Prius Personal Log  #281

July 21, 2006  -  July 24, 2006

Last Updated: Sun. 7/30/2006

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7-24-2006

It Finally Happened.  You guessed it.  The price of gas here exceeded $3 per gallon.  Every single cost argument of the past has completely fallen apart.  Not too long ago, claims of $2 were laughed at and mocked.  They absolutely refused to acknowledge even that price as being realistic ever, despite the lifespan of a vehicle being so long.  Now we are already well beyond that, just a few years later.  Heck, many of the Classic owners haven't even used up their hybrid-component warranty yet.  Just think what the price will be when the next generation of Prius becomes available.  Even using $3 as a base for cost analysis will likely be misleading, too low for any reputable lifespan considerations.  I love having so much history well documented now.  Efforts to undermine won't be anywhere near as effective anymore.  Horray!

7-23-2006

To Remember When It Was Only $2.99!  He laughed.  The gas station attendant wasn't expecting me to say that I wanted my receipt for that reason.  It caught him totally off guard.  With so many people complaining about the price being so high, I bet I was the only one that had uttered a sign of gratefulness for it being so low.  With all the economic forces working against the price coming down, expecting relief is very unrealistic... to the point of being in denial.  How could it happen?  Demand from the increasing population and the worsening traffic conditions is definitely enough to prevent status quo.  So add to that a Summer storm... or perhaps another conflict in the Mid-East or Africa or South America, you've got a nightmare in the making.  Well, guess what.  That is exactly what we are facing.  Increased availability of hybrids is absolutely essential.  Ignoring the problem by not preparing for the inevitable is wrong on so many levels.  Yet, that is exactly what's happening.  Change isn't occurring fast enough.

7-23-2006

"Ask The Man Who Owns One."  That phrase was sighted as an example of impressionable advertising.  Unfortunately, that's all I had heard.  I wasn't sure what the channel I had just flipped to was discussing, but it certainly wasn't automobiles.  Though... I was still intrigued.  It gave me the impression that the product was one that required a careful consideration before purchasing, as if a lot of money was at stake.  So maybe whatever the topic was compared well to a car.  Hmm?  That left me running to the computer for a quick Google search.  Sure enough, my hunch was confirmed.  It was apparently a very popular promotional slogan back in the 1930's for Packard.  That makes what I do remarkably relevant then.  I always knew a consumer endorsement was more powerful than what advertisements convey, but I had no idea that there was once a campaign urging consumers to ask other consumers for information.  Same advice, new medium.  Cool!

7-23-2006

It Keeps Getting Better!  I can't help but to laugh at this point.  The reduction of smog-relation emissions is finally getting decent attention by the media.  In the past, they completely ignored it.  Never getting a mention in hybrid analysis articles was very frustrating.  The benefit was disregarded entirely, no value whatsoever was given.  That's finally changing... and in a seemingly big way too.  The latest example came today, from a report discussing both the cost of making clean diesels and diesel hybrids.  The beauty of it is the "Bin-5 Compliant" price tag.  The emission hardware required to accomplish that level of reduction is between $5,000 and $7,000.  And if you want a hybrid system too, that's extra!  Reading that must have been absolutely devastating for diesel supporters.  In the past, paying extra was disheartening.  But now, seeing articles that all state a minimum of several thousand dollars to become competitive with the gas vehicles (both hybrid and non-hybrid) is a fatal blow.  Too bad.  I warned them ages ago.  But they didn't want to hear it.  I got labeled as an extremist for pointing out the upcoming new standards.  Perhaps they hoped stricter emissions wouldn't end up becoming a reality, that some politicians would stop the effort claiming cleaner requirements would hurt the economy.  Well, we already know how that backfired with hybrids.  During the 2004 election campaigning, they claimed hybrids would do exactly that.  Turns out, exactly the opposite happened.  Hybrids have become the new economy, a source of revenue from a struggling-to-survive industry.  Cleansing technology opens up opportunities, putting emphasis on something important too.  Of course, the whole concept of resistance in the case is silly.  Breathing-Relating health problems are common.  Vehicles undeniably contribute to that.  Diesels have no choice but to become cleaner.

7-23-2006

"Hybrids Make No Sense."  What a gem of a quote... or so you'd think.  According to GM vice-president Bob Lutz, that is what Toyota has said.  I'm sure that was indeed true... back in 1994 when hybrid development first began.  Geez!  How cheap was gas back then?  And what importance was there for reduction of smog-related emissions that far back in the past?  Talking about leading you to believe something but not telling you it is no longer valid.  Heck, a quote like that could have easily survived all the way to the end of the THS availability (2003).  But now, the world is quite different.  Gas is much more expensive.  Emissions are considered more important.  Battery technology continues to improve.  So that a "has said" quote holds little merit anymore.  Make sure to always check for the date.  Anywho, here's what Lutz had to say just 4 days ago: "Hybrids are technologically of doubtful benefit, and expensive, but necessary from a political and public relations point of view."  With that attitude, GM has little chance of succeeding.  No wonder they only plan to deliver 83,000 of the two-mode system by 2010.  At least they are being sincere about their effort having a political and public relations focus.  But to use the words "doubtful" and "expensive" without any reference to perspective is just plain wrong.  That was the case for Toyota originally.  It isn't anymore though.  Oh well.  It is entertaining to watch an automaker self-destruct.  Witnessing denial on that scale is hard to believe.  But there it is.

7-22-2006

Hybridfest.  It's Saturday evening.  The biggest gathering of hybrids ever in this country just concluded.  I was invited to do a presentation there.  But it was counter-productive to the effort I support.  I didn't want to interfere with their effort though, despite the conflict.  So, I declined and kept quiet until now.  After all, I was very curious how it would unfold and didn't have time for something on that scale anyway.  Consider my backlog of unpublished photos... I am now 21 months behind.  Ahh!  Hearing what happened should be very interesting.  One of the people in charge was strongly against hybrids originally... now he provides a forum for them.  Another was an originator of "the same" problem, a true antagonist in every respect.  So the meeting would have been odd.  What is their purpose now?  The gathering itself had the purpose of promoting hybrids of all types, regardless of actual benefit.  I didn't like that at all.  Type is extremely important.  Those that don't "significantly reduce both emissions & consumption" should not be given equal status.  Of course, I don't actually want any hybrids to get special attention.  I want them to simply be treated as the next natural step in automotive evolution, just like the automatic transmission or fuel injection or front-wheel drive.  So holding a special event to point them out as being different from the rest of the traffic simply doesn't make sense.  True, it's a boring perspective.  Having a vehicle that blends into the crowd isn't what you see in advertisements.  But that is the very purpose of the hybrid design.  Hoping the system becomes the norm in the 21st Century is my intent.  That "everyone has one" mindset doesn't inspire much of a rally call though.  It's like the next major level of computer processing power or the next generation of computer operating system.  At some point, it will have little meaning because everyone will eventually upgrade.  But that's what I want.  The less fanfare, the better.  Drawing attention could actually backfire by scaring consumers, causing a delay of acceptance.  So, I'm quite curious how this particular event will be looked upon afterward.

7-22-2006

Ignoring Opportunity.  That's the impression some have had about Toyota not offering a plug-in option yet.  After all, the system is already designed with the ability to support that.  My response is to have patience.  The evidence of preference for long-term goals being more important than short-term profit is overwhelming.  So they aren't actually ignoring the opportunity.  There is a benefit from first having the aftermarket arena work out the details, do all the advertising & promotion, and build up the consumer base... all without Toyota having to deal with any of the associated business risks.  That has the potential of being a win-win situation.  In other words, Toyota has delivered the platform and the aftermarket crowd will deliver real-world acceptance data.  Don't forget just how volatile the automotive stage we are at is right now.  This odd type of pseudo-partnership could work extraordinarily well.  After all, Toyota successfully let the enthusiasts lead the way with Prius.  So watch how this plays out.

7-22-2006

Virus Detected.  It happened again.  From time to time, I follow the Prius links people provide.  Today, it was from a list on a popular website.  Sure enough, someone took advantage of the popular appeal.  As soon as I clicked, my virus protection software sounded off an alert.  I wasn't happy, despite the fact that the virus had been detected and my system quickly inoculated.  What a pain.  Oh well.  In a perverse way, I benefit from being such a large and trusted sight.  Having dealt with hybrids now for so many years, I'll all too aware that there are people that intentionally cause trouble.  So this doesn't surprise me at all.  Thankfully, both hybrids and virus protection continue to improve.

7-22-2006

Cost Effective?  A newbie posed the question today about why Toyota just doesn't dump their non-hybrid models, due to the cost effectiveness of not having two production lines like they do now.  This was my response...  Toyota has already announced plans, and reconfirmed several times, that they intend to offer a hybrid offer for their entire fleet of consumer vehicles.  So the burden is on consumers.  The supply will be based on the choice made from each person's wallet.  So it's up to us to make that future a only hybrid reality.  That's a very, very different philosophy from what certain automakers have done in the past... telling you what you want instead.  Now we actually stand a chance.  But those dang antagonists are still a source frustration.  Their claims that the numbers just don't add up are totally disingenuous.  They pretend battery technology will never become less expensive, that the price of gas will never go up, and the cost won't drop due to high-volume production.  Buy a Toyota hybrid.  Seeing so many on the road will help finally shift the entire market.

7-22-2006

Blog Interest.  It certainly has climbed lately.  I've seen a major increase in the download activity of each 250-page volume.  Both the popularity of blogs & Prius is undeniably growing.  I'm so glad I stuck with it.  There have been periods of unique subject matter.  Though heavy and frustrating to document, that stuff is now history.  It is a genuine sign of progress, to have proof that the market mindset has indeed changed.  Those observations can only be made while the events are occurring.  Afterward, that element of uncertainty no longer exists.  Of course, you could share an attitude like me... well aware that our attitude & behavior must change, simply out of necessity.  Non-Reusable resources don't last forever.  The population is growing, as well as the energy needs.  Pollution is getting worse.  That's a recipe for disaster.  We cannot just ignore those signs.  For that matter, we cannot take the situation lightly.  The clock is ticking.  Fortunately, those downloading the blogs are interested in what's been documented so far.  Cool!

7-22-2006

Kayak Relief.  We "breathed a sigh of relief" today.  Seeing that in an email today made me feel fantastic.  I hadn't realized just how much passion those with kayaks exhibit.  But now being an owner myself, I totally understand the emotion.  A couple had just ordered a Prius.  That thought of how to transport their kayaks hadn't occurred to them until afterward.  It's that sinking feeling you get when realizing a dream had just fallen apart.  How the heck could Prius carry two objects so large?  Fortunately, it didn't take too long to find out.  The delight of seeing the photo on my homepage featuring the Prius with a kayak on top was unmistakable by the tone of the email.  Phew!  That makes me feel really pleased with my decision to take a special kayak photo for use in both the Info-Sheet and User-Guide.  It's quite rewarding to inform people how practical the hybrid really is, just like oh so many years ago when the same concern was placed on the ability to transport bikes.  What a relief, eh?

7-21-2006

$74.43 per barrel.  The madness continues.  Prices are still so far beyond that scary $60 threshold, several industries are now reconsidering their long-term business strategies.  Amusingly, the price of gas here absolutely refuses to budge up beyond the $3 mark.  Those setting prices are well aware of how much of a difference seeing $2.99 makes to the consumers.  That extra penny to push that first number to a "3" really does make quite an influence.  So rather than balance the oil/gas pricing, they'd prefer to cut into profits.  I wonder how long that will last.  Hmm?  Gas was quite a bit less expensive this time last year.  In fact, I still clearly remember the day back in June 2005 when I pulled into a gas station just for the sake of snapping a photo of the highest price I had ever seen here for the regular grade: $2.25.  A price like that would now be welcomed, instead of feared like it was back then.  Now it is becoming very clear that sales of the dinosaurs (monster-size gas-guzzlers) are plummeting.  Eventually, they'll be extinct... no longer used for silly things, like the commute to work.  Only using them for the purpose they were actually designed will finally return.  Yeah!

7-21-2006

Beyond Newbies.  It's getting rather absurd.  We're seeing rampant repeats of very simple questions emerging on the most popular Prius forum.  I saw 3 threads just this week alone about the battery-color change on the Energy-Screen.  Most owners either find out what that means by taking the time to observe the pattern or doing searches for previous messages already posted.  These newbies do neither.  It's wonderful to see the non-enthusiast purchasing a Prius, but it does get very annoying.  That's actually an underlying reason I originally created the User-Guide.  Besides assembling a document to share our collected knowledge, it was also intended to reduce the redundancy of easy-to-answer questions.  But with the growth rate of hybrid interest so rapid now, even that isn't enough.  I wonder what else can be done to help out.  We really don't want to scare away the non-newbie due to getting overwhelmed by newbie questions.  Hmm.  Yet another challenge.

 

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