is depleted, forced-charging is required, which causes a noticeable MPG hit.  It also means assist availability becomes limited.  (Classic & HSD Prius generates electricity 100 percent of the time the engine is providing thrust to the wheels, so the relevance is minimal.)  That's just a tip of the iceberg.  There's lots more if you want to address the technical details.  By the way, even though the MPG displays at 0.1 precision, it really doesn't share that similarity to Prius (Classic & HSD).  The MPG is actually only incremented at 0.276 intervals.

10-12-2004

Observations.  The casual comments about Civic-Hybrid are increasing.  More than ever, people are curious about the difference between it and Prius.  And of course, we simply don't have all the answers for the upcoming Accord-Hybrid yet.  I offered support of IMA in the early years.  But as the technology evolved, I became frustrated.  The newest efficiency improvement called VCM won't work on a 4-cylinder engine, only 6 & 8.  Did you know that?  And the engine has 2 spark-plugs per cylinder.  Did you know that?  And the better question is, what's the benefit of that addition?  The "hybrid" A/C doesn't make sense.  Where will the electricity for it come from with a passive recharge system?  And of course, SULEV has not been made a priority.  Smog emissions are no better than a traditional vehicle.  Then you have the unpleasant discoveries about Civic-Hybrid, like the fact that it requires special oil (0W-20) which isn't available at quick-lube places or many places that sell oil, and its expensive (synthetic prices).  Prius just uses plain, old, ordinary 5W-30... which is cheap and available everywhere.  I agree, any interest is positive for hybrids... however, being vague sets up the audience false expectations and the helps create misconceptions.  We need to make sure observations are followed up with details.

10-12-2004

Crunching Numbers.  Has anyone ever done the math?  How much does a household spend on vehicles during the ownership time of that house?  Vehicle possession is far more expensive than most people realize.  During a 30-year span, just between husband & wife, they could easily utilize the lifetimes of 5 vehicles.  Adding children or the care-giving of an older parent, you could easily up that number to 8.  If the average price of a vehicle is roughly $24,000 after tax & financing, you're talking $192,000.  Whether that amount is as much as the house become irrelevant at that point, that second largest expense is quite significant.  That's way too much money to simply dismiss, especially when you decide to factor in the cost of maintenance & gas too!

10-11-2004

$53.64 per barrel.  It keeps going up.  That's really bad.

10-11-2004

On the Soapbox.  A newspaper article posted today got me all worked up... because it is the same kind of hybrid comparison nonsense I've been reading for years.  So I decided to vent my feelings here:  "Yeah, this car -- an environmentally friendly and fuel-efficient hybrid -- really did burn a little rubber."  Friendly, I don't think so.  Not even close.  The smog-related emissions from Accord-Hybrid are no better than 90 other models of vehicle on the road today.  "Honda says the Accord hybrid should get 30 miles per gallon in the city and 37 mpg on the highway."  How come the article doesn't mention what the non-hybrid gets?  What is the actual improvement?  "Not bad for a sedan with 255 horsepower."  The more-is-better mindset is really sad.  But we can play that game too.  Prius has a 50kW motor and a 500-volt system.  "To date, the primary purpose of hybrid cars, which run using a combo of an electric motor and conventional gasoline engine, is to sip fuel."  Clearly, the writer doesn't understand Prius.  The primary purpose of Prius is to reduce emissions, not obtain the ultimate MPG.  Instead, MPG comes secondary and can only be considered fantabulous.  "Prius... a pretty boring ride"  Notice how he never mentioned why.  That's because the description would likely match that of a luxury vehicle.  You know... smoooooth, quiet, dependable.  "The Prius gets from zero to 60 mph in an unremarkable 10 seconds."  Just a few years ago, 10 seconds was impressive.  What changed?  The speed limit is the same and highways are more congested now.  That translates to overkill.  No benefit whatsoever for the typical driver.  "together racked up 54,000 sales"  No mention of horribly long waiting lists and limited supply makes for non-objective reporting.  And what about the 100,000 Toyota will be delivering this year due to last year's overwhelming demand?  "Even the Prius will sell only 45,000 this year, and it's a few thousand dollars cheaper than the $30,000 Accord."  What?  Again, poor reporting.  He failed to mention the base package for Prius (which is actually rather well loaded) is $20,875.  That's quite a bit more than a few.  "all using hybrid technology"  At this point (year 5 in the United States), there is no excuse for lumping all the designs of hybrid into a single category... especially when the MPG improvement they deliver varies so much.  But since we can't stop vague & misleading articles from being published, sometimes you just need to vent.  So I did here.  And it felt great!

10-11-2004

Going Mainstream.  Becoming common is exciting, whether you notice it or not.  Step back a moment.  That big picture is full of potential.  As Prius becomes more common, more people will request information about picky little details... no longer questioning the basics anymore.  The reason won't be because they desire a Prius, it will be because they want history of HSD.  Because someday, the vehicle they desire will then be available with a hybrid option too.  Remember, Prius is currently the only source of long-term real-world data.  But then, a number of years, all will change.  The misconceptions will fade away.  Going mainstream will be completely realistic.  All the current resistance will be gone.  Yeah!

10-10-2004

Prius in The Netherlands.  Another happy one sharing photos with us... owner:  Antoon

10-10-2004

Resistance.  It is proving to be futile.  More and more owners are feeling that overwhelming urge to take photos of their Prius in remarkable settings.  Yippee!  I felt so alone for quite awhile there.  And by the way, if you desire the option of drawing even more people to your photos, you may place a few teasers on my website with a link for more pointing to a location elsewhere.

10-10-2004

Photo Excitement.  Every now and then a sunset surprises me, like this evening... photo album 83

10-10-2004

Nothing New.  There is no question you can ask that someone already hasn't over the past 4 years already.  Nonetheless, some people try.  Others have no idea what they just asked has already been answered countless times already.  Thank goodness we have online summaries now available.  Without those resources, we'd be overrun by questions.  At least now, they are reduced to a manageable level.  But still, the repetition can be annoying.

10-10-2004

Politics & Hybrids.  Have you noticed how similar they are?  Judgment based on the quick impression is abundant.  Wrong conclusions based on modest examination is common.  Enlightenment from heavy research and lengthy real-world study is, unfortunately, rare.  That's why hybrids typically win when details are thoroughly analyzed.  The same is true about some of the false claims being made about the presidential candidates.  When Senator Kerry "voted against" a bill, it doesn't mean he wasn't in favor of what the bill's objective.  It could have meant he didn't agree with the way the it would be funded... the end result was too costly.  Sound familiar?  That is exactly what we are seeing with hybrids now.  Achieving higher MPG is an objective.  The fact that the "mild" and "assist" hybrids deliver less of a return on the price you pay isn't, until you start examining the data.  What you get is too expensive.  The "full" hybrid design delivers better MPG for the same price.  Then when you dig for information, you discover it is cleaner too.  And eventually, you'll discover it also accommodates for future enhancements too... from taking advantage of greater electrical storage capacity to supporting a fuel-cell.  In other words, don't focus on just one tree.  Be attentive of all the other trees that it coexists with, both near and far.  Awareness of all the factors that influence the forest is vital.  Don't judge on just a quick impression.

10-10-2004

Then came Toyota Prius.  There's not much to add.  That title says it all.  The world changed when Prius was introduced.  It was the first ever "alternate technology" that actually fulfilled requirements.  The big attempts, like electric & diesel, couldn't cut it.  They didn't deliver a complete solution.  Prius does...  The little car that could!

10-10-2004

Did you check?  Don't ever assume the mechanic actually follows you special instructions.  They tend to follow the book, doing what they were training to do.  So when you ask for something different, you may not necessarily get it.  It the case of tires, that means you are likely to get the factory specifications rather than your own custom choice... even if you ask.  That falls into the "obvious to 2nd year owners" category.  Another is what's happening now, the air is turning colder.  So we also need to point out the need to diligently check tire-pressure as the temperature drops, not just when you leave the dealer.  1 PSI is lost for every 10 F degrees colder it gets.  For me, that's a very big deal.  Between the routine 0.5 PSI loss over about 500 miles and the 40 F degree drop between last week's and next week's daytime high, I can expect to lose at least 4 PSI... which will definitely cause a noticeable MPG drop.  Don't you just love having a Multi-Display?  In Prius, you become well aware of factors that have always influenced efficiency.  With traditional vehicles, ignorance was bliss.  If you didn't check manually, you'd never know.

10-10-2004

Secondary Tire Break-In.  "Why would the MPG suddenly drop after my 5,000 mile tune-up?"  That was the question posed today.  The PSI of the tires and the oil-level for the engine both checked out, yet the owner still witnessed lower MPG.  Cool!  That's more data supporting the secondary tire break-in.  The tires that still have sharp tread edges are now on the front.  You must wait about 1,000 miles for them to wear down to the point where the front tires were before the rotation occurred.  I have clearly witnessed this twice now, both during the summer months on Prius I owned that were already well broken-in (engine, bearings, etc.).  So it was pretty darn easy for me to pinpoint exactly what happened.  The first (with my 2001) was a bit of a surprise.  It happened dawned on me until then that additional break-in was necessary.  But just last month (with my 2004), I was well prepared for the event.  Close visual inspection of the tread edges (less than 1mm scale) made it blatantly obvious that was truly the case.  Before rotation, the tires in front had rounded tread.  After rotation, the tires in front has tread with very sharp edges still.  So considering how many hundreds of edges there were, reason for the sudden drop in MPG was pretty evident.  In other words, this is yet another phenomena that has always occurred on all vehicles but wasn't ever noticed until Prius came along.  That Multi-Display is far more informative than most people realize.

10-09-2004

Too Bad.  The dang tax loophole for mega-gas-guzzlers, like Hummer, got reduced quite a bit today.  The $100,000 write-off is now down to $25,000... which is still pathetic, but better than it used to be.  Too bad for them.  Unfortunately, hybrids still are not getting the tax attention they are entitled too.  Why encourage the purchase of a wasteful & dirty vehicle and just ignore the benefits of a hybrid?

10-09-2004

Pump Error.  Dang!  Today's fill up was way off.  But I saw that coming.  I suspected the previous gas pump shut off way too soon last time.  In other words, the Multi-Display makes predicting how much the car really needs quite easy.  Proof of that was obvious today.  I highly suspect this fill would end up taking more than what was initially indicated.  And sure enough, that's exactly what happened.  All you have to do is watch match up the distance you travel with the MPG value displayed.  It shouldn't ever wander much if you always use the same pump (within the same season).  That's what I typically do, and I can see the pattern within my graphs.  They match up quite well.  The problem arises when I am forced to use another.  Different pumps are rarely consistent.  That variation is yet one more factor that has always existed which Prius raises your awareness of.  Wasn't life so much easier in the past, when you were totally clueless?

 

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