Prius Personal Log  #229

October 17, 2005  -  October 19, 2005

Last Updated: Thurs. 11/03/2005

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10-19-2005

Coming to a Close.  If you've been following the popular Prius forums, you would have noticed that my participation has slowly been tapering off over the past few months.  It is now practically nothing.  I've been watching others fight the battles that I used to fight and me only chiming in when things got really ugly.  Now, I almost never need to do that either.  They've learned well.  Taking the time to study Prius really pays off.  It cultivates a passion to confront the bullies... which I have (obviously) indulged in lately as a final fling.  But that is coming to a close too.  I expect to just kick back and enjoy at this point.  There will be on-going log entries and new sets of photos from time to time.  It will give me the time to respond to email much sooner as well.  Answering the same questions repeated countless times over the last 5 years isn't for me anymore.  Some of the documents I've created do that anyway.  It's time for the new players to step forward.  I see some that are even interested in doing the same things I've done, like creating video & screen-savers.  That's really cool.  It will be quite pleasing to watch that progress emerge.  There's certainly plenty of incentive.  All the nonsense the painfully ill-prepared automakers are about to spew upon the market sure is going to provide a good reason to entice others to help clean up the mess it will cause.  Those automakers have have been caught in denial again.  Now they're even worse off then the first time it happened, back in the 70's... because it is taking them quite a bit longer to catch up this time.  And I got to participate in that newest chapter of history, witnessing it unfold from the side-lines of the winning team.  But that game has ended.  A new one is about to begin.  This time, I'll be one of those retired experts providing commentary as the game progresses.  Hmm.  I wonder what the halftime show will be?  Perhaps they'll have a bunch of clowns come out of a fool-cell vehicle.

10-19-2005

"That's Interesting", part 2.  This was the reply I got: "Thank you for the link, John!  I'd been unable to find the comprehensive specs on Toyota's site."  I'm not buying that load of crap.  Clicking the Prius link on Toyota's home page brings you the blatantly obvious and heavily promoted http://toyota.com/prius, which has a "Specification" link that would be extremely difficult not to notice.  And the specification page for Prius on Toyota's website has been around since at least February 19, 2000 (which is when I saved & printed my first copy).  It's the very first link that displays when you do a search for "Prius specs" on Google too.  I can't believe that she couldn't find it.  Of course, this is the same person that fought me intensely when I stated SULEV was the minimum standard we should set for "clean", that her ULEV hybrid was too dirty.  Her response then was a very, very detailed message packed with links to quite a variety of emissions studies.  So naturally, I find this interesting that claiming ignorance was her chosen response to being caught trying to misrepresent.

10-19-2005

"That's Interesting", part 1.  That was what I said in my response when discovering yet another multi-year opponent quoting legroom size for the Civic-Hybrid from Honda itself and Prius size from just a generic automotive website.  The fact that Prius only had front values listed immediately made me suspicious.  Why would she go to the trouble of listing front & rear for one and only front for the other?  Moments later, I had already figured out what was going on.  Toyota's website listed 41.9 inches.  The other said only 40.1 inches.  Her message was a response was to someone that had made a comment about Civic-Hybrid being "such a small car".  She quoted 9 vehicle dimensions for comparison.  Legroom has always everyone's favorite, and it was wrong.  The concluding paragraph included this: "there's no need to misrepresent other hybrids just to make Prius look better".  So I ponder, isn't that exactly what she did to make her preferred hybrid look better?

10-19-2005

Not Closer to 40 MPG.  Yet another Detroit based publication, this time in support of the Ford Escape-Hybrid, made an absurd claim again: "A Prius that has an EPA rating of close to 60 mpg in city driving typically gets closer to 40 mpg, according to about a dozen websites and owner forums."  Where the heck did this writer get his data from?  I'd have to really dig to hunt down a dozen online sources that report such low efficiency for a Prius.  The overwhelming average for the HSD model is around 48 MPG.  That isn't even close to their claim.  And if I wanted to use numbers only for city (non-highway) driving, I could find a bunch of examples even higher.  I suppose being fed just data intentionally selected to provide the impression that all Prius have low numbers is possible.  But random searches certainly won't.  It's poor reporting, at best.  There was no basis of comparison, or even a measurement context explained.  All the writer did was make a claim without stating any detail whatsoever.

10-18-2005

Wagons.  Have you noticed what 2006 is bringing?  I have.  There are now several television commercials featuring new wagon models from several different automakers, all similar in size to Prius.  I was right.  The trend is emerging.  It's hard to give up a spacious cargo area.  The convenience of fold-down seats that reveal a space so large you can just toss a bicycle into is quite compelling, something you don't want to give up.  My first car was a hatchback.  Needless to say, when I found out the new Prius was going to be one, I was very excited by the thought of upgrading.  Anywho, the "fat wagons" that were intended to replace SUVs don't have much of an appeal factor now that gas is so expensive.  Simply lowering the ground-clearance to improve safety and rounding off the edges for better aerodynamics simply wasn't enough.  The mid-size wagon is far more practical... and costs less too.

10-18-2005

Amazing Lies.  I clearly remember, shortly after getting my 2004 Prius, an argument with an outspoken opponent to "full" hybrid technology.  I made a remark about how the new model does an even better job of climbing hills... widening the gap between it and "assist" hybrids even further.  His response was that what I saw on the Multi-Display was really an amazing lie, that the system really wasn't capable of charging the battery-pack on the way up.  That was blatantly incorrect of course, but he pushed that false information anyway... attempting to establish a misconception.  The system really does generate that much electricity, enough to feed the electric motor for thrust and the battery-pack for recharging at the same time.  So today, still as stubborn & ill-intentioned as ever, he altered his misleading efforts by saying this: "At speeds above 43 miles per hour, the electric motor is no longer used for propulsion.  Instead it acts as a generator and continually charges the battery at highway speed, even if the battery is fully charged.  This is one of the main complaints against the HSD, the wasted energy at highway speed.  That is why the highway mileage is less than the city mileage 51 highway versus 60 city."  In other words, he realized there was simply no way to convince people anymore that generating on-the-fly wasn't possible.  Far too many times I've pointed out how the PSD connects the engine and small motor to enable very efficient electricity creation 100 percent of the time the engine is providing power to the wheels.  So he figured his approach this time would be the opposite extreme by saying so much electricity is being created, but never consumed, that it actually causes MPG to be lower.  That is an amazing lie, not even close to what actually happens.  The large motor utilizes that electricity all the time, preventing the charge-level of the battery-pack from exceeding 6 bars (69 percent of full capacity) while cruising on the highway.

10-18-2005

Fords takes on GM.  Ha!  Ford Chief Engineer Mary Ann Wright said: "When you start getting into SUVs and bigger cars, you don't see as many cost-saving benefits with a mild hybrid system."  That was a subtle & undeniable insult at GM's so-called mild hybrid.  I was kind of hoping the two big American automakers would finally start competing in the hybrid market.  It's about dang time.  Attention of any kind is a good way to get people cheering for hybrids.  Hopefully, it could turn into a harmless "my truck is better" type rivalry.  The article that featured the quote went on further with its own insults: "There are two basic kinds of hybrid vehicles: full and mild.  Full hybrids have the capability to run solely in electric mode, while a mild hybrid always requires power from the internal combustion engine... In addition to fuel conservation, full hybrids offer extremely low emissions."  Isn't it remarkable that the attitude already is to ignore the smaller automakers?  Notice how no mention was made of the other type of hybrid, the "assist".  Whatever the case, it is stirring the pot.  Factors that have been totally unheard of, like emissions & efficiency, are now gaining importance in the muscle arena.  Isn't that wild!?!

10-17-2005

Audi Hybrid.  I just learned that Audi showed off a concept hybrid last month in Europe.  They exclaimed actual production could begin by 2008.  That should be interesting.  It's a SUV.  The market for SUVs is rapidly souring.  The design is a "separating clutch" which allows an electric motor and gasoline engine to operate individually or in unison.  That is more sophisticated than Honda's design, but it's basically just another "assist" hybrid joining the crowd.  It will rely primarily on brake regeneration for replenishing the battery-pack and will not have the electric ability of creating & consuming simultaneously, like both Toyota & Ford have.  But despite the expected disappointment, they did still surprise me by actually stating the top electric speed is 18 MPH.  Interesting, eh?  Honda still hasn't revealed that information for the Civic-Hybrid that should be available within the next few weeks.

10-17-2005

Fascination.  Many times I have worried about these personal logs becoming an obsession.  But every time it comes back to just being an unusual hobby.  I'm absolutely fascinated by the self-destructive nature of certain automakers.  They show no remorse for making pollution worse and further increasing our reliance on imported oil, while at the same time pushing products that cannot possibly support them in the long-term.  It looks more and more that the people making those decisions simply don't care because they'll be retired by then.  They just want to enjoy the "good old days" for a little bit longer.  Then they figure their departure will provide a wonderful opportunity for a fresh new executive to accept that challenge of inevitable change.  The catch is the timing.  That is working against them.  It makes for great drama.  The daily articles I find on Google about their escapades provide fantastic material for me to climb up on my soapbox.  And I do.

10-17-2005

Fuel "Cell" ?  Lack of understanding how the technology actually works has revealed itself in a rather surprising way.  I hadn't ever thought of the word "cell" as meaning to hold something.  But technically, it could mean that.  Fuel-Cells don't.  Some people think the do though.  They have absolutely no idea that a fuel-cell is actually device .  There is a thin membrane (usually platinum) which is a catalyst that enables a chemical reaction to occur when the fuel (most commonly pure hydrogen in gas form) is mixed with oxygen and heat.  That fuel is stored in a tank, not in any way part of the fuel-cell itself.  Anywho, having discovered that today made me wonder what other types of technology or terminology misunderstandings could there be about hybrids.  One may be responsible for some of the resistance... and we wouldn't even know it.

10-17-2005

Getting Weird.  I read a really bizarre article from a Detroit publication today.  It was vague and quoted a few very misleading numbers, but then it got real.  I couldn't believe some actual intelligence was actually being conveyed.  Rather than focusing solely on monetary aspects, it mentioned how people buy vehicles for emotional reasons.  How about that?  It even when to the point of saying that some hybrids do reduce emissions and reduce our dependence on imported oil.  I was amazed!  But ultimately, it still ended in frustration.  Several times there were negative comments made about how having to separate propulsion systems wasn't the best idea.  It even went as far as stating they are not a "silver bullet" like the industry has made them out to be.  Can you guess why?  Escape, Silverado, Tahoe, and Civic were the featured hybrids in the article.  They're all existing vehicles that now have or will have hybrid systems.  Prius was ignored entirely, only a passing reference to Toyota was made.  And it was if there was no such thing as the RX400h & Highlander SUV hybrids.  It appears as though the attitude now is that the concept of hybrid is being treated as an "enhanced traditional" ...which is exactly the way I described the "assist" hybrid design.  GM must of had some influence in the writing of this article, because there "two-mode" hybrid design was mentioned... which does in fact fit this definition of enhancement.  Ford's still nameless design that is "purpose built" just like Toyota's HSD didn't get any recognition whatsoever.  I suspect the reporter intentionally excluded that very important difference.  Whatever the case, it is getting weird now that attention to hybrids is being focused this way.  Rather than dismissing them, they are trying to make them into a fade ...something that will (to their hope) disappear entirely later.  This is the very same thing they did for electric cars.  But back then, they didn't have supporters on the internet fighting to prevent their weird attempt to kill them by convincing us that they failed.

10-17-2005

Hypocrite.  What else do you call certain die-hard Honda supporters who routinely complained about the fact that the speedometer was digital and above the steering-wheel in Prius but now sings songs of praise for the new Civic having that?  I had tried in the past using words like disingenuous, but now I'm far too frustrated.  They were clearly looking for excuses to compete directly with Prius... hence their "the same" campaign.  What's next?  I've prepared for battle by creating those documents which clearly show the dramatic difference in design.  My guess is they'll try to convince people that this new hybrid will be able to support electric augmentation like Prius already does.  The reality is that it wasn't intended to do that.  How would their small motor be kept from overheating?  No one has ever mentioned a liquid cooling system like Prius has always had.  So even if it was somehow practical to make the electric system do more than just assist, it couldn't be sustained for long.  In fact, I think that is the very reason why Honda is avoiding details and instead just hinting that electric-only will be for limited distances & speeds.  Whatever the case, I have no doubt that these same supporters will come up with something convincing.  After all, the speedometer look & placement was originally ridiculed, now its applauded.

 

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