Prius Personal Log  #59

April 13, 2003  -  April 19, 2003

Last Updated: Fri. 4/09/2004

    page #58         page #60         BOOK         INDEX         go to bottom 

 

4-19-2003

Ford Futura.  It looks like a solution has emerged.  Ford has announced it will be replacing the Taurus with Futura.  And unlike the barely advertised Taurus now, this new car will be a strong point of their marketing & sales efforts.  The part I really like (besides the fact that a more practical vehicle than a SUV will be getting attention) is the fact that Futura will be available with a hybrid system.  So people will be able to choose between traditional & hybrid designs.  That's pretty slick.  The strong sales of the hybrid option will clue them in that people really do have interest in reducing emissions & consumption.  The marketing push for size & power is weakening.  More practical vehicles are emerging.  Good!  It's about time.

4-19-2003

Welcome to the 21st Century.  The new sensor-entry, new sensor-startup, new by-wire gear-selection, along with the by-wire accelerator-pedal, the priceless feedback the Multi-Display provides, and Stealth is only the beginning.  People will begin demanding more.  The selling-factors of size & speed will no longer be a primary draw.  Having thousands of MP3 songs available for your driving entertainment is a great example.  The Multi-Display provides a natural interface.  After over 100 years of ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) development, it just can't offer anymore all by itself.  People will seek a better option.  Digital cameras are now rapidly replacing film cameras.  The quality & abilities are clearly better.  DVD recorders are just beginning to replace Video-Tape recorders.  The quality & abilities are clearly better.  Hybrids will end up replacing traditional ICE-only vehicles... once people discover these are better too.  The advanced technologies will become so common, you'll wonder why people ever resisted the change.  And if you don't believe that, just take a good look at how the medical field could benefit.  The demand for improvement there is tremendous already.  Prius will help people learn to accept (and even expect) technology advancements.

4-19-2003

36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty.  The opportunity to purchase an extended warranty expires when the 36,000 mile coverage expires.  And now that some owners are reaching that point, we are naturally seeing posts asking for advice about what to do.  Here's a reply I provided today...  My Prius has worked flawlessly from 36,000 miles to 50,800 miles.  So I'm pleased with my decision to not spend the money for extended coverage.  And when this fall arrives, I have the bitter-sweet decision to make (at 60,000 miles) about parting with such a great car to get and even better one: a 2004 Prius.  It almost seems a shame to give up with a vehicle that works so well.  But I thoroughly enjoy leading the way for others and the current Prius has already proven very reliable in the few high mileage accounts we're aware of.  There's nothing ever certain in life (except change), but Prius sure improves the odds in your favor.

4-18-2003

The first 2004 Prius television commercial.  Toyota has begun informing people already that the next generation of Prius is on the way.  That makes some people wonder why they'd do that so soon.  To me, it makes perfect sense.  They want consumers to understand exactly what they are purchasing now.  Some prefer buying a tried & true model rather than one that's brand new.  So the current inventory of Prius is not in jeopardy.  Each will be sold without any trouble.  In fact, I doubt we'll see much for markdowns in the Fall, especially since there's a switch from sedan to liftback.  And then of course, you have some patient people that are glad they found out a new model was on the way.  They'll just wait for it.  Some current owners (like me) will have their interest enticed enough to consider upgrading.  That will immediately create a bunch of well-informed new owners while at the same time increase the inventory of used Prius.  It sounds like a good plan to me.  Here is that television commercial that started it all:   video files

4-18-2003

Ford Hedges on SUV Fuel Efficiency Pledge.  Remember that pledge Ford made 3 years ago?  It was that they'd increase the overall fuel economy average of their SUV fleet by 25 percent in 5 years.  That got the environmentalist groups off their back, since reaching that goal by 2005 sounded realistic.  After all, Prius would be available that fall.  So cars would already begin to show a significant efficiency gain.  But now reality has set in.  The $5.5 billion loss over the last 9 quarters has once again put Ford in a struggle-to-survive situation.  Last time, it was the high profit-margin from SUV sales that bailed them out.  What will they do this time?  Investing in a long-term project like hybrid development certainly doesn't sound realistic.  Are we simply screwed?  This certainly follows the pattern of an American automaker being caught totally off-guard by the Japanese automakers, since both Toyota & Honda have been consistently reporting strong profits lately.  Now what will happen?

4-18-2003

In a bit of a pickle.  60,000 miles is a turning-point.  If you aren't going to keep a vehicle until a very old age, that's a good time to sell it.  Waiting any longer means resale value will really drop.  My Prius will reach that point at exactly the time the new Prius becomes available.  I've always wanted side airbags & curtains.  A hatchback would definitely be more fuel-efficient, since I could put my bicycle inside rather than hanging it on a rack outside.  Naturally, the even better MPG and even cleaner emissions would be great.  The increased motor power would be wonderful.  (Can you say "Super Stealth"?)  The ability to run the A/C using only electricity is an ability I've envisioned as a huge advantage.  And of course, having the latest-and-greatest technology is always nice.  So replacing my 2001 Prius with a next-generation 2004 model would be a good choice.  It may even be fairly realistic financially too.  But I've never parted with a vehicle that has worked so perfectly.  It actually seems kind of dumb selling such a terrific vehicle.  And I'd really like to be able to provide high-mileage data for people.  But then again, the masses may be more interested in data about the Prius they'd find new on dealer's lots, not the previous-generation.  I wonder what I'll end up doing.  Hmm?  Fortunately, Prius has taught me a great deal of patience over last few years.  So I'll simply deal with the decision later on, and enjoy the great hybrid I own now.  This Summer will be really fun too, seeing 50 MPG from time to time.

4-16-2003

2004 Prius Sneak Peak.  By dumb luck, I just happened to fire up the computer capture-card on the right channel at the right time today.  So I quickly hit record.  Now there's a rendered version of what I saw available for you to download.  It's a brief clip of the 2004 Prius exterior, interior, under the hood, and a few seconds of it driving on the road.  Check it out, here:   video files

4-16-2003

Hybrid Types.  Toyota elaborated on the terminology within the informational releases for the new Prius.  What they stated closely resembles the info some owners help me compile on the hybrid types webpage.  Type III (High Voltage/High Power) matches the "full" type.  Type II (High Voltage/Low Power) matches "assist".  Type I (Low Voltage/Low Power) matches what we now call the "not really a hybrid".

4-16-2003

"Stealth Mode"  Sweet!  Toyota is now endorsing the terminology I helped to establish.  They are now calling the electric-only feature Prius provides "stealth mode".  That's just plain cool!  I knew the first time I ever saw the word "stealth" associated with Prius that it was a great match.  Way back in the Summer of 2000, Maggie (an owner of the original version of Prius in Tokyo, Japan) described the electric feature as " 'stealth car' mode " (message #79 in the Yahoo Group).  Remembering that, when I later described the first experience I had with the electric feature (message #295 in the Yahoo Group), I stated "stealth mode".  That sparked the board use of the term among other Prius enthusiasts, and she liked my revision to her idea.  So I get the credit of being the first to ever state it that specific way.  Does anyone really care?  Probably not.  (Oh well.)  At least I get the good feeling of having played a role in a very particular aspect of the earliest history of worldwide hybrid rollout. 

4-16-2003

No More Small Car Comparisons.  That was getting really annoying (and wasn't all that fair either).  Prius was always bigger inside and much, much better equipped by default.  Having the new Prius categorized as "midsize" rather than "compact" sure makes things nice for comparisons.  And not just with matching features either, this raises the price-base too.  Now those stating "facts" will likely be more realistic.

4-16-2003

First thoughts about the 2004 Prius.  My thoughts are that Toyota paid very close attention to what we asked for.  Owners pointed out a bunch of "it would be nice to have" suggestions and they actually implemented many of them.  That's just plain sweet!  And to add to that delight, Toyota now even calls the electric-only drive "stealth mode" (which is a term the owners originally embraced).  How many other automakers do you know of not only delivers pleasing results, but they also do it so quickly.  We'll see 100's of 1000's of Prius on roads in just a few years now.  Are you ready for the 21st Century?  It's time to let go of traditional design.  Exceeding those limitations is finally realistic.  You can expect more from vehicles... now that Prius has demonstrated what's possible.

4-16-2003

Eat My Voltage!  ...as Toyota so eloquently stated 3 years ago, now seems appropriate again.  Today, they unveiled the next generation Prius.  Every argument I've heard (and had to endure) in the past has now been squashed.  Excellent!  Disbelievers about what the technology has to offer have nothing to argue about anymore.  The "Age Of Hybrids" has begun.

4-16-2003

Worse than Winter MPG.  Try driving several hours on the highway, against the wind, in a heavy rain, when the temperature is 32 F degrees, while dragging a bike on back.  Those were horrible conditions in the first place.  Then it got progressively worse.  Being just cold enough, the rain built up as ice on the spokes of the tires as I drove along.  Some of the spokes ended up growing from a 1/16" to around 3/4".  With that much of a surface area increase, it noticeably added drag.  Bummer.  Performance dropped all the way to down to 35 MPG.  That's just plain nasty.  Of course, it's still better than what other vehicles get!

4-15-2003

Emission Misconception.  This one is growing dangerously fast, so rapid something needs to be done to prevent certain automakers from taking advantage of the incorrect information.  Based on my observations of discussions on various online groups, the idea of "better MPG means cleaner emissions" is well accepted.  That just plain isn't true when discussing SMOG related emissions.  The only relation is to GLOBAL WARMING, exhaust containing CO2 (Carbon Dioxide).  Which is obviously a problem too, but the need for a remedy isn't anywhere near as urgent as cleaning up that orange haze floating above just about all major metro areas throughout the United States.  That haze is SMOG, which consists of NOx (Nitrogen Oxides) and HC (Hydrocarbons) plus a little bit of CO (Carbon Monoxide).  The "SULEV" rating was created to identify vehicles that were specially designed to reduce SMOG related emissions.  Prius fits that criteria.  Some traditional vehicles actually do too, believe it or not; but they are unfortunately only available in California.  And not to put down the other hybrids, but they don't all offer SULEV cleanness; some are only ULEV.  So don't just assume high-efficiency equates to the lowest emissions.  The same applies to diesel vehicles.  They deliver fantastic MPG, but the emissions are very poor (worst than the typical traditional gasoline vehicle).  Witnessing the emissions misconception grow makes me think the time has come to start heavily promoting the "SULEV" rating, rather than just mentioning lower NOx.  So, I'll change my website card to display that instead.  I'll also need to update the misconception page and of course the User-Guide.  That should at least help create a better understanding.

4-15-2003

Stealth Always Impresses.  It doesn't take much to great a very emotional response from an unsuspecting passer-by.  While talking with my uncle in a parking lot this morning, a woman I had briefly spoke with the other day walked by.  I couldn't resist.  I subtlety got her attention and just pointed out the fact that my Prius was running at that very moment, despite that total silence.  That immediately made her very curious.  So I jumped inside.  She looked at me with a very inquisitive look.  I drove up close to her with dead quiet stealth.  Her eyes widened to the extreme and she let out a loud "Wow, that's amazing!"  Needless to say, when I saw her later that day she asked quite a few questions about the Prius.  Sweet!

4-14-2003

Easy to Repair.  I hear that as new vehicle purchase criteria a lot.  It's really unfortunate that traditional vehicles caused that mindset.  If Prius ever fails, yes, it will in fact be expensive... however, the odds of a failure are significantly lower than with traditional vehicles.  That point of the advanced design is to prevent the need for repairs in the first place.  (Duh!)  Any vehicle purchase is a gamble.  Heck, some of the repair experiences don't even have anything to do with the vehicle.  The knowledge & honesty of a mechanic are just as important.  So, doesn't it make sense purchasing a vehicle that has higher reliability factor?  Not having to visit the shop for repairs at all sounds much more appealing to me than whether or not the repair is easy.  It will naturally take time to prove to people that the entirely new approach to propulsion that Prius uses is more reliable, but it's worth the wait.  Patience will reveal that less repairs will be needed.

4-14-2003

Weather Extremes.  You can thank the emissions of Carbon Dioxide from all the lower MPG vehicles on the road today.  "Global Warming" is the result.  It causes turbulent temperature changes which trigger wild weather system variations.  Today it climbed all the way up to 91 F degrees, causing an all time high record for this day since recorded history began 120 years ago.  And to make matters even worse, in 2 days it is suppose to SNOW!  Yup, the forecast is for 4 to 8 inches of the nasty white stuff despite the incredible heat today.  Witnessing weather of those extremes is a sure sign that our pollution has interfered with the natural patterns.  Those types of fluctuations shouldn't be so often or so extreme.  Wake up people!  We now have a serious problem to deal with already, which will continue to get worse unless the damaging emissions are drastically reduced.  So buy a hybrid!

4-13-2003

"Oldies"  That's what some DJ's now call songs from the 80's.  How long do you think it will take before all engine-only vehicles are called something like that?  I've already been using the label "traditional" to help identify them.  It's only a matter of time before hybrids become so common that a term of some sort emerges.

4-13-2003

75 F degrees.  Finally!  It seemed like it took forever to exceed 70 F.  The temperature hasn't been that warm since way back in September of last year.  Winter is never-ending here.  In fact, it could still snow one more time before Summer arrives.  Ick!

 

back to home page       go to top