Prius Personal Log  #299

November 7, 2006  -  November 12, 2006

Last Updated: Weds. 9/22/2010

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11-12-2006

450 Gallons.  Making excuses is nothing new.  Today it was "he needs something big to haul his son's Boy Scout troop and their camping gear" to justify purchasing a vehicle that only delivers 13 MPG.  So... all you have to do is find just one excuse for a SUV, then you can drive it all you want unconditionally?  How often do you think his son actually goes camping?  What a crock!  In the old days, people used to have recreational vehicles and utility vehicles.  They were used exclusively for that purpose they were designed for, then stored away until the next need.  That's it.  This nonsense of driving a grossly over-sized and over-powered vehicle every day for your commute to work with no other people or any cargo is just plain wrong.  Imagine a world where people actually cared about the quantity of gas they consumed, instead of what they "save".  Think about it.  If each person was only allotted 450 gallons per year, you better believe they'd only drive the guzzler when it was truly needed.  At the 48 MPG average many of the Prius owners report, it would take you 21,600 miles.  That distance is plenty for most annually.  But for those with a 13 MPG guzzler, like in that lame camping excuse, you wouldn't even be able to travel 6,000 miles per year.  It only makes sense that people begin to store their SUV, using it only for those occasions which actually warrant the guzzling.  To do your part, you actually have to do something... rather than making excuses.  If that logic doesn't work, just translate that 450 gallons into money.  At $2.22 per gallon, it's just under $1,000.  Using a 13 MPG vehicle instead of a 48 MPG will cost you 3.7 times more.  That extra $2,700 is a heck of a lot of money to just kiss goodbye.  My preference is to focus on consumption, since lower demand will indeed reduce our dependence on oil.

11-11-2006

Prius Utility Vehicle.  My Prius sure is showing signs of genuine utility use now.  Today, it was 3 trips to the compost site.  The first was a very, very large load of leaves and grass clippings.  Believe it or not, 15 bags fit inside!  That even amazed me.  But with all 3 seats folded down and tarps protecting the interior, there is quite a bit of room to cram stuff.  Following that came the tree branches.  4 pine got cut down.  That created so much organic waste, it took 2 trips with the Prius.  Now, I won't ever have to use an air-freshener again.  The lingering smell is very powerful after such an extreme event.  It was quite humorous too.  I hadn't realized others would find it so entertaining.  But on that first drive... an example of truly spectacular timing... a friend of mine from work with a Prius pulled up along side me, waving franticly.  She and her husband were laughing hysterically by the sight of my Prius packed so greatly.  I'll never live that down.  Unfortunately, I'll never live down the fact that the packing of the Prius involved off-road driving... which resulted in a bump into a difficult to see obstruction.  And you guessed it, there's a small patch of disheartening scratches now.  I'll tell people a yard gnome keyed my car, since they are so low.  That humor will help ease the pain... but not the pine aroma.

11-11-2006

Support or Alienate.  What do the GM supporters want?  A few months back, they enjoyed the battle I fought on the big Prius forum via links to it on a thread their own.  So today, the time had come to finally address them on it directly.  Fortunately, that particular following was also interested in "full" hybrids.  But some mocked Prius nonetheless.  One took a test-drive and drew the conclusion that what the owners have been reporting for real-world multi-year averages was not accurate, by claiming that 35 to 40 MPG is what you should actually expect.  Why?  If they want the GM hybrids to be successful too, objective representation is the only way to keep the anti-hybrid from tearing them apart.  Do they want the help of the Prius owners, or will they alienate them?  I'm quite curious.  It makes sense asking for support, to help quickly establish a good reputation by referencing the experiences of other "full" hybrids owners, those driving Prius especially.  They seem to believe that hybrids will be embraced by everyone without any resistance.  MPG will be intensely scrutinized.  Providing lots of detail is an easy way to squash vague claims.  Choosing to ignore that and just use the measurement from a single test-drive instead simply doesn't make any sense.

11-11-2006

Change of Heart.  The similarities continue.  Republicans accepted crushing defeat on Tuesday, election day.  GM supporters are accepting reality now, since that their automaker of choice has finally embraced hybrids.  No one is contesting the fact that GM is so far behind at this point.  Just like with the political reality, they are trying to make the best of a bad situation.  To have fought against the very thing now being supported is weird for everyone.  The war is undeniably over.  The good, old fashion competition among automakers that we enjoyed in the past is something that will hopefully emerge with hybrids too.  It's really weird.  I hadn't expected an attitude adjustment this soon.  But coming from a company well known for promoting products way in advance of availability, I guess it was reasonable to wish for that.  The message that people want change is loud & clear.  That's a desire we should kindle.  Good things await.

11-11-2006

The Craze Has Begun.  The catalyst was a rumor circulating that GM will be showing off a prototype of a plug-in vehicle that utilizes an engine as an on-board generator.  It resulted in a flood of thread responses on quite a few forums.  I choose to respond on one that had an extremely diverse audience, no bias to any particular automaker.  So naturally, it had quite a wide range of posts.  Here's mine...  I thought the misconceptions were wild back when only Toyota & Honda were in the game.  We obviously hadn't seen the worst yet.  Now with GM entering, the craze has officially begun.  First, the mild hybrid design called "Green Line" isn't actually green.  The only vehicle currently offering it delivers a very disappointing emission rating of just "LEV".  That's actually worse than the typical non-hybrid.  So let's keep goals in mind.  Second, if there is only a single source of thrust, how can it called a hybrid?  That simply doesn't make any sense.  There is no combining to justify the term.  It's really an electric vehicle with a on-board generator.  Third, why is everyone ignoring cost? The battery-pack will obviously be quite large, probably similar to that in the other plug-in prototypes.  They are very expensive... well out of the range of making the vehicle competitively priced.  Fourth, this is nothing but a prototype.  No announcement about actual production has been made.  So unless a large quantity is planned to be offered in the next few years, what difference will it actually make?  Lastly, the spreading of outdated information about Prius reveals a lot about those posting it.  I wonder if they will discover how transparent it makes the message they are attempting to convey.  Hmm?

11-10-2006

Stating the Obvious.  Sometimes, you just have to.  In response to this comment about certain automakers... "They find it difficult to raise their heads and look around." ...I posted this:  The proactive attitude of the past has been lost.  Now they wait until reaction is required.  Being a victim of not planning ahead is a self-destructive path, yet they follow it anyway.  That's sad.

11-10-2006

Most Satisfied.  For the third year in a row, Prius ranked on top of the Consumer Reporters survey.  92 percent of the owners said they'd buy a Prius again.  Should that surprise anyone?  Prius is a vehicle that's completely unique, designed to fulfill consumer wants without conforming to a predefined configuration.  In other words, without being restrained to market rules of the past, the odds of unprecedented success are actually possible.  When do you think the competition will finally figure that out?  Forcing new vehicles to fit a traditional mold simply doesn't make any sense.  To achieve the next level, you have to go above and beyond.  The same incremental steps all the other vehicles get won't do anything but retain the status quo.  Duh!  Put it this way, besides the phenomenal hybrid system and very practical body/interior, you get creature-comforts like the Multi-Display, Digital Speedometer, Auto-Air, Bluetooth, Navigation, HID & LED Lights, Smart-Key... get the point?

11-10-2006

$59.59 per barrel.  How weird is this?  Prices did actually rise after the elections!  Strangely though, it was neither oil nor gas.  It was diesel.  For some bizarre reason, the price suddenly climbed 35 cents.  Why?  For their to be a 65 cent difference between diesel and gas does make you wonder.  What's going on?  Of course, I like it (since diesel is still much dirtier than gas).  An educated guess would be that the added cost of significantly reducing the sulfur within could not be concealed... for long... perhaps just long enough to get suppliers past the election.  You think?

11-09-2006

You Wish!  That was my response to this comment posted today: "If they're told from the get go that they're buying a mild hybrid and its not the same as a Prius, there should be no problems."  It was a naive belief by a GM supporter new to hybrids.  I wonder how quickly that reality can be objectively addressed.  Hmm?  I've been fighting the "NOT THE SAME" battle for years now.  People just don't understand the differences... which makes sense, since aspects of non-hybrids are a mystery to them as well (like how an automatic transmission actually works).  And even with a grasp of all the hybrid components involved, knowing how they are actually configured to operate in that particular design isn't something the typical consumer would normally even care about.  But in hybrids, the "how" is a very big deal.  The differences between the competing "full" hybrids designs (HSD & Two-Mode) is already showing up on the radar for the enthusiasts.  How the heck are we going to share that type of detail with those that aren't anywhere near as involved?

11-09-2006

Autoworker Job Loss.  Some people still believe that will happen if the CAFE standards are raised, including the upcoming new House Energy & Commerce Committee chairman John Dingell.  He recently said, "We want to reduce the dependence on foreign oil and we will do what we can to move forward on energy independence."  That sounds great, but his actions have been to resist increasing MPG requirements.  Instead, alternatives like ethanol, diesel, and hydrogen are getting attention.  That's very frustrating.  I'm concerned about autoworkers losing their job too; however, I see that being competitive with MPG will allow them to survive in the global market.  No one wants a vehicle that guzzles fuel, period.  People aren't as concerned about what that fuel is compared to the amount of money being consumed by it.  Using less helps everyone.  Why doesn't he see that?

11-08-2006

WHEN, not IF.  Hybrid acceptance is a matter of when, not if.  Already, the most annoying misconceptions have finally died.  Questions like "how often do you have to plug it in" and "can you drive it on the highway" aren't ever really asked anymore.  And thankfully, people have come to the realization that the EPA estimates are nothing but ideal-condition measurements intended comparison use only, not an actual expectation.  So, there is hope that acceptance will happen sooner for most rather than later.  Those of us that have already been driving "full" hybrids for years are well aware that the use of electricity will increase over time.  So those that are just being introduced now are entitled to the use the "smug" label initially, if they follow that with a question of why... because we'll answer by saying it's as obvious as digital replacing film was 10 years ago.  There was a need that people would eventually discover, but not everyone sees that right away.  They can't seem to get past the initial rollout prices, which is quite unfortunate.  I love the fact that the GM design for a "full" hybrid will be different from that of Ford & Toyota.  Curiosity will draw people in, compel them to find out why.  After awhile, the non-hybrid vehicles will have difficulty attracting any attention.  Not having the quick response, massive torque, and robust reliability of an electricity will become a silly thought.  Heck, just look at it this way.  What's more impressive for a "high performance" vehicle trying to deal with getting stuck in heavy traffic, wasting lots of gas by running an engine way too powerful for that situation or one that shuts off the engine by relying mostly on electricity instead?

11-07-2006

Perspective.  That is what most of the hybrid market boils down to.  From the GM point-of-view, it's a whole new ball game... for them.  For Toyota, with Prius on its 9th year of production and 318,263 sold in the United States through October 2006, there is absolutely nothing new remaining anymore.  The technology obviously works.  I've heard the argument that two-mode being self-contained will prove to be an advantage.  But the competing design has already proven itself very reliable.  So being able to swap out a system doesn't really apply to any comparison, since it highly unlikely to be needed anyway.  And with two-mode, the 2 PSDs, the 2 Motors, the 3 Clutches, plus all that bonds them together won't make just getting a replacement the first choice.  Who would actually pay for that?  Of course, it still doesn't change the irony that GM used the argument for a very long time that less components is better.  Now they are planning to deliver a hybrid system with more than the competition.  It should work just fine.  But that certainly does put their abrupt attitude reversal to question... like what the production volume will actually be.  Lots would be a great endorsement.  Few would leave the market wondering... which leads to asking about the consumer perspective.  What will that be?

11-07-2006

Not a Truck... Anymore.  Well, what do you know!  There is an advertisement being played to death (repeatedly for over a week) that stresses how un-truck like their SUV is.  Automakers are now proud to tell the world that car platforms are the preferred design choice for an SUV.  Being a truck has become unappealing.  They have come to embrace the very thing they used to mock.  It's the definition of hypocrite.  That's very frustrating... but not at all surprising.  Not keeping promises and abrupt attitude shifts is what I'm come to expect at this point from certain automakers.  They have no credibility remaining.  Trust is not desired on word alone.  Actual results are required.  So if they want to impress me, they have to actually deliver something.  Proclamations of intent mean nothing.  This "not a truck" is a perfect example of chasing profit, since they are breaking the very principle they established.  Being a truck was the sales hype just a few years ago.  Now they've done a complete reversal on that mindset.

 

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