Prius Personal Log  #277

June 30, 2006  -  July 6, 2006

Last Updated: Sun. 7/23/2006

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7-06-2006

Rattle, Rattle.  It was starting to make me crazy.  But I wasn't willing to just settle for a fix for me alone.  I wanted something I could share with others.  That meant waiting awhile, until the rattle got bad enough to very clearly identify the cause and a solution that guaranteed success.  So I did.  Today was the day.  Building up the courage to experiment myself, with the reality that I could break something, didn't take much.  The desire to finally eliminate the rattle compelled me.  That noise emanated from the speedometer area.  Yanking up the thin dashboard strip there, the release of the clips revealed a piece of plastic with a reflective mirrored surface and a transparent window resting against another piece of plastic.  The two making intermittent contact was the source of the rattle.  That was not at all what I had expected.  I thought it was an up & down looseness.  Turns out the movement was back & forth.  Anywho, to fix it all I needed to do was slide it to the right & outward ever so slightly, then wedge it tight by pushing on the dashboard strip to reattach the clips.  That was all it took!  Now I'm back to enjoy the silence of stealth again.  No tools.  No cost.  I like solutions like that.  Of course, the only reason mine even makes noise is because it is among the first of this model produced.  Oh well.  Having owned a HSD Prius for so long has been pretty rewarding.

7-05-2006

Contradictory Articles.  Have you ever reread an article for the purpose of finding inconsistencies?  I do.  And I'm appalled by frequency in which I find contradictions.  Today, it was these comments about the upcoming "assist" hybrid from GM, the Saturn Vue.  In the middle of the article we got this: "it's well below the fuel mileage of the Ford Escape/Mercury Mariner hybrids".  Then the concluding paragraph had this: "It's priced thousands below the Toyota Highlander Hybrid and the popular Ford Escape Hybrid, while coming close to matching the fuel economy of their more complex single-mode hybrid systems."  How are the terms "well below" and "coming close" even remotely related?  The actually border on extremes.  It's a trap that even the experts fall into.  That's the consequence of being vague.  Rather than just providing data and letting us draw conclusions on our own, they chose adjectives which cause confusion and mislead.  The amusing part is that I still don't know what the reporters opinion actually was.  Rereading the article didn't help.  But since it is an "assist" hybrid, direct comparisons to a "full" hybrid aren't objective anyway.  The "full" offer distinct advantages that some tests examine and others don't.

7-05-2006

$3 per gallon.  It's official!  Today, I saw $2.999 (that nine-tenths value is really annoying) for the very first time.  It was at several of the gas stations that I pass on the commute home.  The doomsday scenario is playing itself out.  But just like major inventions, the importance is rarely ever realized by the general public until long afterward.  The same holds true for the fame of a person or a political event.  Only retrospective looks back afterward can measure true impact.  So the significance of this event is just a theory.  But the fact that Prius has been on the waiting list of impatient expecting owners for over 6 years isn't.  The monthly sales statistics don't reflect actual demand.  So don't look too deep into this threshold.  However, the reality that higher fuel costs ultimately reduce disposable income is well proven a fact, since the entire economy as a whole is negatively affected.  But nonetheless, the impact at the pump itself is felt by each individual in some way... which cannot possibly be as appealing it was back 5 years ago when gas was only $1 per gallon.

7-04-2006

Prius DVD #2.  It took over a year to collect & create enough content to fill another DVD.  It all came together today, combining surprisingly well to create over an hour of very entertaining & informative video.  I bet a lot of people are going to be shocked to see the collection of Prius television commercials there were over that time.  But the pride of the disc is the Multi-Display video.  The complete digital film was included, all 54 consecutive minutes of it.  Having to wait this long to finally be able to share it with people was a bit frustrating.  But things like that are well worth the wait.  Now I'll provide copies to those online that are interesting as well as those that I encounter in person.  There's nothing like being able to provide Prius video to someone curious, wanting to learn more.  So that's exactly what I do.  They get Prius DVD #1, this new disc, and a complete copy of the website for blazing-fast offline access.  It's pretty cool to be able to share stuff like that.

7-04-2006

Hydrogen?  So what the heck is the benefit of hydrogen anyway?  5 Prius that were converted to combust hydrogen in their engines instead of gas were delivered today.  None of the publicity cited the ultimate purpose though.  That electricity consumed to create the hydrogen would be more efficiently used to power a plug-in hybrid instead.  So I fail to see a gain from this particular effort.  Of course, I don't need to.  The cost of that hydrogen speaks for itself.  It is quite a bit higher than even the expensive ethanol we have now.  The MPG equivalent efficiency appears to be quite a bit lower too, though getting detail on this sensitive point is very difficult.  The goal remains a mystery.  Using hydrogen just for the sake of being different is pointless.  I hope these reporters eventually see that.  This nonsense of focusing on what draws attention isn't good journalism.  We want to hear about efforts that actually provide a benefit.

7-04-2006

June Sales.  Looking at the big picture is scary.  GM is absolutely falling apart.  The sales data for June shows a 23 percent decline, just like May.  That's awful.  The reduction of profit from having to sell more smaller vehicles is bad enough.  But the fact that overall sales are dropping too makes the situation really ugly for them.  I wonder what the heck they'll end up doing.  Meanwhile, Toyota keeps gaining.  The rise is currently at 15.5 percent.  They are obviously drawing interest away from GM.  It is rather fascinating to watch an automaker struggle with the consequences of not having planned ahead.  They got sucked up into the self-destructive strategy of focusing on quarterly profits.  Investing in the future seemed pointless.  The grim reality of their poor choices is causing survival pain.  Now they suffering.  They better get serious.  Consumers have lost interest in monster-size gas-guzzlers.  They now seek practical-size vehicles are that far more efficient.

7-04-2006

That explains his attitude.  There is one writer for a Detroit newspaper that is extremely anti-hybrid.  I never understood the root of his non-objective and misconception-filled articles.  He dismissed them immediately, without ever bothering to find out how they actually work or how much motor/battery technology has improved.  The reason was revealed today.  He was one of the first reporters to ever test-drive the EV1 (the two-seat Saturn electric car produced over a decade ago).  It was a very disappointing experience.  That left him disenfranchised toward anything using electricity for propulsion.  Will that attitude eventually change?  I sure hope so.

7-04-2006

There's nothing wrong.  New Camry-Hybrid owners are discovering their technology differently from the majority of Prius owners.  Rather than online research to past time during the long delivery wait, their first exposure is behind the wheel.  Today, an Camry-Hybrid owner was very concerned that the engine didn't always shut off quickly at stoplights... thinking something was wrong.  Prius owners are typically already aware that if the emissions system gets too cool, the engine will run to warm it back up.  That's how PZEV is achieved.  Gas will actually be sacrificed for the sake of being clean.  With the Classic Prius, that behavior was obvious.  With the HSD models, engine shut off is much sooner... but not always immediate.  Remember, higher MPG is not the the only goal.  Fortunately, regardless of discovery method, they eventually come to understand how it actually works and why.

7-03-2006

Repeating History.  Those who do not learn from historical mistakes are destined to repeat them.  The "small car, cheap oil" situation described online today already happened.  Don't people remember that?  It is how we got in this mess we are struggling with now.  Let's not fall for the same cyclical trap again.  The 80's brought a flood of small cars.  They were pretty efficient compared to the norm, very much like the suggestion just made.  The price of oil went down.  It stayed low.  Automakers ended up taking advantage of that.  The solution to the small profit the small vehicles provided was to increase the size.  Consumers didn't complain.  After all, the price of gas was cheap.  The size continued to grow.  It got out of hand... causing the very situation we are in now.  The re-emergence of small cars is starting that same cycle all over again.  Fortunately, some of us are aware enough to have noticed the pattern and the reality that efficiency alone is not a true solution.  With hybrids brings reduced smog-related emissions too.  That is not a selling feature of the small cars, which focus only on higher MPG.  The desire for a larger vehicle will compel people to abandon small cars after awhile anyway.  Hybrid technology does require modest price increase, but with it you can continue to drive the bigger sedans and large minivans since they'll deliver greater efficiency and lower emissions.  Isn't that the point?

7-03-2006

It's Over.  The same old group of diesel supporters have turned to dishonesty.  You have to be truly desperate to attempt that, because you will inevitably get caught and have no excuse to support what you said.  And sure enough, that has happened.  There are, unfortunately, several examples.  These are my favorites....  Two weeks ago it was that absurd claim that the American Lung Association is distancing themselves from ethanol.  Not only was that very easy to disprove by just a quick search of their website, but now the true information comes straight to you.  I'm routinely seeing E85 televisions commercials sponsored by them.  They are undeniably in support of that clean fuel, the very opposite that had been claimed.  It's that "clean" that absolutely infuriates certain diesel people, since the fuel they support is a step in the wrong direction (dirtier than gas).  A few days ago, one of them posted this statement about Toyota: "Their hybrids are a lie and are not PZEV."  How could anyone be so bold as to claim something like that?  Are they implying that the EPA is corrupt, awarding PZEV certification for vehicles that aren't actually that clean?  Geez!  I am so glad I gave up trying to reason with them.  Not be objective is one thing, but outright lies are another.  It's over... whether they acknowledge the success of the cleaner technologies or not.

7-02-2006

Small Cars.  Wow!  They sure are getting the spotlight now.  It's hard to imagine that television commercials were dominated by monster-size gas-guzzlers just a few years ago.  Now, it's as if those dinosaurs are quickly approaching extinction.  I'm rather surprised by how quickly attitudes are changing.  The prediction that gas would have to climb to at least $5 per gallon before consumer habits change was most definitely not correct.  The threshold was obviously quite a bit lower.  Now, the immediate solution is to push the small cars.  I wonder what kind of effect that will have beyond the MPG realm.  Hmm?  It would make sense that other aspects of appeal quickly grow in popularity.

7-02-2006

It's a Kayak.  By the boat launch, I was lifting the 14-footer onto the roof of the Prius.  At that very moment, a young child pointed my way asking "What's that?"  I assumed the sight of the big yellow & red boat in my arms had caught the child's attention.  Perhaps it did.  But her mother responded in a very unexpected way.  She said, "The boat is a kayak and the car is one that can run using electricity."  That focus aimed at the Prius was a total surprise.  I had done absolutely nothing to make the hybrid draw any attention.  In fact, I just assumed it wouldn't even get noticed.  It certainly wasn't making any noise.  But the response made me (on the inside) scream for joy.  That young child is growing up with the presence of electric drive.  She'll have no idea just how much resistance there was to it originally.  From her point of view, it was just a natural step in the progress forward.  Ha!  I love it!

7-01-2006

Precious Moments.  That was the topic of a discussion thread that caught my eye today.  It was from a new owner, sharing his experiences.  Hearing the same excitement resulting from each purchase is truly refreshing.  But it doesn't end there.  Some of veterans still happen.  Mine was with another Prius owner just earlier today.  As he drove by, the realization that I was carrying 2 kayaks (one almost the length of the Prius itself) on top suddenly hit him like a ton of bricks.  The excitement in his eyes was quite obvious, making his furious waving totally unnecessary.  I saw him look upward, then the resulting huge smile.  It seemed darn clear that he wasn't aware that Prius was capable of such a feat.  My demonstration fixed that.  The experience actually caught me completely off guard.  It's too easy to forget that most owners don't participate online like we do.  So their knowledge comes only from personal actions and the first-hand observations of others.  Today, I was an "other".  It was pretty sweet... a precious moment.

6-30-2006

Offshore Drilling.  Wonderful... I grumbled, sarcastically.  Efforts to remove the ban for drilling off the Pacific and Atlantic coasts are in full swing now.  For 25 years, that was not allowed.  But the current state of desperation is causing people to compromise their principles.  Rather than increasing efforts to reduce consumption, they figure simply providing us with more to consume is the answer.  I strongly disagree.  This effort is also pushing to open up more areas of the Gulf of Mexico to exploit.  That is really disappointing... and not too helpful.  Waiting years for them to construct drilling platforms and lay down pipelines won't solve the soaring price problem we have right now.  In fact, the added expense of building could do just the opposite, cause prices to go up.  There is so much potential in the efficiency-technology field that is being almost entirely ignored.  What a waste.  Our children will be really ticked off later when they find out about the stupid choices this administration has endorsed.

6-30-2006

$73.85 per barrel.  There's not a whole lot to comment on.  The situation is bad, no matter how you look at it.

6-30-2006

Marketing Ploy.  The focus on E85 specifically is definitely a marketing ploy.  It has been available here since the late 90's.  So it is pretty darn obvious that the sudden attention is an effort to draw attention away from the failure to deliver something that actually reduces consumption.  A far more effective way of reducing dependence on imported oil would be to focus on E10 instead, since all gasoline vehicles are already equipped to use it.  10 percent use from everyone would undeniably add up to more ethanol than just those few capable of 85 percent.  Also, keep in mind how E85 allows automakers to keep selling the same old large vehicles.  But now, they portray an appearance of being green.  That revitalization allows them to keep earning big profits without actually having to put forth any new effort.  It is just a new promotion for the same technology they have offered for many years already.

 

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