Prius Personal Log  #69

July 15, 2003  -  July 23, 2003

Last Updated: Fri. 4/09/2004

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 7-23-2003

Programmer Marketing Skills.  At a meeting today at work, I suddenly became very aware of the marketing skills my computer programming career has taught me.  Very well thought out and carefully programmed & tested code can fail miserably if it is implemented the wrong way.  Not having a particular resource available at the right time can give the users a false impression of the delivered software.  The same can happen with hybrids.  Prius could easily have suffered from that type of problem had Toyota not taken the slower approach.  Toyota has been paying for the early batches of tires & steering-racks that were bad and providing a rental in the meantime (if necessary).  It's all working out just fine in the end for owners.  But imagine if the replacement part would have taken months to deliver rather than the average 2 weeks.  That could have created an ugly impression of the technology, based on problem components that have since been corrected.  So only low quantities were produced and advertising has been at a minimum.  That has worked well to attract the better informed consumers (ones that know how to jump online and ask the group for help if they encounter incorrect information during their own experiences) rather than the general consumer.  Then a few years later, after every real-world situation has been heavily tested, a great hybrid will emerge.  That time is growing closer and closer.  The 2004 model represents 6 years of design tweaking.  People will be very happy when they discover the quality that delivers.

7-23-2003

In the dark.  Just think, in a traditional vehicle you don't have a clue that there is a difference between your vehicle and someone else's.  Without a Multi-Display, identifying variations in performance is virtually impossible.  People own a vehicle never knowing.  In fact, many don't even realize how the different seasons affect performance.  Becoming aware of situations that have always existed is a frustrating reality.  Some actually prefer not knowing. I wonder how the new awareness will play itself out as Multi-Displays become more common.  Hmm?

7-23-2003

August Appearance.  I don't see any reason why the 2004 Prius won't show up next month.  Do you?  We hear about September "availability", but what does that mean for those that ordered already?  I could understand the September 15th date being the debut, perhaps they will stockpile until then rather than deliver right away.  But one would hope the mentioned Oct-Dec delivery is a buffer, meaning sometime in October the early orders would all be delivered.  Otherwise, the public appearance at dealers for demos and show won't even be until January.  You wouldn't expect anyone to complain about being told Oct-Dec and actually getting it in October.  I suspect that "availability" is for the general public, not those privileged individuals whom Toyota made early offers to.  After all, production of the 2004 has apparently been rolling for a few weeks now and marketing for it, rather than the classic model, has been lively for a few months now.  3 years ago, demo models appeared in early August and delivery to a handful of owners in mid-August?  So why should this time be much different, especially since so much free marketing by owners will take place as a result.  By late August, I suspect there will be reports coming in about people having encountered a 2004 in some fashion.  Hopefully, one will be from me in the driver's seat!  But then again, they could just in the pre-production setup stage now and I really will have to wait quite a bit longer.  Time will tell.

7-23-2003

Temperature Effects.  It's well known now that many factors affect Prius performance.  Things like air-density, humidity and fuel-formula changes throughout the year are good examples.  But those are hard to identify.  Temperature is simple.  That value always appears on the Multi-Display.  So what the heck, I figured identifying some key values would help.  What do you think of this:  88�F my Prius runs at its most efficient.  55�F or warmer, all features are fully functional.  33�F or colder, stealth is hit or miss.  11�F or worse, it's hopeless, MPG takes a big hit.  -11�F don't lick your Prius.  

7-22-2003 

Ford's admission of falling fleet average.  Wow!  Ford publicly admitted that not only won't they be able to meet their promise for 2005, they also admit that the MPG value has actually dropped since they stated that back in 2000.  Things have actually gotten worse rather than better.  Does honesty about it help?  I think so.  For a person, admitting there is a problem is a big step toward finding a solution.  They see the current path they are on is certainly the wrong one.  I wonder if they will now be more accepting of change now.  Hmm?

 7-22-2003 

Comparing hybrid sales.   Today, someone suggested comparing sales figures from Prius over the past few years to the newer hybrids on and entering the market.  They paid no regard to the fact that the market didn't even exist back when Prius first became available, back when people didn't even know what "hybrid" meant.  (And many still don't even know how the technology actually works.)  A comparison of that nature just plain won't work.  Things are different now.  We are making up history as we go.  There is literally no pattern to follow.  It is unrealistic to try to generalize yet.  Accept the fact that we breaking new ground.  Enjoy the ride.  Don't worry about where this road will take us.  Just be comfortable in the thought that the technology is clean, efficient, reliable, and affordable.

7-21-2003

Regular Orders for 2004 now.   The special early-order opportunity has expired.  Regular orders are what will be taken at this point.  We're getting closer!

7-20-2003

Very long sequence showing energy flows on the Multi-Display.  6 minutes 19 seconds!  It's my pride & joy.  Lighting was perfect (it was moments before sunset on a warm Summer day).  The Prius had a long, straight, flat, desolate country road to play on.  We setup the camera and let it run.  All one take.  It came out perfect.  We were able to capture quite a variety of conditions, each very easy to observe.  Watch all the details closely.  The length of the footage helps to explain what you'd actually encounter in real-world cruising on streets at 30 to 45 MPH with moderate amounts of traffic.  You'll see the energy-flow change frequently based on the speed and charge-level...  video files

7-19-2003

Variety of Multi-Display shots.  My friend and I were experimenting with the new miniDV camera, finding out what it was capable of.  This footage wasn't actually intended to be published.  But it came out fairly well.  And since I'll be parting with this Prius soon to upgrade to a new 2004 model, I'd like to be able to share a few of these good memories later.  So now it's part of the collection.  The ending of this is especially exciting.  By dumb luck, we just happened to spot another Prius.  That was cool!  You'll find all 2 minutes 38 seconds of that video here...  video files

 7-18-2003

Smart Entry/Start Misconceptions.  They are beginning to formulate.  Hopefully, we'll be able to intercept those incorrect assumptions before they become an actual purchase-decision factor.  Curiosity focuses on the signal being sent from the transceiver.  People wonder if it can be recorded then rebroadcast later to steal the car.  The answer is "No".  A rolling-ID, one that changes every time you use it, is used in the current Prius.  The same convention is expected to be used in the new Prius too.  But instead of using a physical key, that always-changing code will be sent via the already well-proven secure transmitter technology the auto industry has been using for a number of years now.  So it is highly unlikely that you'd even be able to clone a signal.  And if you could, it wouldn't work anyway.  The system expects a new signal, not an older one.  You'll be able to enjoy this new feature that only Prius offers without any concern.  (So spread the word to help prevent assumptions about this from becoming misconceptions.)

 7-18-2003

Prius won't compete with Camry.  Instead, it will compliment it.  Since Toyota's goal is to increase its market share, that makes a lot of sense.  Prius will soon be a midsize hatchback.  Camry is a midsize sedan.  That alone makes them quite different.  (In fact, that makes it quite different from Corolla too.)  Prius is more aerodynamic, so it will naturally have a MPG edge over Camry.  Prius has a Multi-Display (a bigger one in the 2004 too).  Camry might not, which would be an excellent was to keep costs down and make it seem more "normal".  Prius looks quite unique.  Camry blends deeply into the crowd.  That will draw certain types of buyers either one or the other.  Toyota may choose to further increase the differences by sacrificing a little efficiency in Camry to give it a hybrid system with more power, to allow a decent size trailer to be towed.  It makes sense that the two hybrids will be different.  That should increase overall sales potential.

7-18-2003

New Misconception.  This is frustrating.  I wonder how long comparisons between upcoming hybrids and the classic Prius will continue.  It's bad enough when someone asks for information to help with a purchase decision and they are only provided with classic details.  No acknowledgement about the improvements in the new Prius is misleading.  But the fact that a hybrid which won't even be available for over a year isn't compared to the new Prius which will be showing up in just a few weeks really irks me.  It is helping to create a new misconception, one that implies that the technology cannot be improved.  And to make matters even more frustrating, some recent articles I've read are continuing to spread old misconceptions.  You'd think over the past 3 years those automotive "expert" writers would have learned by now... unless their intent really is to sabotage the hybrid market.  Thank goodness Prius sales remain strong.  Slowly but surely people are learning the truth, firsthand.  They're having fun in the process too. 

  7-17-2003

No more comparisons.  Hearing grossly misinformed comparisons to Echo is quite frustrating.  Hearing them to Civic-Hybrid is more pleasant; however, "assist" technology doesn't offer much for improvement.  To gain more electric benefits, you basically have to jump to the next level by using "full" technology instead.  Prius already does.  So there's no contest about which offers greater potential.  And the improvements are flourishing already.  The electric A/C and the climate-control on the Multi-Display is a wonderful improvement, something only an electric platform like Prius can take advantage of.  Then of course, there's very little to argue about when you the 2004 model is bigger, faster, cleaner, more powerful, and much more efficient.  No comparison necessary.

 7-17-2003

Winter Wonder.  When you live in Minnesota, the peak of Summer is the best MPG you see all year long. Because when the temperature drops to 100 F degrees colder, the MPG drops significantly too... which brings up an interesting concept for me to ponder: What will my average MPG be this winter in a 2004 Prius?  The new system was designed to heat up the catalytic-converter faster and retain that heat longer.  That means the car won't have to sacrifice as much gas to keep the emissions system working at its cleanest.  So it would seem that there is a possibility that at it's worst the 2004 won't drop below the Lifetime MPG of the 2001.  That's a pretty sweet thought!  45 MPG is the Lifetime value as of 55,211 miles.  Do you think the 2004 average can keep from dropping below that?  And then of course, when Spring finally arrives here, I should be able to pull that average well above that I ever imagined in a 2001.  I get to experience to hybrid excitement again.  Yeah!

7-16-2003

The other 2 new advertisements.  Toyota's promotion of the upcoming 2004 Prius continues.  I've got all 3 of the new ones here now...  ad scans 3

7-16-2003

First Impressions.  I'm still single.  I would like to find someone special. At some point during the dating process, she's going to find out about my very well loaded 2004 Prius.  What kind of first impression is that going to make?  Seriously.  The car is very futuristic, yet it delivers a whole bunch of advanced technology today... and I'll own it!  I could literally overwhelm her.  Finding someone that shares the same environmental values is important, but that's quite a bit all at once.  What a bizarre concern to have to deal with.  Perhaps I could ease her into it verbally beforehand.  Expecting it could help.  I think I'm traveling into that "where no one has gone before" territory again.  Thankfully, the opinion afterward is a no-brainer.  I believe in a better future so much that I am willing to invest my hard-earned money to make it a reality.  But it's that first impression that could make things momentarily rather interesting.

7-16-2003

Altima will be the Nissan vehicle to use HSD.  (HSD is Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive).  Quite awhile ago, Nissan signed a deal to purchase hybrid technology from Toyota (like Ford is doing with Escape).  But we never really knew when it would hit dealers' lots or what vehicle it would be in, until today.  Nissan announce it would offer a hybrid Altima by 2006.  The technology is spreading.  Yeah!

7-15-2003

55,162 mile photo.  I needed a new photo of the speedo/odometer for the upcoming final update of the Info-Sheet for the classic version of Prius.  (Then of course, I'll be creating one for the 2004.)  So, I captured this one with the new digital camera.  And it turned out so well, I can actually offer it in 2 different formats: normal & bright.  Check'em out here: photo album 53

7-15-2003

The "Real-World" Mindset.   When you own a Prius, you become aware of many things.  Aspects of hybrid ownership begin to translate well into other realms of life.  For example, today I was asking a salesperson about DVD-Recorder disc
compatibility.  He responded by stating one format had a greater number of player models that supported it.  I replied by asking "How does that correlate with the actual quantity of units sold?"  At first he got really confused, as if I had just asked a complicated calculus question.  Then he began to get a bit angry, as if I was trying to trick him.  In reality, I was asking a question about a genuine concern some people will have.  They won't care how many types players people had to choose from when making a purchase, they'll want to know which type was actually purchased most. .  In other words, just like Prius, specifications on paper don't mean as much as what actually happens in the real-world.  Needless to say, the salesperson didn't have an answer for me.  No one had ever asked him that particular question before.  Another perspective is that fads are reflected well by what product is on the shelf at that exact moment, giving no indication of what will ultimately thrive.  It can only hint at the potential.  Looking at the actual sales quantities over the last few years will reveal the true acceptance.  That's just like vehicle purchase decisions.  The hype around a series of advertisements & showroom promotions doesn't reveal how well the vehicle is actually accepted... but real-world data will.  (Remember, I'm always searching for long-term solutions.  So yes, I do overlook some short-term wants & needs for the sake of a better long-term purchase return.)

 

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