Personal Log  #56

March 8, 2003  -  March 20, 2003

Last Updated: Sun. 8/05/2007

    page #55         page #57         BOOK         INDEX         go to bottom 



44/42 PSI is what I've started to drive with now.  The pressure in the tires increased all by itself when the temperature increased.  I didn't even notice the change until the pressure-gauge informed me that's what had happened.  I was curious about all the factors that contributed to me achieving 50 MPG with the last tank of gas.  So it didn't surprise me when I discovered the PSI change.  With over 18,000 miles on these Non-LRR tires running at 42/40, it's very clear that they will last much longer than the OEM tires did.  And there's no sign of uneven wear at all.  I'll be taking photos later so you can see for yourself.  Mileage will be very close to that in these OEM tire photos on photo album 22.  I'll take them the same way too, from the front.  So right before & after I take the Prius in for the 52,500 service the digital camera will get a workout.  That will provide the final proof that alternative tires will do the job just fine.


Double Sighting!  As I was driving by a parking lot today, I noticed one of the cars had a familiar back-end.  Sure enough, it was a Prius!  But then to my delight, I noticed a familiar front-end too.  There was another Prius parked right next to it!  Sweet!!!


Squished!  I couldn't take advantage of the nibble handling that Prius offers this time.  Bummer.  This evening, I was pulling out onto a highway from a country side-road without any street lights.  As usual, I turned the wheel, pushed the pedal down, and the Prius shot off briskly.  Right before completing the turn, a little furry creature suddenly appeared in the headlight beams cutting through the darkness.  I was already too close, the wheels were already turned, and the curb divider was very near.  I couldn't do anything to prevent it.  Thump!  Poor thing.


Graphs of Lifetime MPG Data.  I have 2.5 years of real-world Prius MPG data now.  So... I created printable documents in DOC & PDF format that contain 2 graphs showing the efficiency performance I've observed as the seasons have changed and as my Prius has aged.  It's pretty cool getting to see all that data graphically on a single piece of paper.  Check'em out:  Lifetime Graphs (DOC)    Lifetime Graphs (PDF)


Over 50 MPG already!  This sure is going to be a difficult personal record to beat.  Both last year and the year before my first 50 MPG tank wasn't until a whole month later.  It could be years before the next really early warm up occurs again.  The Multi-Display stated 52.2 MPG.  The pump calculated to 53.1 MPG.  Even taking bladder-effect into account, I still think it's pretty safe saying I really did achieve 50 MPG.  That's pretty sweet!


Having proved the hybrid concept with the current model...  There's no reason to abandon such a marketing advantage now.  The word "Prius" is already starting to have special meaning.  The layout of the 2004 should make it remarkably close to that of a Corolla.  One more upgrade would actually make it a Corolla.  And by then "Prius" will be a very common name with unique appeal.  So there really wouldn't be any benefit in making Corolla itself a hybrid, even though people think there should be.  In fact, the bigger front-end would cause a MPG penalty.  Odds are that Corolla will remain a very strong choice among the traditional vehicles for many years to come.  "Prius" will be the hybrid version.  After all, how is that much different from Camry and Solara anyway?


New Multi-Display Photo.  You can tell it's Spring just by looking at the Multi-Display.  The warmth produced an interesting pattern and fantastic mileage.  After 310 miles, it now say 52.2 MPG.  So I took this photo to capture the moment: photo album 45


It's inevitable that the Multi-Display improves.  Eventually hybrid owners will look at our classic Multi-Display and make comments about how plain it looks, how small it is, and how little detail it provides.  Just remind yourself that no other vehicle in the world can currently compete with what Prius already offers as a standard component.


Once everyone is driving hybrids... my car won't be so much of a conversation piece.  That's what a current Prius owner said today.  My response was:  Are you kidding?  Future owners will be fascinated with your high-mileage experiences.  MPG definitely improves with age.  And of course, everyone will be curious about the performance of an older battery-pack.  You probably already have a few "first hand" stories that future owners will only hear about, never having the opportunity to help lead the way like you did.  Plus, you'll own a classic.


Has else anyone noticed... how perfect the high gas price timing is?  Toyota is observing a large spike in hybrid interest as a result of what's happening at the pump.  This is likely having a influence with the 2004 Prius production & marketing plans.  I would suspect that volume will be increased much higher than previously with the anticipation of strong demand.  We are about to witness the dawn of a new age.  Hybrids will no longer be considered something for the tree-hugger or techno-geek.  It will become the "next big thing" for automotive envy.  Are you ready?


All in Stealth.  Yeah!  It's finally warm enough.  I drove all the way from my mailbox at the corner of the street to the base of my driveway, climbing the slight incline on the driveway itself, then pulled into the garage using only electricity.  The engine had no need to start back up.  In fact, it even stayed off when I shifted to park.  It was warm enough that the emissions system didn't have any heat-delayed processes to complete now.  Sweet!  Once the hot season begins (that's when the temperature exceeded 75 F degrees).  Performance will be incredible.  It can't wait!


More Fun to Drive.  CVT is growing in popularity.  It's amazing how many Saturn Ions, which offer a CVT, have been sold already.  I see them all over the place.  The concept of not having any gears is catching on quickly.  After awhile, Prius will be just another vehicle with CVT.  "Fun" has different meaning for some people.


Rediscovering Stealth.  This weekend, the temperature is in the 60's F for the first time since the second week in October.  Yes, it's been colder than that for 6 months here in Minnesota!  Anywho, I'm getting the opportunity now to rediscover a pleasure feature available only in Prius.  We call it "Stealth".  The smooth, silent electric-only propulsion is amazing.  During the cold season, it only last distances measured in car-lengths.  Now in the warm season, I cruise along through my neighborhood with the engine running for a moment or two.  The rest is electric.  It's pretty sweet!


Great MPG explained... or at least attempted to.  This current tank is one of my best ever!  High-Mileage break-in and the synthetic oil are the big contributors that weren't a factor last year at these temperatures.  But we've discovered within the last few months that oil-level also makes a difference.  Too much causes internal engine drag.  So comparisons are skewed a bit by that.  And to further complicate matters, my Prius is now using Non-LRR tires.  They cause the MPG to drop.  That makes the fact that I'm getting such great MPG even more impressive.  Of course, my skill has obviously improved.  The habit of how to most efficiently cruise, accelerate, and climb is second-nature now.  In short, I think that means that I can't clearly explain why my MPG is so impressive.  So I guess I'll just have to suggest people try what I've done and hope they see an improvement like that too.


Air Pollution Alert.  People routinely point out to me how much cleaner vehicles are now than they were in the past.  I (very spiritedly) reply that it simply isn't enough, that the air is still way too dirty.  Today an "air pollution alert" was issued here.  So the problem isn't isolated to the hottest days of summer and only in the heavily populated areas of California anymore.  It happens regularly.  Having that happen where I live is disturbing.  All the Holiday stations in the metro area have been selling low-sulfur gas for 3.5 years now.  That's probably what helped keep us off the "worst" list, but it's unmistakably not enough.  We need more hybrids!


Synthetic WHOA!  It's warm now (in Minnesota).  Spring has sprung!  The temperature averaged around 60 F degrees today.  This was the first opportunity to test my well broken-in Prius with synthetic oil.  So I did.  After driving 77 miles on a mixture of roads (varying between 30 & 60 MPH), the Multi-Display now shows 54.1 MPG.  I'm obviously quite pleased.  Whoa!


72 F Degrees Warmer.  It was -4 F and very windy when I started with this tank of gas this week.  The heater got quite a workout.  Each day provided improvement though.  I watched the MPG slowly crawl up as the temperature went up.  The value started at 35.4 after the first morning's drive to 45.3 at fill up time.  But it was 68 F degrees then.  That's so much of a drastic increase in temperature during a single tank use that I'll never truly know what MPG those changing conditions produced.  The bladder is clearly relaxed now.  That means more gas fit inside today, so the calculated 40.8 MPG is obviously not correct.  That's a small price to pay for it finally being warm now.  I think I'll go for a drive.


Gas-Guzzlers don't like me, and I don't like them.  I got hit by a SUV today... not my Prius, me!  A guy drove his large, wasteful, dirty vehicle up to the intersection, stopping with half covering the crosswalk.  So my two friends and I had to squeeze through the narrow area remaining to get across.  He never noticed us because he immediately began reading his newspaper.  He obviously couldn't hear us since his vehicle was too primitive to know how to shut itself off.  When he thought he had waited long enough, he simply started going without even looking.  That resulted in a loud thump from me smashing my hand down on his hood to keep from falling over.  He looked at me as I walked around his vehicle.  He opened his window without saying a word. I yelled at him pointing out that his light was still red.  My friend really ripped into him.  Then the light turned green.  He drove away without checking to see if I was ok.  I called the police and reported a pedestrian hit & run.  They sent an officer to get details and make sure I was ok.  My back is sore from having twisted so aggressively the moment I realized the grill of the truck was suddenly approaching.  I'm angry at the driver for simply not caring.  I wish the vehicle itself wasn't so stupid.  If it could shut off at intersections, I would have stood half a chance that the driver would have heard one of the three of us just feet from him.  Arrrgh!   For this point on, I�ll simply not even taking a chance.  Knocking on their hood (which is a safe sound that won�t upset them, I�ve confirmed that in the past) to insure they acknowledge having seen me will always happen now before walking in front.


EPA estimates aren't even remotely realistic.  Didn't you know?  Whoa!  There are lots of people that didn't have an idea that was the case.  (Imagine if every vehicle had a Multi-Display.)  Anywho, here's a response I provided to someone that made a comment about my real-world data not coming close to the EPA estimates:  The EPA tests are performed when the temperature is between 68 and 86 F degrees.  That's when the air produces the greatest firing power, offers the least resistance, and engine warm-up (high RPM) only takes a moment.  In the real-world (like Minnesota when it was -9F just the other night), all vehicles take a very significant MPG drop from the cold.  And to make matters even worse, the winter formula gasoline isn't as high BTU, so efficiency is lowered even more.  The highway test is very unrealistic too.  The cruising speed is only 45 MPH with a few spikes up to 60 MPH. It's a well known fact that all vehicles perform better when traveling slower like that.  The wind resistance is less at that point too.  But in the real-world, people routinely travel at +70 MPH which drags MPG well below the EPA estimate.  Imagine if all vehicles had screens to show what MPG people actually got.  Many people would be horrified to discover they aren't getting the value on the sticker  with any vehicle they own.  The fact that my Prius actually does get tank averages (which includes some highway driving) of 48 MPG in the summer (with Non-LRR tires that are 3 MPG less efficient than the standard Prius tires) is amazing.


Reality.  The automotive market is desperately trying to redefine itself.  The strong selling-points have begun to change.  Fuel concerns are much more of a priority.  The affects of war leave people feeling very uncertain about the future.  And the economy in general is still struggling to regain consumer confidence.  In other words, Prius is going to emerge as a bold new solution that "seemingly" appeared at exactly the right time.  Hmm?  That goodness their are some of us that already began building a better future for others to enjoy.  (Thanks to all those that joined in with me to help make that happen!)


Likely to Fail.  MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) released a report recently.  It states that hybrids will remain the best option until around 2020.  They are more efficient and don't cause as much overall pollution as hydrogen (since the production of hydrogen is rather dirty).  I like reports like that.  Waiting for something that might not even deliver is absurd.  Hybrids are obviously realistic, and they are viable today.  Fuel-Cell vehicles will benefit from hybrids anyway.  Electric motors will be even more efficient and battery-packs will be smaller, lighter, and more powerful by then.  The acceptance of hybrids will also make the job of setting the new hydrogen infrastructure easier since people will have actually experienced first-hand what the newer technologies have to offer.


X-Radials.  Now that a bunch of the senior owners have proven some alternate tires work great on a Prius, newer owners are trying other alternates.  The Michelin X-Radials is one of them.  Personally, I don't care for it.  There's quite a bit more rough tread pattern my Goodyear Allegras that has already proven effective on snow as well as rain.  But hey, yet another option is always nice.  And this new one does provide remarkably long-life, the very reason owners are willing to try alternates.


Battery-Pack Misconception.  The belief that the battery-pack is wasteful & toxic surfaces from time to time.  Thankfully, that's not actually the case.  NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) is a benign substance.  It doesn't cause environmental problems like the older NiCd (Nickel Cadmium) rechargeable technology does.  To add to the benefit, those materials used in the Prius battery-pack are valuable, so there's a very real financial incentives to make sure they're recycled.  And when there's money to be made, you know someone will capitalize on the opportunity.


back to home page       go to top