Prius Personal Log  #372

April 21, 2008  -  April 29, 2008

Last Updated: Tues. 5/06/2008

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4-29-2008

Next Models.  Got any predictions how that's going to play out?  Will the new Prius unveiled in early 2009 require a wait until year-end before they are available for purchase?  Or will it only be a few months?  Consider the planned production volume increase.  And what about a hybrid truck?  The new Highlander-Hybrid in pickup form would be an excellent balance of size & power, price for that matter too.  Toyota has hinted at a dedicated model for Lexus and variations of Prius later on as well.  There's lots to look forward to.

4-29-2008

1701-A Sighting.  I was helping a friend out with her Prius.  Catching a Classic & HSD model together is special in the first place.  But of all things, at a gas station while driving a new Civic-Hybrid definitely made that unique.  He drove up to us and eagerly yelled out: "Are you John?"  I couldn't believe it.  There was a Honda salesman telling me about all the people he's referred to my website.  That was fulfilling.  I try to keep a low profile.  But in a case like that, it was fun to indulge in the recognition briefly.

4-29-2008

$3.49 Per Gallon.  What more needs to be said?  Once you hit a threshold like that, there's no turning back.  No matter how much the price of gas may drop in the future, remembering the pain of it being so expensive will be far too easy.  Owning a gas guzzler as a status symbol simply isn't worth it.  Perhaps it will serve as a wake-up call, some finally discovering that the rest of the world looks at fuel consumption much differently... since their prices has been even higher for quite some time.

4-29-2008

Job Cuts.  The news for GM keeps getting worse, I think.  Overall, more buyouts (a large sum of money given to an employee if they volunteer to leave) could help ease the workforce pain.  But it doesn't face the reality that reducing production of big trucks & SUVs (in other words, layoffs of 3,550 workers) still won't solve the problem of weakening demand.  Interest for them is falling below a business-sustaining level.  People don't want to pay the expense caused by driving them to work everyday.  After all, they never should have been used for commuting in the first place.  Cars are making a comeback.

4-29-2008

Unintended Consequences.  Remember the "smug" episode of South Park?  We all got a good laugh... since it was very easy to prove Prius owners weren't really like that.  There were plenty on the roads simply blending into traffic to prove it.  Volt doesn't have that.  It only exists as a concept.  So the words used to represent it have much more profound of an impact... and the idea is starting to get out of control.  The superiority complex is giving those enthusiasts a bad image.  Offering a better product, promoted in a mature manner was likely the hope.  Well, the absence of detail makes "better" a very questionable assessment and repeated use of demeaning terms doesn't portray objectivity.  I don't think GM was expecting that.

4-28-2008

Option, After-The-Fact.  Someday, a factory-configured Prius will be delivered with a plug-in option.  The moment called "first" won't actually happen though... since many Prius on the road could also get the very same upgrade, after the fact.  Support for the option will already be there, on the road, in enormous quantities.  From the initial purchase, to any later desired time, it won't matter.  Designed to handle those components, it will be no big deal using them regardless of when they are installed.  From a business perspective, that's great for inventory handling and warranty exposures.  Being able to deliver a basic and an enhanced model whenever desired, both from the same platform, reduces risk.  That's especially important when large product volumes are involved.  And we most definitely want lots to be produced & purchased.  Just think of the bonus that gives to the resale value too.  The potential for post-sales revenue is unheard in the current market.  That's a very good thing for a struggling industry.  The option opens up new opportunities.

4-27-2008

Saved verses Not-Used.  The Two-Mode troublemakers continue to push this perspective, despite being well aware of how misleading it is.  After all, the benefits of not using as much gas in the first place should be obvious.  If not, they get a reminder every time they fill their tank.  Anywho, I can play the "saved" game too...  15,000 miles-per-year divided by a 7 MPG improvement (from 14 MPG to 21 MPG) is a difference of 357 gallons.  15,000 miles-per-year divided by a 15 MPG improvement (from 33 MPG to 48 MPG) is a difference of 142 gallons.  At the current monthly sales rate (about 20,500 to 250), Prius is outselling Two-Mode 82 to 1.  That then means 11,287 total more gallons is saved by those Prius per year.  For the favor to actually swing to Two-Mode (Tahoe & Yukon combined) instead, the difference would have to decrease dramatically, all the way to 2.5 to 1.  In other words, selling 150,000 Prius would have to be matched by the sales of 60,000 Two-Mode hybrids.  Do you think that will actually happen?  What about the sales of Camry-Hybrid?  What about those gallons saved too?  And what about if even more Prius are sold each year?

4-26-2008

Subject to Change.  Remember the craziness a year ago?  All the rage was Two-Mode.  Now, that technology is struggling to draw attention.  Volt is in an even worse position, which is why I've been documenting the happenings with it in detail.  Enthusiasts had been praising the vehicle itself, not the technology.  Expansion to other body sizes & styles simply wasn't addressed.  To make matters worse, the market without outside plugs available for their vehicle were being ignored entirely.  And the large price premium was being arbitrarily dismissed as if it had little influence on the purchase decision.  Well, not anymore.  Change has arrived.  Alternate configuration choices are being asked about.  The most obvious is eliminating the engine.  Bob Lutz acknowledged this is indeed under consideration.  Another option possible is to significantly reduce the size of the battery-pack.  Enthusiasts couldn't agree upon goals before.  Just imagine the chaos this news will bring.

4-26-2008

Propaganda War.  Despite all the attention Volt is getting, it still just boils down to hype, since there is little actual substance available.  The enthusiasts are not happy when you point that out.  So, they tersely rebutted against Prius hoping (or assuming?) information about the upcoming new model wasn't available.  I responded with this easy-to-understand summary, followed by detail that they will likely regret seeing...  The speed of stealth is expected to be increased to 100 km/h (62.1 MPH).  The physical size of the hybrid components will be reduced.  The production cost will be lower.  Efficiency will go up.  A123 supplies a 5 kWh, 140 pound, 7,000 full-cycle, Li-Ion Nanophosphate battery-pack for Prius plug-in augmentation, via the Hymotion upgrade for $9,999.

4-26-2008

Snow!  Two days ago, I was out rollerblading after work wearing just shorts and a t-shirt.  It was great!  Now, the snowflake is illuminated on the Prius.  The weekend was off to a white start.  We woke up to snow covering the fresh green grass, followed later by thick flurries.  What the heck?  Seeing new snow falling is not my idea of Spring.  Oh well.  At least MPG has begun the warm season climb.

4-25-2008

Exceeding Worse Case.  I saw $119.07 per barrel at one point today.  Oil prices have climbed into the territory no one ever took seriously as a long-term reality.  The experts often speculated about the outcome of spikes to $100, but stayed away form any situation involving higher with no end in sight.  But that's exactly where we are now... and it isn't pretty.  They are concerns about higher food transport costs and the diversion of resources to corn-based ethanol making an already bad situation even worse.  The housing market fallout and value of the dollar dropping aren't helping either.  Meanwhile, demand for oil continues to grow.  We are exceeding scenarios conceived to deal with "expensive" oil.  Now what?

4-25-2008

Selective Data.  It's sad when you find out facts stated in such a way were intentional.  He simply didn't care that this was misleading: Which saves more fuel? 1.5 million Prius or 10K Volt?  So I asked: What will the other 1,490,000 million people be driving?  I know quite well those purchasing guzzlers as replacements were still a problem.  That's the same deception Two-Mode enthusiasts tried to pull too.  You can't ignore the market as a whole.  It's why I want the technology to spread to other vehicles.  Diverting attention away from the ultimate goal of making *ALL* new vehicles cleaner and more efficient won't work.  Prius drivers won't let them get away with that.

4-25-2008

Frustrated.  Objectivity was abandoned.  The mule celebration yesterday was not counter-balanced with the type of questioning Prius owners have to deal with.  How come?  Why aren't those same real-world situations taken seriously for Volt too?  Needless to say, I was frustrated by that.  So, I posted this on the Volt blog...  Credit for using less oil cannot be awarded until less oil is actually used.  It's product delivery from which the measure of merit is determined.  Automotive history has a number of examples of technical challenges overcome, yet that breakthru struggled to achieve market penetration.  Details are sparse.  It's all quite vague.  The tough questions aren't even being addressed.  That should be a concern to the true supporters.  Be cautious about what you celebrate.

4-24-2008

First Mule.  That's the hype today.  None of the Volt enthusiasts cared that no detail was actually provided.  Literally, the only bit of information told was that the new 16 kWh Li-Ion battery-pack was being field tested in an old Malibu body.  That's it!  Major questions remain complete mysteries still... like how will the heater work?  It would actually be more efficient to use waste heat from the engine running rather than rely solely on electricity from the battery-pack... but then, that makes Volt even more of a hybrid and less of an electric vehicle.  And what about the fundamental shortcoming of Li-Ion chemistry not being able to accept much charge in below freezing temperatures.  How exactly is that problem being addressed?

4-23-2008

Best In Class.  Apparently, you can just dismiss hybrids for simply being different.  This nonsense is really getting tiresome.  GM advertisements for "midsize" cars simply ignored Camry-Hybrid, pretending it didn't exist.  Now it looks like they are planning to do the same with "efficiency" cars, by not recognizing Prius.  Fortunately, consumers aren't that stupid.  They see MPG in the low 30's and know quite well that the upper 30's from Camry-Hybrid and the upper 40's from Prius are clearly superior.  And that makes sense.  What doesn't make sense is that GM also excludes their own Malibu-Hybrid.  Why?

4-23-2008

Lost Purpose.  The Volt enthusiasts have fallen into chaos again, but even deeper this time.  Earth-Day attention is what stirred the pot.  Agreeing on purpose is an idea long lost now.  Different people are declaring different goals and there is simply no effort to recognize there others.  There is no acknowledge of smog pollutants (mainly NOx emissions) or the existence of Camry-Hybrid either.  It's a mess.  Watching what happens with that group over the next 2.5 years should be very interesting.

4-22-2008

2008 Highlander-Hybrid Sighting.  The new model silently rolled by us.  Not recognizing that new larger body, my curiosity was peaked.  Stealth (the absence of propulsion sound while driving) isn't something ordinary yet.  So, I immediately scanned the vehicle for an identification label.  It only took a moment to recognize the HSD emblem.  I pointed and blurted out: "It's the new Highlander-Hybrid!"  My friends smiled.  They understood the importance of that moment for me.

4-22-2008

Smart Sightings.  You don't realize just how small those vehicles are until you actually see one amongst local traffic.  Whoa!  Today, I spotted my first here.  It was only a block from where I work, so I'm likely to encounter it again eventually.  No matter though.  My second sighting came just an hour later at the grocery store by my home.  This one was red.  The other was black.  That's two already!  I wonder what others will think if sightings occur so frequently.  They certainly stand out.  You can't miss a car that tall and short.

4-21-2008

2-Mode Sighting.  There was a "green" event downtown, the day before "Earth Day".  That included a dressed up Prius and a Two-Mode vehicle.  I didn't know that.  But the big black Tahoe approaching somehow caught my eye anyway.  When I turned quickly to verify what was passing, it was difficult to miss the large "H-Y-B-R-I-D" lettering along the side.  And by the time it stopped, I had already whipped out my digital camera and snapped a shot.  I captured the back end, noting specifically that the emblem stated "2 MODE" rather than the "Two-Mode" identifier most people have been using.  This doesn't truly count as a sighting though, since the vehicle was just a dealer demo model rather than one actually purchased by someone.

4-21-2008

57kW Engine.  I answered the "How big is the engine?" question for the very last time today with a reference to volume.  Classification in liters or cubic-centimeters simply doesn't mean much when it comes to hybrids... and I'm tired of catering to the traditional.  It's time to nudge the older measures into the obsolete category.  Now, my answer is with respect to energy available, in kilowatt units.  Think about it.  Size makes no sense when it comes to pumping-cycle differences anyway.  So, when asked, the reply will be "The engine is 57kW."

4-21-2008

Unblocked Grille.  The time had come.  Temperatures were finally breaking the 50 F degree mark.  I was curious as heck what the ScanGaugeII would reveal without anything blocking the grille anymore.  That was easier said than done though.  By pushing the foam so hard into the grille slots, it went deep enough to expand back to normal size in the interior behind.  No wonder I never had any loss problems like some other owner.  Those things weren't going anywhere.  In fact, it took quite a bit of tugging to get all the pieces out.  Needless to say, I found a great way to inexpensively block.  It's all gone now.  6 months until any thoughts of doing that again.  Goodbye Winter!

 

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