Prius Personal Log  #178

February 5, 2005  -  February 8, 2005

Last Updated: Mon. 2/14/2005

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2-08-2005

Real-World Data.  I got some from a new source today, EV-World.  The take there on hybrids have always been a strange one.  And the data is a bit misleading, since they mix the CVT & Manual transmission data together.  But nonetheless, it's something else to mull over.  That mixed data is for the Civic-Hybrid.  51 owners reported an average of 44.1 MPG.  For the Classic Prius, 152 owners reports an average of 46.0 MPG.  (That not only reinforces my own data as being representative of other, it also confirms my claims that Classic Prius is more efficient.)  And 18 owners of the HSD Prius reported an average of 50.9 MPG.  That's a pretty decent collection of real-world data.

2-08-2005

Planning the Budget, part 2.  It turns out that the situation is far more ugly than expected.  Looking at the fine details you'll discover that $1.2 billion is planned for the next two years from new oil-drilling leases in the Artic Refuge.  In other words, they are treating the issue as if it was already authorized... even though previous attempts to pass that drilling bill have failed.  How can they plan on getting money like that?  No wonder our gas prices are so unpredictable.

2-07-2005

Planning the Budget, part 1.  'tis the season, now.  That same old nonsense is occurring.  They are cutting programs that people fought long & hard for.  With just a vote and the sign of a pen, that previous victory is taken away... the funding immediately ceases and the project almost instantly dies.  That's sad.  We saw it happen with the PNGV project.  The excuse was replacing it with the FreedomCAR project (which has done nothing but just research the current hybrids).  I bet that will suddenly disappear too.  Of course, what difference would it make?  The FuelCell research project was granted just a measly $1.2 billion for funding.  Yet the very poorly planned war has already exceeded $150 billion and their is that proposal for another $80 billion.  It really makes you think about the "budget" plans.  What exactly are they planning?

2-07-2005

Demand.  That SuperBowl commercial brought up the topic of Prius advertising.  It is needed now?  My answer is "No!"  The demand is there already, just hidden.  Lots of people simply are not willing to endure a lengthy delivery wait.  This is nothing new.  The Classic model went through the same thing.  Eventually, production will catch up.  But even then, a new one won't stay on the dealer's lot for too long.  And that's without advertising.  Catching the 60-second version of that commercial on television will be extremely rare.  The 30-second version won't be all that common either.  So don't expect it.  Later this year, there will advertisements for HSD.  Toyota wants to raise awareness about the technology, by then available in 3 of their vehicles.  So the money spent there is well chosen.  Prius will obviously make an appearance, but not for the sake of specifically selling more.  Once domestic production begins though, then we should be at the "like a normal vehicle" stage with Prius.  Until that point, you'll still have to hunt & wait to get a Prius.  But in the meantime, that process should at least become easier.  That is of course assuming gas prices remain constant.  A sudden spike into record high levels could change everything.

2-07-2005

20% Ethanol.  E10 (that's 10 percent ethanol, 90 percent gasoline) has been mandatory here in Minnesota, where we grow & refine our own ethanol, for quite a few years.  People have been using it without any trouble whatsoever all that time.  So the topic of increasing to E20 is quickly becoming a hot one now.  Unfortunately, a majority of the vehicles on the road today cannot handle a percentage of ethanol greater than 10 percent.  Fortunately, there is a rather long list of vehicles that several automakers have produced (and still continue to produce) that can use mixtures all the way up to E85.  Unfortunately, that is a well kept secret.  They don't want you to know that, so it isn't advertised much.  You typically have to read the fine-print in your owner's manual or the text on the inside of the fuel-door to confirm your vehicle is equipped for that.  Anywho, it gets worse.  Ford, who offers more E85 vehicles than anyone else, testified as an expert-witness against the feasibility of a E20 requirement.  Why?  They have the most to gain from that.  Isn't our goal national to reduce our dependence on imported oil?  Wouldn't it make sense to actually produce vehicles capable of achieving that a standard, rather than an exception?  Because E85 is already well proven here, E20 doesn't seem like that big of a step.  If you don't even try...

2-07-2005

Published Again.  That dang article got re-published again!  It's getting rather pathetic.  Newspapers just purchase & print articles for their own publication, apparently with no concern for the accuracy of the content.  We saw that nonsense when an article claiming the power from the battery-pack was routed through wire in the doors, making you believe rescuers in an accident would be helpless getting victims removed from their vehicles.  That was totally false.  Toyota had to officially respond by pointing out that the wire is no where near the doors and there is an automatic disconnect when an accident is detected.  The article was a complete fabrication, without any merit.  Unfortunately, the correction wasn't circulated the way the original article was.  Some newspapers didn't print the correction at all.  Others just buried it deep within the newspaper, rather than giving it equal importance to the original.  That's sad... and I'm really frustrated.

2-06-2005

Under 5.  That was the message in the Cadillac commercial during the SuperBowl this evening.  They were advertising their 6 vehicles that offer 0-to-60 MPH acceleration in less than 5 seconds.  What a totally absurd concept.  I can't think of a place here where I could legally accelerate that quickly.  You could be issued a ticket for driving to endanger, too aggressive to be considered safe.  I wonder how many people will buy one because of that "need for speed" belief?  Because if a lot do, the next advertisement will have to be for an even quicker time.  Each year becomes faster and faster.  When will the "more is better" mindset finally end?  The computer industry managed to achieve a happy speed plateau.  What will it take before the same happens for the auto industry?

2-06-2005

Benchmarks.  Have you noticed how Toyota has been doing that with their hybrid strategy?  They clearly indicate their intentions.  So you know what each benchmark (step) will involve.  Timelines are not necessary when consumers understand, then see what you are striving to achieve.  But certain automakers absolutely refuse to do that.  They focus solely on the end result... because it doesn't require them to actually deliver a single thing until some unknown date way in the future.  Fortunately, Prius hasn't been like that.  Each benchmark (generation) has been an obvious improvement, reducing emissions and increasing efficiency.  Taking an approach like that allows for discoveries along the way to alter the outcome.  You never know what advantage will emerge until you actually try... which requires getting feedback from the end user.  That won't ever happen if a benchmark (milestone) isn't taken.  Those involved will understand what you are attempting to accomplish and help to make it happen.  There's tons of proof for that from all that discussions Prius owners have.  Benchmarks are an excellent method for reaching that ultimate goal.  Imagine where the computer industry would be today if they had not shared what they invented along the way.  We'd still be waiting for that "final" product and there's no guarantee it would work well or even do what we really want it to do.

2-06-2005

Moving Forward.  This was a very, very unexpected treat during the SuperBowl today... a television commercial featuring Prius & HSD very creatively emphasize this theme: "One small step on the accelerator. One giant leap for mankind."  I was totally impressed.  You'll definitely enjoy watching it... video files

2-06-2005

Forcing Definitions.  It is rapidly becoming obvious to everyone that many types of hybrids are available.  Finally!  However, rather than using a scientific method to define each type, reporters are attempting to categorize based on what they have observed and partial specifications.  In other words, they are forcing definitions to fit what is currently available.  That's not objective by any means.  To properly define, you must not acknowledge any particular vehicle.  All criteria must be based on functionality alone, clearly explaining what is required to qualify.  In other words, this definition published today is horrible: "A full hybrid engine is mainly powered by an electric motor in light driving, about 25 miles per hour, before switching to gas for more power during acceleration."  The limit for Prius is 42 MPH or 10 kW (whichever comes first), not 25.  There is no switching; instead, the engine joins in.  The words "mainly" & "light" are not specific, they are just vague adjectives.  And what is the nonsense about acceleration?  What about while you are maintaining a constant speed above the electric-only threshold?  The definition I use for "full" hybrid is much more simple and easy to judge other hybrids with; it is just having the ability to drive using only electricity.  That type of either it does or it doesn't definition leaves no question as to accuracy.  It's one or the other, period.  The one for "assist" is simple too.  It is having the ability provide some thrust with an electric motor, but not enough to propel the vehicle all by itself.  Notice how an actual quantity isn't needed.  I can't imagine just how confusing things will get if reports keep trying to force definitions like they are now.  They are too complicated and leave you wondering if you identified a hybrid correctly.

2-05-2005

The Middle Seat.  Did you realize the seating a child in the middle, not next to a window, isn't all that bad in a Prius?  In fact, if you are young (or just young at heart) you may find that seat the best one... because it's where the Multi-Display is easiest to see!  I bet you hadn't thought of that.

2-05-2005

The End is Near.  Today's panic about traditional vehicle extinction came from the publisher of "The Car Connection" website.  He was the expert-speaker today on MPR (Minnesota Public Radio) discussing the value of hybrid vehicles.  Right off the bat, I knew he was being deceptive when he labeled all types as the same.  Calling all of the "hybrids", making no distinction at all between designs, is wrong.  There's no excuse.  In fact, he actually took advantage of that generic definition in his closing remark by saying "all that extra" weight contributed to highway performance not much better than a traditional vehicle.  That's deception, plain & simple.  I can sometimes forgive others, but this guy is suppose to be an expert.  He knows quite well that Prius isn't any heavier.  The smaller engine, lack of a transmission, and shorter front-end easily balance the weight to exactly what you'd expect for a vehicle offering that level of power and that much interior space.  He proceeded quickly into the the discussion of MPG by saying, "they don't get anywhere near the mileage people expect", without making any reference to the fact that expectations are based on the very misleading EPA values.  Of course, had he said that, he would also have to point out that traditional vehicles don't deliver them either.  Remember, he knew he was talking to a Minnesota audience... where our winters are MPG killers regardless of the type of vehicle you drive.  To further add to his deception, he acted as if gas prices will never rise throughout the entire ownership of the vehicle.  In other words, he ignored the future.  We all know quite well that gas prices will continue to rise.  Worldwide demand is increasing and the easy-to-pump locations filled with the easy-to-refine oil are beginning to disappear.  We also know that refineries are already running at maximum capacity.  And as the population expands, we need to get more funding for road repair & improvement.  So even if the oil price remained constant, gas prices would increase anyway, in the form of higher state & federal tax.  Clearly, hybrids help with future financial concerns.  And I that's not even taking into account that as both production & competition of hybrids grows, their price will decrease.  In summary, he was in a state of panic.  The world in which he has operated is nearing an end.

2-05-2005

No Errands.  Believe it or not, I already caught up on all my errand running before the weekend began.  Of course, that meant there was no reason to drive anywhere today.  Dang!  The weather was great too... and it is forecasted to be cold all next week.  Oh well.  It should eventually get warm again.

2-05-2005

Moving On.  It has been a month now, since leaving that big Escape forum.  As predicted, absolutely nothing changed there.  That same old anti-hybrid crap happens.  Each new hybrid thread (which is rare in the first place) is quickly undermined with off-topic chatter.  That type of posting response has proven a very effective way of deterring any progress... there.  But on that little (75 times smaller) forum, dedicated to the hybrid, it's an entirely different story.  Growth is going so well, I can now move on.  They have clearly developed enough loyalty to finally self-sustain.  Phew!  That was necessary before the first HSD SUV hit the market, because it unmistakably offers a few advantages that owners of the Ford system prefer not to admit.  But why should they need to?  They still have a system far superior to the other hybrid competitors (Honda & GM) anyway.  I'm quite pleased with the way all that worked out.

 

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