Prius Personal Log  #358

December 7, 2007  -  December 12, 2007

Last Updated: Mon. 1/21/2008

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12-12-2007

Intentional New Misconception, part 6.  One final thought, how do you think owners will respond years from now when they discover: Your RANGE will vary?  It doesn't matter whether you've got the standard 3 miles of electric-only driving or extend it to 7 miles.  The realities of cold & hot weather along with traffic & terrain result in efficiency lower than the official estimate provided.  The EPA doesn't measure extremes like that.  They just cover the basics.  My guess is that a great majority of those plug-in Prius owners will already be aware of that prior to purchase.  But what about Volt owners desiring 40 miles of electric-only range after all those years of waiting?  Running their heater while stuck in stop & slow Winter traffic could be a harsh reality learning event.  Ever think about how much more headlights are needed in the north?  During the cold season here in Minnesota, I use them almost constantly... quite unlike in the Summer.  Simple factors like less daylight being available are often forgotten we considering MPG.  Things like that are a big oversight when it comes to running a car relying on electricity.  How much of a draw will that electric heater actually take?

12-12-2007

Intentional New Misconception, part 5.  By the way, did you notice how I inverted the meaning of the phrase "RANGE EXTENSION"?  For Volt, that means use of the engine.  For Prius, that could now mean use of the added battery-capacity.  It was a intended to transmit discontent in a clever & subtle way.  Perhaps that misuse of the term struck a nerve.  Whatever the case, expect to see more "MPG BOOST" references.  I'm tired of their misleading.  Additional electricity does not necessarily mean extended range for Prius.  Though some owners might be able to use it that way, most will instead experience an engine that doesn't run as hard.  RPM will be lower due to greater contribution from the electric motor; consequently, MPG will be higher.  Geez!  Why do some fight you every step of the way?  Whenever spreading information about of how the various hybrid systems operate is undermined, there's a problem.  Some intentionally attempt to prevent certain knowledge from being learned... as I witnessed today.  My advice to you: Read carefully and ask for detail rather than assuming... because sometimes, a person is hoping you won't question their vague comments.

12-12-2007

Intentional New Misconception, part 4.  Did you get it?  I've been using the "MPG BOOST" references since this last Summer, fearing there were attempts to intentionally create a new misconception.  This evening, I believe I have been provided with confirmation that those feelings were indeed correct.  Disingenuous posts about hybrids are nothing new.  They tend to stick out for the veterans, having so much practice detecting them in the past.  You find out your initial assumption was correct by reading everything certain people say.  Their true purpose is eventually revealed.  It's the anti-hybrid techniques used for a different purpose.  Being patient and attentive is all it takes.  But for me, I sometimes choose to play offense.  Don't think of the increased battery-capacity in terms of extending range; it is there to boost MPG.  After all, isn't the point adding a plug to increase efficiency?

12-12-2007

Intentional New Misconception, part 3.  Here's that message, which I had hoped would convey the point that they are not the same...  This misconception is getting tiring already.  That's not how the upgrade actually works.  With a "full" hybrid like Prius, the increased battery-capacity and a plug provides a MPG BOOST.  In this case, an inexpensive MPG BOOST.  The primary point isn't to deliver exclusive electric driving, though it can.  So rather than averaging 50 MPG, you get 60 MPG instead... a MPG BOOST.  Get it?  If not, I'd really like some help here explaining that "full" hybrids and Volt cannot be directly compared like that.  The systems are simply too different.  Each operates in a unique way.  MPG BOOST not RANGE EXTENSION!  MPG BOOST not RANGE EXTENSION!  MPG BOOST not RANGE EXTENSION!  MPG BOOST not RANGE EXTENSION!  MPG BOOST not RANGE EXTENSION!  Get it?

12-12-2007

Intentional New Misconception, part 2.  This is what got me riled up: "Wow!  Seven whole miles!!!  I can't wait!"  It was in response to an article stating that was the anticipated range of the plug-in Prius now being tested that can be driven up to 62 MPH using just electricity.  You can only read such obvious attempts to feed a growing misconception so many times.  Others have responded in the past with subtle comments about that comparison not being as straight forward as implied, mentioning how battery and design differences make range comparing inappropriate.  But they didn't get any attention among a crowd growing louder with chants of "electric range" being of paramount importance.  Remember, this is the same group that also dismisses battery cost without any consideration.  So, this didn't surprise me.  It did inform me though that I'd have to be more than just passive if I wanted more than just being ignored.  So, I went with an abrasive approach, polite yet a message crystal clear and with some discontent added.  Unfortunately, it simply got deleted.

12-12-2007

Intentional New Misconception, part 1.  More and more, I'm seeing Volt enthusiasts using "electric range" as their reasoning for why it is the best vehicle choice, mocking the competition offering less battery-capacity.  They don't want you to know that's an apple-to-orange comparison, that "electric range" doesn't actually mean as much for a "full" hybrid.  In fact, they are now trying to prevent that knowledge from being spread.  My post today was quickly deleted.  But not in the usual way, where the content is replaced with a message from the moderator providing an explanation of some sort.  It was removed from the topic entirely.  As far as I have witnessed, that has never been done on that website dedicated to Volt.  Posts with profanity remain, but not mine.  It's been eliminated, as if it never existed.

12-12-2007

How Green?  An article from Fox was published online today.  I knew it was going to be bad.  And sure enough, reading it was like reliving what happened many years ago... lots of misleading using totally inappropriate reasoning.  This was my favorite quote: "Using Consumer Reports' estimates, a Prius, which gets about 44 miles per gallon, will use about $960 in gasoline per year (at $3 per gallon for 14,000 miles), while a Fit, at 34 mpg for the stick-shift edition, will use about $1,250 a savings for Prius owners of only $290."  They used the fairly realistic MPG data from Consumer Reports and compared that the highway-only estimate of a smaller vehicle value with a manual transmission.  How is that is even the slightest bit sincere?  The city estimate for the automatic transmission is 27 MPG.  How come no mention of that?  And why not use actual values from test drives for Fit like they did for Prius.  Or why not use the estimates for Prius?  Of course doing that, the numbers are different.  The 31 MPG for the Manual Fit compared to the 46 MPG Prius boosts that $290 by $159 more.  Comparing to the more appropriate automatic instead, that's an additional $38 for Prius.  And why the heck did they use 14,000 miles in the first place?  Everyone else calculates using 15,000 miles.  Doing that adds another $35... giving a grand total of $522 savings per year... without ever taking into account the fact that the Fit delivers the worst emission rating and the Prius the best, which naturally was never given any acknowledgement in the article... despite the fact that the article was titled: "How Green is the Toyota Prius?"

12-12-2007

135 MPG.  Now that the evening temperatures are commonly in the single digits, I have grown curious what new stuff my aftermarket gauge may reveal.  In the Summer, the decent into the small valley I live in is with the engine off.  It's plenty warm for it to shut off anytime during that 30 MPH drive downhill.  But now in the Winter with the heater, shutting off doesn't always occur as you drive.  Coming to a brief stop is sometimes required.  That made me curious just how little the engine could run.  So at the conclusion of my errand running, I watch carefully as I approached the house.  135 MPG was the efficiency.  The engine slowed to 992 RPM with a load of only 14, barely an idle.  It would be difficult to observe much less operation.  That's pretty much as close to off as I could imagine.  Makes you wonder what the next generation system will offer, eh?

12-12-2007

Frost.  Today's commute was an exciting "warm" morning, where Winter frost coated everything.  The branches on leafless trees looked spectacular.  But it was the moisture suspended in the air still that I was most interested in.  That's what was getting sucked into the engine, creating a more powerful combustion than usually.  The result was higher MPG.  I really look forward to those rare occurrences.  This one totally caught me off guard... until noticing what was happening on the Multi-Display.  That was sweet!

12-10-2007

Treehugger?  I got asked if I consider myself that.  My response was the question: "What am I doing to qualify as one that you won't be doing a few years from now?"  I'm driving a hybrid.  With new Prius sales this year of over 170,000 and over 1 million already on the road worldwide, I part of a growing population not someone associated with a standout stereotype.  My choice is simply being among the first of many.  A view for perspective would be to consider the hybrid system like the automatic transmission.  It will slowly become a standard for the majority.  Remember how front-wheel drive and fuel-injection became the popular choices too?  Same thing.  We will all adopting the new technologies.  Reducing emissions & consumption of vehicles will be thought upon the same way as recycling at home.  It has become the norm, since sending that resource to a landfill simply doesn't make any sense.

12-09-2007

Increasing CAFE.  This new Energy Bill was written to improve many things... including an increase from automaker efficiency averages to 35 MPG (a 40 percent increase) by 2020.  It was passed by the House, despite the president's threat to veto.  Unfortunately, the Senate didn't like it.  Something will eventually pass.  Nothing has been done for 30 years, so this is change long overdue.  But it's hard to know what.  How much long can we no do anything, especially when the need is so obvious?

12-09-2007

Smart Sales.  They will begin in January.  70 dealers somewhere in the United States will "offer" them... though specific regions weren't mentioned, just 9 in the Chicago area from where the article was written.  30,000 deposits have already been put down.  That means the waiting list is already a year and a half long, since only 20,000 will be imported next year from Daimler in Europe.  So the word "available" will be quite misleading.  Anywho, the MPG numbers are 15 less city and 5 less highway than Prius.  That efficiency comes from non-hybrid design... weighing 1,100 pounds less than Prius, featuring a 3-cylinder 70 horsepower engine, seating for only 2 people, providing almost nothing for cargo storage, and no spare tire.  The price for the basic model will be $8,000 less than Prius.  The well equipped model will be $5,000 less.  That sounds fairly appealing considering it from that comparison point of view.  But looking strictly at the EPA estimates of 33/40 (city/highway), it could be a tough sale for those who would prefer more seating and a trunk.

12-09-2007

Grille Blocking, 20 degrees.  Based on the efficiency improvement I've observed so far, it appears as though my 100 percent upper-grille blocking and 70 percent lower-grille blocking (the middle 3 rows which squish the outer 2 smaller, plus that normal blockage from the license-plate) has the effect of making the hybrid system work as if it is 20 F degrees warmer.  Sadly, the temperatures here in Minnesota have been colder than normal.  So without knowing that, you won't notice much of a difference in my spreadsheet data and graphs.  Who knows, maybe we'll get warmer later.  Whatever the case, I see the benefit.  I feel it too, since it's easier for the heater to provide warmth now.  So as I've said before, it would have been nice to make these observations years ago.  Unfortunately, the tools for monitoring have only recently become simple & affordable.  Oh well.  As least we have that knowledge now. 

12-08-2007

Grille Blocking, quiet.  I hadn't realized the effect grille blocking would make on the sound of the engine.  It's almost stealth like.  Getting out to retrieve my postal mail from the mailbox, that struck me like a brick.  I looked at the ScanGaugeII as I was getting back in the Prius and noticed the RPM wasn't zero, despite not hearing anything.  What a pleasant surprise!  I wonder how many others have noticed that.  It hadn't ever occurred to me that a benefit like that was possible.  Inside the car sounds the same as usual.  But outside, pretty much nothing.

12-08-2007

$88.28 Per Barrel.  Same story as last week... lots of up & down, then settling below $90 to close the week.  Gas prices remain relatively low ($2.69) per gallon compared to diesel ($3.49) here.  There's no hope of the situation ever getting better.  In fact, the talk of increasing the gas tax continues to increase.  It's pretty obvious that the problem requires significant attention.  Minimal efforts of the past clearly aren't enough.  Consumption is too high.  Dependence is too high.  Emissions are too high.  That's all bad, no matter how you look at it.

12-08-2007

Same Reason.  The decision of whether or not to choose Li-Ion batteries is a no-brainer for Toyota & Honda.  Both sight the same reason for holding off for awhile: COST!  They both same repeatedly have said: "it's simply too expensive".  So when Volt enthusiasts dismiss that, I get frustrated.  That goes beyond not being objective.  It's just plain stubborn.  To not acknowledge that is the reason is bad enough.  But to not face the fact that the current pricing is indeed well above that of NiMH is just plain wrong.  That harsh reality will hopefully change in the next few years.  But right now, that most definitely is not the case.

12-08-2007

200,000 First Year.  Honda is far more optimistic than GM.  In fact, I was quite blown away by what I read this morning.  Honda's upcoming (available in 2009) new dedicated hybrid (no traditional counterpart) will have a first year worldwide production of 200,000.  That's impressive... and makes sense.  It will cost less than Civic-Hybrid.  It should get rather impressive MPG, being smaller and using the next generation of their "assist" hybrid system.  It will be a very practical design too, a hatchback.  That means it will appeal to a wide consumer base all over the world.  Of course, the first of the new Prius models will be competing directly with it.  Makes you wonder how many Toyota will decide to produce, eh?

12-07-2007

Only CARB States.  In a rather vague article this evening, I read that Malibu-Hybrid will initially only be offered in CARB states.  11 out of 50 is quite disappointing.  But at least there will supposedly be more built than Vue-Hybrid.  The quote said "10 percent" of the annual production was expected to be hybrids.  Unfortunately, we have no idea how many that is.  2008 is a new model.  So guessing the demand based on the older model, that means somewhere between 15,000 and 20,000 hybrids.  Do you think a mild hybrid only offering a 2 MPG efficiency improvement and none whatsoever for smog-related emissions is going to sell that well... especially with distribution limited at first?

12-07-2007

Website Cards.  I don't pass them out much many anymore.  People are better informed about hybrids now; they tend to take advantage of the internet and search engines.  So the need for introductions to the technology has dropped.  The purpose of providing real-world data is still quite beneficial.  So, it is best for me to keep that information up to date.  Long overdue was my status, unfortunately.  7 months and 12,000 miles was a sign to finally update.  Today, I did...  website cards 13   website cards 14   website cards - print

 

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