Prius Personal Log  #65

June 5, 2003  -  June 15, 2003

Last Updated: Sat. 10/04/2003

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6-15-2003

I wonder.  50.8 MPG was what I calculated at the pump today.  My Non-LRR tires have 22,000 miles on them now.  The tread looks fantastic still.  But I do still wonder how much higher the MPG could have been if I was using LRR tires instead.  Hmm?

6-14-2003

Fantastic Efficiency.  52.5 MPG after driving 374 miles.  That's pretty impressive, especially since I enjoy driving with the windows open.  I still can't believe that this occasional event will become fairly frequent with the new Prius.  So I took a photo to remember what things were like:  photo album 53

6-14-2003

A little too exciting.  I was at the bottom of the river valley about to begin the climb up.  The battery-pack charge-level was at half.  That was an ideal "hybrid show off" situation.  It was dusk, so the lighting was ideal too.  Having my new video camera along would have made things perfect.  I could do the climb from a dead stop, up the ramp, and up the long hill all while maintaining 60 MPH and charging the battery-pack.  When I arrived at the top, I would have blatant proof that the Prius ended up with more stored electricity there than when it started at the bottom.  But no!  I didn't have my camera with.  And sure enough, something that would have made the footage incredible happened.  A dog ran into my lane!  AHH!  I did an emergency swerve to two lanes over to avoid hitting him.  Phew!  I missed.  That was scary.  Climbing continued.  When I peaked the summit, with almost precision timing, the charge-level changed from half to three-quarters.  That was incredible.  I'll be able to recreate the charging situation and even the lighting conditions again, but not the dog.  You only get one chance for that.  I missed it.  Oh well, it was a little too exciting anyway.  At least the point was made, the Prius did in fact increase electric supply on the way up.  That's the exact opposite behavior most people expect.

6-13-2003

Not the technology, it's the car itself.  That absurd, crude, little "Lupo" car has entered the scene again.  (It's an efficiency vehicle to the extreme, only available in Europe and without pollution reducing technology.)  People seem to forget that the reason for the MPG better than Prius is that the car is tiny and stripped of all creature-comforts.  Of course size, weight, complexity, and comfort reductions will improve efficiency.  Not needing to conform to EPA regulations here will increase efficiency even further.  But the appeal is lost.  Those techniques won't fly here in the United States.  People simply don't care for a vehicle that sacrifices everything for the sake of extremely high MPG.  Thankfully, none of that is true for Prius.  You get your cake and can eat it too!

6-12-2003

Too big to make the turn.  Someone in a large pickup truck stopped to ask me a question as I walked through the parking ramp.  She wanted to know if that (pointing) was the only exit available.  I said "Yes".  That really disappointed her.  I didn't understand why... at first.  Then when I saw how difficult it was for her to turn that tight corner, it became obvious.  I can whip around the corner effortlessly.  In fact, I park in a spot often passed by since others can't turn so sharply.  I've grown accustom to the ability.  I wonder how much the new, bigger Prius will retain of that.  With a longer wheel base and bigger wheels, I bet that special feature won't be as impressive.  Oh well.  The emissions & efficiency sure will be.

6-12-2003

The Wait.  It's starting to make some people crazy.  They crave any new information they can find out.  Unfortunately, there isn't any.  Details about the 2004 Prius won't be released about mid-July.  They have to wait.  If you have a classic Prius already, that isn't so bad.  (In fact, it's quite a delight.)  I'm personally enjoying myself in the meantime.  Right now, my Multi-Display is showing a very pleasing 52.6 MPG.  Naturally, I would enjoy even more.  But already owning the best is hardly something to complain about.  Patience.  Then... the payoff!  I can imagine how strong the interest will be for details at that point, hearing incredible stories about what owners are experiencing with their new Prius.  Hopefully, I'll get mine right away so I can provide exactly that.  Until then, I'll enjoy Summer (which is all too short here in Minnesota).

6-12-2003

ECU Replacement.  Hey, this is really nice.  I got a letter in the mail today from Toyota.  It (LSC 30D) states all 2001 Prius will get their Power Steering ECU (Electronic Control Unit) replaced.  That's exactly what I need to remove the occasional soft thumps I get when turning the wheel at very slow speeds.  This rack hasn't been a lick of trouble.  But now that my standards are set so high, I desire nothing but perfection.  (Boy am I ever in for a shock if I'm ever faced with financial hardship and have to switch back to a used traditional vehicle.  Ew!)  I'm glad Toyota is standing behind the owners for stuff like this.  In fact, they ended up reimbursing owners for tire replacement too, even though that was actually somewhat of a third-part supplier matter.  And of course, this doesn't affect any of the newer Prius since they've been tweaking the software in the ECU as they gather data from us real-world data gatherers.

6-11-2003

Data Source.  I routinely get email from people desiring to know more about Prius after having found my website.  But it wasn't until today that I got an email from a someone that was researching for a "power above".  My real-world data will be used to help make some decisions that will benefit a rather large number of people.  I'm continuing to make a difference.  Sweet!

6-11-2003

Prius Benefits.  Some people still insist on focusing solely on the gas savings.  Some have finally acknowledged the incredibly low emissions.  Most don't have any clue that the smoooooooothness of the hybrid system is actually nicer than what most luxury vehicles offer.  (How about that, more for less?)  It's quite refreshing when dealing with stop & slow traffic, common for many daily commuters.  Most also don't realize the technology should ultimately deliver greater reliability than what traditional engine-only systems do.  Because Toyota designed it from the ground up without concern to conform to existing standards, it was easy to build a tougher system.  The catch is of course, the R&D cost a ton.  But since they were willing to invest, we benefit.

6-11-2003

Complaints without Suggestions.  Unfortunately, we get "trolls" in the online hybrid groups every now and then.  It's really frustrating.  They contradict and even lie to draw attention to themselves and to discredit hybrids.  Having to deal with that is a pain.  It makes some observers feel uncomfortable too, but what can you do?  One solution is to watch what they say.  The blatantly wrong "facts" are easy to determine.  It's the seemingly sincere errors & misinterpretations that will confuse you... until you realize all they are doing is complaining.  If they don't ask for or provide a suggestion of some kind, even if it's not all that helpful, you can tell that they're intent is to deceive.  Someone with good intentions will try to include lots of info.  Avoiding detail by being excessively vague is how the "trolls" get eventually caught.  We notice that.  So, my suggestion is to just ignore them.  Resistance to change is natural.  They see the success Prius has achieved and it scares them.  Focus your effort on helping those that are trying to adjust to the change rather than those fighting it.

6-11-2003

SUV Backlash.  It has begun.  Over the past few months, SUV's have been getting a really bad rap for being so wasteful.  After all, they have the aerodynamics of a brick.  The shape of the vehicle focuses on making it look fierce, with no consideration about how the non-conforming surfaces impair performance.  The resulting MPG is very disappointing.  Now the look is becoming a turnoff, a bad thing.  Automakers have caught on to this.  Hints of more realistic-sized SUV-type vehicles that still deliver the higher ride and AWD (which is better on paved surfaces than 4WD) but with a more efficiency-friendly shape have been surfacing, and one of them is even now available.  They look like a bloated car, different enough to really get attention.  That attention is what some buyers will likely crave.  They won't want an old-design SUV that lots of other people already have; instead, purchases of the "new & improved" SUV should climb.  Thank goodness!  It was just plain absurd that big & fierce (which costs a fortune to buy & feed) were the draw at one time.  Now the "21st Century" factor will gain appeal.  After awhile, people will simply expect the latest & greatest design to include advanced technology, like a hybrid system.  We are finally starting to get realistic.  Phew!

6-10-2003

The next step.  Civic-Hybrid is fading into the traffic now.  No hybrid mention beyond "it's available" is heard anymore.  Online discussions for it have settled to almost a stop.  Promotion has ceased, despite the fact that there's now a California-Only version certified at AT-PZEV (a step better than SULEV).  That lack of attention isn't actually a bad thing.  The IMA technology can hold its own just fine.  Modest sales should continue.  But its scope will be much more limited than that of Prius.  Lots of people are becoming fascinated to see hybrid evolution taking the next step very soon.  I bet that will make many think of Civic-Hybrid as just another vehicle available, with no fear or apprehension about that specific hybrid technology anymore.  The new Prius will take the spotlight.  That makes you wonder how the market as a whole will respond... hmm?  Attention should grow well beyond just car enthusiasts and those concerned about reducing emissions & consumption.

6-09-2003

Real-World data.  I recently got accused of milking it, trying to squeeze ultra-high efficiency from my Prius to skew the market.  Numbers like that would actually be great, but I certainly won't ever see it.  My drive to work is usually a pleasant back country roads (35-55 MPH) with only a brief jump onto the big highway.  Unfortunately, I can't always afford the extra time that takes.  So driving the faster way (though only 0.9 mile further) on the big highway happens at least once a week, with twice becoming more common.  It feels good to push the pedal down like that (70 MPH), but the extra speed hurts efficiency (all the way down to 45 MPG on Multi-Display).  Oh well.  You have to live a little... especially since leaving work doesn't provide that option.  Bummer.  Due to construction, traffic from another major road is funneled into the major road that's right next to where I park.  That results in about 8 minutes of very, very slow driving with a cold engine.  It's only 4 city blocks, yet it takes that long.  The engine usually runs the whole time too, since we've had below average temperatures.  So every afternoon includes a first segment on the Multi-Display that is around just 15 MPG.  That kills my average.  I'm still calculating over 47 MPG at the pump, so I shouldn't complain.  (But you know how Prius owners have higher expectations.)  And I can definitely argue that I'm not milking it.  I wish I had the opportunity.  This is very much real-world data.

6-09-2003

It only gets better.  The Lifetime MPG for my Prius climbed to 44.9 (if you round to the tenth).  With temperatures finally staying above 70 F degrees, I can easily maintain over 45 MPG the entire Summer (even if I go on trips carrying the bike on back).  That means the overall average will keep climbing.  So when I part with this Prius in the Fall to get a 2004, I'll be able quote a very pleasing final real-world value.  And it will just happen to be exactly 3 full years of data.  That will be quite handy later for comparisons.  Cool!

6-08-2003

Emission affected Weather.  The cottonwood pollen is the worst this year than anyone can remember.  The puffy white spores float everywhere.  And when they pile up on the ground, it is so thick you can actually leave footprints by walking through it.  (Like snow, ick!)  The bizarre weather conditions are to blame.  Owners of hybrids are well aware of what causes it: Carbon Dioxide emissions.  The lower your MPG, the higher that type of pollution.  All that causes instability in the atmosphere.  Storms are more violent and more frequent.  Rain comes in unusually high quantities in short amounts of time.  Temperatures break all time high & low records.  In other words, we've created a mess.  Thankfully, some of us are already driving a solution.

6-07-2003

The Number Game.  Numbers can easily be manipulated, so I don't provide count type of data on the website.  Reporters love quoting percentage statistics, which makes sales look terrible.  If they mentioned the fact that only a limited amount were available in the first place and that ALL of them were sold, that would be different.  But they don't.  When I look closely at the numbers I saved from back in March 2002, I discover the totals quoted actually include all the Toyota hybrids, not just Prius.  So that in itself has probably caused confusion.  At that point, 89,091 Prius had been sold worldwide.  There were also 13,876 sales of the Crown, Estima, and Coaster hybrids.  That explains the 110,000 quote that was shared in press releases later in September of last year.

6-07-2003

Perception of what's important.  Like I've said before, it's not the technology that's the hold back, it's the market factors.  Perception of what's important is having a negative impact.  This final statement in an article published just an hour ago sums it up pretty well, "With gasoline at a $1.50 to a $1.70 a gallon [3.8 liters], it really doesn't make sense for Americans to get in small cars that get 50 miles [80 kilometers] to the gallon."  People have the blinders on so tight, all they see is gas savings.  Many don't even consider the environmental benefit.  That's sad, because environmental benefit is the primary purpose for fuel-cell vehicles.  Since efficiency is currently only at a rough gas-equivalent of 14 MPG, that definitely won't be a sales draw.  Then when you consider that some of the hydrogen will actually be created using fossil fuels, you realize that it doesn't eliminate our dependence and it is still dirty overall.  The point is, we need to alter the perception of what's important.  It's kind of odd seeing that the technology in Prius is becoming less of a concern.  Reliability is now being proven, yet people still dismiss the environmental benefit choosing to focus solely on gas savings instead.  Our children won't care that we saved some money when they look up and see the orange haze above the metro areas.  Not suffering from smog related breathing problems will be their concern.  We have the technology available now, let's use it!

6-06-2003

5 months later, time for a new one.  Having just concluded another statistical month, exceeded 53,000 miles, the Lifetime MPG increasing a notch, I felt the urge to update.  The card I create is a mini-promotional handout I share with as many people as I can.  It's quite non-intrusive being so small.  The only thing it implies is that I'd like the person receiving it to take a closer look afterward, at their own convenience.  That works out great.  There's just enough information on it to invoke curiosity.  Hopefully, they'll follow through.  But they don't need to.  I like that kind of no-pressure approach.  So I'll keep right on creating new ones.  They'll become more creative soon too.  The graph on back will lose some relevance once I get the new Prius.  A type of yearly summary with an estimate of how the new one will perform is what will need to be shared instead.  In the meantime, here's what the latest looks like:   website cards 5    website cards 6    website cards PRINT

6-05-2003

Size & Efficiency are not mutually exclusive!  If the monster SUV's were getting 30 MPG, then there wouldn't be anywhere near as much of a problem.  Ford promised to increase their SUV fleet MPG average by 25% in 5 years.  3 years later (which is just last month), they stated they weren't even close to fulfilling that promise.  In fact, nothing has happened so far.  It's really sad.  Demanding hybrid systems in the vehicle of your choice is the real goal.  That will significantly reduce all the waste and pollution without requiring a compromise.  Until a large SUV is available with a hybrid system, they really can't claim that customers made the choice, that their wasn't a market for it... since one was never offered.  Certain automakers pulled that crap with the perception of electric-only vehicles.  I'm going to help spread the word to prevent the same from happening with hybrids.  There is a market.  The technology really does deliver.  It is an affordable, realistic solution.

 

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