Personal Log  #237

November 19, 2005  -  November 28, 2005

Last Updated: Sat. 12/10/2005

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Imagine.  Prius owners are not as obsessed with gas mileage as you think.  Imagine if non-hybrids had a Multi-Display too.  Owners of those vehicles would be absolutely appalled by that constant feedback.  Seeing the gas getting guzzled so quickly would make the reactions of Prius owners seem tame in comparison.  Not knowing is what automakers have taken advantage of for decades, allowing consumers to believe their vehicle always delivered the EPA values under all driving conditions.  Imagine if Prius didn't have a Multi-Display.  Simple things like tire pressure would go unnoticed, just like it does now for owners without a screen.  The same would true for overfilled oil too.  They'd have no idea.  The assumption that the all is well would be the theme.  Hype in the news would never have occurred.  The same old MPG ignorance existed for ages, yet no one cared until the hybrid emerged.  Imagine that!


40-70 Acceleration.  The "get onto the highway" argument is actually getting realistic now.  Most often, people accelerate from a moving state.  It's not from a dead stop.  So the 0-60 MPH measurement really wasn't appropriate.  But until now, that most commonly documented value for 30-60 didn't get much attention... making it difficult to have an objective discussion.  Perhaps it was due to the fact that highway speeds are faster.  Whatever the case, we are now starting to see 40-70 MPH acceleration times being published.  And guess what, Prius does really well in that category.  The electric motor is able to provide a significant boost exactly when you need it most.  That fact is really ticking off the anti-hybrid people.  I absolutely love witnessing their frustration.  It is yet another win for "full" hybrid technology.


Colorful Opportunities.  Unlike this disappointing Fall, last year's provided all kinds of photos... photo album 105


Acknowledging Winter.  This first snow cover means that it has officially begun... photo album 105


Memories of Summer.  I'm holding on to them as long as possible... photo album 105


Simple.  For years, the "simple" argument was the strongest point in the hybrid verses diesel debates.  Then people caught on to the fact that automatic diesels were neither as efficient nor as clean as a hybrid like Prius.  Following that came those in favor of "assist" hybrids, claiming that was a better choice since it was more simple to integrate into already existing engines.  But recently, it became clear that they were the only ones who cared.  Since the average consumer doesn't know how a traditional system works anyway, they have an entirely different perspective.  They look further forward instead, seeing how simple it is to upgrade a "full" hybrid to take advantage of an improved battery-pack and the plug-in ability.  That is an inherit part of the design, something that the "assist" was never intended to support.  I find that fascinating.  What seems like such a big deal online, resulting in nasty arguments among battling enthusiasts, is really a non-issue when it comes to the typical person shopping for a new car... who readily associates stealth with the next step beyond the hybrids we have available now.  It's that simple.


Snow.  This time, it's not melting.  The ground is too cold to resist anymore.  So the couple of inches we got was sitting there on the road... making a slippery mess.  I had forgotten just how much "fun" it was to drive a Prius on that.  There was no slipping & sliding.  My definition of fun is watching and listening for the technology taking counter-measures with my acceleration being too aggressive for the conditions.  I'm sure glad the Prius knows how to cope better than I do.  It takes a few miles of reminders for me to ease up, realizing traction is reduced due to the snow.  Fortunately, driving slower mindset is always present.  Prius owners welcome the opportunity for that.  Stealth can routinely be just a few MPH out of grasp in the Summer on certain roads.  But in the Winter, the driving conditions make stealth much more frequent.  So we don't mind at all.  It makes tolerating the season difference much more tolerable.  The catch is learning to get going from a stop more passively.  Taking advantage of the hybrid system ("brisk" acceleration) isn't a good idea on hazardous roads.  Of course, I enjoy the variety.  So it's really just this brief transition to deal with... a day or two at most.  As for the snow, it will be around for months.


Unique Opportunity.  For the Thanksgiving holiday, I had the unique opportunity of doing a non-stop round-trip.  I would carry 3 people to a destination, then immediately turn around and head back the same way.  It was only 20 F degrees out.  There was no wind, very few hills, and little traffic.  The driving was almost all highway cruising.  The total distance was just a little over 70 miles.  I was really curious what the MPG would be, if the extra weight would make a difference.  The average on the Multi-Display revealed that the passengers only had a negligible effect.  Both directions were shown at just above 45 MPG.  (That's not bad at all for that speed during the Winter.)  Those results didn't really surprise me.  But something else did.  With the passengers, the level on the battery-pack was shown green (7 bars) pretty much the entire time we were on the highway.  That was odd.  It's usually just under that threshold, at the top of blue (6 bars)... and it was on the return trip with only me in the Prius.  Their added weight didn't apparently have any effect on efficiency, but it did make the hybrid system operate a little differently.  That's intriguing.  After all this time, the design continues to impress with its ability to dynamically cope with changing driving situations.  Sweet!


Updates for 2006.  The body colors have changed, some new and some replaced.  There are new options available too.  This Prius overview document was updated to reflect that... Info-Sheet  (HSD)


Fifth Edition.  Back when the HSD model of Prius was still a youngling, a rather intense anti-hybrid battle revealed an entirely new twist on the ownership perspective.  It sighted some unrealistic expectations new owners were having for their hybrid.  But since that was back when the misconceptions were far more prevalent and the majority of owners were well-informed, it wasn't a big concern.  But since this Prius had started to attract a new audience, the points being raised were not dismissed entirely.  The arguing continued for some time, one of those agonizing online debates that never seem to end.  Fortunately, I had been taking good notes... just in case.  That resulted in a draft of a brand new document, which I ended up sharing with the group.  It satisfied enough people to allow the topic to fade.  Clearly, the message had been received on both sides.  Then the need for it disappeared.  So a final version was never published.  There were some sections completely finished and others with only an outline.  It remained that way for a year and a half too... until today.  Now the target-market has changed even more, as well as the automotive environment itself.  What was written had become more relevant.  Seeing that new value, I rearranged the User-Guide and added a few new sections using the contents of that other document.  It added 4 new pages and a couple of illustrations.  See... User-Guide  (HSD)


Consume More.  The Pickup & SUV supporters boast about how many more gallons of gas they'll save with their hybrid, rather than driving a hybrid car instead.  And technically that is true; they are saving more.  However, their overall consumption is more.  This was published in an article today stating exactly that: "The 11-mpg SUV needs 1,091 gallons to go 12,000 miles; the 40-mpg sedan needs only 300 gallons."  In other words, the SUV used 791 more gallons of gas to go the same distance.  A hybrid SUV would use more too, since it will clearly not get MPG anywhere near close to 40.  I'm so glad more people are pointing out this long-time deception.  Focusing on what's saved is just plain wrong.  Emphasis should be put on what's used instead.  Less is better.  That's what counts when we consider our dependence on imported oil.


12 Cent Climb.  It looks like we are back to the instability again, where prices suddenly change rather noticeably without any apparent explanation why.  That figures.  Of course, we've been brainwashed into thinking just above $2 per gallon of gas is a good deal now.  That short spike all the way to $3 caused many to completely lose perspective.  It makes the $1.59 prices we saw back in early 2004 seem like ancient history, something no longer realistic.  Kind of makes you wonder what people will be thinking year when Summer vacation travel begins.  Seeing these price changes will likely be thought of as normal by then.


Hard to Believe.  "Hybrid cars... are really only a fuel-saving stop-gap" is the nonsense an Australian newspaper published this today.  I was pretty upset by that.  Then it went on further to exclaim: "The fuel-cell vehicle uses a relatively cheap, abundant and clean energy source - hydrogen - and emits no pollutants."  That just plain is not true.  Hydrogen isn't actually abundant.  It's trapped inside of other solids, liquids, and gases.  That means it has to first be extracted, which is not a cheap process and it is usually dirty.  Why is there a sudden revival of fuel-cell deception again?  The article later reiterated the theme by saying: "The beauty of the fuel cell is that it uses a readily available chemical - hydrogen - and it's clean."  Again, it is not readily available.  You cannot find hydrogen in its pure form anywhere.  It must by removed, using energy.  That costs money.  That requires resources.  That causes pollution.  The article ended up concluding with this: "The automotive world is about to see a technology revolution, and it will be led by the fuel cell."  It was yet another lie supporting the anti-hybrid effort.  Hard to believe... or to be expected?


New EPA Tests.  Well, it's about dang time.  Word has officially been declared.  The MPG tests will be revised to better reflect the way people actually drive.  The changes will take into account the use of A/C, stop & slow commute traffic, more generous acceleration, abrupt braking, and faster highway speeds.  Strangely, there was no mention about temperature in any of the published summaries though.  Winter is too big of a deal to ignore too.  Of course, one of the GM executives objected anyway... saying it was people's driving habits, not the tests.  How silly is that?  Anywho, the EPA will propose the criteria by the end of the year.  Then a 90-day feedback period will begin.  That should be interesting.  Lots of people have comments to contribute about this subject.  If all goes well, which I can't imagine that happening, the new tests will be reflected in the 2008 model year.  Traditional vehicles are expected to display about a 10 percent drop in efficiency.  Hybrids like Prius will simply get a more generalized value.  That should be a wake up call for everyone.  Can you believe that people simply assumed for decades that those numbers were what they'd actually get in the real-world?


Hybrid Solution.  For years, GM was extremely anti-hybrid.  They exclaimed the technology was a poor business choice and a waste of resources.  Instead, they promoted their token efforts with fuel-cells and continued to increase the size & power (consumption & pollution) of their vehicles... betting the farm (no diversification) on that strategy... which has clearly failed.  Now they are faced 30,000 layoffs, 9 production plant closures, no way to pay pensions, and inventory that cannot sustain the business.  Their stock is at an 18-year low and their credit-rating is below junk status.  To make matters worse, their suppliers are struggling with bankruptcy.  They are in a lot of trouble... which ironically is exactly what they said hybrids would cause, only their perspective is backwards.  Hybrids are actually the solution, not the problem.


Nothing.  There is quite literally nothing to report today.  We seem to have achieved the next stage rollout.  The days of overwhelming resistance are over.  Anti-Hybrid battles that occur now are senseless, as if they are just using up their remaining ammunition to give the appearance of involuntary surrender.  I wondered just how long it would take to reach this point.  The war to delay change has been lost.  The demise of traditional vehicles was inevitable.  Some type of improvement would come whether it was wanted or not... because there was a need.  That requirement to reduce emissions & consumption could only be ignored for so long.  Now it is a matter of what hybrid configuration will attract which consumers.  There is no "if" anymore.  Those holding on to the bitter end have nothing; their technology is being replaced.


How It Works.  Have you noticed the intentional simplification on the Multi-Display yet?  Take a close look at the Energy Monitor.  There is only 1 motor, yet the arrows indicate it is doing both jobs of the 2 motors.  Keeping visuals safe was an important goal for Toyota.  Adding complexity makes would make it more informative, but that is clearly not a good idea for the driver to observe while driving.  So increased activity caused by adding that second motor or the PSD was avoided.  Also, don't forget that the very same layout is used to depict the activity of the hybrid system with the 4-wheel drive too.  That adds another set of arrows and another electric motor.  So what we have really is an excellent balance, just the right amount.  I sure like it and haven't felt the need for more in the car; however, I wanted more online.  So I created this new webpage... how it works (detail)


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