Prius Personal Log  #170

December 31, 2004  -  January 7, 2005

Last Updated: Sun. 1/09/2005

    page #169         page #171         BOOK         INDEX         go to bottom 

 

1-07-2005

HCH, HAH, FEH...  Acronyms are a mixed blessing.  They work fantastic for simplifying analysis reports involving numerous technical terms.  And they are almost to the point of being miraculous when it comes to advertising.  But when having a casual discussion about hybrids, forget it.  People start by using one to save some typing.  That seems innocent enough, until many more start appearing.  "HCH" stands for Honda-Civic-Hybrid.  "HAH" stands for Honda-Accord-Hybrid.  How long do you think it will take before someone's feelings are hurt or a discussion goes sour when someone mistypes or misunderstands one of those acronyms?  It's so easy, it's frightening.  Using them is asking for trouble, because it gets much more confusing rather quickly.  Just think of mess the generation identification will make.  "FEH" stands for Ford-Escape-Hybrid.  It is absolutely inevitable that "FEH" will be upgraded.  Electric A/C and an improved battery-pack are very likely candidates.  Will owners count that as a generation?  And if they do, will adding a "2" to the acronym make any sense, creating "FEH 2"?  If you believe so, you haven't thought out the entire situation already.  "FEH" offers four-wheel-drive as an option.  People commonly refer to that as "4WD"; however, many are too lazy to type it out.  Including it would also defeat the convenience of the acronym.  See: "FEH 4WD".  And at that point, someone might be confused thinking you are referring to a license number or a part number.  What's up with all the letters & numbers?  Want to make the situation even worse, trying adding transmission references...  "HCH MT" to identify the manual transmission and "HCH CVT" to identify the continuously variable transmission... but which type, Cone & Belt or Planetary?  See where I'm going with this?  Acronyms are a poor choice, especially when you know that newbies will be reading the messages you post.  Use unique & easy to understand words instead, like "Civic-Hybrid".  That technique has already proven very effective for the generations of Prius: "Original Prius", "Classic Prius", and "HSD Prius".  Notice how one is actually an acronym.  The marketing aspect works well.  We will see "HSD" all over the place soon.  Each vehicle baring that emblem will have "Hybrid Synergy Drive" inside, which we clearly understand is the "full" hybrid system developed by Toyota.  That makes sense, since it is a unique branding identifier.  Get it?  Generic acronyms don't work; they lead to confusion.  Intentionally marketed, trademarked, and copyrighted acronyms are ok to use, since they can very clearly be identified.  So don't use HCH, HAH, or FEH.

1-06-2005

EPA Recommendations.  I hear them all the time.  None are well thought out.  Heck, if there was a solution, I'd be recommending it already.  But there isn't.  And there won't ever be one.  All you have to do is introduce a real-world influence, like A/C.  That will heavily skew the MPG numbers in a variety of directions, each design dealing with that increased load in a different manner.  In other words, a single MPG measurement method will never be representative of what to actually expect.  So we'll have to hunt for a useful combination of quantitative values.  That means rather than just a number for City and a number for Highway, we'll have a whole matrix filled with values.  That's great for someone well informed.  But for the average joe, having to compare 15 to 20 numerical statistics is unrealistic.  They have already proven that the current data is too overwhelming to properly interpret.  I'm not sure what the answer will be or what kind of new recommendations emerge, but I do know there will not be a simple answer.  Everyone drives differently.  Everyone has a different need.  Fuel & Climate vary.  You get the idea.  Determining MPG is a very complex problem to deal with.

1-05-2005

Professional Comparisons.  This month's issue of Popular Mechanics provides a comparison between diesel & hybrid, specifically the Jetta TDI to a HSD Prius.  Most of what they said was rather favorable, Prius is a competitive choice.  That really ticked me off.  Their measurements were done using a diesel with a manual transmission, not one that doesn't require shifting.  That is just plain wrong... and quite misleading.  It is a well known fact that the automatic diesel is less efficient.  The professionals should know better than to ever pull something like that.  Both testing vehicles should either be manual or a design that doesn't require shifting.  You cannot mix like that.  It changes the driving requirement, a compromise consumers are unwilling to make.  That's why 90 percent of the population here insists the transmission must be automatic.  I can't wait until cleaner diesels arrive.  That will push their MPG down even further.  And by then, the data showing just how impressive hybrid MPG actually is in real-world conditions will be hard to deny.  Right now, it is somewhat scare still.  But then again... diesel data is scare too, even though it has been available for decades.  They have little to actually support their claims.  Does that mean it is up to the professionals to supply it?  I hope not.

1-05-2005

Roof Rack on a HSD.  I saw my first today.  It really caught me off guard too.  I saw the sleek aerodynamic front approaching me.  But then when it drove by, the great-looking profile of "swish" was impaired by this large unappealing attachment on the roof.  Eeew!  Oh well.  At least it shows just how practical Prius really can be.  You can pile lots of stuff both inside and on top.

1-05-2005

Snow Drought.  It's a darn good thing I don't need snow photos.  We are experiencing an extreme this year.  The cold season has delivered mostly just cold air.  While other areas of the country have been dumped on with several feet of snow, all Minnesota have gotten was less than 3 inches total over the past 3 months.  The grass is still visible.  The plows do nothing by spread sand & salt on the roads.  The scenery is drab, no majestic white wonderlands like we normally get to enjoy.  I wonder what the second half of the season will bring.  Hmm?

1-04-2005

Small & Light.  The nonsense continues.  The size & weight comment was made today, claiming that was in part how the great efficiency is achieved.  In reality, that is absolutely false.  Echo weighs 2,105 pounds.  Corolla weighs 2,615 pounds.  Matrix weighs 2,756 pounds.  Prius weighs 2,890 pounds.  Camry weighs 3,164 pounds.  Prius fits right between Matrix and Camry for weight.  And when you check size, you'll find that is true as well.  In other words, Prius is neither small nor light.  That person making the comment was likely very poorly informed, basing judgment solely on misconceptions rather than actual facts.  However, we have encountered situations where a few are so frightened of change they are willing to lie to prevent it.  And in this case, he was responding to the fact that the company he worked for was endorsing "small & light" hybrids.  Perhaps he felt threatened, thinking his only choice was a vehicle like Insight, not realizing Prius is significantly larger & heavier.  Regardless, that claim was without merit, since a variety of hybrids are already available and the selection will be increasing by 2 (both SUVs) within the next 6 months.

1-03-2005

Photos at Sunset.  I've waited a long time to finally make these Prius photos available.  They are at a location by a lake in Northern Minnesota that I like to visit in the Spring.  See for yourself if the wait was worth it... photo album 90

1-03-2005

SUV Commercials?  Wow!  They have rapidly diminished.  Sweet!  We are no longer getting bomb-barded by a barrage of advertisements for them.  Their promotion doesn't stand out anymore.  Hooray!  Unfortunately, much of that is the result of having switched to the "fat wagon" design for a SUV, making it far less likely to rollover and improving the aerodynamics.  Nonetheless, this is clear prove that the market has exceeded the saturation-point.  There are so many available now that more commercials simply won't help sell them anymore.  It's over.  Yippee!  No we can focus more on providing people with vehicles that better fulfill their needs, rather than just simply expressing an image of size & power.

1-03-2005

1999.  It used to be looked upon as that special distant date waaaaay off in the future.  Now that date is beginning to represent the not-so-near-anymore past, a mark of conclusion for the 20th Century.  I've heard "back in 1999" quite a few times now, especially when it comes to hybrid history.  Lots has happened since then.  In fact, many people are now discussing what the late part of this decade will bring.  Did you know time was slipping away so quickly?  We know certain automakers didn't.  To them, it's as if all of a sudden hybrids are now thought of as practical purchase choice.  Hybrids are no longer "new", like they were thought of back in 1999.

1-02-2005

History Book.  The growing collection of personal-log entries is quite literally turning into a history book at this point.  Today marked another installment of the never-ending hybrid saga, written in first-person perspective, by an owner as he was actually experiencing that history.  I prefer to call it a journal.  But with so much having happened already, I cannot deny the history that has already come & gone.  All documented here... personal log - book

1-02-2005

Ice Driving.  I've had quite a bit of experience with the HydroEdge tires on ice now.  They work great!  In fact, that's the best I could imagine a non-snow-tire to work under those conditions... which is definitely better traction than I had last year with the OEM (standard) tires on the Prius.  This is the type of driving I was most curious about.  The brief snow driving opportunities were all that was needed to confirm that ability.  But ice, that's where you really put tires to the test.  And they passed that test, with flying colors!

1-01-2005

Heated Mirrors.  Today's demonstration was pretty impressive.  Within just a few minutes, the ice crust that had built up while I was in shopping completely disappeared from the glass surface of the outside mirrors... since that part is heated.  The little stick-on blind-spot mirrors (obviously) aren't.  So the ice on them remained.  It provided a great comparison example.  I hadn't realized the responsiveness was that fast.  We don't get ice here often.  It's usually far too cold for that type of precipitation.  So I pleased to get that demonstration.

1-01-2005

How It works.  This illustrated informational webpage only had Classic Multi-Display photos on it.  So, I (finally) added some sample photos for the HSD Prius too... how it works

1-01-2005

Off to a Bad Start?  The beginning of the new year brought this reporter's quote in the closing paragraph of an article about Prius, "there has been some industry skepticism of the 51 to 60 fuel ratings (we were closer to the lower number, in the mid-40s)."  I was hoping that type of poor reporting would be a thing of the past, something we could leave behind from 2004.  Apparently, that's not the case in 2005.  At this point, it is suppose to be common knowledge that the MPG estimates are incorrect for all types of vehicles.  Only with Prius, it is much easier to detect due to the Multi-Display.  And if the reporter was really well informed, he'd be aware the cold weather and winter-formula gas reduces the MPG in all types of vehicles.  But he wasn't.  So he reported the findings as if that's what you'd get any time of the year, which is just plain wrong... for any type of vehicle.

12-31-2004

Competing Forces.  I'm a coach that the team both loves & hates.  We share the same goal, to win, but they aren't always pleased by how hard I push them to accomplish that.  Whether they are unaware, complacent, or just in denial, it doesn't matter.  The reality is that the Escape-Hybrid enthusiasts must establish a strong market-presence in a remarkably short amount of time.  Just 3.5 months from now the first SUV using HSD will become available for purchase.  Then 3 months later, another will follow.  One is a Lexus.  The other is a Toyota.  In both cases, they utilize a much better 4WD (4-wheel-drive) system than the one Ford uses.  (I apologize for being blunt, but at least I'm honest & direct.)  Ford's system is very similar to that in a tradition 4WD vehicle.  It consists of a transfer case, rear drive shaft, coupling device, coupling device control module, and rear axle.  The one for HSD (in the Lexus & Toyota) is both more powerful and far less complicated.  It simply uses a third electric motor.  There is no drive shaft.  There is no coupling device or controller.  In fact, there is physical connection to the engine whatsoever.  In others words, there is no sharing of thrust from the engine.  It is entirely independent, which is ultimate way to build a 4WD system.  Anywho, that means greater control is possible, a fantastic benefit for those driving off-road.  The power for the rear wheels comes exclusively from the electrical system, rather than being like a mechanical traditional design.  And HSD the electrical system uses both a higher operating voltage and a battery-pack with a considerably higher storage capacity.  In other words, it offers strong climbing abilities.  The Escape-Hybrid owners won't be happy to learn this.  That's why I've been focusing on its strengths instead.  It is still an impressive hybrid SUV.  The efficiency improvement over the traditional vehicle is quite obvious, a huge selling point.  Another is the AT-PZEV emission rating.  (That's even cleaner than the SULEV rating I have set as a goal to strive for.)  And the benefits of on-road 4WD should be obvious.  It's only the extreme conditions Ford hasn't addressed yet.  But they will later.  Heck, switching to a higher density battery-pack isn't that big of a deal.  So focusing on the current one is a waste.  Why worry about that?  Well, I'll tell you why.  It's because the media will.  And the "power obsessed" magazine reviews will have a field day with that.  So not having a strong following of supporters already established by then could blemish the reputation of a technology that Ford worked very hard on and deserves credit for doing.  But the world is a cruel place.  The other automakers with no hybrid to compete with yet will exploit that, making it appear to be a serious weakness or shortcoming.  It's not.  Don't believe them.  Instead, listen to the coach.  He has been studying hybrids for 5 years and has driven over 86,150 miles with them.  Listen to what he has to say.  Then when he has finished, provide constructive feedback.  Don't attack his personality.  Don't reply with dishonest information.  And don't try to convince others that his goals are any different than yours, because they aren't.  I want "full" hybrids to thrive.  I know quite well that supporters of other automakers, supporters of dirty-diesel, and supporters of traditional design will all fight back to resist change.  They don't want you to win... but I do.

 

back to home page       go to top