Prius Personal Log  #35

August 1, 2002  -  August 19, 2002

Last Updated: Sat. 2/15/2003

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8-19-2002

Stealth Surprise.  The light turned green.  I accelerated quickly up to 40 MPH, reduced pressure on the pedal, then waited for the engine to shut off.  Stealth was achieved.  The road was straight & flat with only minor traffic.  I was still going 40 MPH.  The next light was green.  My smooth & silent glide continued.  Approaching the next light revealed another green.  I kept going.  Yet, another green.  Whoa!  It's pretty rare to be able to go that far without something interfering with your stealth pleasure.  I saw red up ahead.  It would end soon.  Bummer.  I had driven an entire mile on just electricity though, and my speed had dropped to 39 MPH only after that third light.  That was pretty cool!

8-18-2002

Didn't spot any Prius.  Being on the road biking for 6 hours, you'd think I'd see more at least 1.  But No!  (Of course, I did see a few in the dealer's lot as I rode by.)  Then I got home, jumped in the Prius, and drove for only a minute.  There at the first red light I encountered was a Blue Moon Pearl Prius.  Sweet!

8-18-2002

Prius gets better MPG.  I rode my bicycle 48.2 miles today.  It took a gallon of liquid alone to keep me going, and the juice I drink is a lot more expensive than gasoline.  Plus, I also needed a chicken sandwich and a few tacos to completely regenerate my batteries.  Prius requires less to go the same distance.  Let's avoid the topic of emissions...

8-18-2002

6 new Prius at the Park Photos.  I was at the park all by myself, with incredible weather, a whole bund of digital "film", and lots of time to play with the camera & Prius.  So I did.  Here's the moment I captured:  photo album 39

8-18-2002

14 new Prius by the Corn Photos.  Midwest corn, at it's best (green harvest stage) during a beautiful summer afternoon, provided a fantastic background for Prius photos I hadn't ever taken before.  These added even more variety to the ever-growing collection.  Check'em out:  photo album 38

8-17-2002

Touch-Up Paint.  After over 37,000 miles of driving, which included 2 winters where lots of sand was used on the roads, 6 tiny (1/16 inch) chips have developed.  On the lowest part of the hood and near the driver door-handle, I used my $5.23 bottle of touch-up paint.  It only took a few minutes and looked surprisingly good afterward.  That works fine for me.

8-17-2002

Manual Transmissions.  I always wondered why Honda had placed so much emphasis on manual transmissions.  With sales of automatic transmissions over 90 percent in here in the United States, it didn't seem like a good marketing plan.  But then I found out today that automatic transmissions only account for 5 percent of sales in all the countries of South America.  Manual transmissions have a 95 percent market share there.  That explains a lot.  I wonder what they'll think of the CVT in Prius.  There is a definite appeal to shifting yourself, but it really gets annoying in stop & slow traffic and it no where near as smooth.  Plus, now that CVT offers better MPG than both manual & automatic transmissions, that may change peoples' interest which could ultimately cause prices to drop due to increased production.  Hmmm.

8-17-2002

Calling it a "Small Car".  That label irritated me until today.  Prius isn't small.  The interior is same as the Taurus (a sedan!) I used to own and it's taller inside.  The shortness of the body itself shouldn't matter.  Well today, I was watching "Jurassic Park".  That movie introduced the label "car" to an SUV (specifically, a Ford Explorer).  Calling a big "truck" a "car" didn't make sense from an operational point-of-view, but it was great for marketing a high-profit product.  That was back in 1994 when SUVs were a new concept to the mainstream buyer.  8 years later, the SUV is now common and most often used as a single-occupant car".  That fact that it is really a "truck" has been lost (except of course, when paying for gas).  Anywho, monster SUVs are also called "car" now.  So labeling Prius a "small car" really isn't as bad as I had thought.  Calling it a "smart car" would be even better though.

8-15-2002

Not bad.  The 397 mile tank ended up showing 49.4 MPG on the Multi-Display and calculated to 45.8 MPG.  Knowing that will make me feel better if I indulge again this coming weekend.

8-14-2002

Recovery Was Speedy!  At 324 miles, the Multi-Display now shows 48.7 MPG.  That makes it hard to even detect I had that whole episode with the bike & A/C earlier on this tank.  I guess you can say my Prius is now "stealthy" again.

8-12-2002

Road To Recovery.  It's like trying to get back to normal after having been really sick or suffered a bad injury.  I went on a bike trip this weekend.  I refilled the tank knowing the Prius had to carry the bike on back, fight a nasty crosswind, and maintain 65 MPH.  But it was worth it.  CVT (Cannon Valley Trail) was wonderful!  The heavy overgrowth of trees protected me from the sun & wind allowing me to thoroughly enjoy 40 miles of scenic riding on a virtually flat route.  (And I got some nice gallery photos too.)  Returning home, the Prius had it even worse.  Besides the bike, nasty crosswind, and highway, I was hot & tired.  For relief, I set the A/C to its coldest setting: Minnesota Winter!  That was quite refreshing.  But after 55 miles total of driving, the Multi-Display reading had dropped all the way down to 40.6 MPG.  Ick!  Thankfully, the last 5 miles showed a sign of hope, it climbed to 41.1 MPG.  Now after a total of 182 miles, it says 47.2 MPG.  Phew!

8-09-2002

300,000 hybrid systems per year by 2005 or 2006!  I found this news in a press release too.  Today must have been "Hybrid Friday" or something.  Toyota is continuing to try to reach that goal they set quite a number of years ago.  Meeting it will mean seeing lots more hybrids on the road.  Cool!  The systems will probably be installed in a couple of different bodies too.  We already know Ford will be purchasing some of them for use in their hybrid version of the Escape SUV.  How many Prius there will be is still a mystery.  A lot of people still find the incredibly practical shape odd-looking.  Maybe they just haven't viewed it in the right setting.  Taking a look at some of my photos should do the trick:  photo album index

8-09-2002

An Improved Prius!  The rumors were confirmed true today.  Tweaks have been made to the hybrid design to improve fuel-efficiency for the driving conditions in Japan.  Competition over there is quite intense.  This move from Toyota takes the crown away from Honda for having the most efficient 5-passsenger car.  It's actually only a minor improvement, but I still wonder if changes are possible to squeeze out a few more MPG here in the United States too.

8-09-2002

Personal Road Recognition.  It's rare that I actually know the person I spot in a Prius.  Though they sometimes figure out who I am.  That "1701-A" license plate is a dead giveaway.  Anywho, today was different.  I honked a melody.  He turned around.  (We were stopped at an intersection.)  I waved.  He replied by waving and saying "Hi John!"  It was a friend from work with a Prius.  Cool!

8-08-2002

Stealth webpage.  Ya know, it didn't occur to me until yesterday that people keep asking about stealth and the group still didn't have it well documented into a single source yet.  So I whipped up a webpage. Check it out on my site and let me know what you think.  I just created common topics and spontaneously typed what came to mind.  It appears as though I did a good job, but I'm sure y'all will find something I forgot to add or didn't state quite right... stealth

8-08-2002

Koch Refinery.  I had a flashback while driving by there today.  Ages ago, that place reeked.  The smell was so horrible we used to hold our breath when passing by.  It turns out those emissions were in gross violation of emissions standards.  Not anymore though.  Now there's no unpleasant smell at all.  And the gasoline they create is some of the cleanest available year-round in the entire country.  That's where "BluePlanet" gas is from.  It's the low sulfur fuel my Prius has been enjoying since purchase almost two years ago.  Having witnessed an improvement on that scale at the refinery makes me feel really good.  What else can we clean up?

8-07-2002

Rapid Sightings.  While taking a walk on the skyway, I pointed and made a "happy sound" when I spotted a Prius approaching.  My friend knew exactly what had happened within a instant.  Then just a few minutes later, I did it again.  But this time, my friend (now a witness) couldn't see the source of my excitement.  It fact, it took 2 full blocks of driving before the Prius got close enough to identify.  I had actually spotted it from a 1/2 mile away.  Sweet!  Road recognition is really getting fun!!

8-07-2002

Birds!  I think the wildlife is out to get me.  When I stopped at an intersection down by the Mississippi river this morning, a bird landed between the two vehicles to my left.  It was completely unaware of the danger the green light would bring.  Seeing no fear, about 30 of the bird's friends joined in.  Then, of course, the light turned green.  They all flocked straight toward my window, rather than the open area the other direction.  Coming only within a foot of me, I screamed.  Could the silence of stealth have given them a false impression of my vehicle have no potential of moving?  At least that silence is beneficial from my perspective.  It makes it significantly easier for me to hear external sounds (like an inattentive child playing nearby).

8-06-2002

Squished BUNNY.  I couldn't believe it.  Just an hour earlier, I was telling the Yahoo group about the rabbit I almost squished with my Prius last year. Fortunately, I was able to safely steer out of the way.  Now something similar was happening again!  This time, there was a cute little bunny that was making its way it front of my Prius... with a series of rapid tiny hoops.  That seemed odd.  Once again, I attempted to steer out of the way.  I cleared the bunny just fine, but not the squirrel!  The bunny was being chased!!  And I got in the way.  There was no where else to go.  So I had to slam on the brakes.  The Prius stopped without any trouble.  It scared the squirrel stiff for a moment though... just long enough for the bunny to sneak away!  When the squirrel suddenly realized I had provided escape for the bunny, he looked at me with frustration, then ran to the tall grass area where the bunny had disappeared.  Why do things like this happen to me?  That was one heck of a coincidence.

8-05-2002

Low-End Torque.  The latest "No Boundaries" commercial from Ford points out how much low-end torque their trucks provide.  Too bad they don't offer hybrids.  Electric motors deliver even greater power output at slow speeds.  That's why their used in trains and forklifts.  When I tell people my Prius provides 258 lb-ft of torque, they're shocked.  Even my old Taurus with an engine well over double the size of the Prius couldn't compete with that.

8-05-2002

Cost Misconception.  Now when I tell uninformed (yet quite curious) people about my hybrid, they don't ask about speed.  (I think that strange misconception about electric motors being slow has finally been cleared up!)  The question they want most answered now is about cost.  They're under the impression that the ingenious technology is quite pricey.  So when I tell them it's just over $20,000, the expression I usually receive is that of confusion.  That triggers an instant flow of other various questions.  I hope that curiosity carries them to the internet or even a dealer afterward.

8-04-2002

Third Edition of the User-Guide.  Over the past 3 months I've been tweaking the User-Guide we created for Prius owners, just a bunch of small changes based on recent discussions from the Yahoo Group.  Unit conversions were added to help out our foreign readers.  And the hybrid symbol was added for cosmetic appeal.  Then last night, an entire section for Alternate Tires was added.  That's definitely enough to call it a complete edition, so I did.  It's now available for downloading, in both DOC & PDF format, here:  user-guide

8-03-2002

New Prius Color:  Golden Pearl.   It looks like Toyota will also offer "Golden Pearl" in addition to Black for new colors in the 2003 model.  Unfortunately, the rare "Blue Moon Pearl" will be discontinued.  I liked that color, but it wasn't popular enough with others to justify offering it still.  Oh well.  That now means those that own one will have the rarest of the colors.

8-02-2002

What a drag.  The perfect weather today left me yearning for all-windows-down driving.  Resistance was futile.  I did it.  The drag it created brought my average down.  Now I'm sitting at 50.4 MPG after 314 miles.  The fuel level dropped below the midway mark at 309, so I'm really getting about 49 MPG for this tank.  In other words, it's ok to enjoy.  Summer is way too short to miss.  Before I know it, I'll have to keep the windows up.

8-01-2002

Dang!  I only spotted 1 other Prius on the road today.

8-01-2002

Alternate Tires - 5,250 mile statusI haven't plugged my Goodyear Allegras for awhile.  It's time again.  Handling is superior to the OEMs.  The 42/40 PSI makes the ride a bit stiffer and less quiet, but I don't notice that at all anymore.  And in the winter when I'm driving on snow & ice, it won't even be a factor.  Performance had originally taken a 3 MPG hit.  But now that I'm averaging calculated tanks in the extreme upper-40's MPG, that isn't a concern.  Wear is barely even noticeable.  I have no clue if they'll really provide 75,000 miles of service, but I can definitely state that they'll outlast the OEMs.  Actually, doing a U-turn was enough to prove that.  The OEM tires left marks on the road, the Allegras don't.  And lastly, I saved $20 per tire by switching.  In short, I'm quite pleased with my decision.

 

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