Prius Personal Log  #331

May 21, 2007  -  May 31, 2007

Last Updated: Thurs. 6/28/2007

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5-31-2007

Comparisons, Hypothetical.  On the more well thought out side of undermining, there's the "look forward" approach.  Dismiss the technology available today by focusing heavily on what could be instead.  Enthusiasts supporting Volt know this all too well.  They practice it routinely.  But today was different.  It was a seemingly constructive look at what an augmented Prius could deliver.  Was the upgraded battery-pack really worth it?  The focus was on "gallons saved" with consideration of pricing variation.  It seemed a worthy discussion... until you noticed that not a single person asked about diminished capacity caused by temperature extremes and heavy use of the heater or A/C.  That's a big deal.  Emissions are too, but they were totally ignored as well.  Instead, it was a subtle effort to draw attention away from the product already available: Prius.

5-31-2007

Comparisons, No Excuse.  This time, it was comparing Prius to a Saturn Ion.  The person provided a number of lame excuses why he believed that was the best match.  No one bought it.  It was horribly transparent.  Strange part was, he even admitted having a bias against Toyota.  Hmm?  Regardless of motive, there simply is no excuse anymore.  If you want to discuss the merits of hybrid technology, you absolutely must include references to vehicles that offer both hybrid and non-hybrid models.  Without, objectivity is absent.  Thank goodness others agree.  Camry.  Escape.  Civic.  Those are all well known examples.  Ignoring them is like credibility suicide.  Yet, some try anyway.

5-30-2007

70's Tech.  That was the newest special on the History Channel this evening.  It discussed how initial ideas evolved into some absolutely amazing innovation, how things like crude video LED games developed into jaw-dropping high-definition graphics.  The examples were stunning.  I was pleased to have witnessed those humble beginnings.  Of course, even back then I was well aware that much better was still to come.  Why do so many not see that with hybrids?  You'd think that computer evolution would clue them into the improvement potential.  Perhaps it's the fear of change.  Realizing that you have embraced something that is rapidly growing obsolete can be a rude awaking.  Anywho, I know and accept it.  The engineering opportunities are wonderful  So much has yet to be exploited.  I can't wait!

5-30-2007

Carbon Concern.  Have you ever been curious just how much of a carbon difference comes from each of alternative fuels?  I have been.  Then today, I stumbled across a handy graph clearly providing those values.  Corn ethanol is the least impressive, which was fairly obvious anyway.  It emits 22 percent less carbon overall, compared to just using normal gasoline.  The percent improves to 56 when sugar is used to produce ethanol instead.  And with the cellulosic approach, the ethanol choice looks like a really good solution at 91 percent.  In fact, it beat out biodiesel which rates at 68 percent.  But the part that will totally amaze you is coal.  When converted to a liquid for fuel (an option I was always suspicious of), there's a 119 percent increase in carbon.  It's a drastic step in the wrong direction!  And even if carbon capture & storage is used, the net result is still a 4 percent increase.  We want to decrease.  So coal is totally unrealistic and ethanol created from waste bio-matter is the best with respect emissions.  Now if we can get the price of that type of ethanol down and industrial production of it way up, we'll be in good shape.  But that's unfortunately many years away still.  Bummer!

5-29-2007

MPG Backlash.  The troublemaker from many years ago, that one absolutely obsessed MPG regardless of compromise (documented heavily in these personal logs), sure is making the news a lot lately.  His "hypermiling" techniques to squeeze out unbelievable efficiency from a Prius is really starting to upset some people.  (I find it ironic how someone who hated Prius so passionately in the past is now closely associated with it.)  Responses posted about how dangerous some of his suggestions are growing in numbers, rather significantly.  Innocent owners of Prius are now get accused of doing the same thing.  It's turning into a genuine backlash.  I'm not happy.  Fortunately, I saw it coming.  So it was expected.  That anticipation is what contributed to my own passion... continuing to publish information & photos about my Prius.  The document well the fact that you don't have to do anything special to get pleasing MPG in return.  Hence the motto: Just Drive It!

5-29-2007

Think Green, part 2.  In a second post that followed immediately afterward, I provided these additional comments...  Long-Term (a good decade from now) that [type of hybrid design] will be a clear benefit.  But in this market, with the automakers struggling to overcome their past, that's not the case.  Battery technology is still advancing by leaps & bounds too.  Power management is being fine tuned as well.  In the meantime, I have a fascination with how some have already drawn a conclusion that "full" hybrids don't stand a chance.  True, some will exhibit advantages over others.  But the unexpected results from real-world driving makes it really exciting.  And how consumers in general will respond is anyone's guess.  Short-Term, the goal of making "full" hybrids commonplace is realistic... and green, unlike some of the "assist" hybrids.  In other words, jumping immediately to "series" is an extraordinary challenge.  Lots still has to happen before that.

5-29-2007

Think Green, part 1.  What exactly does actually mean?  I asked that today on a thread clearly spreading Volt propaganda, hoping for something constructive in reply...  How big of an impact will Volt make?  An annual production of just 60,000 and no other "series" hybrids to choose from would be disappointing, especially after waiting several years for it.  Will GM push to make it more popular?  If so, how will they handle the backlash from an inevitable desire for the technology to be available in other vehicles?  And how what will they do with promoting Two-Mode in the meantime?  From that WSJ article today: "Two hybrid SUVs are due late this year with a system that GM believes has advantages over Toyota's hybrid technology. But GM only expects to sell a few thousand, while Toyota is counting on selling 250,000 hybrid vehicles in the U.S. this year, including 160,000 Prius."  In other words, the intentions of GM remain a mystery... which I suspect is what contributes to the perceived hate.  We want to know what the plans are.

5-28-2007

One of those dang Prius.  Sometimes, you have to encourage the humor.  At the gas station today, I simply couldn't resist.  In the two parking spots right in front of the door, there was my Prius and another.  The guy at the register asked if I had any gas too.  My response was... "No.  I don't have to purchase gas as often.  I drive one of those dang Prius." ...as I pointed to my Prius outside.  He found it amusing.  The woman behind me in line did as well.  Unknown to me, she was the other owner.  It turned out that the chance I took a humor is accepted as pleasing with gas prices so high... from typical consumers.  Only the antagonists fighting change put up any type of resistance anymore, a small group that continues to shrink.  That's quite vindicating.  It's like the complexity argument.  Only those with supporting a less capable technology response negatively, since they have something to lose.  Fortunately, they don't represent the general market.  No wonder "dang" has such a fitting place in quick comments.  It's double meaning pleases the clever-minded.

5-27-2007

Unbelievable Resistance, part 2.  A few sounded off with very non-constructive replies.  The best was this from the original poster of the *better* question: "32 mpg is 32 mpg.  Doublespeak doesn't make the Toyota version better to me.  If you want to discuss emissions, that's a different subject.  Start another thread.  I'll respond there, not here."  He definitely wasn't happy with such an objective response from me.  It's one of the inconvenient truths that some people simply don't want to deal with.  The answer didn't appeal to him, so he tried to dismiss it.  Refusing to acknowledge a problem is an unfortunate reality.  It's why some of the big automakers are now in financial turmoil.  They ignored a need.  Facing a truth is difficult... and can only be delayed for so long.  That time has come.  Some aren't accepting it well.

5-27-2007

Unbelievable Resistance, part 1.  With 60 million new vehicles being purchased worldwide each year and growing breathing-related health problems, you'd think cleaner vehicles would naturally be accepted.  In reality, there is a group of people fighting intensely against them.  Today provided a fantastic example of that.  It started with this online question: "I am constantly told how much better the Hybrid is for the environment at 32 mpg than the Pontiac that sits in the laneway, at the same 32 mpg.  They use almost identical amounts of fuel, so why is the Hybrid *better* ?"  My response was the standard smog references with respect to the CARB measures...  Consider the emission rating.  "Tier-2 Bin-5" is the basic minimum.  Diesel strive to just meet that criteria.  "ULEV" is cleaner.  Many popular vehicles deliver it.  "SULEV" is even cleaner, and the duration criteria is even longer.  "PZEV" is the best for any vehicle with an engine.  It's the cleanest for the longest.  None of those ratings have any relation at all to MPG.

5-26-2007

77,500 Mile - Oil Change.  The 7,500 mile change interval has become routine for this Prius now.  It's as expected, no big deal.  The synthetic oil is still in much better condition at that point than the stuff I drain from my mother's Corolla at just 5,000 miles.  So, I feel quite comfortable with the longer duration.  It's a good thing too.  The price (including filter & gasket) is much higher now.  $26.13 is the most that I have ever had to pay.  But then again, oil is more expensive than ever.

5-26-2007

$2.99 Per Gallon.  Not only didn't the price rise from the onset of the holiday weekend, they actually went down at the station nearest to me.  Everywhere else is still hovering at $3.09 per gallon.  But for some odd reason there is a "discount" available near by.  Whatever the reason, prices nationally are still sitting at a record high.  So relief is most definitely not a realistic expectation.  Instead, the typical mindset is the next hurricane will cause a financial disaster on a wide-scale, well beyond the scope of what nature physically touches.  That pessimistic attitude should make things very interesting for hybrids.  Denial is a thing of the past now.

5-25-2007

The Purchase Decision.  Someone started a new thread on the big Prius forum, requesting feedback about how owners came to the conclusion that their decision to purchase was a good one.  I couldn't resist the opportunity to see if my perspective has any relevance anymore.  7 years is a long time anyway, even when advanced technology isn't involved.  But when it comes to Prius, that's representative of decades of improvements with respect to traditional vehicles.  And that seemed to be well confirmed by the nature of their responses.  Here's what I posted...  Way back in January 2000, I made my decision.  It was a no-brainer.  The engineering was clearly superior to the stuff we had to endure in the 20th.  The fact that smog-related emissions were a priority beyond efficiency then sealed the deal.  Now over 7 years later, the wait to upgrade [purchase] yet again is making its presence known... with no certainty when, but it will definitely happen at some point.

5-25-2007

Downsizing?  It sure looks that is becoming the trend.  But as a Detroit publication clearly pointed out this morning, that impression isn't totally accurate.  Instead of people replacing their SUV or Pickup with a very small car, they are purchasing one for commuting.  That "downsize" effect is a direct result of gas prices.  $3 per gallon has proven to be the threshold, exactly as the Prius owners said it would be many years ago.  That makes a whole lot of sense too.  New car payments are still cheaper than filling the tank of a SUV.  That's a scary reality.  What do you do?  Resale value of the SUV has plummeted.  You'd lose way too much money selling it.  Instead, purchasing a very small car like a Yaris or Aveo is more affordable... and it does wonders for Prius.  That label of "small" will quickly fade away as a result.  Prius is quite a bit larger in comparison.  In short, the car is back.  Trucks will go back to be used for the purpose they were designed.  It's about dang time!

5-24-2007

33 MPG.  What the heck?  An article published today attempted to explain fuel economy.  To my surprise, proper context of EPA estimate purpose was provided.  You know, the fact that they are for comparison sake only... not an expectation for real-world driving.  That was intended to help point out how hybrids do indeed save fuel.  But the quote of Prius only delivering a 33 MPG average just plain did not make any sense.  But then again, quoting measurement results from a single source with limited data isn't objective anyway.  For that matter, neither is generically lumping all types of hybrid into just one category either.  If nothing else good comes from Volt, you'd at least think the difference between "series" and "full" would be acknowledged.  It's bad enough that the differences in "assist" still aren't understood.  It's very frustrating reading such poor writing from so-called well informed sources.  They really don't have a clue.

5-23-2007

Volt, Prius-A, Prius-B, Prius-C.  Attention to the "series" hybrid, Volt, has dropped to almost nothing... already!  It's amazing how quickly some hype dies.  People in general simply forget most of what the popular media spews out.  Others idealize, believing concept vehicles will somehow suddenly be available at a competitive price and be just as robust as the former product.  On the other hand, we have Prius.  That "full" hybrid has thrived, outliving every possible accusation of hype.  Now approaching 7 years of ownership, I'm looking forward to the 3 new models on the way.  That's what has occupied the attention of the media lately... which I bet won't stray for a long time.  Besides the attention of the currently model, the fact that 3 distinct sizes & configuration will be coming is what really impresses.  No matter how appealing of a choice the competition offers, only a single vehicle like Volt simply isn't enough.  The product-line most provide differentiation.  Having several models of Prius available in combination with the hybrid option in bodies shared by traditional vehicles, like Camry, is a must-have business model.  It's what an automaker needs to provide to survive in the 21st Century... where oil & gas are very expensive and environmental responsibility is growing significantly in importance.

5-21-2007

More Christmas Lights!!  That very first photo what a hint at what could be.  I found out the hard way that it wasn't just a matter of good snow and good timing.  Also having the right digital camera makes a big difference too.  So, I returned to that first location, with the ability to capture higher quality.  My timing was even better as well.  Catching the final few moments of ambient light after the sun has set but before darkness has completely overtaken yet really helps.  Sadly, that particular opportunity only lasts a few minutes.  But to my delight, I was able to take advantage of it.  Those photos turned out great... photo album 120

 

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