Personal Log  #191

April 9, 2005  -  April 19, 2005

Last Updated: Sun. 5/01/2005

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Forever and Ever.  The voice of reality spoke today, an owner with an objective perspective.  He reminded everyone that a car won't last forever, regardless of how well it is built.  That's true.  Things do break.  Whether it is from harsh treatment, neglect, or just plain old wearing out, eventually it will happen.  So when a company delivers a product that is 99.9% reliable, it's rather inappropriate to focus on just the 0.1% that have an undesirable experience.  There are far too many factors that can influence reliability.  We do know that some people unknowingly damage their vehicle.  That's sad, but nonetheless a reality.  Just ask people that owned a manual transmission who didn't realize riding the clutch was harmful.  No one ever pointed it out and it never dawned on them to ask.  And how many of you with automatics have actually checked the level of the tranny fluid?  Or do wait until a noise or vibration alerts you... in other words, damage has already occurred.  That's why we have pushed so hard to raise awareness about oil level.  For many, that is their introduction to proactive care.  Rather than reacting to a problem, they are diligently not only making sure the routine maintenance is getting performed, they are also finding out exactly what is being done and if it is be done correctly.  Remember that saying?  An ounce of prevention...


Info-Sheet Update.  It's been 6 months.  So I changed the two photos on the front and tweaked some the wording in the specifications section.  The new photo to so the recent mileage (32,104 miles) was an obvious update.  And I swapped tiny Multi-Display shot of the Consumption Screen.  You find both DOC & PDF versions of it available for downloading here... Info-Sheet


Speed/Odometer Photo.  Needed a new one for an update to the Info-Sheet, so I took this... photo album 92


77 F Degrees!  Wow!  It is absolutely amazing outside, a stealther's delight.  I've been looking forward to today for months, half a year in fact.  MPG is climbing to very impressive levels.  Sweet!


An entirely new way of looking at hybrids.  If you've been reading these logs, you'd know about the deception some have been attempting by being vague... never giving you all the facts to draw your own conclusion with.  So I created this new webpage to counter that.  You'll see that it takes a totally different approach to considering what hybrids offer, pointing out abilities people may simply not be aware of.  You'll find detail for each of the following categories: Engine Shutoff,  Cylinder Deactivation,  SULEV,  PZEV,  Mild electric cooling,  Full electric cooling,  1-25 MPH stealth,  30-40 MPH stealth,  45-55 MPH stealth,  60-75 MPH stealth,  Create & Consume.  Take a look at that detail for yourself... hybrid ratings


Lumping.  Got any predictions how long it will be until the fact that multiple types of hybrids exist becomes common knowledge?  It's definitely not well known right now.  Fortunately, some do catch the fact reporters lump all of the hybrids currently available into a single category, which is definitely not constructive... but then again, the writer may not have any idea what a "hybrid" can actually be.  Anywho, the lumping will end someday.  I just don't want to have to wait.  After all, new misconceptions emerge if a misunderstanding continues for too long.


N/A.  Ever read, watch, or listen to car advice?  I do on a regular basis.  And just as often, I end up getting frustrated hearing advice that is "not applicable" to some hybrids.  Arrgh!


Shakeup at GM.  It finally happened.  I can't believe it.  Bob Lutz, the North American chairman for GM, has stepped down.  He's the guy that's been saying hybrids were a waste of effort.  Much of the nonsense about fuel-cell vehicles came from him too.  But now with so much money being lost by that automaker, a new approach is required.  The most obvious market opportunity is hybrids.  Do you think the new chairman will take advantage of that?


Closure.  Finally!  Dealing with the misrepresentation of the other types of hybrids was very frustrating.  Those supporting those other designs were intentionally vague, going out of their way to not provide enough information (no detail)... because with that, they'd get the attention they didn't want.  And sure enough, my "playing offense" technique worked great to expose what they were actually up to.  Now they have the very attention they were trying so hard to avoid.  Sweet!  It's quite rewarding to see how being direct has paid off.  I have nothing to hide.  They do.  And now, their attempts to conceal won't work.  People have become aware that all hybrids are not created equally.  Some don't deliver as you may have been lead to believe.  That's what I wanted to achieve closure.  Thank goodness it finally happened.


$1.91 per gallon.  It appears as though some are beginning to consider that a "bargain".  People used to freak out by thoughts of prices close to two dollars.  Now they are getting complacent about it.  That's scary how quickly the attitude change occurred.  I wonder if that will happen with hybrids, as if overnight.  Hmm?  Some certainly don't see my perspective.  Having driven one for so long, I can't imagine ever being forced to use the old technology anymore.


Un-Pure.  I couldn't stand what I did yesterday.  It was horrible!  I filled my tank for the very first time with normal gasoline.  Ahhh!  Having traveled all the way up to Lake Itasca, to visit the headwaters of the Mississippi River (it's only a few feet across there), I traveled outside of the range of low-sulfur gas.  (By the way, photos of that will eventually end up in the gallery.)  That cleaner fuel won't be available that until sometime later this year.  So when I finally arrived back home, I filled back up hoping to somehow dilute the stuff still remaining.  I know.  That's quite unnecessary.  That "dirty" gas here in Minnesota quite a bit cleaner than the stuff available in other states still anyway.  And using so little of it really won't cause any measurable build up of sulfur in the emissions system.  But what the heck.  Sometimes you gotta do it just because it's there.


Barber.  I had some time to spare while visiting a small town in Northern Minnesota.  So I stopped at the local barber for a haircut.  He saw me pull up, as the Prius disappeared from view of the window.  When I went in, we had the generic talk about weather and stuff while he cut.  Then out of the blue, he stops cold and walks over to the window to sneak a peak of the Prius.  All that time he was waiting for me to finally mention something about it.  But I hadn't.  So he decided to himself.  Moments later he was back cutting my hair asking a whole bunch of hybrid questions.  That was cool.  He was quite pleased... and I didn't even reveal who I was.  I thought that would have been gross overkill.  He simply got the chance to ask an owner (a rare opportunity in those parts) about his experiences with a hybrid.  Perhaps I'll stop by again someday.  After all, the haircut turned out great.


SAAB Hybrid.  Apparently, there is an effort to deliver a hybrid in Europe via SAAB, which is owned by GM.  The brief article I read about it included a diagram of a front-wheel drive vehicle with a generator added.  There was a battery-pack and thrust-motor in back, setup to power the rear wheels.  That's an unusually simple approach (with respect to traditional design).  I wonder how the heck it will work.  Hmm?  Having thrust come from different tires at unpredictable times could provide a rather odd driving sensation.  Maybe it won't matter.  If the system is persistent like HSD, the power could be nearly constant.  But how would stealth work?  Would the engine be shifted to neutral then?  And what about rapid & seamless engine startup?  Would there be a way to support that without having to redesign the starter?  For that matter, how would stopping work?  Needless to say, there are lots of questions about how it will operate.  Until those are answered, don't expect the system to be considered competitive.


GM's Worse Nightmare.  It has come true.  They've announced their hydrogen plans have been put on hold, that hybrids are the better choice.  Just a few years ago, they were leading the protest against hybrids, exclaiming they were nothing but a "stop gap" unnecessarily wasting resources.  Prius owner's knew that was just a tactic draw attention elsewhere.  It was obvious that hydrogen could not compete, hence the vague press releases.  We had hoped there were secretly building a hybrid of their own, keeping quiet about it in the meantime.  But instead, they were actually in denial.  Now with their share of the market rapidly shrinking and the interest in their massive vehicles losing appeal, it is time to take action.  With they finally deliver sometime?  Will that cumbersome, "two-mode" design be their approach?  Something actually has to happen... soon.  The time for talk is over.


Almost Hit!  That was scary.  I looked outside the building and saw a small pickup sitting in the line of traffic, empty.  It was there as the result of not having put the brake on.  It had rolled there without the owner's knowledge.  With a nearly flat parking lot, he figured it wasn't necessary.  Clearly, he was wrong.  Anyway, seeing it so close to the side of my Prius, I wondered if it had made contact... fearing that I'd find a dent once I got out there.  Naturally, I couldn't tell from the window.  I told the lady in the desk that a truck had rolled away unattended, then ran outside.  It missed.  Phew!  That was close.  It was neglect, plain & simple.  I was able to push the truck out of the way with very little effort.  It was obviously not it gear (a shortcoming of manual transmissions that owners don't like to talk about).  Just then, the owner showed up.  I politely told him that the brake needs to be set every time he parks.  His response was "I thought I had".  That was it.  No sorry.  No I'll be more careful in the future.  No comment about how close he had come to causing an accident.  Oh well; thankfully, vehicles using primitive technology like that won't last forever.


40 MPG.  Someone is trying to establish a new organization that uses 40 MPG as the minimum qualification for vehicles they wish to promote.  That sounds well intentioned, until you discover what that requirements really means.  Efficiency on that level is much harder to acquire than it would seem.  They only listed 11 vehicles that could do it.  7 were manual transmissions, making them unappealing to most of the population.  That only left 4, all of which were hybrids.  Insight can be disqualified simply by the fact that Honda has scaled back the production all the way to only offering 150 for the entire country in 2005.  The next 2 were both the Civic-Hybrid CVT, counted twice since the 2 emission designs deliver different efficiency.  Sales have not been impressive, even with some people buying them rather than enduring the long delivery wait for Prius.  So basically, that only leaves you with the a single vehicle that would fit the desires of the general market, Prius.  That's it.  And as much as I would enjoy an organization almost entirely consisting of Prius, that just plain is not realistic.


Record Sightings!  Believe it or not, I spotted 11 (yes, eleven) Prius today!  That was incredible.  I always dreamed of the day when so many would be on the road that you could actually plan on seeing a bunch.  It finally happened.  Now the fun really begins.  The number will continue to grow.  They will be everywhere.  You won't be able to drive anywhere without running into them.  Sweet!


Rapid Engine Off.  Wow!  I'm not accustom to this warmer weather yet.  Today's experience was a welcome reminder of how different things are after Winter ends.  After starting up the engine, I remembered to check the PSI in the tires.  (The pressure will go up 1 PSI for each 10 F degree increase.)  So I jumped out to quickly do that.  Before I reached the third, the engine had already shut off.  That's pretty cool.  It was only 61 F degrees out and the Prius had been sitting there all night.  Imagine what it will be like during the Summer!


More Regenerating.  It sure is nice seeing more regen-symbols on the Multi-Display, now that the warm weather has arrived.  Prius is impressive during the Winter, but the rest of the year is even better.  I love observing these seasonal changes.  The variety sure does make owning a Prius exciting; you always have something to look forward to.


Polished.  It was perfect outside, dry & warm.  So I washed the Prius, preparing her for the Spring polishing.  I apply a coat of "Nu Finish" every 6 months or so.  The stuff protects the paint so well I can make it entirely through the cold season without needing to reapply.  That's a necessity here in Minnesota.  That Winter road-salt is really a pain.  Now the paint is well protected again.  There's another benefit too, it causes the bugs slide off rather than the usual squishing. 


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