Prius Personal Log  #48

December 27, 2002  -  January 1, 2003

Last Updated: Fri. 4/09/2004

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1-01-2003

Lost Perspective.  Many people don't remember what things were like in the early 1980's.  We all suffered through the age of improved efficiency gains through reduced size & weight of cars.  (Trucks were still used as their design was intended back then too.)  Small & Weak was, believe it or not, actually accepted... for awhile.  Then after about a decade, it ended.  The urban SUV was born.  Large & Powerful, the opposite extreme.  That actually wouldn't have been too bad if that would have been the final step.  But no.  Each year the design was made a little larger and a little more powerful.  Now a decade after that, those original SUVs are considered Small & Weak.  It's as if the vehicles before them never even existed.  Perspective has been lost.  A Prius grossly outperforms those cars from the 1980's in every respect.  That doesn't seem to matter though.  The "more is better" mentality continues.

1-01-2003

Analog Speedometers.  Something just dawned on me.  The old-fashion needle-type speedometers (analog) are actually not all that accurate.  That's probably one contributing reason why speedometers on family cars were made to go all the way to 120 MPH, even though the vehicle isn't capable of going that fast and there's no chance of a legal limit ever being set that high.  The tiny area being pointed to and the thickness of the needle worked well to conceal the inaccuracy.  "Close Enough" was considered acceptable.  People really didn't consider it a problem.  But now in a Prius, the speedometer has a digital readout.  That requires the margin-of-error to be much smaller, since an inaccuracy would be far easier to notice.  But because there aren't any moving parts involved in the display portion, insuring precision probably wasn't as much of an issue.  I wonder how much it actually cost Toyota to make the switch from analog.  Hmm?

1-01-2003

2003 CARB requirement.  This significant step toward reducing emissions is not going to happen the way it was planned.  Nearly a decade ago, the state of California established the requirement that 10 percent of all vehicle sales beginning in 2003 would be zero-emission.  The Detroit automakers complained and filed lawsuits.  Then a few years ago, they fought to have hybrids accepted as alternatives while attempting to reduce the requirement at the same time.  The intent (to clean up the air pollution problems) was lost.  The legal battles (centered on profit) just made it a nightmare.  Progress came to a complete halt.  Now nothing is happening.  How can we trust that they won't do the very same thing 10 years from now when the fuel-cells sales are expected to debut?

12-31-2002

Caught without my camera.  I was absitively devastated.  (I just taught my spell-checker a new word; it's short for absolutely-positively.)  The Prius had been covered with salt & sand for over 2 weeks.  Today it got washed off.  I did that by hand at the local wash.  From there I went drove to Sam's Club, where the horizon was visible.  There was the cloud-line of the cold-front passing through the sunset.  The pink & red patterns with a hint of orange were incredible.  I was at the right place at the right time and the Prius was clean, but no camera.  Then to make matters worse, I turned around to catch a glimpse of my shiny, green Prius before it got too dark.  It was a devastating sight.  There was a reflection of the beautiful sunset on the Prius itself.  What an incredible photo opportunity.  And I missed it!  Ahhhh!!  Fortunately, it was not totally in vain.  I had never thought of taking a photo that way before.  What a great discovery.

12-31-2002

Threatened.  One thing I frequently forget when endorsing hybrids is the fact that some people feel threatened.  They don't realize I'm not trying to take anything away from them, just to make what they choose to drive cleaner and more efficient.  And naturally, many don't realize it actually is possible to have your cake and eat it too.  So they from time to time will stand behind an irrational argument.  In those cases, if I feel I stand a chance, I'll explain to them in detail what vital piece of information they weren't aware of or don't quite understand correctly.  In other cases, I just bow out gracefully.  There's no need to upset that person.  They'll find out in time anyway.  Patience.

12-31-2002

Vindicated.  The more I learn about the little nuisances the inner-workings of the Prius hybrid system accommodates, the more I feel vindicated about my efforts.  The design really is genius.  Abandoning traditional strategies by taking a totally fresh approach, building from the ground up, really does offer great opportunities for implementing improvements beyond limitations of the past.  It's very cost effective once you've recovered from the initial financial burden of research & development.  Toyota is just beginning to reap the benefits of that effort (and I have been for awhile as an owner).

12-31-2002

Patriotic?  What does that mean?  Some people laugh when I say it's to buy a Prius.  Yes, it was built in Japan.  But all the services are provided here, by American workers.  And as mass-production needs increase, the building will be switched to here too, just as vehicles like Camry are now.  Plus, I know for a fact the engine & body was designed locally.  Doing things to insure a quality future for us makes sense.  Wasting our own oil reserves with the added consequence of harming our environment doesn't.

12-31-2002

0% Financing Video.  Toyota is starting to treat Prius like it's just another one of their vehicles they build & sell.  That's the next step toward mainstream acceptance.  Sweet!  This time the promotion is in the form of a television commercial for Toyota's year end/begin special financing offer.  Prius is one of the five vehicles featured.  Check it out:  video files

12-31-2002

No Stereotype.  Thank goodness I'm starting to get considered a well-versed source of Prius information with a sincere motive.  At first, the website was just another owner tribute.  There are all kinds of those on the internet for various vehicles.  But none of them grow to this scale or have such a unique perspective.  I figured I'd get regarded after awhile as someone pushing something for my own personal gain... like (unfortunately) the typical stereotype of car salespeople & commission.  I'm trying to prove that this clean & efficient technology actually is a realistic choice.  Because the design is a fundamental change, rather than an upgrade, there is a genuine opportunity for prices to drop to very competitive levels.  The design allows for flexibility too.  Various configurations of performance & efficiency are possible, and future improvements in motor & battery technology can be taken advantage of.  It's pretty obvious at this point that I crave the opportunity to make a difference.  Quite a number of people have contributed to the cause as a result, out of the goodness of their heart.  The reward is helping to make the future a little better.  Having a motive that doesn't conclude in profit really baffles some, they question why you'd ever do that.  Filling your wallet shouldn't be your only goal in life.  Duh!

12-30-2002

GM changed its mind.  Now, they are endorsing hybrids.  Originally, they wanted to jump straight to fuel-cell vehicles.  But the possibility of being able to match the price & performance of hybrids plus having the fuel available locally on a timely basis just didn't seem realistic, even to an optimist.  And being shown up by the Japanese for the same short-sightedness TWICE was probably way too much to bare.  Back in the 70's they claimed American buyers only desired large & powerful vehicles, that there was no market for fuel-efficient vehicles that were "adequate capacity" (realistic-sized and no extra HP beyond what's actually needed for typical driving).  But lots of those vehicles were purchased anyway.  Now the early signs of the same thing happening again are emerging.  The overkill-mentality, which provides very high profits for automakers, is beginning to lose appeal.  Good!

12-30-2002

Disbelief & Conspiracies.  Over 30 years later, whether or not we actually landed on the moon is still being debated!  With the advancement of transportation technologies becoming so important and the fact that there are both are political & financial gains to be made, are we looking at the beginning of another big PR mess?  Not being able to verify information could really be a problem.  It could take misconceptions to a whole new level.  Bummer.

12-30-2002

Momentum is building.  This comment was made today: "The web-group has been instrumental in convincing me to take the leap of faith and buy a Prius".  That's all it takes.  Our family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers will witness the great experiences we have.  That's far more powerful of an influence than any advertisement can convey.  It won't take much for them to consider a purchase of their own at that point.  The momentum is growing already.  An endorsement from Detroit really helps even more.

12-29-2002

Lead-Acid Battery Add-On for Prius.  An owner actually did it.  He rigged up a secondary battery.  It extended the range of stealth.  That resulted in improved city MPG for him.  Sweet!

12-29-2002

Simple Barometer.  Determining the general intent of a newspaper article mentioning hybrids has become fairly easy, just check the price comparison.  Some reporters quote an $8,000 difference between Prius and a "comparable" vehicle.  They either intentionally (making the Prius look bad) or unintentionally (didn't take the time to actually verify the facts, since many options on most vehicles are actually standard on Prius) use the price of a stripped down vehicle to compare to the price of a well loaded Prius.  Not acknowledging the fact that the standard Prius package includes features like a CVT, an integrated immobilizer alarm with remotes and a valet key, A/C with climate-control, a Multi-Display, aluminum rims, rear defroster, power windows, anti-lock brakes, digital speedometer, and Stealth is wrong.  Then ignoring the fact that some packages even include the very expensive DVD-based GPS navigation system is pretty much an attempt at deception.  In reality, there's currently about a $3,500 difference based on actual dealer prices.  And as time goes on, the margin is expected to narrow.

12-29-2002

HYBRID ELECTRIC.  The stickers that spell that out on the back windshield of my Prius have lasted a surprisingly long time.  My original set is almost 2 years old now and the window squeegee has been run over them quite a number of times.  (The winter sand & salt builds up fast, making routine cleaning of the windshield a must.)  The stickers don't arouse too much excitement anymore though.  I don't get people screaming & pointing at intersections now.  At this point, I would assume people that are aware of hybrids have spotted a few on the road already.  So providing actual detail may be a good plan now.  One owner is experimenting with that concept.  I wonder what he'll discover.  Hmm?

12-28-2002

An unexpectedly efficient drive.  I had to drive to the north side of the Twin Cities and back today.  It was a little over 40 minutes each way.  The average temperature was 31 F degrees.  9 of the 5-minute segments on the Multi-Display were 50 MPG or better.  That was pretty nice.

12-28-2002

Searching JOHN1701A.COM   I suspected that some visitors weren't aware of the fact that many major search engines offer the ability to request information from a specific website, rather than the entire internet all at once.  So I created this new webpage to provide instructions and an example of how to do a searches within this website:  search

12-28-2002

Acceleration Misconception.  Not everyone has gotten the word to "Just Floor It" yet.  They hesitate when pushing down the accelerator-pedal.  So they think Prius isn't capable of additional power.  It really is though.  In a traditional vehicle, hesitating makes sense.  But in a Prius, that isn't a concern at all.  Pushing all the way to the floor just informs the computer you want maximum acceleration.  Nothing physical takes place, since there isn't a throttle.  There are just a few wires.  The computer figures out how to achieve the greatest amount of power.  It protects the engine from strain for you.  The way it typically does that is by sending a large surge of electricity to the motor.  The motor is much more durable than the engine.  Taking advantage of that attribute is something not available in traditional vehicles.  Too bad.  Hybrids win!

12-28-2002

Duel Economy.  The label of "interim solution" for hybrids is really messing up expectations.  Realistically, it will take a whole decade for fuel-cell vehicles to just catch up to the point where hybrids already are.  (That's taking all aspects into account, like vehicle price and the availability of fuel.)  Then years and years will pass by while consumers observe the first ones on the road and actually consider a purchase of their own.  Why can't hybrids continue to thrive during that time and beyond?  With motor, battery, and emissions technologies continuing to evolve, who's to say that hybrids will be replaced entirely?  Hybrids could end up with engines that run on hydrogen instead of gas.  Did you ever think of that?  BMW actually has a prototype of a combustion engine with that very capability already.

12-27-2002

Rare Prius Sighting.  I see Prius on roads all over all the time, never though at this specific location though: a Gas Station.  With such great MPG, owners just don't need to stop as often as traditional vehicles.  Sweet!

12-27-2002

The "Different" Appeal.  People are continuing to desire new vehicles that don't fit the mold.  Every automaker now offers several models of SUV.  They were all designed to look big, powerful, and fierce.  The sheer volume of them on the road is beginning to make them less of a draw.  (The enormous gas bills probably aren't too appealing either.)  Wanting something "different" is becoming a new theme again.  Newer offerings like Chrysler PT Cruiser, the remodeled Ford Thunderbird, and yes Prius are gaining interest, so much so that other non-conventional looking vehicles are in the works.  For example, the auto shows beginning next week will introduce consumers to the upcoming Chevrolet SSR.

12-27-2002

Do Nothing Attitude.  Some people like to find a reason to dismiss Prius as a realistic solution.  They state something to that effect, then drop the subject.  Nothing is suggested from that point.  Their solution is to wait.  What the heck do they think will happen in the meantime?  In order to get support to perform even more research and build even more elaborate prototypes, you have to get investors to buy into a concept.  Getting that kind of support is extremely difficult (especially with the current economic status).  And without a source of funding, that's just not going to happen.  Having a product like Prius that represents a genuine step in the right direction (it actually works and generates a small profit) offers new opportunities.  Some technological discoveries  result buy observing a real-world product.  Studying a concept on paper will only take you so far.  Why not actually try?

12-27-2002

Reliability Wait.  You do know that the grand-scale production won't begin until a strong reputation has been established... right?  Some people have overlooked that fact when quoting numbers.  Waiting until there's actual proof about reliability is a very important sales factor.  It takes years to establish a reputation. The limited production right now is helping to accomplish that.  It's just enough to help spread the word without misconceptions becoming a problem.  How much is a delicate factor.  Right now, they prefer the better informed to be making the purchases.  Toyota's plans to beef up hybrid system production (for several vehicle models) to 300,000 in 2005 appears to be well timed.  In the meantime, people will get used to spotting hybrids and they'll hear stories about owners (like me!) approaching the 100,000 mile mark.  It's only a matter of waiting now.

 

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