Prius Personal Log  #234

November 4, 2005  -  November 9, 2005

Last Updated: Fri. 11/25/2005

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11-09-2005

First Impressions.  Today presented a reviewer's first impressions.  He compared a 2005 Prius to a 2006 Civic-Hybrid saying this: "The Prius is noticeably quicker than the Civic-Hybrid."  Stating the obvious is to be expected.  With a much more powerful motor and battery-pack, Prius better be quicker.  But then he got into that same old tired MPG nonsense we keep hearing: "Honda says the 50/50 mpg ratings on the new Civic Hybrid are closer to reality than the Prius 60/51."  How often are reviewers going to beat that dead horse?  For crying out loud, who cares how close the EPA numbers are.  All consumers really want to know is what the MPG values are in real-world driving.  Why compare to those ideal testing condition results?  Give us the real thing instead.  In the real-world, we have to settle for stuff like winter-formula fuel, hostile temperatures, and awful traffic congestion.  The EPA tests don't.  So why lead us on with senseless first impressions like that?  I know, it's because that is what sells their publication.  If they stuck to only the facts without any of the hype, it wouldn't generate a whole lot of interest.

11-09-2005

Up!  We've been watching the price of gas slowly drop, a few cents from time to time.  Always going down, until today.  Without any evident reason, it suddenly shot up 16 cents.  I have absolutely no idea why it jumped like that.  But it did.  Of course, no one seemed to care.  Consumers in general have grown numb to prices, just accepting whatever they are when it's time to refill the tank.  That's sad, but not unexpected.  They really don't have much of a choice.  Most are stuck having to endure the wallet pain.  Someday that will change, but not anytime soon.  Far too many people still believe the misconceptions about hybrids.  And production capacities are far too low to satisfy a sudden mindset change anyway.  In the meantime, we'll just keep watching that per gallon number go up and down.

11-08-2005

Skipping Steps.  Have you ever given any serious thought to how some other cultures won't have the same problems we in the United States do?  Developing countries are starting from nothing, with an empty infrastructure.  Having nothing to upgrade in the first place makes adopting the latest & greatest rather trivial... and definitely less expensive.  Take China, for example.  A large portion of the population never had a wired phone anywhere in their particular town.  Everyone is starting with cell service right from the start.  No wires.  Could you imagine what life would be like if everything was always wireless.  Interesting, eh?  Those same consumers don't have cars either.  Their first very well could be a hybrid.  Think about that.  They won't have any misconceptions whatsoever, since none ever owned any of the traditional technology.  Prius production in China for the Chinese consumers has just begun.  It will probably be a standard choice for purchase, quite different from the intense non-hybrid market here.  Each automaker has to establish a presence there.  Not having anything setup yet means none of the old-school sales tactics may work, consumer expectations are likely very different.  And they're skipping the decades of history we have here, going directly to the step where hybrids are mixed on the dealer's lot among the other choices.  There is no brand loyalty, no family favorite.  It's all new.  I'm quite curious to here how this first year of sales proceeds.  That could be very interesting.

11-07-2005

Bad Press?  When a "muscle car" magazine that touts performance vehicles does a review on Prius, don't expect much.  So this quote shouldn't surprise you at all: "For most of us, the end couldn�t come quickly enough.  16,056 miles and 12 months proved a bit too much and a little too long with the Toyota Prius."  They wouldn't be caught dead in a family vehicle like Prius.  They simply aren't interested... normally.  But since Prius draws lots of attention, why not?  And even for an enthusiast like myself, is their truly press bad?  They only averaged 41.2 MPG for the year.  Supposedly, that's disappointing.  But considering how rough they were with the hybrid, that's nothing to complain about.  And their insincerity was rather easy to see.  Their summary recommended getting a Ford Focus ZX3 instead, based solely on monetary considerations.  That is a truly disingenuous comparison.  That Focus is just a small, 2-door, coupe.  How is it even remotely similar to the midsize hatchback?  And if you really want to help the country reduce dependence on imported oil, their average of 27.1 MPG for that Focus won't do it.  Prius used quite a bit less, even the way they drove it.

11-07-2005

Sponsored by Lexus RX400h.  There is was, just a plain as day, a bit truck trailer with a RX400h painted on the side.  It was promoting the Paul McCartney music tour.  Lexus was the sponsor.  Their hybrid was the feature.  I couldn't resist that photo opportunity.  But on a weekday morning like that, commute traffic would make getting just a shot of the trailer by itself difficult.  I attempted anyway.  Once situated in a location across the street, enough for the wide angle lens to pick it all up, I checked for approaching traffic.  The lead vehicle on the closer side was a Prius.  I couldn't believe it.  What a remarkable happenstance!  The odds of getting the chance to capture a Prius in the foreground was mind-boggling.  In less than 2 seconds, I would get to try my luck.  The hope of snapping the shutter at precisely the correct moment was masked by intense doubt.  I totally guessed when.  It was absolutely perfect!  I actually pulled it off.  Phew!  My luck continued too.  Later in the evening, I managed to walk by just before they turned on the lights for the RX400h display at the concert... snapping another chance photo then too.  Check'em out... photo album 103

11-06-2005

18 Million Barrels.  That is how much oil Americans consume in a single day.  I wondered about that.  Now I know.  Of course, I always knew it was a lot.  Hearing about how little the drilling in the Alaskan refuge would help clued me in.  The amount of oil it could supply would hardly be noticed.  In fact, just the population growth alone could cause it to just keep us at status quo... which is quite bad right now.  We need to reduce consumption, period.  This nonsense about making a gas-guzzler a hybrid is absurd.  But that is what GM is doing at this very moment with their supposed hybrid, that joke called Silverado.  All is does is shut off the engine when you stop.  How is that supposed to help with highway MPG, especially with the added weight of a bigger starter & battery?  18 million is scary.  This waste has to end.  People need to take our dependence on oil much more seriously.

11-06-2005

New Cards.  As the mileage increases and the photo album continues to grow, the excuse to create a new card to help raise awareness about the website is a given.  You just gotta do it.  So I did.  The time had come for a new one...  website cards 11  website cards 12

11-05-2005

Old Buick.  Whoa!  One drove by me this evening.  I was utterly overwhelmed by what I heard.  The grumbling sound coming out of its tailpipe from that 8-cylinder carburetor fed engine was incredible.  It brought by nightmare memories of how crude automotive technology used to be.  It's what I grew up with.  That was the family car.  They were loud and unreliable.  The vehicle would tremble, only to be degraded by simple water vapor.  It was a sad time... which I had almost entirely forgotten about.  But sound it more potent of a reminder than vision.  And of course, I don't hear much of anything from the Prius.  It is so dramatic of an improvement compared to the old Buick it almost silly to even compare them.  Remember the sound those old cars made when you turned the key in the dead of Winter, at that moment you were hoping the struggling starter would succeed in starting the engine?

11-05-2005

Booming Again.  Apparently, people have lost interest in Prius.  Sale for SUVs are booming again.  That was the nonsense published in some rather suspicious article today.  Their rationale against Prius was that searches on a popular website for cars has dropped off significantly since Hurricane Katrina.  Well, duh!  Just how much do they think people will continue searching 2 months later, after gas prices have started dropping?  I'll tell you.  It will be back to the way it was before that, which was still impressively high... just not as high as when everyone is still panicked from the evacuation madness.  As for the reasoning behind SUVs gaining interest again, it just plain didn't make any sense.  The start of the year showed a massive decline.  That was followed by impressive sales numbers due to the "employee pricing" scheme to quickly reduce lots of inventory.  So how they can now say things are better is questionable, at best.  How they can claim "booming" is a mystery.

11-05-2005

Replaced every 8.7 years.  That was the statistic quoted by a very reliable source today about the average gasoline vehicle in the United States.  It's a number that strongly supports what I've been saying all along, that roughly 90 percent of the vehicles here in Minnesota never make it to year 10.  But then again, mine was based on actual observation from a remarkably large sampling.  In other words, I watch traffic while I drive and have an acute awareness of the vehicle age.  Too bad I can only do that with the year.  Knowing what the odometer says would be fantastic.

11-05-2005

Changing Definitions.  The anti-hybrid people are at it again.  For decades, the "manual" transmission was the one with the clutch and contact-plates.  Now all of sudden, it supposedly means any transmission which you have the ability to control yourself... even though it's the physical aspects of the transmission itself that yield higher efficiency, not the interaction with it.  So then, how do they explain the fact that an "automatic" transmission (the one that uses fluid & fins and only makes contact during overdrive) has the ability to kept from shifting up by choosing a number with the gear-selector?  And of course, they still continue to treat all CVTs as if they are the same.  The "full" hybrid is the one that uses the planetary configuration, not the cone & belt.  But they don't care.  Their definition implies that shifting is somehow possible, even though there are no gears.  As for the actual behavior, Prius does have the EV button which allows you to suggest that the big motor gets used as much as possible.  Yet it doesn't have a clutch... or anything that shifts.  The accelerator-pedal can be used tell the engine to turn on & off sooner too.  Oh well.  It's not like that they haven't tried something like this before.  Every time you make some progress, they come up with a new way of making it seem like you aren't.  You know, twist what is being said just enough to confuse the readers.  They just plain do not want hybrids to become popular; so they'll do whatever they think of prevent that.

11-04-2005

$21,725.  That's the base MSRP for the 2006 Prius.  It was the big announcement people have been waiting a very long time for.  I wasn't.  I knew the upcoming tax credit would delay everything.  I had a feeling it would be a somewhat more too.  After all, prices for everything else are going up.  And the airbags that come standard are now the "advanced" kind.  Also, for Prius to become more of a mainstream product, it needs to provide more of a mainstream profit.  So, Toyota is setting realistic expectations about HSD.  It will give those speculating about the upcoming Camry-Hybrid less of a margin-of-error.  No surprises.

11-04-2005

$60.58 per barrel.  Sure enough, the week ended above $60.  That drop below it a few days ago was short lived.  The prices of gas & diesel continue to slowly drop.  But then again, Winter hasn't begun yet.  Just wait until the snow starts making a mess of the northern states.  That will make things interesting.

11-04-2005

Caught Lying.  It was totally expected.  The desperation of some diesel supporters had become rather pronounced lately.  So today when an advocate posted an outrageous lie, I just couldn't resist.  I had to respond.  He buried this statement within his message, "When you add the FACT that in real-world driving the Jetta diesel gets the same 48 MPG of the Prius".  I knew quite well that fact was deliberate dishonesty.  There is evidence all over the internet that the automatic Jetta diesel averages only around 42 MPG in the real-world.  And I provided a link to one website to prove it, this one.  So naturally, my response was attacked by another advocate stating the EPA numbers I had just referred to have nothing to do with the real-world.  It was yet another lie.  My reference had absolutely nothing to do with those dang EPA estimates.  My reply was undeniably a source of real-world averages.  Yet, he claimed it wasn't.  Can you believe they'd go to that length to protect diesel?

11-04-2005

The Plug is Coming.  "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 the "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.

 

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