Prius Personal Log  #321

March 20, 2007  -  March 26, 2007

Last Updated: Tues. 3/27/2007

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3-26-2007

Not Invited.  It was another one of those "automakers meet with the president" day's where Toyota was not invited.  Those that did get to participate were the chief executives from GM, Ford, and Daimler-Chrysler.  The purpose was to figure out how to cut gas consumption by 20 percent in 10 years.  Naturally, the meeting mostly focused on simply consuming something else instead: ethanol.  That doesn't actually solve the problem.  That just changes it.  And sadly, they didn't make any actual pledge.  There was just a vague mention of half their new cars & truck being made E85 capable by 2012 if availability of ethanol is high enough.  Talking about dodging commitment and leaving an excuse not to deliver.  The FFV technology is inexpensive and almost 20 years old.  Why in the world can't they deliver more?  Why must we wait so long?  Why wasn't E20 support discussed?  Almost nothing was said about hybrids.  There was just a token mention.  I'm quite disappointed, but not at all surprised.  It's the same old nonsense we've seen for years.

3-25-2007

Camry Compare.  Have you noticed the complete absence of Camry to Camry-Hybrid comparisons now?  It's been ages since so much as a just brief mention from the popular media.  Even the discussions in online forums have faded.  That's a true sign of success.  There's nothing left to prove.  Sales continue without any push at all.  The merit of upgrading to the hybrid option speaks for itself, to consumers.  To those hoping for failure, they avoid paying any attention to the topic anymore.  Instead, all focus is on Prius.  It doesn't have an extremely well-liked non-hybrid counterpart as Camry.  That allows for vague claims to be made, exactly the kind used to mislead with.  So that precisely what we've been seeing lately.  Those are nasty, since they're difficult to disprove.  But finding someone who once owned or currently owns a Camry is simple; they're everywhere... and they will very gladly point out their observations of the hybrid, which are overwhelmingly positive.  Ha!  I love it.

3-25-2007

Crying Wolf.  Lately, the forum calls of "smug" and "troll" have become so abundant that they are losing their shock value.  People are growing callas of them.  That's just like when someone cries "wolf" one too many times.  The label alone is no longer enough.  Some no require an explicit explanation why... especially since the caller often seems somewhat uncaring, rather than innocent.  In other words, a few of the GM enthusiasts thought they could scare away Prius owners simply by giving them an unappealing label... but that hasn't been working.  There are a small number of other GM enthusiasts that genuinely want their brand of hybrid to be successful too, even if it means openly cooperating with the competition.  They realize the anti-hybrid efforts are much more of a threat than further embarrassment of their favorite automaker for being so far behind.  Getting help from the Toyota enthusiasts is like having an ally much stronger than you in a difficult war, one you ultimately must win.  Another way of putting it is... smug, smug, smug, smug, smug ...keep saying it until no one cares anymore.

3-25-2007

Good Intentions, However...  I understand her intent, but the method won't accomplish much.  A member of a local government struggled for a year to finally get approval to drive her GEM on local streets.  The plan is to drive that electric vehicle for a year so she can declare herself "gasoline free".  Trouble is, it only has a top speed of 25 MPH.  That's not the slightest bit practical for most of us.  For me, the speed limit on the local road to the grocery store just 3 miles away is 45 MPH.  I'd have a very real safety problem to deal with for just food.  Getting to work would pretty much be impossible.  She already had a Prius.  Using that same money for the GEM to instead convert her Prius to a plug-in would have sent a far more powerful message, since that's something which would inspire others.  Setting an example that others can follow is important.  Her choice isn't an option for most of us.  And why is an absolute necessary anyway?  I feel a significant reduction will do the trick.  The fuel to replace the remainder could be renewable, like ethanol.  That, especially from a plug-in Prius, would also achieve the goal of becoming "gasoline free".

3-24-2007

True Plans.  The backlash from the news about Volt brought about this comment: "Toyota would, for the first time in a long time, be playing catch up to GM if they'd just figure out how to get the Volt on the road."  And my reply...  Really?  I always thought the point was to deliver a design that could support the automaker's financial well being.  Isn't that what the hopes are for Two-Mode?  A "series" hybrid competing against a Plug-In Two-Mode is an interesting dilemma.  Whether or not another automaker comes into that equation is missing the point.  The actual underlying issue is the type of hybrid.  That's competition from within.  Volt would be remain a specialty vehicle, much like a sports car.  Spreading the technology to vehicles that just began offering Two-Mode (plug optional) wouldn't make any sense.  In other words, what are GM's true plans for the use of a "series" hybrid?

3-23-2007

Remembering History.  Fortunately, some of us do.  Volt was just concept vehicle, though some people didn't perceive it that way.  The hype grew so intense GM had to explicitly restate that there were no plans to actually produce it.  Market reality is a difficult thing to accept.  The history of Ford's promise to raise fuel economy of their SUV fleet by 25 percent in 5 years is a perfect example.  That was a pledge that didn't even depend on a specific vehicle or technology.  But after the 5 years had finally passed, their SUV fleet efficiency went down instead.  It was an undeniable step backward... which of course, made their hybrid promise even more frustrating.  Then at year 6, they stated the hybrid program would be scaled back... pretty much ending those expectations as well.  Promises are just words.  Vehicles like Camry-Hybrid are the result of many years of action.  Don't fall for the hype of concept vehicles.  Far too often, they end up getting the label of vaporware.  What is said verses what actually happens is typically not the same.

3-23-2007

Hard Reality.  Yesterday, the first truly disheartening article coming from Detroit about Volt expectations hit the forums.  The discussions were grim.  Those blindly jubilant about that "series" hybrid concept vehicle shown a few weeks ago now saw the harsh reality now.  It won't be produced for a very long time still.  Reiteration about the current state of battery technology made that quite clear.  I'm delighted.  That distraction away from the "full" hybrids was frustrating.  We need large volume solutions now.  Waiting years for something that might work and be accepted by many years after introduction was totally unrealistic.  So we are finally seeing hints of constructive questions.  One message posted asked why being able to drive 40 miles using only electricity is such a challenge.  I responded with this, hoping to stimulate a decent discussion...  Battery-Life would be way too short, well under the 150,000 mile minimum people have come to expect.  Being able to last the lifetime of the vehicle is a very big deal.  Setting up consumer expectations would be an absolute nightmare.  Electric heating & cooling would shorten that 40-mile range quite a bit.  How do you properly inform people about that?  Then there's the issue of price.

3-23-2007

55.4 MPG.  It's pretty clear to see that Spring has finally arrived.  The Multi-Display is proudly showing off an average well above 50 MPG.  That's when you know that Winter is truly over.  The first 194 miles of this tank have been fantastic.  I'm very happy.  Each year that annual cycle never ceases to disappoint.  Good thing too.  The lifetime average was getting dangerously close to dropping another tenth.  Eek!  Just kidding.  It's no big deal with so many miles now accumulated, especially with the current MPG so pleasantly high.  See, check it out for yourself... photo album 113

3-23-2007

Spreading FUD, part 2.  The response to how they would deal with that was by reinforcing my original claims with more facts.  It was great reading those constructive contributions.  There was simply no reason to stoop down to his level.  Avoiding the personal diversion by simply providing additional detail is a sweet comeback.  A few members on each forum chimed in with the exact support I needed.  That was fantastic!

3-23-2007

Spreading FUD, part 1.  That troublemaker got caught again, on a different forum.  I love it!  Others are noticing that same pattern of deception.  Someone even pointed out the FUD (that's: Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt).  Thankfully, though a common problem in the real-world and often difficult to prove, you stand half a chance on a forum.  Since the discussion threads serve as a transcript of everything, it's just a matter of referring back to key posts.  And in this case, I had that caught-red-handed one readily available.  So I pointed it out this way...  Waiting [until if/when the produce actually comes out] is not realistic, because efforts to downplay the design continue to be posted.  Like this: "Wrong. With HSD one electric motor generates power, and one sends power to the drivetrain." And my response was: MG1 = Motor/Generator #1 is primarily responsible for generating electricity, but also sends power to the engine for starting; MG2 = Motor/Generator #2 is primarily responsible for sending power to the wheels, but is also used for generating electricity when braking.  Then that got twisted with this reply: "So essentially MG2 does it all and MG1 is a glorified starter motor?  Interesting."  Which is clearly not what I said.  But since the desire to make the upcoming competition seem more appealing is so strong, some repeatedly attempt to mislead & undermine.  How would you deal with that?

3-22-2007

Hybrid Sightings.  I saw two Camry-Hybrid, two Highlander-Hybrid, and so many Prius I couldn't even keep track.  It's amazing.  They're starting to become a common part of the everyday routine now.  I can expect a hybrid sighting every few minutes.  No more waiting until the next day with hope of seeing just a handful.  They are everywhere.  I love it!  Just imagine what the situation will be six months from now, after the craziness of Summer gas prices becomes difficult to deal with and large volume sales continue.  This truly marks the end of the dinosaurs.  The number on the road is growing to an undeniable level of acceptance.  Claims that they are just a niche are rapidly losing credibility.  Permanent change is upon us.  Yeah!

3-22-2007

One, Two Punch.  The anti-hybrid are really beginning to panic now.  They continue to push the idea that hybrids only have an expected lifetime of 100,000 miles.  That's a rather blatant attempt to deceive.  Yet, they persist anyway.  They also claim great environmental damage is caused by the mining of nickel, based on photos of a facility that has been in use for over 100 years.  That doesn't even make any sense.  There were no regulations back then, or for that matter just a few decades ago, to protect surrounding land.  Of course, they don't mention that the nickel is recycled afterward either.  But among the best undisputable quotes is this: "Hybrids what a waste of money, people just buy them for bragging rights."  How's that different from a SUV that is used for neither Sport nor Utility or a guzzling sports car that with some abilities that can never be legally used?  Bragging rights are hardly a new concept.  They existed long before the hybrids came along.  But now those resisting changing are getting a one, two punch.  Both Toyota and GM are aggressively pushing the idea of hybrids becoming popular choices.  So their irrational responses are understandable.

3-22-2007

Biggest Scam.  The entertainment factor on certain forums is quite high.  For example: "Prius is the biggest scam in the world."  That just begs for a response.  So I posted this... I find it fascinating how everyone is very careful with their focus, doing everything they can to make sure Prius gets all the attention.  That's great!  In the meantime, the other hybrids have an opportunity to become popular.  I'm seeing Camry-Hybrid on a regular basis now.  GM enthusiasts are getting ready to purchase their own hybrids.  The technology is being well proven while gas prices, our dependence on oil, and air-quality problems continue to gain awareness & concern.  Antagonists can make the silly "100,000 mile lifetime" claim all they want and suggest just buying a cheap economy car instead, but that won't do any good.  Hybrid sales continue anyway.  Overwhelming proof of acceptance comes one mile at a time.  All the supporters have to do is patiently wait and ignore the resistance-to-change nonsense.

3-22-2007

It Did It Again.  The check-engine light came on immediately after filling up.  I'm not sure if it has something to do with the quality of the gas at the station (impurities perhaps?) or if there's something with the pumping itself (bad nozzle?).  Whatever the case, the pattern I presumed previously seemed to hold this time.  There was a code thrown just a mile afterward and it cleared following a few eventless starts.  It could be some influence due to weather, since it was suddenly warm on those two occasions.  We'll see.  The seasonal bladder-effect is about to come to an end.  The cold temperature are departing.  It's nice having the Multi-Display.  That will clue me in immediately if something does indeed change with the car itself, since a brief bad experience or two at gas station is nothing to worry about.

3-21-2007

Don't make me feel guilty.  How are you suppose to respond to that, especially when that direct quote was never stated?  Instead, the underlying message was buried within the span of several sentences.  But the point was clear.  This person had taken a step beyond denial, but had no idea how to deal with the reality that all vehicles need to be improved... and as a result of that, people are re-evaluating how they are using them in the first place.  There's no reason to feel guilty if you are using a vehicle for the purpose it was designed.  Purchasing something you didn't have any need for is a bit of a predicament once you have comes to terms with that judgment error.  Fortunately, the way to respond isn't too bad.  You accept hybrids.  Don't fight them.  Make it clear that your next purchase will be different, something cleaner and more efficient.

3-20-2007

$2.65 Per Gallon.  The 30 cent jump from this morning's gas price sure got people's attention.  Summer has come early here in Minnesota.  We expected to be shielded longer.  Now, the creep toward $3 has begun.  I suspect the price will drop in the next few days... but it won't be back down to $2.35 per gallon.  Then they'll be another spike later.  The outcome will be the same.  Each time brings the base higher.  This isn't rocket science.  We've observed the same seasonal pattern before.  Though, some people would lead you to believe that's not the case.  Remember the "cheap gas" problem just a few months ago, where Prius was this sad victim of not planning for the future properly.  Makes you wonder who should get the label of being smug.  Hmm.

 

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