Personal Log  #3

December 10, 2000  -  January 16, 2001

Last Updated: Sun. 2/15/2003

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Did some more reminiscing.  Just 1 hour after getting my Prius.  I drove to the park with my camera.  It was a beautiful day, the car looked incredible, and I was so excited I couldn't stand it.  So I took a whole bunch of photos.  Ultimately, only 3 got published on my website though... the rest ended up archived on a CD, but now 6 more are available:  photo album 10. Don't those summer photos look great (especially when you consider the fact that I'm in Minnesota and it won't look like again that for a very long time)?


Created the WINTER website card.  I'm really proud of this one.  It will be fun to give to others.  The photo is of my Prius parked in the corner of a snowy parking lot overlooking a scenic neighborhood lake.  And this time, I added a new feature: the multi-display is included.  Check it out:  website cards


2000 numbers were announced today (counts through 12/31/2000).  5,562 Prius were delivered in the United States (including mine).  7,709 Prius orders were accepted since 6/29/2000.  Those are pretty nice numbers.  Keep'em coming!


You never know what to expect.  At the gas station, I opened the hood on the Prius to check on the new oil.  There was a man next to me wiping his windows.  I said, "Hi! Have you ever seen anything like this?"  Then I provided a brief hybrid explanation and handed him a card.  He didn't seem interested but was polite when he took the card and went inside to pay the cashier.  I was a bit disappointed... until he came back out.  He walked right up to me and proceeded to ask a few questions.  Apparently, I had caught his interest.  Excellent!


Took a look back at the past.  4 months ago, that's 2 days before I got my Prius, I visited it in the dealer's back lot with my camera.  The resulting files were never published, they just ended up on an archive disk... until today!  Now they're on:  photo album 10


When the temperature goes up, so does the MPG.  The temperature has averaged around 30 F degrees since I last filled up with gas.  44.2 MPG is the result of the 69 miles I've driven.  That's much better than the upper-30 MPGs I had been getting.


Saw another Prius today!  Unfortunately the silver hybrid was going the opposite direction, so all I got was just enough time to make a positive identification.  Oh well.  There just aren't a lot in Minnesota yet.  People here have been hesitant about purchasing a Prius for use in such a hostile climate.  I've heard the comment "I'll wait until spring" from countless interested but concerned individuals.  And of course, who wants to break in a new vehicle during the dead of winter anyway?  By this spring, my website will have an abundance of data and photos confirming that there is nothing to worry about.  The batteries haven't demonstrated even the slightest problem in sub-zero temperatures.  And the standard tires work just fine; no slipping & sliding for me.


Wow! 10,000 visits to my website.  My goal is to provide content that is truly valuable to those interested in the Prius and hybrid technology.  I realize the counter itself isn't an accurate measurement of actual activity, but at least it's some type of gauge.  What's really fulfilling (and a much better indicator of success) is the email I get; when people make comments about something specific they saw or they ask for something new, that makes me feel really good.  I guess I really am following the advice of the captain who's ship id I share ("1701-A" is the starship Enterprise commanded by Captain James T. Kirk)... he told Captain Jean-Luc Picard (commander of the "1701-D" & "1701-E" Enterprises) to MAKE A DIFFERENCE.  I'm doing my best, so far so good.


7,500 mile service.  My first visit to Toyota Service.  The oil & filter got changed for the first time, along with rotating the tires and getting a 19-point inspection.  Everything checked out just fine.  But when I asked the mechanic what condition the oil was in, he replied "just like any other 3000 mile oil change".  Then when I mentioned the odometer was at 7,501 miles, he was at a loss for words.  He started to say 3000 is strongly recommended, but as he thought about it you could tell he was trying to figure out if that traditional logic applied to the Prius.  Regardless of the uncertain advice, I had fun chatting with him and the woman at the front desk.  Following that, they presented me with a bill for $57.98.  I quickly pointed out that I was the first to have this done by them and they didn't realize there wasn't a charge since it was covered under warranty.  They couldn't confirm my comment just then, but it sounded correct so they waived the charge for the moment.  (I doubt I'll get a call back saying I need to pay.)  Overall, everything went well and I was in & out of there in just an hour.


It was a beautiful day (18 F degrees and sunny), a fantastic way to start the 21st Century.  That provided the perfect excuse to take more winter photos.  I explored just about every park in the area as well as the back roads of the zoo with my Prius & camera.  The result was these 15 photos I'm rather proud of:  photo album 9


December 2000 was both the second SNOWIEST and second COLDEST December in Minnesota recorded history.  Driving 1500 miles in those conditions was really fun!  And I got to contribute to Prius history by being among the first few owners to expose the car to those extreme conditions.  Sweet!


The pile of snow at the end of my driveway was bigger than the Prius.  It was snowing so hard that I left work early.  It was getting dark.  That was the perfect setting for a new type of photo to add to the album: I used the flash on the camera as the only source of light.  It worked great!  I was able to illuminate the snow background, the Prius, and hundreds of flakes in the foreground.  Here's the 6 photos I took:  photo album 7


The temperature has dropped 109 degrees since I got my Prius!  I hadn't done the math until someone asked why my MPG has progressively been dropping.  96 F degrees is the highest I've seen, and -13 F degrees is the lowest.  That's 109.  The result is much longer warm up times and much worse driving conditions (on Minnesota snow & ice).  The MPG graph shows the drop clearly:  personal data


Oh, the weather outside was frightful, but the heater was so delightful...  The morning drive to my parents to celebrate Christmas was rather surprising.  The inside of the Prius was warm, I had no clue the temperature had dropped all the way to -27 F degrees the night before.  So seeing the -13 readout on the multi-display was a great unexpected present, especially since I had my digital camera with me.  Here's what I saw:  photo album 7


The temperature rose 20 degrees today, all the way to 12 F degrees!  That meant it was warm enough to finally wash all the salt off the Prius.  And since it just happened to be a wonderfully sunny day, perfect for making the new layer of light fluffy snow look great, I just couldn't resist the opportunity to go on another hybrid & camera adventure (even though the windchill would be awful on my gloveless hands).  It's pretty amazing how scenic the snow can be.  I ended up with these 15 great photos:  photo album 8


It felt like I was going to freeze to death!  Just as I was finishing at the gas pump, I heard "What do you think of the car?"  When I turned around I saw an enthusiastic man in his toasty warm car with the window down looking at me.  I said "Hi", then took off my glove and handed him one of my Prius cards.  We ended up having a short discussion about the Prius.  I really enjoyed that, despite the fact that it was -4 F degrees and I had a -38 F degrees windchill blowing on my back.  Brrrr!


Battery-Only driving when it's -4 F degrees... Wow!  I was bouncing between 38.9 and 39.0 MPG. So I slowed down to 20 MPH to see if I could keep it at 39.0 as I approached the gas station about a half mile down the road. It worked! The engine had to remain on to keep things warm, but it wasn't needed to make the car move. That saved some gas, and I was able to enjoy an "artic" version of stealth mode.


50,000 Prius now driving on roads around the world.  That was the news last week.  Since then, I've had time to think about that important milestone.  Slowly, but surely, this really impressive car (loaded with resource-saving, environmentally-friendly technology) is starting to make a difference.  Sweet!


Plowed through the snow on the commute home from work.  The morning drive was a pain due to the couple of inches of snow that fell during the night.  So the evening drive was guaranteed to be even worse since the snow never stopped falling.  The plan was to get off the common route as quickly as possible.  That resulted in me driving through flat residential roads that hadn't been plowed yet.  Five inches of the nasty white stuff was the average depth, and I'd occasionally run into really deep piles.  It was great!  I got through all that just fine (and was rather exhilarated from the experience).  The Prius can obviously handle those snow conditions well.


-35 F degrees was the windchill from the 22 MPH wind I faced my Prius toward in the parking lot (the temperature was 3 F degrees).  Then for 2 hours I played cards with friends & family in the warm coffee shop.  When done, I ran to the Prius and laughed when I realized how cold it was.  (It was soooo cold the wind hurt my teeth.  That's just plain nasty how quickly things cool off!)  But when I turned the key, the engine started right up and the [READY] message displayed.


37.4 was the MPG after a week of winter driving.  I filled up late Sunday night, then again on Friday after getting home from work.  With temperatures around 0 F degrees and on & off snow fall, it was a great example of Minnesota winter conditions.  I was very curious what the results would be.  That 37.4 MPG really impressed me.  What do you think all those other vehicles got?  Here's the details of what I got:  personal data


The digital camera got a cold workout.  At home the temperature was 0 F degrees, there was almost no wind, and the Prius had a decorative coating of salt on it.  Driving around looking for scenic snow-covered areas with "the right" lighting for night photos became my quest.  I ended up with 3 great photos that you can now find on:  photo album 7


My Prius sat out all day, the high temperature was only 0 F degrees.  It was now -2. Would having been parked in that open parking ramp for so many hours cause startup problems?  Nope!  I turned the key and the engine turned over the same way it always does.


It was -8 F degrees, the morning commute was guaranteed to be awful.  So to avoid the slippery hidden black-ice conditions, I decided to take a 15 mile detour.  The following are the resulting 5-minute MPG intervals from that commute: 30, 45, 36, 41, 45, 41, 39, 41, 50, 55, 28.  The last value and first 3 were city driving, the rest was 50 to 60 MPH highway driving.  The temperature started out at -8 and slowly rose to -2, but first I drove through 3 small air-pockets that registered as -9 for a few seconds.  I was quite pleased that my Prius handled those conditions without any extra effort (even to keep me warm).


3 F degrees was the temperature during the morning commute.  My Prius was great in the heavy stop & slow traffic.  I was able to drive using just battery-power quite a bit.  Yes, the engine was running the whole time, but mostly just to keep me warm.  That doesn't require as much gas as it does to propel the car.  I managed to average about 40 MPG then.  So, fear not, winter traffic isn't as bad for Prius owners.


Watched the temperature drop all the way to -2 F degrees!  The Prius had sat in the garage all day.  I started it up and checked the temperature.  It said 39 F degrees.  I backed out and drove away.  By the time the temperature settled down to show me how cold it really was outside, I had already decided I should head back home (taking the long way to avoid redundancy, of course).  Once there I ran into the house to get the digital camera, the result is the photo at the bottom of:  photo album 6


"This Hybrid-Electric Car Gets 45 MPG", the message I put in the back window of my Prius two weeks ago, has been noticed by quite a few people.  Cool!  Despite the fact that I made it small and placed it as low as I could, I can still see people pointing at it from my rear-view mirror.  So it's like that saying, "words spoken softly are more likely to be heard".  To see what the window-message looks like, go to:  photo album 6


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