Prius Personal Log  #236

November 14, 2005  -  November 18, 2005

Last Updated: Fri. 11/25/2005

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11-18-2005

6 Gears.  The newest manual transmissions are having problems now.  To make them more efficient, an additional gear was added.  But to squeeze a sixth on the transmission, it forced a size change of the first.  Now it is taller.  That makes starting from a stop less smooth... to the point of being so rough that owners are riding the clutch too much to avoid bucking.  That's causing excessive wear, which is readily detectible by a burning smell.  This is really bad news for those fighting hybrids.  For me, it is great to hear.  I knew they were pushing the limits of that ancient technology.  It makes the need to shift yourself even less appealing.  How are the anti-hybrid going to respond to this?

11-18-2005

$56.14 per barrel.  Oil is cheaper and gas has dropped below $2 per gallon.  Of course, $1.99 and nine-tenths is pretty much $2 anyway.  But the point is that it's there now.  I wonder how long that will last.  Hmm?

11-18-2005

Sightings.  Whoa!  My mother, who in the past admitted not being able to tell different cars apart, has now started identifying Prius on the road.  I'm not certain why.  But she was quite thrilled today to tell me that she had seen 2 today while on her trip down to Rochester.  Well, how about that?  I guess after 5 years of excitement for me, curiosity must have got the best of her.  After all, sightings are quite significant.  Frequency has increased over time.  That is undeniable proof that "the car that could" really is catching on.  Why not be a part of that history?  You can look back later and tell stories about how hybrids become popular just after the turn of the millennium.

11-18-2005

Enhanced Assist.  That's all the "electric-only" mode has really turned out to be for the new Honda system.  A few 2006 Civic-Hybrid owners have chimed in with their observations.  The behavior definitely isn't stealth.  That makes sense.  Without an ample supply of electricity to work with in the first place and such a small electric motor which is bonded to the gasoline engine, how could any type of electric propulsion be practical?  Turns out, it isn't.  All you actually get is extended fuel-cut opportunities.  Basically, the engine stays off longer than it used to.  Those times are brief and at rather slow speeds too.  Hopefully, someone will eventually provide quantitative values.  Right now, it's just owners hearsay without much detail... but even that is enough to prove the mode is "not the same" as Prius.

11-18-2005

Speed Hurts.  We just got some data from Consumer Reports.  They measured the fuel consumption of a Camry cruising at various constant speeds on the highway.  The resulting efficiency at 55 MPH was 40 MPG.  At 65 MPH, it was 35 MPG.  At 70 MPH, it was 30 MPG.  Did you know that slowing down would make that much of a difference?  Prius owners do.  The Multi-Display makes it obvious, very difficult not to notice.  Traditional vehicle owners are clueless though, hence the data now being providing.  I wonder how many people that will actually influence.  Reduction of speed to at least obey the limit would be great.  It's something anyone can do, no matter what they drive.  Speed hurts in several ways.

11-17-2005

Free Gas for 2 Years.  If you purchase certain Daimler-Chrysler vehicles between now and the end of the year, you will be given a $2,376 debit card for redeeming gas purchases with.  You also get 2 years of schedule maintenance free too.  This new scheme to capture consumers is called "Miles of Freedom".  What a joke!  It really doesn't free anyone from anything.  Promotions like this have to be paid for somehow.  Think about the long-term effects.  How will an automaker survive providing incentives like that.  And how will consumer survive after the 2 years.  The vehicle is still a gas-guzzler.  So the dependence on lots of gas can hardly be considered freedom.  And the oil needed to make it requires our country to make sacrifices, having to remain reliant on imported sources so heavily still.  I wonder what GM & Ford will now do to attract consumers.  Hmm?

11-17-2005

Winter.  The temperature showing on the Multi-Display dropped all the way to 14 F degrees today.  Ouch!  I'm not ready for that, especially it being combined with a rather intense wind.  Needless to say, MPG dropped.  Starting with a very cold engine and just a few miles on this tank, after the merge onto the highway this morning the average said 36.7 MPG.  That's nasty.  Fortunately, it did climb all the way back up to 49.9 MPG right before I parked at work.  Seeing an efficiency number that starts with a 5 is going to be an extremely rare sight for the next couple months.  Oh well.  I enjoy Winter anyway.  The dramatic changes of scenery and the unpredictable weather does keep you refreshed, as far from bored as you can possible get.  Variety is good.  Overall things work out well anyway.  Just look at my lifetime average of 49.3 MPG.

11-17-2005

Oil Executives.  The word is out.  They got caught lying when answering questions for congress the other day.  No wonder there was resistance with the act of swearing in was requested.  The key question was if they had participated in the "Energy Plan" meetings a few years ago.  Everyone suspected that, since the results was policy that heavily favored the oil industry.  But it took until now and under these circumstances to get the evidence needed to prove it.  Now what?  Corruption makes the already difficult dependency situation even more complicated to deal with.

11-16-2005

Security Risk.  Our dependence on imported oil has finally become a political debate topic as a security risk.  It's about dang time!  Staying in denial that they have us exactly where they want us was never good.  We should have a more relaxed relation with those countries, not a state of desperation.  Remember the colossal effort we put forth back in the 70's to create the Alaskan Pipeline?  That was suppose to help.  Instead, what happened in the long run was just keep us at status quo.  Reduced imports would currently mean trouble for us.  Our consumption appetite is causing a security risk.  We are at the mercy of the importers.  Token gestures like monster-size mild hybrids pickups aren't enough either.  True, they do reduce consumption... but not by much.  And overall, those "hybrids" are still using far more gas than a Prius.  Focus on savings should not create an excuse to ignore the fact that large quantities of oil are still required.  That dependence is a risk, period.  How can anyone argue that it isn't?

11-16-2005

Fuel Door Fix.  Just like with the Classic Prius, it was WD-40 to the rescue.  The spring on the fuel door can only take so much expose to sand, salt, moisture before it finally isn't well enough lubricated anymore.  Today, I found that out at the gas station.  Fortunately, I had remembered my own fix.  (Too bad I didn't remember the advice to do it before it was actually needed though.  Oh well.)  I just wedged a bottle underneath the lever to hold it in the open position, then pushed on the door to get it to pop open.  That allowed me to put gas in and confirm how dry it was.  And once I got home, a few squirts of that magic liquid restored it to new status.  That should keep it loose for the next 2 years or so.  Then it will need another squirt or two.

11-16-2005

Dropping Temperatures.  It was 21 F degrees on the drive to work today.  On the way home, it was 19 F degrees.  I don't think I'm ready for Winter yet.  Fortunately, the Prius always is.

11-16-2005

Profit.  The spin that the anti-hybrid are putting on the state of the automotive industry is really enthralling, you have no idea what absurd claim they will make next.  Today's was this: "Almost every car manufacturer has come out and said that hybrids are NOT profitable."  And this was my response...  Wake up and smell reality.  Those automakers fighting hybrids are the same ones that define "profit" as an obscene amount of money gained from the sale of each individual vehicle with no concern about remaining competitive.  That just plain is not realistic anymore.  The business model has changed.  They are in denial.  Reality is that automaker survival is based on earning only modest profits now.  So to end up with large quantities of cash like in the past, production volume & sales has to be significantly increased.  This is the identical transformation that the computer industry faced a number of years ago.  With respect to personal computers, that pretty much killed IBM and allowed HP to go from startup to major player.  We will be seeing fundamental shifts of power just like that in the automotive industry.  Change is coming.  Get used to it.

11-16-2005

3 Prius Twice.  Today's on-the-road experiences were sweet!  At 2 different intersections, there were 3 Prius.  Waiting for the light to turn from red to green now involves moments of entertainment.  Spotting another anywhere on the road was once a thrill.  Now, that type of sighting is common... an expectation at this point, in fact.  The excitement has turned to seeing a Prius at the same place at the same time... rather than a chance drive-by.  Cool!

11-15-2005

Next Major Revision.  It's that time of year again.  The announcements are beginning.  Today, Toyota had one.  It was their plans for 2008.  They are hoping to have the next major revision for their hybrid system available then.  It is suppose to be more powerful, more efficient, and cost less.  That makes perfect sense.  After all, why wouldn't it?  5 years after the previous revision is the normal cycle traditional vehicles have followed.  But no, the anti-hybrid used that as yet another attack opportunity.  They claimed that the system currently being used is so flawed that Toyota had to announce the next this far in advance.  It's hard to believe they are able to come up with such nonsense.  Of course, the fact that they dismiss how all the other automakers are taking 5 years just to debut their very first hybrid doesn't seem to be a problem.  Ignoring the time development takes is easy when you intent is to harm progress.  Anywho, I looking forward to Toyota shaking up the industry again.  By then, they will be so many Prius on the road already that an upgrade to hybrid technology will be an expectation... something to show just how competitive of a lead Toyota intends to keep.

11-15-2005

More Lies.  They are becoming increasingly plentiful.  Some are subtle.  Others are blatant.  I was rather amused by one today, in retaliation to my "quiet" comment.  The message stating how you wouldn't hear much of anything on the highway compared to the noise Prius makes.  That immediately raised a warning for the astute to catch.  Besides being horribly vague and a deliberate attempt to selectively deliver data, it was wrong.  The lie was caught.  Someone honest quickly pointed out that the actual data was 73.1 decibels for Prius as at 60 MPH and 73.9 for Jetta.  At full throttle, Prius climbed to 77.7 and Jetta 83.2 decibels.  That diesel was undeniably louder.  To make matters worse, that data (faster speeds) is what most consumers typically dismiss when it comes to "noise" judgment... which is why he selected it... because there is quite simply no way to argue the fact that the clatter of the valves in the diesel engine are not drastically louder than the dead silence of Prius stealth.  Heck, even a gasoline engine will win the quieter contest compared to a diesel at city speeds.  How can anyone think they can get away with such deception?  Yet, some people keep right on doing it anyway.

11-15-2005

Use Your Brain.  A driver of a 2004 Prius, who still hadn't taken the car in for the previous SSC work yet, experienced a stall on the highway recently.  Not having preventative updates performed is asking for trouble, but we'll let that slide... because the tow-truck driver did something completely brainless.  He towed the Prius without shutting it off, or even bothering to make sure it was in neutral.  Towing any vehicle that has it's power still active is a bad idea.  Not trying to call for an expert opinion is just plain dumb.  Toyota's phone number is listed on the documents & manuals owners typically keep in the car.  There's also a toll-free nationwide one clearly displayed on the PZEV sticker on a window by the gas door.  And obviously local dealer numbers are available to the tow service, since that's where some of the vehicles they tow go to anyway.  Geez!  Anywho, as you have probably already guessed, the car lurched forward at one point and smacked into the tow truck.

11-14-2005

Winter is Coming!  The snow storm forecast for tomorrow has excited the local news broadcasters.  They are pulling out stock footage from last year to show what's coming this year.  The video I saw this evening was of a snow covered highway here with a handful of cars driving down it as more snow fell heavily.  And wouldn't you know it, there was a Silver HSD Prius right in front of the camera.  Unfortunately, I wasn't fast enough to think of checking the license plate.  Who knows, that could have been me!

11-14-2005

The Response.  I finally got one.  Evading both that repeating "What will you say?" question and their spreading of false information I exposed was making them crazy.  The standard methods that people use to obtain constructive feedback had all failed.  So it only made sense to keep pushing until a breaking point had been reached, a genuine conclusion.  Endless bickering is a waste of time.  You set an objective and work toward it.  Why give up when you are that close?  So I didn't.  They did though.  It was really sad too, an obvious retreat.  They used this pitiful method of reply: personal attack.  It's just like politics.  Rather than trying to find a solution, they turn hostile and focus entirely on criticizing the person instead.  That's typical; however, it was also quite revealing.  The duration between each cycle (because it will eventually begin again) grows shorter each time... making it easier for others to finally notice what those antagonists are up to.  Now you're wondering what they'll do next, aren't you?

 

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