Prius Personal Log  #253

February 22, 2006  -  February 27, 2006

Last Updated: Sat. 4/01/2006

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2-27-2006

Why No EV Button?  How many times do you think I'll get asked that question?  Why didn't the North American version of Prius include it?  The EPA estimates are crude, at best, for "full" hybrids.  Toyota knew that.  For that matter, they were also well aware of how inaccurate the estimates are for traditional vehicles too.  Introducing the EV button to an already horrible mess of efficiency influencing factors would have been inviting a nightmare.  So they didn't... saving that ability as wildcard to play later and something fun for the hard-core enthusiasts to toy with.  Once battery technology takes the next step forward and the sources of our electricity finally become cleaner, then we'll get the EV button.  Like all things Prius related, there's a long wait to endure but it is always worth it.

2-27-2006

Prius Comparisons.  I absolutely love how hybrid comparisons are now more than ever being based on Prius.  Rather than Camry articles comparing the traditional version of Camry to the upcoming hybrid version, Prius gets the attention.  We now have an incontestable standard to measure upon.  That's pretty handy.  Things are about to get confusing, with so many more hybrid choices about to become available.  Comparisons are much more informative (though unfortunately rather vague) than numerical values for those that don't understand numbers in the first place.  So it works out pretty well to have, especially when dealing with a market that has become so diverse.

2-26-2006

Expert Opinions.  Doesn't it amaze you that the so-called experts are now saying the very opposite of what they had said a few years ago?  Their claim was that the unique look of Prius was its weakness, a shortcoming preventing it from ever being able to become popular.  Now they are saying that unique look is its greatest strength.  They cannot make up their minds.  All they are really doing is just reciting old school logic, rather than researching what actually compels people.  Put another way, they cannot see the forest.  So whatever prediction they make using only the tree in front of them will rarely ever be correct.  There are far too many factors involved.  Look alone is a poor thing to make judgment on.  Yet, they did it anyway... completely oblivious the other needs people have to fulfill.  Anywho, it really makes you wonder what the heck they'll end up saying about Camry-Hybrid.  Doesn't it?

2-26-2006

More Power.  One of the three aspects of appeal featured in the television commercials for the new Ford Explorer is more power.  Who in the world needed more?  It was a monster already, gross overkill for the drive to the store that I routinely see people do.  This is yet another example that it's hard to teach an old dog new tricks.  At some point, you'd hope reality would sink in.  There is no benefit anymore.  More does not equate to better.  In fact, it means nothing unless you actually use it.  But since I don't see anyone carrying or towing that much cargo, it is a complete waste... just a ploy to entice sales.  When will they finally stop placing so much attention on power?

2-26-2006

Pump Accuracy.  Ever wonder if you are really getting the amount of gas you paid for?  There's a discussion about that today online.  With so few inspectors and so many years required between each check, normal wear & tear on even an extremely precise pump will produce errors after awhile.  Those inaccuracies could make it appear as though the estimate on the Multi-Display isn't as close as it actually is.  Combine that with when the pump triggers the full indication and you've got a real mess.  But that's the reality we have to deal with.  In other words, we can trust the Multi-Display.  Just subtract the variance owners have observed (1.4 MPG average) and you'll be so close that whatever nonsense happens at the pump can be objectively ruled out.

2-26-2006

Every 20 Miles.  Today, that is what Governor Schwarzenegger stated as the current goal for the "Hydrogen Highway".  How practical is that?  Just think about how many gas stations are within just a few minutes of your own home.  Expand that range to 20 miles in a typical suburb and you could literally be talking hundreds of stations.  How can just 1 serve that massive of a population, especially in California?  It's so far beyond absurd I cannot even begin to argue against it.  Can you imagine the lines at each location?  And what if they run out of hydrogen?  For that matter, how are they going to measure demand and properly balance it with supply & pricing?  Needless to say, my curiosity led me to do some internet searches.  It was surprisingly easy for me to find a document with illustrations showing the 3 phases planned so far.  It was quite disappointing.  The completion of phase 3 (originally announced to be reached by 2010) should support 20,000 vehicles total, utilizing 250 total filling stations in 2 clustered area in the state.  That's it!  By then, Toyota is hoping to be producing 1,000,000 hybrid vehicles per year.  What will the next phases include?  How long will they take?  And what exactly are they hoping to achieve that hybrids won't?

2-26-2006

Untrue Stories.  It looks like it's happening again.  When the HSD Prius first became available, quite a number of reporters simply made up stories about how the Classic performed.  Since there was little people could do to confirm or refute those apparent facts, I guess they figured they could get away with it.  Fortunately, I complained a lot about that in my logs.  So I have written record now of what they were attempting.  (I also have written record to prove what they claimed is untrue.)  It was a source of frustration, because many of their claims had the effect of making improvements in the newer model appear to be quite impressive.  But now, there is increasing talk of the Original Prius.  That model was never available for purchase in the United States.  So the best information we can get about it is hearsay... and you should be well aware of how that gets blown way out of proportion when discussed years later.  Where's the documentation about those supposed events written at the time they actually occurred?  Regardless, the point is still the same.  Reporters are now telling these stories to make the models that followed look better.  And like most stories, a belief usually originates from an actual event.  So carefully consider the source and the context before accepting what you are being told about things that happened a long time ago... especially hybrid development back in the 90's.  Remember, there are quite a number of people that would like to rewrite history to conceal the fact that the automaker they support was caught off guard to such an embarrassing and financially devastating extreme.

2-25-2006

No Research.  The comments now getting posted by the new anti-hybrid people are pretty much worthless (leaving no reason to even bother with a rebuttal).  They seem to be doing nothing but just reciting beliefs of the past, without any data to support those assumptions they're making.  Clearly, we are now tapping into an entirely new segment of the market.  They have no clue how a combustion engine works.  They have no clue how emissions are measured.  They have no clue how full hybrids function.  They aren't even aware that different methods of discharging & recharging batteries have a profound difference with their life-expectancy.  It's rather absurd.  With the greatest of ease you can confuse the heck out of them simply by replying with some technical detail.  In other words, hybrids have now officially caught the attention of normal people.  This "no research" situation is a genuine sign that the mainstream audience has taken notice.  They don't understand the inner workings of their own traditional vehicle, so why should a hybrid be any different?  Just ask the MPG question.  You'll see what I mean.  The normal people (those that are not enthusiasts) simply have no idea.  They don't document their fill up data.  They don't maintain spreadsheets.  They don't really even want to know how much they are actually spending on gas.  Hooray!  I know.  That's a strange thing to celebrate.  But this odd new reality is a great thing.  That majority group we've been striving to reach is now interested.

2-25-2006

Ethanol Attention.  Rather than the usual greenwashing, we are actually getting something useful from GM.  It's unfortunate that their vehicles will just be guzzling a different type of fuel.  But in this particular circumstance, there really is a benefit.  All the talk about recent advances with ethanol production must have the biodiesel people quite distraught.  Besides the usual sources of sugar to ferment into ethanol, which now yield a greater energy return than in the past, new sources like switchgrass and waste foliage are gaining attention.  The talk of ethanol requiring more energy to create than what you ultimately get in return is rapidly fading.  The feasibility as a supplement is indeed realistic.  However, that isn't the only solution.  So this heavy no promotional campaign from GM is incomplete.  Hybrids are still required to reduce consumption.  Simply consuming a different product is not enough.  Nonetheless, the attention is terrific.  Now do you think that will actually result in a ethanol production increase?  Without the fuel being available, the technology to use it becomes vaporware (a popular new idea that was never embraced by the market).

2-23-2006

Yellow?  What kind of difference do you think all those television commercials are actually making?  And is GM helping to create a misconception by advertising corn so heavily as a source for ethanol?  If people do end up relating the "yellow" to corn only, that could become a real problem.  Both sugar cane and sugar beets are actually more popular sources outside of the United States Midwest.  Whatever the case, it's looking more and more like a move to promote vehicles based on an image rather than an actual improvement.  Just think of how much ethanol you'll waste in the heavy stop & slow traffic of a daily commute.  All along, they should have been promoting E10, since all gas vehicles already have the ability to use it.  The overnight interest in E85, which just happened to coincide perfectly with President Bush's new national security plans, is quite suspicious.  The phrase "all talk and no action" may turn out to be quite appropriate.

2-22-2006

Honda Fit-Hybrid.  There's a new twist in the growing hybrid market.  It now sounds like Honda's next hybrid will be a low-cost subcompact, the Fit.  (It's similar to one of the Scion models from Toyota.)  That may be a smart move for them.  It could replace the 2-seat Insight with a much more practical 4-seat vehicle that will likely deliver similar efficiency.  It also finds a more appropriate home for the "assist" design, since that type of hybrid cannot offer the flexibility of the "full" design... making it unfit (no pun intended) for direct competition with the larger more powerful vehicles.  The market is really getting interesting.  Just wait until Li-Ion upgrades become more affordable.  That should result in an even wider variety of choices.  Makes you wonder if multiple designs will catch on, eh?  What will people want from a hybrid?

2-22-2006

Waiting for Nothing.  I was at the barber shop today.  It's in a small town, where concealing my identity is impossible.  So they know it's me when I stop by for a trim.  One of the regulars stepped into the car's blind-spot as I was preparing to leave.  That was intentional.  He was waiting for that "nothingness" effect when the Prius backs out of a parking spot in total silence.  He also knew that because it was silent that I would hear him talk even though my window was shut.  And he did.  It was an exclamation of joy!  He was delighted by the experience I had unknowingly provided for him.  That was bizarre.  But the smile on his face certainly confirmed that he'll do it again when the next opportunity presents itself.

2-22-2006

Total Reversal.  Back in 2001, right after 9/11, it was President Bush that pushed the "Good for the Economy" propaganda.  He claimed increased consumption would stimulate the American market, helping us recover from the nightmare that had just begun.  And in a way, he was correct.  That endorsement (as well as the accompanying tax credit) served as a big encouragement for the sales of monster-size gas-guzzlers.  They did in fact get us back on track too.  But it was very short-sighted and not at all a responsible way to proceed.  That took no consideration for the long-term consequences... which are becoming undeniably evident now.  In other words, it backfired horribly.  Now we have a new mess to deal with.  His new slogan is "Addicted to Oil" and he is telling us how much of a national security risk that is.  Too bad he has forgotten what history already taught us.  President Carter said the very same thing way back in 1979.  Remember?  That's how the small, slow, weak, dangerous cars ended up flooding the market.  The 80's were loaded with them.  Heck, I owned one!  That was my first car.  It was a manual-transmission Dodge Omni.  Anywho, that president wasn't responsible back then.  He didn't encourage increasing consumption.  And back then, the term "Global Warming" hadn't even been coined yet.  Far more information was available 22 years later, in 2001.  I had been driving my Prius for over a year at that point.  I knew that if that our ways were self-destructive.  No reversal was necessary for those already endorsing hybrids.  We were well aware of the reality that the emission & consumption situation was getting out of control.  Now... finally... after 5 years... it appears as though part of that message is sinking into.  But how will that play out?  The monster-size gas-guzzler is quite an addiction.  What will be endorsed now?

 

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