Prius Personal Log  #419

May 28, 2009  -  May 31, 2009

Last Updated: Fri. 6/26/2009

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5-31-2009

Solar Panel.  Right now, I'm hanging out at the coffee shop to catch up on log entries.  The thought suddenly hit me that it was 79 F degrees, Sunny, and I'd be away from the Prius for awhile.  So, I dashed out to the 2010 Prius to push the button to activate the solar cooling system for the first time.  It's not all that hot out.  But this opportunity certainly will demonstrate the abilities this new feature has to offer.  I'm very excited.  The surfaces exposed to the sun will obviously still be warm.  The air temperature inside should be close to that outside.  It should be like leaving the windows open, but without any of the penalties.  I can't wait to experience that.

5-31-2009

First 2010 Encounter.  Of all times to spot a 2010.  There I was, on my way to a much desired location to shot photos of the new Prius.  With a digital camera at the ready, seeing another along the way was total shock.  For it to be parked in a scenic location all alone was pretty much a miracle.  What are the odds?  Needless to say, I stopped without hesitation... parking right next to it and snapping off a bunch of photos.  Too bad there wasn't an owner anywhere near by.  With the park right there and the library across the street, I never know if my actions were noticed.  Perhaps someday the moment will be recognized by someone looking through the album.  Take a look at what I saw on that particularly amazing first encounter... photo album 134

5-31-2009

Final Moments.  Looking back, it's fascinating already.  I took a photo of the final odometer reading on the speedometer cluster.  118,185 was the mileage at which I handed over the fobs to the dealer.  It was an awkward moment, to put it mildly.  Pulling up to my old 2004 from behind the wheel of my new 2010 was surreal.  I knew it was a memory in the making, that nothing would ever resemble that particular experience.  The photos that I took really reinforce that feeling... especially when you realize how dark it actually was.  The lights reveal that it was quite late in the evening.  Needless to say, I would be far to exciting to go home an sleep.  Those moments are what I had been dreaming about.  See what I saw, right before an entirely new chapter in Prius ownership began... photo album 132

5-30-2009

Tail Lights.  Wow!  What a surprise.  It hadn't occurred to me that Toyota may have change the tail light configuration.  Rather than traditional bulbs for marker lights and LED for the brakes, both were clustered together using the same LED array.  The look is truly impressive.  The soft glow while you drive is quite a complement to the stark contrast from when braking.  I adore discoveries like that.  It's nice touch to bring even more worth to the already compelling vehicle.  That's sure is a pleasing benefit to a technology which is primarily used for energy conservation.  High brilliance from low power.  Gotta love it!

5-30-2009

Iconic Look.  I owned my 2004 Prius for 5.5 years.  During that time, I took hundreds upon hundreds of photos... heavily documented my experiences... participated in online discussions & debates... created educational materials... and of course, drove over 118,000 miles with it.  Needless to say, that's likely more than double what most people do with their vehicle... perhaps more.  So the thought of trading it for the 2010 was pretty easy.  I was ready for new experiences and most definitely got a full set from that older model.  Discovery of features in the upgrade along with all the information I can provide about it is compelling draw.  How could I resist, especially with the new look?  After all, rigid lines in contrast to the rounded edges is quite a change.  That shape of the Iconic is now just that, something I'll cherish as great memories.  I'll look back at it with a smile.  That's what I owned during the "nonsense" years, when arguments against hybrids were intense... when we were still naive about just how much of a risk we were taking by not embracing hybrids much sooner.

5-30-2009

Power Mode.  For countless years, Prius owners have had to endure the claims of "fun to drive" from the diesel owners.  We always knew it was rather hypocritical to imply you could drive aggressively and still get MPG high enough to still compete with the hybrids.  It's really a tradeoff.  But you do still get the choice.  We'll now there's no argument about that same choice being available on a hybrid too; however, there really isn't as much of a tradeoff.  I live in a valley.  About two-thirds of the way up, you turn off the residential street into a 50 MPH suburb thru-way.  That climb is steep.  You can't just passively enter the road.  The engine had to contribute quite a bit more than normal for it.  But not anymore!  I pushed the new "Power Mode" button introduced with the 2010.  Wow!  This model has a larger electric-motor and can draw more electricity from the battery-pack... and it's pretty obvious that's being taken advantage of when you drop the pedal.  The climb up the hill shot me past the vehicles in the other lane.  I certainly wasn't expecting that!  Sweet!!

5-30-2009

57.3 MPG at 372 Miles.  That speaks for itself.  Of course, so does the recent jump in oil prices.  Gas is now at $2.59 per gallon.  The warm season climb has begun.  It sure positions the 2010 Prius rollout well.  Talking about great timing.  I can't wait to start seeing them on the road routinely.  I suspect it will be rare for awhile.  But by the time the cold season arrives, the quantity would have grown enough... as well as the reputation.  I can't wait to report my measurements throughout the Summer.  The electric A/C remote feature combined with the solar ventilation system sure will make it exciting.  I'm not sure what to expect.  But Prius certainly hasn't disappointed in the past.  In fact, it's been quite the opposite.  What surprises are in store?  MPG discoveries sure are fun.

5-30-2009

Average Speed.  On the MID, the new multi-information display on the 2010, there's a MPH value.  I'm quite curious how this new data feature comes into play.  The value is quite low, so it was immediately apparent that it was keeping track of all the time the vehicle is on... including the time you are not moving.  For someone like me who rides a bike long distances, overall progress is very important to know.  Stops cannot just be disregarded.  That time counts too.  You need to what happened the entire time you were traveling.  With respect to Prius MPG, I suspect we'll discover an efficiency pattern directly correlating to the speed displayed.

5-30-2009

Parked In.  I parked the 2010 Prius at the far end of the spaces available.  Naturally, the drive-thru by it just happened to be backed way up.  I had never seen that much traffic there before... ever!  And I just happened to have a new car then.  Figures.  It took 3 times of back & forth to maneuver out of the spot with only half of the street width available.  That left the rear of the Prius facing outward.  Then it took about 100 feet of driving backward to finally reach a place where I could turn around.  What a pain.  It certainly was one heck of a good excuse to take advantage of the backup camera though.  That part, I did enjoy.  Having an extra source of input to confirm it was safe to proceed sure was nice.

5-30-2009

BAS Fate.  The 3 new hybrids this year sure are bringing attention to the type differences.  Heck, even attention for Volt is helping.  With BAS on the extreme low end (minor assist ability and no smog-emission reduction), you have to wonder what will happen to it after the bankruptcy.  The "too little, too slowly" concern is very much aimed at technologies like that.  It's time for big steps.  Change is at hand anyway.  Oil & Gas prices are on the rise again.  Doing the minimum doesn't make sense.  We want more than just recovery from this economic mess.  Being able to thrive again by investing in the future is very good plan.  That's why I've always supported platforms which can sell in extremely high-volume while also being able to offer a plug later.  Heck, that's why I'd like Volt to start with a smaller battery-pack.  Prius is extremely well positioned already.  Seeing the benefit of mainstream penetration through an affordable base price should be obvious.  After all, that was the point of BAS.  Unfortunately, the gains from BAS are too small to compete effectively.  What will become of it?

5-30-2009

Still Hard To Believe.  Watching the intentional move away from midsize sedans was amazing.  How could GM just abandon that market?  They did, in favor of trucks.  Those excuses that Two-Mode would "save" much more gas are now regarded as careless & irresponsible.  We kept hearing the trucks would "first" get the technology, then smaller vehicles would follow.  Now when the market becomes desperate for those smaller vehicles being hybrids, we find out the technology was never intended to support them.  Ok.  We were mislead.  Many suspected that.  How could so much focus on power be used in much less powerful vehicles anyway?  But now we are being told a smaller system is planned.  Huh?  The story keeps changing.  How are they going to deliver such a design shift, from an expensive system with massive towing capacity to a competitive-priced 4-cylinder system? That's drastic and still hard to believe.  It sounds more like pandering, especially with all the Volt promoting at the same time.  How much development money is going to be spent where?  How much of the product-line will use each of the technologies?  How affordable will it be?  When will we get it?

5-29-2009

Reality.  They needed a good size dose of it today.  What a pain.  How would you respond to this: "The idea behind the design is great and much better that the hybrids now being built."  The hype for Volt is not supported by any data.  Heck, even the consumer want of making it affordable isn't being addressed.  Arrrgh!  Anywho, this is how I responded...  The reality behind the design is making it competitive.  Disregard for price makes for a terrible business case, something unwise on the verge of bankruptcy.  45.3 miles of driving for me today in the 2010 Prius.  The resulting average was 61.3 MPG.  That technology is available already.  It is priced for high-volume sales.  Battery cost drops later will benefit hybrids like Prius too.  GM is investing in Two-Mode for midsize vehicles too.  Don't act as if that isn't happening.  Volt technology will not be alone.  Evaluation of "great" and "better" doesn't mean the same thing for everyone.

5-29-2009

First Impressions.  My average so far has risen to 57 MPG.  The daily driving today ended with a tally at 61 MPG.  What am I going to do?  My spreadsheet graphs don't go that high?  Nice problem, eh?  This new Prius is truly amazing.  When people ask how Toyota could have possibly improved the hybrid system, I have no idea where to begin.  Most don't understand how it worked in the first place.  So, realizing the significance of a revision is quite unlikely.  Fortunately, creature comforts related to sound & feel are easy enough to demonstrate.  The new "Eco Meter" is great.  It compliments the current MPG indicator (which is now next to the speed indicator) quite well.  I suspect it will inform new owners that striving for a maximum MPG is not the best approach... that it's ok to use the engine too.  As for motor use, all I can say is: Wow!  Driving in stealth (electric-only without using EV mode) has become surprisingly easy.  Not much else to say yet.  It's only been 3 days and I've been busy at work.  More to come.

5-29-2009

100,000 Orders.  The acceptance of the 2010 Prius in Japan has been explosive.  Toyota has already decided to increase annual production from 400,000 to 500,000 as a result.  I wonder what the reports here will be.  Hmm?  If the market there (which is smaller in comparison) already has 100,000 orders, I can easily imagine seeing at least that many here.  That means I should take lots of photos to help with the delivery-wait impatience commonly attributed to Prius orders.  Of course, that only makes the situation worse for those who started as just curious surfers.  They join in too, adding to the list of those waiting.  It's a nice problem to have... and well worth it.  I should know.  This was my third time through that cycle.  Each time was more rewarding.  Gotta love it!

5-29-2009

Expected To File.  The hype around Volt is growing.  GM enthusiasts are using it as a distraction from all the disastrous financial news.  The media and online are obsessed with the topic.  It's big... way bigger than what happened decades ago.  Rather than struggling to deal with an abrupt market change, they actually died.  Bankruptcy is a failure to meet obligations.  Now the focus is on taking the resources that still remain and using them effective to create a new automaker.  Judicial decisions by a court will determine outcome, not the choices of assets holders.  It's the worst fears of some unfolding.  For others, it's change long overdue in a rather painful way.  Too bad the warnings weren't taken seriously.  Not diversifying and planning for the long-term has consequences.  We are now witnessing them firsthand.  Remember all the large Pickup & SUV promotion and the mocking of hybrids?

5-28-2009

Fit-Hybrid.  Honda is reportedly accelerating their plans for Fit becoming a hybrid.  Rather than the original Spring 2012, it now looks like Fall 2010.  The price target has been set at $15,800.  The IMA system is expecting to boost the 33 MPG estimate to 38 MPG.  What the market will be like then is anyone's guess.  With all the attention currently falling on FULL verses SERIES hybrid debates, how the ASSIST will be perceived is a head-scratcher.  What will consumer expectations be by then?  At that point, the true reception to this newest version of Prius will be fully realized.  We would have been through an entire seasonal-cycle and lots of real-world data will be available.  Lots of sightings on the road will be the norm too.  Going from mainstream to future-standard may become the focus.  Traditional technology must be replaced by something.  What will the price of gas by 1.5 years from now?  Honda's gamble is an intriguing one.

5-28-2009

Candid Comments.  My neighbor saw the new Prius and struck up a conversation.  I eventually asked him about Volt.  He blurted out a laugh.  He said the 40-mile range was a huge shortcoming.  Why bother when EV choices with greater range would also be available?  The idea of an engine running afterward simply didn't appeal to him.  Having to wait overnight for a recharge didn't either.  Volt supporters definitely face a huge mindset challenge.  Even without addressing price or competition, the vehicle itself doesn't attract the way enthusiasts claim.  That makes sense.  An entire generation grew up hearing mixed stories about the EV.  Why rush out to get one when they've been waiting decades already?  It's a dream abandoned long ago.  With the future generation watching them emerge into market, that's entirely different matter.  They'll actually will have something to look forward to.  Where that puts an EV with a short range and an engine is a bit of a mystery though.  One thing is for certain, the mainstream will be dominated by hybrids replacing traditional vehicles.  How long that next step (offering a plug) takes is the real question.  With vehicle life around 10 years, it's going to take awhile.

 

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