Prius Personal Log  #39

September 27, 2002  -  October 7, 2002

Last Updated: Sun. 8/05/2007

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10-07-2002

Just Floor It!  I got the look of both shock & excitement from a friend yesterday.  While wandering through my old neighborhood in St. Paul, I took a side street to get on to the main road instead of the using the safer route with the stoplight.  Sure enough, my hunch was right.  There was an accident at the stoplight and traffic was screwed up from all directions.  At the corner a block away, the Prius sat quietly waiting for me to make a decision.  My friend looked over and non-verbally asked me what I was going to do.  (Occupants in the Prius tend to use body-language rather than be the one to break the sweet silence.)  I looked for a small opening in both lanes that would allow me to make a left turn.  It was tight.  The engine wasn't even running.  I floored it!  When the computer received the request for maximum thrust, a huge surge of electricity powered up the motor and we shot through the busy traffic.  The engine started up a moment later.  We made it through as if it was no big deal.  That maneuver would be a bit risky with some traditional vehicles since there's both a risk of stalling and a risk of over-spinning the wheels.  The risk is considerably lower in a Prius.  The engine isn't even needed for that burst of speed and the computer carefully controls the wheels.  Don't take this as a suggestion to drive like a fool because your Prius has superior technology.  Just feel good that it's there if you really need it.

10-07-2002

You can drive.  While visiting with my uncle, he got up and stated we had to go pick up my cousin.  He walked out toward his car.  I said, "Why don't we take the Prius?  You can drive."  That instantly put a smile on his face.  I handed him the keys, and we disappeared into the night.  Owning a Prius is rewarding in so many different ways.

10-07-2002

Hiccup.  I experienced the hybrid version of a "stall" today.  In a traditional vehicle, stopping very abruptly will sometimes cause the engine to unexpectedly cease running.  In a hybrid, the same thing can happen, but it possesses the capability of restarting automatically.  So when I hit the brakes today, the engine sputtered for a second then tried to restart itself.  As it was doing that, I confused it by letting up on the brake slightly.  So while the engine was restarting, it got the message that not full power, only stealth, was needed, meaning it was ok to shut back off.  Then also at the very same time, it got another message saying the engine should turn back on to power the defroster.  Not wanting my Prius to get a headache and ask for an aspirin afterward, I relieved the pain by just turning the key.  She shut off immediately, enabling a moment of silence.  Then when I figured she had gathered her wits again (about 3 seconds), I turned the key.  The engine fired right up and my commute continued trouble free (with the exception of the traffic congestion, of course).

10-06-2002

Tight Turns.  While waiting at the main intersection in a nearby small town (Rosemount, Minnesota: where both myself and the "The Simpsons" creator grew up), I noticed the car I was about to make a left turn toward had a flat tire.  So I kept the steering-wheel turned.  Effortlessly that allowed me to pull into the lane on her right without any fear of hitting the curb.  I honked, pointed, and yelled.  She acknowledged my message about her tire problem.  When the light for her turned green, I made another u-turn, getting me back on course effortlessly.  Try that will a monster-size vehicle.

10-06-2002

Cold.  The temperature dropped to 32 F degrees last night.  Snow is on the way.  Thank goodness it melts right away... but not for long.  Eventually the temperature will drop quite a bit further and the snow will stay.  Minnesota, a Winter Wonderland where the Prius play.

10-06-2002

Change is slow, but it's happening.  2 years ago, people really wondered why Toyota chose to offer so few Prius (15,000 per year).  Now, it's obvious.  Getting certain service people to clean up their act is actually harder than getting consumers interested in buying hybrids.  Thank goodness not all the dealer experiences are bad.  And obviously, the technology has proven a very feasible solution.  Imagine if every vehicle had a Multi-Display.  Owners would become so attentive to maintaining their vehicle properly that those few deceptive service people would have difficultly screwing you over like they have done for so many years now.  Having all the dealers honest, rather than just some of them, sounds like a great plan to me.  For now, the Prius owners are at least giving them the signal that things need to change and we won't put up with playing their games anymore.  It will happen in time.  Look at how much "no haggle" pricing has been embraced by the market.  Slow change is much better than none at all.

10-06-2002

Economic Aspect.  About once a month some well known publication attempts to degrade hybrids based solely on monetary savings, but they focus solely on gasoline saving.  Even though it is quite a bit of money, it's not enough.  That makes hybrids appear unappealing.  But most people don't realize they overlooked the many other cost benefits.  One very obvious fact is with respect to oil & oil filter changes.  Traditional vehicles have changes performed every 3,000 miles.  That works out to 33 needed with 100,000 miles of driving.  In Prius, changes are only needed every 7,500 miles.  That works out to just 13 every in 100,000 miles.  Then you have to take into account that Toyota provides the first 5 oil & oil filter changes for free.  8 changes is all you end up having to pay for.  Saving an average of $22 per change means the 25 you didn't need would save you $550.  (Plus, you end up saving around 25 hours of waiting too.  How much is your time worth?)  And what about the free engine air filter, free air-conditioning filter, free engine coolant change, free inverter coolant change, and 5 free tire rotations?  That's all worth about $250.  In summary, that's a huge amount of money those "economic advisors" simply overlooked.  I wonder how much they get paid to write such an incomplete report... Hmm?  But the better concept to ponder is the economic aspect of purchasing a monster-size gas-guzzling vehicle.  Of course, if Toyota wanted to compete directly rather than raising the standard in vehicle awareness, they could eliminate the Multi-Display which drops the price by about $1,000.  And what about the $280 I got back from when taking a $2,000 federal tax deduction?  Adding all of those factors together pretty much eliminates the price difference to other similar sized & equipped cars.  That makes stealth (electric-only driving without the engine running) an entirely extra perk, a reoccurring reward for doing your part to reduce emissions & consumption.

10-06-2002

New Prius Website Card.  LMPG recently rose to 45, third quarter of the year just concluded, and the odometer surpassed 40,000 miles.  In other words, it was the perfect time to update my pocket-size promotional material for my Prius & Website.  So I did.  The layout got rearranged (again).  Providing as large of a photo as possible was still the objective.  But this time I wanted background scenery too, not just a close-up.  I'm quite pleased with the way it ended up.  Check it out:   website cards 5    website cards print

10-05-2002

Perspectives.  I grill (intensely query) my relatives from time to time.  (It helps to keep me in check.)  Today I learned where their judgment typically derives from:  In-Person Experiences.  That means most all of the encounters for them were extremely regional, close to their homes.  They don't even have a clue what to think of the international club (the group on Yahoo) with over 4,400 Prius owners, where we all share thoughts in a virtual environment with participants from several countries.  That scope is so far off-the-scale for them, they simply don't even want to deal with it.  It's too much.  No wonder so many people put their trust in me when in comes to hybrids.  They know I have a deep desire (obsessions?) to make a difference, so I study heavily to find what will most effectively do that.  The owners on the group certainly aren't shy about providing suggestions, so I'm under the impression that things are going well up to this point.  Do you agree?

10-05-2002

Hybrid Sightings.  Today I saw all three types within an hour.  That's quite impressive since the Honda's aren't common.  I normally spot an Insight about once every 2 weeks and the Civic-Hybrid once per month.  I see Prius daily.  (That's really sweet!)  With so much driving today, I ended up seeing 3.

10-04-2002

Rollover Testing.  Two years ago, Congress ordered the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) to develop tests and a consumer education campaign to warn consumers about rollover risk.  Now, it looks like the wheels-of-progress really are turning.  The common problem of "safety" being based solely on crash results will finally be changing.  Personally, I don't ever want to crash.  So knowing the maneuvering ability of a vehicle is really important. 

10-04-2002

Did you know have a truck?  I saw a SUV slowly creeping along that nasty road today.  Each rut was approached with great care.  The driver apparently didn't have a clue what the heavy-duty suspension and large tires on that SUV were for.  Just like trucks, SUVs are designed to take a beating.  But unlike trucks, many owners don't actually ever beat them.  And unfortunately, I had the opportunity to watch that routinely on my commute to work.  SUVs would slow down when crossing the train tracks, a mere bump in the road.  I really don't think they purchased the vehicle for what it was actually designed for.

10-03-2002

Oh, the Horror!  My trip up to Northern Minnesota took a very unexpected turn.  There were some rather confusing construction signs, the road suddenly disappeared completely.  Ahh!  The next thing I noticed was being trapped on a one lane,  loose dirt, grade change.  And there appeared to be no way to get out of that very unexpected situation either, or so I thought.  Then came a white sedan from a side road.  The driver wanted to cross the new elevated lane with the soft fill down to the lower lane with the old tar scraped off.  The construction was a total surprise to her too, so she just barreled forward.  The car plunged down the slope rather abruptly.  It wasn't a insubstantial landing like snow would have offered either.  I chuckled at the absurd sight (since I knew I was in trouble too, fear triggers all types of emotional responses).  Pushing on seemed to make more sense then trying to drive backward out of it, then hunting for an alternative route.  After about a half mile of driving in stealth on that very soft "road", I encountered a flagman.  The raising of the road was taking place there at that particular moment.  Was that the end?  No!  A mile of freshly tar-stripped road still awaited.  It was just plain nasty too.  The rocks were large, loose, and wildly scattered everywhere.  A regular dirt road would have been much better.  The banging of rocks in the wheel-wells was very unpleasant.  My Prius was probably really upset with me.  Poor thing.

10-03-2002

Last chance for Low-Sulfur Gas.  I fill up in Clearwater, Minnesota, on highway 94 just outside of St. Cloud.  It's the farthest north location I know of for getting that super clean gas.  And every time, it doesn't disappoint.  As I'm pumping, someone will approach me asking about the Prius.  The fact that hybrids get recognized in the rural areas is great.  Being able to provide a Card and Info-Sheet for the guy asking questions was really nice.  I'm sure he'll end up showing a few friends what he got when he saw the Prius.  Cool!

10-02-2002

I'm glad I drive a hybrid.  The roads ahead of me had a lot of stoplights, and I wasn't in the best of moods.  That usually means they'll all be red.  Sure enough, the first one I encountered was red.  So I decided to count them.  The next was red, then the next...  Light number 7, the one right in the middle of a very long, steep hill, was the only one that was actually green.  Thankfully!  In all, I had to stop for 12 of the 13 lights.  Having a system that shuts off the engine, rather than wasting gas just sitting there like everyone else, made me feel much better.  So when I finally got to my destination, I was in a good mood.

9-30-2002

45.7 Annual MPG!  Last year's winter was less hostile than "normal" for Minnesota, so my annual average is better than my lifetime.  I drove 18,880 miles over the previous 12 months using 412.872 gallons.  That calculates to 45.728 MPG.

9-30-2002

Calculated verses Displayed Lifetime MPG.  By the way, that 45 value is what was calculated at the pump overall.  Had I refrained from ever pressing the reset button throughout those 38,612 miles of driving, the displayed value would have been 47.1 MPG (based on calculations you'll find documented here: Lifetime Spreadsheet).  Knowing that difference is really handy.  For all those owners that prefer to just let the computer figure out their MPG, just subtracting 2 will give a fairly closely approximation of their actual value.

9-29-2002

MPG Discovery!  A Prius owner came up with a new efficiency theory today.  Some people have reported MPG lower than expected, but until now checking the fill level of the oil has never come to mind.  Oil is routinely dispensed from large barrels using a hose with a nozzle.  So overfilling is common (and safer for the engine than underfilling, so it may be to avoid liability).  Extra oil won't cause any harm.  And since no others vehicles have a Multi-Display available, noticing the affects it has on MPG would be very difficult.  But Prius owners develop a keen sense of awareness.  We notice stuff like that.  Too much probably does in fact make a difference.  I curious to hear a follow-up report from the owner that was considering testing this theory.

9-28-2002

White Prius in the parking lot.  I scan the roads constantly while driving searching for Prius.  I see Prius all the time that way too.  I apparently don't look for them in parking lots though.  Because when I pulled out of my spot today, there was White Prius right in front of me.  That was a total surprise, but a welcome one.  Everything was soaked from the rain, so I couldn't leave a care-package for the owner.  Bummer.  It's not too often that I actually see a Prius parked.  (They like to be driven, ya know.)

9-27-2002

"Golden Hour" Prius Photos.  After the hay field photos, I raced over to another location.  It was a park with a lake southwest of it.  That allowed me to capture the soft, orange, horizontal lighting.  (You know, those final few minutes of the "Golden Hour", which comes much earlier in the Fall.)  It worked out great!  There are now 6 new photos in the album.  Check'em out:  photo album 42

9-27-2002

Early Fall Prius Photos.  Finding unique locations to add to the collection is getting harder and harder.  But I managed to stumble across a new one 2 weeks ago.  It was a hilly green field with hay harvested into large rolls.  The rolls had already begun to brown yet the cut patterns in the field itself were still easy to see.  So I waited for the ideal lighting conditions: Sunset.  It would create long shadows to emphasize contours.  The catch was, the timing after work would be incredibly tight.  And with all the rain recently, I would have to wash the Prius quickly right beforehand then race over to the location.  To make matters worse, I had to take shots between all the traffic along that popular highway.  It was definitely worth it.  I got 7 great digital photos plus an unexpected one:  photo album 41

 

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