Prius Personal Log  #285

August 12, 2006  -  August 20, 2006

Last Updated: Thurs. 8/24/2006

    page #284         page #286         BOOK         INDEX         go to bottom 



426 Miles with 2 Kayaks on top.  It was an interesting trip from the Twin Cities to Northern Minnesota and back.  The only highway driving I had done before this was when I first bought the 14-foot kayak.  Those 40 miles were quite painless.  Efficiency barely dropped at all.  It was above 50 MPG the whole drive.  But on this trip, MPG tanked (so to speak).  Adding the 12-foot kayak wrecked otherwise impressive hydro-to-aero shape from just the one on the roof.  Between that void the two created and the increased surface area, I got to find out just how well Prius worked under extreme conditions.  The result was 36.4 MPG for the 279 mile measurement taken from the same pump in both directions.  That's not too bad... but sadly quite a bit lower than usual... though still high enough to make non-hybrids jealous.  The other numbers are unfortunately buried within the prior and forthcoming tanks, so I won't be able to determine what the entire 426 miles provided.  But you'll certainly be able to see the negative hit in my monthly statistics.  Oh well.  The resulting vacation enjoyment was definitely worth it.  What I found most interesting was the difference between 60 and 70 MPH.  The Multi-Display only indicated a 1 MPG change.  Apparently when you are going that fast with so much on top catching the wind, speed isn't as much of an influence as you'd think.  I was pretty darn happy with the way the roof-rack performed too.  Though, I did discover that I hadn't tightened the clamp enough.  So the brief heavy pouring rain lubricated the surface and helped to push the entire setup back a little bit.  It was no big deal.  On the way back, I found the tighter adjustment to be no big deal.  None of it moved a bit.  But... it was still noisy. You get a hum that simply cannot be avoided.  Anywho, I was delighted by the experience.  Prius performed wonderfully.


$71.14 per barrel.  Why in the world has oil settled at such a high price?  For countless weeks now, months in fact, that has been the trend.  What the heck?  It doesn't make sense.  Of course, the price that the price of gas went down 20 cents and the price of diesel went up 20 cents doesn't make any sense either.  Kind of make you wonder what will happen next, eh?


Misleading!  That's an understatement.  I haven't read such a misleading of an article in a very long time.  Today's heads up note from another Prius owner lead me to this... "Current hybrids work best in urban driving and may actually see lower mileage on the freeway.  And many - though by no means all - hybrid owners report that under normal driving, they get consistently, and sometimes significantly, less mileage than posted on the window sticker."  That is so wrong, I don't know where to begin.  How could MPG be lower on the highway?  That isn't even logical.  What would cause a reduction compared to a traditional vehicle?  But it is what was implied leading up to that.  Too bad actual numbers weren't sighted instead.  Of course, being vague is a common theme.  But it's that second sentence that really gets me.  Estimates are always "ideal condition" representations, by no means what anyone in their right mind would consider "normal".  Geez!  There should be no surprise that the resulting MPG doesn't match the window sticker numbers.  In fact, that would be weird if they actually did.  Since when does anyone ever drive that slow on the highway and always during perfect-comfort temperature?  Of course, the fact that the article later refers back to the "no hybrid will save you money" conclusion from the erroneous Consumer Reports analysis shows poor research.  The retraction of that mistake should be well known, especially by reporters.  But instead, you are lead to believe that information is correct.  That's sad.  It's sloppy writing, at best.  I bet true journalists get pretty upset reading garbage like that.


Few Actually Care.  What a delight, as well as a relief.  The reality that quarrels only involve a very small number of people is very reassuring.  In fact, even while I'm having a heated exchange of messages others continue to point out and discuss the good stuff I provide.  The bad was research... which is increasingly becoming evident that no more is needed.  Confronting troublemakers in the past shook out important facts, stuff that needed to be well documented to prevent the need for future confrontations.  And guess what?  It worked!  Hooray!!  The misconceptions they were helping to spread simply fall on deaf ears now.  Few actually care about the nonsense they are spreading.  They regularly see Prius on the road.  So claims about supposed problems and the loss of interest simply don't fit the observations.  The technology works just fine and consumers are embracing it.   Sweet!


If you haven't noticed...  The personal log entries are growing larger and have taken more of a retrospective focus.  That's because this phase of hybrid acceptance is coming to close.  In fact, it's almost time to declare it complete.  There really isn't anything remaining to demonstrate.  The technology has proven itself.  Even MPG variations are fairly well understood.  We are now at the point where cost reduction, enhancements to the electric abilities, and the anticipation of new models are the popular discussion topics.  Phew!  That was quite a ride getting here.  But with gas prices so high and the market heavily saturated with guzzlers, people are actually seeking out something better.  Yeah!  The patience required was trying, and the realization that the next phase will likely take equally as long should be humbling.  But it was well worth it.  I'm really looking forward to what comes next.


Another Example.  Sometimes sticking it out can be very fulfilling.  In this case, the wait resulted in an absurd implication.  It was so easy to disprove I was actually amused.  When Escape-Hybrid first debuted back in the Fall of 2004, I endorsed it right away.  It was quite a thrill to finally have another "full" hybrid on the market, especially from a popular brand like Ford.  Naturally, I joined the biggest Escape forum on the internet to voice my support.  I got attacked immediately!  What the heck?  Turns out they were doing everything in their power to undermine the success of the hybrid... because it made them look bad.  They knew the days of praising their guzzler were coming to an end.  So I did everything I could to point out the benefits of the new system.  Each step infuriated them.  So I left.  Then six months later when someone else attempted the very same thing, I posted a single message to point out how successfully they had prevented any attention being drawn to the hybrid.  A whole year has passed since then... still, no progress.  Today, it was implied that the lack of progress was my fault.  Ha!  I was fighting for precisely the opposite, to establish an active dialog... which turned out to be extremely active.  Then it died.  Does he honestly believe I am so good that I could sabotage an effort so well that a year and a half later nothing could be started still?  Wow!  In reality, we've seen several hybrid websites & forums established afterward.  So that implication holds little merit, but it is entertaining to ponder.


Lesson Learned.  It has been a wild ride.  The loss of that haven for the anti-hybrid caused one particular antagonist to lash out in friendly territory with a few supporters.  The forum that usually doesn't have to deal with that kind of nonsense was now facing it head on.  The attacks were textbook in nature, very easy to identify.  I pushed to find out how many of the techniques I've formally documented would surface.  Turns out, there were quite a few.  It was well worth the effort too, from finding out that they now place efforts on discussions of competing hybrid designs instead.  Whether or not they actually want them to succeed remains a mystery though.  Several instances of implied meaning came about.  One great example was that I didn't care at all about any other automaker than Toyota.  That simply isn't true.  They were hoping no one would be aware of how much I was involved with the Ford hybrid when it first rolled out.  I was delighted that another brand of "full" hybrid was finally available.  And still to this day I point out how nice of a platform that is with an aftermarket battery-pack upgrade.  But to undermine, they ignore those facts... they de-emphasize when necessary... they discredit... they make it personal... they generalize... they mismatch compare... they point of rare circumstances as if they are common... they, of course, pay little attention to smog-related emissions... they shame... they change topics... they focus on highway-only driving... they avoid questions... you get the point.  The lesson learned from all that is they really don't have anything to work with still.  Since the upcoming new competing hybrids offer nothing but estimates, arguments are meaningless.  They are just a distraction, which is their ultimate purpose.  After all, without any real-world data it's just speculation.  And even with it, only token quantities won't make a difference.


Going Down.  The price of gas has begun to go down a little bit; however, the price of diesel is actually creeping up.  So I'm not sure what's happening.  There was a 40 cent spread this evening.  Gas at $2.79 and diesel at $3.19.  Supposedly, the cease-fire in Lebanon was the contributing factor to the gas price, since oil came down to $73 as a result of investors feeling that particular nightmare is over.  But you'd think the behavior of diesel would match that.  Apparently, that's not case.  Perhaps there is no pattern.  There certainly doesn't seem to be any hope of returning to the days of when people freaked out about $50 oil prices.  This appears to be a new game now, where the players are trying to figure out how to make due with the knowledge that old school practices no longer work the same way anymore.


Another Document.  Having been pushed to tolerance, I am now gathering my notes of anti-hybrid activity from the past few years and consolidating them into a single easy-to-reference document.  As time goes on, the need for a resource like that has not diminished.  I was hoping that wouldn't be the case.  Complaints from long ago were suppose to become a memory already, but not yet.  Resistance to change may be fading, but the willingness to acknowledge the level at which emissions and efficiency must be improved certainly isn't.  So, as predicted, some are claiming the minimal efforts from we are now beginning to see are good enough.  Making a real difference hasn't become a priority.  I knew it wasn't going to be easy.  But seeing so much effort being expended on preventing progress is frustrating.  What a waste.  Needless to say, I want to point out the observations I've made to help others notice it too.  This new document should really help with that.


Anti-Hybrid: Implied Meaning.  This anti-hybrid problem, not previously documented, has surfaced way too often lately.  The antagonist simply changes the intent of your comment by implying that you meant something you actually didn't.  For people not closely following the topic thread, it's relatively easy for them to overlook the fact that you are being forcefully manipulated.  As a victim though, the message is very condescending.  So it's quite obvious to you what's actually going on.  That's very frustrating.  Given time, the more attentive readers may notice it as an attempt to generalize and discredit.  But that's difficult to see at first.  The antagonist's strategy is speed, to hit you off-guard quickly.  They invent an opportunity rather than waiting for one.  That way, when you try to provide clarification, it makes it appear as though you've been cornered and are now changing your stance.  In reality, you are just providing detail for the original comment.


How Come So Few?  If cylinder-deactivation is so good, how come so few vehicles actually use it?  That was the question I posed today.  Naturally, that was met with resistance.  My guess is the supporters of the two-mode "full" hybrid design are not at all thrilled by me asking.  Without that feature, they cannot even make the claim that it should be more efficient than HSD... which is all they have, since there is no real-world data available yet.  The ability to shut off some cylinders when less power is needed has absolutely nothing to do with being a hybrid.  So you'd think that engine behavior, which doesn't use a battery-pack or even an electric motor would be no big deal.  But apparently, it is.  Why?  My asking if it had anything to do with the noise made them crazy.  People have described it as if there is a miniature helicopter flying next to them as they drive.  To counteract that in Accord-Hybrid, microphones were added and the stereo system enhanced.  Anti-Sound is produced to nullify that effect.  There is a catch though, you have to keep the windows closed for that to work.  The vibration has to be counteracted somehow too.  Accord-Hybrid uses electric motor-mounts to cancel out the unbalanced activity.  Obviously, both add to the cost.  They don't like when I point out details like that.  Asking questions doesn't work too well either.  Why?


Not Designed For High Speed.  If you haven't noticed, lots of stuff bothers me lately.  That's ok.  The big picture of this current struggle is that we are indeed moving forward.  But in the meantime, people are falling for the trap that highway cruising is at an absolutely constant speed over a perfectly flat surface.  That isn't the real-world.  But believing t hat is makes the belief about the lockdown nature of the two-mode kind convincing as an efficiency gain.  It basically works like a glorified overdrive, which does indeed deliver a improvement.  But how much this kind will give you is a complete mystery.  Of course, so is the cost.  The computer industry has been dealing with this for ages... even after prices drop.  The specs look pretty good on paper.  In practice though, few consumers actually benefit.  So my curiosity is definitely peaked.  Whatever the case, we have actual data showing that HSD delivers a pleasing efficiency improvement at high speeds.  So claims that it doesn't are misleading, at best.  The competition may do as well or even better, but saying it wasn't designed for that is just plain wrong.  There system delivers an undeniable benefit.


Stop Gap.  It's amazing to hear how many people know virtually nothing about hybrid history.  Do some searches on "stop gap".  You'll find a disturbing number of articles about GM claiming hybrids were a just waste of time & money, being only a "stop gap" until fuel-cell vehicles.  They were attempting to draw consumer interest away from hybrids.  They saw it was growing and were fighting it.  Yet, some have no idea that ever happened.  An enthusiast being unaware of that history is somewhat disheartening.  The automaker damage-control has apparently done a great job of portraying an image of support.  Fortunately, my personal logs are loaded with documented cases to the contrary.  I scrambled to record that history to prevent it from being lost.  Anywho, that's why some of us question their level of commitment.  Abrupt total reversals usually include some type of catch.  How many hybrid do they actually plan to deliver?


Finally.  Discussions focusing on the merits of the different hybrid designs are finally getting attention.  It's about time.  The resistance from the anti-hybrid is clearly showing signs of weakness now.  Yeah!  I'm naturally irritated that efficiency estimates are being used.  After all this time, you'd think they would have so little credibility that those MPG numbers would easily be dismissed.  That's not the case... yet.  I do enjoy the new technical questions.  With Prius so well understood now, the impeding rollout of a system that utilizes clutches internally has got people wondering.  Me too.  For an automaker to embrace the very thing they used to criticize it quite curious.  We know several factors contributed to the change of heart.  But what was it that ultimately tipped the balance in favor of hybrids.  Whatever the case, it finally happened.  Both automaker & consumer seem to now agree that hybrids are a good thing.


back to home page       go to top