Prius Personal Log  #313

February 1, 2007  -  February 6, 2007

Last Updated: Weds. 9/22/2010

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2-06-2007

Not For The Highway.  It's hard to believe some people still encounter nonsense like this.  But at least today, the person was bold enough to ask if that was true for Prius.  Lots of owners replied.  Here's mine...  Over the years, I've come across quite a number of reviews like that.  They failed to make relevant points.  Adjectives were used instead of clearly explained measures.  Heck, put in their terms, last summer I drove up north (in Minnesota) with 2 kayaks on the roof of my Prius.  It was no big deal, even during the downburst of rain at 70 MPH.  Now after just under 130,000 miles of driving Prius (both models combined), I can easily say those so-called experts have lost touch with reality.  True, there are indeed vehicles that offer greater refinement.  But that is a want, overkill for what is actually needed.  We surpassed the "performance ceiling" quite a number of years ago.  But since "more" is what sells, that is what they keep trying to convince us that we absolutely must have.  The market still doesn't have genuine hybrid competition available yet, so naturally you'll hear questionable reviews.  That's to be expected in this market.  After all, with so many positive comments from owners, automakers are in a bit of a panic to finally deliver something of their own.

2-06-2007

Clear Expectations.  These quotes were from someone who purchased a Prius solely for the purpose of getting HOV privileges: "The DMV should of CLEARLY set..." and "They should of CLEARLY posted..." and "They should have CLEARLY noted..." and "They should of CLEARLY informed..."  He made it very clear (first post on the big Prius forum) that he didn't want the hybrid unless he could get those stickers allowing him to use the double-occupancy highway lanes with only him in the car.  The quota of stickers ran out.  That makes him very angry.  Now he wants to sue because his plan failed; he feels stuck with a car that doesn't appeal to him and he doesn't actually need.  I responded this way:  Welcome to our world.  Forums like this came about due to the "should have" problems with certain governmental policies.  The EPA estimates are a disaster, horribly misleading.  Yet, the best those concerned could get changed after years of complaints was some minor calculation revisions with known shortcomings.  Your HOV expectations were set way too high, and you did far too little research considering how much money was at stake.  It was a risk, not a guarantee.  You lost.  So now you want to sue.  That's sad.  But then again, buying a vehicle only for the sake of HOV privileges that will expire in a few years was something difficult to justify anyway.

2-05-2007

New Goal of 150,000.  Last year's Prius sales in the United States amounted to 106,971.  That's pretty darn good, especially when the goal was set at 100,000.  This year, Toyota's hope is to increase that number by 50 percent.  To help out, temporary discounts are being made for financing options in the form of lower interest rates.  Cool!  That should assist those struggling with the possibility.  For those that are better off, it does nothing.  I like that.  It's the same kind of thing we have seen before with other vehicles.  Prius is definitely becoming mainstream.  This is undeniable evidence of that.  Common inventory management strategies like this are what made the other cars like Camry & Corolla everyday fixtures.  Having the same happen to Prius destroys the "no traditional counterpart" argument.  No one will care because seeing a Prius hybrid would have become so commonplace.  Ha!  I love it!!

2-05-2007

Basically Immune.  My brother called this morning.  During the conversation he complained about how cold it was.  The temperature of -8 F degrees didn't make his car too happy.  It started rough, the steering-wheel was difficult to turn, and the brakes were stiff.  None of that occurs in the cold to a hybrid like Prius.  Starting in the winter is just like the summer.  The engine turns over effortlessly using the battery-pack and electric motor, both dramatically bigger than in a traditional vehicle.  The steering obviously isn't effected, since it doesn't use fluid.  Instead, the steering is electric.  (Yes, I know.  Some non-hybrid vehicles have begun to offer that too.)  And of course, the brakes don't depend entirely on pads & shoes in a hybrid.   Those differences are a nice perk, something people are rarely aware of... until a frigid morning like today.

2-05-2007

Jumping The Gun.  That cliche is most definitely appropriate with Volt discussions.  Too many people are completely overlooking what must occur before a plug-in hybrid of that design can be successful for GM.  Establishing Two-Mode as a hybrid baseline is first required.  A hybrid of the "series" type just plain does not make any sense coming before the prior two logical steps, a regular "full" hybrid and a "full" hybrid offering increased battery-capacity with a plug.  The reason is simple... price.  A hybrid using Two-Mode will sell for a reasonable amount more than a traditional vehicle.  That price can be justified.  But there are still misconceptions to deal with.  Until those are overcome, showing off anything with greater electrical use is basically pointless... since there is nothing an automaker can truly prove (especially long-term reliability).  Only real-world use by actual owners will do that... which is why Prius has been so successful.  People in general are not willing risk that much money (the price of any new vehicle) based on only what the automakers & reviewers say alone.  Word of mouth from owners is a far more powerful & necessary endorsement.  Only following that can the next step be taken.  GM can show off all that prototypes they want, but expecting rapid acceptance without any type of reputation for hybrids already established yet is illogical, at best.  It takes a lot of time.  The plug will follow.  It won't be first.

2-04-2007

What is the purpose?  All this talk of the Volt prototype has got people really excited, but very few are actually asking what the purpose is.  That's a big deal!  Still to this day we don't know why the fuel-cell using hydrogen is supposedly a better choice than a non-plug hybrid.  Now with plug-in hybrids of two entirely different designs (one an augment of the current type and another using only the engine as a generator), focus on battery technology and electricity sources has finally become a point being acknowledged.  Yet, purpose isn't being asked.  What makes any of them better than what I am already driving?  Wouldn't the next generation of hybrid system, which Prius will use, still achieve the emission & efficiency goals we expect?  If so, what makes the alternatives even better?  They'll cost more, so knowing their purpose is a very big deal.  What is it?

2-04-2007

Particulate Pollution.  Hooray!  This serious problem has been getting quite a bit of attention lately.  The diesel supporters are so upset they aren't even posting rebuttals.  That's big news.  The particulate filters required for diesel vehicles, since they emit dramatically more than gas vehicles due to the differences in combustion, have a shortcoming.  The filter is actually a trap.  It collects particulates until an opportunity comes along to burn them off.  That requires a very hot engine sustained for several minutes (roughly 20).  For most, that's not a problem.  But there are a few that don't meet those conditions and end up with a blocked filter.  In short, it makes an already bad situation even worse.  The reports of heart disease being made worse by particulate pollution has people asking if the EPA standards are strict enough.  So the fact that automakers are already struggling to meet the criteria today makes the tightening of them a daunting challenge.  Of course, that's for a non-hybrid diesel.  Perhaps the time has finally come that they'll admit the engine-only design simply doesn't make any sense anymore.

2-04-2007

Genuine Competition.  Today we were presented with this thought to ponder: "If Toyota's Prius was really more about marketing and image than being "green", then GM has a product that they can fire back with."  Read the history.  That answers the "IF" question.  It's not at all what most newbies think.  The rise in popularity that came about for Prius was a great side-effect, not the overall purpose.  All along it was about developing, rolling out, improving, and expanding the hybrid system... so it could be used across the fleet.  And that's exactly what we are starting to see now.  With Camry, Highlander, and Estima, the effort is difficult to argue.  It's happening with the Toyota line, plus there is a growing choice within Lexus as well.  Additionally, the upcoming hybrid sedan from Nissan uses that hybrid system too.  "IF" the hope is for GM to fire back, things will get really exciting!  That would be genuine competition!!  Sweet!!!  Those hybrids would have deliver a noticeable efficiency gain as well as have an emission rating of at least SULEV.  Doing that in volume takes commitment... something we haven't actually seen yet.

2-03-2007

Being Leader.  Although the talk among GM enthusiasts is rapidly fading to virtually nothing, there still are a few glimmers of optimism remaining.  So I chimed in with a voice of reality...  Volt will only make a difference if a lot are actually produced.  It's up to GM whether or not they want that.  I sure hope they do.  Sadly, Ford had a good thing going with their hybrid system then let it slide.  Meanwhile, the "catch up" concept needs clarification.  Volt can be plugged in, but doesn't have to be nor does it deliver an easily quantifiable MPG average.  Toyota is already selling over 150,000 PZEV emission-rated hybrids annually in the United States capable of being aftermarket upgraded to plug-in.  What constitutes being the leader?

2-03-2007

-9 F Degrees.  That's horribly cold for me, a rude awakening.  Winter being so nice up to this point, this snap of frigid temperatures wasn't exactly welcomed with open arms.  Oh well.  MPG dropping below 40 isn't the end of the world... I think.

2-02-2007

To Bash The BAS.  Someone else said it, not me.  But I am repeating that witty wording.  And I'll point out some stuff about it (the "assist" hybrid system from GM) mentioned in the discussion earlier today...  BAS is currently configured to not offer any smog-related emission improvement whatsoever.  Vue-Hybrid GreenLine offers only a disappointing LEV rating.  In theory, that could be changed.  But cleaner emissions has a penalty of impacting MPG.  BAS cannot be augmented (to take advantage of increased battery-capacity and a plug option).  The electric motor is too small for contributing a large amount of power and it doesn't have a cooling system to support sustained use on that level.  Independent component RPM isn't available either, meaning there basically isn't any flexibility compared to a hybrid with a power-split-device.  It simply is not a long-term solution.  There's much more than price influencing the appeal of BAS.  It has to be competitive is all respects.  The 3 designs of "full" hybrid (Toyota, Ford, and GM) are cleaner and far more dynamic.  So the question remains... What will draw people to purchase a BAS-equipped vehicle?

2-01-2007

VW Hybrids.  Once again, Volkswagen has changed course (the result of recently getting a new CEO).  Now they are no longer planning to introduce hybrid versions of Golf & Jetta.  The reasoning is supposedly a purely economic decision.  The profit margin would be "far too low" for them.  So instead, they will be focusing on diesel as a better mileage solution.  In other words, it's pretty much back to business as usual.  Emissions are basically ignored.  Efficiency for automatics will trail behind the "full" hybrids.  They are still intending to deliver a Touareg-Hybrid someday though.  But what's the point of only offering a large SUV as a hybrid?  What about the cars too?

2-01-2007

Volvo C30 Concept.  More from the auto-show circuit.  This time, it's a plug-in diesel-electric hybrid.  Supposedly, it will have the ability to drive about 50 to 60 kilometers (that's about 31 to 37 miles) using only electricity.  Neither efficiency expectations nor price were hinted at.  Concepts are popular now.  The hype provides lots of attention.  So we get stuff like this.  When it will be available or even how many would be produced is a complete mystery.  This is much like the fuel-cell nonsense.  You see & hear things but cannot figure out what the purpose is.  Heck, for that matter we don't know what their actual goal is either.  Just chalk this one up as another for the scrapbook.

2-01-2007

To Go Before.  At this point, 13 years after the first use of the name "Prius" by Toyota, there is a definite disconnect from the Latin origin.  Now "Prius" means: the car that brought about the age of hybrids; the first to become mainstream.

2-01-2007

Very Likely.  That was the status given by the world's leading climate scientists today, at the large conference on Global Warming held in Paris.  It translates to a 90 percent certainty that our consumption of fossil fuels (oil, coal, and natural gas) is at fault for the worldwide temperature changes, which lead to increased frequency and volatility of weather systems.  Naturally, the Bush administration reaction to this was to continue to reject placing mandatory limits on greenhouse gases (carbon-dioxide emissions).  They insist that will harm our economy... but without any proof that it actually would.  As we have already witnessed, remaining status quo has harmed the automakers.  Embracing change could help them overcome the current obstacles.  Instead, certain politicians feel voluntary action is the best choice.  Since when?  Even the automakers are asking for help.  They need the assistance.  Increasing MPG standards is an effective way of dealing with both the financial problems of automakers as well as Global Warming itself.  So, why is there still resistance to this?

2-01-2007

More Misleading.  I had to finally respond to this attempt intentionally mislead the newbies on the big GM forum: "Camry Hybrid sales have dropped dramatically since the Summer... which proves that if you don't get the tax break, the Camry may not be it."  Of course there was a huge surge in sales initially!  That's normal for a long-awaited vehicle.  Are you going to greenwash with statistics like that a few months after the debut of Two-Mode too?  The same "dropped dramatically" claim was made for Prius too, which has recently been proven to be yet another attempt to mislead.  Take a look at the big picture...  December 2006 was the best sales for Prius ever in December: 9,291.  That was a 6.9 increase over the same month the previous year.  January 2007 was the best sales for Prius ever in January: 8,299.  That was a 7.8 increase over the same month the previous year.  Overall sales of hybrids are climbing.  Can't you even wait for Camry-Hybrid to be out a whole year before drawing a conclusion?

 

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