Prius Personal Log  #269

May 18, 2006  -  May 20, 2006

Last Updated: Sun. 5/21/2006

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5-20-2006

Forgetting the Purpose, part 3.  Thankfully, I haven't forgotten mine.  It feels really good not having to deal with anti-hybrid stuff anymore.  The misconceptions are fading from owners just using their hybrids like they would any other vehicle.  Some of those silly claims, like the battery-pack needing replacement every 4 years, are becoming recognized as false simply by the passage of time.  The unusually good timing of gas prices is contributing to the acceptance rather substantially too.  Consumers are looking for a solution.  Hybrids actually offer one.  The anti-hybrid are proving to be all talk and no action.  So that goal is pretty much fulfilled.  Next is letting go of the "hybrid type" debates.  There are many "full" hybrid owners that are very well informed now.  I'm very pleased with the responses they've posted to help stop the misrepresentations.  They clearly understand the "not the same" purpose.  So the closure I keep searching for really is close now.  Simply enjoying my Prius is realistic.  Quite a bit to ensure a better future has already been achieved.

5-20-2006

Forgetting the Purpose, part 2.  The domestic automakers are currently in a lot of trouble.  Short-Term profit is what got them there.  Rather than investing in long-term solutions, the executives and shareholders stuffed their pockets.  So how is continuing to ignore the long-term helpful?  Think about how horribly slow to respond and resistant to change the automotive industry is.  Establishing a new standard, like the "assist" hybrid, is taking too small of a step... one they'll be stuck with for many years to come due to the investment any type of retooling and new inventory requires.  And how exactly would they compete with the "full" hybrids?  The move toward clean & renewable electricity, along with the continued battery improvements, will be benefits the "full" hybrids will be able to exploit.  The "assist" hybrids have very little opportunity to take advantage of that, the design lacks potential.  Where's the "get to the moon" ambition?  How come striving for an "A" is dismissed for the easier acceptance of a "B" instead?  The loss of motivation is to do better than the competition is disheartening.

5-19-2006

Forgetting the Purpose, part 1.  It hadn't occurred to me that some people lost track of what the debate was about.  No wonder I couldn't conclude it.  What started the mess was a claim about "assist" hybrids not offering long-term business success.  It was that simple.  We pointed out that IMA couldn't be electrically augmented and some Honda supporters got upset... rather than acknowledging that it is not designed to take advantage of a larger motor and battery-pack, but HSD is.  Then people jumped it with stuff that caused focus to be lost, some efforts accidental and others intentional.  Having a discussion on that made sense.  After all, both Ford & GM are now suffering from that very problem of not planning ahead.  So even though Honda had hybrid technology, it doesn't automatically mean that is enough to support them in the long-term.  I personally endorse "full" hybrid technology.  It's a design with the ability to create & consume electricity at the same time as well as deliver the ability for electric-only driving in addition to provide the flexibility to support a wide array of configurations.  The "assist" hybrid technology does not meet those requirements, which is what the automotive industry requires to remain profitable.  Earning profit, whether we like it or not, is what drives the business.  Having a purpose of ensuring that profit continues is very important... which some people evidently forget.

5-19-2006

Painfully Dry.  Oh no, my reputation proceeds me.  Hanging out at coffee shops to type up my personal logs has created a new problem.  I order my cappuccinos "painfully dry".  Rather than pouring in frothed milk, I specially ask them to spoon in nothing but the milk foam.  That way, it is quite intense... an extremely strong coffee that can only be slowly sipped.  Anywho, the recognition starts from that.  Then it grows when they inevitably ask what I'm doing on the notebook computer.  Pointing out the Prius and mentioning the website solidifies a very unique identity.  I'm instantly recognized when I step through the door.  Oops!  So much for being able to blend into the crowd.  Oh well.  I lost that ability a long time ago at work.  This was bound to be next.

5-19-2006

Unexpected Gain.  I had grown so accustomed to winning some battles and losing others that I got used to the routine.  Ultimately, I knew I'd win the war anyway.  The odds of a competitor being able to out-engineer Toyota was highly unlikely.  Besides such a massive research & development effort, some of their success has come from real-world experience.  That simply cannot be rushed.  Toyota will always have that as an advantage.  Anywho, I'm well aware of that and realize it is only a matter of time before the questionable claims from the competition are revealed as overall equals at best.  But to suddenly hear that both GM & Honda are taking dual technology approaches so soon is amazing.  They simply are not even trying to deliver a single solution flexible enough to deliver configurations to please a wide range of requirements, like HSD does.  GM will offer "assist" for their small front-wheel drive vehicles and "two-mode" for the rest.  Honda will offer "assist" for their small front-wheel drive vehicles and diesel for the rest.  Needless to say, those announcements of intention are a rather significant unexpected gain for me.  Whether or not competition's engineers could enhance their current design to be more flexible is no longer an argument point, since they have now committed to other plans.  Resources will be spend on the alternatives instead.  That ends the theoretical debates.  It's a win by default.  Ha!  How about that?

5-19-2006

Where's the proof?  I couldn't make up stuff this good.  It actually seeks me out too.  That's great!  What a fantastic example of denial delivered to me today.  The "Where's the proof?" question was asked when a Honda supporter responded to my larger vehicle comments.  Honda President Takeo Fukui made announcements recently about what they plan to deliver within the next few years.  He talked about an upcoming 5-seat hybrid that's "cheaper and smaller" than Civic-Hybrid.  He talked about how his company intends to improve efficiency for their mid-to-large vehicles by using diesel engines.  He even talked about meeting the strict NOx emission requirements.  There was no mention at all about competing with Camry-Hybrid.  Lack of attention is a warning sign.  Accord is their flagship product, which competes directly with Camry.  The fact that they haven't announced any plans at all to deliver a hybrid equivalent is should worry Honda supporters.  It's not uncontestable proof.  But then again, what in the automotive industry actually is?

5-19-2006

$68.53 per barrel.  Oil is dropping below $70.  Apparently, people feel relieved.  Even the $2.59 per gallon for gas is making them feel better.  Have they lost their minds?  Talking about being greenwashed.  Just a few years ago, people thought I was absolutely nuts for saying we should consider ourselves lucky if a gallon of gas cost an entire dollar less.  Being so used to seeing just $1.39, they thought I would appear insincere being thankful for a price 20 cents more.  Now it is $1.20, with a strong potential to increase even more.  That would bring it to double what they had been paying.  Major efforts to decrease demand are definitely needed.  I wonder if this administration will be of any help at all.

5-19-2006

Works Best In Smaller Vehicles.  That's what John Mendel, Honda Senior Vice-President, said today.  By "hybrid technology", he was referring specifically to his IMA technology.  Just like I've said many times now, Honda is having problems making it available for larger vehicles.  The 4-cylinder system physically doesn't easily fit in Accord (no a small vehicle) and there is no effective way to use it for a 4-wheel drive vehicle (not small vehicles either).  So what they designed is indeed best for smaller vehicles.  That isn't true for HSD, as Camry-Hybrid and Highlander-Hybrid are now proving.  His statements following that were about diesel, confirming how they were going to make their mid-to-large vehicles more efficient with that.  So rather than using their "assist" hybrid technology, they are planning to use new clean-diesel engines instead.  An answer to that product-line shortcoming has now been provided from Honda itself.  How about that?  His comments validate my claim that IMA is not a solution for their entire product-line.  I don't think that's going to make the antagonists too happy.

5-18-2006

New Television Commercial.  Hooray!  I finally managed to digitally capture that elusive hybrid commercial featuring all 3 Toyota brand hybrids using HSD.  Since it followed the same format as the others introducing new Toyota vehicles, I figured (more like desperately hoped) they would save the best for last.  And thankfully, they did!  This evening I saw it 4 times on the same channel (Comedy Central).  That was super-sweet!  What a relief.  The regret of having needlessly missed that one a couple of years ago still hurts.  But learning that lesson of not recording when you have the easy opportunity has really been rewarding.  Now there's a copy of that commercial you can download for your own collection...  video: 3 Toyota Hybrids

5-18-2006

FFV Production Increase.  What the heck!?!  All this time I've been under the impression that GM had increased their production of vehicles capable of using E85.  The "Live Green, Go Yellow" campaign certainly made that easy to assume.  But it didn't take much digging to uncover the reality that they haven't actually changed a thing.  The same quantity as in the past is being built, not a single vehicle more.  Of course, what difference does it make?  With only 160 stations offering E85 in the entire nation, half located here in Minnesota, there's nothing other than gas to pump into their tanks anyway.  I wonder what it will take to actually make that much ethanol available nationwide.  Of course, the talk of hydrogen continues.  That requires far more of an effort.  And it's definitely not a smart gamble expecting monumental changes from an automaker that lost $10.6 billion last year.  So... what can we expect?  Some type of success with hybrid technology certainly would be a step forward.

5-18-2006

Quashed.  The rumor about Fit being hybridized was quashed today.  Honda not only provided that clarification that it won't be, they also announced a new hybrid-specific platform.  They expect sales of this "not available as a traditional design" vehicle to begin in 2009.  It will be smaller and less expensive than Civic-Hybrid.  In other words, it's a significantly improved replacement for Insight.  Adding seating in back is a smart move.  That should make things interesting.  I wonder what the market for sub-compact vehicles will be like then.  The trend is definitely leaning toward smaller vehicles becoming quite popular.  We are seeing an odd reemergence of what happened 25 ago.  I'm very curious what will happen and quite excited by the opportunity to participate in that history.

5-18-2006

Research.  A group of scientists recently petitioned the government to help fund a research effort for plug-in hybrids.  This administration seems to have no knowledge of a program funded by their predecessors to do exactly that same thing a number of years ago.  The resulting published 300-page white-paper even had some references to the original model Prius, sighting that it demonstrated aspects of what they wanted to achieve.  It was quite fascinating at what opportunities awaited.  Now it is like they are starting all over again.  I guess I should be happy that hope has not been lost.  But not picking up where the others had left off is extremely frustrating... since that is an effective way to sabotage a project.  Preventing progress from ever exceeding a certain point is a reality we may be faced with.  And far too many sincere efforts have failed simply because they took too long to accomplish... which is actually a serious concern for the progress of fuel-cell vehicles.  Without any success of that technology elsewhere, like portable devices, how can justifying research that could take decades for vehicles be realistic?  Hopefully, some funding will be provided and the scientists will be granted freedom to indulge.  Far too often flexibility is not allowed, forcing a specific method rather than allowing a solution to emerge from "thinking outside the box".  Good luck to them.

5-18-2006

Yup, It Happened.  I figured it was only a matter of time, and... it was.  They hunted me down.  No, not the anti-hybrid.  Those antagonists have been defeated.  With gas prices so high and the significant increase in hybrid attention, people simply are not that interested in what they have to say anymore.  It's those anti-full people.  The most outspoken now had figured out that I left the hostile territory he frequented to return back home to Prius country, with no intentions of returning.  No more online confrontations must have made it rather boring.  So he attempted to start battles where I had gone.  It didn't work well.  Some people recognized the behavior and responded wonderfully.  I was very pleased.  They have clearly been paying attention.  The benefits of the "full" hybrid design are obviously understood by more new enthusiasts now.  Sweet!  So I tried the best I could to hand over the struggle to them with this reply to the troublemaker...  Perhaps this has inspired some to find out what the whole story is, to search for past confrontations.  There's far more actually at play here than the first impression gives.  Being vague & ambiguous.  Attempts of all kinds to alter focus of the discussion.  Ignoring the long-term & big-picture.  Making it personal to avoid objectivity.  We've heard it all before over the years.  You have a very extensive history of that here, the other Prius forum, and especially on Edmunds.  But now that this has been revealed, nothing else needs to be said.  Those older topic threads speak for themselves.

 

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