Prius Personal Log  #261

April 7, 2006  -  April 14, 2006

Last Updated: Sun. 5/21/2006

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4-14-2006

Anti-Hybrid Articles.  As you could probably imagine, there are quite a few anti-hybrid articles coming from Detroit lately.  Those automakers are in a lot of trouble and there are a number of loyal reporters that have decided to mislead... just like the antagonists have been doing.  Only there's a new problem, the printed newspaper & magazine articles are essentially one-way communications methods with the perception of the writer being an expert and absolutely no concept of continued discussions.  So the reporters can actually get away with quite a bit more than just troublemakers on forums.  Fortunately, seeing so many hybrids on the road now are really making it difficult to fight change nowadays.  The struggle has hit locally too.  All the Ford workers here will be losing their jobs, since Ranger sales have been very disappointing.  For that matter, Ford's premiere vehicles Explorer & F-150 aren't supporting their business like they used too.  In other words, GM is definitely not alone when in comes to losing lots of money.  So... these articles aren't actually helping at all.  They may alter market perceptions, but the financial disaster continues anyway.  Imagine if they had taken planning for the future seriously, rather than just calling hybrids "stop gap" solutions.

4-14-2006

More Pollution.  It's about time that pollution is getting a closer look.  The push for increased coal consumption has really irritated some people, including me.  As a result, new arguments are emerging.  My favorite is the reality that all the mercury being spewed into the air as a by-product from burning coal is dramatically more polluting than spent uranium sealed in a protective device buried deep inside a secure storage facility.  In other words, even though we have certain plentiful natural resources at our disposal does not mean we should actually use them.  Maturing beyond our current state should be a goal, one that prior generations helping to develop the infrastructure simply did not have the ability available to achieve.  But now with the new technologies, we can.  In fact, businesses like Toyota are beginning to acknowledge the reality that our society has to become energy neutral... since fossil fuels obviously will not last forever.  So it only makes sense that those new energy sources not be polluting either.

4-14-2006

Flash Animation.  I have begun to play.  The animation software that I'm learning to program with requires images.  (It's Flash, formally known as Shockwave.)  So naturally, I turned to my Prius collection.  There's a ton of source material to choose from.  My first choice was a recently published Fall photo.  I made HSD Prius in it drive off the photo and fade back afterward.  Then, the animation got really silly.  I made a cutout of my Classic Prius emerge from behind a tree, as if the laws of physics simply didn't exist... because the tree was obviously way to small to conceal an entire car.  Anywho, it has spawned my imagination and given me good incentive to do more.  In fact, it has even changed my perception of webpage advertisements.  Rather than being annoying, I find them compelling.  They are a source of inspiration, demonstrating what the Flash software is capable of.  That's a handy benefit.  Now I don't mind seeing them.  What a nice surprise.  Hopefully the Prius community will find my educational efforts in some way useful too.  Check out the results of my first attempt...  flash: At The Park

4-13-2006

$69.32 Nightmare.  That's the closing per-barrel price for oil this week.  It's mighty close to the highest ever; however, there is no natural disaster causing it this.  These prices are the result of the ever-increasing demand without an infrastructure designed to support that level of capacity.  So, more money is required.  Just wait until the travel season begins.  Those $3 per-gallon gas prices will inevitably make an appearance.  Only this time, they won't be new.  The fact that it is a repeat from last year will definitely help solidify the support for hybrids.  To my delight, there is already evidence of that too.  Recent polls have revealed an undeniable trend of consumers saying "Yes" to their next vehicle purchase being a hybrid.  Sweet!

4-13-2006

Smooth Idle.  How many times do I have to get behind the wheel of my parent's Corolla before I come up with a method of stressing to people just how much smoother the idle of Prius actually is?  Once you pay attention to the engine, rather than the usual preoccupation to make the traffic wait tolerable, you notice.  It's quite obvious... so obvious, I even forget.  My method to detect when the engine shuts while stopped at a light is to pinch the bottom of the steering-wheel.  At that location with the tips of the fingers at alert, you can notice the transition.  With the hands up top in the normal position, it is very difficult because the idle is so smooth for the Prius.  But with the Corolla, that's not the case.  My guess is that the difference between the piston pumping cycles is the cause; however, the absence of belts and a transmission in the Prius my be contributing factors too.

4-12-2006

It�s just a car.  Year later, that statement still irritates me.  I first felt very insulted by that coming from a SUV owner.  She was quite obsessive.  Following that, I remember how much she talked about the options she should choose for her next SUV when the lease for the current one expired.  Back then, there was no term associated with an attitude like that.  Now there is.  It's "smug".  Imagine if I did that?  Thankfully, there's no need.  Since a SUV can be cleaner and more efficient by also using hybrid technology.  Of course, the SUV still has to be a practical size.  When it doesn't even fit it the garage, that's a definite sign of ego being too big too.

4-11-2006

$68.81 per barrel.  That oil price translates to $2.75 per gallon of gas.  It's what most people will likely begin to call normal now.  Remember the good old days?

4-09-2006

Bogus Claims.  It's hard to believe that after all these years someone in the automotive business still wouldn't understand how the hybrid system in Prius works.  So it's pretty easy to conclude that an article like the one I just read was intended to mislead.  The claims of "they would also have greatly reduced range and would need overnight recharging" and "plug-in hybrids are electric vehicles that can also use a gasoline engine to keep moving when their batteries go flat" definitely support that... since range is actually extended, overnight recharging is not required, and the battery-pack will not go flat.  But as usual, some negative concerns (cost & clean-electricity) were included to help to conceal that true anti-hybrid activity.  It's not too hard to see that the concerns focused only on the short-term, another rather obvious clue of intent.  Those of us working for the long-term aren't worried though.  Each seemingly impossible obstacle has been overcome up to this point.  So it's hard for the bogus claims to survive.

4-08-2006

$67.39 and climbing.  There seems to be no end to the oil price fluctuation.  A continued upward climb is the trend... which (obviously) causes higher gas prices.  Just a few years ago, I remember saying that we should consider ourselves lucky to have gas stay at $1.59 per gallon.  Now gas is at $2.59, a whole dollar higher.  How much worse will prices get?  Some people thought I was pushing it by quoting Prius worth values in terms of gas being at $2.25.  It turns out, I was no where near as optimistic as I could have been.  Of course, it doesn't make any difference.  I used $2.25 since that was the breaking point.  Anything above that (not taking into account a higher base price) was purely a gain.  Seeing $3.00 this Summer is quite likely.  All the ugly components for that unfortunate situation are influencing the market with very little resistance.  That's sad.

4-08-2006

SUV to the Rescue.  That's not going to happen again.  Remember when it did?  Back in 1993 (that's when I created the "john1701a" name) certain automakers were in financial turmoil.  The Ford Explorer was starting to capture the attention of many consumers.  Used models disappeared off lots within days of appearing, sometimes just hours.  The new ones were very expensive.  I wondered why.  Perhaps it was that price curiosity which got me to check one out at the state fair.  I wasn't impressed.  A fully-loaded sedan cost less than the stripped-down most basic model SUV.  The sedan got better MPG.  The sedan was safer too.  But the high-up seating of the SUV supported a belief that it was actually safer.  The high-ground clearance, heavy-duty suspension, and tires with aggressive tread added to that.  It seemed to be built to deal with anything.  But in reality, all those un-necessaries were actually just scheme to increase profit.  Consumers bought that, quite literally.  It made the automakers happy.  They had found a way to get money to help them recover from near bankruptcy.  Now that same financial crisis has returned.  What will they do this time?

4-08-2006

The Next Prius.  We know that the next generation Prius is on its way, which will obviously be another step forward.  We know that the price of gas has no promise of returning to cheap anymore, since demand continues to grow.  We know that there won't be any real competition for a number of years still, because the other automakers simply were not preparing for this.  That sure seems like a good indication that the current Prius will retain value quite well.  Just think of what the competition's used non-hybrids will sell for.  Needless to say, the hybrid market is going to get even more interesting.  The emergence of next-model rumors is proof.  The media had been looking backward and a-skew for years.  Now focus is finally aimed forward.  That's pretty cool.  The next Prius will have a better battery-pack and more reliance on electricity.  What else do you need to know?  After all, MPG estimates haven't ever been realistic anyway.  Patience.  It's well worth the wait.  As for me, there's simply no way of knowing what my personal or financial situation will be when the new Prius comes out.  But I'd sure like to upgrade again.

4-08-2006

Zero-Percent Financing.  Escape in general is having problems.  Sale counts of the traditional version are falling again.  Ford is back to the same struggle they had a few years ago... only now they have to also deal with the hybrid.  So, they have announced zero-percent financing.  They should stimulate hybrid purchases, making them a nice choice for those that have to take out a 5-year loan for a purchase anyway.  The reality is that even the small SUVs are feeling the backlash heavily influenced by the high price of gas.  I wonder how long it will take Ford to finally offer a car hybrid, especially with the realization that Camry-Hybrid will likely have a profound effect on the hybrid market... causing popularity to grow at a faster rate than Prius was able to invoke.  Whatever the case, zero-percent is not a good long-term business strategy.

4-08-2006

Smug Alert.  That episode of South Park was quite impressive, they supported the very thing I've been working toward.  Did you notice how the gatherings ended?  As much as I enjoyed them, they were somewhat counter-productive.  Rather than making cars like Prius normal, just a step forward in natural automotive progression, emphasis was being placed on being special rather than accepted.  And although actual instances of smugness were extremely rare, the point was still understood.  It was basically a proactive warning... since the downfall of guzzlers and end of cheap gas is now a reality.  Being there to provide assistance and assurance is what's needed from owners at this point, not an "I told you so!"  And I'm sure some that already accepted hybrids as that next logical step are tempted to say something like "See, I was right!"  But let's avoid that.  After all, many of us never fell into the trap of losing focus on the long-term goal.  In fact, the widely used label of "early adopter" wasn't ever looked upon as misrepresenting since it supported the mindset that acceptance would take quite a few years.  And now after 6 years of observation, I can very confidently say that the painfully slow process of approval is working.  The masses are looking to hybrids as a realistic solution, without hindrance like the misconceptions implied.  And there's nothing smug about that.

4-07-2006

Extinguished.  I've been stirring the ashes for weeks, unsure if I'd find anything remaining to feed the anti-hybrid fire.  Turns out, the embers are all gone.  Everything is now extinguished.  Nothing could burn, regardless of what the future might be able to bring.  There is literally nothing remaining to prevent the present from becoming the past.  The final humiliating blow for the antagonists was totally senseless.  What a complete waste of effort on their part.  An innocent question was asked by a newbie, wondering if the hybrid tires could be upgraded.  I exclaimed a full-hearted... YES!  ...and pointed out my 35,000 miles of success with them so far.  But a far different response, completely unprovoked, was a rather blatant attack.  The newbie even saw that it was uncalled for.  Apparently, they still haven't learned.  But we don't care anymore.  The diesel supporters responses to E85 fell on deaf ears.  The automotive industry is growing captivated by the Camry-Hybrid.  Focus is changing.  In fact, some enthusiasts are now actually in a conflict-of-interest situation.  They still want the hybrid to be regarded as something special.  But with oil & gas prices showing absolutely no sign of going down and the likelihood of permanent higher prices a reality, traditional vehicles have been declared obsolete.  Acceptance that the next purchase for many consumers not needing replacement soon will end up getting hybrid is rapidly gaining appeal.  The market is moving on.  The question is turning what kind of hybrid to purchase, not if anymore.  Will it be like Camry-Hybrid or one of the upcoming models with extended electrical abilities?  No more battles remain to be fought.  It's now a matter of patiently waiting for the suppliers to fulfill the desire.  Today was a very good day.

 

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