Prius Personal Log  #44

November 20, 2002  -  November 26, 2002

Last Updated: Thurs. 5/15/2003

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11-26-2002

Transparent Hybrid Symbol.  That newest owner webpage inspired me.  A version of the hybrid symbol with a transparent background was needed so the link back to the homepage wouldn't interfere with the slick background he made.  So, I created one.  It's now available here:  hybrid symbol

11-26-2002

Owner Contribution.  Martyn contributed a bunch of photos and a spreadsheet.  You'll be quite impressed with what he chose to share with us.  He's from across the pond, over in the UK.  So you'll see a few differences in his Prius, most notably the fold-down seats in back.  Check out his webpage:  owner:  Martyn

11-26-2002

Winter MPG.  I was a little disappointed today after filling up with gas.  The second stoplight revealed only a 33.7 MPG average on the Multi-Display.  While coming to terms with the effects of the ever-so-present cold now (which will last like what seems forever), I realized the Prius was sitting there at the intersection with the heater still running but the engine off.  That gave me a warm feeling, in several respects.  Then the remainder of the drive got even better.  The MPG grew to 40.6 by the time I reached home.  Thankfully it will climb further, but not by much when the temperature eventually dips below 10 F degrees.  And when it dips below -5 F degrees, I think I'll start dreaming of Summer Stealth again.

11-26-2002

He got more than he bargained for.  A member of Greenpeace approached me today.  He asked if I had a moment to hear about what his group had to offer.  I noticed the large photo of an oil-rig on his clipboard.  My response was that I had too much of a commitment in my own group, one that he would find interesting.  After pausing a moment to read his expression, I continued by saying the Prius Group on Yahoo, which I was one of the leaders of, had grown to 4,700 members already.  Then I handed him one of my website cards stating it was the biggest hybrid website in the world.  He stopped caring about what he had to say, he immediately wanted to know more about what I had to say instead.  We chatted for a few minutes.  He was pleased to hear there were so many others fighting for the same cause.  That was fun!

11-26-2002

The Prius Fairy.  Apparently, that's my secret identity now.  I suppose if you discretely leave enough care-packages for Prius owners, that kind of title would seem appropriate.  And I got a good chuckle after reading the post that officially gave me that title.

11-25-2002

Have you ever noticed?  When an article mentions the look of Prius, saying it's "uninspired" or some such nonsense, they don't show a photo.  That makes me wonder.  People are always fascinated by the unusual and out-of-the-ordinary.  Wouldn't that add to the intrigue of what they were saying by providing a image?  I bet they're afraid.  They want to portray Prius as less-than-ideal, so they try to appeal to our sense of sight.  They know that if people get too curious they'll take a test-drive, which will reveal the lack of vibration and silence.  Appealing to those senses makes quite an impression.  Sales are much easier once you've experienced that.  We know that from hearing many first-hand accounts stating that.  I wonder if the reporters don't fully understand what hybrids have to offer... or maybe they just fear change.

11-25-2002

Black Prius Sighting.  I saw my first Black Prius today.  Unfortunately, it was already dark out.  So the excitement wasn't as intense.  But I did get to leave a Prius care-package for the owner.  And since the Prius was still less than 3 weeks old (no license plates yet), I bet the owner got a thrill after discovering the contents of the envelope I left.  Too bad I couldn't have been there to see it.  Oh well, some owners prefer their privacy anyway, and I still got to see the new color up close.

11-25-2002

Cold.  The temperature dropped to 19 F degrees this evening.  Winter is becoming a reality.  I don't think I'm ready yet.  Thankfully, my Prius is.

11-24-2002

A new reason to buy a Prius.  New technology often invokes fear.  Investing in something that may not be around for too long is a big gamble.  Some people didn't want to buy a Prius for that very reason.  But now the second generation has been available for over 2 years and the design is holding up quite well, so well in fact that both Ford and Nissan have agreed to purchase some hybrid systems of similar design for use in their own vehicles.  We are also anticipating another hybrid from Toyota itself.  The market is showing the first signs of real acceptance.  That should invoke new sales opportunities.  Let the good times roll (cleanly & efficiently)!

11-24-2002

Hybrid SUV.  I typically hear growls and see frustration from SUV owners when I mention making a SUV into a hybrid.  I think that comes from a misconception.  They assume it means loss of power.  It doesn't, of course.  But overcoming that belief will be quite a challenge.  There is a real concern though.  The loud, fierce, roar won't exist anymore.  Some people desire that rather than the smooth & quiet Prius owners find pleasure in.  But then again, SUVs are now available from Lexus & Cadillac who take pride in offering luxury aspects, like smooth & quiet.  Perhaps there is hope.

11-24-2002

Looking Alike.  Apparently hybrids haven't been a popular choice yet because they don't look like all the other vehicles on the road.  That's what a reporter recently expressed anyway.  I disagree.  Since when do people buying high-performance vehicles want to blend into the crowd?  They don't necessarily want to draw lots of attention either.  They just want a vehicle that has had some attention concentrated on the angles & curves.  Prius provides that very type of special detail.  Just do a quick comparison to a Ford Focus, which is similar sized sedan.  You'll see that Prius has a few sleek lines added to the sides & hood, just enough to show that extra care was taken when it was designed.

11-24-2002

Another Article.  The latest issue of the Minnesota Women's Press features hybrids.  A few owners I know (and me!) got to contribute some of the content.  That's pretty cool.  I like the local touch.  And in Minnesota, it really counts.  Knowing hybrids work well in the extreme cold really helps with sales.

11-24-2002

LRR Below Freezing.  Based on recent observations, it appears as though my Non-LRR tires work the same as the original LRR tires when the temperature is below the freezing mark.  I had a feeling that might be the case.  With everything so cold, in other words very hard, the little bits of rubber don't stick as much.  That's good.  I just want to float on top of the road when cruising away.  Gripping action comes from the tread itself.  So when driving through snow or rain or turning a corner briskly, those deep channels provide a digging effect.  

11-24-2002

Eeeek!  While washing the Prius today, I discovered it had been bumped.  There was a rub mark from a bumper on the metal just above the back tire.  Thankfully, just rubbing was enough to remove it.  Now you can't really tell that had happened.

11-23-2002

"What Would Jesus Drive"  That's the newest awareness promotion from the church.  It's great because Prius is sighted as a realistic alternative to just simply having to give up a certain behavior.  Some monster-sized SUV owners aren't seeing it that way though.  They think it's an attempt to eliminate SUVs entirely.  In reality, it's actually an attempt to reduce emissions & consumption.  That means SUVs should be somewhat smaller (so they can fit into parking spots & garages) and a hybrid system added.  In no way does it mean production should stop entirely, and neither does it mean that power will be reduced.  Remember, electric motors can actually provide greater torque than gasoline engines.  Having Jesus as a role model may be pushing beliefs a bit too far, but it is raising awareness.  So I'm grateful for the effort.

11-23-2002

Elegant.  I'll work for a month programming a new screen within the software I support.  If users use it and we don't get any complaints, that means I did a good job.  If the user asks for more, that means I did a great job.  Praise is rare.  Not using it is disheartening.  You really do just have to base success on silent users.  And in the case of Prius, they will be "silent" in many ways.  The reality is turning out to be that the elegantly sophisticated engineering doesn't get much attention.  It just gets use.  The "Just Drive It!" motto continues to be confirmed as the best approach.

11-23-2002

Market Expectations.  People still judge based on the old rules.  There's an announcement, then a massive delay before you actually see the product.  It's not that way anymore in some markets.  Computer equipment is a fantastic example.  I'm always checking up on the latest & greatest.  I'll ask questions from salespeople about their perception of a new product and when they think it will actually be available.  Often that leads to this comment from me, "the announcement stated it will hit store shelves next week".  That almost always generates a reply from them of "well then we'll have it here in about 3 or 4 months".  So when I stop by the following week I shock the heck out of the salesperson when I ask again about that same product they now have sitting on the shelf.  They work there.  You'd think they would have noticed the product arrival improvement at this point, apparently that's not the case (in general, anyway).  The expectation of consumers doesn't seem all that different.  I shock people all the time when I tell them that not only do I already own a hybrid, but that I already have over 40,000 miles on it.  What do you typically expect?

11-22-2002

Broken Promises.  You'll find this quote interesting:  "The Wall Street Journal reported that the NHTSA's draft recommendation would raise fuel efficiency standards by roughly a half a mile per gallon each year in model years 2005 through 2007, to 22.2 miles per gallon in 2007 NHTSA, a Transportation Department agency with authority to establish fuel economy standards, based its plan on data submitted by Detroit's Big Three automakers."  That's only 1.5 MPG total.  Ford made a promise back in 2000 to increase fuel efficiency of their entire SUV fleet by 25 percent within 5 years.  That's roughly a 5 MPG increase.  Proposing just 1.5 MPG and taking even longer is a joke, especially since my vehicle offers over a 100 percent increase already.  Without sacrificing interior seating room, I went from 22 MPG to 45.1 MPG.  And those are real-world values, not EPA which are higher than what the typical driver actually gets.  That promise they made earlier doesn't seem to mean anything now.  They're just doing the absolute minimum to keep certain people from getting too upset.  Well, it's not going to work with me.

11-22-2002

"The Clean Air Choice"  A detour forced major traffic through the intersection I have to walk across from work.  So seeing a tanker truck blocking the crosswalk could have been an unwelcome frustration.  It wasn't though.  That particular one had a blue sky and puffy white clouds painted on it with these words in very large print: "The Clean Air Choice".  The truck was filled with several thousand gallons of low-sulfur gas.  Seeing that kind of promotion was nice.

11-22-2002

Global Warming.  Again with the misconception.  People think global warming is simply an increase in heat overall.  It's not.  The effect is actually more violent storms, more often.  The seasons become less predictable too.  But ignoring those issues, they still don't understand that increased MPG doesn't actually solve the problem.  Yes, it does in fact reduce Carbon-Dioxide emissions which contribute to Global Warming.  But SMOG is the issue that increased performance doesn't fix.  Emissions of Nitrogen-Oxides and Hydro-Carbons are the cause.  To prevent those chemicals from being emitted, Prius actually has to sacrifice MPG.  The catalytic-converter must be hot to effectively cleanse exhaust.  That means the engine much sometimes run even when it isn't needed for thrust, so a small amount of fuel is consumed solely for that purpose.  Did you know that?

11-21-2002

New Misconceptions.  This was unexpected.  A few owners of assist-hybrids are raising unwarranted concerns about full-hybrids.  They try to apply the knowledge they have of their 1 motor system to that of Prius's 2 motor design, stating the dependence on the battery-pack could be common a problem later on.  In reality, the diminished power that will come (around 150,000 to 200,000 miles) won't have that big of an effect on needed thrust.  Knowing this comes from simply observing what happens on the Multi-Display.  When you accelerate onto a highway or climb a hill in a Prius, the battery-pack typically isn't usually drawn from.  Quite the opposite actually happens.  (This would really surprise those owners if they discovered this.)   You see, the engine turns the small motor to generate electricity.  And because optimum RPM is used, more electricity is generated than what's needed.  That allows both the large motor to provide thrust to the wheels and the battery-pack to be recharged at the same time.  So there really isn't much to worry about.

11-20-2002

Contributing to the MPG obsession.  I always fill my tank with low-sulfur gas.  So without needing to do anything else, I'm driving around the cleanest mass-produced vehicle the uses gas in the world.  SULEV, gotta love it.  So because the incredibly low emissions are automatic, I've chosen to focus on another strong selling feature for Prius: MPG.  Avoiding short trips, routinely checking tire pressure, maintaining proper oil level, and not speeding has improved MPG.  A recent discovery increased it even further.  I discovered a new route for driving to work.  That route just happens to be very hybrid-friendly.  I set my all-time best cold weather single-tank record today.  The average driving temperature was 35 F degrees.  The distance was 380 miles.  The performance was 49.9 MPG.  That's amazing, especially when realize I'm using Non-LRR tires!  There's a photo capturing that special moment here:  photo album 42

11-20-2002

Road Repair.  I hate road construction.  With the repair season being so limited in the north, it forces uncontrollable delays & detours.  But dealing with poor road conditions is even worse.  The salt and constant refreezing stresses the pavement.  Cars like Prius bump along through the potholes helplessly until Spring.  It just occurred to me that situation isn't true for the monster-sized SUVs and trucks.  Their large tires and heavy-duty suspension allow them to smash into the ruts head-on without even having to slow down.  Doing that significantly accelerates the growth of the road damage (especially since many weigh 2,000 pounds more than a Prius).  It means an even bigger repair will be needed in the Spring.  That's very frustrating.

 

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