Personal Log #363
January 18, 2008 - January 30, 2008
Last Updated: Weds. 9/22/2010
page #362 page #364 BOOK INDEX
-9 F Commute. Winter was certainly obvious today.
Unfortunately, the extremely cold weather forced me to fill up before the
reaching the last day of the month, messing up the statistics. Oh well.
I just had to yesterday. The risk simply wasn't worth it. Of course,
next month could easily be this cold too.
Change. Some fear it. Others stay in denial. Whatever the case, the news today of Two-Mode rollout to other vehicles being delayed was received with mystery. Few had anything to say. It was odd. So, I interjected with the most constructive response I could muster. They were cruel to me in the past. Wanting to response the say way was awful tempting. But I resisted with this: Both Ford & Honda had rollout problems, some having nothing to do with the technology itself. Business needs impaired spreading their hybrid system to other vehicles. GM was in no position to overcome challenges of that nature either. So this news was to be expected. Of course, when I attempted to get supporters to look beyond just engineering considerations, the response was getting shunned... well, on this forum anyway. Now, the outlook is changing. What happens at this point?
State Of The Union. The President's remarks this evening were more of the same. It was the usual status quo. The position of "lame duck" is well established now. That "surge" was sold to us as short-term, but turned into a long-term commitment. Previous claims of coming improvement with respect to our oil addiction never materialized. None of that surprised anyone. We've learn to deal with it at this point. History will have an interesting story to tell about these times.
Sarah Connor. That new "Terminator" television show had a
pivotal moment in its premiere episode. The 3 main characters traveled
through time, emerging naked on a busy highway. Vehicles slammed on their
brakes. The car immediately in front of them was... you guessed it... a
Prius! I saw that coming. It was the obvious choice for such an
important scene in the story. Those distinct headlights illuminating the
darkness were perfect. I loved it!
On The Way? Consider the next 4 years. What is the goal? Annual production of 1,000,000 hybrids is what Toyota will be striving for. That's 10 percent of their inventory being quite a bit cleaner and more efficient. Plug-In options will be introduced too. GM previously mocked hybrids, but now they are in the early stages of change. What will we actually get? For that matter, how much do you think gas will cost? Heck, what do you think the situation will be with concerns over climate change related to carbon emissions? Just image what the new administration will bring. There's no way to avoid hybrids now. They are most definitely needed. What can expect as a response from the market? Will they embrace the technology? Or will we continue to see some resistance still? Lots to wonder about, eh?
Crude. The "History Channel" sure had fun today.
They aired a series of shows all pointing out how ugly the climate change
situation has become. I wondered why such top-notch content was suddenly
being broadcast. Then it hit me. Rather than waiting until after the
"State Of The Union" to rebut the president's remarks, they were being
proactive. Remember, that's where the "addicted to oil" statement
came from. He said it. And since then, almost nothing has been done
about it. Lots of talk with little action... Anywho, the prime-time
show was titled "Crude". And you guessed it, the special
was all about oil. The peak which some Prius owners have been expecting is
right on schedule. The upcoming new decade will make it clear how
difficult & expensive extraction has become. The analogy of "squeezing
the toothpaste tube" is how they described it. Being easy & cheap are
memories of the past. We are in trouble. And that's without even
considering the environment damage to land, water, and air. Change needs
to be accepted a whole lot faster than it is currently. The opportunity to
a seamlessly transition has already passed. Oops!
Watching For 145°F. Having discovered that magic temperature threshold (145 F or 63 C degrees) last weekend made the days following quite intriguing. There was no longer any doubt how long I could keep the heater running while stopped at a light. I knew exactly when the engine would start again. In the past, I was tempted to shut the heater off if the wait was going to be long. Sometimes I did. Others I just endured the uncertain consumption of gas. Now, I even know when the engine will shut back off, after having supplied fresh heat... and witnessed that yesterday at a horribly long stoplight. Who would have thought after 7 Winters with a Prius already, I'd learn something new new detail about how the hybrid system operates. That aftermarket gauge sure is informative.
Better Than The Competition. Hearing that constantly is very annoying. A good old fashion rivalry would be enjoyable. But their vehicle is still just a concept. Yes, it's those darn Volt enthusiasts again. They keep forgetting who the actual competition is. It's not other hybrids, it's traditional vehicles. Having a niche concept vehicle doesn't actually accomplish much. To make a difference, a bulk of the population must adopt the new technology. Accepting change is what it's all about. A vehicle that isn't available yet with only a small target market won't be able to do that alone. Why can't they see that?
$90.71 Per Barrel. All stock markets around the world suffered from economic uncertainty this week. Sadly, how much a barrel of oil costs remains quite predictable. It's still extremely high. We are now well into the "won't happen" realm now; proof that even the experts can be very wrong at times. Usually, that comes from not being able to take all factors into account. Just the automotive market alone is massive. Considering how a housing market slump could affect it defies any convention of accuracy. Bad things happen. Now good people are struggling to get by. The appeal of over-powered and over-sized vehicles is rapidly fading... and the price of gas is only a small contributor to that. Everything is more expensive now.
Circular Argument. Today was rather amusing. I watched the Volt enthusiasts argue themselves into a corner. Several attempted to lump both "assist" and "full" hybrids into a single category. In this case, it was the "parallel" design. They want to distinguish the "series" design from any other type. Diluting the perceived choices is their chosen promotional technique; however, that is ultimately self-defeating... as they rather abruptly figured out. To the typical consumer, any vehicle with both a battery-pack and an engine will be considered a "hybrid". So their very comments posted to combine the two types of hybrid currently available ends up applying to the upcoming third too. To my pleasure, I got to witness that conclusion as it formulated. Their argument was obviously not well thought out.
Errors? I'm going to consider them that. But after awhile, you have to ask yourself whether those claims are from being poorly informed or if they are intentional attempts to undermine. This was my post, giving those particular Volt enthusiasts the benefit of doubt, for now... The number of errors posted here is truly amazing. It's very clear that some have absolutely no idea what the difference is between a "parallel" and a "series" hybrid, because Prius is neither. Having 2 motors and a power-split-device gives it characteristics of both types. A "parallel" hybrid only has a single motor and it is bonded directly to the engine, lacking the ability for electric-only drive. Prius can drive up to 62 MPH with the engine stopped, so obviously it is not "parallel". Prius can't go backward using the engine at any speed; reverse propulsion is always electric-only like a "series" hybrid. As for efficiency differences, those having studied history are well aware of the fact that real-world implementation doesn't always match on-paper comparisons. Don't believe claims without actual data to support them.
2007 Camry-Hybrid Total. It wasn't published in the initial press release. But the number sold for 2007 did later emerge. I stumbling across that information today. The total count came to 54,492 ...making Camry-Hybrid number two for popularity among the hybrids currently available here. Of course, that shouldn't surprise anyone. Camry itself has captured the hearts of many for years, even before their was a hybrid model. This second success for Toyota is fantastic. The long wait for it to finally happen was well worth it!
Prius Questions. I especially like this one posted today
by a new owner: "What is the one thing that you love the most about your Prius?"
My response may have made him think... Careful what you ask.
For me, it's the fact that I've been driving one for over 7 years.
Prius has overwhelming proven a wise purchase decision.
Fleet Plugs. An interesting realization popped into my head today. Toyota's initial focus on fleet rollout for plug-in Prius addresses a concern everyone else seems to be ignoring... availability of outlets for plugging in. Businesses preparing to use them will go to the trouble of having them installed in their parking lots. Currently, that infrastructure does not exist. It's a big deal you simply cannot dismiss. I hear Volt enthusiasts planning to plug in at work. Where exactly will they be doing that if several employees all drive plug-in vehicles? Seeing how businesses deal with this problem will hopefully reveal some insight to how apartment landlords will provide outlets for renters. That's a definite benefit coming from fleet rollout first. Toyota will be able to get constructive feedback ahead of the consumer rollout. Cool!
Lost Direction. The recently news of Volt being far more expensive than most had hoped has fractured the once unified group into many different pieces. They are very contradictory now. My recent shot of humility had no effect either. It simply got lost in the chaos. So what direction emerges as the new voice for enthusiasts is anyone's guess. In the meantime, the role of Prius in automotive history continues to solidify. I was provided with a link to a video of a gathering in Tokyo. That was just plain cool to see. Eventually those struggling to support GM will find something too. But for now, it's quite a mess.
Beyond Disingenuous. This snippet about Volt really got me worked up this morning: "the concept car had suboptimal aerodynamics". I really struggled with how to respond. I finally decided upon... You've got to be kidding! At least Lutz gave it to us straight. Remember his take on the situation: "When we put the concept in the wind tunnel, it was a disaster. We could almost put it in the wind tunnel backward and get a better result." He even found it amusing. For crying out loud, use of a term like "suboptimal" is sugar-coating no matter how it's looked at. Sorry, but sometimes you just have to accept the past. Most of us had a good laugh and moved on.
Revised EPA Estimates. Now that all the 2007 vehicles are subject to the long overdue update to that quite obsolete measurement system, it's time to find out what people think. I don't expect to hear anything. That once misleading source for the anti-hybrid isn't valid anymore. It's the exact opposite in 2008. Rather than seeing real-world efficiency below for hybrids, we see it above. So any argument with regard to estimates is contrary to reality. They have lost yet another method of impeding progress. I'm sure they'll find something though. Undermining is their last stand. So many hybrids are now on the road that many claims of past simply won't work anymore. They've been proven false well beyond any doubt. Yeah!
Heater/Engine Threshold. It is obviously 145 F degrees.
Driving through the suburbs with the outside temperature at -9 F degrees, the
coolant wasn't able to get as warm. In fact, with a number of stops and
speeds only up to 50 MPH, the engine coolant only got up to 154 F degrees.
So I had frequent opportunities to watch it drop while at a stoplight. The
moment it hit that magic threshold, the engine started back up. Knowing
exactly when that point occurs is pretty sweet. Too bad I didn't have an
aftermarket gauge years ago. Oh well. I do now.
GM Cheerleading. It's getting truly absurd. Reading some of their posts has become a hysterical emotional release. Where has the objectivity gone? On a thread mocking Toyota hybrids in favor of Two-Mode, they provide stuff like this: "As batteries improve it'll just keep getting better... HSD is a second-rate system with no scalability and very limited electric-only range." It's tough to know even how to respond to that. Range is just a factor of battery choice, having nothing to do with the hybrid itself. And HSD has already been scaled. It's as if they believe saying whatever they want makes it true. Thank goodness the audience that reach is basically only those looking for some cheerleading.
Parked Idling. I'm at the coffee shop typing personal logs. The temperature outside is currently -11 F degrees. The wind has a horribly cold bite. How many vehicles do you think that stop here will shut off their engines? Sadly, the answer is almost none. Just about every person coming in to pick up a drink leave it running. That waste is sickening. Just think of how much better they'd be with the simplest of hybrid features: Auto-Stop. Unfortunately, some automakers mocked hybrids for years... claiming they weren't worth it. This is one of many, many examples where that just plain is not true.
Grille Blocking, SubZero. This evening was my first opportunity to see just how effective the grille blocking really is. Significantly reducing the air-flow hitting the radiator and passing through the engine compartment will obviously have a positive effect when the temperature outside is only -4 F degrees and you are traveling at 65 MPH. But I wanted to know by how much. With the upper-grille blocked entirely and the lower-grille about 70 percent, conditions were perfect. The ScanGaugeII was showing a coolant temperature of 177 F degrees. The air-conditioner was set to medium fan speed and maximum heat. To my delight, the conditioned air coming out of the vent was what anyone could easily qualify as "hot". Without blocking, you got a comfortable warm. This was different. It was genuinely hot, despite the frigid Winter night highway drive. Sweet!
Relative Size. Did you know that the GM forum I refer to as "big" really isn't? It's size is only a relative measure compared to the others out there. But for one that covers all topics related to GM, it's the biggest. There is one twice as large for only trucks; though, members aren't the slightest bit interested in non-truck discussion. So the fact that the "big" forum dedicated to Prius actually has more members (35,599 verses 33,301) should say something. Prius is only one vehicle. Prius isn't anywhere near as old. Prius obviously isn't anywhere near as common as the many decades worth of GM trucks. Yet, it has a strong internet presence anyway.