Prius Personal Log  #336

June 26, 2007  -  July 4, 2007

Last Updated: Sat. 7/07/2007

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7-04-2007

Prius for a New Driver?  That question was posed today.  This was my response:  New drivers have higher expectations than those that have already learned to deal with traditional designs... everything from having the steering-wheel block your view of the speedometer to the waste of having the engine needlessly run.  Not having developed a tolerance yet is great.  You're still quite open-minded too.  It makes Prius a very pleasing choice... but at the same time creates disappointment with everything else.  That raising of the bar puts owners in an awkward position.  It's your choice whether to embrace change now or to delay until the inevitable.  But with the current state of gas prices, I suggest seriously considering Prius.

7-04-2007

Achieve MPG Happiness.  I'm growing tired of hearing that on the latest Kia television commercial for their crossover vehicle: Rondo.  Since when is 29 MPG something to truly be happy about?  It doesn't even meet the much touted 30 MPG level.  Apparently, the propaganda to lower expectations worked... especially when you consider the reality that the 29 is just the highway estimate.  For city, it's only 21 MPG.  That's just plain awful for a 162 horsepower 4-cylinder vehicle the same length as a Corolla.  What do you think the real-world data actually is?

7-04-2007

July Sales.  As if they didn't already have enough to stir frustration, the official numbers were released yesterday.  17,756 Prius were purchased here (the United States) last month.  That's well above the amount required to achieve the goal of 150,000 annually.  I'm thrilled!  It's quite exhilarating to witness such a popularity increase.  In this case, it was a 73.6 percent improvement over the same month the previous year.  Prius is most definitely a mainstream vehicle now.  No wonder there's so much frustration building.  Regularly seeing them all over the place is very disheartening for those supporting other automakers who still don't offer anything competitive.  Without saying or doing anything, you know they are thinking "smug" owner.  That's why I gave up on that big GM forum.  No matter what I said, they simply didn't want to hear anything from a well-known Prius owner.  I had always hoped for a team mentality, all "full" hybrid enthusiasts bonding together.  Clearly, that's not what happened.  Oh well.  There certainly are plenty of Prius owners to bond with.

7-03-2007

Fighting Words.  There's no benefit from participating on the big GM forum anymore.  The voices of reason are getting drown by internal quarreling.  They all know their automaker is in a lot of trouble now and problems are growing worse.  The market for guzzlers is quickly fading.  Not being able to respond fast enough is a major factor.  The roots of that come from lack of agreement upon what the solution should be in the first place.  It is a serious impairment, something leadership has yet to acknowledge.  And of course, rather than being constructive about it, some are choosing to direct the resulting frustration into hostility with comments like this: "Please... don't fight (although a few here in this thread that thrive on such)... turn your anger towards Toyota instead."  How would that help?  The success of vehicles like Prius should be a guide to the future, a sign of hope.  Toyota is making the rollout of upcoming new GM technologies easier by proving misconceptions false in the meantime.  The clich� "biting the hand that feeds you" comes to mind.  They are harming the very thing they need.

7-03-2007

Aftermarket Devices.  If those MPG improvement devices actually worked, wouldn't you think a major automaker would purchase the rights to use it on their vehicles?  After all, factory delivery of higher efficiency is a serious problem they are all trying to overcome.  A competitive advantage like that would be great.  Well, it turns out they have problems... exactly as many of us have been saying for ages.  Of the 93 devices the EPA recently tested, only 10 provided an increase.  Of those, 4 caused increased emissions.  So, we just plain don't like that.  Unfortunately, long-term system reliability wasn't tested.  I bet those remaining 6 had some type of negative effect.  Efficiency improvements require an engineering tradeoff of some sort.  After all, when has getting something for nothing ever been realistic?

7-03-2007

$71.41 Per Barrel.  It's been a gentle climb over the past few weeks.  That lead up to this holiday price seems to indicate that it won't come down afterward.  Without any major political or environmental crisis right now, it's a pretty safe bet.  Demand grows, supply remains fixed.  It's a recipe for ever increasing costs.  When will dealing with that finally become a major priority?  At least there is more attention given now, but that hasn't influenced major change yet.  Sadly, some attitudes remain the same.  Denial is very real for some still.  At least the hybrid data continues to accumulate.  Proof of mass-acceptance from predictable efficiency and reliable operation becomes more and more difficult to deny as time progresses.  The solution is already available.

7-02-2007

Driver Data.  I couldn't resist responding to this: "Take for example the hybrid assist bar graph.  It not only tells you if the car is using assist or regen but also tells you how much."  A few others couldn't either.  They all stated the same thing, the simplicity of that hybrid type doesn't necessarily equate to data which empowers the driver.  And a more complex type would only serve to confuse.  Here's my input:  Only being able to do one thing at a time makes user information inherently simple.  That's how the "assist" hybrid works.  So it's easy to show.  Prius on the other hand... can generate, consume, and recharge/draw all at once.  Showing a value coming from the small motor, a value coming from the large motor, and a value coming from or going to the battery-pack would exceed a useful level for the typical person.  That's too much data simultaneously.  The very nature of the "full" hybrid confuses.  Reaching the mainstream market means intentionally over simplifying.  So that's what you get.

7-02-2007

House Decision.  Differing from the plan proposed by the Senate two weeks ago, at least it's a fairly decent step in the right direction.  The bill introduces a fleet efficiency requirement of 32 MPG by 2022.  That's 3 MPG less taking 2 years more.  Strangely, the Auto Alliance actually likes that, using "rational" and "achievable" in response to the announcement.  I have no idea why just a little bit longer makes such a difference, but I'm well aware how squeezing out that extra 3 will be painful.  Commitment to better technology will become essential.  There seems to be a somewhat unexplainable threshold though.  15 years is a heck of a long time.  Fortunately, it sounds as though this decision is one of many.  Their are many House members that want quicker delivery of improved efficiency.  That battle for a new standard is far from over.

7-01-2007

970 Mile Trip.  My cousin was getting married in Chicago suburb.  So it was a road trip for my mother, sister, and I... a fantastic opportunity for the Prius to strut its stuff.  And it did!  The temperature was cool at first, so we didn't fire up the A/C until the final third of the way there.  Then it was never shut off until finally arriving back at home two days later.  The speed limit was 65 MPH just about the entire way.  That meant going 67 or 68 to keep with the flow.  On the only 70 MPH stretch, no speeding, since there I had the highway almost to myself.  Chicago rush hour was the extreme opposite, very crowded & slow.  Oddly, we were sandwiched between a first year Accord-Hybrid and a second for awhile there.  I hadn't realized the badging was so different until then.  Immediately after getting off the highway, the Prius got the most expensive gas I've ever purchased: $3.39 per gallon.  That particular stop was well worth it though.  I saw my first ever Smart Car.  It looked extremely out of place, not resembling anything else on the road by a long shot.  Its future here should be interesting.  Anywho, there was only 14 miles on the tank when I left my driveway.  That and the following brought me 861 miles total, using 16.425 gallons of E10... which calculates to a very pleasing 52.4 MPG.  Yeah!  Even better was the remaining travel, Multi-Display measured so far at 56.4 MPG after 122 miles.  So it's pretty safe saying I got about 53 MPG for the trip overall, especially considering the efficiency increase you'd get from non-ethanol blended gas.  That's fantastic... but not as good as how many Prius I saw.  They were everywhere!  It was a great trip!!!

6-28-2007

Interesting Numbers.  Someone did some interesting searches today.  That effort revealed the weight, horsepower, and MPG estimates for Camry over the past two decades.  From the 92-96 model: standard weight was 2932 pounds, horsepower was 130, and the EPA numbers were 21 city and 28 highway.  For the 97-01: weight increased 66 pounds, horsepower increased by 3, yet efficiency climbed to 23/30.  How about that?  For the 02-06: it gained 88 more pounds, 24 more horsepower, and highway improved by 2 (to 23/32).  The 07 added another 221 pounds (to 3,307), increased horsepower by 1 (to 158), and bumped efficiency by 1 (to 24/33).  In other words, weight & power grew as MPG improved.  That's impressive, but still not as good as the hybrid.  The hybrid is 373 pounds heavier than the non-hybrid, offers 29 more horsepower, and efficiency is quite a bit better at 40/38.  Did you know that?

6-28-2007

Gas Saving Tips.  There's nothing like walking into a store and seeing the massive display of televisions all showing the image of a Prius.  It's the latest promotion for going green.  The hybrid was actually just a computer-generated model for visual attention getting.  The message was really in the words.  Prius by name wasn't actually highlighted.  They just pointed out things anyone could immediately do to use less gas, like checking tire-pressure routinely and changing the air-filter.  Avoiding excessive speed is another good one.  What I like is how Prius is becoming a familiar image.  The shape no longer sticks out as unusual.  The aerodynamic hatchback is a very practical design.  Why didn't that get mentioned as a next car purchase tip?

6-28-2007

Hybrid Section.  This repetition of history is getting very interesting.  Remember how a number of enthusiasts, including myself, begged for a hybrid section on the big Escape forum?  It never happened.  Years later, discussion threads about hybrids are still lost among the clutter of general topics.  The very same thing is happening on the big GM forum now.  What do you think it will take before the implicit undermining finally stops?  Heck, some have even suggested making it broader to include ethanol & diesel discussions.  But so far, the resistance has held their ground.  Change to that forum on such a fundamental level would definitely shake the foundation of it.  I can't wait!  The pressure potential is far greater for GM than it was for Ford.  Those unwilling to provide support eventually have to acknowledge the reality of an alternative forum & website being created instead.  Loss of member participation that way is never a good thing.

6-28-2007

Fleet Rollout First.  Now it's starting to make more sense.  GM stating they would be delivering only 1,000 Volts by the end of the decade but also wanting to produce 1,000,000 within the first 5 years seemed to question their intention with the technology.  I thought it was odd.  But then considering how they first like to rollout to fleet customers (government & large business sales only), the quantity made more sense.  Those are controlled and carefully monitored situations, not as random as typical consumers.  I wonder how long it will take the enthusiasts to figure that out.  They've got longer to wait than they anticipated.  GM will first be watching the progress of the initial fleet before taking the step into mainstream availability.  It's a logical rollout strategy.  But it does question their confidence.  What are they doing with the technology between now & then?  With all their prior experience in electric propulsion (EV1 & Sequel) combined with the fact that Two-Mode is ready for production, shouldn't limited fleet testing be possible soon?  It would be nice later discovering there was a secret aggressive study program, that they are taking the situation much more seriously.  But how in the world do you keep something like that hidden on public roads and silent on the web?

6-27-2007

Hybrid Hype.  It continues.  On the positive extreme, we have Volt.  No one knows what that hybrid will cost and when it will be available.  But expectations are growing.  Whether or not they are realistic is going to become a big deal as rollout time approaches.  On the negative extreme, we have two automakers claiming the 35 MPG fleet average requirement would increase vehicle cost anywhere from $5,000 to $7,000.  As pressure builds to actually deliver, what's going to happen?  How much longer can the delay continue?  When will action be insisted upon, rather than just accepting the hype we get now?

6-26-2007

Nitrogen Oxide Emissions.  Today was the Washington Post to the rescue.  Seeing that "Hummer better than Prius" nonsense still living on, despite having been proven extremely misleading, they specifically targeted smog-related emissions from the tailpipe... since their patrons are regularly suffering from air-quality problems.  Summer heat makes breathing difficult for some, a direct contribution from what we choose to drive.  Measured in grams-per-mile, a Hummer emits 0.90 of NOx (Nitrogen Oxide).  That from Prius is only 0.02, that's 45 times less.  So put in those terms, it's no contest that both hybrid technology and size of the vehicle itself make a big difference.  Consider that the next time your area issues an air-quality warning.

6-26-2007

Such Nonsense.  It's enough to make a person crazy.  Some simply won't believe it ever happened... years later.  They'll ask how could there have been resistance to change like that.  Now though, examples are abundant.  Here's one: "Putting Hybrid's in a car the size of a Cobalt doesn't do much.  Frankly I am sick of explaining this, and I am going to just start blocking idiots who can't understand this."  He's among the loudest speaking out against what I represent (happy Prius owners).  It's sad.  Keep in mind that Volt is the same size as Cobalt.  Focusing on improving the efficiency of only the largest vehicles was the hot discussion topic today.  It basically has come to rescuing the doomed.  Why make a smaller vehicle more appealing when we can give those that desire excess an excuse instead?  So much for actually giving consumers a choice.  We are once again being told what to buy.  Rather than offering the hybrid system installed in a wide range of vehicle sizes, only the largest will get the best technology for the next few years.

 

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