Prius Personal Log  #318

February 27, 2007  -  March 6, 2007

Last Updated: Sun. 3/25/2007

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3-06-2007

Concept Hybrids.  There are so many lately, of such wide variety no less, that I don't know where to begin.  So... I won't.  Simply waiting for the popular one to surface will do.  Volt has almost dropped out of discussions entirely already.  Interesting, eh?  Concepts don't impress me all that much.  Far too many never make it beyond the shiny non-functional model stage we get to see at auto shows.  So they really don't deserve much credit.  Some aren't even intended for actual production; automakers sometimes just use them to gauge potential appeal of certain features.  I realize being practical seems boring.  But the last 132,000 miles of driving a hybrid sure have been fun.  That wasn't a concept when I saw it.  The thing had a price tag on it with my name attached.  That's real, not a whole lot to oooh & ahhh about.

3-04-2007

Troll Confirmed.  Well, how about that!  A new thread, suspicious to the veterans, was recently posted.  Some newbies wondered what the true purpose was.  I didn't.  And sure enough, one of the moderators confirmed there was ill intent surprisingly quick.  It's amazing what you can do with an email address and a search engine.  The effort to prove that we had a troll was minimal.  His desire to cause trouble was abruptly halted.  I was pleasantly delighted.  What do you think the newbies thought?  In the old days, the act of dropping bait could last for weeks and the resulting forum disruption caused some to leave.  That doesn't happen much anymore.  We have overcome another big online problem of the past.  Hooray!

3-02-2007

Horrible Screeching.  Today's driving was a mess, spattering through lots of really deep & dense slush.  Hints of Spring were emerging... just a day after a Winter storm so awful I actually got a "snow day" from work.  How about that?  Needless to say, the desire to celebrate with my girlfriend was foremost on our minds.  So we did.  And after the drive around town, the evening concluded with a barbeque in the snow at my place.  (That's what a true Minnesotan does!)  Leaving the car exposed to the plummeting temperatures had a price though.  Melting changed to refreezing.  The late evening drive felt wrong from the start.  Something definitely wasn't right.  There was a horrible screeching sound coming from the car just blocks after leaving.  I pulled off the main road.  There didn't seem to be any correlation between what we heard and the brakes.  But unfortunately, it was very easy to confirm that they was a genuine problem.  Dang!  I had no choice but to turn around.  Strangely, I had just replaced my trouble-light for the garage two days earlier.  Blowing up hot bulbs was an extreme source of frustration.  I made a point of purchasing one that uses LEDs instead.  Who would have guessed that its first need would come so soon and would be used to inspect my non-traditional device: Prius.  But there I was, shining it underneath.  And sure enough, I saw the problem.  After 7 Winters with a Prius, the bizarre had finally happened... proving that I don't baby it.  The hybrid is tough, and I'm determined to not hold back.  Real-World conditions for me.  Slush had been packed deep into the wheel-well, then quickly frozen.  So when I started to drive, there was a large chunk of ice with a tight grip around the axle... hence the absolutely awful sound.  The brittle solid water scraping against that rough metal made for a very unpleasant auditory experience.  I'm not sure what would happen had I not done anything.  But the fix was simple.  I smacked it with a tool handle and the thing crumbled.  My girlfriend was amazed how much ice I ended up pulling out.  All was instantly well.  It was just a highly unusual set of circumstances... something worthy of noting in the personal logs.

3-04-2007

Estimate Misleading.  We've been inundated lately with printed quotes like this: "In city-only driving, which had assumed a great deal of reliance on the electric motor alone, the Prius rating fell to 48 mpg from 60."  The reaction from observers is pity, as if that affected current owners.  I had no idea just how far the estimate belief reached.  To the unaware, those numbers extend well beyond sales.  Some think the ownership experience depends upon the estimates... which makes sense, coming from those with a perspective of not knowing what their own vehicle actually gets for MPG.  That will be a rude awakening when they finally find out.  Being mislead for decades is a difficult reality to accept.  Hopefully, that time is near.  Seeing the window-stickers change should stimulate questions like... Why are the non-hybrids also affected?

3-04-2007

Avoiding Hybrid Discussions.  The moderator closed the thread immediately after I made the following post.  I wonder why...  They cannot be avoided anymore.  The push is to make hybrids mainstream.  The fact that Prius made the top-20 list for sales last month certainly supports that.  An accomplishment like that most definitely meets the qualification for a vehicle being mainstream.  The silly part is that no one bothered to actually do the math.  The annual Prius sales goal has been raised to 150,000 for the United States.  To do that, a minimum of very close to what was actually sold in February must be sold each & every month going forward.  In other words, Toyota is not only going for mainstream status, they are also pushing for a top seller.  The market is changing.  New marks must now be made, hence the discussion change.

3-03-2007

Waiting For Spin.  Reading how the antagonists twist perception of news like a record-breaking sales month can actually be rather amusing... especially when their negative intentions backfire.  For example, drawing lots of attention to Prius by telling people claiming Toyota is desperate to get rid of inventory could stimulate even more sales!  You know that are compelled to react.  Allowing the enthusiasts to rejoice from a success makes them absolutely furious.  And to our delight, their suffering only makes us feel even better.  We know quite well that a hybrid diesel will be the logical choice over a non-hybrid diesel in time.  But they resist acknowledging that inevitable reality.  "Deny" is their strategy.  Why do they fear change so much?  Embracing it is so much easier.

3-02-2007

The Prius Problem.  Today's anti-hybrid rant was pretty intense.  Straight from our favorite Detroit publication came a weblog to stir some rather intense emotion.  Of course, with "The Prius Problem" as a subtitle, what more could you expect?  It was the same nonsense we've been hearing a lot lately, but all nicely bundled up into a single writing.  We get the misrepresentation of real-world efficiency, ignoring of smog-related emissions, and the misleading of inventory & sales.  But the thing that captivates me more than anything is how they make it all about Prius.  For some reason, none of the other hybrids are getting much attention.  That's great!  Camry-Hybrid can sneak in and become a very popular choice without many of those resisting change noticing.  It won't take long before their fight reveals itself to be a futile endeavor.  So, I guess the title really is correct.  There is a Prius problem... for them!

3-02-2007

So Many Prius.  The naysayer avoids ever acknowledging the growing momentum for hybrids.  They hope the popularity will be viewed as hype, just a bubble which will inevitably burst.  A reality that this is the next step forward in automotive history, a permanent change... genuine progress, totally freaks them out.  But what can they do at this point?  Seeing so many Prius on the road makes much of what they claim evidence of denial.  We are entering a time when their hypothesis are being proved false.  No more "that will never happen" arguments.  Even if the method for success ends up different from what the enthusiasts had hoped, it is still success nonetheless.  Prius is becoming mainstream.  That cancels out the debate about looks.  With so many, it won't stand out anymore.  The shape will be looked upon as the way vehicles evolved to in the early 21st Century.  After all, the laws of physics do lead to the aerodynamic design.  That contributes to efficiency.  It's that simple... as will be the purchase decision after a few more years.

3-02-2007

Record Sales!  This news is so sweet!  Prius purchases for February this year in the United States increased 87 percent over the same month the previous year.  I love it!!!  That comes to a total of 12,227 sold.  Yeah!  Of course, it makes you wonder what kind of spin the media will put on that, eh?  Many claimed the inventory build up was from lack of consumer interest, never acknowledging the possibility that it could have been preparation for a sales bonanza... which is exactly what happened.  Of course, some claimed Prius was a victim of cheap gas.  That never made any sense.  Since when is around $2.15 considered a "cheap" price?  Not that it matters, people aren't that short-sighted.  Gas was higher last summer and already appears to heading that high for this year too.  It's pretty easy to remember the bad feeling that came from having a national average climb up to around $2.89 per gallon.  Then there's the smog-related emission benefit.  Certain other hybrids don't offer it, which adds to the appeal of Prius.  That news of last month's success is sweet!  I can't wait to find out what happens this month.

3-02-2007

Lots Of Snow.  We've got somewhere around 2 feet of the white stuff over the past few days.  So, I've had plenty of opportunity to dispel the nonsense being spread online.  True, the first HSD years of Prius do apply traction-control more aggressively than desired.  But the newer ones don't.  And the following model upgrade will be even better.  So it's basically a misconception slowly fading.  I do find it quite worthy of noting that the tires do make a big difference.  The traction-control does engage more this Winter than it did back when the tires had deeper tread.  What's most fascinating though is watching people drive without any traction-control at all.  You see them spinning their wheels wildly at every intersection.  It's become a form of entertainment for me... which is much better than resenting the fact that they are the ones responsible for the glazing on the road they leave behind.  Having traction-control can make acceleration slower, but it is clearly the better way for a vehicle to respond... especially once you are already moving.  A big pile of snow caught the Prius in an awkward way this morning, pulling the front end into deep (5 to 7 inch) loosely packed snow while cruising along at 40 MPH.  Simply by pressing on the accelerator, the car regained grip and straighten out.  I'm not certain the outcome would have been the same without traction-control.

3-02-2007

Mumbo Jumbo.  I just love the quote that resulted from me pointing out how some hybrids offer Electric A/C.  He simply didn't care what advantages that offered.  All he declared was the consumer would care about is MPG.  That's it.  And when I attempted to describe that the electric (rather than belt-driven type) was more efficient, the response was this rather blunt: "All the other mumbo jumbo won't matter a bit."  People aren't that stupid.  With the purchase of something as expensive as a vehicle, they will do some research.  If nothing else, they simply ask why various hybrids differ.  It's hard to believe some feel that nothing by a "hybrid" label is all that's needed.  You see that, look at the MPG numbers, then sign a check.  In reality, we know there is much more to it.  People will look at a wide variety of features... just like they always have.  MPG is only a piece of the puzzle.  It's only mumbo jumbo until all the pieces are assembled.  Then when you see the completed picture, it makes far more sense.  But to press the point with a little bit of attitude, I responded with this:  What I find interesting is that smug goes both ways.  Being quick to dismiss and jumping to a conclusion qualifies the non-hybrid owner for the same label.

2-28-2007

Verifiable Deception.  In the past, I had tolerate quite a bit of the message posts in forums that were intentionally vague and misleading.  When someone has something to lose, they fight for it using any method at their disposal.  That was very frustrating.  What they claimed was very hard to prove... until recently.  The occasional insert of a dishonest bit of information was difficult to respond to.  But not anymore.  I'm starting to see stuff that even a determined newbie could figure out was wrong.  Stupid things like arguing a "full" hybrid doesn't have a particular ability.  How could they even have the nerve to try saying that?  Don't they realize how easy it is becoming to verify facts?  They'll get caught attempting to deceive.  Time is on my side with this one.  More and more people will grow suspicious, wondering if what they read is actually true.  I'm more than happy to wait for that.

2-27-2007

Same Old Story.  As usual, the writer didn't understand how the various hybrids operate.  That's more of the same vague claims we've been reading since 2000.  You'd think they'd figure it out by now... especially an automotive publication.  The "assist" hybrids can't really drive on electric power as implied.  The motor size and electricity available differ so significantly from a "full" hybrid that lumping the two types together is just plain not appropriate. The power, speed, and distance are quite different.  And of course, the absence of a smog-related emission reduction mention weakens the writer's premise that "environmentally conscious buyers" will be drawn to any type of hybrid.  Arrgh!

2-27-2007

Cheap Gas.  Apparently, we aren't suppose to be concerned until they tell us that it is expensive.  Informing consumers what the actual gas price threshold is doesn't ever seem to be important.  So even though the price here is now $2.49 and that's near the bottom nationally, it is still ok.  No need to change your habits.  Business as usual.  Telling people it would be a good idea to slow down and make sure their tires are properly inflated is too much.  So the thought of considering your next purchase to be a hybrid would throw the economy into a panic.  Change is bad.  We fear change.  Let's pretend gas is still cheap.  Denial is a river in Egypt.  Don't remind anyone at that the price just a few years ago was well over a dollar less per gallon.  That may make them consider what it could be a few years from now.  Hmm?

 

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