Prius Personal Log  #99

January 14, 2004  -  January 19, 2004

Last Updated: Mon. 3/29/2004

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1-19-2004

Even bigger than I thought.  Wow!  I had the need today to remove the false floor (over the hidden storage space) to increase the depth under the hatch shade.  That would allow me to conceal a tall box in the hatch area underneath the rollout cover.  I had no idea so much extra space could be gained from doing that.  That was a very pleasing discovery.  I wonder how long it will take other owners to realize that ability is available.  Hmm?

1-19-2004

Radio in the 2002.  Yup, that has the ability to display song artist & title too.

1-18-2004

Winter is here.  My Prius sat outside for 5 hours tonight.  When I parked, it was 7 F degrees.  When I started it back up, the temperature had dropped to 0 F.  The 40 minute drive home consisted of a mixture of roads ranging from 35 to 55 MPH.  I started at 45.4 MPG, dropped to 45.0 during warm-up.  A decent amount of heat was pouring from the heater by the time the first 5-minute segment on the Multi-Display appeared.  Efficiency slowly climbed as everything became well heated. When I finally pulled into the garage, 45.4 MPG was once again what was showing for the average.  That's just plain sweet.  I'm absolutely delighted to be getting MPG that good in such nasty cold.

1-18-2004

Feature Appeal.  After having had to listened to horsepower & speed obsessed enthusiasts for years, it brings joy to my heart that other specialty components are now catching on.  Some of the options Prius offers are a bit expensive currently.  But since those like SE/SS are completely technology based, there is a very strong possibility that costs will drop to the level that it becomes a standard feature rather than an option (especially since that particular one is so darn handy).  Improvements of that nature will definitely help to redefine what people find appealing in vehicles.  In fact, it is already beginning to draw attention away from the monster-sizing.  More conveniences sounds very appealing to me.  I can't wait until the vocabulary & functions of the voice-recognition system evolve.  There is a tremendous amount of potential that has yet to be exploited, a brand new opportunity for automakers.  In fact, did you know there is now a type of LCD screen that offers tactile sensations, where you can actually feel where a button is rather than looking.  Cool, eh?

1-18-2004

Distance Misconception.  Some are taking the EPA rating a bit too literally.  Based on the 55 MPG estimate, they are expecting the "well over 500 mile" range listing to apply to all situations.  In reality, that will only be possible when you drive under the same conditions as the testing criteria.  I know I will.  But unfortunately, that opportunity is only during the non-peak weeks of Summer when the weather is practically perfect.  And of course, you can only drive as fast as 60 MPH and for only short distances.  That's what the EPA does for their "ideal" testing.  Needless to say, complaints about range surface from time to time.  Real-World driving is much different.  So what really happens is your range in no different than with a traditional vehicle, especially when you take into account the fact that the bladder shrinks during the cold resulting in lower tank capacity.  When I got my Prius, they delivered it with the "Add Fuel" warning on.  The fill up took 10.673 gallons.  So you really could ignore the warning and make that 500 mile distance during the warm season, but that's not recommended.  Don't expect it.  Risking damage to the battery-pack by driving without any gas just plain is not worth it.  Instead, expect distance similar to many traditional vehicles.

1-18-2004

Canoe on top.  Perhaps 2004 is the year I finally get a light-weight canoe.  I've been wanting a really good one forever.  So once this Prius is finally paid off, I'll probably be able to get it.  I carried a heavy-weight on my Omni oh-so-many-years ago on the roof without any trouble at all.  The same should be true for the Prius too.  After all, it is a bigger car.  But the roof is curved.  So I'll have to research whether of not it can be carried without a rack, just using those foam holders instead.  I can't confirm that until the temperature warms up quite a bit... like 70 more degrees!  Right now, it is -3 F degrees.

1-18-2004

Storing Stuff Inside.  The driver-side back-seat folds at a 40% width, providing about 5 1/2 feet of storage length.  The passenger-side back-seat folds at a 60% width, also having the passenger-side front-seat folded down provides a little over 8 feet of storage length.  There's a lot more room than you'd expect.  In fact, you can even fit full-size skis in the back diagonally, without the need to fold down the front.  Hatchbacks are great!

1-17-2004

Cold Concerns.  It's so nice getting to discuss Winter operation during the Winter.  Normally, there's lot of questions in the heat of Summer, especially last year about the 2004.  That makes it a bit difficult to supply proof.  But then again, the Classic Prius clearly proved there is absolutely no need to be concerned.  I drove my 2001 through 3 Minnesota Winters without any trouble whatsoever.  After sitting outside for the whole day in sub-zero temperatures while I was at work, the engine fired up every time.  And unfortunately, I had lots of opportunities to try that.  It didn't have the thermos either.  But all the thermos does is provide heat for the catalytic-converter and warming you sooner.  That's it.  So discard any thoughts you might have about it being involved in the engine starting.  Of course, having a 201.6 volt battery-pack, capable of powering the car for several miles, makes starting a snap anyway.  That's something anyone trying to use a 12-volt battery envious.  Winter is no big deal.  Cold concerns are nothing but wasted worry.

1-17-2004

4 Colors.  Despite the larger Multi-Display in the new Prius, the smaller size of the energy-flow arrows made me a bit concerned.  The benefit of the size change was to standardize the readout.  The 4-wheel drive hybrids will have the same as the 2-wheel.  The number of motors or the placement wouldn't matter either.  So that's helpful, and it turns out the addition of color is too.  The yellow, pink, green, and blue are all very easy to distinguish.  So a simple glance you can tell which way the flow is going and from what source, just by observing color.  You can tell the battery-pack charge level using only color too.  That's pretty smart.  I wonder how many people will realize that though.  It took me awhile.  But then again, I didn't have any photos available.  So if I finally get a chance to do a photo session from the passenger seat and full driving speed, I'll hopefully be able to capture what I've been seeing.  Unfortunately, macro shots with normal road vibration makes photo taking very difficult.  Holding the camera perfectly still is nasty and there's no where to put a tripod and the camera must be held close due to the low level of light available... Wish me luck.

1-17-2004

No Warm-Up.  I wonder how many people realize I don't warm-up the Prius at all.  I literally start the system, buckle my seatbelt, and then drive away.  Winter does not slow me down.  Of course, I know that heat comes sooner when the engine is being used rather just sitting there idling.

1-17-2004

Worth the Wait.  About 8 years ago, my fascination with DVD began.  In that time, it was nothing but a design on paper.  Eventually, a standard was ratified and production began.  Then a conflicting format emerged.  The situation got ugly.  Time passed.  Finally, as if suddenly, both that conflicting format went defunct and the VHS itself began to lose appeal.  Now, several years later, players are dirt cheap and it is clearly the preferred standard for pre-recorded movies.  The recording aspect is rapidly gaining appeal too.  Some recorders now have sale prices of $299.  And just yesterday, the freedom to record to my heart's content became a reality.  I bought a 25-pack pack of high-quality DVD+RW discs for $22.99, just 95 cents each after tax.  That long wait for true replacement has finally ended.  The DVD format has exceeded the design expectations of VHS.  Tape is officially obsolete.  Yeah!  Notice a parallel to hybrids?

1-16-2004

Whoa!  What an amazing experience.  It was like stepping into a time-machine and traveling back to the early 21st Century.  I got to play with a 2002 Prius today!  Just sitting in it brought back some very powerfully pleasant memories.  My classic provided great experiences.  I was once again driving down the road in one, getting to relive that enjoyment.  I wondered how many other people in the world had that same ability to identify the subtle differences.  To most, driving either Prius is such at impressive event it is almost overwhelming.  Having spent over 3 years of driving in one, I can tell.  Toyota did an excellent job of tweaking an already impressive design.  Seeing again how well thought out the classic was really reinforced my belief in Toyota's long-term goal of building an entirely new infrastructure.  The future sure is going to be fun.

1-16-2004

"No Free Lunch"  That's the catch phrase for those opposing hybrids.  They try to distract from the fact that regenerated electricity is a genuine benefit, stating it was energy originally derived from the engine using gas.  Don't let them fool you.  Countless publications very clearly point what the percentage of recapture is.  It's not 100 percent, but it's definitely not zero either.  There is a cost.  Regeneration reduces it.  Watch the Multi-Display sometime while cruising down the highway.  You'll witness how the engine flow stops and it switches to coming from the tires instead.  It only lasts for a second or two.  But since there isn't any such thing as an absolutely flat highway, it happens quite frequently.  Every little bit makes a difference.

1-16-2004

Braking is NOT necessary, even on the highway.  Did you know that?  Braking is not required for energy recapture.  Regeneration of electricity takes place while your driving.  I prove just about every day.  Without touching the brakes at all while just going with the flow on the highway, I earn "leaf" regen symbols on the Multi-Display indicating how much was regenerated.  Excess kinetic energy is reclaimed, any minor decline will cause this.  It's amazingly easy for the Planetary-CVT in Prius too.  Rather than using the 50kW motor (MG2) like it does for braking recapture, it instead uses the 10kW motor (MG1) since that is always spinning while the engine is providing thrust anyway.  The switch-over from generating electricity from the engine to from the wheels completely seamless, since all the components involved are already moving.  In fact, the electric flow doesn't change either.  It keeps feeding the battery-pack like before, only the power source is different.  A sensor detects thrust coming from the wheels rather than going to them and eases up on the engine RPM.  You can clearly see the flow change on the Multi-Display too.  It's quite impressive to the system take advantage of a minor opportunity like that, something a traditional system can't... hence the efficiency gain some hybrids offer.

1-16-2004

Jealousy.  I wondered when this would finally happen.  It was inevitable.  You know the saying, "You can't please all the people all the time."  The real question now is, "How quickly will it pass?"  Some of those that own fuel-efficient traditional cars are turning against hybrids, attempting to convince people they are a poor purchase decision not worth the cost.  Some of those with the non-Toyota hybrids are no longer playing friendly, not treating Prius as an equal like they used to.  And some others with non-Toyota hybrids are jumping ship and announcing there defection to the other side by purchasing & praising Prius.  The reality is the line for that other side is being draw now.  What's next?  HSD will eventually be available in every passenger vehicle Toyota offers.  It will also be available in select vehicles from other automakers.  Will those currently showing opposition step down quietly, or do we literally have to wait for their vehicles need replacement before acceptance happens?

1-16-2004

It has begun.  I have to acknowledge what's happening.  Ignoring it certainly isn't appropriate.  So I have to mention the political reality now unfolding.  President Bush deserves credit for having done some good things for the country.  So in the end, don't forget that.  But when it comes to a very specific topic, he hasn't done well at all:  the Environment.  Democrats are furious.  So they are selecting that as a major issue to address early in the election proceedings, and they aren't be coy about it.  That makes me happy.  I've been frustrated about the lack of attention for 3 years now.  The topic is important.  Regardless of who ends up winning, they better start showing some support.  Hybrids are proving their worth now.  Wouldn't it make sense to endorse them?  That certainly would pump some new life into the currently struggling American automakers, while at the same time helping reduce emissions and ease up our dependence on imported oil.

1-16-2004

Plain & Simple.  Sub-30 MPH traffic with lots of stop & slow is the worst.  +65 MPH highway cruising is nasty.  35 to 55 MPH suburb driving with only occasional stopping is the best.

1-15-2004

50.2 MPG at 38 miles.  That sure was nice to see today.  I hadn't expected to get efficiency that good in the Winter; though, I still wish for Spring.  Seeing MPG like that will be much more routine.

1-15-2004

Gas Prices.  They're climbing up again.  I wonder why.  Hmm?  I also wonder if that will result in a hybrid sales spike.  Or in this case, order spike.  Makes me wonder how long people are willing to nowadays for delivery too.

1-15-2004

Radio.  That built-in 6 CD is rather handy, so handy that I haven't been listening to the radio lately.  Today, I decided too.  To my delight.  The artist and song title suddenly appeared on the Multi-Display.  Is this something new or didn't my favorite radio station provide that type of information until just recently?  Even my Prius had a messaging system, something that isn't even used in the United States still.  So, I really don't have any idea.  Oh well, it's nice to now have this improvement.

1-14-2004

Bluetooth times Two.  If you have two cell-phones that you want to interact with Prius (obviously, not at the same time), you have to give one of them a different name.  When you connect the first, it accepts the default name of the phone.  In my case, "T610".  That's no big deal for one, but for two there's a conflict.  Besides the trouble a duplicate name could cause for the computer, it makes it even worse for you.  Which would you select from the screen?  So, needless to say, I'll need to borrow another cell-phone from someone sometime and document how to change the name.  In the meantime, here's how to setup just one phone... bluetooth

1-14-2004

Surprise.  A decked out Monte Carlo pulled up next to me.  I could tell he liked to open the throttle routinely.  When the light turned green, I dropped the pedal to the floor and shot off.  His "what the heck?" reaction was obvious.  So at the next intersection, I glanced over to show acknowledgement.  The light green, and I took off again.  He hung right at my side, checking out the vehicle that caught him off guard.  I bet the quietness of the hybrid system and the extremely aerodynamic shape of the Prius really made him think.  The when the next light turned green, we both took off again.  Then he showed me what his car could do... and left me in the dust.  That's ok.  My car was likely around 100 times cleaner and definitely no where near as noisy.

1-14-2004

GPS & Bluetooth GPS.  It's getting addicting.  Having it available in my Prius now makes me want it on my bike too.  Someday when I finally get a PDA (handheld computer, actually) it will have to have GPS too, so I can bring into along with me on trips.  Fortunately, it doesn't have it built-in.  There is already a Bluetooth enabled GPS system.  All the hardware is built the housing of a pager that connects wirelessly.  That sure would be handy.  Just another small device, rather than making the handheld even larger & heavier.  Being able to offload the power-drain to another battery is also a benefit.  That makes me wonder with goodies Prius will offer a few years from now, when more people discover what I have.

 

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