Prius Personal Log  #240

December 8, 2005  -  December 13, 2005

Last Updated: Sun. 1/01/2006

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12-13-2005

Remember Prizm?  It's as if the car never existed.  People quite simply don't remember it.  Looking under the hood, you'd swear it was a clone of the Toyota Corolla.  That's because it was.  GM bought the rights to reproduce it.  And they did, quite a bit too.  It was a win/win situation for both automakers.  How would Toyota doing the same with Nissan be any different?  Some have argued it is.  That doesn't make any sense.  Rebranding is common practice in several industries.  Whatever the case, that is what we will see for 2007.  Nissan will offer a version of Altima that uses HSD.  The body will look different.  But underneath, it will have many things in common with Camry-Hybrid.  Oh well.  If people think that is a new concept, so be it.  As long as the technology to reduce emissions & consumption continues to expand.

12-12-2005

What about the future?  The new Civic-Hybrid will come pretty close to the efficiency of Prius and provides the same PZEV emission rating, but the system is slower and less powerful and cannot be augmented electrically.  In other words, the technology is not competitive.  Toyota will be offering a wide variety of vehicles all using a flavor of HSD.  Ford is now pursuing the implementation of their current "full" hybrid design in the new Fusion sedan.  GM is absolutely desperate to make their "two mode" design work in conjunction with Daimler-Chrysler.  GM is also pursuing the "assist" design at the same time.  Nissan will be using hybrid technology from Toyota.  Hyundai is even getting into the game.  What will Honda do to compete in the long run, especially if the EV button becomes available in the US?  The current single mainstream offering is clearly not enough.  Will the niche "muscle" configuration of Accord-Hybrid be sidelined in favor of one that's more efficient?  What about a minivan?  Don't get hung up with today.  Think about what things need to be like in the future.

12-12-2005

Replacement?  Heck No!  Some are still claiming the battery-pack will need to be replaced.  Too bad they aren't friends with certain Prius owners.  One that just dropped me an email stated his odometer now say 203,400 miles.  He is still using the original battery-pack, and it hasn't exhibited any signs of age yet.  Pretty sweet, eh?

12-11-2005

I had no idea.  This comment sent to me in an email was absolutely wonderful: "I'm not into cars much.  Until 3 months ago, I had no idea that hybrids were even generally available on the market."  I regularly hear from people that discover my website, not realizing that Prius can already be spotted in traffic daily now and increasing in numbers at a rapid rate.  They assumed it was hype, like the electric vehicles heard about in the past but never seeing one.  Some people just don't pay attention to the automotive market until they are ready to purchase.  And that makes sense.  You make do with what you have until the need to replace comes up.  Most people just don't have the money to upgrade when they want to.  So they don't look to see what they are missing.  But at some point, their interest is peaked.  What provokes that type of curiosity?  Will they be captivated by the accidental discovery of Camry-Hybrid?  It could be quite intense, especially not that more misconceptions are disappearing.  I guess I don't have any idea either.  2006 should be very interesting.  Perhaps the upcoming tax credits will draw new consumers in.  Well, see.

12-10-2005

Warmer Temperatures.  How about that!  We are no longer in the midst of an "everything frozen solid" spell.  It's warming up now.  Watching the temperature climb up to the thawing point means the MPG will climb up too.  Phew!  I couldn't take much more of that engine running and stealth being so brief.  How many months are there to go until Spring?

12-09-2005

Solar Add-On.  Now I've heard it all.  Someone is planning to sell a solar kit for $2,195 that will charge the auxiliary battery in the HSD Prius, which will supposedly increase efficiency by 10 percent.  That makes no sense.  The auxiliary battery (the 12-volt) plays no role in the propulsion system.  All it basically does is power the computer, connect the relay, and pump the coolant when you boot the system.  That's it.  Of course, how could a battery that small hold enough electricity to improve efficiency anyway?  I guess Prius has hit the big time now.  Someone is attempting to make money from a device that simply cannot deliver anywhere near as much as promised, or anything at all.  In this case, I cannot imagine how it makes any difference.

12-09-2005

Obvious Attacks.  Curiosity has been my theme lately.  The anti-hybrid are clearly running out of ideas at this point.  Today, they brought up A/C efficiency out of the blue... mostly likely because it is now Winter, making whatever nonsense they come up with difficult to verify.  This was the claim: "it looks like 10 plus percent loss on the hybrids using A/C is the norm, at least according to the owners reporting here".  Being vague and lumping all types & generations of hybrids together is a dead giveaway that certain people are not being sincere... especially when that very topic had already been discussed, confirming intentional deception.  Only the HSD model hybrids from Toyota fully electric A/C (which is extremely efficient), the older ones do not.  Neither do any hybrids from the competition either.  So that claim is very misleading, at best.  My combined calculated average for 2004 & 2005 between the months of June & September came to 53.5 MPG (using E10 for fuel).  There is simply no possible way to support that generalized 10 plus percent.  In reality, it is actually just a 1 to 2 MPG hit, which is less than 4 percent.  Don't you just love how their bad attacks have become?  They are so obvious to detect now.

12-09-2005

45,000 Mile - Oil Change.  Same old routine, except this time it was much colder in the garage.

12-09-2005

Protect the Battery-Pack.  Curiosity got the best of me.  Hearing about the engine quickly cycling on & off was just too odd.  I was led me to believe it did, as an act to bleed off excess electricity.  Turns out my hunch was right, the engine doesn't actually run...  I hunted out a hill in the suburbs that would allow me to glide the entire way down and was loooong enough to generate a substantial electricity reserve.  And by an amazing stroke of luck, it actually did.  Every light in the series was green.  The one at the bottom was red.  The moment I reached it, the eighth bar illuminated in green to indicate the top of the long-life threshold had been reached (80 percent charged).  Stopped there waiting for traffic to open up, I felt (for the first time ever, despite almost 105,000 miles of Prius driving) that "discharge scenario" begin.  It was most definitely doing that to protect the battery-pack.  But it wasn't consuming any fuel, hence no "on".  The engine did actually start.  The motion I felt was far too smooth for that.  It didn't take long to figure out what it was really doing either.  The small motor was spinning up the engine to full RPM for starting, then allowing it to slow down almost completely... repeating the process over and over again, draining a little bit more of the electricity supply each time.  The engine just spins via electricity.  It's a interesting protection feature I hadn't ever encountered.  I wonder if the Ford hybrid design has something like that.  Hmm?

12-09-2005

"Race in the Sun"  That was the title of the college report I just found in a huge box of stuff I had packed away for a very, very long time.  The writing of it will now become my oldest personal log entry.  The date on it says November 4, 1988.  It was the result of an assignment for my Business Geography class.  I choose to cover the "Solar Challenge" event that had taken place in Australia the year before, a race of solar powered cars across that continent.  I opened with this statement: "Automobiles play a very important role in the American way of life."  How about that for hitting the nail so precisely so long ago?  That is blatant proof that I've been tuned into the situation of energy consumption and the need for clean & renewable sources for at least 17 years now.  I did fairly well on that paper too.  The professor gave me an A- for a grade.  The comments were that the paper was overall very good, fluent, and easy to read.  Then he made the comment that I should keep up with my writing.  I wonder if he had an idea that encouragement could lead to this!  Anywho, the part I got the minus from was not identifying the limitations of that technology at that time.  Obviously, I've learned that lesson well too!  And the sweet part about this particular paper is that not only was I required to footnote my sources, I also had to include photocopies of the actual publications.  Now I can reanalyze my own findings... 17 years later!  Needless to say, I was tickled by the fact that I had begun my research for automotive improvement way back then.  But even better was the conclusion I wrote in that paper, since it still defines my same purpose today: "I feel the commitment we take toward benefiting ourselves and bettering the world is the way to the future.  The technological advancements and breakthroughs we create are what I feel the world needs as a whole."

12-09-2005

Rapidly Changing Prices.  I'm at the coffee shop typing personal logs right now.  Across the street is a gas station advertising the price as $2.06 per gallon.  Across from it is another, but it's sign states $2.29 per gallon.  That's a rather significant difference.  To have supplier pricing fluctuate so much and so quickly is disturbing... but worse is the reality that the higher value will soon be matched by the "competition".  They are all in the same situation ultimately, rising prices.  By the way, the cheaper price for diesel right now is $2.47 per gallon.

12-09-2005

It never gets old.  To this day, after driving 105,000 miles with my two Prius, I still find it amusing when someone passes in the other lane while riding their brakes.  All I do to slow down is lift my foot off the accelerator pedal.  The smaller motor automatically takes advantage of that opportunity to capture that excess energy by generating electricity with it, which results in deceleration.  I don't even have to touch the brakes to slow down more than those driving non-hybrids.  So besides the efficiency benefit from that electricity, the brakes on the Prius will last longer than theirs... since I don't even use them it that situation.  And when I do finally step on the brake, the big motor takes over the deceleration chore.  So even then, I'm still not actually using the brake pads or shoes.  Pretty cool hybrid design feature, eh?

12-09-2005

1 Month from now.  The official introduction of Camry-Hybrid will be made then.  It will be a part of the big 2006 Auto Show kickoff.  The expectation is that those initial details will capture the attention of many consumers in a profound way.  People are already aware of both Prius success and how the competition is struggling to survive.  So it's probably safe to assume that making the top selling car in America available as a hybrid will redefine the automotive industry, ending the doubt that the technology is just a niche.

12-08-2005

1 Week from now.  Production of Prius in China for the Chinese population will begin then.  That should be very interesting.  It is an entirely new market, unlike what Prius has been exposed to so far.  There's a lot of potential... perhaps exactly what they've been hoping for... one of those technological breakthroughs that humanity always hopes for.

12-08-2005

$60.66 per barrel.  Surprisingly, it's been under $60 for awhile.  But over the past few days, the price of gas started to fluctuate wildly... a clear indication that oil prices are climbing.  And sure enough, they climbed beyond that once-scary threshold again.  Remember earlier this year when people were making predictions about what the world would be like if the price per barrel stayed at $50?  Not too many considered what it would be like remaining close to $60 instead.  Even that corny (and very unrealistic) oil crisis movie said prices would eventually return to normal.  I guess this is what "normal" means now.

12-08-2005

Analogies.  The woman I was chatting with at Toyota got the biggest kick out of the analogy I used to describe the denial problems GM and Ford have been having recently.  I said, "The house is on fire.  Perhaps it is time to move."  That's so absurd, it's troubling... because that has actually been their attitude lately.  Her response, after she stopped laughing at how appropriately my comment fit, she said: "It is sad that many in the industry are reactive, rather than proactive."  Ain't that the truth.  So I replied this way, with a favorite analogy I have used at work on countless occasions: "Well, at least my end of the boat isn't sinking."  That's just plain silly, but fitting far too often... especially in the now broken automotive industry.

12-08-2005

At Toyota.  The wait for service was far from routine today.  Instead of just quietly working on my notebook computer and taking advantage of their wireless internet connection, I shouted out "That's my car!" when a video-clip of a Prius was shown to advertise a story on this evening's news.  The 3 people sitting nearby all took their attention off the television and focused on me instead (with a fourth joining shortly afterward).  I jumped into presentation mode, willing to answer any question they had in great detail.  They were happy to indulge.  We all had a very fulfilling experience.  I hadn't realized just how golden of an opportunity that would be.  So rather than just toying with the topic, as in the past.  My next visit will have the expectation of repeating what happened today.  It was great!

 

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