Prius Personal Log  #255

March 5, 2006  -  March 11, 2006

Last Updated: Sat. 4/01/2006

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3-11-2006

A little bit of hope.  The craze for the SUV was absolutely amazing.  Talk about people not understanding the difference between "want" and "need".  Geez!  Almost none of the owners actually ever used the high ground-clearance, the heavy-duty suspension, or the massive towing-capacity.  For that matter, the 4-wheel drive was overkill as well.  So no matter how clean or efficient the SUV became, it would still be wasteful.  And don't even get me started on the obscene size.  The minivan still has a more practical interior, as well as very handy large sliding side-doors.  Anywho, the now struggling automakers are finally beginning to accept reality.  They are now focusing attention on muscle cars instead.  After all, that is what ultimately made them popular in the first place.  The new designs won't have the impairment of the SUV.  They'll be safer too.  But of course, they'll start out as over-powered gas-guzzlers.  But fortunately, they don't have to stay that way.  It's where the little bit of hope comes in.  The immense engine could be replaced by a sensible hybrid system instead.  You'd get the appealing look without having to sacrifice emissions or efficiency.  However, it will be somewhat bittersweet... since Prius already offers that!

3-11-2006

Electric Heater.  Reviews of the Camry-Hybrid are starting to trickle in.  Today's revealed a detail of a feature which Prius (this year's model, anyway) does not have.  It's an "Eco" button.  From articles published earlier, we knew that would help to reduce how often the engine runs.  The assumption was that it would mostly be a gain for warm-weather operation.  But it turns out that there's more.  It isn't just a software software enhancement allowing greater user-intervention.  There is actually a new piece of hardware included.  It's pretty sweet too.  There is a new heating element built into the heater core... which runs on electricity!  So in situations like mine here in Minnesota in January, when the stoplight is too long for the engine to remain off the entire duration with the heater still running, it now could.  That's fantastic!  I can foresee that helping to lengthen the duration of stealth driving in the Winter too.  Yippee!

3-11-2006

60,000 More.  What a fantastic unconfirmed plan!  The rumors online are that Toyota is preparing to ramp up production of Prius again.  One of the two locations in Japan is capable.  And the demand certainly would be easy to justify.  Of course, the plans to start producing them here are still in the works too.  So the market will need to finally accept it as a normal vehicle (for the 21st Century), rather than using that niche label the antagonists have been struggling to keep alive.  How long will it be until the denial ends?  People desire the new and innovative.  Prius is clearly that.  Continuing to push outdated gas-guzzlers isn't much of an appeal anymore... thankfully.

3-11-2006

Hostility & Fear.  Out of nowhere, hostility has emerged.  This is when someone rudely attacks you for no apparent reason claiming they are just defending against your attack.  It's quite a shock to find yourself accused of that.  You actually have to read backward through posts on forums to undercover what the heck caused could have it.  I ended up doing that very thing in one particular instance yesterday and witnessing it in a few others.  A pattern was revealed.  The argument theme was "not economically sound" in quite a few messages.  The evidence pointed to fear, directly related to that recently published article stating exactly the opposite.  The swing in monetary expenses has disrupted the mindset of the masses.  And you can tell pretty easily too.  Ignoring the fact that hybrid owners are now called "environmental extremists", even though you can find them in large quantities from a widely diverse population, just focus on the technical details.  Those quarrelling against have no idea what they are talking about.  Their descriptions of how the hybrid system supposedly operates is filled with errors.  It makes you wonder if the reality of seeing change occur has made them irrational or if they are intentionally fabricating information.  Whatever the case, detecting that hostility & fear doesn't take much effort.  Watch for it.

3-09-2006

EV Thoughts.  I wondered how long it would take before the EV (Electric Vehicle) supporters would reemerge.  I was friends with a few of them back when the hybrid revolution began 6 years ago.  But as time went by, they distanced themselves from me.  I totally understood.  Prius was far from the goal they had been working so hard to achieve.  Their belief was that the technology would be embraced and accepted as the final solution, rather than a small step on a very long voyage of change.  But witnessing the evolution of Prius has altered their opinion.  They see how several small steps forward have very successfully been taken, each one showing definitely progress by utilizing more electricity for propulsion.  So naturally, this latest announcement about competition within the aftermarket battery-augmentation arena has got them really excited.  Unfortunately, that also leads to frustration... since it is taking so darn long.  Achieving that goal of a plug-in hybrid which rarely uses the engine is still quite a few years away for the masses.  Price drops and a minor paradigm shift is required.  Fortunately, that is realistic.  So I'm doing my best to reassure them.  Progress like that is painfully slow.  But the wait is well worth it.  And quite frankly, the journey itself is quite fulfilling.

3-08-2006

Needing a Hybrid.  Apparently, nobody does.  That was the claim today.  I wondered how the heck they expect the smog, carbon, and oil dependency problems can all be solved without hybrids?  So I asked how that would be accomplished?  There was no reply.

3-08-2006

Responsibility Sells.  It's quite fulfilling to hear that manufacturers, of all industries, are finally beginning to realize that environmental responsibility actually does help sell their product.  It's worth the investment in the long run.  Our culture was built upon not needing to be energy conscious or worrying about being emission neutral.  The philosophy was that resources were abundant and the planet had the ability to heal from anything that we did to the air or water.  Now overwhelming evidence is emerging to show that is not actually the case.  We have no choice but to change our ways.  It's just like when a child first steps out on their own, with no parent to protect them from the economic realities of the actions they choose to take.  The question now is will they be proactive or wait until the need becomes desperate.  Toyota has demonstrated that taking some initiative really does have financial rewards.

3-07-2006

We deeply regret the error.  The entire premise of that recent popular article stirring trouble was that hybrids didn't "save money".  Now, it turns out they really do.  Consumer Reports admitted they made a "calculation error".  What they didn't expect was a bunch of hybrid enthusiasts pointing it out.  So they quickly made that regret statement.  Too late though.  The damage is already done.  How many of those that republished the original article will actually publish a retraction as well?  I doubt many will.  And the number of people that end up reading the corrected information will be much, much smaller.  Now they are saying Prius saves owners $400 overall.  How are people going to believe that, after hearing all the hype stating the opposite?  And what's to stop some of us from suspecting that the "error" wasn't an accident?  I don't want to place blame.  But their reputation for accuracy certainly is tarnished some by having made such a rather significant error.  Hopefully, they'll make amends later by publishing something positive soon to make up for this blunder.  An article with the title "It's well worth higher initial cost" would do the trick.  After all, I still don't think Corolla is an appropriate comparison vehicle for Prius.

3-07-2006

At a Red Light.  There are a few remaining still that just don't have any idea how a hybrid works.  I'll sure be glad when that lack of information problem ends.  It certainly took awhile for the others, now long lost in the early years of rollout.  Today, someone was arguing that you don't actually need anything more than just a simple kit to convert a traditional vehicle work just like Prius does.  Needless to say, I couldn't resist responding with this...  If it were only that simple.  In fact, the concept of an aftermarket rapid-start is totally impractical.  You need a larger motor and a larger battery to accomplish that... which leads to the problem of how to charge it, where to put it, and what the penalty is for the extra weight.  Then you have to realize that the hybrid engine is optimized for easier starting, causing much less stress than the usual design.  Then you need to take into account the fact that "full" hybrids like Prius reduce the stress even further by using a significantly faster RPM and waits longer before the spark & fuel are introduced.  Then you loose much of the benefit when you finally figure out that when the system shuts off is a bigger concern than it would seem... since the A/C and Steering require the engine to be running for them to work.  And it gets worse.  The on, off, on, off, on, off, on, off in a daily commute is enough to make a person crazy... which is why the ability (that "full" hybrids offers) to drive exclusively using electricity (including A/C and Steering) comes in so handy.  Lastly, if you try your best to avoid stoplights which most people do, the benefit from a rapid-start system is lost anyway.

3-06-2006

40's All Week.  That is the forecasted temperature.  Sweet!  It's about time we finally get a break from these below freezing conditions.  Just kidding.  This Winter has actually been remarkably warm.  So I can hardly complain.  And it is probably best not to push my luck.  That increases the odds of a late season series of snow storms, one's bad enough to compensate for all that we missed so far.  Things tend to balance out like that.  Fortunately, I don't have to care.  The Prius is fun to drive regardless of what the weather throws at it.  It's a good thing too.  Minnesota isn't known for lack of variety.

3-06-2006

Climate Change.  I've seen two local news television specials on that topic recently.  Both aggravated me.  One stressed the theme of using less fuel.  The other call attention to the choice of diesel.  Neither made any mention whatsoever to smog-related emissions.  One only briefly stated (and I mean just a passing comment) the existence of hybrids.  I realize that climate change really only pertains to carbon dioxide emissions.  But to propose a solution without discussing all the factors is misleading reporting.  And yes, I did have a minor bit of hope that those specials were a new series that would eventually come to the topic of hybrids.  Sadly, that never happened.  Right now, they just don't care.  My gauge for that is hybrid type.  Someday, I hope to actually see a special that explains them.  But right now, I'd be happy for them to just mention that more than one exists.  The topic of climate change is a serious one.  They really should be devoting more education attention to it.  We certainly get enough of the aftermath coverage.  So it only seems to make sense that prevention (from making it any worse) would be important.

3-05-2006

Prius Sightings!  I see at least 3 Prius every time I drive to work now.   Today was especially fulfilling.  I spotted a Prius at the corner I was approaching.  As I got closer, all my focus was put on that driver's face.  I wanted to witness his reaction.  It lit up with a huge smile when he saw me round the corner and suddenly realized there was another Prius right behind mine!  That was pretty sweet!  And multiple simultaneous sightings really adds to the excitement.  By the way, I had a triple moment last week too.  There were 3 of us at the same intersection at the same time.

3-05-2006

Inevitable.  After several weeks of watching snow storms pass by to the north and to the south, I finally decided it was time to wash off the inert crust of salt that had built up on the Prius.  It was Spring here.  The sun was shining and the temperature was above freezing.  So I drove down to the local car wash, then cleaned and spray-waxed the Prius by hand.  It looked absolutely fantastic afterward.  I had forgotten just how much a shiny finish enhances the look.  Well, guess what.  The flat returned within hours.  The prediction for some snow to actually fall here came true.  The grass is now covered with a fresh layer of fluffy white snow.  Fortunately, there's a fresh protection layer of wax over the paint.  So it isn't all that bad.

3-05-2006

Online Perceptions.  Once again, the following information was necessary in response to a post about Prius problems...  Remember that the statistical illusion of problems gets blown waaaaaay out of proportion online.  Owners are far, far, far more likely to join a forum to ask about a problem than to simply say all is just fine.  And members are much more inclined to respond to a problem than to reply just to say welcome.  So observers tend to perceive that the tiny minority participating in online discussions actually represents the massive number of owners in the real-world.  Put bluntly, they do not.  In fact, they don't even come remotely close to that. In fact, those inclined to logon to the internet to research the on goings of their vehicle are still a very small fraction of the population.  In other words, most owners never even have a hint of trouble with their Prius.  Their problem-free experiences leave them with very little to talk about.

 

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