Prius Personal Log  #211

July 20, 2005  -  July 27, 2005

Last Updated: Sat. 8/13/2005

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7-27-2005

Got It!  Thank goodness.  Phew!  Believe it or not, I managed to digitally record that great new 15-second television commercial 3 times.  Seeing it once was incredible.  But then seeing it again and again was absolutely fantastic.  What a relief.  There's only one that I've ever missed.  It aired just minutes after the another.  I had no idea that Toyota would show two new commercials at the same time during the same show.  So naturally, after getting the one, I instinctively pressed stop on the recorder.  Oh well.  I've clearly learned my lesson since then.

7-27-2005

"Smart" Car Invasion.  Daimler-Chrysler is based in Germany.  So the fact that they prefer diesel is no surprise.  And the fact that they want to bring their "Smart" car to the United States isn't either.  It's a tall but very short 2-seat vehicle with a plastic body and very tiny diesel engine (rear-mounted, direct injection, turbocharged, charge air cooled, 799-cc 3-cylinder, 40-horsepower, common rail).  That engine combined with the light weight (1,588 pounds) makes it very efficient (similar to Prius), though very dirty (smog-related emissions) and quite slow.  (However, the torque from the diesel does allow for quick maneuvers.)  The 0 to 62.1 MPH (that's 0 to 100 km/h) acceleration is 19.7 seconds.  That lack of horsepower certainly isn't going to attract too many consumers.  Of course, the projected $21,000 sticker-price won't either.  Why not just buy a Prius instead?

7-26-2005

In the foreground.  That was weird.  In my relentless pursuit to finally capture that new elusive Prius commercial, I just happened to come across another one that actually had nothing to with Prius.  There just happened to be one parked in the foreground of the scene.  Needless to say, I got strangely excited for a moment.  Then the disappointment came back.  I've seen the new Highlander-Hybrid commercial countless times now... so many I was at the point of screaming every time it's aired again.  But being persistent (stubborn), I'll keep trying.

7-25-2005

More Power.  Nissan is at it now.  Their new television commercial features a bunch of pickup owners.  Every single one of them said what they wanted most from a new pickup was more power.  Why?  How much bigger are they going to make these things?  They are so monstrous already that those from the past are a joke in comparison, small & weak.  So apparently, the SUV obsession is fading but the hunger for power in pickup trucks continues.

7-25-2005

Distraction Technique.  I haven't had to point this out for awhile.  Today, that changed.  Someone asked about installing an Electric A/C unit into a hybrid that currently has a unit which depends on the engine to run.  I pointed out that a hybrid with a PASSIVE electrical system simply doesn't have enough electricity available, that a PERSISTENT electrical system is needed instead.  His response was that it has a "trickle charge" mode and that I was intentionally attacking that automaker.  In other words, rather than being objective he chose to make it personal.  Changing the focus of a discussion to a person is a dead giveaway that they aren't being sincere.  Of course, it didn't really matter.  That "trickle charge" is actually a good way of describing PASSIVE, something that's far from an "assertive charge"... which describes PERSISTENT.  It's really unfortunate that a few make the decision to accuse someone of something to distraction attention away from the facts.

7-24-2005

$2.80 per gallon for 6 Months.  Where in the world did they come up with this statistic?  Apparently, that is the tolerance before people finally give up their gas-guzzler.  What relevance does that particular price or that particular duration make?  For that matter, why are people not taking the entire lifetime of the vehicle they intend to purchase?  Isn't there a 100 percent chance of that criteria being fulfilled a few years from now?  With demand continuing to grow and supply not, how in the world could we prevent prices from continuing to climb up?  Hybrids won't prevent the reality that more people will be driving or the reality that the population will continue to spread out beyond the existing suburbs (resulting in further commutes).  It's going to get ugly.  I hope more people figure that out before their wallet does.

7-23-2005

Neon Invasion.  I really regret not having taken photos of how ridiculous the dealer's lots used to look.  Their perimeter used to be lined with monster-size Pickups & SUVs.  That's not true anymore.  In fact, it's the opposite extreme now.  Rather than just parking more practical-size vehicles to get the attention of people passing by, they are using small economy vehicles.  In this case, the Dodge Neon.  Seeing a whole line of them proudly displayed like that is really an interesting sight... because you get what you pay for.  The inexpensive price delivers minimal quality, exactly like you'd expect.  And that part is fine, since no one is trying to deceive the consumer on that aspect.  That problem comes when the perception of "best mileage" is pushed.  You get the impression that buying one of them is the only way to get highest efficiency.  That isn't actually true.  A hybrid like Prius will actually deliver more... much more.  But since they don't have a vehicle like that to compete with, the problem is rather obvious.  Hopefully, the other automakers will be able to catch up fairly quick.  I can't imagine another invasion.  Small cars with little power is something I'd like to keep as a memory from over 20 years ago.  Let's not see that again.  Technology now exists to prevent it.

7-23-2005

4-Cylinder Camry-Hybrid.  It's official.  That's what Toyota will be introducing next year.  It is still pretty much inevitable that a 6-cylinder version will be available later too.  That's ultimately how they'll end up killing off production of the non-hybrid version.  The thing I had been wondering for years was which would be first.  Now we know for sure that it will be the 4-cylinder... which is a darn good thing reading about all the unfavorable comments Accord-Hybrid is now getting for focusing so much on power and not delivering any emission benefit (smog-related) at all.  The question that remains is how long will the wait-deliver be.  The hybrid version of Camry is going to be extremely popular, having the same system as Prius but looking so different.  After all, Camry is already America's most popular car.

7-22-2005

Fantastic MPG.  The latest tank concluded this morning, at 453 miles.  I really didn't need gas yet.  In fact, the gauge hadn't started blinking yet.  But it was good timing, so what the heck.  That paid off too.  It was like I cheated.  As I was pulling into the station (in stealth, of course), the average went up tenth.  That's count, despite only driving a couple feet that way.  I was pretty darn happy.  Seeing 55.9 MPG was quite a surprise.  Last weekend was 4 days long for me.  It was much needed vacation... which unfortunately included a number of short trips.  Getting back to the daily work commute is what got that average back up again.  Too bad I didn't have my digital camera with me though.  The pattern on the Consumption Screen was the step-up again; only this time, the regen-symbols matched.  1, then 2, then 3.  Regardless, summer is fun no matter what happens.  Averaging above 50 MPG the whole darn time is fantastic.

7-22-2005

$58.65 per barrel.  How come the price of gas is so low right now?  It certainly doesn't reflect the current price of a barrel of oil.  I expected to pay a whole lot more than $2.09 per gallon today.  Their not telling us something.  When oil hit $50 per barrel, gas actually costs more.  Why?  The fact that a barrel of oil will produce 42 gallons of gas never changes.  With the price of it near $60, how come the resulting gas costs less now than when it was $50?  Something is really wrong.  It's politics, I bet.  The government must be either quietly using up our reserves or financially subsidizing much more than they usually do.

7-22-2005

Oil Cooling.  Here's an interesting thing to consider.  The next generation of hybrid from Honda will offer a mock stealth.  You'll get electric-only propulsion, but the engine will have to spin to do it.  Not having a power-split-device means the engine cannot simply just stop like it does in Prius.  Being in motion means the lubrication provided by the oil will need to remain in operation.  That pumping of oil through the system has a side-function of carrying heat away too.  In this case, that's actually a bad thing.  Retention of heat is very important, since that is what needs to be sent to the catalytic-converter as soon as combustion begins again.  It is a necessary component for cleansing emissions.  Unfortunately, it is being lost due to the odd design... a clear disadvantage.  But then again, where in the world is the electricity going to come from?  That PASSIVE system wasn't intended to provide as much as a PERSISTENT system... yet they are trying to make it act like one anyway.  I really wonder now what kind of emissions rating that new hybrid will deliver.

7-21-2005

Harmonic Drone.  It gets even worse.  The "assist" hybrid many have been scorning recently has noise problem too.  It shuts off half of the cylinders in the engine as it cruises, since full horsepower isn't needed.  That obviously saves gas.  But it also causes quite a bit of vibration & noise as a result.  Electric actuated engine-mounts provide counter-balance to pretty much eliminate that vibration.  The noise is suppose to be eliminated using a microphone and the internal car speakers.  Unfortunately, neither is quite in the right location to provide complete sound cancellation.  So a little bit of sound sneaks through the electronic anti-noise process... which results in a harmonic drone sound ...which is starting to drive some owners crazy!  And don't forget, that noise is even more annoying when they open a window.

7-21-2005

Hybrid Hypocrisy.  Accord-Hybrid took yet another reputation hit.  Today's article slamming its market appeal over actually saving gas actually mentioned emissions too!  They say people are using it to "go green" without actually going green.  It is marketing the is rapidly causing the word hybrid to lose its meaning.  I figured this would take years to happen, not months.  But there it is.  Newspapers are criticizing Accord-Hybrid saying the pursuit of faster 0-to-60 speeds is now just a waste of money.  The non-hybrid version is a better choice.  Can you believe it?  The media is actually helping out for a change.  Miracles do happen.  Anywho, I loved reading the opening line of that article today: "If you're "going green," make it meaningful, not marketing."  No wonder supporters have completely stopped participating on the Prius forums.  Word is out about their hybrid not living up to its reputation, not being clean as people had hoped.

7-21-2005

Anniversary Sale Giveaway.  Ford-Escape is getting promoted heavily here now.  A local business is using it as the big prize in a giveaway to highlight their anniversary sale.  It's really odd seeing that hybrid on television advertisements so much.  I wonder what people think of it.  No details at all are provided, they just rely solely on the fact that it's a hybrid SUV to draw people's attention.  Fortunately, it's proper hybrid, one that actually delivers a decent MPG improvement and much cleaner emissions.  Can imagine how upset I'd be if it wasn't?  Using hybrids for promotions like this is great!  That is a fantastic way to reach an entirely new audience of potential owners.  After all, how can you go wrong pushing technology that both reduces emissions & consumption?

7-20-2005

Emission Clarification, part 2.  NOx (Nitrogen Oxides) along with the other exhaust pollutants (HC, CO, PM) are poisons to humans. They contribute to breathing-related health problems, like asthma.  This is what is referred to as "smog", that nasty yellow-orange haze that floats over metro areas.  It is the direct result of incomplete combustion and poorly cleansed exhaust.  In other words, it is the way in which the fuel is combusted that matters... not how much is actually used.  That's where the Atkinson-Miller pumping cycle of the engine used in Prius comes in (rather than Otto, which most dirtier vehicles use).  This delivers a cleaner (and more efficient) method of combusting the fuel; however, less horsepower is generated as a result.  But since Prius has a powerful electric-motor too, the horsepower tradeoff isn't an issue at all.  The other part that matters is how the exhaust is handled, which has absolutely nothing to do with the design of the engine.  Cleansing takes place in the CAT (catalytic-converter), a rather expensive device in the piping between the engine and the muffler.  Emissions from the engine are chemically altered in CAT the using heat to breakdown NOx molecules in the exhaust.  The result is what's measured to award an "ULEV", "SULEV", or "PZEV" emissions rating... not MPG.

 

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