Prius Personal Log  #201

May 27, 2005  -  May 30, 2005

Last Updated: Sun. 6/05/2005

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5-30-2005

Compared to the 60's.  Have you noticed how there are a ton of comparisons about emissions to what they were 40 years ago, but absolutely nothing about efficiency.  Even today's dirty vehicles are cleaner than back then.  But when it comes to MPG, that's not the case.  The low-end is actually worse now.  It's really embarrassing that efficiency is actually less.  But those making a profit from it don't want you to know that.  So you'll never see that type of reference compared to the 60's.

5-30-2005

Still Afraid.  Picking on specific current offerings has absolutely, positively nothing to do with what will be available a few years from now... when the R&D to create HSD will be paid for and a decent profit can be obtained. Yet, that's what a few well-known anti-hybrid are still doing.  They are clearly afraid of the growing success.  The evidence is so obvious too.  They always make quotes about hybrids presently and always talk about the future-state of non-hybrid diesels.  That difference is clearly a problem.  Analyzing just one or two hybrid configurations, as if that's what all the vehicles will have later, is neither constructive nor objective either.  Remember, hybrid designs like HSD were intended to be used in the entire fleet of vehicles being offered.  So we'll find a wide variety later on, unlike the selection today.  They just cringe when I ask about discussing a hybrid Camry with just HSD, none of the extra goodies that Prius comes with standard?  That entirely different ballgame is not something they are prepared to deal with.  It will make "full" hybrids extremely popular.

5-29-2005

Delivery Wait.  It's finally getting tolerable now.  Some are reporting times in the 6 to 8 week range.  Others are still saying 3 to 4 months.  That's definitely shorter than the 9 month delivery wait some people had to endure.  Heck, mine was only 8 months.  But then again, there were no Prius websites or forums back then.  However, there was lots of very cheap gas and a growing lust for monster-size SUVs.  Times were very different 5 years ago.  We know can look forward to the delivery wait getting even shorter while at the same time anticipate the arrival of Camry-Hybrid... which will significant advance the acceptance of hybrids as the next ubiquitous advance in automotive technology.  Until then, we still have some waiting to endure.

5-29-2005

Self-Park.  Remember this option?  I hadn't, until someone pointed it out today.  It was a good reminder that Prius is more advanced than everything else available.  Unfortunately, the option is only offered in Japan.  But nonetheless, it is still fascinating to know that Prius is capable of parallel-parking itself.  There's a lot of people that can't even claim having that ability.  So being aware that the car itself could is rather exciting.  It's thought provoking too.  What else do you think vehicles will be able to do themselves in the not-too-distant future?

5-29-2005

Bike Trip.  The cold and mostly cloudy weather prevented me from driving anywhere for a bike trip.  So instead, I followed the trails in the suburbs.  That brought me right by a Ford dealer.  Since it was Sunday and they were closed, I couldn't resist riding through the lot to see if I could find a hybrid.  After all, there has been rumors that some are actually in stock.  And sure enough, there was one.  Anyone that calls it Escape a car is being deceptive.  A vehicle with ground-clearance that high, heavy-duty suspension, and rugged tires is clearly a truck.  Of course, that argument is easy to win.  The window sticker listed the quote "2005 North American Truck of the Year" on it, right by the price.  It makes me wonder how long it will take before the new Freestyle will be available as a hybrid.  It is lower, has standard suspension, and standard tires, making it far closer to actually being a car than Escape.  Inside, the Multi-Display is basically just a novelty.  I'm not sure how anything that small could be practical.  It made the one in the Original & Classic Prius look large in comparison and the one in the HSD Prius absolutely enormous.  In other words, I don't expect to see many photos of it ever published.  I would even have an awful time trying to capture an image of something so tiny.  Regardless of all that, it is still impressive the SUV really is delivering the MPG as expected.  This is a very clean hybrid (SULEV) too.  So I'm pleased overall.  It will be interesting to watch the design evolve too.  Hybrid owners currently tend to hold a higher expectation than the market in general.  I bet that will end up becoming the new standard.  We'll see.  So I'm glad the weather today was less than ideal.  It gave me an opportunity to look at an entirely new hybrid up close.

5-29-2005

Finding Excuses.  The mindset of "I don't see any problem" is really becoming annoying.  They figure if they can ignore the problem long enough it will somehow just disappear.  Unfortunately, that doesn't actually work.  25 years ago when the term "Global Warming" was first coined, no one had ever thought of things that way.  Now we know that the weather systems are influenced by the salinity (level of salt content) in the oceans.  It's that interaction of fresh water (from melting glaciers) into the salt water that causes natural currents that flow under the waters of the entire planet.  They don't completely mix.  There are layers that float over each other.  We know for a fact that the glaciers are melting faster now.  This is causing the currents to behave differently, since that melting introduces more fresh water to the system than usual.  There's no excuse for denying this change.  It is quite obvious now.  The oceans carry thermal properties that directly influence the air above it... which is what our weather systems come from.  See the connection?  It took 25 years of putting pieces of the puzzle together to realize just how complex the climate influences can be.  We always new there were periods of extreme heat and ice ages, but we never understood how they could be triggered.  Now we do.  And worse, we discovered that change could be triggered by artificial means too... like from large quantities carbon-dioxide emitted from industrialization, which includes the car you drive.  Oops!  This confirmation that a severe problem really does exist is way too late.  What excuse can we use to explain to our children the damage we caused.  We had a feeling that there was need to be concerned, but didn't do anything about it.  In fact, we actually made it worse by intentionally promoting large, gas-guzzling vehicles because it was "good for the economy".

5-29-2005

New Commercial.  Hooray!  There's a brand new television commercial that includes Prius.  It's about time.  Despite overwhelming demand already, it is still important for Toyota to emphasize that Prius is part of their regular line up.  After all, the supply shortage will eventually be overcome.  But for now, getting people used to the idea that a hybrid is a regular choice is vital.  It's like when automatics were first introduced.  You had to promote that option for awhile before those that don't take risks would be ready to consider one.  Not everyone adopts new technologies quickly.  And of course, some people just don't pay close enough attention to even realize that it is available.  So this is a welcome step.  Here's what the commercial had to say about each of the 4 vehicles being promoted:  "The crowd favorite Camry"  "The super smart Corolla"  "The all new Avalon"  "The fuel-friendly, forward-thinking Prius".

5-29-2005

It Felt Wrong.  Dang!  I was so excited about seeing that 55.4 MPG on the Multi-Display the other day, the thought of finding out what it ended up calculating to really had my attention.  But when I squeezed the handle of that gas pump I routinely use, it felt wrong.  Rather than that loose, well broken-in feeling, it was stiff.  Bummer.  They had replaced it with a new one.  And sure enough, it didn't sense "full" at the same point it usually does.  So my data will give a false impression that the value shown was quite a bit off from what actually calculated.  Thankfully, simple observation of the gas gauge confirms that 3 days of driving later, the first block still hadn't drop yet.  That's exactly what I had expected.  It's a clear indication that more gas was pumped into the tank than normal.  Now this next fill will calculate to an unusually high value.  Oh well.  It all averages out in the end anyway.

5-28-2005

Record Breaking.  This really shouldn't come as much of a surprise at this point.  Prius has achieved the record of fastest selling vehicle ever.  Pretty cool, eh?  Resale value is approaching that "throw out the old book" territory too.  Used models are providing a remarkable high return, shattering that former reality that all vehicles rapidly lose value the first few years of ownership.  Too bad I sold my Classic before the world understood what HSD would do for the reputation of "full" hybrids.  I could have actually got more money now for that car than I did when I sold it 1.5 years ago.  How about that?

5-28-2005

Proactive vs. Reactive.  The talk on the radio is about how political agendas don't typically include a whole lot of genuine planning for the long-term.  So naturally, the politicians end up reacting to something after the fact.  Sound familiar?  That's just like many of the automakers.  They don't even know what the word "proactive" means.  In fact, they even go as far as mocking those who do.  It's pretty obvious that the need for improved efficiency is a growing concern now.  They waited too late.  They should have begun working on a solution before a problem emerged, back when gas was still cheap.  That means they don't have and time for elaborate market research, or even testing.  They have to react to the reality that gas is now expensive.  So set your expectations rather low.  They didn't budget resources (money or time or workers) for this.  Toyota did.  In other words, don't wait until consumers start begging for something.  Instead, seek out opportunities ahead of time.  Have you noticed how what's new one year is common the next?  Remember when a door was added for the back seat of the cab in a pickup?  I was a unique advantage for one automaker, at first.  Then, the competition quickly reacted by offering the same thing on their pickups too.  How many are truly taking chances by trying something entirely different... like Prius.  How many are instead are trying to figure out how to retrofit an existing vehicle with technology that provides less of a benefit... now that they see what the success of being proactive has provided.

5-27-2005

Based on Gas Consumption.  Here's an interesting thought to ponder...  My 2004 Prius has traveled 34,519 miles using only 641.6 gallons of gas.  The rest of the power came from the renewable fuel ethanol.  If the goal is to reduce the number of gallons of gas I consume, my average actually calculates to 53.8 MPG.  In other words, we need to keep the objectives clear. Look at the nonsense & confusion the surrounds hydrogen.  It's purpose is still a mystery, unless the goal actually is to eliminate oil use at great expense.  My purpose is listed on my homepage.  Reducing consumption is all-inclusive.  Whether it is gasoline, ethanol, or electricity doesn't matter.  The point is to use less overall of all of them.  But the non-renewable type  does get a higher priority... for reasons that should be obvious.

5-27-2005

No Hybrid, Yes Hydrogen.  I sure hear that odd statement a lot. Why do people dismiss hybrids in favor of hydrogen?  "Full" hybrids clearly reduce consumption.  They also provide the electrical drive & comfort technological improvements that will be used in fuel-cell vehicles.  A "full" hybrid provides the ability to drive using only electricity the identical way a fuel-cell vehicle will.  The only difference is where that electricity comes from.  A "full" hybrid (using HSD) cools & dehumidifies the air inside the cabin the identical way a fuel-cell vehicle will.  The only difference is where that electricity comes from.  The steering & braking work the same way too, one consuming electricity and the other creating it.  Get the point?  Any electrical efficiency or utilization improvement done for a "full" hybrid can be used the same way in a fuel-cell vehicle.  And of course, there's the reality that fuel-cell vehicles require a secondary power source.  So using the same battery-pack as a "full" hybrid would a no-brainer as well.  In other words, not starting with "full" hybrids is wasting a dual benefit, since you need the same electrical components anyway.  Later, if hydrogen & fuel-cells actually can deliver a better solution, it won't be a big deal.  People would have already embraced electric technology with their "full" hybrid.  So the next step would be a small one (which is far less of a risk and much easier to quickly adopt).  Holding on dearly to engine-only technology to the bitter end makes simply no sense.  A single massive step all at once is never a good idea.

5-27-2005

Ethanol. Ethanol. Ethanol.  It makes me sound like a broken record, but hopefully the point is finally understood.  Biodiesel supporters pretend it doesn't exist.  Ethanol is produced from vegetable matter (corn, wheat, or soy), just like biodiesel.  However, it is cleaner and works in just about every single gas car on the road in the US today at a 10% mix.  There are supposedly around 3 million vehicles in the US already that can use up to an 85% mix too.  Supporters of biodiesel hate that reality.  They only want you to assume there is only one choice of renewable fuel available.  In fact, they are fighting to get just a 2% biodiesel mix mandated, making a big deal about that even though it is obviously a smaller percentage than the 10 for ethanol.  They realize there are biodiesel shortcomings too, like beyond 20% requires additives for cold temperatures.  They also realize that ethanol actually increases horsepower, as well as it being a popular choice for MTBE replacement.  So, they try their best to ignore those facts that ethanol has greater potential than biodiesel as an organic substitute for drilled oil.  That means I get highly suspicious of their motives if its existence isn't even mentioned.  Remember... we simply cannot terminate our gas consumption tomorrow; however, we can accelerate our departure from it by substituting ethanol in the meantime.

 

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