Prius Personal Log  #155

October 22, 2004  -  October 25, 2004

Last Updated: Sat. 11/20/2004

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10-25-2004

$2.09 almost instantly.  Whoa!  Within a couple of hours the price of gas shot up 20 cents everywhere.  It was inevitable.  Station owners were obviously doing everything they could to delay it.  You could tell.  It would hold at $1.99 for an amazingly low time, mysteriously dip, then slowly climb back up to $1.99 again.  Keeping under that $2 mark was very important for that all-so-important price impression.  Well, guess what.  That can't happen forever when the per-barrel price of oil keeps climbing.  Eventually, that glass ceiling will shatter.  It did (again) today.  Now what?  Will people continue to remain in denial and simply wait for a drop?  If it doesn't happen, will people finally accept what's happening?

10-25-2004

$54.54 per barrel.  There seems to be no end in sight.  Reality is setting in.

10-25-2004

Then & Now.  Look at the way people obsess about trucks now.  In the past (20 years ago), those vehicles were only utilitarian.  Looks & Comfort didn�t mean much.  But today, people buy them to make a statement and tend to never even use the utility part.  Trucks are not the same anymore.  Heck, that new Chevy SRS has a retractable roof, a tiny bed, and a low ground-clearance is great proof of that.  What benefit is that to being a truck?  It looks & act like a car wannabe.  In fact, some people even race trucks now.  That's just plain odd... something the vehicle was never intended to be used for ...no where in the original design is there evidence of that.  It's like making the foot fit the shoe.  If you keep trying hard enough, maybe it will fit and you'll be able convince people it's the right size.  But not me.

10-24-2004

Yippee!  Careful planning really paid off.  I'm absolutely delighted with the results.  The weather was really screwy and the colors emerged in a bizarre way, but I still managed to capture 1,241 digital 8-megapixel photos of my Prius with beautiful fall scenery.  Yeah!  Stay tuned for quite a few photos from all that.  I also managed 199 photos of my Prius with the dried out corn ready for harvest.  These were quite creative too.  One location uses the darkness of night.  There's a pitch black sky bordered by a wall of corn... that just happened to be located by a near by powerful light... that just happened to be at the edge of a parking lot... that just happened to allow me to park the Prius in such a way to take advantage of the situation.  Sweet!  And there's also the always pleasing "moments before sunset" shoots.  Stay tuned for those too.  But don't hold your breath.  It will take forever to get through publishing all that, plus the 1,263 other Prius photos I haven't got to yet.  Then there's the 185 Fall Color (non-Prius) digital moments I captured for the Gallery as well.  So, when Minnesota soon freezes over, I'll have lots of photos to keep y'all entertained with... eventually.  Anywho, I just wanted to share my excitement. It isn't every year that circumstances work out this amazingly well. Yippee!

10-24-2004

Electronic Failure.  Besides remembering that traditional vehicles have many electronic components, don't overlook the fact that electronic components have already proven to have a dramatically higher reliability rate than gasoline engines.  (In fact, that's actually why people forget.)  So the odds of failure are significantly lower than what often seems to be implied.  In fact, the odds of you have an regular accident are much higher.  So there's no need to worry about the sky falling.  Remember, I've been doing this for 4.5 years now.  It's hard to hypothesize with someone having gathered so much real-world data.  And I'll continue gathering even more.

10-24-2004

Gas Only.  There is a never ending supply of new quotes...  "Does Escape-Hybrid actually have true gas-only driving?"  Having that would actually cause an efficiency penalty, so you would not want it.  And the "electrical failure" fear is not really true, since a traditional vehicle cannot run in that event either.  Remember, there are far more electronic components in traditional vehicles than most people realize.  However in a full hybrid, if the engine dies you can actually continue to drive using only electric driving (but that is a bad idea, since deep-discharging the battery-pack will shorten its life, so you really just want to get out of harm's way then stop).  The Planetary-CVT in Prius only allows up to 72% power from the engine to go to the wheels.  The other up to 28% is used to generate electricity.  Some is used for propulsion.  Some is used for recharging.  The beauty of this is optimum engine RPM can being used while allowing the electricity to be divided & routed rapidly in an ever-changing manner.  This offers a clear MPG benefit, while also insuring an ample supply of electricity is always available.  In summary, 100% of the time of engine is providing thrust it is also creating electricity.  There is no real "gas only" mode.

10-24-2004

Mild Hybrids.  Again, here's another quote-of-the-day: "I think maybe a mild hybrid would be better because it would be much cheaper and easier to work on."   That's a really bad misconception we (Prius & Escape-Hybrid owners) now face.  Since 90% of the US market demands a transmission that doesn't require shifting (the manual type warrants a different discussion), all the following information pertains to them...  "Mild" hybrids should deliver more, since they cost the same to produce as a "full" hybrid.  But they don't.  The Civic-Hybrid CVT, despite being smaller, cannot compete with the efficiency of the newest Prius.  Real-World MPG clearly shows that for both the ULEV & SULEV versions.  "Full" has proven more efficient.  "Mild" hybrids fall victim to traditional technology.  Reports of problems with Honda's Cone & Belt CVT are far too common now.  Perhaps that's why they decided to use a traditional automatic transmission for the Accord-Hybrid instead.  That means you've got all the complications from gears and a torque-converter still.  The Planetary-CVT in "full" hybrids don't; they are elegantly simple.  "Mild" hybrids depend on passive recharging for electricity.  In some circumstances, that leaves them with a battery-pack unable to provide motor assistance.  To avoid that, deep-discharging could be allowed.  Unfortunately, that will shorten the lifetime of the battery-pack. So instead, MPG is sacrificed. "Full" hybrids don't have to make that type of compromise.  "Mild" hybrids cannot engage auto-stop as often as needed.  The first time Honda's system shuts off the engine is when you slow down to 20 MPH. That works great.  The second time is a problem in stop & slow traffic, like many people experience in their daily commute.  To re-engage auto-stop, the vehicle must exceed 10 MPH.  If it doesn't, the engine remains running.  "Full" hybrids don't have this problem.  They can crawl along in that traffic, stop, slowly move forward, stop again, etc... many times and many different ways without interfering with the control of the engine, allowing it to shut off and stay off far more often.  Obviously, I'm not in favor "mild" hybrids... which are also now known as "assist", since GM annexed the terminology to include their design too.  I had hoped they would have evolved to a better design than what they started at.  But that hasn't been the case.  Regardless of the past, that technology now does not deliver a reliable & cost-effective solution.  So it won't get my endorsement.  A "full" hybrid is clearly a better choice.

10-24-2004

My Endorsement.  It is for Ford's technology.  I personally have no interest in SUVs.  They're non-aerodynamic style and the gross-overkill abilities for street driving simply have no appeal to me.  But I love the fact that the Escape-Hybrid uses "full" hybrid technology.  So I'm happy to help support those owners.  After all, it is the smallest of the SUVs Ford offers.  That helps to get people thinking more realistically.  Size alone should not the factor that determines which vehicle to purchase... anymore.

10-23-2004

One Year Anniversary.  It's true.  Time really does fly when you're having fun.  A whole year has passed already since the purchase of my 2004 (and the departure of my 2001).  I can't wait to see what this second year brings.  Go Prius!

10-23-2004

First Impressions.  It sounds more and more like Ford really did well with their approach hybrids... in the end.  That acquisition of THS was problematic.  Thank goodness they scrapped that approach.  Deciding to bite the bullet and do it right, from scratch, was a good move... though it did take so long I bet the other automakers (who still think simple upgrades are better) are likely getting even more nervous about being so far behind now.  I would like to point out the fact that comparisons between Prius & Escape-Hybrid are totally absurd.  One is a ridiculously aero-dynamic hatchback.  The other is a rugged high-clearance truck.  In other words, they have virtually nothing in common on the outside.  Hopefully, that won't become too much of a problem.  If it does, that could undermine the success of Toyota & Ford.  People could get so preoccupied with the vehicles themselves that they forget (or don't even realize) it's actually about the technology on the inside.  The benefit of Escape-Hybrid should be obvious.  Ford will have a vehicle to promote their hybrid technology with, just like Toyota has with Prius... called "HSD".  Which raises the question... what the heck does Ford call their design?  And if you haven't given it much thought yet, start now.  Some uniqueness between the two designs is going to emerge.  Hopefully, it will be something fairly benign (overall cancels out) that will give us something to chat about to further promote "full" hybrids.  People need to learn of the great potential they offer.  That unique feature in HSD is probably the "thermos".  It's a 3-liter insulated storage device that retains hot coolant, used later for rapid engine warm-up.  Anywho, I'm looking forward to the owner reports coming in.  I'm quite curious about how this big step in automotive history will proceed.  It's quite clear that what the benefit will be, but how the market as a whole will respond is a bit of a mystery... especially the timing.

10-23-2004

Lifespan.  What does that mean?  Does that mean a certain percentage of capacity is no longer available?  If so, what amount?  Does it mean the battery-pack is absolutely dead and can no longer accept a charge anymore?  If so, how many modules would you replace?  And what kind of replacement would you choose?  New, used, or upgrade?  The reason for all the questions is because no Classic owner has ever reported needing a battery-pack replacement.  And some are in excess of 150,000 miles now with it performing just fine still.  In fact, the real-world data coming in now is looking so good that Toyota has begun stating that 180,000 miles is a realistic expectation (which means under cooperative conditions the battery-pack can last even longer than that).

10-23-2004

Nothing.  When the anti-hybrid leader doesn't like a rebuttal from me, like the one yesterday, he simply ignores it.  And sure enough, that's what happened again.  It's like asking the current administration about the environment.  Their record is so horrible (the worst in our history, in fact), they do everything in their power to quickly divert attention to another topic.

10-22-2004

Doesn't make sense?  This quote today required a response, "Prius doesn't make sense from a saving money point of view."  Sorry, but neither does that statement.  Why must a hybrid save money?  What's wrong with simply breaking even monetarily?  You still benefit significantly from reduced emissions & consumption.  And of course, you get a remarkably smooth & entertaining ride.

10-22-2004

Hi Everyone!  The following is my introduction today on the Escape-Hybrid forum...  Now into my 5th year of "full" hybrid ownership and having driven over 82,500 miles, I'm absolutely delighted that another is now available.  It's been fascinating recently reading owner reports about some of the choices Ford has made with their hybrid design. My response to that is a big "Phew!"  Thank goodness they decided to go all out. I  was sick & tired of the other designs that put little to no emphasis in smog-related emissions and deny the significance of heavy commute traffic.  Escape-Hybrid serves those situations well, in addition to others.  I look forward to watching the discovery process unfold here.  It's great that an entirely new market is opening up using a technology very similar to what I already strongly believe in.  There is a caveat though... supply.  We need to promote it to death so that Ford will provide than just 20,000 per year.  By the end of next year, Toyota will have achieved their goal of being able to produce & sell 300,000 hybrids per year.  Then their new goal will gain attention... 2,000,000 hybrids per year by 2010.  Interest in Escape-Hybrid will naturally be limited at first, as was Prius.  Consumers are squeamish about first year products and have their doubts about how hybrids will handle both the extreme hot and the extreme cold.  Sales will pick up afterward, even if the price of gas doesn't continue to climb.  Enjoy this first year.  It won't last long and things won't be the same later.  That market is beginning to catch on to the benefit of the "full" hybrid design.

10-22-2004

$55.17 per barrel.  Yup, it happened.

10-22-2004

Third.  Every now and then, the anti-hybrid leader puts his foot in his mouth.  I wonder how he'll respond to this...  Now that you have endorsed "third" for Honda, are you finally going to stop calling latest design "second" from Toyota?  If you want to be objective, you cannot use a double-standard.  Just take a look at the battery-pack, an absolutely essential part of the hybrid system.  It started as "D" cells back in 1997.  In 2000, they were converted to the modular form-factor, energy-density was increased, while at the same time size & weight decreased.  In 2003, energy-density was significantly improved, while at the same time overall voltage reduced and a step-up inverter added.  That alone is enough to justify the generation step.

 

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