Prius Personal Log  #310

January 11, 2007  -  January 16, 2007

Last Updated: Sun. 2/11/2007

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1-16-2007

Sweet Potatoes.  Add them to the growing list of practical biomatter capable of being converted to ethanol.  This actually came as a surprise to me.  I hadn't expected such a diverse range of plants to emerge so soon.  It makes sense.  Most of our food is broken down into sugar, since that is what our bodies actually utilize for energy.  But the fact that the sugar can be fermented into ethanol relatively easier than expected is great.  I always thought the enzymes required for that wouldn't be available on an industrial scale so soon.  Apparently, I'm a victim of greenwashing.  Dang it!  Don't believe those claiming we'll be years away from availability when there isn't much from actually making it happen.  Ethanol is practical.  It's not like hydrogen where you need an entirely new infrastructure at every single implementation stage to support it.

1-16-2007

Tachometer.  Sometimes the anti-hybrid banter is so lame, you just have to shake your head in amazement.  Prius got attacked today because it didn't have one.  So I responded by asking what you would use it for and which devices needed gauge information.  The reply in the message was "the same as in a regular vehicle".  That doesn't even make any sense.  A tachometer is far from ubiquitous.  Many vehicles don't have one.  What is the purpose?

1-15-2007

No Degrees.  That's cold, really cold.  Today was the first this Winter season the during-the-evening temperature was Zero Fahrenheit... or as I enjoy saying, "no degrees".  For much of the country, it's always warmer than that.  But for here, it briefly drops down lower.  This year though, it hasn't.  So I can even say it's cold... which is probably asking for trouble.  February is known to get quite frigid some years.  Anywho, the Prius doesn't mind.  Warm up takes longer, but the engine starts effortlessly.  Using the battery-pack and a powerful motor, instead of a 12-volt and a tiny starter, the hybrid is much better off in the Winter.

1-15-2007

Used Prius.  I saw 2 today.  That's incredibly rare, even for this slow time of year for sales.  But there they were, displayed along the outer edge of two separate dealers along the drive to my friend's house.  I wonder how long it will take for them to be sold.  Hmm?  I have absolutely no idea how long it normally takes any car on a used lot like that.

1-15-2007

"B" Mode.  Today was a perfect day for experimenting.  The driving was pretty bad, so I took the back way.  And rather than saving "B" for the special need circumstances, I was quite generous.  It remained on most of the time.  So whenever I let up on the accelerator-pedal, the engine would join in to help decelerate.  That's a different way of braking, quite passive... great for the slippery Winter conditions my morning commute presented.  Having that engage so frequently was nicer than I had imagined.  In the past, I had only used it for really nasty hills & turns as a preventative measure to reduce the need for light braking with the usual foot pedal.  "B" uses the engine instead of the wheels.  That, as demonstrated today, works well for slow driving through heavy new snow not quite warm enough to become slush.

1-14-2007

It Keeps Climbing.  The odometer on his Classic Prius is now at 270,513 miles.  That number is truly amazing.  It totally messes up opportunities for the antagonist.  That cannot stir anti-hybrid trouble with respect to distance when an owner is routinely sharing photos of such impressive progress... owner:  Jesse

1-14-2007

Emission Regulations.  The EU is really getting serious about greenhouse control, a very different attitude than that here in the US.  They have proposed a limit of 120 grams of carbon-dioxide per kilometer for new cars beginning 2012, averaged across the fleet.  That level is so strict, only a single vehicle currently available already achieves that.  Yes, it's Prius!  With such a standard ratified, I wonder how the auto industry will respond.  Hmm?  Problem prevention of that nature & scope is a new frontier.  The effort by CARB here years ago wasn't as aggressive... and the result was very disappointing.  EU had a similar type of consumption regulation that failed as too.  So I'm really hoping for success this time, with emphasis on the Global Warming necessity.  We know much more than we did just a few years ago.  And unfortunately now, the need is starting to look dire.  The situation for hybrids is about to get very interesting.

1-14-2007

Real Snow.  So far this Winter, all we had got was just a single really wet & messy snow fall... until this evening.  There's several inches of that perfect snow for skiing... with a car!  That dry & fluffy stuff was a welcome sight, and driving in it was pretty fun too.  When you have a Prius, slowing down for hostile weather is no big deal.  In fact, it's a welcome change.  MPG is can be better.  But in this case, I had the heater cranked and stopped at a few place.  So the usual seasonal low of upper-30's efficiency greeted me on the Consumption Screen as I switched over from the Energy Monitor upon reaching my garage.  Fortunately, that's still better than other vehicle I was sharing the road with.

1-13-2007

$51.88 per barrel.  Getting back to the essentials... our dependence on oil has taken a strange turn.  Over supply seems to be pushing prices much further down than anyone anticipated.  This mild Winter is keeping demand low.  So we are starting to notice the effects in an obvious way now, at the pump.  Gas is at $1.89 per gallon.  Interesting, eh?  Diesel is 60 cents more, close to the usual price variance.  What happens next with oil is anyone's guess.  Discussions about the war in Iraq bring up that topic frequently.  Being the second highest supplier, that makes sense.  (Iran is number one.)  So I can't imagine stability better than what we saw during the election happening again anytime soon.  The craziness continues.

1-13-2007

Green Vehicle Guide.  With all that recent absurd non-productive banter, loaded with lots of non-constructive chatter, I needed to hunt down a couple of handy EPA (official US government) links to store within the personal logs for quick reference in the future.  Here's what I found, http://www.epa.gov/autoemissions ...is the home page, a great place to start your online emission research.  There's a few other links worth pointing out too, like the very handy Vehicle List Download which gives you the complete detail dump for an entire year, sorted in your choice of alphabetical or by air-pollution score.  Next is the Vehicle Look Up where you get search for detail on a specific vehicle or a vehicle type.  Then there's this really great summarized overview type webpage that explains About the Ratings which provides a whole wealth of emission information.  My favorite item there is the chart that very clearly shows what the "Bin" number means.  That's a level which actually goes beyond the standard labels, like "SULEV".  That makes it so undeniably obvious just how bad "Tier 2 Bin 5" really is.  Vehicles with that low of a rating score a "6" on the 0 to 10 scale.  (Vehicles like Prius and Camry-Hybrid score a 9.5 rating, just in case you needed some perspective.)  Lastly, this is a link to provides you with Score Specifications, should you desire a convenient one-page downloadable summary of the scale I just mentioned.  The green vehicle guide can be quite handy.  Check it out.

1-13-2007

Loyalty Observation.  I waited until my 101th post before attaching an avatar to my id on the big GM forum.  (The count is now at 132.)  That provided ample opportunity to observe behavior from a first-person perspective beforehand.  My hunch turned out to be correct.  As soon as they saw the photo of the Prius with 2 kayaks on top, the credibility attacks began.  Despite the fact that my downbeat comments about GreenLine were just like some of the GM supporters and I clearly stated favor for Two-Mode, being an outsider made my words stick out.  That figures.  Some simply don't want to hear constructive criticism.  I had a feeling that was the case.  So it doesn't bother me too much.  Though annoying, it should be fairly easy for readers to figure out that they aren't helping by fighting change.  Loyalty does sometimes have a penalty.  The fact that GM is choosing to support to very different types of hybrids will definitely stir emotion.  It's a polarizing effect that cannot be avoided.  The market controls outcome, not good intentions.  Consumers will make choices that some simply will not be happy about.  I hope they figure that out quickly; otherwise, this observation could turn out to be an ugly prediction rather than just a few isolated events.

1-13-2007

All that remains.  It's now just the observation of what happens within the big GM forum.  That's the only untapped market remaining.  And the seeds of difference (hybrid type) have been planted.  Whether or not members will understand is a mystery.  Yesterday, there was yet another "dead weight" post, claiming the hybrid system was worthless on the highway... but no explanation why they had that belief.  I look forward to being able to blend back into the "stealth" mode of message reading.  Right now though, the same old discussions from 5 years ago are flourishing with that new audience.  So if you didn't feel my recent push for feedback was appropriate, take a look for yourself.  You too may see that the market is very much in a state of uncertainty from the newbie perspective.  However, for those of us that have been active participants for awhile, we notice the repeating pattern.  Same dance.  Different song.

1-13-2007

Don't Forget.  I have to do reality checks on myself from time to time.  This recent experience was a rather blatant example of that.  Needing to confirm that I'm not way off base is very important.  In the past, some people would get really ticked off by me under since they believed that I was against anything Honda.  Now it's becoming quite clear that I was indeed supporting "full" hybrids all along; just like I said, and any automaker building them would be received with open arms.  Proving that in the past was horribly difficult.  It isn't a big deal anymore, thanks to GM.  To participate on the big GM forum, speaking out against GreenLine and at the same time in favor of Two-Mode, removes all doubt.  I do still wonder about the competitiveness of Two-Mode, but the design is a "full" hybrid.  It's a platform offering much greater flexibility than an "assist".  That's very important in this new age where once giant automakers are struggling for long-term survival.

1-12-2007

Closure Achieved.  Raising awareness was the task at hand.  Whether or not I lost that particular battle was of little concern... since the ultimate goal is winning the war.  Every time SULEV is discussed, regardless of how, attention is drawn.  The same is true for overall MPG gain.  A handful of newbies were compelled to participate.  That's great!  Having an opportunity to express feelings is a step forward.  And that's exactly what happened.  However, there were some not so pleasant contributions and quite anti-constructive messages too.  The loud voices certainly fell directly into that category.  One had quite a bit to lose from me successfully establishing a well-defined purpose.  Effort clarity was his enemy.  Much of his online work would sour instantly, from not meeting that criteria of needing to be both clean & efficient.  The other simply found much enjoyment from debate.  So many of the comments were just for the sake of engagement conflict brings.  Fortunately, my attempt to solicit opinions using such an offensive play was, surprisingly, only frowned upon by a few.  I was actually rather taken aback by that.  There was an overwhelming sense of a "we're sick of playing defense" attitude.  Having any voice pushing forward so strongly seems to clear a path of little resistance.  Apparently, I got a subtle nod of approval for actually making a difference.  Cool!

1-12-2007

Ugly As Hell.  How many times do you think I'm going to have to endure this same old nonsense: "The problem is that most people don't want to be seen in a monstrosity of a hybrid car.  There ugly as hell.  Look at the Prius and Insight.  That's why GM is making hybrids out of cars already in production."  Don't they realize how silly that statement is?  Camry, Highlander, Escape, Accord, Civic, RX-400, GS-450 (and Estima in Japan) are all available as hybrids.  What GM is doing is joining in, not something new.  And take a very close look at the Classic model Prius.  Quite a few production vehicles now look just like it.  Rather than being "ugly as hell" as people exclaimed in the past, it now fits right in... a victim of being ahead of its time.  The same could hold true for the newer model as well.  Kind of makes you wonder what GM's approach will be, eh?  Still looking like part of the crowd, rather than appearing outdated, sure is a plus for an older hybrid years later.

1-12-2007

Without The Battery.  Volt is basically worthless that way.  As expected, people are asking that very question about the "series" hybrid concept, hoping that major cost savings would justify production of the vehicle.  But those of us that purchased a Prius back in 2000 found out the answer firsthand a long time ago...  An engine running at a steady state can be very efficient, but it renders the vehicle slow & weak.  Having another connection directly to the wheels as a supplement is necessary.  In the case of a "full" hybrid, that's the engine.  In the case of a "serial" hybrid like Volt, that's the battery.  You cannot just have one or that other and expect great MPG without some other penalty.  That's why such a simple design the "series" still isn't available in a vehicle.  That concept is far from new; however, the market is now interested.  But sadly, battery technology is not to the point of being advanced enough.  Cost is too high.  That's the penalty with the battery.  Without, you have nothing but a pretty car on display at an Auto Show.

1-11-2007

The Future.  More and more, I'm hearing that Prius is just a fade.  Hybrid popularity will grow as the technology is rolled out to "normal" vehicles... making the current king-of-the-mountain obsolete and eventually discontinued.  So they say.  But every single time that is said, the person believes making an environmental statement is the only reason for purchasing a Prius.  They disregard the incredibly practical nature of hatchback.  They ignore all opportunities the Multi-Display provides.  They are clueless to the conveniences that come from having a FOB.  And they totally ignore the beauty of the projected digital-speedometer.  Why?  Do they really think none of that is of any appeal?  Or is the belief that all vehicles will later feature the same technology creature-comforts that Prius already has?  That would be really cool.  But it is highly unlikely... since they are never mentioned.  Unfortunately, it likely comes down to the fact that Prius has no non-hybrid counterpart.  Without a tie to the traditional world, Prius sends a clear message of change.  That's the future.

1-11-2007

2007 Calendar.  There's an entirely new collection of 12 photo-collage pages now, if you're interested in downloading & printing on your own... calendar "D"

 

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