Prius Personal Log  #172

January 10, 2005  -  January 15, 2005

Last Updated: Mon. 2/14/2005

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1-15-2005

Oil Overfill... yet again!  It's the topic that never seems to conclude.  I played a role in drawing attention to overfill in a Prius.  But that had nothing to do with engine damage.  It was purely a matter MPG influence.  I was ticked off after discovering how much extra oil the dealer had put in.  So I drained the excess and then some out, bringing the dipstick-level from 3/8-inch beyond full to 1/4-inch below it.  That resulted in a immediate MPG improvement.  Then people began to chime in about how the "sludge" problem from days past with traditional engines were in part related to overfill too, hence the amplified attention and the concern about engine damage.  Then I made it worse by publishing that oil-change document, which there has been well over 10,000 downloads of now.  The snowball-effect is pretty amazing.  Just look at other Prius influences, like tires and the misunderstandings of EPA and winter-formula gas and emissions and... you get the idea.  Raised awareness is a common trait among Prius owners.  I consider that well worth having to routinely answer the same questions about oil overfill.

1-15-2005

Message Fighting.  Geez!  It continues ages later, long after I left that particular forum.  And the other one I just left a few weeks ago, same thing is happening there.  All that anti-hybrid sentiment is clear proof that dedicated forums for hybrid enthusiasts are needed.  I'm sure glad the ones dedicated to that purpose have emerged for the older hybrids.  The newer ones are still questioning the value of that though.  Hopefully, they'll figure out the need quickly.  The evidence for them is rapidly growing.

1-15-2005

Low-Sulfur.  The diesel supporters (the hostile anti-hybrid folk) are now trying to convince people that low-sulfur diesel is the answer to everyone's prayers.  They are pushing the reduced emission benefit without providing any numbers whatsoever.  But worse than that is they are totally, completely misleading people by never mentioning that gas will be available nationwide in low-sulfur form too.  And it will come a whole year sooner as well.  In other words, they don't want you to become aware that emission-reduction is actually a moving target.  They only want you to think comparisons between current-gas and future-diesel is a valid measurement.  In reality, the actual compares should of future-gas and future-diesel.  But that would once again make non-hybrid diesel systems an unfavorable choice.  Too bad.

1-15-2005

Fuel-Cell Vehicles Now?  Hearing that Honda will begin leasing some of their fuel-cell vehicles to consumer by the end of the year makes me wonder what the purpose of that is?  The technology is clearly not ready for mainstream yet.  Ignoring the whole "source of fuel" and "cost of fuel" issue, there are still quite a few holdbacks.  Assuming the stack cost will somehow be worked out, reliability is still a problem.  That thin membrane cannot take a beating for the entire lifetime of the vehicle.  In fact, the papers I have read state about 40,000 miles is the expectation.  So even if they have doubled the reliability recently, it still falls well short of the mark.  Range factor is a huge deterrent too.  GM claims they can now get close to 300 miles by using three 10,000 PSI tanks.  Where exactly are they going to store those?  Sacrificing an entire truck is something most people are not willing to do.  And how long does it take to fill each of them?  Weight is an issue to also deal with.  The older prototypes added over 2,000 pounds to the vehicle.  A reduction of half is still way too much.  Components like suspension, brakes, and tires will need to be beefed up to handle the increased load.  And naturally, that's going to alter the dynamics of the vehicle... making it feel & handle different, as well as increase cost.  The show-stopper though is cold weather operation.  The latest info I can find is the "breakthru" Honda had allowing the stack to operate down to 20 F degrees.  That is an obvious problem for many of us.  Temperatures are much lower than that for days at a time in some places.  And in Minnesota, you can actually go for weeks without an evening temperature getting that high.  So winter is a clear problem, not even considering how long it takes to actually get heat too.  What about the summer cooling?  How much does travel-range shorten when you have the A/C running a lot?  With so many issues still, Honda's plan to put the technology in hands of consumers this soon seems like just a reputation-building effort.  Does taking some attention away from hybrids make sense right now?

1-13-2005

Sightings.  I spotted 5 Classic Prius on the road today.  Sweet!

1-14-2005

Prius Tire Webpages.  I finally created a new webpage and updated up the original one...  tires - HSD   tires - Classic

1-14-2005

Going Up Again.  $48.38 per barrel of oil should be no surprise at this point.  The days of seeing the price in the 20's are long gone... even though they were just a few years ago.

1-14-2005

"Runaway Success"  Well, it's about dang time Prius got recognized that way.  For the longest time, it was called a poor seller... even though there were massive waiting lists.

1-13-2005

Remember PriusOrg?  I had almost completely forgotten about that unsuccessful shot at creating an official organization (complete with tax-exempt status) for hybrid owners.  So I hunted through my list of favorites.  A bunch of other fruitless attempts surfaced.  I wonder how many others will come & go like that.  Hmm?

1-13-2005

Winter Wrath.  I'm trying awful hard this week to keep my MPG from slipping below 40 MPG.  It's getting mighty close though, with the daytime highs below 0 F degrees and the fact that I simply cannot avoid some short-trips.  Of course, when it's that cold you really shouldn't push your luck anyway... which leads to a rather amusing recommendation we've been hearing on the news lately.  They are strongly suggesting that people keep their tanks on the full side, to avoid water vapor accumulating & freezing within the empty space above the gas.  Prius doesn't have that problem!  It is a not-so-obvious benefit of that emissions bladder.  So I guess there are certain aspects of Winter which aren't too bad.  After all 40 MPG is pretty impressive for most vehicles even at their best.

1-12-2005

Website Card.  It was time for an update to that tiny Prius handout I share with anyone I encounter that shows even the slightest interest in hybrids.  This newest one has an entirely new look... website cards 9   website cards 10   website cards - print

1-11-2005

More Strangeness.  GM's stance on hybrids is really strange.  They keep going back & forth on what their plans are for actually delivering something competitive.  And if you listen closely, you'll hear how their own staff argues amongst themselves about what the best body type is to deliver the final product in for initial rollout.  Anywho, their latest mess is the name they selected for their first "full" hybrid.  They chose to call it their "two-mode" system.  Are they nuts?  The thought of something with a dual setup implies that there is a switch over from one independent system to another... which is the very misconception Prius has been fighting for the last few years.  There is not a switch.  There are actually many, many more modes than just two... in Prius anyway.  But with a name like that, people are naturally going to think one mode is gas and the other mode is electric.  So either the GM system is so simplistic it cannot support the dynamic nature a "full" hybrid normally delivers or their name really is a serious perception problem.  However, it is part of the GM self-destructive nature.  They are destine to fight their greatest enemy: Themselves!  After all, just 3 years ago they claimed hybrids were a complete waste of effort.  Now they are promoting one of their own.  Who knows.  I'm glad I didn't ever have to deal with that mess.

1-11-2005

Amusing Quote.  Here's the one for today... "Though interest in hybrid gas-electric vehicles is growing, the market for them has yet to take off."  That is a clear case of denial.  Prius is an obvious success.  It is the third best selling car in Toyota's line-up.  Isn't that enough?  Of course, when the Camry-Hybrid becomes available in 2 years, there will be a very noticeable increase in hybrid interest.  After all, Camry is the best-selling car in the United States.

1-11-2005

Diesel Hybrid.  Someone today got excited about their "new" discovery, it was a prototype from GM.  I hated to burst their bubble by pointing out it was a dead concept vehicle from the now defunct (thanks to President Bush, arrgh!) PNGV program.  Too bad almost all evidence of that work has been lost.  Of course, emission data and price were non-existent anyway.  That's the part I really want to know about.  I already know that they cheated by using very expensive light-weight components.  The question is how much of an impact to performance they made.  I can imagine the MPG improvement Prius could gain if its body was built with a composite-fiber instead of some aluminum and the rest steel.  Unfortunately, we know for a fact that's far too expensive to be realistic.  We'll never really know.  Someday, there will be a diesel hybrid.  But that will be using far more advanced technology... evolved from what Prius is teaching us now.  Will it be able to compete in the real-world on all levels with gasoline/ethanol hybrids?  Who knows.  I certainly don't put much credit into speculation.  Why bother?  All I have to do is walk out to the garage to see technology far more advanced than what just about everyone else currently drives.

1-10-2005

Hybrid Attention.  We got quite a mix of it today.  There was an announcement about a luxury sedan hybrid from Lexus coming in 2006.  There will be a new version of (the now rather outdated) Civic-Hybrid late this year.  Talk of Prius having debuted in 1997 rather than 2000 has finally been acknowledged by the masses... as well as the 267,601 that have been already sold worldwide!  GM is still having issues with hybrids.  They absolutely will not admit to having been grossly out-classed by a foreign automaker.  So they are downplaying them, even though they just recently announced their "two-mode" hybrid system.  Today's comment from GM's vice president Tom Stephens said, "hybrids will never command more than 15 percent of the market".  Too bad he can't just admit defeat and move on.  Just quietly adopting hybrid technology would be far more productive than making negative comments every step of the way.  Oh well.  Attention of any sort has been proven effective for raising awareness of a product, just ask Microsoft.  Hybrids are getting a wide range of attention now.

1-10-2005

Sequel.  Remember the "Hy-Wire" fuel-cell prototype from GM?  This is their next generation, complete with a cheesy name.  Of course, that is appropriate... since we'd have to be mice to blindly follow what they are trying to convince us is just around the corner.  Face it.  That's not going to happen anywhere near as soon as they claim.  If the growth of hybrids is still predicted as just a small percentage over the next few years, how are fuel-cell vehicles going to magically surpass that?  They still have a number of major design limitations to overcome.  And fuel-cells requires an entirely new fueling infrastructure too.  That simply isn't going to happen overnight.  So I don't think a product so far off in the future is worth the attention they are attempting to sway... especially since "full" hybrids share quite a bit of the same technology.

1-10-2005

Got Snow.  It's about dang time.  This snowless Winter was really dragging on.  If it's going to be cold, it might as well look proper.  That's everything covered with white.  Being able to still see the grass isn't right.

1-10-2005

Found a Screw.  One of them from the rollout hatch-shade worked its way loose recently.  So when I was loading stuff into the back today, I found it laying there on the carpet.  Glad there's two of them to hold each bracket, since one could have easily been lost.  I think I better add a "make sure they are tight" suggestion to the User-Guide.

1-10-2005

North American TRUCK of the Year.  The Escape-Hybrid was presented that award today.  Cool!  I love when hybrids get that kind of attention.  But there's a bonus with this particular one.  From now on, whenever someone tries to call it a "CAR", a congratulation for winning "TRUCK" of the Year will be how I respond.  I'm sick & tired of the double-standard.  Calling it a "CAR" for some things and a "TRUCK" for others is just plain wrong.  It's a "TRUCK", period.  The design clearly shares aspects common with a pickup, not a sedan or wagon or compact.  I don't know how people support that type of misrepresentation.  It has always been a source of irritation for me.  So it's nice having a polite way of finally ending that.  It is a "TRUCK", as the the award clearly states.

1-10-2005

More Ford Hybrids.  We knew it was coming, but now it's official.  The replacement for Taurus will in fact be available as a "full" hybrid.  It will offer the next generation hybrid design from Ford too, which is suppose to be more efficient, more powerful, and more affordable.  Unfortunately, it will arrive a whole year later than originally planned.  The new hybrid, called "Fusion" won't be available until 2008 now.  It will be a sedan, competing directly with Camry in both traditional and hybrid designs.  I sure hope Ford actually delivers as promised.  It should make things very exciting... especially since Prius will likely be on the fourth generation by then.  Hybrids will be an undeniable success at that point.

 

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