Prius Personal Log  #208

July 6, 2005  -  July 10, 2005

Last Updated: Sat. 8/13/2005

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7-10-2005

EPA Estimates.  It's pretty clear that their reputation has been compromised.  The "nobody gets 60 mpg" quote printed in an article today discussing the efficiency people actually get made that obvious.  Prius was, of course, the spotlight vehicle.  Then followed a whole bunch of others, all of which clearly showed that they delivered less than expected too.  The grossly outdated testing method to derive those misleading values is getting a lot of attention now.  Pressure is growing for the EPA to revise the tests to much more accurately resemble the conditions owners will actually encounter... somehow not using windless, flat, low-speed, warm-temperature, summer-fuel, no A/C driving simulations anymore.  That's quite a challenge.  In the meantime, those numbers aren't trusted.  People now wonder what every vehicle actually delivers, especially the hybrids.  Blindly believing the big print on the window-sticker is quickly become a bad trait of the past.  Yeah!

7-10-2005

Whoa!  Believe it or not, Prius was labeled as a "luxury sedan" today!  The article then proceeded to describe why, highlighting features that you quite simply won't ever find from high-mileage cars in the economy category.  Then, it got even better!  The article discussed how the technology now available is a third generation design from Toyota.  I was totally impressed.  It is extraordinarily rare for a reporter to research to that degree and to write correctly on so many details.  Imagine if all the stuff published nowadays about hybrids was that good.  Perhaps someday.

7-09-2005

Dashboard Rattle Fix.  I removed the comb 3 weeks ago, yet the rattling did not come back.  The clue which informed me that the dashboard had settled into the proper position was the comb coming loose.  It had began sliding around freely above the vent it had been resting on to keep the speedometer-cluster mirror held in place.  Upon inspection after removing it, I could clearly see that it was permanently bent... clear evidence that the dashboard had moved back into place.  So there's no need for it anymore.  Whatever had been bumped out, is now back where it's suppose to be.  I appears as those it was just my particular car that had an issue too.  So I guess this can be written off as just fluke.  Here's the log-entry of when I first did that fix late last Summer... original report

7-09-2005

Bad Intentions.  Talking about misleading people.  Reading through a hybrid article published in Indonesia today, I came across this quote: "Citing an example, he said that even in the United States, which is the biggest auto market in the world, Toyota has only sold hybrid cars numbering thousands."  This year alone Toyota will sell 100,000 Prius in the United States.  Prior years add up to sales of over 100,000.  Plus, you can include the 16,000 of the Lexus & Toyota hybrid SUVs.  Needless to say, that is far more than the writer implied.  This quote made matters worse: "He added that the U.S. government has been very supportive of carmakers, providing facilities such as tax relief."  Hybrid owners here are complaining about the credit promises the President has repeatedly declared Congress will provide, yet still haven't.  All we get is a small deduction, accounting for only about 2.4 percent of the purchase price (before tax or dealer charges.)  That's not very supportive.  And remember the campaigning last year, where the President claimed that hybrids would cause the loss of jobs?  That sure sounds like the opposite of supportive to me.  With facts so twisted, that writer clearly had bad intentions against hybrids.  How come?

7-09-2005

$2.29 per gallon.  That price is everywhere around here now.  It's a record high for this area... which is sure to be broken very soon.  Are people finally ready to listen?  Reduction of smog emissions was always a hard sell.  Saving money filling the tank isn't as difficult.  People seem to care about that, though most cannot accurately tell you want their actual average is.  Anywho, we have officially reached a price-level that the anti-hybrid people have always feared.  It certainly didn't take long.

7-09-2005

Ethanol Debates, part 2.  Don't forget about the timeline were dealing with...  Toyota has set a goal for getting the price of a fuel-cell vehicle down to $50,000 by 2015.  So don't expect the industry to reach the affordable range, especially if there are issues with setup of the hydrogen infrastructure, until at least 2020.  Then you've got the reality of vehicles purchased in 2019 remaining in service for at least 8 years.  That pushes whatever solution we come up with now all the way out to 2027 before the majority will actually get to a fuel-cell vehicle.  And that's just the in countries with money.  Those less fortunate will take even longer.  Not doing anything and just continuing to use oil to fuel our hybrids isn't realistic.  Prices are climbing.  Demand is increasing.  The high-quality and easy-to-reach oil supplies are quickly being used up.  Skies are growing dirtier.  We need to strive for solution that many can use in the not-too-distant future.  Ethanol is emerging as the best fit for that need.  After all, I have already driven over 97,000 miles in my two Prius with a 10% mix in the tank.  That's a darn good start.  Also, keep in mind that a better immediate use for renewable electricity (from solar, wind, and water) is weaning us off of our dependence on coal... which contributes to smog, global warming, and mercury poisoning.  So oil isn't our only energy & environmental problem.

7-09-2005

Ethanol Debates, part 1.  Someone dropped bait on a bunch of the Prius forums, an article stating that ethanol isn't a fuel that will provide an energy gain.  Duh!  No fuel that has to be created from scratch can, energy from nothing isn't possible.  Only a substance already containing energy, like oil, can deliver a "gain" (which is actually just a loss that we don't have to account for).  But as we all know, the oil supply is limited.  Something renewable needs take it's place.  Discrediting ethanol just provides an endorsement for simply not doing anything, continuing the status quo with oil.  It's the technique we've seen countless times in politics now.  Instead, we need to provide suggestions.  Complaining is a waste too, yet we see a lot of that as well.  A biofuel like ethanol does require energy to create, but still overall less than hydrogen.  Remember, the biofuel could be produced with hybrid farming & transport equipment using electricity & biofuels.  Then, even if the net energy isn't a gain, what does it matter?  The energy utilized was clean & renewable.  Also, keep in mind that the crops themselves will help reduce carbon-dioxide levels by converting the air they breath as they grow back to oxygen.  We need something realistic to help temper our oil supply problems right now.  Expanding the use of ethanol, since all gas vehicles are already equipped to use up to 10 percent, makes a whole lot more sense than more drilling... especially since new oil from Alaska will take around 10 years to arrive.  What the heck are we suppose to do in the meantime?

7-08-2005

Sales of Camry-Hybrid.  J.D. Power & Associates really upset me.  Their estimates of upcoming hybrid sales are pitiful.  They simply make no sense.  How can their numbers be so low?  They figure total annual sales of hybrids in the United States will only be 3.5% (around 600,000) by 2012.  With Toyota's entire selection at the showroom offering the hybrid option by 2010, they'll easily exceed that number all by themselves.  For that matter, sales of Prius & Highlander-Hybrid & Camry-Hybrid alone will likely amount to that.  But what I get the biggest kick out of is this bizarre Camry-Hybrid comment published today in Business Week: "J.D. Power says so far this year, the hybrid version of the Toyota Camry has been selling for $23,510, vs. $20,575 for a conventional Camry."  They're providing sales data for a vehicle that isn't even available yet!  What the heck are they talking about?  The rest of the paragraph reads as follows: "The hybrid Honda Civic has been going for $20,080, $4,270 more than a conventional Civic.  And the hybrid Honda Accord for $30,786 -- $9,138 more than a conventional Accord.  Ford's hybrid Ford Escape costs $30,178, $8,530 more than a conventional model.  Of course, hybrid prices are likely to come down as sales rise and competition heats up."  So I cannot for the life of me figure out that Camry-Hybrid reference.  And yes, I am still quite frustrated how non-equally equipped models are being compared as if all that's different is the hybrid system itself, because that simply isn't true.  In fact, one reason prices will come down later is because models will later be offered that do in fact only differ with the propulsion system alone... likely, shortly after sales Camry-Hybrid begin... which is long before 2012, but hasn't begun yet.

7-08-2005

Fuel-Cell in Advertisements.  GM's employee-discount advertisements include their fuel-cell vehicle, with an employee exclaiming how proud he is that they made them.  It's as if it they are actually available in limited quantities to consumers.  They are building a false impression that the vehicle is already being produced.  But in reality, all they have is a million-dollar prototype that still doesn't even fulfill the market requirements... like the ability to function during the Winter in the northern states.  No data is ever published about how that prototype operates in the southern states either, where the A/C is required throughout the Summer.  That is very misleading.  But not having a hybrid to offer, they are really in a bad situation.  What are they going to do a few months from now?  Those discounts cannot remain in effect for ever.  People are going to want something new.  Perhaps they'll ask where's that fuel-cell vehicle they've been advertising.

7-07-2005

Now it's a "Full" Hybrid.  I didn't realize some Honda supporters would immediately jump this claim, but they did.  They feel that adding the ability to drive using only electricity qualifies that hybrid to be the "full" type.  Sorry, but it doesn't.  The motor is still connected directly to the engine and the system lacks the ability to create & consume electricity at the same time.  That means "assist" remains as the proper identifier.  A single motor, sharing the same shaft, and depending primarily on regeneration from braking for electricity makes it a hybrid, but not the same type as Prius.

7-07-2005

Used Lots.  Have you noticed the absence of cars (sedans, wagons, hatchbacks) on used lots?  Most are being quickly sold.  I bet those owning monster-size, gas-guzzlers snatched them up as soon as the reality that gas prices would not come down sunk in.  We are facing an entirely new situation now.  The chances of seeing gas as cheap as last year's $1.76 average is highly unlikely, and people know it.  That bubble has burst.  Those carefree, wasteful days of consumption are over.  It's time to show some responsibility and quit making excuses.  The type of vehicle missing from used lots makes that evident.

7-06-2005

The other joined in.  It was only a matter of time before the third of the "Big 3" finally joined in on that employee-discount (desperate to reduce inventory) sale.  Daimler-Chrysler did today, doing the same as GM & Ford have for the past few weeks.  This is beginning resemble the airline industry, where they too are at the mercy of oil prices.

7-06-2005

$61.28 per barrel.  It was inevitable.  I wonder what will happen next week when the shutoff of drilling platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, due to the approaching hurricane, affects the incoming supply of oil.  Well, obviously the price will go up.  But the more thoughtful question is to see if we can predict by how much and for how long.

7-06-2005

Electric-Supply Perspective.  Looking at the improvements from Honda that way is a better idea.  We know for a fact that the increase from 33kW to 50kW in Prius provided an obvious increase in regen symbols on the Multi-Display.  Since regeneration from braking is the primary source of electricity in an "assist" hybrid, that supply is still going to be less with 15kW.  The "assist" design tries to avoid while-you-drive generation.  Owners called that "forced" charging, since it results in an obvious MPG hit when it occurs.  That is not true for "full" hybrids, which acquire electricity while driving more subtle manner.  The "assist" design relies exclusively on the battery-pack for powering the electric motor too.  It does not have any other source to take advantage of the impressive torque a motor can provide, unlike a "full" hybrid that has a second motor used to immediately convert thrust from the engine to electricity (which isn't as efficient, but it certainly is more powerful).  Lastly, the D-Cell they use in their battery-pack has a lower power-density than the module in Prius.  Also, it physically has fewer of them.  So the overall capacity is less.  That aspect alone reduces the amount of electric-only drive available.  The perspective of electricity supply is the approach I prefer.  I wonder how others will interpret the situation.  The market has a way of twisting things.

 

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