Prius Personal Log  #196

May 6, 2005  -  May 9, 2005

Last Updated: Sun. 6/05/2005

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5-09-2005

Early Last Summer.  It's rather intriguing that my photo publishing is so far behind that I get a seek preview of what will soon be arriving in just a few weeks.  I can't wait.  All that green (with a Prius) is great... photo album 94

5-09-2005

March Gathering.  I finally got an opportunity to show everyone else what the rather unique conditions were of our previous Prius gathering... photo album 94

5-09-2005

Sharing Hybrid Technology.  The speculation is flying now.  GM's desperation has ignited rumors about Toyota being willing to license their hybrid technology, as they have already done with Nissan.  Acura is now talking with Toyota about doing the same thing.  And Ford has signed an agreement with Toyota, paying fees for a small number of hybrid components to avoid an possible "intellectual property" patent infringement due to their own design being so similar (despite having created it on their own).  In other words, the early stage of "industry acceptance" has begun.  Phew!  It's about time.  Business agreements are a difficult challenge, even harder than getting consumers to overcome misconceptions.  But when the need presents itself, which is what's happening now, those with power eventually put their negotiation skills to work.

5-09-2005

Bluetooth Rumor Squashed.  There was big news around the world today about how Prius proved itself impenetrable.  A group of anti-virus experts failed to infect the Bluetooth system with a cell-phone virus.  It was undeniable proof that the technology we've been praising is worthy of the attention we've given it.  That solution to hand-frees conversations really is well thought out.

5-08-2005

$5,000 Tax Credit.  Talking about a wild ideas.  But that's what someone brought up today to support "American Built" hybrids.  Starting with the 2007 model year, both Prius & Camry-Hybrid are planned to be built in America by American workers.  California has been coaxing Toyota to choose a location in that state for Prius.  Kentucky has already been selected for Camry-Hybrid, since Camry is built there now.  Out of desperation to compete properly, the needed corporate resources will finally be provided.  Too bad it took financial hardship before the competition cared.  It's unfortunate that it had to come to this, but they were warned years ago of the plan to make hybrids a standard offering.  Now that Toyota's success has become obvious, they are taking them seriously.  Phew!  It could have been worse.  Let's just look forward from this point.  As for a $5,000 tax credit, I doubt it would be that high.  Ford & GM have been petitioning for a $3,000 government assist for years now.  The problem is how "hybrid" is defined. Emission & Efficiency improvements will need to be the basis on which money is provided.  But so far, neither has been a priority for this administration.

5-08-2005

Resistance.  I checked in again on that massive Escape group.  It's been 4 months since posting anything there.  So I am definitely not directly influencing the activity.  But they could read these logs and see that I know what they're up to...  The hybrid topic comes up more often there now, and the "attacks" are far more obvious.  Months ago, it seemed innocent.  Now, it is rather blatant.  They simply fill the topic with gibberish.  Their attempts to kill threads by posting unrelated messages works great.  The most recent example was how they diverted the discussion to "Hummer" instead.  Then they somehow managed to get it to mutate to a discussion about "Zingers" (those tasty cream-filled, coconut-covered snacks).  Needless to say, the traditional owners absolutely do not want the hybrid owners to get any attention.  Resistance like that is disappointing, but not at all surprising.

5-07-2005

User-Guide Updates.  Make sure to check for updates from time to time.  I don't expect major revisions anymore.  So I'll just be sneaking them in when convenient, without always pointing that out on the homepage.  Today, I revised both the Classic & HSD copies with new tire info.  I also snuck in some Bluetooth updates for HSD too.

5-07-2005

New Strategy.  The divide between "assist" and "full" hybrids is becoming apparent.  This quote from the concluding paragraph of a message posted yesterday to Civic-Hybrid enthusiasts about Toyota's hybrid system clarified that... "Honda's system is far simpler, requiring far fewer components, achieving excellent results.  However, the market's perception always seems to be additional complexity = additional value, and Honda's ability to come up with the simplest solutions seems to often hurt them."  Notice how that skillfully manipulates the perception of "complexity" by introducing value.  In reality, the number of parts has no correlation to complexity or reliability.  After all, rather than adding on to an existing system like IMA did, HSD started from scratch which allowed for the exclusion of some legacy components.  (There's nothing resembling an automatic transmission in Prius; that PSD is nothing but a differential.)  This new strategy of "simplest is better" could really backfire on them.  There's a huge difference between simple-to-understand and simple-operation.  Honda's system is very easy to understand.  Toyota's is quite complex; comprehension requires study.  But once you dig into the details, the favor swings heavily in favor of the "full" design.  In fact, the PSD has often been referred to by engineers as "elegantly simple".  In other words, they are taking advantage of the misconception that "different" translates to "more complex".  Being unfamiliar will cause some people to fear change.  Don't let that happen.  Study the designs.

5-07-2005

An Unusual Sunset.  This very cold & turbulent sunset last Fall only offered a brief glimpse of some color, a very unique situation... photo album 93

5-07-2005

More Sunset Photos.  Here's yet another one that caught the attention of my digital camera... photo album 93

5-07-2005

Sunset Photos.  After that rain storm (2 days ago) subsided, it revealed this very colorful sunset... photo album 93

5-07-2005

So-Called Experts.  It's really discouraging hearing very well-informed mechanics discuss how they think hybrids work... since they guess based on traditional design... which doesn't always apply.  In this case, the discussion was about how a hybrid starts its engine.  The question came up because wisdom of the past informs us that starting the engine shortens its life, that you're better off just leaving it run rather than shutting it off then turning it back on.  Starting causes accelerates wear and consumes far more gas than idling... in traditional vehicles, not hybrids like Prius.  One aspect of wear I hadn't really thought of until they mentioned it was the fact that starting puts a lot of stress on the timing-belt, causing fatigue.  But that only applies to the rubber kind.  Prius uses a metal chain instead.  So that knowledge isn't relevant anyway, replacement won't ever be needed.  What does matter is the RPM at which the engine starts.  Too bad the so-called experts didn't mention that.  They did say that the bigger motor used in a hybrid would likely mean it wouldn't ever need to be replaced like traditional starters, despite all the extra use.  It never even dawned on them that the spin & pray technique of traditional starters at only 100 RPM isn't even remotely similar to the 800 to 1,000 RPM plus wait until oil-pressure is established technique used by Prius.  That's a drastic difference, something so significant that it reveals experts barely even qualify as novice when it comes to hybrids.  Thankfully, they learn very quickly.  So it won't be too much longer that we have to tolerate their current misunderstandings.  Until then, it would be best to get a second opinion.

5-07-2005

IMA Failures.  I don't expect them to extend beyond the first two years or so of the manual transmission.  The reason is simple.  That original model allowed the driver to deeply discharge the battery-pack, which is a very bad thing to do with any type of rechargeable battery.  That shortens its life by using up the finite amount of charging cycles available.  And that's exactly what we are seeing now.  It's a sudden death that should have been anticipated... but a reality owners really don't want to face.  It's one of the primary reasons I was able to support Prius so strongly after getting 2001.  I could very easily observe how carefully the battery-pack's SOC (State Of Charge) was managed, never allowing it to ever come close to a deep-discharge.  Thankfully, the new Honda's do this too.  Phew!  But for those owning the original model, they have the potential for a shorter than expected battery-pack life.

5-07-2005

Poetic Justice.  Well, I'll be darned.  I wondered why the online attacks from that Honda hybrid owner abruptly ended.  He was making the Prius owners crazy.  Then all of a sudden, he was gone.  I know why now.  A few days ago, on one of the Honda groups, he reported a catastrophic failure of his IMA system.  How about that?  One of the few ever to experience that type of problem just happened to be him.  Sighting facts objectively is one thing.  But doing it in a rude & impolite way is another.  I guess we all got to learn firsthand how things will sometimes work out themselves.

5-06-2005

For the Environment.  Have you noticed how that has become the motto for a hybrid purchase?  It never used to be... back when environment meant smog-related emissions.  Now, environment means using less oil.  How did that change happen?  Maybe it all that "drill for more" nonsense.  Of course, the current administration keeps claiming that the drilling in Alaska won't interfere with the wildlife.  So that negates the claim anyway... especially since they still deny global-warming (the weather effect that increases frequency & intensity weather systems) doesn't exist either.  Needless to say, this is another good example of "greenwashing".  They lead you to believe that the purchase of any type of "hybrid" is helping the environment.

5-06-2005

Under the Hood.  The image included with that hybrid article was bizarre.  It pointed out various features of various hybrids as if that's how all of them actually worked, giving you the impression that vehicle actually existed.  It started out with the grossly incorrect statistic that a hybrid will "boost mileage as much as 40 percent".  My Prius delivers around a 100 percent improvement.  I think they failed in math class.  The next item mentions how "the electric motor drives the car at low speeds".  Really?  The item directly underneath points out the stats from Accord-Hybrid.  Since when did it get stealth?   Following that is the claim that there is "no waste" when braking due to regenerating.  Wouldn't that be sweet?  Unfortunately, the reality is that less than 40 percent of that energy is actually recaptured, not 100 percent.  (Hey!  Maybe they just got their braking & efficiency percents mixed up.)  And the claim their being less drag due to having stiffer tires and higher pressure is just plain nonsense.  Prius uses ordinary, run-of-the-mill tires than you'll find on some of Toyota's non-hybrids.  The factory PSI is totally normal too.  Nothing special about the tires at all.  In fact, that's why many owners upgrade after the originals were out.  To summarize, the summary they provided was a mess.  As for the article itself, it wasn't too bad.  The major exception was the deception about Prius having "42 percent more parts".  Counting all the modules & connectors in the battery-pack is far from impartial.  They don't move.  For that matter, none of the wiring does either.  Non-Moving parts don't validate lower reliability, as they were leading you to believe.  Perhaps I should point out how a smaller engine that runs less often with a low redline is far more reliable than a big one with lots of cylinders that runs all the time and sometimes at very high RPM.

5-06-2005

Not Fueling Anyone.  This week's "U.S. News & World Report" featured an article about hybrids.  Stuck between those pages was a spread about fuel-cell vehicles.  I was very curious what that had to say.  Turns out, it was fairly realistic.  I was somewhat impressed.  Then I reached the last sentence before the concluding paragraph, which stated "It can... and accelerates from 0 to 60 in less than 10 seconds - at least 50 percent faster than a Prius."  What the heck are they talking about?  The regular 0 to 60 acceleration for a Prius is 10.1 seconds.  With higher PSI tires and E10, you can do it in around 9.8 seconds.  How in the world does that translate to 15 seconds (50 percent)?  That claim is an outright lie.  I'm not happy.  Of course, I don't think that will really fuel (fool) too many people.  They aren't going to believe that absurd of a number.

5-06-2005

Good Intentions.  The purpose for buying a "hybrid" should be clearly defined, before encouraging people to buy one.  This point is often neglected.  ULEV hybrids don't reduce smog-related emissions at all, since quite a few common non-hybrid vehicles offer that same rating.  SULEV, on the other hand, is in fact cleaner.  But not all hybrids meet the much more strict emission criteria for that rating.  MPG is obviously a highly influential purchase factor.  But the real-world data is often very misleading.  Factors like seasonal influences and driving type are often not mentioned.  Those owning hybrids that are available with manual-transmission are notorious for not informing you which type they actually own.  Whether the MPG reported is displayed or calculated is frequently not told either.  So question what you read, don't just accept it.  And of course, all hybrids are not created equal.  Each design & configuration provides a different level/type of benefit.  So the intended use must be clearly known before making any decisions.  A "full" hybrid fulfills the widest range of needs, everything from heavy commute traffic to highway cruising.  An "assist" hybrid specializes in constant-speed driving, providing only minor gains in stop & slow traffic.  Good intentions start by clearly stating a purpose.  What do you want from your hybrid?

 

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