Prius Personal Log  #290

September 16, 2006  -  September 22, 2006

Last Updated: Mon. 10/30/2006

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9-22-2006

$60.55 per barrel.  The price of gas is back down to where it was at the beginning of the week.  And the price of diesel is still 50 cents higher per gallon.  So... what is to come?  Just a year and a half ago, this was a disaster scenario.  Now it appears to be a long-term reality.  I wonder what the typical consumer thinks.  Some are obviously hoping those in power will apply a big bandage to artificially deflate prices.  Why invest in the future when you get make more money or stay in office today?  Some consumers are taking the situation much more seriously, trading in their guzzler for something more realistic.

9-21-2006

300,000 in 2007.  That's what the latest unofficial report is for the production of Prius next year.  Clearly, those claiming mainstream was not a realistic expectation have little to say anymore.  Of course, they are still dealing with the "smug" image having backfired.  So they more than have enough problems currently.  It's amazing how things have worked out.  In such a short amount of time, we went from having to deal with the monster-size guzzling-gas good-for-the-economy nonsense to actual practical solutions.  It's pretty cool.

9-20-2006

One Motor.  It's that simple.  I had no idea summing up the design of "assist" hybrids could be understood so easily, just by stating it that way.  But that is definitely the confirmation I've been getting lately.  The fact that GM is apparently planning to offer both an "assist" and a "full" version of Vue is what pushed the topic.  The operational differences are significant.  Explaining them doesn't seem to be necessary though.  Just pointing out the existence of a secondary motor in the "full" design appears to do the trick.  It must have something to do with the fact that the plug-in Prius has become a popular discussion topic.  People are aware of the fact that some other hybrids are not capable of offering a plug.  Deduction much lead them to the rationale that the presence of two motors is what allows for that.  Whatever the case, it certainly has proven to be a good way of summarizing.

9-20-2006

Not Yet.  The "last throws" of the anti-hybrid effort are becoming very entertaining.  Today, it was a response to the state of Washington having purchased 222 Prius for service vehicles.  That's over half of their current fleet.  Sweet!  Anywho, the antagonist twist was to respond by saying how good of a thing this was.  It will provide solid information confirming one way or another if the maintenance will become a nightmare or not.  What a joke!  Businesses and agencies have already been doing that for years.  In fact, it is what contributed to this most recent purchase.  There really isn't anything left to test... especially for them, since the vehicles are sold before the warranty expires anyway.  Those against hybrids portray the image of open-mindedness by giving you the impression they are playing along, implying that this wait will provide the conclusive data we've been waiting for.  In other words, they are convincing you that can't be done yet.  In years past, the claim would have actually worked.  But not anymore.  Right away, some newbie sounded off saying how absurd the statement was, pointing out that Prius has already proven itself.  Sweet!

9-20-2006

Frost.  It was on my windshield this morning.  I wasn't thrilled.  The 50 MPG tanks will soon disappear.  Cold weather is creeping in.  Soon, I'll see that "snowflake" (the road-could-be-slippery indicator) during my morning commute.  I'm not ready.  I'd much rather be dealing with the efficiency drop caused by carrying kayaks on the roof.  The transition away from Summer is never pleasant.  Denial won't help either.  Fall is fun, but getting there is never without feelings from the loss of warm temperatures.  Oh well.

9-19-2006

Sunset Photos.  There are 7 new ones.  Some from this year, some from last year, some from the year before.  In other words, I'm finally starting to make some progress with the album.  Far from catching up though, but at least this is evidence of some true progress.  Who knew I'd be so darn busy with other Prius stuff that the photos would become a digital pile for me to someday finally publish.  Fortunately, it won't take forever.  Some patience is required though.  Here's the latest... photo album 110

9-19-2006

125 MPG.  Now the aftermarket mess is really getting messy.  Certain plug-in providers thought they had a clever marketing approach, by using "100+ MPG" in their campaign.  Too bad reality does usually cooperate.  I was complaining right away.  That was very misleading, not informing you in any way what was needed to actually achieve efficiency that high.  Sure, under certain circumstances you can.  But definitely not from routine driving.  The daily commute simply isn't supportive.  Real-World data confirms that... contrasting the EPA estimates, much like the one-hundred-plus does.  In the spirit of competition though, a competitor upped the ante today.  Their slogan proudly states  "125 MPG" instead.  It's almost comical, since neither is realistic.  Fortunately, it doesn't really matter anyway.  Those plug-in offerings are far too expense to become mainstream anytime soon.  Much more modest electric augmentations will dominate the market in the meantime.  That's what will end up dominating the attention of the media, since the economics are far more supportive of the struggle certain automaker are currently facing.  As battery prices drop, the pack size (available capacity) for the "full" hybrids will increase.

9-19-2006

20 Cent Jump.  For no apparent reason whatsoever, the price of gas suddenly jumped up 20 cents.  Why?  The price of oil has been slowly dropping.  Whatever the case, people are definitely well aware of the instability now.  The stability expectation of the past is nothing but a memory now.

9-19-2006

LS600h.  It's coming.  The traditional version was launched today.  Next Spring, the hybrid version will be available in Japan.  This is the one the competition fears.  It's not because the vehicle is a Lexus.  And it especially isn't for being a car.  The key is under the hood.  There will be an 8 cylinder 5.0 liter engine.  That's monster-size... which is usually a bad thing.  But in this case, no.  This hybrid will have plenty of power.  Lots of horses will be feed the rear wheels.  See what I'm hinting at yet?  Think about it.  This is the system others said wasn't possible.  Toyota is about to enter truck territory!  Just imagine what the reaction will be once reality comes crashing down.  A year from now when GM introduces it's hybrid platform for trucks, Toyota will announce their own... in use already, by a luxury car overseas.  Talking about a well thought out plan.  Cool!

9-18-2006

More Digital Moments.  That beautiful Fall setting spilled over onto this webpage too, a few random shots as the sun was drawing the day to a close... photo album 113

9-18-2006

Digital Moments.  I captured this particular collection almost 2 full years ago.  It was an extremely colorful Fall day, one which I hope to see again soon.  That's a great time of the year to go exploring, with a Prius of course.  And if you're lucky, you'll see this... photo album 112

9-17-2006

Here's Your Sign.  Today, someone made that comment about the seemingly dumb comment of... "So you really like it, huh?" ...that often gets asked to Prius owners.  In reality, that isn't always the case.  Some use it as a conversation starter.  Not knowing what to say is actually quite a problem.  Try saying "Hi!" sometime if you (as an owner, by your Prius) ever catch someone with a curious stare.  They may be struggling to figure out what to say.  That is pretty much all it takes for an invitation to begin talking too.  They jump at the chance!  Think about how many years some of these people you casually run into that have wondered about hybrids, yearning to ask questions.  There's lots of one-way info available online (especially from my website) for those uncomfortable with posting messages on forums, but very few opportunities for real-world exchanges.  So, provide them with one when you can.  It's actually really fun.  Basically, the experience is like taking a test where you know every answer already.  A pleasing outcome is guaranteed.  That silly sign won't be needed.

9-16-2006

DC Problems.  Daimler-Chrysler has pretty much been able to keep the spotlight off their financial struggle... until yesterday.  Up to then, the expectation was that their North American division would be able to break even for the year.  No profit was acceptable.  Following that would be recovery efforts.  That plan fell apart though.  Now they have revised their official standing rather significantly.  It looks as though they will lose around $1.2 Billion this year.  The situation for each of the "Big 3" is down right ugly for 2006.  The problems in 2005 were just a hint of what was to come.  I wonder what 2007 will bring.  Their previous endorsement of guzzlers and fight against hybrids was obviously a very, very bad decision.  They have no choice but to change.  What will the change be?

9-16-2006

Unanticipated Excitement.  Someone new to the big Prius forum posted a list of "rather unusual" things about Prius.  That made me immediately suspicious.  Reading that list provided me with even more reason to question the intent.  It was filled with errors and missing some important facts.  But giving that person the benefit of doubt, I played along.  After a number of messages from other people, remarking about the original post and my comments, I sounded off again.  That concluded with the following: "Look at how silly vehicles are without a display on their dashboard.  Do you have any idea how our children will later mock us for having driven anything without a computer interface?  They'll think we grew up in the dark ages.  Of course, I'll agree.  The 20th was rather primitive in comparison to what awaits."  Did that ever stir up some excitement!  The crowd was definitely receptive to that point-of-view.  It only makes sense on a forum devoted to Prius.  Members there embrace change.  Automotives advances, especially when it comes to things the driver directly interacts with, are required.  Why settle for status quo?  So... I guess I should have anticipated a response like that.

9-16-2006

Missing Information.  This quote today provided a fantastic example: "Why do all the hybrids have CVTs while they are almost non-existent on other vehicles?  This further distorts the benefits of hybrid technology because, I believe, just about every vehicle would get another 1-2 mpg with a CVT."  That is indeed true, despite the fact that he failed to recognize that there 2 different types of CVT.  He just assumed everyone understood that hybrids (the ones optimized for efficiency anyway) use smaller than usual engines too.  That is a distorting factor, but it has a penalty of reduced power for non-hybrids.  Since the comment originated from a discussion about EPA estimates, which obviously have a ton of information missing, I figured it was pointless to even reply.  Why bother?  The current market focuses almost entirely on only vehicles that are currently available.  Hypothetical discussions go nowhere, just like when I mention how Toyota plans to offer a hybrid option for all of their vehicles eventually.  Members on certain forums simply don't want to accept reality.  Change won't be subtle.  The denial is not constructive.  Why bother with only a 1-2 MPG improvement when HSD offers dramatically more, in addition to emission reduction too?

9-16-2006

Lost Cost Perspective.  Over the years, one very obvious pattern from cost analysis articles has emerged.  They simply don't like to look forward, refusing to acknowledge the price of gas could be higher later in the life of the vehicle.  So whenever I pointed out $2.25 as the tipping point, I got mocked.  They never considered the price actually getting that high.  Well, that attitude is finally changing... for undeniable reasons.  However, that new number-crunching is still misleading.  They don't include incremental cost.  I drove a little more than 20,000 miles during the previous 12 months.  That consumed 424 gallons.  So even though that travel was with a Prius, each 25 cent increase in the price of gas required an extra $106 out of my wallet.  That's not theoretical.  It's actual money.  And in reality, gas has went up quite a bit more than that and has stayed higher for longer.  Figure a 75 cent increase for 80,000 miles.  That's somewhere around $1,250 for a fuel-efficient vehicle.  Why isn't that ever taken into account?  Twice that is the practical lifetime of any vehicle.  $2,500 pretty much covers the entire hybrid premium.  How come that perspective is never considered?  Just think what even higher gas prices would reveal.  And a non-hybrid suffers an even greater monetary penalty from that.  Too bad it isn't more obvious.  The "saving" marketing hype makes you forget about how much you still end up paying.

9-16-2006

Outlets.  I'm still thrilled by the sight of outlets in the new parking lot.  The row of trees along a main drive by the coffee shop has lights at the base of each.  Pointing out that they each also had two publicly accessible outlets available really surprised someone who worked there.  She had never noticed.  I certainly did though.  That's planning for the future.  Having patrons plug-in while swilling coffee makes very good business sense.  It's an edge that the competition will later struggle to compete with initially.

9-16-2006

Prius Themes (menu).  Rather than just offering the 1,400 (and still growing) photos on the website in traditional album format, there's a new set of webpages that organizes them into similar category themes.  So far, there are 65 of them: Fall, Fall Colors, Gathering, Harvest, Kayak, Night, Night Snow, Night Snow Flash, Rainbow, Road Rally, Road Spray, Snow, Spring, Spring Flood, Spring Storm, Summer, Sunset.  When you enter from the homepage, you'll see this new feature in the frame on the left.  If you'd like to view it stand-alone, use this link... Prius Themes

 

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