Prius Personal Log  #29

May 30, 2002  -  June 8, 2002

Last Updated: Sun. 12/08/2002

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6-08-2002

Future Cars.  It's becoming apparent to even the conservative thinkers that a problem is brewing and the future isn't looking as bright as they (those attending the Future Car Conference on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. this week) anticipated.  The fact that they started calling the SUV a "car" years ago made the emission & consumption mindset a complacent one.  The fact that estimates to construct a hydrogen infrastructure in the United States alone could cost anywhere from 600 to 800 billion dollars brings back a sense of reality.  The problem can't be ignored any longer.  That makes me especially happy, especially when you consider that hybrids now demonstrate the potential to be just as efficient as the hydrogen dependent fuel-cells.  Hybrids are here today, and they're reasonably priced.  I foresee fuel-cell vehicles becoming affordable in time, but not soon enough.  The $80,000 price tag is too high right now.  Something (like a war, perhaps) could really screw up the status quo.  We need to take the first step toward that future now.  Small steps work best.  Prius actually offers a rather large step.  But it's well proven, so what do we have to lose by trying?

6-08-2002

Gathering Again.  Every time we get together, I receive a number of regrets saying please send me an invitation for next time.  I was really bummed missing the first 2 Minnesota Gatherings in 2000, so I completely understand how they feel when unfortunate timing occurs.  Never fear.  There will be another.  I thoroughly enjoy swapping stories with other owners, and it is now becoming very simple to setup.  So what the heck!  Late July or Early August is the next likely time.  Stay tuned.

6-08-2002

June 2002 Gathering.  It was absolutely beautiful out!  The temperature was wonderful and the sun was shining through a clear blue sky.  We couldn't have asked for better weather!!  (I never thought I'd be able to report that.)  It made things incredibly simple.  We just carried out a large picnic table into the parking lot, lined up the cars (9 total, all Prius), took photos, and swapped stories.  It was great!!! 

I'll have my photos available to share soon.  This time we got an owner shot, each standing next to their prized hybrid.

Thanks to everyone that stopped by!
 

6-08-2002

Weather.  Owners will be getting together for the Gathering in less than 9 hours.  What will happen?  The sky is covered with thick clouds now, but the chance of rain is suppose to end later today.  We all have a blast at these get-togethers regardless of weather; however, it sure would be nice to have one with an ideal forecast.

6-07-2002

Giving Up?  It appears as though DaimlerChrysler is.  On October 26, 2000 they announced a hybrid Durango SUV would be available in 2003.  It would deliver an efficiency increase of 20 percent, that's from 15.5 to 18.6 MPG.  Now they are saying it will only deliver a 12 percent increase, from 16.0 to 18.0 MPG.  First, why did the base number change?  It should actually be 16 percent had they stuck with the original 15.5 MPG.  Second, why is 18 MPG an ideal goal?  Yes, it's still measurably better, but it's simply not enough.  If all vehicles were converted to mild-hybrids and got less than 20 MPG afterward, we'd still have a major emission & consumption problem to deal with.  Third, how will their other plan benefit the average consumer?  They're going to offer a Ram Pickup for 2005 intended for contractors on construction sites.  Will they build & sell enough of this specialty vehicle for anyone to even notice?  By then, Toyota plans to be building & selling (both to consumers and other manufacturers) a total of 300,000 hybrid systems per year.  There will be THS (Toyota Hybrid System) all over the place.

6-07-2002

Politics.  What a pain.  This week the presidential administration admitted global warming was a genuine problem.  Then they announced their was nothing we could do about it, so we should just learn to adapt to the changing climate.  The bandage approach was not what I was hoping for.  Not is even trying is horrible as far as I'm concerned, especially when I drive around everyday with proof that there is in fact something we can do.  We really can reduce emissions & consumption.  Why can't they see that?

6-07-2002

He looked really into it.  I spotted a Prius in heavy rush hour traffic.  He was driver down the river valley, obviously in stealth.  You could clearly see the excitement!

6-07-2002

Steering Shudder.  I setup an appointment next for Wednesday to get the steering checked.  When turning the wheels right while going really slow (under 10 MPH), I feel a shudder.  I've never experienced a failure or warning of any kind, but my non-hybrid component warranty is nearing an end.  So the time has come to look into having an adjustment or replacement done.  10,000 miles ago, I first felt it.  But it went away right before the 22,500 mile service.  I reported it anyway and made them check, then check again, about my Prius needing the recall service which ended for Prius with birthdays on June 30, 2000.  July 1, 2000 is 1701-A's birthday.  Go figure.  1,500 miles ago, it came back.  (That's 500 miles before getting the new alternate tires.)  Since then, the intensity has varied from barely noticeable to rather apparent, but interfered with driving.  Stay tuned for a report about how the service went.

6-06-2002

0 to 30 acceleration.  You hear a lot about 0 to 60 acceleration on highways, but nothing about 0 to 30 acceleration on city streets.  When the light turns green, I shot off in the distance leaving everyone else in my dust.  The kick the motor provides in the Prius is quite pleasing.  I quickly get up to 30, 35, or 40 MPH then get the opportunity to efficiently maintain that speed (sometimes in stealth) with the road to myself... until the speeders catch up, anyway.

6-06-2002

Bye Bye.  The Taurus is gone.  I'm pure hybrid now.  Of course, since purchasing my Prius I had only driven a little over 1,700 miles with it anyway.  (Hmm, that's an interesting number.)  Much of that driving was just to keep it in working order (circulate fluids and keep the tires from going flat), the rest was to keep me informed about what non-hybrid vehicles are like.  In that same duration, I have driven 31,995 miles with my Prius.  Can you tell which car was my favorite?

6-05-2002

Window Decals.  Yesterday, I took the Hybrid Symbol, combined it with a hybrid slogan, then added 2 more small symbols with an exciting label.  Today, I brought that creation to a print shop.  They were able to transform it to a clear, sticky, plastic page that could be cut into pieces then attached to various locations on the Prius windows.  It worked fantastic.  And the best part was an individual sheet only cost 35 cents.  Here's what I used and instructions about how to do the same yourself:  window decals

6-05-2002

Hot Temperatures.  I remember getting trapped with my Taurus in an awful highway ramp line once.  The endless wait in that grueling heat was horrible.  Wasting all that gas to move just a foot or two every now and them was making me crazy.  I sat there and watched my temperature gauge rise.  The engine had no way of keeping itself from overheating.  The heat just kept building up more and more.  So, I shut off the A/C and opened the windows fearing the radiator would blow.  That's when I discovered my thermometer only went up to 150 F degrees.  Above that it just blinked.  I watched that blinking for a loooong time.  That same situation would be completely different with a Prius, since the engine has the ability to turn off while you're still creeping forward in line.  The word that comes to mind to describe that is: "Cool!"

6-05-2002

Cold Temperatures.  We had another 2 day cold-snap again.  Being 20 F degrees below normal was really irritating.  It was suppose to be in the 70's, I had been seeing 50's instead.  That was hurting the MPG... until today.  Summer finally made an appearance, close to 80 F degrees.  Now the Multi-Display has climbed up to 47.5 MPG.

6-05-2002

Efficient Driving.  Traffic was minimal.  The left lane had one car stopped for the light.  The right lane had me efficiently gliding toward that light.  No one was in front of me, but there was a young driver on the phone rapidly approaching from behind.  When she saw that I was driving fairly slow, she aggressively got into the other lane.  Then when she discovered I had precisely timed the light, glided right through without needing the brake at all (a skill that becomes second nature after learning from the Multi-Display), and passed the car in the other lane like it was sitting still (well, actually it was), she aggressively got back behind me.  I approached the next light the same way.  That exact scenario replayed itself again!!  Did that driver have any idea what had occurred.  Driving didn't appear to be a priority?  It makes me wonder what other aspects of that vehicle the driver didn't have any interest in.

6-04-2002

Perspective Changes.  Much of the email I had received in the past from Prius owners dealt with comments about having provided helpful information making their purchase decision easier.  Recently, it has changed.  Some people have purchased a Prius completely on their own, then discovered the website after feeling alone and craving more information.  It's really nice to see that the word about Prius is getting around from a variety of different helpful sources now.

6-04-2002

Oil Filters.  I was out shopping today, so I took some time to look at oil filters.  I found 4 different quality grades available from a single manufacturer.  That's because this particular size is common.  It's the same used in the very popular Toyota Corolla.  Excellent!

6-03-2002

Gathering Excitement.  I'm gathering excitement about the gathering this Saturday.  Having already met with hybrid owners a number of times in the past, I'm really looking forward to another opportunity.  This time we'll be having a show & tell too.  People keep asking me about my customizations, so I'll be showing off my new non-standard tires, receiver-hitch & bike-rack, full-size spare tire, and the cruise-control I had added.  I'm sure a number of owners will really be curious to get a good look at the DVD Navigation System.  And of course, the Honda hybrids are always a hit when there's a bunch of Prius around.  Taking photos is always fun too, since none of us never know what to expect until that moment.  What will the weather be like this time?  We've endured heat, rain, and snow.  All went surprisingly well despite that.  So this one is bound to be a success.

6-02-2002

Flying Cars.  I saw a special on television today that stated the solution to our highway congestion problems was flying cars.  Technology is just getting to the point now where that's actually possible.  However, what they didn't say was that it was totally, completely unrealistic.  Completely ignoring the astronomical cost, the amount of fuel needed to lift the vehicle is absolutely frightening.  It's drastically more efficient (and cleaner) to stay on the ground.  What the heck are they thinking? 

6-01-2002

Road Rally.  That driving vacation I have coming up, which required me to get the new alternate tires sooner than needed, is actually a hybrid promotion.  I'll be joining the Sierra Club to visit various media locations throughout the state of Minnesota.  It's an event I've really been looking forward to.  Now it looks like I'll have to wait some more.  We won't be until July now.

5-31-2002

What the heck?  On a number of occasions I've seen people leave their SUV in the driveway for no apparent reason.  They even push the button on the garage-door-opener after pulling up to enter the house through the garage on foot.  I never could figure out why they just didn't pull in.  (I know it barely fits in the garage.)  But hearing on the group that having a huge SUV as a status symbol explains a lot.  It's plain old vanity.  Maybe I should start leaving my Prius in the driveway.

5-31-2002

Alternate Tires - Second Gas Tank.  The ride is a little rougher, but that's basically just the result running higher PSI.  I feel cracks in the road.  That level of perception will be really handy when driving on snow & ice later.  Handling is noticeably better.  Filling up with gas today made me very pleased.  I got 47.4 MPG.  That means drop in performance is turning out to be only minor.  And based on what I've experienced so far, I don't think they'll be a detectable MPG difference in the Winter..  The feel seems a little more accommodating for those roads.  We'll see... later.  No need to rush the seasons. 

5-31-2002

Road Recognition.  Seeing other Prius on the road is becoming a daily occurrence.  That used to be rare.  Now I can actually look forward to it.  Imagine what it will be like next year... Whoa!  That's Prius though.  The other family-sized hybrid, Civic, will be nearly invisible since its body is nearly identical to the engine-only version.  That means interest could primarily come from media stories, rather than first hand sightings.  I hope reporters do a better job than they did with Prius.  Reading articles with misconceptions and only vague details became really frustrating after awhile.  Word-of-Mouth from owners is the ultimate endorsement.  Maybe Honda's approach will work well too.  As for me, I thoroughly enjoy getting recognized on the road.

5-30-2002 Lack of interest?  I had a friend point out something dreadfully important about hybrids today.  He said he absolutely did not want to experience stealth yet.  Seeing the thrill it still gives me indicated to him that trying it would invoke a sense of pleasure he simple can't afford right now.  Avoiding that sensation for the moment was his choice.  It made me immediately wonder if the lack of interest I've received from a few others previously was actually intentional restraint due to other financial obligations.  Hmm?

 

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