Prius Personal Log  #279

July 11, 2006  -  July 15, 2006

Last Updated: Weds. 8/02/2006

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7-15-2006

The "Same" Campaign, part 3.  Strangely, the resulting arguments about hybrid design were precisely what I've been looking forward to.  We've toyed with the topic countless times in the past.  But Honda sales pale in comparison to the giant about to enter the hybrid arena.  GM will soon offer a Saturn utilizing an "assist" system.  Next year GM, along with DC and BMW, will offer several vehicles (though few in quantity) utilizing a "full" system.  That will most definitely draw even more attention away from the non-hybrids.  (Yeah, it's about time).  Competition among hybrids themselves will begin to preoccupy the thoughts of new buyers.  They'll wonder when the vehicle type they prefer will offer a hybrid system... and what type.  My goal is to make sure people understand the types, why some are better the emission & consumption goals than others.  To come this far, then have troublemakers confuse consumers by leading them to believe all hybrids are the same, is not an option.  Understanding the differences is very important.  All hybrids are not the same.

7-15-2006

The "Same" Campaign, part 2.  They very quickly added another assertion to their bag of tricks.  The effort to convince people that Highlander-Hybrid is only capable of offering a single configuration is well under way.  That's sad.  Those attempts to deceive won't take much either.  Many currently are not aware of the fact that non-hybrid models of both Camry & Highlander share the same chassis and the same engine.  So pretending the hybrids cannot provide that too has a chance of succeeding.  But I am well aware that they are intentionally trying to mislead... since those very same people used to poke fun at hybrids claiming they could never be fast & powerful.  And now that Toyota rolled out several to prove otherwise, they are in a state of panic.  That argument has become completely worthless.  It's very irritating to watch the greenwashing & undermining in action.  Those particular antagonists are definitely not being sincere.  Their effort is disingenuous and clearly not objective.  I hope others see that through the effort to point out that all hybrids are not the same.

7-15-2006

The "Same" Campaign, part 1.  It's getting ugly.  Their effort to undermine has really ramped up lately.  There are a few that absolutely refuse to acknowledge that smog-related emissions has any importance whatsoever.  We have one that owns a Prius but has never been happy with it.  (He's been pushing the "assist" design from the beginning, working the angle that because he owns a "full" it gives him greater credibility when speaking negative about it.)  Then we have one that owns a Sierra so-called hybrid.  (He does everything he can to portray the "full" design as complexity without benefit.)  They all combined forces to heavily endorse the upcoming Vue-Hybrid, hence the problem.  Now that it is about to debut, non-objective comments are growing.  A great example from yesterday with their "same" efforts was the topic of Electric A/C.  Three times I pointed out that "full" hybrids have far more electricity available, due to the battery-pack having a much higher capacity and the fact that the system is far more persistent with the generation of electricity.  They couldn't care less.  Over and over the theme that Vue-Hybrid has it to was pushed.  That vague and absolute answer is just plain not objective.  The fact that its A/C cannot run anywhere near as long or on a high power made no difference to them.  It was a yes/no issue as far as they were concerned.  That "me too" attitude is very frustrating.  Not all designs earn an "A".  Some provide greater benefit than others... but they don't want you to figure that out.  They want you to believe all hybrids are the same.

7-14-2006

Gas Price Disconnect.  So, what's the deal?  Based on the now outrageous oil prices, how come the price of gas is still relatively low?  Back when it was dirt cheap, there was a disconnect of several weeks.  The futures market really did represent the future.  But for over a year now, a spike in oil prices meant an immediate response at the pump.  And in a way, it made sense.  That collected income is how they pay for the upcoming shipments.  But that trend has recently been broken.  So I wonder what else is broken.  Weeks ago when gas first crawled up to the $3.00 average, the price of oil was $5 less.  Now, the price of gas is actually 15 cents lower.  Why?

7-13-2006

High-Price Protection.  Remember last October when the government shifted refinery priorities over to gas?  That made the price of diesel a whole dollar more expensive as a result.  It was supposedly a move to protect us.  But in reality, it was denial with power.  It was delaying the inevitable... because no matter what their intentions were then, it is completely meaningless now.  Their efforts simply kept gas at $2.25 for awhile.  Then rather than the permanent return down like they had implied, it went up well beyond that only a half year later.  Now we are at $3.00 per gallon with oil prices climbing rapidly.  It's only going to get worse, not better.  The belief that a vehicle only getting 30 MPG is "efficient" isn't any help in the long-term.  Temporary protection is just a delay of the inevitable.  We need to embrace change rather than fight it.  Most people would much rather give hybrid technology a try rather than having to squish into a much smaller vehicle.  The high prices are a sign.  Ignoring them is not a wise choice.  Taking only small steps to reduce consumption isn't a good choice either.  Already, you get it.  I'll get off the soapbox now.  But knowing that we are at such a significant point in automotive history right now, and be an active participant with a solution, is quite exciting.

7-13-2006

Air-Conditioner Filter.  Having demonstrated how quick & easy it was to change a few months ago, I forgot that I hadn't actually done it.  I clearly remembered having detaching the holder to pull out the glove-box to reveal where it was.  I even quickly pulled out the filter itself.  But the lighting was bad.  And I just figured I'd be changing it soon regardless of status.  So I didn't actually check.  I should have.  It was pretty nasty... a very good indication that I had got my money's worth out of it.  This evening errands included a brief stop at Toyota.  It only took a few minutes, along with $27.06 including tax (part # 87139-47010), then it was done.  Paying someone to do something that simple would be absurd.  I think quite a few owners agree with me too, since the illustrated document on my homepage showing how to do just that gets downloaded quite a bit.  And in this case, it served as a reminder for me.  I confess.  It wasn't until someone online asked for advice about that very topic that I finally thought about my own.  Oh well.  No harm done.  Filters last a very long time in this environment here.

7-13-2006

Cheapest Hybrid.  Cost analysis reports comparing Prius to other vehicles rarely ever include mention of emissions and basically never say anything whatsoever about the Multi-Display.  Neither is free, yet no value is attached to them.  That's hardly objective.  But usually the problem comes from poorly informed reporters racing to meet a deadline.  They don't have a monetary risk to deal with.  The automakers do.  So hearing that the cheapest hybrid (the upcoming Saturn Vue), which makes no efforts to reduce smog-related emissions at all, lacks of any type of MPG feedback is no surprise.  There is literally nothing to indicate how much of an efficiency improvement the consumer is actually getting.  The only choice available is to keep track on-paper manually.  Very few Prius owners do that, despite the accuracy guarantee.  So how many of the Vue owners will, especially for an on-going basis.  All we'll get is occasional spot checks, which never portray a true picture of overall efficiency.  The automotive industry resistance to empower owners is very frustrating.  Of course, if a MPG indicator would have been made a standard requirement years ago, the gas-guzzler market would have never been successful.  People will still be under the false belief that the EPA estimates reflect real-world results... which couldn't be further from the truth.

7-13-2006

What If ?  We've routinely seen hurricanes disrupt oil supply.  Whether there is any damage or not, operation must halt during the danger periods.  And during the previous two summers, there was damage.  It was quite extensive too.  That adds to the expense.  Not planning to deal with this ahead of time is denial... and definitely not responsible.  Yet, all we see from the domestic automakers are trivial efforts.  We'll get a handful of efficiency improvements over the next few years.  They almost all favor very large vehicles.  Where is the government?  Where is the media?  Why isn't there an outcry?  Consumers are going to be forced into tiny cars out of desperation.  They cannot wait for on-going research.  They need a solution now!  It's like buying a computer.  You know that the next model will be better, but they simply wait.  Of course, we've already lost 6 years.  Hybrids were mocked and nothing else was delivered in the meantime.  In other words, it is no longer a "what if" situation.  It is a reality, changing the question to "what now".

7-13-2006

Highest Ever.  From time to time during the day, I check the current futures price for crude oil.  Seeing the price above what it ends up closing at is common.  But seeing it this high has never happening.  As I type this, I see $76.85 on the screen.  It's a guarantee that gas prices will rise.  For years, certain people worked really hard to create great demand for oil.  Their efforts obviously paid off.  Problem is, did they ever actually consider the consequences of it rising out of control with no end in sight?  That's what we have happening now.  The experts worst-case scenarios didn't reflect this reality.  They were in denial, thinking the peak (demand grossly outpacing supply) was still out many years into the future.  It's here already.  Oops!  Fortunately, some of us non-experts followed our gut.  The motto for the Boy Scout's is "Be Prepared".  That bit of advice was a very good one... which clearly had an influence on me.

7-12-2006

Center Cluster.  How about that?  A minivan pulled up beside me this evening.  When I looked over, I saw a navigation system in the very spot where the Multi-Display is in the Prius.  But it wasn't alone.  There was a traditional analog speedometer right next to it.  Having an instrument cluster located in the center is far more than just a trend now.  Seeing it is so many different vehicles is a sign of genuine change.  Good thing too, I always hated the fact that the steering-wheel and my hands blocked the view.  The new location completely eliminates that problem.

7-12-2006

That "Leaf" Symbol.  Still to this day, it eludes the understanding of some owners.  They just don't get it.  And I don't see how they could, without a better understanding of how the hybrid system actually works.  That leaf shown on the Consumption Screen represents electricity that is regenerated.  Anytime the small motor is generating electricity without the aid of the engine (like going down a hill) it earns kW toward the "leaf" count.  So even without stepping on the brake, you can still regenerate... which explains how those can be earned on the highway.  But when the engine is powering the small motor, that is generating (without the "re") so it does not count.  Basically, just keep watching.  Over time, you'll naturally notice a pattern.  But it's just informational.  Having more or fewer doesn't really affect the overall MPG in the end anyway.  It just tells you how the hybrid system is interacting with the environment (road/speed/traffic).  It is pretty much just a reminder that you are driving a vehicle much smarter than you owned in the past, taking advantage of every little efficiency opportunity for you automatically.

7-12-2006

Population.  It has doubled here in the United States since 1950.  Realizing that, the demand for oil becomes a scary topic... because this country is smaller and slower growing than many of the others.  Our way of life will change, whether we like it or not.  So even if problems like Global Warming didn't exist, the need for an energy source to power our vehicles would still.  The thought of traffic becoming significantly more congested makes status quo very unrealistic.  Proactive choices are required.  I wonder how long people will hold onto the belief that change isn't necessary.

7-12-2006

Hybrid Type Document.  It's a summary that I've been updating for years, knowing consumers would someday be overwhelmed with media & automaker spin.  That time approaches.  So rather than just the webpage, there is now also a document format that can be downloaded and printed.  It clearly points out that all hybrids are not created equal.  People need to understand why.  It provides a summary to explain that.  The use of the generic term "hybrid" happens far too often.  It reinforces the false impression that they all operate in a similar manner... even though that couldn't be further from the truth.  That's troubling.  Fortunately, the use of it in articles now is actually influencing some people to learn more.  When people take it upon themselves to look up information on their own, that's a very good sign.  Unfortunately, others just take those articles as the final word... blissfully unaware that there is more story to be told still.  Hopefully, this helps to tell it... hybrid types - print

7-11-2006

Not The Same.  One of the bigger online supporters of hybrids just got an overview he wrote published in a magazine.  Unfortunately, the "same" concept as found on his website was present there too.  He calls all vehicles "cars".  That is annoying, but as much as the intentional exclusion of the "ULEV" and "SULEV" and "PZEV" emission ratings.  You get the impression that the hybrids are all pretty much the same, when in reality some are much cleaner than others.  Those labels make identifying them simple.  He didn't.  To make matters worse, the final column in the large matrix of numbers listed for each vehicle was Yes/No.  Why list quantities for every other column but skimp on the last, especially one so important?  It was "Electric Only Mode?"  That's misleading on so many levels I don't know where to begin.  The answer of "Yes" absolutely does not mean the other hybrids also with a "Yes" are actually the same.  But he lead you to believe that.  But hosting a website with the purpose of treating all hybrids equally does cause that fundamental problem.  Seeing that was very disappointing.  There was no mention of "full" or "assist" whatsoever either.  For that matter, type of CVT wasn't even pointed out.  The article most definitely gave the impression that hybrid designs didn't differ much, that they are pretty much all the same other than the amount of power they deliver.  Needless to say, I'm going to contribute these brief summaries to point out that their electric-only modes are most definitely not the same...  Civic-Hybrid electric contribution & supply is so minor, it can barely even be detected (only a small amount for extremely short distances, and the engine is always in motion).  Escape-Hybrid is the genuine, since the engine can remain at rest while an electric motor powers the wheels.  But it only has a top speed up to 25 MPH, hardly realistic for any type of city cruising.  Prius, as well as the other HSD vehicles, delivers a truly practical electric only.  EV mode is up to 35 MPH.  Stealth is up to 42 MPH.  City & Suburb driving can favor electricity heavily.  They are obviously not the same.  Too bad he didn't write that.

 

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