Prius Personal Log  #272

June 1, 2006  -  June 3, 2006

Last Updated: Thurs. 6/15/2006

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6-03-2006

Like a "Normal" car.  I've been putting up with that comment for years.  Sometimes it's a compliment.  Sometimes it's an insult.  Whatever the case, it is a reference to the past.  Now I'm tired of having to deal with it.  My references to the past as "traditional" may end up turning a little more harsh too.  At some point, people have to let go.  Rather than the features in Prius appearing futuristic, they'll end up fitting right in and all the interfaces older than that will get some type of obsolete label.  It's inevitable.  The time to move on, finally.  That will probably come fairly easy, since we are growing used to a world with electronic interfaces everywhere else anyway.  The tough part will be the "treehugger" perception created by the anti-hybrid.  Rather than the hybrid system being the next step forward in automotive standards, they attempt to portray it as some type of extremist vehicle.  That's sad.  But they are the few that are fiercely resisting change.  Most everyone else will accept the innovation as normal after awhile.

6-03-2006

Summer Hummer.  I'm quickly growing sick of a local radio station here.  Their marketing campaign this Summer to draw in listeners is the giveaway of a Hummer H3.  So naturally, there's a flood of advertisements for it.  Hearing their chosen "prize" being promoted so often and with so much excitement is really disheartening.  Why a Hummer, especially with the price of gas so unfavorable?  Remember the good old days when the type of vehicle that drew the most interest was a sports car?  I suppose they are catering to an audience, rather than being a leader.  Oh well.  They've lost my support.  I wonder how many other people feel a hybrid would have been a better choice too.  Hmm?

6-03-2006

More Complex, Scaring You.  The anti-hybrid love to drag this argument into one of semantics.  They attempt to portray the increased number of parts as a bad thing, even though many of them don't move and the ones that do are in a less complex way than a traditional vehicle.  Basically, they can confuse those without an engineering background enough to convince them that the "full" hybrid design is poor choice.  What they don't want is an enthusiast like me to point out a rebuttal analogy that consumers will easily understand.  So, I will.  Just take a close look at LCD & Plasma televisions, literally.  They are far more complex.  But the rewards are so great that consumers simply don't care.  In fact, they are willing to spend a substantial amount more for it too.  Traditional televisions were nothing but 3 light-gun carefully aimed through a vacuum onto a glass surface.  These new flat televisions are quite different.  One has a pixel for every single illumination dot.  Each one is controlled individually.  The other has an array of 3 colors for every single illumination dot.  Both bind their technology into a very large matrix for presentation as a television.  Consumers are not concerned about that though.  They see the results and are willing to pay.  The same holds true for hybrids.  As more people get to know Prius, they too want the technology it uses.  Complexity doesn't even equate into the decision process at that point, yet the anti-hybrid do everything they can to convince you that it should.  Think about that the next time you watch a new flat television.  Or how about use a cell-phone or a digital camera.  They too are increasing in complexity.  But consumers don't care and are willing to pay for what they deliver.  In other words, it is just a feeble attempt to scare you.

6-02-2006

$72.33 per barrel.  Expect that price for oil to be at least that high all Summer long.  Even the experts have given up at this point.  Claiming this is just a temporary problem simply isn't realistic anymore.  The pattern is obvious.  Market pressures are keeping quick relief from becoming a reality.  And we all know that if it stays high for too long, a swing downward won't be too far.  It will only be modest.  Remember when $50 made people nervous.  Now we'd be lucky to see a permanent return of those days.  It's over.  But in a way, that's good in the end.  The monster-size gas-guzzler craze came about due to oil being so cheap.  Now that it isn't, the appeal for those impractical waste mobiles is slipping.

6-02-2006

Diesel Defeat, part 5.  By the way, that brief battle I just endured was with those few stubborn soles that had contributed to all the anti-hybrid documentation... in the form of providing examples.  Time and time again, I'd observe the same old vague & misleading comments.  This was no different.  Their insincere intent was pretty darn obvious.  But extending a benefit of doubt on their behalf, I check in to see how they react.  Perhaps they'll eventually change.  But being such a well known representative of hybrids, that makes me a prime target for attacks.  Apparently, something very difficult for them to resist.  It is totally their call how to react to a reappearance.  This time was just a repeat of the nonsense I've witnessed many times before.  I don't expect their attitudes to change much with the price of gas remaining high all Summer long and Camry-Hybrid sales staying strong.  But come October when the mandate for ULSD becomes a nationwide standard and the last remaining 2006 diesel models being sold, they'll most likely try to stir the pot again.

6-02-2006

Diesel Defeat, part 4.  The inevitable response was a rather obvious attempt to stereotype, calling hybrid supporters narrow minded with the implication that are crazy to be forcing everyone into Prius.  My rebuttal was an attempt to point out the shortcomings of his clearly incorrect generalization...  I heavily promote "full" hybrids and the emission rating minimum of SULEV.  That endorses an emission & efficiency improvement goal without making any reference to a specific vehicle type or even brand.  The diesel supporters set the bar quite a bit lower. Not even delivering a ULEV emission rating is very disappointing.  Most non-hybrid gas vehicles already do better than that.  As for efficiency, automatic diesels provide MPG similar to "full" hybrids during study cruising on the highway, but in all other situations the diesel does worse and the hybrid does better.  So the attempts here to dismiss data by making personal references rather than keeping the focus on goals is disingenuous, at best.  As for the narrow mindedness, improvement to just efficiency alone falls right into that category.  Remember, the "full" hybrid offers a variety of configurations, allowing for the size of the motors, engine, and battery-pack to be adjusted based on the consumers needs while still delivering an emission & efficiency improvement.  Also, don't forget that the next generation is suppose to reduce the cost of the system too.  So in the end, your attempt to stereotype holds little merit.

6-02-2006

Beyond 1/2 Million.  As of today, there are now 505,000 Prius on roads worldwide.  We've come a long way since the first one sold way back in December 1997.  Quite a few misconceptions have been dispelled while at the same time the technology improved quite a bit.  So this next half to reach the magic million mark shouldn't take anywhere near as long.  Got a prediction when that will be?  Keep in mind that after domestic Camry-Hybrid production begins, preparations to start building Prius here will start.  Expanding the production locations of Prius will obviously contribute significantly to accelerated growth.

6-02-2006

May Sales.  Despite the fact that there were fewer Prius available here (the United States), sales were still impressive.  8,103 were sold.  Camry-Hybrid was off to a good start too.  3,032 of them were sold.  Sweet!  I wonder how long the waiting lists are nowadays.  With gas so expensive and the rather massive endorsement for the technology from Camry, judging actual demand is beyond impossible.  Who knows how rapidly this market will grow.  What we are certain of though is the fact that the momentum cannot be stopped.  The wave of acceptance is far reaching at this point.  People desire change and the "full" hybrids are there to fulfill it.  With the "assist" hybrids struggling for market presence and the diesels about to disappear, the resistance is fading.  By the way, the other numbers were 2,862 Escape/Mariner-Hybrids, 2,890 Civic-Hybrids, 520 Accord-Hybrids, and 92 Insights.  The Toyota SUV and the two Lexus hybrids all fall into that rather unique "full" hybrid category (those optimized for power rather than efficiency) totaled 6,055.  So the demand for them even remains high.  Cool!

6-02-2006

Diesel Defeat, part 3.  The "reduction of emissions & consumption" is what I've stated as the goal from the beginning.  Now in June 2006 with much cleaner diesel, that goal still cannot be reached.  The diesel vehicles aren't even able to meet the minimum criteria (the level of a basic gas vehicle), leaving them dramatically dirtier than the hybrids.  That is most definitely not a step forward.  Remember, the SULEV minimum rating is emphasized for a reason.  It is not vague.  It is a very clear identifier of progress.  New vehicles falling of it are simply not enough.  The new diesels don't even come close.  For that matter, they don't deliver competition overall (mixing driving) MPG either.

6-01-2006

Diesel Defeat, part 2.  I logged onto that nasty hostile forum I hadn't participated on for weeks.  A few people there are absolutely ruthless with their push to support diesel, claiming it would some day be clean enough.  Because today was the day they had looked forward to for many years, the availability of that cleaner diesel (ULSD), I couldn't resist seeing what they were up to.  Strangely, I found nothing.  That was odd.  So I took the offensive and posted that message describing how ULSD in the new models wasn't actually enough.  It felt really good.  And to my surprise, just 3 minutes before I pressed the button to post my message, one of those supporters had posted a message to celebrate that special day for diesel.  What a fantastic coincidence!  The timing of my actions couldn't have been more perfect.  Before anyone could even have an opportunity to wonder if ULSD was the emission solution diesel had always hoped for, I squashed it by pointing out that it really wasn't.

6-01-2006

Diesel Defeat, part 1.  With statements like this now being published, there is little remaining to say: "The Detroit Free Press reports that Volkswagen of America will drop the diesel versions of the Jetta, Golf and Beetle models from its USA line-up for the 2007 model year due to their inability to meet the new, incoming stricter emissions standards nationwide."  After many annoying years of hearing how ULSD (Ultra-Low-Sulfur Diesel) will finally make diesel vehicles clean enough to meet the minimum emission criteria (which isn't even remotely close to the SULEV rating), it turns out that goal could not be achieved.  Defeat before the competition had a chance to actually begin is a very unexpected victory.  I planned on having to deal with the nonsense of vague claims, misleading data, and the usual dismissal of smog-related emission importance.  But instead, there won't be anything for years to come.  And by the time there is, the next generation hybrid will be available... making efficiency a very difficult factor to compete with too.  Since hybrid owners get accused of being smug anyway, it's awfully tempting to take advantage of this newest fatal blow against diesel by gloating.  So, perhaps I will.

6-01-2006

Which is more accurate?  Oddly, no one has ever posed a computer verses pump question like that until today.  We are definitely taping into a new audience with hybrids.  That's really good news.  As for the answer, it all depends on what type of data you are actually trying to measure.  If you just want a quick "what has recently happened", the computer is practically dead-on... if you first subtract the pre-determined rounding factor.  For my HSD Prius, that's 1.3 MPG.  If you want an overall "lifetime average", the on-paper calculation based on a collection of at-the-pump measurements is the only truly accurate method.

6-01-2006

Anti-Hybrid Generalization.  It's the clue that I'd like to stress the most to new enthusiasts.  Anyone that generalizes by just lumping all types & configurations of hybrids into a single category is either poorly informed or is attempting to mislead.  Unfortunately, we got a great example of that today from a really well known public figure.  Quite a few Prius owners sounded off, taking great offense to the blatantly obvious attempt to spread false information.  He has far too many resources at his disposal to claim ignorance.  In fact, I even have video footage of him discussing hybrids 5 years ago.  So I was pretty upset too.  There is simply no excuse for saying that they all don't get great mileage and that they are all dangerous because they don't have enough power.  This is yet another reason for me to continue pushing the "not the same" education.  Misrepresentation is easy when people are under the impression that all hybrids are created equal.  It's a very real problem that stems from making generalizations.

6-01-2006

60,000 Already.  That means the federal tax credit from Toyota/Lexus will remain at 100 percent for only 1 more quarter.  Beginning in October, it will drop to 50 percent.  Honda isn't expected to hit this phase-out point until a year from now.  Ford may not for several.  How exactly is this helping promote the purchase of hybrids?  The automakers are benefiting more than the consumer.  Why?  If our goal is to reduce dependence on imported oil, then encouraging the sale of hybrids makes perfect sense.  Subsidizing each automaker based on a quantity with no due date draws focus away from the benefit of misconception squashing (as well as scaring some reality into those involved with oil supply).  In other words, what incentive is their for each automaker to compete?  Think about how different the situation would have been if credits were awarded to the first 500,000 hybrid purchases instead.  You better believe that certain automakers wouldn't be procrastinating the way they are now.  Having their competition use up credit opportunities that they could take advantage of sure would ignite some good old fashion rivalries.  We would see far more effort to deliver than we are now.

 

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