Prius Personal Log  #235

November 9, 2005  -  November 14, 2005

Last Updated: Thurs. 6/01/2006

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11-14-2005

Tires for Winter.  Time to point them out again (27,900 miles)...  The original factory tires worked fine for me over the first Winter here in Minnesota with my HSD Prius.  But when one got punctured, I jumped at the opportunity to upgrade.  The Michelin HydroEdge is the premium tire that I chose.  They are absolutely amazing in the rain.  On snow, they are very impressive all-season tires, but not true snow tires.  They'll slip some on aggressive forward acceleration.  But when it comes to taking corners hard, they don't slip; the thread is extremely well designed for gripping at angles.  So the performance was quite pleasing the second Winter.  The third Winter driving my HSD Prius starts (gasp) tomorrow!  The forecast is for 3 to 5 inches of snow.  I'm still very happy with my decision to upgrade.

11-14-2005

How, Not If.  Can you believe that the original arguments for the war in Iraq still continue?  Certain politicians are using the distraction technique to argue reasons for our military action.  Since when has "IF" ever really been a concern?  From the beginning, people like me have been asking "HOW" instead.  How we choose to deal with the conflict is the real issue.  Deciding to alienate our allies by fighting it essentially ourselves in our own way wasn't a good choice.  After all, we were never told the expense would be so extreme and the conflict would continue for years.  Now that fact that some of the soldiers are getting close to ending their second tour of duty, concern is growing.  How will we replace them afterward?  One more is the maximum most can tolerate.  Many choose to say no, rather than staying for a third (as we witnessed during Vietnam).  And some are in obligations that never required them to serve a tour in the first place.  See where I'm going with this?  How will poorly planned efforts proceed?  How will they ever achieve the goal?  How will their purpose survive?  In other words, certain automakers are in the very same situation.  Their choices of the past are now beginning to haunt them.  And rather than having searched for a solution in the meantime, they were still trying to convince people that their "IF" choice was correct.  The time has come to deal with "HOW".  But rather than it be "How will we deal with the coming change?" it is "How will we get out of this mess we just created?"  It's a ugly situation... one that still isn't being taken seriously.  Actions can no longer be considered preventative.  Now it is a matter of repairing the damage.

11-13-2005

Discovery Hybrid.  Whoa!  I was watching television this evening.  A commercial for Lexus caught me totally off guard.  It seemed to go on and on.  After a minute had gone by, curiosity got the best of me.  What had they been saying while I had the volume muted?  Then I finally saw it.  The vehicle they had been showing just teaser exterior shots of was "400h".  Immediately after that they revealed the hybrid system and showed an interior, complete with the Energy-Screen in motion on the Multi-Display.  Ahh!  It was one of those special 2.5 minute presentations, like Toyota had for Prius 2 years ago.  Only the channel that debut on doesn't exist anymore.  So this one was (apparently) created exclusively for the Discovery channel... hence the silly "Discovery Hybrid" reference they used in the web address at the ending.  It was great!  I wonder if I'll be able to get a recording of it.  Commercials that long are extraordinarily rare.  Hmm?

11-13-2005

More Evidence.  This evidence of the (non-hybrid) diesel supporters freaking out is great!  They needed to quickly change the subject.  They absolutely didn't want me to repeat that "What will you say?" question yet again.  So they figured they could effectively distract attention by making false claims about hybrid abilities like this: "I am sure that the degradation in battery performance in cold weather will be a big problem.  In such conditions, the engine will have to run more to maintain the battery."  I could resist.  This was my response...  That is absolutely not true.  Just the opposite is the case.  Performance actually increases, since the battery-pack can be used more generously without concern about it getting too hot.  It is true that maximum capacity is reduced due to the cold.  But since that much is never used anyway, it is a complete non-issue.  The nonsense about the engine needing to run more is total misconception.  Because it has to run to feed the heater from time to time anyway, the engine uses that resulting motion for charging.  So in the winter, you see routinely seeing higher levels rather than lower... without the engine ever having to run just for the sake of the battery-pack.  Don't spread any more false information about winter performance.  I am just about to begin Winter #6 driving a Prius in Minnesota.  The technology has undeniably proven better than traditional vehicles, clearly handling the frigid (down to -20F degrees) conditions without any trouble at all.

11-12-2005

Still, Nothing.  A day and half later, lots of messages have been posted but not even so much as an acknowledgment to the "What will you say?" question... despite me repeatedly asking it.  They know they're screwed and just don't want to admit it.  Looking back at history, we can clearly see that Civic-Hybrid suffered heavily from not having any real web presence.  Lacking contributions from enthusiasts is a guarantee that curious newbies will be disappointed.  Too bad for them.  It's not like I didn't point out that status quo isn't enough... especially in the wake of rapidly growing hybrid interest.

11-11-2005

Improved Multi-Display?  The new Lexus has a higher resolution and a deeper color palette for its Multi-Display.  That's to be expected.  After all, Prius got some goodies before even any Lexus in the past and its not even a luxury vehicle.  But it does present the question of when the upgrade will be available to Prius.  It's just a matter of time... I would hope.  Will the 2006 model have it?  I do find that question absolutely fascinating.  For the quality of the Multi-Display to now become a topic of interest is great.  Some vehicles still have tiny low-resolution screens that aren't even touch-sensitive.  And get this, others don't even have a Multi-Display at all!  Just think what the dashboard of new vehicles will look like a few years from now.

11-11-2005

What will you say?  The announcement that low-sulfur diesel will be available nationwide 10 weeks sooner than originally mandate has got the supporters really excited... either than or they are freaked out to learn that basically the same thing happened for low-sulfur gas already, only a whole year earlier.  So I thought I'd find out if they actually have anything constructive to contribute now.  I simply asked "What will you say?" to a person asking about diesel.  The response was absolutely nothing.  They have always eluded that question.  The fact that the 2006 Automatic Jetta TDI isn't as fast, as quiet, as clean, or as efficient as a hybrid like Prius really puts them in a tough position.  And to make matters worse, diesel is currently about 75 cents more per gallon than gas.  On top of that, the smoke & smell diesel stigma of the past still has yet to be overcome.  How exactly will they (or even the automaker marketing) sway consumers to choose diesel instead?  Spreading misconceptions about hybrids won't work.  Using selective data won't either.  Both become increasingly difficult as time progresses, since there will simply be too many to draw incorrect conclusions with.  Just look at the hoopla when the HSD model of Prius first came out.  Low MPG claims were proven false once break-in was complete and more than just winter-only MPG was reported.  And Honda ended up taking a beating for selling hybrids that were only ULEV emission rated.  Consumers are aware now that hybrids can come in different configurations, some favoring efficiency more than others.  They also know that some possess the ability to support aftermarket electrical enhancements.  Diesels have very little to draw attention with.  They won't just sell themselves.  What will supporters say to convince people to buy a (non-hybrid) diesel?

11-11-2005

Summer Photos.  Today I published another batch of new ones.  I still find that very refreshing.  But the end is near.  That virtual pile has diminished.  It's almost empty for Summer.  Next will be Fall.  There's nothing left after that.  I wonder if I'll take many new ones.  Perhaps a sunset from time to time.  But the collection will be complete, a wide sampling of every season.  Hmm?  Anywho, here's the latest... photo album 104

11-11-2005

$57.53 per barrel.  That is unexpectedly "low" now.  I wonder if it means much.  That is far above the "scary" price of $50 still.  Has the market grown to accept it?  I bet some businesses are in shock, struggling to find a way of dealing with the higher gas expenses... especially after having intentionally purchased a monster-size gas-guzzler for the sake of collection a large tax credit.  It was likely a poor long-term financial decision that hasn't revealed itself in the balance sheets yet.  Time will tell.

11-10-2005

Software Bugs.  Anything related to Prius is apparently a hot story now.  So they are milking the latest SSC by calling it a "bug" that needs to be fixed via a "recall".  A single source which started it all called it that two days ago, and everyone else jumped on board by republishing the same article... despite the fact that it is actually a voluntary enhancement to the software fail-safe logic... something that traditional vehicles don't even offer.  In Prius, the programming can be upgraded.  In a traditional vehicle, the only way to alter programming is to replace the hardware itself.  But they like making a big deal about Prius because it is currently still different, though the spread of HSD to other vehicles should end that perception.  Buzz words like "bug" & "recall" help to sell newspapers & magazines, so don't be surprised how much they continue to use them.

11-10-2005

ULSD.  That's "Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel".  An announcement recently stated it will be available nationwide by October 15, 2006.  They are claiming it will be the "clean" choice.  But reading between the lines, you find that its environmental impact measure is only with respect to current diesel.  Using the standard EPA measurement, diesel still comes up short... too dirty to be considered a good choice.  Gas is still cleaner.  Remember how Honda got beat up for selling hybrids that were only ULEV rated?  The new "clean" diesels don't even meet that criteria.  So how can they possibly compete with the hybrids that are SULEV rated?  The answer is they cannot, hence the deception that is already emerging.  Don't believe any claim that isn't actually quantified.  The reference to "clean" is just a vague and rather arbitrary label.  Look for SULEV, or the even better PZEV, which are very specific classifications.  That is the honest way of identifying a vehicle's cleanness.

11-09-2005

Radial Tires.  For decades, the "bias" tire design was used.  It was tried & true.  So the industry simply ignored the "radial" tire design.  Like now, they feared change even back then.  When you find something that works, change is not welcome.  In fact, change is pretty much only embraced once they become desperate for it.  And sure enough, that's how radials hit the market.  The oil embargo of the 70's caused an immediate panic.  The urgent need to improve MPG had become apparent.  And since radials do offer greater efficiency, the attitude about them changed almost overnight.  It was a simple solution to a very ugly problem.  Too bad the same cannot be done now.  Back then, the shortage of oil was artificial... just politics.  This time, it is genuine.  Now there is no quick fix.  Acceptance of hybrids could happen surprisingly quickly.  But filling dealer's lot with them instead of gas-guzzlers won't.  And it impossible to fix the efficiency shortcoming with traditional vehicles.  Just replacing the tires isn't an option.  Significant improvement only comes one way: entire vehicle replacement.  Fortunately, the benefit of hybrids now is they will also improve emissions at the same time.

11-09-2005

Synthetic Rubber.  I was watching the History Channel today.  Did you know that before World War II, there was no such thing as synthetic rubber?  All tires were made with natural grown latex, the main ingredient required to create rubber.  But the war caused a massive shortage.  And since there was really no way to speed up the growth cycle (as well as the use of impoverished labor to harvest it being frowned upon) a governmental program was established to invent a synthetic formula.  The goal was set for 2 years.  They figured any longer than that and the shortage would contribute heavily to losing the war.  Winning necessitated rubber being available.  So the incentive was quite high.  We invented it in time too.  How come the war we are fighting now hasn't generated any goal like that at all?  We have literally no accomplishments to be proud of.  Supporting our soldiers should mean doing new things at home to contribute to their success.  Reducing our dependence on imported oil certainly would help.  Hostilities in the war zone diminish when the natural resource being protected loses value.

11-09-2005

Faster.  The debates are rapidly ending.  It's hard to believe how they were able to drag on so long in the past.  But no more.  The (non-hybrid) diesel supporters tirelessly promoted how their vehicles delivered more low-end torque and horsepower than a hybrid ever could.  And for some reason, the push for detail beyond that was always averted.  Today however, someone got ticked off.  (It wasn't me.  Really!)  They pointed out how empty their claims really were, that Prius was actually faster.  It's zero-to-sixty speed is 10.1 seconds.  That is very respectable, and certainly enough to fulfill all typical driving needs.  Yet, a few still try to lead you to believe it is not.  Why?  The data for the Jetta TDI (diesel) definitely doesn't fit that mindset.  The manual requires 11.6 seconds and the automatic 11.5 seconds.  Isn't that surprising?  It is clearly slower... an indisputable contradiction that faster acceleration is actually needed and undeniably not as good as the hybrid.  Debates cannot continue with data-clashing of that nature.  Sweet!  It's about time.  I was tired of that nonsense, arguing just for the sake of making Prius appear less appealing.

 

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