Prius Personal Log  #82

October 8, 2003  -  October 14, 2003

Last Updated: Sat. 10/18/2003

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10-14-2003

Another MPG Suggestion.  I hadn't even thought of putting this on the owner advice 2 page.  But it is a factor that requires explicit mention: "Don't drive in 'B' mode."  Some people are apparently under the impression that the 'B' states for "Battery" and using it will force recharging.  But in reality, it actually stands for "Engine Braking" which is only intended for descending long & steep hills.  Use during other times with decrease MPG, since it causes internal drag.  Did you know that?

10-14-2003

12,000 is Order Count now.  And that's just in the United States.  Hybrids are obviously gaining rapid attention.  Sale rates like that will really make the number-crunchers question their predictions... since they never expected this to happen.  Yeah!

10-13-2003

Ugly Pattern.  Both when the 2001 Prius was introduced and now with the introduction of the 2004, people comment about how "ugly" the hybrid looks.  When those that don't like hybrids find nothing to complain about with the operation of the vehicle, some choose to use an demeaning opinion instead.  So I attempt to confirm intent by asking why.  When no detail of any kind is shared or there's no reply at all, I know they are using the "vague" technique to make Prius look bad.  And since the same thing has happened twice now, it sure appears to be a pattern.  So expect the same thing to happen again the next time a revolutionary new hybrid is introduced.  I wonder if people will always fear change.  Hmm?

10-13-2003

Cleaning the Multi-Display.  This suggestion isn't in the User-Guide.  I wish I would have thought of adding it a long time ago.  The use of a special cleaner or a protective sheet for the Multi-Display is not necessary.  All I do to clean it is just simply wipe the screen with a soft cotton cloth (usually as old t-shirt) that wet with purified water.  That's it.  And all the fingerprints disappear with very little effort.  (Another tip to go along with this is that you should only clean the Multi-Display when the hybrid is off; otherwise, you might accidentally press the "Reset" button.)

10-13-2003

Cold Oil.  That's the latest "concern" about Prius operates in the Winter.  (Sometimes I wonder if people ask questions just to keep the dialog going.  And hearing confirming facts from someone with a ton of experience does help make people enduring a lengthy delivery wait feel good about their decision.  So I'm happy to oblige.)  Warm oil is not necessary for engine protection.  Cold works just fine.  What's needed is oil pressure and complete distribution before the first cylinder fires.  With a 33kW motor in the classic Prius (50kW in the 2004), you've a ridiculously powerful starter.  It spins the engine to between 800 and 1000 RPM beforehand.  Then once oil pressure is established, the engine starts.  That is an amazingly smooth process.  A traditional engine, with a tiny starter only capable of spinning up to about 100 RPM for just a moment, just plain can't compete.  In short, a traditional startup is actually harder on an engine than what happens in a Prius, cold or warm.

10-13-2003

First Road Sighting.  After this morning's very unexpected excitement, I felt a bit overwhelmed right before leaving work today.  I knew that as I walked along the road, I'd be scanning every vehicle with hopes that it would be a 2004 Prius.  So when I reached a window and began my look at the street, I wonder if my brain was interpreting what it was seeing correctly.  Was I hallucinating?  Or have I already spotted one?  Then I suddenly realized that I actually had!  So I screamed and ran out the door hoping my friend out there waiting for me would figure out what all the commotion was for.  And sure enough, he did.  Following where my finger was pointing, he saw the 2004 Prius.  Then he ran after it.  Joining in was a better reaction than I had expected.  When we rounded the corner, we discovered it was one of the ones I had seen earlier.  And it was at that moment revealing where the rest had be hidden.  I can't wait until Wednesday when they are all being driven around at once.  Hybrids everywhere!

10-13-2003

2004 Prius in St. Paul !!!  As I was walking from my car to work today, something caught my eye.  I couldn't believe it.  There was a 2004 Prius!  And another!!  And another!!!  3 Silver and 1 Black. 1 Green classic and 3 Civic-Hybrids were there too.  All were on a delivery truck (for the "Engines of Change" event, I assume).  I was in awe.  So ran to the truck with my digital camera.  It was sweet!  I captured a couple of very good "exactly at the right place and right time moments".  Check'em out... photo album 55

10-12-2003

Reality.  "60 Minutes" did a great television segment today on the unfortunate reality of dropping efficiency averages.  They pointed out how MPG has been getting progressively worse while horsepower continues to increase, because that's what sells.  And when you have automakers that are struggling financially, those attempts to distract from the MPG importance is a cold hard truth to accept.  Thankfully, attention is now being drawn to that now, while at the same time a solution is being mentioned: Hybrids!  They even went out of their way to point out that some new technologies, like shutting off some engine cylinders when they aren't needed, isn't enough.  Significantly better technology, like HSD in Prius is getting finally proper credit.  The reality that MPG is lower now than what it was 10 years ago would really be disturbing if I wasn't already so familiar with Prius.  I wonder what it's like for those that just discover it.  Do they realize the same improvement can't be applied to a SUV or Pickup?  Up until now, they've been lead to believe that wasn't possible.  Hmm?

10-12-2003

Does it have to be this ugly and this expensive?  That was an entertaining question posed today.  To that, I that thought "Ha!  Why does it have to look & operate just like every other car?  I thought it was suppose to be the advanced new technology."  Ugly is just an opinion.  Improved aerodynamics is a fact.  Even SUVs are now beginning to adopt the smoother air-flow shape.  It isn't just for the efficiency gain either.  It is also because people are now craving something different.  Looking just like every other vehicle is considered by some to be boring.  Expensive is a relative term.  Some see the extras as desired features, worth that extra cost.  For Toyota to release just a Corolla with a hybrid system without any interface enhancements wouldn't generate much attention.  The vehicle would just achieve unusually clean emissions and high efficiency. That isn't much of a draw in the land of cheap gas and only minimal air-quality regulations.  Goodies like the Multi-Display, Key-Fob, and slick new Speedometer come standard in Prius.  No other vehicle offers these.  That makes them a very unique draw, an expense some deem a well justified cost.  So there!

10-11-2003

79.5 MPG.  I wasn't paying attention to the Multi-Display after filling up today.  I was just enjoying the drive to my parents house.  It started out at 50 MPH, then switch to 40 MPH.  My Prius obviously liked that.  After 2 miles, right when I was able to go onto the 30 MPH road, I noticed it said 62.2 MPG.  Whoa!  That was incredible, and the best was still to come.  And sure enough, it did!  The remaining 0.8 mile resulted in a climb all the way to 79.5 MPG.  It was quite an impressive treat.

10-11-2003

Stealth Strike Force.  That was the title on the magazine I got a paper copy of the pamphlet from.  It gave me a good chuckle.  Yes, I realized within just brief moment they ("Popular Mechanics") didn't mean a bunch of Prius.  But that idea gave me something to smile about.

10-11-2003

Why does Prius need a bladder?  Not all emissions come out of the tailpipe.  (That's true for all vehicles, not just Prius.)  Some come right from the gas tank itself, in the form of vapor.  The bladder significantly reduces that type of emission.

10-11-2003

That great new 12-page 2004 Prius pamphlet.  It's now available in PDF format.  Yeah!  The document is amazing.  Toyota did a wonderful job of being thorough without being overwhelming.  The technical detail is just enough to stimulate interest in those genuinely curious about how the technology can actually be superior to what many have grown up with.  All the photos & illustrations compliment the content well.  If you'd like a copy of your own, just follow this link... ad scans 3

10-10-2003

Sub-Zero Operation.  An announcement was made today that about how a breakthru in fuel-cell technology now allows them to work at temperatures as low as minus 20 degrees Celsius.  Cold temperature operation has always been an aspect quietly ignored by fuel-cell supporters, since that is a rather serious shortcoming.  Well, guess what.  It still is.  -20C is -4F.  It routinely gets colder than that every single winter here in Minnesota.  So the technology is far from ready to compete with hybrids still.  Once I see fuel-cells used as practical stationary power generators (a design much less complicated than the portable type intended for vehicles), then my interest will grow.  Right now, factors like cost, reliability, how the heck the hydrogen will be made without using a dirty fuel source, and cold operation still need to be addressed.

10-09-2003

Blue Moon Pearl has returned.  That discontinued color was removed from the Info-Sheet last year to avoid giving people the impression that it was available.  But now since none of the colors are available anymore (because the classic itself isn't, adding it back is ok.  So that's exactly what I did.

10-09-2003

Incorrect Pictures.  There are still pictures that show the original (1998) Prius and claim that it is the classic (2001) in newly published articles.  So it won't surprise me at all to see a number of mislabeled pictures for the newest (2004) model either.  Lot's of pre-production photos are already making the rounds.  Just look for a "Start" button.  There isn't one on the production model.  The label got changed to "Power".  But reporters won't pick up on the fact right away, since they commonly reuse existing materials released to the media.  Oh well.  Eventually they'll get it right.

10-09-2003

Winter.  3 years ago, lots of concern about winter performance followed the debut of the classic Prius in the United States.  Then people discovered that I lived in Minnesota, which just happened to almost break 2 of its all-time records that year.  That December was both the second "snowiest" and the second "coldest" in their 110 year recorded history.  My Prius experienced every moment of that and had fun in the process (just check the photos in my album).  I'd prefer not experiencing that drastic of a winter again.  But I will help to provide proof that there really isn't any concern.  The hybrid system is quite capable of dealing with any situation the frigid weather can throw at it.  My Prius arrives in less than 2 weeks.  Hopefully, the snow & ice won't arrive quite that soon.  Stay tuned.

10-08-2003

Stopgap Nonsense.  Some people are still attempting to recite that garbage certain automakers fed us last year, how hybrids are only intended as a filler product until fuel-cell technology is ready for everyday use.  Of course, I had to reply with a comment asking... "Why have you come to that conclusion?  Was it because you were told to believe that by an automaker that doesn't have a hybrid to offer yet.  If a future family-size hybrid is amazingly clean (PZEV-2), can achieve outstanding MPG (about 80), and runs completely on renewable fuel (100% ethanol), then what the heck would make a fuel-cell better?  A clear explanation why a specific technology should be used is definitely required; otherwise, whatever works should be considered an acceptable solution."  Naturally, the person originally making the claim was silent.  I don't think he had ever thought of the situation from that perspective.

10-08-2003

The "Classic" Prius.  The "New" Prius is about to steal the spotlight.  Not just for the older model either, all new technology vehicles will pale in comparison.  I wonder if people will actually forget about fuel-cell completely, or simply just not care.  The reason is that the 2004 will be seen on streets all over the place in 2004.  It won't be a vehicle that our infant will get to enjoy a decade and half from now.  It will be one that we can enjoy tomorrow.  (And for some of us, even sooner.)  The point is, it's affordable, it's practical, it's reliable, it's clean, it's efficient, and it is actually available.  So all of a sudden, the whole world will focus on it.  Priorities will finally change for the better.  It will be a boost to an economy in a very unconventional way.  And it will both keep our air from getting a whole lot worse polluted and reduce our reliance on oil, all at the same time.  Yeah!  Then someday, people will look back at the one that started it all:  the "Classic" Prius.

10-08-2003

Got My Call !!!  At work, I usually don't make answering my cell-phone a priority.  So when it rang today and I was busy discussing something with coworkers, I just ignored it.  Then suddenly, right before the third ring, I realized that it could be Toyota Regional trying to get a hold of me.  So I ran and dove for it.  Then when the voice on the other end actually confirmed that really was "the call", I got really excited.  He said my very nicely loaded (all the goodies) Silver 2004 Prius was on the way and would be at my dealer waiting for me to pick it up in about 2 weeks.  Sweet!

10-08-2003

What is the new Stealth limit?  42 MPH is the current limit for stealth.  The specs state that Voltage, RPM, Torque of the thrust-motor have all been increased, so we know there's an improvement.  However, we don't know what the heck that new threshold is... yet.  Deliveries begin in about 2 weeks.  The proud new owners will gladly research this and report back to us.  So...  I wonder who will be first?  Since I live in the Midwest, it unfortunately won't be me.  Those on the West Coast don't have to wait for train transport besides truck.  That means someone closer to a port will likely have the honor.  Oh well.  We all get to enjoy it afterward.

10-08-2003

Monster-Size Waste.  If you have a vehicle that enormous and need to carry just 2 bikes, why in the world would you hang them on a rack in back?  Simply putting them inside makes a whole lot more sense.  But on the back is where I saw them today.  Remind me again, what the heck is the benefit of having a massive vehicle?

 

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