Prius Personal Log  #168

December 21, 2004  -  December 28, 2004

Last Updated: Sun. 1/02/2011

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12-28-2004

Fuel-Cell Problem.  Today I got to see just how much "water vapor" actually comes out of the tailpipe of a fuel-cell vehicle.  Whoa!  We've been misled all this time.  It is a small trickle, not a subtle gas as was implied.  This is a very serious problem for those of us that live in the north.  Just the drop of water that comes from a traditional vehicle is already a problem.  In the coldest days of winter, those drops turn into ice on the road causing a danger many of us know all too well.  With a fuel-cell creating significantly more exhaust water, that ice buildup on the road would become dramatically worse.  That's a very real problem that clearly hasn't been addressed yet.

12-28-2004

Altima-Hybrid.  The first hybrid from Nissan is now available as a prototype.  It uses the HSD system.  They licensed the technology from Toyota.  So needless to say, they have leap-frogged the competition.  Nissan will immediately benefit from the hybrid knowledge already gained from Prius.  Cool!

12-28-2004

48.3 MPG at 32 miles.  Wow!  This tank is off to a much better start than the previous.  I wonder how much higher it will climb.  The weather should be cooperative.

12-28-2004

Misconceptions.  They seem to be in control now.  SlashDot served another hybrid thread recently.  So as usual, the misconceptions appeared... but then were quickly extinguished, and without much conflict!  That sure is an improvement from the past.  Unfortunately, we still have to deal with them.  The most amusing this round was how someone was concerned about winter traction due to the vehicle being so light weight.  Well, that certainly is a switch.  In the past, people used to think hybrids were heavier than normal.  Now they believe it is lighter.  Apparently, we overshot the mark!  Anywho, in reality the overall weight of a hybrid like Prius is virtually identical to that of a traditional vehicle.  A little bit more is in the front though.  But with a front-wheel-drive, that is a definite advantage when you desire traction... like for winter driving.  Hmm.  I wonder what the next popular hybrid misconception will be.

12-27-2004

Climbing Up.  111 miles later, the value on the Multi-Display now says 42.0 MPG.  Winter efficiency isn't fun, despite still being better than a traditional vehicle.  That climb up is a pleasing sight.  Tomorrow's forecast is for warmer temperatures too.  That should help the climb even more.

12-27-2004

Not quite over.  I figured there would be a little bit of fallout.  This was it, "When comparing hybrids, the only number that is accurate is the highway number."  That's not too bad.  It's an obvious attempt to conceal the fact that "assist" hybrids do poorly in stop & slow traffic compared to "full" hybrids.  But I can live with that, since most people should be able to figure out the deception.  Most people drive a mix of City, Suburb, and Highway... especially those that have to deal with a daily commute in a metro area.  So at a minimum, each category individually must be considered.  None can just be dismissed as that quote above tries to do.  The only truly accurate numbers are those taken from real-world data, which is almost always a mix of driving types.  Highway-Only reports are just plain not a good representation of what to actually expect.

12-26-2004

GM & DaimlerChrysler Hybrid Announcement.  Three days ago, they announced a combined effort to develop a hybrid that will supposedly be better than that offered by Toyota.  I don't believe that for a moment.  The published design diagram certainly doesn't support that claim.  But I welcome any technology that achieves this purpose clearly stated on the homepage of my website: "To significantly reduce emissions & consumption in a reliable & cost-effective manner."   Some current hybrids don't.  Some future hybrids won't either.  So we'll see what actually happens.  The announcement article titled "Two-mode full hybrid system trumps competition" is misleading from the start.  Then once you start reading, you encounter my favorite quote: "the hybrid technology that currently exists is already outdated and will likely be gone in a couple of years".  I assume that's GM indirectly talking about their own so-called hybrid technology currently in Silverado.  I find that quite amusing.  When you dig for details, you find the stated 25 percent efficiency improvement mention. What kind of nonsense is that?  HSD already surpasses that value by a very large margin.  So the "trump" claim doesn't actually do that.  Their space-saving claim saying "today's typical single-mode systems that rely on much larger electric motors" is a total mystery.  What the heck are they talking about?  The motors in Prius are tiny components.  How can reducing an already small device be that much of a benefit?  There are so many other components that are a lot larger.  The fact that they are promoting the retention of a traditional automatic transmission is a bit of a farce.  Both types of CVTs are proving to be a better choice.  So why intentionally hold back, especially when it costs more?  Regardless of the technical nature of the design, this operational quote simply makes no sense: "Single-mode systems can't provide the range of operating efficiencies that our two-mode system can."  What does that mean?  Are the politely slamming the "assist" hybrid technology?  There appears to be no operational difference compared to the "full" technology in HSD at all.  This wouldn't be the first time they changed a definition so they could benefit too.  Remember the "stop gap" claims?  Their very own terminology from a few years ago would make them look bad now.  So introducing "mode" does make sense from that perspective.  Whatever the case, it is vaporware until consumers in the 48 consecutive states have the opportunity to actually purchase it.  In other words, credit should not be given until they finally deliver something.

12-25-2004

Cold Reality.  The Christmas travel today with the family was interesting.  I started with the Multi-Display at a horribly low 29.2 MPG with 21 miles on the tank.  That was the direct result of a whole bunch of short & cold trips yesterday, shopping for last-minute odds & ends.  Fortunately, today was warmer (about 19 F degrees) and the drive was a long round-trip of 148 miles (mostly highway at 65 MPH).  So even with 3 other people inside and a packed cargo area, I watched the MPG climb the entire time.  The end of the trip revealed 39.7 MPG on the Multi-Display.  That's not too bad considering the cold temperature, the winter-formula gas, the high-traction tires, the additional weight, and the speed.

12-24-2004

Spring Photos.  Now with Winter setting in, it is rather refreshing getting to work on photos from last Spring.  Just think, when the worst of Winter arrives, I'll be working on Summer photos.  That's a rather nice thought.  My slowness to publish clearly does have some benefits.  As for these photos, you may recognize this Northern Minnesota location now... photo album 89

12-23-2004

Watching the MPG drop.  I've been watching it drop lower.  It correlates directly with the temperature... normally.  But being so close to Christmas, I've been driving quite a few short-trips.  That's just killing the efficiency.  This morning's commute to work wasn't horrible.  At -6 F degrees, the heater kept me warm and the hybrid system kept the MPG above 40.  So that wasn't all bad.  Christmas day will be though.  The drive will be a highway cruise with the family & presents packed inside.  It's inevitable that I toy with the upper 30's.  Eek!  Thank goodness it doesn't last forever.  Eventually, the warm weather will finally return... bringing much higher MPG with it.

12-23-2004

Locking with Gloves.  The old days really made Winter hard to deal with.  Having to lift up the long jacket and fumble with a button on a remote to lock the car with my bare hand in the cold while holding a duffle-bag in the other hand sure was a pain.  I had actually forgotten how great the discovery of that door-button last year was.  It comes with the SE/SS system.  All you have to do is push it after closing the door.  That's very easy to do, even while wearing gloves and holding something in the other hand.  I love that!

12-23-2004

Heater Discovery.  I just plain could not figure out why some owners have said there heater wasn't hot enough.  I've always been comfortable in the winter, with no concern of ever needing more.  Prius has kept me warm through 4 of Minnesota's cold seasons now.  Today was no exception.  The drive to work at -6 F degrees was quite pleasant.  So what was the problem with the other Prius... or were the owners of those cold reports victims of human nature?  After all, I was one in the past.  Years ago, I discovered that my home humidifier worked better if I didn't follow my instinct.  To get maximum evaporation, you'd think that the maximum speed for the fan would do that.  But it turns out, that's far from the truth.  The faster the air travels through the wick, the less opportunity it has to absorb water.  So, reducing the speed increases output.  That's counter-intuitive, but it definitely works.  And there's a side benefit from that.  Slower is more quiet.  Knowing that.  I that I'd try the same with the heater.  After all, that does make sense.  Air passing through the heater-core would have less opportunity to absorb heat the faster it is moving.  And sure enough, that's exactly what I found.  That's why I've been so warm all these years.  I've always used the slow setting on the heater.  The output from the vent is actually greater than if you don't use a fast speed.  Heat is what you want, not a blast of barely warmed air.  Try it.  You'll be surprised.  A slower fan speed will produce greater heat.

12-22-2004

Eco-Friendly.  I hope the misunderstanding doesn't continue.  It's about to quickly get out of hand.  This is a misconception in the making.  The belief that the Accord-Hybrid "puts out significantly fewer pollutants than the standard Accord" is rapidly growing.  The smog-related emissions are no different than the regular traditional Accord.  Both are only ULEV rated.  SULEV is 72.8 percent cleaner.  A traditional version of the Accord is available with the SULEV emission rating.  The hybrid is not.  So it is not "eco-friendly" as many believe.

12-22-2004

Lost History.  How about that!  Timing is everything.  Just this morning someone was listing off the Yahoo groups available for Civic-Hybrid.  He claimed the creation of the generic one for all Honda hybrids came about due to the introduction of Honda's second hybrid.  That is not entirely true.  Yes, there was benefit, but not a need.  There was a thriving, though misnamed, group that everyone already flocked to.  The real factor that pushed them to take action was all the attacks.  By the time Fall of 2001 had come, the threat of hybrid success had become very real.  Fear of change pushed a few to begin spamming the group so heavily with anti-hybrid misconceptions that both membership & participation began to drop rapidly.  So a more secure, and much better named, group was created.  That didn't work well.  Some were quite disappointed that it didn't allow public access.  You had to subscribe to a trial connection where your post would first be manually approved, before you could become a member.  That only lasted a few months before another less restrictive group was created.  In other words, the attacks were successful.  No one seems to remember that anymore though.  All they seem to focus on is individual battles, not the overall objective... hence my recent encounters.  They were in part to train participants of what to be aware of.  Because "Out of sight, Out of mind" is never a good philosophy.  Instead, the motto of the Boy Scouts is far more appropriate "Be prepared".  Studying history will help prepare you.

12-21-2004

Same Old Stuff.  I thought I'd take some time to check in on the general forum (with hybrid topics) I left several months ago.  It's the same old stuff there... just like I experienced yesterday on that other forum.  So, I checked in on the one I stopped posting on a little over a week ago.  It's even worse there.  Hybrids are barely getting any attention at all, only a handful of posts all week.  In other words, this "prediction" is turning out exactly as expected in both cases.  I wonder how long it will take before others finally notice the same behavior patterns.  Hmm?

12-21-2004

Another 2005 Calendar.  This one uses 12 of my favorite Prius print-layouts that I recently created as wallpapers.  Now they have been inserted into DOC & PDF files white backgrounds.  So you can print them to assemble a calendar.  Download those 12 pages along with the template for the 12 month of 2005 here... calendar "B"

12-21-2004

Lesson Learned.  It should be obvious.  But I'll point it out anyway... Don't discuss any aspects of the short-term.  It stirs up all kinds of conflict.  The data clearly shows that "assist" hybrids cannot serve the long-term.  The versatility that a persistent system delivers far outweighs the benefits a passive system can offer.  And we all (now) know that the way to support that concept is by using a PSD (Power Split Device), which is the very component that is used to define a "full" hybrid.

 

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