Prius Personal Log  #51

January 15, 2003  -  January 25, 2003

Last Updated: Sat. 3/08/2003

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1-25-2003

Info-Sheet Updates.  I needed an updated odometer photo.  So I captured of the entire speedometer cluster at 46,332 miles this morning.  The higher value definitely helps with credibility.  People are extremely curious to hear from owners with high mileage knowledge.  So that was a worthwhile update.  I fixed a minor print problem with 2 lower-case "y" characters getting truncated due to a frame overlap.  And the 2 photos on front got replaced just for the sake of variety.  That made the file-size bigger since I used extremely high-resolution sources this time, but that was worth it because even low-end printers can take advantage of that now.  The update is available for downloading in 3 different here:  Info-Sheet

1-24-2003

From the still-not-understanding-it department.  Those that feel threatened like to select a particular aspect to criticize.  Taking the whole picture into account wrecks their arguments.  Someone recently asked for an explanation of intent, so in response to this question "If the rationale for the hybrids is economy..." I provided this reply:  It's not!  Low emissions is actually the long-term goal; aka SULEV.  The purpose now is to establish the market by proving reliability and educating consumers, salespeople & mechanics.  That means the premium paid to acquire the vehicle is an acceptable parameter currently.  The purpose later will be to use the knowledge gained from the first stage of rollout to provide a realistic product that delivers low emissions while meeting an acceptable target price to enable large volume sales.  Mass-Production, rather than the limited quantity now, all by itself will help lower costs.  Efficiency improvements in design & components will provide another as time progresses too.  Sales data from this stage of rollout will help determine what the target price & features should ultimately be later.  The economy aspect is an obvious benefit that assists with making the future goal feasible, that doesn't make it the primary purpose.  Take all aspects into account for the final product after the initial rollout process is complete, then you'll understand how the goal of SULEV will become a reality.

1-24-2003

Did ya know?  The membership on the Prius Yahoo Group is well over 5,000 now and the message count will hit 50,000 in just 2 weeks.  More and more people have developed an interest in hybrids.  The misunderstandings of intent will diminish as time goes on.  Things are going well despite the occasional heated online debate.

1-24-2003

Feeling Threatened by Hybrids.  GM (General Motors) certainly felt that way recently.  At first, they were completely ignoring hybrids.  They claimed that technology was nothing but a stepping-stone to fuel-cells, not even worth building.  And if you were looking at the sales numbers, the portion was so tiny it appeared to validate that point.  But if you looking at the rate-of-growth statistics, genuine fear sets it.  That rate is unbelievably high.  The acceptance is completely off the scale compared to any other radically new technology introduction.  It's so obvious to me, since I've witnessed the same thing in other disciplines.  Just look at what DVD has experienced.  It still doesn't even offer affordable stand-alone recorders, yet the growth rate is several hundred percent per year.  Consumers catch on to a better idea over time.  It just takes a bit of patience.  I'm starting to see evidence of that happening to hybrids now.  Some consumers are starting to panic though.  Their blinders had them focused on nothing but continued growth of size & power.  And now that the extremes are commonly available, other aspects are becoming appealing.  The size & power consumer just doesn't know how to handle that.  What they know & love is no longer the strongest selling-point for the vehicle.  Hybrids are an unwelcome guest.  To that I say, too bad.  Anyway, what does it matter?  It's not like size & power will go away completely.  Things will just become more realistic now.  "Overkill" will lose it's appeal.  "Practical" will replace it.  I welcome finally seeing a clean & efficient SUVs of practical size.  Of course, that change means they'll be sharing the road with lots of Prius type vehicles too, even cleaner & more efficient.

1-24-2003

Good Morning?  Today started rather strangely.  I pulled out into traffic and saw both a Prius and a Hummer.  What an odd sight, two extremes sharing the same road.  Seeing that sure puts Prius into a very different light.  Those critics that didn't care for Prius called the body styling dull and uninspired (since they obviously couldn't say anything bad about the emissions or efficiency).  Hummer is literally a box on wheels.  In fact, it actually resembles an armored truck if you look at just the back.  I bet the owners get that feeling when driving it too.  What happened to the sports car craze, where quick handling and hugging the road was the preference?

1-23-2003

2 new Prius Photos.  Remember those discussions about Wind Turbines last month on the group?  That led me to capture a scenic photo of one in my area with the Prius.  But it took until now to finally publish it.  Sorry about that.  It was worth the wait though.  The shooting toward the sun at sunset photos are typically quite satisfying.  The other photo is quite different.  This morning was horribly cold, -8 F degrees most of the commute.  Those 30 minutes of frigid driving produced a rather satisfying opportunity (though I had to sacrifice 2 degrees to eliminate the sun glare from the camera).  I got a Consumption Screen shot showing everything from startup at home to arriving at work.  The MPG slowly climbed as the Prius warmed up.  I achieved two 5-minute segments of 50 MPG.  That was pleasing.  The fact that I was able to drive the 0.4 mile stretch through the nearby small town on nothing but electricity was astonishing.  I really didn't expect that.  I figured since the engine was running to keep the warm air blowing on me, it would be used for propulsion too.  In that case, it wasn't necessary.  Cool!  Or since the temperature was so dang cold, perhaps I should think "Warm!" instead.  The heater certainly delivered.  You can see both new photos here: photo album 42

1-23-2003

The Cold Test... Again.  Now that it's Winter, talk about whether or not a Prius can handle the cold is popular in the online forums.  My Prius is sitting outside right now.  The temperature when I parked it this morning was -6 F degrees.  It will remain there all day.  The expected high temperature is only 0 F degrees.  Yet, a plug or covering the radiator isn't necessary.  When I turn the key this evening, she'll fire up first try.  I know.  This is the third Minnesota winter with my Prius.  It's no big deal.  In fact, driving is easier too.  Since the steering is electric, there's no thick fluid to impair it like with traditional vehicles.

1-22-2003

Remember SUVs 10 years ago?  When they first debuted as an "everyone must have" vehicle, they were actually small & weak in comparison to what's available now.  How's that any different from hybrids today?  If hybrid skeptics are implying that there's no possible way for the technology to improve beyond what's currently available, they're in for quite a "shock" later.  (I know, bad pun.)  The improvements will come from advances based on real-world application.  The market will grow because people believed in the potential and invested to make it happen.  That money comes from consumers, stockholders, and venture capital based on the approval of what's currently available.  Selling a concept on paper simply won't get you too far.  You have to actually build it, then expand on what you learn from it.

1-22-2003

Small.  Today when someone was defending Prius on a discussion group, they stated it was comparable to other "small" cars Toyota offers, like Corolla.  Wow!  People really have lost perspective.  They have no idea what size is "normal" anymore.  Don't they observe the other vehicles on the road today.  Prius is far from the smallest.  It's sedan size compared to the vehicles of 10 years ago.  I can't imagine what it's like having purchased a Ford Explorer to feel masculine having such a large & powerful vehicle, then getting looked down upon by someone owning an even larger SUV.  When the vehicles have difficulty fitting in parking spots and they have to be left out on the driveway because they don't fit in the garage, isn't that a clue about size?

1-21-2003

Space aliens?  Heavenly beings?  A very unique Prius photo was contributed to the owner collection.  This one is amazing.  It captured a beam of light descending down on a Prius.  And if you've ever dabbled with aspects of advanced photography, capturing light itself in a shot is incredibly difficult.  This one came out perfect though.  The light is at the ideal level without having washed out the background.  That's pretty sweet!  Maybe it was owner pride... owner:  Tom S

1-20-2003

Prius Wallpaper Screen-Saver.  Using those photo-collages from the Prius 2003 Calendar, I created 12 wallpapers for people to use on their computer desktops.  And from them, I created a screen-saver.  If you'd like to download a copy for use on your own computer, just follow this link: wallpapers

1-19-2003

0% Financing Again.  Same promotion, different advertisement.  That's the latest from Toyota.  It's pretty cool hearing about the zero percent offer again.  The introduce Prius as "the technologically advanced hybrid".  I bet people will become curious about what that actually means after awhile.

1-19-2003

SUV Arguments.  There was a special on television this evening.  The defenders of SUVs totally, completely avoided two topics: Emissions & Accident-Avoidance.  It really disappointed me that the person pointing out the downfalls of SUVs didn't mention either of them.  Instead, the entire focus was on where the money from the oil sales went to.  They said it's pretty insignificant on the funding of terrorism.  The fact that it was just plain wasteful was simply overlooked.  Statements about crash results were made.  Too bad there aren't statistics available for near-misses from more nimble vehicles (like Prius).  Statements about being able to have what you desire were made.  Too bad they never mentioned that a SUV could be a hybrid too.  It's very frustrating.  People never get enough information to make well educated purchase decisions.  They just have to rely on presentations such as this for brief overviews of only some of the issues using vague argument points.  Hopefully, sources like this website will emerge as something people deem as helpful later on.  For now, good luck.

1-19-2003

Winter MPG Realities.  This most recent tank was the ideal for measurement.  The temperatures for the morning commutes were 3, 0, 3, 12, 0 F degrees.  (That's normal for Mid-January here in Minnesota.)  And my weekend driving included a variety of types, not just short trips.  So I can consider this Winter data "typical".  The fact that colder air is less efficient is a harsh reality.  It impairs combustion a little and is a bit more difficult to drive through.  Then you have to deal with the reality of Winter fuel.  The formula used to is different than in the Summer, to help reduce emission pollution.  It isn't as efficient though.  Factoring in longer warm up times really, really hurts MPG too.  If you switch to a longer-life tire, like I did last Summer, you have to accept the
reality that Non-LRR tires also reduce efficiency.  Thankfully, my Prius is now using synthetic oil.  That actually helps the situation.  Running higher PSI in the tires helps too.  So overall, my average is actually just a touch lower than last year.  The calculated value for this tank was a pleasing 39.7 MPG.  Traditional vehicles simply can't compete with that.  But I do really miss Summer.  Being able to hit 50 MPG occasionally is wonderful.  And gliding down the street in Stealth effortlessly, like on melted butter, is something I can only dream of during the Winter.  Oh well.

1-19-2003

Oops!  I whacked my Prius this weekend.  It now has damage much like a door-ding.  I was loading a large, heavy, beautiful, brand new wood cabinet into the back (in the dark) and misjudged by 1/2 inch and hit the car with it.  Dang!  Oh well, it could have been much worse.  I was fortunate enough to strike a strong spot, which minimized the dent.

1-18-2003

52 on 35.  I like the 35E highway stretch through St. Paul.  The route (slightly downhill for half the way, then moderate up & down) always produces 30 minutes of segments of a minimum of 55 MPG... during the Summer.  In the Winter now, it produced an average of 52 MPG.  Yeah!  That's actually pretty sweet too.

1-17-2003

Click, Click, Gone?  Remember that very faint steering click I was hearing?  (It sounded just like a tiny electric relay.)  It first appeared when the winter low temperatures did.  This week it got really cold, like Minnesota style.  That's a commute to work with only 0 F degrees on the Multi-Display.  (Thank goodness I missed the below 0 F temperatures earlier in the morning.  Brrrr!)  The effect on the click was great.  Now it's gone!  I wonder if it was just an in-between season effect, since a few days later when the temperature climbed into the 20's the click didn't reappear and this morning was another one of those 0 F commutes.  It doesn't really matter anyway.  That click was very likely initiated by the rack replacement, something new owners won't ever encounter, just those with the first few Prius sold in the United States.  I wonder how long I'll have to wait before I'll be allowed to called my Prius a "classic hybrid".  Hmm?

1-17-2003

Hybrid Road Rally Outcome.  I got an email from one of the Hybrid Road Rally attendees.  He was the one that had purchased a FFV (a vehicle that can use Gas or E85) years ago and was upset that E85 still wasn't available in his area... What a waste.  Anywho, he was very excited to tell my about his recent Prius purchase.  Hearing that is just plain cool!  There are people that really do desire something more from their vehicles... or in this case, "less" (emissions & consumption).  I'm so glad automakers (besides Toyota & Honda) have finally recognized that fact and committed to offering them in the future.  We're helping to improve things, one new owner at a time.

1-16-2003

Prius 2003 Calendar.  Yeah!!!  It took what seemed like forever to assemble the 95 photos into the 12 pages for the calendar.  But now I'm done and very excited about the opportunity to share it.  Check it out: calendar 2003

1-16-2003

"Drastically Worse"  That was what the officials admitted yesterday for the Los Angeles area.  Air quality hasn't improved as they hoped, it has actually become worse.  The estimates did not take into account the fact that so many would now be driving even larger, less efficient vehicles than in the past, more often too.  Now the state is at risk of losing federal funding due to the gross violation they will be faced with if something drastic isn't done soon.  I can't imagine what it will do for the population.  Some will experience headaches, asthma, heart attacks, and cancer from the pollution exposure.  That's really bad.

1-15-2003

At the high end.  Did you know the additional torque still available when your already going 60 MPH is pretty impressive?  Someone actually thought past typical the 0-to-60 value and had the sense to ask about performance once you've accelerated to that speed.  Sweet!  That makes me feel so good hearing a question about something beyond just the basics.  Some cars just don't have oomph available at that point.  But Prius certainly does.  In fact, I proved it just the other day doing that emergency swerve.  The thrust from the acceleration burst assisted with the maneuvering (the same principle used by motorcyclists to insure the tires have good grip when the round a corner hard).

 

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