Prius Personal Log  #260

March 30, 2006  -  April 6, 2006

Last Updated: Sat. 4/08/2006

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4-06-2006

Wanna See It?  I thought you would.  Just follow the webpage link.  There you can download and save a copy that can be watched again and again... video: Camry-Hybrid

4-06-2006

More Real-World Data.  This was a very pleasant surprise, completely out of nowhere.  It was the results of an 8-month survey from hybrid owners to gather real-world data.  As expected, the data for Civic-Hybrid was tainted due to both types of transmissions being combined (since the manual clearly gets better MPG than the automatic).  But I can tolerate that.  47 drivers of HSD Prius reported ant overall average of 49.95 MPG.  That's pretty sweet.  The Civic-Hybrid had 34 drivers report a (misleading) average of 47.36 MPG.  There were 7 Accord-Hybrid that contributed to their 31.81 average.  5 Escape-Hybrid drivers, all the 4-wheel drive type, came to a 28.57 MPG average.  And there were 5 drivers of the Lexus RX400h that had data giving an average of 25.15 MPG.  The point of the report was to show how some hybrid configurations lead to more accurate EPA estimates than others.  I still couldn't care less.  Estimates are just window decorations, quite literally.  It's what actual owners actually get that counts.  Without argument, it's hard to say that an average just a tiny bit under 50 MPG is disappointing.  That's great, no matter how you look at it.  Those estimates are grossly outdated and misrepresentative.  It's the real-world data that we should all care about.

4-05-2006

Camry-Hybrid Commercial.  Wow!  Yippee!  Horray!  I just can't believe it is finally beginning to happen.  We got that brief television appearance of Camry-Hybrid during the advertisement blitz with the Super Bowl.  But then, nothing, nada, zip.  Now Toyota is changing that.  HSD is getting a serious publicity boost from its newest hybrid.  Yeah!  That "full" hybrid technology has pleased me for years, and the predecessor for years too.  Clearly, that is the way of the future.  But Prius alone is not the way.  The entire fleet of vehicles must offer it.  Then the consumers will have the choice.  Their preference will then be impossible to deny.  Speaking with their wallets will send a powerful message to the rest of the industry.  Size & Power are quickly losing their appeal.  Emissions & Efficiency are the new strategy... one that I gladly and wholeheartedly endorse.  Sweet!

4-04-2006

New Fall Photos.  It was a breathtakingly beautiful day for a drive with the Prius and digital camera.  It was very excited by the opportunity, getting the chance to capture so fantastic colors.  Thank goodness I had no idea it would take a year and a half before I'd get to share them with everyone.  Hopefully the phrase "better late than never" applies here.  If nothing else, it sure was odd looking at the peak of Fall just as the Spring is arriving.  Anywho, I'd pretty sure you will like them, despite the unusually long delay... photo album 107

4-04-2006

Textbook verses Real-World.  The end is nearing.  I can feel it.  Of course, this quote from a post today was a major clue: "In time, non-diesel hybrids will make their mark."  That was a classic response to being overcome by the unlikely success of an opponent.  Because even though that technology may be feasible, there simply is no market here to support it.  And without solid financial backing, rollout of a product can be very unrealistic.  So, I responded this way...  But it will probably just end up a footnote in history.  Sorry, but out here in the real-world we encounter that situation all the time.  As a programmer, I have often point out how great it would be if reality actually worked the same way as they taught us in school.  That's a lesson some still fighting against hybrids have yet to learn.  Without support from the market, even a really good idea will suffer.  So no matter how much a non-hybrid diesel supporter argues that an automatic transmission is a better choice than a Planetary-CVT, the average joe simply isn't going to care... since they don't even understand how an automatic transmission works in the first place.  But they do know of a few transmission repair shops in their neighborhood and are likely to want to try the newer technology to avoid them... especially after routinely seeing those Planetary-CVT hybrids sharing the road on their daily commute.  And arguing the economics of a hybrid purchase with someone who was recently in favor of monster-size gas-guzzlers is a complete waste of effort, since they have already demonstrated the choice to purchase a non-economic vehicle.  So getting them to consider the purchase of a hybrid next time is rather trivial.  Money wasn't a high priority for them anyway... which sadly includes a rather large portion of the population.  Anywho, this statement seems to summarize the situation rather well: "too little, too late".

4-04-2006

Too Gimmicky.  That was the conclusion someone came to this morning about hybrids.  I responded with...  How could you have possibly come to that conclusion already without even having seen them all yet?  Prius introduced the "full" hybrid technology, using a unique purpose-built body.  Highlander-Hybrid dispelled the "full" hybrid power misconceptions, using the technology to significantly enhance acceleration.  Camry-Hybrid will be the very first "full" hybrid to use an existing body to deliver a virtually invisible emission & efficiency improvement with only a modest power increase.  How is that gimmicky?

4-03-2006

Selling Off Pieces.  Watching GM step down from the throne is a rather fascinating experience.  After 69 years of ruling as king, that kingdom has collapsed.  The once monstrous automaker is now selling off pieces of their holdings to recover from a nightmare of massive financial obligations.  The entire Subaru division and their GMAC loan company were on the sales block today.  One of the smaller other divisions had already been sold and others (like Oldsmobile) simply died.  The negotiated some deal with their major supplied Delphi to help relieve that monetary setback too.  It's ugly.  After years of struggling to recover, they may be redefined as a new player.  But they will unquestionably be smaller and far less influential.  Those "good old days" are gone now.  And it's not just that mindset, even physical aspects will be too... since many of the manufacturing facilities are archaic and were not built to efficiently support much lower production capacity.  And of course, the inventory itself will be physically smaller.  But the selling of pieces will help improve their loan status enabling to build better production facilities to support what the future will need.

4-02-2006

Not Even Close, part 2.  Well, what do you know.  I actually did get a courteous response.  It really was a genuine misunderstanding and the source of it was remembered.  That's pretty cool!  After studying the PSD for 5 years, I couldn't for the life of me figure out how such confusion would have originated.  It turns out that the description of the engine no longer being able to remain motionless, due to other components inside the PSD exceeding the maximum RPM allowed, was believed to be the startup method.  That would make things interesting.  It would mean that all driving under the speed of 42 MPH would pretty much always be only with electricity.  Of course, even above that speed, the rotation of the engine does not necessarily mean any fuel is actually being consumed.  So technically, at the point the engine still may not be started.

4-01-2006

Not Even Close, part 1.  There's one thing really nice about that hostile hybrid forum, you can be brutally honest with people there.  I hope my response to this was tactful.  But you don't want to avoid too much abrasive attitude, because then you won't get a direct reply.  This comment today speaks for itself: "The smaller motor "starts" the engine once it gets up to speed.  But it does so not by cranking the engine to a start, rather it locks one of the components of the planetary gear set forcing the engine to be coupled to the wheels (and kick over)...kind of like push starting a manual transmission."  And my reply...  I would absolutely love to find out where you heard that.  Do you remember?  That isn't even remotely correct, and it's very easy to disprove too.  Just try explaining how the engine is started while in reverse... which happens to me every single morning I pull out of the garage.  That's too slow and the opposite direction.  Anywho, the way the engine actually starts is the smaller of the two motors spins it all the way up to idle speed, waits for oil pressure to be established, then injects fuel and sparks.

4-01-2006

April Fools.  There was a "Hybrids Are A Cruel Joke" discussion on one of the forums favored by the anti-hybrid.  It was a newbie that started it.  No one really seemed to make the connection that such a bold statement just happened to have been exclaimed on April 1st.  But having participated online for so many years, and the fact that being a programmer has taught me to notice a change in patterns, I did.  So I took advantage of that.  I found it a great opportunity to push in a unique and unexpected direction.  A few of the diesel supporters fell for it too.  They didn't reveal anything new though.  Bummer.  It was the same old nonsense, only with a slightly more exhilarated attitude due to the unexpected endorsement... which turned out to be just a joke.

4-01-2006

Still No Progress.  I checked in on that big Escape forum today.  Membership is over 12,000 now.  Between that, gas prices being so high, and the fact that Escape-Hybrid has been around for awhile now, you'd think they would finally have established a section for hybrid discussions.  Nope.  Nada.  Nothing.  No progress at all.  It's quite evident that they simply do not want to allow attention to be drawn to the hybrid version.  Discussions are still getting buried among the regular chatter.  I had to look back 42 threads before finding even a mention about hybrids.  That's nothing at all for 5 days.  Back when Prius was brand new and almost the entire population of the country had no idea what the heck a hybrid was (that's 5.5 years ago), there was far more discussion about it.  Ford is clearly struggling to establish a hybrid presence.  I wonder if they'll end up taking some initiative, now that waiting for a grass-roots type effort from enthusiasts has failed to produce anything.  Hmm?

4-01-2006

Hybrid Challenges.  These are becoming a hot topic again.  For years now, the side-by-side comparison we had done in Minnesota was among the best data samples available.  Being all in the same place at the same time driving at the same speed was by far the most accurate measurement method, especially over a distance of 1,200 miles like we did.  A television show in Canada recently tried the same thing (except the distance was only 200 kilometers).  Their measurements (all stated in units of L/100km) came out the same way, confirming our original findings.  The traditional guzzlers did really bad (12.0 Accord sedan & 10.7 Escape SUV).  The traditional family car with a 4-cylinder engine and automatic transmission did better (8.9 Camry sedan) than the muscle hybrid (9.1 Accord-Hybrid sedan).  The hybrid SUV actually got a very respectable result (7.5 Escape-Hybrid SUV).  But the beauty of this particular challenge was the fact that the manual transmission diesel did quite a bit worse (6.8 Jetta TDI sedan) than the dramatically cleaner Planetary-CVT hybrid (5.2 Prius hatchback).  Those supporting diesel have been repeatedly claiming that is not the case.  Now we have even more proof that it is.  And to ensure that diesel coffin is nailed tight, just point out that the automatic diesel is not as efficient as the manual.  It would have done even worse on this challenge.  Needless to say, I'm not going to take any of the non-hybrid opposition seriously anymore, if they don't bother to provide any data... because more keeps surfacing that contradicts their efficiency claims.  (By the way, the tanks were all filled up to the very brim to ensure accuracy and drivers were alternated among the many vehicles to eliminate any influence an individual person could have.)

3-31-2006

Extended Stealth.  There was yet another article highlighting recent comments from Toyota executives.  It has become very clear that the next model of Prius will indeed be another generational step forward.  Of course, at this point, I don't think too many people would doubt that anyway.  The intriguing part is how they are hinting at details.  Today's was a mention of the new one being able to do a 9-mile commute without the engine.  What exactly does that mean?  The most logical deduction would be the upgrade to some type of much higher density battery-pack... as we have already suspected.  But how will it be powered?  Will the current electricity generating scheme be the sole source, just storing away more than it does now and being able to take greater advantage later?  Or will there actually be a plug available too?  Fortunately, the wait of 2 years to find out isn't that long.  But quite a lot will happen in the meantime.  Gas prices are causing the domino effect, influencing the market far more than some care to admit.  How do you think the competition will respond?

3-31-2006

$66.35 Now.  That was the closing price of oil per barrel today.  What do you think it will be later?  You won't have to wait long.  The ugliness of what Summer brings will be influencing this highly volatile market very soon.

3-31-2006

More Nonsense.  They don't even bother with excuses anymore.  The delay tactic alone is all I've been seeing as a result of the recent inundation of climate reports.  They must have exhausted all the other lines of reasoning already.  Cool!  (No pun intended.)  Here's the post I just read: "But let's put down the "global warming" hammer and stop beating the drum with it until we know more."  And this was my reply...  Since the direct result of carbon-dioxide emissions reduction is less oil being used, which is an obvious benefit, why do we still have to wait?

3-30-2006

Getting Very Interesting.  The price of oil has been well beyond what makes economists nervous for awhile now... and it is creeping toward that nasty $70 per barrel level again, which messes up all kinds of business plans.  With gas, it is creeping up to $3 per gallon again.  That is making consumers nervous, provoking the need to reevaluate vehicle choices as well as interfering with the upcoming travel season.  It's getting ugly.  The arrival of Camry-Hybrid couldn't have come at a better time.  We are clearly at the tipping point, where the decision to purchase a hybrid is driven by the need to plan ahead rather than carefully crunch numbers based on the way things were in the past.  Just think how solidified that attitude will become once hurricane season arrives.  Then, consider how the elections late this year will have an influence.  Things are changing now.  It's getting very interesting.

 

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