Prius Personal Log  #287

August 29, 2006  -  September 3, 2006

Last Updated: Sun. 9/03/2006

    page #286         page #288         BOOK         INDEX         go to bottom 

 

9-03-2006

Ignore Use, Push Saving.  Actual use is a topic that's grossly overshadowed by "saving", as was abundantly clear reading articles published this morning.  The propaganda leaves you with a "feel good" belief.  It's really sad.  This is a prime example: "Increasing the Prius' fuel efficiency from 50 to 60 mpg saves only 33 gallons of gas a year.  Increasing the Escalade's efficiency from 15 to 16.5 mpg saves almost twice as much: 61 gallons a year."  Then the article proceeded to draw this conclusion from those numbers: "We need to focus on fuel efficiency at the bottom of the range, not the top.  The miles-per-gallon statistic focuses our attention on the wrong end of the distribution."  Yes, let's make those guzzlers as appealing as possible, rather than addressing the real issue of how much fuel is actually being consumed.  Here's the voice of reality, a far more appropriate perspective.  That 50 MPG vehicle over the course of 10,000 miles will only use 200 gallons of gas.  The 15 MPG that same distance will use 667 gallons.  The article made the 61 gallons look impressive.  And unfortunately, many people fall for that type of "saving" deception.  But looking at from the "use" point-of-view instead, you see that an extra 467 gallons were consumed.  That is a very bad thing.  Heck, it's more than enough to feed 2 more Prius.  So what exactly is the benefit of the guzzler?

9-02-2006

Lost Perspective.  From that same article was this benefit of buying a Prius: "its small size".  That really made me wonder if the writer has lost perspective entirely.  If Prius is small, what heck is a 2-door Yaris?  The greenwashing of the past obviously has deep roots.  Overcoming that is going to be quite a challenge still.  But with gas prices staying relatively high, that should at least be easier.  I still remember when Prius first rolled out in the United States.  A few were bold enough to justify the purchase of their SUV for the reason of seating a large family.  That never made sense.  Back then, only 5 people could fit inside.  Minivans offered enough for 7.  So they were most definitely not being sincere.  Is that what this article suffered from too?  The writer's attitude was a rather difficult to ascertain.  Perhaps she was being disingenuous.  Or was it really just poor journalism?  The belief that it could have been a loss of perspective seems less likely when I consider the article as a whole, instead of just that quoted phrase.  Interesting, eh?

9-02-2006

Collection of Misinformation.  The article began innocent, mentioning that the start-up process was a little different.  Then it got really, really weird.  I was absolutely shocked by the poor (if any) research of this writer.  The first comment was: "B isn't a gear, but I'm supposed to go there (while driving) when the battery is low and needs charging."  That is just blatantly incorrect, not even remotely close to what B actually does.  But a mistake like that is easy enough to forgive, since salespeople spread that incorrect information.  I have absolutely no idea where this came from though: "If I forget to press the Park button, the battery will slowly discharge."  And this belief simply has no basis in reality: "I have to remember to keep the smart-key and controller that are in my purse away from a TV, computer, cellphone charger and other such devices."  First, what's a controller?  The smart-key is the only device I've ever used for the Prius.  Second, I've never heard such a thing, nor experienced any problem with other electronics ever.  Good thing too, my smart-key is by them on a daily basis.  Lastly, how could she not have noticed the key: "I also have to remember to replace the battery in the little controller every couple of years, or I might not be able to unlock the car or start it."  The traditional lock in the door should have been a clue too.  As for starting the Prius with a dead battery, that's no big deal.  The wireless part becomes unusable until you put a new battery in the smart-key, but that's all.  Plugging it into the socket in the dashboard, which is also something she should have noticed, allows starts without electricity.  How many years must Prius be on the market before writing accuracy is required?  Geez!  I seriously think some writers do nothing but observe & deduce, without any actual research at all.

9-02-2006

Golf-Cart Comparisons.  Calling any Prius that has never made any sense, since it is not how the hybrid system actually operates.  But I've have seen that countless times.  The engine does not immediately turn on & off when you press the pedal, as an engine type golf cart does.  And actually how common are the electric type?  Regardless, that doesn't make any sense either, since cruising at 40 MPH in a golf-cart is completely unrealistic.  So I've always shrugged off the references like that, figuring whomever says it simply hasn't paid close enough attention to notice the differences.  After all, subtle is the very nature of stealth.  But now, 6 years after having defined "stealth mode" and pointing out when the engine runs, the use of misleading terminology like golf-cart is becoming more than just annoying.  It undermines the understanding of the more advanced designs, giving people the impression that all hybrids work the same way.  The feeling is now forming into frustration.  Fortunately, the solution has been available since 1997.  The Multi-Display clearly shows when electric-only operation is active, something neither a golf-cart nor a even basic hybrid offer.  So at least some will figure it out, despite continued flawed comparisons.

9-01-2006

Significant Decreases in NOx.  Reading that was just plain sweet.  Consumer Affairs researched the effects of E85 on a GM Tahoe.  MPG dropped from 14 to 10.  That's pretty much as you'd expect for a fuel with less energy.  And of course, the MPG from a vehicle like that is just plain pathetic.  Anywho, the fact that emissions were also considered was absolutely fantastic.  What a delight!  To complain for so many years about that aspect of vehicle operation being totally ignored, seeing it proudly mentioned is quite vindicating.  That is obviously news that will really, really upset the biodiesel supporters.  Hybrids can compensate for the MPG difference.  The fact that the ethanol is inherently so much cleaner gets them were it hurts.  Efficiency alone has never been the goal.  Emissions (the smog kind, which NOx contributes too) have always been something in need of improvement too.  Ethanol makes that easy.  Biodiesel does precisely the opposite, it takes a fuel rich in NOx and makes them even worse.  Decrease.  Not increase.

9-01-2006

Suspicious Prices.  I am very suspect of what's going on right now.  Gas prices are a huge political issue, making those in power very nervous about getting re-elected.  2 years ago, the tax-credit news for hybrids appeared to be very favorable right before the election.  The timing of the announcement made me quite concerned.  It seemed far too much of a good thing to be merely coincidence.  We didn't get details until immediately after the election.  What they had led us to believe turned out to be incorrect.  Our assumptions made them look better than they actually were.  Reality came crashing down afterward.  That timing was claimed to be unintentional.  How much do you want to bet that gas prices mysteriously go back up to where they should be (based on oil price) very shortly after this election.  They'll claim what followed was just a circumstance of uncontrollable factors.  I don't buy that for a minute.  History strongly supports a pattern of doing things a the last minute give voters the impression that things are getting better, when in reality it is just a temporary adjustment for political benefit.  It's why the benefit of hybrids cannot be determined by just mathematical calculations.  Too many intangibles, like election tactics, affect the market in ways that just MPG cannot take into account.

8-31-2006

Gas Prices.  They continue to inch down, despite the fact that oil prices are still hovering around $70 per barrel.  Seeing $2.57 per gallon for gas is nice.  But it really leaves me wondering why diesel has only dropped 2 cents, basically unchanged, since it is currently at $3.17 per gallon.  That disconnect means something.  To me, I interpret it as a temporary manipulation of supply.  I can't such a difference lasting too long... though that sure would make an argument against diesel extraordinarily easy that way.

8-31-2006

Government Testing.  I sure like reading reports like the one I came across today.  It was fleet fuel-economy testing that delivered accelerated reliability data, where each hybrid is driven 160,000 mile over the course of a few years then have their fuel efficiencies retested on dynamometers (with and without air conditioning) and their batteries are capacity tested.  The part I was most interested in (if you hadn't already figured it out) is the data itself, what was gathered up to the retesting... which is especially informative since these vehicles are routinely exposed to hard use.  Here's the summaries:  Six Insight driven 417,450 miles averaged 45.2 MPG.  Two Prius (2004 models) were driven a total of 186,000 miles resulting in a cumulative average of 44.9 MPG.  Six Prius (2002 & 2003 models) driven 458,410 miles averaged 41.0 MPG.  Four Civic-Hybrid driven 377,546 miles averaged 37.6 MPG.  Two Highlander-Hybrid All-WD driven 69,000 miles averaged 24.7 MPG.  Two RX-400h driven 67,000 miles averaged 24.8 MPG.  One Escape-Hybrid 2-WD driven 70,000 miles averaged 28.6 MPG.  One Escape-Hybrid 4-WD driven 78,000 miles averaged 27.0 MPG.  Two Accord-Hybrid driven 159,000 miles averaged 27.8 MPG.

8-31-2006

Strange Predictions.  The latest from JD Power's is that they forecast a 5 percent marketshare for hybrids in 2013.  Huh?  What are they thinking?  Currently, it is 1.2 percent.  That is decent growth.  But there is a breaking point they are clearly avoiding talk of, when hybrids are no longer considered new.  Gas prices will undisputedly be high then.  The Prius I'm driving now will be 10 years old.  Literally nothing will be left to prove then.  Heck, even the upcoming new generation of hybrid system from Toyota will be several years old at that point.  And what about all the choices?  The long-awaited minivan hybrid would have been become a common family transport.  The aftermarket offerings could be quite popular by then too.  All that makes 5 percent seem way too low.  How could progress be that modest with so much potential?

8-30-2006

State Fair.  I didn't have high expectations, making it difficult to be disappointed.  I was frustrated though.  There in the "Eco" building at the Minnesota State Fair was a plug-in Prius being displayed proudly.  Unfortunately, that was it.  The person there to tell people about it knew virtually nothing about how it actually worked, besides where the plug went and the fact that the promotion featured the "100+ MPG" campaign slogan.  I asked about real-world data, since the efficiency stated clearly wasn't what people got with routine highway driving or heater use in the Winter would get.  He had absolutely no response that question.  So I asked about the provider instead, inquiring if that aftermarket company would have an office locally for those interested to follow-up with.  Nothing.  It was pointless to proceed.  Asking the big question, about getting dealer service after an upgrade like that, wouldn't have accomplished anything.  So I didn't bother; however, I did snap a photo.  The case was constructed beautifully, fitting the extra battery capacity neatly & nicely into the spare-tire and cargo-tray area.  I really don't want to disappoint, but it is very important to set proper expectations.  The aftermarket plug-in offering will take quite a bit of time still to become a realistic consumer option.  Patience is required, just like with Prius itself.

8-29-2006

Scrubbing NOx.  That type of emission (which contributes to smog) continues to haunt diesel supporters.  The EPA is expected publish guidelines in about a month.  Urea is the topic of concern.  Using it is the cheapest way to scrub that nasty NOx (nitrous oxide) from the exhaust.  The problem comes from the fact that urea is a consumed liquid.  That's something the diesel troublemakers fail to tell you!  Fortunately, the EPA will.  They even plan to go to the extent of forcing automakers to prevent owners from being able to drive the vehicle without urea available.  In other words, this is a major problem that hybrids simply don't have to worry about.  Their emissions are drastically cleaner.  Anywho, the alternative is to just use the much more expensive solution instead... as I've been saying all along.  They hate when I point out the importance of reducing NOx emissions.  Well, too bad.  I just did again.

8-29-2006

$1,995 More.  The price keeps going up.  Originally (shortly after the news that a "full" design wouldn't be offered), the "assist" hybrid option for Saturn Vue was touted as the cheap solution.  Back then, it was thought to be available for less than $1,000.  And based on the limited abilities it would offer, there simply was no reason to question that.  But near the end of last year, reports started listing the price higher.  Now as it is about to debut, that $1,995 price is being advertised.  That much more than the traditional version reduces its appeal, especially when there is no MPG instrumentation included at all.  How are they going to attract consumers when offering so little, yet charging a higher price than traditional premium options (like leather or a stereo upgrade)?  Unless the real-world MPG numbers are really impressive, what would draw interest... especially now that consumers are aware of EPA estimate shortcomings?  The bottom is already beginning to fall out from the ethanol campaign too, since appeal is fading as people see the actual MPG difference between that alternative fuel and pure gasoline.  All the attention placed on "saving money" could make this particular design very difficult to sell.  What will become of the Vue-Hybrid after the initial debut hype is over?

8-29-2006

Georgetown Production.  It's about to begin.  This long-awaited event is a big deal.  Hybrid production by Toyota in the United States (in this case, Kentucky) took longer than expected, but it should be well worth the wait.  The plan is to produce 48,000 Camry-Hybrid initially.  That's a pretty decent amount, and it frees up production facilities in Japan for more Prius.  That's a win-win situation.  Sweet!

 

back to home page       go to top