Personal Log  #18

December 2, 2001  -  December 19, 2001

Last Updated: Fri. 4/09/2004

    page #17         page #19         BOOK         INDEX         go to bottom 



"My car runs on batteries too."  Three guys were playing with a remote-controlled battery-operated car in the parking lot.  I yelled that to get their attention.  It worked!  They all looked up.  I said "it's the 2800 hundred pound green car over there".  Confused looks was their response.  So I whipped out a website card and said that was my hybrid.  They understood immediately and ran over to see it up close.  Opening the hood resulted in "whoa" comments.  They didn't expect it to look so different.  Starting the Prius (in the dark) caused a bunch of "ooh" & "ahh" sounds of happiness.  At that point, they quite exhilarated.


First Generation Prius Video.  This was my official introduction to the Prius.  I got it from a special on TLC (The Learning Channel) back in February 2000.  The show was some type of presentation based on concept vehicles.  The Prius was shown at the very end since it was the only vehicle that was actually available for purchase.  Unfortunately, all I saw & recorded was the last few minutes.  Since then, I don't think it has ever been aired again.  PNGV (Partnership for the Next Generation of Vehicles, which is now dissolved) was having a huge one-time conference then.  So I think this might have been part of it.  On the video you'll see the multi-display from the first generation Prius offered back in 1997.  (That blue background is an obvious clue.)  It wasn't touch-sensitive, instead there were 8 buttons along the bottom.  The clip gives you a good idea of the excitement of this technology before it was even available in the United States.  And it was actually the only thing, beyond a few photos, I got to see before placing my order.  Now you can see it too:  video files 


Energy Monitor.  Now that I'm only getting MPG in the mid-40's (which is still quite impressive), I find myself fascinated with watching the components of the hybrid system interact rather than seeing performance data.  So I keep this mode showing and only switch over to the Consumption Screen occasionally.  Winter is cruel to all vehicles.  That's why I don't let the slipping MPG bother me.  Later when Spring finally arrives and warm up times are much quicker, I'm sure I'll switch back over again.


94 cents per gallon.  It's been at this incredibly low price at most stations for 3 days now.  MPG probably won't be as much of a concern for many people if the price remains this low for an extended amount of time.  I wonder what will end up happening?


Cameron Diaz bought a Prius.  I was watching the "Tonight Show".  Jay Leno asked Cameron about the new car she bought today.  Her response wasn't well rehearsed.  You could tell she was very excited.  I bet so many people will ask about her Prius that she'll come up with witty reply in no time.  Most Prius owners do.


Civic Hybrid sales began today in Japan.  They're expected to start here around March.  Since MPG is the major selling point, it makes me curious what Honda's marketing strategy will be when gas is so cheap.  The technology, called IMA (Integrated Motor Assist), is significantly different from THS (Toyota Hybrid System).  The strengths of that design still aren't known yet.  Emissions are quite clean, but not as much as Prius.  Stealth isn't available either.  You have any ideas?


Prius Profit.  Throughout 2001 it was believed that Prius was no longer losing money, that the purchase price was very close to the manufacture cost.  We were right.  And now we know the situation is even better.  Toyota has been able overcome boundaries since the original introduction of Prius in 1997 allowing the hybrid to actually make a profit.  Being able to sustain itself financially means new opportunities will be possible now.  Excellent!


More Prius.  Toyota announced it will increase the US allocation by 40 percent.  That brings the count up to about 17,000 Prius per year here.  We have no idea what the worldwide production will be, but it's really nice knowing that the demand is growing in this country where gas is cheap and environmental concerns are (unfortunately) not much of a priority.  Seeing more and more Prius on the road will convince people that the technology is a sensible investment.


Tires.  They're a source of frustration.  Some owners don't realize the Prius comes with high-performance tires (Bridgestone Potenzas) before it's too late.  It appears at this point they simply don't know those tires need to be checked more often than with everyday vehicles.  Frequent checking should be routine, just like with many sports cars, since the rubber is so soft.  Having low pressure makes the sidewall less rigid which reduces the support available.  That contributes to edge wear and causes excessive heat (from having to flex so much).  Tread is worn down quickly and sometimes blowouts occur.  35/33 (that's 35 PSI front and 33 PSI back) is the recommended pressure.  The better  informed owners have discovered more is really needed.  Some have been using 42/40 and 40/40.  I've chosen 38/37.  And now at 24,405 miles, my Prius tires look great still.  Reaching the expected 30,000 mile life won't be a problem for me.  But I worry about others that aren't as well informed.  So research has begun for an alternate.  I've been shopping around looking for a tire that meets the special requirements of the Prius with rubber that's a lot harder.  Unfortunately, that might reduce stealth and cause MPG to drop.  Hopefully, the much longer life will far out-weigh those trade-offs.  At this point, the Goodyear Allegra (apparently only available at Sam's) seems to meet all the needs, except one: maximum load.  1102 pounds is the requirement, 1019 pounds is what the Allegra offers.  Is that enough?  Probably.  The tread pattern is very similar, price is less, and the expected life is 75,000 miles.  So my interest is peaked.


97 cents per gallon.  3 days ago, the price of gas had dropped to 99 cents.  Today, it got even lower.  Whoa!


45 days in a row.  That's how long the temperature has been above average.  They say Mother Nature always balances things out.  Do that mean I could break my -13 F degree multi-display photo record?


The reign of the dinosaurs.  Could it be that the recent drop in both interest rates & gas prices and the dramatic increase in SUV sales are an indication the some fear the end is nearing?  9/11 may have been the wake up call.  Now those with less (or no) concern for the future are trying to enjoy the final "good old days".  It was an unheard of concept that the smaller, weaker mammals could one day rule the world that was dominated by larger, stronger reptiles.  But it happened!  Perhaps the reign of the hybrids is beginning?


PRIUS FRIENDS NETWORK.  It came through again.  In the mail today, I got a video tape from a Prius owner that had a much higher quality copy of the chase scene from "Thieves" on it. So I rendered a new file and added an improved opening credit. And because there's noticeably less video tape artifacts, the file compressed smaller.

I'm not sure if the helpful sole that contributed the improved quality wants a spotlight, but I'd sure like to speak for everyone and give a great big THANK YOU! (Plus, I'd like to express gratitude to the original contributor.  If it wasn't for your willingness to help, I wouldn't have been inspired to keep pushing for better. THANKS!)


Got a good laugh.  It's amazing to hear how different perspectives can be.  When checking out an automotive performance magazine, I found a review on the Prius.  A comment was made saying the Prius was the slowest car they have ever reviewed.  So?  It's a performance magazine.  How many family cars do you really think they've ever reviewed.  (My guess is none.)  The reviewer complained about "wandering" while driving at high speeds.  He didn't know the alignment just needed to be adjusted.  That's no big deal.  The final item was the best, he found the engine automatically shutting off "disconcerting".  It made him feel uncomfortable knowing the engine wasn't running.  Isn't that incredible?  Stealth is the very feature Prius owners absolutely love.


Prius aging process.  All engines lose cylinder compression as usage continues.  The walls & rings just don't last forever.  That means power will be lost as the vehicle ages.  However, the design of the Prius hybrid system limits wear considerably.  Look at how less often oil changes are needed (every 7,500 miles).  Have you thought about what it will be like 10 years from now?  There could be Prius all over the place, just because they continue to remain running while traditional vehicles have to be decommissioned due to unreliable operation and excessive repair bills.


5 new Night Snow Photos.  That nasty white stuff is falling.  The scenery is changing.  Winter is back.  That means unique new photo opportunities.  4 of the photos are under those new super-bright-white parking lot lights.  That made the heavy, wet, snow sticking to the branches of trees really stick out (no puns intended) in the night darkness.  The other photo is under the more common type of light, so I went for the silhouette effect.  It produced a really nice side profile with a snowy night background.  All 5 are on photo album 27


What a waste.  I got to the restaurant early.  While waiting, I noticed a car in the parking lot running (steam was coming for the exhaust) and with its blinker on.  There were two passengers that apparently wanted to stay warm while they waited for the driver to return.  So to kill time before my friend arrived, I watched that car out of curiosity.  28 minutes later the driver showed up.  Neither passenger bothered to shut the engine off that entire time and neither was the least bit concerned about wasting all that gas idling for so long.  Too bad they didn't have a Prius.  The engine would have automatically shut off when enough warmth was created to run the heater for awhile.  That would save gas and the silence would probably clue them in to the fact that the blinker was still activated.


Toyota Prius WebRing.  Now there's a convenient way to find the Prius owner & enthusiasts websites.  It's that new navigation box at the bottom of my home page.  The simple interface will link all the other participant sites together in a ring.  Clicking the various buttons will move you through that ring.  If a webmaster wants to add their own website, all he or she needs to do is click the "Join Now" link, provide an address for their webpage, then paste the code that's automatically created onto the bottom of that webpage.


Just Floor It!  From time to time, test drivers and new owners complain about rapid acceleration.  It turns out that when they hear the engine "race", they stop pushing the pedal so hard.  Well, the Prius doesn't work like conventional vehicles.  You don't have to carefully monitor your actions.  If you want to accelerate as fast as possible, just floor it.  That engine "race" is actually "most efficient use".  Maximum RPM is only 4500, which ensures unnecessary stress is never exerted on the engine since the motor provide the bulk of the overall thrust anyway.  (That makes traditional vehicles envious!)  Also, don't forget how much closer the engine is to the firewall than usual.  That makes the sound seem louder.  So anyway, just go ahead and push the pedal all the way to the floor; the computer accepts that as a request for maximum acceleration and will handle the rest for you. (Remember, you're not actually moving a throttle like in traditional vehicles and over-spinning prevented automatically.).  You may not feel the burst of speed since the hybrid system is so smooth, but you'll definitely see the numbers fly by on the speedometer.


63 F degrees this morning.  The snow is completely gone here.  I'm getting that Spring feeling now.  Reality about Winter will soon set in.  Oh darn.


Prius USER-GUIDE complete now.  Actually, it's just the "first edition", since it will never truly be complete.  I plan on continually tweaking it as owners learn & discover things.  And of course, there are new sections to add.  The Word (DOC) version can be downloaded now.  The Acrobat Reader (PDF) version should be available soon.  Look for both on user-guide


No real speedometer/tachometer relation.  Analog speedometers are primitive.  I had the one in my Taurus replaced twice.  So when the third started to act funny while I was driving (the needle bounced around until the car thoroughly warms up), I trained myself to watch the tachometer while cruising instead.  It's simply too expensive to have it replaced until it stops working completely.  Removing the entire dashboard takes forever and the part itself is quite expensive (especially since it includes the analog odometer which by state-law must be factory preset to the proper mileage beforehand).  Watching that RPM level on the tachometer could work as a good alternative until replacement because levels are constant while cruising.  That wouldn't work in the Prius though.  The RPM changes frequently (to save gas) without cruising speed changing.  Thankfully that shouldn't ever be a problem anyway.  The digital speedometer, odometer, and fuel-gauge are all just a simple digital display that can easily be replaced.  But even better, the odds of failure are dramatically lower since there aren't any moving parts inside.


Prius Chase Video.  A kind Prius owner provided an analog tape copy of the episode of "Thieves" with the chase scene.  Wow!  No more waiting for a rerun.  And with the wonder of digital conversion I was able to render a surprisingly good clip into a fairly small file.  MPEG-4 compression provided the magic.  It's a Microsoft codec that Apple & Real recently announced they'd be providing support for.  It you already have a viewer that can playback AVI video files in MPEG-4 format, you can see the chase now:  video files


Seeing double?  I usually park in the far away parking lots.  That protects the Prius from door-dings, makes it much easier to get noticed, and insures I get the maximum amount of exercise.  Today, one other vehicle did the same thing.  It was a Green Focus parked in the end spot one row over from mine.  The similar color, size, and shape at that distance caught me off guard.  For a moment, I thought there were two Green Prius and didn't know which was mine.


back to home page       go to top