Prius Personal Log  #203

June 4, 2005  -  June 9, 2005

Last Updated: Sun. 7/10/2005

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6-09-2005

$5,000 Objective.  This is how Prius was created.  They set a price goal and worked for a decade to reach it.  This is also the fundamental shortcoming of the Plug-In Prius I've been arguing against.  Rather than setting a price goal, they set a technological goal.  In other words, they didn't study what the market really wanted.  If they had, a target price-point would have been discovered rather than a maximum MPG.  Imagine how popular a plug-in option could be if it had been designed to add only $4,000 to the vehicle price instead of the current premium of $10,000 to $12,000.   True, it wouldn't be as efficient.  But far more people will be interested in that more affordable upgrade, and the MPG improvement would still be impressive.  Setting a monetary objective is a very good idea when dealing with the automotive market.

6-09-2005

Navigation System Update!  Wow!  To my surprise, I discovered today that my update 3 months ago provided more than just a GPS accuracy enhancement and the "Info" button feature.  I also got a new option in the guidance display.  This one provides a list of upcoming streets that I'll need to watch out for, along with their distances from where the car is currently, and which direction I will have to turn on each.  Cool!  Too bad it took me so long to find that out.  I don't actually use the guidance feature much.  The map on the other hand, I use quite a bit.  Not having any fear of getting back to a main road has given me freedom I didn't fully appreciate until this Summer.  It's true that you don't realize just how much you use something until you don't have it available in a different venue.  I sure wish my bike had a navigation system.

6-08-2005

Price Difference.  Diesel is currently $2.24 per gallon.  Gas is $1.96.  That's a 28 cent price difference.  I bet the diesel supporters aren't too thrilled when I point that out.

6-08-2005

Downplaying Global Warming.  The rumors are true!  It was confirmed today that the chief-of-staff for President Bush's council on "Environmental Quality" was indeed changing the wording of reports to exaggerate the appearance of uncertainty & doubt about Global Warming.  To make matters even worse, it was revealed that ExxonMobil was heavily involved in the climate policy deliberations.  I had no idea that proof of our suspicions would actually be disclosed publicly.  Wow!

6-08-2005

Absurd Beliefs.  This quote says it all, "If that pans out and they have Hydrogen powered consumer cars on the road by 2010 as they hope, they there will be a big shift toward GM."  How could that possibly pan out?  Why would a consumer want to buy a fuel-cell vehicle anyway?  I'm not being sarcastic.  I quite literally want to know what benefit we will get from shifting to that technology.  So far, the purpose of hydrogen still has not been made clear.  Overall emissions are higher.  Efficiency is lower.  Cost is obscene.  Reliability is a unknown.  Range is limited.  Interior space is compromised.  Weight is increased (consequently resulting in worse handling).  Sub-Zero operation is not available.  And there is no where to buy hydrogen, nor is the price known.  Believing that a fuel-cell vehicle (the non-hybrid variety, of course) will be realistic so soon is quite simply absurd.

6-08-2005

Bad News.  Rumors are that United State's policy may turn against Japanese automakers if American carmakers collapse... which unfortunately is looking increasingly more likely.

6-07-2005

Early Last Summer.  Here's an exciting new assortment of new Prius photos from back then... photo album 96

6-07-2005

More Multi-Display Photos.  You can never see enough of the Navigation System.  These are to document a new gathering location... photo album 95

6-07-2005

It's Getting Ugly.  GM announced there will be plant closures and the cutting of 25,000 jobs over the next few years.  This is due to them no longer being able to borrow money for new product development, like they used to be able to do in the past.  They have an upcoming pension shortfall to deal with too.  How are they going to survive?

6-07-2005

Out the Window.  I had another one of those stoplight encounters, where the person was just yearning for me to open my window so they could start a brief conversation about Prius.  There were two guys, yelling out comments & questions the moment I acknowledged their waving to get my attention.  The wait was unusually long... but not quite enough.  I had the "brilliant" idea of handing the passenger a Prius DVD.  I couldn't quite reach that far though and the light turned green.  They drove on my side the entire 1.5 miles to the next light (we were in the suburbs, going 45 MPH).  The moment we both came to a complete stop, the DVD exchanged hands.  They were thrilled that I had more to offer than just verbal knowledge.  That was pretty sweet actually having something I could give to further stimulate their interest in Prius.  I hope something like that happens again really soon... cause that certainly won't be happening during the Winter.

6-07-2005

50,000 hybrids from Nissan.  That was the per-year announcement they made today for the upcoming Altima-Hybrid in the United States starting next year.  I can't wait!  This will be yet another "full" hybrid endorsing this new era in automotive history.  Yippee!

6-06-2005

That's It !!!   I had no idea just how weak their response would be.  It was really sad.  I've silently watched the diesel propaganda for months.  I finally broke that silence asking, "How exactly will non-hybrid diesels attract the attention of the average consumer?"  First, they question was evaded entirely.  Next highway-only data was provided, attempting to discredit Prius.  Following that came comments MPG not being the only appeal-factor.  So, I replied with all the other stuff that the "full" hybrid design provides.  Then it got personal, making comments about me rather than being objective.  In the end, the question never got answered.  Non-Hybrid diesels currently lack appeal.  How do they expect that to change all by itself?  What will they say about them to get people interested in them?  Why would someone choose one rather than a gasoline hybrid?  In other words, it was the same old nonsense... nothing new at all.  The replies were totally non-constructive.  That's bad for them since Prius continues to rapidly attract more attention.

6-06-2005

Dropped at 315.  I haven't seen that level shown on the gas-gauge drop below the mid-mark that late in a very loooong time.  The mileage was typically in the low 200's, since the snow began to melt away.  But with this really warm weather now, and the fact that (I think) the pump at the gas station didn't quite shut off soon enough, the miles on the tank odometer exceeded 300 without any trouble.  Seeing 56.1 MPG on the Multi-Display didn't hurt either.  I'm pretty darn happy right now.

6-05-2005

5 Years Ago.  That was the day I put the deposit down on my first Prius.  I handed the salesperson a check and he gave me a receipt for the contract I had just finalized.  That made it official.  So this makes today an important anniversary for me.  See...  personal log 1

6-05-2005

Oil Storm.  It was pretty amazing watching that new made-for-television movie this evening.  It was fashioned as a retrospective documentary (fictitious, of course), looking back at the oil crisis that happened in late 2005.  Our extreme dependence was made very clear.  It destroyed jobs and people died.  Cost of living went through the roof.  Eventually, the crisis was overcome by restoring the flow of oil to our country.  And people finally began to take the need for alternate energy sources seriously.  Using less oil wasn't discussed.  Hybrids never got mentioned.  It was as if adopting new technologies wasn't even an option.  In the end, it almost appeared as though it was actually propaganda film for the perseverance of people to endure the hard times.  I wasn't happy.

6-05-2005

Why Not More?  The reason I so heavily support HSD is the fact that it is an affordable solution that the masses will be able to easily adopt.  Increasing battery-capacity that requires plugging-in isn't, especially when you consider the size & weight increase too.  We still have to wait a bit for that technology to mature.  So, I am not willing to endorse the "more" yet.  In time, that will change.  For now, focusing resources on making "full" hybrids the norm makes a whole lot more sense.  Jumping to that next step, even though it isn't affordable yet, is way too hard of a sale for the average consumer.  Enthusiasts are welcome to, especially if their goal is to spend the next few years gathering real-world data for use years from now... after "full" hybrids have indeed become the norm.  Remember, in the meantime we are still fighting hybrid misconceptions and anti-hybrid comments from some automakers.

6-04-2005

35,000 Mile - Oil Change.  I tried something different this time.  Rather than the usual "drive home from work, wait for the engine to cool off, then change the oil later that same evening" routine, I did it the following morning.  That much longer time sitting in the garage actually made a difference... one that I hadn't ever considered.  I poured in the usual 3.5 quarts of oil, then measured.  It came all the way up to the "full" mark.  But later when I started the engine, it dropped down to the usual level (about a quarter-inch lower).  That got me thinking.  Oil changes by professionals are performed inside of just a few minutes, basically not giving the oil any time to settle at all.  That would explain some of the "overfill" problems owners have reported.  (Others could simply come from those with careless mechanics.)  Needless to say, my recommendation to never pour in more than 3.3 quarts initially takes on a whole new meaning now.  It's like dealing with pressure in the tires... the longer you wait to measure, the more accurate the result.

6-04-2005

Economic Sense.  Looking at fuel, rather than just vehicles only, is a good approach.  However, that won't really ever make economic sense.  How much do we pay to protect our oil allies overseas?  That money isn't included in the price at the gas pump.  So doing analysis of renewable fuels like ethanol shouldn't take that type of expense into account either.  But people do.  That seems sensible, until you ask what the goal actually is.  Our automaker's continued to push for monster-size gas-guzzlers is putting even greater stress on the limited fuel supply.  A bio-fuel like ethanol is a dramatic improvement over our current dependence problem, something that could quickly elevate some of the pressure.  It's not perfect, but it's far better than not doing anything at all.  Heck, even the current administration is finally saying we should look into bio-fuels.  (Of course, the likelihood of seeing any action as a result of that talk is slim.  It wouldn't be the first time alternate energy plans have failed to proceed.)  I personally really like ethanol.  It will allow hybrids to continue evolving.  So eventually, some electricity for them can be obtained even better renewable sources like solar & wind.  But for now, whether this renewable bio-fuel makes economic sense down to the exact penny or not, really shouldn't matter.  It allows progress to be made, taking us a step further to the ultimate goal.  And it sure beats not trying at all.

6-04-2005

Do Hybrids Save Money?  People absolutely love asking that question.  Unfortunately, that logic is fundamentally flawed.  Why must you be rewarded (save money) by using less resources and polluting less?  Instead, why not ask how much is that worth.  Many people are willing to spend a few hundred dollars for a good cause.  It's just like any other benefit you get from a vehicle, like adding a sunroof or upgrading the sound system.  No one ever expects to get those for free.  So why do they place that type of expectation on a hybrid system?  This "saving" is especially flawed when you consider the fact that the smoooothness of the CVT and the silent & vibration-less nature of stealth are never even included in the calculations.  Surely those benefits are worth a few bucks too.  Another logic problem is using numbers based on today, when hybrids still are neither at high-volume production yet nor available in a "system only" configuration.  There isn't even any real competition yet either.  Think of how much less a Camry-Hybrid will cost years from now, one with nothing but HSD inside.  Without the extras that Toyota normally includes for their hybrids as standard, like the Multi-Display interface, the price will obviously be lower.  Putting cost estimated in the long-term perspective, changes everything.  A hybrid will clearly cost less in 2009 than it does now.  Just look at how far hybrids have come in the previous 4 years.  Forget about the "save money" mindset.  Focus on what you get in return instead.

 

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