Prius Personal Log  #87

November 3, 2003  -  November 8, 2003

Last Updated: Sat. 6/12/2004

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11-08-2003

Finally spotted a 2004.  Yeah!  The timing was absolutely fantastic too.  I was just concluding a show-off drive with a friend who is expecting a 2004 of his own very soon.  So that was very exciting.  But then, it got even better.  We climbed the long, moderate hill and got all the way to the parking spot (that's over a mile) using only stealth.  That was pretty sweet.  I bet that was the direct result of just prior to that having achieved my first ever (in either Prius) 2 consecutive 5-minute MPG segments with 3 leaf-symbols each.

11-08-2003

The Logo Shot.  Just like with the classic, I had to take a photo of the 2004 for a permanent link on my homepage.  I'll continue to use the original "Toyota Hybrid" and "Prius" images, since the color contrast makes it easier to read (and I like the green).  But behind the second now will be this new photo, kind of a tribute to my classic model.  See... photo album 60

11-07-2003

Longevity.  Total cost of ownership reviews are just plain not realistic right yet.  Long-Term considerations are greatly unknown to the uninformed.  People in general aren't aware of the fact that the transmission is always engaged, so there is virtually no wear compared to an automatic transmission.  People aren't aware that a brushless electric motor doesn't have any pieces to wear out, so basically it won't age.  With routine coolant changes (every 30,000 miles) it and the components that support it (like the inverter) will continue to deliver the same performance as when they were new.  So between the transmission & motor, the cost of the battery-pack replace (which should be much less years from now) is pretty much offset completely.  And those are the components that will be compensating for an aging engine.  Which although is doesn't get used as much as in a traditional vehicle, will still lose power over time.  The engine piston rings, walls, and heads will wear.  And the gaskets won't maintain a perfect seal forever.  People won't realize how well Prius handles this aspect aging for a long time.  All that will happen is just be a reduction in efficiency.  But people won't understand that for awhile.  So placing a standardized dollar value on that isn't anything you can expect soon.

11-07-2003 50 wH Regenerated.  Energy recovery is even better in the 2004.  Never did I see 3 icons under routine driving conditions with my 2001.  With my 2004, I'd be surprised to not see 3 from time to time.  Pretty sweet, eh?
11-07-2003

Even more photos... eventually.  Today was a dream come true.  I drove to yet another new location and ended up taking 335 digital photos.  The blue sky and leafless tree branches made for incredible backgrounds.  It was great!  Now I have the daunting task of choosing which to publish while also finishing the other 28 (or so) I was already working on while also updating my personal logs while also building the 2004 User-Guide while also playing with the Prius before the snow falls and doesn't melt this time...  Anyone, I will eventually have lots of stuff to share with you.  So like always, patience.

11-07-2003

Outdated.  The EPA testing cycle is rather outdated.  Highway speeds are much, much faster now than when that standard was original established.  Heck, even their revision to it is growing old now.  The suburbs have introduced new driving conditions too.  But since the testing results are intended to really do nothing but provide a consistent basis for comparisons, the numbers do still in fact fulfill that purpose.  So the very expensive effort to change the test wouldn't help much.  After all, how would you determine what the "typical" driving conditions are anyway?  And that wouldn't even take into account of the seasonal effect on efficiency either.  To do that, you'd need to indicate test results for each separate region of the country.

11-07-2003

Winter MPG.  For those that are carefully observe MPG reports on the discussion groups, don't forget that MPG drops significantly in all types of vehicles during the winter (including Prius).  For me in Minnesota, 45 MPG during the dead winter would be fantastic in my 2004, since 40 MPG was what my classic delivered during the coldest weeks.

11-07-2003

Photos on the way.  After 2 weeks of terrible weather, hand washing the Prius 3 times, and sessions at 7 different locations, I now have a nice collection of 2004 Prius photos to (eventually) share with y'all.  28 of the 290 I took should be available within the next few days.  For now, I'd like to thank all the owners that have shared photos of their own.  It's really exciting getting to see the different colors and in various areas of the country.  That makes the delivery wait others still have to endure a little bit easier.

11-07-2003

Quality.  "Dropping from 15 MPG to 14.5 MPG isn't a big deal" was the contradicting quote of the day today.  When the new regulation passed earlier this year, which requires a 1.5 MPG increase in efficiency for the big gas-guzzling trucks, both sides were actually arguing about how "significant" that was.  Clarity has obviously been lost.  So my old fallback would seem to apply "To Raise Awareness".  So no matter what the heck they say tomorrow, at least they are still talking about efficiency rather than ignoring it like in the past.

11-07-2003

Zippy.  So even though the 2004 Prius is zippy, because it doesn't feel that way people won't be interested... eh?  That's what a reporter implied today.  Apparently, a smooooooooth ride is only for the luxury consumer still.  If you buy a more economical car, it should feel like you spent less... really!?  It's the 21st Century now.  The technological solution in Prius proves that quality doesn't have to cost luxury prices.

11-07-2003

Warm Up.  Press the "Power" button, put in it "D", and then immediately drive.  That's it!  Since the engine immediately gets a does of heat from the anti-freeze stored in the thermos, there literally is no need to wait.  You'll also discover that the motor is favored even more in the cold. S o between those 2 hybrid features, warm up is an uneventful process.  (It will make traditional vehicle owners quite jealous.)

11-07-2003

Braking & Charging.  They are unrelated topics, don't attempt to combine them. Instead, look at it this way:  When using "D", the engine will stop spinning when not needed.  When using "B", you forcing the engine to remain engaged.

11-07-2003

Amazing Acts of Stealth.  It was only 19 F degrees this morning.  The first 1/2 mile stretch at 30 MPH, I effortlessly dropped her into stealth and stayed the way until I reached the hill.  The second 1/2 mile stretch at 38 MPH, I again effortlessly achieved stealth and stayed the way until the road ended.  That was amazing.  The new Prius is obviously enhanced to take advantage of the hybrid system even in cold conditions, even with the heater running.  Sweet!  Now I need to find a road long enough to allow me to find out just how far I really could remain in stealth.  Of course, the need is already fulfilled for my commute.  So any further isn't really necessary.  But curiosity could get the best of me...

11-06-2003

Rear-Window Misconception.  While driving (of course), I finally figured out why so many people have been asking about the rear-window visibility.  From the outside, the uninformed eye assumes the split is in the middle of the standard field-of-view.  In reality, it isn't.  Take a close look at the height.  In a traditional car, the bottom of the window is slightly above the seat tops.  In the 2004 Prius, it is a few inches below.  What the bottom provides is view that's lower than most.  So you actually get to see a wider vertical perspective, allowing you to see close-up objects normally not visible in a traditional car.  Cool, eh?

11-06-2003

GM changed their hybrid plans... again.  Whoa!  I grew up hearing about how the Japanese totally catching the Detroit automakers off-guard back in the early 70's.  But to actually witness it happen again is absolutely amazing.  They obviously didn't learn their lesson.  Toyota is beating GM senseless already.  And by the time they finally offer their first hybrid, Prius will be 10 years old.  How in the world are they going to compete?

11-05-2003

Stealth at 21 F.  Wow!  My 2004 showed off this evening.  It performed electric feats that my 2001 would be quite jealous of.  (Sorry classic owners.)  Being able to drive around with the engine off like that in the cold wasn't something the previous design provided.  But the new one it does.  Cool!  (pun intended)  Now I'm more curious than ever what my winter averages will be.

11-05-2003

MPG after filling up.  The readout programming has been changed.  The software intentionally inhibits the display (but not the processing) of MPG now.  The numerical data is correct, you just don't get to see all of it. Now that Prius is being purchased by less informed consumers.  Having numbers fly by quickly would (unfortunately) raise unnecessary concern, some may interpret it as a problem.  So that change seems like a sensible choice to me.  Designing software interfaces for a living, I have to make decisions like that all the time.  It's very difficult.  Thank goodness there's this thing called an "upgrade", since needs change over time.  I wonder what the next Prius will be like.  Hmm?

11-05-2003

That button.  It's really a "maximize stealth" button.  Using the "EV" term is quite misleading.  That particular feature is not available in the United States anyway, due to regulation issues (dang legal technicalities).  Stealth still works here, it's just not maximized.  But the performance is definitely improved from the classic model.  So there's hardly much of a loss.  Technically, the system could still be retrofit later on with that button.  But currently, no one has figured out what it would actually take to accomplish.  Perhaps, once those regulation hurdles are finally resolved, Toyota will offer an retrofit upgrade kit like they did for cruise-control.

11-05-2003

Did you know?  There is a loss when converting thrust to electricity.  Fortunately, the effect results in an overall savings.  Electric motors are more efficient than combustion engines.  The point of the hybrid design is to be able to exploit that by minimizing any loss circumstances.  By reducing them as much as possible, you get greater efficiency than with a combustion engine alone.  That's one of the ways a hybrid is able to increase MPG.

11-05-2003

Why Down?  Some think it seems counter-intuitive.  I don't.  Making "D" and "B" on the transmission selector the same direction was important, even though it made "R" the up/forward direction.  Since "B" will be shifted to on-the-fly with the desire to do it by feel rather than requiring sight, using the more natural down movement helps.   That actually resembles a manual transmission approach, which (at least in mine) had shifting to reverse requiring a forward motion too.  In that case, it seemed perfectly natural for 1, 3, R being on top and 2, 4, 5 being on the bottom, despite being counter-intuitive if you thought about it too much.  The choice works well, trust me.

11-04-2003

Stealth at 34 F.  The temperature is close to freezing now, yet the engine remains off when I drive.  I like that improvement a lot!

11-04-2003

HID Blast.  I got to "test" the new lights this evening.  While approaching the stoplight in the left turn lane, someone decided that lane should be used as a multi-purpose instead.  I nearly had a head-on collision with that very dangerous driver.  Fortunately, I'm quick.  When I saw headlights coming straight at me, I flipped on the high-beams.  We both (obviously) slammed on our brakes.  The other car ended up only 15 feet from me.  Phew!  That was close... and rather redeeming.  I still had the high-beams on.  At such a short range, they're rather blinding.  Blasting the driver that almost caused an accident felt good.  I wonder if that rather memorable experience will reveal the reality that the lane wasn't being used correctly though, neither the paint on the road or the sign had been noticed.  Oh well.  Count my blessings and move on.  Accident avoided.

11-04-2003

Discovery of the Day.  There's always something new to impress.  Today was with the SE/SS (Smart-Entry & Smart-Smart, a transmitter that activates by proximity).  By reaching into the passenger handle area on the outside of the hybrid, without actually touching anything, you can unlock all 4 doors and the hatch.  Just listen for the beep.  That's really handy if you want to unlock the back door and one hand is already busy holding something.  I know that because I made the discovery for that very reason.  I said, "I wonder?"  And sure enough, it worked exactly as I had hoped.

11-04-2003

Homelink.  This feature is a true blessing for me.  My garage-door-opener is really old, but works perfectly still.  The catch is a replacement remote isn't available due to the extreme age.  So when that solitary remote I have (which I've already had to repair) breaks, I would have had to replace everything.  Walking all the way through the house to open the garage to get the in just plain isn't realistic, especially wearing boots in the winter.  So I feared the thought of that happening, especially during the dead of Winter.  But with the "Homelink" mirror Toyota offers, I now have a new remote.  And it's much more conveniently located too.  Yeah!  By the way, programming was pretty easy.  I just held the mirror button while randomly pressing & holding the garage remote a bunch of times.  When the mirror light eventually flashed, I assumed it worked.  (No reading directions for this guy!)  And I when pushed the button, sure enough, the garage opened.  Cool!

11-04-2003

Manual Shifting.  The question of design sure comes up a lot.  HSD (the Prius hybrid system, which will be available in 2 or 3 other vehicles next year) is capable of delivering real-world efficiency of 50 MPG in a midsize vehicle while also achieving PZEV emissions using a transmission that doesn't have to be shifted manually.  In fact, it doesn't actually even have gears.  Even a hybrid offering manual control of shifting can't compete with that.  How do I convince those asking that?  They seem to think they could do better than the computer.

11-04-2003

New Audience.  The song I've been singing hasn't changed, but the people listening sure have.  3.5 years ago, I was the novice.  Now, I'm the expert.  How about that!  And the nice part about it is that my feelings haven't changed.  My beliefs from then are still the same now.  Boy am I ever glad I took the time to document my thoughts.  It's nice getting reassurance from myself of the past.

11-03-2003

Bummer.  Prius becoming so popular that I had to drop support for some of my videos by permanently deleting them from my website.  The hidden hit counter for my website is spinning wildly now.  In just 3 days, y'all have requested 17,000 pages.  That is such a drastic increase, there was a 100% chance that the monthly bandwidth quota (which I just significantly increased) would be exceeded.  And that's without even publishing any of my 2004 stuff yet.  So I had to pull the plug on all the non-owner type videos.  Sorry, but I just plain can't afford to provide them anymore.  As a result, the rest of the website is well and should continue that way all month long.  It's just plain scary that just the classic content alone has raised so much interest now.  Prius is obviously gaining attention.  Yippee!

 

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