Prius Personal Log  #298

November 2, 2006  -  November 6, 2006

Last Updated: Sat. 11/18/2006

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11-06-2006

Delivery Wait.  It finally happened!  Supply caught up to demand.  Prius is still at the top, being the quickest selling mass-produced vehicle.  But now you can actually find one on some dealer's lots.  The key is that they aren't there for long.  Having to order one wasn't the ideal.  Inventory that is only held briefly is what the automotive business dreams of.  This is the economic model of choice.  I bet certain automakers (especially those bleeding money) are really jealous.  Do you think they will react appropriately to this news?  The expectation is to import 122,590 Prius this year.  The fact that all of them were sold at a very impressive rate should be a wake-up call.  This most definitely qualifies Prius as being considered a "mainstream" vehicle... since it has surpassed the success of many vehicles formally considered typical.  No more waiting.  Sweet!

11-05-2006

GS450h.  Toyota is attacking every venue with the hybrid technology.  Luxury & Performance to fulfill every desire, while at the same time delivering at least SULEV emissions, is what will shake up the industry at its very foundation.  We all know about the efficiency benefit, but to strike them where it really hurts so early in the game is absolutely brilliant.  They should have known this was coming anyway.  It's not like they weren't warned.  Heck, they even responded with a smug attitude of their own, claiming hybrids were a waste of resources... nothing but a "stop gap" solution.  But now, to do this before they even get going with their basic models clearly shows just how serious and confident Toyota is.  No more barking.  It's bite time now.  Sometimes, they just need a good kick start.  No more debating.  If they want to survive, they have to begin to participate.  Toyota made the decision easy for them, by proving it was realistic.  Engine-Only technology simply doesn't make sense anymore.  We can expect a whole lot more in the 21st Century.

11-05-2006

Misleading, part 3.  Dang!  He snuck one past me.  I had just assumed (a dumb move on my part) that his price calculation was based on base window-sticker prices.  Silly me.  Instead, he used the most expensive package along with dealer mark-ups.  How is that even the slightest bit appropriate?  No other vehicle anywhere, for any reason, is honestly priced that way without mention of it.  That figures.  Why would someone, who has fought intensely against hybrids for many years, finally start to address them objectively.  Geez!  Just trying to have a constructive discussion is a challenge so great it is basically futile.  Arrgh!  Oh well.  The antagonists are pretty desperate at this point.  Getting people to agree with anti-hybrid posts is far more difficult nowadays than a newbie could ever imagine.  A person new to hybrids will wonder why there is any resistance... routinely seeing so many Prius on the road.

11-05-2006

Project Patience.  I wonder how common of a trait that is.  With my career as a computer programmer, I have no choice but to learn to accept the amount of time certain things take to accomplish.  This weekend is a prime example.  It's the first in ages where I can look forward to proclaiming completion, a Monday celebration!  After years of planning and a 6 months of actual programming, the project is actual done.  Users now have the final delivered product.  Yeah!  I don't think others are willing to wait so long... which explains quick-return attitude of the automotive industry.  Few want to devote that much time & resources.  As a result, major projects are rarely championed.  That's too bad.

11-05-2006

Misleading, part 2.  The parallel between some of the propaganda I encounter from the anti-hybrid and the absurd stuff being attempted by some politicians during election campaigning is eerie.  The same old techniques are used.  Just the venue is different.  Excluded vital information was the theme this morning.  There was an argument about how terrible of thing it was for a representative in office to dial a "sex" number from his motel room.  That's all the television commercial making that claim stated.  No other information was provided.  It was an example of misleading to extreme.  Upon inspection of the actual phone activity logged, it showed that the very same last 7 numbers were dialed just 1 minute later.  The first was an 800 number, which lead to the supposed sex call.  Only moments later following that was the actual intended person to be called, the same sequence to dial only with the proper area-code instead of the toll-free 800 prefix.  In other words, it was an honest documentation mistake by an administrative assistant.  But that innocent error was never mentioned in the commercial.  Instead, they wanted you to believe it was an intentional call.  Can you believe anyone would deceive in such a manner?  I certainly do... having dealt with it related to hybrids on a very routine basis.  It's a sad reality knowing that some mislead for their own gain.

11-05-2006

Misleading, part 1.  They're still trying.  This time, it was this senseless claim: "If you take the median priced hybrid built by Toyota/Lexus it will cost about $42,000.  Hardly the average priced vehicle."  You have to give them credit for trying.  The nonsense is indeed something new, but by no means meaningful.  So, I responded with this...  That's a fantastic example of using statistics to mislead!  You cannot do a direct comparison to come up with a market average.  That's totally deceptive.  It gives the impression that sales of the most expensive luxury hybrid are equal to that of the most basic one... which couldn't be further from the truth.  The inclusion of quantity available is essential.  You must be take that into account.  It's call a "weighted average", a standard calculation practice use to provide numbers which are representative of actual market volume.  Of course, feeding us a number without any explanation of how it was derived is reason to be suspicious anyway.  Being vague isn't helpful.  In short, the appropriate average price to quote is significantly lower due to so many more Prius being produced.

11-04-2006

Headlines.  Wow, have we ever progressed quickly!  With recent headlines like this... "Saturn Vue Green Line - A rough ride, and not so eco-friendly" and "Honda Civic Hybrid - Good but the Prius is still well ahead" ...the value of less capable hybrids is unarguably now understood.  They are clearly are no longer recognized as the same.  I didn't realize such a mindset shift could be accomplished within such a short span of time.  Serious talk about hybrids didn't truly begin until the skyrocketing oil & gas prices became a new reality... in other words, shortly after Hurricane Katrina.  That figures.  It usually takes a disaster to gain enough attention.  Unfortunately, it backfired with 9/11.  Rather than taking the emission & consumption problem seriously, the very opposite happened.  We got headlines stating how purchases of guzzlers were helping the economy.  Now (thank goodness), the headlines feature benefits that the advanced technologies bring and what the modest one don't.  Cool!

11-04-2006

Misplaced Priorities.  I don't know if they are even aware of it.  But when a discussion came up recently on the GM forum, I couldn't help but to chime in.  It was about the "core" of the vehicle being replaced entirely.  So naturally, I thought drivetrain was the implied object needing a fresh approach... since it is does indeed have fundamental problems.  Power & Reliability are fine, but Emissions & Efficiency leave much to be desired.  No matter how many tweaks you give it, those are still a very real shortcomings.  Overcoming them is very difficult taking just small steps.  Turns out, my response in reference to the 105kW electric motor running from a 650-volt system in Camry-Hybrid wasn't at all what had been intended as the topic at hand.  They meant "platform", not drivetrain.  Huh?  Since when should that be a top priority?  No matter how impressive an engine becomes, the vehicle is still totally dependent on it.  Adding electricity though, brand new opportunities present themselves.  That significant of a change, especially when propulsion can sometimes be delivered without the engine at all, is most definitely a fundamental improvement.  Shouldn't that be where priority is placed?  The thing that makes the vehicle go is the ultimate purpose for building it, hence core.  All else is very nice when well designed, but those components only play a supportive role.  In this time of oil dependence, high prices, and increasingly dirty air, I don't see how a complete overhaul of a vehicle's frame is worth the effort.  Placing resources on that while the business is struggling with those other needs simply doesn't seem wise.  Of course, that does actually explain the mess they are in now.

11-03-2006

$59.17 per barrel.  The story remains consist.  Oil prices appear to be stabilizing.  Gas is just over $2 per gallon.  Diesel is about 50 cents more.  Is this where the market will settle for the near term?  What happens after the elections next week?  We will be choosing our fate then.  Will we accept the global reality or continue to resist change?  2 years from now, that seems absolutely inevitable.  But what about in the meantime?  Hmm.

11-03-2006

It's Still Dead.  The anti-hybrid effort is failing miserably.  I love it!  Today there was an entirely new twist.  Rather than dismissing hybrid technology directly, it was an attempt by discrediting the "hybrid" pickup.  The antagonist himself proclaimed there was no apparent benefit at all... that he had observed, since he owns one.  What a joke.  He only drove 500 miles the entire first year.  How is that an accurate measurement for a vehicle that offers nothing but auto-stop?  Unless your trip includes very long stops, which everyone tries to avoid anyway, the restart consumes the very fuel that was saved.  So of course no gain has been observed.  Rapid start of a regular engine is not that efficient.  And it is absolutely essential when that "hybrid" (yes, I'm being sarcastic) requires the engine to move.  The "full" hybrids have nothing in common.  The design & operation is entirely different.  So the comparison was pitiful, at best.  With Prius, the engine joins in afterward.  The big electric motor handles the initial drive away from a stop all by itself.  While that is happening, the other motor is busy spinning the engine up to idle speed and keeping it there until oil pressure is established.  Once that happens, the engine is started.  At that point, you have already driven across the intersection.  The delay and subsequent soft-ignition most definitely provides a savings.  It's hard to believe someone arguing against hybrids for so many years would ever make such a deliberate attempt to deceive.  Discussions have moved beyond the vague.  Design differences are now the topic of interest... which help reveal those momentous differences.

11-02-2006

How Much?  I was introduced to someone over for business this evening.  He saw the hybrid when coming in.  There was no way to prevent the topic from coming up; I sensed the inevitable.  And sure enough.  Without saying a word, it happened.  What should I do?  How much can I avoid telling?  Concealing my identity isn't appropriate with friends.  But with a person you just bump into in passing, then what?  Naturally, one of the people with me mentioned the website.  I was really stumped how to respond then.  Attempts to downplay clearly weren't working.  He got excited, apparently never having met an actual owner before or even being familiar with how hybrids operate.  The questions began to fly.  I did the best I could to be brief.  What if I had indulged?  Would he have even believed me?  My story is rather unbelievable.  Heck, years ago I got attacked quite a bit for providing a help website for no monetary gain.  Things like that were unheard of back then... but not anymore.  The same was true for habitual blogging... but not anymore.  Of course, the topic of MPG was rarely discussed years ago... now things are very different.  So how much is appropriate for me to share when asked?

11-02-2006

Why no small SUV hybrids?  That was a valid question posed today.  We were asked to provide a hypothesis why?  Naturally, I can do more than that.  So I did, with this...  Simple.  Just look at the big picture... the entire decade here in the United States, as each hybrid is rolled out.  Prius = Prove the technology. Build the reputation. Entice enthusiasts.  Highlander-Hybrid = End the power & speed misconceptions.  Camry-Hybrid = Scare the crap out of the competition!  Sienna-Hybrid = Show how silly SUVs are as a family transport.  After that comes the other hybrids models.

11-02-2006

Statistic Nonsense.  It's beyond absurd at this point.  What a disappointment.  The domestic automakers are celebrating this October's sales figures, as if October of the previous year was normal.  But in reality, the country was still dealing with the fallout resulting from Hurricane Katrina.  A single month means almost nothing.  Heck, even a quarter does little to represent the true story.  Years of telling us what we need, to keep sales from being lost to competitors isn't a way to plan for the future.  Change was inevitable.  Their choice was to delay as long as possible, then react when forced to.  Fortunately, some automakers chose to be proactive instead.  Now we are arriving at the second stage.  Toyota continues to push.  Honda has backed off, but not given up.  GM has finally had a change of heart.  Ford remains mysterious.  Do you ever think emphasis will be placed on what is truly important... long-term success?  The quarter-by-quarter was frustrating enough.  Monthly still dominates the market mindset.  That's not good.

11-02-2006

Same Old Stuff.  How many more of those "100+ MPG" reports will be published this same way?  No real-world data provided.  No mention of battery benefits beyond EV threshold.  No expectation set for driving in winter conditions.  No acknowledgement of routine service concerns.  Supposedly, there is quite a bit of testing results being collected, but absolutely nothing has been shared.  Everyday use, like highway driving, gets no attention whatsoever.  All we get is the hype, basic propaganda.  How does that help sell the technology?  The concept is being embraced, but not really understood.  That requires actual data.  Haven't they learned that was the very thing that gave Prius a major boost.  It was owners candidly sharing their experiences.  That's it.  So simply, yet these people wanting to provide augmented hybrids (the plug-in ability, with a significant battery upgrade) still don't get it.  Arrgh!

 

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