Prius Personal Log  #212

July 28, 2005  -  August 2, 2005

Last Updated: Sat. 8/13/2005

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8-02-2005

Pointless?  No, there really is a point to the first Toyota & Lexus hybrids.  The SULEV emission rating is an undeniable benefit, unquestionably cleaner than the traditional version.  The MPG improvement is obviously less than from a hybrid configuration like that in Prius; nonetheless, there still is one.  But they weren't really the point.  Those of us that have been dealing with the anti-hybrid crowd for years know the reality of the situation. We are well aware of how some have attempted to thwart the success by insisting that a fast & powerful hybrid was impossible, that the system couldn't support a burden that hefty.  These particular hybrids have undeniably squashed those attempts to intentionally create a misconception.  Now, they can't say squat.  That opens up the door for mass-acceptance.  In fact, it draws so much attention that some may buy a hybrid sooner than they otherwise would have... simply because their attention was captured sooner.  See the point?

8-02-2005

EPA Tests Not Revised.  It's official.  They aren't going to update the testing methods for the EPA estimates of MPG.  The same old nonsense is going to be allowed to continue.  Don't you just love politics?  All that we'll get, despite all the attention to the problems with the current method, is just a new calculation.  That's it.  Those estimates extraordinarily misleading, at best.  No vehicle in the north using winter-formula fuel while driving 70 MPH when the temperature is 20F degrees out is going to get even remotely close to the "highway" rating.  And the "city" rating, forget it.  The differences in hybrid types make that already confusing driving category even worse.  As for measuring without the A/C running, since when is that a true depiction of the way people actually drive in the Summer?  It's a sad reality that those very uninformative numbers will still be used for years to come.  I wonder what kind of effect that will have on hybrids.  Hmm?

8-01-2005

Adding Complexity.  Why are some automakers continuing to add complexity?  The next transmission from Honda is suppose to be an "automated manual" 6-speed.  It is obviously an improved over the current automatic transmission, with respect to efficiency.  But those desiring the feedback a manual transmission won't find it appealing.  It's electronic.  That means there will probably not be a clutch or any linkage to manually control.  It will likely just be a button on the steering-wheel.  Of course, I don't care.  In fact, I think that is absolutely hysterical.  Countless anti-hybrid people have made claims that Prius operation is far more complicated than a traditional transmission.  This widens the gap, making the simplicity of the PSD (which doesn't have any gears) even easier to understand and more difficult to deny.  Sweet!

7-31-2005

Power vs. Economy.  It's a popular topic now.  The lack of current competition/understanding/awareness allows the press to establish false impressions, just like an article today attempted.  Prius enthusiasts know quite well that HSD can be configured in a variety of different ways.  Those against the success of Prius will try to give you the impression that isn't possible.  Don't fall for those diversionary tactics.  Camry-Hybrid could easily be configured like Highlander-Hybrid, using a generous 6-cylinder engine.  But instead the debut model next year will come with a modest 4-cylinder engine instead.  Emphasis will be placed more on efficiency than power.  People won't be expecting that.  They'll just assume it is a "muscle" hybrid like Accord-Hybrid.  In fact, the article was so slanted that the writer suggested just getting a 4-cylinder non-hybrid instead.  He lead you to believe that it wasn't possible to have a hybrid model that way, that Toyota was stuck with this configuration now.  It's sad that this type of ruse is taking place, but not surprising.  We'll keep driving Prius and sharing real-world data with anyone who asks about it.  People will slowly begin to realize that not all hybrids are the same, that some really do provide a greater benefit that others.

7-30-2005

Better.  I ran across a new webpage today, one that highlighted Escape-Hybrid.  Unfortunately, it has a few issues...  Using "an Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder" was listed as a difference from Toyota's Synergy system.  That's incorrect.  Toyota does too.  Using "active battery cooling" was listed as a difference as well.  Toyota doesn't need that, because they utilizes modules with much better thermal abilities instead.  Ford is currently stuck with D-cells, so they have to do something their excess heat.  A difference that was not mentioned was the fact that maximum electric drive speed is 25 MPH for Ford's system and 42 MPH for Toyota's system.  Another was that Toyota has electric A/C, so their complaint only applies to the Ford.  Hopefully, the misleading content will be corrected, because it was pretty well written otherwise... with the exception of using consistent terminology.  For example, the "stealth" ability was referred to 4 different ways.  Oh well.  It is definitely better than the crap we've had to deal with in the past.

7-30-2005

HOV Approval.  Well, it looks like the federal government has paved the way for allowing hybrids to use the special lanes on the highways.  That sounds like a pretty impressive benefit for hybrids... until you realize what the next step is.  The state governments must each give their approval too.  Many probably already know how bad congestion could become due to the growing popularity of hybrids.  They may also be aware of the controversy the could emerge from having to specify what actually qualifies as a hybrid.  In other words, it may be that very few may actually get to use the HOV lane.  But of course, the Bush Administration can count this as having done something special for hybrids, despite it likely ending up just a token gesture.  That figures.  Why can't we get more concrete benefits, like raising the fleet MPG requirement.

7-29-2005

$60.57 per barrel.  Just a few months ago, the experts wondered if the price of oil would actually get that high within the next few years.  It obviously did, it happened quickly too.  Just a few weeks ago, the experts wondered it that was just a temporary spike.  It obviously wasn't, the price has remained.  Just a few days ago, the experts began to wonder how much higher the average would climb to.  It obviously didn't matter, reduced consumption is still not a priority.  That's sad.

7-29-2005

For 10 Years.  The excuse has been revealed.  The limited amount of money from the Energy Bill given to hybrids was due to it "needing" to be spread over the next 10 years.  That sure looks like an attempt to stifle the current hybrids to give the competition time to catch up.  The money was requested to help with the initial rollout and market acceptance of hybrids.  It should only take a few years, not a decade.  Our oil problems exists now!  We need (real) hybrids now!  Half that time would have made a whole lot more sense, especially since the automakers already saw this coming with sales of Prius in Japan beginning way back in 1997.

7-29-2005

Version Numbers.  It's hard to believe this nonsense keeps resurfacing in online discussions.  Oversimplification is what has caused all the MPG problems with the EPA estimates.  Encouraging the nightmare that comes from that kind of vague labeling is a poor choice.  Yet, some are still trying to establish some type of version numbering convention for hybrids to identify upgrades, a standard for the entire industry.  Using a modest amount of detail is acceptable, intentionally avoiding it entirely is not.  So the concept of a single identifier is flawed.  People already understand "horsepower" and "torque" and "liters".   The automotive industry has already proven their importance.  So adding a select few more, like "kW" and "voltage", shouldn't be a big deal.  Yet, the argument for gross simplifying continues.  They just don't realize they are being so horribly vague that the effort will inevitably fail.  Without clearly stating how the numbers are determined, what value do they provide?  How will we know what the difference is being a newer and older model?  Unless they provide an algorithm explaining exactly how to determine a number for the next model, the number is nothing but an arbitrary assignment.  How in the world are consumers going to adopt a concept that supporters absolutely refuse to explain?

7-29-2005

What?  The word online now is that there is a provision for "fuel saving cars" in the Energy Bill.  No wonder hybrids weren't mentioned in particular.  It appears to be so vague that even a flexible-fuel vehicles (which can run on just gas, rather than ethanol as intended) and non-hybrid diesel vehicle could qualify for this mysterious credit too.  One thing we do know is that only "60,000 units per year per automaker" are allowed.  What kind of nonsense is that?  The total this year from Toyota in the United States will be around 110,000 hybrids.  Next year the total will be at least 180,000.  And the following will be even more.  What are they thinking by placing a limit like that?  The more (real) hybrids we have on the road, the easier it will be for the automaker's playing catch up to be able to sell their hybrids.  Everyone wins by encouraging sales initially.  What possible incentive would a struggling automaker have to build more than 60,000 units per year?  They certainly won't be able to take advantage of cost-saving from high-volume production.  What do they hope to achieve by offering restricted motivation like this... other than the right to know say they did something.  I say it is an insincere effort to encourage reducing consumption based on the info we have so far.  Perhaps details later will reveal something better than the first impression gives.

7-28-2005

Nothing.  That's how much money hybrids ended up getting from the Energy Bill, passed by the House today.  That was the third time President Bush promised incentive money for hybrid purchases.  And it turned out to be the third time we got nothing.  Yet, he also made a new commitment to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions... through the use of technology.  Interesting, eh?  Supposedly, the new technology will be employed by the energy providers.  In other words, the oil & coal industry will be able to continue their business as usual.  However, the Energy Bill gives them 3.5 Billion Dollars to do it with.  How come they get money?  The price of oil is currently 6 cents shy of $60 per barrel.  What the heck do they need more money for and us nothing?  By the way, this Energy Bill does nothing to reduce the price of gas either.

7-28-2005

Ignoring Emissions.  There's a certain publication that continues to misrepresent hybrids.  It's quite frustrating.  This time, they heavily implied that the only way a hybrid can be cleaner is by improved efficiency.  No where did they mention the smog-related type or the fact that there even was another type.  They just lumped all the new more powerful hybrids together and totally completely avoiding the SULEV rating.  I'm not happy.  But having read enough of their articles to see their desire for non-hybrid diesel instead, I'm not surprised.

7-28-2005

BMW Muscle.  Seeing a luxury grade vehicle with those oversized thin tires is a bizarre sight.  But strangely, it is becoming more common.  I saw one today.  It was sitting next to my Prius at the intersection.  When the light turned green, I accelerated briskly (quick, but not jack-rabbit) like I normally do.  The driver of that car didn't like that.  His brainless response was to show off the muscle under his hood.  So he shot past me.  Like usual, I tampered off my acceleration to prevent exceeding the speed limit.  He didn't.  And as I round the bend to see where he has disappeared to, I saw him rapidly braking to avoid the attention of the police officer waiting there for speeders.  Too bad more people, like him, don't understand the nature of my acceleration pleasure.  That brisk approach accentuates the smoothness of the hybrid system and contributes to better efficiency.  What did his experience provide?

7-28-2005

More Hiding.  An article today in the New York Times stated a report clearly documenting the exploitation of the efficiency loophole for trucks which had undermined production regulations was deliberately delayed, until the after Energy Bill was passed.  The average MPG now actually significantly less now than it was in the late 80's.  But the current administration doesn't want you to know that, so the environmental groups are doing their best to point out that this is yet another report that is conveniently hidden until its too late.  Some interesting facts from the report are that the average weight of a vehicle has increased 800 pounds since the early 80's, horsepower has just about doubled, and it now take 4 less seconds to accelerate from 0 to 60.  Anywho, the point is that the need to reduce our dependence on imported oil is obviously not being taken seriously, nor is the need to reduce emissions.

 

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