Prius Personal Log  #187

March 23, 2005  -  March 27, 2005

Last Updated: Sat. 4/09/2005

    page #186         page #188         BOOK         INDEX         go to bottom 

 

3-27-2005

Reporting Errors.  The mistakes showing up in newspapers & magazines now are definitely getting worse.  Today's source of frustration is the reporter that quoted the EPA estimate of 60 MPG then immediately followed it by stating a lifetime average of 45 MPG.  That type of error is happening far too common.  It's bad enough that the city value is used in comparison to a real-world mixed driving value.  But when they mix up generations, I really get upset.  The 60 MPG is for the HSD.  But the article was about the Classic.  That's a 8 MPG error.  It actually should have been 52 MPG.  But the reporter either didn't have a clue or the article was poorly written.  Whatever the case, with the choice of hybrid rapidly expanding, the errors are certain to continue.

3-27-2005

210,000 miles or 15 years.  That's what a hybrid owner tried to use as a basis for justifying the cost of a hybrid.  I quickly responded with this...  Sorry, but that is completely unrealistic if you live in the Midwest.  90% of the vehicles disappear of the roads by year 10.  Climate plays a big role.  But if you also look at quality across the entire automotive industry, some vehicles simply can't drive that long before incurring major repair/replacement expenses.  So to be objective, you are forced to use 120,000 miles as a basis for number crunching.  Yes, that's low.  But there is no reason to go any further anyway.  (Personally, I would like to use 180,000 miles, since that is how long the current data is supporting about average battery-pack life.)  At a $3,000 premium (based on Prius, which is rather high since a Multi-Display is completely unnecessary, yet included in that price anyway), it is very easy to justify.  A car with similar interior driver/passenger space as Prius gets real-world mixed-driving performance of about 28 MPG.  That means 4,286 gallons of gas would be needed to drive 120,000 miles. Prius, under the same conditions, gets about 48 MPG.  So it would only consume 2,500 gallons of gas.  You save 1,786 gallons. At $2.15 9/10 per gallon, that calculates to $3,856.  Obviously, if you bump up the price of gas (which is quite realistic considering the supply & demand situation recently revealed), the numbers swing very heavily in favor of "full" hybrid technology.  Also keep in mind that the premium will go down simply by the increased production.  With Toyota now touting their goal of 1,000,000 hybrids per year, that cost reduction is looking very promising.

3-26-2005

Smart Choice.  I haven't laughed that hard over the contents of a message in awhile.  It felt great!  The title was "Why the Escape is a smart choice."  An owner of a (non-hybrid) Escape had carefully crafted a statement of benefit that was so insincere I couldn't help but be cynical.  Using a SUV for the purpose it was designed is one thing.  But trying to justify it's use for normal, everyday tasks is just plain absurd.  This first sentence reveals his attitude wonderfully: "No matter if its going to the grocery store, the home improvement center, the garden center or simply moving from one home to another, Escape (Tribute & Mariner) offer a versatile cargo area capable of hauling almost anything you can ask of it."  Well, duh!  But a minivan offers a greater hauling & seating capacity.  It's like they don't even know the minivan exists.  And be warned, don't ever point out the fact that minivans offer 4-wheel drive too.  They'll go into a deep state of denial.  Put bluntly, SUVs are not a smart choice.  If your goal is have large internal hauling capacity for people and/or cargo, a minivan clearly does better.  And that's without even pointing out the advantage of having sliding side doors!  Of course, if you really want to stick it to them mention how much bigger a full-size van is.

3-26-2005

Gun-Metal Gray.  I was sickened by what I heard on the radio call-in show today.  A woman had ordered a white Prius, then changed her mind about the color.  So, she called it asking how realistic it would be to have the car painted right after it was finally delivered.  They told her about the process and how the paint would never stick as well as the factory stuff does.  They also finally asked the most important question, what color.  She stated that her preference was a "gun-metal gray" type color.  Is her salesperson completely brain-dead or so desperate for the commission that he/she is unwilling to point out that her desired color is already available.  Toyota calls it "Tideland Pearl".  It's the dark gray that reveals a hint of deep green when the sun hits it just right.  It is an extremely popular color too.  Perhaps that's the problem.  I bet delivery of white ones is much quicker than the gray.  That's sad.  I hope someone finally gets word to that woman that the gray color she wants can be had without having to repaint; otherwise, her discovery of seeing them on the road later could be quite upsetting.

3-26-2005

4WD differences.  The curiosity is now emerging.  Some are wondering about the inner-workings of the four-wheel-drive hybrid systems.  That's cool.  It means we've tapped into a new audience.  Here's a few highlights...  There is a distinct difference with the Ford SUV hybrid design.  Rather than offering a third electric motor like the Lexus & Toyota SUVs will, they use a traditional driveshaft to send physical thrust to the back wheels.  That sharing of the engine & second motor limits the 4WD abilities.  So when you go off-road driving, you may end up struggling.  That third motor, and the dramatically more powerful electrical system (both AC voltage and the battery-pack itself) will be a big plus for those that actually go off-road driving with their hybrid SUV from Lexus or Toyota.  But since most people never do that anyway, Ford probably doesn't have much to be concerned about.

3-26-2005

The Analogy.  I got asked to provide one about my feelings with the various hybrids available.  This same one I've used previously is proving to be very effective...  Some people believe all hybrids should get an "A", regardless of what it actually accomplishes.  The inappropriateness of that should be obvious, but some argue for hybrid equality.  You certainly wouldn't give an "A" to every child in a class; instead, you award grades based on actual merit.  In other words, if a hybrid only accomplishes half the assignment, the best it can hope for is a "B".  Reducing consumption but not reducing smog-related emissions at all is not worthy of an "A".

3-26-2005

Another disturbing quote.  They seem to never end... "Prius sales rise or fall from month to month in almost direct correlation to the fluctuating price of oil."  How is that even possible?  I just mentioned the lengthy delivery waits for Classic.  And new HSD models have *never* been readily available, orders only still.  If you did manage to get one an HSD without waiting, it was due to an order being cancelled but the car still be delivered.  So there is simply no way a conclusion like that could honesty be drawn.  More and more articles are starting to misrepresent the Classic too.  They do things like claim it was smaller & slower than it actually was.  I wonder if this is because reporters can get away with it.  Since that older model is no longer available for reviewers to test-drive and inspect, their only source of information now available to them is the collection of incorrect articles people wrote back then... many of whom saw the success of hybrids as threat to their future.  I guess some of those reactions are to be expected, now that the success of hybrids like Prius is becoming apparent.

3-26-2005

The success is becoming apparent.  Today's article about hybrid had this very disturbing quote... "No one is more surprised at the success story than Ernie Boch Jr., who says nobody would buy the cars when they first came out. 'Toyota, in the Northeast, had a $1,000 rebate on them, and you still couldn't give the things away,' says Boch, whose Norwood dealership is the second largest Toyota seller in the world."  That is an outright lie.  When Classic Prius first came out, there were no new ones available on lots anywhere in the United States.  The only way you could get one was to order it.  Those orders sometimes took as long as 9 months to fill.  People were absolutely desperate to get their hands on one sooner.  Then when the ordering process can to a conclusion 21 months later, few new ones sat on the lot that before it was quickly sold.  I never heard of any rebate ever offered either.  Lastly, we have confirmed that the dealership mentioned is much smaller than claimed.  In other words, they are fearing the success so much that ethics have been abandoned and being dishonesty is a matter of survival.

3-25-2005

$4,000 Premium.  That estimate by J.D. Powers must be getting old now.  It will likely be less than $2,000.  The cost of production should be lower 6 years from now, due to the rapidly growing increase in demand.  Replacing the aluminum rims with just typical steel rims, replacing the digital speedometer with a typical analog speedometer, and eliminating the Multi-Display entirely would shave quite a bit off premium too.  But then again, that's only Toyota.  Everyone else may have to charge a hefty premium as a result of their panic development to catch up with the competition.  In other words, no single estimate appears to be valid.  Sound familiar?  The EPA has the same trouble with MPG.  There are simply too many factors at play to make generalizations.

3-25-2005

Spreading Myths.  Why must we sit around and allow the "hybrids aren't necessarily cleaner" reality to become a big problem?  The "fast" hybrid is causing the belief that there is a tradeoff between speed & emissions.  Now do you understand the myth that you have contributed to?  To avoid that belief you were spreading, make sure to point out the following...  Highland-Hybrid can do 0-60 MPH in less than 8 seconds, yet it achieves a SULEV emission rating.  GS450h (the real-wheel drive sedan available from Lexus next year) will be able to do 0-60 MPH in less than 6 seconds, yet it will deliver a SULEV emission rating.

3-24-2005

$2.21 per Gallon.  That's the highest I've ever seen it.  Yet, I didn't even make an effort to take a digital photo.  Why bother?  It will obviously be higher as time goes on.  In fact, it will likely become a very normal sight... or worse, become the low price we could only hope to see again.

3-24-2005

Grossly Out-Numbered.  Remember that nasty anti-HYBRID person I had to deal with up until last summer?  I've been silently monitoring that group since then, checking messages from time to time but never posting any.  He has pretty conceded at this point.  Being grossly out-numbered by so many people that don't agree with him has made his efforts almost meaningless.  In fact, some people find those posts rather amusing.  How can someone be in denial like that?  Wake up and smell the gasoline!  The rapidly increasing prices are getting even the most skeptical about hybrids to give them another look.

3-24-2005

Ambiguity.  Our favorite anti-SULEV & anti-FULL person showed signs of true desperation today.  That's because I pointed out that she completely contradicted herself.  The statement she made this morning about SUVs that are SULEV totally opposed the statement about more hybrid choices being a "good" thing.  From the beginning, she has been undermining the success of that cleaner emission-rating because the hybrid design she prefers (the "assist" type) is primarily only sold as the dirtier ULEV.  And now that the appeal is swinging heavily in favor of "full" hybrids, she's covertly devaluating them too.  The trick she is using is ambiguity.  It's pretty easy to prove too.  All I do is keep asking the same question over and over: "What is your purpose?"  Today's respond was a whole bunch of links that didn't actually answer any question relevant to the topic of discussion, which is typical.  However, someone else noticed and pointed that out.  The response to that was a personal attack on me, diverting attention from that question yet again.  Her obscure, unclear, and vague comments fit the definition of ambiguity perfect.  The fact that she will do everything to prevent a definitive conclusion seals the deal.  Some of us know what she is really up to.  All along she has been defending her favorite hybrid, which is not SULEV and not FULL.

3-23-2005

New Card.  The arrival of the new (much warmer!) season hinted at the need for a new one... website cards 11

3-23-2005

Honda Insight.  Speaking of numbers, there were just 583 sold last year in the United States.  This year's production is only 150.  With so few, it's pretty clear that the vehicle is basically for bragging rights.  I sure hope next year brings something worthwhile.  None of Honda's hybrids are in the same category as Prius, a well-balanced family car.  They're like characters in a fairy tale.  Too small.  Too wanting.  Too powerful.

3-23-2005

Avoiding Numbers, Using Adjectives.  I've noticed recently that all of the comparison reviews between the Classic & HSD models of Prius only use adjectives.  They avoid using numbers at all costs.  So all they are really doing is expressing an opinion.  But most people don't realize that.  It gives the impression that there are significant differences.  Though, without actually providing any detail, you can only assume they know what they are talking.  In reality, they have no idea what has changed and by how much.  It starts with them calling the version that became available in 2000 the "Original".  Which means they are being vague to make the new model appear a lot better, they are intentionally trying to hide the fact that Prius was available in Japan for 3 years before that and it was upgraded quite a bit before coming to the United States, or they simply have no clue because they haven't ever sat inside or driven a Classic.  It was bad enough when a reporter based judgment on a quick test-drive.  But now, without having one available, they just guess.  Watch for numbers.  If they are actually provided, you at least know you are getting more than just a personal opinion.  Adjectives are not objective.  They make the decision for you.

 

back to home page       go to top