Prius Personal Log  #70

July 24, 2003  -  July 29, 2003

Last Updated: Fri. 4/09/2004

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7-29-2003

Talking about a Misconception.  "Consumers say it shuts off without warning."  That ridiculous complaint about Prius keeps popping up in the news.  For some reason reporters like pointing that out as a problem.  It would make for a good laugh, if they weren't actually serious.  But they are!  How absurd!  Prius is suppose to shut off all by itself.  Imagine how annoying that would be if it prompted you beforehand or made you do it yourself.  (Believe it or not, "hybrids" from the ancient past tried a concept like that.  Obviously, it wasn't well accepted.)  Anywho, I think those making the claim actually believe the car stalled and doesn't have the ability to start itself back up, so they turn the key off then back on.  That must cause a moment of panic.  I wonder how they could have purchased a Prius in the first place without understanding how it works.  Hmm?

7-29-2003

So much for being humble.  Lately, some have been wondering why Toyota hasn't provided much 2004 Prius stuff online beyond the Flash presentation mini-site.  Well, they sort of did, indirectly.  They are very aware of this website and they are very aware of how much more powerful an owner endorsement is than promotional materials from a manufacturer.  So they've paved the road for me to drive my Prius on.  We have indirectly established a mutual support effort.  Unfortunately though, that means no money from them to me.  (Oh well.)  But it does allow me to freely publish what other owners share with me the way I determine to be best, since my intentions agree: to reduce emissions & consumption.  The online world is a strange one.  Taking advantage of people's craving for more information, stuff beyond the little bit Toyota provides, will push some to search.  Links to websites like mine are only a few clicks away and only take a few minutes to find.  It's like when an employer publishes a tiny want ad in an obscure location.  Only the devoted will find it.  That's the type of person they wish to hire.  Toyota wants the same with Prius owners.  After all, many find the Yahoo group with very little effort.  Can you?  Then later some day, after you have purchased a Prius, share your experiences and a few photos online.  It's a good system, quite new to most people.  I'm glad I could a piece to that big puzzle in life.  (It's really fun!)

7-29-2003

Production & Delivery.  The latest is that August 27th is suppose to be the very first week of production for the 2004 Prius.  October 15th is suppose to be when they arrive at the dealers.  That info makes sense.  Not knowing when production actually started and not knowing what that rumored September date was associated with could have meant anyone's guess was right.  But as expected, we did find out what the plan really was by the start of August.  That helps with the wait.  But unfortunately, it doesn't answer the question of when those that ordered early will receive their Prius.  Oh well.  At least we have something now.

7-28-2003

Perceptions.  Some have made comments that even Toyota isn't sure whether hybrids will become successful.  That's simply not true.  What they actually don't know is what the configuration(s) will be.  So they are evolving the technology while at the same time trying to figure out what power/efficiency/size ratio the market prefers, in whole and by niche.  The answers will be revealed based on real-world rollout results.  That sure sounds like good business research to me.  I wonder what the other automakers approach will be, especially since they won't have the luxury of time like Toyota did.

7-28-2003

Efficiency Improvement... Again!?  Last summer, I noticed a very real efficiency improvement as a result of the demanding driving required to maintain the tight schedule for the "Hybrid Road Rally".  That seemed to really loosen parts up for the better.  Apparently, some type of break-in like that is happening, again!  I've been maintaining record high MPG over the past few weeks.  And today's drive was truly amazing.  As of 130 miles, the Multi-Display now shows 55.1 MPG!  I'm now at 55,800 miles.  I wonder if anyone else has noticed continual MPG improvement like this.  Hmm?  By the way, I had the digital camera with me.  So now you can see that personal historic moment too...  photo album 54

7-28-2003

Interpreting the Timing.  "When they dump that hybrid engine into a Corolla, that's when it's going to go" is the marketing quote I heard today from a so-called business expert.  My answer to that is "Duh!"  But not for the implied reason of being an already popular vehicle.  It's actually simply a timing issue.  When that finally happens (a few years from now), the reputation of the hybrid system will be so well established that misconceptions would have ended and it won't be considered a new technology anymore. So of course it's going to sell well.  But naturally, it wouldn't surprise me that some people misinterpret the reason why.

7-27-2003

Whoa!  That's likely to be the best MPG that I'll ever see with this Prius.  The first 34 miles resulted in a disappointing 47.0 MPG on the Multi-Display.  Running errands (short & cold trips) and racing to that sunset location were the causes.  But then I to travel to the other side of the Twin Cities and back.  The round-trip to the north then south again was 73 miles total.  The speed at which I traveled and the temperature much have been absolutely ideal, because I watched the value on the Multi-Display climb all the way to 54.7 MPG.  That was truly amazing to witness.  Now I'm more curious than ever how the new Prius will perform.  Sights like that could actually be common.  Whoa!

7-27-2003

New Car Smell.  I had forgotten about this benefit.  Instead of the current fresh-air smell that I'm used to, I'll actually get to experience that new aroma.  That will be a nice treat.  Last time, I made the mistake of buying fries at a drive-thru then stopping to talk to a neighbor curious about the new hybrid I was driving... not remembering the fries were still in there.  That prematurely wrecked the effect.  This time, curious neighbors will have to wait a moment for me to remove anything inside with fragrance first.  Of course, a chocolate smell would be nice.

7-27-2003

45-minute Sunset in just 26 seconds... with a Prius!   I setup the Prius and my camera at the top of a valley, then watched the long, beautiful sunset.  Later at home, that 45 minutes of digital footage I captured got condensed down to just 4.5 minutes by playing it into the DVD-Recorder at high-speed.  That data then got transferred from DVD+RW to the computer (via an MPG capture) where I used a time-warping video-edit feature to condense that entire sequence down to just 26 seconds.  You'll see the sun start above the horizon.  It will then drop below, giving you the opportunity to watch the color-patterns on the clouds change.  When it finally gets almost completely dark, the night-mode kicks in and everything brightens a little.  You'll then get the opportunity to watch a transition again with an entirely different palette of colors.  It's pretty cool.  See...  video files

7-26-2003

VSC.   Vehicle Stability Control is a new feature offered on Prius (which isn't available most other vehicles).  Some people believe it is a braking enhancement, since the brakes are in fact used.  It's just the opposite of ABS actually, contrary to what you may have heard.  The difference is that it activates when you are not stepping on the brake-pedal.  VSC will activate as you drive and as you accelerate, not when you are attempting to slow down.  This complimentary design makes a lot of sense too.  Up here in Minnesota during the Winter, it's not too tough to encounter a skid situation as you proceed along a road, not even attempting to brake.  So naturally, it's making me quite intrigued.  I bet driving the Winter will become even less eventful now, just cold & white.

7-25-2003

On the lighter side.  I can do more than just point out the flaws with the current state of the market right now, but it's tough.  The 2004 Prius isn't available yet.  So you'll have to put up with this for the next few weeks.  Sorry.  The 2001 Prius simply doesn't have the draw anymore.  Focus is shifting to the new & improvement.  Throughout this summer, I've been averaging around 49 MPG.  That's just plain cool.  But that type of performance is predictable at this point.  You can come to expect that great efficiency.  It's king of the hill, no competition.  Things will change fairly soon though.  You'll end up with a whole bunch of new stuff (besides even better efficiency), as soon as I accept delivery.  I can't wait!

7-25-2003

Truly Scary.  I drove by the Ford dealership today.  The sight was so frightening, I had to stop for a closer look.  The entire perimeter of the lot was lined with Explorers, which are large, overpowered SUVs that have a base price of $25,000 with many priced much higher.  The car display was limited to a small area buried inside that armada.  Then there was a modest amount of minivans and pickups.  Seeing so many more SUVs, and larger ones no less, was amazing.  No wonder they are having problems selling the Escape (a smaller SUV) and are uncertain of the interest the hybrid version of it will draw.  They are betting the farm on those larger, powerful, expensive vehicles.  That's really a shame.  They should have diversified.  Market appeal changes overtime.  Gas expenses will eventually become a burden.  Rollover & Side-Impact testing results (just not becoming available) will reveal that safety really is a problem in those vehicles.  Resale value will stink due to the market being so over saturated.  In other words, change is inevitable.

7-25-2003

100% MPG improvement.  Seeing the claims about 10% to 20% MPG improvements is kind of sad.  But that is what some upcoming hybrids are claiming.  The automaker says that translates to a lot of gas being saved, since those particular vehicles guzzle so much.  That supposedly makes owning one of them a better thing for the environment and our country than a vehicle like Prius which offers 100%.  So basically, they see absolutely no reason to make dramatic changes.  Doing the minimum and continuing to push overpowered vehicles is perfectly acceptable in their minds.  For me, I say they are full of crap.  Without a choice, you're basically screwed.  Either buy the 10-20% or stick with a traditional design.  Now if they also offered a 100% design to choose from, that would be a different story.  But that possibility seems weak at best.  So the market demand is still being artificially influenced.  I sure hope that changes soon.  Toyota will be offering a 100% minivan and large SUV in less than 2 years.  So they are on the ball.  Will the other automakers eventually do the same?  Realistically, there is the possibility that an automaker can't handle it.  Bankruptcies do happen.

7-25-2003

I need it for towing.  Living in the land of over 10,000 lakes (Minnesota), boats are a popular recreational device to own.  So it doesn't surprise me when I mention hybrid and I get a response about being able to tow a boat.  I mention that ability should be available in less than 2 years.  Then the person usually replies by asking how big of a vehicle.  My response typically results in total disappointment on their side.  They say "that's not big enough".  I ask why.  They claim a vehicle that size could never handle the load.  Then I know they are either misinformed or just making excuse, because I see vehicles that size towing boats their size on the road all the time.  A monster SUV isn't need, a properly equipped minivan can easily do it.  In fact, it can even allow the driver to drive like a fool passing people at 75 MPH on the 70 MPH highway.  I know.  I see it from time to time.  It's very frustrating.

7-25-2003

Free Gas for a Year.   That's the top prize for the new Taco Bell promotion.  You get a $1500 debit card for gas if you win.  Obviously that value isn't based on a Prius.  That's over double what I have to spend on gas per year.  If I win, I hope there isn't an expiration-date on the car.  So needless to say, I got a good chuckle from hearing about the promotion.  Then I got a bad feeling.  Gas is the prize?  That's not good at all.  People shouldn't desire gas so much that it is used in giveaways to attract business.  But I suppose if you drive a SUV that only averages 15 MPG, there is quite an appeal to filling the tank for free.  That's sad.

7-25-2003

"Stop Gap".  The use of this term recently on a reader-poll seemed a little better intentioned than the usual; unfortunately, it is based on misinformation:  "Hybrids will revolutionize the industry and lead to more efficient power sources such as Hydrogen Gas & Full Electric."  Actually, neither source is more efficient.  The benefit is that they have the potential to eventually become completely non-polluting.  And for those of us that have been driving a hybrid for 3 years now, that poll is a no-brainer.  Hybrids are obviously what the industry will transition to.  The technology will become trivial after awhile, just like everything else technology related.  So taking advantage of what it has to offer is sound business decision.  An interesting poll would be to find out when people believe the switch-over will happen.  Some people fear change.  Some people fear when change doesn't occur.  Some people know that the only constant in the universe is change.

7-25-2003

"Digital Avenue" promo video for 2004 Prius.  Got it!  After about 8 hours of attempts, I finally captured that stealthy bugger on DVD+RW.  Yeah!  What a strange world we live in now.  People will intentionally download & watch an advertisement, and the manufacturer won't even have to pay for that distribution.  Hmm?  Prius is changing more aspects of our lives then we may have expected.  Wanna watch this great new promo yourself?  Here is a link to the MPEG-4 render I created from the capture I got...  video files

7-24-2003

One More Photo.  For the "classic" collection, I just couldn't resist.  51.4 MPG is just too good to let the opportunity slip by...  photo album 53

7-24-2003

Lifetime MPG?  Do you think the 2004 Prius will have a second stored MPG value on the Multi-Display?  The one available on the classic only goes up to 9,999 miles.  And it is a little to easy to accidentally reset.  Longer distance and a confirm (do you really want to?) reset would be nice for a secondary measurement value.  Most people would end up using that as a way to track Lifetime MPG.  I find that a bit boring.  The value takes almost a whole month now to change just 0.1 of a MPG.  Resetting once a year would be more appealing to me, especially since MPG gets better as the car ages due to component break-in.

7-24-2003

The "Prius" Name.  A reporter published a story today about automakers using meaningless names to avoid misunderstanding and liability.  Prius was used as an example.  Obviously, the reporter didn't do any checking.  It only takes a few minutes of searching on the internet to discover "Prius" is a word in the Latin language, so it shows up in various writings.  (The most notable writing is one of Shakespeare.)  The more I read newspaper articles, the less credibility I find.  That's quite frustrating.

7-24-2003

Double Visor?  Do you think the 2004 Prius will have more than one set of visors?  That sure would be handy.  Living in the north, I have deal with the sun on the horizon quite frequently throughout the colder seasons.  Having a visor lowered in front and on the sides would be a nice perk.  But then again, it isn't as big of a deal for Prius.  Having a roof higher than vehicles of just a few years ago, means there's room above your head from moving objects... like a visor.  Even so, I hope there is a double.

 

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