Prius Personal Log  #194

April 28, 2005  -  April 30, 2005

Last Updated: Sun. 6/05/2005

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4-30-2005

Energy/Consumption Toggle.  I made an amazing discovery today!  2 months ago, I had that TSB done for my Multi-Display.  They replaced it (for free) with a revised version.  This one was newer than the one I originally had... and it took until now for me to realize what that could mean.  My Prius might have a new feature, one that wasn't available back when I first bought it.  And sure enough, it worked when I tried.  I'm so happy!  It's another one of those conveniences that is totally unnecessary, but rather handy to have.  When I now press the "Info" button on the steering wheel, it toggles the Multi-Display between the Energy & Consumption screens.  Excellent!

4-30-2005

Machos, Sneaks, Normals.  The cycle is becoming obvious.  Watching the TLC (The Learning Channel) a few years ago, I stumbled across an anthropological study on a lizard.  The cycle of which type of male was leader had become very obvious.  There was a distinct dominance cycle that took place... something that wouldn't be noticed if those lizards hadn't living in an isolated environment (a small island).  But with such limited variables to deal with, it became clear.  Too bad not many will notice a similar thing happens to humans (with personality types, not gender).  For the first 3 years, the "macho" lizards were the only ones that got to mate with the females.  The reason why should be very apparent, they are large, fierce looking, and very powerful.  Sound familiar?  That's what the monster-size SUV & Pickups were.  The following 3 years later, the "sneak" lizards began to gain control.  The reason for this was not obvious.  These were males that closely resembled the females.  That allowed them to sneak right past the machos without being noticed.  Sound familiar?  Not many paid attention to hybrid 5 years ago.  Those sneaks taken over without those big guys even realizing it.  3 years later, the "normal" lizards start to draw female interest.  Sound familiar?  That is what we witnessing right now.  The day of the normals is about to emerge.  They will become the type the is most sought.  Highlander & Camry being available with HSD will change everything.  They will achieve dominance.  Though, it is inevitable that someday the machos will strive for control again.  The cycle will continue.  But with so many other influential factors, there's no reason it has to last long.  The normals could be back surprisingly quick.  After all, we're not lizards.

4-30-2005

Lifetime MPG.  This month's average was one-tenth above the lifetime average.  That means good times are in store.  All throughout the warm season I can expect to watch that MPG value climb up.  Yippee!  It'll be very slow, since so many miles are already included in the calculation.  But even a one-tenth every few weeks is great for big picture.  Seeing that number close to 50 sure will be nice, a wonderful endorsement for what hybrids should be expected to deliver in the future.  It will become a benchmark to measure against.  This nonsense right now with 30 being impressive is a little disheartening, and certainly not enough to get the demand problem back under control.  But it is a good start though, since it puts emphasis back on efficiency... rather than ignoring entirely as it had been before the supply shortage became obvious.

4-30-2005

Importance of PSI.  The next radio program was good old "Car Talk".  (Those guys are great!)  This week they had a guest on from NTHSA (National Traffic Highway Safety Administration).  He talked about the importance of PSI, how maintaining the minimum tire pressure recommended was absolutely vital for safety, efficiency, and tire life.  Sound familiar?  That's exactly what the Prius owners have been saying all along!  We've been aware of the consequences of inattentiveness for years now.

4-30-2005

Need verses Want.  That same radio program brought up another interesting topic:  Need verses Want.  They said the reason some people get into major debt is due to the fact that they cannot distinguish between the two.  Sound familiar?  That's the very same problem Prius supporters have had to deal with when in comes to acceleration.  The 12.5 seconds for 0-60 MPH clearly satisfied the need.  It was so obvious to me with my Classic Prius.  My daily commute consisted of a highway merge using a ramp in a construction zone.  That made it dangerously short and included visual obstructions.  Dropping the pedal to the floor got me onto the highway safely every time.  It was no big deal.  In fact, after awhile it became quite vindicating.  I kept gathering more and more proof that anything faster than that was a "want" not a "need".  And now with the faster HSD Prius, it is rather blatant.  I haven't ever needed to let the computer invoke maximum acceleration.  It quite simply isn't necessary.  Some people want more.  But that is to satisfy a desire, not a necessity in any respect.  Clever marketing has confused people, making them think it's required... because those people making the advertisement want your money.

4-30-2005

Most People Don't Know.  A financial discussion on the radio today was about how the typical person really has no idea what their vehicle is actually costing them.  Hybrids are causing them to look closely at their money for the very first time.  Not knowing used to be the way of dealing with that "money pit", since vehicles of the past were notorious for unexpected repairs.  But as reliability increased, many didn't notice the overall cost reduction.  A "full" hybrid like Prius makes people wonder.  They ask questions about how long the battery-pack will last.  It never dawns on them that a typical fluid leak from a traditional steering system won't ever be a consideration, since Prius uses dry electrical steering instead.  No tubes.  No reservoir.  No pump.  No fluid. There's no transmission or torque-converter to worry about either, because Prius doesn't have them.  The addition of electric motors make people jump to the conclusion that additional maintenance will be required.  They simply don't know that those Brushless-AC motors will still run perfectly long after the vehicle is sent to the junkyard.  Those coiled wires do nothing but transfer magnetic forces, so they can remain in service for extraordinary long times.  But now that gas prices are raising awareness, some people will discover what a hybrid world has to offer.  They will finally look into the details they had not paid attention to in the past.  Cool!

4-29-2005

$49.72 per barrel.  Do people celebrate now?  I would hardly consider that price for oil low.  4 years ago, it was half that.  The "50" mark used to be regarded as scary.  It has recently become ordinary.  What else is going to permanently change.

4-29-2005

High Teens, Low Twenties, Mid Thirties.  That massive online forum for Escape has now surpassed 10,000 members.  They really don't care what the size of your engine is or how many wheels have power, but they are still anti-hybrid.  That's sad.  The traditional supporters are proud of what they own, feeling well justified to continue supporting it rather than endorsing the hybrid.  They report MPG averages in the high teens, being jealous of those that achieve low twenties.  The hybrid owners reporting MPG in the mid thirties get almost no attention.  Ford clearly did an excellent job designing a SUV that delivers an undeniable improvement in efficiency.  However, the improvement is so much that it's embarrassing to those owning the traditional vehicle.  It makes me really wonder what's going to happen as the population of the hybrid grows.  Someday the significant decrease in emissions will become an important appeal factor too, increasing the attractiveness of the hybrid even more.  Will the traditional owners just disappear like the "cost" people have?  Remember when gas was still cheap?  The anti-hybrid crowd used that as their weapon to make Prius look bad.  But now with gas so much more expensive, they don't mention cost anymore... because they stopped participating on the forums.  Those engaging in relentless "cost" attacks against Prius supporters are now gone.  They simply surrendered and went away.  How about that?  I sure hope that type of transition happens for those with hybrid SUVs too.

4-29-2005

Bluetooth Printer.  My new printer has the ability to transfer data via a bluetooth connection with other digital devices.  That's pretty sweet!  Unfortunately, my bluetooth-enabled phone uses some of the oldest hardware available.  So naturally, it doesn't work.  But someday, I will get a newer phone.  Then I'll be able to send photos directly to it wirelessly.  For now, I'll have to do it the "old fashion" way.

4-29-2005

E20 Damage?  A friend shared a mysterious article with me today.  It talked about the corrosion that 2,000 hours of operation caused to various engine components when E20 (20% ethanol 80% gasoline).  Needless to say, I had lots of questions (and still do).  For one, how much driving does that translate to for the average owner?  I figure it's probably somewhere around 100,000 miles in a non-hybrid (and obviously much further with a "full" hybrid).  So naturally the next question is, what amount of corrosion occurs using pure gasoline?  There must be some.  After all, gas repeatedly spilt on paint will cause some damage.  What about E10 (a 10/90 blend)?  How much does that affect the internal parts of an engine?  For that matter, what does the E20 corrosion do to the operation of the engine?  I saw no mention of reduced performance or failure.  Without any control data, there is no objective why to do a comparison.  How long are those parts suppose to last normally?  Is it "damage" when the part is inexpensive to replace or scheduled for replacement as part of routine long-life maintenance anyway?

4-29-2005

Quadruple Sighting.  This morning was absolutely remarkable.  The record-setting drive I had a few weeks ago resulted in a count of 11 Prius.  Spotting that many on the road all during that single drive was quite impressive.  But what I hadn't mentioned was how.  There were 2 occurrences where my attention was captured by 3 Prius, all within a very short amount of time.  The measurement I use is a single song, since I have the radio on most of the time anyway (though I routinely swap between music & public radio).  Anywho, that rough "within 4 minute" duration is so convenient that it has stuck as my standard... of which today I set a new record for.  Believe it or not, I saw 4 different HSD Prius all within the same song.  I was flabbergasted.  Within that small area there were 5 of us driving around at the same time.  Now I'm very curious to find out how long it takes until the next quadruple sighting.

4-29-2005

Damage Inflicted.  There's a new effort to add another category to the national safety rating system.  I wondered if this would ever happen.  Rather than the extremely one-sided "what will happen to me" perspective, some are now trying to introduce "what will I do to others" information.  In other words, data about the damage you will inflict on those you smash into is finally getting attention.  It was saddening to see how the safety of those around us wasn't really ever talked about.  Though, it was rather obvious how a monster-size SUV would crunch compact car to a very, very, very compact size.

4-28-2005

Updates for 2006.  A publication in the United Kingdom today stated Toyota had expressed the upcoming new model year for Prius would include "small but effective adjustments".  I have no idea if that applies to the United States too, but I would image we'd a few tweaks of some sort.  They appear to be getting minor improvements with respect to steering & road-handling, as well as reduction of NVH (Noise, Vibration, Harshness).  In other words, Prius is being fine tuned... to put even greater pressure on the upcoming competition.  Can you imagine what things will be like years from now, after more people have discovered just how well thought out the design of Prius actually is?  It's going to be pretty sweet.

4-28-2005

Increase Supply.  This evening's live national presidential news conference was very disappointing.  The higher price of gas was among the top 3 issues addressed.  The president's answer to the question of how to deal with that was to increase supply.  More oil would solve the problem.  To him, it was that simple.  Then he went on to discuss social-security issues, clearly stating "the longer we wait, the harder it will be to respond".  Interesting, eh?  At no time was the topic of hybrids ever addressed, yet the importance of long-term solutions was stressed.  Think about how our children will look upon that... dumping the problem on them by using up the oil faster rather than working toward a way of reducing the demand for it.  But then again, there is nothing to work out anymore.  Hybrids are already a reality.  All he would have to do is to promote them, making it easier for automakers to increase that supply instead.  Ignoring the injury by just giving the victim more blood isn't a solution.  More oil will not fix the problem.  Also note how emissions is of no concern at all; he doesn't even take in account the consequences of consuming more gas.

4-28-2005

Enthusiast Websites & Forums.  I've shocked a number of people by mentioning online discussions about Prius.  They were really surprised to discover such things existed.  So when I point out that there are forums & websites for ordinary vehicles, those having nothing beyond the tradition, they look at me in total disbelief... wondering what in the world those people discuss.  And quite frankly, so do I.  The world of hybrids is still emerging and in the news constantly, so a forum devoted to Prius makes perfect sense.  Websites do too (except perhaps mine).  Have you ever done an online search for your favorite non-hybrid?  You'll be surprised at what's available on the Internet.  There are enthusiasts grouping together for all kinds of vehicles.

4-28-2005

Activity Counter.  Website activity has increased dramatically recently (as if you couldn't guess that, with gas prices so high).  A simple hit counter isn't all that revealing anymore.  There is something else though.  I have a new way of measuring interest in the website now, it's the number of User-Guide downloads.  Those statistics are pretty straight forward.  Newbies flock to that particular document.  Cool, eh?

 

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