Prius Personal Log  #249

January 26, 2006  -  February 1, 2006

Last Updated: Mon. 2/06/2006

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2-01-2006

Not Interested.  I have completely lost interest in what the anti-hybrid people have to say anymore.  Their antagonistic posts are the same old nonsense, just claims without merit.  Their lies are becoming easier to detect now too.  So I don't worry much anymore about them scaring away the curious.  The people researching hybrids like Prius seem to find the information they need without getting fooled into believing the false information being spread.  It probably has something to do with the fact that the anti-hybrid are outnumbered now.  There are far more people who have heard favorable reports than those trying to mislead.  The need to spend time playing either offense or defense is gone.  It is basically just a waste now.  So, I simply won't bother.  I'd much rather respond to email and finally finish publishing my backlog of photos anyway.

2-01-2006

AT-PZEV ?  That question is still being asked about Prius.  The hardware supports AT-PZEV.  The warranty for most states is only SULEV.  The highest rating for some states is only ULEV.  The gasoline for some states wasn't low-sulfur until just a few weeks ago.  Now do you understand why it is so darn confusing?  The emission identification is based on location, preventing the labeling from being consistent throughout the whole country.  But since the hardware is the same nationwide, who cares?  Prius is a vehicle built to deliver AT-PZEV, regardless of what regional label is used.

2-01-2006

Weird MPG.  The entire month of January was much warmer than usual.  In fact, it was the warmest on record for Minnesota.  That caused the monthly MPG average to be higher than December, which is just plain bizarre.  Fortunately, it was so warm when I filled up that bladder-effect tainted the calculated value.  That pushed it lower than it really was.  Unfortunately, the forecast for next week is for temperatures to return back to normal.  The cold won't even be reflected though, due to the fact that more gas than usual fit in the tank yesterday.  Good thing I don't care much about that fine detail.  It's the overall average which really matters.  Lifetime MPG is immune to those trivial differences caused by individual visits to the gas station.  Thank goodness.

1-31-2006

State of the Union.  The statements related to emissions & consumption in President Bush's speech to the nation today were disappointing.  He said: "We must also change how we power our automobiles.  We will increase our research in better batteries for hybrid and electric cars, and in pollution-free cars that run on hydrogen.  We'll also fund additional research in cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol, not just from corn, but from wood chips and stalks, or switch grass.  Our goal is to make this new kind of ethanol practical and competitive within six years."  Notice that subtle comment against hybrids through his implication that the batteries today are not good enough?  Notice how he made no mention of consuming less?  All he told us was that the fuel we use must change.  Year after year after year I've watched this "leader" only give hybrids a token mention.  Finally, we ended up getting the quickly-to-expire tax credit.  After that, we have nothing... not even a rally cry in support of using less gas in the first place.  Then what?  Simply just substituting imported oil for our own and increasing production of biofuels doesn't fix the actual problem.  Consumption is out of control, and he is doing nothing to promote reduction of demand.  Change for the sake of change is not a solution, it is a diversion.

1-30-2006

Peugeot Citroen-Hybrid.  An article was published on this prototype hybrid today.  It is only an "assist" hybrid, so it has the same limitations as Honda's design, with the exception of the "electric" mode having an EV button to request keeping the engine off as long as possible.  The catch is that there still isn't likely that much electricity available in the first place.  That's an advantage only the "full" hybrids offer.  This one may be somewhat different though, since it uses diesel for fuel instead.  Perhaps the forced charging isn't as much of an efficiency penalty.  But since the efficiency is only estimated at 69 MPG (European testing cycle) and the car is physically smaller than Prius, it really doesn't have a noticeable advantage over the 64.1 MPG (European testing cycle) for Prius.  The starting of the diesel engine would be less smooth as well.  So I'm very curious how well it will compete.  We'll see, but not for at least 2 years... since this was only a prototype.  Of course, by then the new model of Prius will be close to debuting.

1-30-2006

Innovations.  The latest Ford television commercial features Bill Ford talking on-screen about the changes they are bringing to market.  When technology is addressed, he says "Innovations like Hybrid SUVs".  Rather than just mentioning their hybrid system, he very specifically points out SUVs.  There was nothing even hinted about a car getting the technology.  Why?  In fact, why doesn't their hybrid system have a name yet?  More and more it looks like emphasis is being put on the SUV only, rather than providing a fleet-wide solution.  Kind of makes you wonder why the text on the commercial said "250,000 by 2010".  That's not a competitive quantity compared to the 1,000,000 Toyota is working toward by the same date.  Could it be that Ford has no plans anymore to offer a sedan, wagon, hatchback, minivan, or even pickup as a hybrid?  Years ago, they had been talking about Fusion (sedan) being available with their hybrid system.  Now, they are not.  Why?  Where is the innovation for vehicles that are not SUVs?  Is it just the fact that Fusion is a new model vehicle, replacing Taurus?  Is that all we get?  When the heck will the hybrid option be available?  Is this another broken promise, like the "improve efficiency by 25 percent within 5 years" promise that was never fulfilled?

1-30-2006

Camry-Hybrid Review.  The only surprise was that people reading the article acknowledged the fact that the reviewer was, as he stated, a "heavy footed" driver.  So the 30.5 MPG average he got was actually quite good.  Normal family car drivers, the very people whom purchase Camry, will do better.  And for a car so big with so much power, that's certainly nothing to complain about.  I have a feeling the initial impressions will be more positive than those for Prius, a sign that the market is indeed advancing.  Anywho, the anticipated estimate values are 43 MPG city and 37 MPG highway.  That's no threat to Prius.  Each hybrid will have its own type of buyer, not a conflict as some of the anti-hybrid people have been claiming.  Hey, at least the reviewers are getting better.  About a year from now, I don't think will be having to deal with much resistance from anyone.  That should quickly fade away with the stream of real-world reports coming from Camry-Hybrid owners.  But for now, we have to settle for the few reviews currently available.

1-29-2006

Forum Sold.  The sale of a certain hybrid forum from a private owner to an internet company (who currently provides other online automotive services) should make things interesting.  The created & controlled by-an-owner aspect was an appeal factor that will no longer be present, changing it to a venue like those with paid hosts instead.  They definitely have a different feel and ultimately end up attracting a different audience.  Of course, I never cared for that particular forum anyway.  Do some internet hybrid searches on "not the same" and "SULEV".  You'll find that the founder had some pretty intense fights with me on those topics.  He wasn't happy that I was continuously pointing out the differences of the various hybrid designs.  And he really got upset when I kept mentioning how his MPG database had just lumped together both types of Civic-Hybrid, providing a very misleading impression of actual efficiency.  His efforts to create a forum where all hybrids were treated as equals was undeniably evident.  And perhaps we know why now.  Whatever the case, it is time to move on.  HSD is gaining acceptance at a fantastic rate, dwarfing all the other competing designs.  I still feel that pointing out why it is superior is a good thing.  It will help stimulate a market that will gain from genuine improvements, not those that appear to be the same.  And if that means a forum where certain hybrid models get far more attention than others, so be it.  We'll end up better off later on because of that.  After all, when has true competition not proven to be beneficial?  I'm quite curious how that forum will change under the new ownership.

1-28-2006

Dual Stealth.  Now I remember why!  It seemed odd that a competing full hybrid design would do something the one in Prius would not.  Prius can, but it turns out to not be that practical.  What I'm talking about is using both electric motors at the same time to provide power while driving.  That would consume the supply available from the battery-pack way too quickly... which has a negative effect on efficiency, just like increasing the RPM for the gas engine does.  The genius behind the design never ceases to amaze me.  The bewilderment started by me forgetting how MG1 (the small electric motor, connected to the center of the PSD) reacts when driving in stealth.  You see, MG2 (the large electric motor, connected to the outer most part of the PSD) is what provides the thrust when using only electricity for propulsion.  The resulting interaction with the engine causes MG1 to rotate... normally, without any power flowing in either direction to or from it... though, that could happen.  In fact, it could happen while the engine is running too.  Try to envision the PSD.  As the engine rotates, it can allow that interior "orbit" (the connecting ring) of the "planets" (the middle power carriers) to "revolve" around the center and to "rotate" in place.  But when the gas engine is stopped, as with stealth, the "planets" only "rotate".  (Yes, I realize that is difficult to picture, but the planetary references do help describe the movement surprisingly well.)  Anywho, the rotating planets from the engine causes the center, known as the "sun", to spin unless electrical resistance is used to keep it in place or to make it rotate backward.  That obviously means movement isn't restricted.  So by just sending electricity to MG1, it can provide some thrust too!  That means MG2 can get some help, rather than working all by itself.  However, if you really want to dig deep into technical details, you'll discover the roles of MG1 & MG2 can be reversed in some situations.  But don't let that confuse you.  Just remember that both can serve as motors & generators.

1-27-2006

$67.76 per barrel.  The price of oil is well above the $60 threshold industry experts worried about, and has been that way for months.  The long-term effects of this should become obvious.  I wonder how long it will take.  Hmm?

1-27-2006

More Green.  It appears as though my Prius is capturing & utilizing more electricity nowadays.  I'm not sure why or even how much, but I have observed a difference on the Multi-Display.  The charge-level on the battery-pack shows green more often.  Perhaps a computer update last year contributed to that.  Perhaps it is just the result of later-life break-in.  Whatever the case, there seems to be more.  But the catch is that it's to cold outside to determine just how much.  Green (7 or 8 bars displayed) is far more common during the Winter.  So I had to wait until today, when the temperature went up to 43 F degrees, to see if there is indeed a difference.  And it appeared as though there was, but only a little.  I won't truly know until the temperature gets at least up to 60 F degrees.  At that point, Stealth becomes significantly easier and battery-pack capacity is no longer reduced due to the cold.  My guess is there will be a tiny improvement, just like I saw with my Classic Prius.  The Lifetime MPG continued to climb.  Perhaps this was the contributing factor.  That Multi-Display wasn't as detailed, so I'll never really know.  Oh well.

1-26-2006

Finally.  The benefits of the "full" hybrid design are quickly being realized, despite the intentional fuel-cell distractions.  Thank goodness!  I was always fearful of the brilliant engineering becoming a victim of clever marketing, where competitors mislead consumers to adopt a system offering no future potential or convinced them to wait for something else.  Instead, Prius is king... paving a way for widespread acceptance of the "full" hybrids and opening up opportunities for electric augmentation later, once electricity created from clean sources finally becomes commonly available.  Phew!

1-26-2006

Amazing.  That's how I describe GM. To watch a huge company actually self-destruct over the past 6 years has blown my mind.  They started in complete denial, then they developed an attitude, then they got defensive, then finally began to panic.  Now they are faced with the reality that they lost $8.6 Billion last year.  That is an absolutely frightening amount of money.  What in the world are they going to do to recover?  By the time their first competitive hybrid design actually becomes available, Prius will be celebrating its 10th birthday.  I still wonder if GM executives truly realize just how deep of a hole they have dug themselves into.

1-26-2006

Estimates.  Enthusiasts are well aware of the fact that those misleading EPA efficiency estimates are only "ideal" condition representations and that the average person just doesn't understand that.  In fact, most people don't really even know what their own actual MPG average is.  The hope is to finally get beyond all that nonsense and have people focus exclusively on real-world data instead.  It's going to take awhile before the masses figure out the true scope of the problem and all the factors influencing MPG.  And the newly proposed estimates are not going to accomplish that.  Oh well.  At least word-of-mouth from actual owners will help spread the required knowledge.  Learning through actual experience is the best teacher anyway.

 

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