Prius Personal Log  #387

September 16, 2008  -  September 22, 2008

Last Updated: Sun. 10/05/2008

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9-22-2008

From Pink.  I ended the day in the garage, leaving the Prius on for around 45 minutes while I took photos for the newest Bluetooth document illustrating how to connect the cell-phone I just got to the system in the vehicle.  The charge-level of the battery-pack was already lower than normal due to stealthing the last part of the drive home.  So for the first time ever (8 years), my commute to work started pink (only 2 bars showing on the Multi-Display).  That made me curious as heck.  How would the uphill merge onto the highway at 70 MPH be?  With a short 3 block drive from the house, it didn't take long to find out.  To my absolute delight, the engine RPM remained normal and the only difference was LOD on the ScanGauge read a lot higher than usual.  The engine was carrying greater load to provide extra electricity... so much so that, believe it or not, the battery color turned blue a moment before entering the lane on the highway.  Charge-Level had actually climbed up a bar as a result of that additional effort from the engine.  What a fantastic result!  The antagonists will hate this.  They've claimed that no matter how much gas is consumed, such a response wouldn't be possible.  Today, I proved that false.

9-21-2008

Will Drop Fast.  This morning, the Volt price argument was the highlight of an article published by a Detroit columnist... yes, the same one that fought Prius for years.  He quoted $42,000 as the likely price for the first year, but then never actually explained what he meant by "it will fall fast" following that initial price.  Neither anticipated time nor amount were mentioned.  4 years is fast by automotive standards.  As for price, who knows.  A 25 percent drop (for the battery-pack) is significant, but that would only drop it to $31,500.  That's close to the price of an augmented Prius already.  Of course, my favorite part of what he wrote was:  "Don't think of it solely as a car.  It's a lifestyle, a political view, a fashion statement and the coolest new gadget you can get."

9-21-2008

Superiority Complex?  Hopefully it wasn't a new trend.  Perhaps it was just a one-time release of frustration.  We'll see.  Time will tell.  Whatever the case, that instance yesterday morning was disturbing.  The Volt enthusiasts posted a flood of insults, degrading all the hybrids currently available in favor of their concept which won't be available for 2 years still and won't be realistic for the mainstream for awhile after that (sometime after 2013).  They are fighting the very thing that is helping to fortify the automotive battery market.  Why?  This isn't like the "smug" of the past, since you could purchase those hybrids immediately.  Instead they are telling you to retain the status quo until Volt becomes competitive.  That's awful.  What if you don't want a compact car?  No other SERIES hybrid vehicle size or type is expected until after Volt is produced in high volumes.  GM's projection for that is 2015.  That's right, 7 years away still.  Think of what will happen with our dependence on oil and the price we pay for gas in the meantime.

9-20-2008

Wireless FOB.  Listening to a guy here at the coffee shop call friends begging for someone to come get him so can be taken home to retrieve spare keys got me thinking.  More vehicles coming out now offer a FOB for engine starting, but they still aren't all wireless.  Why not?  Never having to remove it from your pocket is a major convenience... especially if you want to reduce the risk of locking yourself out.  Maybe it's the resistance to change.  After all, the FOB that I saw last week from Chrysler required you to turn it like a traditional key.  Why?  For people with arthritis, that is a horrible requirement.  Where's the button instead?  That's very handy when you have gloves on, by the way.

9-20-2008

Plug-In Tax Credit.  The House passed a bill for some credits this week.  It was met with quite a bit of resistance though, as you could imagine.  Even those in favor of helping out the progress toward greater use of electricity were concerned.  The devil is in the details, you know.  Anywho, primary focus was on overall battery-pack capacity.  Size in relation to the vehicle and actual usage seemed to be forgotten, as well as product volume and credit duration.  But with the specific offshore drilling provisions included in the bill, re-examination is pretty much inevitable anyway.  Priorities are very much a problem still.  Hopefully, the next administration will remedy that.

9-20-2008

Oddly.  This statement I posted on the Volt website stirred no reaction...  Volt actually did end up being vaporware.  None of the concept that we were originally shown remains anymore.  Adaptation to transform it (pun intended) to a vehicle with long-term mainstream potential eliminated the very aspects that drew in those original enthusiasts.  And now that there is a production version, it's pretty obvious that the process of starting all over again with the promotion is taking place.  The irony makes for good history.  Makes you wonder what happens next, eh?

9-19-2008

Another Series Hybrid.  In 4 days, it will be Chrysler attempting to garner green attention.  Like GM, nothing is actually expected anytime soon or at an affordable price.  But when you literally have nothing to compete with directly, what else can you do?  Realistically, a niche market will emerge.  So, it's not like they won't be selling just an idea.  But the volume of those vehicles will be small for quite a number of years.  In the meantime, we'll see a flood of the hybrids targeting consumers that purchase high-volume mid-priced vehicles... the Corolla & Camry crowd.  And strangely, hype like this actually encourages them to abandon that terrible attraction some had for the SUV.  There is very little appeal for guzzling gas anymore.

9-19-2008

It Was Vaporware!  Turns out, the naysayers were indeed correct!  The concept vehicle called "Volt" that was presented to us back in January 2007 no longer exists and will never be produced.  It's all gone!  Look, Price, Electric-Range, Gas-Range, Acceleration have all changed.  In fact, those aspects changed quite a bit.  Appearance is totally different.  It's going to be at least $10,000 more expensive.  The distance you'll be able to travel with gas has been reduced by roughly 300 miles.  Running the engine & heater in the Winter will cause the battery to deliver less for travel.  And the 0-60 acceleration will take somewhere around 2 seconds longer.  I don't think the enthusiasts ever imagined an outcome like this.

9-19-2008

$104.55 Per Barrel.  Believe it or not, the price actually dropped below $92 briefly this week.  The crazy economic situation we're in has prices of everything fluctuating wildly.  That closing price for the week is where I'd expect it to stabilize at.  The $3.59 per gallon price for gas and $3.99 for diesel seems realistic too... for the short-term anyway.  This time next year, after the new Toyota, Honda, and Ford hybrids are available, certainly should have increased the pressure on the other automakers stressing that resistance is futile.  Consumers want solutions to buy right away, not waiting for low-volume rollout sometime in the future.

9-19-2008

PR Games.  The public relations game being played by automakers now to earn a "green halo" is getting absurd.  Thankfully, some people in the media have a great sense of humor about it.  A journalist on NPR had a report featuring "Tomorrow's technology advertised today".  It was all about how GM is promoting an expensive electric car you won't be able to buy for at least 2 years still.  He peered forward years further into the future, announcing more exotic technologies in the form of advertisements.  Naturally, the flight ability of their 2050 model sounded quite compelling.

9-19-2008

Hot & Humid.  The conditions outside have been like Fall for the past few weeks now.  So, today's final taste of Summer sure was a treat.  Driving averaged the low 50's for MPG.  Cold & Dry conditions of Winter don't favor efficiency like what the Prius just experienced.  Oh well.  The mid 40's is certainly nothing to complain about.

9-18-2008

Cost To Operate.  This is the latest ploy to mislead.  You can't exclude purchase price.  But some certainly try to.  How much fuel (gas or electricity) it takes to travel a specific distance is not just a factor of what you feed the propulsion system.  Only focusing on that is not constructive, yet we continue to see calculations posted which do exactly that.  How they can justify that approach is beyond me... especially when prices differ so much.  I guess that's like politics, where the omission of facts is a common practice.

9-18-2008

Best Friend's House.  From elementary school into college, my best friend lived just three doors down from my parents.  Then he moved.  That house was then occupied by an unknown couple.  They bought a Prius awhile back.  So when I stop by to visit with my mom, I'd see it there.  Recently, I encountered them on the road a few times.  That meant it was finally time to stop and say "Hi".  Having spent a lot of time in their house over the years, I wondered how awkward that would be.  It was great!  Recognizing my Prius (as the one from a few doors down) and seeing my arm extended as a friendly greeting, they instantly welcomed my approach.  They certainly were pleased with their decision to purchase a Prius.  That was fun getting to swap some stories.

9-18-2008

Climb & Recharge.  After all these years, that is still the most counter-intuitive feature of the FULL hybrid.  A stoplight very close to my house is typically green to go up the hill, turning left to remain on the valley's flat is usually red.  So, I'll sometimes do the climb.  Why go up only to come right back down a minute later, you ask?  As the Prius goes up that hill, the engine feeds both the wheels and the battery-pack.  You'd normally expect power to be taken from the battery-pack on the way up; instead, quite the opposite happens.  So when the Prius gets up to the top, the charge-level raises.  Then on the way down, the engine shuts off and the recharging continues.  I start my drive the next day with a nicely replenished supply of electricity.

9-18-2008

Bumper Sticker.  Seeing a new one this afternoon that said, "Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less", was very disturbing.  The facts don't support the claim.  That's propaganda.  The idea doesn't actually deliver.  More oil from local sources will take years to materialize and the studies show that those supplies will only help us to retain status quo.  Prices won't go down as a result.  In fact, the required investment in new infrastructure may actually cause them to rise.  And of course, more oil is terribly irresponsible when smog & carbon emissions are not considered.  The price we pay as a result of our air becoming dirtier can be very expensive.

9-18-2008

Adequate Acceleration.  The final nail was pounded this evening.  The coffin for the concept Volt is now sealed.  Sporty acceleration was the only original feature remaining that gave this futuristic family car an "outstanding" characteristic.  But it too is gone, vanished in an instant from a response to the speed question with a response of "adequate".  Needless to say, the enthusiasts were crushed.  True, it was an unnecessary design factor.  But something in the overkill category is what helps promote vehicles still.  Old habits die hard.

9-18-2008

Trolling Advice.  It's quite different from the past.  Normally, comments like this were taken very seriously: "Stop feeding the trolls."  If it wasn't, the discussion thread would be overwhelmed by undermining posts.  That's changed.  Instead, I was able to respond this way...  Trolls have little to establish credibility with anymore.  The real-world data clearly outweighs any anti-hybrid argument nowadays.  It was quite a struggle years ago to convince doubters that the batteries wouldn't all fail at 100,001 miles and that gas would end up costing quite a bit more than $1.59 per gallon.  Now, absurd first-posts like that are simply a source of entertainment.  Comparing an 12 year old SUV to a brand new Prius wasn't even the slightest bit objective.  Yet, it was attempted anyway.

9-17-2008

Reason For Attention.  It's the same old story, different types of hybrids will be competing with each other... only this time, they'll all come from the same automaker.  Consider the Saturn Vue.  It will be available with a traditional transmission, as an ASSIST hybrid, a FULL hybrid, and a PLUG-IN.  All of them being compared to the SERIES hybrid is pressure already building up against the Volt enthusiasts.  And without a unified purpose yet, who could resists documenting the history as it happens.  That's a great reason for attention.  Do you have any idea what they'll be chanting next year?

9-17-2008

It Has Begun.  The Volt enthusiasts are now quarreling amongst themselves.  Disagreements are becoming quite intense too.  There are several schools of thought forming... each fundamentally different.  I'm intrigued how this will play out.  Look, price, and not like Prius are the most obvious.  There are some still singing the "no gas ever" song too.  Hopefully, the ideals will finally be abandoned so support for an actual product can finally emerge.  Getting away from the concept and embracing a practical design is long overdue.

9-17-2008

Only A Band-Aid.  That's what one of the presidential candidates said more oil would be, back in May.  Now, his mantra is "Drill Baby Drill!"  Frustrated by politics yet?  I've been upset by this nonsense for 8 years.  Just wait, it will get worse for you too.  Sometimes, they just tell you what you want to hear.  Let's see some results instead.  How about mass penetration of FULL hybrids?  Imagine what a highway filled with them would be like.  Think about what that would do to our "Addiction To Oil".

9-16-2008

Official Reveal.  Today was that special day for Volt.  Or if nothing else, it certainly was noteworthy.  Some said this model looks much better than the one we saw just a few days ago, even though nothing actually changed.  Some had extreme cases of Prius envy, expressing obvious resentment in the form of praise for the ironic.  Some were in complete denial that, not wanting to face the reality that cost & quantity keep will it out of the mainstream for many years.  Some, believe it or not, actually applauded the 100 MPH top speed... even though it's a pointless ability.  As for me, I simply wondered when & how unity will finally emerge.  So many different wants from so many different voices, few actually focusing on need.  The next 6 months will definitely be interesting.

 

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