Prius Personal Log  #163

November 26, 2004  -  December 5, 2004

Last Updated: Sun. 1/02/2005

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12-05-2004

Diesel Fate.  Beginning in 2006, the same restrictions currently in effort for California, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, and Vermont will become effective for the other 45 states.  That means none of the current diesel systems can be sold anymore.  It is mandatory that the adopt advanced emissions systems to reduce the horribly high emission levels.  The type of equipment used to reduce smog-related emissions in known to reduce efficiency.  Between that multi-negative effect and the fact the traps needed to capture particulates (a by-product of diesel) add to the cost, the future of diesel is in trouble.  And I couldn't care less.  It's about dang time action is being taken.  According to the EPA, nearly 111,000,000 people live in areas that don't meet their air-quality standards for smog and 70,000,000 for particulates.  They also state that the measures to reduce diesel emission will prevent an estimated 8,300 premature deaths, 5,500 cases of chronic bronchitis, 17,600 cases of acute bronchitis in children annually.  This is in addition to a estimated annual 360,000 asthma attacks.  This type of pollution is far more dangerous than people realize.  That's why I speak out against the few hybrids that don't reduce their smog-related emissions either.  Between them and the new "clean" diesel systems, we still have a challenge to face.  People will grow contempt and believe our effort was enough.  That's not true.  Even further restrictions a planned for a few years from now.  This is just one big step toward a cleaner future.  Too bad the automakers won't just embrace the SULEV (tier 2) level now, rather than claiming it will hurt their business.

12-05-2004

New Wallpapers.  I recently discovered an application that could generate these 9 new photo layouts... wallpapers 2

12-04-2004

Possum!  In the blackness of night, a possum casually walked across the country highway I was on.  My approach didn't had no affect on him.  He just strolled along peacefully... until my headlights apparently blinded him.  So when I came to a graceful stop, so did he.  And because Prius isn't intimidating at all, just sitting there totally silent, he did too.  Eventually, I grew tired of the free personal zoo, so I backed up.  Again, it total silence.  He still didn't move.  Finally, I decided to drive around him by going off-road a little bit.  It wasn't until then that any noise was created.  That made him run.  I had no idea the absence of sound from a car would provide you will so much more control over animals at night.  Countless times now, I have been able to stealth up close to an animal in the daylight.  But I hadn't ever had the opportunity to try that after the sun had set.  That's pretty handy, a hybrid benefit that's much better than the traditional "scare the heck" out of the animal.

12-04-2004

Big Picture.  This struggle sure is a pain.  On the biggest Prius forum, the problem is most pronounced.  Roughly 10 percent of the members are hard-core enthusiasts, those seeking every advantage Prius has to offer, even if the modification could potentially void the warranty.  That's around 350 people.  My audience is the Prius owners in the United States already, the upcoming 2 years of new owners, and a modest group of international owners.  That's around 350,000 people.  In other words, my scope is 1,000 times larger and quite a bit more mainstream.  They have little desire for an extreme.  So naturally, my goals conflict.  I have to ask the "should we" question.  They only ask the "could we" question.  See the problem?

12-03-2004

Black Classic.  I finally saw one in the daylight.  Until now, I hadn't.  That color is quite rare.

12-02-2004

Oil Prices.  I've been watching the price-per-barrel value slowly climb to the $50 mark... again.  Then when it reached $49.76, as if by magic, it suddenly dropped down to $45.49.  There was no apparent for that drop either.  It appears to be an artificial price manipulation, to keep people from beginning to panic... again.  The oil game is quite frustrating.  I'll sure be glad when we reduce our dependence on it.

12-01-2004

Navigation System.  There is a very useful feature of the NAV that the handheld & notebook GPS systems simply cannot compete with... which I surprisingly find myself using quite a bit now. I call it: "Instant Detour".  When you are cruising along an suddenly discover the road in front of you is either closed due to construction or backed up heavily due to an accident, this feature is priceless.  Having it always readily available is the key.  Countless times I've used it too.  And it works so well, I've actually been able to take advantage of it without passengers even realizing I had absolutely no idea where I was.  I simply turned when I saw the upcoming obstacle and fired up the NAV.  Then when I get to the inevitable stoplight or sign, a few pushes on the screen to look ahead is all it takes to find a way back onto the road I just turned off of.  You can even tell the system to guide you there, just by pushing "Enter" then "Guide".  Another feature the competing devices cannot deliver well on is for adventure driving, when you have no clue where you are driving and simply don't care as long as you can get back afterward.  This is because their memory is limited, so you make sure you have what you'll need loaded ahead of time.  (Though, you can feel your way back using the GPS only, even if all the roads aren't displayed.)  Being able to trust the NAV is great for photo taking, when I'm hunting for a remote location.  It works great.  Needless to say, I'm happy with my choice to get the NAV option.

12-01-2004

25,000 Mile - Oil Change.  There isn't much to say at this point.  What I do each time is the same.  The oil & filter is the same.  Even the price is the same.  I guess the only thing that's actually different is the value shown on the odometer.  This time, it was 25,016 miles.

12-01-2004

Tire Balancing.  (And the 25,000 mile service without an oil-change.)  When I took the Prius in today to have the tires rotated and the brakes inspected , I decided to have the tires balanced too.  My gut told me to "go for it", even though there was no feel or visible evidence stating that I should.  So I did.  The result was intriguing.  They said all 4 tires were off by 10 (grams, I assume) and speculated that the shop I used to install them had equipment in need of calibration.  What does that mean in terms of MPG?  Does it signify that because the weights were not optimal MPG was slightly impaired?  I've been stating that my observations indicate a 1.5 MPG hit by switching to these high-traction tires.  Could it really be 1.0 MPG instead?  That would be great... but a bit frustrating, since my average will take forever to recover now that I've driven 9,021 miles that way.  Anyone have some insight on this discovery?  (By the way, the results of the brake inspection revealed that after 24,917 miles of driving, both the pads & shoes were in good shape and worn down by only 1 millimeter.)

12-01-2004

Unrealistic Economics.  We get asked "cost" questions all the time.  When you exceed 200,000 miles and need either a full or partial replacement of the pack, the price should be dramatically lower than it is now.  So please, don't even attempt to make an analysis based on today's prices.  The market clearly isn't established yet.  Wait until domestic high-volume production and supplier competition begins.  8 years (or more) from now, how much will gas cost per gallon?  That question will have a profound influence on the value of a hybrid.  Unfortunately, that is excessively difficult to even speculate about.  Yet, it will have a significant influence.  See how difficult the numbers become when you into them?  If so, ponder the value of PZEV.  Currently, some diesels are so dirty their supply is limited to a quota in 45 states and restricted entirely in 5 states.  That poor of an emission rating obviously affects sales.  Fewer to choose from means new vehicles are hard to purchase and used ones sell for a inflated prices, due to so few being available.  Consumers typically are not aware of this.  Did you?  On the opposite end of the clean spectrum is Prius with a PZEV rating.  What will that do for supply in the future?  Right now, that rating is worth clean-credits, which translate to money on the emissions market.  Did you know that automakers buy those credits.  This allows them to legally continue exceeding emission thresholds while at the same time providing a monetary benefit for the cleaner company.  Needless to say, the value of those credits varies quite a bit.  In fact, you'll find in to be similar to the fluctuations common with stock market.  So obviously, prices today are unlikely to match what they will be in the future.  Confused?  I hope not.  I haven't even mentioned the influence automaker advertising will have on the market later.  In summary, change is an expectation.  The economics of today simply won't match that of the future.  Expecting them to be the same is unrealistic.

11-30-2004

Same Storm, Different Photos.  Here's another perspective of that very same Spring Storm, just minutes later somewhere else... photo album 87

11-30-2004

Advertised MPG.  Boy, is that ever a popular claim.  I read it all the time.  People clearly do not pay any attention to the fine print.  Even the "YMMV" reminder (Your Mileage May Vary) doesn't seem to help.  The belief is those big numbers on the window-sticker are what you will actually get.  But in reality, they are only an EPA summary measured under ideal conditions intended only for vehicle comparisons.  The EPA measures at a minimum temperature of 68 F degrees, using summer-formula fuel, at an average highway speed of just 48 MPH (yes, forty-eight) with a maximum burst up to just 60 MPH.  Clearly, that is not representative of the situations people actually encounter in the real-world.  Look at the fine print some time.  The "Advertised MPG" is actually a range of numbers, with the big number only representing an average.  It is an attempt on the part of the EPA to help give you a better idea of the MPG you will actually get.  Unfortunately, it's quite common to see an 8 to 16 MPG variation.  And that doesn't even take into account those of us that upgrade to high-traction tires or use E10 for fuel instead.  But since those are the only numbers automakers are allowed to "advertise", we have to settle for them.  And since they do guarantee consistency for the sake of cross-brand comparisons, they aren't totally misleading.  But they could definitely be better.

11-29-2004

Photos for Finland.  Got a terrific set of Prius owner photos to share with y'all... Prius in Finland

11-28-2004

Multi-Display Photo.  Here's a rather interesting pattern in the 5-minute MPG segments... photo album 86

11-28-2004

Sound Familiar?  I find it fascinating how politics & hybrids share viewpoints.  On "Meet the Press" this morning, there was an hour-long post-election discussion, among very different social representatives.  The entire discussion was forced to stay within the IF context, asking if we should have invaded Iraq.  That sounds just like the hybrid discussions.  People are constantly asking IF they are a good idea, even after the fact.  When will the madness end?  For crying out loud.  At this point it should be obvious that HOW is the more appropriate question.  Of course Iraq needed help.  But how it was provided makes all the difference... unilateral verses multi-nation.  The same goes for hybrids.  Obviously, they are beneficial for reducing our emissions & consumption.  So now the question should be HOW we go about building them.  Should they all be "full" hybrids, or should some be the other types too?  You know my belief, "full" is the best solution.  But I am still willing to hear the debate points for "assist" & "mild" hybrids.  Too bad their are virtually none provided.  Instead, all hybrids are lumped into a single category for the use of arguing IF they are worth it.  Arrgh!  That's not right.  The arguments (preferably, friendly discussions) should instead be about HOW, what the design & purpose should be.  It should be obvious that reducing emissions & consumption is necessary.  So the IF question is just a waste of time.  Of course we should.  The question is HOW.

11-28-2004

Spring Photos.  I'm sure glad I had my digital camera to capture this bizarre Spring Storm... photo album 86

11-27-2004

Mud Guards.  Ever wonder what mud-guards look like on a HSD Prius... owner:  don

11-27-2004

Last January.  During the dead of Winter early this year, there wasn't much snow... photo album 85

11-27-2004

Multi-Display Delight.  The very last impressive per-tank MPG marks the end of Summer... photo album 85

11-26-2004

Still Spreading Misconceptions.  The same people are spreading false information with the hope of making hybrids look bad.  Today's claim was that the EPA value of "55 MPG" for Prius was an actual expectation.  They never mentioned that it was only an average of an estimate, that even the testing values weren't always that high.  Nor did they point out that those were ideal condition values, where you drive non-stop at speeds much slower than the posted limit, in only warm weather but never using the A/C.  That's just plain wrong.  Their objective is clearly to deceive.  Because if it wasn't, they would have said that even a traditional car suffers under the same conditions, not just a hybrid.

11-26-2004

Tire Misconception.  The alternate tire research has went remarkably well.  We have 2 great tires to recommend to other owners now.  (Thank you to those that have helped out.)  We have been able to completely eliminate the "cannot upgrade" tire misconception rather quickly.  That's pretty cool.

 

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