Prius Personal Log  #160

November 13, 2004  -  November 16, 2004

Last Updated: Sat. 11/20/2004

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11-16-2004

More False Claims.  In a way, it is fun to tear apart blatantly deceptive quotes.  But still, it is more frustrating than anything.  I wish they would stop.  That won't happen anytime soon.  So here's the one for today...  Notice how the very careful wording of his claim against Prius, "greater mechanical complexity or higher costs".  It is intentionally vague, making you believe an "assist hybrid" is a better choice.  But when you dig for details, you'll find that it is rather misleading.  Only certain types of driving will actually benefit from the increased MPG with that type.  And there is no SMOG related emission benefit from that technology whatsoever.  The perfect rebuttal is to restate that Car & Driver quote.  It does such a great job of endorsing what I've been saying all along.  So here it is again, "Accord-Hybrid has 'active' engine mounts that are electrically powered to counteract the vibrations of three-cylinder operation, a system of clutching the torque converter in harmony with the power pulses, and an anti-noise system plays through the radio speakers to counter the booming interior sounds."  Don't expect this type of market deception to end anytime soon.  Certain automakers are really in a bad spot now, having completely missed the shift in consumer wants.  They have no clue how to compete being quite a few years behind in development already.  So now they are scrambling to come up with a solution.  It that will deliver less, but you'll believe it is making a greater contribution to the cause without requiring you to give up anything.  The "half cylinder" solution is "half baked".  Like I keep repeating, use a smaller gas engine that reduces RPM and shuts off entirely along with a large electric motor.  That "full hybrid" solution fulfills the "full" range of requirements drivers actually have... reduced MPG in all types of driving conditions, along with a significant reduction in SMOG related emissions.

11-15-2004

Political Comments.  I wonder when I'll be able to stop.  The news this evening mentioned how record numbers of National Guard troops, who were never intended to fight overseas, are now getting deployed... and for long durations.  The country they are trying to liberate has only one economic value: OIL.  It is quite abundant too.  And it is some of the highest quality in the world as well.  Would the pressure over there really have built up so high if there wasn't that oil?  We know for a fact now that a very large amount of the money from the "food for oil" program funded the building of the military there.  History is going to look back at all these facts in a bitter way, an ugly result of consumption obsession.  Hope is on the way... ?

11-15-2004

Gas Prices.  Using data from 231 tanks of gas (gathering by both the 2001 & 2004 Prius), I created this rather informative graph showing the fluctuation and steady base-price climb over the past few years... personal data 11

11-15-2004

European Car of Year for 2005.  That was the award presented today to Prius.  With this continued media spotlight, it's going to be really hard now for people to not be aware the hybrid and the fact that it provides a variety of technological improvements.  Ignorance is no longer an excuse.  The message that hybrids can deliver more than just improved MPG is shining bright.  Of course, understanding what the heck those improvements are is an entirely different matter.  That's the next hurdle to overcome.

11-15-2004

Shrinking Bladder.  I noticed that cold weather behavior today.  At the gas station, it said 50 MPG on the Multi-Display.  The the fill results calculated to 54 MPG.  It should have been somewhere in the neighborhood of 48 MPG, had I been at my regular pump & station.  But I wasn't.  So I was expecting a 1/2 gallon variance anyway, which would have put it around 50.7 MPG.  But it didn't.  So I blame the temperature, which causes the bladder (used to significantly reduce evaporative emissions) to shrink.  And thankfully, this is really only obvious during the changing of the seasons.  Throughout Winter, it is fairly constant... since the temperature remains below freezing for a very loooooong time.

11-15-2004

Patience.  It really pays off sometimes.  Recently, that anti-hybrid leader has been pestering the PZEV Focus owners, now that the hybrid owners have been ignoring him.  An owner with the manual transmission posted an annual average (17,000 miles) of 28.14 MPG.  He told them they could do better.  And with the same old rude & deceptive technique, didn't provide any details how.  Obviously, that frustrated those forum participants.  So, some sounded off with their averages.  And based on that limited data, it appears as though 30 MPG is a realistic expectation for that vehicle.  In other words, waiting patiently for that data to finally become available really paid off.  He was wrong.  His claims of easily achieving 35 MPG was incorrect.  Just waiting for him to discredit himself was all I needed to do.  Cool!

11-14-2004

History.  Imagine what it will be like a few years from now, when HSD equipped vehicles can be found on lots for immediate purchase at prices under MSRP.  If you can, I've got news for you.  You're dreaming!  Competition is virtually non-existent and this administration is doing nothing to promote reduced consumption (despite the record high oil prices).  In other words, the demand for HSD will be absolutely overwhelming for quite awhile still.  To make matters worse, Prius continues to get acknowledged as an automotive wonder.  The next few years are going to be very significant in automotive history.  Aren't you glad you are already a Prius enthusiast?  Watching this history take place is going to be very exciting.  Right place.  Right time.  Right technology.

11-14-2004

Drop Off.  We've witnessed the "drop off" effect ever since the beginning, back in the hybrid pioneer days.  People are in absolute agony waiting for delivery of their Prius.  Then once they get it, their interest in online participation drops off dramatically.  The technology fulfills expectations so well, they simply have nothing to ask about anymore.  Mission accomplished.  It's a bitter-sweet reality.  But that has been a pill I've been forced to swallow as a computer programmer.  Users are overwhelming receptive when you are working to deliver their software product.  Then when you do... if it pleases them, satisfying the criteria they insisted on... you don't hear a peep following that.  They just live happily ever after.  That is true for Prius too.  With such a remarkably well thought out design, silence is actually a compliment.  Owners just engage stealth mode and drive away (with a silly grin of content).  Very few actually continue to participate long afterward.  And of them, only the truly devoted could be considered active contributors.  That's just the way it is.

11-14-2004

Battery Life.  The Escape-Hybrid enthusiasts are a very welcome addition to the "full" hybrid family.  Their questions are being asked for the first time too; no where can they find that information in context to a SUV.  So I don't mind sharing summaries of Prius experiences with them, for now.  Of course, after getting asked the very same thing dozens of times it could get quite annoying.  Perhaps that can be avoided by not having to speculate anymore.  We'll see.  Here's my reply to them...  In the case of Toyota, the actual quote you get for average expected lifetime is 180,000 miles.  And to date, only one known case of replacement being "needed" (unfortunately, the owner was quite vague about why) was at 250,000 miles.  Two others that I'm aware of also exceeded 200,000 miles with the battery-pack still working fine.  One was sold back to Toyota for research.  The other is still being driven.  I know of quite a few more that are currently only at the 100,000 mile point.  And they easily confirm within the surpassing warranty period without any problem is trivial.  That is not the case for the manual transmission "assist" hybrid though (not a Toyota).  Since it allows deep-discharging, a couple of owners actually have had replacement within the warranty period.  The CVT model hasn't exhibited any problems.  That is decent proof that not allowing the charge-level to drop to extremely low levels will help preserve the life of the battery-pack.  So odds are, you likely won't have to ever replace it.

11-14-2004

Definitely Capable.  Sometimes, people want a real-world example of what Prius can do.  So, here's what I did today...  I was following a small pickup, freshly loaded with building supplies from the hardware store we both were just at.  At the stop-sign, I watched his load slide several feet backward as he pulled away.  That really scared me... because the next stop was an upward hill.  There's was no way it could remain inside much longer.  I had to do something, either stop following him or stop him.  So on that busy two-lane road, I punched it and passed him... despite it being a no-passing zone.  Then when I got in front, I put the 4-way flashers on and glided to a soft stop.  He and all the following traffic wondered what the heck I was doing, blatantly causing a road-block like that.  I got out, walked back, and said "Your load shifted and almost fell out."  He instantly started exclaiming cheers of thankfulness.  He had no idea how close he came to losing his purchase and causing an accident.  I was absolutely delighted by that demonstration of assertive driving.  Prius is definitely capable, no further questioning about power is necessary.  Just buy one.  In other words, some of us are really tired of the power misconception.  After 5 years, you'd think we'd be able to reply with just a summary of unquestionable facts.  Apparently, that still isn't the case.  More questions continue to get asked.  Ahhh!  Perhaps this will help.

11-14-2004

Speed.  The hype continues.  The Sunday press had another hybrid article, featuring Accord-Hybrid as speed demon.  In the past, it was quite irritating that emissions would get almost no mention.  Now, the same is happening with MPG.  All they do is point out that it is not as conservative as Prius and cite auto-stop.  Nothing more about reducing consumption is addressed.  In fact, the other two Honda hybrids are completely ignored.  The rest of the article focuses on horsepower and acceleration.  The "more is better" attitude is not alive & well in the hybrid world.  In the short-term, that will likely hurt sales of Insight & Civic-Hybrid.  In the long-term, that could very well hurt sales of Accord-Hybrid itself.  The hype will wear off after awhile.  Either Prius already achieves the threshold or this next batch of hybrids does.  There's no way it can continue.  The market isn't that dumb.  The reality that the newest hybrids (including RX400h & Highlander-Hybrid) exceed what traditional vehicles deliver is an obvious clue.  It cannot go on forever.  Proof is in the computer industry.  That speed ceiling was exceeded awhile ago.  Now the focus has shifted to mobility instead.  Speed simply doesn't command the main draw anymore.  People are now more interested in other aspects.  The same will be true for hybrids too... soon, I hope.

11-14-2004

Reliability.  The ratings from Consumer Reports go a long way toward establishing & reinforcing reputations.  So this most recent publication will naturally be a hot topic.  Prius, of course, earned the highest rating category.  The high-mileage competition didn't.  Golf, Jetta and New Beetle all scored far below average.  Ha!

11-13-2004

Clueless.  In a hybrid article published today, the reality that "hype sells" came shining through.  It didn't even matter that the reporter totally screwed up the technical details or completely ignored the topic of emissions.  He just kept mentioning power over and over again.  That's sad.

11-13-2004

Bluetooth 2.0  Anyone else obsessed with new technology like me?  Rather than getting excited about it, I am always patiently waiting for it to satisfy a need I already have.  Bluetooth 2.0 clearly falls into that category.  The history of USB offers a very close comparison.  Serial & Parallel were horrible interfaces.  They worked, but boy were they ever clumsy to work with.  USB was dramatically better.  Its dynamic nature and much improved cord made it a guaranteed winner... in the end.  But it would obviously take some post-release upgrades to get it to that point.  Now today, it's there.  It works fantastic.  And it has opened up a whole new world of hardware opportunities.  The same will eventually be true of Bluetooth.  Right now, it's use & appeal is rather limited.  But within the next few years, it is staged to change quite a bit.  The new version is designed to be faster, use less electricity, and will offer greater bandwidth.  That's good news for future Bluetooth owners.  Yes, those of us with the old version won't be able to take full advantage.  But we will still benefit nonetheless.  A whole new batch of hardware will emerge.  Just think what it could do for Prius.  Giving the Multi-Display the ability to interact with the MP3 player you have in your pocket would be absolutely incredible. Yeah!   For quite awhile, I've been dying for a set of Bluetooth headphones.  Not having to deal with a wire anymore would be great.  Wires really get in the way.  And they limit where you can locate the device they are attached to.  But with Bluetooth, there is no physical connection and the range is increased tremendously (up to 100 feet).  I can't wait!

 

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