Prius Personal Log  #95

December 20, 2003  -  December 25, 2003

Last Updated: Sun. 8/05/2007

    page #94         page #96         BOOK         INDEX         go to bottom 

 

12-25-2003

My first Hatch experience.  With the 2004 Prius, that is.  A decade ago, I used to own a Dodge Omni.  With it, I had a number of very pleasing hatchback experiences too.  The hatch offers the ability to hold very large objects.  Today (Christmas) I was able fit a rather large 4-person folding-table, 4 folding-chairs, a bunch of packages, and still had room for 3 people inside.  Including the table in my classic Prius would have been completely impossible.  That type of cargo is just plain too large.  And by taking the cover off the hidden storage area does allow you to gain some depth, but it's actually not quite as much as the classic offers for volume.  So you are sacrificing some storage with 4 or 5 people sitting inside.  But with the 2 right-side seats down, there's no contest.  2004 is much, much bigger that way.  In fact, the storage length available is over 8 feet long!  I'm obviously quite pleased by this design.

12-25-2003

HSD promotion.  At times, I bet I really sound like I work for Toyota.  But when you research & interact with a product for so long (nearly 4 years now) with very pleasing results, how can you not endorse it?  I love the dynamic nature of the design.  Each component contributes to power use, conservation, and recapture as much as it can based on availability at that moment.  That kind of flexibility is great.  And then when you take into account the fact that it can be reconfigured to work within vehicles of very different types, it really becomes impressive.  "HSD" is that design.  It will be available in several different vehicles over the next few years.  Promotion of that technology will come from a variety of different sources, including those that don't even get paid to do it... like me!

12-25-2003

"Coolant"  The informative nature of that term has been lost.  That "coolant" which was traditionally used just to circulate heat away from now also does the exact opposite.  The "antifreeze" (which is yet another problem name) is pumped into a thermal storage container whenever you shut off the Prius.  Heat within that liquid can be retained for up to 3 days.  So later when you start the Prius and it is circulated through the head of the engine, warmth is provided allowing the engine is able to achieve operating temperature for optimum exhaust cleansing in the catalytic-converter much faster than it normally could.  This also helps produce heater output faster for occupants inside.  Kind of "cool", eh?

12-25-2003

The price of synthetic oil.  The actual difference is about $10.  Some people find that money well spent.  Many owners (including me) have reported a 1 to 2 MPG efficiency increase, so they end up getting that $10 back anyway.  That makes the potential for better engine protection a pure benefit.  Plus, you also are using less petroleum.  For such a small price (non-existent for many), why not switch to synthetic oil?

12-24-2003

Engine Running?  It is not necessary to have the engine running before attempting to rapidly acceleration.  In my 2001 Prius, I'd pull out into busy city traffic with the engine off routinely.  In fact, one time I intentionally did it to scare the crap out of my friend.  That fright quickly turned to delight.  When he suddenly discovered how the motor was able to carry the hard acceleration load until the engine could start up and contribute torque, he exclaimed "Sweet!"  Now he's on the waiting list for delivery of a 2004 Prius.  That was one very effective demonstration of the hybrid system.

12-24-2003

Smooth Splash (part 1).  As I'm climbing into my Prius this morning, I see this wave of pink deliciousness mysteriously coming from my hand.  The smoothie I had been carrying was no longer under my control.  Splash!  It hits the driver's seat, sprays onto the armrest, and dribbles down the side of the seat.  Oops!  What a mess. It smelled wonderful though.  Now I've officially had my first accident with the Prius.  I'm sure glad no one saw it.  They would have thought it was hysterical... kind of like the time I changed my sister's transmission fluid.  I'm under the car fighting to breaking the silicon seal, exclaiming "colorful metaphors" as no progress was being made despite all the careful effort.  Then all of a sudden, my brother sees me energetically rollout from underneath getting chased by a wave of transmission fluid.  That was quite a mess too.

12-24-2003

New Owner Care.  Some owners have commented about getting caught in the rain, causing a few spots on the new gloss finish.  Then they have to wash the Prius to regain that perfection.  Just wait until you see photos of how much salt & sand is crusted on my new Prius.  Sorry, but I had to take her into battle (the daily commute in Minnesota).  When all the snow finally melts away, I get my chance to enjoy the look of a new car too... but definitely not until then.  Oh well.

12-24-2003

Ground Clearance.  Do you know how they measure that?  Is it done with any weight inside?  People have commented that they aren't sure if Prius is tall enough, but they don't know the answer to those questions.  And since Prius is optimized to minimize drag, the impression of being "low" comes natural.  I already know that clearance isn't a problem, it certainly wasn't while driving through snow with my classic Prius.  And that is supposedly lower than the new Prius.  So, I walked around measuring boxes.  I finally found one that was 5.25 inches tall, since that's the height I always thought it was.  I took that box into the garage.  I pushed it under the 2 lowest objects on the Prius underside.  In front was the engine-bracket.  The box passed under it completely untouched.  In back was the exhaust pipe.  It barely made contact.  Then I pushed on the pipe a little, the rubber mount contracted and the box cleared.  Now I have a frame-of-reference if anyone asks for detail.

12-24-2003

"B" mode.  The intended purpose is for keeping the brakes from overheating when traveling down a mountain, not for maximum regeneration.  That "battery" misconception is very irritating.  Normal braking is fine for hills.  The regenerator automatically works at maximum capacity and the shoes & pads work at a moderate level.  The problem is mountains require quite a bit more braking force than you'd normally used.  So the regenerator works at maximum capacity and the shoes & pads work at beyond the maximum ... which causes them to eventually overheat and causes you to pull over until they cool off.  Offsetting some of the braking load to the engine, via "B" mode, helps to bring the shoes & pads back down to a safer level (below maximum hopefully) to prevent heat from the friction brakes.  In short, since overheating ever a problem on just hills, there no benefit from "B" mode.  In fact, it can actually reduce the amount of regeneration.  So don't use it unless absolutely necessary.

12-24-2003

Awkward Timing.  Unfortunately, everyone is getting a very bias view right now.  The problem is the only 2004 data we have available to work with is the Winter type.  "Air Conditioning" (Heater & A/C) demands come at very different times of the year depending on the region you live it.  In the North, that means heavy use of the heater and more dense air to push through.  That pushes MPG way down (worst).  In the South, A/C isn't needed much.  That pushes MPG way up (best).  So, getting an impression of what overall results will be is extremely difficult.  Once people have had their Prius longer, you'll get reports of annual averages instead.  That provides a much better view of seasonal effects, regardless of where you live.  Warm & Cold balance out after enough data is collected.  For now, you just have to deal with the awkward timing.

12-23-2003

"Brisk" Acceleration.  Taking this approach doesn't mean giving up stealth opportunities.  What's actually happening is that you are postponing the use of stealth.  Rather than for acceleration, you use it for maintaining later.  The beauty of "brisk" is that the engine produces more torque than what's needed for just acceleration to achieve optimal RPM.  That additional torque is used instead for creating electricity, which in turn is used to top off the battery-pack.  And once you take into account the loss from conversion, the gain from using the engine more efficiently, and the gain from staying in stealth a little longer afterward, you see that there is in fact a minor overall gain.

12-23-2003

Electric A/C.  The traditional A/C in the classic model worked great, even in extreme environments like Arizona.  As for the electric version in the 2004 Prius, no owner has had the opportunity to put in to that extreme test yet.  However, the A/C itself isn't new.  Toyota has offered it in both their RAV4-Electric and RAV4-FuelCell vehicles already.  And since both those vehicles were very high profile examples of what Toyota is capable of delivering, I'd expect it to work quite well.  Time will confirm that.

12-23-2003

Price Increase Rumors.  I wonder why some people believe the price will climb later.  The 2005 model year will include 3 hybrids using HSD inside: Prius, Highlander, and RX400.  That will put Toyota in a much better position for higher volume production.  It would make a lot of sense taking advantage of that, selling as many as possible to establish HSD as mainstream technology.  That would pave the way for effortless rollout of HSD in the vehicles Toyota (and Lexus) offers.  It also makes the supplier contracts for Ford & Nissan even more appealing.  Toyota has a golden opportunity.  I can't imagine them getting greedy at this point.  And I can see how they'd want to keep quantity high enough from allowing dealers to take advantage of customers much.  Steep markups due to excessive demand is not a good thing.

12-23-2003

Something to look forward to.  Once break-in is complete and you've learned all the right things to do, you'll be amazed by the efficiency.  Today was quite pleasing.  My commute this morning started with the temperature at 23 F degrees and the Multi-Display showing 50.3 MPG.  When I finally got home this evening, 50 miles later, the temperature high risen to 24 F and the Multi-Display to 50.4 MPG.  To be getting results that impressive under adverse conditions is one heck of an endorsement for this technology.  The odometer is currently at 4,286 miles.  By the time the warmth arrives welcoming in the ideal efficiency season, the odometer will be over 10,000.  I can't even begin to imagine what that will be like.  It sure is going to be exciting!

12-22-2003

FUD.  If you haven't figured it out yet, my purpose is on a long-term goal: to eliminate FUD.  That's Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt.  Profound changes to automotive design is inevitable at this point.  We absolutely must reduce emissions.  People suffering from breathing related problems now simply won't accept the worsening conditions.  Cleaner is essential, especially to prevent infants from developing breathing related problems.  We also must recognize the fact that our children will see the end of the oil reserves.  It will happen within their lifetime.  So evolution to alternate propulsion technologies, like electric, is essential.  I am unwilling to wait decades for that to happen.  Prius has already proven that HSD installed in a variety of different vehicle types will be a popular choice.  Why are some here so resistant to change?  It makes a whole lot more sense helping the technology along instead.  Imagine will it will be years later if you embrace it now.  Fighting those trying to help doesn't make any sense.

12-22-2003

Multi-Display Accuracy.  For my 2001 Prius, the error caused by digit rounding made it off by +2.1 MPG overall.  See:  59,827 miles / 1,318.455 gallons = 45.4 MPG calculated   Compared to:  59,822 miles / 1,259.699 gallons = 47.5 MPG displayed   All the detail for how that "displayed" was derived is available on my 2001 Prius Lifetime Spreadsheet.  Assumed gallons, for each tank, comes from what it thought it got divided by actual distance.

12-21-2003

52.2 MPG Photo.  This weekend it got really "warm" in Minnesota (the temperature was in the 30's).  That combined with break-in (at 4,000 miles now), the 178 miles of mixed driving resulted in a Multi-Display value of 52.2 MPG.   That's absolutely incredible considering how efficiency conditions are still far from ideal.  I can't wait to see how high the value climbs when the real warmth arrives.  I predict we'll be hearing reports from a number of owners being able to maintain averages in the upper-50's.  Anywho, I captured the amazing recent MPG... photo album 60

12-21-2003

Accident Reported!  It has now happened.  A big truck rear-ended a 2004 Prius.  The hatch area got crushed pretty bad.  The occupants inside were fine, though rather upset.  So, the word-of-wisdom from this is to avoid letting a big truck from getting too close behind you when possible.  Changing lanes is a good way to eradicate that accident potential.  Another word-of-wisdom is to prepare yourself for an emergency maneuver whenever you see someone stopped on the side of the road.  I almost crushed my Prius 2 days ago in that very situation.  The police had pulled someone over.  The driver in front of me, who had no traffic in front of her in her lane, suddenly slammed on her brakes after passing the police.  I guess she suddenly realized she hadn't been watching traffic at all and was to preoccupied with the flashing lights, so she panicked.  So naturally, I hit the brakes to avoid hitting her car.  Then... it gets worse... she was so shook up from having almost causing an accident that she decided it was best get out of the main flow of traffic.  She signaled and began a lane change, right into a vehicle hidden in her blindspot!  So this time I not only hit the brakes, I also flashed the lights and honked the horn.  The guy she almost squished bolted forward when he saw that I momentarily halted her progress.  Phew!  That was close... twice!  Thankfully, the classic Prius proved to protect owners from serious injury in serious accidents.  The new Prius should do the same or even better.

12-20-2003

How it works.  HSD is pretty amazing.  Take a look at the Multi-Display files I created video files.  You'll clearly see how the gasoline engine feeds the electric motor directly.  This helps to explain why the battery-pack lasts so long.  It simply doesn't get used much when the engine is running.  Do some more research.  You'll discover that Toyota's design cannot actually send 100% of the thrust from engine directly to the wheels, even if it wanted to.  And with a ridiculously powerful electric (capable of 295 lb-ft of torque) why wouldn't you want to take advantage of the electric abilities?  The 50kW MOTOR is the big sucker.  This is the one used for electric propulsion and for brake-regeneration.  The 10kW MOTOR is the little guy.  It's the generator that produces electricity via the engine and non-braking kinetic energy opportunities.  The PLANETARY-CVT is what bonds those 2 motors together combined with the engine to create both thrust & electricity while offering regeneration as well.  That is how the FULL hybrid design in HSD works.  The design in ASSIST hybrids is significantly different.  With them, there is only 1 motor is available.  So the creation & consumption of electricity can't happen simultaneously like it can in a FULL hybrid.  Did you know all that?

 

back to home page       go to top