Prius Personal Log  #90

November 24, 2003  -  November 29, 2003

Last Updated: Sat. 1/03/2004

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11-29-2003

Car & Driver Endorsement.  This quote for that well-respect automotive enthusiast magazine sums up the new attitude quite well, "There's more to automotive enthusiasm than drag-strip performance and race-track times. Although most of the cars on our 10Best list reward and encourage spirited acceleration and handling, this one makes a game out of fuel efficiency. And--surprise!--the game is fun.Those posting on the "up to the chore" topic would be furious by that.  To them, acceleration & handling is all that matters... and they've used C&D in their defensive many times.  Now the tables have turned!  I told them that someday "enthusiast" would also apply to fuel efficiency.  Ha!

11-29-2003

Like Bifocals.  That's a fantastic way of describing the rear split-window.  Just like the eyeglasses, the upper-part is for viewing stuff far away and the lower-part is for viewing stuff up close.

11-29-2003

This is why.  Getting comments like in my email inbox is what makes the effort I contribute totally worth it, "It was your website, especially the fact that the site is not affiliated in any way with the Toyota company, that finally convinced my skeptical, old-fashioned hubby to give me the OK to place my order for a 2004 yesterday."

11-29-2003

2004+ Prius User-Guide.  Phew!  1st Draft of the New User-Guide for the 2004+ Prius is finally available.  I had way too much fun "researching" the content for this document.  But now it's looking pretty darn good.  Take a look, then send comments my way.  I very much expect this to be a work-in-progress for awhile still, as we discover more about the newest version of Prius.  By the way, it was exactly 2 years ago that the 1st Draft of the Classic version (2001-2003) made its debut.  I think I've defined a new reason to be thankful on Thanksgiving Weekend now.  It's located here on my website.  Just follow the permanent link on the bottom of my homepage.

11-28-2003

Battery-Pack Contributions.  When acceleration begins to taper, the engine RPM will drop and the motor electricity will be supplemented by the battery-pack.  So different aspects of efficiency gain are actually at play during the acceleration process.  This is relatively easy to see with a classic Prius.  With a 2004, it becomes much more difficult due to the increased voltage available and more powerful motor.  No wonder some people are confused about how the hybrid system works.  A lot more happens automatically than they realize.

11-28-2003

Prius as a First Car.  Seriously, if you get one as a teenager, you'll be totally disappointed with all of your friend's vehicles.  Be kind to them.  Try to keep comments about the superior hardware you have to yourself.  Those at that age are very observant, they'll figure it out on their own.  (They are more open to accept change too.)  Also, get used to being volunteered to drive often.  You'll be very pleased with a Prius.  And whether you like it or not, you'll learn a bunch about efficiency, car care (to maintain that efficiency), the automotive industry, and politics.  The car we all adore definitely raises awareness.

11-27-2003

A common oversight.  The fact that electricity is created 100% (yes, one hundred percent) of the time the ICE is providing thrust is commonly overlooked.  There is always excess output.  How much and where it goes is part of how the efficiency is optimized.  Much of the time during brisk acceleration, it is consumed immediately.  If there is any remaining, it goes to the battery-pack (not from).  The point is that despite conversion losses, you still end up with an overall gain.  That fact should always be acknowledge when discussing the design in Prius.

11-27-2003

What about Saturn cars?  Don't they also have a CVT?  Yes; however, they use a CONE & BELT design.  (So is the one in the Honda hybrids).  The CVT in Prius uses a PLANETARY design.  The hardware & function don't have anything in common at all.  The only actual similarity is the fact that both offer variable ratios, that's it.

11-27-2003

Corolla Comparisons.  I like them.  It is one of the best of the somewhat vague "economy" category, a rather impressive car for a very long time.  Just 2 years ago, it was a very reliable, highly sought after (one of the best sellers of all time, in fact) small car.  Today, the same is true but it is a much bigger car.  Corolla stands above the crowd, without even factoring in the remarkable price.  The competition simply can't compete well with it.  So comparisons to one of the best, Corolla, isn't all that bad.  The fact that Prius is a cut above really puts an impressive feather in Toyota's cap... which makes a certain Corolla owner here a little jealous!  Of course, that is until Corolla offers HSD.  Then that car will become even better.

11-27-2003

Cargo Net.  It's the same size & shape for the 2004 Prius as the classic.  There are still differences though, both are with the fasteners.  First, they were loops before; now they are clips.  Second, they could be popped into place before; now you have to drill holes.

11-26-2003

Amusing Comments, part 2.  "Bag full of problems" was the other comment we got recently.  My response is, what bag?  All I've heard about were a few problems that have affected a very small percentage of overall owners.  Our group is not at all a true representation of what the typical owner will actually experience. In reality, problems are few.  The reporting of uncommon occurrences here appear amplified though, since lurkers tend to only speak up when there's a problem.  When all is well, they remain quiet.  I know this effect intimately, since my career designing software interfaces has to deal with the same thing on a regular basis.  maintenance 1 clearly shows the history with the 59,827 miles driven with my classic Prius.  It was rather uneventful, just routine maintenance mostly.  And my purchase was a classic pioneer!  Prius is even better built now.

11-26-2003

Amusing Comments, part 1.  Once in a blue moon, someone sends an attack-message to an online Prius group.  The extend of today's message was, "One damn ugly car!"  I find it rather amusing how people resist the inevitable.  After awhile, human nature gets the best of them.  They end up desiring the very change they were fighting against.  We all watched SUVs adopt the fierce & rugged look.  Now they are transforming to the friendly & aerodynamic look.  People are buying them too.  I bet that really ticks off those that like the previous.  And since the major purchase reason was to get that SUV which really made a statement and now you see those everywhere, some are now in search of something different.  To make the situation sweeter, the upcoming federal regulation for MPG improvement will force the aerodynamic shape to be adopted.  Prius owners win; they have that look of the future already.

11-26-2003

Are snow tires necessary?  Unless you have to climb steep hills or drive on roads that aren't well maintained, snow tires aren't really necessary on a Prius.  Here in the suburbs of Minnesota, this will be Winter #4 for me without snow tires on my Prius.  I personally don't have the need for them.

11-26-2003

Hybrids are here to stay.  As the years progress... misconceptions will be cleared up... reliability will become well proven... people will learn how poor traditional MPG really is... people will learn what the SULEV & PZEV ratings mean... hybrid component costs will continue to drop... hybrid component efficiency will continue to rise... word-of-mouth recommendations will flourish... human nature will kick in, people desire change... people will learn the hydrogen promises were unrealistic.

11-26-2003

Washing.  I hand wash in a heated garage, but only when its warm (that's above 20 F degrees).  Colder than that, most everything is bone dry.  Without water, the salt can't do any harm.  So my Prius flaunts that salty look throughout most of the Winter.  Spring is the only real problem, since everything becomes wee.  And by then, I am looking for excuses to do stuff outside anyway.  So baby gets washed frequently and coated with a protective layer of sprayed on hot wax each time.

11-26-2003

Another NAV.  I saw an advertisement for a brand new vehicle today.  The Navigation System is behind the steering-wheel.  Besides being smaller and in a more difficult to see location, you can't conveniently reach it.  The touch ability with the Multi-Display in Prius is fantastic.  It allows you to easily specify & select stuff on the graphic intensive interface.  I can't imagine a non-touch screen being anywhere near as nice to interact with.  So, how the heck do you interact with that other one?  Or is it just a less sophisticated system, like only a map that shows you where you are?

11-26-2003

VSC Engaged.  I experienced it for the first time.  If it wasn't for the chime that sounds when it engages, I wouldn't have even known the computer had interjected.  For that matter, I may not even have been aware that I was driving too aggressively for the conditions.

11-26-2003

8 Squirters.  There are 8 individual nozzles where windshield-washer fluid is squirted from.  That's twice what I've ever seen.  Talking about thorough coverage.  Wow!

11-25-2003

Raising Awareness.  Hybrids certainly are doing that.  Unfortunately, that is leading to misunderstandings too.  Since Prius has a Multi-Display, those that wouldn't normally document vehicle performance are making note of the MPG results.  Toyota made it way too easy to do.  So people are now comparing those results to the EPA test values.  They are noticing how inaccurate the figures are and assuming that those particular tests inflate them, making hybrids look better than they really are.  But as informed know quite well, that's just plain not true.  The same thing happens for traditional vehicles too.  Only without a screen to point out MPG results, they were never aware of that.  Thank goodness I already both this hybrid & traditional data to clearly show what to actually expect for real-world efficiency... 2001 Toyota Prius   1984 Dodge Omni

11-25-2003

Cold Reality.  Reduced efficiency from cold weather and short trips is a reality with all vehicles types, not just Prius.  If you have a longer commute, like me, you'll be thrilled.  With average driving temperatures at about 40 F degrees now, the Multi-Display is showing a glorious 50.5 MPG!  But of course, with over 62,000 miles of hybrid driving experience under my belt, I know a trick or two for getting that number of there.

11-24-2003

Combat Report.  Winter is definitely here now.  The Prius is absolutely filthy all the sand & salt to keep the roads safe.  What a mess, but a perfect opportunity for real-world testing.  The side roads have a very thick lumpy layer of ice over the tar, since they don't get serviced as well as the main roads.  With my tires at 44/42, I was rather curious what the ride would be like.  It was a bit bumpy, as expected, but by no means a problem.  Both braking on ice and climbing on ice worked well too.  So I'll be leaving it like that all year long.  Not everyone will like them that way, but I strongly recommend giving it a try.

11-24-2003

Comparisons.  If you want to compare Prius to a traditional vehicle, kind the following in mind:  The Multi-Display is standard, it's included in the base version.  Ignoring its monetary value is inappropriate. The same is true for the reflective digital speedometer.  Don't forget about the seat fabric.  It is surprisingly high quality.  The electric steering doesn't have any fluid in it.  That is an obvious improvement over the traditional design.  All the buttons on the steering-wheel offer a secondary way of accessing common features.  That sure is handy.  So is the push-button start.  The extra insulation and special glass is difficult to put a value on.  Also, don't forget all the goodies that come standard, like: TRAC, ABS, CVT, A/C, CD, Cruise-Control, Keyless-Entry, Aluminum Rims, Automatic Climate-Control, Power Locks, Heated Mirrors... you get the idea.  To be fair, every single item must be listed.

11-24-2003

No Appreciation.  The painfully tedious research & testing it requires to make a system run perfectly in a very simple (generic) fashion is a colossal undertaking.  Anyone can write complicated code for a single situation.  Writing reusable code that is simple & robust takes a tremendous amount of work.  I'm a computer programmer.  Not receiving any negative feedback is actually how I get a compliment.  The same type of "appreciation" will happen for the Toyota engineers.  Right now, the hybrid design appears complicated.  Later, people will discover that it actually isn't.  It's just different.  Once they understand that, the subject will be dropped.  It will accepted as the common, like fuel-injection, front-wheel drive, anti-lock brakes.  No complaints.  People will just use it.  Engineers will appreciate that, even if you don't.  Oh well.  That's what they get paid the big bucks for.

11-24-2003

Efficiency Expectations.  Bladder-Effect bumped my "calculated" MPG all the way to 56 today!  That makes the cold very exciting!  Unfortunately, that isn't a true depiction of overall efficiency.  You'll see lots of up's & down's throughout the cold season.  Down will be dominant.  But even so, it still will be better than everyone driving a traditional vehicle.  Spring will take on a wonderful new meaning.  By then, the longer mileage break-in will be achieved.  That will amplify the effect of the warm temperatures.  You'll be absolutely delighted when that MPG wildly climbs up, and stays there!  Low 50's should be realistic for many.  I'm personally expecting to actually maintain an average in the mid 50's once Summer arrives.  Like always when dealing with Prius, patience.

11-24-2003

No Transmission.  Did you know Prius doesn't actually have a transmission?  That thing under the hood bares no resemblance to a traditional automatic or manual transmission at all.  In fact, it doesn't have anything in common with a cone & belt CVT either.  All there is inside is a power-split device, which is always engaged and never shifts.  There are no gears, just carriers that spin to distribute power.  It is actually an elegant example of simplicity, something that really doesn't qualify as an actual transmission.

 

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