Prius Personal Log  #258

March 21, 2006  -  March 24, 2006

Last Updated: Sat. 4/01/2006

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3-24-2006

$64.26 per barrel.  Mentioning the closing price of oil at the end of each week had become pointless.  Over $60 had become the norm.  There was clearly no end to the high spike anymore.  Expert expectations of it ever going down again had faded.  This was the new reality we'd have to learn to accept.  Fortunately, no doomsday scenario resulted from the permanent higher price.  Unfortunately, it has clearly affected the quality of life.  Since the use of oil is an integral part of our society, the rise of its cost has caused everything else to rise in cost too.  And without accompanying pay raises for everyone, discretionary income is lower and budgets are reduced.  For families, that means less available for things like entertainment.  For governments and businesses, that means having less staff hours available and fewer materials for preventative maintenance.  It gets really disheartening when you dig into details and discover just how much less there is as a result of this.  Our infrastructure relied on oil being cheap.  Now that it isn't, corners are being cut to make ends meet.  How long do you think it will take before society in general notices the effect this is having?

3-24-2006

Larger Motor.  There's one thing about electric motor size the anti-hybrid really don't want you to find out.  It's an improvement seen in Camry-Hybrid that I was pleasantly surprised about when I found out about it.  Looking at a sample photo depicting the new Consumption screen on the Multi-Display, I was actually shocked to see that more regeneration had occurred.  I wondered if it had been altered for the sake of the sample.  So I checked into the specifications of that configuration.  Finding that the thrust motor (MG2) was over twice the size of the one in Prius quickly satisfied my curiosity.  A few years back when the size was increased for Prius, regeneration had increased then too.  And that makes perfect sense.  A larger motor would naturally be able to create more deceleration resistance than a smaller one.  Sweet!

3-24-2006

Anti-Hybrid Research.  A unique new idea occurred to me early last week.  It was something I hadn't ever really tried before.  I replied to a message that was clearly anti-hybrid stating that I would add that information just posted to my anti-hybrid research.  I couldn't have cared less what was actually said, it was how the reply had come about that intrigued me... not because it was the same old nonsense, but because they were now well aware that their actions were being carefully monitored then immediately analyzed and pointed out.  In the past, I just quietly documented those observations in my personal logs.  This time though, I was sharing them directly with those causing the trouble as they were doing it.  Unfortunately, telling them accomplished nothing.  They didn't care.  After all, when someone intentionally misleads, why would they?  For example, the same person over and over again kept saying the motor in Camry-Hybrid was smaller than the one in Prius.  When I finally pointed out that it was 105kW, which is clearly larger than 50kW, he changed his story.  He then stated smaller was in reference to the maximum torque available.  But that value is a choice by Toyota for optimizing performance.  That isn't the maximum the motor can ultimately deliver.  So "smaller" doesn't actually mean anything.  It does imply something isn't as good as previously though.  That's pretty easy to validate too.  Just consider the Prius engine.  It didn't really change from 2003 to 2004, but the horsepower did.  The reason for the difference is simple.  Toyota allowed it to spin 500 RPM faster... which makes "smaller" a perfect example of how they intentionally mislead... which contributes to their effort to undermine the success.  Fortunately, the anti-hybrid research has revealed that.  Don't let them confuse you with meaningless arguments, like focusing on a maximum or size.  Instead, keep the overall emission & efficiency goal in mind.

3-24-2006

Overcoming Self-Defeat.  I've been asked to provide a technical presentation at an upcoming hybrid event.  The exact topic is up to me to decide.  Upon deep consideration of what the hybrid community is like now, the self-defeating nature is stronger than ever is a predicament that needs to be overcome.  Prius has grown to be accepted as so normal of a car that there is little concern about the technology anymore.  We just don't get many discussions about reliability or even driving considerations nowadays.  All that has faded.  Most likely, it is due to seeing so many Prius on the road.  Expecting to spot at least one every single time I drive somewhere is no big deal now.  So I suspect the typical consumer is noticing the same thing.  Anywho, the result is a rapid loss of both online participation.  That means a hybrid event has to deliver more than just the "because it is different" theme.  As the technology increases in count, it takes on the characteristics of being an appliance... just like traditional vehicles are now.  True, the Multi-Display does cause a heightened level of awareness.  But even then, that doesn't stimulate participation.  It only keeps the excitement alive.  Or does it?  My thought is that it may invoke some curiosity.  Those that never cared about how a transmission worked may actually want to find out more about the power-split-device, especially when they hear that it is how the plug-in hybrid concept is essentially already supported within that design.  It's a genuine new audience I could potentially reach.  Interesting, eh?

3-23-2006

Daily Green.  Seeing green on the Multi-Display as the charge-level for the battery-pack is unquestionably more than in the past.  I still have no idea what the actual reason is.  It could be part of a recent software update, to better match the consumer expectation.  After all, that's what I'd do as a programmer.  Improved utilization of a graphic interface is a common upgrade practice when you listen to user feedback as they grow accustom to using it.  Of course, it could just be the result of further break-in as the vehicle continues to loosen up.  Then again, both may be contributing to that.  Whatever the case, seeing those 7 bars filled almost on a daily basis now sure provides a pleasing sight.  Originally, only 6 bars was the expectation.  We even coined the phrase "seeing the blues" was a good thing, to explain to newbies why green was so rare.  Well, it isn't rare anymore!

3-23-2006

Proof Needed?  Global Warming (the poorly named climate effect that causes storm systems to be more frequent and more violent) has been getting quite a bit more attention than usual lately.  The president is still insisting that there is no solid proof, so no response is required.  Being reactive, rather than proactive, is bad enough.  But what has really captured the attention of critics is the fact that there was no proof needed to invade Iraq.  That's clearly a double-standard.  How come just the threat of a problem is good enough for that aspect of national security but the reliance on imported oil isn't?  There's an overwhelming proof that carbon dioxide levels are increasing and that the consumption of all that oil contributes directly to it.  That is undeniable.  Why allow the situation to be made worse?  I'm sure glad these topics are finally getting addressed.  After listening to that denial nonsense for the past few years, it's about dang time.  Perhaps hybrids will now be taken seriously.  Of course, that could just reduce the importing and may not have any effect on the want for new oil drilling in Alaska.

3-23-2006

Not a Hybrid.  It is rather amusing to see someone absolutely insist that they have a hybrid, when they are really just spreading the greenwashing propaganda.  When will they learn?  A vehicle with no electric motor propulsion contribution whatsoever is not a hybrid.  Having engine auto-stop is just a traditional vehicle enhancement.  To be a hybrid, some type of combining is required.  Simply making the starter & battery larger certainly doesn't qualify.  Where are the new components?  A combination isn't possible if nothing is added.  That Sierra pickup is just a "me too" marketing spin, not a hybrid.

3-23-2006

Most Complained About.  The anti-hybrid arguments are growing very weak now.  Today's quote was: "Prius may be the most complained about vehicle that Toyota has ever sold".  So I thought I'd humor them with this response to that obviously vague & misleading claim...  What a fantastic example of an attempt to undermine the success of Prius.  This one goes in my personal logs.  Thanks!  Prius owners have a heightened awareness, due to having a 7-inch screen on their dashboard providing constant feedback.  So naturally, the most common complaint is when the MPG suddenly drops after having routine maintenance performed.  In a traditional vehicle, you'd be clueless.  So there are no complaints.  But in a Prius, owners discover that the mechanics added too much oil and deflated the tires down to the minimum.  That has an undeniable affect on MPG.  Doing searches online, you'll find that there were a ton of complaints about the first tires available for the Classic model.  They only had a treadwear rating of 160.  That is so horribly soft that rubber marks are left on the pavement from even simple things like turning into a parking spot.  But the solution was no big deal, just replace the worn out tires with something better.  And they have.  Popular choices now range from 560 to 800.  Those tires last dramatically longer.  You'll also find complaints for the HSD model, due to the tires being just the basic stock type.  But again, replacement and a trade-at-purchase option has solved that, since better tires are widely available.  Running out of gas was another complaint of the past.  But after a filler-neck change to accommodate non-typical pumps and no longer driving well over 30 miles past the "Add Fuel" warning solved that.  The whole stalling issue got blown way out of proportion, since some were due to not yet getting the update already available.  But after getting that update, not a single owner has reported having another stall occur.  So it is appropriate to place that in the "first year fix" category for HSD... clearly not an issue anymore.

3-22-2006

Hybrid Types.  The logic presented today was that since both types of hybrids currently available get their electricity from the same source (gas) that it makes no difference in the end.  Wow!  That person didn't even know the first thing about engineering.  I didn't know where to begin.  So, I responded with the usual non-technical info...  ASSIST has 1 gas engine and 1 electric motor.  They are connected to a single shaft, which causes both to always rotate at the same RPM.  Independent control is not possible.  They always have a dependency on each other.  That limits the range of efficiency opportunities.  It also means that creating & consuming electricity at the same time is not possible, affecting the supply available.  FULL has 1 gas engine and 2 electric motors.  They don't share a single connection.  A power-split-device allows them to operate independently of each other.  That provides for the creation & consumption of electricity at the same time, which means torque from electricity is available without use of the battery-pack.  It also means the battery-pack can be recharged while both power from engine & motor is sent to the wheels.  Additionally, engine activity can stop entirely while 1 of the motors propels the vehicle all by itself.  Put an entirely different way, the "assist" has a passive electrical system and the "full" has a persistent.   So features like ample electric A/C are only available with the persistent, since supply is much more limited with the passive.

3-22-2006

No Conclusion Can Be Drawn.  I bet those reading this are even getting sick of the subject of climate change.  We hear the same excuses to justify not taking action over and over again.  This is what I have to say about it...  How many children would be ashamed later when they find out the technology to reduce emissions & consumption was available, but their parent's generation instead argued that their was no conclusive proof so they didn't even bother trying?  The beginning of this millennium has, for the most part, been an embarrassment.  Waste has grown.  Pollution has expanded.  The president is now saying we are "addicted to oil".  My personal logs from the beginning clearly document how he turned his back on hybrids and endorsed monster-size gas-guzzlers claiming they were "good for the economy".  In other words, he was part of the problem, not the solution.  Now he claims to be helping.  But will he?  I'd love to see "full" hybrids running on E10 everywhere.  That would definitely be a step in the right direction.  And most importantly, it's realistic.  There is no waiting for an entirely new infrastructure to be setup, like hydrogen requires.  All that's really needed is a major increase in production of vehicles like the one I'm already driving.  As for ethanol, percentages don't even have to be as high as 10 percent.  Whatever is practical would be a good start... which makes you wonder how the heck the current proposal for 85 percent could actually be accomplished.  Perhaps we can eventually achieve something on the level of success that Brazil has now, but you have to start small. E10 is good, since all gas vehicles already on the road can use it.  Put simply, we have something to try.  Why don't we?

3-21-2006

It Doesn't Fit!  Well, what do you know?  I certainly found out something very enlightening today.  Haven't you ever wondered why in the world Honda hasn't ever announced a hybrid model of Accord efficient enough to compete with either Prius or Camry-Hybrid?  I have.  It seemed weird that the competition would remain so silent about something so significant.  But now I understand why.  The 6-cylinder engine is what Honda uses for Accord-Hybrid.  With the hybrid system attached to it, the length increases to a size just barely big enough to allow it to fit.  Having 3 pistons side-by-side (a double "v" pattern to accommodate all 6) made the squeeze possible.  But adding another, which is what a 4-cylinder does (a single linear pattern), increases it to a length too large.  So this system that was supposedly going to be no big deal to incorporate into existing vehicle designs doesn't actually deliver as they had hoped.  Oops!

 

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