Prius Personal Log  #166

December 14, 2004  -  December 17, 2004

Last Updated: Sun. 1/02/2005

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12-17-2004

Saw It Coming.  The forum I participate on with mixed membership flat out denies the traditional owners are doing anything to undermine the success of the hybrids.  Yet, they absolutely refuse to create a section for hybrids.  At first, it appeared as though it was just me they were picking on.  But now it is becoming clear that anyone who mentions something positive about hybrids will end up getting a negative personal comment posted about them.  I saw that coming over a month ago.  And now that I'm leaving that group, it will be interesting to watch that behavior continue.  This isn't rocket science.  The identical thing already happened on another forum already back with Prius.  It was the same way before I joined as it was after I left.  They try to keep the spotlight off hybrids, knowing they are a very real threat to their gas-guzzling ways.  No more roar of a engine.  Instead, you get the smoooooth & quiet sensation of a powerful electric motor, plus a small engine running at a near constant RPM (which sometimes doesn't run at all).  And the MPG improvement is embarrassing for traditional owners.  In the past, they were able to hide behind the misleading EPA values.  But now, even that is turning against them.  The volatile nature of gas prices isn't helping either.  Face it, the era of hybrids has begun.  Remaining in denial isn't a good choice anymore.  You see it coming.  It's time to well welcome them.

12-17-2004

They Tried.  Reading an article on fuel-cells today, they made fun of Prius and I was not amused.  They tried to convince you that 250,000 sold was a small number, an simple accomplishment.  They tried to convince you that initial demand was small, even though there were 9-month delivery waits and the quantity was limited by a quota.  They tried to convince you that the technology was more complex than a traditional vehicle, but provided to proof to support that.  They tried to convince you that the PNGV effort had failed, even though it was actually quite successful until this administration abruptly eliminated the funding.  They tried to convince you that electric vehicle interest followed that alleged failure, even though it actually came first.  Then they tried to convince you that diesel was a preferred solution, but failed to mention how the cannot match the real-world efficiency of a full hybrid.  They tried to convince you that diesel-hybrids could be the ultimate solution but mentioned the cost of the cleaning hardware would make them a poor choice, making you believe that same hardware couldn't be used on a traditional diesel.  Lastly, they tried to convince you that if automakers couldn't deliver immediately that it was impossible to achieve, totally ignoring the fact that Toyota has stated slow rollout is the best strategy.  Needless to say, they tried to paint a pretty picture for fuel-cell vehicles by stating the following: "Hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles promise to be the cleanest mode of transportation, eliminating harmful tailpipe emissions altogether."  In other words, they tried to convince you that hydrogen was cleaner... however, they didn't to mention that the process of creating the hydrogen is dirtier that the refining of oil and the consumption of that resulting gas by hybrids.  They also neglected to point out that fuel-cell vehicles are far less efficient than a hybrid system like HSD in Prius.  They tried, but failed.  Of course, coming from a website with "fuel cell" in the name, that doesn't surprise me.  They know they are rapidly losing their audience to hybrids... especially since they have nothing to sell still.

12-16-2004

Try It.  We got that advice today from a Honda hybrid owner.  He apparently had no idea his "assist" system has virtually nothing in common with a "full" hybrid system.  His has a motor integrated into the engine, sharing the same shaft (consequently the same RPM), and relying on a passive electrical system.  In other words, the MPG will absolutely shine if you use it solely for the type of driving it was optimized for (non-stop highway cruising, as he suggested).  A "full" hybrid is dramatically more dynamic.  It has a PSD which allows the motor & engine speeds to be independent of each other and a persistent electrical system.  This offers a much wider variety of uses, which all provide increased MPG in far more situations.  And the MPG increase is more too.  The difference between the two types of hybrid are night & day.  Trying it isn't necessary.

12-16-2004

Change It?  Of course they could change the hybrid design.  But that doesn't come cheap.  Do some searches on Prius.  There have been several re-engineering projects.  The battery-pack size has been increased.  The type of battery has been changed.  The engine has converted to run on hydrogen.  The engine has been replaced by a fuel-cell stack.  The engine has been replaced by a more powerful one, allowing the car to be rally raced and to set the world speed record for a "full" hybrid (130.794 MPH).  The system has even been converted to be a true electric vehicle.  None of those changes are free though.  If you want more, you have to pay for it.  So it the change really worth it?

12-16-2004

$1.79 per Gallon.  It was still just $1.61 this morning.  They warned that the low wouldn't last for long.  They were right.  It shot up 18 cents before the drive home from work today.  No surprise there.

12-16-2004

Forum Failure.  History has proven that no general-audience online forum has ever been able to maintain an active & productive hybrid discussion.  Far too many times, distractions surface and the purpose of the thread is lost.  Still to this date, there is no successful Civic-Hybrid forum.  Coexistence of discussions with a traditional vehicle owners is clearly unrealistic.  The most successful (English language) forum for Prius is specialized, focusing virtually all Prius discussions on the HSD model only.  Mixing the generations hasn't even worked well.  So if all continues as-is with the Escape forum I decided to leave, don't expect much.  History will just continue to repeat.  Whenever someone tries to get a good discussion about hybrids going, those that are anti-hybrid will do everything in their power to get it to stop.  Their efforts are well thought out too, going to great lengths to conceal the fact that they don't want the hybrid to actually succeed.  It's sad, but true.

12-15-2004

Automakers should deliver SULEV.  It is 72.8% cleaner than ULEV.  That a big difference, and smog is a very real problem.  Reducing emissions is both realistic & affordable, the traditional vehicle achieving SULEV have proven that.  The "assist" system that Honda uses has been proven to not do as well as a "full" system in stop & slow traffic with respect to MPG.  And worse, auto-stop is very limited in both peak summer and peak winter temperatures.  That is not true for a "full" hybrid, as HSD Prius has demonstrated.  It has also shown that highway cruising data, compared the Civic-Hybrid CVT, has proven lower too.  And to matter matters even worse, their third-generation "assist" system is rather complicated.  That, combined with the lower efficiency, prevents it from being cost-competitive with a "full" hybrid.  And to further disappoint, the "assist" technology cannot bridge a transition to increasingly electric vehicles.  With a passive recharging system, electric A/C will be very limited.  And without a PSD, it cannot offer stealth or EV at all.  So what's the point?  Even Honda itself has stated they will be re-evaluating their hybrid plans once the Accord-Hybrid is rollout is complete.  We need to focus on goals.  If a seeming good technology doesn't deliver, we thank the automaker for trying and wish them luck with their attempt at another.  Honda is in that position.  They did not try to deceive the public in anyway about their technology.  They have been honest and upfront about it.  So we should not hold anything against them.  We should hope there next endeavor provides greater success.  After all, they didn't fail.  We just want even cleaner and more efficient technology, that is also cost-effective.  By the way, there is already a traditional Accord that delivers SULEV. In fact, each one sold in CA earns 0.2 PZEV credits... hence the frustration about the hybrid version only being a ULEV.

12-15-2004

Daily Sighting.  I've been running late recently, not as much time as usual for the drive to work.  So I have to take the 70 MPH highway route.  Fortunately, it doesn't hurt the MPG that much.  Unfortunately, there's far more traffic to deal with.  But there is a nice perk, I spot more Prius.  Yesterday, I saw 4 on the way to work.  Today, I saw 3.  Cool, eh?

12-15-2004

Engine Startup.  The question about engine startup routinely surfaces online.  Most of the time, I let others answer it.  But sometimes, like today, I take a stab at polishing up my plain-english (non-technical for newbies) answer.  Here is it...  the system in Prius is brilliantly simple, a setup that makes the prevention of wear appear effortless.  Rather than a traditional starter that is barely strong enough to spin the engine at a slow speed, then hoping the fuel actually ignites so the spinning can continue by the engine itself, a motor that is dramatically more powerful is used instead.  It can continue providing spin power afterward too, and it does.  To top that, starting isn't even attempted until oil pressure is established, since there is an even more powerful motor already providing thrust to the wheels.  In other words, traditional vehicles wish they has it so good.

12-14-2004

Green Climb.  I was really surprised today.  I managed to climb all the way out of the Mississippi River Valley without the charge-level for the battery-pack dropping out of the green.  7 bars were still showing on the Multi-Display when I reached the top.

12-14-2004

Highly Deceptive.  This quote published today really upset me, "Current hybrid systems, such as the Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive, may actually yield lower mileage on freeways than a conventional gasoline engine."  That's true... but highly deceptive, a clear attempt to mislead.  Could you imagine a 1.5 liter engine trying to accelerate that much weight onto the highway all by itself. That would be so horribly slow & powerless, no automaker would actually produce a vehicle like that.  The Corolla is 275 pounds lighter, and it uses a 1.8 liter engine... which obviously uses more gas just by size alone.  It also has the disadvantage of having to use the Otto cycle as well, which is uses even more gas.  It's quite frustrating when they try to pull a fast one like that on uninformed consumers, hoping they won't actually verify the "fact" they just presented.

12-14-2004

LEV:  Low Emission Vehicle.  I remember those stickers from years ago.  People were actually lead to believe that meant their vehicle was clean due to the "low"... so much so, in fact, that an owner of a monster-size SUV argued his vehicle was quite clean.  My reply was that SULEV is dramatically cleaner at the tailpipe than a LEV.  That "low" was really nothing but marketing nonsense.  Specifically, SULEV is 90% cleaner than LEV.  In terms of actual quantity based on the standards (tier 2) starting in 2004, a LEV rated vehicle will produced 10 pounds of smog-related emissions per 100,000 miles.  From 1994 to 2003, that amount was actually much higher: 50 pounds.  A vehicle with a rating new SULEV (tier 2) will emit only 1 pound over that same distance.  In other words, that "low" emission vehicle is 50 times dirtier that my Prius or even an Escape-Hybrid.

12-14-2004

Competition Thoughts.  Over the past 4 years, GM has went from claiming hybrids are a complete waste of effort, to rolling out a token "hybrid" that isn't actually a hybrid, to finally admitting there is a market for them.  How are they going to compete?  By the time they have a real hybrid to offer, Toyota would have a 10 year and over a 800,000 vehicle lead.   Honda's stance will be a bit of a mystery.   But I bet Ford will still be struggling to keep up with the ever-increasing demand, having their hybrids fly off the lot the moment they are delivered.  As for DaimlerChrysler, this is their first admission to defeat.  Originally, they were hoping to somehow deliver diesel instead.  But that upcoming new emission requirement was making that effort a nightmare.  The next few years should be very interesting.  By then, the number one selling sedan in the United States: Camry, will be available as a hybrid and Nissan will also be using HSD technology.  The price of gas is guaranteed to continue being a problem too.

12-14-2004

Escape-Hybrid Deduction.  The $2,000 deduction is now official.  That's much better timing than when hybrids first come out.  Of course, owners could have taken it anyway.  I did for my 2000 taxes on a Prius, even though there was no official word until afterward.  At that point, they stated you could amend the previous year's filing to include the missed deduction.  It's pretty obvious that a "full" hybrid delivering a SULEV emission rating meets the intended qualifications for the deduction, even though the original bill did not explicitly state the criteria like that.  So naturally, I'm curious as ever now to find out if the Accord-Hybrid will.  Being only an "assist" hybrid offering just a modest MPG improvement and no smog-related emission improvement at all (just ULEV rated), the criteria is in question.  At what point must the line be drawn?  Anywho, Ford's first hybrid qualified.

 

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