Prius Personal Log  #219

September 3, 2005  -  September 9, 2005

Last Updated: Mon. 9/26/2005

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9-09-2005

$64.08 per barrel.  After a week of nightmare market dealings, that's all the more the oil price has come down.  This has resulted in a trend of gas price per gallon dropping just a cent or two at a time.  The 15 to 20 cent jumps we saw on the way up are not reemerging on the way down.  That figures.  I bet it won't come down that much more either.

9-09-2005

Less is Better?  Since when is paying less to get less a better choice?  Most people are well aware that you get what you pay for.  That extra premium is usually carefully considered, then gladly accepted if deemed worth it.  And since the last 5 years of hybrid consideration has relied heavily on the cost of gas, it's pretty darn easy to justify one now.  Taking into account the reduction of our national dependence on oil is an added bonus, something gained without having to factor in any price for it.  The same is true for reduced emissions too.  Gas prices alone make the purchase a pretty simple decision.  Why would someone intentionally purchase a "less" design?  It seems fairly likely that consumers would begin to demand the "full" instead.  When the lesser hybrid from Saturn debuts in 2007, Prius will be celebrating its 10th birthday.  At that point, all the misconceptions will pretty much be dead.  That technology will be accepted as mature.  It simply won't make any sense not using it.  Being in denial is not how you sell lots of vehicles.  Something competitive will need to be offered.  After all, look at how even the strictest of automakers ended up caving on their principles by eventually offering a large SUV.  The competition was simply too much to ignore.  In other words, I can easily envision GM quickly abandoning their "mild" hybrids for Saturn in favor of a "full" hybrid.  So watch the hype and note how attitudes changes as consumers figure out what they're paying for.

9-09-2005

Auto-Dimming.  While waiting for delivery in the drive-thru line today, I played with the electrochromic mirror.  The pickup lights shining through the windows in the car behind me became remarkably bright.  I had forgotten just how much of a difference that auto-dimming feature really makes.  Turning it back on is rather amusing, watching the brightness quickly fade to a soft green.

9-09-2005

5 YEARS!  Can you believe that I've been driving a Prius for 5 years now?  At this point, I couldn't imagine ever having to own primitive (non-hybrid) technology from back in the 20th Century ever again.

9-08-2005

Low Expectations.  An $88 million agreement between GM and the Department of Energy established a 5-year program to put 44 fuel-cell vehicles in CA, NY, MI, and DC.  Whoa!  Only 44 by 2009 is certainly setting expectations low.  I knew the actual quantity of would be quite limited, but that is far fewer than they've been leading people to believe.  With details like this, it won't take much to convince people that the "practical" date of 2016 wasn't an exaggeration.  And that will make it even easier to sell hybrids, knowing that waiting for a fuel-cell vehicle is so unrealistic.  Everyone will purchase a minimum of 1 vehicle in the meantime.  But considering how long it has taken hybrids to gain acceptance and the fact that they don't rely on an infrastructure change, most people will purchase replacements twice in the meantime.  Set your expectations for fuel-cells low.  You won't find them in your vehicle for a very, very long time.  And even then, it will be a hybrid... since many of the components within are the same.

9-08-2005

Online Resources.  Have you noticed that all the hurricane Katrina reports mention the need for better information sharing, how the internet is not being taken advantage of to the extent it could be?  Those online resources should have been established long before a disaster actually occurred... much like what some hybrid owners have been doing for years now.  Those in-charge of emergency services are scrambling to create what should have already been setup as part of the 9/11 recommendations.  Hopefully, they'll figure that out now.  If not, perhaps I could show them the statistics stating the significant spike in activity on my website as a direct result of the abrupt gas price increases.

9-07-2005

English & French.  Did you know that both were available on the Multi-Display?  I had actually forgotten.  So I made sure to capture an "End of Summer" moment in both languages, on the Consumption Screen... photo album 100

9-07-2005

Deception Techniques.  A big name publication got undue attention today.  It wasn't because the comparison article had good data to share.  Instead, it was the same old, now rather obvious, make hybrids look bad propaganda.  That sells.  People thrive on it.  I wonder why.  Hmm?  Anywho, here's the part of their summary that really irritated me: "The largest discrepancy between claimed and actual mpg involved city driving.  Some models [of traditional vehicle] we tested fell short of claimed city mpg by 35 to 50 percent." and "Hybrids, whose selling point is fuel thriftiness, had some of the biggest disparities, with fuel economy averaging 19 mpg below the EPA city rating."  See the problem?  That is not actually among the biggest disparities, as identified by the 35 to 50 percent statement.  The difference is only 32 percent.  That inconsistency of measure is just plain wrong.  They should have either stuck with percent or listed both using MPG.  Having one listed one way and the other listed another is asking for trouble.  Comparisons between non-hybrid & hybrid should not be quantified using different reporting methods.  And they should be shamed for grouping all types & configurations of hybrids together into a single category.  Would that make sense to combine the results of gas & diesel together?  After all, both are rely solely on a combustion engine for propulsion.  Yet they lead you to believe the electrical systems in the hybrids all work the same.  The industry has always separated data from manual transmissions & automatics.  Why are they not doing that for the hybrids, which clearly have very different versions of CVT transmissions?  The article will definitely end up misleading people.  Whether that was intended or not doesn't excuse the fact that they could have done a better job writing the report.  Of course, at this point, I'm finding it increasing more difficult to believe it was just yet another mistake.

9-07-2005

BMW Joins In.  Today, they announced a joint project with DaimlerChrysler & GM to develop hybrids together.  I wonder how that will end up working out.  Ownership rights are very difficult to manage.  Each of these automakers are of different size, with different resources, and have different marketing approaches.  Can working collectively to deliver a product to satisfy each of them?  What time-schedule will they follow?  How much will they invest?  What type of hybrid do they wish to create?  For that matter, what are their target values for emission & efficiency improvement?  This should be interesting.

9-06-2005

Inevitable Replacement.  Even some anti-hybrid people are now saying that replacement concern is dead.  There is simply no supposed "evidence" to support the replacement claim now.  Using misconceptions doesn't work anymore.  So when a newbie attacks, they attempt to end the debate quickly.  Losing even more credibility is the last thing they need.  And they know that I know that.  Ha!  Needless to say, I couldn't resist replying to the absurd attack today with this...  The "full" hybrid design goes why out of its way to protect the battery-pack, to the point of using extra gas for that purpose.  Never allowing the charge-level to dip below 45 percent does quite a bit to ensure a long life.  And Prius owners are now exceeding 150,000 miles with reports that the battery-pack is still operating just fine, no sign of the need for replacement.

9-05-2005

Greenwashed.  The anti-hybrid campaign to mislead is working.  This quote today from a hybrid forum participant says it all, "I hesitate because I've read that the mpg is significantly less than advertised, which kind of defeats the purpose."  People are being conditioned to believe that the EPA values are actually representative of real-world expectations.  But it reality, that couldn't be further from the truth.  Those numbers are only intended for comparison.  That's it.  Reading the fine print is all it takes to realize that.  But most people don't have a window-sticker available to read, so they just assume... incorrectly.  And if any would bother to look up the actual testing conditions, they'd be absolutely furious how they don't even remotely match the way people really drive.  Those ideal temperatures during testing don't come anywhere near close to actual owner conditions either.  All these factors have a profound effect on efficiency.  But the anti-hybrid people don't tell you that.  They lead you to believe that because the real-world MPG is lower, you should be disappointed result.  This type of deception is called "greenwashing".  It is used by people that have something to lose from the success of a new technology intended to help the environment.  Since when is upper 40's for a real-world annual average MPG a bad thing?  Don't let them greenwash you too.  Prius really does deliver a significant improvement compared to traditional vehicles.

9-05-2005

What's the Purpose?  Originally, people made a lot of excuses to purchase a large SUV.  The need for high ground-clearance and 4-wheel drive has since fallen on deaf ears, since so many now understand how unnecessary that was.  Safety is an undeniable flaw, not much argument about that.  But one that was extremely difficult to debunk was the need to tow.  And yes, I know how owning a boat is the first place is superfluous, especially a large one.  But nonetheless, I recognize the desire for occasional recreation.  Well, today's sighting satisfied my take on the situation.  The SUV clearly had enough power to tow that boat; it showed no struggle climbing hills at highway speeds.  However, it lacked truck-like suspension.  The comfort suspension, found more commonly in cars, was buckling under the weight of the load.  Both back tires were leaning in at a frightening angle.  The purpose of that SUV, despite having the power available, was definitely not for towing.  An aftermarket upgrade to the suspension system was desperately needed.  But that stiffer ride would scare away potential buyers, so they build it with the squishy type instead... negating the benefit of that engine & frame ...and not fulfilling the claimed purpose.

9-04-2005

Continued Attacks.  After all this time, they continue.  But since today marks 100,000 miles driven since buying my Prius, miles that I would have traveled anyway, it's pretty darn easy to simply dismiss those attacks against hybrid supporters.  The guy that's been harassing us lately is very upset about how clean all those miles were and how much gas I didn't use.  He's still stuck trying to figure out how to improve his traditional vehicle and we've been promoting a better design for 5 years already.  Now he's becoming desperate, realizing the technology used in Prius has been so successful that Toyota is planning to make it available in every vehicle they offer.  Hearing his wild claims about us making excuses are actually rather amusing, since they clearly contradict real-world data.  Prius offers a genuine improvement, plain & simple.  Today's claim that the motor isn't powerful enough is a great example of intentionally trying to distract attention, making an issue out of nothing.  Since when is even more power needed?  And notice how he didn't address cost or reliability with his proposed "improvement".  This is just another sad attempt to discredit how well HSD has performed under real-world conditions.  I can just kick back and enjoy the hopeless banter.  Disproving the success is nearly impossible now.

9-04-2005

Energy-Bill Shortcomings.  Wow!  It only took a few weeks after signing it for evidence to emerge showing it was far too little to actually help.  The nightmare in New Orleans caused by hurricane Katrina is revealing shortcomings, like how much our infrastructure is dependent on everything working perfectly.  The disruption now being dealt with is already causing economic hardship nationwide.  It promises to get worse too, as reports of how long it will take to rebuilt finally emerge.  We should have been planning to deal with this all along, rather than having to figure out how to react after the fact.  I wonder how many people will take this topic seriously now.  Prius supporters have been saying for years how the need to reduce our dependence on imported oil is extremely important.  The reaction was pushing gas-guzzlers instead, claiming that would help strengthen our economy.  Clearly, that was the wrong thing to do... since it obviously didn't work.  And with this pitiful new requirement of increasing efficiency only 2.8 MPG and only for select vehicles, we aren't going to accomplish much.  Widespread adoption of technology that significantly improves MPG, like the "full" hybrid configuration in Prius, needs to occur.  More needs to be done to overcome the shortcomings.

9-03-2005

40,000 Mile - Oil Change.  I changed it (and the filter) today.  It was the same easy routine yet again, due to the unique layout of engine & frame for the hybrid design.  Of course, this maintenance cycle will actually be even easier.  The thought finally occurred to me that because these tires with extremely high treadwear ratings are now well broken in, there's no reason to rotate them every 5,000 miles.  After all, the softer ones with my Classic were maintained just fine at 7,500 mile intervals.  So, why not every 10,000 miles with these now?

9-03-2005

Alaskan Pipeline.  I bumped into an interesting show on the "Discovery Channel" this evening.  It covered a variety of energy related topics.  When discussing the pipeline, they pointed out that is was only designed to last 20 years and that next year it will be celebrating its 30th anniversary.  That's a bit troubling to hear.  But what really captured my attention is the fact that the annual maintenance cost is 100 million dollars.  That makes me really wonder how much the replacement cost will be.

9-03-2005

Discounts for 2006 models.  It appears as though GM is still desperate to get a better grip on managing inventory in this new age of expensive gas.  Their 2006 Yukon SUV and 2006 Sierra Pickup (both monster-size vehicles) qualify for employee discounts.  I wonder what other automotive market changes will emerge.  Hmm?

 

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