Personal Log  #306

December 16, 2006  -  December 27, 2006

Last Updated: Sat. 2/10/2007

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Proving CAFE.  Today it was a blatant demand (in all capital letters) to prove that forcing trucks to improvement their efficiency will make us save oil.  His harsh tone indicated not really being receptive to anything I had to say.  But I tried anyway...  Simple.  Trucks will become trucks again, only used for the purpose they were designed.  When that utility vehicle isn't needed, an extremely aero-dynamic, sweet looking, highly efficient, super-ultra clean car will be the vehicle of choice as it was 20 years ago.  That approach proved successful in the past.  Why not do it again?  Of course, this time that car will be a hybrid.  Intended purpose will finally be acknowledged.  Truck/SUV for utility.  Car for everything else.


Not Allowing Diesels?  Someone was really, really frustrated today after learning that some states restrict and others outright prohibit sales of new passenger diesel vehicles.  Increasing emissions for the sake of better MPG isn't a proper solution.  NOx (smog) and PM (soot) levels from diesel are off the scale.  The cleaner diesel systems & fuel will bring those levels down to the level of dirty gas vehicles.  The newer technologies, like some hybrids, offer a clean solution by bringing levels down to the SULEV and PZEV ratings.  Until that clean is delivered, diesel is a step backward... which is why there are regulations about their sales.


Unfair.  That's the response GM's executive (Bob Lutz) said about the proposed fuel economy changes.  Watching GM self-destruct over the past 7 years has been very interesting.  My personal-logs from then to now are packed with many observed counter-productive responses to market change.  The denial is pretty amazing.  Belief that gas would be cheap & plentiful was at the top of their not-planning-for-the-future mistakes.  Whether it happened right away or not for a decade shouldn't have mattered.  With a non-replenishable supply and a rapidly increasing demand, the backlash against guzzling was inevitable... as well as the concern about smog-related emissions... and the expenses that come from pensions & health-care.  The nonsense about fuel-cells coming to the rescue was the ultimate example about not being forthcoming, something that revealed their disingenuous intent.  For a vehicle like that to be practical, it had to have a supplemental power-source, since the fuel-cell by nature is a steady-state device.  Rapid spikes of electricity, for an activity like accelerating, simply aren't supported.  The best choice to fill that need was (and still is) hybrid technology.  In fact, that's why Toyota's fuel-cell vehicle is name "FCHV".  The "H" stood for hybrid, and it operated very much like Prius does.  There's a battery-pack feeding the motor when the other power-supply can't as quickly or efficiently.  Anywho, the point it that not a whole lot seems to have changed yet.  They say intentions are now different, but there is very little to actually prove that to be true.  We are still waiting for the promised technology to be delivered.  So, what exactly is "unfair" about wanting more than the same old status quo?


Troublemakers, part 3.  Large-Audience, Long-Term has always been my focus.  Getting technology to significantly improve emissions & efficiency for the majority should be the purpose of all those leading voices.  Sadly, as I've heavily documented, that's not the case.  And with around 17,000,000 new vehicle purchases each year in the United States alone, there are quite a few people to benefit from a proactive effort.  Fighting it is most definitely counter-productive.  Yet, some do it anyway.  I do understand the short-term mindset, but not the anti-hybrid techniques they use to undermine.  Doing things like intentionally being vague, repeatedly misleading, and using insulting language yet plain is not appropriate.  I'm frustrated, but know that my impartial & sincere efforts will triumph.  For crying out loud, why wouldn't a solution for the majority be considered a good thing?  When they are ready for a new vehicle purchase, there will be affordable, reliable technology that genuinely delivers significantly improved emissions & efficiency.


Troublemakers, part 2.  I no longer interact with a different troublemaker of the past.  Now, it's just observation.  After years of conflict, he abruptly altered his stance and actually went as far as an admission to not understanding the big picture.  Such a significant attitude change was quite a surprise.  He's still absolutely obsessed with MPG, but the acknowledgement of emissions also being a priority is a real step forward.  A very real problem still is the website now preoccupying his time.  It recently passed the 1,000 mark, where that many copyright violations have already taken place.  Republishing an online article in full, including photos, without permission is just plain wrong.  So even if his heart is in the right place (believe it or not), his method isn't.  I suppose that's progress though, much better than with the current troublemaker.


Troublemakers, part 1.  This is my full response to a current troublemaker...  That pattern of being vague is pretty easy to spot now.  The odds of getting a clear understanding of purpose from you are worse than trying to win the lottery.  Here's my stance: Green-Line is a partial solution, improving MPG some and currently smog-related emissions none.  It is a dead-end too, since electric augmentation isn't feasible.  The price is high and the business sustainability is low.  So looking at the whole picture, I just plain don't like it.  Two-Mode has much more potential.  There's lots to like, once competitive production costs become realistic.  We'll get a big MPG boost right from the start, smog-related emissions are rumored to be reduced (a significant amount in comparison to the status quo), and a plug-in option is already in the works.  So I'll watch its progress with much anticipation.  What's yours?  This previous post certainly didn't clarify.  What does "to me" mean and what specifically is your stance on MPG, Emissions, and Price... "I am not an assist hybrid supporter.  I am not a full hybrid supporter.  I am not anti-hybrid.  Like most people, I am first and foremost a consumer.  I purchase what makes sense to me."


Prevents Rocking.  There's a misconception that emerges this time every year.  New owners think there is no way to rock a Prius free, when it gets stuck in the snow like a traditional vehicle.  That's not true.  The rocking ability is actually built-in... just floor it.  What happens is pretty cool.  That ability is far from obvious though.  The computer control in the hybrid system simply provides traction in a manner more effective than the traditional mindless spinning back and forth.  When the pedal hits the floor and the system detects slipping, power to the wheels alternates rapidly from side to side.  The effect does indeed increase grip.  In fact, I just tried it on a slippery driveway a few days ago.  The pulsating action pulled the Prius up just fine.  No big deal.  But I'll admit, pushing the pedal all the way down and holding it there like that is not something a newbie would typically think of trying.  Personally, I like that a whole lot more than the old-fashion spin the wheels senselessly.  You often end up just grinding off rubber or creating ice.  This alternative seems to be a better choice.  But I haven't got stuck enough to actually find out.  Minnesota Winter usually isn't as slippery as in the warmer states.  It's a benefit of being colder, believe it or not.


Yup, It Happened.  That dang "complaint" article from a few days ago did indeed spawn a wave of anti-hybrid posts.  A bunch of people attempting to undermine used it to say "We told you so!"  It's amazing how when something is published, some will treat it as gospel.  Being printed must means it's true, right?  Wouldn't it be great if the world was really like that?  Well, it isn't.  Even those reporters will good intentions struggle.  Their typical lack of time research & write in depth is what sets them apart from true journalists.  Rushing to meet a deadline and to satisfy an editor by catering to a popular topic rarely results in something beyond the basics.  You get a short, vague, and often easy to misunderstand report... just like what triggered the flood of new EPA estimate problems.  When will people learn that real-world data is all that we should be focusing on?  Those ideal-condition numbers really don't serve any truly informative purpose.  This is clearly not the last time it will happen.  More will definitely come later in the year.  That's so irritating.  What a pain.


More Plug-In Attention.  The state of New York just commissioned work to have an Escape-Hybrid converted to a plug-in.  They also have 5 plug-in Prius in the works already.  That's cool.  I wonder what that aftermarket provided will do having filled a contract like that.  I bet they'll be yearning for more right away.  It's both good experience and exposure for all involved.  The price listed in the articles was $24,000 for a 15-mile range and $32,500 for a 30-mile range.  That's quite a bit higher than a typical consumer would ever consider.  But I suppose in this case, some of that expense could be written off to transport of both equipment & personnel.  (That conversion company is based in Colorado.)


Orange Peels.  That's an interesting new source of bio-matter being piloted for ethanol production.  The initial testing will be in Florida (a very good place to be for a steady supply waste orange peels) and is expected to be able to produce up to 50,000 gallons during the first harvesting season.  The plan is for an expansion that could produce over 500,000 gallons annually.  That's great news for people concerned about so much emphasis placed on the use of corn for ethanol.  This type of diversification could become the key to success... which supports my repeating claim that our fuel consumption problem must be addressed on multiple fronts.


Findings Confirm Consumer Complaints.  Here comes the new wave of anti-Prius nonsense.  The article started with this: "Prius owners concerned about poor mileage in their hybrids have been belittled, ridiculed and misled as they searched for some reason why their little cars continually came up short in fuel mileage."  I don't even know where to begin after reading such nonsense.  But I certainly saw this coming.  These revised EPA estimates on the way are going to be exploited to the extreme.  Antagonists are going to emerge out of every shadow to spread misleading so-called facts, just like what I just finished reading.  All they did was just hammer on Prius, making the MPG seem horrible and owners disappointed by totally avoiding all perspective.  There was no reference whatsoever to any other vehicle.  Pointing out that all vehicles were misrepresented by those ideal-condition tests, not reflecting what people actually encounter in real-world driving.  Geez!


25 Cents!  For some unknown reason, the price of gas has suddenly spiked.  I have idea why, even after attempting so online searches for the cause.  What the heck?  I thought things were finally stabilizing.  Of course, that's not really possible anymore.  If nothing else, there will be a rise from the inevitable uncertain demand change caused by the driving season combined with the political & weather mess we are now dealing with.  At least there is a benefit.  This most definitely keeps efficiency concerns at the forefront of people's minds.  It's hard not noticing how fast gas drains the money from the wallet.


Person of the Year.  Me!  And you!  And you and you...  Time Magazine declared those of us writing blogs and sharing personal videos online to get the honor for 2006.  They cited the shift from institution to individual worthy of praise.  Phew!  It's about time.  I needed that kind of help.  For years I had been accused of working for Toyota.  Why would anyone contribute so many resources just for the sake of information spreading?  6 years back, that question carried a lot of weight.  Antagonists declared I was getting paid, asserting my motive for promoting hybrids was nothing but a way of making money.  In those times, help websites were almost completely non-existent and the word "blog" wouldn't even be coined until years later.  Now, all that is common... so common it has become a tool in the revolution.  Just as I had pointed out, our entry into the "Age of Awareness" is fed by the very content those of us being honored have provided.  We are 21st Century leaders, taking advantage of the new resources now available.  Sweet!


3.6 liter V6 engine.  Reading through the pile of articles I saved for when I finally caught up on the personal logs, I found details of the upcoming Vue-Hybrid that will utilize the Two-Mode design.  What a turn off.  I can't believe they are choosing to use such a big engine.  It's bad enough having so many extra components required for 2 additional cylinders, but why does it have to be so dang big too?  Running the engine for Heat and A/C will definitely take its toll, reducing efficiency way more than a competing sized hybrid with only a small 4-cylinder engine.  I understand the gain coming from being able to run with only 3 cylinders on the highway during steady-state cruising, but the penalty at other times could easily cancel out any benefit.  People are most definitely going to be compelled to find real-world data after hearing about this.  Design differences are inevitably going to become a hot topic of discussion.  I sure hope people stick to facts.  As I just recently pointed out, vendetta messages are a reality and determining true intentions can often be a challenge.


Another Contest.  This time, it's a promotion featuring a "Saturn Vue Green Line".  But strangely, there is no mention whatsoever about it being a hybrid.  There isn't even a reference to MPG or Efficiency.  Literally... nothing.  There's just a photo and instructions how to enter.  That's all!  The vague nature of the information provided on the printed receipt is almost bizarre.  Supposedly, the name alone is enough to attract attention.  I wonder what the impression is from the typical consumer.  There certainly isn't much to go on.


Disappointing, but its better than...  We are finally getting back on track.  I look forward to the return of the good old days, when hybrid personal logs are just reports of daily observations.  Today, we got one from a new 2007 Prius owner.  After 800 miles of all city, cold starts, and short trips, the average has worked out to 36 MPG.  That didn't worry him at all.  So we've improved over the past.  That means there is even more to look forward to.  He was well aware of the fact that his 1989 Porsche 911 only delivered 13 MPG under the very same conditions.  You don't feel bad knowing your previous vehicle did so poorly.  Most people aren't aware of prior efficiency.  So that lack of perspective was a problem, but isn't anymore.  It's much better in a Prius than...


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