Prius Personal Log  #161

November 16, 2004  -  November 21, 2004

Last Updated: Sat. 1/08/2005

    page #160         page #162         BOOK         INDEX         go to bottom 

 

11-21-2004

49.2 MPG.  That average from the first three weeks of November is becoming a bitter reality.  The harshness of winter will soon arrive.  And at some point, the MPG will drop even further, another 10 MPG in fact.  Eeeek!  Fortunately, it doesn't last forever.  I'll see that slow climb back up again... all the way to the mid-50's.  Yippee!  Unfortunately, I have to endure what Minnesota has in store first.  The end of January is when we get our first brief chance for hope.  The ice-sculptures sometimes don't last long.  During that winter carnival week, the temperature can climb up enough to turn the crystal-clear solid water to a less impressive opaque bluish-white.  Other times, it is so horribly cold you can get wonderful photos of that frozen art.  In any case, it is always something I look forward to... a turning point of the season.  But for now, it is only beginning.

11-21-2004

Pure Electric.  The Escape-Hybrid owners haven't had the privilege of technical details yet.  So I hope they don't take it personally when I point out their "pure" may not be actually be that in the absolute sense.  The size of the power-carriers within the CVT may need to spin at some point to balance the RPM inside.  The result is spinning of the engine (piston pumping).  No fuel is used, but the engine is no longer stopped.  (There is a minor efficiency loss from that too.)  Based on what I've read for Escape-Hybrid, the maximum is 25 MPH.  For Prius, that speed is 42 MPH.  (And an interesting fact is that the internal RPM was different with the Classic model as it is with the HSD.  That difference didn't change the speed tolerance, but it did allow greater electricity regeneration.)  Anywho, the point is that the engine may be in motion when you exceed the maximum, even though only electricity is being used for propulsion.  So, it really isn't "pure".

11-21-2004

Writing a book.  I never imagined my personal log entries would end up growing into a book.  But now at 710 printable pages, it's hard to deny.  As the miles roll on though, especially when each new season begins, I'm no longer surprised that I continue to have more experiences to tell about.  And of course, there's always the on-going comment & observations about the ever-developing hybrid market.  In other words, it's well worth the effort.  Documenting history after it happens is never as informative as when it was recorded as it was actually happening.  After all, someone's gotta do it.  So I'm glad was able to do it.  Now I have something both interesting & educational to share with others... personal log - book

11-20-2004

Symbolism.  That clip on TV the other day ended up being described online as a symbolic act, "a huge SUV destroying a puny hybrid".  The end of the age of monster-size, dirty, gas-guzzling vehicles marked by a desperate act to stop the up-and-coming new competition.  Hmm.  That is interesting symbolism.  Hybrids are "destroying" the reputation of those once-popular huge SUVs.  I like that.

11-20-2004

Counter-Intuitive.  What do you think of this quote... "I don't accelerate quickly so what am I doing wrong?"  He unknowingly described the cause of his low MPG.  Try "brisk" acceleration instead.  It's counter-intuitive, not the response you'd expect.  But you'll be surprised by the difference it can actually make.  It takes advantage of the both the gas engine efficiency and the efficient creation & utilization of electricity.  In other words, the hybrid system was designed to be driven normally.  There's no need to be conservative.  Of course, don't drive aggressively or exceed the speed limit either.  And don't forget the other factors of efficiency, like vehicle break-in, tire-pressure, oil-level, temperature, seasonal fuel differences, etc.

11-19-2004

How many Prius do you see daily?  You have no idea how sweet it is for me to finally ask this question.  At first (back in 2000), I went months before finally seeing another Prius.  (And by amazing cosmic coincidence, the first sighting I ever had was the first Prius I ever drove. The owner bought that demo model from my dealer.)  Then it was weeks between each sighting.  Then it finally got to the point where there was a good chance I'd spot one each day.  Now, it doesn't surprise me anymore to actually see 5. Yes, five.  Hooray!  So... how many do you see?

11-18-2004

Too Late!  What many becoming interested in hybrids just now don't realize is that we are on year #5 already in the United States and year #8 for Japan.  Hybrids are no longer new.  They are not in the introduction phase anymore.  The secondary rollout is phase is now in progress.  Toyota alone will deliver about 180,000 full-hybrids in the 2005 model year worldwide.  For 2006, they will deliver 300,000 full-hybrids.  And by 2010, they expect to be up to 2,000,000 per year.  The technology has already proven worthy of real-world use.  The task at hand now is to reduce the production cost.  So sorry, but putting it blatantly, the other automakers are now playing catch up.  I posted that same "soapbox" message on a Prius forum yesterday.  Their response was totally different from what was pointed out on the Escape-Hybrid thread.  The reason is the perspective.  For Prius, we have several owners that have already exceeded 100,000 miles.  Their attitude about the technology is dramatically different from Escape-Hybrid owners that have only had their hybrid for a few weeks.  My purpose is the help out with the catch up process, to get Escape-Hybrid owners up-to-speed as quickly as possible.  They will be faced with the history they are just now joining.  They need to know what has already happened, to better understand the backlash that has already begun.

11-18-2004

18 Cent Jump.  I didn't expect that much of a price change since this morning.  But that's what happened.  Gas is now $1.97 per gallon... again.

11-17-2004

Another Television Appearance.  Prius fame continues to grow.  This evening, you got a chance to see one on "West Wing".  I thought it was exciting to have a sighting on the road.  But it pales in comparison to seeing one on TV.  Excellent!

11-17-2004

On the Hybrid Soapbox ...again.  I don't even know where to begin.  That article is absolutely horrible, loaded with misleading information.  From the start, there are problems...  It makes a claim about the EPA values not being realistic for hybrids, but never mentions that they aren't for traditional vehicles either.  Most people have no clue the old vehicle they are driving now doesn't actually get those numbers either.  That's important to know, a fact essential to include.  But it wasn't.  It deceives you into thinking all hybrids are the same by just simply listing hybrid vehicle names and never mentioning anything else.  In reality, the 3 types currently on the road (Full, Assist-MT, Assist-CVT) are very different in design & operation and should never be combined all into a single category.  But it did.  The battery weight claims definitely mislead.  The pack in Prius is only 99 pounds.  So the "a couple of hundred pounds" the article generically states doesn't apply to Prius.  But that detail is missing, allowing you to make an incorrect assumption.  "So, if the hybrid�s mileage advantage is minimal" draws a conclusion that is clearly without any merit.  No MPG data whatsoever was provided.  And none was claimed either.  The "minimal" implication is so horribly vague it could mean absolutely anything.  Too bad actual data wasn't included.  Prius delivers close to a 100% improvement.  You certainly can't call that "minimal".  Also, there was no environmental data whatsoever either.  None.  Absolutely nothing.  Of course, had it mentioned the PZEV emission rating, that would have presented hybrids in a favorable way... which is not good when you are trying to make hybrids look bad.  The only mention was the "environmental risk" caption about the battery-pack.  That was an outright lie.  NiMH is environmentally benign, not toxic as the article implies.  It doesn't mention that NiMH is recyclable either (and likely will be since the nickel inside is valuable).  What else?  Should I point out the lie in this quote, "harder and reduced rolling resistance tires".  Prius doesn't use them.  They aren't even special tires.  They're the same cheap factory tires you'll find on other vehicles they make.  And the tire pressure isn't harder either.  It's the same as traditional vehicles, just 35 PSI.  Needless to say, that article was awful... definitely not truthful as the "The Truth About Hybrids" title claimed.

11-17-2004

The Sweet Irony.  Sometimes, you just have to smile.  I can't believe how well things have turned out.  GM has placed a lot of marketing emphasis on the "generator" aspect of their new "hybrid" truck.  So, you'd think they did the same with the engineering of it.  But it turns out, they didn't!  A review published today was just awful.  It stated the engine needed to run 100 percent of the time the tools plugged into it were used.  I expected the battery-pack to be able to handle some of the load, but it didn't.  And to make matters worse, the electricity supplied wasn't enough.  Each of the smaller tools ran just fine, one at a time.  But the table saw didn't; the limited power only allowed it to run slow.  And the compressor actually tripped breaker, even though it wasn't above the amp rating allowed.  So as you could imagine, running them all at once like a contractor would pretty much be impossible.  And that's plugged into the truck outlets directly!  Adding an extension-cord so the electricity could be used at the location actually needed would put an even greater load on the system.  Clearly, the design is underpowered for the intended users.  Will that matter?  Will other reports confirm this one?  Will GM change their marketing approach?  Hmm.  I wonder.  This is just the very first report.  And only 500 trucks are planned for the entire country during the 2005 model year.  Perhaps next year will bring an upgrade... one actually capable of fulfilling the actual need... which still has absolutely nothing to do with being a hybrid.

11-17-2004

Oil Overfill.  It is upsetting that some owners are still struggling to get their mechanic to use more care when pouring new oil in. 1/2 inch beyond the full mark is overfill, which bad for the engine.  Take a close look at this photo... Prius Oil-Dipstick. Notice how much of a safe range there is to work with.  There's simply no excuse for missing that middle, between "add" and "overfill", so greatly.  It's a whole quart more than they needed to add.  Remember, 3.9 quarts is the maximum.  More than that is beyond the full mark.  In other words, too much.  With the 59,827 miles I drove in my 2001 Prius, the oil-level only dropped 1/16" over the course of each 7,500 mile interval.  The need to be at full is nothing but old-school advice with no merit to Prius care.  The recommended 1/4" below full provides a substantial buffer, so large that you'd have to lose so much oil that you'd notice a puddle growing on garage floor or a build-up of soot near the tailpipe.  The engine simply won't leak like that.  And of course, we have already proven that going from 3/8" above full to 1/4" below will improve your MPG.  So it is well worth making sure oil is not added beyond the full mark.  Don't allow them to overfill.

11-16-2004

Transmission Problems.  Have you ever noticed how people have just come to accept them as an inevitable reality?  Open your local Yellow Pages.  How many transmission specialists are listed?  There's quite a few.  Scary, huh?  I bet they're all pretty upset by Prius.  Its Planetary-CVT is bad for business.  That 21st Century transmission likely to never need repair.  What will they do when people learn that?

11-16-2004

Purpose.  It is so easy to get distracted when an active online forum thread turns into a heated debate.  Those with ill-intend (against hybrids) take full advantage of that by tricking you into going off-topic.  And you don't even realize they did it.  To counter that, always ask yourself if the discussion has anything to do with this purpose: "To significantly reduce emissions & consumption in a reliable & cost-effective manner."  If not, that thread may not be worth spending anymore time on.

11-16-2004

History Perspectives.  The interpretation of history relies heavily upon when you actually analyze it.  Think about how some people are going to believe hybrids came about.  They'll sincerely claim that it was a response to the dramatic rise in gas prices, a clear need.  (Gas was less than $1 per gallon back when the first reviews here were published.)  Other needs will be based on timing.  The goal to reduce emissions & consumption will be debated.  The goal to create a more reliable vehicle technology may not even come to mind.  And of course, the goal to gain marketshare will be flat out denied.  Interesting, eh?  I knew of those goals way back in January 2000, almost 5 years ago.  Back then, the world was quite different.  Now, lots has changed.  Imagine what it will be 5 years later.  Opinions will clash.  It's inevitable.  Heck, some people will snicker at the misconceptions we are struggling with now, wondering how the technology was ever doubted it as the next step.  Some wonder about that already.  Some never did in the first place.  It all depends on what you know and when you know it.  What is your perspective on the acceptance of Prius?

 

back to home page       go to top