Prius Personal Log  #174

January 22, 2005  -  January 24, 2005

Last Updated: Mon. 2/14/2005

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1-24-2005

Prius Love.  As expressed on this photo this owner shared... owner: Rick

1-24-2005

Salespeople.  Those poor hybrid enthusiasts interested in Escape-Hybrid.  They are now having to deal with the same lack of care those interested in Prius did... salespeople who quote straight from the book.  There's nothing worse than a brainless response like that, with no thought behind it and no real-world experience to base what they said on (or anything to even confirm they actually understood what your question was).  This year will hopefully end all that. With 3 hybrid SUVs hitting the nationwide market in just a 6-month span (Escape in January, 400RX in April, Highlander in July), there's a really good chance the attitude about hybrids will rapidly improve.

1-23-2005

VSC.  I triggered it today!  I wondered if that would ever happen this Winter.  The car already handles so well on slippery roads that VSC (Vehicle Stability Control) isn't really even needed.  But when in comes to accidents, once is too much.  So anything to help prevent one is a very good thing.  In this case, I was driving on a road covered with a dense layer of squished snow from the snow the day before.  As I was rounding the curve at a pretty good pace, one tire hit the small bare spot a plow had created earlier.  That caused a sudden gripping action on that one tire.  That would have been enough to cause a vehicle to spin, since the other 3 were still on a slippery surface.  But not mine!  The computer detected that situation and rapidly activated the VSC accordingly.  That prevented the spin from occurring, something just plain not possible by a human because the brakes & acceleration don't allow for control of individual wheels.  Pretty sweet, eh?

1-23-2005

More Diesel Baloney.  The most manipulative quote from today's article was, "With a normal diet of city and highway driving, a hybrid will actually consume more fuel than a diesel powertrain.  Add the fact that a hybrid costs several thousand dollars more than a conventional vehicle..."  Mixing the efficiency of diesel and the price of gasoline is just plain deceptive.  Instead, he should have stuck to one or the other.  But pointing out that it costs an extra $1,200 for a diesel system plus around $600 to clean up emissions to the EPA required level for 2007 models, the price difference alone make a good case for a "full" hybrid.  Then when you point out that an automatic-transmission Jetta diesel gets notably lower MPG than a Prius in mixed driving, you have a really strong case.  So you don't even have to go as far as mentioning that HSD in a Corolla or Camry will cost less than in a Prius (no goodies like a Multi-Display, a digital-speedometer, or a fob).  Hybrids that utilize a system like HSD are much more competitive with diesel than he cares to admit.  I wonder how long denial like that will persist.  Hmm?  Of course, that attitude comes from an "only one" society, where multiple technologies coexisting is apparently something that can never be allowed.  Well I've got news for him.  Hybrids will flourish.  Whether or not they become a "standard" is meaningless, since each automaker will have a unique twist on how the engine/motor/battery technology is actually implemented.  Regardless, hybrids in general will become dominant... making the non-hybrid systems rather antiquated.  So there!

1-23-2005

Gibberish.  Don't you love some of the garbage that gets printed?  I'd sure like to read a good article every now and then.  But unfortunately, that type is rather scarce still.  Today's gibberish was rather odd.  It started with words like "gullibility" & "nonsensical", then later lead to "mystifying" and ended with "seem to believe in".  They all support the "hype" in the title of the article itself.  But when you reach the apparent conclusion, the writer contradicts himself by calling the very thing he criticized earlier (having two engines) with the word "innovative".  He simply could not make up his mind.  Perhaps it was his disregard for not identifying different types of hybrids, making them seem all to be of equal emissions & efficiency... which is clearly a bad thing to do.  All hybrids are far from being created equally.  I wonder what kind of impression someone just learning about hybrids learned for that.  Hmm?

1-23-2005

Practice.  Everyone needs to practice their hybrid knowledge somewhere.  The online forums are a fantastic place for that.  Just wait until you have an in-person confrontation where you are literally only given 20 seconds to clear up a misconception.  It's a very different experience.  You'll be grateful for any practice you were able to get before that.  Non-Enthusiasts will quickly dismiss everything you say if you cannot prove your worth rapidly.  So keep digging for details.  It will pay off in the end... and you'll know it.  Those parking-lot encounters where a total stranger is completely blown away by what you have to say are fantastic.  The resulting excitement coming from them makes the effort entirely worth it... which is why it would be helpful to construct some sort of handout material, so you can leave them with something else to ponder after (silently) driving away.  For example... website cards   Info-Sheet   Mini-Sheet

1-23-2005

The Klingon Way.  Well, what do you know!  I certainly didn't.  Surprise!  I was under the impression my actions on that big Escape forum would end up being viewed as a hostile invasion, trying to upset the order they had established.  You know, someone pushing hybrids with no consideration for those that still had the traditional version of that vehicle.  It turns out, I was wrong.  It now looks like I have actually earned the respect of some, for having stood up to those doing everything in their power to prevent change.  I certainly didn't see that coming.  It is a great attitude, a genuine sign of hope.  Sweet!  Apparently, watching all those episodes of Star Trek (as well as the movies) has ingrained certain fundamentals into my psyche... like the way a Klingon places value on a cause.

1-22-2005

Good on Ice?  I get asked about the performance of my high-traction tires on ice quite a bit.  Clearly, those asking don't have a grasp of the big picture.  No tire without studs is good on ice.  That's just the way rubber works.  All it can do is grip, it cannot actually dig in.  That's why they sell two types of snow tires, ones with and one without studs.  The ones with work dramatically better... but they do can damage to the road, from digging into the tar itself when it punctures through the ice.  Because of that, some states have laws prohibiting their use.  That leaves you stuck with rubber only.  So the best you have available is buy snow or high-traction tires that are really narrow.  The smaller the contact-patch, the greater the pressure sitting on top of it to help retain a grip onto the surface underneath.  You won't be able to dig, so they won't work anywhere near as good as having studs.  But that's your only choice.

1-22-2005

Innovations.  I just happened to catch it at exactly the right moment.  The odds of that are virtually impossible.  What would even possess me to not only get out of bed at 2:30 in the morning but to also turn on the television to CNN?  But I did.  And by amazing cosmic coincidence, they began talking about Prius.  I freaked!  That will wake you up in a hurry!!  I was able to fire up the HDD/DVD recorder fast enough to catch the video footage just as they were showing off the Original model of Prius, the one that came before the Classic.  It was the best recording I've been able to ever capture of it too.  Sweet!  Anywho, Prius ranked 15 of the top 25 innovations of the 20th Century.

1-22-2005

Emissions Priorities, part 2.  Look at the big picture...  Toyota is pursuing long-term goals, hence their 2010 objective to offer a hybrid system in all their passenger vehicles.  Any law that pushes the industry in a different direction is counter-productive.  Ignoring NOx emissions allows them to do little and simply embrace diesel as a solution, rather than even trying to develop hybrid technology.  Remember, the battery-packs are provided by third-party suppliers.  If they get the opportunity to produce more, costs will drop which in turn results in lower hybrid prices... hence a long-term benefit to Toyota, as well as everyone else.  In other words, a law for CO2 reduction only places the emission goal so low that it is a waste to build a hybrid that delivers only that.  Focus should be on objectives that provide a greater return in the end, like also reducing NOx.  After all, Toyota has already eliminated the doubt about both being realistic by providing Prius.  So there isn't anywhere near as much risk anymore for other automakers to adopt the same strategy.  And soon, other "full" hybrids from Toyota will help to fortify that goal.  It can be done.  The trick is to set it as a priority, rather than ignoring it like some are currently doing.

1-22-2005

Emissions Priorities, part 1.  Those supporting the dirtier hybrids are pushing the CO2 reduction as their contribution to a better environment.  Well, sorry to burst their bubble, but that type of vehicle emission doesn't rate highest on my list.  Reducing the smog-forming type is more important, since it is a direct contributor to many breathing-related health problems.  That excess carbon-dioxide is bad stuff (it contributes to Global Warming), but it won't harm your health.  Breathing it is no big deal.  So naturally, an emission law that totally ignores reducing smog (that's NOx, not CO2) is a big problem.  It other words, just reducing one type of emission alone is not enough and smog is the higher priority.  Remember, Prius does both.  So hybrids don't.

1-22-2005

Major Pitfalls.  We hear a variety of generic "should I be worried about" questions on a regular basis.  Fortunately, there's an approach to answering those questions that often gets completely overlooked... because people get so preoccupied with the fact that Prius is a hybrid and forget it has already been on the road since 1997.  Step back and ask yourself the very same question about an entirely different new vehicle, like Scion.  You'd be amazed how much there actually is in common.  You wonder about routine maintenance, especially with consideration to your distance from a dealer.  You have unknowns about repairs with a newer vehicle, should it ever be in an accident.  You ponder what the heck the resale value will be many years from now.  You have no clue if something better will be available in the near future.  In other words, all the generic questions are the same.  So all that remains is what's different.  But with the oldest Classic models in the United States now exceeding 100,000 miles (some even further), that doubt is fading away too.  The Planetary-CVT is well proven. The battery-pack (and associated control software) is showing signs success.  The real-world benefits of the emissions & efficiency are obvious.  The reliability of the electric motors themselves are a complete non-issue (they are the AC brushless type, so no maintenance ever).  And the hybrid computers designed just like the type you'll find in a traditional vehicle.  What else is there?  I certainly haven't ever encountered a major pitfall, or even a minor one for that matter.

1-22-2005

$3,000 Premium.  Are you getting tired of hearing that about hybrids?  I certainly am.  Expecting no price increase whatsoever for increased MPG is just plain silly.  I can't say I've ever encountered someone that wasn't willing to pay at least a little bit for improved performance.  So the implied $0 expectation is just plain silly.  But we all know that high-profit is a huge draw for automakers, which means that most are not going to endorse a vehicle that doesn't deliver that.  And of course, that assumes gas prices will never increase.  Well, just a few years ago, the price was considerably lower.  None of the skeptics would have ever admitted that was possible.  What about the increasingly dirty air we breath?  Should we wait until most of the population is suffering from breathing problems before even reacting?  In other words, a small premium is well worth paying.  And in a few years, that's exactly what the price should be.  Mass availability is about to begin.  Buy a hybrid.  You'll be glad you did.

1-22-2005

Patience.  The reward is amazing.  The arrival of Spring brings a flood of reports sighting outstanding recent MPG, a sharp contrast to what they experienced just a few months earlier.  It's a seasonal cycle that you simply cannot do anything about.  Too bad people didn't have Multi-Displays ages ago.  Had they known all along that such a cycle existed, even with traditional vehicles, they would have sought out a solution like hybrids long before now.

1-22-2005

Remembering "FutureTruck"  Someone did yesterday.  It was one of those special college-student projects that really opened the eyes for some... even me, and I was already driving a hybrid then.  Of course, my education from that was about the impression it had on those seeing that type of technology for the first time.  The students from a college in Wisconsin brought their project-hybrid to the Minnesota State Fair and placed on display in the Technology building, tipped up on a ramp with a mirror underneath.  That was a inspiring experience, and it explains some of my attitude.  Having actually touched that working prototype, I was rather upset since both Ford & GM claimed that was impossible.  I wasn't thrilled about it only having a ULEV rating either.  But that was to be expected since it ran on biodiesel.  Needless to say, I'm pleased with the way things finally turned out.  The hybrid that Ford finally did deliver is much cleaner.

 

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