Prius Personal Log  #325

April 14, 2007  -  April 23, 2007

Last Updated: Sun. 4/29/2007

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4-23-2007

Back Home.  That bike trip up to Northern Minnesota killed the efficiency.  But today, I was back to the work routine.  With a fresh tank (only 3 miles on it), the Multi-Display read 49.8 MPG.  Curiosity was intense.  What would the round-trip in such better weather than week's past bring?  Turns out, I wasn't the slightest bit disappointed.  In fact, I was ecstatic with the results.  After 39 miles, the average shown by the computer had climbed all the way up to 57.2 MPG.  What a great hybrid.  Sweet!

4-23-2007

Rationale Thoughts.  Every now and then, there is one.  Today, I was delighted from reading: "This is a GM site and it's argument after argument."  Evidence of trouble from within is growing.  Some of the leaders are attempting to do something about it.  Eventually, a chorus will emerge.  What song they'll be singing is anyone's guess.  The chaos right now is an intriguing situation.  The denial about oil problems is amazing.  So naturally, I'm drawn in.  An outside voice often grabs more attention.  I hope they respond in a civil and open-minded fashion.  Up to this point, there has been some friction.  But at some point, accepting that offer of help could happen.  Effectively dealing with change begins with rationale thoughts.

4-22-2007

Southern Exposure.  We've had a handful of Prius battery-pack replacement reports.  None include any detail.  But then again, what are the odds that an owner would ever confess to abusing it by continuing to drive after running out of gas?  Sadly, that was a common problem with the Classic model.  It shortens the battery-pack life.  Deep-Discharging is really bad.  Something else that isn't as bad, but still has an influence is extreme heat.  But unfortunately, the location of where an owner lives isn't always shared.  Knowing whether they live in Arizona or Minnesota is a big deal.  Up here in the north, I suspect we'll set lifetime records.  Down in the south, where battery chemicals age quicker from the exposure to heat, replacement will likely come sooner.  I wonder if we'll ever get enough data to confirm or invalidate that theory.  Occurrences are so incredibly rare, I doubt it.  But you never know.

4-22-2007

Keeping Focus.  This frustrated me quite a bit, since it was a rather sad attempt to change the subject... "Why is it that only cars and trucks are the problem and nothing else?"  That is the only purchase you have a control over.  You won't be taking either an aircraft or a ship on your commute to work.  So questions eluding to that are pointless.  Of course their pollution is being addressed too.  But those upcoming emission regulation changes have absolutely nothing to do with the choice of your own personal vehicle.

4-21-2007

82 F Degrees.  Wow!  Back down at home, several hours south of where I had been, the weather is a true delight.  The Prius sure is having a good time too.  It's an event long overdue.  What a relief.  That strange Winter is finally over.  A normal Spring pattern should finally emerge.  We'll experience a random warm day like this and quite a number of one's that are simply comfortable in every way.  Those are the ideal conditions the EPA used for their misleading estimates.  That means I'll be looking forward to very impressive MPG finally.  Sweet!  The lifetime average needs to recover from the usual cold-season low.

4-21-2007

Ahhh!  I was cruising down the highway at 70 MPH.  The wind picks up, blowing straight at the Prius of course.  The rain begins to fall.  With bikes on back, I wasn't overjoyed... to say the least, since it was reducing the MPG by about 10.  That rack holding the bikes leaves the glass normally.  It's only the straps that keep it forward mounted.  (Weight is entirely on the legs).  So I use rope as an backup, should those upper feet ever move more than the little tiny bit they normal lift.  But this time, I was actually worried.  The rain became so thick, people quickly slowed down to 35 MPH.  Then it got worse.  The sky turned yellow and the Prius became a target for a hail attack.  Danger was real.  There was nothing anyone could do... except hope.  I'm not sure hope long the possibility of a disaster lasted; because, it was suddenly over.  Yeah!!  That was nasty.  The Prius was fine and so were the bikes.  Phew! 

4-20-2007

Keeping The Dream Alive.  The number of Volt press-releases continue to grow.  This time, it was the debut of a model equipped with a hydrogen fuel-cell, rather than a gas engine.  What's next?  The hype has become absurd... to an extreme.  These articles are reposted countless times.  Anything supporters can do to keep the dream alive, since only being an idea doesn't help anyone.  That label of "vaporware" is absolutely inevitable now... and they know it.  Too much time between announcement and actual delivery makes the difference between produced-product and concept far too great.  In the meantime, the availability of the next generation of Prius will crush their dream.  It will capture the spotlight just like the current one has now... because it will sit in owner's driveways... just like Camry-Hybrid is now too.  Talk is cheap.  Gas isn't.  At what point will that reality sink in?  People want something to actually purchase.

4-19-2007

72 F Degrees.  Horray!  I can't believe Spring has finally arrived.  Today, I got to witness the very last of the ice in Northern Minnesota disappear.  It was rather spectacular too.  That thick honeycomb layer makes a setting for fascinating observation.  In fact, two days ago I saw a massive ice sheet crash into the shore.  It was an absolutely amazing event to witness... with a camera capturing the whole thing on video-file.  Unfortunately, the moment was so enthralling I actually forgot to take a normal high-resolution digital photo also.  So, there's nothing to publish in the gallery.  Dang!  Anywho, the MPG on the Prius is climbing rapidly due to the very favorable driving conditions.  I'm very happy.

4-19-2007

Pole Perception.  I love it!  An automotive website surveyed 500 people.  80 percent of them expressed no plans to buy a hybrid as their next new vehicle.  It was horribly vague.  But in this case, that didn't matter.  One of the Prius enthusiasts was happy to point out why too, with this: "I read that as 20% of people will consider a hybrid."  Remarkable, eh?  That's a dramatic increase in interest.  Their pole's perception lead you to believe that only 80 percent was disappointing.  We in the hybrid community are thrilled, because we see that as big step forward.  It's market growth... which they spun in the complete opposite direction.  Put it this way.  Sales are rapidly growing.  Those are actual purchases.  People speaking with their wallet is far more powerful than a pole.  So always consider any type of surveyed results carefully.  They only solicit opinions, not requiring an actual commitment.

4-18-2007

The Voice Of Reality.  The hype about Volt continues.  Sadly, I had to crush someone's enthusiasm from this comment: "I just really hope that GM does pull through on this one." with the following...  Unfortunately, it's more complicated than the first delivery.  They have to also commit to high-volume production.  Otherwise, it really won't make any difference.  Token numbers aren't enough.  Consumers want something to actually buy.

4-17-2007

Lack of Performance.  While most have conceded that the horsepower race is rather silly at this point, it's still not unanimous.  Today, there was an old-school article published that was loaded with the "performance" references.  In all cases, the true meaning was "acceleration".  Hybrids are by their very nature, a high-performance vehicle.  The tuning for efficiency is superior to the counterparts in their same class.  But a small number of people continue to believe the faster a vehicle can accelerate, the better... even if that extra power is never used.  So, I had to suffer through reading that.  It was just like a few years ago, with the ceiling having long been surpassed... making the reduced 0-60 time a complete waste.  In other words, it was simply just an anti-hybrid delay tactic.  They claimed hybrids weren't fast enough yet to appeal to the masses.  Isn't denial fascinating?

4-17-2007

Emission Testing.  The hot new discussion topic online today was Georgia emission testing.  The HSD model is now old enough to require it.  Sadly, they still use the tailpipe method... which means the engine must be running.  When the Prius isn't moving, the engine is typically off.  So naturally, Prius fails... since nothing is coming out.  Which brings up the question, why didn't the Classic model make the news for this identical problem?  This hint came from a surprisingly constructive post on the GM forum: "Come on guys, trying to pass this as something negative about Toyota makes us look pathetic."  In other words, the article was just anti-hybrid hype.  Pretty much any vehicle with an auto-stop feature won't be able to pass the test either.  But since Prius is so popular and news like this sells, they don't mention how widespread of a problem the old method really is.  Too bad they don't use the more modern ODB-II measure, by plugging into the computer instead.  Heck, just cranking the heater to max will force the engine to eventually start.  Oh well.  I bet the attempted slander will settle down quickly anyway.  The emission testing shortcomings are fairly obvious.

4-17-2007

To The Rescue.  Yeah!  That artificial nightmare (the "environmental" report) has become blown so far out of proportion that TCC (The Car Connection) came to the rescue.  The enthusiasts were well aware of the attempts to mislead... but couldn't stop the explosive spread of negative blogs.  Very reputable firms like MIT and Argonne had already published detailed documentation which clearly contradicted the new so-called facts they were attempting to spread.  TCC pointed out how that supposed problem mining facility had been in operation for over 100 years already and that reduction of emissions (like Sulfur Dioxide) have been significant... revealing that damage to be ancient history.  There are goals set to continue to improve too.  Did they honestly believe that wouldn't happen?  Geez!  This new article also pointed out how Toyota only purchased a half-percent of production from them in 2004.  So targeting Prius simply makes no sense, especially after learning that the nickel is also using in non-hybrid vehicles for components like pistons, rings, liners, chrome, trim, exhaust systems, and even wheels.  Use in the battery-pack is hardly exclusive... unlike what they lead you to believe.  The anti-hybrid has been exposed.  Phew!

4-16-2007

Chicken Crossing.  It was just plain ridiculous.  During that drive today, we quite literally watched for an answer to why the chicken crossed the road.  There were ten of them, taking their own sweet time slowly walking... in a line, of course.  It held up traffic for both directions of the highway for almost two minutes.  Honks from the Prius actually made the situation worse.  The attempt to persuade speed by moving forward only confused them into a scattered mess of frozen birds.  For a moment, I was tempted to get out.  But instead, we waited for the answer.  Nothing.  Their venture across seemed rather pointless.  Maybe it was just to play with the human, to confuse & frustrate.  If so, mission accomplished.

4-16-2007

Happy Prius.  I drove about 150 miles today.  It was a round-trip of virtually all 60 MPH highway driving.  The Multi-Display happily showed off an average of 51.8 MPG at the conclusion.  Anyone who claims Prius cannot meet those ideal-condition EPA estimates simply have not ever tried.  Of course, I wasn't actually doing anything special.  It was very much just like others on the road were doing.  Heck, that was with E10 as fuel too.  Using pure gas instead would have increased MPG even more.  A temperature warmer than today's high of 64 F would have too.  But the Prius didn't care.  It was surpassing the upcoming revised highway estimate of 48 MPG under non-ideal circumstances.  I was happy... and so was the Prius.

4-15-2007

That Bladder.  I never wondered why Prius had one.  Some of us knew Prius was equipped with a bladder in the fuel-tank for long-term real-world proving way before others would discover the need for such a thing... as more did just today.  The reason is simple, robust evaporative emission prevention.  In other words, it's overkill for today.  But in the future, it will come in very handy.  See here in ethanol land (Minnesota), we are well aware that this alcohol-based fuel evaporates quickly.  But with the normal pressurizing equipment (vacuum system) used in a non-hybrid, that can be well controlled.  However, in a hybrid, the engine shutting off routinely introduces a new problem.  Those flex-fuel vehicles without a bladder cannot handle that particular situation.  But a well proven bladder system, like what's in Prius, could indeed handle that.  So having it in real-world use for over a decade before it was actually needed will put Toyota way ahead of the competition.  How about that for planning for the future?

4-14-2007

Green For Sale.  Seeing it parked along the road with a "For Sale" sign was rather a perplexing sight.  It was a 2001 Emerald, just like I had... once upon a time.  With 96,000 miles on it, the asking price of $7,500 seemed fair.  The listed values on printouts (taped to the windows) from online sources said $10,000 was realistic for a trade.  You could possibly get as much as $12,000 from an owner sale.  I suppose the reputation of Prius does carry that much weight.  But I haven't been paying attention to that particular market.  Used hybrids are in a rather unique situation right now... hence being perplexed.  What are the thoughts of those passing by it?  How is being a hybrid of that age perceived?  Why is that Prius for sale?

 

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