Prius Personal Log  #265

May 1, 2006  -  May 4, 2006

Last Updated: Sun. 5/21/2006

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5-04-2006

Press Kits, part 2.  The purpose of a press-kit is to provide a quick, complete, self-contained resource.  No further research is required, though they could use it as an idea-list for in-depth reports.  After all, many of us are sick of the same old  MPG/cost articles.  This will help prevent that.  All they need will be right there and very to-the-point.  They really like that.  This method of information sharing is a common practice among other topics of interest, why not hybrids too?  So the task now is to figure out how to boil down a mountain of information into just a simple one-pager (or so).  Think of it as an Info-Sheet for reporters.

5-04-2006

Press Kits, part 1.  Countless times Prius owners have complained after reading poorly written hybrid articles.  That hasn't changed much over the years.  Many reporters still rush out an article based on minimal research to exploit a hot topic, something guaranteed to draw interest for their publication.  And it works every time.  That's very frustrating, especially knowing how quickly they write them and how narrow the focus is.  Because of the website, I routinely get emails requesting article information and sometimes even an interview.  Most of the time I decline due to their need to finish "within 48 hours" or "before Friday" and the fact that I've been disenchanted after having learned just how much of a difference there actually is between a 2-bit reporter and journalist.  But rather than continuing to be reactive by complaining, I started to search for a way to be proactive instead.  It didn't take long to find a solution.  In fact, I feel kind of dumb for not having done this sooner... since I witnessed it almost 4 years ago.  We got mobbed by the media at each city we stopped at throughout the Hybrid Road Rally.  Our leader had already prepared press-kits for them.  Those quick & easy packets of information helped to bring a little order to the rather chaotic excitement, it also helped to ensure they had a decent way of understanding the situation before we raced off to the next rally city.  So that's what I'll do too.  After all, there were 12,369 downloads of the HSD User-Guide last month.  So a press-kit is something many Prius newbies would likely be interested in as well.  It could serve as a very effective tool for providing a hybrid overview.  Needless to say, I am seeking suggestions.  What information would like to point out to help improve the quality of hybrid articles?

5-04-2006

Generalized Perceptions.  Earlier this year, Toyota stated Prius production would be temporarily reduced to better accommodate the introduction of Camry-Hybrid.  Now reporters are spinning the resulting lower monthly sales data indicate that demand is dropping.  That is pure fiction, easy to derive by just feeding people select information only.  It's the same nonsense we've seen again and again.  Sometimes it is the anti-hybrid intentionally trying to deceive.  Other times it is just reporters in a hurry, scrambling to take advantage of the confusion by publishing an article that they know will draw attention... much of which unfortunately is negative, but that's what sells.  The same thing happened when the HSD Prius was first introduced.  Reporters had nothing but Winter data from cars that had not passed the break-in point, yet they claimed that MPG would always be disappointing.  Their generalization completely ignored the effects of Summer on cars that are still tight from being new.  With that, you get much higher MPG.  But revealing that wouldn't attract the publicity they desire.  So they focus only in the immediate present to make your perception of a problem plausible.  And since there is rarely ever any follow-up, it's very simple for them to mislead.  Whether it was intentional or accidental doesn't matter, since that message was already delivered.  Think long-term.  Don't take generalizations seriously.  Do research for yourself, making sure to gather quite a bit of data before drawing a conclusion.  You're perception will end up very different from the quick comment these supposedly well-informed reporters claim.

5-03-2006

Subsidizing Gas (even more).  Now there is a proposal in Congress to provide citizens with a $100 rebate and another to temporarily reduce taxes (which would actually equate to roughly the same amount).  How the heck is that suppose to help with the problem?  It sounds much more like an effort to relieve pain at the pump just long enough to make it to the upcoming elections.  Then those that win can deal with the problems caused by delaying an actual remedy.  Not doing anything immediately to promote a permanent fix is irresponsible, period.  Certain politicians have been nothing but trouble.  Remember the presidential election nonsense 2 years ago?  They claimed hybrids would cause the lose of jobs.  Exactly the opposite turned out to be true.  Demand for hybrids is very strong.  Sales of guzzlers, which was a large part of the domestic employment, have dropped substantially.  And of course, we are still subsidizing gas the old-fashion way by means of political, economic, and military assistance.  So what have we learned?

5-03-2006

Counting Game.  I routinely see so many Prius here (Minnesota) that the counting game has changed.   Now excitement comes from multiple sightings, where I get to see two at once!  This morning that happened on my commute to work today, twice!!  I don't want to imagine what it's like for the competition.  That must be very frustrating spotting Prius so often.  But then again, that could fuel (bad pun) them to compete better.  There were many so-called experts in the past that blamed low sales numbers on the unique look of Prius, either not understanding or intentionally ignoring the fact that the supply was limited to a small quantity.  That made their argument convincing.  But now the same people are claiming the success of Prius is due to its unique look.  That cannot make up their mind... and they are still not acknowledging the fact that supplies are limited.  So sale quantities do reflect actual demand; however, the count on the road does.  Consumer perception is in large part based on their own personal observations.  And many are spotting quite a few on the roads lately.  Some are probably even playing the counting game.

5-03-2006

Denial of Influence.  "We don't expect (oil) to get to a price range when it would affect behavior."  That's a great recent consumer influence quote from GM chief executive Rick Wagoner, because it doesn't actually match reality.  They don't expect it.  So will they ever see it?  I have already.  The population of gas-guzzlers on the road has dropped dramatically lately (here in Minnesota, at least).  Traffic now includes far more friendlier vehicles than usual.  It is a definite sign that change has occurred.  The belief that the price of gas at $3 per gallon won't make a difference is yet another example of the deep state of denial they are in.

5-03-2006

Attitudes.  This snippet made by an antagonist on a hybrid forum discussing ethanol upset quite a few people today: "There is almost a limitless amount of oil (at least 400 years supply alone in North America) - just allow us to drill for it, refine it...  The same nuts who did not let us drill ANWR or offshore or build new refineries are the ones moaning now."  I'm tired of attitudes like that, especially when they are based on incomplete information.  And where the heck did such a massive supply appear?  So I had to respond with this...  It is true that there is a decent amount of oil left (decades, not centuries); however, it's the stuff that's dirty, low-grade, and difficult to extract... which means it will take a lot of time & money to use.  Do some research.  You'll discover that the stuff in Iraq is very easy to access and of the highest quality.  That's why such a high priority was placed on stabilizing the region.  As for new drilling in Alaska, how exactly will that new location help us now?  It will take 10 years before we'll be able to get any large quantity of oil from there.  Lots of time is required just to establish the extraction portion.  Then you have to consider the transport.  The 30-year old pipeline was only designed to last 20 years.  It's age is really starting to show based on the magnitude of repairs needed, so imagine 10 years from now.  On top of all of that, there isn't that much oil there with respect to how much we actually need anyway.  Face it, the alternatives are coming of age.  They are cleaner, renewable, and becoming a more cost-effective choice.

5-03-2006

Wise Sayings.  This classic made me smile today, "Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated."  It's what Mark Twain said about himself... which is just plain silly.  But quite accurate of an analogy for the absurd situation the automotive industry is in.  I'm sure he had an equally appropriate use for it.  The writers for Star Trek found one in a movie by just changing the word "death" to "assimilation".  It was quite a profound way of paying respect.  I wonder if that was what the speaker on National Public Radio was doing today in reference to our oil & gas problems.  Hmm?

5-03-2006

Intentional Deception.  The headline I was greeted with this morning made me absolutely furious.  There is blatant misleading happening now.  Some reporters are intentionally deceiving the public.  It's sickening.  Either that or they don't do any research at all, which is actually rather scary considering that most people believe what they write.  Anywho, sales figures for Prius were recently released.  Last month's numbers were way down.  So the headline stated this: "Gas Prices Up And Toyota's Prius Sales Down".  All you have to do is look up prior press releases this year from Toyota to know the real reason why.  Demand isn't falling.  In fact, more than ever we have people are impatiently waiting for delivery.  So demand is actually up.  What is down is the supply of battery-pack modules available for Prius.  Toyota states several times that they would be devoting a large amount of them to Camry-Hybrid, to make sure there was an ample quantity for their new hybrid's debut.  In other words, they were apologizing in advance saying sales would be down, impaired for the benefit of another hybrid.  But those reporters either don't want you to know that or are quite careless for reporting that information taken so grossly out of context.  Sales are not down!  All we have to do is wait a few months for proof.  The entire allotment of Prius will be sold with each vehicle spending almost no time at all on the dealers lot, just like in prior years.  But this time, the supply wasn't a constant flow.  Last month's sales give a false impression caused by the rollout of the new hybrid.  Geez!

5-02-2006

$74.61 per barrel.  What can I say?  Oil prices climbed even faster than I predicted.  It sure makes me wonder what the heck those so-called professionals will do.  They could respond with revised estimates, stating the demand for hybrids will be far greater than they had originally thought.  But then again, it's their job to avoid assumptions that could lead to such profound errors.  They didn't.  They believed market demand was a constant.  Clearly, it isn't.  There is a threshold at which change is readily accepted.  We are mighty close to that already.  The evidence is abundant.  We are seeing fewer SUVs being driven for everyday use than in the past.  The annual sales estimate of just 800,000 hybrids for the entire country from all automakers combined sure looks like it will occur much sooner than they predicted.  Sweet!

5-02-2006

Helping Increase Demand.  Economic teachers must really be enjoying their jobs right now, getting great examples of what not to do right from the daily newspaper.  Certain politicians spent the last few years doing everything they could to help make sure the demand for oil remained strong, using now famous excuses like: "It's good for the economy."  Their devotion blinded them to the economic forces required to sustain.  Our infrastructure wasn't designed for that.  Remember, the population is growing.  Plans were not made to accommodate that.  It was a formula for disaster... which we are now witnessing.  You cannot keep building & selling the same inventory percentage without making adjustments to deal with population growth.  More people means more sales.  More sales means more gas is needed, especially if vehicle size increases.  More gas isn't available under normal circumstances.  Reserves must be tapped and overtime must be paid.  That increases cost.  Gas prices rise.  Perhaps those politicians should take an economics class.

5-01-2006

Long-Term Goals.  This statement about GM's upcoming inexpensive hybrid got me all flustered today: "Judge vehicle technologies by their impact on emissions and consumption.  The new Saturn Vue-Hybrid may not be a revolution, but it's a step in the right direction."  That would be a valid point if the automotive industry worked the same way as the computer industry.  But it doesn't.  In fact, it's not even close.  Rather than a continuous flow of small steps as we see with computers, we only get a large step once in a great while.  In other words, automakers tend to resist change the to bitter end, rather than embrace it.  So once they make a decision to commit to a new technology, you're stuck with it for a very very long time.  That's why Toyota is revolutionizing the industry.  Their approach to deliver major upgrades every few years is completely unheard of. The competition originally considered a move like that business suicide.  But now that they are witnessing unprecedented success, the risk appears to be well worth it... but far too late to effectively compete with.  Oops!  With that having been said, step back and look at the big picture.  Computers are designed to support upgrades.  That's not true for the traditional vehicles we drive.  Even the "assist" hybrid technology is an admitted dead-end.  It was never intended to be electrically augmented like the "full" hybrids.  Neither the automaker nor the consumers plan to take "assist" any further than just minor tweaks.  But with "full", there is quite a bit of experimenting currently taking place to find out what the best way is to dramatically enhance the electrical abilities already built into that system's design.  Always stay focused on the long-term goals.  Don't fall victim to short-term achievements, because sometimes they aren't helpful... which is what those already speaking out against the upcoming "Green Line" are trying to explain.

5-01-2006

Long Overdue.  It's been 6 months since the previous update.  Those mini promotional materials, work fantastic.  Colorful & Pocketsize has worked very well in the past.  So you'd think I go to the trouble of keeping them recent.  But sadly, I've been too busy with other stuff.  Until today!  See...  cards 11   cards 12   cards - print

 

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