Prius Personal Log  #271

May 25, 2006  -  May 31, 2006

Last Updated: Thurs. 6/15/2006

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5-31-2006

Recall Panic.  Both reporters & consumers are jumping on the hype with this one.  Toyota issued a voluntary recall as a preventative measure for certain steering components in 9 of their vehicles.  Those components have absolutely nothing to do with the hybrid system.  But since Prius is one of vehicles included in this recall, the situation was immediately blown way out of proportion.  Geez!  Not a single failure was even reported either.  It is a proactive response to Toyota's on-going product analysis of real-world data... but you certainly don't get that impression from the media or the talk online.  It's like a state of panic.  Of course, anything that includes Prius does draw a lot of attention.  There's no excuse though for not checking the facts first.  And there were quite a few people today that obviously didn't.

5-30-2006

Twisted Reporting.  The article I read today seemed harmless, until taking a close look.  Doing that, you notice who wrote it.  Then you really get frustrated... knowing he has a reputation for being disingenuous when it comes to hybrids.  It is yet another twist on his continued anti-hybrid writing.  Arrgh!  Rather than the typical ownership cost analysis, he took a unique approach of judging value based on just a 1,190 mile road-trip vacation saying... "You'd save about $70 in fuel costs by taking a five-seat Toyota Prius hybrid rather than the seven-seat Town & Country.  That's not quite enough to cover an overnight stay en route in the Days Inn in downtown Chattanooga, Tenn."  Since when is $70 every 1,190 miles a small savings?  It's just more spin from a Detroit publication.  They try to get you to keep focused on just a single aspect of owning a hybrid rather than looking at the big picture.  Since overall, a hybrid like Prius or Camry-Hybrid are winners... but don't want you to figure that out.  So they never point out the significantly reduced smog-related emissions, the stop & slow efficiency of a daily commute, or long-term reliability.  And of course, they now have ethanol as a hot topic... but avoid mentioning that all vehicles, including hybrids, are capable of using a 10% blend already.

5-30-2006

Vague & Personal.  It was pretty sad to witness.  There is one person desperately fighting to make "assist" hybrids appear to be the same as "full" hybrids.  The best he could muster though was just a few vague references and several attempts to personally discredit.  That's it... with the exception of him also accusing me of not being objective.  Reading that was quite redeeming, obviously not the case.  The flexibility of the design that Prius uses is the better choice.  It delivers greater power and overall efficiency, as well as the ability to support aftermarket electric upgrades.  The so-called competing designs have not, nor are there any plans to... which brings us to what started this newest mess in the first place.  Someone asked if Detroit would be offered a competitive car hybrid anytime soon.  Several of us clearly pointed out that simply could not happen for quite awhile still.  His response was far from constructive.

5-29-2006

GM "Hybrid" Commercial.  I wondered how long it would take to finally happen.  Today, it did.  The television commercial started up with promotion for their vehicles that deliver 30 MPG on the highway.  Then it switched to a huge banner with the word "Hybrid" sprawled across the screen.  Next was a reveal of their so-call hybrid pickup.  What a joke!  This is a system that provides no thrust whatsoever to the wheels from an electric motor.  It is nothing but a traditional system with a larger than normal battery & starter.  True, it does capture a little bit of electricity from braking.  But that didn't require squat to accomplish and there is no "hybrid" gain in efficiency on the highway at all.  The only MPG difference you'll see is a small savings from the engine shutting off at stoplights.  But if you are the kind of person that avoids ever getting stopped by a light, there is literally no benefit.  It is nothing but a pathetic attempt to say "we have a hybrid" too.  That's sad... and quite misleading.

5-29-2006

Quick Summary: HSD  It is a "full" hybrid.  It has two electric motors that interact with the gas engine through the use of a PSD (Power Split Device).  This unique device provides for a dramatic range of flexibility, allowing each of the 3 power components to operate independently or in combination at any RPM.  Its electrical system can best be described as "persistent".

5-29-2006

Quick Summary: IMA  It is an "assist" hybrid.  Basically, one electric motor is inserted between the gas engine and the transmission.  They share the same shaft, resulting in a very simple design but restricting each component to operate at the identical RPM.  Its electrical system can best be described as "passive".

5-28-2006

Roof-Rack & Kayak.  They are both on my Prius now.  Sweet !!!  I've been to the Boundary Waters a half-dozen times.  Those canoe trips were fantastic.  And all the other times I've went canoeing have been enjoyable too.  So I've always wanted to buy one of my own, but sadly that doesn't work well for just one person.  This weekend, I finally got desperate for an opportunity to play on the water.  And seeing the temperature at 99 F degrees, it was a darn good decision.  With all my canoe experience and several Prius owners sharing very positive stories (thank you!), I bought a kayak... without ever having used one.  That was quite a $$$ risk, considering the investment (done properly) required a rather hefty additional cost for a roof-rack too.  It was nothing but an educated guess which type would suit me best too.  But I am so glad that I took the chance.  After 2.5 hours of driving around and many stops, on a day so windy the kayak was bouncing just parked in the driveway, I ended up digital capturing the moment over 300 times.  It was a beautiful day.  The learning-curve for figuring out how to use the kayak was just a matter of minutes.  I was in heaven (Minnesota style).  The lake I chose was extremely shallow & weedy, with lots of areas to explore.  And since only hand/foot powered boats are allowed, it was an ideal location.  As for the way the Prius handled with a 12-foot kayak on top, that was great.  Though, my driving only got up to 50 MPH.  In the suburbs, there are a ton of lakes to select from here in Minnesota.  I may not need the highway much.  But with winds over 40 MPH, it was probably a very good test anyway.  The Yakima roof-rack performed really well, just like other Prius owners have praised.  And with the temperature so hot, the A/C was obviously needed after my rather vigorous paddling adventure.  Surprisingly, the MPG didn't even take that much of a hit.  Even after 50 miles of having the kayak on top, the Multi-Display now shows a 51.6 MPG average at 323 miles.

5-27-2006

300 Horsepower.  Oh!  Good Grief !!  The newest advertisement from GM promotes their sedan that delivers over 300 horsepower.  Talking about gross overkill.  Who the heck needs an 8-cylinder engine which does that?  Apparently, their customers... since that non-hybrid system has the ability to disable half of the cylinders while you cruise on the highway.  The result is an "impressive" 28 MPG.  (Yes, I'm being sarcastic.)  In the old days, when people used to tow large boats & trailers with cars, that type of improvement may have been sensible.  But in the age now where that type of use is never mentioned and certainly isn't ever promoted, what's the point?  You can't expect good MPG from a V8 on your daily commute.  We obviously need to get back to encouraging "recreational" vehicles.  True, they are gas hogs.  But when used only for the purpose of recreation (like transporting your boat to the lake), then it is acceptable.  Driving a 300 horsepower vehicle to work with no passengers or any cargo doesn't.  That's what a car like Prius or Camry-Hybrid is for.

5-26-2006

100+ MPG.  I'm really beginning to resent seeing that.  It's what one particular plug-in hybrid states, in very large print, on its sides.  So all the publicity shots clearly show that.  It's misrepresentation, period.  How many people actually drive nothing but speeds slower than 35 MPH?  This is a bad misconception in the making.  Mixed driving (a combination of city, suburb, and highway) is the only truly honest way to promote.  But with that, the MPG is only in the 70's.  Apparently, that isn't good enough to draw the attention they desire.  Why?  Averaging around 70 MPG in real-world driving would be absolutely fantastic.  But no data of that nature is ever shared.  It only gets a brief mention, at best.  That is very disappointing.  How is this any different than if Prius owners were to quote nothing but the EPA estimates.  People think that is what they will get, even though that isn't realistic.  They don't take the time to read the fine print.  And those with this particular plug-in hybrid don't even provide fine print.  Without providing those details, false expectations will be allowed to grow.  I don't like that at all.

5-26-2006

$71.37 per barrel.  We are creeping closer and closer to seeing that $3.00 per gallon national average price for gas permanently.  The situation is hopeless.  Those with power are doing nothing to help promote reduced consumption, like obeying the speed limit.  Keeping demand high will stress the supply, preventing prices from dropping.  It's an ugly reality we are going to have to learn to live with.  Fortunately, it will help promote hybrid acceptance.  That's not what I wanted though.  But back when gas was only $0.99 per gallon, very few people were interested in hybrid technology.  I felt very lonely with my Prius then.

5-26-2006

That was absolutely fantastic reading!  I wondered how many more great "still living in the past" articles would be slipped in at the final moment, right before the success of Camry-Hybrid finally sinks in.  It's the hybrid configured for the masses, a balance of all the right stuff.  True it does give you some goodies at the penalty of some MPG, but the that's the point of making a hybrid that will appeal to a wide-array of consumers.  Sorry Prius enthusiasts, but our beloved hybrid is not the one that will ultimately fill the garages of joe average.  True, it will remain a popular choice and will frequently steal the spotlight.  But Camry-Hybrid is the one that is expected earn the title of "best seller".  Look at it this way, while the two siblings compete for your attention, they draw focus away from the past... unlike this article which struggles to hold on to the last remaining bits of anti-hybrid nonsense.  Don't be misled.  What happened up to this point was in large part a battle to overcome misconceptions.  Now we can finally look forward to change on a rather profound level.

5-25-2006

Like Scion.  Wow!  Some people have already draw a false image in their mind of what the new small cars are supposed to be like.  I mentioned them today and someone freaked, explaining the demographic of Scion in great detail.  He clearly had not looked at any of the others now available, especially Yaris since that is also produced by Toyota.  The variety is wider than your first impression gives you.  His response pointed out how much some negative comments about Prius come from nothing but misconceptions.  Fortunately, there are now so many Prius on the road that the opportunity for clarification is plentiful.

5-25-2006

Plug-In Efforts, part 2.  Unfortunately, these efforts are causing a new misconception.  Far too many people are assuming that the benefits of the upgrade will be limited to only EV driving (up to 34 MPH).  In reality, the electric-motor will still contribute significantly beyond the range of EV.  The only difference is the engine will be active too, but it will not be used as much as you think though.  The impression of "using the engine" most people have is that much of the hybrid aspect is lost at faster speeds... which couldn't be further from the truth.  In reality, the use of gas will be surprisingly low and sometimes not at all.  Try driving down a long decent into a river valley or canyon.  The battery-pack will display 8-bars (full green).  Watch what happens while you drive along roads on the bottom.  The MPG will still be remarkably high, even though the engine runs.  That is an example of how the system will work after the plug-in upgrade.  It's these dang current plug-in aftermarket ventures that are causing the misconception to grow.  They focus so heavily on the EV portion that people have no clue what happens at other times.  This perception can be easily changed to, but none have bothered.  That's very frustrating.  All we get is tiny MPG samples, limited test-drives of mostly EV.  Where's the actual data?  There is no on-going results posted anywhere.  A not-so-secret to my success has been the piles of raw data I publish.  People can draw conclusions on their own, because they have numbers available.  From the plug-in people, we get nothing.  That is very disappointing.  Lack of data allows the misconception to grow.  That will ultimately impede their efforts.  How can we finally get them to publish some actual continuous real-world numbers?

5-25-2006

Plug-In Efforts, part 1.  Yet another is joining this brand new aftermarket opportunity.  This one is quite promising too, since it's approach is the only one that actually tries to fulfills the market desire.  Put simply, people want electric augmentation (larger capacity battery-pack with the ability plug-in) that falls into the realm of realistic prices.  None of the others even attempt that; instead, their focus is on maximum efficiency gain.  $5,000 is the limit that consumer surveys have expressed as the limit.  They're attempting to deliver that vital price-point.  Timing of this type of purchase is rather interesting.  When the warranty (100,000 miles) is reached, some of us will be ready take our chances with an upgrade.  I'm not sure how many people are actually willing to do that any earlier.  So the potential for sizeable aftermarket demand is definitely there.

 

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