Prius Personal Log  #197

May 10, 2005  -  May 13, 2005

Last Updated: Sun. 6/05/2005

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5-13-2005

That PSD Sound.  I've been listening to the way it starts up the engine for 4.5 years now.  It has become so natural, I was totally shocked by what it did to me today...  After concluding an extremely intense week of guruing at work, where they quite literally said "do whatever it takes" to fix the server problem we were having, I got to leave for the weekend.  Yippee!  I was exhausted though, not really paying attention as I walked through the maze of parked vehicles.  Suddenly, I heard that sound!  What the?  There wasn't a Prius anywhere to be seen, but I my ears had clearly locked in on that sound of a PSD spin-starting an engine.  Well, being "Friday the 13th" and the fact that I was actually able perform a miracle (to my surprise) with that dang server problem, could that sound have come from a Escape-Hybrid?  I hadn't ever seen one in the wild.  So I starting scanning the lot.  Sure enough, there it was.  The "leaf on road" badge (formerly symbolizing FFV, now indicating Hybrid) on the brand new Ford SUV confirmed my suspicion.  I really did hear a PSD.  And wouldn't you know it... after months of searching the roads without any success, I end up spotting another Escape-Hybrid just a half hour after seeing that first one.  Now I wonder when the heck my next "listening" will be?  It adds a whole new dimension to the game of hybrid spotting.  Do you have a heightened awareness of that PSD sound yet?

5-13-2005

Hybrid Hype.  The nonsense is swelling to amazing levels.  I cannot believe how ridiculous it is to read such vague claims in (what were suppose to be reputable) automotive magazines.  The latest is from "Car & Driver".  It lumps all types of hybrids into a single category.  Imagine the uproar that would be caused if they ever tried to do that with all Sports-Cars or SUVs or Pickups.  Giving them all a generic label would be considered a horrible sin, an offensive of the worst possible kind.  But they do it with "hybrid" types, calling them all the same.  Anywho, the point of the article was that hybrids were expensive and only provided a minor efficiency gain.  So they simply concluded that hybrids weren't worth the price and would never attract more than just 3 percent of the market.  That was pretty much the whole article.  (Naturally, emissions weren't mentioned at all.)  The writer just left you hanging, wondering what the heck he thought would be next.  It was as if traditional vehicles would just continue on as they always had, after the "hype" somehow mysteriously ended.

5-13-2005

Becoming Obvious.  Just about everyone supporting Prius now calls the 2004-2006 model either the "third generation" or the "HSD" model.  Only those desperately attempting to get the spotlight off Prius are still calling it "second generation".  It's growing rather amusing.  They cannot blend into the crowd anymore.  Their intentions are becoming obvious.

5-13-2005

Gas Tax Increase.  The Minnesota House passed a bill yesterday to increase the tax on gas as a way of funding our repair & replace problem. The way our road system is suffering due to lack of money is upsetting, but not as much as the absolute refusal to raise taxes... because it is "wrong" by principal.  We have to pay for the work somehow.  So those speaking out now against the Minnesota Senate passing it need to explain why that "gas tax" approach is not a good choice.  Personally, I think it's great.  That's money closely tied to what's causing the problem in the first place.  What better way is there to associate need & use?  Good politics don't include personal insults.  So what we are having in retaliation is definitely not objective.  They should focus on solving problems instead, leaving the opinions out... which means if the money would be well spent, yet the bill gets vetoed by the governor anyway, we're really in trouble. They can't continue ignoring the fact that the roads are falling apart.  I bet many don't realize the complexity that is associated with gas prices.  Did you?  European gas taxes are higher for a good reason.

5-12-2005

Record Cold.  The high today was only 42 F degrees.  Of course, I knew we were in trouble when that snowflake symbol illuminated in the Prius this morning.  What the heck happened to the warm weather?

5-12-2005

$82,000,000,000.  A request for 82 billion dollars has been made to help fund the national war efforts.  That is exactly what the current administration said wouldn't be necessary when asked about war cost last year, before the election.  None of their forecasts have been correct.  So don't blindly believe their claims that simply drilling for more oil will solve our energy problems.  Don't feel intimidated to ask the hard questions.  Ask them about the when's & how's & who's.  Insist on details, you're entailed... since it's your money they're spending.  Then when they do respond, ask how their proposal to increase supply will decrease emissions.  That's the question they don't want to hear.  Consuming more will increase pollution more.  Shortcomings about what they propose will be revealed as more is said about them.

5-11-2005

Tech Appeal.  It's the ultimate form of spite, because a majority of the population here is now nerds.  Rather than being the stereotype people assumed, we were simply just ahead of our time.  Only those still clinging to the 20th Century are fighting the inevitable acceptance of technology.  Just look at how common things like the ATM and register scanners have become.  They are so much a part of routine life that we don't give them much thought anymore.  The same is true for answering machines, voice-mail, caller-id, and cell-phones.  Consider DVD.  That high-tech goodie is a basic part of our entertainment now.  It's everywhere.  Widescreen & Digital televisions are rapidly heading that way too.  Think about computers.  That technology is pretty much ubiquitous now, so common we don't even think about when people didn't have them.  For that matter, the same is becoming true for internet access (Yahoo, Google, E-Bay, etc.) too.  What about digital cameras?  They're extremely affordable now.  Digital prints are cheap as well.  Look at MP3.  Players of all sorts can be found anywhere you could imagine, and then some.  Need I go on?  Imagine how popular Bluetooth will become as cell-phone restriction laws continue to get passed.  People will begging for what some call a "nerd" feature.  It will be deemed normal, just like the other items mentioned above.  Want more?  Ask yourself how many people are going to watch the final "Star Wars" movie.  The technology there makes Prius look like an ancient ancestor in comparison.  Yet, millions & millions readily accept it.  Want even more?  Think about how even used Prius are selling for big bucks.  As the technology becomes more common, our beloved hybrid will gain recognition on a scale yet to be imagined.  That appeal is far greater than some realize... and greater than others care to admit.

5-11-2005

"Step" Pattern.  Seeing that on the Multi-Display has always been pleasing.  It's the result of me leaving work, then climbing a long & steep hill, then transitioning to a study cruise in the suburbs.  The timing is just right for it to form a step pattern, where each successive 5-minute segment on the Consumption Screen is higher.  See... photo album 95

5-11-2005

Commercially Viable.  Have you ever noticed how the next step is never mentioned?  Once a vehicle becomes "commercially viable", then what?  With Prius, it clearly took several years for the right combination of factors to formulate before a lot of attention of achieved.  Now there is a significant production shortage.  Just think how bad it will with fuel-cells.  Not only do they have to deal with the headache of proving the technology, which quite simply cannot be rushed (you have to wait for the first owners to use it for several years), you also have to deal with the nightmare of the fuel not being available.  So with the announcement today that (supposedly) Toyota & GM will be working to deliver a commercially viable fuel-cell vehicle by 2010, you have to step back and ask how long before a purchase of that product will actually be practical for the average consumer.  My guess is at least the minimum it has taken Prius here in the United States: 5 years.  That basically boils down to not even expecting to own one until 2016.  What do we do in the meantime?  Of course, buy a hybrid.  And naturally, ask again what the heck the purpose is of a fuel-cell vehicle.  It appears to be the elimination of oil consumption.  If that's the case, where will the electricity to create the hydrogen come from?

5-11-2005

800-Pound Gorilla.  You've heard this saying...  "Where does an 800-pound gorilla sit?"  And of course, the reply to that is "Anywhere he wants."  It may be something you hear a child ask, as a riddle to be humorous.  But it is nonetheless true.  The reality derives from plant-eating dinosaurs.  Once they grew to a big enough size, their former enemies (meat-eating dinosaurs) leave them alone.  They become so large that they no longer worry about being attacked.  Sound familiar?  That's has happened with me.  The website is so big now that I stand alone with no fear of survival has completely vanished.  I just meander along enjoying the time as it passes now, sharing some of it as I encounter other enthusiasts.  Those that are still desperately trying to claim hybrids (like Prius) are a bad choice quite simply are not worth consuming resources on.  The success has become so obvious that their attempts are being recognized as futile.  All I have to do is let it pass.  Of course, if I do want to intervene, all I have to do is ask "What is your point?"  A question so direct stops them dead in their tracks.  Unlike a riddle, they don't want their reply to be considered humorous.

5-11-2005

Selling Electric Cars.  A press release today stated that Mitsubishi is planning to sell a mini-electric car 5 years from now.  That sounds like nothing but a publicity stunt, something to draw attention to their struggling business.  With an anticipated range of just 93 miles and a size much smaller than Prius, what's the point?  Can you imagine what Prius will be like by then?  It's inevitable that the next generation will be available and competition would have stimulated the hybrid market quite a bit.  The cost is a bit of a mystery too.  How in the world will a vehicle needing a much larger battery-pack be able to compete?  The automaker stated they are hoping for "government aid", but I simply don't see how that can possibly happen.  What would the reason be?  And how practical would the electric-car actually be with the A/C or Heater running?  Draws like that shorten the driving range significantly.  The intent to sell electric cars in an age of advanced hybrids and emerging fuel-cells (around 2010) simply doesn't make any sense.

5-10-2005

Forget Mileage!  Vote for fewer emissions.  Remember that message title?  It was posted over 4 years ago, by a Prius enthusiast that was a bit "disturbed by the excessive focus on MPG when the real beauty of the Prius, and its real green value, is reduced emissions".  That resulted in a direct reply (to that very thread on the original Yahoo Club) from a Toyota executive stating "Actually, its about low emissions."  In other words, we got confirmation ages ago that emissions were the most important aspect of the hybrid system.  MPG came it at a close second, with the Classic.  With the HSD, that already short gap was tightened.  In other words, there are two goals for a hybrid like Prius, not just one as with some other hybrids.  Both are very important; however, it is impossible for anything to be of identical worth.  At some point, a decision has to be made about which to favor.  Think of it as answering 2 phones that are ringing at the same time.  Obviously, you can only answer one.  So you do, briefly, then answer then other shortly afterward.  Emissions is that first phone.  Efficiency follows, very closely behind.  But with MPG being so easy for people to convince about the importance of, why bother.  It's a self-selling benefit.  Pointing out the (smog-related) emission benefit is what the focus should be on, especially since some hybrids don't that.

5-10-2005

Dry Bubble.  I got to see that rain effect again.  A heavy rain began while I was on a multi-mile stretch of perfectly straight country highway.  The aerodynamic shape of the Prius caused the water to float over the back window.  A bubble of air prevented any of water from actually touching.  It's quite an usual thing to witness.  That section of the car was still completely dry.  Then I slowed down, as the highway changed to a city street.  Still driving in that same direction, the window suddenly became wet and rain drops began hitting it directly.  Speed was the only thing that changed.  55 MPH caused the dry bubble.  30 MPH wasn't fast enough to maintain it.  Interesting, eh?

5-10-2005

E20 Mandate.   It was signed today, making the effective date 8 years from now official.  The governor of Minnesota accepted the vote passing the bill to require E20 (20% ethanol, 80% gas) starting in 2013.  Currently, all gas in Minnesota is already E10 (10% ethanol, 90% gas) and has been for many years.  All gas vehicles support E10 already, and the economic benefit from utilizing that has become quite apparent here.  Now, the focus will be on E20.  Many vehicles are thought to handle it just fine.  But without today's mandate, certification for that 20% wouldn't of had much meaning since there were no plans for anyone to actually sell E20.  Now, everyone in Minnesota will.  So addressing it's use in current & upcoming vehicles is now realistic.  And hopefully, other states will join in to make the process even easier.  After all, ethanol is already being adopted around the nation as a replacement for MTBE.  The price of gas, as well as the 1,000,000 FFV (flexible-fuel vehicles, capable of using a gas blend of use to 85% ethanol) around the country will help bring more attention to ethanol too.  It makes the 2% effort for biodiesel pale in comparison, especially since biodiesel is actually dirtier than diesel (which is very dirty to start with).  NOx emissions increase, rather than decrease which "bio" seems to imply.  It should add a whole new twist to the way people think about new clean & efficient technologies.  People are beginning to pay attention and ask about what's really available for solutions to our pollution & consumption problems.

 

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