Prius Personal Log  #66

June 16, 2003  -  June 24, 2003

Last Updated: Fri. 4/09/2004

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6-24-2003

A well-known Prius at 91,355 miles.  I knew about this particular Prius way back in 2000 when the owner first bought it.  The owner has driven all those miles since then.  He's been sharing his efficiency maintenance info with us along the way too.  I wish everyone kept detailed expense records.  It makes me wonder how much people actually end up spending over the lifetime of their vehicle.  But most of the people I know intentionally don't keep track.  They prefer not knowing and simply dealing with each repair and upkeep need as it comes up, then quickly forgetting afterward how much that ended up costing.  Oh well.  I did that with my Taurus.  All the repair receipts (there were a lot!) are readily available, so if I ever wanted to make comparisons to that of my carefully documented Prius, I could... but probably won't.  Ick!  I don't care to remember all those problems again.  The Prius has proven to be a much, much better investment.

6-24-2003

"Humidity Effect"  I seem to have encountered it again.  This morning was unusually moist, so the water content being pumped into the air/fuel system was well above normal.  That seems to have once again influenced efficiency.  The Multi-Display now shows 54.2 MPG after driving 123 miles.  I rarely even see performance that high for such a long distance.  It's a few MPG more than what I'd normally expect to get on that commute route with that level of traffic and that temperature (which I've driven countless times in the past).  Moisture in the air seems to be the only notable difference, so it sure looks like the cause again.  Too bad there's no why to control that particular factor.  Of course, even just predicting the weather is still a bit of a challenge.

6-23-2003

At Home with an Aqua.  Another owner shared some Prius photos.  Cool!  Check'em out...  owner:  Brian

6-22-2003

Just another pleasing tank.  I took another Consumption screen photo.  It has interesting segment pattern.  MPG could have been much better, but 50.3 overall is nothing to complain about.  This tank required heavy load cruising.  The Prius traveled highways for about 80 miles with passengers all desiring a generous amount of A/C.  I gladly obliged with the speed and cooling, while watching the MPG drop.  Oh well.  That wasn't the only drain on this tank anyway.  I did all that digital video filming with it too.  That strange driving pattern, unlike anything you'd actually encounter in real traffic, is unusually demanding.  I hope I get an opportunity to see ever higher numbers again.  (I've seen 54 MPG briefly.)  But with my desire to carry the bike on the rack to get to the great trails in the outback, chances are slim.  Enjoying Summer is my priority.  So I captured this particular moment...  photo album 53

6-22-2003

MPG on the sticker.  Manufacturers don't make MPG claims.  They can't in fact (thankfully).  That is under the control of the EPA, who publishes performance results based on standardized tests.  Those standardized tests provide a basis for comparison between manufacturers, but rarely reflect REAL-WORLD driving conditions.  Take a close look at how EPA performs the measurements (at the bottom of  this page ).  You'll discover they aren't even close to realistic.  The coldest temperature is 68 F degrees.  Winter cold causes drastic drops in MPG, but from the tests you'd never know that.  You'd also never know that winter-formula gasoline isn't as efficient either.  The same problem is true for speed too.  Faster kills MPG, the tests are all performed at an average speed of only 48 MPH and with a maximum of only 60 MPH.  That doesn't even closely match how fast people actually drive.  With that said, up here in frozen Minnesota, my Prius has yielded a 44.9 MPG average over the last 3 years (53,886 miles) of driving.  That's better than you'd actually expect.  So don't take EPA rating values the sticker literally.  Only REAL-WORLD data reflects what you'll actually get, not standardized tests.

6-22-2003

"Pulse" driving.  Talk about it emerged yet again.  At least the meaning is better understood now, hopefully no misinterpretations anymore.  I'm against the pulse technique.  I never use it.  And I still achieve MPG near 50 in the Summer.  "Feathering" is all you really need to do.  Simply take advantage of a minor declines in the road by lightly letting up on the pedal.  Speeding up then slowing down (pulsing) won't exactly thrill anyone following behind you.  But recognizing the fact that roads are rarely ever absolutely flat and attempting to maintain constant speed despite the change does in fact yield a gain, and without doing anything others on the road won't like.   The hybrid system automatically adjusts to benefit from the demand change, seamlessly, without speed being affected.  It's great.  It's also far more common than you'd expect too.  Just watch someone riding a bicycle.  They do the same thing while pedaling without even giving it much thought, it's a second nature response to changes in road pitch.  It conserves energy, an important fact when relying on foot power.  There's no reason the same logic can't be applied to driving conservation too.

6-21-2003

TO RAISE AWARENESS.  This is a theme I have heavily involved myself with lately.  My talents & materials have become so well refined that I can no longer convince people I don't work for Toyota just by saying so.  They see the confidence in my eyes when speaking about the technology.  That usually translates into a "he's got something to gain from this" look as a response.  Trying to explain to a person during a spontaneous promotion opportunity that I'm doing this to make a better world for my children to live in almost sounds as corny as some super-hero catch-phrases.  It's extraordinarily difficult to convince him or her that I'm not trying to sell the vehicle.  So I don't even try.  When I hand someone one of my prius website cards, the first thing I say is "this is TO RAISE AWARENESS".  Then I quickly follow by saying "this technology can be built into the next vehicle you buy; whether it's a car, truck, or SUV doesn't matter; each type will benefit without making a sacrifice".  The reaction I usually get is excitement and a "tell me more" look.  It works well, try TO RAISE AWARENESS sometime yourself.

6-20-2003

Creature Comforts.  I just saw a report on the local news about how new vehicle buyers are seeking out options that have nothing to do with horsepower or torque.  They desire built-in entertainment systems.  Movie and gaming systems completely change the driving experience.  No more "Are we there yet?"  The elimination of sound and vibration adds to the appeal.  Prius shines in that area.  There's simply no way for the competition to compete.  Sit in your car with the engine off, then imagine that dead silence being replaced by the laughter of your children reacting to the sight of their favorite movie while safely nestled in a back seat.  It's only a matter of time before the technologies begin to converge and people discover a whole new world of opportunities.  Prius is a catalyst for that, a platform in which some new ideas will be born.  Look at how well the Multi-Display and centered digital instrument cluster is already accepted.

6-20-2003

Is Prius really SULEV?  120,000 miles is the duration for the SULEV rating.  Without low sulfur gas, the cleansing system will eventually get polluted with sulfur causing it to drop below the threshold before that distance is traveled.  2006 is when low sulfur gas is required everywhere.  It is already available in CA, the metro of MN, select East Coast areas, and a few spots in the West.  Hopefully refiners will comply with the new regulation before the deadline.  If so, you stand a shot at your Prius remaining that clean its entire life.  Fortunately, Prius is well above the minimum SULEV requirements.  So there's a decent buffer anyway.  If you want the cleanest emissions, even in a traditional vehicle, drop a note to your local people with power.  Some may actually help.  I'm blessed with a locally owned company that has been offering low sulfur gas in 3 different octanes at the same price as the competitor's for nearly 4 years now.  It's wonderful.  The advertisements on the radio talk about how less damaging to the environment that type of gas it.  So you can use them as a very successful example, their URL is http://blueplanetgas.com

6-20-2003

BOOM !!  I was enjoying a morning commute at 70 MPH in a dead zone, an area of highway that I just happened to have all to myself.  (Those driving faster than the speed-limit tend to build up into clumps, ya know.)  The closest vehicle was a semi about 4 seconds in front of me.  I was looking right at it when BOOM!  It exploded and was suddenly enveloped in dust.  That dust expanded in almost an instant to cover the lanes on either side.  What had happened was almost as quickly apparent.  I saw shreds of metal-lined rubber flying right at me.  A tire had exploded under the heavy load.  Instinct kicked in, having grown up in deer country.  I hit the brakes hard, just enough to avoid needing the anti-locks (lots of snow & ice driving practice builds that skill), then looked into the rear-view mirror.  It's not what's in front that counts.  There's no way to out maneuver multiple deer.  (Seeing just one doesn't mean there isn't another, since they always travel in groups.)  Your greater concern is not getting rear-ended.  The mirror revealed an entire highway at almost a complete stop.  The Prius was the only vehicle that had entered the fallout area.   They all saw that and were now waiting to see if I could safely drive through so much wreckage without losing a tire myself...  Phew!  I made it.  That was scary.

6-20-2003

Side-Impact & Rollover Safety.  The government testing has finally begun.  Yeah!  SUVs typically do very poor in this type of test, much worse than cars in fact.  Many people don't realize this.  They believe exactly the opposite based solely on the only test available in the past: front-end collision.  This misunderstanding has given people the impression that SUVs are safer overall, but in reality they're not.  Side-Impact & Rollover accidents happen too.  Forgetting that makes for bad purchase decisions, yet it happens all the time.  Hopefully, this new type of testing will better inform people about what is really safe and what isn't.

6-20-2003

"Beauty Shots"  It's another new Prius video.  This one provides a scenic collection of Prius drive-by footage with a variety of different filming styles.  You'll find this 6 minutes 45 second video very different from the new "Quick Intro" video provided just a few days ago.  We had a blast driving through the Minnesota outback yesterday enjoying the incredibly beautiful summer weather with a Prius and a miniDV camera.  There were several different locations with several different capture methods.  I hope you like it...  video files

6-19-2003

It gets worse...  Avoiding politics is becoming increasingly difficult.  In a newspaper article today, the Bush administration's hydrogen initiative was just called a "Trojan Horse", a front to make their efforts appear sincere.  Ask yourself, when will we actually benefit from those efforts?  A few years from now would be great.  A few decades provides no guarantee that it will actually ever happen.  And that's when they "plan" to deliver.  Facing reality is tough, but we have to.  If a goal can't be reached within just a few years, it is likely to never occur, especially when you take into account that administrations change during that time.  That's why it is very common for businesses set milestones instead.  Toyota is a great example.  They're delivering hybrid technology a stage at a time.  The proposed plan from the US doesn't do that.  All we get is a final product "image" without any detail or any milestones in between.  How long do we have to wait?  And what about the fuel?  Will the hydrogen be created using clean & renewable energy sources (like wind, solar, and water) or are they just going use oil & coal?  I hope these questions will be answered soon; otherwise, it could indeed get worse.

6-19-2003

Fuelish Decisions.  I found this quote today rather disturbing, "The U.S. Senate approved an amendment calling on the auto industry to produce 100,000 hydrogen fuel-cell cars by the end of the decade and 2.5 million by 2020."  Is this governing force going to make the same mistake as CARB?  Focusing solely on a technology rather than an emissions & consumption goal failed miserably already.  10 years ago, CARB tried exactly that.  They wanted 10% of all vehicle sales in the state of CA to be electric by 2003.  (That obviously didn't work.)  Being electric was all that mattered.  No direct mention of reduced emissions, it was only assumed.  (That ended up be a fatal flaw.)  If the automakers decide to build those "100,000 hydrogen fuel-cell cars" the requirement will be satisfied, by law.  By consumer, I hope that is considered unacceptable (which might be a no-brainer if the use a body smaller than any competing vehicle, like EV1 & Insight did).  The automakers could simply make the fuel-cell run on gasoline too.  That would result in a vehicle that is actually both dirtier and consumes more gas than traditional technology, a big step backward.  Hybrids already deliver better than traditional technology.  How come hybrids aren't even considered a valid option?  Why can't a certain emission & consumption level be set instead?  The automakers could then choose any technology they want to meet the goal.  Why must it specifically be fuel-cells?

6-18-2003

Center Instrument Cluster.  Having the speedometer and a few other gauges in the center really bothered some people, so much so it was enough to deter them from purchasing a Prius.  Since then, a few lesser known vehicles began centering too.  Now the Saturn Ion is catching on.  That's a rather popular vehicle, one that will help make wanting the cluster directly in front of you kind of silly.  After all, why would you want it there knowing it will sometimes be difficult to see with the steering wheel and your hand in the way.  So the next time you see an Ion drive by, look for the lump sticking up in the center of the dashboard.  That's where the speedometer is.  Then take a look at the driver content with the placement.  The move may seem odd at first, but it will become a natural placement in no time.  Try it.  You'll like it.

6-17-2003

Me?  Never!  Have you ever heard that before?  I remember it from ages past from people that said the had absolutely no interest in driving a truck.  Now they own a SUV.  What changed?  After all, the only difference between a 4WD minivan and a SUV is the truck look.  And now that the look is toning down, making the SUVs look more like big cars and tough minivans, I have to chuckle.  Even the most stubborn attitudes seem to change over time.  All you have to do is simply wait for it to happen.  How long do you think it will be before I look back at these logs with amusement noting how much resistance there was about hybrid technology originally?

6-16-2003

Oops!  Making up a dialog while interacting with it and filming at the same time wasn't perfect.  But I did manage to get pleasing take the second try.  And the first only included the walk around part, so I really can't complain.  After all, I wanted it to look spontaneous anyway.  So if you watch today's new video carefully, you'll notice that when I reached over to shift with my only hand available, I accidentally shifted into "B" mode rather than "Drive".  Oh well, that's not too bad for my very first attempt at using the left to shift.  And it did make for a smoother slow down afterward, making the camera aiming a little easier.  (Perhaps someday I'll really mess up during filming and capture my first Prius blooper.)

6-16-2003

"Quick Intro"   This is a brand new Prius video.  There's 3 minutes and 33 seconds of completely new video yearning to be downloaded.  It's a Prius introduction I filmed all in a single take all by myself.  I wanted that specific look & feel.  I provided a brief walk around the hybrid along with narrative information.  Following that is a driving demonstration.  It's informal & spontaneous.  The intent was to provide a viewing experience very similar to what you'd witness in a parking lot encounter, as if you were a total stranger asking an owner for a few comments.  I'm quite pleased about how it turned out, and I'm glad to be able to share it with you.  I hope you find it very informative... video files

 

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