Prius Personal Log  #88

November 9, 2003  -  November 16, 2003

Last Updated: Sat. 2/21/2009

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11-16-2003

Hybrid Spotting.  I wave & honk whenever I see one.  In fact, I did that with a 2004 Civic-Hybrid today (it looks different from the 2003, by the way).  At first, I was a bit apprehensive about making contact since the car didn't even have plates yet.  So I had a feeling he'd recognize my 2004 Prius as "the hybrid he chose not to buy" rather than another friendly hybrid owner.  I pulled up along side and tapped the horn then passed by.  His eyes acknowledged my greeting.  That was cool.  He passed me next, then we did it again.  Finally, he dropped behind and followed for a few miles.

11-16-2003

Cold Weather Concerns.  My classic Prius endured 3 Minnesota winters, with temperatures as low as -13 F degrees.  My 2004 Prius has been exposed to 12 F degrees already.  Check with me in January.  The mercury will drop much lower then, which will allow me to brag about how well the new Prius copes with that extreme too.  Winter is no big deal.  In fact, you'll find it quite a thrill when trapped in heavy snow-impaired traffic.  Unlike everyone else, you won't get aggravated by the delay since you won't be wasting anywhere near as much gas.

11-16-2003

The Future.  I see the next generation of hybrid system even more electric driven than the 2004 HSD.  And the next will be even more.  Where that electricity comes from is what we should be focusing on, not the fact that the label "hybrid" is used.  Perhaps it will still be from a gasoline engine.  In all likelihood, it won't.  Stored energy could come from the grid (via a plug) and the on-the-fly supply could come from a fuel-cell stack.  That's great, since someday that could all be derived from renewable sources.  But that certainly isn't the case today.  In fact, the current plan is to create hydrogen to feed fuel-cells with from oil.  That process is actually less efficient than using a gasoline engine instead.  The evolutionary process of being more & more electric makes much more sense than a single drastic change all at once.  Small steps are what the consumers & stockholders will prefer, since they deliver a return sooner while also helping to reinforce the fact that the ultimate goal really can be achieved.  In short, the other automakers are currently all bark and no bite.  Toyota has actually delivered on the first few steps, and it looks quite clear that the next few will be delivered too.

11-15-2003

The Past.  I saw a gray Dodge Omni today.  It reminded me of the one I used to own, oh so many years ago.  So I pulled up next to it.  Comparing my hatchback of the past to the one I am now driving was fascinating.  A lot has changed since 20 years ago.

11-15-2003

"Pioneer"  If you purchased a classic Prius using the original ordering process (before Prius was offered for purchase on the dealer's lot), Toyota provided you with a special opportunity to advance-order a 2004 during the first 3 weeks of July 2003.  Those 2004 Prius acquired that way are called "pioneer" models.

11-15-2003

Taking advantage of the Navigation System.  That was really helpful.  I found myself in a traffic jam today.  To get out of it, I just took the nearest side street.  Pressing the "Map" button popped up my location.  It showed all the streets available.  On route, I was able to weave through to my destination.  Beginning about to make decisions on-the-fly like that was great!

11-15-2003

Fuel Capacity.  Based on my observations so far, it looks like the gas gauge is more accurate in the 2004.  However, Toyota has decided to deter those that drive to the point of drying out their tank before filling up again.  We read way too many reports of people continuing to drive after running out of gas, abusing the battery-pack.  Ultimately, that could create a misconception about hybrids and result in misleading news reports.  To prevent that, a decision to trigger the "add fuel" warning sooner appears to have been made.  So just like some owners have recommended from the beginning, use mileage as an indicator when to fill up instead.

11-15-2003

New Category.  I see that after a entire year someone is stilling trying to fit Prius into a traditional category, rather than accepting the fact that Toyota has created a brand new offering.  Its uniqueness will help them to achieve their long-term goal of increasing market-share.  And now that THS (the custom hybrid system for Prius) has evolved to HSD (the modular system hybrid system that can be installed into a variety of vehicle types), he should take a step back and evaluate it instead of picking on Prius.  Prius is extremely popular among its intended audience, unquestionably a best-seller for that consumer-base.  That makes it no different than any other distinct vehicle.  Everyone directly involved with it is quite pleased. Looking at HSD instead, you'll see that next year the RX-330 & Highlander will both offer it.  Then the traditional category criteria you insist on using will actually apply.  Then he may do all the comparisons your heart desires, because you'll have a legitimate basis for that.  Direct class & vehicle matching will be possible then.  For now, I hope he finally acknowledges the new category.  Oh well, if not it sure be rather obvious in a few years.

11-15-2003

Boring, the ultimate compliment.  I love how people say Prius is "boring" after taking a test-drive.  No roar of an engine.  No feel from the transmission.  Effortless acceleration.  Soft gliding around corners.  Comfortable seats.  Nicely sound insulated interior.  Dead silent at times for ultimate music listening.  That's stuff that you'd only want if you are buying a luxury vehicle.

11-15-2003

Just the facts.  47/48 EPA City/Highway rating for CVT Civic-Hybrid.  60/51 EPA City/Highway rating for CVT Prius.

11-14-2003

When we run out of oil.  Some people expect a new technology to suddenly appear.  I wonder what planet they live on.  Here, if a new technology debuts this year, some people will wait until next year before buying it.  Some wait for the kinks to work out.  Some fear change.  Some deny there's a need.  Some simply don't want to be first.  Some know the price will drop as production increases.  Some worry about reliability.  Some want to learn about the technology first.  Some will wait for better configurations... etc.  But more importantly, some just bought a new vehicle and don't want to buy a new one for an absolute minimum of 8 years.  Most importantly, some just don't have the money available.  Those are the type that are forced to only buy used cars.  When the gas prices start to dramatically climb due to running out of oil, they will suffer even more.  Toyota is being very responsible buy investing heavily now to overcome all those problems.  Some people are showing support for that with their own wallets.  The response is so overwhelming that a new problem has emerged.  The technology is so well accepted that there is a short-term shortage, caused by limited production current capacity & supply. 

If you think new technology will just magically appear overnight, just take a look at the automakers attempting to compete with Toyota.  It will take the most devoted 5 years just to reach the point Prius is at now.  Catching up could take as long as a decade.  And those other automakers will have to do something to financially survive in the meantime.  That most likely means they will be forced to continue producing the same product they offer now.  Change in manufacturing process & supply is quite simply way too expensive.  So it will push vehicle replacement time even further in the future.  In short, even in a crisis situation the new technology won't take over for a very long time.  It just isn't realistic.

Fortunately, Prius helped to evolve HSD (Hybrid Synergy Drive), which will be installed in quite a number of vehicle types over the next few years.  The technology will be available when the oil supply really does diminish.  And in the meantime, emissions will be reduced too.  Many people forget that hybrids also offer that benefit.

11-14-2003

Cylinders vs. Kilowatts.  I see publicity stating the prestige of having a V6 over a V4 and a V8 over a V6.  The higher the number, the better.  I wonder when that will happen with hybrids.  The kW (kilowatt) value of the electric motor directly informs about the power potential.  The advertisers will inevitably take advantage of that, exploiting it to the fullest.  That should make things interesting.

11-14-2003

Winter Endorsement.  I see a minimum of 1 classic Prius one the road every day, here in Minnesota.  And I have already spotted 3 other 2004 Prius besides mine.  Minnesota is rather proactive.  (Perhaps it has something to do with Dakota county being the fastest growing county in the entire United States back in the 80's.  We have both the first and biggest shopping malls too.)  We've been using ethanol in our vehicles for well over a decade now, and we've had low-sulfur gas available for over 4 years.  It's pretty sweet!  Our family, friends, and neighbors have witnessed how impressive the starting and keeping you warm abilities are during our extreme Winters.  Fulfilling that extreme criteria is such a great endorsement that there really aren't any reasons not buy a Prius.  So we do, in large quantities.  Gotta love it!

11-13-2003

Prius Ramblings.  I decided to make the switch to synthetic oil at 2,000 miles (since that will improve efficiency at little).  So, I stopped at the dealer to buy a filter and talk Prius.  They always quiz me with real-world opinion questions, that was fun.  But on the way home was even better.  I spotted yet another 2004 on the road.  Yeah!  Now I'm going to have start looking for my classic too.  They sold it already, despite a rather hefty markup.  Of course, over time word will finally get out about how well the hybrid system was designed to endure very long usage.  Then impressions about long-term value will really take a turn for the better.  For now, it's our secret.


11-12-2003

First Impressions - 3 Weeks.
 

THE GOOD:  Improvements galore!  It's amazing!!  After 3 weeks, I'm still discovering numerous small improvements to virtually every aspect of the driving experience.  So after you've made the purchase based on the notable qualities, you've got a lot more to find out about still.  Toyota took the classic, which redefined cars, and allowed their designers to indulge.  A very large quantity of consumers are really going to be pleased with this newest Prius.  Yeah!

THE BAD:  Those consumers have already discovered just how nice the 2004 is and the word is spreading rapidly.  Demand is high and supply is low.  Delivery waits are going to seem painfully long.  Bummer.

THE UGLY:  It has become very clear that Toyota won't have any genuine competition for several years still, no other technology can deliver both the amazingly clean emissions and incredibly high efficiency.  That reality is now bringing out the worst in some people.  The unfriendly online discussion groups now have participants that are twisting the words of those just trying to help spread the good word about hybrids.  They'll ignore facts and change the definition of terms, causing confusion and intentionally misleading.  And unfortunately, some have even went as far as lying to impair the acceptance of Prius.  It upsets me that those just being introduced to Prius have to endure that.  So I'm going to focus all my attention now on providing lots of information about the 2004 in the friendly groups and on my website.

The next few years sure are going to be quite unique.  HSD (Hybrid Synergy Drive, currently in the 2004 Prius) will become available in several other vehicle types.  Each will undoubtedly be a best-seller in its class.  Consumer's expectations of what vehicles should deliver will be very, very from that of the past.  The entire automotive industry will ultimately be changed. Welcome to the 21st Century.

11-13-2003

Saw another 2004.  Cool!

11-12-2003

Don't forget the classic.  People keep sending me emails making that request.  The resale value of that older model will be surprisingly high with so little (or no) competition.  "Classic" will be earned as a respected label in no time flat, creating a new chapter in automotive history.  That makes my close friends who have a '01, '02, '03 quite happy.  I'll keep adding photos of the classic as time goes on too.  It only gets better from here.

11-11-2003

What does "Max Cold" do?  It was 43 F degrees this morning.  I was hot.  (Hey, I'm from Minnesota.)  So I lowered the vent temperature to the level below 65 F degrees, called "Max Cold".  I heard a soft thunk, then the air coming from the vent got cold.  I think the airflow change internally that causes the heater-core to be bypassed entirely.  That's pretty "cool".

11-10-2003

Finally finished some photos.  27 are available now.  There's 4 Multi-Display photos (showing all the colors schemes available), 9 (mostly) colorless Fall photos, 7 photos will lots of Fall Color, a photo with my bike inside, 2 photos with very long shadows, and 4 photos exactly at sunset.  Check'em out... photo album 57   photo album 58   photo album 59

11-09-2003

Now GM is going mild.  When they use quotes like "hybrids have generated minimal market response", you know they are struggling to compete.  Their plans have now changed to offering just mild hybrids.  The full hybrid they had planned is out.  So what the heck does that mean for the consumer?  The success from hybrids using HSD, like Prius, will be very difficult to conceal after awhile.

11-09-2003

Noticed.  My 2004 got starred at by a classic owner today.  I witnessed the moment of recognition as she approached the intersection.  Her eyes glazed over as she gazed over with delight.  Then her head turned to follow the 2004 as I drove by.  It was pretty cool.

11-09-2003

44/42 PSI.  I wish I had went straight to 44/42.  I wanted to try 42/40 for a little bit before switching, so I'd have a basis of comparison to help convince other owners to try 44/42.  That was a waste.  I had such good with luck with it on my classic.  This car handles great with the tires set to that pressure too.  Plus, you don't have to worry about cold weather loss; the extra pressure provides a buffer.  The increase now will help mask how horribly hard my photo sessions have been on MPG.  Leaving the heater on while only driving a few feet with lots of on & offs in between then racing off to the next location (70 MPH in the sub-freezing temps) gobbles up gas, definitely not a reflection of what others will encounter.  Oh well.

 

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