Prius Personal Log  #62

May 8, 2003  -  May 15, 2003

Last Updated: Fri. 4/09/2004

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5-15-2003

48 MPG.  Realistically, that's what I'm happy to see.  So when I end up having to run several short, cold errands during the weekend (like this previous) and it pulls my average down to 48 MPG, I won't be too upset.  Seeing the average in the low 50's is wonderful, but not essential.  My 2001 Prius is still achieving much higher efficiency then other vehicles on the road, and it's also quite a bit cleaner.

5-15-2003

SMOG today.  Wow!  I wish everyone could see what I saw this morning.  Too bad that can't be shown well with just a photo.  You really need video to see how easily the orange haze disappears without just the right lighting at just the right distance.  It looked awful.  Anyone that claims vehicles are much cleaner than in years past and that's enough doesn't really no what they are talking about.  Pollution is horrible.  And with the population continuing to grow at an explosive rate, there's simply no way that status-quo is enough.  We must seek cleaner solutions for our children's well being.  Prius puts us on the right road.

5-15-2003

Diluted "Hybrid".  The term is already starting to shows signs of misuse.  A whole variety of upcoming vehicles with emission & efficiency improvements are being given the generic label of "hybrid", despite having drastically different technology within.  Some realistically shouldn't even be called "hybrid", but they are since it is now becoming a popular market-hype term.  Hopefully, unique features (like "stealth") with will help people become aware of the true differences each type of hybrid offers.

5-14-2003

Hybrid Revolution.  That's the title of an absolutely amazing video now available on this website.  It's unquestionably the best video about Prius to date.  You'll see 7 minutes and 24 seconds of remarkable footage.  This video is an exclusive, produced specifically for us by a Prius owner out of the goodness of his heart, for us to share with others.  Toyota won't even know of its existence until they discover it here.  Who would have thought talent and resourcefulness of this would emerge.  Pretty cool, eh?  Go watch it now (then show it to others afterward), it's well worth the longer-than-usual download time:  video files

5-13-2003

Reaching Year 10.  From time to time, I'll hear someone make a comment about planning to keep a vehicle well beyond 200,000 miles.  I point out that mindset is extremely rare in the region I live.  Minnesota Winters tear apart a vehicle.  So unless you do your own body work routinely, you simply can't expect the vehicle to survive past 9 years.  Reaching year 10 is so uncommon, most people don't even bother.  And the proof of that is obvious.  All I have to do is look around.  Parking lots are full vehicles with the latest safety and accident-avoidance technology, which is a very nice benefit of vehicles aging so quickly.  People tend to crave change after awhile.  So, at least where I live, there is hope that hybrid adoption will happen at a fairly pleasing pace since people are in the market for new vehicles anyway.  Years from now, demand for hybrid systems in a large variety of vehicles should be quite strong.

5-12-2003

Mumbo Jumbo.  Since none of us actually own a 2004 Prius yet, don't plan on juicy details for awhile.  You'll get nothing but fluff for the next few months.  In fact, many articles written afterward won't have the kind of detail someone researching a purchase desire.  That's actually how my website evolved, to help inform people about the classic Prius.  They craved more information while waiting for delivery.  I was more than happy to provide it.  So don't be surprised if it happens all over again...

5-11-2003

Forgotten History.  It has finally happened.  I wondered how long it would take.  Some people considering a Prius purchase now have no clue that there is an extensive history already which doesn't resemble what the market currently reflects.  Hearing that people waited 3 to 6 months for delivery of their Prius and that there weren't any available on the dealer's lot comes as a surprise.  Finding out that the rest of the automakers (with Honda as the exception, of course) fought hybrid acceptance and insisted there was no possible way the technology could ever be a sensible business objective may astonish some too.  But with the new Prius about to amaze the world, there will be people that won't even realize how there could have been any doubt.  They'll just think that it was a nature step of progress in automotive evolution.  Does that mean I should refrain from telling them that the "less than perfect past, where people worked against the progress" is documented in these log entries?  Realistically, we should just be thankful that it did in fact work out and move on.  Having Prius technology all over the place, with its benefits so common they become an expectation, sounds like a good plan to me.

5-11-2003

Why would someone want Bluetooth in their 2004 Prius?  (Bluetooth is a wireless connectivity technology that the new "Smart Entry" and "Smart Start" features will use.)  To avoid the painful freezing ritual during the winter: taking off your glove, lifting up or unzipping your heavy jacket, then fumbling for the key or remote to unlock the trunk while still holding a bag in the other hand to avoid getting it full of snow.  Being able to just walk up the hatch and have it recognize you so you can quickly open the hatch that was just locked a moment earlier without even having to take your glove off would be great.  That goes for when it's pouring rain too.  And when you finish with the hatch, the same thing happens with both the door and the startup.  No need to dig for a key.  Just getting close is all that you have to do.  Cool, eh?

5-11-2003

One more Multi-Display Photo.  The end is nearing.  I've taken tons of photos of my 2001 Prius already.  It's extremely well documented at this point, but one more couldn't hurt... right?  Unfortunately, I discovered the larger lens and longer focal-length of my new digital camera makes those shots extremely difficult to capture.  (Fortunately, the my 2004 Prius will have a larger Multi-Display, so taking photos of it should be easier.)  I still managed to get a decent photo.  The moment I wanted to capture wasn't anything amazing, it was just an odd MPG pattern I found intriguing.  The overall results were wonderful though.  Check it out:  photo album 51

5-10-2003

Goodyear Allegra Tire Photos.  These alternate tires have now been driven 20,729 miles.  They've proven to be an excellent choice.  Now you can see why.  I've provided photos of the front tires along with an overview of there performance.  In about 3 weeks when the tires get rotated for my 52,500 mile service, I'll take photos of the back tires and add in a few more details & comments.  See them here:  photo album 50

5-09-2003

Trust the Computer.  The Multi-Display may round calculations up, giving it an optimistic bias, but it's remarkably consistent. The same can't be said about when each gas pump at a station detects "full".  The same can't be said about the "full" level in the gas tank itself either.  That was definitely the case today.  The previous fill-up calculated too high in comparison to the Multi-Display, so I knew the next time would be too low.  Plus, I used a different pump.  And sure enough, that's exactly what happened.  Time and time again, that Multi-Display reflects what happens better an individual tank measurement.  In the end, the averages balance.  So I'm quite sure that the subtle variations shown really are accurate depictions of what really happens.

5-09-2003

Payday.  I got paid today.  It was exciting.  Paychecks have a renewed meaning.  Rather than just trying to end the long cycle of monthly payments for the 2001 Prius, I'm scrambling to get enough together for a decent down-payment for the 2004 Prius.  Between that, the money I get for selling my classic, and all the rebate money I have saved up on my credit-card for a new vehicle purchase, the monthly payments should be fairly tolerable.  Too bad I crave the new technology so much.  Not having any monthly payments at all would be really nice.  Oh well, I get reminded how much it is worth each and every time I drive.  What an enjoyable experience.

5-09-2003

Shallow Trunk.  That's all I see now when looking at traditional sedans.  Their trunks are thought of as "large", based on volume.  I know that's not the proper way to measure.  Height is what really matters.  Most people don't have 20 bags of groceries to carry.  They have boxes, some of which are too tall to fit inside a trunk that only offers depth.  They have suitcases that would be much more accessible if they were places side-by-side, rather than stacked on top of one and other.  The have lots of heavy little items that can't be easily retrieved if pushed all the way to the back of a deep trunk.  Having more height to work with is a welcome improvement.  I'm sure glad Prius has a tall trunk instead.

5-09-2003

What do I mean by infrastructure?  Most people think of "gasoline" verses "hydrogen" infrastructure.  With Prius it's "all I understand is an engine" verses "what benefits adding a powerful motor & battery-pack have to offer" infrastructure, which focuses mostly on education, not a physical change.  That learning process takes time.  We literally had to wait for the hands-on training to take place, by real owners taking their Prius in for service.  Here's some of the different perspectives the senior owners observed as Prius rolled out over the past 3 years:  DEALERS had to make decisions about how many Prius to carry in stock, how they should be priced, and what options they should have.  The only true way of doing that is basing it on observation of actual sales, which takes time.  SALESPEOPLE actually created & spread misconceptions at first.  They had very little information about how Prius worked.  Now, the situation has greatly improved.  You'd be quite impressed about how well informed some have become.  MECHANICS took a very long time to perform services, since they had never done them before.  (My cruise-control took nearly 4 hours for them to install.  They used it as an educational opportunity, so several mechanics actually joined in and they took their time to study every little detail.  But they only charged me for 0.8 hours of service, that was the time Toyota headquarters estimated it would take an experienced mechanic.)  Now they actually can perform service in that estimated time allotment.  Mechanics have also gained experience diagnosing problems too, not as much "replace this (and charge it to the warranty) then see what happens" is needed anymore.  REPORTERS are still out in left field though.  They leave out facts, giving you a false impression.  They make assumptions based on traditional technology, which just plain isn't correct sometimes for Prius.  And they have to work within the restraints of article size, not being able to provide more detail even if they wanted too.  They tend to ignore the emissions benefit and focus solely on MPG instead.  That's rather frustrating still.  Well written & accurate articles are a rare treasure.  Cherish it when you actually find one.  Hopefully, this will change... soon.  OWNERS were mostly people that worked in the electronics & computer fields at first.  That provided for a very well informed & resourceful user-base to work out the initial rollout problems, like the tires.  And now that the technology is has been proven to work well, a much more diverse set of buyers is forming.  Used Prius simply didn't exist until recently, so an entire market segment didn't have anything to buy.  That is changing now too.  And those techno-geeks (like me!) who bought a Prius and were so pleased they swore they would never part with it are now making plans to do exactly that, to upgrade to the new Prius.  Finally, once all of the above has established, Toyota will rollout an upgraded version of Prius.  (That's this fall!)  This approach very closely resembles what I do professionally.  As a programmer of software, I do everything I can to satisfy customer requirements based on what they "think" they need.  Then when I believe I've fulfilled those needs, I rollout a finished version of that application to test users.  99.9% of the time they'll end up with very helpful suggestions based on discoveries made as they actually used the software.  Those suggestions end up getting programmed before rollout to everyone else takes place.  Sometimes the changes made are so fundamentally different that it becomes a major upgrade.  Believe it or not, since this is so common, we actually plan for it to happen.  So it doesn't surprise me in the slightest to observe Toyota doing the same thing.

5-09-2003

"Prius" Promotion.   Toyota's rollout goal in the United States was to establish a hybrid infrastructure.  To do that, a large volume of vehicles wasn't needed.  In fact, the quota of vehicles shipped over here just about sold themselves just by word-of-mouth (and keyboard) alone.  So advertising more would simply have been a waste of money.  And since Toyota was obviously secretly working on the new Prius for quite awhile, investing in promotion of the classic model would have been counter-productive.  Instead, only the name "Prius" circulated with only minimal details.  That was just enough raise awareness.  When the big advertising for the new model begins in the fall, people will associate the name "Prius" with the look of the new model and the now established reputation of the classic.  That makes a lot of sense to me.

5-08-2003

Quantum Technology is used by Prius.  Did you know that Prius has the ability to grind time to almost a stop, to make it pass by so painfully slow that you think Fall will never arrive?  Well, it does!  The Summer of 2000 gave the impression that it would last forever.  I waited what seemed to be an eternity waiting for the delivery of my 2001 Prius.  Now the same thing is going to happen again with my 2004 Prius... except this time, I'm taking advantage of that quantum effect Prius creates.  I'm going to enjoy every single minute the few warm months we get here in Minnesota.  I won't dwell at all on the anticipation of arrival.  It will be wonderful.  Then when that Summer bliss comes to an end and people begin to feel the disappointment of the cold season approaching, I'll rejoice having just accepted delivery of my new Prius.  Cool technology, eh?

5-08-2003

Hot Political Topic.  Well it's about dang time!  The "there really isn't any need to be concerned about energy needs" attitude from the beginning of this candidacy is finally taking a turn for the better.  It is becoming a hot topic, in fact.  The presidential candidates are making their "we need to do something before our children grow up" plans well known.  They want their strong conviction toward making this country clean & energy independent (stop importing so much oil) to help them earn a party nomination.  I bet Prius served as an inspiration of the potential possible, especially with so many of beginning to embrace the idea of new technological solutions to very old problems.

5-08-2003

Outdated Information.  Prius isn't the only technology to suffer from outdated facts.  Today I read an article about how Microsoft will be including DVD support in future updates to Windows.  The writer of the article commented about how much better the increased storage capacity of 4.7 GB was compared to that of the CD which only had a capacity of 650 MB.  The capacity of CDs increased to 700 MB about 2.5 years ago.  You'd think a technical reporter would have discovered that by now!  Apparently not though.  I wonder what outdated information will affect people's impression of Prius when the big promotion begins in the Fall.  We already have enough misconceptions to deal with.

 

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