Prius Personal Log  #329

May 9, 2007  -  May 14, 2007

Last Updated: Sun. 6/03/2007

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5-14-2007

Stubborn.  Refusing to establish any type of greenhouse gas regulation has been a very clear theme of the Bush administration since the beginning.  "Let the market regulate itself" has been their motto.  They believed that would have a greater effect on advancement than competition stimulated by legislation.  They have been proven wrong.  Exactly the opposite happened.  The situation got significantly worse instead (lower MPG averages now).  That step backward is very frustrating.  But at least acknowledgement of the Supreme Court's recent decision is a change for the better; however, the fact that the order from Bush today to his top cabinet members requesting regulations to be delivered by the end of 2008 was just plain insulting.  They've been dealing with CAFE increase proposals for years now.  What the heck will another year and half delay serve?  It's a stall tactic.  Of course, that's obvious from the ethanol endorsement.  Why bother improving efficiency when you can so easily divert attention instead?

5-14-2007

Truly Amazing.  Today, long after it had been proven false & misleading, that stupid report hit the news yet again.  The writer sighted it as a credible source, referring to the thing several times and even emphasizing it with this: "The Hummer�s road-life (at 300,000 miles) is around three-times longer than almost all hybrids."  Can you believe it?  Where in the world do they get numbers like that?  And how dumb do they think consumers are?  Validating the facts isn't that hard.  More and more people are figuring out just how easy it is to verify using Google.  Well, it got even better.  Check out this statement the writer made: "The average annual mileage for a Prius is around 6,700 miles.  It therefore takes a hybrid 15 years to clock up 100,000 miles."  Needless to say, the rest of the article was extremely negative... outright attacking Prius quite a few times.  I was disgusted.  Talking about getting desperate effort to hamper change.

5-13-2007

Actual Owners.  They are the ones that truly make a difference.  Why can't the popular media see that?  Continuing to rely so much on just automaker press releases is making me crazy.  I believe they prefer to make the news rather than seek it out by observing consumer behavior.  So much focus on what the automakers hope for rather than what's actually happening isn't journalism.  A journalist will listen to contributions from actual owners.  After all, an opinion that comes from purchase decision research means very little compared to the ownership experience.  Heck, even first impressions aren't anywhere near as important as how you feel after you've been driving the vehicle for a few years.  Why must we put up with so much such shallow reporting?  I'll tell you.  Depth doesn't come easy.  It's resource intensive.  Time & Money required to write a composition of quality simply isn't usually available.  That's sad.

5-13-2007

Outlets.  At the coffee shop this morning, a worker asked me what I was doing with my notebook computer.  I mentioned how I often type personal logs there, as I was doing at that very moment.  With the price of gas so high, my topic comment of "hybrid" immediately captivated him.  So... I indulged his excitement by pointing out the outlets located in front of a row of parking spots in the lot.  He couldn't explain there existence, nor not ever having noticed them before.  They amazed him when I pointed out how they could be part of a long-term plan to attract patrons by offering the opportunity to plug their vehicle in for recharging while enjoying a coffee inside.  What a great idea!  I could see him thinking that, as plan as day.  It was a future possibility that hadn't ever crossed his mind until that very moment.  Pretty sweet, eh?

5-12-2007

Now it's $3.29.  The price snuck up another 4 cents at some stations.  At others, it's a little lower now.  I wonder why.  Whatever the case, it's getting noticed.  The days of cheap gas are long gone.  Oddly, the price of diesel hasn't shifted at all.  It's still sitting at the same place it has for weeks.  Now I'm really curious what will come next.

5-11-2007

$3.25 Reality.  Seeing an immediate jump of 30 cents per gallon is a grim reality.  I've been telling people for awhile around here to prepare for $3.29 being the gas price expectation throughout the Summer.  Do you think they took me seriously?  What are their thoughts now?  We are in record territory.  Even after adjusting for inflation, it has never been this high.  The danger is becoming apparent.  There is no buffer anymore.  Demand continues to increase even though the number of refineries doesn't.  Supply will suffer in some way as a result.  In this case, that outcome is much higher prices. What will things be like a few months from now, during the peak of the warm season?

5-11-2007

Fairing & Cover.  I was making the rounds this evening shopping for kayak accessories.  It's that season now.  Stock is full and prices are good.  Waiting until mid-June (when it finally starts to feel like Summer has arrived), it's too late.  That was the problem I struggled with last year.  This year, I was well prepared.  I purchased a fairing for the roof-rack.  How much of an aerodynamic advantage that will provide remains a mystery.  I don't think it will be much.  What matter more so is the noise.  That rig is far from quiet.  Having a device specifically to control air-flow should help a lot.  I also managed to find a cover for the kayak itself.  This will seal the large opening on top.  That will most definitely improve aerodynamics.  True, around 36 MPG at 70 MPH with a 12-foot and a 14-foot kayak on top is nothing to complain about.  But I'd still like greater efficiency.  Those purchases this evening should provide that.

5-11-2007

Silence.  At the outdoor recreational store, I parked next to a Prius.  (There's always a few there!)  Sure enough, my exit timing was perfect.  I walked out the door behind the owners.  They hadn't noticed me though.  So when the woman pulled out in stealth, see had to swing her Prius around directly in front of me and look carefully for people.  I made my presence known by simply standing there with my finger over my mouth in the "silence" position.  She chuckled when our eyes made contact.  It was quite obvious that I was the owner of the other Prius and I was acknowledging the sweetness of stealth.  That smile I got in return was great!

5-10-2007

Push-Button Start.  Now it's a standard feature on all new Nissan Altima cars.  How about that?  Remember the resistance a few antagonists caused to prevent that very thing from happening?  I bet they are really troubled now.  Not only are the hybrids themselves rapidly growing in appeal, some of the key non-hybrid features in the spotlight hybrid (Prius, obviously) are also becoming a draw.  I love it!  So many of the things those troublemakers claimed wouldn't happen are now.  Ha!  And to my pleasure, these personal logs document their denial of change quite thoroughly.  Their counter-productive nonsense served no purpose and wasted a lot of resources... or so I thought.  Now there's quite a few examples of what some will do to impede progress.  We can learn from that.  Education is vital, especially with such a mature industry now facing infrastructure degradation.

5-10-2007

Clutch.  It too is one of those component labels that are quite prone to misunderstandings.  The term is loosing thrown around to identify the behavior of anything related to either releasing or grabbing a spinning object.  Traditionally, the "clutch" was the component used to describe the pedal used to disengage the gears of a manual transmission.  Now it is also used for the identification of the component that interacts with the "planetary gearset" in automatic transmissions.  In some cases, especially the Camry-Hybrid, it is better associated as a braking feature since it is the act to engaging which requires emphasis for proper description of vehicle response to particular situations.  Confused?  Most people are at this point... only they don't even realize it.  Assumptions are abundant.  It's a real problem.  I'm uncertain of exactly how to prevent that.  But at least credit can be given for the attempts so far.

5-10-2007

Planetary Device.  That person who kindly extended an offering of help wasn't exactly thrilled with the terminology of the hybrid technology.  Physically, the PSD is the very same component as the "planetary gearset" in the modern automatic transmission.  With that reality up until now, no one really cared.  The automatic never split or combined any power, so the use was clearly not a source of confusion.  But now that Two-Mode introduces essentially being an automatic with electric motors strategically squeezed in between, it gets very confusing.  So in my illustration, I used the term "planetary device" to identify the PSD that wasn't actually being used as a PSD... since it's the very same component.  The issue is with the labeling.  Yet, no suggestions have been provided.  So, I'm sticking with what I proposed.  Getting feedback from people is a challenge every step of the way.  Sometimes you just have to give an idea a try and see what results.

5-09-2007

Prius A, B, C.  Another note about the next generation of Prius hit the rumor mill today.  As previously thought, plans are for 3 models.  Basically, there will be a line of hybrid-only cars.  It's not rocket-science.  Model redesigns are routine anyway, for all vehicles.  Simply not bothering with a traditional version saves money.  And at this point in automotive history, being identified specifically as a hybrid is proving to be a strength.  So why not?  The expectation is that the first will debut in 2009, followed by another 2010, and the next in 2011.  I can't wait... but obviously, will have to.

5-09-2007

$2.99 Still.  How long will this resistance to showing a "3" continue?  Most of the stations have been at the $2.99 (and 9/10) mark for an unusually long time without changing.  The favorite one by me sells quite a bit at $2.95 ...which the mentality now is that being a bargain.  But the fishing-opener is this weekend.  That's going to cause a lot of travel.  Boats guzzle gas far more than cars.  The inevitable is growing close.  I wonder how much gas will spike and when.  Will it be tomorrow or not until Memorial weekend?

5-09-2007

Excellent Point.  Well, what do you know?  I actually got an "excellent point" today after pointing the following out, which definitely supports the actuality that some audiences are more receptive to constructive discussion than others...  The term "clean diesel" is misleading, just a relative measure compared to the past.  All those systems do is meet the minimum 50-state criteria, permitting them to be sold in the US nationwide.  That's the dirtiest EPA rating allowed,the opposite extreme of what's significantly cleaner: SULEV & PZEV.

5-09-2007

Windows Up or Down?  That question was a focus of experiments on an episode of MythBusters today.  In the initial segment, they had a large SUV circle a race track at 55 MPH for 5 laps.  The first test was with the windows down.  The efficiency reported was 11.3 MPG.  That's all I needed to know.  The fact that the next set of 5 laps with the A/C off and windows up revealed 11.8 MPG meant little.  The next with the A/C and windows up was 11.7 MPG, which did nothing for me either.  It was a nice Summer day out.  There didn't appear to be any wind.  The track was empty and the drive was non-stop.  That's basically as ideal as realistically possible.  I was appalled by such a low value.  Under those identical conditions, my Prius would easily deliver over 50 MPG.  So... what did we learn?  Actually, the following testing seemed to provide the answer to the question at hand.  The SUV with the windows up and the A/C on ran out of gas 30 laps before the windows down SUV did.  Interesting, eh?  Too bad the SUV didn't have electric A/C like many of the "full" hybrids do.

5-09-2007

Prius owners react to Volt, part 2.  This was the response I posted, a message brutally honest (and long-winded) to really get them thinking...  It's taken quite a bit of time (and tolerance) for me to explain my position to y'all.  Each attempt to share more history, I get a flood responses obscuring the point.  GM is splitting into 3 factions.  Whether you like hearing that news or not, it won't change that reality.  There are some that see the modest continuous improvements to traditional vehicles as enough.  They simply are not interested in any type of hybrid.  There are some that welcome the long overdue Two-Mode system.  They embrace the "full" hybrid, which make them allies to Toyota/Lexus & Ford... a rather awkward position until sales actually begin.  Following that, they'll be singing the same songs as the current "full" hybrid owners.  Then there's the "series" hybrid supporters.  Volt will be competing directly against the next generation of "full" hybrid.  Look back 3 years.  See all the hybrid improvements since then?  Imagine 3 more years of progress.  That's a rather large playing field.  Expecting Volt to shot to the #1 position shortly after debut is quite a stretch.  The point is that market desires are changing now and not everyone agrees upon what the priorities should be.  The "series" hybrid will join in later, but there is no compelling evidence to support it becoming the instant leader that enthusiasts portray.  Real-World data is the only proper way to sway disbelievers.  It's what truly makes a difference.  The "full" hybrid owners have millions of miles of it to back up their claims.  Volt has only concept test numbers.  So of course Prius owner will react.  They've witnessed far too many broken promises already.

5-09-2007

Prius owners react to Volt, part 1.  It quickly got stranger.  More publicity for Volt sparked discussions in the big GM forum about the discussion about Volt's latest news in the big Prius forum.  The twist was I got sucked into the GM forum by this comment from a moderator: "Their reaction is not that different from what would be seen here when Toyota news comes around.  This does make me understand John1701a a lot better though."  That was intriguing.  Being able to see things from an alternate perspective, whether it's based on complete information or not, is a genuine progress.  I was quite pleased.  Such a quick turnaround on their part was quite unexpected.  Dialog on a level previously impossible was suddenly realistic.  Sweet!

 

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