Prius Personal Log  #354

November 4, 2007  -  November 11, 2007

Last Updated: Sun. 10/24/2010

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11-11-2007

Catalyst.  I loved reading this today: "The Prius was the catalyst for the entire hybrid phenomenon..."  And I bet few, if any, will like my response since it is so easy to prove that my support was always there with that very perspective in mind from the very beginning...  I said that back in 2000, when Prius was already 3 years old.  The result was getting mocked by those supporting the other automakers.  What now, 7 years later?  Will we get only minimum token gestures?  How long do we have to wait before top-20 production volume is delivered?  Remember, there are some still against hybrids entirely.  That lack of focus from within will impair progress.  Not getting agreement on direction is a big problem.  Achieving mainstream status is a significant challenge.

11-10-2007

5 Prius.  There were 5 Prius parked within just a dozen spots of each other.  That was the place to be.  I was in the coffee shop at that strip mall.  Where did you think the other owners were?  It was rather tempted to just yell out "Prius!" to see who looks.  After all, if you see someone look up with a smile on their face after you yell "Yata!", you know they are a Heroes fan.

11-10-2007

Parking Lights.  Like any other first-time removal, it was quite a challenge but would be no big deal doing it again later.  They were in really tight.  I wasn't entirely sure how to actually remove them.  The fact that there was almost no room at all to work didn't help either.  But that small area in the corner of the light assembly widens a decent amount if you disconnect the upper bracket... which thankfully is very easy.  Unfortunately, I dropped the screw bit into the dark depths below just moments after finding that out.  Needless to say, it's amazing what you can retrieve with a long screwdriver and a wad of duct tape.  So after a bit of a struggle and $2.04, both parking lights in front (those smallest orange ones) are now working again.

11-09-2007

Grille Blocking, colder.  So far with this tank (189 miles), the temperature has been 10 F degrees colder.  With only a brief trip at 44, all the rest of the driving was a variety of 30's.  Watching the gauge, I've seen remarkable stability.  Other than during acceleration & stealth, it is basically constant.  That is definitely different from the ups & downs when it was warmer.  Fortunately, the efficiency isn't.  The average is currently 51.4 MPG.  That's amazing compared to what I had experienced in prior Fall driving.  Yeah!

11-09-2007

Different Approach.  Today, Toyota shared detailed plans to study consumer demand here for a plug-in option.  Bob Carter, who heads the Toyota brand in the United States, said "Before we bring it to market, our customers always expect a level of quality and reliability, value and cost.  It's critical that we understand the expectations of the consumers."  That sounds profoundly different from the GM approach.  One automaker is asking, the other is telling.  I can't stress how important proper expectations are.  Price is a very big deal, as history has clearly revealed.  Just look at how much conflict has stirred from the augmentation efforts that strived for maximum efficiency without regard to cost.  Fortunately, the base platform itself is already well established... and profitable.  Now it is moving forward another step.  The University of California, Berkeley and the University of California, Irvine were both recipients of Plug-In Prius test models from Toyota.  The resulting feedback provided should be quite intriguing.  I'm curious as heck how much electric capacity they recommend.  For those with mixed driving, it's the resulting MPG that reveals the true need... not a statistical distance.

11-09-2007

Choices.  We needed to provide some perspective on a Two-Mode discussion thread in the big Prius forum.  This quote from the start of a response is confirmation of how well the greenwashing is going: "So, as long as folks are going to buy big vehicles (for whatever reason)..."  Some of us totally disagree with that.  We watched the silly promotion of monster-size SUVs under the guise that they were safer, which turned out to be quite incorrect for both people inside and the vehicles being crushed by it.  But rather than complain about disingenuous intent, we say focused on need.  Did I do that well with this reply...  If they don't offer it, of course we won't buy it!  By not producing it, they make the decision for us.  Watch how consumers flock to the midsize choice once it is finally available.

11-09-2007

Among The Worst.  Now that production of Two-Mode has begun, there is a noticeable increase in hybrid articles being published.  Today I read one of the worst I have ever encountered.  It was packed with facts that lead you to believe that information was true for all the hybrids.  There were lots of generalizations.  It was terrible.  You were lead to believe that driving slow was the only way to achieve high MPG, which simply isn't true.  You were lead to believe that only the largest hybrids could tow anything, which also isn't true.  You were lead to believe bio-fuels would later replace hybrids, as if the two were mutually exclusive.  You were lead to believe that the fastest electric-only speed was around 25 MPH, even though Toyota's have been up to 42 MPH since the very beginning.  There was no mention of advantageous hybrid-only features either, like electric A/C.  And of course, there was absolutely nothing about emissions.  If you hadn't guess already, it was written by someone in Detroit.  Why are they sabotaging their own success?  All that misrepresentation sets up false expectations and quickly disenchants after people discover the differences.

11-08-2007

Late 2010.  A comment from an interview this week with Frank Weber, the E-Flex global vehicle-line executive and chief-engineer, stressed how Bob Lutz is demanding delivery of Volt by late 2010.  It underlines just how complicated the process really is... and how much of a risk GM took by not investing sooner.  They are definitely paying for their attitude of the past.  I sure hope it works out.  But the risk of convincing consumer not to settle for electric-only range less than 40 miles is probably going to backfire.  Why aren't they focusing on kW instead?  After all, that isn't much different from the horsepower or towing-capacity obsession.  That doesn't undermine the "full" hybrid coexistence either.  Whatever the case, we still have 3 years of waiting (and hype) to endure.

11-08-2007

GreenLine label is gone.  That was the comment from an administrator on the big GM forum today.  It sounds as though the lack of any smog-related emission improvement is finally getting noticed.  Calling that system "green" was never appropriate.  Those focusing on the CARB rating system knew it... and spoke out with disappointment.  Greenwashing is difficult when the simple identifiers like SULEV are available.  GreenLine scored two levels worse, nothing to be proud of.  So drawing attention to it with "green" implications was a bad idea.  I'm curious to see how this plays out now.  Will this change actually happen?

11-08-2007

EV Mode.  It is truly bizarre watching television and seeing a commercial featuring the EV button on Highlander-Hybrid.  Not only is it available, it is now having attention drawn to it too.  That's a change I hadn't expected yet.  In time, I knew Toyota would point out that design feature.  But I always figured it would be with the introduction of the next generation design... saying it isn't new, that all the HSD models have always supported it.  At that stage, aftermarket options would be available to take advantage of that.  But with all the crazy EV hype coming from GM now, it would seem the time has come to start educating consumers about this next level of hybrid ability.

11-07-2007

Hybrid Types.  The lack of understanding differences between them is really becoming a concern.  In years past, it was isolated to supporters causing trouble on forums.  Now, it's more a matter of consumers making assumptions based on nothing but generalizations and never participating online.  It's a disturbing trend emerging.  The absurd advance promotion of vehicles that are still only concepts is really causing confusion and setting up totally unrealistic expectations.  Of course, hype does tend to help to apply the "obsolete" label to outdated technology.  In this case, it paints an unpleasant picture for non-hybrid vehicles.  So maybe there will be some type of twisted benefit.  But I do still worry about people making purchases based on misunderstanding then being disappointed afterward.  Disenchantment can be a very bad outcome.

11-07-2007

Grille Blocking, real-world.  I refilled the tank today.  It was at the same pump.  So the calculated result of 51.2 MPG after 383 miles should be pretty darn accurate.  Considering the reality that the temperature was now at freezing (32 F degrees), I'm quite pleased.  That's a MPG improvement which is pretty easy to see based on data collected from the previous 4 Novembers that I've driven this Prius.  Naturally, I'm somewhat upset that we didn't make this discovery sooner.  But then again, most people still don't even have a Multi-Display.  So the benefit of a simple & affordable device that shows you ODB-II data which is normally hidden is well beyond what any of us expected.  Better late than never, right?

11-07-2007

Grille Blocking, disagreeing.  I did some searches today.  There were only 4 references to aerodynamic benefit.  All claimed there wasn't any.  I disagree... with reasoning that should be difficult to dispute.  My daily commute starts with 3 blocks of city, then an uphill ramp onto a 70 MPH highway.  That's normally pretty rough on the efficiency... but not as much anymore (about 5 MPG better).  I have seen an improvement.  Temperature really doesn't play a role in that equation.  The blasting air against the front of the vehicle is the dominant factor in that circumstance.  I don't suspect many of the other owners testing the difference experience that particular situation.  So what I've witnessed may be our missing clue.  Whatever the case, I'm telling others that upper-grille blocking in the 50 F degrees to freezing temperature range provides a gain mostly from aerodynamics; a warmth difference won't emerge until it's colder out.

11-07-2007

Want.  It was quite a surprise the other day, when I actually got this constructive feedback from a Volt enthusiast: "We just want a car that gets 40 miles electric and then 50 mpg at a price under $30,000."  Unfortunately, that's the best I have ever been provided.  What if GM offers a model that makes more sense from a cost perspective, one that offers a 20-mile electric range?  Many "series" hybrid supporters have already sounded off against anything less than 40... knowing that "full" hybrids will target consumers wanting that.

11-07-2007

Denial.  It's getting really bad.  GM's investment in the future is great, but their heavy advertising of a product that still won't be available for almost 3 years is crazy.  There's simply no way they can satisfy demand once production begins.  To make matters worse, it won't be priced at a profitable level.  They can't afford to lose any more money.  And how the heck are they paying for the advertisements now?  Remember how Prius owners got grief for years about how a hybrid needs to be available at a Corolla price?  Volt is most certainly not in that category, even with lower fuel expenses.

11-07-2007

$97.87 Per Barrel.  That was the highest I saw it in overnight futures here.  In Japan, oil exceeded $98.  What should we expect for resulting gas prices?  How will that indirectly affect us, from hidden costs coming from the food & services industries?  Plastics are derived from oil.  So the goods we purchased will see an impact too?  This isn't good.  Not having a solution readily available will make matters worse.  I sure hope people are preparing to face that reality.

11-06-2007

Grille Blocking, snowflakes.  The temperature here continues to drop.  We got our first snow yesterday.  My commute home has dropped from 52 F degrees to 34 (snowflake illuminated on the dash).  I'm still not seeing any upper-grille efficiency benefit caused by increased warmth though.  Discussions online always implied having more heat available was the reason for the higher MPG.  That now appears to be just circumstantial evidence.  My observations lead me to believe it is almost entirely a matter of improved aerodynamics.  Genuine cold should reveal how much of what factors are really at play.  Later on I'll block off some or all of the lower-grille too, since warmth is harder to retain then.  Perhaps that data will indicate more.  Whatever the case, this current tank is reading 51.8 MPG after 343 miles.  I'm absolutely delighted by that.

11-05-2007

CAFE Standards.  They will eventually get raised.  To what level is the question.  More numbers were thrown around today by Senator Hillary Clinton... and they were big, quite different from what this current administration has ever discussed.  I sure am glad this topic is getting so much attention.  The stupid loophole in the previous standards allowed SUVs to be produced in large quantities without consequence.  Now their numbers are included.  And going forward, fleet requirements aren't modest improvements anymore.  Looking to 2020 and 2030 levels is a popular thing to do now.  It's about time.  The rest of the world is setting new regulations.  We should be too.

11-04-2007

Hybrid Type... Again!  It won't really matter.  By being so vague, they are actually undermining their own success anyway.  So I just kept my response to their rhetoric short...  The series-parallel design doesn't work like either the parallel or series type hybrid.  So comparisons are non-constructive.  Why keep feeding the hype?  Augmenting a Prius boosts MPG.  It's that simple.  You'll pay a few thousand more for the upgrade option to get higher efficiency.

11-04-2007

EPA Approval.  How is that going to happen for hybrids with a plug-in option?  There is no standard criteria for their usage.  What will be measured?  Emissions could vary tremendously.  That in itself could delay introduction.  There is probably some type of liability concern as well.  And what about warranty coverage?  Lots of questions.  No answers yet.  I wonder when we'll actually hear something official.  Hmm?

 

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