Prius Personal Log  #171

January 7, 2005  -  January 9, 2005

Last Updated: Sat. 4/09/2005

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1-09-2005

Sales Counts.  The total 2004 (from Jan.1 to Dec.31) sales of Passenger Cars for Toyota in North America was: 965,091.  The following is the breakdown of those numbers, in descending order...  CAMRY: 426,990   COROLLA: 333,161   PRIUS: 53,991   SCION_xB: 47,013   AVALON: 36,460   SCION_tC: 28,062   SCION_xA: 24,184   CELICA: 8,710   ECHO: 3,899   MR2_SPYDER: 2,621   Notice how Prius was the third most popular.  And with the production volume of the 2005 model Prius having been increased to 100,000 vehicles, it will further solidify that position.  Possessing a strong standing like that will really irritate the heck out of the competition.  That number competes directly with their traditional vehicles sales, so they are really in trouble when it comes to creating a popular hybrid.  Remember, Toyota is second only to GM, who is suffering for continued sales decline.  That's not true for Toyota.  Exactly the opposite is happening, sales continue to grow for Toyota.  How many Prius do you think they will build for North America for the 2006 model year?  And do you think it will finally be enough, or will Prius enthusiasts still have to wait several months for delivery?  I know I'll be doing my best to keep the demand so high those order backlogs continue.  Sorry!

1-09-2005

HOV for Hybrids.  Things aren't looking good for the plan in California.  It was to offer 75,000 permits for hybrids capable of both 45 MPG and SULEV emissions, allowing them to drive in the HOV lane without any passengers.  However, according to the federal highway funding requirements, that type of HOV use cannot be permitted.  So hybrid owners that got one of those permits aren't too thrilled.  Yes, it was just icing on the cake, hardly the only reason to purchase a hybrid.  But nonetheless, it would have been a nice perk.  An interesting twist is that Minnesota seems to either not be bound by the same federal requirement or they simply have found the funding unnecessary.  There's a state bill currently being considered that would allow no-passenger vehicles to use the HOV lane, if they are willing to pay for it.  The system would work just like the drive-thru toll systems work now; however, the pricing would be dynamic.  Having sensors in some highways already allows the Department-Of-Transportation to always now what the speed of traffic is flowing at.  That same data could be used to determine the at-the-moment price for HOV use.  Interesting, eh?  I wonder what the heck California will end up doing.  HOV use definitely needs to be re-evaluated.  By the way, both the state of Virginia and the District of Columbia are having hybrid related HOV concerns now too.

1-09-2005

Battery-Pack Supply.  Back in 2003 I got harassed, accused of trying to cover up a conspiracy.  The anti-hybrid crowd claimed Prius was being sold at a significant loss, so there was no reason for production quantity to ever be increased.  The purpose of the vehicle was supposedly just a big publicity stunt.  I said it was actually a third-party supplier problem, most significantly the battery-pack modules.  The retaliation to that was quite rude & insulting.  They said I was lying and continually posted messages stated that.  I was in fact correct, though I had a hard time proving it.  Having researched deep into the technology, it made me well aware of the high-volume obstacles & challenges to overcome.  But people don't want to do the same.  Instead, they wanted to just read about it in condensed articles which clearly state the problem.  Well guess what, that's what we have now.  One after another is published on a regular basis, all saying the same thing.  The doubt about battery-pack supply being the problem has been completely eliminated.  They now know for a fact that was indeed the limiting factor.  Why must they always fight you, rather than actually considering what you have to say?  Arrgh!

1-09-2005

Reclassification.  Last January, we got news that the Subaru Outback would be reclassified for 2005 from a car to a "light truck" by just raising the ground clearance a little and repositioning the back bumper.  That would allow it to pass the efficiency requirement without having to improve MPG at all, since the "light truck" category has a lower standard.  So now that the new model is actually available, I thought I'd look up the details.  This is especially important now that "fat wagons" are growing in popularity as SUV replacements.  Anywho, the weight of the efficiency version (4 cylinder) is 3,355 pounds.  It delivers 22 City & 28 Highway.  The more powerful version (6 cylinder) delivers 19 City & 25 Highway.  Both are obviously disappointing MPG... but of no surprise to me.  Efficiency is given a pretty low priority in the industry still.

1-08-2005

Status Quo.  I'm in stealth-mode, quietly observing the lack-of-progress a certain forum is suffering from now.  This week, owner discussion there was almost non-existent... as I declared would happen... actually, it was really an accusation stating, "If all you do is status quo, it is pretty much guaranteed that is all you will get."  That, of course, ticked them off.  But part of the reaction could have been from knowing I was comparing them to failures of the past.  I've seen this same thing before, so I certainly can't say it is a prediction now.  It is simply just pattern recognition.  There have been variety of attempts in the past that ended up failing, despite sincere efforts.  These guys aren't even trying.  So how can they possibly expect a hybrid presence to just happen on it's own?  Even with hard work, I've witnessed letdowns.  One that comes to mind is the Insight organization that was established a few years ago.  A devoted owner created a club, built a website, got a bunch of people to join, and even filed for tax-exempt status.  Despite that, it bellied-up after about 6 months.  Anywho, the handful of posts that did actually appear this week were vague comments about recently published hybrid articles.  That's it.  The other forum, which is 75 times smaller, has more hybrid discussion.  Those messages have had greater detail too.  If you don't try, you can't expect much.  Status quo will be maintained.  That's sad.

1-08-2005

Last Spring.  Taking these photos was a lot of fun.  The weather was disappointing all week, overcast almost the whole time.  Then at the last minute, the sun suddenly popped out right before it set.  So, I raced off to this hidden scenic location among the trees.  It was a spot I had already scoped out ahead of time, just in case.  That sure paid off... photo album 90

1-08-2005

Ownership Details.  You'll find my ongoing routine & unscheduled records for my HSD Prius on this webpage... maintenance 3

1-08-2005

Engine Revving.  This incorrect belief of "high" revving is really beginning to become a problem, perhaps another misconception in the making.  You often now hear people make comments about how the engine revs really high, which leads to the impression that it is struggling to deliver enough power.  That is just plain wrong.  Yes, it does sound odd, but that's just because it is different.  In reality, it is the combination of the Atkinson cycle (which sounds different) and the Planetary-CVT (which behaves different).  Those dissimilarities are a source of confusion for those not paying attention, judging solely on a quick first impression.  The reason is simple, they already have an expectation they wish the vehicle to fulfill.  When it doesn't do that, they just jump to the conclusion that it is a shortcoming.  That impression is quite incorrect.  Think of it this way... When you want to increase power while climbing a hill, you get the impression that nothing happened after pushing the accelerator-pedal down because neither the sound or feel changes.  That allows you to easily assume there was no change.  But if you watch the speedometer, you'll see that the hybrid did in fact speed up.  What actually happened was the electric motor fulfilled the power request entirely on it's own.  But you've been trained to expect a noise & vibration increase, since that is only way a traditional vehicle can respond.  Hybrids are designed to overcome that limitation.  Most people don't realize that though.  And then they are really surprised later when the engine does speed up to help increase the power and/or recharge the battery-pack.  That gives them the impression that a down-shift just occurred, the way an automatic transmission reacts when the higher gear it was using can no longer supply the required torque.  In other words, the engine revving in a "full" hybrid has virtually nothing in common with the traditional design.  So don't judge it based on traditional observation methods.

1-07-2005

E10 & B2.  The 10 percent ethanol blend with 90 percent gasoline, called E10, has been required by law in Minnesota since 1997.  It was a move to help reduce emissions from vehicles and to stimulate the economy for our local farmers.  That has worked remarkably well too.  In fact, it worked so well that we became the national testing area for E85 (that's 85 percent ethanol).  Unfortunately, it does set things up for misconceptions.  The federal government is now offering financial incentives to promote biodiesel, made from corn or soy similar to ethanol.  So the state government is planning to take advantage of this, by making a similar requirement for diesel.  That home growing of fuel should help our local economy, but it is definitely not a model those states without nearby crops could benefit from.  And worse, the actual requirement is only 2 percent.  That is an amount so small it is almost embarrassing.  But I know why the limitation was set so low.  Biodiesel actually increases NOx pollution (smog-related emissions).  Ethanol reduces it.  That is a very, very, very significant difference that is obviously being overlooked by the media promoting this.  You get the impression it is clean, since the fuel is grown rather than drilled.  And you are told it will help out our farmers and create jobs at local refineries.  But they never actually mention emissions.  You are simply allowed to make the assumption.  That's wrong.  Ethanol reduces NOx (Nitrogen Oxides).  Biodiesel increase NOx.  Don't be fooled into thinking both are better for the environment, because one isn't.

1-07-2005

It Didn't Make Sense.  Why would someone refuse to state their purpose for several years, despite being directly asked countless times what her purpose was?  We (a small group of strong-willed Prius supporters) never got an answer to that question, no matter how we asked it.  We watched her actively participate on a wide variety of online forums, including those each specifically for Toyota, Honda, Ford, and GM.  Why would some invest so much time without a definitive goal?  We certainly couldn't determine an objective, even though we had a ton of message posts to analyze.  There was a common theme though.  Many would be signed with the closing, "peace", yet the content itself clearly invoked controversy.  That obvious contradiction was repeated again and again, implying a stalemate was desired rather than any solid conclusion.  And sure enough, evidence finally emerged to support that "want more" theory today.  I knew patience would pay off.  About two years ago, she co-wrote a comprehensive paper comparing Classic Prius to Civic-Hybrid.  We heard about its existence over and over and over again, yet she absolutely refused to share it publicly.  Heck, even the moderator of a Yahoo group offered to do it for her, setting up a text or html file from an email.  All she had to do was send a copy of the paper.  Nothing.  Eventually, she said she would provide design details instead, rather an analysis.  Fine, we could do the comparisons ourselves.  Nothing.  None of that ever materialized, yet the persistence on both sides continued.  The stubborn refusal to cooperate with us simply made no sense... until a certain fact was revealed.  We discovered that paper resulted in a payment, allowing a publication to print it.  The signed contract prohibited her from sharing the contents publicly.  Why the heck weren't we told that in the first place?  Why so secretive?  Yes, some of us would have accused her of "selling out", especially since many published articles in the media are clearly bias, written with a specific intent.  (I know that for a fact, since some of my interviews included reporters pushing for certain angles, rather than allowing you to say whatever you want.)  So naturally, we are now even more suspicious than ever.  What did those paying specifically ask for?  Remember a few years back when we got a hold of an executive document, summarizing the weekly online activity mentioning hybrids?  Someone gets paid to do that type of research.  Someone could get paid to keep the discussions alive too.  With a motive of money, I can imagine a variety of things a person could do.  Not allowing "assist" hybrids and hybrids that only deliver ULEV to lose the spotlight would make her purpose more difficult...  Now it makes sense.

1-07-2005

Diesel Desperation.  For years, the diesel supporters completely ignored emissions... since their vehicles produced the worst pollution on the market.  Heck, when confronted about that last year, a few actually went to the point of literally saying "I don't care about emissions".  That included references to those suffering from breath-related health problems too.  It was a sad reality.  But now, out of total desperation to survive, they are now changing the song they sing.  As if all of a sudden, they are heavily focusing on emissions.  Don't let them fool you.  Yes, they will be quite a bit cleaner.  But no published article about a non-hybrid diesel ever mentions SULEV or PZEV.  That's because they aren't that clean.  They are just better than in the past.  And the reason is simple: The regulation prohibiting diesel sales in 5 states currently will expand to all 50 states in just 18 months.  That means unless those emissions are improved, the vehicle cannot be sold.  In other words, they have to save their butt by embracing the very thing they used to ignore.  It's sad when it takes the threat of a new law before an automaker & supporters finally do the right thing.

1-07-2005

Pushing Misconceptions.  You-know-who is still pestering the hybrid enthusiasts with his PZEV promotion.  He tries to make that non-hybrid technology sound readily available, when it really isn't.  It is only available on lots in a few states, and even there the quantity is very limited.  Overall production of that type of vehicle is quite limited too.  And the reason is simple... the incentive to sell them is to earn emission-credits, which are only offered in certain states.  Anywho, he totally side-steps the fact that a non-hybrid PZEV gets horrible MPG.  Yes, it is very clean.  But with efficiency so poor (a little worse than a traditional vehicle), why would you ever want to promote a technology like that?

 

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