Prius Personal Log  #216

August 17, 2005  -  August 22, 2005

Last Updated: Fri. 8/26/2005

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8-22-2005

Spotting Game.  It's not a matter of whether or not I'll spot a Prius anymore.  The game has now changed to guessing how long it will be before the next one drives by.  On a regular basis now, I'll actually see more than one on my walk outside during lunch.  That's pretty sweet!  All the support work has really paid off.  Now I even get excited every morning when I check my website statistics.  That hit count is following that gas prices, up up up!  It's quite a thrill to actually experience so many things falling into piece.

8-22-2005

Driving Vacation.  Interesting.  It wasn't until now that I remembered the one we did in the early 80's, right when the price of gas was peaking.  Cutting through Canada to get to the east coast was interesting.  I was the one with the calculator figuring out how much the gas was in US dollars per gallons based on the per liter Canadian dollar prices we were seeing.  Too bad I didn't keep my notes.  Oh well, that did play a small part in leading me to document those things (significantly) better later in life... hence the website.

8-22-2005

Big Cars.  That was the new trend prediction from a publisher from Detroit.  The "family truck" obsession is rapidly dying.  The "land yacht" is coming back.  Can you believe it?  Then they could actually call Prius a "small" car.  Fortunately, the lower ride and better aerodynamics have an obvious safety & efficiency advantage.  But can you imagine just how big they will become?

8-22-2005

Not Anymore.  Wow!  I couldn't believe it.  Leaving the Mall of America today, I was pleasantly surprised.  That place attracts quite a diverse crowd.  Despite that, the parking ramp is usually packed with SUVs... but not anymore.  It was amazing.  There was a sea of cars with only a handful of those "not being used for the purpose they were designed" vehicles.  Well, it's about dang time.  I love it.  Driving a vehicle so grossly over-engineered for dry pavement was always wasteful.  Now people are beginning to understand that not so much was actually needed.

8-22-2005

Kill the Goose.  The egg is oil.  The price makes it golden.  Too high could actually kill the goose though.  Rather than collecting more and more money, revenues could start heading in the other direction... an unintentional endorsement for using less.  It's the greed equation.  How much can they feed us before the milk sours or we simply don't want as much anymore?  People crave things that draw attention.  SUVs are doing the exact opposite of that now.  What used to be a status symbol is now target, an icon for waste.  Sporty looking cars are the most logical alternative.  They're pretty much as different as you can get without giving up the illusion of importance.  But in a strange twist, Prius has already cornered that market.  With such an aerodynamic design, taking the next step will be very difficult... especially for vehicles with a trunk, since the hatch contributes to the shape.  Makes you wonder what the heck will happen.  The automakers have some difficult choices to make.  The oil drillers have very few options available.  I think the goose is in trouble.

8-22-2005

Land of 10,000.  Minnesota is known for its number of lakes.  We have some of other environmentally-related things too.  All our gas is 10% ethanol.  In 7 years, it will be 20% ethanol.  All the diesel here will soon (in October) be 2% biodiesel.  And of course, that ethanol & biodiesel is grown & produced within the state.  One brand of gas has been low-sulfur for 6 years already.  We have the first & only hydrogen production facility powered by wind in the entire nation as well.  But the thing that makes me most proud is seeing so many Prius now.  It's great!  Hearing stories of others rarely ever spotting another is something I simply cannot relate to anymore.  They're everywhere.  And at the current purchase rate, it won't take too terribly long before there are 10,000 of them.

8-21-2005

Hatchback Convenience.  I'm pretty spoiled now.  Having such a large cargo capacity is something that I caught myself taking advantage of today, without giving much thought about it.  So I stopped and contemplated for a moment.  Perhaps that's why so many people claimed Prius was small.  Hmm?  They weren't even paying attention to the unusually large seating room for a shorter-than-normal length.  It could be that so many had come accustom to the large cargo capacity of minivans & SUVs than they didn't really even realize just how much they missed it not being there when checking out the sedan.  That would certainly add to the explanation why the hatchback version is so phenomenally popular.  It would also explain the resistance to switching to sedans for efficiency sake.  That's very interesting.

8-21-2005

Marathon MPG, part 5.  I had forgotten just exactly who I was dealing with.  Look up "vague" in these logs.  This guy was the king, doing everything he could to never be specific enough for you to ever draw a conclusion.  And sure enough, the same thing happened here.  Too bad I didn't remember that sooner.  Oh well.  It was my quest to clarify a few facts that reminded me.  I kept expecting some type of "press release" document or webpage, where all the details were provided.  Nothing ever materialized.  All we got was a few threads and a few articles, each with an assortment of tidbits.  There isn't a comprehensive record of any sort.  So consequently, the news about it has completely faded.  It's over.  That didn't take long.  I guess I can go back to the routine now.  Averaging 50 MPG is plenty good for me.

8-21-2005

Seems Obvious... Now.  I'm somewhat irked.  Back when Prius was new and gas was cheap, quite a few people said the design simply didn't make any sense.  They claimed complexity & cost could never justify it.  But now that they've figured out that it really isn't more complex and the price to fill a tank is so much higher, it seems like an obvious solution.  Arrgh!  Lack of understanding and not planning for the future was the only thing that has changed.  The design still holds true, after all these years.  Too bad they weren't more open-minded in the first place.  Oh well.

8-20-2005

Not Until 167.  The first bar on the gas-gauge typically disappears shortly after driving 100 miles (in the Summer).  But the previous tank took more gas that I had anticipated (based on Multi-Display data).  So I knew it would take longer.  And it did.  The distance was 144 miles.  That left me with the impression that the MPG calculation would be inflated quite a bit.  It wasn't.  I just assumed that meant the tank wasn't actually as efficient as I had hoped, despite the reputation of the Multi-Display being pretty accurate (though consistently 1.4 MPG too high per tank due to rounding).  I was wrong.  Not only did the previous pump not shut off at the proper time, this one was even worse.  It took until 167 miles before the gas-gauge dropped, and it has a reputation for being accurate as well.  That means this current tank would calculate to an abnormally high value.  But the weather is way too nice, cool & sunny, so it won't.  Instead, I'm going on a road-trip to a scenic biking trail.  The long-distance high-speed highway driving will bring down the MPG some, making for a rather well balanced end result.  In short, know what you are getting into if you decide to calculate numbers by hand.  There are more factors at play than it would initially seem.

8-20-2005

5-Year Estimates.  All of a sudden, the lifetime calculations have been abandoned.  Instead, the industry experts are now claiming 5-year estimates give a better impression of out-of-pocket costs, since many loans are for that same time-period.  I'm not happy.  Ownership doesn't suddenly end at the 5-year anniversary.  In fact, it's when the car is so well broken-in that MPG really shines.  So you definitely continue to reap the efficiency benefits of owning a hybrid.  This is yet another trick to reduce the appeal, by the very sneaking anti-hybrid troublemakers.  They fear the success Prius has been having, so mid-game they are changing the rules.  If lifetime calculations have been the staple basis of measurement for decades, why this abrupt shift to a new shorter term analysis?  After all, quality is so much better now that they last quite a bit longer than they used to.  5 years is way too short.  Heck, the hybrid part of the warranty hasn't even expired yet.  If you drive 15,000 miles annually, that's only 75,000 miles total... which isn't even remotely close to what people expect the vehicle to deliver.  Most expect twice that.  And driving 30,000 miles per year is definitely not considered typical.  I don't like this type of misleading at all.

8-19-2005

Not New Now.  I got contacted by a reporter.  He was hoping for a story on efficiency techniques, a list of driving tips he could publish.  The twist was that he wanted comments from those that had discovered them.  I totally disappointed him by stating we did that 5 years ago, that there simply is nothing new to discuss.  When it comes from the "Just Drive It" approach, the topic is dead.  The suggestions are tried & true.  We've been doing the same thing for a very long time now.  The fact that some people are just discovering hybrids now doesn't change the advice.  It's not new anymore.  In other words, I tried to (as politely as possible) point out that he had missed that "new" opportunity quite a few years ago.  Sorry.

8-19-2005

Waiting for Stealth.  I had an audience at the gas station today.  That was totally unexpected.  When I walked out, 2 people were standing there waiting.  It was obvious they didn't want to talk to me.  Their focus was clearly on the Prius itself.  They could see the Multi-Display come on as I pushed the power button.  I could see their anticipation build.  And sure enough, as I started to stealth away, an expression of silent rejoice came upon them.  It was really silly.  It was obviously their first opportunity to actually witness stealth.  I was glad I could oblige.

8-18-2005

PZEV Accord-Hybrid.  It looks like Honda got our message of disappointment.  Much has been said about the emission shortcoming of the 2005 model, it having only an ULEV rating.  A rumor about the 2006 model being PZEV is spreading like wildfire.  I never saw a press release to confirm the claim.  But more importantly, I want to know if they are going to pull the same back-handed offer as with Civic-Hybrid.  It too is available as PZEV, but only in 6 states.  The rest of us are out of luck, stuck with the dirtier model.  But then again, it isn't a "full" hybrid anyway... and many people know it.

8-18-2005

Rapid Growth.  Interest in Prius is growing rapidly.  I had to offload (move) the videos to ensure the integrity of the server providing the webpages.  I've never seen such a sustained increase of interest.  Lots of people are suddenly seeking out information on their own, rather than relying on the garbage some of the popular press has been spitting out.  Gas prices have obviously influenced the public in ways that scare the heck out of certain automakers.  Cool!  And knowing that they want to know more makes me feel really good.  The days of simply accepting what they hear are over.  Yippee!  I knew this thing called "internet" would prove to be a rather valuable information resource someday.

8-17-2005

Too Small?  What is wrong with the automotive magazines lately?  They're finally acknowledging the success of some hybrids on some levels, but certainly not on others.  For example, this quote today will become a classic since it is so mixed up: "Unfortunately, the 15-inch wheels look positively tiny under the Prius's ample flanks.  Larger wheels are available in the aftermarket, but they require giving up the low-rolling-resistance tires that come on the car, so fuel economy will suffer."  That isn't correct.  The HSD Prius doesn't have low-rolling-resistance tires.  They are just the same ordinary, run-of-the-mill tires you'll find on a few other models from Toyota.  There is nothing special about them... except size.  Besides smaller wheels being better for acceleration, cornering, and winter traction, the MPG penalty when switching to a larger tire on a Prius is extremely well documented.  Rolling-Resistance of the rubber has absolutely nothing to do with the size.  So why do they claim the standard 15-inch size is unfortunate?  It's because they "look positively tiny".  In other words, they are more concerned about cosmetic appeal rather than actual performance... but it wasn't worded to sound that way.  I guess I can lower my expectation of automotive magazine opinions even more.

8-17-2005

Earning Grades.  The drive to work today was incredible.  The entire duration consisted of stories on the radio about oil, gas, and hybrids.  The concluding one is what got me most excited.  For years, I've been fighting certain people online who were doing everything they could to undermine the success of Prius.  The aspect of that which irritated me more than anything was when they attempted to dilute all hybrids by posting claims about them all being the same.  The most classic of fights was the difference between the ULEV and SULEV emission ratings.  Since many Honda hybrid owners only had ULEV, you could imagine how upset they became when those truly caring about smog reduction gave praise to the cleaner SULEV.  Anywho, the ultimate analogy that came out of all those battles was the grading system.  I simply stated that if a hybrid wasn't at least SULEV clean, there is no possible way it could earn an "A" grade.  At best, no matter how high the efficiency was, it could only earn a "B" if it wasn't clean too.  That really upset those fighting me.  I had finally refined the argument so well there was no longer any way from them to rebuttal.  And wouldn't you know it, the Prius supporter on the radio today used the very same analogy.  That was a fantastic thing to hear.

 

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