Prius Personal Log  #209

July 11, 2005  -  July 16, 2005

Last Updated: Sat. 8/13/2005

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7-16-2005

Strategy Rethink?  I wondered where the heck the anti-hybrid crowd would flock to next.  Their arguments are insincere... "generally adding $4000 to $9000 to the price of a comparable gasoline-only vehicle" and "consumers report it more typically delivers around 40 mpg" ...really twists facts.  They don't want to admit that a Camry-Hybrid loaded with HSD only, non of the special Prius goodies, falls well below that $4000 minimum.  They also don't want to admit that the 40 mpg value only applies to extremes, like me in the dead of Minnesota Winter.  Reality is grim for those not in favor of "full" hybrid technology.  The price will be affordable.  The efficiency will be difficult to deny.  And the emissions are simply cannot be disputed.  So naturally, they have to introduce this "power benefit" as a distraction technique.  Toyota has nothing to rethink.  Their long-term strategy is coming along nicely.  The 300,000 per year goal is now about to be achieved.  Countless people swore that was impossible.  Yet, they did it.  Next year they are ramping up to deliver 500,000.  The plan is working out nicely.  The patience is really paying off.  Word of mouth from very satisfied Prius owners is endorsing the technology will keep the momentum going.  We win!  Yippee!

7-16-2005

Disturbing Criticism.  An article today criticized the Accord-Hybrid for focusing mainly on power, delivering little when it comes to actual gas savings and emissions.  The catch was, they didn't provide any actual quantities.  It was so horribly vague that they were able to accuse Highlander-Hybrid & RX400h of doing the same thing... which isn't true.  Those two hybrids deliver greater efficiency, being "full" hybrids instead.   There is no debate about them being cleaner either; the SULEV emissions rating ends all doubt.  But the article never mentioned that.  All it did was discuss the acceleration and made a single MPG comparison.  Again, the jump to conclusions based on limited information and make generalizations.  But this time, it's really disturbing since the focus is on power.  That is an interesting twist though.  Originally, hybrids were claimed to be underpowered.  Now they are overpowered.  Too bad many people are creatures-of-extreme, only wanting the most of something rather than seeking a proper balance.  For the rest of us, we actually do care about much better MPG and much cleaner emissions, besides getting a modest boost of power.

7-15-2005

Power Obsessed.  Printed in an automotive magazine today was this great line: "Don�t make a mistake and compare this new Hybrid Accord with the Toyota Prius which is a much much smaller car and has an engine/motor combo rated at just 76 horsepower and 51 MPG Highway compared to the Honda Accord Hybrid with 255 horsepower and 37 MPG highway rating."  There are so many problems with that I don't know where to begin.  We all know that when the city MPG is omitted it was intentional, an attempt to cover up a shortcoming.  The car is not much much smaller.  In fact, it is practically the same size.  The combined horsepower is 110 with the motor, that 76 is the engine alone.  Absolutely no mention of smog emissions, which is due to the fact that there is nothing to mention.  The hybrid isn't any cleaner than the non-hybrid.  Prius, on the other hand, is significantly cleaner.  Of course, knowing any of that isn't necessary.  The closing sentence began this way "I said above the Accord-Hybrid is no prissy little underpowered sedan..."  That pretty much says it all.  The writer was obsessed with power, not interested in anything else.

7-14-2005

Miracle, part 2.  Yesterday there was an article quoting Larry Burns, GM's vice president of R&D and strategic planning.  He mislead about the efficiency of Prius.  He was extremely vague about the overall efficiency of fuel-cells.  He ignored emissions entirely.  And he intentionally avoided stating what the goals are they actually want to achieve by asking the question himself instead.  See: "What long-term problem have we fixed with the miracle of a hybrid?"  Where is the hydrogen going to come from?  When will those "better" vehicles actually going to be available?  What will be the purchase & operational costs?  How exactly is that miracle to make all that happen going to occur?  At least he did admit Prius actually is one... well, sort of.  In reality, it took a decade of research & development and probably more money than we can ever imagine to make it appear to be a miracle.  Hoping something will just happen is not realistic.  You have to invest time & resources, while all along the way clearly stating you objectives along with how you plan to actually achieve them.  That's not a miracle.  It's plain, old determination.

7-14-2005

Miracle, part 1.  Some of us know about the PNGV prototypes, others just make assumptions about them.  They were not "real" cars, unless you consider more than doubling the price of a vehicle realistic.  Toyota could do the same thing with Prius...  Replace the gas engine with a diesel.  Replace the body with a light-weight fiber.  Replace the external mirrors with internal screens and tiny cameras.  Replace the seats with webbed frames.  Replace the NiMH battery-pack with a Li-Ion.  Cover the back tires with a skirt.  Eliminate the SULEV emission constraint.  And require 50 PSI for the tires.  But that still wouldn't count as the automotive miracle some people keep hoping for.  You have to be practical, which means technology that's affordable & reliable.  Expecting a miraculous solution to suddenly emerge is not realistic.

7-13-2005

Numbers?  The latest "study" concludes that hybrid sales would more than double by 2012.  Really?  My research shows that it will happen within about 2 years.  How can the so-called professionals be off by 5 years?  That's not even close.

7-13-2005

Failed Reporting.  Prius didn't fail, they did.  See: "We became skilled at reaching the 45 mph speed limit on Woodward Avenue, Detroit's cruising street, and running only on the battery, giving us the maximum fuel economy (100 mpg, according to the fuel-economy screen in the Prius).  Still, the Prius failed to reach the low-end of the EPA range."  Intentionally restricting the engine from starting up causes an efficiency loss.  Had they just driven it normally, rather than trying squeeze out only electricity, they would have seen better MPG.  So I guess they were right with their conclusion, consumers like me do get cranky.  But that is because they are contributing to a misconception.  The hybrid works just fine if they "just drive it" instead.  I sure wish they would research Prius, checking what owners have to say, rather than just jumping to conclusions after a test-drive.

7-13-2005

Only 3 Percent.  That's all the Gulf of Mexico provides for oil to this country.  It isn't much.  Yet when a hurricane passes through (which is far too frequently lately) the price really suffers.  You wouldn't expect such a small amount to have such a large impact.  It's further proof that the market is much more volatile than they care to admit.  That's yet another reason to reduce our dependence on the stuff.

7-12-2005

New 15-Second Commercial.  It was great!  There was a Prius driving really strange along a residential street.  From the outside, you couldn't tell what the heck was going on.  But then when they switched to the inside, it made much more sense.  The car was accelerating then abruptly stopping because the driver was explaining how braking caused electricity to be regenerated.  It was a great commercial.  Unfortunately, I have a gut feeling I won't ever see it again.  I regret not having turned on my HDD recorder.  A press release last week stated new commercials would be airing.  I should have known better.  Ahh!

7-12-2005

3rd Edition.  There's a bunch of additions in this version.  Check it out... User-Guide

7-12-2005

Hybrid Pickup.  Well, what do you know!  A pickup will be next.  I wondered how long it would be before talk of one would surface, but didn't expect it to be mentioned in a press release so soon.  That's what Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe announced yesterday.  Adding a hybrid will help with their low-emission goal.  It's great to hear that Toyota is committed to delivering choices.  I'm sick & tired of other automakers telling us what we want.  That "it's not more than what you need, it's just more than what you're used to" slogan from their power-pushing competitor is just plain wrong.  Promoting something other than "more is better" is what I believe in, hence such devotion to "full" hybrids.  Pickup owners will appreciate the electric motors, not having to give up torque for the sake of improved emissions & efficiency.  Cool!

7-12-2005

$60.62 per barrel.  The madness continues.  Enough said.

7-12-2005

London Distraction.  The G8 conference was an opportunity for Britain's Prime Minister to finally confront President Bush.  Being an ally and in a high-profile setting, that was the ideal situation.  The United States was the only country to not ratify the Kyoto Treaty.  Years back, he made lame excuses that global warming was real.  But now, overwhelming proof has shown otherwise.  Not even trying to reduce that type of emission is wrong.  Ignoring a problem won't make it go away... or will it.  Right when the conference talks on that topic began, the attacks on London occurred.  That distraction provided the chance for President Bush to avoid making any acknowledgement.  And that's exactly what he did.  No dialog took place.  We can keep right on polluting.  I'm not happy.  Our country is setting a terrible example by not doing anything at all.  He keeps saying hybrids are a solution, yet nothing happens.  Then when a chance to have a real discussion about promoting change like that happens, it is abruptly terminated by a convenient distraction.

7-12-2005

Becoming Obvious.  USA Today, a newspaper that absolutely loves to publish articles about hybrids on a regular basis, was pretty blunt today with their comments about how Detroit misjudged hybrids.  In fact, this quote says it all remarkably well: "Detroit auto executives admit to mistakes. They underestimated demand, overpromised, didn't foresee the run-up in gas prices and refused to budge from reliance on high-profit SUVs in the face of a changing marketplace."  So the question now is what happens next?  There are still a few claims remaining that an engine can be modified to deliver the same results, without the next for a battery-pack.  I guess that means there's one more mistake yet to be made.  It should be obvious just by looking at Honda's new hybrid system for 2006.  They went out of their way to make it more electric.  The ability to drive using just electricity is more efficient than a design that relies heavily on an engine.  Honda learned that importance.  So it really makes me wonder what those Detroit automakers will finally deliver... and when.

7-11-2005

New National High.  The average price of gas for the United States is $2.33 per gallon.  That is the highest ever.  We are more dependent on the stuff than in the past too.  That makes the situation even worse.

7-11-2005

Mercury Mariner-Hybrid.  Ford rolled this "new" hybrid out today, much sooner than originally planned.  It's really just a rebadged Escape-Hybrid with a nicer trim-level.  But they're calling it their second hybrid.  I don't.  The body is the same.  All they did was take provide a better interior.  That shouldn't count.  They really need to go to the extent that Toyota did to create the Lexus SUV.  Oh well.  At least it is a hybrid that genuinely improves emissions & efficiency.  After all, that's what really counts.

7-11-2005

500,000 per year.  Toyota announced that as their worldwide hybrid production goal for next year.  They clearly have now reached the original 300,000 goal they set years ago.  The anti-hybrid folk always feared Toyota would actually achieve that.  Not only did they (right on schedule too) they are quickly exceeding it.  Those prediction people probably aren't too thrilled either.  It will make them really look bad, having their numbers way too low compared to what is actually happening.

7-11-2005

Staying Power.  Making the news is one thing.  Staying in the news is entirely different.  Where is the competition for Prius?  We briefly heard about it, but then the news fades away.  Prius is still there though.  The plug-in hybrid idea gets attention from time to time too, but only briefly.  Nothing else has demonstrated staying power.  No other vehicle has been able to capture attention and retain it, except Prius.  Don't you wonder what things will be like years from now?  I'm curious as ever.  Not expecting such a huge surge in gas/oil prices so soon has added to the already exciting adventure of watching this very important phase in automotive history unfold.

 

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