Prius Personal Log  #74

August 25, 2003  -  August 29, 2003

Last Updated: Sat. 10/04/2003

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8-29-2003

State Fair (part 2).  Just down the aisle from the Prius was a re-engineered Ford Explorer.  It was a special project that students from the University of Wisconsin had custom built.  They installed an electric motor and two battery-packs from a Prius.  The result was a SUV that could get around 34 MPG.  That got quite a few people excited.  They circled around it and stared at the mirror underneath the SUV propped on its side a little for easier viewing.  The work was very impressive.  Unfortunately, I read the fine print.  The fuel they had used was diesel, rather than gasoline.  That meant the emissions would be dirtier rather than cleaner.  It was a bitter sweet fact to accept.  But nonetheless, it was clear proof that people really do deem efficiency as an appeal factor, despite what some claim.  Thank goodness.

8-29-2003

State Fair (part 1).  There was an Aqua Prius in the Technology building at the Minnesota State Fair this year.  I knew in advance about it.  So I brought along a small stack of website cards.  At the exact moment I noticed an Info-Sheet on the windshield, the person in-charge approached me.  I felt just as must in awe as she would in a few seconds.  Starting with just showing her the photo of the Prius on the card, I then pointed to the sheet.  Sure enough, she seemed rather offset when I stated that both came from the website.  Then I quickly pointed out that many owners help to build it and I was just the one that did the assembly.  An interested person that noticed I had cards stepped in at that exact moment.  Hopefully that helped to break the tension.  I hadn't realized how someone with so much more experience than the presenter could make a situation so awkward.  Oh well.  She did accept the cards and said she'd checkout the website.  Perhaps she'll share the cards with others too.  I think the thing that really helped with the information on the back.  Since it was personal data, she may have figured out that I was someone really trying to help rather than just trying to somehow earn a commission.  That means I'll need to include my 2001 data on my 2004 cards for the first year, since I won't have enough 2004 data gathering for awhile.  Whatever happens, it was just nice seeing a Prius there today.

8-28-2003

Upon Delivery.  I will be boldly going where no one has gone before... well, sort of.  My 2001 already has racked up 18,000 miles at 42/40 and 8,000 miles at 44/42 using Goodyear tires very similar in characteristics to what will be on the 2004.  So I will increase PSI to 44/42 the day I get my 2004, without any hesitation.  It's a no-brainer.  The tires have worked fantastic at the higher pressure.  I quite simply see no reason not too.

8-28-2003

Did you know?  The classic Prius was a custom built hybrid system, not interchangeable with other vehicles.  The new Prius is modular.  That means much higher volumes can be produced and shared among different models of vehicles connected to various sized engines.  That lowers the cost significantly.  It also indicates why it doesn't make financial sense to continue building the classic, offering it as additional hybrid choice.  Fortunately, others will come soon enough.  In the Spring, the Lexus LX400-Hybrid will utilize another configuration of the system used in the new Prius, but it will be attached to a larger engine and another motor.  Those alterations will offer 4WD and the ability to tow a trailer.  The Ford Escape-Hybrid will follow later in the year similarly configured.  In other words, 2004 is going to be a very significant year for hybrid acceptance.  An entirely different market of buyers will become aware of what the new technology has to offer.  Sweet!

8-28-2003

What part of CAR don't you understand?  It's hard to believe I actually had to ask that question.  I thought it was silly 3 years ago when people were comparing the tiny 2-seat Manual Insight to the compact 5-seat Automatic Prius.  But since those were the only hybrids available, that mindset persisted.  Well, now some are comparing the Midsize 5-seat FWD Prius to the Enormous 7-seat 4WD Expedition.  That's ridiculous.  The vehicles have nothing is common.  Hybrid CARS should be compared to traditional CARS.  Hybrid SUVS should be compared to traditional SUVS.  Why is it so hard for some to understand the inappropriate nature of making cross-class comparisons like that?  Make CAR comparisons to what's typical for other CARS.  And then, of course, ask yourself if there really is a benefit if you do find a difference.

8-28-2003

"Camrolla"  Since the fact that the new Prius fits so well between the traits of Camry and those of Corolla, someone coined the term "Camrolla" to make comparisons easier (since there isn't a traditional version of Prius, only the hybrid).  It also stresses that concept of intended market rather nicely.  And don't forget, Toyota's placement of the 2004 Prius is quite intentional.  They have a business goal of increasing their market-share in the US from 10% to 15% by 2010.  To do that, creating a new vehicle which doesn't compete with the other vehicles they already offer is a good plan.

8-28-2003

Weaknesses.  Are there any?  The entire allotment of classic Prius sold without any trouble.  So we know for a fact that the market it served was quite pleased.  Weaknesses can't be generically defined, since different groups have different requirements.  The new Prius is intended to serve a broader market.  But that won't be everyone, just those that were considering a vehicle similar to Corolla or Camry.  And besides being a hybrid, the fact that it is a large hatchback will offer a draw too.

8-28-2003

Photo Mosaic.  Phew!  I took a whole bunch of the Fall Colors Prius photos and created a mosaic with them.  I had no idea it would be even more complex to compose than those Prius Calendar pages.  The number of revisions I made after I finally got all of them to fit right was staggering.  And sure enough, when I looked at it the next morning, one last photo got the best of me.  But now everything looks well balanced.  Someday I try creating another.  The perfectionist as I strive to be (which just happens to be a great trait with my career as a computer programmer) really pays pays off sometimes.  Want to see the 30 photos I squished onto a single 1024x768 image file?  Just follow this link...  wallpapers

8-28-2003

Why are they phasing out the tax rebates?  The current federal administration has shunned foreign hybrids since day 1.  And when the domestic automakers requested better incentives so they could offer affordable hybrids, they were given the cold shoulder too.  It was felt that the money could be better spent on delivery of a product for our children rather than solving the problems we have today... hence the $1,700,000,000 given to fuel-cell development.  Focusing solely on a solution that isn't even expected to be available until 16 years from now is sad.  It would have been much better to support both efforts.  Instead, they are phasing out hybrid incentives entirely and gambling on the future.  Those of us suffering from breathing related problems and worried about our reliance on oil aren't exactly pleased with that decision.

8-27-2003

Do you love it?  That was the question a very excited driver asked as he pulled up beside me and yelled through the window.  It was a refreshing change.  Things have been to quiet lately.  Perhaps it's the anticipation of the 2004.  Perhaps it's the reality that gas prices are rising again.  Perhaps it's the thought that people with doubt earlier are now discovering they can now own a hybrid themselves, since their beliefs were only misconceptions.  Yes, I love it.

8-27-2003

September 47.  I really want to get my 2004 Prius in September.  Deliveries aren't expected to begin until around October 17.  To prevent lack of patience from getting the best of me, I'll have to extend September a bit.  Adding another 17 days should to the trick.  Can I do that?

8-27-2003

Rabbit Crossing.  They sure like running in front of the Prius late at night.  I'm glad the car handles so well.  I wonder what the new one will be like.  The amazing tight turning radius will be gone.  Now it will be just like any other car.  Oh well.  That's a very small price to pay for so many improvements.

8-27-2003

Purpose.  Some are still under the impression that the ultimate purpose of Prius is efficiency.  Regardless of how times I say it, they seems to ignore the facts that the lowest emissions possible are the highest priority.  Oh well.  Their ignorance isn't all that bad, because the efficiency is quite impressive anyway.

8-27-2003

Green Merge.  I was merging onto the highway using that ramp still under construction.  That makes for tougher than usual merges, since both distance & visibility are decreased.  Thankfully, the Prius handles it well.  In fact, it handles it so well that I was able to really enjoy today's experience.  I had to pull in front of another Green Prius.  That was quite a refreshing change.  Too bad there aren't more Prius on the road (yet), so that could happen more often.

8-27-2003

30 MPG to 85 MPG.  That's a very common sight for me on the Multi-Display.  Climbing the road out of the river valley that crosses the Mississippi is quite steep.  Having MPG recover so quickly is nice.  One 5-minute segment low, then the other high.  But then again, 30 MPG is hardly low.  Some cars never get much higher than that, and most trucks & SUVs never do.  So even under the worse conditions, Prius still delivers well.

8-26-2003

2004 Prius Tech Presentation.  Our good friend Dave (ee_of_ee) provided a copy of Toyota's presentation about the 2004 Prius for me to share with everyone.  So that's exactly what I did.  There's a whole bunch of stuff about the 2004 Prius to learn about from it.  You'll be quite impressed!  Just click this link to see the all 54 illustrated webpages I created from the PowerPoint file he shared...  presentations 4

8-26-2003

Safety Compromise.  It took me until now to finally realize the fact that faster can actually be more dangerous.  I wish I would have thought of this argument earlier.  A certain person that has been advocating faster is better for months now stopped dead when I told him this; it was the sure sign of his defeat (yeah!), since safety isn't something that should be comprised:  Where is your proof that there actually is a benefit of faster acceleration?  The law of diminishing returns has been at work for decades.  Performance has steadily increased year after year.  At some point, there will be no real benefit to that.  We've finally reached it.  "Entry-Level" is all the faster that's actually needed now.  There simply isn't a gain from accelerating any faster.  In fact, the effect will begin to reverse once pushed too far.  Excessive speed will actually cause safety to be reduced.  Merging onto the highway too fast is more dangerous than too slowly.  And that's on clean, dry, smooth pavement.  The speed/danger effect is amplified significantly as road conditions degrade.  The same is true when the driver is inattentive as well.  Prove that faster is better.  I don't think you can.  I think you are following the "more is better" philosophy without questioning why.  Unless you can prove safety is actually improved, you can't endorse that fact.  Safety is a need.  Going faster than necessary is a want.  Wants aren't always a good thing.  (So there!)

8-26-2003

Lot's of Leg Room.  The original specifications for the 2004 released in April made us wonder.  How could the leg room have gotten shorter?  It turns out that was just a clerical error.  (Thank goodness.)  The proper values are 0.7 inch more in the front and 3.2 inches in back.  That's right, almost 4 inches more leg room.  Yeah!  With so much more room now, not to mention the massive area available for cargo, Prius will no longer be looked at as small.  Perhaps, some may now look at it as having a "leg above the rest".  Leg room equal to many new midsize sedans (which is actually more than my Taurus had) and efficiency quite a bit better than the small "economy" cars provide.  Sweet!

8-25-2003

What color did you order?  I ordered the Silver.  That will conceal the salt in the winter better.  I've grown tired of having a clean looking car for only a few minutes after washing it.  Though, the Green I have now does look pretty nice when you can actually see it.  I'm anxious to see the other colors, of course.  (Hopefully, I'll be able to setup a gathering shortly after delivery.)  I want to develop new Prius sighting skills quickly.  Now I spot several classic Prius per day on the road.  And since I drive with the windows open all the time (yes, I realize that causes drag, but the warm season is so darn short here) that I'm able to wave to them as they drive by.  Many happily respond for having been recognized by another owner (or some nut wildly waving his arm out the window).  Eventually, I'll be doing that from a Silver 2004 instead.

8-25-2003

Gas Prices.  They are up to $1.82 per gallon today.  I wonder how much higher they will go.  Hmm?  The $1.65 calculation factor we use in the Selling Points document is too low now.  Higher makes the efficiency of Prius even more appealing.  And since less convenient oil sources will have to be used years from now, expecting higher prices fairly realistic.  Remember, a vehicle is a long-term purchase.

8-25-2003

Almost 3 Year Ago.  I drove my Prius off the dealer's lot on September 9, 2000.  That seems like so long ago.  So much has happened since then.  Now I'm just 2 weeks away from beginning my Year #4 webpages & spreadsheets. Yeah!  Having 3 full years of real-world data accumulated is pretty sweet.  That gives me a fantastic basis for comparison.  Not only will the efficiency of the 2004 Prius grossly outperform other vehicles of similar size, it will also demonstrate a clear improvement over the classic Prius model.  That's really cool.  Unfortunately though, I will continue to gather more classic data for awhile.  7 weeks into Year #4 is the expected minimum I'll have to wait.  Oh well.  It's definitely worth it!

8-25-2003

Why no Manual Transmission?  It's hard to believe I keep hearing that question.  In ages past (like yesterday, for people just discovering Prius), you could save money both with the purchase itself and for filling the tank afterward by getting a manual transmission.  Now there's a totally new type of transmission available.  It's what Prius offers.  But not only doesn't it resemble a traditional design (neither manual nor automatic), it doesn't resemble a CVT either.  Toyota just chose to use the "CVT" label to keep terminology simple and avoid misconceptions.  The actual design is planetary in nature, where several power carriers rotate around each other with respect to a central connector, much like the planets & sun (hence the name).  It doesn't work like a cone type CVT at all.  So realistically, that isn't a proper label.  Oh well.  It does work in a similar fashion .  There is literally nothing to shift, power is always optimized as a result.  So not only wouldn't a manual be possible, it wouldn't make any sense since you'd be sacrificing performance.  I wonder if anyone will still ask for a manual after learning how this "CVT" works?  If so, a simple drive around the block to demonstrate stealth should give them a whole new reason to reevaluate their request.

 

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