Prius Personal Log  #154

October 16, 2004  -  October 21, 2004

Last Updated: Sun. 8/05/2007

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10-21-2004

Favorite Quotes.  The nonsense continues.  Here's the bad & good from today.  "All hybrids are hybrids" said Ken Stewart, GM's marketing director for new ventures.  "GM is not really building hybrids" said Dan Becker, director of the global warming project at the Sierra Club, along with "They have postponed building the real hybrids until 2007.  And they are only making 500 of the Silverado hybrids.  They are spending almost as much money on advertising them as on their vehicles."  Time for a reality check...  GM is being totally insincere.  Aside from the fact that their Silverado really isn't even a hybrid (no propulsion power providing by electricity), they are misleading people about the benefits.  Nothing at all is done to reduce SMOG emissions.  All you get is an engine that shuts off if you come to a complete stop.  So if you drive in slow moving traffic, there is no benefit whatsoever.  And of course, if people accept this quote from their latest hybrid advertisement "hybrid engines where they'll do the most good", they are setting up a the normal-size hybrid car market to fail.  Pushing the idea that bigger is better is a horrible message to send.  But as their professional grade (monster-size) truck advertisements always state, "It's not more than what you need, it's just more than what you are used to", their motive is rather obvious.  The well-informed are well aware of the fact that those huge vehicles provide far more profit than the smaller ones.  So it shouldn't be much of a surprise that they continue emphasizing size with hybrids too.  After all, they have to do something to distract from the reality that they are quite a few years behind.

10-21-2004

The New Goal.    Did you catch the latest quote from Toyota President Fujio Cho?  "Toyota hopes to build as many as 2 million hybrids annually by 2010."  Pretty sweet, eh?

10-20-2004

Multi-Display Variance.  I crunched numbers today, to figure out what the overall difference was between the value shown and the value calculated.  I don't put too much stock in individual fill-up calculations since pump-error and bladder-effect have far too profound of an effect.  And by looking at the data, you'll see why.  So determining an average was important.  The variance over the 171 tanks (1,318 gallons) with my 2001 Prius was an overall difference of 2.1 MPG.  The data is on my 2001 Lifetime Spreadsheet in column "S".  The variance over the 56 tanks (454 gallons) with my 2004 Prius has been an overall difference of 1.4 MPG.  That data is on my 2004 Lifetime Spreadsheet in column "V".

10-20-2004

VSC.  This is a growing topic now.  VSC (Vehicle Stability Control) is a new safety option available for Prius.  So first, ask yourself if a safety option ever been a waste of money?  It's like airbags, a seemingly wasteful expense until you actually use them.  Then, give some thought about how it works.  It's braking on an individual tire when you are not even stepping on the brake-pedal.  If you take a turn too hard on snow or ice, VSC will automatically briefly engage to help you regain from the resulting slide.  The feature works so well, you wouldn't even realize the car corrected your mistake... if it wasn't for the warning beep.  In other words, it's well worth it.

10-20-2004

$54.92 per barrel.  Even closer.

10-20-2004

Tires for the Classic.  This topic comes up a lot, since those hybrid miles are now adding up.  If you have not been diligently monitoring PSI or the tires haven't ever been rotated, you may be in for a surprise.  (Of course, that's true of any vehicle.  But Prius seems to draw more attention afterward.)  Tires simply cannot handle either of those situations well.  Don't worry though, there is a solution.  You can just switch to a better tire and begin better routine maintenance.  That will cost quite a bit less too.  For $270.21, I made the switch to tires that still looked fantastic at 30,000 miles when I traded the 2001 for a 2004.  There's a catch though... of course.  You must either run higher than normal PSI or choose a wider than normal tire.  The first option won't harm MPG, but it will make the ride a little bit rougher.  The second option will harm MPG a little bit, but you may actually like the resulting handling improvement.  For more info, check here... tires

10-20-2004

Change.  It has been quite interesting watching the various forums age.  I was there at the very beginning.  We were one unified force at first.  Then we watched the audiences divide into several different groups, each taking shape at different rates and in different ways.  Now with some reaching maturity, others are dying.  No new ones are being created.  We are clearly entering the unification phase again.  External factors are finally having an influence nowadays, the market in general growing interested in hybrids.  It's not just the enthusiasts anymore.  After all, it was inevitable that someday other hybrids would emerge.  Now it is actually happening.  And with me now in my fifth year of ownership, it shouldn't really surprise anyone that I have developed a preference.  More and more you are hearing me endorse "full" hybrids, identifying the other designs as not competitive... yet.  It is an objective approach, so that choice shouldn't upset anyone.  I have identified requirements: Emissions must be at least SULEV.  Efficiency must be close to 100% improved (compared to the traditional class average for that type of vehicle).  HSD achieves that, as well as offering a wide range of configuration options.  Ford's design shows a lot of promise.  Honda is struggling to find something that will satisfy a wide audience.  GM isn't even close.  Hopefully, things will change.  It would be great if both emissions & efficiency were given a higher priority.  Right now, that's not the case.  So I am unwilling to support a technology that isn't working toward the same goal.  And there are plenty of people now to rally support of those worthy goals.  So... why not?  Let's go for it.  The time has come for a noble cause.  After all, Prius has proven to be a realistic solution.

10-19-2004

Debates.  They are always productive.  Sometimes they prove a point.  Other times they reinforce or reconfirm something already proven.  And sometimes, they simply just provide an opportunity to vent.  I personally have no interest in IMA, since it needs to be at least SULEV and cost-competitive with a full hybrid.  I also see no need to support a design that does not provide for future enhancement opportunities.  By the way, the host on that other forum got really ticked off when I started a debate of HSD vs. IMA.  She said I wasn't giving the Accord-Hybrid a chance.  In other words, Prius looked so good she feared I'd impair the discussions.  All I did was ask well thought out questions, like where the heck will the electricity come from for the A/C from a passive-charging system?  IMA doesn't have that much to spare normally.  So how much of a benefit will that feature actually provide?  And it is really worth the added cost & complexity?  Debates are in the past for me.  That research is complete.  I have found that HSD will serve the need quite well.  The other designs can fend for themselves.  Genuine competition is welcome.  If they can match the performance (emissions, efficiency, reliability, etc.)  I've seen HSD in Prius demonstrated over the past few years, great!  If not, they better not pretend they do... cause I'll squash them simply by pointing out lots of real-world data.

10-18-2004

Comparisons.  Have you noticed that the Civic-Hybrid has disappeared entirely from the attention of the media.  The Accord-Hybrid has killed it already, despite not even being available yet.

10-17-2004

Bladder Effect.  It's that time of year again.  Capacity of the tank will be reduced as the temperature drops, as much as 1.5 gallons (5.7 liters) in the extreme of Winter.  This is because the cold causes the bladder (which significantly reduces evaporative emissions) to shrink.  That means my individual tank calculations of MPG will look a little screwy, going up & down from time to time.  But since the Multi-Display has proven consistent, it's no big deal.  After all, both goals are unaffected.  The Multi-Display gives you an accurate quick status and the calculation of Lifetime MPG is still accurate.

10-17-2004

Expectations.  It is interesting how some expect Prius to be perfectly equipped.  That's actually a very rare trait in most vehicles.  Tires, tire pressure, oil, oil filter, and air filters are all prime examples.  Many people think nothing of changing them afterward.   Heck, some ever swap factory sparkplugs for a premium grade without any hesitation.  And have you ever given brakes pads a second thought?  Service personnel will usually suggest a better type and many consumers will simply agree to the change.  Why should Prius be any different?  What I find fascinating is who's making the comments now.  It is people who wouldn't normally care.  Prius raises awareness, making some question how things were done in that past.  Prius even goes as far as giving a sense of empowerment to those that had not taken any initiative in the past.  That's pretty cool.

10-16-2004

The Numbers Game.  If your vehicle only gets 10 MPG in the first place, a drop to 9 MPG typically goes unnoticed.  That's a 10 percent difference.  Yet, many just don't seem to care.  But apply that 10 percent to a 50 MPG hybrid, some people freak out.  That 5 MPG drop to 45 is somehow unacceptable... even though it is the same percentage.  What the heck?  Apparently, people don't ever actually do the math... hence the numbers game.  Some automakers are taking advantage of this unawareness.  That's unfortunate.

10-16-2004

Answering Questions.  It simply wouldn't be fair to the newbies to deny them the discovery process opportunity.  Allowing a "new" topic to run its course can be quite rewarding for the participants.  So I intentionally hold off on certain posts sometimes, not jumping in unless a totally incorrect conclusion is drawn.  That actually makes it rather exciting for me too.  There's more well informed people out there now.  Yeah!  It was quite lonely at first.  Now the number of gurus is growing.  Sweet!  Eventually, the same questions won't re-emerge as "new" topics anymore.  I wonder when that will be?  There's lots of misunderstandings & misconceptions out there still.

10-16-2004

Seasonal Questions.  Now that it's getting cold, watch for the "why does the engine surge" topic.  Someone will end up posting it again.  The answer to that question is the emissions system is simply taking advantage of an opportunity to burn off certain collected pollutants.  It doesn't affect driving speed at all.  But the fact that doesn't happen that often (just a few times last Winter for me) always raises questions... and will likely continue each time the season cycles.

10-16-2004

Purchase Decision.  I ordered both my Classic & HSD Prius blind, based on nothing but non-tactile research.  I knew the feel would not be the identical to a traditional vehicle.  But since tried & true technology is by no means a qualification for "the best", I was more than willing to give what the engineers (which Toyota providing very generous resources to) had invented.  And boy did that ever pay off!  Their "build from scratch" approach allowed them to overcome obstacles of the past.  And now that the third generation components are in mass-production, research to widen the appeal is underway.  Figuring out what consumers what is a very difficult chore, since consumers aren't aware of what's possible in the first place.  But imagine if they did... the result would be anger for having been mislead for so many years.  The story used to be that a hybrid the vehicle had to be small & powerless.  Now the truth is being revealed.  Electric motors are capable of delivering acceleration faster than most gas engines.  (Once, I saw an electric car toast a Viper on a quarter-mile drag.  It was pretty sweet!)  And size makes no difference, even large trucks can take advantage of the technology.  If you like Prius, great!  If not, there will be lots of other hybrid choices available later.  The design can be configured in a variety of different ways.  Just keep in mind that you may not be aware the way it behaves based on a simple drive-around-the-block most dealers provide.  You really need to get feedback from actual owners that have had an ample opportunity to experience the wide range of real-world driving situations you wouldn't encounter on a test-drive.

 

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