Prius Personal Log  #159

November 6, 2004  -  November 13, 2004

Last Updated: Tues. 12/28/2004

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11-13-2004

Numbers.  Today, someone used "less-than-two liter" engine size as a way of identifying a vehicle that doesn't appeal to the masses.  That is a totally arbitrary value.  It makes no reference whatsoever to vehicle weight or shape.  Heck, it doesn't even take into account the number of valves in the engine itself either.  You can't just pick a number out of the air like that.  Though... that would be rather fun.  Just think, we could pick on the "lesser" hybrids by just pointing out the voltage their system runs at or the maximum wattage their motor can handle.  So for practical hybrid comparison, we focus on emissions & efficiency instead.  It's a sad reality we have to deal with.  People shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but they do anyway.

11-13-2004

Upgraded Tires:  8000 Miles  Hearing about another high-traction tire (Goodyear TripleTred) being available is great.  But we are going to have to be patient about the data gathering.  Fortunately, the handling difference was very easy to assess.  The HydroEdge tires provided so much of an improvement, it wasn't even necessary to quantify.  It was obvious.  It's really difficult to pinpoint the MPG difference though.  The tread needs to wear down a bit, rounding off the teeny-tiny (we're only talking 1/32") square edges first.  And that takes a looooong time with rubber so hard.  But it is noticeable, especially when you rotate for the first time.  Then when you do get past all that, the seasons have changed... throwing all your calculations askew.  To make matters worse, the car itself is breaking-in during all that.  So at the end, you aren't really sure what the heck.  Fortunately, I put on the miles fast enough.  And being a programmer, managing large quantities of data is no big deal.  So I was able to nail down the efficiency difference to be darn close to 1.5 MPG lower, which I consider a small price to pay for such an improvement in traction and duration of use.  The cool part is the Prius is well broken in now (24,000 miles).  So even with those tires, having the temperatures around freezing now (both commute drives yesterday were actually at just 28 F degrees), I would have expected the MPG to be near last year's November average.  Instead, it's a little bit higher.  And the best part is, the data from my previous Prius shows that I can expect break-in to continue for roughly another 10,000 miles.  Sweet!  Snow is the only remaining research I have now.  But that white nasty stuff isn't too far away anymore.  It's certainly cold enough at this point.  Though, I'm not sure I'll be able to quantify this measurement.  It may not be obvious enough.  Having driven so far with those tires already, I'm kind of spoiled.  I've grown accustom to the increased grip.  And since I didn't have any trouble with traction last winter with the OEM tires anyway, I'm not sure how to report my experiences.  I guess I'll end up saying my winter drives were "uneventful", just a normal experience despite seeing others struggling.  Stay tuned.

11-13-2004

3 Generations.  I got it done (my response to the problem mentioned on 11-04-2004).  I added a new webpage section to clearly identify the 3 generations.  Some researching Prius were not aware of the differences.  Some with other types of hybrids were trying to make Prius appear less evolved.  Some simply had no idea that Prius was so old already.  None could agree.  So I had to make it rather obvious... prius history

11-12-2004

Buck!  This evening's drive was very exciting.  Having grown up in deer country, I'm well trained to deal with the sudden appearance of that dashing road hazard from out of the darkness.  Today, it was a beautiful buck, with a strong build and an impressive set of antlers.  I got to thoroughly enjoy the experience too.  Rather than the traditional "hit the brakes and concentrate on the rear-view mirror", since deer rarely travel alone, there simply isn't a safe way to try to out-maneuver it, and you'd rather not get smashed into by another vehicle not paying attention.  I just rapidly decelerated and watched him run across the road.  I had no fear of hitting him, getting hit by another deer, or getting hit by a vehicle.  Prius raises awareness of your surroundings so much, it wasn't a big deal suddenly seeing that buck appear so closely directly in front of me.  True, I was only going 40 MPH in stealth.  But on an unlit curvy rural road, it's never really safe even without random wildlife.  So that confidence the vehicle provides is a big plus.

11-11-2004

Again.  Every now and then, those that were rude & dishonest in the online forums try to make a comeback.  The veterans remember how their personal attacks wreaked havoc, so they pretty much just ignore their vague & misleading posts now.  And to my delight, it's working.  The weakness in the past was the newbies would take the bait.  Not anymore.  It's easier to see the anti-hybrid intent now.  Yeah!  I was sick & tired of that conduct.  If a fact cannot support itself on its own merit, that's a clue that something is wrong.  Then when they make it personal, you know they are being disingenuous.  But now, it appears as those we don't have to look for those clues anymore.  Their behavior simply isn't working anymore.  The attention they craved is diminishing.  And hopefully, I won't ever have to write an entry like this again.  They'll just fade away as a bad memory from the early days of hybrids.

11-10-2004

"Smart Key System"  This newly emerging marketing term has the potential to be abused, just like "hybrid" is now.  I'm not going to endorse it.  Waiting until it actually becomes closer to a standard is a wise choice, since there is no formal definition yet.  Eventually, it may become ubiquitous.  But history has shown that many attempts to do that with new technologies fail.  Knowing that, I don't want to setup SE/SS (Smart-Entry/Smart-Start) to suffer the same fate.  Just think about how an automaker could offer a system like SE/SS in Prius, but use a still generic term like that to trick you into thinking you're buying the same thing.  It very well could be that you are not.  Just like with "hybrid", you ask for more detail to know for sure what it actually delivers.

11-10-2004

"Traction Battery"  This is an outdated term.  It comes from the early days of hybrids.  I never called the battery-pack that.  I knew that as time progressed, the battery-pack would be used for more and more power needs.  And sure enough, that is exactly what is happening.  Now, not only does it provide power for the motor to propel the wheels, it also provides power for all the external lights and A/C system.

11-09-2004

The tiny cars are coming.  An article was published today stating the end of the monster-size vehicle era is over.  (Thank goodness!)  The writer claimed the opposite extreme is starting to catch on: tiny cars.  Then he proceeded to list a variety of "mini" type vehicles available.  The article made a lot of sense.  But the opening sentence didn't.  I couldn't for the life of me figure out why he wrote this, "In America, two-dollar-a-gallon gas is still new, and they're lining up for a car called the Toyota Prius that will get an honest 44 miles per gallon."  It had absolutely nothing to do with the article whatsoever.  It wasn't even part of an opening paragraph, nor did it match the title: "Gearing up to downsize: The miniature auto, a European mainstay, is expected to become a driving force on U.S. roads, as fuel costs become anything but tiny."  Has Prius become such a popular name that writers just throw it into an article to draw attention?  There was no mention of hybrid technology at all.  And clearly, the size of Prius dwarfs the other vehicles available in the United States that he mentioned:  Mini Cooper, Mazda Miata, Chevrolet Aveo, Subaru Justy, Ford Festiva & Aspire, and Geo Sprint & Metro.

11-08-2004

The Point.  I totally burned someone today.  Sweet!  He was arguing fine details about specific hybrid technologies, hoping to score points with his engineering knowledge.  All I had to do to stop him dead in his tracks was mention the point of using it, something he had clearly overlooked by getting so involved with nonessentials... To reduce emissions & consumption using a simple, reliable, and cost-effective design is the point.  Prius does that.  The other hybrid doesn't.

11-08-2004

$49.09 per barrel.  Now that the price has dropped below $50 for oil, people no longer appear to be concerned.  What the heck?  It is still significantly higher than it was less than years ago, double in fact.  Ignoring a problem won't make it go away.  The interest in hybrids needs to continue growing.  People need to be continuously aware of the ongoing success, a real solution they can look forward to.

11-07-2004

Northern Lights.  Another amazing natural display...  It was quite impressive, large bands of rapidly swaying green waves against the dark cloudless sky.  I just stood there gazing at that natural wonder.  Too bad I wasn't out in the country.  All those dang city lights were enough to wash out any photo attempt.  And the chance of being able to drive out to a dark enough location (especially one where I could get the Prius into the shot too) fast enough was slim, at best.  There just wasn't enough time available.  Oh well.  Sometimes, you just have to experience the moment.  So, I did.

11-07-2004

Welcome.  This quote today from the forum where the Escape-Hybrid owners have been hanging was quite redeeming, "The arrival of john1701a has been great -- his long-standing knowledge and experience with full hybrid vehicles has already provided insight and resolved some misconceptions that many of us had."  Glad I be there to help out.

11-07-2004

Predicting the future.  This online comment sparked a prompt reaction from me today, "The next wave will be a fuel/energy source with a lower cost/energy unit ratio."   What does "next wave" mean?  Elimination?  Upgrade?  Replacement?  It's like using the word "generation".  Everyone has their own meaning.  Anywho, that source has already been found.  It's nuclear, but neither fusion nor fission is practical still.  So we are concentrating on simply using less energy instead, which is difficult to argue against.  Not needing as much in the first place makes a lot of sense, especially since the amount required is ever increasing (more devices).  And of course, that reduction offers a direct benefit which is hard to deny, increased range/duration between refilling/recharging.  And that's what full hybrids deliver... along with reduced emissions too!

11-06-2004

Ready for Winter.  I sacrificed all the opportunities to prepare for Winter by taking colorful Fall photos instead.  That's not an ideal plan.  Somehow, I should have saved one warm day for polishing the Prius.  But I hadn't.  So today's abnormal heat wave (temperatures in the 60's rather than the 40's) was a true blessing.  I took full advantage of it.  Too bad I didn't start sooner though.  I noticed the onset of an amazing sunset right after I had finished applying that thick cost of polish.  In other words, the Prius looked absolutely horrible against a background of growing red, pink, orange and yellow.  So wiping the streaky white layer off was an total delight.  Never have experienced such a colorful event that way.  And it lasted almost the entire duration of my task too.  Dang!  Oh well.  The Prius is now well prepared for Winter.  That polish (Nu Finish) provides an impressive protective layer against the harsh salt I'll have to deal with... soon.  Too bad that chore isn't always so inspirational.

11-06-2004

Deceptive Publicizing.  The "stop gap" nonsense is anti-hybrid marketing at its worse.  They are exploiting the limitations of the mild hybrids in an attempt to conceal the capabilities & benefits of "full" hybrids.  A mild hybrid is nothing but a glorified traditional vehicle.  Assist hybrids are better, but they are almost totally dependent on the engine.  A hybrid of the "full" design is quite different, it uses an electric platform instead.  That separation from the engine is the key.  In fact, fuel-cell vehicles do the same thing.  Being able to propel, steer, and cool the vehicle using nothing but electricity is proof Prius provides today.  And as time progresses, the electric abilities will continue to expand.  Each step increases the efficiency of the "full" hybrid while at the same time bringing it closer to a cost-effective solution for ultimately having fuel-cells provide the electricity instead.  Watch how the engine will shrink.  Watch how the demand for electric components will grow.  Watch how the capacity of electricity will increase.  Remember, for a fuel-cell vehicle to be efficient, it must also recapture energy from braking.  To do that, a battery-pack will be used.  That same battery-pack will also provide quick power when needed, since fuel-cells cannot.  So it will never be pure, it will also be a hybrid.  In fact, the identical parts will be used.  The very same motor, steering, and A/C.  Heat via electricity will expand too.  (Currently, only the Classic Prius uses just two very small ones.)  Funny thing is, when you get past the misleading "stop gap" information being spread, you'll discover the opposite extreme is beginning to emerge.  Some are now arguing that hybrids are not an "end all" solution, insisting there are better things to come.  Only thing is, they can never seem to explain what.  But I just did.  The description above lays out what will happen over the next decade in preparation for gracefully adopting fuel-cells... once the fuel can cleanly & inexpensively be produced.

 

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