Prius Personal Log  #192

April 19, 2005  -  April 22, 2005

Last Updated: Mon. 7/11/2005

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4-22-2005

43 F Degrees.  It's getting colder.  Bummer.  Spring is certainly rather unpredictable.  Will Summer ever arrive?

4-22-2005

Earth Day.  This year's was at the School of Environmental Studies in Apple Valley.  I parked my Prius on the sidewalk by the front doors, along with a Classic the PCA (Pollution Control Agency of Minnesota) had provided.  The teachers sent out the high school students in groups.  We answered questions and I passed out a bunch of Info-Sheets and Website Cards.  All went really, even when the elementary children showed up.  They love getting to play inside a car, especially something cool like a Prius.  At one point, I even caught 10 of them in there all at once!  How about that for a family vehicle?  Anywho, high school students are the prime age to influence.  They're the ones without any preconceived ideas, since they are just becoming familiar with vehicles.  So naturally, when I started up the Prius the bluetooth interface for the phone on the Multi-Display made perfect sense.  It was a must have.  Why would any vehicle not have that?  After all, just seconds after the stereo system was turned on one of the students had already begun broadcasting songs from his iPod to it.  The 2 most common questions were Base-Price & Top-Speed.  The answer to both ($21,000 and 105 MPH) really pleased them.  The most impressive feature (again, a natural for that age) was the SE/SS system, rather than an old fashion key (which is so "20th Century").  The most asked about feature after studied the car itself and the materials posted was about "B" mode.  When I explained it was a type of engine-braking, they understood the benefit much quicker than most adults whom have been driving without that available for decades.  And by far, the most "I don't know that" topic was the fact that charging the battery-pack takes place during routine driving.  Needless to say, I had a blast getting to provide that educational opportunity.

4-22-2005

Desperate Diesels.  I do find it amusing how supporters of diesel try to convince people that the exhaust coming out of tailpipes now is "clean enough".  The one today even used those exact words.  Of course, his source of comparison data was from the 1950's.  I doubt many people are gullible enough to fall for a 50 year old reference.  That is an obvious sign of desperation.  So my reply was simple...  With traffic congestion (longer drive times and more vehicles) getting worse, remaining status quo (clean enough) is a poor choice.  Smog will become more of a problem simply by not doing anything to preventative.  Since the "full" hybrid technology to cleanse exhaust to SULEV levels is already proving to also deliver a big improvement in efficiency, why abandon it for diesel?  12 non-hybrid gasoline vehicles already offer SULEV too.  A non-hybrid diesel doesn't make any sense. An automatic diesel equipped with cleansing capable of SULEV is the same price as a "full" hybrid in mass production (3 years from now) and it isn't even as efficient.  So, what's the point?  What would you gain from diesel?

4-21-2005

Wind Hydrogen.  The first ever "create hydrogen using wind" project in the United States is about to begin.  It will be in rural Minnesota.  That's great news, but disappointing at the same time.  An initiative like this should have been in place long before any of the fuel-cell talk even began.  Not having a renewable and truly clean source of electricity to make hydrogen with should be the very first objective.  A fuel-cell is pretty much worthless without that.  Using gas or methanol instead simply isn't practical.  A "full" hybrid is cheaper, more efficient, and cleaner using gas.  But with wind farms all over the place creating "fuel", that's a step in the right direction.  But at the pace wind technology is currently being adopted, we still have decades to wait before enough electricity will be available from them to just displace the already existing problem of using coal for electricity.  Having a surplus available for creating hydrogen with too is still just a dream, unfortunately.

4-21-2005

New Attacks.  Seemingly out of nowhere came a new source of attacks.  This guy is clearly a troublemaker.  A quick search on Google revealed that he's been on quite a few forums causing problems.  So, I guess we should be thankful he hadn't appeared until now.  He's a Honda hybrid owner who obviously isn't pleased with the success of Prius.  But I can't seem to figure out exactly what his motives are.  Perhaps he just craves attention.  Judging by the number of members he has already personally insulted, attention is exactly what he's getting.  That's also big clue that his actions are attacks.  Making it personal, rather than being objective by staying focused on the discussion topic itself, is purely an act of malice.  What a pain.  I sure wish we didn't have to deal with stuff like that.

4-21-2005

Repairs.  Who gets the blame if routine maintenance seems to actually be the cause a failure?  An owner is dealing with that now, a rather hefty bill too.  To make matters worse, he bought the Prius used.  So there's that unknown history to complicate things.  What if poor quality maintenance really was the source of the problem?  How the heck do you prove it?  Warranty coverage isn't always obvious in the first place, for any type of vehicle.  Flawless technology doesn't exist.  Increasing reliability requires compromise, something has to change in order to achieve the goal.  Prius is no exception.  Tradeoffs have always been part of automotive design.  What would you want, a vehicle that's easy to repair or one that is less likely to require any repair in the first place?  The overwhelming majority chooses higher reliability, which is what the new design of HSD strives to deliver.  Whether they understand the fact that it may cost more if it breaks (typically because mechanics simply replace it with a new one rather than actually fixing it) is not well known.  Ultimately, the replacement cost will come down anyway.  But with a shortage of parts right now due to overwhelming demand, you pay top dollar for that component in the meantime.  Is that ok?  Remember the old days when repairs used to be far more frequent?  I'm sure glad that is no longer true.  100,000 miles with only minimum maintenance has became pretty normal now.  Gaining reliability while also getting better efficiency and reduced emissions is great, but 100 percent of the vehicles will not be able to claim that.  Fortunately, that failure amount is getting smaller.  Numbers like "1 in every 50,000" is pretty impressive... unless you just happen to be that 1 dealing with repairs.

4-21-2005

Energy Flow.  I've got another educational document to share now.  This one highlights the various aspects of energy flow throughout the hybrid system.  Hopefully, you'll find it really informative without being too overwhelming.  The challenge was to keep things in the simplest of terms.  Take a look... energy flow

4-20-2005

Stop the madness!  Today's anti-hybrid quote (on Public Radio) from a strong diesel supporter was: "If you are using a lot of power when you're going up and down steep hills, you're gonna draw down the battery.  So hybrids are not the solution for everybody."  So... what's your guess?  Was he intentionally trying to deceive people or was he just clueless about how "full" hybrids actually work?  I climb up one of the longest & steepest popular highways in the metro area daily.  It's the climb out of the river valley by the St. Paul airport, enough to require a slow truck lane.  Anywho, my battery-pack often ends up with more electricity stored in it at the top than when I began my climb at the bottom.  The increased RPM (for the sake of achieving an efficiency advantage due to the way the engine is designed to perform under a heavy load) results in excess electricity being generated than the thrust-motor needs.  So, that electricity used to recharge the battery-pack.  You can see it for yourself on the Multi-Display too.  That's why I get frustrated to hear people claim that doesn't happen.  I see it every day on the way home from work!

4-20-2005

Misleading or Lying?  This quote printed today was incorrect years ago, now it's gross negligence... perhaps worse:  "When Toyota introduced its Prius gasoline-electric hybrid in the U.S. the car generated a lot of buzz, but not a lot of sales.  In 2001, only about 15,000 Americans bought a Prius."  Of course only 15,000 were sold.  That's all Toyota built.  There were delivery waits up to 9 months for that limited quota too.  Sales had absolutely no correspondence to demand whatsoever.  A similar situation exists today too.  But now the quota is 100,000 and the wait is down to 6 months.  Until a Prius can be purchased immediately, right off the dealer's lot that day rather than having to order & wait, actual demand cannot be determined.  The average person simply does not have the patience to wait like that.  And if they want to sell their current vehicle rather than trading it, how can they possibly time it correctly?  Being without a car is completely unrealistic.  And having 2 at the same time makes the purchase financially impossible for many.  The under supplied problem is quite serious.  It is preventing potential sales opportunities.  But you never know that reading the garbage that's still getting published.

4-20-2005

$2.15 per gallon.  Gas was 23 cents less just yesterday.  That's one heck of a big jump... and for no apparent reason either.  The price of oil has been relatively stable recently, hanging in the low 50's for the last week.  It makes me really wonder what the heck it will be next time I fill up.  Now I'm really glad I didn't wait.

4-20-2005

2005 Sales.  Here's the numbers for the first 3 months of the year... 22,880 Prius and 9,025 Hondas (all 3 hybrids combined) and 3,569 Escape-Hybrids.  Needless to say, Toyota is leading the market.  I wonder what the sales of Prius would be if there wasn't that 6-month delivery wait.  Hmm?

4-20-2005

Predictions.  This one published today is likely the most absurd I have yet encountered: "hybrids are forecast to account for 15 percent by 2020".  Anyone who believes market penetration will be that low hasn't been paying attention.  By 2020, the first model year of Prius will be 23 years old.  The technology will be so far beyond well-proven that it would have become standard a decade earlier.  In fact, Toyota has already stated they plan to do exactly that... offering the hybrid option for all of their vehicles by the end of 2010.  Also, take a look at the mobile device market for proof that battery technology will continue improving.  The demand for that is fierce.  Whomever delivers will profit handsomely.  Hybrids will be able to take advantage of those same improvements.  So the belief that 85 percent will still be buying non-hybrids in 2020 is absolutely absurd.  And that's not even taking into account what a gallon of gas will cost then.

4-20-2005

"Muscle" Hybrid.  That new term has emerged as a result of the Accord-Hybrid becoming available.  The reason why should be obvious.  That type of hybrid provides no smog-related emission benefit at all.  The efficiency improvement is only marginal.  (Though coupled with VCM, the total efficiency gain is acceptable.)  And the acceleration is actually better than the traditional version of the vehicle.  In other words, the target market is totally different from those purchasing Prius.

4-19-2005

Another.  Geez!  Another Honda hybrid owner got upset when I pointed out that the CVT in Prius is different, not really a transmission since it's the "Planetary" type as opposed to the "Cone & Belt" type.  My information was simple.  I just mentioned the similarity to a differential and provided links to the new power-split-device document and that photo available on the internet of the Prius CVT next to a Diet Pepsi can.  His reply was... "You have nothing to say in which I might be interested. Do not bother to respond because your messages are already filtered by my email client and they will not be seen by me. The Prius's CVT is, by definition, a transmission and is not part of the engine or the electric motor."  I was hoping those new educational materials would prevent those same old resistance responses.  Apparently not.  But then again, with such a rapidly expanding market & audience, it's hard to judge without a lot of feedback.  All I seem to get is a really negative one every few weeks.  The hundreds of document downloads all basically occur without comment otherwise.  Could it be that the thought of HSD becoming standard is becoming so strong that it has emerged as a new fear, something that must be fought (as quoted in that very close-minded email reply above) to keep it from succeeding?  I think they are getting a little desperate.  I miss the days when the other hybrids were naturally just identified as different without conflict.

4-19-2005

That Prius DVD.  It sure is nice having that now.  When I encounter a Prius in a parking lot, I can leave it as a token of appreciation too (besides the printed Prius stuff).  Cool!  By the way, I did that today for the first time.  I had wondered where the heck I would end up putting it for the owner to easily spot.  It turns out, the case for the disc fits perfectly inside the driver door-handle.  I wonder what the heck the driver thought when seeing it?  The photo of the Prius inside should clue them in.  Hmm?

4-19-2005

HydroEdges on a Classic.  To my surprise, the White Classic Prius I walked by in a parking lot today had something familiar.  The unique tread design caught my eye.  They were Michelin HydroEdge tires, just like the ones I have on my HSD now.  I hadn't encountered anyone yet that had tried them.  In fact, no one had even asked the question if they could be used on a Classic.  They can, but that isn't even listed as a choice on the tire webpage.  I better get my act together and add them... Tires (Classic)

 

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