Personal Log  #38

September 13, 2002  -  September 26, 2002

Last Updated: Sat. 12/07/2002

    page #37         page #39         BOOK         INDEX         go to bottom 



Saw the same Prius 3 times today.  First sighting was at work.  Second was at the grocery store before dinner.  Third was late in the night while running errands.  I love seeing Prius all the time, but not necessarily the same one over and over again.


Only with Stealth.  I love how the silence allows you to approach wildlife.  Today, I was able to slowly roll up to a falcon.  Seeing it up close like that was great.  Too bad I didn't have my digital camera with me.


"Commercially Viable"  None of the Prius owners know what that really means, yet we hear the term used all the time.  Some manufacturers claim "commercially viable" isn't possible with a hybrid.  To date, 120,000 Prius have been sold.  A small amount of profit is made from each one.  Continued sales and not losing any money sounds like the proper criteria is being met.  I wonder how much those using the term actually expect.  Hmm?  After all, some luxury & sport cars are built & sold in lower quantities than Prius.


Bladder Effect.  The cold season has officially begun.  When it was warm, the gas gauge typically dropped below the midway mark around 310 miles.  That meant I was getting about 48.5 MPG.  9 miles less meant 1 MPG less, and 9 more meant 1 more.  (That's because my fill ups were always just under 9 gallons.)  Anywho, it was rather predictable and helped confirm that the Multi-Display was reading approximately 2 MPG high overall.  This morning the drop below the midway mark occurred at 322 miles with 49.4 MPG on the Multi-Display.  Temperatures have been in the low 50's while driving lately.  So obviously my MPG hasn't gone up.  The colder weather has caused the bladder to tighten pushing the gas level up; hence the misleading measurement.  That's a consequence of being so clean.  The bladder prevents harmful emission vapor.  It doesn't affect my fill up routine at all, since I simply monitor distance traveled.  And quite honestly, the variety is rather appealing.  With the changing of the seasons come changes in my Prius too.  Minnesota Winter doesn't last forever anyway (though it does seem like that sometimes).


Deliberate Misconceptions?  Fuel-Cell publicity is picking up.  Are those making claims completely clueless about hybrids or are they trying discredit them?  This recent quote really frustrated me: "Toyota has sold about 120,000 of its Prius hybrid, and wants to be building 300,000 hybrids annually by 2005 or 2006.  But the achilles heel of the technology is their heavy, expensive batteries, which need replacing every two or three years.  This is a problem that for the moment people disregard, said Devleeschauwer.  Those who have bought a Prius or a Honda Insight are in for a surprise when they replace the batteries."  Obviously the battery-pack lasts a lot longer than that.  Mine is already 2 years old and still works perfectly.  Prius in Japan have been on the road for almost 5 years now.  And with a 8-year/100,000-mile warranty, what is there too worry about?  Realistically, the battery-pack is actually expected to provide 150,000 miles of service.  And at only 110 pounds, I don't think it can be considered "heavy".  The spare tire in my trunk is 32 pounds.  I bet one in a monster SUV weighs a lot more than that, enough to make the battery-pack seem inconsequential perhaps.  Anywho, I'm hoping the quotes are mix-ups with pure electric vehicles, not attempts to make hybrids less appealing.  Since the first commercially viable fuel-cell vehicles aren't even expected until 2010, hybrids will play a very important role in the future.  In fact, hundreds of millions of them could be produced in the meantime.  Remember, 60 million new vehicles are produced each year worldwide.


Eeeek!  The excitement from capturing a sunset with the digital camera tonight was not enough to keep me warm.  Starting up the Prius afterward revealed why.  It said 48 F degrees on the Multi-Display.  Fall has definitely arrived.  When the Prius silently rolled into my garage, I saw 49.9 MPG.  The average has dropped below 50 MPG.  Summer's incredible performance is now just a memory.  Bummer.


Prius delight!  I saw a Green Prius parked along the residential road I was on.  So I stopped.  Then I sat there assembling a Prius Care-Package to leave for the owner.  When I got out, to my surprise, there was the owner and she had seen I was in a Prius.  So my greeting was welcome, almost too welcome.  She was thrilled to tell me all about her experiences.  I learned she and her husband had started their hybrid adventure by leasing an Aqua Prius.  At 5,000 miles, they traded it in to purchase a Green one.  55 MPG was now her average.  Whoa!  Had I not been on a tight schedule, I bet she would have kept right on sharing information with me.  Hybrid excitement is building.  Doubtful leaders in Detroit, are you paying attention?


5 new Sunset Photos.  No, my Prius isn't in any of these.  Sorry.  This time, the purpose is to focus on the reason why we need low-emissions.  Seeing that kind of beauty is a great reminder.  Take a look for yourself... gallery 6


Website Advantage.  There's over 4,300 members on the Toyota Prius Yahoo Group now.  They've posted over 40,000 messages.  That's a bit overwhelming for a new member, so he/she will just post their question rather than try to hunt down the information somewhere within all those messages.  Answering the same old question over and over again isn't that fun.  So sometimes, the new member doesn't get any responses.  Fortunately, information summaries are already available.  The senior members helped build webpages for this website.  Now new owners and those researching a purchase have somewhere else to find answers now.  All Right!


Still warm enough.  MPG hasn't been affected by afternoon temperatures only being in the upper 60's.  After 175 miles, the Multi-Display says 51.1 MPG.  That's "hot" performance for "cool" conditions.


So What Drives You?  Colette has purchased a White Prius, an Aqua Prius, and a Dark Blue Prius.  So without even seeing the photo she selected to share with us, you know it's great.  With 3 Prius in the same photo, how can you go wrong?  But then when some of you see it, you'll like it even more...  There's a second photo too.  It illustrates her devotion to the special hybrid we call "Prius".  She does a lot of "Hybrid Thinking", and it shows.  Everything she has done to help with the promotion of Prius is "BIG".  Read the story that was also provided.  Then ask yourself the question, "So What Drives You?"   owner:  Colette B


Marketing.  "We have to deal with consumer demand and what consumers want to buy."  I found that quote from a spokeswoman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers rather amusing.  (It was in a New York Times article dealing with oil consumption today.)  Anyone that has studied economics knows that if you advertise a certain product heavily and only offer other products in very limited quantities (or not at all), consumer demand will favor the advertised product.  In other words, if you see lots & lots of commercials on TV for SUVs and they don't ever even build hybrids, the demand for hybrids will be almost non-existent.  People will want to buy SUVs instead.  Duh!  Of course, if those SUVs were hybrids it would be a different story.  But when they currently only average 15 MPG (in the Summer of course, Winter is much worse) it's just plain awful.  I'm averaging triple that MPG in my hybrid.  That means a large, impractical SUV in hybrid form should be able to achieve double.  Oil consumption would be lower and emission would be significantly lower.


FFV revealed.  I always wondered why there were so many FFV (Flexible Fuel Vehicles) on the roads in the Twin Cities, yet almost none of the owners actually ever use E85.  They just use ordinary gas instead.  And to make matters more frustrating, E85 is rarely promoted even though there's a bunch of gas stations that sell it.  So there really doesn't seem to be much interest in actually reducing emissions or oil consumption.  It turns out, the push is coming from the automakers, since they receive emission credits for each one they sell.  (That also explains why some vehicles are FFV yet some owners are never informed of that fact.)  The more credits automakers get, the more high-emission SUVs they're allowed to sell.  And to make matters worse, House and Senate negotiators reached an agreement today on new fuel economy rules that would actually increase oil consumption, rather than decrease it, unless the Bush administration takes more aggressive action.  Do you really think any action will occur to prevent this?  The saying "It's going to get a lot worse before it gets better" is frighteningly far too appropriate in this situation.


North Shore Silver.  A friend of mine was inspired to seek out a scenic location for a photo of his Silver Prius to add to the owner webpages.  His recent trip up to Northern Minnesota did the trick.  There's a superb "North Shore Silver" photo now available.  It's at a very scenic location with a popular tourist location in the background encompassed by an impressive sunrise sky (providing soft lighting and a wonderful cloud formation).  Needless to say, I'm really excited that the owner webpage concept is catching on.  Keep sending the photos & details my way.  Here's that latest contribution:  owner:  Bob M


Prius Genius.  I always had a feeling the car was even smarter than it let on to be.  Today, I got proof.  My commute to work ends with about 1 mile of stealth, then a 2 floor climb inside the parking ramp with the engine still off.  When I leave, I climb 4 more floors.  The engine powers both the wheels and the small motor to provide electricity for the large motor.  Reaching the final floor always resulted in the engine RPM increasing to begin recharging too.  It seemed that was because the SOC was at 1/2, but I was always suspicious that the hybrid system detected the electrical draw and automatically increased the supply with the anticipation that the load would continue.  Today, the engine RPM increased at the same spot.  Except this time, the charge was still at 3/4.  Prius Genius delivered an ability that most owners and those researching a purchase wouldn't expect.  Excellent!


Simple, Seamless Stealth.  Leaving the strip-mall involves driving along the back of the entire parking lot.  17 MPH is the ideal speed for that.  (Or could it be 17.01 MPH?  That's a rather appealing number, ya know.)  The hybrid system really likes it.  Since the engine is already warm from the drive there, stealth engages quickly without trying.  Lifting the accelerator-pedal briefly to invoke stealth isn't needed.  The engine just suddenly shuts off.  You wouldn't even know it either if it wasn't for the dead silence.  Simple.  Seamless.  Sweet!


Gas Prices.  $1.29 per gallon in the morning.  $1.49 per gallon in the evening.  Changes like that are considered "normal" now.  Imagine if the United States decides to confront Iraq.  The last time we engaged in a conflict with them, they ignited 180 oil wells of our allies.  All that burning had an obvious affect on prices.  The same thing could happen again.  Plus, don't forget about the oil that normally comes from Iraq too.  It could get ugly.  We need more hybrids.


Owning a Hybrid for over 2 years.  Sometimes you don't expect the fascination that Prius can create.  I was just talking with a friend about stealth when she completely surprised me.  I mentioned how I was following a slow person up a long, curvy hill.  The speed limit was 45 MPH, but the person in front of me was only going 30.  So on the plateau in the middle, the engine shut off and stayed off for the first few feet when the climb resumed.  She suddenly exclaimed, "Doesn't that scare you having the engine not running like that?"  Fear was an emotion I hadn't ever considered with stealth; instead, it's always a variation of pleasure & satisfaction.  With such a powerful motor & battery-pack, I don't ever have any doubts about the engine starting back up when I need it.  It works every time.  I bet that trust comes from have started my old manual-transmission Dodge Omni a number of times by just simply pushing it down a hill and popping the clutch in 2nd gear.  Money was very tight for me back then.  Living next to a hill meant I could roll-start the car rather replace my nearly dead 12-volt battery.  That car was in constant need of repair, so saving money for paying college tuition was a high priority for me.  Now I'm truly grateful both that car and my Taurus had so many mechanical problems, those nightmares taught me a ton about what happens under the hood.  Without that first-hand experience, I wouldn't of had so much of an incentive to find a better technology.  And I did!  Now my mission is to provide proof for everyone that the system in Prius really is better.  (Thank goodness I earned the Computer Science degree in college.)


Hello & Goodbye 50's.  I think reality may be setting in.  I'll have to accept the fact that summer is over.  Seeing 54 F degrees on the Multi-Display early this morning means seeing 50 MPG on the Multi-Display won't happen again for quite a long time.  49 MPG is still great, and with it I'll still be able see my Lifetime MPG climb to 45.  But it's just not the same, especially knowing that more than 50 MPG would be possible if I had LRR tires instead.  Oh well.


Nissan Hybrids.  The rumors are true.  Just like with Ford, Toyota will be supplying hybrid systems for another manufacturer to use in their own vehicles.  Nissan will purchase 100,000 of them over a 5 year period beginning in 2006.  Toyota is obviously taking its investment in hybrid technology.  And they are inspiring other as they go.  What manufacturers will actually get are the inverter & transaxle components.  That means they'll still be developing their own engine to interact with the hybrid system.  This is a great way for Ford & Nissan to catch up and for Toyota to recover research investment costs.  It should also increase consumer confidence knowing that Toyota is strongly interested in supporting the technology.  That sounds like a good plan to me.


Photo Album Book.  Now you can download the thumbnails of all 535 of my Prius photos at once.  Having the ability to preview the entire collection offline via a single file is really handy.  Then when you find a photo you'd like to see the full-size version of, there's a link available for connecting to that page on my site.  2 formats are available for your convenience: DOC and PDF.  The DOC file is both a smaller download and provides higher quality, so it's the one I recommend.  However, the thumbnail feature in the PDF files make navigating the 82 pages easier. (And yes, I realize thumbnails of thumbnails is a bit redundant.  But it actually is helpful.)  Here's a link to both of them:  photo album book


Personal Log Book.  Now that I've embarked on adventure year #3 of owning my Prius, I can provide a convenient method to read about what happened in the first 2 years.  It's also a handy way to search my website, since there's links to all my other pages within some entries.  I bundled all 977 personal log entries into a single 158 page document.  Then I saved it in both DOC (Microsoft Word) and PDF (Adobe Acrobat) formats.  Happy Reading & Searching!  personal log book


back to home page       go to top