Prius Personal Log  #232

October 27, 2005  -  October 30, 2005

Last Updated: Sun. 11/06/2005

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10-30-2005

Panic.  I had no idea their end would come so abruptly.  GM is falling apart.  Besides losing frightening amounts of money each quarter, they are now having to deal with the reality that they have no long-term survival plans in place... and everyone knows it.  There is no doubt anymore that they will lose the title of "biggest" to Toyota.  Which of course, that makes Toyota the target of panic emotions.  Rather than blaming GM for its own short-sightedness, supporters are verbally lashing out at Toyota instead.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, there's Honda.  They do in fact have long-term plans, which are proceeding well already... and everyone knows it.  The problem they are struggling with is how to deal with so much larger of a competitor.  Both have hybrids, only Toyota had far more resources available and they started development a number of years earlier.  So naturally, they are better prepared to rollout their technology across their entire fleet.  Honda supporters don't like that at all, so they are lashing out too.  Panic is manifesting itself in a form of an "only one" mindset.  That sense of good old fashion rivalry simply is not emerging.  And if neither extreme can establish that, how will anyone closer to the middle... like Ford?

10-29-2005

Info-Sheet Updates.  There's not a whole to do with such a heavily refined document anymore.  It fulfilled its original purpose extremely well.  That's pretty cool.  I still remember that Summer a few years ago when I had my email inbox packed with responses providing suggestions & comments about the first draft.  Now, there's not a whole lot to tweak, except the photos.  So from time to time, I replace them with newer ones.  Today, the 2 on the front, the Consumption screen on the back, and the Speedometer got updates.  See... Info-Sheet  (HSD)

10-29-2005

Speedometer Photo.  I needed a much newer one.  The most current was from last Spring.  And why not get them routinely, taking photos of it is so much easier than in the past.  Before it was quite a struggle trying to get it exposed properly.  But now I have an 8-megapixel digital camera with a very large lens.  It makes taking a high-quality shot without capturing any radiant light relatively easy.  Then editing afterward to create the "bright" overexposure just like getting rid of red-eye.  Too bad it wasn't always that way.  Oh well, I'll be taking plenty more as the miles go by... photo album 103

10-28-2005

Quiet Classic.  Here's a new sham from the anti-hybrid antagonist.  This evening, one of them claimed that because we don't here much of anything from Classic owners anymore, there must be a cover-up... that Toyota had so many problems no one wants to talk about the Classic anymore.  He even went as far as saying that's why the HSD model was created.  That's both dishonest & deceptive.  We know for a fact that the HSD system wasn't created for that reason.  The THS system in the Classic model was designed specifically for Prius.  It was custom engineered.  It did not consists of components that would enable it to be part high-volume production.  But HSD was designed for that.  That makes a whole lot of sense for an automaker that intends to offer hybrids across their entire fleet.  It reduces the cost and allows for much larger quantities.  And the other part of the argument simply has no merit.  What would 53,000 owners of the Classic have to discuss nowadays?  They learned so much about their hybrid over the years already that you just don't get too many posts anymore.  After all, what questions could still remain that resources like the User-Guide (Classic) haven't already answered?  So we don't hear much from them.  Of course, how would we notice?  There are close to 160,000 owners of the HSD model, many of which are very much newbies still.  Their online messages grossly outnumber anything the long-time participants have to say.  So just by sheer count alone, it would make the Classic owners appear as though they are an extreme minority.  I'm tired of these anti-hybrid tactics.  They intentionally mislead to impede progress.  That's sickening.

10-28-2005

Shrink the Engine.  Have you noticed how none of the "assist" hybrid debates haven't included that point?  They just plain do not want to acknowledge the fact that a "full" hybrid can be upgraded in moderate steps.  Keeping the focus on how the electricity is generated or the cost of a option plug-in seems to satisfy the uniformed.  But those of us that have done our studying know that the engine doesn't have to be so big.  Cruising down the highway does not require that much horsepower.  Smaller would easily maintain the speed.  That will save gas.  A smaller engine costs less too.  The electric motor is more efficient to begin with.  So let a bigger one handle more of the accelerating, merging, passing, and hill climbing chores.  And if you increase the voltage, the electric motor becomes even more efficient.  That would work great in combination with the next generation of battery-pack.  How is an "assist" hybrid going to take advantage of that reality.  The limited supply of electricity is a barrier that is impracticable to overcome with only a single motor available.  To complicate matters, that design doesn't have a booster.  So the voltage remains the same as the battery-pack.  One could be added, but that would increase cost of the system.  Increasing sticker-price is not how you remain competitive.

10-28-2005

$61.22 per barrel.  Same old story.  Oil is still just above $60.  Gas is still just above $2.  Diesel is still just above $3.  No one has any expectation of improvement.  This is pretty much the way things are going to be for awhile.  And you know what that means.  Once people get used to something, the incentive to change it... especially if it means lower profit ...is pretty much non-existent.  Why settle for less?  Those companies have us exactly where they want us, and they know quite well that the current administration won't do anything to encourage change.  "Status Quo" is their motto.

10-28-2005

By the way.  The statistics for the biggest Prius forum, which isn't even 2 years old yet, are: 9,762 members with 11,132 threads consisting of 125,031 posts.

10-28-2005

Hybrid Anniversary.  I checked in on a friend today.  It was his one-year anniversary for owning a hybrid, the Escape-Hybrid.  He posts regularly on that big Escape forum where there (as of today) are: 11,233 members participating on 20,4431 threads with a total of 307,613 posts.  In other words, it's a popular online place for Ford Escape enthusiasts to hang out.  Unfortunately, they're still as anti-hybrid as ever.  It has been almost 10 months since I accused them of doing everything in their power to undermine the success of the hybrid model.  They said I was trying to create a conspiracy.  Clearly, they were wrong and I was right.  With a forum so large with so much activity, you'd think something would have changed since then.  But instead, nothing.  It is quite literally exactly the same way it was when I left.  There is absolutely nothing there in support of the hybrid model.  You'd think by now a section would have emerged for hybrid discussions, or at least a link to make some of the posts easier to find.  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  No improvement whatsoever.  All the supporters can do is put the word "hybrid" in the title of the message and hope people are able to find it, just like they were doing a whole year ago when the hybrid was first introduced.  That's sad.

10-28-2005

Publicity Stunt.  Can you believe that anyone would ever allege that Toyota's hybrids are just a publicity stunt, something to make them appear green so they can secretly sell more of the objectionable vehicles?  People do all the time.  That doesn't even make the slightest bit of sense when you think about it.  They are claiming that the nine hundred million dollars that have been spent along with the tens of thousands of development hours are just money & time that Toyota had to spare.  How can they possibly be serious?  The system is so fundamentally different that there is simply no way to deny that it wasn't a massive investment, enough to easily justify the establishment of an entirely new product base.  Yet, they claim that anyway.  Prius is not a shame like Silverado.  They didn't just slap in two more 12-volt batteries, use a bigger starter motor, and make the engine shutoff at stoplights like GM did.  Toyota built a totally new vehicle from scratch, giving it the ability to drive solely on electricity it generated itself while at the same time significantly reduce both emissions & consumption.  How dumb do some of these people think we are?

10-28-2005

HSD Promotions.  Wow!  I hear commercials on the radio every single commute drive.  It's fantastic.  They're all the same too, pointing out how Toyota is bringing automotive improvement to use with their HSD system.  That is so sweet to hear.  When sales of Camry-Hybrid finally begin next year, people will understand exactly what "HSD" represents.  It's like the "Hemi" of hybrids.  That's pretty cool.  Technology recognition is very important.  Just look at how Intel used "Pentium Inside" for many years and they are now using "Centrino".  They are the what people request when shopping for computers.  That's the same way it will be when people are shopping for hybrids.

10-28-2005

10 Years Earlier.  Imagine what the acceptance of hybrids would have been like if the "assist" design had been available 10 years earlier (back in 1987).  It would have been an obvious next step.  The first electric car built & sold/leased by a big-name automaker wouldn't have been available yet.  The "full" design would be nothing but an idea still.  It would be a popular new innovation.  But now, Prius is just beginning its ninth year of production.  With 8 years of real-world success already, the "assist" simply doesn't make any sense.  Perhaps if it cost less, then it could still be a hit.  But for any automaker to embrace that less flexible design at this point is a path down a dead-end road.  Sure, it may do just fine in the short-term.  But what about the long-term?  Why invest in new equipment, train everyone involved, and educate consumers on something that won't be around for too long?  The "full" hybrid, on the other hand, was designed with the intention of supporting further electric abilities later... like plugging into a grid powered by renewable sources.  After all, even fuel-cell vehicles propel themselves with electric motors, employ electric steering & A/C, use regenerative braking, and supplement the electrical supply with a battery-pack... the same way Prius does.  So the idea that some automakers have of introducing their very first hybrid a few years from now being an "assist" doesn't make good business sense.  If it's new in 2007, they'll likely expect to keep selling well into the next decade.  How will they compete?

10-28-2005

Automatic Transmission.  Many people are under the impression that cheap gas is what started the SUV craze.  That isn't true.  It wasn't a major contributing factor afterward.  What actually started it all was the invention of a better automatic transmission.  Before that, to have a powerful truck it absolutely had to have a manual transmission.  Back then, the automatic was too slow and too weak.  So it was basically only used in cars.  That invention changed everything.  Not only was the automatic improved, it was actually better than the manual.  All of a sudden, the situation had changed overnight.  Now to have the most power, the truck had to have an automatic transmission.  And since people no longer needed to worry about shifting gears, market interest rapidly grew.  Now, 93 percent of the driving population in the United States has chosen the automatic transmission.  The fact that they are not as efficient as a manual made no difference.  Not having to shift did.  So naturally, when I hear diesel advocates saying people will just switch to a manual to save some money at the pump, I wonder if they have any idea that our history doesn't support their claim.

10-28-2005

Clueless.  This week an activist group started anti-Toyota publicity.  Their claim is that the automaker isn't as clean as their reputation leads you to believe.  They specifically pointed out how neither hybrid SUV gets much better MPG than their traditional counterpart.  It's like they have absolutely no clue what being clean actually involves.  Focus was put solely on efficiency.  The emissions rating of SULEV was never mentioned.  That's a genuine improvement, undeniably cleaner.  Another thing never mentioned was the upcoming Camry-Hybrid.  It will indeed deliver a significant gain in MPG.  Those SUVs don't, but that wasn't their purpose.  They were designed specifically to shatter the misconception that hybrids could be powerful... which has been accomplished remarkably well.  But they don't seem to understand that.  Because if they did have any clue, they'd be petitioning Toyota to build a more efficient model of the same hybrid SUV instead.  The engineering is simple.  Both Camry & Highlander share the same chassis & engine.  So adapting that system Toyota has developed for Civic-Hybrid to work with Highlander-Hybrid is not that much of a stretch.  It's like they are living only in the now.  Long-Term plans to offer more than just one hybrid configuration of a vehicle model, once the market is finally established and misconceptions have been overcome, is apparently beyond this activist group's comprehension... even though multiple configurations for traditional vehicle model's have been offered for decades.  What make hybrids any different?  Of course, it could just be a ploy to draw attention to themselves or they could be secret supporters of the competition.

10-27-2005

Gas Rations.  There was a report on the radio today about gas being rationed in Florida, as a result of hurricane Wilma.  They are only allowing $20 worth to each customer.  Imagine if you owned a gas-guzzler.  Hmm?  How far would you get on that amount of gas?  How much would that make you want to have a hybrid instead... knowing you could go significantly further?  I bet unfortunate events like these are going to result in some good.  People are being forced to consider the consequences of their automotive choices.

 

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