Prius Personal Log  #169

December 29, 2004  -  December 31, 2004

Last Updated: Sun. 1/02/2011

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12-31-2004

December Average.  44.2 MPG.  That's not too bad.  We got far less precipitation than usual, but it was pretty close to normal for temperatures.  That trip on Christmas day and all the holiday shopping really hurt the numbers.  Unfortunately, the typical colder weather in January will have an even greater effect.  On the bright side, I won't be riding that line of anxiety as with the Classic Prius.  The risk of dropping below 40 MPG is notably less with the HSD model.  The thermal storage system, improvement heat design, and improved heat management all contribute to greater efficiency.  Cool!  Or should I say "Warm" now?

12-30-2004

Equivalent Comparisons.  You just can't ever really do it.  Escape-Hybrid seems to provide a good opportunity.  But reality, there are far too many differences with the traditional Escape.  The transmission is obviously different.  The battery-pack & motors are a cause of additional weight, unique to the hybrid.  And the way the engine reacts to both road & driver input varies tremendous between the two systems.  So the best you can actually do is just a compare of the engine itself.  But even though the hybrid & traditional share the same engine size, they do not share the same power.  One uses ATKINSON and the other uses OTTO for pumping cycles.  The latter is more powerful (152 ft-lbs & 153 hp), but less efficient and more dirty.  The other is cleaner and more efficient, but less powerful (129 ft-lbs & 133 hp).  In other words, I don't think there actually is anything about the propulsion system that actually can be compared.  There is no equivalent.

12-30-2004

Where does the power come from?  Hmm.  Let's see if I can provide a simple explanation...  The PSD is designed to balance mechanical load.  That means a certain percentage of the spinning motion created by the gasoline engine is diverted to create electricity (by spinning the generator-motor) rather than being used entirely for powering the wheels.  This balancing act equates to a MPG gain, since the engine can then run at a more constant RPM... which is more efficient.  It also means a smaller than normal engine can be used (since another source of torque is available)... which is more efficient.  To add that equation, an Atkinson cycle is used by the engine instead of the regular Otto cycle... which is more efficient.  It doesn't provide as much power, but the motor also compensates for that.  So you end of with a number of factors that contribute to greater efficiency.  And the resulting electricity is then either immediately consumed by the thrust-motor (to provide additional power for the wheels), used by the battery-pack for recharging, or both happen at the same time.  I hope that was "simple" enough.  To complicate to picture of this efficiency process, I could point out that the balancing act will change several times per minute.  In fact, seeing it change 20 times per minute in my Prius is quite common.  So don't try to calculate the MPG gain on paper.  The number crunching gets rather involved.

12-30-2004

Increased Load.  The change of engine behavior to provide power under an increased load is rather odd... at first.  I compare that to the same thing you need to do to adjust your senses to the Planetary-CVT behavior when accelerating hard.  It doesn't sound or feel "right".  In reality though, it is just different from what you are used to.  Also, this is where the potential of "full" hybrids will later be exploited.  By dynamically stepping up the electricity voltage, you reduce the efficiency loss.  Prius HSD already does this by running at 500 volts, despite the fact that the battery-pack only provides 201.6 volts.  Prius GT pushes the voltage increase even further, by running at 550 volts.  So the system is capable, but it won't react the way you instinct tells you it will.  That's where the Multi-Display comes in handy.  It clues you in to how the system is react under various conditions, like increased load.

12-30-2004

Stored Energy.  The belief that regeneration is the primary source of electricity continues.  After all those posts about the differences between "assist" and "full" hybrids, you'd think awareness would have been raised.  Apparently, not for everyone.  The belief is associated to PASSIVE electrical system, which is not what either Prius or Escape-Hybrid has.  Instead, they have a PERSISTENT electrical system.  That difference is quite significant.  New electricity is always available.  In fact, stored electricity isn't even the primary source of power for the motor.  The PSD allows the creation of electricity on-the-fly, and that's exactly what it does... persistently.  That means you can take advantage of the impressive torque the motor offers whenever you need it.  When towing a load, that will be rather frequent.  So efficiency will go down.  But nonetheless, it is in fact available.  I've demonstrated the "load" ability quite a few times with my Prius.  In fact, I did just a few days ago.  I packed the interior with people and Christmas stuff, then jumped on the highway.  MPG dropped quite a bit, but the power I needed was there... which is more than just what the engine alone can provide, hence the confusion about how this type of hybrid works.

12-30-2004

By the way...  I joined that particular large forum immediately after another well-known troublemaker did.  Silent observation could not be continued... since his very first post was an attack.  As soon as I got on and made my presence & intentions clear, he immediately left (and hasn't returned since).  My support for hybrids scares him to such a degree that he doesn't want a confrontation anymore.  That's a pleasing outcome too.  Since his posts on other forums (where I'm silent there too) have actually toned down.  How about that?  From attacks to strong debates.  It worked!  I wonder if word got out that there are places where I never post, I just observe.  That would probably mean that he also knows I will reveal myself if he starts being dishonest and making negative personal comments again.  I'm happy with that.  I trust him to be on his honor and he trusts me that I will respect that.  Cool!

12-30-2004

Tired?  I certainly am.  Being able to compare many forums makes spotting problems pretty darn easy.  Those loyal to just one don't see it though.  Each has a unique membership.  But despite that, the nature of the posts are similar.  Some of that actually comes from the help of "trolls".  Their identical bait posts on each forum results in different responses, providing a great opportunity for comparison.  Who knew they'd be helpful.  Unfortunately, the help ends there.  Because when you ask them what there purpose is, they evade.  So when I both answer directly and get to the point, it is appreciated by everyone.  It also means my job is complete.  Phew!  It's about time.  Too bad I can't get the troublemakers to do the same thing, especially since outspoken loyalists are the very people that can sway everyone else to help make the change as minimally disruptive as possible.  Oh well.  At least everyone else is aware of what the resistance (from within) has been.  Perhaps they will grow tired of it too.

12-30-2004

No Change.  There has to be a happy medium somewhere, rather than no change at all.  But how the heck do you find it?  One draw about the upcoming Highlander-Hybrid is the fact that it will feature the new body style & interior.  Well then, what the heck will it have in common with the previous model?  Between the hybrid system and all the visual changes, there won't be much the same other than the size of the vehicle itself.  However, the new traditional model will resemble the hybrid.  What will people think about that?  Hmm.

12-30-2004

Change.  The resistance to change is always a difficult one.  Just getting over the denial stage takes forever.  So the next step is an even greater challenge.  That is when some messages on forums become dishonest & twisted, a warning sign that nothing can be accomplished with standard tactics.  Then when each reply is consistently a negative personal comment, rather than anything related to the actual topic, they have clearly reached the point of desperation.  In other words, you have to take some initiative.  That is exactly what I encountered and exactly what I did.  The situation slowly got worse and worse, before it finally got to the point where it was easy to prove.  A good example is when the most outspoken of those resisting (the success of hybrids) claimed my statistical analysis was incorrect.  I stated that based on the measurements on that generic-topic forum and those on forums with a dedicated purpose of hybrids, the daily hybrid post rate should ultimately be around several dozen messages.  His response was that the forum didn't even average that many posts total per day.  That was clearly not true.  I checked.  I had already done comparison research too.  Prius has many, many more than that on several different forums each day.  And of course, his own forum has significantly more.  And it should, with over 9,000 members.  His posting average alone is 10.4 messages per day.  So it takes little to prove that around 30 later is realistic.  After all, it is an American SUV, which is far more popular than a foreign car with the popular media.  I can easily see how much he feels he has to lose if hybrids win.  His commitment to that forum is quite intense.  Change is not welcome.  Those efforts to keep attention on the traditional technology he has been endorsing over the last 2 years is slowly slipping away.  Change is inevitable.  I'm quite curious how things will turn out.  Several others sounded off afterward too, that a section for hybrids would be beneficial.

12-29-2004

The more hybrids, the better.  I've heard that statement made far too many times.  It may be good-intentioned, but like all unqualified statements, the odds of undesirable consequences are way too real.  Remember the "What would Jesus drive?" campaign.  That backfired.  It was an effort to end the appeal of large SUVs, since they are so incredibly wasteful.  The whole struggle focused on getting rid of them.  The thought of making them more efficient wasn't acknowledged.  They simply wouldn't accept that.  Well, guess what.  Those large SUVs are now losing appeal; however, their replacement isn't really any better.  Powerful low-profile SUVs, disguised as fat-looking wagons, are now being promoted instead.  The low ground-clearance is in fact safer, but the benefits pretty much end there.  A great example is the new vehicle advertised as the "160 MPH Dodge Magnum".  With a 340 horsepower, 390 ft-lb torque, 5.7 liter, 8 cylinder engine, the 4,393 pound automatic-transmission vehicle only gets 17 MPG city, 24 MPG highway for efficiency.  That's absolutely pathetic.  Fortunately, they have an "efficiency" model available too.  It's gets an 21 MPG city, 28 MPG highway ...which is pretty much a joke.  Why would you buy a model with 150 less horsepower and 200 ft-lb less torque for such a minor MPG improvement?  People that crave power aren't known for making sacrifices like that.  Ford has a vehicle like this too, the 4,112 pound Freestyle, which is actually a little worse.  The "efficiency" model gets 20 MPG city, 27 MPG highway.  Anywho, it's why I so relentlessly pursue the quest to allow people to keep using the vehicle they desire instead.  Putting a hybrid system inside, which delivers close to double the MPG and SULEV emissions, is clearly a better choice.  It's not just a "make the protesters happy by switching a seemingly improved vehicle" subterfuge.

12-29-2004

Resisting Change.  The experience today on that traditional forum brought no surprises.  I've been silently (not posting) watching them target all the hybrid posts.  Only none of those owners with the crosshairs aimed at them was bold enough to speak up, so I totally expected them to be upset when I did too.  On another front, they've been claiming the creation of a new section for hybrid posts isn't realistic, despite the fact that there are 11 sections already.  Why the heck would one more be a problem?  And we know for a fact that a separate section would make searches for hybrid-related content dramatically easier.  So it's pretty darn obvious that they are intentionally obscure the excitement of the hybrid enthusiasts by quickly & intentionally burying those posts by flooding them with unrelated discussion.  That non-hybrid chatter is a clear attempt to undermine success.  I've see it countless times on other forums, in the past.  But now, only this one has that problem.  And I strongly believe it is because this forum is the only one without a section devoted to the hybrid.  After all, those traditional owners have a lot to lose.  The hybrid success will make them look bad.  Oh well.  It's their loss.  Activity will migrate over to those other forums instead.  And I got my closure.  The unmistakable opportunity to point out what they were up to is all I wanted anyway.

12-29-2004

It only took 10 days.  With my absence on the traditional forum, the voice for Escape-Hybrid was almost completely silent.  Then this morning, a really upset hybrid owner finally voiced an opinion.  It was filled with disappointment & frustration.  The desire for sharing hybrid experiences had finally grown to the point of boiling over.  That time to create a section devoted to hybrid discussion had arrived.  Yeah!  Now I hope it actually happens.  The traditional owners were never thrilled about that idea.  In fact, they intentionally did things to prevent that from occurring.  But hybrid owners are hard to keep quiet for long.  Something significant will eventually materialize.

 

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