Prius Personal Log  #195

May 1, 2005  -  May 6, 2005

Last Updated: Mon. 7/11/2005

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5-06-2005

Prius+  At this point, pretty much everyone aware of Prius now knows that electric enhancement (hence the "+" notation) is possible.  We've read the articles and listened to the reports about the "plug-in project".  But until recently, there were literally no details available.  That vagueness was hurting them.  So, they started revealing a few facts.  We have been told the enhancement to Prius doesn't actually enhancement the abilities.  What it really does is significantly improve the power-supply available for "EV Mode".  That means you'll enjoy electric-only driving even more, up to 35 MPH.  That's super sweet, but not practical for a wide variety of roads.  And there's a catch, a 300-pound penalty from the added battery modules, as well as the loss of the big hidden storage area and the spare-tire.  Regular driving efficiency is reduced too, but we have no clue by how much in the real-world.  They just generically stated 5 MPG less.  I want to see actual data.  I want to find out how it affects acceleration & handling.  I want... the same thing those inquiring about the non-enhanced Prius want to know.  Why should we settle for any less?

5-05-2005

$50.83 per barrel.  Notice how the price of oil isn't coming down much anymore.  That once market-scaring "50" has become the norm.  Businesses are now struggling to figure out how to deal with this new reality.  Consumers have taken over the role of being scared.  This will directly affect their lives.  Even if the multi-billion dollar companies figure out a new strategy to earn money, what will the average "joe paycheck" do to survive?  They certainly can't just buy a new car.  Most are stuck with the one they have now for a few more years.  There is no way to deny that history is repeating itself.  A spike oil prices is once again changing the automotive industry.  Only this time, the worldwide economy shows no sign of recovery.  All of the techniques to reduce prices have already been tried... and failed, since demand continues to increase.

5-05-2005

Used Prices.  Today's newspaper gets a special note in my historical documentation.  Someone bought a used Prius for $1,000 more than the original sticker price.  Never in history have I ever heard of a non-antique vehicle ever going for so much money.  Driving a vehicle off the dealer's lot had always meant an instant loss of money.  So naturally, one that had been used for awhile surely wouldn't ever provide a profit when sold later.  But this one did.  How about that?

5-05-2005

Rainbow Photos.  A chance encounter today in a rain storm, with my Prius and digital camera, provided this good fortune... photo album 93

5-05-2005

Salsa Meeting.  Today, 5/5/5, my Prius encountered another.  I quite literally jumped out to say "Hi!".  He was absolutely delighted to have a spontaneous in-the-parking-lot gathering like that.  When I asked him how long he had his Prius, he stated what his odometer read.  Then he asked about mine.  I said, "33333".  Needless to say, he was shocked by the coincidence.  Of course, it was only until he figured out that I was "that guy with the website".  My reputation obviously proceeds me... which is actually rather handy.  It made giving him a Prius DVD and some Prius Info-Sheets no big deal.  He clearly understood my passion for the car and taking advantage of an opportunity like that.

5-05-2005

"Junk Status".  GM (General Motors) got declared that today, due to the billions of dollar of debt they now owe.  That means their options about how to deal with the future has become even more limited.  I actually am surprised by this... since it happened sooner than expected.  I always thought the bottom would drop out the year mass-production of Toyota hybrids began in the United States.  But the stupidity of intentionally breaking basic economic-survival rules in the name of short-term gain accelerated their own demise.  With the inevitable permanent climb in oil prices due to the worldwide increase in demand, it was clear that diversification was necessary.  But they ignored those obvious signs of change... to the point of claiming hybrid technology was a waste of effort, just a "stop gap" for the change that would be required a decade or two later.  Instead, reality came crashing down just a few years later.  Now they're screwed.  Too bad I didn't archive some of those silly monster-size Pickup & SUV advertisements, promoting the incredibly arrogant attitude toward satisfying the desire for power.  I had no idea their departure would be so dramatic.  At least I documented the nonsense they presented us with in these logs.  The next few years sure are going to be fun.  Rather than fighting hybrids, they are going to be desperately scrambling to catch up... and we can thank the realities of financial obligations for helping make that easier.  They didn't plan for the future.  Now they're paying for it, literally.

5-05-2005

More Hype.  Today presented yet another take-advantage-of-the-hype opportunity, to attract attention to their website.  It was a silly article that used extremely vague references, like "not much fun to drive" label, without stating what it actually meant.  For many traditional reviewers, "fun" means a lot of feedback (noise & vibration).  So naturally, a smoooooth & quiet vehicle like Prius will never score high.  The horribly misleading list of upcoming hybrids serves no actual purpose, since the definition of "hybrid" is apparently anything new vehicle that offers a fuel savings.  The technology isn't even mentioned (nor is emissions).  And of course, the words "savings" itself isn't explained either.  In other words, the "they are pretty expensive for what you're getting" leaves you wondering how much?  Where are the quantities (cost & efficiency)?  What are their requirements for a hybrid?  How can we know what's disappointing or acceptable if they don't tell us what they were expecting?  So... it boils down to the same problem we've had from the beginning: Because people in general have absolutely no idea what MPG average their current vehicle delivers, they just assume the gain Prius provides isn't enough.  But in reality, that improvement is actually quite a bit more than they think... only they don't realize that.  So, some take advantage and push their own version of hype.

5-04-2005

Colorful Memories.  I digitally captured these, with the Prius, last Summer... photo album 93

5-04-2005

4 Years Ago.  A long-lost never-seen-before digital photo of me with my Classic... photo album 92

5-04-2005

Vindication.  Wow!  Do you have any idea how vindicating this is for me, seeing hybrids make the front page of national magazines?  There were 2 this week.  (So much for being humble.)  After years of sharing that uphill battle, the team I chose to play offense for is not only winning... it is utterly crushing the competition to the point of redefining what the new arena will be.  Getting to watch the "best case scenario" actually become a reality is absolutely incredible.  Well, it isn't perfect.  We still have to deal with the misconceptions they spread.  But that's a small price to pay for hybrids getting so much ongoing attention now.

5-04-2005

51.3 MPG.  It's beginning to feel a lot most like Summer is near.  Finally!

5-03-2005

Toyota Sales.  Not only is Prius setting sales records, the entire company is.  The competition is reporting quarterly losses.  Toyota is reporting massive profits.  With marketshare gains growing so rapidly, it sure will make the next stage of HSD rollout easy.  Sweet!

5-03-2005

2 Bar Climb.  The drive today sure was exciting.  Normally, the long hill near where I live doesn't show much of a battery change on the Multi-Display.  This time though, it was different.  I started at the bottom with 4 bars showing for the charge-level.  So the climb up, which pretty much always results in a net gain, stood a real chance of providing great proof for disbelievers... those saying you'll end up with less at the top, rather than more.  Not only did it fill the next bar, it also did the following one too.  That's right; it went from 4 to 6.  It was undeniable evidence that a "full" hybrid could tackle a long hill without being at a disadvantage once reaching the top.  In fact, exactly the opposite happened; there was an improvement.

5-03-2005

Bluetooth Notify.  When I started up the Prius today, it informed me my cell-phone had somehow gotten turned off.  That's something I wouldn't have realized if it wasn't for the connection Bluetooth attempts.  Cool!

5-03-2005

Inconsistent Prices.  Seeing a 15-cent variance between gas stations is becoming common now.  In the past, gas prices used to only be a penny or two different.  This instability is going to contribute to loyalty & habit changes.  Local sellers won't be able to rely on the steady stream of nearby customers anymore, since there will instead be a draw to whomever has the cheaper gas that day.  The complicated fabric of the oil & gas infrastructure is unraveling.  That's not good.

5-02-2005

Waiting to Pay.  I got stuck in parking ramp today, waiting a very long time to pay to get out.  It wasn't too bad, having a Prius.  The engine shut off right away.  So I just listened to music and watched the growing frustration of those wasting gas.

5-01-2005

15 MPH Limit.  This has now become a genuine misconception.  It's getting absurd at this point.  Those writing articles about Prius have absolutely no idea how the system actually works.  They simply get behind the wheel and note what they observe.  That's sad.  We all know a test-drive does not provide an accurate depiction of how any type of vehicle will perform under all conditions.  So you'd think they'd realize that a hybrid is different.  Evidently, that's far from the case.  They notice that the engine will start up at around 15 MPH when accelerating from a stop and just assume that's all the electrical system provides.  They have absolutely no clue that speed has nothing to do with how the motor responds.  After all, how could they from just observation alone.  Enthusiasts are far better informed.  Why the heck don't they ask us?  We know that the real trigger for the engine to start is the draw of electricity from the battery-pack.  Once it exceeds the 10kW limit (a software regulated threshold), the engine will begin to spin.  That means their observation is quite incorrect.  You can actually maintain any speed up to 42 MPH using just electricity, since cruising doesn't require as much power as acceleration.  Too bad most reporters don't take the time to find that out.  They just assume.  That's bad.

5-01-2005

Snow.  It isn't suppose to snow in May.  But it sure did today.  A whole bunch of large puffy balls fell on us.  They were groups of snowflakes bonded together by melting & refreezing as they fell.  It was like a soft version of hail.  What a strange thing to experience so late into Spring.

5-01-2005

Ethanol Horsepower.  All these years I hadn't realized that ethanol actually increases horsepower output of an engine.  Reading a university study today on the comparison between pure gasoline and E85, that fact was revealed.  It's was only 13hp in the Prius they had taken the measurements from.  So that really only translates to about a 1.5hp increase using the only fuel available around here: E10.  The belief about ethanol was that it required a minor sacrifice in all aspects, most notably efficiency.  But to find out that power isn't compromised in any way, instead being increased, is an interesting discovery.  However, it does mean that my Prius has been a tiny bit faster (perhaps 1/10th of a second) than most everyone else's all along.  That could potentially taint my speed claims.  But since most sight comparisons in terms of several seconds.  That tenth is rather trivial.  Of course, between the bio-fuel blend and the higher tire-pressure, I can state that my Prius accelerates from 0 to 60 MPH in "less than 10 seconds".

5-01-2005

Camry-Hybrid.   We knew about Camry being available as a hybrid for the 2007 model year last fall.  It was a natural fit for the next step.  So a mention about that on the news about that today was no big deal.  The question that still remains is what configurations (yes, plural) will be available.  An obvious choice is a Camry with nothing but HSD inside, no clues whatsoever visually from the driver's seat that it's a hybrid.  That model will likely have a 4-cylinder engine too.  It would be remarkably similar to Camry now, only much better emissions & efficiency.  But what will the other model(s) offer?  Will they use the identical beefy setup in Highlander-Hybrid, a 6-cylinder engine with a very large electric motor?  After all, they share the same frame.  So a body the swap should be realistic.  That would provide a wealth of speed and the power to tow a trailer, yet it would still deliver SULEV.  Once Camry-Hybrid becomes available, it's all over.  That's the final nail-in-the-coffin for traditional vehicles.  Camry is the #1 selling car in the United States already.  Prius is the #1 selling hybrid in the world, and it will be celebrating its 9th model year when Camry-Hybrid debuts.  The other automakers will really be struggling at that point if they don't have something practical to compete with.  The new automotive age we've all been dreaming about will soon become undeniable.  Yippee!

 

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