Prius Personal Log  #204

June 9, 2005  -  June 12, 2005

Last Updated: Tues. 9/21/2010

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6-12-2005

It Gets Better!  The guy responsible for the Global Warming scandal resigned his position and took a job at ExxonMobil.  It was just a small note on the news.  I'm actually surprised no one made that big of a deal about it.  But there was no way to deny that he was doing things for them anyway.  I hate stuff like this.  Focusing on technological solutions is far more appealing than business & politics.

6-12-2005

Inspirational Quotes.  Takehisa Yaegashi, known as "father of the hybrid" for his role as head of the Prius project at Toyota, said some things today that reinforced the importance of the hybrid technology I've been heavily endorsing.  "Fuel cell vehicles are going to be so expensive for the foreseeable future -- no matter what some automakers may say -- that the optimistic scenario of skipping hybrids and going directly into the production of fuel-cell vehicles is completely off base."  Reading that sure made me feel good.  For years now, GM has been misleading people into believing the stop-gap nonsense where fuel-cells vehicles would be both available & affordable soon.  That just plain is not true.  It was the desperation of the chairperson (who was recently forced to step down) attempting to keep hybrids from getting too much attention.  And of course, this quote reinforces the other very important reality I've been informing people about... "There is no way to succeed in fuel-cell vehicles without going through the stage of producing gas-electric hybrids."  Quite a bit of the technology in Prius is required in fuel-cell vehicles too.  So establishing their production & reputation well ahead of time makes a ton of engineering & economic sense.  You cannot change the market overnight.  It takes time.  Rollout in stages, as we have witnessed with Prius, is an excellent plan.  Perhaps others will finally be inspired to do the same.

6-11-2005

From Where?  That recent battle between HSD & IMA has intensified.  This response from a die-hard Honda hybrid supporter summed up the situation rather well.  "Honda will also eventually figure out the EV only issue from above. Adding Electric AWD is the obvious answer, but controlling it AND following Honda's car philosophy poses a major challenge, but it can be done."  This one is very fun to silently observe.  Whether or not it can technically be done is the wrong thing to be discussing.  Fortunately, someone will eventually ask the question of where exactly that electricity will come from.  An "assist" hybrid does not continuously generate electricity like a "full" hybrid.  So even though an "assist" could provide the EV ability by just adding a motor to the rear wheels, it still wouldn't be able to simply because there wouldn't been the needed electricity available.  There is no doubt that Honda could work out the necessary control, but why bother?  The single-motor design of "assist" hybrid would lose its efficiency if it were forced to create enough electricity to supply that EV ability.  Stealth is only an inherit part of the "full" hybrid design, so that next step to EV abilities is a relatively minor one.  Of course, just pointing out the added cost of that extra large motor alone should be enough to end the debate.  But those in favor of enhancing "assist" haven't figured out that "full" takes advantage of the motor that is included already.

6-11-2005

Ring Wear.  Thinking a vehicle will last forever is quite unrealistic.  Piston rings simply wear out from use, allowing oil to be squeezed into the combustion camber.  It's a normal part of the aging process of all engines that people simply forget about.  Fortunately, the engine in Prius doesn't get used as much or as hard as a traditional vehicle.  So wear will naturally take longer.  Comparisons in relative terms do actually work sometimes.  Ring wear is a good example.  It's a simple fact that usually never gets mentioned.  I'll have to make an effort to make sure it does more often now.

6-11-2005

Defensive Responses.  Someone jumped on the big forum today and attacked the Prius owners for reacting so defensively.  I responded this way, to his surprise...  An interesting twist is that I've done a lot of playing offense, where I have challenged those standing against Prius (and have been encouraged to do so).  That's quite different from taking a defense posture that is commonly observed among enthusiasts.  The most well-known effort was the "up to the chore" thread on Edmunds.  After a year and a half of fierce debating in that anti-hybrid environment (back then), showing how the limitations the hybrid design paled in comparison to the problems with traditional vehicles, the host finally declared that they were in fact up to the chore.  No one actually ever expected Prius to be able to endure that much scrutiny.  But it did.  And to my own benefit, I earned credibility by being open to participate on forums that weren't isolated supporter-groups.  It was blaring proof that I wasn't out of touch and was willing hear what others had to say.  But that puts me in an awkward place now, only wanting to hear new information rather than recites of the same old stuff already debated heavily.  Got any?  That "stalling" topic is a great opportunity to take a constructive look at what's realistic to expect from a vehicle.  For HSD, that's both with those early models and what the 2006 will bring.  For traditional designs, how come they still have some problems despite having been around for so long already?

6-11-2005

Still Clueless.  A publication based in Detroit wrote the following today, "The Toyota Prius costs $5,283 more than a Toyota Corolla LE."  They still have no clue what they are talking about, after all these years.  Both my sister and my parents have the newest model Corolla LE.  Even if that reporter could somehow convince readers that those numbers really work out to be realistic, he has absolutely no case when it comes to the vehicles themselves.  Corolla is a well built basic vehicle, but it is in no way a Prius.  The drive of Prius is obviously nicer, giving a more solid feel as well as providing more power.  And of course, there is no contest with the amenities only Prius comes with standard.  Corolla clearly lacks features in comparison.  In other words, they tried a vague on-paper comparison like so many others have attempted over the years.  That's sad.  They should know better.  It's those behind-the-wheel experiences that have sold so many owners on Prius.  Why can't they figure that out?  Or are they intentionally misleading people?  You decide.  Needless to say, I wasn't too thrilled reading those comments today.  But then again, it didn't surprise me in the slightest coming from newspaper from the city of the competition.  It makes you wonder if they will suddenly change their tune the day they actually have a vehicle to compete with.

6-10-2005

Prius Racing.  I almost got run down by another Prius!  It took the other driver about 2 minutes to realize there was another Silver HSD Prius right by her.  I started at the corner and quickly pulled in behind, passed at the stoplight, then cruised ahead... where she finally noticed my Prius and speeded up to get on my side.  Only problem was, her lane ended and she should have been merging behind me at that point.  So, I punched it and shot ahead.  Then I realized what that probably looked like to someone watching at the side of the street.  She was in front, then me, then she sped up, then I surpassed that.  It would have appeared as though our 2 Prius were racing.  Oops!

6-10-2005

Suspicions Grow.  More people are sounding off now about how suspicious the timing was of the stalling reports.  Things just don't add up.  Why would such a poorly researched article be published at exactly the same time as the debut of the hybrid SUV from Toyota?  The financial struggles of the local automakers make believing it was a distraction scheme very easy.  They cannot deny their reliance on monster-size gas-guzzlers for too much longer.  Change is going to happen whether they like it or not.

6-10-2005

Nothing wrong since.  It's good to finally hear confirmations that the stalling doesn't repeat after the updates are done.  Too bad it happened to some before they got the updates... which some of the media still haven't acknowledged.  Of course, that would wreck their credibility, since they were available before the stories were published.  Poor research is something they don't want to deal with.  Oh well.  At least this still falls under the "don't buy the first year" mindset, where many consumers simply let those issues slide as a time when the bugs are worked out.  In other words, it ultimately won't have much negative impact on the sales of 2007 models (and beyond).  Sales right now are still at record levels anyway.  The awareness of Prius was heightened too.  So Toyota could actually come out ahead in the end.  Think of it this way, some took a closer look at Prius as a result of those recent stalling articles.  That provoked them to learn more about how the system actually works.  If you track some of the combined forums, where supporters of all types of hybrids discuss stuff, HSD hands down comes out ahead of IMA for mass-market appeal.  The sweet part is, people have learned enough to provide the detail explaining why.  That is a very recent development.  We are clearly "moving forward" ...which is rather intriguing, since that is Toyota's motto for advertisements now.

6-10-2005

35,000 Mile - Service.  All that was needed this visit to the dealer was a quick rotation of the tires.  That's it.  The whole thing only took in 30 minutes, including paying the $18.91 charge.

6-10-2005

Fuel-Cell Generators.  This month's issue of Car & Driver features Honda's latest fuel-cell vehicle prototype.  My favorite quote from the main article was: "The byproduct of this process is water, dribbling out of the tailpipe."  Imagine how much of a mess that would make of our roads in the Winter!  Even something as seemingly benign as water can actually be a problem.  But there's no need to get into that.  Keep in mind that Honda is much more than just an automaker.  They manufacture other products that will be able to take full advantage of the fuel-cell technology, like portable power generators.  In other words, their prototype is really just a showcase for what the hydrogen could ultimately deliver.  They'll use it to promote those other upcoming products, which will be established in our marketplace long before we ever see the first affordably-priced fuel-cell vehicle.  Think of it this way, power generators cost only a tiny fraction of the price of a vehicle and they typically don't have to endure the hostile conditions a vehicle demands.  So until we see success on that small-scale, there is simply no reason to expect a fuel-cell vehicle to be realistic, not to mention successful.  And that isn't even taking the hydrogen itself into account.  Don't allow articles like that to mislead you into thinking fuel-cell technology is further along than it actually is.

6-09-2005

So... when do I get my flying car?  Doesn't anyone else notice the similarity, how some promises of the past just plain never actually materialize?  Turbines were at one time thought to replace the combustion engine.  That certainly didn't happen.  Now fuel-cells are magically just suppose to reduce our reliance on non-renewables.  Why aren't we focusing on the real need instead?  That required electricity has to come from somewhere.  How come that infrastructure isn't being expanded to take advantage of wind?  It just plain doesn't make any sense that schools don't have a turbine on their property.  They are large chunks of publicly funded land that have a profound influence on our children.  Imagine if they grew up seeing that renewable power source in action, helping to keep the school costs low.  Eh?  A solution like that provides a rapid return too.  It's not a money-pit that requires a decade of monetary support before even a penny is seen flowing in the other direction.  Imagine how long the engine of a 2015 Prius will last.  It will be a little puny thing, only running when the high-density battery-pack and supplemental ultra-capacitor need some extra power.  Why is that being ignored?  It will be directly responsible for significantly reducing the need for gasoline & ethanol.  Fuel-Cells only provide a promise that won't even be practical for a very long time.  Until we see portable combustion power-generators being replaced by fuel-cell stacks, why is it a sound investment expecting them to be realistic for vehicle use... which have far more demanding implementation of the technology?  Notebook computers could benefit tremendously from the micro fuel-cell stacks.  Imagine instantly getting another 4 hours of power simply by slipping in a new methanol cartridge.  Where is that technology we were promised?  Hype about what "could be" needs to get real eventually.  The NiMH battery had a modest beginning, replacing the troubled NiCd battery.  It took awhile for cost to come down and for the design to be refined, but the rewards are becoming quite obvious now.  Why are some so anxious to abandon that in favor of fuel-cells?

6-09-2005

Half Gallon.  Boy, does that seemingly-small-amount ever make a huge difference.  Most of my fill-ups have been at the same pump.  Then two weeks ago, they replaced the nozzle on that pump.  It clearly didn't stop at the same level.  The new sensor obviously worked differently.  When you do the math trying to figure out what kind of impact different pumps could have, it's troubling.  I've observed how the shutoff can vary about half gallon from my projections (which are pretty accurate after 95,000 miles of practice).  That works out to about a 3 MPG variance, in addition to all the other accuracy factors you have to deal with.  Fun, eh?  I have data indicating the Multi-Display is about 1.4 MPG optimistic for the HSD and 2.0 MPG for the Classic.  Using that is how I determine what to expect for the tank.  But ultimately, I just rely on the calculated Lifetime MPG value rather than worrying about variances between individual tanks... which is why I insist that those claiming their non-hybrid vehicle can do as good (or better) actually provide the data to prove it.  Spot-Checks just plain don't work.  Lots of tanks (preferably an entire year, all 4 seasons) are needed before you can truly know what the efficiency really is.

 

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