Prius Personal Log  #367

March 2, 2008  -  March 10, 2008

Last Updated: Sat. 3/15/2008

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3-10-2008

Still?  After all this time, you'd think comparisons of Prius to Corolla would have long since vanished.  We haven't seen any in ages.  Yet, one emerged this morning.  The nonsense still continues.  It started with a comparison of exterior length... an obvious misleading point, since the engine compartment for a hybrid can be much smaller.  No other vehicle aspect followed.  You were simply allowed to assume Corolla had a larger interior and all else was the same.  That led to several paragraphs of number crunching which concluded it would cost much less to just buy a Corolla instead. Like in the past, there was no mention of smog-related emissions.  Of course, it really didn't matter.  The article titled "Do hybrids actually save you money?" was never concluded.  The writing just abruptly ended.

3-09-2008

Goodbye Dad.  30 years ago, my father introduced me to the world of cars.  It was very exciting!  There was lots to look forward to.  Eventually, I joined in that very future history he had described in a decade long past.  It was an exciting reality getting to experience some of his dream first hand.  What he had told me about with fascination was now in my driveway.  But today, he too became history.  His struggle with the battles of aging ended.  That great guy named "Dad" passed away. I sure am going to miss him.

3-09-2008

Big Picture.  The problem is that some just don't look at it.  They declare a winner without considering what's truly needed.  Thankfully, all don't.  There are others that are well aware of the need to deliver a technology to improve emissions & efficiency without much additional cost in the vehicle size/class they would have purchased anyway... like the choice of transmission.  In other words, avoid paradigm-shift yet still change the world.  I interjected that today, which most likely just fell on deaf ears, by posting:  Engineering achievement is great.  Volt will earn awards & praise. But don't make the mistake of forgetting purpose and the time available.  Change comes from sales, since quantity on the road is a major factor in determining the amount of oil still being consumed.  It's not the individual vehicle, it's the fleet as a whole.

3-09-2008

To Summarize.  A really well thought out article was written comparing the augmented "full" hybrid to a "series" hybrid.  Someone posted a comment in an attempt to stir trouble with this: "Try explaining how the Prius works in one sentence."  It backfired.  I love it!  Someone else responded with this clever come back: "It gets 46.4 MPG."  Isn't that great?  After all, what else needs to be said when you want to summarize?  That's one sentence.  It's very to the point.  The objective of efficiency is clearly stated.  What good would technical detail serve, since most people have no idea how a traditional automatic transmission works anyway?

3-08-2008

Small Wonder.  That's how the Malibu-Hybrid was described in an article featuring it today.  The reporter's thoughts illustrated the situation we currently face perfectly.  Prius was mentioned 8 times.  Camry-Hybrid was ignored, as if it didn't even exist.  No mention at all.  The traditional model competes with it directly.  So, no inclusion makes for either a poorly thought out effort or one lacking a sincere approach.  True, I did like the fact that it was a negative report showing how much better GM could have done.  But I'd prefer the more objective approach of Malibu to Camry comparing.  It didn't.  But it did include displayed efficiency... the 100 miles of highway averaged 29.6 MPG and the city (non-highway) averaged 27.1 MPG.  Camry-Hybrid delivers quite a bit better MPG, without question.  Too bad the article portrayed the market as if that hybrid isn't available.

3-07-2008

Only 1.  It's suppose to be 30 F degrees warmer this time of year.  Instead, I got one whole degree above zero today, on both directions of my commute.  I wasn't happy.  Things aren't melting yet.  The gray of Winter drags on.  MPG is way lower than usual.  Ahh!  Spring will arrive eventually... but when?

3-07-2008

$105.15 Per Barrel.  That was the closing price for oil this week.  At one point, it actually broke the $106 mark.  Between hearing that OPEC will keep with current production levels, the announcement that reserves are lower than thought here, and the reality that our dollar is losing value, it was enough to knock up the price to triple the level it was when you-know-who was first elected.  Worldwide demand keeps going up too.  Being told that our "addiction to oil" is being dealt with was disappointing.  The speech was the same old, weak nonsense.  Change is basically just in the form of token effort.  The level we actually need still isn't being taken seriously.  Small, slow steps continues to be the theme.  It's definitely disappointing.

3-07-2008

T2B5.  That abbreviation is catching on.  Yeah!  Concept vehicles are immediately scrutinized now based on whether or not they deliver emissions rated better than the "Tier2-Bin5" maximum allowed.  Since that is dirtier than the typical traditional gas car (like a Corolla), it is clearly a step in the wrong direction... hence the resistance.  It makes no sense calling something "green" if it contributes to worse smog.  I'm so happy to see this now.  In the past, emissions were focused solely on the kind unrelated to how it affects what you breathe.  That's not the case anymore.

3-06-2008

Getting Worse.  I was curious if there was any overnight activity for oil.  Sure enough, hours before the market opens, the price has climbed quite a bit.  It is now at $105.66 per barrel.  The situation keeps getting worse.  Of course, if you were looking for ways to promote hybrid technology, you certainly don't have to expend much effort.  The problem is unfolding right before our eyes.  Gas is becoming too expensive to deny.  The damage caused goes way beyond our environment.  Quality of life is beginning to suffer... and evidence of that is becoming way to easy to find.  Should we resist by waiting for it to get even worse or finally embrace change?

3-06-2008

Back To Basics.  My rather blunt criticism of the Volt supporters seems to have paid off.  Stepping back to look at the situation, I think the leader finally realized just how bad it had become.  And with a national gathering planned, now only 2 weeks away, something really needed to be done right away.  Well, that happened.  Discussions have gone back to the basics.  Once again, they are posting messages about the vehicle itself.  Those other unrelated topics, at least for now, seem to have been abandoned.  Phew!

3-05-2008

WWII Production.  Did you know that the United States government banned the sale of new vehicles starting in 1942?  The automakers were given one choice, to instead produce military equipment.  Since they were the only industry with the capacity to handle the needs of the war, they were forced to become the providers.  And in the spirit of national pride, they embraced the opportunity as a loyal entity to fulfill that requirement.  Workers were happy to do their part.  Why isn't that happening now?  The needs of this war is different, but we are indeed still fighting.  We are continually told how dangerous our addiction to oil is, yet a mission to do something about it fails to emerge.  During that other war, it only took a few months for priorities to change.  Yes, months!  Why now, after years of dealing with the problem, has so little happened?

3-05-2008

Hindsight.  You know the cliché: "hindsight is 20/20".  Well, there's a new twist to that now emerging.  Rather than the number referring to an aspect of vision, it is beginning to represent time... as meaning the year.  By 2020, expectation is growing that we'll be far enough past Peak Oil to look back and see just how naive & stubborn we really were.  The fact that the price of oil reached an all-time closing high of $104.52 should be a clue.  It is time to stop fighting change.

3-05-2008

Replaced the Tires.  Yesterday, I replaced my old HydroEdges with new HydroEdges.  Even with the original softer treadwear rating of 760, instead of the current 800, they still would have easily made it to 80,000 miles just fine.  The official distance I traveled with them was 77,558 miles.  But with March sometimes being the snowiest month of the year and the reality that this new set will outlast my ownership of this Prius (looking forward to the upcoming new model), it made sense to go for it.  So I did!  The total came to $531.01, including tax & fees.  And wouldn't you know it, we got snow right afterward.  Wow!  Brand new tread makes quite a difference.  The drive this morning immediately brought back memories of how impressed I was with the tires first time around.  I'm glad I decided to get them again.

3-05-2008

E20 Study.  Remember the mandate passed in Minnesota to increase the blend of ethanol from 10 to 20 percent in 2013?  That required research to prove that a viable move forward.  Materials compatibility, drivability, and emissions were studied by two in-state universities, conducting tests over a 12-month period.  So far, the first two aspects have already passed without any concern.  From refinery to engine, there were no issues.  Driving was consistent with E10 throughout the entire calendar year.  So, that isn't a problem either.  Emission testing is still on-going.  We have to wait for those results before a final recommendation will be provided.  With ethanol creation improving and still a number of years before the mandate, it looks promising.

3-04-2008

Golf-Hybrid Concept.  VW has been showing off a new hybrid, one that of course uses diesel.  MPG is expected to rival Prius, but naturally smog-related emissions won't.  The system will rely on a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission.  Combining those with an electric-motor and battery-pack makes it look fairly expensive.  I wonder how that will play out.  Those once against hybrids (you guessed it, diesel supporters) have now had a change of heart.  But like I always say, don't award credit until merit is actually earned.  Far too many concept vehicles and promises have fallen apart now to take them as genuine change.  Believe it when you see it on the road.

3-04-2008

Th!nk Ox.  The Norwegian automaker who took over efforts to deliver a two-seat electric car from Ford has been continuing along pretty well.  Today, they revealed a 5-seat concept.  Using a 60kW electric-motor, the range of the 3,300 pound 4-door vehicle is anticipated to be 120 miles.  How much it will cost and when it could someday be available is a big unknown, but this certainly is enough to put pressure on the other automakers.  Guzzlers are rapidly losing the spotlight.

3-03-2008

Lower Sales.  That's the big news today.  Sales of Prius this February (10,895) were less than the same month last year.  Don't you love how limited some people's perspective is?  By only pointing out that particular statistic, it leads you to the wrong conclusion.  That time last year was when the big sales blitz began.  We saw a massive increase that continued all throughout the year, an event unprecedented in hybrid history... for that matter automotive history.  For a model already available for 3 years to suddenly jump up and stay there like that is amazing.  Settling down the following year isn't a surprise, especially since February is normally a tough month for sales anyway.  Consider what happens the rest of the year.  Will selling at least 150,000 annually continue?  Yup!

3-02-2008

Grille Blocking, Warmer.  Neither in January nor February did I see any real efficiency benefit.  It came basically just in the form of heater improvement.  The thing most definitely cooked!  But that's my take on blocking the grille... here in Minnesota.  In environments where Winter doesn't get anywhere near as cold, you really do see a big difference.  And now that it is finally warmer here, so do I.  Unfortunately, the plan is to replace my tires this week.  So the MPG gain from higher temperatures will get pretty much get cancelled out by the break-in.  Oh well.

3-02-2008

Electric Heater.  We all knew it would be costly in terms of electricity consumption, but how much remained a mystery.  Well, someone got smart and looked up info on the Th!nk, that all-electric car in Norway.  The answer isn't pretty.  The electric heater consumes half the supply.  That cuts the 112-mile driving range down to 56 miles.  For a small, slow, light-weight vehicle like that, it's tolerable.  But for a vehicle like Volt, half is a very real problem.  20 miles is well under the range expectations that's been promoted.  Heck, for that matter 30 miles is too.  What will be the solution to dealing with this?

3-02-2008

Still No Two-Mode.  It boggles the mind that it is now March and reports of Two-Mode availability are limited to a just handful of dealers only offering test drives.  Not a single one has been sold yet, as far as I can tell.  None of the popular forums have mentioned anything with respect to purchase.  What the heck?  It's as if gas is still cheap and this is the first real hybrid ever offered... giving you the impression that the technology is just in time and a complete solution for all.  I wonder what the next few months will bring.  This certainly isn't what supporters expected.

3-02-2008

Plug-In Attention.  I wonder if they understand how important it is to first have a base to leverage from.  It simply makes no sense switching directly from traditional engine-only vehicles to ones that rely almost entirely on a plug.  What example can be named of such a profound paradigm-shift like that?  Heck, just look at the transition of analog to digital.  It took a decade and virtually all digital content was first viewed on analog televisions.  Widescreen, high-definition, and digital viewing didn't come until long afterward.  Then when you take cost of a vehicle into account, it's not something the mainstream will jump on immediately.  Plug-In will be the domain of early adopters for awhile.  In the meantime, that attention will translate to a different perspective on the self-recharging hybrids... a subtle "they obviously work, now we are moving on to the next best thing" type endorsement.  People will buy what is already well proven.  I like that, a lot.  It will help make "full" hybrid production in the millions realistic.

 

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