Prius Personal Log  #153

October 12, 2004  -  October 16, 2004

Last Updated: Sat. 11/20/2004

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10-16-2004

Technology Surprises.  Once, I encountered an owner with SS (Smart-Start) that didn't know how it worked.  For the first six months of ownership, he was inserting the fob into the slot.  He had simply just bought the BC package (the most extras), trusting Toyota to deliver.  And he was so delighted with the initial owner experience that he had no reason to think other high-tech goodies were also included.  And yes, I also ran into an owner that thought SE (Smart-Entry) required you to push the black button to unlock the Prius.  He wasn't paying attention to what his fingers were doing while his thumb pressed the button.  He had no idea placing his hand in the handle area wasn't necessary.  So when I made a statement about "touchless unlock", he thought I was just making it up.  Heck, years back I had someone absolutely insist that stealth was harmful to the car, that Toyota never intended Prius to be driven that way.  She even fought me briefly online to stop me from promoting stealth, thinking I was encouraging people to do something dangerous.  In other words, we are always at the mercy of misconceptions.  Some are carry-overs from previous technologies.  Others are created by not fully understanding how the new technology works.  That should kind of help you to understand why Toyota decided that now was an inappropriate time to make the "EV button" available here.  They have enough surprises to deal with already.

10-16-2004

EV Button.  This is a feature only factory-available on Prius outside of the United States.  The design in the United States supports it, but to invoke that special stealth mode you must add an aftermarket button.  If used properly, it can improve your MPG.  For example, delaying warm-up until after you get out on the main road allows the initial travel along the smaller road to be mostly on electricity.  So when the engine does run, it is used in a more efficient way... rather than just running at times for the sake of warm-up.  EV mode reduces the maximum speed, but increases the electric power availability (so you can press the accelerator-pedal harder than you do with stealth).  The engine will start-up at some point though.  In fact, if the conditions are not right, the engine may not shut off.  Pushing the button only suggests EV to the computer.  The computer will only allow it when it is appropriate, the mode is not forced as many people commonly believe.  Also note that there is a legal holdback.  The EPA has absolutely no way to rate such a feature.  Dealing with a "full" hybrid is hard enough.  Figuring out how to determine the MPG for EV is next to impossible... especially since using the button too often could actually reduce your overall efficiency.

10-16-2004

Motor & Battery Behavior.  The PSD (Power Split Device) cannot provide 100 percent of the power from the engine to the tires.  28 percent will be directed to the 10kW generator-motor.  In the event of a lengthy mountain climb, the 50kW thrust-motor would consume all of that electricity created.  That battery-pack would have to patiently wait for an opportunity later to get recharged.  In other words, you might feel when the battery-pack stops contributing electricity.  But that's totally normal, especially since the engine tries to conserve fuel by avoiding full throttle.  So it is nothing to be concerned about.  In fact, you can see it coming on the Multi-Display.  The drop to the final pink bar on the charge-level indicator means that will happen very soon.  Fortunately, even with all the bars gone, you still have about 40 percent capacity remaining in the battery-pack and the climb will continue anyway.  Don't expect to be able to pass under those conditions, but at least you can feel confident that the car will keep on climbing.  Enjoy your Prius.  Don't try to figure out what is it doing under the hood all at once.  There's a lot of fascinating stuff to learn about.  Give it time.

10-16-2004

Looking Back.  This is my welcome message to a friend when he began to participate on the "bright" side, after having valiantly fought at my side against the "dark" side...  Your many contributions on that hostile forum were greatly appreciated.  I put up with all that crap over there as long as I could possibly tolerate.  Gathering facts from the anti-hybrid folk sure was helpful, but their rude & dishonest attacks made me long for the friendly atmosphere here.  I will admit, though, that their lack of objectivity was rather amusing.  It clearly showed how desperate they're becoming, witnessing their greatest fear become a reality: the success of hybrids!  The engine-only diesel folk must be especially ticked off now.  Some absolutely refused to acknowledge the benefit of a diesel-hybrid, insisting that couldn't possibly be a viable solution.  Now the very company they endorsed most (VW) has begun to promote diesel-hybrids.  The fact that you-know-who is parting with his hybrid is amusing too.  He is directly contradicting his very own arguments, essentially canceling out just about everything he ever accused me of.  And of course, I feel totally vindicated by the other troublemaker.  All along he had been giving me a hard time about my claims of the Prius design, especially emphasizing that the Planetary-CVT couldn't possibly work that well.  It turns out, he had a friend that worked for Toyota who was against Prius because he didn't understand the design.  But after taking training classes, his friend changed his tune.  And the troublemaker actually admitted that I was right!  But after almost 5 years of hybrid research, how could I have overlooked something?  In fact, that was a reason for participating on that hostile forum: to gather as much data from as diverse sources as possible.  Plain & Simple, it works.  Research is complete.  We can kick back and enjoy the rewards now.  Have fun. You'll really like the wealth of Prius stuff available here.

10-16-2004

Giving them credit.  Ford will get proper credit for embracing the "full" hybrid design... when they finally deliver it.  Right now, we only know of one that has been sold.  But that was only in the specially selected, limited rollout area.  And we haven't heard squat since.  When we finally get real-world reports from owners, then Ford gets the credit.  Remember, some to this day still don't acknowledge the fact that Prius was available in Japan for 3 years before it debuted in the United States.  So the pause is just.  I love the fact that Ford has endorsed the "full" hybrid design.  But to hear it advertised on the radio several times a day every single day, knowing that Ford still hasn't delivered any here and only 20,000 total will be available, it's rather frustrating.  Adding to that mess is not a good plan.  Enough people are already frustrated with delivery waits.  Some things are worth waiting for.  We'll celebrate when that day actually comes.

10-16-2004

Hybrid History.  There's lot going on here now, many players involved in the emerging hybrid world...  Anyone wonder how many more times the story will change before GM finally delivers?  Are they really going to deliver an "assist" hybrid in 2007?  Originally, it was going to be a "full" hybrid in 2006?  And how will that hybrid actually be configured?  It's no secret that both GM & Honda have had problems with their Cone & Belt type CVT.  In fact, that may be one of the reasons why the newest hybrid from Honda won't be using that type.  That may be why Ford didn't go with that type too.  The belt can slip under certain conditions.  It's sad that the other automakers didn't get a clue back in October 1997 when Toyota announced their new vehicle (on display at that now historic autoshow) called "Prius" wasn't a prototype, that is was the real McCoy and would be available for purchase just 2 months later.  We have reports of how shocked everyone was that Toyota was able to accomplish such a feat.  The PNGV hybrid prototypes the other automakers were working on weren't even expected for another 2 years.  You'd think they would work even harder to deliver something.  Instead, they gave up.  GM bad-mouthed hybrids as soon as they started hitting the roads in the United States.  Ford didn't; instead, they whined for a tax-credit and complained that the technology was unrealistic for powerful vehicle like a SUV.  Clearly, they were all wrong.  They simply hoped the competition would fail, so they could resume business as usual.  That didn't happen.  To make matters worse, the price-per-barrel of oil is skyrocketing.  It briefly hit $55 yesterday.  The price was only half that 2 years ago, when even some Prius owners mocked me for selecting $1.65 as the per-gallon price for gas on the selling points document.  Now gas costs much more than that and there is no relief in sight.  Anywho, we know what the situation is now.  Prius is so successful that Toyota cannot produce enough fast enough, the decision to setup production in the United States is a no-brainer, and the other HSD hybrids Toyota/Lexus later sells will take very little effort to promote.  Watch as this history unfolds.

10-15-2004

$54.93 per barrel.  Nearing a price the disbelievers never imagined.

10-15-2004

Common Misconceptions.  This comment today is nothing new... "What happens after the battery get fully charged?"  That struck upon a very, very common misconception among newbies.  Many people equate the charging to work like the rechargeable batteries they've been using for countless years.  When it gets drained to a "low" level, charging begins and continues until "high" is reached.  This is not true for Prius, absolutely not.  There is no cycling like that.  Thank goodness.  If there was, the battery-life would be much shorter, like people expect with regular rechargeables.  This is the primary reason why the battery-pack is expected to last the entire lifetime of the vehicle.  Instead, the Prius battery-pack is in an almost constant state of charge & discharge.  A little bit of electricity gets used, then a little bit gets immediately restored.  So the charge-level typically hovers around the middle... which leads to the common question of:  Why haven't I ever seen "full"?  (Answer: Because keeping it in the middle will ensure longer battery life.)

10-14-2004

TV Sightings.  On "Gilmore Girls".  On "Jack & Bobby".  On "Two And A Half Men" (which was hysterical, by the way).  It's great seeing Prius more and more on television.  Our sweet car, helping to save the world by significantly reducing emissions & consumption, has become a star.
10-14-2004

$54.76 per barrel.  Eeek!  Be afraid... unless you own a Prius.

10-14-2004

Winter = Lower MPG = Excitement!  As for the very noticeable drop in efficiency from the longer warm-up time, the need for a heater, denser air, the winter-formula fuel, the poor traffic conditions, I actually kind of like it... and even look forward to it!  When you live in Minnesota, you grow to enjoy the dramatic seasonal changes.  Having a car that makes them so much easier to deal with is great.  Watching the MPG vary on the Multi-Display just like the weather does outside is quite entertaining.  And being able to maintain MPG in the low 40's while everyone else is struggling to get around 20 is a pure delight.  All that gas being wasted by those engines running because they don't have the ability to shut themselves off is sad, especially when they are so much larger than a hybrid requires.  Spring is an incredible experience.  When your MPG finally climbs above 50 again, you shout with joy.  Knowing that it will remain there (for me, anyway) the entire duration of the warm season is fantastic.  But when it comes down to what's truly exciting, it's the unknown that the upcoming next snowfall or cold-spell will bring.  Today is the beginning of Winter #5 for me.  The temperature dropped below freezing this evening... and it promises to keep getting colder ...then will stay there for what will seem like forever.  Prius is really "cool" in the cold!  Look forward to it.

10-13-2004

New Photos.  Turbulent Fall weather is great for sunsets, got another one... photo album 83

10-13-2004

$53.64 per barrel.  The ascent continues.

10-12-2004

Moving Forward.  I managed to record all but the first 4 seconds of the commercial just now (while watching "Scrubs" on NBC).  Yeah!  All of a sudden I noticed "the tire" on my screen.  I wasn't expecting to see it.  So my recorder wasn't even turned on.  How I managed to run to the other room, boot the machine, and hit record fast enough to catch the remaining 26 seconds boggles my mind.  Is it actually a 60 second commercial?  If so, that would explain why I was so fascinated by it originally.  (That would also unfortunately mean it will eventually be trimmed to 30 seconds later on.)  Quite a bit occurs in the portion I did capture... which just happens to start at the sweetest part, that 9-month montage with the expected mother then baby.  I wonder if I'll be able to finally capture the whole "Moving Forward" commercial feature Prius.  Hmm?  Wish me luck.

10-12-2004

From the archives.  The lost Prius television commercials, along with the newest...  ad scans 4    ad scans 5

 

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