Prius Personal Log  #165

December 10, 2004  -  December 13, 2004

Last Updated: Sun. 1/02/2005

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12-13-2004

Star Trek.  Have you noticed how it has become a fundamental aspect of life now?  Whether you are a fan or not, you recognize it... and may even admit that the technology we now encounter every day was once considered science-fiction, just like the show.  The reason for the popularity of Star Trek is due to the optimistic view it portrays of the future.  Sound familiar?  That's the same thing Prius does!  And as time goes on, the once very exciting new features like SE/SS will eventually become common.  In fact, it will become so common you think nothing of it... like the massive view-screen on the bridge.  Now people are beginning to purchase the same thing for there homes.  About a decade from now, we won't even give a second thought about having them hanging on our walls.  They will be an extremely common part of our life, how we view other parts of the world through television & movies.  Think about how amazing that was back when it was first introduced.  Then image what it will be like when everyone has one.  Then think about how silly it is to not have a Multi-Display, not being aware of what was actually happening with your vehicle.  Prius is simply the first of many, the one that started it all.  New models will continue over the years, just like the new series on Star Trek have.  We'll have generations of new technology... that will eventually make the original look outdated.  That's when you'll know that the optimistic future did in fact become a reality.  Think about it.

12-13-2004

14 Degrees Fahrenheit.  It's getting colder here!

12-12-2004

Same Old Story.  How many published articles am I going to have to read that don't mention emissions?  It's bad enough when they pretend that carbon-dioxide is all that matters, but not even saying anything about pollution at all is just plain wrong.  Those same articles all seem to think "regeneration" is the primary source of electricity too.  What kind of research do these reporters do?  It appears as though it is safe to say they don't use any outside information, just writing from previously gained knowledge instead.  That's inappropriate for hybrids.  They are unlike vehicles of the past.  You cannot guess how they operate.  You have to study & observe to get the real story; otherwise, all you get is the same old story... which is clearly not accurate, as many owners routinely point out (with frustration).

12-12-2004

It's Official.  They are officially playing catch up to the Japanese... Again!  We have witnessed a repeat of what happened back in the 1970's, where the big automakers absolutely denied the Japanese were a threat.  But low and behold, they were.  And sure enough, the very same thing happened again.  Today, General Motors and DaimlerChrysler officially announced a joint venture to develop a gasoline-electric power system to compete with Toyota & Honda.  I guess it was the fact that Ford quietly stopped resisting change that clued them in, realizing they were in deep trouble from being so many years behind in development already.  Oops!  There downplaying of hybrids, instead favoring hydrogen & diesel, has clearly failed.  Of course, Prius owners knew it would all along.  With hybrid technology that worked so well already, what was all the hype about the other choices?  They certainly were not cleaner.

12-12-2004

Drive-Thru Excitement.  Others are now discovering the potential certain locations have, like parking-lot encounters.  It's really fun.  Give it a try with your Prius.  Want to make the drive-thru really exciting?  Along with the money, hand the person at the window a website card and tell them it is hobby you are rather passionate about.  The reaction is amazing.  They get incredibly excited after peering into the Prius and noticing the digital-speedometer & Multi-Display, then realizing what you just said about "only running on electricity" is actually true.  I've had workers just about climb out of that little window for a closer look.  I've even had a group run outside.  They can't believe the vehicle they've heard so much about is sitting there in their drive-thru.  Then I hand them an Info-Sheet and drive away.  That very brief encounter makes quite an impression.  Perhaps that helps to explain the higher than average concentration of Prius around where I live.  Hmm?

12-11-2004

Rumors.  Some are just making up info about the upcoming Camry-Hybrid now.  That's unsettling, because they are trying to convince people that its sole purpose is to compete with the Accord-Hybrid.  Believing that could spawn new misconceptions.  Toyota will very likely offer more than a single configuration of hybrid for Camry.  But regardless, even a model that puts getter emphasis on power will still be cleaner with respect to both smog-related emissions and efficiency.  Proof is the upcoming Highlander-Hybrid.  It delivers SULEV.  And since it is a "full" hybrid, stop & slow traffic will easily be significantly higher than an "assist" hybrid.  Also, don't believe the rumor that Camry-Hybrid sales will harm Prius.  That's just silly.  One is a sedan and the other a hatchback, so they are not in competition with each other in the first place.

12-11-2004

$1.59 per gallon.  There is a temporary surplus.  So the price of gas is low.  But the media is warning that it won't last long.  I don't think that will surprise anyone.  The higher prices and continuous fluctuation is pretty much normal now.

12-11-2004

Focus on Purpose.  Don't get too hung up on the hybrids currently being offered.  The model types are too limited for practical comparison.  Instead, ask yourself what your purpose is.  For me, it is: "To significantly reduce emissions & consumption in a reliable & cost-effective manner."  So the type of vehicle actually makes no difference.  It's the technology that gets the focus instead.  After all, you will not get a choice of what vehicle you'd like to compare your hybrid-of-choice anyway; the media will forcefully do that for you.  Since ULEV is quite common in traditional vehicles, a hybrid that only delivers that rating does not fulfill the criteria.  In fact, it doesn't reduce smog-related emissions at all.  So I won't endorse it, and I clearly state the minimum acceptable rating must be SULEV.  The same goes for MPG too.  There must be a worthwhile improvement, something significant.  So, I clearly state it must be close to 100% better than the class-average for that same type of vehicle in traditional form.  Some hybrids don't actually fulfill the criteria, so I won't endorse them.  And other technologies don't fulfill the criteria, like diesel, since its smog-related emissions are far worse than a traditional vehicle.  So I don't endorse them either.  Stay focused on purpose instead.

12-11-2004

If you couldn't tell...  I'm trying to draw this stage to a conclusion.  I would very much like to move on to the fun aspects of hybrid ownership, leaving the complications of market-perception behind.  It will soon become the past too.  But not summarizing is wrong.  I had a college class like that.  It was a lecture-hall teaching structure.  Several weeks of one way, faceless in a crowd, speaking that was concluded by absolutely nothing!  I couldn't for the life of me figure out what the heck the professor's point was.  All I could gather was that he was an expert in that field and just wanted to share the research he had accumulated.  I'll try to avoid that.  My purpose is simple, I want to the technology in Prius to be available in the vehicle of your choice.  So the few that would rather take Prius to the next level instead (like make the EV button available and increase the detail on the Multi-Display) are not thrilled.  They believe my focus on making HSD common is not counter-productive.  I don't.  As a programmer, having delivered new software applications many times over the past decade (along with my website), I'm well aware of the importance of mass-penetration.  Expending too much on features that only a few will take advantage of is a poor use of a limited resources.  And you'll discover, that is sometimes costs significantly less upgrading later.  After all, the bill to the users is smaller that way.  In other words, there is no benefit to delivering absolutely everything all at once.  An occasional major upgrade from time to time is the better approach.  HSD is exactly that.  Let's focus on getting it out to everyone now, hence concluding the technology stage.

12-11-2004

It Gets Messy.  One difficulty we routinely face with some newbies is they have no knowledge of web forums whatsoever.  It is an entirely new concept to them, discovered from a last-resort search online.  That causes serious problems for those that are already at the point of desperation.  The anti-hybrid folk know this and exploit it.  So again, we are facing a not-so-obvious complication.  Professionally, I have to deal help requests routinely.  I'm the programmer-guru that gets the call after the user has already spoken with their coworkers, then their local support, then the business support, then the technical support, then the application/project leader, before the message finally gets passed to me.  At that point, they almost always want a "just fix it" response.  They have very little tolerance for answering the same questions they recited several times already.  So I have to be extremely selective about the questions I do ask.  And I only have a short window-of-opportunity before they simply give up and stop trying, patience is short at that point.  We've seen the same for help requests with Prius.  And on a few occasions, we've seen it go bad because the person wasn't willing to receive any feedback.  All they actually wanted to do was vent, because they had already concluded the situation was hopeless.  In other words, the actual problem is figuring out what the person really wants.  For the most recent example, the first-time message poster asked this question "I was wondering if such a thing is isolated or more commonplace?"  Did he have any clue what kind of answer he would get?  A group with 9,169 members appears to be large, but with over 250,000 Prius on the road now, it is just a tiny sampling.  How many others just like him have had a problem but never reported it because they don't participate in forums online?  And what basis of comparison is available?  Most traditional vehicles do not offer statistics like that.  Problems have been concealed for decades.  The emergence of forums like we have available now is only a few years old, a benefit from so many now having high-speed internet connections.  This is the very reason why I try to load up my website with answers to common questions, so the knowledge is available ahead of time.  Should we simply just offer a shoulder to cry on?  Should we be direct, asking for purpose & detail?  Should we play offense or defense?  Not even knowing that makes agreeing on "how" much more of a challenge.  After over 4 years, you'd think we would have figured this out.  But when you finally notice that playing field is continuously changing, you realize the problem.  Look at how impressions of hybrids have changed just since the HSD Prius was introduced.  And now with 3 hybrid SUVs debuting this year, attitudes about the technology will definitely change.  Those fearing that change will be much more bold about their attacks.  And of course, some that simply don't like Toyota's success will attempt to make hybrids look bad too.  Need I go on?

12-10-2004

Hybrid Cars Reveal Mileage Rating Flaws.  That was the title on a prominent newspaper article today.  It's about dang time.  They are finally pointing out the problems with the 30 year old testing system that hasn't changed even been adjusted for 20 years, despite so many traffic & vehicle differences since then.  I was quite impressed by this particular report too.  It specified a detail I hadn't ever been able to track down.  I always knew the EPA test used conservative acceleration, which is very unrealistic.  In the real world, people don't actually merge onto highways that slow.  But I was never able to find that exact value, until today.  It stated the maximum rate was 3.3 MPH per second, which is about 18 seconds for a 0 to 60 MPH acceleration.  That value is clearly too slow.  Faster requires more gas though, which reduces efficiency results.  But that is always overlooked when reporting statistics.  That's not honest.  And hybrids do exceptionally well with this particular value, since they take full advantage of the electric motor when accelerating.  But they don't tell you that either.  Anywho, the point is that the EPA is getting pressure from all angles now to revise the testing procedures.  Even those owning traditional vehicles are questioning what MPG they actually get.  It's about dang time!

12-10-2004

Why Fear the Truth?  Too bad that isn't the actual problem.  That would be somewhat realistic to deal with.  Unfortunately, there is overwhelming proof revealing that false statements are not what we should be concerned about.  On other forums, I've witnessed vague claims live for weeks, sometimes longer.  The anti-hybrid participant just keeps side-stepping details and slightly diverting the discussions to keep conclusions from ever being made.  The most famous of which for hybrids was the "up to the chore" thread on Edmunds.  It survived for a year and a half before the host finally declared the topic question answered.  Many were growing sick of the endless vague claims.  So much so in fact, those posts have been taken offline.  Pushing for detail directly is priceless... though some will never realize that a nightmare of attack-posts was prevented by doing that.  Lay the cards down on the table and accept what they show.  That's honest play.  Hiding what's in your hand isn't.  Most people prefer to play defense, dealing with an issue after it proves to be a problem.  So do I.  But now that I have witnessed many of those issues already, I play offense as soon as it surfaces again.  Most people don't even realize it is a repeat; consequently, they think my action is hostile.  It isn't.  It is actually a carefully thought out response, designed to invoke a definitive reply.  And unexpectedly, my personal logs serve as proof of this.  I can actually point out when a similar event happened in the past.  That's pretty cool.  I didn't realize such a benefit would emerge.  But then again, I was taught that history will repeat itself if you don't learn from it.  Got any words of wisdom to share with me now that I've learned that lesson?

 

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