Prius Personal Log  #64

May 27, 2003  -  June 5, 2003

Last Updated: Sat. 10/04/2003

    page #63         page #65         BOOK         INDEX         go to bottom 

   

6-05-2003

I give up!  After being out on the road for an hour and a half, I gave up.  Not seeing a Prius was really disappointing.  The other day, I saw 3 on the way home alone.  But not today when I wanted to impress a friend.  Then at that exact moment, before I could even finishing saying that, a Prius drove up to us and stopped.  Someone has a cruel sense of humor.  There was a Silver Prius, taunting me for my lack of confidence.  Arrgh!  Oh well.  Timing is everything, apparently.

6-05-2003

3 year anniversary.  It was exactly 3 years ago that I walked into a Toyota dealer with a matchbox-sized Prius, held it out, and exclaimed "I want one of these!"  That resulted in a really surprised salesperson (since the order process was still a month away) that ended up filling out a purchase agreement and taking a $1,000 deposit.  So today, I thought I'd do some research about getting my 2004 Prius.  I went with a friend, who's also getting a 2004.  We didn't actually expect to learn anything new.  And sure enough, the salesperson didn't know anything.  He said to find out about the 2004 all I would have to do is a search on the internet, there's a bunch of stuff out there on it.  I'm pretty sure he didn't recognize me.  So I was very tempted to push, to find out if I could get him to mention my website.  But I didn't.  I was pleased with his approach, again.  I bumped into him once before.  That time there were lots of people wanting his time and I still had the beard then.  I liked his approach that time too.  So I think I ended up finding a salesperson for when the 5 of us (maybe more by then) show up all at once to order 5 Prius all at the same time.

6-05-2003

More Ethanol.  The U.S. Senate approved a provision in the new energy bill that would double the amount of ethanol to be used as a gas additive, to 5 billion gallons a year nationwide by 2012.  Is this a good thing?  Yes, it should eliminate the dangerous MTBE substitute in gasoline, but what else?  It takes more energy to create ethanol than what you get in return.  So there's a net efficiency loss.  There's a pollution concern too.  Investing more in emission-less alternate electricity sources sounds like a better plan to me.  Instead of continuing to burn so much coal, why aren't we setting up wind-turbines?  After all, someday I want to have the option of plugging in my hybrid rather than always recharging from the engine & brakes.

6-05-2003

100 years ago.  This month, Ford is celebrating its 100th anniversary.  They are running advertisements mentioning how far they've come in that time.  The Model T got 25 MPG.  Ford's fleet now averages 22.6 MPG.  Where exactly is that improvement?  The Sierra Club will be asking that.  They intend to embarrass Ford with the question.  They will be pushing the fact that the fuel economy pledge Ford made (to increase efficiency 25 percent by 2005) was reneged, that instead nothing will be accomplished by then.  I wish it wouldn't of had to come down to this.  Being wasteful is bad enough.  Breaking the promise is what really irritates.  I had thought they were admitting their short-sightedness and asking for us to be patience while they caught up.  After all, development of a new system takes time.  But then finding out that they didn't sincerely even give it a try is where the line is draw.  So what happens now?

6-05-2003

Owner Contributions.  Check out the latest, great photos documenting the use of a receiver-hitch bike-rack on a Prius... owner: Angelo

6-04-2003

Prius MINI-SHEET.   There's a brand new document for us!  It's a half-size, simplified version of the INFO-SHEET, a sharing material that very nicely fills that gap between than the cards and the full-size sheet.  I really like being able to offer variety like that.  Something for every type of hybrid promotion.  Check it out... Mini-Sheet

6-04-2003

Constant MPG.  I find it quite intriguing that some people have never thought about how efficiency actually works.  They think they get a constant MPG from their vehicle.  It never occurs to them that on a particular drive, the efficiency can vary quite a bit.  Hills, wind, and traffic all affect actual performance of a seemingly unremarkable cruise.  This new photo I took of the Multi-Display clearly shows that the commute home results in a variety of 5-minute summary segments.  That's pretty typical of what I see throughout the Summer... photo album 52

6-03-2003

Speedometer Location.  I bumped into someone today that had commented about getting a speeding ticket.  His complaint was that the steering-wheel prevented him from seeing the needle on the speedometer.  I just smiled and kept my mouth shut.  I wanted to speak up, but my friend with me gave me the "don't mention the sweet layout of the Prius dashboard".  Oh well.  Some people will just have to learn the hard way that traditional designs aren't always the best.  Switching from large analog devices with moving parts to small digital solid-state displays do offer notable advantages.

6-02-2003

Absurd 0-60 Debates.  They continue; however, not many people care now.  The classic Prius has already proven that this isn't actually an issue.  But a few feel it is, despite a multitude of Prius owners saying they never have any trouble merging onto a highway.  (In fact, some even gloat about how they routinely lead the crowd with 0-30 acceleration.)  Anywho, the new Prius subtracts 2 seconds from the time.  No matter.  Apparently, that is still to slow for a certain few.  The "more is ALWAYS better" philosophy is what's actually causing the problem.  People have become so accustom to their replacement vehicle having a speed & power improvement upon their current vehicle that they don't realize a ceiling will eventually be reached, where more doesn't actually provide any benefit other than looking better on paper.

6-01-2003

Kind of Creepy.  There's a location in Bloomington, just 2 miles down the road from the Mall of America, where I have Prius sightings at an alarming rate.  It wouldn't be frightening if it was somewhere along that stretch of road.  But it's not.  It's in one exact spot (right next to where the photos on the second row of this page were taken: photo album 32).  That's just weird.  How could such precision occur, especially when all the sighting are of a Prius coming the opposite direction as me?  The probability of that happening is disturbing.  I now get a creepy feeling when driving by there, thinking some Prius is going to silently appear... again!

6-01-2003

1/2 Mile more Stealth.  There's a long stretch of 35 MPH road that I drive from time to time.  The SOC (State Of Charge in the battery-pack) always drops to the half mark before I reach the end.  Now that it's finally warm out, I've noticed I can go farther before the indicator changes.  I'm not sure how far I go overall, since I now measure distance based on 5-minute Multi-Display consumption segments rather than miles.  (This stretch takes about 2.)  But I have made note of the spot where it happened in the Winter verses where it happens now.  It's about a 1/2 mile further up the road.  And since half doesn't necessarily mean stealth opportunities are over (it just means the engine is much more likely to start back up), I can still get fairly close to the highway entrance ramp using mostly electricity.  Then when I do, I punch it!  The Prius flies down the ramp, down the valley, across the river, then right before the climb back up the SOC goes back to the 3/4 mark (which is what most owners consider "full", including me).  That's rather interesting since that's the same spot regardless of the time of the year.  Hmm?  Following that, of course, the engine continues to charge the battery-pack the remainder of the climb.  So when I get off the highway at the top, I can go right back into stealth-mode.  I wonder what all the factors are that to provide greater stealth range when it's warm out?

6-01-2003

That little 12-volt battery.  Some of the owner believe this was an honest cultural oversight.  Toyota didn't realize Americans, whom typically claim their vehicle as an important aspect our their life, would leave them unused for several weeks at a time.  The
engineers crunching numbers likely figured going an entire month without use just never happened.  And guess what, I didn't realize that happened either!  Here in Minnesota, all the vehicles I've been aware of were driven from time to time to keep the juices flowing and the tires from going flat.  In the winter especially, having a vehicle sit for too long was asking for trouble.  So this brings up the big question.  Now that we all do know this happens, will the new Prius will just have a plain old big 12-volt in it
instead, or will there still be a small one but with a higher-capacity?

5-31-2003

That Pedestrian Knew.  I yielded as I rounded the corner and saw a pedestrian crossing the street to get to his car.  Even though he was already in the street, he waved me to continue.  I waved a "no that's ok" reply.  He used body-language to insist that I proceed.  So I did, but with great curiosity.  Was this a case of "Minnesota Nice" almost creating a stalemate in the street or did he know?  I had to find out.  Jumping out of the Prius after it had been parked, I asked.  He knew.  He wanted to experience the Prius driving close by him silently.  That was pretty cool.

5-30-2003

Competing Formats.  BetaMax was actually a better format overall.  But the popularity of VHS killed it.  Rumor is that Sony refused to license the technology to some porno producers.  VHS welcomed the support.  So it basically boiled down to who had the most effective marketing, who could get more of their product to be purchased.  That makes you think.  Better engineering doesn't guarantee ultimate success.  Now the same type of standard battle is happening again.  Just a few weeks ago, DVD+R grossly outnumbered DVD-R in retail stock.  DVD-R is just beginning to counter that move now.  Creative advertising & pricing could ultimately make one format or the other the new standard.  Do you think the same thing could happen with hybrid technology?  Could the general consumer perceive one to be better than another forcing a single technology to dominate, even if it isn't the best one?  Or will the market accept the variety with several different design coexisting without conflict?  It really makes you wonder, doesn't it?

5-30-2003

Cost & Weight of Hybrid System.  This question pops up from time to time.  But since THS is "one with the system" rather than an add-on like IMA, you simply can't add cost & weight.  An easy way to explain this is to point out that no other vehicle has a Planetary-CVT.  Instead they have an automatic, manual, or Belt-CVT transmission, which are all so different that direct comparisons are unrealistic.  Internal components simply don't match.  Parts are different and others are missing completely.  So quit trying analyze components & functions; instead, look at the design as a whole. 

5-29-2003

The newest drivers.  I stealthed into my parents place yesterday, where we were having a family get-together (a "gathering", if you will).  I just barely got settled down to shot-the-breeze with some relatives when I noticed my younger cousin approach with a silly grin on her face.  She wanted my keys so she could take the Prius out on a joy-ride with a few of the other younger cousins, all of whom haven't been driving for too long.  When I first got the Prius, it didn't mean much to most of them.  Now that driving has become an integral part of their lives, they've discovered the "sweet" transportation I own!  That's a pretty cool attitude change.

5-29-2003

Based on Echo.  People draw strange conclusions.  They assume Prius has the same chassis as Echo.  And if it did, that would be a bad thing.  Some people laughed when the Lexus RX300 was introduced, because its chassis was based on a car rather than a truck like all the SUVs.  The strong sales have proven that really doesn't mean much, it's what was put on top of it that counts. 
The only things Echo & Prius really have in common is they both have is the similar body shapes and similar high efficiency.  That's it!  A brief look inside each and a quick test-drive reveals they are very different vehicles.  But most people never go that far.  They simply make false claims with confidence.  And showing them how much larger the standard component list in Prius is at base-price doesn't change their judgment either; they just ignore those facts.  Still to this day, there are a few people that just plain won't accept the fact that the 0-60 speed really does fulfill the need.  They claim being "statistically less" means you'll get run off the road for going too slow, even though most everyone else isn't using their vehicle to full-potential anyway.  I think it all boils down to people playing with numbers to prove their case, rather than acknowledging actual facts... like Prius owners not actually having any problems merging onto highways. Duh!

5-28-2003

"Hybrids seen with 5% market share by 2013."  Time to climb up on the soapbox again.  Where in the world do they get these numbers from?  First, they don't even define what a "hybrid" is.  No references are made to reducing emissions or consumption at all and the technological differences is completely ignored.  So I suppose they could pretty much say anything they want.  The lack of detail makes it difficult to refute.  Second, they're playing the "market share" game by sighting percentages instead of actual quantities.  We all know how incredibly misleading that can be.  Third, how can they make predictions for 10 years in advance?  I really didn't expect the SUV image to change so quickly, but it has.  The majority of TV commercials are now for other types of vehicles, no more SUV promos every few minutes.  And the price of gas will have a huge impact on demand for hybrids.  How do they know what the price will be 10 years from now?  Also, how can they possibly know what battery technology will be like then?  The computer industry is investing a ton of money trying to invent a better battery.  With the automotive industry joining in, the odds of successfully doing that become even better.  Lastly, Toyota has already stated that they'd like to have the hybrid option available for every vehicle they offer by 2012.  By then, they will have 15 years of real-world hybrid experience.  How much more do those estimators think it will take for a reputation to be established?   And do they think fuel-cells, which is an even more profound design change, will also take +10 years to capture just 5% of the market?  If so, our oil dependency problem is much worse than anyone cares to admit.

5-28-2003

High Mileage Prius.  Curiosity is growing.  People would like to know how many owners have driven extreme distances.  I was always planning to help found the 100,000 mile hybrid club to document that type of info.  Now I'm going to have to observe rather than participate for quite awhile.  Upgrading to a 2004 Prius in a few months will subtract 60,000 miles from my odometer.  I will now take 3 years longer to reach.  And now I have curiosities of my own.  I wonder about what kind of efficiency I'll get right after buying the new Prius.  I know all the right things to do having so much experience already.  But then again, I live in Minnesota.  The frigid winter temperatures will push the MPG average way down.  But then again, break-in will be complete by the time things finally start melting.  The nice part about the whole situation  is that I get to relive the introduction of a hybrid AGAIN!  So naturally, there will be new photos & stuff to share with y'all... Stay tuned.

5-27-2003

Prius Video Index.  There is now a new map webpage that provides an index of the all 27 videos currently available.  Instead of the usual thumbnail of an entire page and a generic title link, I selected the best frame-capture from each then added a more descriptive link along with a tidbit of info.  You should find this very helpful for when you need a find a particular video file.  Check it out... site map 5

 

back to home page       go to top