Prius Personal Log  #317

February 22, 2007  -  February 26, 2007

Last Updated: Sat. 3/03/2007

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2-26-2007

Growth Slowing.  That's a new spin.  Fortunately, it's pretty easy to see the misleading though.  For example: "the percentage growth for hybrid sales was the second slowest since 2000, when annual sales were less than 8,000 vehicles".  See the problems?  Going from 8,000 the first year from to 24,000 the very next year is a 200 percent increase.  You get the perception of it being a massive increase.  But in reality, it's only another 16,000 vehicles.  Compare that to the 250,000 sold last year; the percentage would equate to just 6, even though it's the same quantity.  That's an old-school statistical trick, making you think the difference was far greater than it actually was.  Sadly, it still deceives quite effectively.  (Be very careful when relative values are used.  It's the "vague" I always warn about.)  To matters worse, pointing out the fact that Prius wasn't even available until August 2000 should really upset.  The quote gives you the impression the vehicle was available the entire year, but in reality only 5 months of production was delivered.  In other words, the 50,000 more Prius we'll be getting this year is 20 percent more hybrids overall.  Based on percentage, that does make it seem to be slowing.  But taking the actual quantity into consideration instead, that's rapid growth.

2-25-2007

Troll Detection.  It's getting harder.  That type of troublemaker has been around since the first forums.  But they had less material to work with back then and the audiences were much smaller.  Now things are becoming difficult.  It may even be enough change to say that something "new" is emerging, but it certainly isn't of a positive nature like I've been seeking.  The good old days of just sharing experience with my hybrid are gone.  The realization that hybrids are a genuine solution for all involved, from supplier to automaker to dealer to consumer, has left some people in a state of panic.  Oops!  Failure to acknowledge that reality sooner has put those involved in a very difficult situation.  So naturally, we are getting far more promises than ever before with very little actual substance.  In a way, I miss when it Prius providing lots of substance rebutted by antagonists in denial.  Now it's the "we're going to have a hybrid too" game.  That has stirred interest in seeing what the competition is up to.  Not all are accepted with open arms though.  The anti-hybrid techniques are being exercised in great numbers.  Sorting out the accidental coincidences with those intentionally causing trouble is much harder with so many occurring simultaneously.  Oh well.  Given enough time, things will finally settle down.

2-24-2007

Sarcastic Replies.  This one is so good, I can't wait to find out how the antagonists respond... "Hybrids are nothing but a stop gap band aid and in a few years they will be gone.  Kaput.  Those like you who bought in will be exposed for your foolishness and bad judgment."  It's bait, intentionally dropped to trick anti-hybrid supporters into exposing themselves.  That approach is quite clever, because they absolutely cannot resist the temptation to chime in... not realizing they are about to become victims of reverse-logic.  You'd think they'd catch on after awhile.  But they usually miss the signs.  I love it!

2-24-2007

What We Need.  Far too many times a discussion loses it constructive intent with a simple comment like this "a short term solution is not enough... we need a drastic change in our thinking and everyday consumption practice".  It is an ideal, a need that cannot be fulfilled in any practical manner.  In fact, it is a complete infrastructure replacement, which is totally unrealistic.  I've witnessed that reality for decades as a programmer.  Change on that scale, regardless of what we need, just doesn't happen.  It's how the upgrade came about.  With smaller steps, you can actually achieve the end goal.  The cost of time & resources is simply too great otherwise.  Of course, that's true if you make each upgrade too small as well.  Providing a "full" hybrid option for each vehicle the consumer desires is achievable, and most definitely a decent size step in the right direction.

2-24-2007

Estimated Annual Fuel Cost.  The new EPA info on the new window-sticker is now available.  So I started a new discussion thread topic on the big Prius forum with this observation...  In the past, all we got was a mysterious dollar value, without any clue how it was derived.  Now (starting for 2008 models) that calculation method is actually shown.  Yeah!  It's about dang time.  The new window-sticker clearly indicates that a distance of 15,000 miles is used at a price of $2.80 per gallon.  That's pretty nice and rather compelling.  Why that price?  Years ago, a value of $2.00 per gallon as a standard future measurement was mocked.  Few took such a seemingly "high" price seriously.  But now that we have actually experienced $3.00 per gallon briefly, the $2.00 is finally accepted as unrealistic.  That still leaves you wondering though.  Where did $2.80 come from?

2-24-2007

EPA Nonsense.  Here's a sample of what is getting published now that the new EPA estimates have been revealed: "Toyota's Prius, best-known and best-selling gas-electric car in the USA, drops to 48 miles per gallon in the city under the 2008 testing procedure."  In other words, they are going to keep feeding the same old misconception.  The estimates are actually a range, which are clearly stated on the window-sticker.  But every single reporter jumping on the hype skips over that detail without any mention.  Looking at the new example provided by the EPA, the "City MPG 18" value clearly states "Expected range for most drivers 15 to 21 MPG" underneath.  And the "Highway MPG 25" includes a "Expected range for most drivers 21 to 29 MPG" note.  But since people haven't bothered to read them in the past and still no attention is being put on them, will anyone notice now?  Awareness is very disappointing.  Of course, how the testing is performed and the fact that they are incomplete usually gets overlooked anyway.  Suburb efficiency isn't listed.  Neither is the effect of ethanol blended gas.  And how in the world is a plug-in hybrid going to be accounted for?

2-24-2007

The Bladder.  We still hear about it... from a few new owners in the form of complaints.  For 6.5 years, some have run out of gas.  Toyota changed the gauge behavior with the new model to trigger the warnings (blinking and "Add Fuel" message) sooner.  Some owners simply ignored them, choosing the risk instead.  That desire to squeeze out every last drop is too compelling.  They accept the liability willingly.  So they shouldn't expect sympathy, but in return not get accused.  It's their choice; however,  no closure ever comes about.  Discussions continue.  Today, it was the hope that dealers would take on the liability.  But if they did, what about those salespeople that mislead?  Some do it intentionally (like the HOV & tax-credit promises).  Some do it because they are clueless (like the purpose of "B" mode).  You end up with bad information, from a dealership anyway.  For me, accepting the 9 gallons non-emergency range is quite sufficient.  I have nothing to complain about.  The bladder's purpose of virtually eliminating evaporative emissions entirely is appreciated.

2-23-2007

It's Official.  When the CEO of Toyota makes this statement: "We will change the battery from nickel hydride to the lithium battery." there isn't room for speculation anymore.  That pretty much completely ends any speculation.  It's official.  Now comes the need for patience.  Not knowing actually helped with the passage of time.  Instead, we are aware of what they have planned.  Waiting is all that's left... lots and lots of waiting.

2-23-2007

$61.14 per barrel.  The climb up continues.  Gas is once again becoming expensive.  The naysayers have suddenly grown silent.  Automakers are already beginning to feel the pinch, as we now see in the many new zero-percent financing offers.  None of that surprises me.  What does though is how much the price of oil causes the price of gas to jump.  The reaction is disproportional, greater than you'd expect.  I wonder how seeing that will influence new vehicle sales.  Hmm?  Just a few weeks ago, people were in denial.  Not anymore.

2-23-2007

New Estimates.  Sadly, the fact that these are just estimates will likely be lost in the hype.  Real-World data still won't get the credit it desires, as usual.  Oh well.  The 2007 Prius was rated 60 MPG City and 51 MPG Highway for a combined value of 55.  Now with the revisions in place, we can expect this see this on the window-sticker of the 2008 Prius even though nothing physically changed: 48 MPG City, 45 MPG Highway, and 46 MPG combined.  Who knows what the effect will really be.  It's the same hybrid.  Fortunately, the EPA is pointing out some of the shortcomings the old estimates didn't take into account.  They are: Faster Speeds and Acceleration, Air Conditioner Use, Colder Outside Temperatures.  For details, try this link.

2-23-2007

Bad Timing.  With the new EPA estimates on the way.  Two-Mode could suffer a little from bad timing.  The first official numbers anyone will ever see will come from the revised measurement system.  That could make things interesting.  I wonder what the spin will be at on that situation.

2-23-2007

No Tax, Loan Instead.  The governor here is incredibly stubborn.  Road projects continue to fall further behind due to budget constraints.  Road maintenance is neglected, having little money to actually do it with.  But since he vowed never to raise taxes, we suffer.  What's wrong with properly spent funds?  Collecting tax through gas, then using it on the very roads the gas was consumed on is totally appropriate.  You are paying for what you actually use.  Yet, he refuses to do that.  Instead, we got a counter-proposal to seek out a loan instead.  How exactly are we suppose to pay that back?  And won't it cost more since interest will have to be paid too?  Of course, it won't be his problem to deal with.  He would have completed his term by then, without ever having raised the gas tax.  The next governor will have to figure out where the money will come from.

2-23-2007

Ill Intent.  Unfortunately, it's a reality I've grown accustom to dealing with.  Today's comment of ill intent, which I'm sure will later become hypocritical when GM finds success with hybrids was: "I'm especially interested in the percentage drop for the Prius.  I pray the figures are quite damaging, just to make Toyota sweat a little."  The EPA estimates bring out the worst in some.  But I do my best to restrain.  Hopefully, this response was tactful enough...  Contributing to the resistance won't change reality.  Prius averaged a real-world value of 48 MPG before and it will continue to after.  Your true fear is that people will seek out actual owner data and end their attention paid to the ideal-condition EPA estimates.  That hurts the automaker sales that depended on those misleading sticker numbers.

2-23-2007

That Glimmer of  Excitement.  It was a truly beautiful day.  Here in Minnesota, the snow & ice were melting and the sun was shining.  Without a cloud in the sky and the thermometer reading 32 F degrees, what else could you ask for?  How about a twinkle in the eye of your girlfriend about hybrid technology?  That sure caught me off guard today!  We met in the Fall, after it had become too cold for extended electric driving.  But today, things were different.  Winter was fading.  For the first time ever, she got to truly experience stealth.  We had been driving for several minutes that way, then leaving from a stop sign I commented how sweet it was that the engine remained off.  Her in-difference to the hybrid technology suddenly vanished.  She asked me to explain what I had meant.  I switched over the Multi-Display from Consumption (where I usually have it) to the Energy Screen.  Seeing the arrows from the battery to the wheels hit her in the best way.  I saw a small smile to emerge!  What being a hybrid entailed was now enticing to her.  I can't wait to demonstrate the true driving silence with the windows open, later when it gets even warmer.  That glimmer of excitement will grow like it does for those taking test drives.  Words don't do it justice.  You have to experience it firsthand.

2-23-2007

How Long?  Realistically, how long do you think it will take for an automaker's annual production of a genuine "efficiency solution" to reach 10 percent?  Then think about how that amount is still far from a majority, something to truly break our addiction to oil.  Toyota is still a few years away from 10 percent.  In 2007, they are striving for a 6 percent goal.  For GM, it will take years just to reach the first 1 percent.  Meanwhile Ford & Honda progress remains a mystery.  In other words, high gas prices will be a reality we are finally going to have to struggle with for quite awhile.  Denial of the need to improve efficiency and how long change actually takes must to be dealt with.  So far, the reception to this has been disappointing.  That means: don't expect widespread improvement for years.  This is a new stage in automotive history... bigger than most image, or care to admit.

2-22-2007

E30 Support.  Federal efforts to move beyond the current E10 threshold have finally begun.  With all the attention placed on ethanol, you'd think that would have happened long before now.  But sadly, no.  Automakers have not embraced a standard beyond the old 10 percent barrier on their own.  So now the push from states to federal have begun.  That figures.  Those in the know, expected that to be required.  In the past, industry-wide steps forward simply haven't take place without government intervention.  Basically, if it costs them money and consumers aren't aware of the benefits yet, they don't bother.  Well, if the intent actually is to use ethanol (rather than just promote it) and to establish demand from which funding for new sources can be justified, then raising the standard is an incredibly effective method.  The guarantee from a mandate helps reduce the monetary risk.  Minnesota knows this well.  South Dakota business & agriculture leaders met with the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality just two days ago to express that very point.  Commercializing non-corn-based ethanol is an important goal now... on that the President has repeatedly claimed to support.  Now we want to see actual change to result.  It's time for action.

 

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