Prius Personal Log  #72

August 6, 2003  -  August 16, 2003

Last Updated: Sat. 10/04/2003

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8-16-2003

Jaded.  An article today showed that many people were jaded by the early hybrid models.  Seeing that is actually a good thing, for those of us that experienced the debut here firsthand anyway.  Back then, comparisons were to electric vehicles and diesels from 20 years earlier.  That's hardly a fair thing to do.  Now at least comparisons will be to vehicles that offered realistic solution, the early hybrid models themselves.  In fact, the data I provide will help with that.  So instead of comparing to the ancient past, we know can compare to just a few years ago.  And of course, I can rebuttal easily now since I would have owned both.  The new Prius is better in virtually every respect.  That's pretty cool considering how incredibly well my classic Prius has performed over the last 3 years.  Jaded attitudes may still prevail, but at least they will no longer be as bad as they were.

8-16-2003

An attempt to eliminate the vague.  I created a new webpage to cover an aspect of Prius support some of us have had to deal with.  This hasn't been directly addressed in the past (so let me know what you think).  Here's the opening statement from it which defines the intent:  "Vagueness is common when discussing hybrids.  Some people are inadvertently vague by forgetting to include vital details, giving a misleading impression.  Some people are intentionally vague to deceive, making hybrids seem less appealing.  This webpage was created to eliminate the vague.  It provides a list of realistic expectations from the hybrid technology now becoming available."  Read through the details.  Make note of the benefits you'll gain from a hybrid like the 2004 Prius.  Consider them the requirements when making your next vehicle purchase...  requirements

8-15-2003

Tires are a Non-Issue now.  There quite simply is no need for any concern anymore.  A number of owners have driven their alternate choice further that their OEM tires lasted.  My 2001 Prius has 25,500 miles on alternate tires (Goodyear tires similar to what the 2004 will use, except smaller) have proven to be an excellent purchase.  The treadwear, handling, and support of the weight aspects are all great.  And the fact that the 2004 will use a larger size means weight support will be even less of a factor.  All apprehension has been eliminated at this point.  Between the current owners researching alternatives and Toyota discreetly observing our findings, we've defeated the gremlin.  No one else will ever need to deal with tires the way we did.  It's over now.

8-15-2003

Finally, a proper hybrid report.  Reading articles from misinformed reporters was really a pain.  They made assumptions that weren't correct.  It was pretty obvious most didn't even get/take an opportunity for a test-drive.  Now things are changing.  They are beginning to understand.  This quote from an article today says it all quite well: "I have really come a long way in my opinions on hybrids.  When they first started appearing on the market, I did not think anyone would be interested, nor did I think the vehicles would have the type of performance and reliability we had come to expect from our dirty internal-combustion engines.  Turns out that I was wrong, wrong, wrong!  The hybrids you mention [Insight, Civic-Hybrid, and Prius] have outdone themselves again and again.  Just about every hybrid-vehicle owner I have chatted with raves about their car.  And they were raving because the hybrids were great cars saving owners big money at the gas pumps."

8-15-2003

Not Alone Anymore.  The reason I can finally move on now is that others have taken over.  Having other speak up online now is quite refreshing.  It's also a bit unusual.  When was the last time you saw someone passionate about a family vehicle?  That is typically the role of the owner of a niche vehicle, not one aimed for eventual large volume production for everyday use.  But that is what's beginning to happen with Prius.  Yeah!

8-15-2003

3 Years.  I figured I'd hang in there for 3 years, fighting those that try to deceive about hybrids.  I didn't quite make it.  Close though.  I'm tired of reiterating the same facts over and over again.  Certain online message posters continue to intentionally push the same misinformation.  For example, the latest is that they again insist Prius will have serious power problems once the battery-pack ages (+150,000 miles) and the capacity becomes diminished.  My response is the only clue you'd have is lower MPG, that's it!  Then I'll proceed explain how I climb out of the Minnesota River Valley every weekday afternoon without any need for the battery-pack whatsoever.  All the electricity is supplied on-the-fly by the engine instead.  In fact, the engine does that so well that recharging will sometimes take place on the way up.  And that's all at 60 MPH too.  It's not the slightest bit of a concern for those that actually drive a Prius and observe how the system works by watching the Multi-Display.  But these few will ill intent won't listen, and I just don't want to waste some of my time (a precious resource) on them anymore.  I would much rather just help those that actually believe in the technology used in Prius instead.  I'll probably never discover why some people spread false information like that.  Perhaps they worry that it will eliminate their job.  Perhaps they don't have a clue how engines & motors really work.  Perhaps they simply fear change.  All I know is that they are wrong.  Take a Prius for a test-drive.  You'll confirm that the system really does deliver.  That concerns about hybrids not being able to deliver are a waste, just like me fighting them.  It's time to ignore their claims and focus all my effort now on helping those that support it instead.

8-14-2003

Optimum Efficiency Misconception.  Here's a new one.  I encountered a person who was under the impression that the CVT obtained optimum efficiency by preventing the engine from providing any more power than what's needed.  That makes sense.  I see the logic behind that thinking.  But it's wrong.  The truth is that engine RPM does not follow a linear scale.  Increasing or decreasing its speed does not respond with an equivalent increase or decrease in gas consumption.  Instead, there are efficiency plateaus where certain RPMs are more efficient than others.  The size, weight, and shape of the internal components causes this effect.  The hybrid system is aware of this and tries its best to take advantage of it.  That's why you see battery-pack recharging on a regular basis.  Even though the thrust-to-electricity conversion process causes a loss, the overall result by taking using an optimum RPM is a gain.  Some people don't expect that, hence the misconception.

8-13-2003

Boldly Going.  At a Star Trek convention once, I witnessed something quite amazing.  A handicapped person asked one of the people responsible for the show why handicap people were never shown.  The answer shocked him.  He was told that in the future, there are no handicap people.  All causes of impairment had been solved by technology at that point, making all people equal.  No more suffering.  We are just now entering the "Age of Awareness", finally putting the Priustoric times behind us.  Innovations like Prius and the new iBot (which will provide new levels of personal freedom and accessibility for people with disabilities) are only the beginning.  They will help doubt fade away.  People will begin to believe they can beat the odds.  Solutions to problems we never thought achievable will be found as a result.  We really will be boldly going where no one has gone before.

8-13-2003

PRIUSTORIC.  It's a new term Sam (a Prius owner and a moderator of the big Yahoo group) coined for us.  "All that transpired before Prius" is the meaning.  Pretty cool, eh!?

8-13-2003

In Denial.  It has begun.  The bad-mouthing from Honda hybrid owners is proving to be a source of entertainment.  Boy are they in for a surprise when the real-world data is revealed by owners.  Here's one comment: "The 2004 Prius *may* only be a marginal increase in efficiency.  We will have to see.  Is that worth the extra cost?"  My response is "What extra cost?"  Since Prius is bigger than Civic-Hybrid, that same sticker price gets you a larger vehicle.  And initial trials have shown that the new Prius is more than just marginal more efficient.  Dianne's test-drive last week with 4 people inside and the A/C running produced an average of 56 MPG.  That's a big margin.  (And Prius is quite a bit cleaner too.  It's exhaust rates at AT-PZEV.  Civic-Hybrid is only ULEV.  That's a huge difference.)  Here's another: "A few really are attracted to the liftback."  Since the 2004 Prius is the only midsize lift/hatchback available, that comment is completely inappropriate.  What basis of comparison was possible?  Looking at smaller vehicles with large cargo areas, like Matrix, you'll see sales have been quite strong... which contradicts that claim.  They are in denial.  I hope that's not a true representation of all the Honda owners.  I was hoping hybrid owners could bond, rather than quarrel with one and other.

8-12-2003

Savings.  I found this comment near the conclusion of a newspaper article both amusing & frustrating: "motorists will save $1,000 in fuel bills over a decade because of improved mileage achieved by current hybrids".  That's not even remotely correct for Prius.  Being pessimistic, we'll say the 2004 only gets 50 MPG real-world.  That's 22 MPG real-world more than a similar interior-sized vehicle (a midsize averaging 28 MPG).  At 15,000 miles driven per year, the 10 year savings comes to 2,357 gallons.  And at $1.65 per gallon (which is also pessimistic), it calculates to $3,889.  That's quite a bit more than just $1,000.  Then if you want to indulge in optimism (which will actually realistic for some owners), 55 MPG and $2.00 per gallon comes to a savings of $5,260.

8-12-2003

Efficiency Misconception.  There is no relation between being clean and being efficient.  (Higher MPG only results in lower Carbon Dioxide emissions, which won't harm you at all.  What it does is screw up the weather patterns.)  So claims about small cars making a difference are completely irrelevant.  You must use the EPA rating to determine actual emission levels.  In non-hybrid designs, lower efficiency is actually the result of cleaner exhaust.  That's exactly the opposite of what people believing the misconception think, but nonetheless quite true.  In fact, Prius actually sacrifices efficiency to be cleaner.  It wastes gas to keep the catalytic-converter hot, the device that cleanses exhaust but needs heat to do it.  That means judgments about previous efforts to reduce pollution have no direct relation to hybrid technology.  Technologies of the past are not similar in the benefits they deliver.  In short, if the vehicle isn't SULEV-2 or better, it's not clean.  Period.

8-12-2003

Confidence.  I ordered a 2001 immediately, to help prove my trust in the design.  It paid off quite well.  I ordered a 2004 immediately, to do the very same thing.  I feel much more confident about the new technology from Toyota than I do about the "tried & true" stuff that some other automakers try to sell.  Just last weekend brother decommissioned my old Taurus (junked it).  The car only made it to 121,000 miles before the second engine failed.  Both the first and this one broke a piston-rod.  That's a failure that should never happen, especially when you watch the tachometer to keep RPM low and change oil routinely.  But it happened anyway... twice!  Give me new technology, please.  The traditional just plain isn't good enough.

8-12-2003

Tax Subsidy.  Even if a technology is capable, how are people suppose to know about it?  The government is getting more bang for its buck by giving back a few hundred (around $300, that's what the $2K deduction amounts to typically) to each person that actually stepped forward having been drawn (in part) by the lure of the savings.   That's far more effective use of the money than an educational effort that might not even result in any purchases.  Remember, it's only temporary anyway and electric vehicles (which aren't even as clean in areas that still burn coal for power) get significantly more (a full credit of $2K, not just a deduction).  So focusing on hybrids, which are the only new technology available, is quite misplaced.  Others get more.  E85 is promoted here.  There are 80 stations nearby that sell it and 3 million vehicles in the country capable of using it... yet almost no one does.  That's sad.  The automakers don't care either.  They get to collect "clean credits" for each FFV sale even if E85 is never gets used in the tank.  Those credits translate to money not paid in pollution penalties... money you and I could have benefited from.

8-08-2003

Turkey!  My Prius achieved 3 calculated tanks of +50 MPG in a row.  Yeah!

8-08-2003

The Hydrogen Mess.  A rather well respected energy guru, Amory Lovins, spoke recently about the fuel-cell future.  I obviously didn't quite agree with some of his statements.  I felt he was misguiding expectations.  Right now, efficiency of fuel-cells (which consume hydrogen) are only rated at a gas-equivalent of about 15 MPG.  If he honestly believes fuel-cell technology will be able to surpass hybrids (which continue to improve at an impressive rate) in just 7 years and at a competitive price, he's not being realistic.  An efficiency improvement by about a factor of 4 and a cost drop by about a factor of 5 would be needed.  Achieving both requirements within 7 years would be phenomenal.  What's more likely to happen is the vehicle size would be reduced to compensate.  How likely do you think people now owning monster-sized vehicles would accept that?  I think consumers would be far more willing to just buy there favorite vehicle with a hybrid system instead.  He also made a claim that  that the use of fossil fuels to produce hydrogen is a worthwhile and cost-effective investment, as long as it is done �properly�.  I hate that idea.  Coal is very dirty still, even with all the technological emission improvements implemented over the years.  And continuing to use oil doesn't help to reduce our dependence on it at all; we'll just use it differently.  And he never bothered to define what �properly� actually meant, a quick side-step to avoid pointing out that it could be more polluting overall compared to a hybrid.  He also completely avoided the subject of cost.  How much will that gallon-equivalent of hydrogen cost?  Knowing that the end-product holds less energy and the process of creating it is less efficient, that would indicate that it is likely to cost more.  Increasing the operating price per mile isn't something many people would be willing to accept.  Needless to say, the hydrogen situation is a mess right now.  I seriously doubt all the needed solutions can be both found and implemented in just 7 years, especially when you realize reliability at least as good as traditional vehicles is required too.

8-07-2003

2004 Details.  Curious about 2004 Prius details, check out this new page...  2004 Prius

8-07-2003

Electronics Misconception.  Misleading information seems to be spreading.  Apparently, people are under the impression that Prius introduces a significant increase in electronic components for the propulsion system, which would supposedly lower reliability.  In reality, modern vehicles are already heavily computer controlled.  Prius simply changes the way the computer control is handled.  I think this new misconception is being caused by the futuristic look of the interior.  People also seem to be overlooking the fact that the move toward electronic components, like the switch to electric-steering in vehicles like Toyota Echo and Saturn Ion, are to increase reliability.  The exact opposite of what the misconception implies.

8-07-2003

Improved!  Take a close look at the upcoming 2004 Prius.  It's bigger, faster, more power, cleaner, and more efficient.  What more could you ask for?

8-06-2003

8 Great Rainbow Photos.   It was an incredible experience.  With an intense light illuminating the drapes of a window at home, I suddenly was surprised by the sound I heard.  It sounded like a down-pour of rain, despite the sun.  So grabbed my digital camera and ran to the garage.  As the door was opening, I saw an incredible sight.  There was a huge rainbow reflecting from the wet driveway.  My hunch was correct.  I jumped in the Prius and raced off to a predetermined location.  It was perfect.  I parked the Prius, then dove out with an umbrella and the camera.  The umbrella was to protect the camera.  Needless to say, I was soaked within seconds.  It was worth it though.  With both intense rain and intense sun at the same time, the ingredients for a perfect rainbow were mixing... and I was at the right place at the right time.  Yeah!  Look at what I was able to capture...  photo album 54

 

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