Prius Personal Log  #63

May 16, 2003  -  May 26, 2003

Last Updated: Tues. 6/24/2003

    page #62         page #64         BOOK         INDEX         go to bottom 

   

5-26-2003

Book updates.  Both of these handy documents have been updated.  They provide a convenient way to access the entire collection of webpages offline.  Take a look:  personal log book    photo album book

5-26-2003

Prius USER-GUIDE update.  It's been 6 months since the most recent update.  During that time, I collected comments from people and attempted to include them in this fourth edition.  Take a look at what's available now and let me know if there are any
final tweaks needed.  There's always an opportunity for a minor revision.  In fact, I'd prefer to update that way rather than doing a big batch all at once.  Every little bit makes a difference... User-Guide

5-25-2003

It's just a car.  How many times do I have to hear that statement?  Yes, I understand how some people feel a car is simply transportation to get from point A to point B.  But when you spend an average of $20,000 just to get one then have continuous expenses afterward, how can you simply dismiss it?  Perhaps it is such a huge amount that the only way the person can feel comfortable about the investment is to not let the risk they are taking bother them.  After all, not everyone has a "confront the problem" type personality.

5-25-2003

No Regen.  I went biking.  While gliding down a very large hill, the stoplight at the bottom turned red.  I had use the brakes.  It became a very frustrating experience.  All the energy expended to go up was expected to be recovered on the way down.  But no.  It turned into complete waste.  A bicycle doesn't have regenerative braking.  There's no recapturing.  It's a complete loss when you use the brakes.  I'm sure glad driving isn't like that.

5-24-2003

Hybrid Rumors.  Talk about new hybrids from Toyota, like a Camry, continue to thrive.  This is a bit obscure if know what Toyota's corporate intentions are.  They want to increase their global marketshare to 15% by 2010.  A good way to do that is to create a brand new category of vehicle to sell, one that won't compete with the vehicles they already offer.  Camry is already the number one selling traditional sedan in the United States.  Prius will be a hybrid lift/hatchback, a unique offering.  Prius is so different that it should not compete with Camry.  Both could enjoy strong sales by serving two very different types of customers.  That would result in larger overall quantities, thus helping to achieve that sales goal.

5-23-2003

Cold Week.  It's been cold all week.  Consequently, MPG is down to just mid-40's.  And without a sense of humor, I wouldn't smile by the fact that the temperature was too.  That made for a chilly commute.  The drive home throughout the week averaged less than 60 F degrees.  I'm not amused.  It should be close to 80 F at times.  June is just a week away.  What the heck?

5-23-2003

The "Open Road" Effect.  Wow!  It's been awhile since I experienced this.  Back when the speed-limit was 55 MPH, it happened almost all the time.  Now, it's pretty rare.  All you have to do is travel at or just above the speed you are legally suppose to go.  When you do that, you'll end up with an entire chuck of highway to yourself.  It's amazing!  No other vehicles for in front or behind you.  The reason for this is simple: everyone else is speeding.  That makes those vehicles clump up into crowds.  So in the rear-view mirror, you can see a wall of vehicles approaching.  The big bunch will eventually catch up.  Then they will all pass by, leaving open road behind them.  This cycle will repeat itself over and over again.  Try it sometime.

5-22-2003

That Electric A/C.  Since the new Prius will have Air-Conditioning that will run on just electricity, people are now speculating what that means.  One person made a comment about being about to leave your car on a sunny parking place with the A/C on for a short time.  Yes, technically you could do that.  But it's not the best of ideas.  The intended purpose of that design is to provide a benefit when driving "stealth" on really hot days.  You'll be able to cruise down the street in cool comfort without the need for the engine to run.  The engine will also stay off when waiting for the light to turn green.  No more watching the MPG drop just for the sake of running the A/C.  And in the winter when the defroster is needed, there's another benefit.  The engine won't need to power the condenser to remove moisture from the windows.  Pretty "cool" Prius improvement, eh?

5-21-2003

Photos of the other 2 tires.  The Goodyear Allegras were rotated (52,500 mile service), so I was able to take the other 2 photos (at 21,274 miles).  Clearly, you can see they were an excellent choice.  Alternates of that type work great.  So don't let anyone tell you otherwise.  There is now plenty of proof that replacing the original tires with something else is no big deal.  Less expense choices, that actually work better, are available.  The ones I choose demonstrated that.  See... photo album 50

5-21-2003

Did anyone see it?  On the news tonight, they briefly mentioned a 50 vehicle consumer-testing effort Ford was about to begin.  Ford will be gathering real-world input about what drivers think about a high-tech interior.  7 cameras will be used to enhance viewing abilities for when operating the vehicle.  You'll be able to see out from various angles via a Multi-Display.  There will be a navigation system too...  But that's all I heard.  There was a brief visual of the interior.  I couldn't figure out if it was a custom interior or just a retrofit, but the Multi-Display was disturbingly low.  You'd have to take your eyes completely off the road looking down so far to use it.  Anywho, the only other information mentioned was that the testing-area was here, the Minneapolis/St.Paul metro area.  So I did a number of searches on the internet for more detail.  Nothing.  Not even a brief mention.  Was this news shared anywhere else in the country or is this a quiet "see what happens before we make an announcement" thing?  Waiting for feedback would actually be a rather impressive approach.  Typically, they try to get news attention any way they can.  We'll see what happens.

5-21-2003

The HOV Debate.  There are a number of people that want a law passed to allow hybrid owners to drive in the special High-Occupancy-Vehicle only lanes on the highway with only 1 person in the vehicle.  I personally don't like that idea.  Lawmakers haven't been able to clearly define what a "hybrid" is in the first place.  That could lead to automakers taking advantage of this by calling just about any vehicle with new technology a "hybrid".  Also, I want hybrids to become so numerous, so quickly that they become a dominant type of vehicle.  Unfortunately, it will actually cause them to become so common that the benefits of using the HOV lane would be lost.  See the problems this well intentioned idea has?

5-20-2003

Fed Ex Hybrid.  They are starting a trial program, testing how hybrids work for their needs.  Many miles with lots of stop & go.  That should work well.  Proof is needed, of course.  They need solid data confirming operating & maintenance costs are lower.  Once that is achieved, then the fun begins.  All 30,000 delivery trucks could potentially be replaced over the next 10 years.  That would really stir the hybrid market.  Hybrid passenger vehicles are already beginning to make their mark.  That's influencing the courier & city vehicle fleet purchases.  The SUV spill over will occur next year.  Adding delivery trucks to that will fill in a big gap.  Hybrids will appear everywhere.  They'll become thought of a "normal".  It will just be "one of those things" that showed up in the early 21st Century.  People looking back at history will wonder why their was any doubt about this next step in automotive history.  It's still isn't that obvious, unless you drive a Prius.

5-20-2003

Feeling Stereo.  Having nothing but the radio running while waiting at an intersection lead to an interesting discovery today.  I unexpectedly noticed that my right and my left hands were feeling different vibrations.  The sound coming from the different speaker-channels is always a little different, but I had no idea that could actually be felt while in a car with the volume only at a modest level.  But it turns out you can in a Prius, since there isn't any ambient noise coming from an engine to drown out the effect.  Cool!

5-20-2003

52,500 mile service.  Yesterday I brought the Prius in for part of this service, the tire rotation.  The dealer did that along with balancing the tires.  2 tires were perfectly balanced.  1 tire was off by just 0.05 ounces.  1 was off by 1.25 ounces.  That part of the service made me happy.  The fact that the lowered the tire-pressure in all the tires to 32 PSI didn't.  And to make matters worse, it was pouring rain when I picked up the Prius and I had to run an errand right away.  So not only did they drive the Prius with dangerously low PSI, but so did I.  Oh well.  I actually thought at one point before the service I had felt the steering shudder coming back.  Whatever happened with the tire service definitely eliminated that.  It's really smooth now, even after restoring the PSI to the proper level: 44 front & 42 back.  The $49.76 price for the service wasn't too bad.  So overall, I'm happy.  Today I performed the oil & filter change myself.  It was $12.68 for the 3 quarts of synthetic oil (I still had 1/2 quart left from the previous change) and $7.17 for the filter and crush-washer.  Doing it when without a hitch.  Quick & Easy.  The layout of the Prius makes changing the oil & filter a simple task.  The oil level is now filled to 1/4" (one quarter inch) below the maximum mark, exactly where I've found it to work best.  That's it.  Done!  If things go as planned, I'll be getting my 2004 Prius before reaching the next service interval.  This is very likely the last of the maintenance log entries for my 2001 Prius... so knowing that, I used that free engine air filter the dealer gave me last year (due to the mix up at a previous service).  The one I was using was fairly dirty anyway.  Now the work is officially complete.

5-18-2003

Speed Misconception: SOUND  What you hear from the engine when heavily accelerating is misleading.  Some people think they're suppose to back off when they hear it, like in a traditional vehicle to protect the engine from straining.  So they do with Prius too.  That slows down the hybrid.  And there absolutely no reason to do that.  You are not actually controlling a throttle when you push on the pedal.  All you are doing is informing the computer you want to go faster.  It decides how to best do that while protecting the engine from ever over-revving, despite the deceptive sound.  Don't listen.  Watch the speedometer.

5-18-2003

Speed Misconception: FEEL  There's no harsh thump from the transmission when you heavily accelerate.  Instead, it's really smoooooooth.  You'll look forward to this sensation after having experienced it a few times.  But on your first drive, it's disconcerting because you think you aren't going as fast as you actually are.  Don't feel.  Watch the speedometer.

5-18-2003

Fuel-Cell Vehicles, part 2.  There's a lot of resistance to the idea of a diesel-hybrid, currently.  Some people don't want to acknowledge the benefit of combining the technologies.  With fuel-cells, I already see how obvious it is that there won't be a "pure" fuel-cell vehicle.  Instead, they will have capabilities that a full hybrid has, like regenerative-braking and the ability to draw electricity from more than one source.  In other words, rather than just a fuel-cell, there will also be a battery-pack (or an ultra-capacitor).  Every now and then I stir the pot by stating this to solicit feedback and point out the fact that fuel-cells won't abruptly appear on dealer's lots.  Some people are already recognizing the fact that there will be a gradual transition.  After all, we have already witnessed how Prius has replaced some traditional components with electric counterparts.  The electric steering is a good example in the classic Prius.  In new Prius this fall, the A/C will become electric too.  Fuel-Cell vehicles require electric components... the transition to supporting that is already well on it's way.  The technology will be common years from now when those first competitive fuel-cell vehicles become available.

5-18-2003

Fuel-Cell Vehicles, part 1.  Have you ever wondered how far along the hybrid technology will have advanced by the time the first competitive fuel-cell vehicle becomes available?  Right now, a fuel-cell vehicle costs around $1 million to build, the stack reliability is less than half than of a traditional engine, gasoline-equivalent efficiency is poor (around 14 MPG, in large part due to the extreme weight) resulting in expensive operation and high Carbon Dioxide emissions, range is substandard (less than 150 miles), and the process to create the hydrogen is both expensive and really dirty.  Eventually, those problems will be overcome.  (We'll find a way, we're pretty resourceful.)  However, hybrids will become more popular and will continue to be improved in the meantime.  Competing with that moving target will make the "step forward" extraordinarily difficult.  The result should be some pretty darn impressive when that finally happens though.

5-17-2003

History.  My uncle drove over his 1961 Cadillac today.  So naturally, the conversion quickly turned toward cars.  My dad broke out the collector's books (history books, from my perspective).  Several times I heard the comment "I wish I had a copy of that photo".  No one will ever be able to say that about Prius.  There are about 700 photos on this website between the ones I've taken and the owner pages.  All of them can be freely for downloaded & printed.  The conversion eventually turned to purchasing classics.  They mentioned pricing books and missing opportunities.  I pointed out that doesn't have to be that way anymore.  A quick call on the cell-phone to a friend at home with high-speed internet access is all it would take to look up a price, just a few simple searches online.  One step better a few years from now is being able to just look it up for yourself using a pocket computer with wireless access.  Things are definitely improving.  What you did yesterday will be history in the not-too-distant future.

5-16-2003

They talked it down.  While surfing the internet, I found a discussion group for Insight owners where there was a thread on the 2004 Prius.  Efforts focused on de-emphasizing Toyota's improvements by ignoring certain facts... which is obviously much more appealing than if they had stated out-right negative comments.  The new Prius gets close to the same MPG as the CVT Insight, yet it's even cleaner, significantly bigger, and only a little bit more expensive.  I hope that attitude is just from a select few.  It would be unfortunate to discover that the extremely friendly attitude among different hybrid owners has dissolved.

5-16-2003

Strong Support.  There were over 800 downloads of the "Hybrid Revolution" video in the past 2 days.  (And I bet each of them ends up showing it to at least 1 other person too.)  There was very little excitement about it when I mentioned it was coming.  But now, people are singing praise about it and requesting higher quality copies on CD-R & DVD+R.  The appeal of Prius is really growing.  The fact that it is so common that I spot a minimum of one other a day now hasn't diluted interest, it has contributed to greater excitement.  Sweet!  Some of the gas-guzzler owners are probably starting to realize the end is near for them, attitudes are changing.  Vehicles will become more practical and consumers will begin demanding hybrid systems in them.  Yeah!

 

back to home page       go to top