Prius Personal Log  #188

March 28, 2005  -  April 1, 2005

Last Updated: Mon. 7/11/2005

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4-01-2005

April Fools?  Sorry for being a killjoy, but knowing Toyota's long-term business plan makes it really hard to be April Fooled.  Today was no exception.  The message posted about an article stating Prius would be discontinued next year was bogus, something to make us panic on the first day of April.  Here's what I know...  Toyota intends to significantly increase their marketshare.  Eliminating the only hatchback in their lineup wouldn't any sense whatsoever, especially since it's their third best selling car.  They have spent a ton of effort making the "Prius" name well known.  So even if the car was discontinued, the name would live on.  (Name transfer is a common practice for popular vehicles in the automotive industry.)  And of course, the rest of the world isn't obsessed with size & power like the Americans are.  And Prius is the ideal outside the US, where Toyota commands a larger chuck of the market anyway.  But the most obvious clue is the fact that the price of oil is at an all-time high today: $57.25 per barrel.  So the already high gas prices are guaranteed to continue the upward climb.  That "extra" you pay for getting HSD is quickly becoming a total non-issue, easily paying for itself.  No one will be fooled knowing that.

3-31-2005

"Dead Wrong"  That was the executive statement the nation was provided with today about our reason for invading Iraq.  There were no weapons of mass-destruction at all.  The assertion about them was completely incorrect.  The reason why doesn't matter either, since the facts looked wrong in the first place.  Why didn't they listen to more of use that said the facts simply don't add up.  Weak "evidence" is not considered worthy in other disciplines... yet it was for war.  Sound familiar?  It's the same justification they have been using against hybrids for years.  Now it looks that they will have to eventually admit they were "dead wrong" about that too.  Hybrids won't hurt the economy as they have been trying to convince us.  Instead, hybrids will save it.  The new popular product will stimulate both sales & jobs, exactly the opposite of what they said would happen.  People are already seeking out more efficient vehicles.  Hybrids can easily fulfill that need.  There is no reason to force people into switching to a smaller, more dangerous vehicle like they had to back in the 80's.  Reducing weight & size was the scam then.  Now a genuine solution is possible, using advanced technology instead.

3-31-2005

$100 per barrel?  Estimates about the upcoming price of oil are getting ugly.  There is now reason to believe the price will spike to nearly double that of what we used to consider high.  The experts are talking about that as a new reality.  The $55.40 price today was considered a spike last year.  But having been that way for too long now, it's looking more and more like a new regular price.  The "good old days" are over.  The obsession with size & power has caused demand to grossly exceed supply.  Now we are suffering the consequences of what is appearing to an addiction with rather serious consequences.  Fortunately, I have been heavily promoting a solution for 5 years now... Prius.

3-31-2005

New Deception.  I was right.  The old conflicts have ended.  Now one of the leading anti-hybrid people is introducing new deceptive techniques.  He has taken to posting MPG values for precious Lupo (a tiny, dirty diesel car that cuts corners in ever imaginable way to improve efficiency) using non-english articles.  That means the 88 MPG quoted value was actually in terms of "imperial" gallons, which are 1.2 times larger than the gallon we use in the United States.  So the efficiency was really only 73.3 MPG.  But then when you dig deeper for facts, you discover that was a non-production model... one used only for setting a world record with, not a model actually available for purchase.  The most efficient production model available delivers a lower 78.5 MPG, which converts to 65.4 MPG in.  And that is strictly highway-only efficiency.  When the speed drops, so does the MPG.  That means mixed driving would be roughly the same as a Prius.  However, Prius is a significantly larger & safer & cleaner vehicle.  Yet, he doesn't care.  He keeps right on trying to deceive people into believing Lupo is a better choice.  The 180,000 people around the world that purchased a 2005 Prius will wonder what the heck could possibly be appealing about a car like that.

3-30-2005

Squished Bug.  The first windshield squash occurred today.  I guess that officially marks the end of Winter.  The warm-weather creatures have revealed themselves.  Yeah?

3-30-2005

History of Hybrid Anti-SULEV.  It started years ago with an innocent rivalry between Toyota & Honda.  Prius was SULEV.  Civic-Hybrid was only ULEV.  Prius had a distinct "better for the environment" advantage that really begin to irritate some Civic-Hybrid owners.  Then Honda announced the upcoming availability of a SULEV version.  The quarreling online immediately halted.  But that actual car was never delivered nationwide as promised.  At the last moment Honda changed their mind, deciding instead to only sell them in California and New York.  That triggered a rather nasty response, the beginning of the anti-SULEV campaigning.  Some Civic-Hybrid owners began to claim that ULEV was more than clean enough, that there was no real advantage to SULEV (despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary).  Later, when Accord-Hybrid was announced to be only available a ULEV, that made the problem much worse.  Some hoping to remove SULEV from the attention of those concerned about emissions began to use deceptive techniques to divert discussions, others even chose to be dishonest.  The most creative of tactics was to focus solely on large trucks, claiming that by simply reducing their emissions to the ULEV requirements would eliminate the need to improve any of the cars.  I'm not buying any of that reasoning.  SULEV is a simple emission standard to achieve.  In fact, around a dozen popular non-hybrid vehicles already deliver it.  And all of the Toyota/Lexus hybrids only come that way.  So not bothering is a terrible choice.  The option is readily available already.  The only thing that is needed now is for those who care about our air-quality to demand that SULEV become standard.  In any case, that is what CARB and the European Union has been fighting for.  The anti-SULEV believers needs to push Honda to do the right thing, rather than making everyone else accept the lower ULEV rating.  After all, Honda used to be known as the clean air leader.  Now they just blend into the crowd like GM and several of the other automakers do.

3-29-2005

18 cent jump.  The swing of gas prices only being a penny or two is long gone, a memory of years past.  It had, until recently, been around five to seven cents.  Now all of a sudden it is common to see an overnight change of 15 cents.  Today's was actually 18 cents.  The supply verses demand problem is becoming very obvious.  All the gas-guzzlers have added up to create an epidemic... the very thing I've been warning about.  The sky is falling.

3-29-2005

Full Hybrid.  I see the push to make "full" a well understood term has caused Honda to panic.  Apparently, we've been quite successful.  Interesting.  I wonder how this change will play out, from their honest "assist" promotion to pretending their design is as capable as Toyota's & Ford's.  Hmm?  Recently, a few Honda owners that only have ULEV hybrids have been pretty upset by the push to raise awareness about SULEV.  They've been trying to convince people that their isn't that much of a difference and obscuring the facts by doing cross-class comparisons.  They are obviously getting desperate.  Today's announcement confirming that Highlander-Hybrid will be available as a SULEV with full-electric A/C is something they'll have a hard time hiding with a label.  Those abilities are pretty sweet, something only a real "full" is capable of.  The key difference is the fact that our hybrids use PERSISTENT electrical systems, creating significantly more electricity than their PASSIVE electrical system.  The power-split-device is how.  It's designed to efficiently support the continuous generation of electricity, preventing low battery situations.  The assist design is not.  In fact, many Honda hybrid owners give advice about how to avoid "forced charge" mode, since it causes a big MPG penalty.  So they rely heavily on regeneration for getting electricity instead... which begs the question: How much electricity will actually be available for their partial-electric A/C?  But if all else fails, we can is use "old school" marketing.  More horsepower sells vehicles, now.  In the future, more kW could instead.  The 14kW motor in Accord-Hybrid simply cannot compete with the 50kW motor in Prius.  By the way, I get the biggest kick out of how they try to convince people that "stealth" is just a gimmick, that there's no pleasure actually received from gliding along without any engine vibration or sound at 40 MPH.  Of course, all I have to do is ask them how nasty their MPG is in stop & slow traffic.  In short, I'm tired of this kind of nonsense.  It was bad enough when coming from the anti-hybrid crowd.  Now their is a growing concern about misrepresentation from other hybrids.

3-29-2005

$54.23 per barrel.  The price of oil is remaining dangerously high.  Ultimately, all products depend on oil for their distribution.  Many require it for their production too.  With the price being greater than planned, prices of those products will go up.  And it isn't just the goods that will be affected, services will too.  In other words, the entire economy has been relying on the price being low.  That is no longer a reality.  Things are inevitably going to have to change.  I guess we are going to get to witness "necessity being the mother of invention" firsthand.  Of course, I have a Prius.  So I'm aware of part of the solution already.

3-29-2005

City/Highway MPG.  I've grown so accustom to seeing the city value higher, it now seems weird having it the other way.  Traditional vehicles are mixed up.  Highway being higher is counter-intuitive.  Anyone who rides a bicycle will tell you that faster speed requires more energy.  It's so obvious.  Why would the reverse make sense?

3-29-2005

Highlander-Hybrid details released.  It will be available in early June, a month ahead of schedule.  The base model will be nicely loaded.  The front-wheel drive model will be priced at $33,030.  The "4WDi" model, that's front-wheel drive with an automatic rear-wheel by-wire (no driveshaft from the front) electric drive using a 50kW motor, will be $34,430.  (The motor in front for both is 123kW.)  There will also be two special limited editions with special extra goodies, priced at $37,890 & $39,290.  MPG is rated at 33/28 for the front-wheel drive and 31/27 combined for the 4WDi.  That's pretty cool.  The 0-60 MPH acceleration (for the speed obsessed) is 7.5 seconds for the front-wheel drive and 7.3 seconds for the 4WDi.  This hybrid will devastate the market for dirty gas-guzzling SUVs.  It also paves the way for an effortless debut of a hybrid minivan.  The next few years sure are going to be enjoyable, watching the masses finally discover what "full" hybrids have to offer.

3-29-2005

Using Aluminum.  Unfortunately, an aluminum body is not cost-effective.  Too bad, the much lighter weight is an obvious benefit for efficiency.  There is simply no way to squeeze out a profit when using such expensive metal.  The evidence of that is quite overwhelming too.  Honda never expanded use of it into any other hybrid.  In fact, they scaled back the US supply of Insight all the way to just 150 this year.  (That's one hundred fifty for the entire country!)  Prius only uses aluminum in two places.  One is the front hood, the other is the rear hatch.  The weight reduction is a plus, but main the benefit is the fact that quality of the metal is so different.  Aluminum corrodes at a much, much, much slower pace than steel rusting, due mostly to the fact that steel flakes and aluminum pits.  That gives aluminum a huge advantage; another is the fact that it doesn't leave oxidation stains.  Someday, a less costly strong metal, composite, plastic, or fiber will likely be used instead of inexpensive steal.  Until then, don't expect much.  Efficiency will rely mostly on propulsion technology instead.

3-28-2005

PSD.  There's a new educational page now available.  It's something I have wanted to deliver for a very long time.  I hope you find it helpful.  I certainly will.  Having it refer to will be great at gatherings.  It provides a simplest explanation of the Power-Split-Device, hence "PSD" acronym.  Great extremes were taken to make understanding of the heart hybrid system an easy achievement.  Check it out... power-split-device

3-28-2005

Shifting From & To.  This is the most ridiculous statement I have to endure.  Some claim it is really bothersome.  I ask them what the heck they are talking about.  They say the "shifting" makes the acceleration rough.  I ask again what they mean.  The claim is when the transition from electric to gas occurs, it makes the car hesitate.  At that point, I finally retaliate... pointing out there is no shift.  The interaction between electric & gas takes commonly place seamlessly up to 20 times per minute.  It is not a single, abrupt shift as they claim.  That is a totally unfounded misconception, with no merit whatsoever.  Have any of these people ever driven a "full" hybrid?

3-28-2005

Back in the 50's !!!  I am so happy now.  Both the temperature and the MPG have returned to the 50's.  Spring has finally arrived.  Yeah!

 

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