Prius Personal Log  #198

May 14, 2005  -  May 17, 2005

Last Updated: Mon. 7/11/2005

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5-17-2005

SULEV minimum.  The arguments about hybrids sure have changed.  Rather than going on and on, they now end rather abruptly... as with the following about insisting on a SULEV minimum, which to my surprise was actually acknowledged as acceptable:  AT-PZEV is the emission rating for both Prius & Escape-Hybrid.  SULEV is the emission rating for both RX400h & Highlander-Hybrid.  They are all available nationwide.  Honda refuses to deliver any SULEV rated Civic-Hybrid outside the 5 states supporting CARB.  They also decided not to make a SULEV rated Accord-Hybrid available anywhere, even though they already offer a SULEV rated Accord non-hybrid in CA and the competitors are offering cleaner hybrids everywhere.  Why?  The point of those new hybrid webpages are to promote hybrids.  But they still don't answer the question: What should "hybrids" promote?  My response is both the reduction of emissions & consumption.  Some hybrids don't do this, so we shouldn't blindly give them praise for being a "hybrid".  Instead, we should ask questions like: Is it SULEV or AT-PZEV rated?

5-17-2005

New Hybrid Webpages.  We made a discovery online today, new webpages about hybrids on a tech-oriented website.  At first, I thought it was a basic approach to introducing people to hybrids.  But after I started digging for details, I got frustrated by the over-simplification.  It was way too generic, which often ends up misleading people.  Then I discovered why it was so vague.  Those webpages were paid for by Honda.  Here's my thoughts I typed as I read through the webpages:  A quick glance at their MPG calculator reveals the reality that they don't take seasonal differences into account... the very thing that has already lead to all kinds of problems with the EPA numbers.  There is no "mixed" or "suburb" option either.  All you get is "highway" (which obviously doesn't represent the speeds people actually drive at on a highway) and "city" (which technically includes the time you spend on the highway trapped in heavy commute traffic).  That explanation of how they work is a decent theoretical introduction, but does not represent any hybrid actually available.  They did use the objective phrase of "not all hybrids are created equal".  They even pointed out that Prius was a "full" hybrid and Civic-Hybrid wasn't, but only at a very high level.  Detail is definitely needed, everything from size & number of motors to emission ratings.  Engine size alone is clearly not enough.  As for the future hybrid section, that's just plain weak.  Why isn't Camry mentioned?  It is currently the best-selling car in America and it will be the first high-volume hybrid to be built in America.  Of course, with a website sponsored by Honda... I think we can figure out why.

5-17-2005

Stopped Counting.  I still remember years ago, when a sighting was rare.  But not anymore!  Sorry to gloat, but I see so many Prius every time I drive now... I stopped counting.  It's pretty sweet!  The price of success here is a bit disheartening though, since owners rarely return a wave.  Oh well.  The goal was to make them achieve a "common" status, after all.  And losing certain aspects of the past is welcome.  Every now & then I run into someone that insists there were no anti-hybrid battles, that somehow I'm just making that up.  A weird twist, eh?

5-17-2005

Over-Inflation.  Don't you wish that term had something to do with the economy?  It doesn't.  It is actually the never-ending topic of tire-pressure.  What a pain.  The discussions online have grown into arguments.  So I had to step in, again...  It is when cold pressure is beyond the MAX listed on the side of the tire.  Knowing that should eliminate the obvious misunderstandings about what "proper inflation" really is.  If there is no evidence of accelerated wear on the edges or in the center after using MAX for around half the anticipated life of the tire, it's clear that the higher pressure isn't sacrificing safety.  As for the comments about the tire manufacturer referring to the automaker for advice about PSI, that is liability issue.  In other words, it's just a standard industry disclaimer.  You can see this by looking at comments from AAA, since they are neither a tire manufacturer nor an automaker.  For further insight, note how some dealers don't always agree with what the manual suggests.  As for the personal insults, it's a sign that objectivity has been lost.  That's sad.  Stick to the facts.

5-16-2005

That's ok though, because he was driving a Prius.  That was the punch-line from a joke Jay Leno told on the "Tonight Show" this evening.  It got some laughs.  Prius has clearly made its way into the popular culture.  That's a very good sign.

5-16-2005

But not Anymore.  Reading that comment today about the tires on Prius felt great.  It's not often that a reporter is well enough informed to distinguish occurrences between the Classic & HSD Prius.  Yes, they were a problem, but not anymore.

5-16-2005

Stalling Reports.  Wow!  The press was yearning for an opportunity to publish something with shock appeal about Prius (no pun intended).  So when an article hit the wire about a few reports of Prius stalling on the highway, newspapers around the country went nuts.  Similar stories appeared everywhere.  And each had the same error in it.  That's really troubling.  I searched for those supposed 13 reports on the NHTSA website myself.  I actually found 14 reports; however, 3 of them were duplicate entries.  So there were really only 11 vehicles reporting that "VEHICLE LOST POWER" problem.  Reading through the details available, you wonder if SSC-40A (Electronic-Control-Unit Reprogramming) and LSC-40E (Engine Compartment Seal) had been done.  They were required updates that some owners may not have been aware of... unfortunately.  In other words, a preventative fix was possibly already available for some (or all) of them... only they didn't know it, so they complained to the NHTSA.  In other words, this is yet another case of the popular media jumping on the "hype" bandwagon for hybrids without fully researching what they are publishing or even checking if the customer had fully confirmed the problem.  This is yet another example of how vague situations get blown way out of proportion.

5-16-2005

Anti-Hybrid?  This was an interesting quote to encounter in a Prius forum today, "This is the very first time I have ever heard mention about a "anti hybrid" type of populace."  My response was... Whoa!  I've been fighting them for years!!  Read the logs on my website.  They document those numerous battles in great detail.  Anti-Hybrid people have pulled every trick in the book attempting to prevent the success of Prius from becoming too obvious.  With the advice of Prius supporters, I've been able to counter them every step of the way.  And as frustrating as their attacks have been, I've learned a ton along the way figuring out how to expose their exploits.  Needless to say, they are struggling to convince people that hybrids aren't the next sensible step in automotive advancement.  It's rewarding to hear that some people are unaware of that aspect of Prius penetration into the mainstream.  The goal has always been to prevent the anti-hybrid efforts from interfering with hybrid interest.  Apparently, that's been working pretty well.

5-15-2005

Economic Sense.  Today was a good day.  I discovered that one of the most irritating diesel-supporters has completely run out of arguments against hybrids.  They've proven to be too successful for him to sway the curious away from anymore.  So now, he has turned to trying to convince people that they don't make economic sense... for the automaker.  In other words, he is claiming that there is no way they could ever be profitable, that automakers will stop making them after the hype dies down.  Interesting twist, eh?  Fortunately, the current strategy off building monster-size gas-guzzlers isn't working.  And since Toyota already proven hybrids can be profitable, which is what happened with the final year of production for THS and appears to soon be the case for HSD too, there's an undeniable draw for competitors to also try some type of new technology.  A plan to stay in business makes economic sense.  That means change is inevitable.

5-15-2005

Fuel-Cell Fuel Saving.  How about this for setting up fallacious expectations... "For all the interest in hybrids, automakers are looking even further into fuel-saving technology.  Several auto companies are working on developing cars powered by fuel cells."  That sure gives me the impression fuel-cell technology is more efficient that hybrids.  In reality, that couldn't be further from the truth.  It's yet another example of reporting gone bad.  Fuel-Cells are extremely inefficient.  Both the creation of the hydrogen and the consumption of it are quite costly in terms of energy.  The gas equivalent of fuel-cell vehicle efficiency from a few years ago was around 14 MPG.  It has climbed a little since then.  But compared to the 48.4 MPG average my hybrid is delivering today, it's a joke.  You are not going to save any fuel... especially if battery technology continues to evolve.  Hybrids will get even better as time progresses.  How the heck is a fuel-cell vehicle going to be able to compete with that?

5-15-2005

Spreading Misconceptions.  I'm placing a large part of the blame on popular media.  An article published today very clearly stated: "You cannot drive solely on the electric motor."  That is absolutely false.  Those reporters are clearly not doing good research.  Prius, RX400h, Escape-Hybrid, and Highlander-Hybrid all can, and do drive solely on the electric motor.  Stealth is an integral part of those "full" hybrid systems.  When will they learn they that what they are publishing is very misleading?  Another quote in that same article said: "The batteries are charged by reclaiming-energy when the car brakes."  No wonder people assume there is little benefit from hybrids on the highway.  They lead them to believe electricity only comes from the brakes and is only supplied by the batteries.  That's beyond misinformation.  It's just plain wrong.  Even an "assist" hybrid can charge the batteries using a method other than braking.  It's going to take a very long time to overcome the false impression given about hybrids, with such a strong source "facts" spreading misconceptions.

5-15-2005

Short-Sightedness.  What a nightmare.  United Airlines is trying to avoid serious bankruptcy problems by offloading their pension plans to a guaranteed governmental organization.  That means the under-funded federal program will struggle even more and those that had planned a retired benefit of more than $45,000 per year will simply lose the money beyond that limit.  Imagine how devastating that will be to not get the entire amount you had been promised and paid for.  That's nasty.  It increases our deficit too.  So the desperate act to save money by suddenly closing 180 military bases around the country will be exacerbated by this.  To make matters even worse, there's an even bigger company that's expected to be in the same situation soon... GM.  This automaker was not only poorly managed for simple on-going operation, it clearly didn't anticipate the retirement needs of its own employees either.  Both present & future were sacrificed for a better past.  Well, those days are over now.  The reality is that short-sightedness is starting to reveal some rather serious consequences.  It's really sad that the government did warn that this was coming.  My logs clearly state the evidence was there.  But they didn't care either.  Everything boiled down only worrying about today, rather than planning for a better future too.

5-14-2005

Escape-Hybrid Online.  There's been some very interesting online activity recently.  On the big Escape forum (which I don't participate on), the anti-hybrid bully has mysteriously disappeared.  It's probably just a personal matter preventing him from returning right away.  Whatever the case, his absence has brought about the complaints again.  The hybrid owners are once again sounding off about the need for a section dedicated for them.  The lack of any progress there has obviously frustrated those with the much cleaner & efficient model.  As for the small Escape-Hybrid group, it has pretty much collapsed.  The attempts to create an actual forum have all failed and the group moderator has announced he'll be leaving.  In other words, he didn't heed those warnings about taking advantage of the opportunity while it still hot.  Now, it's going to be much harder... if any attempt is even tried again.  The online world is quite different from the real-world.  Don't take anything for granted.

5-14-2005

Retro?  Are we sure that "retro" (styles from the past) are actually what people have been asking for?  Perhaps, certain automakers have simply run of out ideas.  So, they are trying to relive a success again by reusing it.  We'll probably never know, since preferences change anyway.  But it is an intriguing theory to ponder.

5-14-2005

Is that a Pontiac?  Wow!  Timing is everything.  I posted "that PSD sound" message online yesterday.  Right away, there was a request asking for more information.  I got the impression that unless you're an enthusiast, you'll probably never notice.  But I hadn't considered the other end of that.  What if you become so good, you can readily identify a vehicle type by sound alone.  And... I didn't have to.  Instead, I got a very unexpected real-world demonstration.  While walking through a parking lot with my father, we both here an engine start up.  He immediately looked at me and screamed out "that must be a Pontiac".  I was flabbergasted... because at that moment, one pulled out into view.  There it was, a Pontiac from the very early 60's.  Was that ever impressive.  I guess y'all know where some of my training has come from.  I've developed an acute awareness by simply paying attention to the things my father has pointed out over the years... translating them into a 21st Century equivalent.  Cool!

 

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