Prius Personal Log  #164

December 6, 2004  -  December 9, 2004

Last Updated: Sun. 1/02/2005

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12-09-2004

Wow!  It's like I'm reading replies from myself.  A few joining the hybrid forums now are either those who strongly share my beliefs or those that are quoting me indirectly.  That's absolutely wonderful.  I researched those topics heavily and carefully listened to the feedback that generated, as proven in these personal logs.  So the fact that either I am either receiving confirmation or an endorsement (or both) is quite pleasing.  The effort really paid off.  Now I get to enjoy the benefits of that.  Cool!

12-09-2004

Sticker Price.  Years ago, I stated Toyota was selling Prius at "projected market value".  So later on when cost could be lowered to the realistic profit level, no adjustment would be necessary and the market would already have grown accustom to that sticker price.  And sure enough, that is darn close to what actually happened.  The equation for that prediction was quite simple, if not obvious.  The Japanese economic philosophy is: Long-Term goals are of paramount importance.  The American economic philosophy is quite different: Quarterly Profits are all that matter.  Some business practices still sacrifice way too much for today, with no concern for future survival.  It a sad, but true, reality.  Hopefully, that will change.  Ford's genuine investment in hybrid development is a great first step.  And their sticker price has been set at a realistic level, even though it will not help recover the research & develop costs.  Hopefully, their management will decide to continue to fund that effort.  Allowing the successful initial rollout fail by simply not investing in any further rollout steps would be really bad... shooting themselves in the foot.  There is hope for them, if they proceed with the long-term in mind.  As for GM, they continue to change their stance on hybrids.  It will be very interesting to hear what story they will feed us at the Auto Show kickoff in a few weeks.  Years ago, they completely dismissed hybrids as having any potential.  Then the very next year, they announced an upcoming "full" hybrid.  Then, they changed it to an "assist".  Then then said "mild" would be a better choice to support.  But so far, only a few hundred have been actually delivered.  None of them were even to the public, only for fleet use.  What the heck will they finally deliver to us?  And why have they toned down their promotion of fuel-cell technology?  So as you could imagine, their price is still a total mystery.  It certainly will be interesting to see how the market for hybrids advances.  People are voting with their wallet.  And so far, it has been a landslide success.

12-09-2004

Winter MPG, so far.  Despite having the snowflake (an indicator on the dashboard) the entire time (temperatures in the 30's), my current tank has been absolutely delightful.  After 110 miles, it says 50.1 MPG.  So when you are familiar with what to do and what not to do, efficiency can be impressive.  Unfortunately, you can't always control you driving needs.  All those miles so far have been commute only, no short trips.  This weekend will bring short-trips.  Errand running, along with holiday shopping, is a reality I simply cannot avoid.  Oh well.

12-09-2004

Joke of the Day.  I got a really good chuckle out of this statement, "Automakers can and will produce a cleaner more efficient automobile as soon as they set their mind to the task."  So naturally, I had to respond, with this...  That statement is a joke, right?  Since the birth of the mainstream SUV (early 90's), exactly the opposite has happened.  Fleet MPG has progressively declined and the advertisements pushing "bigger is better" have increased.  That's 15 years of proof that most automakers couldn't care less about efficiency.  Remember, the primary goal of most automakers is to make a profit.  So justifying the expense of a massive research & development effort is nearly impossible.

12-09-2004

Low MPG Driving.  Someone posted a message today.  His worry was about living just 3.5 miles from college, driving in traffic that is usually stop & slow.  Here's the reply...  College is just a few years.  So only getting around 40 MPG (possible mid 30's if sub-freezing temperatures) during that time is no big deal.  It will still be significantly better than you get now with a traditional vehicle... and it will be drastically cleaner.  You'll drive elsewhere (further distances) from time to time, so that's an obvious benefit.  And eventually you'll start a career that most likely won't be as close.  Whatever the case, you'll still have the Prius after college and it won't have that many miles on it yet.  So go ahead and buy one now.

12-08-2004

Playing Offense.  I scan the other forums hoping to keep the misconceptions from getting out of hand... because unfortunately, there are some people that intentionally spread them.  There are some people that out-right attack what we believe in too.  So I keep an eye out.  Most of the time, I remain silent (never post) and just take notes... which later become log entries, webpage summaries, and rebuttal material.  On two of the forums where Escape-Hybrid is discussions are emerging, there has been attacks.  The one was about 6 weeks ago.  And since I knew that anti-hybrid person extremely well, I launched an offensive.  The play was sweet. I simply diverted all the attention away from him by getting people to focus on me instead, most never even acknowledging he existed.  It worked great... kind of.  All but one there welcomed me, a leader (naturally).  At first, he thought I was attempting to take over his territory.  But since then, he's figured out I'm ok and don't want his position.  Plus, the bad guy went away!  Not getting attention worked, in his case.  But on the other Escape-Hybrid forum, that won't work.  This particular anti-hybrid person thrives on attention and has different methods of getting it.  He's behaved well for so long.  But just yesterday, out of the blue, he posted an attack message about Prius!  There on that new Ford forum, for all newbies to wonder about.  And like usual, a few good folk helped out right away by playing defense... not realizing that's exactly what he wants.  And yes, ages back I stepped up and played offense against him.  It wasn't pretty (you can take the word "offend" literally), but it paid off big time.  Phew!  But times were different then.  That would be inappropriate for me to do that again now, especially without a blessing from those members.  So I'm choosing to stay out of this battle, hoping it will simply die without my participation... somehow.  In fact, I'm just writing this mostly to vent... though there is a benefit from informing others that I'm trying to keep those misconceptions from being spread.  Sometimes, that means we have to play offense.  And yes, if a situation I'm monitoring does get out of hand, I'll ask for volunteers to help out.  For now, I'm keeping silent and hoping for the best.  No need for you to though, feedback is welcome any time you want to share some.

12-08-2004

Inspiration.  Have you ever written a letter to yourself?  The first time I did, it was an assignment back in 7th grade.  We were to address to our self 5 years in the future.  That was an enlightening experience.  So when I graduated from college, I was inspired to do that again.  This time was for my 30th birthday, 8 years in the future.  That was so inspirational that it was what justified the effort I spend on these personal logs.  Reading your own thoughts years later can be truly eye opening.  Needless to say, I use the same technique in the short-term as well.  The following log is an example.  I wrote it to clearly state the facts, going to great effort to ensure the moment was accurately captured.  Then I waited 2 weeks before reading it again.  The situation has already changed.  So I feel comfortable sharing what I privately wrote.  We are clearly at a crossroads now with hybrids, so turbulence is to be expected.  The outcome is a bit of a mystery though.  There is no technical challenge anymore.  That aspect is proven.  Now we must get over people's fear & resistance to change... because it is inevitable that change will occur.  That's a reality of life.  So learning to better deal with it has been an objective of mine.  And I've been doing it using inspiration from myself... followed by feedback others provide afterward.  What do you think of the following ("Playing Offense") log entry?

12-07-2004

Time for Fun.  At this point, all I want to do is have fun.  Ages ago, we had all the technical details a person could handle, readily available in forums.  Since then, those posts have been buried by lots of real-world data, proving the design well beyond any doubt.  But newbies missed all that.  And I went to a great deal of trouble to create summaries.  So I have little desire or incentive to dig up those same details again.  People can look those them up themselves.  The manuals are available online for a daily fee.  And the data itself is free, though buried within threads.  With over 85,000 miles of hybrid driving experience now, I have nothing else to prove.  The "full" hybrid technology works, whether others believe it or not (especially those that make assumptions and don't bother to ask questions).  Over 4 years of Minnesota extreme's (-18 F to 102 F) has convinced me that no more convincing is needed.  Mission accomplished.  So what I'd really like to do is the carefree, stuff... like sharing photos and participating in gatherings.  It's those that still insist proof is needed that are preventing that.  But since I know the future won't be kind to traditional gas-guzzlers, I can settle for a silent "that is what I said".  Lighten up.  The age of hybrids is now here.  Let go of the past.  Change was inevitable. You might as well welcome it.

12-07-2004

Regenerate vs. Generate.  It's unfortunate that the Escape-Hybrid doesn't come with a Multi-Display standard, like Prius does.  That way, all owners could witness the generating of electricity, which clearly shows it is different from regenerating.  But they don't.  So arguments about how "full" hybrid technology actually works have ensued.  Bummer.  The generator behavior is counter-intuitive, so it's quite easy to see how it is often not believed by those not understanding "full" hybrids.  And of course, the situation becomes worse when you study "assist" hybrids, since they work entirely different.  For both types of hybrids, the "RE" part comes from recapturing of what would otherwise be lost energy.  That's pretty the only thing they have in common, so I'll continue to focus on just "full" hybrids.  With them, the generating of electricity is quite intentional.  It is gasoline used for the deliberate purpose of creating electricity.  It is not the same as regenerating.  In other words, the electric system in Prius is always active when driving.  The generator motor (10kW) creates electricity.  Sometimes that electricity is immediately used by the thrust motor (55kW), hence the extended life of the battery-pack.... electric propulsion without using it.  The electricity is generated on-the-fly rather than using what was stored.  And because the amount of on-the-fly electricity is so plentiful, there is often a surplus.  That surplus is for charging the battery-pack, so you always have an ample supply available.  See how that is different?

12-06-2004

How Much Electricity.  No technical details about Ford's hybrid design have surfaced yet.  I wonder how long it will take.  For Toyota's, 100% of the time the engine in Prius is providing thrust to the tires, it is also generating electricity for either immediate consumption by the propulsion motor, storage within the battery-pack for use later, or both.  This is clearly a better system than what an "assist" hybrid uses, since this is what allows the engine to remain at an optimal RPM.  Remember, an "assist" hybrid shares the same driveshaft as the engine.  So it cannot adjust the motor/engine ratio as much as you'd expect.  In fact, the PSD (Power Split Device) which enables that flexibility is what the EPA uses to define a hybrid as the "full" type.  Needless to say, the Ford hybrid system utilizes a variation of the PSD design (hence the legal agreement between Ford & Toyota to avoid patent infringement).  That means it will be generating electricity while you cruise.  So... how much?

12-06-2004

Hybrid Misconceptions.  Clearly, they are alive & well still.  An assumption is being made that maximum power is always required when driving using only electricity.  That's the equivalent of saying all roads are always uphill.  In reality, just the slightest decline is all it takes for less power to be needed... or a tail wind... or other traffic to get in the way.  So you end up with a more power than you realize to spare.  In other words, driving at speeds beyond the "maximum" is no big deal; you'll do it quite frequently.  The assumption that once the engine starts back up it's all over is a common one too.  In reality, it will shut back off a shortly afterward.  And while it is running, some electricity is created for use later.  Electricity is also created whenever you slow down.  In other words, exceeding the maximum isn't a big deal anyway.  And you'll still achieve impressive MPG despite that.  I wonder what other misconceptions will become a hot topic.  Hmm?

12-06-2004

Internal Conflict.  It's becoming more and more apparent now.  That forum I selected to participate in Escape-Hybrid discussions on is clearly "normal" for the type of feedback that was witnessed.  There are routine abrasive replies messages, regardless of who posts them.  That easily explains the misunderstanding last week where someone thought they were responding in a antagonistic way.  In other words, it was just as I stated... which actually means I should point out the other observation I made.  In fact, it is the very reason I participated there in the first place.  The traditional owners are not happy with the reality the hybrid brings.  It makes them look bad, so they are trying to keep the talk about it in check.  Proof comes from the other forum I've been silently (no posts) monitoring.  It withstood a full blown attack from a known anti-hybrid troublemaker... because it is dedicated to that single purpose: hybrids.  There's no way to obscure or distract the discussions like on other.  Having that focused of a objective really helps.  It is showing the same strong potential like original Prius forum did.  The other is not; it is beginning to suffer from an internal conflict.  I wonder how bad it will get.  I also wonder if others can even see that pattern emerging, or is it only someone with an extensive background like myself who can detect that.  Hmm?

 

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