Prius Personal Log  #330

May 15, 2007  -  May 20, 2007

Last Updated: Sun. 6/03/2007

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5-20-2007

Christmas Lights!  After years of waiting, the right combination of snow and timing finally occurred.  Between holiday related activities and work, the opportunity simply hadn't presented itself.  I was thrilled!  After not getting photos like that with my Classic Prius, that thought of the same happening with this one wasn't appealing.  Stuff like that is great for the history perspective long afterward.  Too bad it took another year and a half before I finally published them.  Oh well.  They turned out fantastic, well worth the wait.  And there definitely is a thrill that comes from seeing snow like that right as all the plants outside are bursting with green.  So, I'm pretty darn happy.  Take a look for yourself... photo album 119

5-20-2007

Intrigue.  We got this sincere question asked today on the big Prius forum: "How clean is biodiesel fuel?"  The responses were surprising constructive.  Here's my contribution to that...  Biodiesel is higher in NOx.  So it actually makes smog-related emissions worse in terms of the fuel itself.  A diesel vehicle can earn a PZEV rating though.  Prototypes have proven that level of clean is possible.  But the technology required is expensive.  It's a tradeoff no automaker has chosen to make yet.

5-19-2007

Unusual Setting.  It was a very unique opportunity.  A large retail store had been constructed there that Summer, in a rural farming area.  The corn waiting to be harvested was right there, up against the edge of the new parking lot.  At night, there was this creepy glow of the lights illuminating the field into the distance.  I had to attempt to capture the setting digitally.  So very late one evening, I drove there and setup the tripod.  The photos, with Prius of course, came out pretty darn well.  I definitely pleased to share them with you... photo album 118

5-19-2007

Interesting Times.  In the past, we were plagued with misinformation.  Reporters just guessed, often incorrect.  Now, they actually are researching some.  But what makes things interesting now is how they were always wrong about Prius (the only "full" hybrid available back then) having two complete propulsion systems combined together.  That wasn't true.  The PSD eliminated the transmission.  It was elegantly simple, yet they didn't see it.  The antagonists did.  But they lied about it, even after countless attempts from enthusiasts to get them to stop.  Soon though, both will actually be correct.  Two-Mode is essentially an automatic with motors added.  It's obvious those wanting to impede progress will exploit that.  But what about the reporters, especially with high gas prices creating demand for articles that go beyond just fluff? Will true journalism about hybrids finally become common?

5-19-2007

Two-Mode Schematic.  Help disappeared.  He said my illustration still had an error in it, then abandoned me.  There was no spirit of cooperation.  But that wasn't a surprise.  Watching the divide among traditional, "full" hybrid, and "series" hybrid supporters there grow was a clear indication that expecting help was more a matter of luck than anything.  Interestingly though, the "assist" hybrid supporters have already grown silent.  There's no enthusiasm for that outdated technology anymore.  Greater emphasis on the use of electricity is quickly souring the appeal of less being better.  Anywho, I did end up with some good fortune... by stumbling across a published engineering document this morning.  It provided schematics of various hybrid designs, including Two-Mode.  That was the detail I had long craved.  It presented connection information in an elegant way, immediately revealing clarification.  Now I could properly portray that in my own illustration.  Identification of mode #1 and #2 is simple too.  It's just a matter of knowing which of the two electric motor clutches is engaged.  In other words, the newer Toyota hybrids have two modes too.  But patent and copyright protection force alternative configurations to prevent legal conflict.  Fortunately, that doesn't restrict the learning of each design.  Educational overviews help everyone.  So, I certainly am glad that I now have something accurate to share with others... Two-Mode

5-19-2007

Long Shadows, Deep Colors.  Late in day, right before sunset, you see long shadows and deep colors.  I was at the right place at the right time with my digital camera and Prius.  It was Fall, 2 years ago.  The mood was perfect.  Looking back at the resulting photos now brings back good memories.  Maybe they'll invoke a feeling for you too... photo album 118

5-18-2007

HOV Approval?  My stance has always been to leave those special highway lanes for their original purpose of carpooling.  After all, I want the population of hybrids to grow so quickly that they'll get crowded anyway... which would cancel out any driving benefit.  Allowing hybrids isn't necessary.  They provide plenty of gain from efficiency & emissions... especially now that gas prices are so high and carbon has become a big concern.  But nonetheless, the EPA is considering nationwide approval for 2 years.  The guidelines proposed are rather weak, focusing more so on efficiency gain rather than emission reduction.  Sadly, that would mean individual states would lose their right to enforce stricter standards.  There's always a catch.  That "take away" approach was rather predictable.  What wasn't was the fact that neither GreenLine vehicle was included.  So at least there's some bit of integrity... but not much.  Why not just extend the tax credit instead?  Isn't the point to encourage sales?

5-18-2007

$3.39 Jump.  Right before the weekend started, a jump up of 30 cents was quite predictable.  And sure enough, that's exactly what I saw.  Now we are well into record territory.  That's scary.  There isn't really any unusual politic unrest or natural disaster influencing prices.  Yet, oil futures closed at $64.94 per barrel today.  How much higher will the price of gas climb.  With the national holiday next weekend, I bet it will go even higher.  What kind of influence do you think that will have on Prius sales?  They should remain quite impressive.  So, I guess there is some good coming from this mess.

5-18-2007

Caught in a Contradiction.  In one post, he stated the gain was only "small percentage of efficiency".  Then later on, he said it was "much more efficient".  When I called him on that, the responses were an attempt to change focus and an attempt to discredit.  Some people's effort to mislead are becoming so incredibly transparent now, it's amazing... a sign of true desperation to slow change.  That's sad.  But lucky for us, change can no longer be stopped.  The success of hybrids is becoming quite obvious.

5-18-2007

Underlining Purpose.  The expectation is that hybrids should significantly reduce emissions & consumption.  But what compels people to buy them isn't really clear.  The flood of Prius coming from Toyota right now has an underlining purpose of stimulating "full" hybrid sales.  The long-term effect of that effort should really pay off.  Ultimately, I see the desire for purchase coming from a want to gain an efficiency improvement better than what the 4-cylinder option alone (non-hybrid) offers.  A family-sized sedan only delivering an average around 30 MPG simply isn't enough.  And as battery technology continues to improve, being able to take advantage of that with "full" hybrids will be a given.  You'll definitely see that in the next generation of Prius.  What about the competition?  I'm hoping for a wide variety of choices.

5-18-2007

LiFePO4.  Lithium Iron Phosphate.  That's the newest announced rechargeable battery capable of a large enough format for automotive use and supporting enough usage cycles.  Supposedly it can deliver 3,000 charges for 60-mile plug-in use at 80 percent capacity for 150,000 miles.  That's impressive... if I understood there vague press release correctly.  Unfortunately, it made no mention of cost, size, weight, or thermal control.  Those are all critical pieces of information we still need to know.  Heck, even finding out when automaker testing can begin would be helpful.  But sadly, nothing like that was shared.  Oh well.  At least market awareness for electric propulsion is being raised.  Hopefully it's not a delay attempt.  Setting expectations too high can have that outcome.

5-17-2007

17 Prius.  Seeing so many at the dealer today was fantastic!  Of course, there were still far more traditional models of vehicles to choose from.  But in the past, the choice of Prius was very limited.  Now though, things are changing.  Each year bring the technology another step closer to becoming the norm.  Yeah!

5-17-2007

Greenies.  Today there was an attempt to lead us to believe the use of the term "greenies" isn't offensive.  I didn't buy that for a second.  Having a vehicle that doesn't needlessly waste fuel or pollute will be the norm for the 21st Century.  What do you now call a person that has a cell-phone or mp3 player?  Once a geek toy, now a ubiquitous device.  How will the hybrid be any different?  Of course, now that the identifier of "early adopter" is no longer appropriate, it was inevitable that a new label of some sort would emerge.  My response is to point out how the genie is already out of the bottle.  Hybrids are becoming a common sight on the road.  The question is switching to "Why wouldn't you buy a hybrid?"  Increasing demand is a key focus now.  Volume is a very effective way of crushing any remaining misconceptions.  The wave of success will provide benefits industry wide, well beyond any particular vehicle.  So, maybe we need something to call those that continue to resist change.  You think?

5-16-2007

Deception.  Watch for the old school tricks.  They work so well that some people unknowingly spread misleading information.  That appeared to be the case today.  Someone quoted the MPG from his diesel car.  Only a very small sampling of data was provided and transmission was not mentioned.  So naturally when I questioned him, finding out the driving had been in comfortable temperatures, mostly on the highway, using a manual transmission didn't surprise me.  Was he aware that those are conditions that contribute to an inflated real-world representation?  Being either colder or hotter, having a better balance of driving conditions, and using an automatic transmission will result in lower MPG.  That's why I request detail.  And since he quickly provided it without question, I believe he wasn't attempting any type of misrepresentation.  Better to be certain than to assume.

5-16-2007

Ironic.  I couldn't resist pointing out how what used to be claimed as its greatest shorting is now argued as it strongest appeal factor.  It's the look of Prius.  Being a mid-sized hatchback makes it a rare vehicle shape.  There simply aren't any others.  The cars here with large payload areas are all wagons (the back window is vertical, rather than horizontal).  The uniqueness of Prius allows it to stand out in a crowd, making it get noticed.  And since it just happens to also be an extremely well known hybrid, there is obviously a fantastic marketing benefit.  So what was once thought of as a purchase deterrent is now proving to be an attraction.  Isn't that ironic?

5-15-2007

275 MPG.  Someone saw a photo of the efficiency readout in a Two-Mode testing vehicle.  It stated 30 MPG at 50 MPH.  Apparently, that was quite impressive.  I don't think they'll be to thrilled when I point out how easy it is to be mislead.  The "full" hybrid frequently & rapidly changes what you see displayed, since the activity within changes so often.  But that did really get me wondering.  Now that I have a scan-tool device, the ability to see beyond the 99.9 MPG is conveniently available.  How high of a value could I witness before the effect of fuel-cut took effect?  It turns out that I had an opportunity to find out this evening.  The Prius plummeted down a steep valley descent maintaining a near constant speed of 55 MPH.  That resulted in a readout of 250 MPG.  Impressed with that, I tried again.  At 50 MPH, the display proudly showed 275 MPG.  I wonder how they'd interpret seeing that.  Hmm?

5-15-2007

Two-Mode is a technology, not a vehicle.  You'd think I wouldn't have to point that out in forums anymore.  Clearly, that wasn't the case today.  It's the very reason I endorse "full" hybrids so heavily.  Putting emphasis on ability, rather than any particular vehicle, is key.  Yet, some people just can't accept that.  Complaints for the technology date all the way back to 1997, when the first hybrid was sold.  At that point, the domestic automakers were already 4 years into the government funded effort to build 80 MPG cars.  But still to this date, they have delivered virtually nothing for consumers to actually buy... just a few much lower efficiency tokens.  How much longer do you expect us to wait?  Could it be the "vehicle" mindset they worked so hard to brainwash us with is now backfiring horribly?  I strongly believe it is.  It's a twisted benefit of having a monster-size vehicle Tahoe available with Two-Mode first.  The message of "technology" should hopefully finally be understood.

5-15-2007

Chrysler Split.  It sure looks like the Daimler division will become a separate entity again.  That merge of the two automakers almost a decade ago never found a unity.  They struggled to achieve a unified identity.  But that effort resulted in on-going conflict, poor profitability, and an uncertain future... until today.  Daimler has agreed to pay to rid itself of that burden.  The private investor group Cerberus feels they can turn the outlook around.  9 years ago, the price was $36 billion.  Now $650 million will be paid by Daimler to have the $18 billion in pension and healthcare liabilities removed from their financial responsibility.  Strange, eh?  I wonder what it the heck that will do to the hybrid agreement they had with GM over development and use of Two-Mode.  It was the only glimmer of hope in a very difficult future.  Automakers are most definitely getting redefined by the market changed influenced heavily by high gas prices.  In other words, history has indeed repeated itself.  When will they learn?  The hybrid enthusiasts saw it coming a very long time ago.

 

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