Prius Personal Log  #231

October 25, 2005  -  October 27, 2005

Last Updated: Tues. 11/01/2005

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10-27-2005

Entertainment Value.  Today was fantastic!  Someone posted the following this morning "I researched three cars: the Prius, VW Jetta diesel, and Civic-Hybrid.  The real-world figures are 48.2, 41.2 and 44.7 respectively."  That seemed to draw a rather concise conclusion.  There was nothing to debate.  Prius was the most efficient.  But then he executed one of the classic anti-hybrid techniques of changing definitions: "My interpretation is that the Prius may deliver a little bit better fuel economy, but at a greater efficiency loss than the Civic-Hybrid.  What I found intriguing was that the VW diesel was actually more efficient than predicted."  See what he's up to?  He's trying to convince people that efficiency is a matter of internal energy management.  Which has a hint of truth in the scientific circle.  But in both the world of engineering and the consumer market, we've been referring to "efficiency" as MPG all along.  Focus for us has always been on the end result.  Whether or not a particular part of the process is efficient or not only matters if it's penalizing the outcome.  Clearly, it isn't... hence Prius delivering the highest MPG.  Then he finally concluded with this: "The Prius and Civic-Hybrid may get more MPG but they are further away from the EPA ratings than the diesels, thus more inefficient."  It's nonsense of that nature which used to cause all kinds of grief and online quarrels.  But not anymore.  We see right through that attempt to mislead & undermine.  In fact, stuff like that has some entertainment value now.  You watch to see just how far they'll go to prove there deceptive point.  And I must admit, referring to "efficiency" that way was a rather creative method of confusing people.  In the end though, people know that those real-world figures are what actually matters.

10-27-2005

Duh!  This quote in a newspaper today was hysterical: "New research conducted... has found that U.S. media increasingly emphasize fuel-efficiency over safety in discussions of automobile features."  Of course.  That is absolutely true, now that NHTSA has added rollover tests to their safety database.  The SUVs score horrible in that respect.  In fact, it is downright embarrassing for some of the automakers.  So anything they can do to draw attention elsewhere is better for them.  That's why focus has changed over to fuel-efficiency.  That's something which can actually be improved.  The high ground-clearance in a SUV is a fundamental design flaw that cannot be fixed.  It makes the vehicle far more prone to rollover accidents.  It also allows the vehicle to drive over a barrier intended to keep you from driving off of a ledge or into water.  Since that isn't something that can be corrected, they don't want you to know about it.  Remember, one of the major appeal factors of a SUV is the fact that it sits up high.

10-26-2005

$1.10 Less.  The price of gas still remains $1.10 per gallon less than diesel.  It was that guy in the White House who decided gas production should be favored for now, hence the lower prices.  The reasoning for that still hasn't been revealed.  But we can guess that it was to keep gas-guzzler panic from setting in.  Dealing with the resulting higher product & service prices which rely on diesel is easier than Detroit falling apart... which will happen anyway, just not on his watch.  I'm tired of the "do nothing to genuinely encourage hybrids" dance.  It's been the same baloney for over 4 years now.  Keeping prices as low as possible is not a good plan.  All it does is delay the inevitable.  And even after hybrids (of whatever type) are finally available from each automaker, there will only be small quantities even if gas is still cheap.  The majority simply doesn't care... yet.  That's why the monster-size gas-guzzlers thrived for so long.  After all, what's the incentive to reduce consumption?

10-26-2005

Moscow.  Just like in that silly "Oil Storm" made-for-television movie, Moscow is joining the oil supplier mess.  They see the prime opportunity to boost their economic status by trying to convince the United States to buy their oil instead.  That would allow us to severe our ties with the politically unstable oil sources we currently depend on.  Supposedly, that's a good thing.  It does absolutely nothing to reduce our dependence.  We will just have a different source to worry about instead.  That is only masking the problem, like putting on a new bandage.  That doesn't actually fix the underlying problem.  It only makes it appear as though we have.  I don't think that is a good thing.  Let's stop using so much oil in the first place.

10-26-2005

What Purpose?  My fight to end the intentional spread of misinformation does have a purpose.  It's to ensure a better future.  I see that the "assist" technology costs the same as the "full", yet it doesn't deliver as much for efficiency and it does not provide a platform that can be built upon later.  In other words, it is a short-term solution for just a small number of people.  Step back and look at the long-term big-picture.  Toyota has repeatedly stated that their entire fleet will someday be hybrid.  With annual sales approaching the 9 million mark, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that the door to opportunity will be opening wide.  With so many hybrids capable of aftermarket augmentation, like upgrading to a more powerful battery-pack and adding a plug, what's to stop people from actually doing that?  Nothing needs to be changed under the hood.  You just plug in the new modules in back.  That's it!  Currently, that's something that people never give a second thought to.  The average joe simply buys a new vehicle when they require something better.  Traditional cars & trucks simply aren't capable of that type of enhancement... and neither is an "assist" hybrid.  See my point?

10-26-2005

This Is Why.  How many times do I need to read messages like this before that "the same" campaign finally ends: "Your problem may be that you are using more battery power than you are charging.  Watch to make sure you aren't using the assist to much.  When you approach a stop lightly touch the brake enough so as the system shows a full charge to the batteries.  Try to not using assist as not so drain the batteries and see if they charge up fully."  It was posted by an Insight owner, who has participated on that forum for over 2.5 years with 970 posts, in response to an new Insight owner for only 1 week.  Over and over again, I see evidence that the "assist" design simply doesn't have electricity to spare.  There is just enough for the basics.  That's it.  Relying primarily on braking for charging won't provide a supply for anything beyond brief moments for electric drive.  Stealth or A/C is just plain not realistic.  Replenishment much more often is needed.  But to do that, more gas needs to be used.  There isn't a second motor generating electricity consistently like the "full" design, which doesn't incur that efficiency penalty.  I'm tired of this nonsense.  But then again, at least this misleading isn't as bad as the fuel-cell propaganda was a few years ago.

10-26-2005

Disenfranchised.  I always wondered how that happens to a person.  And now that I've encountered someone that has been, I still wonder.  Shortly after a particular owner got his HSD Prius last year, it stalled.  We pointed out that the required water-seal had not been applied to his yet.  He was livid, to the point of using offensive language in his messages and accusing people of concealing a conspiracy.  That type of reaction was quite out of place, but we just let it blow over.  After all, Toyota had announced that SSC (voluntary fix or update) already.  Then things got weird.  Whenever someone on either of the two biggest Prius forums pointed out a shortcoming of an "assist" design, he complained about the seats in Prius being uncomfortable and the way the interior plastic looks.  What the heck does that have to do with the hybrid technology?  Over and over again, we kept getting that bizarre response as a result of comments relating to Honda hybrids.  Finally, he confessed that he was considering trading in his Prius possibly for the new Civic-Hybrid.  That's fine.  Problem solved.  Right?  No such luck.  Now he has started to lie about Prius.  After all, since he owns one people will just assume he knows what he's talking about.  Today, it was this about the A/C: "It's not like it can tap the battery directly.  That's been mentioned on several Prius forums.  You and I have both seen that, so let's drop that."  I have never seen that.  It has not been mentioned on any of the popular Prius forums.  And it is just plain not true.  For over 2 years (introduced with the HSD model), Prius enthusiasts have been rejoicing over the fact that the A/C is indeed pure electric, drawing power from the battery directly... without needing the engine to run, even on the maximum setting.  What would cause a person to go to such extremes?  How did his desperation to make all hybrids appear to be the same emerge?  Why did it choose to purchase a Prius in the first place?

10-26-2005

Forget Hybrids.  Talking about misleading people.  Yet another anti-hybrid article was published from Detroit today.  This one attacked Toyota head-on with this statement, "Toyota lacks one fundamental element - image - unlike BMW or Mercedes."  How is that even the slightest bit honest?  They are pretending there is no such thing as a luxury brand from Toyota to compete with those automakers.  Well, there is.  They lied.  It's called Lexus, which already offers one hybrid model and has another on the way.  The point of the article was to claim that diesel was the solution instead... of which both BMW and Mercedes are strong supporters.  The article even went as far as saying, "Exhaust emissions from diesels will easily meet the next laws in 2007".  That's just plain wrong too.  It makes it sound like the diesels are actually clean.  But in reality, all they do is meet the regulation.  No where did they even make the slightest reference to the EPA rating system for emissions, which is how all the gas vehicles (hybrid & non-hybrid) are all identified.  And we all know that being vague is a technique used to kindle assumptions.  So don't expect them to actually deliver SULEV (or better) like the hybrids do.  And of course, there is simply no way to make MPG expectation, since they never included any real-world data averages in the article.  They just said the diesel would be "better" than the hybrid.  There was no mention of what type of driving or what type of transmission.  It was yet another report of desperation, more clear evidence that some automakers have been caught totally unprepared... again.

10-26-2005

9.2 Million Next Year.  That's what I heard when turning on the radio this morning.  They were discussing how it looks like Toyota will become #1 next year by surpassing GM with vehicle production.  Interesting, eh?  The downfall of GM is happening much faster than many expected... except the hybrid supporters.  We knew that Toyota's plans for the future would support their success.  GM's fierce denial that hybrids made any business sense was an obvious sign that they were living for the moment, only concerned about the short-term.  Their continued push to keep focus on their high-profit gas-guzzlers confirms it.  Well, too bad.  They had the choice.  Those chose poorly.

10-25-2005

To Reiterate.  Here's my standing again, since so many of the "anti" people keep making up stuff about me:  Diesels (non-hybrid) simply are not competitive enough to satisfy the majority.  The automatic transmission (which 90% of the US population prefers) does not deliver efficiency as high as the "full" hybrid.  This difference is especially well pronounced for those having to deal with stop & slow commutes.  And to achieve the PZEV emission rating, even with low-sulfur diesel, the added cost for the cleansing equipment wipes out any remaining monetary argument in favor of diesel.  Assist hybrids have a fundamental shortcoming.  Adding a "separating clutch" and a cooling system to enable greater electric propulsion abilities is possible, but that would add to the cost making them even less competitive.  But the big problem comes from when you consider where the needed electricity would come from.  Without a second motor and a persistent electrical system, all you get is enough for assist... hence the name.  The design simply wasn't intended to deliver more than just passive electrical abilities.

10-25-2005

AutoExtremist.  With a name like that, there is no real reason for me to provide any comment.  Their audience clearly isn't the average joe anyway.  The mainstream consumer is not one that would ever care what they have to say.  But nonetheless, I feel the need to comment.  The founder of the website chimed in about how the surge in gas prices will affect the sales of large SUVs.  He said hybrids are not a "magic bullet" that will solve our fuel & environmental problems, all they really do is make a political statement.  He said the total cost of ownership is "still hard to justify".  Since when is a gas-guzzling giant designed for off-road driving something that you can justify commuting to work on dry pavement with anyway?  The whole argument is senseless from the start.  The SUV is by its very nature a poor choice.  The high ground-clearance, heavy-duty suspension, and powerful engine is gross overkill for how people actually use them.  Fortunately, the surge in gas prices is finally getting some people to reevaluate their reasoning for owning one.

10-25-2005

Only a Small Fraction.  The media is still milking this argument for all it is worth.  Fortunately, it isn't worth squat anymore.  Thankfully, the other vehicles with much higher sales quantities are just providing filler at this point.  Hybrids may only account for a small fraction of sales, but they are the ones drawing almost all of the interest.  So as their availability increases, so will the purchases.  After all, how often do you hear anyone raving about any of the non-hybrid vehicles that deliver relatively high MPG?  You don't.  In fact, the only time they really get any mention of any kind is when they are compared to hybrids.  There is no strong following.  There is little online support for them.  They are basically just there waiting to be replaced.  And they will be.  As that fraction grows, the misconceptions & doubt shrinks.

10-25-2005

Snowflake.  I saw it for the first time this Fall, on my morning commute.  That "roads may be frozen" indicator light is a sign that Winter is quickly approaching.  In a few weeks, temperatures will drop so cold that even during the warmest part of the day it will stay on.  Then it won't go away for months.  At that point, it shutting off represents "Spring is on the way".  When you have a Prius, who needs a groundhog for that.  Just watch to see when that light with the snowflake on it disappears.

 

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