Prius Personal Log  #24

March 17, 2002  -  March 31, 2002

Last Updated: Sun. 9/14/2003

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3-31-2002

Stop Motor before refueling.  I see that state law sign every time I fill up.  The fact that our law makers don't know the difference between an engine and a motor is really frustrating.  There's a huge difference.  They obviously mean the engine should be stopped.  But then again, if the motor was running the car would be moving.  That would make refueling extraordinarily difficult.  So in a twisted way, they are actually offering helpful advice.

3-31-2002

Gas price concerns.  Owning a hybrid means I get a lot of auto related comments.  One that has been coming up frequently is the fear of gas prices going up permanently.  When I respond saying $1.10 per gallon is completely unrealistic, the person almost gets mad.  The rest of the world has been paying $3.00 more per gallon for years.  If the price here can�t even go up 50 cents or so without triggering panic, we�ve got a serious issues.  It�s a clear sign of an infrastructure problem. Thank goodness hybrids are proving to be a viable solution.

3-31-2002

Time to check the Air-Pressure.  I do it every two weeks anyway.  It insures the best performance and it's really fun (having a very high-quality digital gauge is great).  But with the temperatures varying greatly from day to day, it's especially important.  In this case, both the front & back went up by 1 PSI to 39/38.  That's fine for now.  So I left them that way.

3-30-2002

Car Wash.  I finally removed that thick layer of Winter filth.  Without a jacket, I hand-washed the Prius while watching a colorful sunset.  Then just 3 hours later it was snowing again.  So much for trying to see that beautiful, shiny green paint.  Oh well, at least I know it�s buried somewhere under the dirt & salt.

3-30-2002

No Boundaries.  That�s the slogan of Ford�s current SUV promotion.  We all know that most SUVs won�t ever utilize their full design potential.  That�s an obvious waste, but what gets overlooked is those that do use it.  The advertisements show 4x4 off-road driving that takes advantage of the high ground-clearance and heavy-duty suspension.  I hope those that actually drive that way do it responsibly.  No where is potential damage to the nature area mentioned.  But all you have to do is visit Yellowstone National Park to see the reality of the situation.  The devastation caused from the off-road pioneers before that area was declared federally protected is terrible.  So if you do drive an SUV (or any large truck) that way, please proceed with care.

3-30-2002

Sand.  I don�t think I�ve ever mentioned this road issue.  Minnesota is loaded with unbelievably large sand deposits from the ice ages.  So throughout the Winter, we use that abundant natural resource to cover icy spots on the road.  That works wonderful until things melt from the salt/chemicals activating or it finally gets warm out.  Then you end up driving on a layer of loose sand.  That makes unexpected spinouts annoyingly common.  Any tread I would have save from driving on snow & ice gets peeled away canceling out any benefit I may have gained in tire life.  Bummer.  (I'll still get 30,000 miles from this set though.)

3-29-2002

That certain look.  There�s another that looks similar.  The television commercial states that the new Suzuki Aerio was built to compete directly with Ford Focus and Honda Civic.  But the hybrid owners know it looks like a baby Prius.  It appears as though that certain look is growing in appeal.  Cool!

3-28-2002

Compare Spreadsheets & Graphs.  I finished creating these too.  Now there�s a complete collection of MPG stuff to make comparisons with.  See:  data compare X  (short for Excel Spreadsheet)   data compare 5    data compare 6

3-28-2002

Saw 3 Prius.  That was the first time I had seen more than 2 in a single day (excluding those on dealers lots and at gatherings).  Hopefully it will soon become such a common occurrence that counting will be difficult. Of course, is it possible to have too much of a good thing?  In some cities in Latin & South America the VW Beetle is so common they call them "belly-buttons", since everyone has one.  (Seeing that many is a pretty funny sight!)

3-27-2002

What about the small automakers?  Will the limited production quantity companies, such as Daewoo and Kia, be able to offer hybrids right away?  Each planned hybrid from the big automakers has a different motor, battery, and engine configuration. With limited budgets & resource, designing an appealing hybrid might be difficult.  But then again, new technologies are sometimes aggressively adopted due to such appealing prices and performance benefits.  Time will tell.  (Hopefully, it will be very soon.)

3-26-2002

The Revolution of DVD.  Back in 1997, DVDs were expensive, very limited in numbers, and you couldn�t record on them.  Now, prices are dropping, loads of new features are offered, they�re so popular VHS tape sales are plummeting, and recording is available.  Seemingly overnight DVD is becoming the new standard.  By the end of the holiday shopping season this year, they really will be.  Can we expect to have the same type of change with automobiles too?  Hybrids offer a tremendous amount of potential.  All my hybrid owning friends are delighted with their purchase choice, and they tell that to everyone they can.  I think the hybrid revolution has begun.

3-26-2002

What draws people to hybrids?  I flipped on the television today.  There was a Honda Civic starring down a gas pump.  The Civic won.  The pump fell over with exhaustion.  36/44 MPG was the caption.  That disappointed me, it was an HX model not the Hybrid.  It made me curious though.  The Hybrid with the manual transmission gets 46/51 MPG.  Will that be enough to stimulate sales?  Prius offers additional features to attract interest, like: stealth, a multi-display, and even lower emissions.  Reducing our dependence on foreign oil and preserving the environment will hopefully grow in appeal.  Thankfully, all the hybrids offer that.

3-25-2002

Holding on to a dream.  Today I found an email I sent to some friends back on May 1, 2000 (before I even ordered my Prius).  It contained a section of President Clinton's "State of the Union Address" on January 27, 2000.  This quote from it particularly caught my interest: "Many people in the United States and around the world still believe we can't cut greenhouse gas pollution without slowing economic growth.  In the Industrial Age, that may have been true.  In the digital economy, it isn't.  New technologies make it possible to cut harmful emissions and provide even more growth."  The president that succeeded him obviously doesn't agree.  That really upsets me since I own proof demonstrating it is possible.  And it gets worse with this quote: "I also call on the auto industry to use available technologies to make all new cars more fuel efficient right away."  Quite a few less efficient domestic vehicles were introduced since then.  And the hybrids US automakers are proposing to build are far from meeting the "right away" timeline.

3-25-2002

Family Resemblance.  I saw the new Toyota Corolla today.  It was looking at a good friend's brother or sister.  You recognize certain features and there's an odd familiar feeling.  The new Toyota Camry and the Toyota Echo already share similar aspects as the Prius.  After awhile, that futuristic design of the Prius from way back in 1997 will fit right into the crowd of traffic (quietly, of course).  That's really cool!

3-25-2002

Too much oomph.  When merging onto the highway today for my morning commute, I briefly tapped the floor with the accelerator-pedal (since Prius is designed for that).  It shot me forward faster than I expected.  A lot of space was left open behind me and I almost bumped the car in front.  I actually had to tap the brake to slow down.  Too bad all those people who think Prius doesn't accelerate fast didn't see that.

3-23-2002

Snow & Ice.  Throughout the Winter, I got email comments about the unusually long life of my tires.  They attribute it to driving on snow & ice the whole season.  That's a common misconception about Minnesota (which makes me wonder if I interpret something about southern states inaccurately).  95% of my Winter driving is actually on just clean wet & dry roads completely void of snow & ice (since we plow quickly and use tons of chemicals & salt here).  And on those rare occasions when I actually do drive on snow, the wheels have plenty of opportunities for wear.  When slowing down on snow, you hit a patch of bare tar and abruptly get grip. The same thing happens when accelerating.  It peels the rubber right off.  (You can actually see gouges sometimes!)  So that pretty much works out to a wash, any benefit on snow & ice is cancelled out.  It would be a nice perk for having to deal with the cold if those of us in the north really did get better tire life.

3-23-2002

Filthy.  Some of my family members were shocked to see my Prius.  It was covered from hood to trunk with dirt.  With so much snow & ice finally melting, it's nearly impossible to the outside of a vehicle clean.  Thank goodness I never have to worry about the inside; that stuff from the tailpipe is always clean.

3-22-2002

Honda Civic Hybrid.  Details about the first hybrid intended to compete with Prius is finally available and dealers should have models to show this Monday.  There�s not going to be much actual competition though.  The technology is drastically different.  There�s a lot of people interested in buying hybrids.  And the quantities from both Honda & Toyota are very limited.  So, I suspect both 5-person sedans will sell out their entire quota.  As for simple details about the Civic, there will be a Manual ULEV that gets 46/51 MPG available for $19,550 and a CVT ULEV that gets 48/47 MPG available for $20,550.

3-20-2002

There�s a hybrid.  It was the first day of spring.  I think that means the snow & ice is suppose to go away.  Instead when I walked outside, I was greeted by a lot of thick, wet snow falling.  The woman next to me groaned exclaiming the drive home would be terribly slow.  I said that got me excited, my MPG would go up as a result.  Needless to say, that caught her attention.  I explained I had a hybrid.  See asked, �Don�t those cost around $100,000?�  I responded with a �They�re only around $20,000.  So you�ll see them on the road occasionally now.  In fact, there�s a hybrid!�  It was an amazing coincidence that at that exact moment an Insight drove by us.  Cool!

3-20-2002

Scheduled Maintenance.  Lots of people have wondered what needs to be done for routine upkeep of a Prius, especially after hearing oil changes are only needed every 7,500 miles.  Some owners, unfortunately, were never provided a guide from their dealer.  Those buying used Prius might not even have a clue there was one originally.  So I scanned the pages from mine.  See: maintenance 2

3-20-2002

Gas Tax.  Like with many states, funds for road maintenance are limited.  So they�re trying to come up with the fairest way of raising needed money.  Adding a tax to the gas purchases seems to make the most sense.  Those that use more, pay more.  It doesn�t actually relate to miles driven, but it does penalize those that have wasteful vehicles and reward those with great efficiency.  I don�t get a tax incentive from the state for buying a Prius, but this is nice.  And oddly enough, not many others have been speaking out against the proposed tax.  A year ago, people were freaking out about prices going up a few cents.  Now, they feel it�s ok.  Attitudes have chanced already.  Wow!

3-19-2002

5 Monsters.  I think this would qualify as another hybrid moment.  I pulled up to an intersection and found myself among 5 monster-sized SUVs.  Talking about contrast!  The dinosaur analogy seemed very appropriate again.  There I was, a modest-sized machine with all new technology next to the biggest of the traditional designs.  It was like comparing the first mammal (a small rodent) to the most evolved dinosaur (a Tyrannosaurus Rex).  No one ever thought mammals would eventually rule the world.  But they do now.

3-19-2002

Phew!  I finally finished the MPG data entry from 1990 to 1993.  Check these new pages out:  data compare 1    data compare 2    data compare 3    data compare 4

3-18-2002

A hybrid moment.  The temperature was 26 F degrees, but the engine was already warmed up.  So the first 5-minute segment on the Consumption Screen would be better than usual.  And it was.  I got 42 MPG.  That was great, but then things got strange.  The next segment was also 42 MPG.  That�s never happened before.  The second one has always been different.  So I had a �hybrid moment�, something only another hybrid owner would really understand.

3-18-2002

Spring Hybrid Gathering.  The warm weather is getting closer.  So, we've starting planning an opportunity for hybrid owners to meet in Minnesota.  This one should be very exciting.  We're going to be part of a "Green" expo.  There will be lots of other environmentally-friendly things going on besides hybrid owners swapping stories.  Most notably, we're trying to get dealers to bring a Prius, Insight, and Civic-Hybrid there for the public to test-drive.  The anticipated location is by the Minnesota Capitol Grounds and Armory.

3-17-2002

Compare Data.  It's taking forever to enter and calculate lifetime values, but it's really exciting.  During that time (1990-1993), I experimented with different octanes of gas.  The higher octanes definitely improved both engine power & smoothness and kept the MPG from dropping due to weakened cylinder-compression (a common problem at that age).  I also went out of my way to measure highway and city mileage exclusively.  I got 50.9, then 19.5, then 40.4 MPG.  Can you guess which driving type generated which result?

 

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