Prius Personal Log  #333

June 5, 2007  -  June 14, 2007

Last Updated: Sun. 6/24/2007

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6-14-2007

Prius Owners.  I had the pleasure of meeting with one today, from California.  He drove here (to Minnesota) again, just like last year.  We exchanged thoughts & stories for over an hour and a half.  Time really flies by when well informed Prius owners get together.  We have lots to share.  Awareness of the market and the technology is quite acute, something rarely encountered from any other source.  So, it's really fun getting together like that.  Perhaps the gatherings will once again return.  At a coffee shop won't be possible anymore.  There are way too many of us now.  But something at a large park is realistic... for the Summer months, anyway.  The fact that there is no longer any backlash from "assist" hybrid owners helps.  Misunderstandings of the different technologies have faded.  Emphasis on electric motor use has obviously become of a key factor, something only the "full" hybrids deliver currently... hence the bond Prius owners have.  They understood the benefit long ago.

6-14-2007

New Prius.  It looks like there will be a six month delay.  So rather than the Fall of 2008, it will likely be the Spring of 2009 instead.  The hope is to still use a new lithium-based battery.  But there have been rumors about sticking with the well proven NiMH.  Whatever the case, it should make things very interesting.  That first new Prius is expected to be the smallest one, heavily optimized for efficiency.  Does that mean sales of the current model will continue in the meantime?  I'm waiting for the second.  That's what I anticipate as the best replacement match for my 2004.  We'll see.  I'm still having a blast with this one.  MPG will be in the low 50's all month long.  That's fantastic!  Others are obviously enjoying it too.  I wonder wait new sales will be for June.  Hmm?

6-14-2007

Dent & Scratches.  I wasn't happy.  My first kayak adventure this year brought me to a very busy lake on one of the first truly Summer like days of the year here.  That meant the loading afterward would be awkward.  And it was.  I freed up a parking spot for someone else right away by pulling over to the loading area.  That put the Prius up against a curb on the driver's side.  I had no idea it was an accident just waiting to happen, never having tried that before.  As usual, I lifted the kayak and set the tip perched against the back roller on the rack.  That allows me to walk over to the back for easy pivot & rolling.  Only, the curb unexpectedly got in the way.  Hitting it caused the tip to slide... allowing the kayak to smack against the Prius.  There was an instant small dent and a row of very noticeable scratches.  All last year, loading the kayaks on top was no big deal.  This year, first time out scarred the Prius.  Dang!  Oh well.

6-12-2007

Constructive Comment.  They were given ample opportunity.  The responses were anything but constructive.  It was mostly anti-Toyota banter and personal attacks.  That was very disappointing.  So I don't feel the slightest bit of guilt pointing out the shortcomings with their idealistic view of "series" hybrids.  Many are hoping the price will be similar to that of Prius.  How's that going to be possible?  The "full" hybrid (non-plug) will have a much smaller battery-pack, giving it a major cost advantage.  True, the "series" will use a smaller engine.  But the electric motor will need to be larger and there will need to be an electric heater added.  Or will there?  That's what I had been asking all along.  Yet, no one wanted to speculate.  It would obviously be cheaper to just depend on a traditional heater core instead.  But that would prevent EV mode for basically the entire Winter.  Not depending on the engine for heat would mean using the battery-pack instead.  Electric heaters are power hungry.  How much would that shorten the electric-only driving range?  Needless to say, they really wish I would be so logical.  Asking questions like that deflates their passion.  Reality can be difficult to accept.

6-11-2007

Engine Idle.  Still to this day, some diesel supporters attempt to convince us that having the engine idle at a stoplight results in only a negligible amount of fuel consumption.  They obviously don't have a Multi-Display.  Watching the MPG average drop because you are running the A/C while waiting for the dang light to turn green is really disheartening.  I witnessed that countless times with my Classic Prius.  The upgrade to HSD introduced electric A/C.  Enabling the engine to remain off at spotlights was a very welcome improvement.  It definitely reduced the MPG penalty... blatant proof that idling does indeed make a difference.  It may have been too small for them to notice based on tank measurement.  But with a screen providing detail, you can definitely see it.  So they are either poorly informed or intentionally attempting to mislead.  That's both sad and frustrating.

6-10-2007

Pro-Hybrid Posts.  Whether anyone realizes it or not, all the banter from the "full" verses "series" discussions is a clever way to silence the anti-hybrid crowd.  When you�ve got two groups both passionate about propulsion using electric motors and batteries, any attempt to spread misconceptions falls on deaf ears.  They know the facts already.  So it�s not even worth the effort to respond to intentional misleading.  Instead, attention is focused on how to best use the technology.  That�s what I�ve always wanted.  Heck, even long-term needs are being considered now.  Times have definitely changed.

6-10-2007

Unaware.  I ask a question.  They respond as if it had never been asked by anyone else ever before. I point a timing issue.  They act like that situation couldn�t ever possibly happen.  Are they really unaware of the history that has already unfolded?  If so, that would explain quite a bit of their behavior.  I recognize the patterns.  I realize a mistake will repeat if the event which triggers it is not well understood.  They obviously don�t.  But all attempts to share that knowledge have failed with that particular audience.  They just plain aren�t ready yet.  Oh well.  Fortunately, others are.

6-09-2007

Paradox.  Some have figured out just how large sedans have grown over the years.  The seating space in Camry is incredible.  Size excuses of the past simply don't have merit anymore.  So my repeated attempts to make sure there is a decent hybrid option offered for a car like it frustrates those that are well informed, but want a truck without having a need for one.  To make matters worse, they understand the paradox.  The added complexity from the GM designed "full" hybrid system should be able to squeeze out greater efficiency, but there's a tradeoff of increased production cost.  Most supporters don't want to acknowledge that.  So constructive discussion which could potentially justify a higher sticker price has remained taboo.  In fact, I get labeled as an antagonist for even bringing up the topic.  It's a paradox they are afraid to face.  They don't want to risk that deep of an analysis, despite the fact that it could end up being a non-issue or even an advantage to promote.  Change is hard enough to deal with in the first place.  This particular situation makes it even more difficult.

6-09-2007

Competition.  Will there be any soon?  Supposedly, a hybrid version of Ford Fusion is on the way.  That would be fantastic!  But you don't read about it.  Why?  How comes there's no promotion?  Do an online news search on "hybrid".  You may be surprised by what you find... or don't.  The only place Volt actually gets any real attention is in discussion groups.  In fact, the media really doesn't mention much beyond Prius.  Again, why?  My guess is that articles rarely go into any detail and just the basics won't draw much attention, so we only get the latest hype.  Of course, who wants to get reminded that competition is still years away?  Hopefully, the other automakers are taking it seriously and just keeping quiet about it for now.

6-08-2007

At This Point.  Capacity has been restored at the few key refineries that were down for repairs.  So gas prices have dropped a little ($2.89 per gallon here).  Meanwhile, oil prices continue to climb (about $65 per barrel).  The discussions about "series" hybrids continue (nothing to buy for years).  The discussions about "assist" hybrid problems were popular (Accord-Hybrid discontinued), with respect to both consumer needs & wants and how diesel might play a role in the future.  And of course, the talk about Two-Mode seems to have disappeared almost entirely.  All of that was predictable, but not as much as the success of Toyota.  They basically disregarded the current market, focusing on the future instead.  And now that the time has past (10 years), that dedication to improved emissions & efficiency through "full" hybrids is proving a wise decision.  So at this point, resistance to accepting that business model simply doesn't make any sense.  Yet, some still do.

6-07-2007

Unbelievable.  You just can't resist responding sometimes.  This begged for that: "Remember that there are two types of people that buy the Prius: the environmental crowd and the early adopter tech-heads."  Wow!  It's amazing to see that some still believe that.  In reality, those buying Prius simply want something better.  They aren't any sort of extreme.  They are simply parents looking forward, interested in taking the next step forward rather than holding on to the past... which can be said for Camry-Hybrid too.  Look around.  Gas is expensive.  The cost of living is going up as a result.  New technology is rapidly adopted everywhere... cell-phone, MP3 players, wireless notebooks, etc.  And with Prius about to celebrate its 10th birthday, what part of "early" is relevant anymore?  Accept reality.  There are over 1,000,000 hybrids on the road from Toyota already.  Reading that only the core architecture will be production ready by 2010 should be a wake up call.  The "full" hybrids have a long time to thrive in the meantime.

6-07-2007

G8 Outcome.  Based on just the quotes published, you got the impression of progress.  In reality, nothing new.  It was more of the same old nonsense (with respect to carbon emissions).  Just a quick look back at presidential promises of the past, you'll read almost the identical quotes.  It's a problem they simply don't want to deal with.  The situation has grown worse over the last 6.5 years.  So expecting a miracle during the remaining 1.5 years is quite unrealistic.  Someone even posted a new slogan to identify the situation: "1/20/09: The End of an Error".  Sadly, it really will be looked back upon as an era of mistakes.  At least the other countries are pushing us.  Too bad we continue to refuse to any type of cooperation.  Doing nothing is a horrible choice.

6-07-2007

One Million Hybrids.  Today was quite interesting.  It started with a press release from Toyota Japan, officially declaring the success of having sold over 1,000,000 hybrids worldwide.  (A little over 757,000 were Prius.)  Within just a few hours, there was the first anti-Prius article posted online.  They were obviously waiting.  It was carefully crafted the same as their many other anti-Prius articles.  No one was surprised.  That particular group cries "wolf" so often, I wonder if anyone is listening anymore.  Strangely, another article just happened to hit the online world late yesterday.  It was an article that stirred disappointment for Volt, a positive boost for "full" hybrids as a result.  The point being told was that only the technology for that first "series" hybrid would be production ready by 2010.  A vehicle to utilize it will follow... and could take as long as 2015 before sales begin.  Whoa!  Was this a clarification?  Had the recent video been misinterpreted to such a degree that a discrete correction had to be quickly posted?  And do they honestly think they can hold off the attention "full" hybrids are getting for at least 3 or 4 years still?  Toyota will reach the 2,000,000 before then.

6-06-2007

Advice.  To those concerned about Volt attention...  While the non-hybrid diesel supporters waited years for low-sulfur fuel and still wait systems to use it, they ran out of constructive discussion.  So few pay attention anymore.  The struggle for attention is something the "assist" hybrid supporters have grown use to as well.  The "full" hybrids have been quite different.  They're thriving.  So their supporters have a wealth of new content to keep topics flowing.  Much of it is driven by the increase in the use of electricity as the technology progresses.  Isn't that the very thing "series" hybrid supporters will discuss too?  The current hype will subside.  Aren't you curious what they'll end up talking about afterward?

6-06-2007

Being Different.  More of the "trophy" mentality is revealing itself.  Rather than success being measured on consumer purchases of vehicles that meet certain emission & efficiency criteria, some feel "technical lead" is more important... based on how different the system is from traditional offerings.  The thought of some judging merit as a factor of "being different" hadn't occurred to me.  It makes sense coming from a person without any engineering background... the greater the difference, the better it must be.  Right?  After all, that is the basis to which the term "advanced" was derived.  People took it literally, equating that to a move away from what you currently have.  So rather than improving upon a design, some feel replacement with something else is superior.  No wonder fuel-cell concept vehicles get so much attention.  That explains a lot.  Too bad being different doesn't actually mean the resulting emission & efficiency will actually be an improvement.  In other words, you cannot just assume a "series" hybrid will be better than a "full" hybrid.

6-05-2007

Freaking Out.  Every few days a new owners posts a frantic message asking if there is a problem with their new Prius.  They witnessed the charge-level on the Multi-Display drop to pink (less than 3 bars) and end up having some type of intense emotional response.  Seeing such a blatantly obvious newbie pattern continue like that was starting to stir my emotion.  So, I replied with this...  You wouldn't believe how many hundreds of other posts we've seen over the years that were identical to yours.  It's a new owner ritual, which seems to have an "enlightenment" effect on many.  Awareness of the system is heightened afterward.  So there's a worthwhile benefit of just allowing the "freak out" to happen.  Though, I have requested suggestions about how to emphasize that information.  It's clearly illustrated in both the User-Guide and Info-Sheet.  But my guess is that people just don't understand the importance of what they are being shown until afterward.  1 bar is not empty.  8 bars is not full.  How can we better point out that it is just a relative measure, showing only the normal operating range rather than the entire capacity of the battery-pack?

6-05-2007

Accord-Hybrid.  It's dying a very public death this week.  Articles pointing out how Honda is ending production has been abundant.  The replacement will be a non-hybrid diesel instead.  So rather than figuring out how to provide a 4-cylinder version, they just gave up.  The limitations of the "assist" hybrid design must have become more of a problem than anyone was willing to admit.  Having a small electric motor without active cooling that could only contribute at only the same RPM as the engine prevented competition with "full" hybrids, which offer a wide scope of operational options and are able to take advantage of increased battery-capacity.  So, it was bound to happen.

 

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