Prius Personal Log  #296

October 22, 2006  -  October 28, 2006

Last Updated: Weds. 11/01/2006

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10-28-2006

Role Model.  I sure hope I'm setting a good example.  It certainly seems as though I am, judging by this comment posted today: "Like john1701a always says, what are the emissions?"  Some people have obviously caught on to the importance I place on emissions.  Hybrid technology that delivers only an efficiency improvement is incomplete.  The EPA obviously agrees with the clean philosophy, since they restrict diesel sales for that very reason.  It's not a proper efficiency solution if emissions are compromised.  Of course, just the fact alone that various hybrid designs are now being questioned by newbies is an excellent sign.  It is no longer a question of "if", the "how" is gaining popularity.   I love it!  Next is to place even greater emphasis on long-term benefits.  Of course, that should be fairly easy with automaker survival such a hot topic now.  Slashing jobs and cutting models are quick fixes, assistance for immediate continuance only.  That most definitely is not a strategy for competitive business.  In fact, it is a terrible act for basically anything except bankruptcy avoidance.  Anywho, as a presumed role-model, I try to be proactive... seeking out and endorsing genuine solutions before the need becomes obvious.

10-28-2006

Oil Change.  This morning I discovered yet another benefit of the design Prius offers.  It was the first time I ever changed the oil for my mom's Corolla.  It has an oil pan that is rotated 90-degrees to that of Prius.  So rather than facing outward toward the closest tire, it faces backward.  Boy, does that ever make changing the oil harder!  I had no idea how much of a difference something as seemingly trivial as that could be.  You can't see what you're doing unless you crawl an additional foot deeper beneath the car, since none of it is visible facing that direction.  And naturally, doing it by feel made a mess.  I had no idea just how thorough the design of Prius really was.  Drain plug placement sure proved its worth today.

10-28-2006

Getting Easier.  The weaknesses of the competition are getting much easier to notice now.  NOx emissions actually do get addressed.  The silence of electric drive is often mentioned.  Manual transmissions are being used for efficiency comparisons.  In other words... cleaner, quieter, and automatic are selling points consumers often want ...all of which the hybrids deliver remarkably well that have nothing to do with efficiency.  Yippee!  It seems like that change for the better took forever to finally happen.  But that attitude improvement is not without penalty.  GM is now labeled as a hypocrite, for "having went out of its why to criticize hybrids" but is now scrambling to deliver the very things they claimed were a poor business choice.  Oh well.  Learning a lesson the hard way is still better than not learning.  In fact, it has little to do with the long-term anyway.  It just makes for a very painful short-term, which is also something very easy to notice now.  Things are definitely turning for the better.

10-27-2006

$60.75 per barrel.  I guess I'm back to weekly commentary again.  OPEC is pretty upset that the market hasn't stabilized yet.  The recent slightly-under-sixty trend clearly isn't holding.  There was a surprising spike in both oil & gas prices yesterday.  Some automaker outlooks are still very ugly.  The housing market is showing obvious signs of a downfall.  Our GNP is disappointing.  And the political environment is a mess.  Those good-old-days are now just a memory.  What's next?

10-27-2006

More Criticism.  This time, I didn't start it.  Someone I hold in high respect posted this as a response to yet another one of those propaganda type articles: "Unfortunately he doesn't address the bigger issue of emissions, and neither does the 'green line' system."  If you didn't guess yet, it was a bias review of Vue-Hybrid that some Prius owners weren't too pleased about.  So I finally chimed in with this...  A technology that only addresses efficiency isn't a true solution.  Reduction of smog-related emissions must be delivered too.  Does the 'green line' system achieve a SULEV or PZEV rating?  Car & Driver wasn't impressed either, which was easy to tell from their review subtitle: "Cheap, and so is the price."  But it's GM's own slogan that really makes me wonder: "less hybrid for less money".  How exactly are people going to acknowledge that?  It certainly isn't in our American-Market mentality to accept something that isn't the best.  Of course, like I've been saying all along, making a difference comes from actual real-world numbers, that's both MPG and production.  Too low of either won't help.

10-26-2006

Delivery Wait.  Have you noticed that there still is one?  It's an undeniable sign of unprecedented success.  After all these years, demand is so high that Prius are not available for immediate purchase yet.  Having to wait is still required.  What other vehicle model can claim that after 3 years of sales?  We are most definitely in uncharted territory.  The market hasn't ever experienced change quite like this.  It was pretty much inevitable with so much denial at play though.  Something would have to happen after ignoring the need for that long.  But I actually thought the popularity of Prius would taper down to a strong seller, not continue breaking records.  What a great underestimate on my part.  Sweet!  They are everywhere already.  Now seeing even more is a given.  It's just a matter of waiting for delivery.

10-25-2006

Self-Park.  Wow!  I see that television commercial featuring the self-park feature now available from a Lexus sedan quite a bit.  People are very excited about it, thrilled by the prospect of any vehicle offering such a technologically advanced ability.  I respond with a smirk, then point out how Prius has offered that for a few years now over in Japan.  They were under the impression that luxury vehicles would be the first.  Hearing that legal concerns were actually what prevented having it available here sooner really surprises them... especially when they find out Prius was first with that ability.  Of course, for those aware that the hybrid system already utilizes electricity for steering, acceleration, and braking, as well as a Multi-Display with a backup-camera, offering the self-park feature makes perfect sense.  All the components to make it possible are already included.  Cool, eh?

10-25-2006

Worked Like A Charm.  When you run out of options, provoke.  The effectiveness is truly amazing.  I've been provoked counted times, so the outcome wasn't much of a surprise.  The antagonists used to do it to me all the time... which is why I call them that, since repetition revealed their intent.  After hearing the detail, they'd do the same thing again as if it never happened.  My purpose was sincere though, and I clearly won't need to ask again.  I wanted to get as much information as possible about GM's new "assist" hybrid.  But they don't volunteer anything.  Being vague is part of the strategy.  Being objective is mine.  Not knowing is bad.  So I simply posted a hypothesis based on what had to be at that point, very outdated data.  Sure enough, it was.  An old mention of the new design still proposed the use of traditional 12-volt batteries connected in a series, just like their first model had used.  That simply didn't make any sense.  How could that work well?  The energy density is far too low and the life-expectancy is far too short.  So I asked what GM's plan was for replacement, since the warranty (8 years) easily covered the short (5-year) normal service for a traditional 12-volt.  The supporter freaked, with the expected attack at my credibility.  But I didn't care.  It's not personal.  I want facts.  And as a response, he had no choice but to reveal them.  Turns out GM really did manage to incorporate a NiMH battery-pack into the design.  In fact, they've got a better setup than what the current Civic-Hybrid utilizes.  Geez!  It's like squeezing blood from a turnip.  Now I understand how that clich� came about.  If you want get recent & complete information, go to the source... and keep asking until they finally share it.  They don't volunteer anything.  Sometimes it takes a few pushes.  Other times, like this, you have to provoke to get them to finally contribute to the discussion.  Why?

10-24-2006

GM Plans.  Wonder how many hybrids they will actually offer?  I certainly do.  The computer industry is quite familiar with vaporware, new innovative products that seem viable but never actually make it past the introduction stage.  I hear a lot of hype about their first true hybrid.  BAS (Belt Alternator Starter) is said to deliver a 20 percent improvement by supporters.  But those actually building it say 10 to 15 percent.  Not really knowing makes predictions very difficult.  The real-world numbers are what make the difference.  Planning based on estimates won't be all that effective.  So we'll probably have to endure speculation for quite awhile still.  Perhaps once the next vehicle using BAS will reveal intent.  I've never heard production quantity mentioned for this "assist" design.  With their "full" design, GM and partners plan to deliver 83,000 over the next few years.  That's a disappointingly tiny amount.  Will those plans change?  The market sure seems like it will want a lot more than just that token gesture.  Toyota is planning for 1,000,000 annually by 2010.  Is GM planning to compete with that?

10-23-2006

$115,000,000.  Only 115 Million Dollar loss seems trivial in comparison to what Ford just lost.  It's the amount GM reported for their third-quarter loss.  Does that mean better times await for this automaker?  You'd hope so.  But then again, their product-line certainly doesn't reflect what consumers want now.  Their desire has changed.  Guzzling gas has become a pain-in-the-wallet experience many now hope to end.  But with no "full" hybrid design coming soon and that disappointing "assist" only available in very small quantities, what the heck are they going to sell?  Pushing the same old vehicles that got them into this mess won't help, especially with so many non-production related liabilities to still pay.  Well, like Ford, this could end up being better for the long-term outcome.  It sure is painful right now though.  I wish they hadn't mocked hybrids back when they had a chance to avoid the financial nightmare they are now dealing with.  Reacting to a problem is never as good as taking preventative actions.  Serious attention to hybrids will hopefully be their plan going forward... since looking back is not a pretty sight.

10-23-2006

$5,800,000,000.  That's how much Ford lost in the previous quarter.  Yes, that's 5.8 Billion Dollars over just 3 months time.  Ouch!  They're really, really in trouble if their efforts to reorganize don't conclude soon.  Losses like that should only be temporary... and unfortunately, this has become a disheartening trend.  Perhaps it will end up a rather painful way of starting over, which is typically a better method for those intending to sustain a business for a long time.  We'll see.  The next quarter ends with the kick-off of the Auto Show tour for 2007.  That's when corporate intentions are extravagantly announcements.  Maybe that will bring in the desperately needed change.

10-23-2006

Lots Of Green.  Clearly, seeing green (indicating battery-pack charge-level) is a common sight for the newer Prius.  My old Multi-Display never use to exceed 6 bars (the blue threshold) anywhere near as easily as this one.  Somewhere, there was a software update that changed things.  I suspect a computer update during or part of that replacement awhile back.  Whatever the case, I'm delighted by the improvement.  It brings a whole new excitement to the colder temperatures.  Those 7 bars show me green during the most un-green of seasons.  How about that variety throughout the annual seasonal cycle?  I hadn't even considered that as a possibility years ago.  But now... at the start of my 7th Winter ...I think it's great and will continue to look forward to it.  Cool!

10-23-2006

Closure.  Strangely, that has occurred in an astonishing way.  The troublemaker, who had continued to use his old disenchantment experience from when he first got his 2004 Prius as an excuse for on-going slander, finally declared loyalty to the competition.  After all, how long could he milk such outdated information?.  Most people expect few problems with from a first model-year vehicle anyway.  And it takes very little to confirm that improvements have been provided since then.  Geez!  Now that pain-in-the-neck has actually moved on.  Phew!  It was really irritating hearing the same story over and over again.  But I bet there were a number of people who had figured out what he was up to.  And now they know it for a fact.  I guess he grew tired of it too.

10-22-2006

Understanding Hybrid Designs.  I've been pretty curious lately how the GM/Saturn supporters are accepting their two new hybrid designs.  As expected, they are divided.  Some favor the cheap and easy to understand.  Some favor what the expensive design offers.  None ever speak of smog emission reduction or future plug-in support.  They are all very much in the earliest stages, facing similar conflict to that of Honda & Toyota years ago; only this is within the same company.  Needless to say, they've captured my interest.  My greatest curiosity is how the vague 20 percent improvement estimate for the "assist" is accepted at face value.  No one seems to know how that will actually be accomplished.  The Vue-Hybrid uses an engine that is 0.2 liters larger than its traditional counterpart.  Knowing that it only has a small battery-pack to utilize, where exactly will that much of a gain come from when cruising on the highway?  True, the reserve will be topped off routinely by the alternator.  But that will be consumed quickly by hills.  The original quotes said 10 to 15 percent.  I'm more inclined to believe them... but only as estimates.  Real-World data is what really matters.  So much of the speculation is basically pointless; however, the GM/Saturn supporters certainly don't see it that way.

10-22-2006

Strange New World.  The diesel supporters have lost a voice.  The death of that prominent location cut off main access to the typical consumer.  The very thing I asked them about for years is the now exactly what they really wish they had now.  Oh darn.  It's not like I didn't warn them.  So naturally, I was curious what was happening on their forum dedicated to supporters.  Turns out, there's a brand new section that was just created to discussion emissions.  It was very interesting to read their comments too.  The terrible attitudes I had been dealing with were almost nonexistent.  There is was obvious concern.  They know diesel vehicles are in trouble if it doesn't get cleaner.  Believe it or not, some posts were surprisingly constructive.  Talk of the importance of NOx and PM reduction was taken seriously.  How about that?

 

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