Prius Personal Log  #186

March 17, 2005  -  March 22, 2005

Last Updated: Sat. 4/09/2005

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3-22-2005

Changing Times.  I've been observing the "20th Century" attitude about vehicles for 5 years now.  It was pretty sad that the typical person had no idea what was actually possible.  They were victims of clever marketing and don't even know it... until recently.  Now they are finally discovering there really is some substance to what the Prius owners have been saying all along, that other aspects of appeal really are possible and that the speed & power ceiling has was exceeded ages ago.  The times are changing.

3-22-2005

2 New Hybrids from Toyota/Lexus.  Sales officially began today for the "Harrier" (known as Lexus RX400h in the United States) and "Kluger" (known as Toyota Highlander in the United States) in Japan.  The dates for them to be available here are April & June.  Both of these hybrids are SUVs.  Both are SULEV emission rated.  Both use the HSD (Hybrid Synergy Drive) system.  Prius is no longer alone.  The system it uses is now available in 2 already popular vehicles.  The end of the dirty & wasteful age has begun.  Thank goodness.

3-22-2005

NEED vs. WANT.  It's one of the oldest tricks in the "book of deception".  I can't believe he is actually trying to use it.  That troublemaker is attempting to mislead people by using it.  Here's his attack statement: "Who are you to say how much power a person needs?"  And here's my reply, the same way I responded years ago when the other anti-hybrid people attacked... NEED is a simple quantifiable value.  Anyone can calculate it.  And it is the same for everyone, regardless of what they drive.  For example, there is a minimum safe 0-60 time it takes to merge onto the highway.  That is what you NEED.  Anything beyond that minimum is unnecessary.  You are mixing the power belief up with WANT, which is far from a necessity.  WANT is an advertising gimmick.  Marketers convince you that it's necessary, even though you have what you NEED already.  There's nothing wrong with WANT, but it is certainly not the same as when you NEED something.

3-21-2005

ULEV Grief.  Cross-Class comparisons have never been realistic using actual quantities, since that would be an "apple to orange" assessment.  In other words, it makes no sense to compare such different vehicles.  Yet, the ULEV supports argue that isn't true.  But that's actually the very reason why emission rating labels like ULEV were created.  They identify similar proportional reductions of NOx, HC, and CO from class to class, allowing for fair comparisons for the same type of vehicle.  When has comparing a car to a SUV ever been fair?  The cars, trucks, and SUVs listed as ULEV are exactly that, clearly identified as cleaner or dirtier than the other cars, trucks, and SUVs.  Comparing across classes simply doesn't make any sense.  Don't let them fool you into doing it.  The grief that causes is not worth it.  It's a trap to get you to dismiss the benefits of SULEV over ULEV.

3-21-2005

GM Job Cuts.  Today's online article featuring the upcoming job cuts starts out with this fantastic quote, highlighting the clear denial GM is in about what the market really needs... "GM has killed plans for a new line of rear-wheel drive passenger cars slated to reach North American showrooms in 2008, in large part to free up resources to bring its next generation of large pickups and sport-utility vehicles to market quicker."  They still think it makes sense to bet the farm on large, inefficient vehicles instead.  The aerodynamic benefit alone from a car would be something they could capitalize on.  But no.  They only care about vehicles that are basically shaped like a brick.  Will they ever learn?  Or are they really going to let the appeal of efficient vehicles drive them to bankruptcy?  These cuts are not a good sign.

3-21-2005

Manual Transmissions.  Some of them bought a manual for the sole benefit of saving gas... which is no longer necessary.  That's why my first vehicle was a manual.  And I am sure glad Prius eliminates the need.  Any interface that requires greater attention from the driver is an obvious safety compromise.  Having driven 60,000 miles with my manual, I can easily say the extra hand & foot requirements in addition to the higher level of awareness is genuine problem.  If you don't pay attention, the vehicle rolls backward, or worse stalls.  That's really bad.  By the way, whenever I came to a stop at an intersection, I waited for the light to turn green with my foot on the brake only.  I left the car out of gear.  That ability does not exist in the manual hybrid from Honda.  In order for the auto-stop to shut off the engine, you must have the clutch fully depressed.  Long story short, the appeal of manuals is changing.

3-20-2005

Anti-SULEV.  There are some that claim ULEV is clean enough, even though SULEV emits significantly less NOx (as well as HC & CO).  The reason is because they support a technology that currently doesn't provide better emissions.  And they flat out deny that there is any benefit to the growing appeal of SULEV (and PZEV, which is SULEV with evaporative emissions significantly reduced too).  So naturally they fight against hybrids like Prius & Escape.  My rebuttal is a simple one.  I just point out the obvious need to reduce smog-related emissions, then provide a list of the vehicles that already offer ULEV.  That way, they cannot pretend ULEV is something special.  It becomes quite apparent that it is far more common than they'll ever want to admit.  Check out all these 2005 models (a wide variety of Cars, Pickups, and SUVs) that are available as ULEV:  Acura EL & MDX, Audi Avant & Quattro & Cabriolet, Buick Rendezvous, Cadillac CTS & Deville & SRX, Chevrolet Astro & Blazer & Cavalier & Cobalt & Colorado & Corvette & Malibu & Silverado & Tahoe & Trailblazer & Venture, Chrysler 300 & Crossfire & Pacifica & PT Cruiser & Town+Country, Dodge Caravan & Durange & Magnum & Ram-1500, Ford Econoline & Escape & Explorer & Freestar & F-150 & Ranger & Taurus, GMC Canyon & Jimmy & Safari & Savana & Sierra & Yukon, Honda Accord & Civic & Odyssey & Pilot, Hyundai Elantra & Tucson, Isuzu NPR, Jeep Wrangler, Land Rover Freelander, Lincoln Aviator & Towncar, Mazda 6 & Tribute, Mercedes-Benz C240 & C320, Mercury Mountaineer & Sable, Mitsubishi Lancer & Montero & Outlander, Nissan Maxima & Sentra, Pontiac Aztec & Bonneville & Grand AM & Grand Prix & GTO & Montana & Sunfire & Vibe, Saab 9-3 & 9-5, Saturn ION & L300 & Vue, Subaru Baja, Suzuki Aerio & Forena & Grand Vitra, Toyota Camry & Corolla & Highlander & Land Cruiser & Matrix & RAV4 & Scion-tC & Solora, Volkswagen GTI & Jetta & Passat & Touareg, Volvo S40 & S60 & S80 & V50 & V70 & XC90.

3-20-2005

If Toyota were serious, part 2.  This was the fun part, where I pointed out what they've been trying to hide (being diesel supporters)...  If VW was really serious about diesel, how come they were only able to deliver 35,000 to the United States for the 2004 model year?  That few, spread along their entire line of passenger vehicles, is pretty sad.  Toyota delivered 53,991 Prius to the United States last year.  This year's allotment will be 100,000.  That sure looks like they're a whole lot more serious than VW.  And yes, I know why.  It's because they have been waiting for low-sulfur diesel before releasing their new emission cleansing technology.  How come supporters forgive VW for that?  Toyota didn't wait for low-sulfur gasoline.

3-20-2005

If Toyota were serious, part 1.  Only a handful of diesel supporters are still fighting the success of Prius.  Everyone else has pretty quietly admitted defeat.  Anywho, today's lame claim was: "If Toyota were really serious about producing enough hybrids to meet demand, I'm sure they could've figured out a way to have adequate battery supply."  So naturally, I replied with this...  Without raising the price, how?  They cannot just wave a magic-wand and force their supplier (Panasonic) to produce more without having to pay for it.  Schedule changes aren't cheap.  Overtime is expensive.  And remember, Toyota is not their only customer.  Expecting Toyota to move any faster is quite unrealistic.  They are already progressing dramatically faster than any other new auto technology ever has.  And remember, Toyota is simultaneously rolling out Prius worldwide.  Claims that faster is possible are without merit.  The computer industry offers quite a few blatant examples of that, like the massive shortage of LCD screens.  There was absolutely nothing that could be done to satisfy the unexpected surge in demand for notebooks are CRT monitor replacements.  We had to wait the 3 years it took to build new production facilities.  And we did.  Now the supply is finally being met, and at reasonable prices too.  This lack of patience is just plain wrong and clearly not objective.  Having to wait a few years is completely realistic.  After all, the PT Cruiser had a massive shortage too.  People simply waited, rather than claiming a conspiracy or not being serious.

3-19-2005

Today's Gathering.  I've had people ask me what the heck owners do when we get together for coffee.  They have no idea just how many stories there are to share until you actually sit down and do it.  Then all of a sudden, the personal experiences begin to fly.  The sharing was certainly like that today.  We all had quite a bit to say.  I finally declared it was time to go outside.  It was cold (just above freezing) and I got that "so what are we going to do out there" look.  I lead them to my Prius and pointed out a couple of things of interest.  That got them thinking.  And sure enough, when we all got grouped together in back, questions began to fly.  They understood the appeal I had been talking about, how in previous (much warmer) gatherings we had done nothing but hang out by the cars the entire time.  It's something you have to experience to appreciate.  There's a whole lot more to Prius than meets the eye.  And when you're out there next to a dozen of them parked all right next to each other, the excitement grows to a whole new magnitude.  You don't feel alone anymore.  There's a group of you that all share something rather unique in common.  It's pretty cool.

3-19-2005

MPG Expectations, part 2.  Be aware that articles that don't include control data of any sort are problematic, at best.  Not having any basis of comparison available is an invitation for making incorrect conclusions.  How do you know if a traditional vehicle driven the same way under the same circumstances wouldn't also get similar pleasing or disappointing results?  If you don't know what kind of MPG you are getting with your current vehicle, it is impossible to measure the improvement Prius provides.  Yet, people attempt to all the time.

3-19-2005

MPG Expectations, part 1.  Someday reporters will understand.  Unfortunately, that won't be anytime soon.  Today's article was good proof of that.  Cold season driving is all they reported so far.  To make the data worse, the car wasn't even broken-in yet.  In other words, that 42 MPG reported is pretty good.  Most people aren't expecting that.  They just blindly think the big numbers on the window-sticker are correct under all driving conditions.  In reality, they aren't even close... and they never have been.  But as we all know, the majority of people haven't really cared about MPG until recently... otherwise, they would have already known that.  Anywho, the warm season driving will deliver a report of praise.  They'll notice how the MPG climbed up as both the temperature and miles did.  This quote is a very good example of how bad reporting has been so far: "True, our Prius is not getting the mileage Toyota and the EPA claim..."  Because that is not what is actually claimed.  And by simply reading the details of the EPA value, you'll clearly see that the 68 F degree minimum and the 60 MPH maximum has no reflection on actual real-world driving.  Around 50 MPG is a good expectation in the end.  Don't let the low-mileage, not broken-in yet reports mislead you.  The only data you should trust is from actual owners that have driven at least 1 year.

3-18-2005

$56.72 per barrel.  It just keeps getting higher.  An "oil fairy" is not going to fix the problem.  The price won't magically drop.  We are in trouble.  Something significant needs to be done.  Will that actually happen?

3-17-2005

Boiling a Frog.  Some have been asking if we will "get used to" gas prices being so high now.  The perfect response still, the same as in the past, is the analogy about boiling a frog.  Since prices have increased so slowly, people won't fight it until they realize it is too late... just like when you put that green guy in warm water.  It's a harsh reality.  I've witnessed the effect countless times over the decades.  You'd be amazed by what you have unknowingly grown used to.  Just study other cultures.  You'll be shocked by what you discover.  Paying close attention to details will really upset you.  You'll discover how gullible you've become.  It's like when you graduate from college.  You feel dumber when you leave than when you first arrived.  That's because, though now being an expert in your own particular field, you are aware of all the things you don't know much about.  They same is true for many about the nonsense that takes place around the automotive & petroleum industries.

3-17-2005

$2.17 per gallon.  That's the prices of gas I saw on the drive home from work today.  It's the highest ever here.  And this is the dead season, when few travel.  Just wait until Memorial Weekend, it's not going to be pretty.  The price will skyrocket due to the huge surge in demand.

 

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