Prius Personal Log  #25

April 1, 2002  -  April 15, 2002

Last Updated: Fri. 4/09/2004

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4-15-2002

Now it's Summer!  I think Spring is over already.  2 weeks ago was the worst snow storm of the Winter.  10 days ago, it was only 17 F degrees.  Today, it was 91 F degrees.  Whoa!  My MPG chart will show a huge jump upward now.

4-15-2002

Hybrid Comparisons.  I have fun at gatherings.  That forum makes hybrid comparisons much easier.  We've been trying the same online via messages.  It doesn't work as well.  Knowing how much detail to include is nearly impossible, and getting feedback right away just doesn't happen.  In the end, we did finally get a good feel for how the Honda and Toyota systems differ.  Both are too complex for simple summaries though.  Each offers dissimilar strengths.  What do you want your hybrid to be like?

4-15-2002

Vehicle Noise.  I went biking today.  My travel was on bike trails along suburb roads.  That gave me the opportunity to observe a lot different traditional vehicles.  All were louder than I expected.  No wonder people blindly step out in front of Prius driving silently.

4-15-2002

Tax time.  Deduction or Credit?  Last year, I took a deduction and got $280 back for my Prius purchase.

4-15-2002

Electricity Generation.  It happens more often than you'd expect.  100% of the time the engine is running to make the Prius move, it's also generating.  Prius has 2 motors.  One provides thrusts and the other electricity.  While driving down a street or highway, the engine is ALWAYS generating electricity for the motor or battery-pack (or both sometimes).  Then you have to add in the fact that braking provides regeneration.  This is the very reason some claim the federal tax credit.  The utilization of electricity in Prius is much higher than many people realize.

4-14-2002

11 new Winter Prius Photos.  There was a nasty ice storm a month ago.  Looking outside just a moment was all it took to get very excited about going on another photo adventure with the digital camera.  I got 11 great shots, but all were intentionally over-exposed.  That's necessary when taking photos of a dark hybrid against a blinding bright snowy background.  So editing them afterward to properly balance the lighting took a very long time.  Anywho, they're now available on this page:  photo album 29

4-13-2002

Hybrid Encounter 2.  About 20 minutes later, I saw that same Insight.  It drove right by me and stopped at the same intersection I was heading toward.  I pulled up along side him and opened my window.  The driver turned toward me and smiled.  He knew who I was and said he'd be attending the upcoming gathering.  Cool!

4-13-2002

Hybrid Encounter 1.  I stopped at Checker Auto Supply today to do some research.  When finished, I got a pleasant surprise.  There was an Insight parked next to me.  Sweet!  That was completely unexpected!!  I left a flyer for the gathering, then continued with my errand running.

4-12-2002

Windows Open & Stealth.  I saw 64 F degrees on the multi-display.  I heard birds singing.  In Minnesota, Winter means the windows stay rolled up, stealth becomes very difficult, and all the song birds fly south.  Today, I enjoyed Spring with the Prius. 

4-12-2002

Honda Dealer Visit.  Finished at Toyota, I drove to the Honda dealer just one block up the road.  It was kind of odd parking my Prius (silently) in very plain view of the salespeople.  That immediately drew attention.  They promptly greeted me at the door.  I revealed my (not so secret) identity, then provided a gathering flyer.  They hung it up right away, then hunted down some keys so we could go checkout their Civic Hybrid.  It was a nice looking car with virtually no obvious indication of being a hybrid.  The battery-pack is completely hidden.  (Honda concealed it underneath the back seat.)  The interior resembled a well refined traditional look.  Oil became a concern though after discovering it requires 0W-20.  That's a rare type, so it will be harder to find and prices will likely be higher.  I'm looking forward to all the in-person feedback I'll be able to get about my observations at the upcoming gathering.  That will tell me what "joe average" is truly concerned about and interested in.

4-12-2002

Toyota Dealer Visit.  Stopped by my Toyota dealer today to schedule the free 30,000 mile service for my Prius.  I walked in there and they replied with a "Hi John!".  That recognition was very nice.  We setup the appointment, then I provided them with a flyer for the gathering.  It got hung up right away.  They really like the idea of having gatherings.  Cool!

4-12-2002

Watching Ellie.  Did you see the Prius in this week's episode?  I did. And it ended up being the highest quality video I've ever been able to capture about the Prius.  You may be taken aback that it's not an endorsement this time; instead, it's an entertaining sequence of events that just happens to center around our beloved hybrid.  The video is carefully edited to provide the complete story-line into a surprisingly good format that's still small enough for convenient downloading.  You'll find that file at:  video files

4-12-2002

Minnesota Hybrid Gathering.  We got listed in the "Auto Event Calendar" in the Minneapolis newspaper today.  Cool!

4-10-2002

Mini-Gathering.  While walking to my Green Prius, I noticed "that other Green Prius".  So I took a slight detour while leaving.  I swung by to leave a flyer about the Gathering on April 27.  And to my delight, the timing was perfect.  There was the owner.  She smiled when she saw my Green Prius.  (Yes, I realize all Prius are "green", but in this case I'm referring to the color.)  We stayed there for a little bit and shared stories, then we left.  Both in the same direction.  We got to watch each other for 8 miles.  Seeing the other Prius mixed in with traffic was quite a sight!

4-09-2002

Gas Station Fun.  Wow!  Now that it's nice out, people go way out of their way to ask about the Prius (instead of racing to get the tank filled before freezing to death).  Cool!  (pun intended)  They definitely know what the word "Hybrid" means at this point.  Before and after I filled up today, two different people stopped to ask questions about the car.  One of them even asked if I'd be willing to open the hood.  With both prices and my MPG going up, that extra attention they ask of me is quite welcome.

4-09-2002

Spring, FINALLY!  Seeing my gas mileage climb up to 51.4 MPG caused by slow traffic on the rainy highway and warm weather is wonderful.  That increase was after driving 59 miles.  When I got to 87, the MPG had dropped to 50.8.  I guess I'm going to have to pretend I'm doing my own version of the movie "Speed".  We could call it "MPG".  If the value drops below 50.0, then the car...  Hey!  Wait a minute...  Maybe that's not such a good idea!

4-08-2002

Civic-Hybrid has arrived.  The local dealers around here got their demo models today.  I called one, they got a manual transmission.  I stopped at another, they had a CVT.  That's the one I'd really like to check out.  The dealer was closed though.  So I looked at the outside for now.  It was very nice.  The upcoming gathering on April 27 will be my extended opportunity to inspect the inside and go for a test drive.  But what I'm more curious about is how people will perceive it.  The technology is very well hidden.  Stealth isn't possible, engine shut off only takes place when stopped.  So it will seem much more like vehicles people are already use to.  There isn't a multi-display or centered digital speedometer either.  In fact, the instrument panel is so traditional the small MPG readout kind of blends in... which could make efficient driving harder.  But then again, that's the point of this Civic.  Honda wanted to conceal the technology so much that customers don't have any apprehension about buying it.  "Hybrid" could turn into just another option available.  I personally prefer the very noticeable differences in Prius.  Making changes on that scale allows for the advancement beyond the limitations of traditional technologies.  Still, there's absolutely nothing wrong with Honda's efforts.  Lots of people will be thrilled to own a hybrid from them, especially since it looks just like the popular Civics already on the road.

4-07-2002

Pre-Prius Technology.  The first 3 of 11 museum pages are now available.  They feature high-quality scans of technology advertisements from 1986.  (The upcoming ones are from 1994 and 1998.)  Many of the components you'll see directly influenced the inventions of today, like the Toyota Prius.  Here's the index page:  museum

4-07-2002

The magic 55 F degree mark.  That's when the engine shuts off long before you reach the intersection.  I had become so used to feeling the halt shortly after coming to a stop that I was overwhelmed when it didn't happen anymore.  Prius owners in the north get to rediscover what stealth is like every single year.  Spring is truly a refreshing change.  I can't imagine how great stealth will be next week when the temperatures finally warm into the 60's.  I'll be able to enjoy the dead silence with the windows open and accelerating with just electricity will be much easier (though it's usually still more efficient to use the engine briefly). 

4-06-2002

Using Oil as a Weapon.  The political games are getting ugly.  There was announcement (from a certain country) today about preventing crude oil shipments to a few countries, including the United States.  That's as ridiculous as boycotting gas purchases, eventually you have to buy & sell some.  Both sides have a symbiotic relationship.  Stopping really isn't possible.  All they can really do mess up the delivery & pricing system.  Thankfully, personal vehicles will use a hydrogen based fuel someday.

4-05-2002

48 F degrees at 11:00 PM.  Wow!  I think Spring is actually going to arrive.  It seemed like the wait was forever.  What a strange Winter.

4-04-2002

What?  A recent article stated Ford expects 10 percent of the new vehicles produced to be hybrids in 10 years, and Honda expects 50 percent in 20 years.  What data are they making their estimates with?  Toyota reached the break-even point for Prius early last year.  Now there's talk that Panasonic (the battery-pack supplier for Toyota) is able to reduce prices.  And the technology inside Prius is already proving very effective.  With that kind of success, why not produce lots of hybrids?

4-04-2002

3 at once.  While waiting at an intersection this evening, I glanced over and noticed a cooling-vent.  Taking a wider look, sure enough, there was a Prius.  Then taking an even wider look I noticed there was another Prius a few vehicles in front of it.  3 of us shared the same stoplight all at once.  Wow!  I wonder if anyone else noticed?

4-04-2002

Nimble & Quick.  Like Jack, Prius is nimble & quick.  That comes in handy.  Attempting to make a left turn on the streets of downtown St. Paul is all too frequently a challenge.  There isn't always a clear path available when traffic pauses momentarily to allow you through.  That means you punch the accelerator-pedal and carefully steer around the vehicles that are sometimes sticking out a little too far.  It's easy with a Prius.  So it didn't take long for me to get through the intersection today.  I had to wait a long time for the man in the large pickup in front of me to go though.  I completely understand why he was hesitant.  That long length makes it harder to maneuver and the enormous, tall hood causes a blind-spot in front.  Just think, all SUVs suffer from that same limitation.  Kinda makes you think what's really useful.  Hmm?

4-03-2002

Waiting.  I waited for a good friend today in the Prius.  Sitting there silently without using any gas was great.  Being able to back into a better spot when it opened up, without having to start the engine (or for that matter even make any noise), was wonderful.  Everything changes when you have stealth.

4-03-2002

It really was better.  After that horrible commute yesterday, the multi-display showed 44.5 MPG after driving 23 miles.  Having started that morning with only 3 miles since pressing the reset button, that value represented the commute rather well.  The drive home was on roads so clean you wouldn't believe there had been a storm that morning, and the drive the following morning was also completely snowless.  When I finally pulled into the parking spot at work, the multi-display showed only 42.3 MPG.  The MPG in difficult traffic really was better.

4-02-2002

No Waste!  We got 6 new inches of snow and it was still coming down quite heavy.  That added an entire hour to my commute (from 25 minutes to 1 hour and 25 minutes).  The resulting MPG was slightly better than usual.  To sit in a car through that awful stop & slow traffic for so long and actually end up a little ahead is truly remarkable.  Needless to say, I felt pretty good once I got to work.  I bet there were a lot of people felt exactly the opposite, being very frustrated from wasting so much gas sitting in traffic.  Wouldn't it be great if they had stealth too?

4-01-2002

KITT.  Remember that special high-tech car from the 80's television show "Knight Rider" starring David Hasselhoff?  From time to time someone mentions a pedestrian stepping out in front of a moving Prius without looking.  Stealth-Mode makes the car dead quiet, but so does pure-electric and fuel-cell technology.  That means the problem will become more common.  Knowing that people don't look before stepping out into a roadway is troubling.  It looks like we may need to implement an idea from that show.  Pulsing series of small red lights in front and the car speaking out to warn the person may do trick.

 

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