Prius Personal Log  #206

June 21, 2005  -  June 29, 2005

Last Updated: Sun. 7/10/2005

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6-29-2005

56.3 MPG at 417 Miles.  I can't wait to fill the tank up tomorrow!  You don't hear too many other people getting excited about going to the gas station anymore.  But Prius owners are definitely a different bread... for now.  The new technology provides a pleasure others simply don't understand... yet.  The recent really warm weather and high humidity is obviously resulting in efficiency that is truly remarkable.  I am absolutely delighted by that 56.3 MPG on the Multi-Display.  And because I had to deal with that pump last time that obviously filled the tank more than usual (as confirmed by the gas-gauge), I can look forward to the value calculated higher than normal too.  That will balance out the monthly average perfectly, no error carry-over to July for me.  June should yield a impressive overall performance figure.  I can't wait to find out what it will be!

6-28-2005

Editorial Sham.  Wow!  One published today really captured the attention of a lot of us.  It was a commentary that made me wonder when the heck it was actually written... either that or this person was in an extreme state of denial.  I actually found it somewhat amusing.  Rather than being vague like most articles, it simply didn't mention anything about any actual hybrid at all.  There was just an attitude about the concept, taking an it-is-just-an-idea-still stance.  Reading the article carefully, the strangely colorful wording doesn't apply to Prius.  The "conventional" and "old-fashioned" gearbox references made that overwhelmingly clear, since Prius doesn't even have one.  The "accumulator" obviously is not a shortcoming of Prius, since it doesn't rely almost exclusively braking for electricity as accused.  Whatever the case, the typical person is not that dumb.  They will know enough to ask, "What about Prius?"  After all, it's hard to get owners like me to stop pointing out the fact that my MPG is in the mid-50's now... especially with oil & gas prices currently at an all-time high.  The publication was probably just looking for a way to draw attention to itself.

6-28-2005

Lack of a clear objective.  The new automotive-technology efforts are suffering from the same problem as the conflict in Iraq.  Not having a clear motive does have its advantages though.  There's no way for anyone to accuse you of failing if they have no idea what you were trying to accomplish in the first place.

6-28-2005

$2.25 per gallon.  That's the highest price for gas I have ever seen here... in Minnesota, home of ethanol that isn't taxed as much as gasoline.  So naturally, we pay somewhat less than most everyone else in the nation.  However, there's a threshold for everything.  These rising prices will capture people's attention.  I wonder if that will stimulate greater support for increasing the blend of ethanol to that higher percentage.  Hmm?  The mandate is already in place.  But public interest is what's really needed to make it actually happen.  Sadly, it's just politics otherwise.

6-27-2005

$60.54 per barrel.  You cannot just adjust for inflation.  If you did, this wouldn't actually be a record high.  Back in the 1970's, it was briefly higher... technically.  Logically though, today's economy is based much more on oil.  Things were much different over 30 years ago than they are now.  Volumes are dramatically higher.  Populations are far more spread out.  A lot more shipping takes place.  Plastic, which is derived from oil, is everywhere.  You get the point.  And if you don't, you will.  We depend on it far too much.  Prices of everything are beginning climb as a result.  Remember, farmers require fuel to tend their fields too.  The situation gets really ugly when you realize just how much we depend on oil.

6-27-2005

It Rained!  How about that?  I figured putting the new wiper-blades on at the end of the rainy season would mean I wouldn't get to test them for a very long time.  This morning proved me wrong... in a very amazing way.  Upon opening up the garage door, a clamp of loud thunder (and lightening, obviously) triggered the beginning of a downpour.  It went from dry to near flooding in minutes.  I got more rain to test with than I ever imagined.  It made me feel both rather fortunate and rather stupid.  I clearly should have put new ones on sooner.  They did a fantastic job of clearly the glass.  But I did luck out by not having waited any longer.  And to add to the luck, the rain stopped the moment I pulled up to park.  What are the odds of that?

6-27-2005

GMC Graphyte.  Supposedly, this is a concept hybrid SUV that will later use the "dual-mode" design.  Currently, it demonstrates the displacement-on-demand concept using a 5.3 liter, 300 horsepower, 8 cylinder engine.  Why?  The overall efficiency gain of the final design is only expected to be 25 percent.  With HSD, you get over 75 percent.  (I get 100 percent with my Prius.)  It's really sad that so much emphasis is still being placed on size & power.  But focusing attention on the actual MPG, rather than a percentage increase would reveal that they are not being sincere.  Of course, the complete absence of emission data pretty much shows that anyway.

6-26-2005

It's a hatchback.  If I hear "but it looks weird" one more time, someone is going to regret making the comment.  I'm saving up a really good rebuttal for that.  It's quite simple.  Stop comparing a hatchback to a sedan!!!  For crying out loud, all hatchbacks look weird in comparison to a sedan.  For that matter, so do wagons.  Every single comparison people point out is to a non-hatchback.  That's just plain wrong.  Prius is a hatchback.

6-26-2005

Wiper-Blade Replacement.  There's a brand new maintenance document for Prius owners, another do-it-yourself guide for stuff that you'd routinely pay the dealer to do.  I used the camera when replacing mine today.  It was well worth saving some money by doing it myself.  The cost for the 3 parts that were needed was $24.92 (after tax).  The process is simple, something you can learn with little effort.  In fact, you don't even need any tools.  There's 12 photos showing you the process.  Check it out... Wiper-Blades

6-26-2005

Just Drive It.  Today begged for another repetition of our motto.  A new owner did far more than what was necessary after picking up his Prius, hence my reply...  JUST DRIVE IT.  You do not need to prep the car in any way.  In fact, most of us drive off the dealer's lot with the battery-pack still at pink (1 or 2 bars).  JUST DRIVE IT.  Seeing the green level (7 or 8 bars) is actually somewhat rare.  The battery-pack will "have the blues" (3 to 6 bars) most of the time.  JUST DRIVE IT.  The Multi-Display can be empowering.  But for newbies it typically causes a decrease in MPG, since they try to drive efficiently based on non-hybrid concepts.  JUST DRIVE IT.  Engine RPM does not relate to speed or power.  There is quite simply no way to predict the behavior of the system using traditional logic.  The Planetary-CVT allows for internal management that most people never even realized was possible.  JUST DRIVE IT.  You are better off just enjoying the "new car experience" rather than trying to learn the hybrid aspect of Prius right away.  There's plenty of time for that later.  JUST DRIVE IT.  There's nothing special that you ever have to do when you own a Prius, hence the repeating of our motto. 

6-25-2005

Efficiency Ratings.  These were published today...   Traditional: 14%,   Prius: 28%,   Hydrogen Fuel-Cell: 22%,   Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Hybrid: 29%   Needless to say, the far more expensive solution certain automakers keep pushing won't actually deliver much of an efficiency gain anytime soon.  I wonder how many people realize that the non-hybrid version of a fuel-cell vehicle is actually quite a bit less efficient than a Prius.  Hmm?

6-24-2005

$59.84 per barrel.  It's getting nasty.  This is going to cause people to lose perspective, thinking low-50's (if we ever get back down to there) is acceptable.  In reality, it is still way too high for the way our economy relies on oil.  Remember how $1.65 for a gallon of gas was considered horribly high just a few years ago?  Now anything under $2.00 is supposedly a bargain.

6-23-2005

97 Degrees.  It's pretty safe saying that Summer has officially arrived now.

6-23-2005

New Photo Type.  The back of a storm-front, passing over while the sun was setting was totally unexpected.  I was hoping for a great sunset.  I was all setup for one.  Then some clouds obscured the horizon at the last moment.  Pretty upset, I turned away not wanting to see any more of that disappointing sight.  Discovering this incredible scene behind me quickly altered my attitude... photo album 97

6-23-2005

$59.42 per barrel.  I wonder how much worse it will get.

6-23-2005

Denied!  The state of Virginia has officially refused to allow the Accord-Hybrid to use their HOV lanes with only a driver in the car.  Those commuter-lanes do allow the other hybrids without carpooling, issuing any owner of one a "Clean Special Fuels" exception tag.  But for the hybrid that doesn't improve emissions at all and the efficiency gain is only minimal, those owners are denied the privilege.  I'm thrilled.  The line had to be drawn somewhere, and sooner is better.  People won't be fooled into buying something that doesn't actually deliver much.

6-22-2005

Hybrid Cost.  Quotes like this are becoming a serious source of frustration, "Hybrids can't cost more than regular cars if they are to be mainstream."  We need to end this before it gets out of hand.  I've heard that comment far too often.  Setting up an expectation that the hybrid enhancement should be free is an invitation for failure.  Getting something for nothing is just plain not realistic.  Paying a small amount for greatly improved emissions & efficiency is totally reasonable.  People pay extra to get an automatic transmission.  Why has that been accepted into the mainstream?  The same is true for anti-lock brakes too.  People pay extra to get them.  Instead, we should be seeking the magic price, asking people what they think is the hybrid enhancement is worth.  They'll pay that if it's reasonable.  They'll actually get suspicious if it doesn't cost anything.  What's wrong with paying a little more to get a hybrid?  After all, you do save some money on gas anyway.

6-22-2005

Battery-Pack Replacements.  The fundamental problem with the original manual-transmission "assist" hybrid is really starting to reveal itself now.  (No wonder the die-hard Honda supporters have stopped pestering the Prius forums.)  That particular design not only allows deep-discharging of the battery-pack, it actually encourages it.  There's a shift indicator-light that doesn't illuminate until well past when the typical manual-transmission driver would normally shift.  The reason is to take advantage of the electric motor as long as possible, to maximum efficiency.  That clearly shortened the battery-life... exactly as we expected it would.  Honda has been getting praise by owners for being so cooperative with the replacements... which is great, since their warranty expires at 80,000 miles.  Anywho, I'm really hoping this particular situation won't harm the reputation of hybrids in general.  Oddly, it could actually be beneficial for the "full" hybrid market.  But I'd rather not focus on bad design decisions of the past.  They seem to be well aware of that shortcoming now and have already taken preventative measures with models that followed (by updating the control modules and taking the focus off manual-transmissions).  So, let's just leave this one in the past.

6-21-2005

It's finally Summer!  Seeing a tank like this is absolutely fantastic... photo album 95

6-21-2005

Too Late.  Waiting until you see symptoms of a problem appear is far too late to begin preventative actions.  At that point, the opportunity to be proactive has already been lost.  $59.55 is the per-barrel price that oil peaked at today.  That translates to a per-gallon price for gas that makes an HSD-equipped vehicle very easy to justify.  None of the other automakers are even remotely prepared to deal with the hybrid demand we are about to face in the very near future.  Fortunately, Toyota will only be scrambling with production limitations.  I don't know how in the world those others are going to be able to deliver a good quality product quickly... with so much development still required on their part.  Not only did they waste the chance to have a solution ready before the need arose, they actually had the nerve to mock those that were.  Now they are paying the consequences.  It really hard not to gloat� because it turns out that "Chicken Little" actually was right.

6-21-2005

This was quite a sight.  Something I didn't expect on that evening drive... photo album 95

 

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