Prius Personal Log  #40

October 8, 2002  -  October 18, 2002

Last Updated: Fri. 4/09/2004

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10-18-2002

"Gas-electric car comes off drawing board"  That's title of the article I've been waiting for.  (The one with me!)  It's only online now, text only, no photo.  I wonder if it will be in the newspaper tomorrow and how much?  The reporter did a great job.

10-18-2002

Too Big.  Every few years, a bigger and more powerful vehicle has become available.  At some point it would be too much.  The practical nature of the vehicle would be lost.  Today I witnessed that.  An Expedition (monster SUV) pulled into a parking ramp and abruptly discovered it was too big.  It didn't fit.  Backing out wouldn't be easy, but there wasn't any other option available.  So I curiously watched the driver struggle.  Two lanes of traffic were forced to not only stop, but to also back up enough to provide room for the trapped monster.  It took several minutes to accomplish this.  Traffic behind built up immensely.  People were not happy.  I would have loved to ask the driver afterward why he felt the need to buy such a massive vehicle.  The next smaller model, the Ford Explorer, is a very large & powerful SUV.  Why wasn't that enough?  Eliminating SUVs isn't necessary, but making them more practical is.  A more realistic size, much better MPG, and quite a bit cleaner doesn't sound so bad.

10-17-2002

Repeat Reviews.  Here's a new & exciting concept.  How many times do you see a review about a vehicle?  Usually, it's just when it first debuts, then not again until years later when the next generation is built.  Prius is different.  It keeps reappearing in the news and in written articles.  Every time there's a major spike in gas prices you can expect to hear something.  And as more miles are driven, follow-up articles are written.  Reporters love telling about how well the technology has delivered over the past few years.  The excitement grows rather than fades.  And with strong sales continuing, there's no end in sight.  It will just keep getting better and better.  Have you ever heard of any other car (the same generation, no less) being able to do that?

10-17-2002

No Fall Colors.  I tried capturing photos of amazing color back in my film days.  It was quite a struggle.  The colors were dull and the technology was disappointing.  Then the year I bought both my 3 megapixel digital camera and Prius, the colors transformed to breathtaking.  All those years of drab were instantly a faint memory now replaced by much better photos.  Then last year, the colors were actually even better!  I couldn't believe it.  And I didn't let the situation go to waste.  I took full advantage.  This year, the excitement grew.  My brief visit to Northern Minnesota hinted at the color to come.  Then we got a powerful cold-snap.  Now the leaves are dropping even before the green has disappeared completely.  Trees are becoming bare without showing what many of us have grown to expect.  It looks like I won't be able to capture the color this year.  Bummer.  But to make the best of the situation, how about an analogy?  Maybe the same will happen with the gas-guzzlers.  Those colorful days of plenty will disappear.  Owners will have to find happiness with a more responsible, yet still appealing vehicle.  How about a Prius?

10-17-2002

Missing the point.  I hear reasons like this all the time stating why hybrids aren't worth the extra cost...  "We're not going to run out of oil for a very long time."  "There's no such thing as global warming."  "50 MPG isn't that much of an improvement."  ...while the greatest benefit is overlooked:  the fact that Prius is a SULEV.  That means it emits 95% less NOx & HC than traditional vehicles, which is quite a bit cleaner than the 50% from ULEV.  Those NOx & HC emissions (Nitrogen Oxides and Hydrocarbons) are the main cause of smog, which isn't related to global warming (Carbon Dioxide emissions).  Smog is that toxic orange haze you see floating over major cities, the stuff that can't be cleansed by planting trees.  In fact, it will kill the trees... and us too.  Overlooking the SULEV benefit is completely missing the point.

10-17-2002

From a different perspective.  "Hey!  That green car merging onto the highway in front of us kind of looks like your brother's Prius.  What a minute.  That is his Prius!"  At the same moment, I was pondering the thought that the blue car quickly approaching was my previous car.  Then I suddenly discovered, it was!  So I whipped out the cell-phone and pressed the one-touch dial-number.  Within seconds, my brother was telling me about the Prius sighting he just had.  Getting feedback of such a unique nature was very fulfilling.

10-16-2002

Steam.  It was 36 F degrees this evening.  Steam could be seen coming from tailpipes of all the vehicles waiting at the stoplight... except mine, because the engine in the Prius wasn't running.  I wonder if anyone noticed?

10-16-2002

A new way to improve MPG !!!  I checked my oil level a few days ago.  It was 1/8 inch above the full line.  (Apparently, I hadn't drained enough out after the dealer overfilling from the oil change.)  So I said, "What the heck!  Why not perform the level test?"  (After all, the owner that had tried with a more extreme case reported improvement.)  I drained 3/8 inch out.  That brought it down to the 1/4 below the full mark, still 1-1/2 inches above the low mark.  In other words, this test wasn't going to risk the protection of the engine in any way-shape-or-form.  Instead, it ended up reducing the strain a little bit.  Despite the fact that it's much colder now than last week (in fact, it snowed the entire commute home today), the MPG average for this tank went up!  It appears as though performance increased by a whole MPG.  Sweet!

10-15-2002

The anticipation is killing me.  1701-A and I met with a consumer reporter and photographer for the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper today, to finish up.  They started working on an "alternative fuel" article 2 weeks ago.  I have no clue what angle of the story will ultimately take or in how much depth it will go, but it certainly was a lot of fun providing the information and they were very thorough.  The article is scheduled for tomorrow, but that date isn't solid.  I don't know if it will be available online either.  But a number of people will get an opportunity to learn more about Prius regardless.  And you know, the reporter was really surprised when I showed her an Info-Sheet.  I don't think she had ever seen anything of that quality or depth created by product owners.  The photos may work out really well too.  The photographer liked the setting I selected.  It was the identical spot I took this photo at 2 years ago.  The vibrant leaf colors, turbulent clouds, and excellent lighting conditions were similar too.  Hopefully, all will turn out well.

10-14-2002

A brief appearance.  There's a new television commercial featuring 10 of Toyota's 18 vehicles.  Prius was among those briefly shown.  It was one of the new colors too:  Black.  So I captured that scene and saved that photo here:  ad scans 2

10-13-2002

More GREEN for less GREEN.  Besides the new television commercial promoting this new Prius slogan, there's also a newspaper advertisement.  I scanned it, then did quite a bit of digital cleanup to remove the bleed-thru from images on the other side.  Both versions ended up turning out great.  I say both because there's two.  There's only one actual advertisement, but one version is "more green" than the other (I couldn't resist doing that digital enhancement):  ad scans 2

10-13-2002

It's everywhere.  I got a number of emails about my commercial query from owners.  They said they've seen it on quite a variety of channels.

10-12-2002

Saw the Prius Commercial again.  I wasn't even trying this time.  I just flipped over to "The Learning Channel" and there was an Aqua Prius.  I recorded it from "The Discovery Channel" this morning.  There have been reports of it on both TechTV and FOX (during "Enterprise") earlier this week.  I bet if I switch over to the "SciFi" channel, I could also see it there (since that's where I one of the older Prius commercials from).  Is Toyota marketing to people with similar interests as mine, or can we find that commercial other places too?

10-12-2002

A bit envious?  I'm at the coffee shop typing logs right now.  The young college student next to me whipped out her notebook computer.  I would have killed for a portable computer back when I was that age.  Being a computer programmer, that would have improved the quality of my life significantly.  Doing work on paper and in analog is so limiting.  I can't complain though.  Not only did I own a hybrid years before the next generation in automotive technology began, I also had the privilege of helping it happen.  And it's not over yet...  So I guess I'm thankful, rather than envious.

10-12-2002

More GREEN for less GREEN.  I finally got it!  2 long nights of trying to get a digital capture of the new Prius television commercial were unfruitful.  Then this morning, I saw it just moments after starting up the system... before I was able to begin recording!  Ahhhh!  (At a rate of 2.75 GB every 10 minutes, you have to carefully plan hard-drive use.)  Seeing it so quickly & unexpectedly put me in a state of both shock & hope.  Continued persistence could payoff.  A little over an hour later, it did.  The quality I captured is great, but the message in the commercial is even better.  It's such a cool promotion for Prius that I rendered a very high bit-rate & pixel version to share with everyone.  Here's details on this page:  video files

10-11-2002

Reality.  It was a little too clear this evening.  Walking back to my Prius, I noticed how many vehicles in that particular lot were large trucks & SUVs.  The amount was roughly 75 percent.  Scary, eh?  How many of those owners do you think were actually interested in reducing emissions & consumption?  I've been growled at before by a SUV owner when simply suggesting the idea of a hybrid SUV.  She has also mentioned most people aren't interested in Prius, since it's only a car.  With that being the reality of the current market attitude, how do automakers expect to sell a vehicle specialized in low emissions?  That's what they've been praising fuel-cell vehicles as.  Will the average person buy one?  Using current fuel-cells, they're only capable of a gasoline-equivalent of 14 MPG.  So reducing consumption certainly won't be a selling-point until the technology matures.  Of course, that may be why they're waiting.  Competing with hybrids now just plain isn't possible.  Prius kicks gas!

10-11-2002

The Sighting Game.  The game is changing.  Now when we go out for our daily walk at work, it's not IF we will see a Prius, it's HOW MANY !!  The increased sighting rate is wonderful.  I dreamed of the day Prius would be available on dealer's lots for immediate purchase.  That became a reality 5 months ago.  Now the mainstream advertisements have begun.  There's no need to fantasize about seeing Prius all over the place, it's actually beginning to happen.  Sweet!

10-10-2002

We're watching you.  Hybrid owners pay close attention to what's behind them too.  (That's how I noticed that person in the previous log entry.)  When driving through stealth territory and no one is following, we like to shut off the engine.  I've found myself slowing down to 40 MPH when the limit is 45 MPH just to maintain stealth.  Seeing that green bar climb to 100 MPG and stay there is quite a rush, even after 2 years of it.  Who would have thought technology could create the desire to pay closer attention and not exceed the speed limit.

10-10-2002

Follow a Hybrid.  If you want to avoid waiting for a stoplight, follow a hybrid.  We want to maximize our MPG.  Accelerating isn't as efficient as a constant glide, so we do our best to prevent the need.  Being attentive is the key.  It allows us to plan our moves well, which saves gas.  (That heightened awareness also increases safety.)  Today I began to slow down (regen only, no brakes) when I noticed the red light ahead.  The driver behind me didn't like the speed change and noticed how far she could get by switching lanes, so she did.  When she got to the light, she had to stop.  I didn't.  My lane actually had quite a few less cars.  So when I got close, the light had turned green allowing me to whiz by that inattentive driver without even having to accelerate.  I had very accurately guesstimated the distance & speed required.  My success surprised that driver, so she got behind me again.  I didn't have to stop.  I didn't have to change lanes twice.  It was efficient.  It was safer.  It felt good.

10-08-2002

Sharing Prius Info with Owners.  I spot a Prius a day now.  (That's pretty cool!)  Today's close encounter taught me something.  I spotted the Prius before the driver noticed me.  So I honked as I drove by.  He pulled in behind me.  At the stoplight, I waved, he saluted.  When the light turned green, I discovered he was stopping at the strip-mall too.  So I stopped to say "Hi!"  When I jumped out of my Prius with a Care-Package for him, he abruptly said "Thanks, but I'm not interested" as I said "I've got something I give the owners I encounter".  He totally cut me off (very politely, of course).  There's no way he could possibly understand what I had, so I was a bit upset.  But until last year, there was very likely no such thing as an Info-Sheet, Window Decals, and Website Cards that owners would share about their vehicle.  And resources like the User-Guide simply weren't needed, or even desired, for a family car.  But Prius owners that have received them send thank-you messages to me.  So I want to make sure all owners at least know they're available.  The website card will let me do that.  It's so simple, but it took until this particular encounter to figure it out.  I simply hand it silently (stealth like) to the owner I meet.  If they're interested, they'll start a conversation.  If not, I just smile and walk away... leaving the card.  He would have gladly taken a tiny gift.  The large envelope and the fact that I took lead in the conversation was too much for an sudden encounter.  Great!  Now I know.  I always wondered what I'd do once when Prius start showing up all over the place.  And since the card gets updated every few months, repeat encounters will even work too.  Good deal.

10-08-2002

My Obituary.  "He didn't hear it coming" is what the title would say.  On Tuesday, we walked out the door at work and there was a Prius driving down the private road right in front of us.  So I stepped out into the road, to emphasize the fact that in wanted to get the driver's attention, then waved.  He silently rolled past me without any kind of acknowledgement.  My coworkers got a really good laugh out of that when they realized how ironic it would have been if I had got run over... by a Prius.

 

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