Prius Personal Log  #257

March 15, 2006  -  March 20, 2006

Last Updated: Sat. 4/01/2006

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3-20-2006

Observation Alone.  You know, some of these publications are making me crazy.  They quite literally base their judgment on observation alone.  They don't do any research at all.  Arrgh!  The latest is the conclusion that hybrids aren't actually selling that well.  Seeing markdowns for certain hybrid models indicate to them that the entire hybrid market is struggling.  That most definitely is not true.  Of course, generalizations usually aren't all that informative anyway.  Writers have absolutely no clue that different hybrid configurations of the same vehicle could be offered.  That's too bad.  You'd think they'd at least wonder about that.  After all, the choice of engine size has been available for decades.  Needless to say, they are helping to paint a false picture for consumers.  What still irks me is that fact that some will actually mention that Prius is different, but they blame its success on the fact Prius has no traditional counterpart.  My guess (and hope) is that articles like this will vanish (as if they never existed) just like the false MPG claims did in early 2004, once Camry-Hybrid sales begin.

3-20-2006

Blogs.  I just finished listening to an intriguing interview of a blogger on NPR (National Public Radio).  It was a person that discovered how fulfilling writing blogs was and his struggle to find a subject to repeatedly write about.  Very fortunate for me, I discovered Prius many years ago... before there was even such a thing as a blog.  Back then, the only equivalent was the "Captain's Log" from Star Trek... which is indeed what I modeled my writing after.  Who knew that non-trekkers would later become interested in the very same thing.  I certainly didn't, though I was hoping that concept would somehow catch someday.  Clearly, it has.  Yeah!

3-20-2006

Pet Peeve.  The fact that some people have absolutely no clue how a "full" hybrid operates while driving on a highway is definitely a source of annoyance now... yes, a pet peeve.  Without any technical reasoning, they're just jumping to the conclusion that the hybrid system basically doesn't do anything at those high cruising speeds.  Some have even claimed those electrical components are worthless then, just a waste of resources.  They obviously haven't ever seen the Multi-Display in action while on a hybrid.  Kind of makes you wonder how many have even be in a hybrid...  Anywho, they don't have a clue.  That fact that the electrical system is quite active almost seems an impossibility from their understanding.  Perhaps they haven't ever noticed that highways are not absolutely flat.  In reality, there are lots of subtle inclines and declines that the hybrid system takes full advantage of, as well as actual hills.  The A/C runs entirely on electricity too.  So obviously, there's an undeniable need for that generating to be continuous.  And it is, but they don't believe that.  They are under the impression that power to the wheels from the motor is only needed for acceleration.  Those minor assists that prevent the need for the engine RPM to increase simply never occur to them... no matter how many times I repeat it!  Perhaps the newbies just don't feel included until one of the senior posters take the time to explain the system.  Oh well.  I just have to learn to deal with that.

3-19-2006

Taking A Step Backwards.  That theme has been implied many times over the years about hybrids, when it comes to "performance".  And by that, those responsible for that tend to focus primarily on 0-60 acceleration speed... which is a weak argument to begin with.  Take my purchase in 1994.  I bought America's most popular family car.  It was a Taurus.  And I was fortunate enough to buy the LX model, loaded with goodies.  The more powerful engine came was included.  It delivered 0-60 in 12.5 seconds... which just happened to be the same as the Classic Prius.  10 years later, I bought a HSD Prius.  With that (using E10, the only type of gas available here), it can accelerate 0-60 in 10 seconds.  So I fail to see where this apparent step backwards is with the hybrid family car.  The "performance" loss is absent, even though they argue that not being the case for Prius.  Soon Camry-Hybrid will be available, that most definitely isn't the case with the configuration it offers.  So this fabled paradigm shift really doesn't exist.  But if it did, what would it matter?  The ceiling for acceleration has already been exceeded anyway.  Need was fulfilled years ago.  But forgetting that for a moment, look at the computer industry.  They actually did take a step backwards.  Performance for the majority is slower now than it was a few years ago.  The reason is the transition to portables.  Abandoning the desktop in favor of the notebook was a welcome change though.  That required accepting slower speeds and smaller capacities.  But since most people didn't use the full potential of the processor or hard-drive anyway, there wasn't a negative appeal.  So the move pretty much went unchallenged.  Why then is it a problem with hybrids?  Are those obsessed with power so stubborn that they cannot give up even just a perceived reduction for the sake of improved emissions & efficiency?

3-18-2006

Only A Few Remaining, part 3.  Last was the good old twisting of comments, being vague, misleading, and refusing to answer questions.  This person claimed he was getting MPG in the upper 40's mostly, but it ranged from 44 to 62 at times.  So I asked for his data (since that obviously needed clarification) and what his lifetime average was.  The response was a tangent, an effort to draw attention away from my requests.  So I asked the very same questions again.  The same thing happened.  It was obvious I would never get the detail I wanted.  I bet there wasn't any.  Spot checks are never accurate, since the can't represent all the seasons.  Data for an entire year, at a minimum, is needed to be objective.  That was clearly not provided.  These people claim to not be anti-hybrid, but their actions suggest an attempt to undermine hybrid success even to the casual observer... which is why only a few like them still remain.  Phew!

3-18-2006

Only A Few Remaining, part 2.  The next was a hard-core diesel supporter that got caught lying.  So I responded by pointing out the truth.  His response was a personal attack, which in itself was a lie too.  His preface was that I was "incapable of compromise" based on my routine assertion that SULEV should be the minimum for a vehicle to be considered clean.  Then he proceeded to explain what SULEV was and how it had originated, a confirmation that he understood the emission rating system.  The reality that Prius and Camry-Hybrid easily deliver PZEV, which is cleaner (due to the significant evaporative emissions reduction requirement) and longer (because the rating must be retained for 30,000 miles further), is a point that has been brought up repeatedly.  So when I did it again, this time to point out that SULEV is clearly a compromise to PZEV, he just ignored it.  Pretending his intentional attempt to discredit had never happened revealed the dishonesty.  There was no misunderstanding claimed.  There was no apology.  There was no denial of intent.  He just proceeded with the deceit.

3-18-2006

Only A Few Remaining, part 1.  I am so glad the anti-hybrid nonsense is coming to a peak.  It was getting absurd.  This week someone absolutely obsessed with speed and the desire manually shift blatantly attacked the entire group.  I quietly observed, never replying to any of the messages... because there was simply no need to.  Everyone else did an absolutely wonderful job of responding to the pointless logic that he continued to reason with.  For example, he posted an extraordinarily elaborate multi-facet definition of the word "lethargic", claiming that applied to Prius but not several other popular slower vehicles.  It didn't make sense, and everyone saw that.  But he persisted anyway.

3-18-2006

Conjecture.  It's really becoming a problem.  People are making the assumption that because Prius is silent, it is more likely to have a collision with a pedestrian.  They don't have any actual data to support that belief though.  But they claim it as if it is a fact.  The thought that the driver now has the ability to better detect someone that isn't paying attention (and obviously not using their eyes) never occurs to them.  In fact, it works so well I can hear conversations people have with one and other.  That's fantastic!  Because inattentive people, especially children, don't look or listen anyway.  So I have a better chance of avoiding them.  Unfortunately, that isn't the only conjecture we now have to deal with.  A new one has emerged.  Certain people in the media are trying to portray a new false image.  And it gets repeated so many times that the uninformed are starting to believe it, a new negative stereotype intentionally created.  That's really bad.  Their assertion is that owners accelerate slowly to squeeze out the maximum MPG.  It is absolutely not true.  Since the beginning, Prius owners have been told to use "brisk" acceleration.  That actually equates to being faster than the general population.  It takes advantage of the fact that the gas engine runs most efficiently at just under 70 percent of full potential and the hybrid systems automatically balances that perfectly with the interaction of the two electric motors.  That's pretty sweet.  Reports either don't understand that or don't care... because the result of the talk from people reading that is a reinforcement of the misconception that hybrids are slow.  When will their finally be enough Prius on the road for people to notice themselves that these accusations have no basis in reality?  They are just an incorrect assumption.

3-16-2006

Lexus Launches GS450h.  It's officially available in Japan now.  Sweet!  The existence of a rear-wheel drive hybrid is a first that those who claim the technology cannot be flexible really fear.  For many years I've been climbing up on the soapbox shouting out about how configurations such as this will be implement someday.  Today, that happened.  Yippee!  It is quite redeeming.  And the power this newest highest provides is a crushing blow to the anti-hybrid, something I can feel validated by.  The acceleration available is 0 to 100 km/h in just 5.6 seconds (that's around 5.5 for 0-60 MPH).  That's much faster than antagonists ever imagined, well into the "gross overkill" category.  In other words, this hybrid luxury sedan fulfills the wants yet another market segment.  Hybrids will eventually be everywhere.  Just a few more years of patient waiting is required.

3-15-2006

Teenager Opinions.  There was an article circulated today from a high school newspaper.  A teenage student wrote a story focusing on the "addicted to oil" comment from the State-of-the-Union speech by the President earlier this year.  The theme was stated this way: "But Bush isn't serious about this at all."  Then it proceeded to explain why, pointing out that nothing has actually happened since then nor is there anything even being planned.  It is literally only cheerleading, just like that "Go Yellow" nonsense for E85.  Where is the action?  What results can we expect?  How long will it take?  Over and over again we get promises of change, but nothing ever comes from that.  Anywho, another teenager responded with a commentary saying this: "Word of advice, if you want to save the economy, that's great, but you're not going to get there by making unintelligent remarks about a government you obviously don't understand."  I couldn't believe it.  That's the same anti-hybrid crap I've been having to deal with from the adults.  Rather than being objective by constructively discussing facts relevant to the topic, the response was an attack.  There were personal insults and several insinuations of that being propaganda in support of the opposition for 2008.  Nothing ceases to amaze me anymore.  Some people just don't understand that reducing emissions & consumption is important.  And talk alone won't certainly won't solve those problems.

3-15-2006

Constant Reminder.  That was the conclusion of how to deal with misleading estimates.  The best way to do that is to require a MPG readout in all new vehicles.  Making that information part of the instrument cluster would have a profound impact.  Of course, certain automakers would fight that to the bitter end.  It's why trucks weren't required to have their MPG estimates shown on the window-sticker until recently.  They really didn't want you to know.  And since gas was cheap, most people didn't care back then anyway.  Have times changed enough for attitudes to now be different?  No, that is unlikely.  Eventually, things will turn for the better.  But until the hybrid option is available for a majority of the popular vehicle in decent quantities, interest in efficiency will be limited.  That really isn't different from any other newer technology.  Interest grows as soon as a critical mass is reached.  A constant reminder that your gas-guzzler is still guzzling really doesn't help.  But a constant reminder that your hybrid isn't guzzling is an entirely different matter.

3-15-2006

Standardized, Reproducible Tests.  A newbie online claimed these are absolutely necessary for people to better understand MPG.  My response was to ask what the obsession was with having only a single data source?  Pretty much no test the EPA could ever come up with will reflect real-world driving.  The reason is simple, I don't observe consistent MPG on my commute.  There are far too many influencing factors that introduce variation found only in the real-world, unlike a lab setting utilized for estimates.  And just because those estimates are what people had relied on exclusively in the past does not make them the best choice anymore.  Their use came about because it was a limitation of the times, no other practical way of data sharing more back then.  The internet has changed that.  Cheap analytical equipment opens up new opportunities too.  Mass collection is realistic now.  So instead, what if the EPA posted estimates initially, then followed up later with millions of miles of real-world data?  That would lower the importance of the estimates.  Putting actual numbers in place of educated guesses sure sounds like a proper strategy to me.  After all, the shortcomings of estimates are undeniable.  Standardization by its very nature misleads, since you'll only get those same results by doing precisely the same thing... which is quite unrealistic in the real-world.  Any divergent can skew results dramatically... which is exactly what those of us carefully monitoring MPG have observed... which explains the difference between the well-informed and newbies.  So I guess I can't hold that against him.  But I can suggest actually trying some measurements of his own to end the complaining.

 

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