Prius Personal Log  #94

December 14, 2003  -  December 19, 2003

Last Updated: Sat. 1/03/2004

    page #93         page #95         BOOK         INDEX         go to bottom 

 

12-19-2003

Bluetooth Catch Up.  The antiquated cell-phone providers are finally beginning to catch up with Bluetooth, by testing in select areas.  Too late!  Quite a number of my friends jumped ship because they took so dang long to even acknowledge the fact that Bluetooth was something their customers would want.  Those other providers released the technology nationwide a long time ago.  And with the option of now transferring your number to a new provider and all the holiday promotions, those late in the game will lose business.  Anywho, the point is that this resembles the hybrid situation rather well.  Toyota offers what people want, so that's what they buy.  The other automakers will learn their lesson the hard way by losing sales opportunities.

12-19-2003

2004 Sighting.  Yeah!  It has been awhile since I've seen another.  The brief glimpse of one in the dark this evening was wonderful.

12-19-2003 Upcoming Decisions.  Toyota's goal, that has been set for awhile now, is to deliver 300,000 hybrid systems per year beginning the end of 2005.  With that higher production level, I'd expect the first taste of what the competitive pricing is to be.  The big question is, how will those hybrids be loaded?  Will they all be as well loaded as Prius?  If so, the competition will be skewed making exact comparison difficult.  The Multi-Display does add appeal to the hybrid experience.  But it requires a significantly different dashboard.  All that's not cheap.  It would be interesting to see a Corolla with HSD and nothing more.  Is that a wise marketing choice though?  Another good question is what distance the "lifetime" calculations should be based on.  The EPA recently changed their measurement value from 100,000 to 120,000 miles.  Is that distance appropriate for accounting purposes too?  Or should it be further, and why?  Toyota will be shaping the hybrid market by making these upcoming decisions.  Curiosity may get the best of me.  I wonder how many facts about intention will be revealed during the 2004 Auto Show kickoff.
12-19-2003

MPG Influences.  Suburb driving is the ideal.  Those 30 to 50 MPH stretches that go for at least a 1/2 mile between stops are wonderful.  After awhile, you learn to automagically engage stealth.  You flick your foot down then up really quick to shut off the engine, without even thinking about it.  It's a skill just like turning a corner on a bike.  Your brain tells your arms to turn the wheels.  The act of leaning into the turn to keep the bike from sliding comes natural, without any real though. You just inherently do it.  So I can imagine I unknowingly responding accordingly to some MPG stimulus when driving too.  It would be rather interesting to observe myself and others as they drive.  One thing I can definitively tell you is that I closely watch the Multi-Display, not the constant up & down of the immediate readout like you'd think though.  Instead, I observe changes to the average.  Then I make mental notes of what road conditions caused what results.  So significant MPG drains, like highway merging and engine warm-up, really don't bother me since the MPG tends to balance out shortly afterward anyway.

12-19-2003

Relay Clicks.  That was a sound I grew found of with my classic Prius during the Winter months.  You could hear the electrical activity, like right before the engine was about to shut off.  Anywho, they are none-existent with the new Prius.  Toyota did a great job of concealing that aspect of being a hybrid.

12-18-2003

Jealous.  Today message posts included a cumulative average of 50.4 MPG from an owner down in Florida.  Can you have "Prius Envy" if you own a Prius?  I'm really jealous.  My calculated average is only 46.8 MPG.  And it's dropping due to the cold up here in Minnesota.  I yearn for warmth that hints at what it's like currently in the south.  Spring is so far away.  It's almost like delivery wait all over again!

12-18-2003

Night Mode.  A new owner was complaining about the intense brightness of the Multi-Display at night, not realizing there was a "Day" and "Night" mode available.  I hadn't even thought of mentioning that in the User-Guide.  That little dial-switch by the driver's left hand is easy to overlook.  How to adjust it is too.  I better add it, and with details.  My preferences are high-brightness & medium-contrast during the day, and low-brightness & high-contrast at night.  But the adjustment option offers an even greater range than you'd expect.  Also, the blue screen seems to be my favorite now.  But I bet when things outside turn green in the Spring, my Multi-Display inside will too.

12-18-2003

Transmission Life.  Did you know the transmission in Prius will likely never need to be repaired or replaced?  (That's something that automatic transmissions definitely can't claim.)  Support for this comes from looking at other moving parts in a vehicle that virtually never need to be replaced.  In fact, there is a very similar one in design to the Planetary-CVT that fits the same design (purpose is different, of course).  It's called a "differential".  And it is a part that rarely ever breaks.  Repair or Replacement of it is definitely unusual.  It is a part that you can safely assume will continue to work no matter how long the vehicle is driven, an aspect rarely considered when doing accounting assessments.  http://auto.howstuffworks.com/differential.htm shows a great animated example that clearly shows the similarity.  Look closely at the power-carrier characteristics.  It's pretty nice confirmation that the expectation of very, very long life is realistic.

12-18-2003

Did you know?  I live very close to everything but work.  That fact never shows up in my MPG spreadsheets, since I commonly just stop by on the drive home from work or don't use the Prius at all to get there.  Realistically, why would you want to live close to work but far from all the other locations you travel to?

12-18-2003

2004 User-Guide, 2nd Draft.  I finally finished applying all the comments that were provided about the 1st Draft.  Thanks!  Since the 2004 is still quite new, I'm planning on doing revisions for awhile.  So check out the latest (using the permanent link at the bottom of my homepage), then send comments my way as you drive your 2004 and discover items that would be helpful to include for others.  I also updated the Classic version of the User-Guide, since some of the helpful comments provided applied to it as well.

12-17-2003

Looking Back.  Relying exclusively on the view from the rear window is something that many don't actually do, though assessments of rear visibility are based on that view.  All full-size vans have obscured views in back, due to the back door structure.  The benefit from the side mirrors become apparent very quickly when driving one.  All large SUVs have pronounced blind-spots, due to their height.  Even with a clear view through the back window they still can't see short cars.  Side mirrors are required to verify the path is clear.  And of course, delivery vehicles without any windows in back at all obviously have to rely on side mirrors to see.  If you don't like the hatchback design, no big deal.  HSD will be installed in several other types of vehicles over the next few years.  Just buy one of them instead.  I don't have any problems looking back, literally or figuratively.

12-17-2003

Realistic Expectations.  If hydrogen was naturally occurring, a substance we could pump from the ground like petroleum or natural gas, fuel-cell vehicles could compete with hybrids (once all the cost issues with fuel-cells are resolved).  But hydrogen needs to be extracted from existing substances, like water or gasoline or methanol or natural gas.  Doing that ultimately requires energy.  If we were blessed with renewable sources (like sun, water, and wind), then that extraction wouldn't be much of an issue.  But instead, we have to use dirty power sources (like coal) to do it.  So basically, fuel-cell vehicles really don't accomplish anything yet.  They consume greater energy overall and they are dirtier.  Those problems will eventually be overcome, but not anytime soon.  Remember, all the electrical components in hybrids will also be used in fuel-cell vehicles too, since both use electricity for propulsion and A/C.  Improvements to efficiency and cost reduction help both types of vehicles.  So fighting hybrids in support of fuel-cells doesn't make sense.  Knowing the details of energy source & technology implementation really are beneficial.  Take a closer look at HSD, you'd be surprised.

12-17-2003

Blindspot?  The blindspot in Prius is just a little bit bigger than what most traditional vehicles have.  But if you are like me and have used blindspot mirrors for decades, you'll never even notice.  You'd be amazed how much a 2-inch tinted convex stick-on mirror ($6 for a set of left & right) will do when you attach it to a side-mirror.  Someday when it's warm and I am able to wash the Prius and it is still light out (a rare set of circumstances here in Minnesota during the Winter), I'll take a photo of the ones I'm using.

12-16-2003

Engine Restart.  There are actually several factors that influence when the engine starts back up.  One is to protect the battery-pack from a deep-discharge level.  The engine will start to ensure the longest possible battery life, consuming gas to provide recharging.  Another is the electric draw.  If it exceeds 10kW, the engine starts.  And another is the heater.  If the core temperature drops below what's needed to achieve the warmth level you requested, the engine starts.  A factor that is no longer a direct influence is the A/C.  This is because the pump is now electric, rather than mechanically driven by a belt connected to the engine.  So the engine will stay off much longer, without sacrificing any air cooling ability.

12-16-2003

How Efficiency is Achieved.  A common problem many new owners have is that they are under the impression that conservative driving will yield high efficiency.  In reality, just the opposite occurs.  Accelerating slowly actually hurts MPG.  Brisk acceleration (quick, but not jack-rabbit) provides impressive numbers.  Also, don't be afraid to let the engine start back up just for a moment of extra thrust.  That helps overall too.  Since the stored electricity supply is limited, you want to get the most from it.  That means using it for sustaining speed, speeding up while cruising.  Mid 40's is what you should expect in the short-term.  Later, your average should hover around 50 MPG.

12-16-2003

That Hidden Draw.  Have you discovered that tray is the exact shape of a full-size tissue yet?  A short box of tissues or 2 of those Kleenex "Soft Pack" (45-count bag with dispenser-slot) fit in there perfectly, allowing you to shut the draw completely.  Or if you want to leave it open, which just happen to compliment the layout of the interior rather well, you can set a full-size box of tissues in there.  Cool, eh?

12-15-2003

Plural for "Prius".  The plural of Prius is actually just "Prius".  That way, owners can hide their numbers.  You know, stealth has many aspects!

12-15-2003

Suggestions Again.  The same questions get asked over and over and over again.  New owners all want to know how to increase efficiency.  I wonder how many discover the tips I provide via the website.  Hmm?  That has to at least lower the number of times some.  Anywho, 2 very helpful & simple things you can do is check your oil & tire pressure.  Too much oil and not enough air both really hurt MPG.  Oil should never be above the "Full" mark.  About 1/4 inch below that mark is the ideal, and only checked after the car has sat awhile (10 minutes minimum).  PSI in the tires should be an absolute minimum of 35/33 (front/back).  42/40 is the ideal (measured cold & routinely).  And if you'd like to easily squeeze out another MPG, switch to synthetic oil.  More tips are here... owner advice 2

12-15-2003

Rear Wiper.  The rear wiper is terrific in snow!  It is a true blessing for after-snow-filth clean up too.  Wiping that all that salt & sand off manually was always a pain, with any type of vehicle.  And having to do it so frequently makes the chore even worse.  Now all I do is twist the lever.  I even have the option of squirting washer fluid too.  Taking about handy!

12-15-2003 Navigation System.  It's on a DVD.  No service is needed.  (The same is true for Bluetooth as well.)  And that DVD can be upgraded later if you desire up-to-date Road & POI (Point Of Interest) data.  So you can use it as much as your heart desires.
12-15-2003

Resale Concerns?  Prius shoppers aren't especially concerned about resale  That was my take and still appears to be for others.  I figured if I got a fair deal on my trade-in, I'd be happy.  And since someone else would just take over driving the old Prius for me, it would continue to be another clean vehicle on the road.  After all, the used market for hybrids has to be established somehow.  If Toyota would have made all the goodies available since day one, none of the original owners would want to part with their Prius.

12-14-2003

Hood Protection.  I haven't been able to find any info on what that aftermarket clear plastic protective layer will look like several years from now.  As impressive as it looks initially, I can't imagine it retaining that luster forever... especially with the salt I'd expose it too here.  And what the heck will squished bugs do to it?  For that matter, will the protector make removal of bugs easier or harder?  So for me, I decided against it.  As a result, my Prius will get teeny-tiny chips in front.  But then again, the gray primer is very close to the same color as my silver paint anyway.  Then I can polish the entire hood the way I routinely have done with my other vehicles, with very pleasing results.  So... ask me about 7 years from now if I still feel that I made the right decision.

12-14-2003

"D" pop back.  I wonder why I haven't seen a single report of people expecting the gear-selector to stay in place after shifting to "D".  Apparently, the fact that it pops back to the default position doesn't surprise anyone.  Hmm?  I guess consumers are accepting of change if the behavior alteration is minor.

12-14-2003

Bluetooth Misconception.  I was led to believe the audio system needed to be shut off manually when a call is received.  That's not true.  I got to discover this the fun way.  As I was driving the road today, my CD player abruptly stopped itself.  Then the Multi-Display switched over to the control screen for the phone and the ringer on the phone itself sounded.  You certainly can't miss that.  Without Bluetooth, I would sometimes not hear the phone ringing.  Now I definitely won't.  And naturally, when finishing talking and hung up, the CD player automatically resumed.

 

back to home page       go to top