Prius Personal Log  #181

February 14, 2005  -  February 22, 2005

Last Updated: Sat. 4/09/2005

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2-22-2005

Labeling Gone Bad.  An excellent example of labeling-gone-bad is when someone attempts to compare the "engine" of a hybrid vehicle.  In a traditional vehicle, that means the stuff under the hood.  In a hybrid, it usually means only the component that combusts gasoline.  Some actually do include the electric motor(s) too.  Unfortunately, that is still lacking.  Even including the battery-pack isn't enough.  The "engine" is really everything related to propulsion, which means you must also include the transmission in discussions as well.  With the differences in Cone & Belt CVT and Planetary-CVT, as well as manual and automatic, it should be obvious how misunderstandings can easily be contributed to by simply not mentioning transmission in discussions.  In other words, by failing to acknowledge design differences and simply relying on labels, you are asking for trouble.  Having discussions about those particular components and how they react to various real-world situations is far more constructive of a discussion.  Attempting to label is clearly a bad idea.

2-22-2005

More Efficient.  This quote of the today warranted a reply from me.  "A hybrid powerplant is not any more efficient in steady state long term operation than a standard engine."  So I did, with this:  That is a very, very, very misleading statement... and wrong too.  First, the engine in Prius is smaller.  And since not that much horsepower is needed to maintain a cruise on the highway anyway, the "standard" one is just wasteful.  Gas is saved by having that smaller size.  Second, the engine in Prius uses a Atkinson-Miller cycle.  That is more efficient than the Otto cycle in the "standard" engine.  So gas is saved by using that cycle instead.  Third, the "powerplant" is not just the engine.  Because Prius uses a Planetary-CVT rather than an automatic transmission, there is yet another efficiency benefit.  Gas is saved by using that method of power transfer.  Lastly, there is absolutely no contest when it comes to the reduction of smog-related emissions.  Not only is Prius more efficient, it is also significantly cleaner.

2-22-2005

New Ad Campaign.  A press release today stated that Toyota will be running a bunch of Prius commercials on television, during prime time.  Cool! 

2-20-2005

Annoying.  A complaint posted about Civic-Hybrid today made me smirk.  The engine starts back up when you pull forward just a few inches.  He stated it was "the most annoying thing about the car".  I had to restrain myself from pointing out that Prius doesn't have that problem.  In fact, stealth will let you do a whole lot more than that.  But their system doesn't support electric-only driving at all.  Telling those researching hybrids about that shortcoming is one thing, especially when they request that you share all you know about the various design.  But it doesn't do any good to tell someone who already owns the other kind.  So I didn't.

2-19-2005

600% Brighter.  There was a television news story tonight about being blinded by oncoming headlights.  It was no surprise at all that they stated the lights from a tall Pickup or SUV can be as much six-hundred percent than the HID lights on my Prius.  The reason is simple, height.  Aiming the lights downward, as they are suppose to be, doesn't really do any good when the lights are higher up than your eyes when sitting in the driver seat.  This is yet another reason the high ground-clearance is a bad idea.  Not only does increase the odds of the vehicle having a rollover accidents, it also increases the odds of an oncoming vehicle having an accident too.  The owners are blind to all the gas they are wasting, and you are blinded by their headlights.

2-18-2005

$48.35 per barrel.  How long will it take before that $50 barrier for oil is breached again?

2-18-2005

Attack, part 3.  And here's the follow-up, which I hope by sharing will help provide insight to prevent any reoccurrences...  Rather than actually acknowledging the many facts that have been presented, you are trying to discredit the sources.  That is just plain not objective.  This is a Ford group, and the featured hybrid here is so close in functionality to the Toyota hybrid that sharing of information is quite relevant.  Defending other designs is not.  Stick to the facts.  Name calling is not constructive.  Present data and let others decide for themselves.

2-18-2005

Attack, part 2.  Here's my actual post...  His effort to distract from the point won't work.  Regardless of what label is used, there is absolutely no way to dismiss these physical differences:  Hybrid #1 lacks the ability to drive using only electricity, an undeniable benefit in stop & slow traffic and an easy to prove gain in efficiency when cruising at city speeds.  Hybrid #1 lacks the ability to both create & consume electricity at the same time, an essential requirement to be able to take advantage of a high energy-density battery-pack.  Hybrid #2 delivers those abilities.  Call it whatever the heck you want.  There is simply no way to deny those differences.  Go "FULL" Hybrids!

2-18-2005

Attack, part 1.  Watching that Ford hybrid group get attacked by someone with ill intent was unpleasant, to say the least.  I would have really felt guilty had he been allowed to repeat what happened years ago to the Honda hybrid group (which strangely, he claims to be protecting now).  So... I went on the offensive, again.  And knowing that my redeeming factor in the past has been sticking to the point and always being polite, I made sure to do exactly that.  Boy, did that it pay off!  After seeing that I was taking a beating in their defense, a few members finally chimed in to rescue me.  It worked wonderfully!  They stood up for what they believed in, which was the same thing I had been saying all along... as stated in the next two entries.

2-18-2005

Brisk Acceleration.  This morning's newspaper article talked about how great of a car Prius was, except the MPG.  The reporter then proceeded to explain that he gets "teased all the time about driving like a little old man".  Well, that's the problem.  The system is designed to accelerate briskly.  So the most efficient way to get going from a stop is to be generous with the pedal.  That�s why owners reports higher MPG than his disappointing report.  They figure out the meaning of the motto we came up with: �Just Drive It!�  There is simply no need to do anything different from what you'd do in any other vehicle.  Push that pedal down firmly if you want, it's quite rewarding on multiple levels.  Just don't push too far, aggressive acceleration will in fact hurt MPG.  In other words, accelerate at least at normal speeds.  Slower than that is bad.  It makes MPG lower, as well as upsetting the people behind you.

2-17-2005

Short-Term Goals.  Without achieving short-term goals (every few years), you'd have no way to pay for the long-term ones (about a decade).  So comments about making SUVs available as hybrids should not be heartbreaking.  In time, the desire for greater efficiency will catch on anyway.  You have to start somewhere... and get funding from somewhere to move on to the next step.  That's why well thought out plans include milestones.  Also, keep in mind that Cars & Trucks do not fall into the same emission category.  So a cleaner Car will not compensate for a cleaner Truck.  (Thank goodness.)  They are quite intentionally set up as different categories by the EPA to prevent problems where dishonest offsetting could take place.  Goals for each much be met, in the short-term.  They can't make any excuses about waiting for the end goal.  So again, those smaller steps (short-term goals) really do pay off.  Think of it this way, if the very large Trucks (which includes Pickups & SUVs) do retain appeal, they will at least become increasingly cleaner and more efficient anyway.  And of course, by making the smaller vehicles more appealing first, that does setup the opportunity for the larger ones to lose their appeal... especially if gas prices get nasty again.

2-16-2005

A little over 5 1/2 days.  It's like a game, guessing to see how long they go before another hybrid message (on the big Escape forum) is posted.  There's no surprise about how long it takes for an anti-hybrid reply.  That's usually only a few minutes.  They don't like to see any attention drawn to their more efficient and much cleaner counterpart.  Their beloved traditional version used to be king... but not anymore.

2-16-2005

Oil Underfill. part 2.  Here's a bit of background info...  The problem always has been that oil is added from bulk barrels.  They just squirt it in and hope it's the right amount.  So instead of adding 3.5 quarts and checking, they end up at 4.5 quarts in a single attempt.  Oops!  0.5 quart too much is about 3/8" above the full mark, definitely overfill.  So some owners use the overfill concern as an excuse to switch to synthetic, which has been proven to provide a small MPG improvement anyway... besides the obvious engine protection benefits.  Simply hand them 3.5 quarts of synthetic oil.  By bringing it in yourself, not only do you guarantee the right amount will be added, you also save some money (since the dealer will charge you quite a bit more for the very same synthetic oil you can buy yourself at a store).  That 0.5 quart you didn't give them (temporarily stored in something dry and very clean, like an old Aquafina bottle) can be used later for either topping off a bit or for the next oil change.  Asking for a bottle back to put that oil is suggested too.  By the way, if you bring in your own oil, it's a guarantee that the wanted type really is used... because sometimes they use 10W-30 instead, rather than the recommended lighter 5W-30 weight.

2-16-2005

Oil Underfill. part 1.  We know that bringing in your own oil will prevent the overfill problem, since you'll provide exactly the right amount.  But has anyone ever taken the approach of instead asking the dealer to underfill the oil intentionally?  You basically have nothing to lose, since overfill typically causes an argument anyway.  Of course, knowing the typical reputation of a dealer, the end result would be the in the level being barely being below the "full" (too much) mark.  It's the same logic I've use with restaurants.  I always order the meat to be cooked to "well" and it always comes back at "medium" instead, which is what I actually wanted.  Asking for "medium" would have resulted in "rare".  It's like no one can ever get it right!  Adding more oil is simple, and anyone can do that afterward.  So that is yet another reason to give it a try.  Draining out the excess is not, and it is a waste of oil.  So overfill is bad no matter how you look at it.  I suggest some owners begin insisting they to write *UNDERFILL* on the work request.  That may actually have better results then the "don't overfill" note.  Good Luck!

2-15-2005

Backup Plan.  VCM (Variable Cylinder Management) appears to be an interesting backup plan for Honda.  It's standard in Accord-Hybrid, but it isn't actually a hybrid feature.  It's available in their Odyssey minivan too, which is not a hybrid.  What this feature does is disable half of the engine for light load driving, like cruising on a highway where not a lot of horsepower is needed.  It's a creative way of increasing MPG.  Though, the actual cost of it is a mystery.  The engine doesn't run as smooth or quiet that way either.  Time will tell.  I'm certain curious how it will be marketed.  There's no reason they couldn't offer an Accord with it.  But how would that clash or compliment the sales of the hybrid?

2-14-2005

Moisture Effect.  This morning was a prime example of how the moisture from damp air & roads (after a rain or snow has finished) improves efficiency.  It causes the water vapor inside the engine cylinders to increase expansion from combustion a little more than usual.  So a little less gas than usual is used to achieve the same amount of power.  Pretty cool, eh?  Needless to say, I saw a nice bump in my MPG today.

2-14-2005

Doubling Battery Production.  Sanyo made that announcement today, with the expectation of reaching that goal by April 2007.  In other words, Ford (Escape-Hybrid) & Honda (Accord-Hybrid only) will be stuck using similar technology to that in the Original model of Prius (1998-2000), which had both energy-density & thermal limitations.  The Classic model introduced a new modular design that overcame that, making the battery-pack noticeably better.  The HSD model surpassed even that by offering even greater energy-density.  Toyota/Panasonic is clearly superior with respect to batteries.  I wonder how long it will be before that becomes well understood.  It took forever for the anti-hybrid people to finally acknowledge the fact that production was actually limited to battery-pack supply, that it wasn't really a public-relations conspiracy.  So acknowledging design could take awhile still.  Fortunately, there is genuine commit to battery production for hybrids.  So patience is warranted before improvements are introduced.  Oh well.  You often get both good & bad news at the same when dealing with hybrids.

 

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