Prius Personal Log  #220

September 10, 2005  -  September 16, 2005

Last Updated: Mon. 9/26/2005

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9-16-2005

33,196 BTU.  I finally stumbled across a paper stating the actual energy benefit of ethanol, confirming that there was no longer a net loss overall.  With all growing & production improvements over the years, that makes sense.  I just couldn't prove it.  Yet I continued endorsing it anyway, knowing it is something we can utilize to supplement the gas supply shortages until hybrids become standard (since both hybrids & traditional vehicles can use a 10 percent mix already).  It is an excellent near-term solution which also provides the benefit cleaner emissions.  Anywho, here's that information...  The accepted data with today�s more efficient corn hybrids and greatly improved milling processes is this: A gallon of ethanol contains 76,400 BTUs.  Total energy to produce that gallon in the dry mill process is 43,134 BTUs which includes BTU values of 12,467 for corn production (all production costs including land), 1,411 for corn transport (from field to farm to ethanol plant), 27,799 for the ethanol conversion process and 1,467 BTUs for transport to terminals and distribution points.  Subtracting 43,134 from 76,400 leaves a net energy gain of 33,196 BTU�s per gallon.

9-15-2005

Diesel Realities.  The upcoming clean-air regulations have some in the automotive industry very concerned.  They are well aware of the fact that diesel is popular in Europe due in large part to the fact that it is so much less expensive than gas there.  If it were more expensive, far fewer people would actually want diesel.  And now the reality is that equipment needed to meet those regulations will cause a rather significant price increase for the vehicle... making a gas hybrid much more difficult to compete with.  Well, too bad!  Using diesel to improve efficient with the penalty of worse emissions than even a dirty non-hybrid gas vehicle is totally unacceptable.  Both must be improved, period.  And we all know that a vehicle like Prius is currently an excellent solution for efficiency, emissions, and price.  In the future, technology innovations could change the playing field.  But for now, that certainly is not the case.

9-14-2005

Power Misconception.  We all know that the per-unit power delivered from diesel is greater than that for gas, but were you suckered into believing the misconception the way I was?  I'm really frustrated!  The (now, obviously dishonest) diesel supporters were making comments about power from one configuration, efficiency numbers from another, and arguing against another.  It was a deception that unfortunately worked surprisingly well.  They like to quote the horsepower of Prius as 76 making you believe that's the total available, even though that is really only the engine part.  Combined with the electric motor, it's actually 110.  But they hope you won't figure that out, since it isn't also listed in the specifications by many sources (because "combined" isn't a normal category).  Anywho, when you take a look at the favorite diesel comparison vehicle to Prius, the Jetta, you are in for a surprise.  The automatic only delivers 100 horsepower.  A value inarguably lower.  To add salt to the wound, the torque is just 177 lb-ft.  Prius offers dramatically more, providing 295 lb-ft from the electric motor.  No wonder they avoid getting to specific.  Because once you question it and dig for details, that supposed competition loses its appeal.  The MPG isn't quite a good, there is less power available, it is unquestionably dirtier, and its really hard for the clatter of the diesel engine to compare to the silence of full hybrid stealth.

9-14-2005

Positive Comments.  How about that!?!  Out of the blue, someone unexpected came to the defense of hybrid by stating: "Only considering the economic aspect and not the emotional aspect is totally inappropriate".  Since when does the average person purchase a vehicle on economic considerations alone?  If that were true, there would be no such thing as the monster-size vehicles.  Emotion clearly plays a role, so much so in fact that people have argued the bigger size is safer, despite all the evidence to the contrary.  You'll be stuck with that vehicle you purchase for quite a few years.  The expense better provide more than just a monetary savings... which is why Prius has been so popular.

9-13-2005

Frankfurt Autoshow.  Cool!  Toyota executive vice-president Kazuo Okamoto made this rather exciting comment today in Frankfurt, Germany: "In the future, the cars you see from Toyota will be 100 percent hybrid."  No timetable was given, naturally.  But to state a business objective like that is a very big deal.  Other automakers are still denying the viability of hybrids.  Toyota is clearly making a commitment to them.  Interesting, eh?

9-13-2005

That real-world data says it all.  A non-hybrid diesel supporter posted real-world data from http://www.fueleconomy.gov today.  That backfired horribly.  I was definitely amused.  His purpose was to sour the appeal of hybrids by showing that the EPA estimates are more accurate for the diesel vehicles than they are for the hybrids.  People aren't that dumb.  Ultimately, they'll figure out that the real-world data is what's truly important.  They'll forget about what the ideal-condition EPA values indicate.  Hearing what friends, neighbors, coworkers, and family report from real-world experiences is what will make a strong impression in favor of hybrids (like Prius).  As for that particular data, too bad he didn't study it closer.  I did.  His argument failed due to one simple oversight: people want automatic transmissions.  The 4 real-world reports for the automatic diesel Golf were just under 40 MPG.  The 8 for Jetta were about 41 MPG.  The 1 for Beetle was 44 MPG.  That's clearly lower than the 24 for the 2004 Prius at 47 MPG and the 41 for the 2005 Prius at 48 MPG.  That need for an automatic transmission data makes a very convincing case that the dramatically cleaner (PZEV) hybrid is unquestionably more efficient.  That real-world data says it all.

9-12-2005

100 MPG.  That was weird.  I've done the late night drive home from my parent's house countless times now.  MPG has always been pleasantly situated in the 80 range while cruising through a particularly efficient stretch, something I always look forward to.  This time, totally unexpectedly, it read 100 MPG.  I can't for the life of me figure out why either.  With 2 stoplights and a few stop-signs, you would anticipate seeing that.  But I did!  That's another one I can chalk up to Prius Genius.

9-12-2005

1 cent more than in 1981.  I'm so sick of hearing people saying the cost of gas, adjusted for inflation, is still less expensive than it was 24 years ago.  Well, today that changed.  That price climbed 1 cent above that maximum from over 2 decades earlier... in a time where oil wasn't relied on anywhere near as much as it is presently.  We are officially in uncharted territory at this point.  What do you think people will begin saying now?

9-12-2005

Reporter Support.  A new article on hybrids that I read this morning seemed innocent, at first.  But then I ran into this quote: "That joint venture is designed to develop a new, two-mode hybrid that can improve mileage at highway speeds, as well as in stop-and-go traffic. Current hybrids work best in urban driving and may actually see lower mileage on the freeway."  That is an outright lie to make the venture between General Motors, DaimlerChrysler, and BMW seem better.  The reporter rather blatantly provided support in their favor, plain & simple.  There is no evidence that the current hybrids get lower MPG on the highway than their traditional counterparts.  That doesn't even make sense.  The current hybrids have an electric motor providing assistance as well as shutting off the engine either partially or entirely from time to time... which obviously reduces the amount of gas being used on the highway.  With Civic & Prius, you also have a smaller than normal engine... which clearly saves even more gas on the highway.  That dishonesty to protect the reputation of the now struggling automakers really ticks me off.

9-11-2005

Watch the Decoy.  Remember how GM used the excuse of focusing on improving efficiency of the monster-size vehicles rather than delivering something their entire line-up could benefit from?  They stated that a 1 to 2 MPG gain would ultimately result in more gallons of gas saved, since the more efficient vehicles used less in the first place.  Well, in the 2005 model year, all they built & sold was 300 of their mock hybrids.  With a number so tiny (especially for the largest automaker in the world), what difference did that really make... other than great publicity.  With the 2006, they have introduced DOD (Displacement On Demand).  How many monster-size vehicles with that will they actually end up selling?  It's like they're putting up decoys, things to draw your focus so you don't notice what they're actually doing... or not doing.  Have you noticed that paying attention to MPG does absolutely nothing to reduce smog-related emissions?

9-11-2005

Spreading Misconceptions.  Whether it is intentional or not, it is still happening.  I caught someone today that should have known better (since he's been participating in online discussions for years).  Perhaps he simply never bothered to actually check.  Perhaps he didn't want to recognize that he could be wrong.  Regardless, he was.  The purpose of the big numbers on the window sticker are not, I repeat NOT,  to inform you of the type of MPG you should expect.  In reality, this is the true way that information is suppose to be regarded: Under these standardized conditions, this is how the vehicle will perform.  The EPA established the measurements to provide a means for same-class vehicle comparison.  That's it.  The misconception that they are intended indicate what owners will actually experience is getting way out of hand.

9-11-2005

Upgraded Bluetooth.  I was stuck with a rather outdated cell-phone.  But as much as I would have liked to upgrade, it just didn't make any sense.  I had to wait until I had gotten my money's worth out of it first.  That finally happened 2 days ago.  The time to switch to a better plan and take advantage of the savings from incentive packages had arrived.  Yeah!  I felt the same way many car buyers do.  They know that improvements became available since their previous purchase, but they really didn't research any details until it was actually necessary to begin shopping.  And sure enough, the choices were impressive.  Just think what people will discover when they finally take a close look at the newest model of Prius!  Anywho, I took photos of each step that was needed to connect this new phone via Bluetooth to the phone system in my Prius.  And yes, there is a little bit of a quality improvement.  Here's the new illustrated instructions I ended up creating... bluetooth

9-10-2005

Trouble.  Worse than I imagined might be putting it too kindly.  Riding my bike today, I made a point of passing through the local Ford dealer's lot.  With the exception of the compact Escort, which only averages around 30 MPG, there wasn't any other vehicle that delivered more than MPG the low 20's.  It's pathetic, so bad that someone interested in fuel efficiency would simply leave.  I was surprised that they literally have nothing to sell.  Even Ranger, the smallest pickup, was disappointing.  No hybrid could be found, of course.  They're grossly under produced.  How will this automaker compete?  Not being able to deliver what consumer's want now is bad.  But at least they stand a chance of surviving, others will really struggle.  GM is pretty much in a hopeless situation.  The only solution on the way is their very first true hybrid a few years from now.  Though, what the heck will they sell in the meantime?  And will there product be appealing compared to the competition?  This trouble isn't going anyway anytime soon.

9-10-2005

Economically Justifiable.  This statement made today by one of the most outspoken anti-hybrid people had me absolutely hysterical: "Until the hybrids are economically justifiable, you will have to make up reasons for people to buy them."  It's pretty amazing that he'd say something so ridiculous.  Since when has any purchase of any popular vehicle been economically justifiable?  People use lots of other excuses for the gas-guzzlers, but never anything related to be economic.  Yet, over 50 percent of the vehicles sold last year fell into that uneconomic category.  Of course, crunching the numbers reveals that a hybrid like Prius is a wise purchase anyway.  So that statement serves nothing more than for entertainment... and I'm quite pleased about that.

9-10-2005

Diesel with Low-Sulfur.  Don't let them fool you.  The "clean" diesel movement (non-hybrid, obviously) is attempting to trick people into believing that it is now a good choice.  It does absolutely nothing to address stop & slow traffic conditions, which millions of people have to deal with on their daily commute.  The "full" hybrid design does.  Unlike diesel engines, it thrives under those conditions... since it can propel the vehicle exclusively using electricity.  Some models (like Prius) even allow you to run the A/C using only electricity too.  That is a rather significant shortcoming of diesel, one that will prevent it from truly competing.

 

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