Prius Personal Log  #233

October 30, 2005  -  November 4, 2005

Last Updated: Sun. 11/06/2005

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11-04-2005

The Plug is Coming.  Today, it was this: "After years of emphasizing its hybrid vehicles do not have to be plugged in, Toyota appears to be on the verge of a dramatic reversal."  If it's not one extreme, it's another.  I'm all for practical implementation of a plug-in option.  In other words, affordable.  The current experiments that place it in the $10,000 to $12,000 price range are totally unrealistic for mainstream acceptance.  To make matter worse, the spin from that quote posted today is very frustrating... because it is simply not true.  Where is this emphasis they claim?  My extensive article scrapbook, printed advertisement collection, and television commercial DVDs simply don't support that.  A few mention "don't need to plug it in" aspect, but only within the list of other details.  It is far from a common theme.  There is no reversal either.  For 5 years now, the enthusiasts have been discussing how practical the "full" hybrid design is for supporting the plug-in option.  We knew it would happen someday.  That's why we started fighting the "assist" design way back then.  Once the battery price drops enough, it will be no big deal to offer the plug-in feature.  This isn't dramatic.  It is just the next logical step.

11-04-2005

User-Guide Mention.  Edmunds 2-year review of Prius was just published.  They decided to do something completely unexpected.  The driving & reports will continue.  That's highly unusual.  Reviews have always ended at this point.  But with the rapid popularity growth of hybrids, a much longer opportunity to review Prius is quite compelling.  So that's what will happen.  They did something else unexpected too.  The User-Guide I provide was mentioned... but in a very strange way.  The writer said if you search for "The Toyota Prius User-Guide" on Google, you'll find that it's available at multiple websites.  That most definitely isn't true.  There is only one source.  But I suppose a round-about way of referring to it is ok.  As for the review, I'm still baffled by their reported 40.8 MPG average.  That's not typical.  And their 44.4 MPG for best tank is really sad.  How are they driving it to get the efficiency that low?  48 MPG is the average many, many actual owners report.  But he made no mention of doing anything guarantee really good efficiency besides just tire pressure, like checking the oil level.  Perhaps the writer didn't actually read the User-Guide.

11-03-2005

Accord-Hybrid Discount.  Well, what do you know.  Honda is now providing a $1,200 discount for the purchase of any remaining 2005 model.  I guess the reputation for such a minor MPG improvement and no smog-related emission improvement whatsoever has left them with inventory to clearance.  It's a darn good thing the 2006 model is cleaner.  But the MPG is still disappointing.  I wonder if Honda will announce a 4-cylinder version?  Since it won't have the ability to shut down half the engine (a minimum of 3 is needed to maintain the rotation), the minor efficiency difference will be a tough sale in contrast to the upcoming Camry-Hybrid.  What it the world will Honda do next?

11-03-2005

Funny Looking Minivan.  GM never ceases to amaze.  Their latest attempt to recover fleeing consumers is to put the front of a pickup onto a minivan.  Wow!  It looks really funny.  You see that trademark truck face approaching, then the side of a minivan passes by.  And it's pretty darn easy to see the silliness too.  Those classic large sliding minivan doors make it obvious what GM did.  I guess they're plum out of ideas now.  So rather than inventing something entirely new, they just combined various sections from other vehicles.  I've heard of the "reuse bin" approach to save development money, but this is absolutely ridiculous.  I wonder what the heck both minivan owners and pickup owners will think of this.  Hmm?

11-02-2005

Lame Stunt.  Here's the latest stunt attempting to draw attention without actually delivering anything worthwhile.  A single fuel-cell vehicle has been offered for rental.  One family has been given the opportunity to drive it for $500 per month.  Supposedly the automaker is hoping: "The feedback from these consumers will be very astute."  Really?  The family is located in California.  What will that prove?  The state is a friendly operating environment for fuel-cells.  The required heat for the chemical reaction is plentiful there.  Minnesota is an entirely different matter; it's hostile there.  That's where valuable feedback would come from.  But they wouldn't actually dare that.  The coldest startup currently supported is only 20F degrees.  Last year, I had a morning commute at -18F in my Prius.  (There are photos in my album to prove it.)  What would I drive then?  The fuel-cell stack would be frozen solid.  Heck, we can go for entire week here with the high temperature for the day not even reaching 10F.  I'd really be stranded.  A fuel-cell vehicle would be completely worthless in Minnesota during that part of the year.  That's why you don't ever here about tests in northern states.  Fuel-Cell technology is loaded with problems to overcome still.  The press it gets currently for automotive applications is nothing but a distraction away from hybrid technology.  That's lame.

11-02-2005

Enough Power?  I haven't been asked that question in quite awhile.  It actually caught me off guard a first.  Then I remember how I used to respond, and provided this...  10 minutes behind the wheel and you will have no need to ever ask the question again.  You'll immediately switch to asking how Toyota did that.  The misconceptions rapidly vanish when you drop down that accelerator-pedal and stare at the speedometer.  Those nasty anti-hybrid people go to great lengths to prevent the curious from considering a test-drive.  Because once that happens, it's all over.  The curious becomes an enthusiast.  Hybrid technology like this is pretty remarkable.  But since most people have no idea how the various component measurements translate to real-world performance, the technology simply doesn't get much attention beyond just MPG.  That fact that we are constantly being brainwashed by advertisers that faster and more horsepower is better, you tend to lose perspective... which can be regained with just a few minutes behind the wheel.  Try it.  You'll like it.  And you'll never wonder if there is enough power ever again.

11-01-2005

86 Cents.  That's how much more diesel cost per gallon than gas now.  The difference is shrinking, but slower than the price of gas is dropping.  Too bad this number gas is going to confuse people.  They'll end up being thankful that gas just a little over $2 per gallon.  Just last Spring, they were fearing that.  What do you think those that depend on diesel for their job are going to feel?

11-01-2005

2006 Production.  It supposedly begins today.  That means we'd start to see the first ones arriving on the west coast in early December.  With many people waiting to collect the tax credit, I can imagine a rather strange waiting list.  I hope people realize just how quickly Toyota will reach the quota.  I also hope those that get it realize there is a year delay before they can collect, since tax returns for that won't be filed until the final year.  Oh well.  By this time next year, when the 2007 production begins, those still on a waiting list will start to worry about getting delivery before the end of December.  Because after that, the credit would have dropped to just 25 percent of what it was originally.

11-01-2005

Never Win.  Certain forums absolutely will not let you win.  When you get close to proving a benefit for hybrids, they simply divert attention to some other automotive facet.  That's why constructive discussions rarely ever last.  The same old shallow chatter just emerges over and over and over again... except when a well-informed enthusiast steps in.  The resistors love the challenge of debating with someone experienced and full of passion.  Perhaps they really do know it's their last stand, so they give it their all.  We'll never find out though.  But I do know that each time I left with something gained from the experience.  Most of the documents I provide were formulated that way.  Whenever they tried to establish a pointless fact as being a weakness, I found a way to expose them.  It worked well... so well that it's over now.  There's nothing else to discuss anymore.  All their tricks have been exhausted.  So it's difficult for them to generate much attention at this point.  People get bored of that nonsense and leave.  It's pretty obvious newbies want more.  Taking a quick look at my website usage statistics reveals that the User-Guide is by far the most popular download.  I find that quite intriguing.  Then when I think about the situation as a whole, I realize that they actually do win.  Interesting, eh?  Thousands of anonymous lurkers are empowering themselves.  History has never dealt a non-extreme stirring so much attention.  Prius is basically just a 21st Century family car.  Prius doesn't break any size, power, or speed record.  Yet, there are destined to be countless of them scattered in every area of our slow-to-change country... found in driveways and parking lots everywhere.  People want that hybrid because it is practical.  What a concept!  It's a whole new way of winning.

10-31-2005

$59.76 per barrel.  How about that?  The closing price for oil actually dropped below $60.  I'm really surprised.  It has been above that for so long that I don't remember when it climbed that scary threshold.  I wonder what will happen now.  It will likely go up again.  Companies rushing to buy lots of futures at that price would cause that.  Of course, the big unknown is for the seasonal products that usually get refined now... like heating oil.  I bet that is going to be really expensive throughout the entire cold season.

10-31-2005

Year 3.  I just finished entering out the final data for the second year of owning my HSD model Prius.  That sure went by quickly.  They were right about the having fun effect.  This is the year that will catch me up to where I was when I parted with my Classic.  That should be interesting.  It's far from uncharted territory for Prius owners.  But nonetheless, it is still the first time I've surpassed the 60,000 mark.  A friend of mine, who got his Classic Prius (also a Green one) three months after I did, is rapidly approaching the 180,000 mark with his already.  That's the magic point where disbelievers (and the anti-hybrid) claim the battery-pack will somehow fail.  (It used to be at 150,000 miles, but we have already squashed that misconception.)  Anywho, I'm really looking forward to the data that will result from this year... personal data 14   personal data 15

10-31-2005

Any downside to buying a hybrid?  It happened again.  This was another popular online discussion thread (on that rather problematic forum) that the host finally declared concluded.  Just like with the "Hybrids, are they up to the chore?" thread, this one had lots of hostile anti-hybrid attacks.  It starts out relatively friendly.  But each time a hybrid enthusiast wins a particular battle-of-words, the ante is raised.  It ends up becoming non-constructive and personal after the question gets answered well beyond any doubt.  That's when action is required.  The host finally says no more evidence is needed.  Of course, the fact that reliability reports were just published may have influenced that too.  They clearly stated that hybrids deliver a rather obvious upside.  With such a new technology in comparison to the decades of non-hybrid refinement, that is quite an endorsement for buying a hybrid.

10-30-2005

HCCI.  That stands for "Homogenous Charge Compression Ignition".  It is a concept for gas engines that function in a way similar to diesel engines, compressing the fuel to ignite it rather than a spark.  But unlike diesel, it is clean.  The reason is that the ignition is much cooler.  The catch is that it is extremely difficult to manage the proper air & fuel mixture at certain speeds, making for rough engine operation.  In fact, mastering that process has eluded engineers for over 30 years.  But now, Honda claims they have figured out how for low & mid speed needs.  High speed is remains a problem though.  And reliability is a complete mystery.  But if successful, it should yield efficiency similar to diesel... which is what Honda wants really bad to stay competitive, since they are betting the farm on the "assist" hybrid design.  In fact, that automaker's president, Takeo Fukui, said "the view that there is no more room for further [engine] technological advancement is completely wrong" ...which supports my long-standing claim that they prefer favoring the engine rather than making their hybrids depend more on electricity, like "full" hybrids.  It should be interesting to see if anything becomes of this.  There is rumor that we could see a HCCI prototype next year.

10-30-2005

Philosophy.  Our heavily divided country is having a very difficult time accepting change.  Many think the word "balance" equates to "sacrifice".  Evidence of this is pretty clear when it comes to hybrids.  People still assume that the technology will force them to abandon their large, powerful vehicles entirely.  That simply isn't true.  But very few people actually need a 5,000 pound towing capacity.  Yet, vehicles are advertised as if you do.  What's wrong with 3,000 pounds, especially if your loaded trailer is only 1,500 pounds anyway?  The same is true for acceleration.  Overkill is not necessary, no matter how much they brainwash you into thinking "more is better".  You don't have to abandon what you want, you only need to be a little bit more realistic about it.  Unfortunately, anyone supporting that philosophy is being labeled as an extremist, with terms like "enviro-nut".  That's sad, but rather amusing it is the extremist that is doing the name calling.  Ever here of a well-balanced product?  A bigger vehicle with the ability to tow a decent size trailer while utilizing a hybrid system should not be considered a sacrifice.  For crying out loud.  Grow up people.  This isn't the early 80's anymore.  Our society isn't going to shift back to small, powerless vehicles again.  This time, technology is coming to the rescue.  A balance is possible.  You can have your cake and eat it too.

 

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