Prius Personal Log  #46

December 9, 2002  -  December 21, 2002

Last Updated: Fri. 4/09/2004

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12-21-2002

Alternate Tires - Winter Driving.  The permafrost has set in.  The ground is no longer warm enough to melt snow.  Season long ice is beginning to form in parking lots and on side streets.  Hard packed snow builds up on top of that.  Then we get the occasional fresh snow which covers everything.  In other words, I've had the first-hand opportunity to do some Winter Driving with these alternate tires.  The verdict is, they work great!  The 13,500 miles of driving so far have well worth it.  I'm so glad I ventured out on my own to test yet another choice for Prius owners.  A number of alternates are now available.

12-21-2002

A new statistic.  I caught this quote in an article today, "Not many Americans realize that North America consumes roughly 40% of the world's production of gasoline, far higher than the 25% of total energy consumed."  Naturally, that doesn't surprise me at all.  We rarely promote efficiency as a patriotic duty... anymore.  We used to though.

12-21-2002

That Endless Wait.  Realistically, sales of hybrids on the grand scale just aren't possible until we've endured that endless wait.  People want to see hybrids reach very high miles first.  Getting past 120,000 miles simply takes a long time, a minimum of 6 years on the average.  Reaching that point means large investments are finally possible.  Both consumers and suppliers will feel very comfortable at that point.  Meanwhile, we wait.  Thankfully, the trip along the way is really fun.

12-20-2002

Rollover Settlement.  All 50 states will be receiving settlement payments.  The attorney-general determined Ford was not forth-coming about the rollover problem with their SUVs.  Well, it's about time.  People were lead to believe the large, top-heavy vehicle they were buying was safe.  Some of us always knew that was an issue.  Some of us also know that admission of the problem is the first step to solving it.  Remember a number of years back when it was revealed that pickup trucks provided virtually no leg protection in offset, front-end collisions?  Since then, that problem was addressed and fixed.  Of course in this situation, I'm not sure how you would lower the center-of-gravity to prevent tipping without reducing the high ground-clearance.  Perhaps more practical-sized SUVs will finally become more popular.

12-20-2002

Cameron Diaz... again!  She was on the "Tonight Show" and got to talk about her Prius again.  That kind of exposure is great.  More people are getting to hear about real-world experiences, rather than just reading about a reporters evaluation.  You can see it too.  I captured a digital copy to share:  video files

12-18-2002

More is Better.  How long will this attitude continue?  My sister's Corolla is considered a "compact".  My grandfather's Taurus is considered a "sedan".  Based on category, the Taurus supposed to be bigger.  In reality, it's quite a bit smaller.  That's because it's a few years old now.  The sizes have been increased since then to match people's desire for more.  The same goes for acceleration speed.  Even though my Taurus could do 0-to-60 in 12.5 seconds and impress everyone inside at the performance years ago, it is now considered "slow".  That doesn't make any sense.  It still takes about 20 seconds to merge onto a highway anyway.  If you never put the pedal to the floor, what the heck is the extra speed for?  And how big will vehicles continue to grow?  Some already don't fit in garages and parking spaces.  At some point, more will not be better.

12-17-2002

Added support for NETSCAPE 7.01 users.  The navigation-menu has been completely redesigned. Now those with the latest version of Netscape (that's 7.01) should be able to see & use the links the same way users of Internet Explorer and the older versions of Netscape have.  PLEASE LET ME KNOW if that isn't the case.  (Also, for those rare users of Opera, it theoretically work for that browser too.  But there's no way for me to conveniently confirm it.)

12-16-2002

My first Prius background sighting on TV.  During a news report on TechTV today, an Aqua Prius rolled by in the background as a person was being interviewed.  That was pretty sweet!  I wonder if anyone else noticed?

12-15-2002

Not designed for Highways.  This misconception is becoming irritating.  Even after all this time, people still think it.  Prius is more aerodynamic than most cars.  There's virtually no angle difference between the hood and the windshield resulting in an overall drag-coefficient of 0.29, which is an obvious benefit on the highway more so than on city streets.  And the design is well proven, 80 MPH cruising for hours at a time has been done over and over again by Prius owners without any struggle whatsoever and a resulting MPG of around 40.  What makes people think Prius wasn't designed for highway?  Does the higher city mileage give the impression that optimization was done for city only?

12-15-2002

Prius EV Concept Vehicle.  I knew it would happen eventually.  Since Prius provides a mostly electric platform already, discussions have begun about how to take it the next step.  Electrical engineers are becoming the backyard mechanic of the 21st century.  They say adding a greater stealth range to a Prius isn't all that complicated.  I wonder how long it will take before someone actually does it?

12-13-2002

Too Little, Too Late.  Now it's official.  The Bush Administration approved the proposal to increase gas mileage in sport utility vehicles, vans, minivans, and pickup trucks.  It will change from the current standard of 20.7 MPG to 22.2 MPG beginning in 2005.  What kind of challenge is that?  Claiming that tires are so reliable nowadays that a spare of any kind is no longer necessary would get them halfway to that goal with virtually no effort and would save them some money at that same time.  Removing the spare would reduce the weight of the vehicle by about 50 pounds (the spare, the bracket needed to hold it, and the jack).  I suspect finding some additional weight to remove wouldn't be that much of a chore.  So basically, they are going to try the same old trick they did in the early 80's all over again.  We need more now!

12-13-2002

My favorite climb.  Leaving the river valley from St. Paul, Minnesota on highway 52 is really fun.  It's a long steep hill, enough that there's a truck lane for slower traffic.  I start at the bottom from the stoplight at the entrance ramp.  Then on press the accelerator-pedal enough that I merge onto the highway at 55 MPH.  The battery-pack wasn't drawn from to get to that point.  The climb continues for quite awhile.  I stare at the "Energy Monitor" on the Multi-Display most of that time.  Electricity from the battery-pack isn't needed for any of that either.  I end up getting to the top using nothing but engine thrust directly and the electricity it generated on-the-fly.  In fact, there was enough electricity left over that some charging occurred too.  Not needing the battery-pack is a fascinating concept to me.  It's a reserve, just in case.  Then I use it later, after I get off the highway for Stealthing around.  What a great design.

12-13-2002

Just Floor It.  That concept is becoming routine for me.  My drive to work involves a merge onto the highway via a normally difficult ramp.  But now there's construction, so they had to shorten the ramp temporarily.  That could have made it even worse.  But since the computer handles the RPM control, not much effort is required to make a Prius maximum accelerate.  You just simply push the accelerator-pedal to the floor.  In a traditional vehicle, you'd have to be careful to avoid red-lining the engine.  That's not even a concern it Prius.  Gotta love it!

12-12-2002

I yearned for stealth.  The engine was toasty warm.  So when I pulled into the parking lots, I was looking forward to a long, silent drive to the other side.  It is Winter though.  That means you have to stop completely for 4 to 5 seconds before the engine will shut off (when driving slow, while cruising it will shut off easier).  "Minnesota Nice" prevented that.  When I tried to stop at each crosswalk, pedestrians kept waving me though.  I didn't actually want them to be polite like that.  I would have rather waited.  That way, I could have driven away in silence using only electricity.  The yearn for stealth opportunities becomes overwhelming.  It's a pleasure that most people don't understand... yet.  Just wait though.  Once they experience it, their desire for it will begin too.

12-12-2002

Prius life, how long?  Toyota vehicles last an extremely long time in the first place.  The fact that the Prius design began back in 1993 and they choose to not be forced to conform to a traditional design, means long life can be expected from Prius too.  That's the short answer.  The long answer gets a bit involved.  You have to observe how Prius operates and have a decent knowledge of how traditional vehicles are designed.  You'll eventually end up saying "Wow! Prius really is designed to last."  The way the brushless motor does everything it possibly can to protect the engine from strain (high torque) and way the engine does everything it possibly can to protect the battery-pack from strain (deep discharge) proves Prius really is a "genius" design.  It should last at least as long as the other Toyotas.  I personally expect to reach 200,000 miles without much effort.  And if Detroit doesn't get it's act together, I expect Prius count to eventually start resembling the VW Beetle on roads in some of the countries to our south.  They call them "bellybuttons" there, because everyone has one!  Prius could continue going strong while other vehicles end up having to get replaced.  I had a dream, there were Prius everywhere...  (By the way, Prius has a brushless motor.  Using that type meant an inverter would be required for AC power, rather than just using DC power directly.  But the advantage is that there's nothing to wear out quickly.  It should last as long as the other components on the car, like the wheel-bearings.)  Pretty sweet, eh?

12-12-2002

Cold Cat.  NASA invented a catalytic-converter that can work cold.  Putting that technology in Prius would eliminate the need for warm up, which eliminate the penalty taken now to get the emission system working at its cleanest.  That would be great!  Performance would increase by several MPG.

12-11-2002

Escape-Hybrid Delay.  Now the first hybrid from Ford won't be available until the Summer of 2004, rather than a year from now like originally planned.  I think this is proof that those manufacturers specializing in monster-size SUV production were caught completely off guard, not realizing concerns about emissions & consumption would grow so quickly.  By the time I see the first Escape-Hybrid on the road, I would have driven 60,000 miles in the Prius already.  Oh well.  Slow progress is much better than the reverse-progress we've seen lately.  Watching the average MPG drop to a 20-year low is kind of pathetic knowing a solution is already available.

12-10-2002

Long Trips in a Prius.  We're still hearing reports about salespeople claiming Prius isn't good for long trips.  And taken too literally, they're right.  You will need to stop long before the Prius does.  There's no way the average person could drive 400 miles non-stop without needing to go to the bathroom and refill their "tank".  (I have to pee and eat something much earlier.)  The Prius could easily handle it though, it has a very capable "bladder".  In reality, the problem is actually that salespeople make a very low commission on Prius.  Just about any other vehicle on the lot would earn more money for them.  So there's not much incentive to support Prius.  Bummer.  Maybe someday reduced emissions & consumption will be considered more important.

12-10-2002

2005 Shoulder-Strap Requirement.  This made the news again.  Manufacturers will be finally required to add shoulder-straps for middle seats.  In other words, everyone else will catch up to what some vehicles have already had for a long time now.  And I'm proud to say, Prius is one of those that has always had that safety feature.

12-09-2002

Prius Smart Cards.  Sweet!  Toyota actually used one of my ideas.  I created my first Prius card back in July 2000 (using a photo from Toyota since I hadn't got my Prius yet).  Then in September 2000, I created the very first with 1701-A on it.  You can see it on this page Prius Website Card.  I wonder if they will continually update them the way I do.  Each season I update to my latest data, then I put on a new photo.  The cards have experienced a number of design revisions too, based I the feedback I've received (which is almost always extremely enthusiastic).

12-09-2002

Ford Commercials.  For awhile there, car advertisements were almost non-existent.  Now all of a sudden there's a bunch of them and the SUV promotion has been cut back (to a more realistic level, instead of being everywhere all the time).  I wonder what brought that on?  Are they overstocked with cars?  Are they feeling pressure from the emissions & consumption groups?  Are they actually trying to achieve a better balance in the type of vehicles they sell?  Or are they trying to refocus the market on more practical-sized SUVs?

12-09-2002

The "Super Car" story.  Back at an Auto Show in October 1997, the big 3 from Detroit were talking big about the Super Cars they had been working on and planned to deliver prototypes of in few years.  Toyota stole the spotlight by unveiling the car it had been working (with their own money) on since the others had began their (federally funded) effort 4 years earlier: Prius.  That stunned & frightened a number of engineers that day.  What they were talking about in concept, Toyota was ready to begin selling.  And since then, Toyota has gathered millions & millions of miles of real-world data about the design.  A generational upgrade was even made.  So it should be easy to see why I've shown so much faith in the engineering.  Prius has been extremely well thought out.  It all began with the exclusion of Toyota.  Since it wasn't an American based company, no government support was made available (despite the fact that tens of thousands of Americans are employed by the company).  Anywho, that was bad enough.  Then, it got worse.  The success of the technology afterward wasn't acknowledged when the Bush Administration sponsored a "Future Car" event.  The Detroit based automakers were allowed to show off their prototypes, but no representation from either Toyota or Honda was allowed.  That upset me.  In fact, it helped provide the desire to build a massive website providing detailed proof that the hybrid technology already available is a very realistic choice.  And it won't take long for the claims about other new reduced emission & consumption technologies to be proven less than ideal.  Are you ready for explosive acceptance of Prius?

 

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