Prius Personal Log  #93

December 9, 2003  -  December 13, 2003

Last Updated: Sat. 6/12/2004

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12-13-2003

Bluetooth Purpose.  The whole purpose of Bluetooth is to offer a secure connection; otherwise, just a traditional wireless technology would have been used instead.  Watch when you establish a connection for the first time.  The unique identifier from your phone will appear on the Prius Multi-Display.  One intended purpose of Bluetooth is for the transfer of funds.  (Yes, your phone could actually take the place of a credit-card someday.  In fact, in my cell-phone is a smart-chip just like on some credit-cards now.)  When money is involved, you better believe security is extremely important.  Experiments with wireless vending-machine purchases have already begun in Europe.  Experiments with wireless drive-thru purchases have already begun in the United States.  Just wait, someday you could actually see the McDonald's menu popup on the Multi-Display.  You could make food selections and pay for it all by pressing the screen in your vehicle.

12-13-2003

Why?  Most online hybrid discussion topics establish the assumption that the HSD system is standard, not luxury.  The truth of the matter is that HSD really is better than the implication.  Refer to this site for details... http://www.lexus-hybrid.com

12-13-2003

The Actual Cost.  My 2001 Prius had none of the following:  NAV system, more & premium speakers, 6-CD changer, split-folding seats, SE (Smart Entry), SS (Smart Start), side-airbags, side-curtains, VSC (Vehicle Stability Control), Bluetooth, Homelink, HID (High Intensity Discharge) self-leveling lights, secondary lights, LED brake lights, voice-recognition, heated mirrors, rear wiper, electric A/C.  That easily adds up to $6,000 worth of additional hardware.  Plus, I could very easily argue the fact that the hatch and larger interior is worth $500 too.  Then there's a whole bunch of minor improvements, like the addition of control buttons to the steering-wheel, the addition of storage areas, visor lights, the easier to view speedometer (changed to a reflective type), and the bigger Multi-Display.  There's some more significant improvements too, like the increase in power, speed, efficiency, and the reduction of emissions.  All that could easily equate to a $1,000 value.  On top of all that, I get a tax deduction this year which will work out to about $300.  Lastly, don't forget that I sold my full-size spare tire for $140.  And even better (this is the ace up my sleeve) is the $1,222.18 rebate check my credit-card company just delivered to me for purchasing a new vehicle.  (Pretty sweet, eh?)  Subtract all that I just mentioned from the purchase check I actually wrote (no loan needed) and you come up with an actual cost of around $7,250... which translates to the price I had to pay to drive the 59,827 miles with my 2001 Prius.  I find that cost to get my 2004 Prius very fair.  It certainly falls within the norm for depreciation you'd expect from any trade-in car that age, and I come out way ahead considering the vehicle I now have.  (Yeah!)  So anyone that continues to claim my expenses were extreme really isn't well informed.  Don't believe them.  It's not true.  My out-of-pocket money was less than than you'd expect.  The number crunching above proves I did quite well.

12-12-2003

Bluetooth Setup Instructions.  They are available now.  I provided 20 close-up digital photos along with simple text instructions in a 5-page PDF document (1.3 MB) illustrating step by step how I setup a connection for my Sony Ericsson T610 Bluetooth-enable cell-phone to my Prius.  Let me know what you think after reading it here... bluetooth

12-11-2003

Bluetooth Use.  Initiating a call is simple.  Just push the telephone button on the steering-wheel or the one on the Multi-Display.  Then a number-pad appears.  You can either use that, the directory transferred from your phone, or the in/out log to specify a call number.  Then you press the dial button.  Note, while the vehicle is moving only the quick-dial numbers are available; to access everything else you must stop.  Answering a call is just a matter or pushing the telephone button on the steering-wheel or the one on the Multi-Display that automatically appears when the phone rings.  Listening is done through the audio-system speaker by the driver.  Talking is done through the voice-recognition microphone hidden in the dashboard.

12-11-2003

Another convenience: Bluetooth   Wow!  I got my Bluetooth phone connected today, joining the ranks of those that have already sung songs-of-praise about it.  Now whenever I start my Prius, it automatically searches for my cell-phone zipped away in a difficult to reach jacket pocket.  Then it tells me it established a connection.  So if I want to place a send or receive a call, I can do it all through the Multi-Display instead.  I never have to dig for the phone to use it while in the Prius.  You'd be amazed how convenient it makes using the phone, especially with all the dialing features available via the Multi-Display.  And it's safe too.  All but the quick-buttons disable when the wheels are rolling.  It's actually a bit easier to talk with a person that way than someone sitting next to you, since it offers speaker-volume and the microphone faces forward.  So you can hear well and you keep your eyes on the road rather than turning your head to acknowledge comments.  It's pretty sweet.

12-11-2003

History Again.  This topic keeps resurfacing.  Read carefully.  You'll be able to answer it yourself next time.  Presidential administrations rarely like to support a concept their predecessor helped to establish.  This is a great example of that.  It's an unfortunate reality that things like this can happen.  But they do...  Detroit hybrids were well on their way to becoming a reality at the end of the 20th Century.  Prototypes had been demonstrated.  Then support for those programs abruptly changed.  The new administration pulled the plug on that program and began one of its own.  In short, hybrids support was dropped in favor of fuel-cell vehicles.  The US automaker's federal funding for hybrids research halted, so their work did too.  Toyota didn't get any of that money anyway, so their work continued.  Now they are about to flood the market with a whole bunch of hybrids and the US automakers are trying to catch up, struggling to figure out how without that money available anymore.  Kind of a nasty situation, eh?  Too bad those just learning about hybrids now aren't aware of that history.

12-11-2003

5 F degrees and dropping.  Winter has arrived.  Eeek!

12-11-2003

Rear Window Circulation.  I've noticed that internal condensation clears off rather quickly in back.  The angle of the hatch glass must contribute to that.  Cool!

12-11-2003

SE/SS is Smart.  If you attempt to lock the Prius with the key-fob still inside, an alarm activates.  There is no possible way you could miss that sound.  The label of "smart" is quite appropriate.  And the way two owners found that you can't lock the key-fob inside is rather amusing.  A husband & wife went for a drive.  He still had his key-fob in his pocket.  So when he pushed that lock button on the outside of the door, an unexpected alarm buzzing really caught their attention.  After a bit of bewilderment, they finally figured that her key-fob had fallen out of the purse and was laying on the floor inside the Prius.  How about that!

12-10-2003

Towing.   The configuration of HSD (and THS) in Prius is not intended to deliver the ability to tow.  It does though.  Several owners have already demonstrated the ability to tow a small utility trailer.  1,000 pounds is the towing capacity both the RX400 & Escape hybrids are expected to deliver.  That's not bad at all for a vehicle size not usually used for towing large loads anyway.  Makes you wonder how HSD will be configured for the big pickups.  The actual towing issue revolves around the cooling aspect.  Even though the battery-pack, inverter, and electric-motor can handle the power requirements just fine, it's what to do with the heat after pulling the load for too long.  In fact, that was a reason Ford sighted as causing one of the delays for the Escape-Hybrid debut.  Since that vehicle was intended to deliver a towing ability, they wanted to insure cooling needs had been properly handled under all possible conditions.  Those electric components get very hot when fully utilized, so that is rather important.

12-10-2003

$10,000 every 5 years.  The rumors about battery-pack replacement keep getting more and more entertaining.  The believed cost continues to rise and the duration continues to shorten.  Except the time part of the rumor has self-defeated itself.  Prius has been out on the road in Japan for 6 years now.  So the 5 years would have already expired for some.  But that didn't happen.  Implied proof of that is the fact that Toyota provides an 8 year warranty.  Do you really think they'd want to replace 100% of the battery-packs in use.  I don't think so, especially at the believed cost of $10,000.  In reality, the battery-pack should last the entire lifetime of the vehicle.  That's roughly 10-12 years or 150,000 to 200,000 miles.  The projected cost (once high-volume production begins and energy density continues to improve) is under $3,000.  And that's only if you replace the entire pack, rather than just some of the 28 modules within.  Also, keep in mind that the automatic transmission in traditional vehicles will eventually need replacement.  Since the Planetary-CVT in Prius (and HSD) is quite a bit less complex and permanently engaged, it should endure until the very end, never needing replacement.

12-10-2003

An Interesting Reality.  We are suffering from "best case" scenario now.  That's an unusual situation.  Owners have been struggling to educate other consumers for over 3 years.  That hard work paid off.  Now we have an armada of people with money-in-hand ready to buy, only there aren't enough Prius available to satisfy that demand.  Whenever the supply situation hits a critical low like this in the computer industry, there's a frustrating delay followed by a flood of product availability.  Large quantities and pleasing prices are the end result.  That sounds good to me.  Toyota has received a clear message from us.  We want more Prius, lots more.  Their response will hopefully a rather impressive increase in production for 2005.  The situation should look pretty nice a year from now.  What the heck do in the meantime?  I'll continue my promotion, which will add to the group of wanting people.  Is that good or bad?  This wake up call to the entire automotive industry won't occur overnight, but the momentum we've built up will be very difficult to deny now.  Hybrids have demonstrated their appeal.  Now the priority is adapt HSD (Hybrid Synergy Drive) used in Prius to other vehicles.  All I can say for now is, "Hang in there".

12-10-2003

Horror Stories?  Most people don't realize what they hear about with Prius is typical with other vehicles too.  Only with Prius owners, our awareness is far more pronounced.  That Multi-Display is a very powerful tool.  It realizes facts that have been overlooked for countless years.  Oil filters are supplied exactly the same way with other vehicles built in Japan.  Local differences are normal, just a fact of life that has been overlooked... until now.  Service people have been squirting in oil from bulk barrels for decades.  They don't measure precisely, they just guess.  That makes the chances of overfilling rather high.  But with a traditional vehicle, you'd never now.  You can't feel the difference, but you can see it on the MPG readout.  The only "horror" part about the stories is the fact that they have been happening for decades undetected.

12-10-2003

More Winter Driving.  Roads conditions are the worse they've been for many years.  Budgets are low.  Expenses are high.  The economy is struggling.  And the last few years cities have run out of money before the end of winter.  As a result, the plows aren't being deployed until after all the snow has fallen.  So clear roads are a thing of the past here, just a memory.  But even so, the snow storm last night wasn't that exciting.  I didn't slip or slid at all.  In fact, neither ABS or VSC were even needed the entire drive... so right before I got home I intentionally punched the accelerator pedal on a very tight uphill turn just to trigger the VSC, then I intentionally hit the brake pedal to trigger the ABS.  That wasn't exciting either.  The computer automatically compensated for my stupidity by correcting the tire control.  Part of the very pleasing handling was due to the use of "B" mode.  Toyota made it incredibly easy to engage without even having to look down, you can just feel for it.  So when I needed to moderately slow and didn't want to risk over-braking, I just shifted to engine braking.  That worked really well.

12-10-2003

$1,222.18   Wow!  That's how much the check in the mail was today.  It's hard to believe I could get that big of a rebate, but I did.  Charging everything I possibly could on my credit-card over the past few years really, really paid off.  Sweet!

12-09-2003

The Next Hybrid from Toyota.  The official announcement for the Highlander-Hybrid SUV will be at a press conference at the 2004 North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Sunday, January 4, 2004.  I can't wait to here details.  I wonder how much Toyota will reveal initially.  They left us hanging with the 2004 Prius for several months after its initial announcement.   Ahh!  I guess I need to take some of my own advice on patience.

12-09-2003

Practical Hope.  When anticipating delivery of a Prius, begin by asking yourself what mileage you expect to get.  If the MPG in your current vehicle is below EPA rating due to influences like short trips, you have to factor in that same reduction influence into your new vehicle as well.  40 MPG could actually be impressive if you driving is on the inefficient side.  That's not bad at all, in that case.  owner advice 2  lists the stuff I've been doing to increase efficiency.  (Though, note that the page hasn't been update with 2004 differences yet.)  50.2 MPG is what my Multi-Display says after 53 miles with the temperature at freezing.  That's amazing!  But I am a rather skilled Prius driver already and this Prius has 3,500 miles on it now.  Plus, I switched to synthetic oil, my tires are at 44/42 PSI, all the ideal routes are now my favorites... you get the point.  Just make sure your hope is set at a practical level for your particular situation.

12-09-2003

Increased Production.  Today, Toyota announced a 31% increase in production of the 2004 Prius.  Yeah!  Unfortunately, that's not going to be enough.  The original production plan for the 2004 calendar year was 36,000 units but, with 12,000 pre-orders received before the vehicle launched in mid-October and approximately 10,000 units delivered in its first six weeks on sale, the boost to 47,000 seems a bit low.  I wonder what component is preventing them from producing more.  Hmm?  Several special parts are provided by third-party suppliers.  Several special parts are low-volume built in-house.  So even with the assembly-line available, they still can go any faster.  Some special parts are needed.  Dang!  Thank goodness Toyota is planning higher HSD volume for the 2005 model year.  That should help Prius out... I hope.  The other hybrids they'll be offering will very likely be extremely popular as well.

 

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