Prius Personal Log  #27

April 28, 2002  -  May 17, 2002

Last Updated: Sat. 2/15/2003

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54.3 MPG is my best, so I took a photo.  It has finally warmed up!  Now my MPG is wonderful.  Soon I will start carrying a bike on back.  That will really be a "drag".  Then the all-too-brief summer will require A/C.  Seeing 54.3 MPG after driving 228 miles under a variety of conditions was quite nice.  So I took this photo of the Consumption Screen to capture that rare moment:  photo album 30


Those headlights.  That's all I saw.  It was a very dark road.  But that unique shape with the secondary white light was all that was needed to identify the car as a Prius.


Do you have the Civic-Hybrid?  I mentioned to someone that I had a hybrid.  For the first time ever, I was asked if it was the Civic-Hybrid.  Honda is doing a great job of getting the word out about their new offering.  Toyota has already been through the long waiting list situation.  How is Honda going to deal with having such a limited supply? 


Accident Avoidance.  People now consider safety an important factor in their vehicle purchase decision.  (Thank goodness, it didn't use to be much of a concern.)  Too bad there isn't a thing called "safety tests" though.  Judgment is typically based upon "crash results", which only come into play if you actually crash (and in the same way they tested).  Having a safety category called "accident avoidance" really would help.  In the Prius message archives, you'll find that a few people have had head-on crashes.  The drivers ended up with scraps & bumps, one a broken leg, but that's it.  As for me, you'll find a thread labeled "squished rabbit" where at around 40 MPH I swerved to avoid killing a fast hopping rabbit that was very close.  A larger vehicle would have really struggled to maintain control after having done that, the rabbit and I were just fine. In fact, it was no big deal.  The design of Prius makes it really nimble for maneuvering.  The strong, short front also helps make it a smaller target to hit too.  Not having accident in the first place is much better than surviving a crash.


Symbol finished.  It might be done now.  All the tweaks have been applied.  It looks really nice.  So many people provided suggestions that I can't take credit for it.  That kind of participation makes me feel really good.  I'm glad I could help focus all that creative energy.


Just Floor It!  Traffic was busy leaving the movie theater, after having just seen "Star War: Attack of the Clones".  When my turn came to go, (being so excited still) I enjoyed myself.  I punched the pedal to the floor without any worry of over-spinning the tires.  My Prius very smoothly shot through the opening in traffic.  That was fun!


Look on the back.  I gave an intrigued coworker one of my website cards.  He said, "That's nice.  But what I really want is your actual MPG information, not what Toyota advertises."  I told him to look on the back.  It really surprised him to discover I had shared such detail.  Sweet!


Flash Game.  I play the "curiosity" game on the road all the time.  People approach from the side, notice there's something unusual about the car, but have no clue why.  So I've always wanted something to flash them.  Showing them a page with the symbol printed should really get they're curiosity up.  Then at the final moment, flip the sign over to reveal the words "This car is a HYBRID ELECTRIC!"  Careful timing and such a unique method of delivery should really get the message across.  Most people would never expect something like that.  So it will likely make quite an impression.


The E85 truck noticed me this time.  I hear honking.  I look to the side.  There's that same guy I had noticed a few weeks ago, now waving furiously to get my attention.  I waved back.  He smiled.  Sweet!


Mother's Day drive.  On our family drive out, I pointed to a Prius heading toward us.  On our return trip, we got noticed by an Insight going the same direction.  He pulled up along side, opened his window, I opened mine, he said "Hi!"  Then he stated he was getting about 63 MPG.  I replied saying I was getting 47.5 MPG.  I wondered what my parents would think of me yelling comments back & forth while driving.  They were actually a bit surprised to see the instant friendship I had established.  The other hybrid driver had went from stranger to friend within just seconds.  That's something they hadn't witnessed since "the good old days".  Hybrids are doing more than just reducing emissions & consumption.


More Symbol Suggestions.  It's amazing how much discussion the symbol idea has generated.  Wow!  One particular suggestion (among all the resizing & repositioning and battery comments) was to add arrows to show the flow.  So I thought  what the heck, why not use the Energy-Flow arrows from the Multi-Display?  I added an orange arrow, an orange arrow with a bend, and a green arrow.  They're now in between each of the objects on the black version, but I left them in color.  It's really makes them stick out, despite they're small size.  That was a really good suggestion.


Symbol suggestions.  Lots of suggestions are pouring in.  Both the Toyota & Honda hybrid owners have ideas.  That's great!  Thanks!!  I appreciate the feedback and don't mind the work at all.  However, I absolutely could not find a decent image sample of a gas pump handle online... but so many people recommended it to depict gas that I drove out to the gas station, laid one down on the ground, then took a photo.  The conversion to monochrome (from a photo to a colorless shape) came out so good, I think many people will be quite pleased.


Creating a hybrid symbol.  Seeing Toyota's "Leaf Logo" over two years ago was both exciting & disheartening.  Having a symbol like that was great.  Being trademarked was not.  But taking a closer look, that symbol didn't translate well to different mediums anyway.  The fine detail and color would be difficult to see in certain conditions.  Something more simple was needed.  And we had to completely create it ourselves to avoid restrictions that prevent sharing.  It took what seemed like forever, but now we finally have one (though I suspect revisions are inevitable).  Check it out what got created:  hybrid symbol


Info-Sheet & User-Guide improvements.  Some minor wording updates were made, but more importantly the PDF formatting has been improved.  Font spacing is noticeably better.  The User-Guide now offers multi-level bookmarks, allowing you to quickly navigate to an exact topic.  And the Info-Sheet is now available in a second PDF version, a much smaller file-size for convenient online viewing.  But the best part is, applying updates is now easier.  So when someone requests a revision, I'll be able to accommodate that sooner.  Here's the latest:   Info-Sheet   User-Guide


It kept going up.  This tank started out on an awful note... at the gathering.  A few times we sat in the Prius to keep warm & dry, running the engine for heat since the temperature was in the 30's.  That dropped the MPG in the 30's.  Each day after that got a little better.  MPG rose along with the temperature.  It was actually rather entertaining watching the value continuously climb without ever dropping more than a point or two.  That was great until I filled up.  Bladder-Effect struck again.  Eventually it will stay warm for awhile, right?


I could clearly see his disappointment.  The light turned red.  The engine shut off.  Silence was suddenly broken by a great song on the radio.  A powerful ballad requires high volume.  I was really enjoying myself.  Then I looked over.  My window was open, and so was the window of the car next to me.  The driver was patiently waiting for a pause in the music to get my attention.  I acknowledged and reduced the volume.  At that moment the light turned green.  His grin changed to a frown.  This guy didn't get to say anything about the hybrid.  Bummer.


"I don't hear it running!"  The guy next to me at the intersection looked down from his big pickup and yelled that into my open window.  My reply was "Yup, it's off!"  The big smile on his face was great.  I can't wait to find out what other hybrid surprises this warmer season has in store for me.


Solid Emissions.  While waiting in total silence for the light to turn green, I watched someone unwrap a package.  Several pieces of plastic were simply discarded through the window.  He had no concern whatsoever about that trash accumulating on the street.  It made me wonder if someone with so little concern would ever care about the environmental benefits of a hybrid vehicle.


9,638 miles of MPG data.  There were 41 entries for my Taurus.  21.9 MPG ended up being the calculated overall value!  I had remembered getting around 22 MPG.  Now I have numbers to show that.  My Prius gets double the MPG, yet it offers the same interior legroom and greater headroom.  Sweet!  Here's the history I documented:   data compare X  (short for Excel Spreadsheet)   data compare 7


3,000 mile oil-change resistant to change.  I remember that interval having been recommended way back before front-wheel drive & fuel-injectors were introduced as a new standard, the highway speed-limit was still only 55 MPH, most cars consumed regular gas (with lead!), 10% ethanol mix was unheard of, radiators were positioned in front of a large & rectangular grille, and oil didn't have much for additives (it still came in a can too).  With so much having changed since then that influences the way a vehicle runs, why do people still believe 3,000 miles is the maximum interval when it comes to a hybrid that doesn't even use the engine sometimes?  That's intended as a rhetorical question, since many owners have observed that longer intervals are clearly possible.  I just needed to vent how absurd it is to continue using a standard established decades ago, long before many of the common technologies now (for Prius owners anyway) were invented.


More Tire Research.  Visited Sears.  They had 4 different tires of the 175/65R14 size.  None of them could be inflated beyond 35 PSI.  That means they can't support the additional load of a hybrid.  My selection still looks good.


Tire Research.  My tires are at 30,250 miles now. They've got a few more thousand miles of tread left, but I went shopping today so I'll be prepared.  I'm interested in a mid-priced (around $55) tire with a much higher treadwear rating.  Stopping at Tires Plus, the guy gave me the standard "Here's what's available" spiel.  Then I told them that size tire also needed to support the extra weight of the hybrid system.  That left him perplexed.  Quickly filling in the awkward silence, I mentioned that could be done by using higher PSI instead.  Breathing a sigh of relief, he went back to refer to his books.  The result was "Sorry, there's nothing I can recommend."  Next stop was Goodyear Tires.  It started quickly with a "We don't have anything available."  Then I asked about specification differences and stressed that the hybrid fit into a new category, so traditional recommendations wouldn't apply.  With that, he searched some more.  Nothing.  So I asked about the Goodyear Allegra.  It was like I had driven into a Detroit Auto convention with my Prius.  He was very polite telling me that the Goodyear shops had nothing to do with specially branded tires, in this case, ones for Sam's/Walmart.  So I rapidly side-stepped that situation and thanked him for his time.  Keeping with that exact size makes the selection very limited.  I'm pleased with performance now and I'd like my real spare to be available as more than just a limited temporary (since I take long trips frequently), so I need to stick with this size.  That's all the detail of my adventure today.  In short, I'm pleased with the way the Allegra hypothesis seems to be holding out.


More Ancient Data.  Hunting through ancient boxes stored away for safe-keeping, I found one of my notebooks containing MPG data from my 1994 Ford Taurus LX.  So I'm creating a webpage, graphs, and a spreadsheet to show what I kept record of back in 1995 & 1996.  Having found that is really exciting!  But now I wonder where the heck I stored my other notebooks.


What the heck?  As I was driving up the on-ramp, I saw a pickup truck fly by with big E85 emblems on it.  So I merged into the fast lane and tried to catch up to him.  When I did, I slowed down then honked & waved.  He looked over at me with a confused look on his face.  It was easy to see he was thinking "What the heck?"  So I pulled forward a bit to give him a good opportunity to see what I was driving and hopefully notice the "Hybrid Electric" label.  He did.  When I merged over, he quickly got into the fast lane to catch up.  It was his chance to honk & wave now.  And he did!  The excitement that had built in just those few moments was amazing to witness.  He was obviously pleased I had noticed him.


Gathering Photos.  photo album 30 is where you'll find 11 photos from that very unique hybrid gathering we had yesterday.  Here's a few highlights:

#13 - Among the hybrids there's a VW Beetle promoting Holiday's "Blue Planet" gas, the low sulfur fuel which helps make Prius achieve an SULEV rating.  There's also a Ford Taurus FFV (Flexible Fuel Vehicle) which can run on the locally available E85 fuel (85% Ethanol, 15% Gasoline).  Lastly, to remind us of the what large vehicles were like before the age of the SUV, there's a Buick Park Avenue.

#14 - This shows the Minnesota State Capitol building in the background.  In the extreme foreground, there's an old Ford Escort that was converted to an EV (Electric Vehicle).  And of course, the hybrids shown consist of 3 Prius, 2 Insights, and 2 Civics.

#15 - A photo that's just plain cool.  The Civic-Hybrid dominating the shot is complimented by a background of 2 Insights and 7 Prius.

#22 & #23 - Some owners braved the cold, wet, nasty weather to arrange a picturesque scene for us to capture that moment.


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