Prius Personal Log  #97

January 2, 2004  -  January 7, 2004

Last Updated: Sat. 6/12/2004

    page #96         page #98         BOOK         INDEX         go to bottom 

 

1-07-2004

Bladder Purpose.  Gotta point this out for the newbies... The purpose is to significantly reduce evaporative emissions, the kind that come directly out of the gas tank itself not the tailpipe.  The bladder accomplishes this by creating a buffer in the tank, changing shape as gas level changes.  This prevents air from ever interacting with the gas.  As a result, it can't evaporate.  I bet a lot of people didn't even realize polluting emissions could happen that way.

1-07-2004

Another Bluetooth Benefit.  About 45 seconds later than usual, I heard a beep and saw this message: "Bluetooth Connection Failed".  It caught me off guard, but it sure was appreciated.  The automatic connection could not be established.  I felt the phone in my pocket still, so I obviously hadn't forgotten it.  That meant only one thing, I had allowed the phone's battery to be completed depleted.  And sure enough, that was it.  Having the Prius inform me of that was great.  All I had to do was plug it in and it would be charged up by the time I got to work.  Excellent!

1-07-2004

I couldn't resist.  It was late at night.  The light turned yellow as I approached the intersection.  The only vehicle there was well illuminated, making it very easy to identify.  It was a classic Prius.  I just couldn't resist.  So I dropped the pedal and flew through, making it before red.  I bet all that driver saw was a silver blur.  But maybe, just maybe, he or she actually identified it as a 2004.  All the classic owners I know get excited when they see one.  So perhaps, I provided an exciting moment for that owner.

1-07-2004

Changed the oil again.  This time was pretty routine, though still very exciting.  I took a good look at the used disposable washer.  It had a very light indentation showing where pressure had been placed.  Cool.  That wasn't the really informative part though, the oil provided that.  To my delight, at 3,000 miles this was in better condition than the stuff I drained previously at 2,000 miles (which I saved for this very comparison opportunity).  It was less dark and thinner.  Being synthetic and no longer in the initial break-in phase really made a difference.  I'm sure glad that I changed it when I did.

1-07-2004

5,000 Mile Service.  When I pulled into the dealer's service area today, they happily greeted me. They know I'm the Prius guy, it's difficult to be discrete.  So I welcomed & invited that.  And of course, as soon as I disappeared into the waiting area, they flocked around the Prius.  That turned out to be quite a conversation starter too.  A woman pulled in her car afterward and had to wait for them to finish before being helped herself.  So naturally, she asked me about the Prius right away.  And wouldn't you know it, I ended up chatting with her the whole time I waited.  That was nice.  The work itself was done quickly and correctly.  Yeah!  They inspected the brakes (which were fine) and rotated the tires (using just the simple "roll-back, roll-forward" pattern, no crossing this time).  This was the 5,000 mile service.  So I'll do the oil change part later tonight, myself.  That way I can use synthetic, ensure that it's filled perfectly, and save money in the process.  You may also get a chuckle out of the suspicion I was able to confirm.  I wondered, "would the Bluetooth connection enable me to monitor the status of my Prius?"  Sure enough, it did!  The distance was close enough.  Just by looking at the phone, I could detect that they had finished and driven it out of the work area.  Because the only time the Prius would be on is when the service was complete.  So I knew they were about to begin the paperwork.  That could be handy on a busy day when it would be difficult to visually check for your Prius or they had too many customers to tend to before being able to check status for you.

1-06-2004

Silliness.  This GM quote at the North American International Auto Show today had some entertainment value, "It just doesn't make environmental or economic sense to try to put an expensive dual-powertrain system into less expensive cars which already get good mileage".  Only thing is, I can't figure out if that was humorous or scary.  They are once again making the decision for the consumer rather than offering them a choice.  Man is that ever frustrating.  And of course I have to throw in another silly mention from that commentary, he said, "it doesn't make economic sense for consumers to pay several thousand dollars more for hybrid cars that get up to 30 percent better fuel economy".  Since Prius provides around a 100 percent increase in efficiency, I have no idea what his reference was too.  Don't you love how they dance around actual detail?

1-06-2004

Too much already.  The speculation is running wild now.  The announcement of the hybrid version of Highlander has gained the attention of new consumers, many that hadn't paid attention to Prius.  Now they are making comments like, "just hope the price isn't more than $2,000 more than a normal Highlander".  That isn't realistic.  Most people do tend to agree that the MPG & SULEV improvement justifies an additional 10 percent cost.  But the fact that this hybrid will also offer better power performance too shouldn't be overlooked.  So when you take a look at the non-hybrid version of Highlander and see it would go for $27,500 (or more), that $2,000 wish obviously too low.

1-06-2004

"MAINT REQD"   It started flashing at 4,500 miles, 6 times after you first powered up the hybrid system.  Then it stopped.  After reaching 5,000 miles today, it came on and stayed on.  I like that.  It should help keep people on track with routine maintenance.

1-06-2004

Pure Fuel-Cell Vehicles.  Since one of the best Fuel-Cell vehicles on the road now is actually hybrid, it really doesn't make any sense to discuss "pure" designs.  That type is already a dead concept, hence "H" in Toyota's "FCHV" name.  That stands for Fuel-Cell Hybrid Vehicle.  Some don't realize that though.  But it's true.  What will actually happen is the evolution to a hybrid-hybrid that uses a fuel-cell as a power-source.  Not only will there be a battery-pack, there will also be another electricity device for capture & delivery, like an ultra-capacitor.  Vehicles like Prius will simply evolve into that design.  Although not obvious, it makes a whole lot of sense once you study the best way for electricity to be stored & consumed.

1-05-2004

Making Assumptions.  It has been brought up on a number of occasions that I have a bias for Toyota.  They assume that and never actually ask what the real sorry is.  There assumption is incorrect.  My actual bias is for hybrids that provide at least a 90% decrease in emissions and around a 100% increase in efficiency. Automakers can use whatever the heck technology they want to accomplish that.  Brand or Design really makes on difference to me, as long as they meet that criteria.  But so far, only Toyota's HSD meets those objectives.  That obviously explains the impression you can get currently.

1-05-2004

NiMH prefer Cold.  Did you know that?  Most people mix up capacity with what's better for the battery.  Cold decreases capacity.  Hot accelerates aging of the battery.  I deal with the cold often, here in Minnesota.  But guess what, the capacity is much greater than what's needed for normal Prius operation anyway.  So the extra capacity isn't ever missed.  Heck, I was even able to cruise along at 38 MPH using nothing but electricity this evening.

1-05-2004

Brrrr!  It was only -2 F degrees this morning, that meant Multi-Display photos finally.  I was waiting for a worthwhile opportunity.  Only, I had no idea it would last so long.  The entire day was horribly cold.  Both the morning & evening commutes were at that nasty temperature.  The Prius outside the entire time in between and handled the temperature wonderfully, no struggled whatsoever starting up or providing heat.  That's good, because I struggled to get photos.  The desolate road I selected for moving photos was covered with snow & ice, making it a rather bumpy ride.  That's not good for macro photography.  Anywho, I think these 6 turned out pretty well... photo album 61

1-04-2004

Highlander Battery-Pack.  Some are already under the impression their will be a new type.  I certainly don't think so.  The smart business/production approach for the Highlander (and RX400) battery-pack would be using more of the same internal module that Prius already uses.  Just make the case larger and let the inverter handle the actual voltage needs based on the wattage available.  After all, reuse is the key to lowering costs and better managing inventory. 

1-04-2004

Toyota Highlander-Hybrid.  It was officially announced today with an expected availability of a year from now, a few months later than originally hoped.  I bet Toyota's plans got altered a bit when they discovered just how popular the new Prius was.  It's well worth the wait.  I bet those that enjoy having an SUV will be overwhelmed with excitement.  The hybrid will be even faster and more powerful than the traditional version.  Toyota really decided to go all out with this particular HSD configuration.  The battery-pack is much bigger.  And, of course, due to the 4-wheel drive availability, there will be a big motor in back as well as a big motor in front.  The opportunity to show off what the electric torque can deliver will be a very popular demonstration.  I wonder what the heck the price will be and how many will actually be available.  Hmm?

1-04-2004

Be Warned.  When reading about Prius, if it isn't qualified with a "new" or "2004" label, you should assume the data is for the "classic".  It is simply too early still for testers to have performed all their tests yet and websites aren't always quick to provide updates once new data is released.

1-04-2004

Bluetooth Gaming.  It's really catching on over in Japan.  Since the only cellular service available there is GSM, it was very easy to implement the new ability to a very wide consumer-base.  Unfortunately, here in the United States, we have several non-compatible transmit technologies.  So naturally, the phone equipment all differs.  Bummer.

1-04-2004

North American Awards.  Toyota Prius got named the car of the year for 2004.  That doesn't surprise me at all.  Winner of yet another award.

1-04-2004

2004 Calendar.  There's one now available for downloading & printing.  The calendar features the Classic Prius.  In a few months, I hope to deliver one featuring the 2004 Prius too.  Right now, I have 5 photo sessions (a total of 877 digital shots) that I still need to sort through and figure out which one will get published, then actually do it.  In the meantime, I'll continue to go on photo sessions when the opportunity presents itself.  The struggle to find new locations after over 3 years of doing this is really becoming a challenge now.  And of course, having to (sometimes) wash the Prius immediately beforehand and catching the right lighting conditions is nasty.  It's well worth it though!  I get to share them with y'all afterward.  For now, check this out... calendar "A"

1-03-2004

How did people fit?  I'm starring out the window right now looking at a car from the late-80's parked next to my Prius.  Back then, that would car have been called a "midsize".  The midsize of today totally dwarf's it.  The headroom in back is clearly a few inches higher.  How the heck did people fit in there?  That really makes me wonder.  (Also, the cars back then certainly weren't aerodynamic.  The word "drastic" isn't enough to describe how much of an improvement Prius is in comparison.  Whoa!)

1-03-2004

Engine Warm-Up.  You basically don't have any control over that aspect, though lots of owners ask me with hopes that I'll have some secret method available.  My reply is that the engine really doesn't that need heat anyway, occupants inside and the catalytic-converter do.  So naturally there reply is, "after that warm-up need is fulfilled, why does the engine start back up anyway?"  The answer deals with a trigger, the electric draw.  An engine restart after warm up has completed (and the battery-pack is already sufficiently charged) is when the electrical need exceeds 21kW.  That's fairly easy to observe when you encounter a small hill while driving in stealth.  The engine will start up just for a moment, to supply additional electricity to get you up that hill.  Then it quickly shuts off afterward.

1-03-2004

Engine Use.  Here's a little tidbit of comparison info...  In the classic Prius, the engine is motionless until you exceed 42 MPH.  Faster than that, the engine spins without consuming any fuel.  So regardless of speed, it is still stealth.  Though owners do like to differentiate the slower & faster version.  In the 2004, the RPM tolerance of the motors has been increased.  This supposedly raised the upper-limit for keeping the ICE motionless.  The catch is, we need to figure out what that new speed is.  You also have to keep in mind that electric-only propulsion faster than 42 MPH is only possible under extreme conditions, like when you drive down a steep decline.  Normally, the battery-pack wouldn't be "supercharged" like that.  Personally, I've "supercharged" my classic a few times.  It's pretty sweet.  The time I remember the best was going down the rather hefty elevation drop in Duluth, because I had filled up the tank at the top right before descending.  That allowed me to watch 99.9 MPG on the Multi-Display for about 5 miles!

1-03-2004

Start Procedure.  The uninformed are experiencing startup trouble.  I've read about one reporter and a few owners getting totally confused when the hybrid system doesn't start and then suddenly getting it to, without ever figuring out why.  It all boils down to a habit so natural, you don't realize you are doing it: stepping on the brake.  If you forget, all that happens is the accessories get power.  That's it.  And since you need to step on the brake to shift into gear in all automatic transmission vehicles, the procedure requires little or no thought... so you tend to forget when the same is required when pushing the "Power" button in Prius to start the hybrid system.  But no you've be informed.  So hopefully, it won't ever happen to you.

1-02-2004

Those plain sides.  It suddenly struck me that the doors are that way for a reason.  Beside the aerodynamic benefit, it is so attention will be paid to this more impression feature instead: the profile.  No mass-production vehicle ever has as smooth of a hood/roof/back shape as the 2004 Prius.  It's almost totally seamless, just one big smooth flow.  And you have to admit, when you step back an view the hybrid as a whole from the side, the look of that profile is pretty darn impressive.

1-02-2004

Even Better.  The traditional lights on Prius are actually fantastic (based on 3 years experience with my 2001 Prius).  The thing is, HID are even better.  They exceed the scale most people use to judge brightness on, giving it an 11 on a scale of 1 to 10.  The difference is exactly like when halogens were first introduced.  Everyone was doing fine with the old-fashion bulbs.  Then when they saw halogen, they said "Whoa! I want those."  The lights on the back of Prius are like that too.  Traditional bulbs are plenty good.  LEDs add a whole new dimension to the definition of clarity & responsiveness.  Even better, Prius sets expectations a whole level higher.

1-02-2004

HID Advantage.  How often do you like cleaning headlights?  I get tired of that constant sand & salt spray making them dirty.  Each time before I leave home is enough cleaning.  Having to do it during a trip is just too much.  Fortunately, I have HID lights.  That means the brightness lasts longer than it would with a traditional bulb.  It's a definite advantage, one I hadn't even thought of until actually witnessing it first hand.

1-02-2004

VSC in low-speed city traffic.  Some people are under the impression VSC is only useful when driving fast.  I wonder why.  Hmm?  In city driving, you'll trigger VSC when turning difficult corners.  Going through stray piles of snow (you know, the stuff plows cause) will trigger it too.  And then of course, there's the occasional curve that will catch you off guard.  It's quite useful in the city during the winter.  I beat I'll find a benefit on a rain covered road after having driven on dry pavement for over two weeks.  The dry season tends to catch people off-guard sometimes.

 

back to home page       go to top