Prius Personal Log  #222

September 23, 2005  -  September 27, 2005

Last Updated: Thurs. 10/06/2005

    page #221         page #223         BOOK         INDEX         go to bottom 

 

9-27-2005

Heavily Subsidized.  That weak argument is brought up all the time.  People claim ethanol gets money from the government to offset its true cost.  And that is correct; however, the same is done for gas too.  Our country definitely subsidizes gas.  In fact, the current war wouldn't be fought so intensely if that country didn't have so much oil.  How do you think that will be paid for?  The absence of high gas taxes is hard to deny.  Just look at how much more expensive it is everywhere else.  Their gas taxes are substantially higher.  Anywho, the governor of Minnesota responded to that very argument against ethanol subsidizing (lack of taxes) this morning.  He stated that if people believe gas isn't also heavily subsidized, they basically don't have a clue.  All fuel is getting rather significant financial help from our state & federal governments.  Only when it comes to locally grown alternatives like ethanol & biodiesel, we actually gain the benefit of creating rural employment opportunities... helping those local communities survive rather than sending the money overseas.

9-27-2005

Avoid Nonessential Trips.  That's the lame advice President Bush gave today as a way of dealing with the gas shortages.  That�s it!  For crying out loud.  All people need to do is slow down (honor the speed limit).  That will save lots of gas, it's a very well documented fact... and quite easy to witness on the Multi-Display of a Prius.  To go faster, an engine must expend more energy.  It's that simple.  People have discussed that for decades, using it as a fighting fact whenever someone proposes increasing the speed limit.  But for some reason, that suggestion continues to be dismissed as an unrealistic.  Arrgh!  I still can't believe how stubborn some people can be, sticking to the belief that people are unwilling to make any genuine contribution to help out.  Do they honestly think many people will really avoid nonessential trips?  And how much gas would that actually save?  Imagine if everyone, on their essential commute, slowed down a little bit instead.  After all, many go at least 5 MPH faster than they legally should be anyway.

9-27-2005

HSD on the Radio.  I heard the first of the new promotions from Toyota this morning.  It was great!  I always said "HSD" would become a marketable term.  And sure enough, it's happening now.  Cool!  Of course, that leaves Ford in a very poor position.  Still to this day, an entire year after sales began for Escape-Hybrid, they don't have a name for their technology.  How in the heck are they going to advertise it?  What will people call it?  For that matter, how will it be discussed by enthusiasts and the media?  Having nothing catchy to refer to is not a good plan.  People will definitely grow tired of saying "the Ford type of hybrid" after awhile.  People might even wonder if all the Ford hybrids are the same if they don't share a common label.  Oh well.  At least Toyota is much better with their marketing.

9-26-2005

Spotting Game.  Before leaving for the drive up to a good friend's home on the other of the cities, I predicted seeing 5 Prius along the way.  I was bummed.  Only 4 passed by.  However, that elusive number 5 drove by as I was getting out of the Prius parked in the driveway.  Does that count?  This is a very important question.  The spotting game is really getting exciting now.  Seeing the number continue to grow is fantastic!  So naturally, on today's drive to my sister's place, I upped the prediction to 6.  It was almost 5, right up to the final corner.  A black one hiding among some other cars came through at the last moment.  Cool!

9-26-2005

Pushing "Hype".  There's quite a bit of that now, all coming from the anti-hybrid crowd.  The misleading article-of-the-day for today opened with how quickly Prius is selling, measured now in hours rather than days.  But the data focused on the Accord-Hybrid & Escape-Hybrid.  How is that in the slightest bit relevant to Prius?  One is an "assist" hybrid.  The other is a SUV.  Neither is similar to Prius, no matter how you look at it.  Yet, they still do their best to lump all hybrids into a single category, picking the worst examples to justify their anti-hybrid claims.  That's really sad... and becoming way to frequent.  It's a sign that they are truly getting desperate to stifle the success.

9-26-2005

Usage Change.  The current sales-count of monster-size gas-guzzlers has very little reflection on the way people will actually use them.  Remember before the boom in the 90's?  People used truck-like vehicles very differently.  The nonsense of using a SUV for the commute to work on drive pavement was unheard of.  Of course, that was the day when there were only a few, like Bronco.  People actually drove them off-road at times!  Big pickups were workhorses back then.  People actually put stuff in the bed and towed trailers!  Small pickups, like Ranger, were cheap economy car alternatives.  Full-Size conversion vans were treated like recreational vehicles, used primarily for vacation & weekend travel.  In other words, it appears as though that age is beginning to return.  Watch for it.  I have already seen undeniable evidence of a SUV decline.  Looking at the parking lot at work and shopping locations, I'm seeing far fewer of them.  They used to outnumber cars.  Now cars have regained the majority.  Just because someone owns a monster-size gas-guzzler, does not mean they are using it the same way anymore.

9-25-2005

Avoiding Hybrids.  Cylinder deactivation is becoming a popular technique used to save gas.  But it only works when the vehicle is maintaining a cruising speed and the engine must be larger than 4 cylinders.  So its benefit is definitely limited.  Another new idea to save gas is to increase the number of gears the automatic-transmission has.  That adds around $400 to the vehicle price and only provides a gain of about 1 or 2 MPG.  But it's what both Ford & GM are seriously considering now, in an effort to offer efficiency improvements without actually providing a hybrid.  This avoiding is just delaying the inevitable.  How much longer do they think they can justify monster-size vehicles?  Some are so big they don't even fit inside garages anymore.  And the ability to drive over ruff terrain is clearly a bad thing, when that thing is a guard-rail intended to keep you on the road.  That much power is a joke too.  Since when is so much needed?  Less powerful vehicles from many years ago were able to tow a large boat just fine.  Remember those pop-up campers?  Large sedans pulled them.  Eventually, this avoidance will catch up.  I wonder what they will do then.  Hmm?

9-24-2005

Less than 1 Percent.  Now the anti-hybrid arguments have turned global, sighting that scope instead of just the United States.  But what kind of lame excuse is that percentage of overall sales?  Popular new vehicles, like Scion, don't even sell that many per model per year.  Just think of the impact PZEV would do if many of the 60,000,000 new vehicles each year worldwide were that clean.  And imagine how much less gas would be used.  Wouldn't that be great!?!  Entirely new technologies don't get adopted overnight.  Look at the computer industry.  Their product costs far less than a vehicle and has a shorter useful lifetime.  Yet, people continue to buy older technology anyway... even if it costs difference for the newer is very little or none.  The reality is that Prius was breaking all time growth records for entirely new technologies (despite all the misconceptions and the battery lawsuit), even before gas prices began to surge.  And once brand recognition for that technology (namely HSD) is established, growth for it is very likely to continue.  Don't expect a plateau for quite awhile.  Camry-Hybrid will definitely trouble the competition, who is already struggling by having to offer employee discounts.  Dropping cost due to increased production volume will make the situation even worse.  Seeing 200,000 Prius now on roads in the United States will contribute to increased sales.  It's just like the invasion of the SUV back in the early 90's.  Their numbers were low back then too.  And the reason for buying one didn't even make sense.  Yet years later, they dominated the market.  It's only a matter of time.

9-24-2005

Peak Oil.  People never imagined that production capacity would become such a huge problem.  They always imagined we'd simply run out of the oil itself, or at least the harder to reach locations would trigger change.  That obviously isn't what happened.  There's plenty of oil still.  The problem is the ability to refine it and the fact that it's so dirty.  Talking about fooling all the so-called experts.  Most of them were pretty much oblivious to the reality that so many non-automotive products would depend on oil too.  We have unexpectedly hit that "peak" quite a bit sooner than anyone thought.  Fortunately though, the current Prius owners realized the solution would have to be well established before the nightmare began.  That "we'll have hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles available for your children" nonsense the current administration endorsed was clearly a poor plan.  We need more to embrace the change now.  After all, the weather now growing colder marks the approach of the 6th (yes, sixth!) Winter that I'll be driving through with a Prius.  The change for me happened a very long time ago.

9-24-2005

Battery Recycling.  Today's frustrating anti-hybrid article was about how Prius was the first hybrid sold in the United States, sighting that only 20 were sold back in 1999.  That was intended to support the claim about how quickly the pace has increased since 5 years ago.  The statistic he mentioned was actually about Insight.  And in reality, Prius wasn't available until Fall 2000.  Back then, there was a limited quota available too, since the market had absolutely no clue what a hybrid was.  Waiting for consumers, salespeople, and mechanics was a key factor before production could be substantially increased.  Did he lie or was he poorly informed?  Anywho, it turns out that he was trying to convince people that the battery-pack would never be recycled, since now in 2005 there still isn't a private industry recycler for them.  Still?  Those first Prius sold here will be using those original battery-packs for several years to come.  How could a recycler establish a business based on nothing to recycle yet, especially with so many only having recently understood how a hybrid actually works?  Needless to say, he felt he had justified not endorsing hybrids, and concluded the article with this... "does make me feel better about my 4.0 liter in-line six".  That's sad.  A big, dirty, wasteful engine.  Too bad.  Years from now (after him having to purchase much more gas than us driving hybrids), he'll end up admitting that recycling did become privately established.  Or maybe he won't need to, since Toyota already sponsors their own recycling.

9-23-2005

$64.19 per barrel.  This week ended with quite a bit of uncertainty.  That price for oil didn't change much since last Friday, but the price of gas certainly did.  Throughout the course of the week, it slowly declined; then within hours of closing it suddenly shot back to where it was (30 cents higher).  The newest hurricane, Rita, was just about to hit the coasts of Texas & Louisiana.  No one knows what disaster awaits with the opening on Monday, but it is unlikely to be small.  That area provides over one-third of the domestic oil.  The shutdown of those facilities will obviously have an impact at the pump.  The question is now a matter of how much.

9-23-2005

Imposing Technology.  The joint CEO of Nissan & Renault, Carlos Ghosn, made this absurd comment today: "We have to be careful that we don't try to impose a technology on the market."  What the heck is that suppose to mean?  It doesn't even make sense.  How exactly would they impose?  Imposing means to force or obtrude.  In what fashion could an automaker do that?  All Toyota has done is was offer their hybrid at sticker price, one that would ultimately yield a profit after the R&D was paid off.  The result has been a demand so high that people are willing to wait months for delivery.  That certainly isn't imposing.  Perhaps if they stopped offering the gas-only option entirely, but no talk of that has ever been considered more than just a very long-term hope... which would be driven by sales success.  Why take the risk of total elimination?  Why not base increased production on actual demand, just like Toyota is doing now?

9-23-2005

Not the Same.  People finally understand what the heck a hybrid is.  Just getting over that "don't have to plug it in" hurdle was a challenge.  Explaining to them how the battery-pack is able to last the entire lifetime of the hybrid is a rather horrible process still, since so many don't comprehend the engineering and jump to conclusions based on outdated technology of the past.  Anywho, the battle to keep all hybrids for being thought of as "the same" is growing rapidly, so much so that a new strategy has emerged.  It has become quite apparent that pointing out strengths simply doesn't work well anymore.  Features like electric-only drive have grow in intricacy enough to confuse the typical consumer.  So instead, it makes sense to point out what ASSIST hybrids cannot do to point out the benefits of a FULL hybrid.  Here's a message I posted to do exactly that, in terms hopefully simple enough to satisfy all who question the differences...  Those two types of hybrid are fundamentally different.  FULL can power the electric motor without using the battery-pack at all.  FULL can power the electric motor and recharge the battery-pack simultaneously.  FULL can propel the vehicle without the engine spinning.  ASSIST cannot do any of the above, which means there are certain things that it cannot do the same way... like dealing with stop & slow traffic or climbing a hill.

 

back to home page       go to top