Prius Personal Log  #54

February 12, 2003  -  February 27, 2003

Last Updated: Sat. 3/08/2003

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2-27-2003

Synthetic Improvement.  It was 32 F degrees today (that's warm if you live in Minnesota).  The seven 5-minute segments following the initial 10 minute warm-up time averaged 54 MPG.  Whoa!  That's higher than I would have expected for that temperature before having switched to synthetic oil.  In fact, that's even higher than I'd expect with it being somewhat warmer.  I can't wait until the temperature climbs to the magic 55 F degree mark.  That's when my Prius normally starts performing incredible feats of MPG.  But I have a feeling that it will now dazzle me beyond anything I've yet to experience.  I CAN'T WAIT FOR SPRING!!!

2-27-2003

Automaker Games.  Last year, GM stated they wouldn't bother with hybrids since fuel-cells were the ultimate goal anyway.  Last month, GM changed their mind saying they would now focus effort on developing hybrids instead.  Yesterday, an article was published about how GM is now fighting the upcoming 20.7 to 22.2 MPG increase mandate claiming it "is just too challenging and too costly".  Today, an article was published about how GM will now introduce a "42-volt System that Cuts Fuel Consumption 10-12%".  Ah, a 10% increase from 20.7 is 22.77 MPG.  That's more than the mandate requires!  Didn't they just say yesterday that was "too challenging and too costly"?

2-26-2003

Double Prius Sighting.  Within 2 minutes I saw 2 Prius... IN THE SAME SPOT!  The first was as I was walking to my Prius.  The second was as I was pulling out of the parking lot.  That fact that both (a Silver and an Aqua) were in the identical location was quite a thrill.

2-26-2003

More observant than me.  Thank goodness Prius shuts off the headlights for you.  Now that I actually get to see more than just a hint of daylight in the morning, I've forgotten to switch them off myself twice recently.

2-25-2003

Low Sulfur Diesel.  I obviously didn't want to use the same pump again.  So at this visit to the gas station to get my 10% ethanol-blend low-sulfur gas, I chose a different pump.  It was right next to one that offered diesel.  A little notice caught my eye.  The diesel was low-sulfur too.  Cool!

2-25-2003

Pump Craziness.  It didn't stop when it was suppose to.  That was pretty clear when I removed the nozzle.  A hissing sound came from the tank.  Then when I looked up, my hunch was confirmed.  There was over a gallon too much.  I knew that I'd have to wait until the next visit to the gas station to figure out what kind of mileage I was actually getting.  It calculated to only 35.6 MPG, which was way too low.  The first tick on the fuel gauge took over 50 miles more than usual before dropping.  Then things got messy.  The temperature shot up another 20 degrees.  That put me in upper-40 MPG territory.  Sweet!  The fuel gauge didn't drop below the midway-mark until 298 miles.  It was like Spring had finally arrived.  Then I finally stopped to get gas.  It calculated to 50.1 MPG.  Whoa!  Of course, I knew that wasn't right either.  In reality, not taking bladder-effect into account, I got about 42 MPG.  That's not too bad.  I can't wait until it gets warm and stays that way.

2-25-2003

Multi-Display in every vehicle.  Not having a touch-sensitive, liquid-crystal screen on the dashboard seems a bit absurd.  1000's on MP3 songs will now fit on a portable device that costs less than $200.  People will begin demanding the option to have the same thing in their vehicle.  Using a LED that only shows a few characters of a single line of text on the front of a traditional car-stereo will make finding the song you want very unrealistic.  Having a large, easy to see, screen that not only shows far more information at a glance, but also allows you to make selections by pressing on what you see, changes everything.  The CONSUMPTION mode of the Multi-Display in Prius provides a wealth of MPG information.  The ENERGY mode provides countless hours of entertainment.  And the GPS NAVIGATION system is priceless.  It's only a matter of time before that screen is taken advantage of to provide is more features.  Adding a music interface for MP3 listening now seems a very natural next step.  What will all the vehicles without a Multi-Display have to offer to enhance the listening experience?

2-25-2003

Squeegee at home.  I mentioned to a relative today my routine for wiping the salt & sand off my car.  I keep a squeegee with an attached sponge in the sink by the garage door.  I wet it on the way out to the Prius.  I wipe.  It has become a rewarding habit.  She looked at me weird.  Then she asked why the heck don't I do it at the gas station instead.  I replied by mentioning with a hybrid you don't fill up as often, being able to drive a lot further on a tank of gas means the car gets much dirtier between visits.  She said, "Oh!"

2-23-2003

"It looks ugly."  I get a kick out of that statement. Just question a person saying that to define what they actually mean by the word "ugly" and you'll understand why.  They'll ultimately end up explaining that it doesn't resemble any other vehicle on the road.  Then ask if that's a bad thing... to stick out in a crowd, much like a high-performance or luxury vehicle does.  And before they have a chance to completely digest what they just heard, say "Well, if you just want to have your vehicle blend into the crowd and not be anything special."  They will suddenly change their attitude.  "Ugly" is only an opinion.  "Unique" is an actual fact.  The not-so-subtle curves and tall profile of Prius make it look different currently.  That attitude will change.  People crave having a vehicle that sticks out in the crowd.  That was the very reason SUV sales climbed so dramatically initially (mid 90's).  Now they are everywhere.  The market is completely saturated.  People will begin desiring something new, something different that sticks out in the crowd.  The opposite of the fierce, bulky looking SUV is an extremely aerodynamic car.  Guess what, that's exactly what Prius is.  And to add to the benefit, owning a Prius will make you look good too, since you will be doing your part to help the environment and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.  The more you look at Prius, the more appealing it becomes.  It's only a matter of time before others discover that fact.

2-22-2003

Prius Multi-Display Presentation.  Created to educate about how Prius operates via a Multi-Display moving photos, the following 5 file formats are now available: Webpage (HTML), Animation (GIF), Slideshow & Document (PDF), Video (AVI), PowerPoint (PPT).  Hopefully, using them will provide a better understanding of how the design really works.  You'll find them all here:  presentations 1

2-22-2003

High Speed burdens the hybrid system, Not!  Someone in one of the hybrid forum made this MPG assumption today: "I assume its because the electric motor is taxed much more at high speeds".  That comment isn't even remotely correct, but it is a very good guess based on conventional knowledge.  In reality, when cruising on a highway in a Prius, the engine is doing all the work.  It BOTH propels the car AND generates electricity to recharge the battery-pack.  So the propulsion-motor isn't actually used all that much at high speeds.  And when you get off the highway, you have the opportunity to drive using ONLY electricity since the battery-pack was topped-off while cruising.

2-21-2003

Synthetic vs. Real Oil.  We're having a brief warm spell now.  That's providing the opportunity for more MPG comparison between real and synthetic oil.  My Multi-Display is currently showing 47.4 MPG after 116 miles of driving in temperatures averaging 34 F degrees.  The conclusion is you'll get a solid increase of at least 1 MPG by switching, plus you'll benefit from better lubrication protection. 

2-21-2003

Discounts for owning a Prius.  Aspen Skiing is now offering free parking all season to guests driving low pollution hybrid vehicles, such as gasoline-electric hybrid cars.  I like that concept.

2-19-2003

Still unfamiliar, for now.  Have you noticed (yet) that most of the new advertisements include Prius?  Toyota is slowly blending Prius into the standard list of choices.  Further proof is the fact that they only mention the lower emissions, the higher efficiency, and the fact that you don't have to plug it in.  The other technological features are left for the showroom experience.  People will be familiar with Prius by 2005 when the major production volume increase begins.

2-18-2003

200,000 miles!!!  A Prius has been driven that far already.  Documented in the "Vancouver Sun" newspaper in Canada, it states the fact that a Prius used as a cab exceeded the 200,000 mile mark using its original battery-pack.  We have now officially squashed the misconception stating that isn't possible.  So there!

2-17-2003

For A Good Time... just checkout a newsgroup that focuses on vehicles in general, not hybrids.  All kinds of off-the-wall comments are made there.  No electrical generating on the highway was amusing.  That's just plain not true.  Extremely short battery life is one that I'll be entertained by when I have driven far enough to prove that's not actually a concern; the battery will last much longer than they expect.  The "subsidized" conspiracy theory is good for stirring the pot.  It doesn't even make sense since the other automakers aren't being forced to meet those "supposed" requirements.  And after 10 years since the original designs, it only makes sense that Toyota finally figured out how to get the production cost down enough to make a profit.  (After all, some are already claiming the same can be done for fuel-cell technology.)  Lastly, the claims about emissions being so low now that they are no longer a problem are just absurd.  If that was the case, how come the automakers have filed suits against CARB and filed petitions with the EPA to prevent cleaner emissions regulations.  I still see an orange haze above the cities from time to time.  That's smog, a very unnatural by-product caused by pollution of which automobiles contribute to.  Visit a newsgroup yourself, it quite engaging.

2-17-2003

"1 Only" Mindset.  It's human nature to want only a single design to deal with.  BetaMax or VHS, right?  More and more articles are published now with a "which new standard will win" angle.  Since when does only a single hybrid design have to be used?  And for that matter, why does a fuel-cell have to be pure; it can have attributes of a hybrid too.  The computer industry has learned to live with the fact that several designs can simultaneously sustain a following for years.  Just look at the diversity of memory types available for digital cameras.  There's the clear leader, CompactFlash, followed by MemoryStick, SmartMedia, CD, SD, and xD.  Who's to say many hybrid designs won't all survive?  If they actually deliver as needed, why not? 

2-14-2003

"Weak" or "Feeble".  Those were the terms suggested in place of "Mild" to more accurately describe the effectiveness as well as the commitment & effort put forth by the automakers for that type of hybrid.  I tend to agree. 

2-14-2003

Only a stepping stone to fuel-cells?  Non-Polluting methods of creating hydrogen fuel are very likely 20 to 30 years away still.  In the meantime, methods DIRTIER overall than driving a hybrid will be used to extract hydrogen for the masses.  And with the 60 million new vehicles built & sold per year, the fact that most vehicles stay in service for around 10 years, and the fact that affordable & reliable fuel-cells vehicle aren't expected for at least 15 years, air-quality will continue to get worse instead of better without the acceptance of hybrids.  That's around 1 billion (that's 1,000,000,000!) vehicles while we wait.  Wouldn't it be best if they were hybrids?

2-13-2003

Advertising.  Toyota is taking the quiet approach.  Have you seen the brand new Prius commercial?  It's a President's Day promotion, similar to the Toyotathon and the Zero-Percent one.  They highlight a Camry, then a Solara, then a Prius.  Toyota is trying to get people to think of Prius as just another one of the high quality vehicles they offer, intentionally downplaying the technology.  They simply state you'll get incredibly clean emissions and great efficiency without having to plug it in.  And that's it!  Things like the smooooooooth acceleration and the Multi-Display are what those coming to dealers for a closer look will discover on the spot, which should result in a very impressionable experience.  We like that!  The reason for the slow, subtle tactic is obvious to the senior owners.  Education of salespeople and mechanics is far from complete.  The experts are a bit sparse still.  And of course, the only way to truly end the misconceptions about reliability is to actually prove it by (literally) going the distance.  Those miles take time.  (But it sure is fun driving them!)  Patience.  Some owners still remember the order process.  When non-ordered for Prius finally began showing up in dealer's lots, it was an incredible thrill.  No more endless waiting for delivery.  Seeing Prius in advertisements from time to time is the next step.  Someday there will be massive hybrid promotions where people will flock to dealers for test-drives without concern.  The misconceptions will be squashed.  The prices will be favorable.  The lots will be packed with new hybrids fresh off the delivery trucks.  And there will be that one person all alone over in the gas-guzzler section trying to figure out what all the hype is about.  Patience.

2-12-2003

Paid in Full.  I got the lien-release in the mail today.  1701-A is now officially my Prius.  Yeah!

2-12-2003

2004 Prius.  The unveiling is expected to be at the New York City auto show in April, according to some newspapers.  Hopefully, that's a little more reliable than a rumor.  The media is at least is improving a little.  They used to quote 2000 as being the first year available, showing their perspective was United States only.  Now they've expanded to include the worldwide perspective stating 1997 as the actual debut year.  That's cool; however, they seem to have missed the fact that the 2000 model was a generational upgrade.  It introduced a larger engine and a smaller battery-pack that was more powerful, plus the Multi-Display became touch-sensitive (before that you had to use external buttons).  Will the 2004 model be another generational upgrade?

 

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