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28 April 2009

Some of the Prii I see are actually the same ones. I saw a red Prius in a parking garage in the city on 20 April. Saw it again in the same spot. I was coming out of a lift and this red car was manoeuvring into a parking spot in front of me. I immediately knew by the sound, or lack thereof, that it was a hybrid before I even looked up. I like all the Prius colours, except blue. Don't like blue cars.

 

23 April 2009

It was today 2 years ago that I first slid in behind the steering of what was to become my very own Prius. It was also today 2 years ago that this blog was started. It's been a great journey so far. To all the Prius owners who have contacted me, thank you for visiting.

Massive thunder, lightning and rain in Durbanville today. Winter is here!

My Prius still doesn't fail to amaze....other people that is. Students where I work gathered at my car today and asked all sorts of questions. "Why is it so quiet?", "What's the fuel consumption?" and my favourite, "Can you rev the engine?". I had to respond rather sheepishly to the last one that it's impossible to rev a Prius' engine. If you have the car in N or P, a push on the accelerator pedal will produce....nothing. The computer figures that you're in P/N anyway so what's the point of burning fuel. With the students still near the front of my car, I proceeded to reverse out of the parking bay in EV mode. They were amazed at how a car can move without a sound, some even held their ears to the bonnet. It once again reminded me though that if your Prius is in EV mode, you should be careful around people. They can't hear you. There are people who advocate some kind of "noisemaker" for hybrids. This is just stupid. If drivers and pedestrians LOOK, accidents won't happen.

 

22 April 2009

Toyota will be offering a new engine with what they call "Optimal Drive" in the Corolla. It's not a hybrid, but instead use a variety of efficiency enhancing technologies including Dual VVT-i (Honda has been doing this for a while). For people looking for great economy at an affordable price, the Corolla 1.3 with Optimal Drive is a winner. In the end though, the Corollas' engine must still use the less efficient Otto cycle in order to provide sufficient power and torque and it still idles when the vehicle is stopped. The addition of the electric motor in the Prius can overcome both these drawbacks by using the more efficient Atkinson cycle and stopping and starting the engine as needed.

Why is a Prius better than a 1.3 Corolla?:

- Better performance. The electric motor provides oodles of low-end torque for overtaking and hill-climbing. Acceleration is also nippier and thanks to the e-CVT it's also smooooth.

- Quieter. The Prius can often switch off it's engine completely and run in EV mode.

- Features. Prius comes standard with GPS, leather and VSC.

- Efficient. If driven carefully it can still beat the Corollas' fuel consumption

- Style. It's cooler than a Corolla!

 

Why is a Prius worse than a 1.3 Corolla?:

- Styling. The unusual shape may not appeal to everyone. Headroom in the rear may be a problem.

- Price. The Prius is VERY expensive compared to the Corolla 1.3. Look out for great deals on used Prius though!

 

5.27 - 5.9l /100km typical

petrol

Corolla 1.3 with Optimal Drive engine
Length (mm)
4540
Width (mm)
1760
Height (mm)
1470
Wheelbase (mm)
2600
Luggage compartment (VDA, dm3, rear seats in use)
450
Acceleration: 0-100km/h (s)
  13.0 (Toyota Motor Corporation)

CARToday Link

4.9 - 5.2l /100km typical

petrol

2009 Prius with Hybrid Synergy Drive
Length (mm)
4450
Width (mm)
1725
Height (mm)
1490
Wheelbase (mm)
2700
Luggage compartment (VDA, dm3, rear seats in use)
410
Acceleration: 0-100km/h (s)
  10.9 (Toyota Motor Corporation)

4.6 - 4.9 /100km typical

petrol

2010 Prius with Hybrid Synergy Drive
Length (mm)
4445
Width (mm)
1745
Height (mm)
1490
Wheelbase (mm)
2700
Luggage compartment (VDA, dm3, rear seats in use)
not listed

 

21 April 2009

I love messing with people in the parking lot where I work by gliding past them in EV mode. They're all SO surprised that the car is completely quiet. Yep, not all cars go VAROOM. It's such fun!

 

20 April 2009

 

19 April 2009

I refer to my post of 13 March 2009. While attending the Domestic Use of Energy Conference dinner last week Wednesday, I happen to sit next to one of the guys who drive this Prius. He's one of the research engineers at "The Centre for Renewable and Sustainable energy Studies" in Stellenbosch. He admitted to me that their Prius is used mostly for very short trips. This is the primary reason why the fuel consumption is so high. He may also have mentioned that his "boss" drives like a maniac. He also expressed frustration that his "boss" won't allow him to take a screwdriver to it. He would love to explore some of the systems, but cannot.

My birthday is in one month. EEEK!

The EPA is finally recognising CO2 as a pollutant. This means it'll now be controlled the same way that emissions of NOX, HC, CO, O3 and particulates is controlled. Recognising carbon dioxide as a pollutant is an important first step to legislation to control its' emission. The US looks poised to take a leading role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This will make it more likely that other nations will follow.

I'd like to introduce the sighting binoculars. If I see a Prius on a particular day, I add one "sighting binocular" to my post. I saw two other Prius today so:

Prius Sighting BinocularPrius Sighting Binocular

 

17 April 2009

Driving on the N2 early this morning I was greeted by a lightning display. At one point I got quite a fright when it struck close to where I was on the highway. Cars and lightning don't make me nervous as your car is one of the safer places to be during a storm. The body of the car acts like a Faraday Cage to conduct the lightning around you and to the ground. I don't know how the Prius' electronics would stand up to a lightning strike, but...

 

My Prius is also getting freakishly good fuel consumption of 4.7 l/100km (average over last 654km). I'm not trying, honest. I've just been hauling it around any old way, accelerating hard, driving 115km/h with the aircon on. I drove about 100km today with two passengers!

I am using regen braking a lot though.I did notice that Toyota put a very thin oil in the crankcase at the 75000 km service. I wonder if they pumped the tires really hard....Hey I'm not complaining, but I do wonder what I'll be able to get if I DO try. Perhaps beat my record of 4.4l/100km?

Prius Sighting Binocular

 

14 April 2009

I was in the vicinity of Klipheuwel today and took these photos at the Eskom Wind Power Facility. Only one of three turbines were running. The two larger ones were stationary, but a smaller one was running. I think the wind was too slow. There's another wind farm at Darling. The one Vestas turbine closest to the car is very imposing. I wasn't prepared for how massive these things are.

Google Earth View

11 April 2009

I was moaning about the Price of a 2009 Prius the other day. Leafing through the June 2008 copy of CAR today and looking at their price survey for servicing, it occurred to me that the Prius is pricey because you're paying for 8 years or 195000 km worth of servicing upfront. The Prius has a service interval of 15000 km. In 195000 km there are 13 service intervals. If the typical service is about R1250.00,  it means R16250.00 is already included in the purchase price just for servicing. It's probably closer to R20000.00.

 

10 April 2009

Topped off with fuel. We're in the middle of a trucker strike so I don't know if petrol will become scarce. I just hope all parties involved can agree on a mutually acceptable remuneration package before there's no food in the stores and fuel at the pumps. Sigh! Nuff said.

In other news: I'm not even trying but managing 4.8 l/100km.

 

9 April 2009

Dropped the Prius off at Helderberg Toyota. One annoyance, the service advisor "Shaun" tried to yank out the key while it was still in the locked position. When it wouldn't budge he pulled harder. I had to switch off the power and remove the key. It's not like this locking mechanism is unique, surely Toyota use it on their other models? Chatted to the service advisor. Apparently they take in up to 40 cars, but with only 6 technicians that leaves only about an hour per car. I guess if you have the right tools and experience you can do a lot in an hour. My car only needs an oil change according to the service schedule. The rest is just check or inspect. So nothing too hectic. 8:22 am

Car was ready at 15:00, got it just before 16:00. Easter traffic on N2 is outrageous. Got to Helderberg Toyota. No invoice, printer didn't work. Invoice will be mailed to me, yeah right! Got the Prius, cleaned and vacuumed, but seats were adjusted all wrong, mirrors were adjusted all wrong, dirty fingerprints on bonnet. The oil level is slightly above the top mark by 5mm. I have it on good authority that it shouldn't damage anything. It was the same when I first got it. According to Priuschat, Toyota delivers Prii from the factory overfilled.

Bottom line, felt like just another customer in the sausage machine. Nothing special. Gonna try a smaller, less busy dealership like Market Toyota Cavendish for the major 90000km service.

Google Earth

Market Toyota Cavendish

Physical Address:   15 Dreyer Street
Claremont
Cape Town

Tel:   (021) 673 5000 Fax:   (021) 673 5051  

 

7 April 2009

Booked my car in at Helderberg Toyota for a service on Thursday 9th April, 2009. I can drop it off at 7:30 already. Filled up Sunday and got off to a great start on the new tank today. I wasn't even trying....honest. I drove any old way I like with the aircon on. Has my "normal" driving style become this efficient and I don't even realize it?

 

6 April 2009

I'm finding it very hard to fit a service for my car into my schedule..., but I must try.

 

5 April 2009

4.4 l/100km averaged over 905km. The last pip on the fuel gauge isn't even flashing yet. It may be possible to go to 1000 km, but I don't want to risk running out of fuel. We're in for some strike action in the fuel delivery sector so I'd better fill up today. I managed to put in 41 litres, so there was still 4 litres in the tank. When the pip starts flashing, you'd better fill up, NOW!

I achieved the above result using cruise control set to 95km/h on the N2. The aircon stayed off the whole time with only the fan on. I also often glanced at the instantaneous consumption and adjusted my foot to keep it below my target. You will not achieve this number driving normally. This was my experiment to see how far you can push the technology. I can still increase the tire pressure, but prefer not to for safety reasons. I can also install an engine block heater so the Prius will burn less fuel to warm up the engine at startup. There is also a plastic cover one can purchase off the Internet that is installed underneath the engine. It smooths the airflow under the car and reduces drag. Interestingly enough the 2010 Prius comes with such a cover.

Washed the Prius today. It'll probably rain tomorrow anyway.

 

4 April 2009

Had my Prius for 23 months now! It was also three years ago in April that I first test drove a 2005 model (with the low res MFD screen, without NAV). I was hooked. It took another year before I actually managed to buy one. I still remember that feeling of wanting something so desperately that it's almost painful. Below is the route I drove. Just under 20km total. I drove from Helderberg Toyota next to the N2.

Click to ENLARGE

Check this post on Priuschat.com. It makes you think. I'm not a fan of Diesel. It's a disgusting fuel.

Diesel people just don't get it

 

She's due for her 75000km service soon

 

2 April 2009

With three pips still visible on the fuel (that's P E T R O L) gauge. Put that in your diesel engine and smoke it. Oh, wait...you do. [Maniacal Laughter]

 

1 April 2009

Hybrid or no Hybrid, who is going to pay that? Toyota are you insane? When Honda brings their Hybrids here they're going to undercut you so far you won't know what hit you. Geez! (I wish this was a joke)

I gave one of my students a lift back from Cape Town to Somerset West today. I won't normally do that, but I got tricked somehow. Now this guy is a rather tall burly character. I swear, with the passenger seat all the way back, his knees touched the dashboard. The current Prius can show its' Japaneseness when confronted with large, tall people. They just seem squashed in. Going up De Waal drive from town involved some revving from the engine to lug the extra 120 odd kilos along. I thought my little mileage experiment was completely messed up, but the damage was contained. See below:

My morning commute ended well

0.1 l/100km up, not too bad. The damage has been contained. I can try and get it down with good driving tomorrow. Actually, with an extra passenger, aircon on and going 100km/h I thought it would be much worse.

What was up with Telkom today? Their network was a mess. Internet browsing didn't work this morning due to a SAIX DNS issue. Now I see their link from Rosebank to Hong Kong is dead. I'd love to use Neotel, but alas...no coverage.

 

31 March 2009

My morning commute to work ended like this.

Coming back though, I was driving against a very strong headwind.

The fuel tank after 521 km reads about half.

Bear has turned into such a sweet animal.

 

30 March 2009

So far so good. 4.5 l/100km over 475km. The wind was against me. See how the graph rises towards the end.

28 March 2009

OMG!, I managed to average 4.4l/100km in my Prius for the last 377km. This is not the norm. It's called Hypermiling. It's sort of a game Prius owners play. Using careful driving and taking advantage of the capabilities of the HSD, we see how low we can get our fuel consumption. It takes work. The tyre pressure is set as stated in the manual for driving over 160km/h (quite high). Also, the aircon stays off. Speed, somewhere between 90 and 100km/h. The techniques for hypermiling works in any car. Try it.

The letter above is from the April copy of Popular Mechanics SA. Let's pull it apart shall we? The letter starts off well with facts, no problems. The alarm bells start going off immediately though when the author gets the battery chemistry of the Prius wrong. It's Nickel-Metal hydride my friend. As stated in this sites index page there are indeed diesel vehicles out there that get lower fuel consumption than the Prius. People conveniently forget to look at what comes out of the tailpipe. The Prius emissions are far cleaner than that of a diesel vehicle of similar performance. Also, the diesel is noisier than the Prius. The author continues to state that he finds the fuel consumption of the of the Prius "disappointing". He would seem to be the only one, as the rest of the world thinks its' bloody amazing. He continues that he drives a 21 year old Corolla with a 1300 engine and get 6.27 l/100km. While I commend him for keeping a car for that long, not everyone wants to drive such an old car. The Prius is more spacious and heavier than his Corolla while still providing equivalent performance to a 2 litre 4 cylinder sedan. My Prius routinely beats 5.38 l/100km with normal driving. For a Corolla to achieve such a figure you have to drive very carefully indeed. When I drive very carefully I can obtain 4.4 l/100km.

The author also states that in 25 years we have not come very far in the efficiency of vehicles. While we have not managed to significantly increase the efficiency of the internal combustion engine, we have made great strides in eliminating other inefficiencies. Electric power steering uses less energy that hydraulic systems. Aerodynamic efficiency has increased and the use of regenerative braking in the Prius contributes significantly to reduced energy usage. By Toyotas own admission it takes more energy to produce a Prius than a regular car. At the same time however, the Prius will emit less CO2 in its' lifetime than a regular car. Toyota has also streamlined the production process to reduce energy use. Toyota states that after you've driven a Prius for 20 000 km you're emitting less CO2 overall than a normal car. This break even point is called the Prius effect. The author states that modern cars have become "burdened with weight in the form of more safety features". Since when is safety a burden? I bet my Prius will do far better in an offset frontal head-on collision than your Corolla.

By his own admission the author states that in his own case a hybrid makes no sense. This is true, because buying a vehicle is a very personal choice. If a hybrid does not suit your wallet or lifestyle then don't buy one. The author seems to be concerned with the cost of replacing the battery. Toyota states that the battery should last the life of the vehicle or about 290000km. Real world data supports this fact. A regular automatic vehicle is likely to also need a new transmission or other expensive components after 290000 km.

Finally, Toyota can indeed make the Prius more efficient by stripping the vehicle bare, but then....who would buy it? You sir?

 

More polite response I'll be sending to PM. Developed in collaboration with Priuschat.com members

Dear Editor,

I refer to the letter "Okay, let's do a few sums" in your April 2009 issue.

The comparison is flawed. The Prius is heavier, larger, safer and has more features than a 1988 Corolla. Yet it still beats the authors best attempt of 5.38 litres/100km.

I own a Prius and use it almost every day. With normal driving I routinely get fuel consumption of 5.2 litres/100km or less. Normal driving means 110-120 km/h with the air conditioner on.

The issue of emissions is never mentioned. The Prius is rated as a Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV). This is a conventionally powered or petrol-electric hybrid vehicle designed to produce minimal air pollution, typically 90% less than that of an equivalent ordinary full petrol vehicle. This means that it emits extremely low levels of air pollutants compared to other vehicles. With a carburettor and no catalytic converter, the 1988 Corolla will emit considerably higher levels of CO, NOx and unburnt hydrocarbons than a Prius. Even a diesel vehicle with similar fuel consumption to a Prius will emit higher levels of NOx than a Prius in addition to particulates.

By Toyotas own admission it does take more energy to produce a Prius. However they have gone to great lengths to enhance their production process to minimize energy usage and CO2 emissions. Toyota states that after you've driven a Prius for 20 000 km you're emitting less overall CO2 than a normal car. This break-even point is called the Prius effect. The battery is also fully recycled at the end of the vehicles life.

Battery replacement still seems to be a concern for hybrid buyers. Real world data and Toyotas own tests show that the NiMH battery should easily last the life of the car or 290000km. There are Prius taxis in Canada that have done these distances without battery problems. Even if a Prius does need a new battery at 300000km, show me any car that won't need expensive major components replaced at that mileage.

Car manufacturers are still managing to squeeze additional efficiency from engines. Some very efficient engines, such as the Atkinson cycle engine used in the Prius, must be used in a hybrid system because such an engine cannot produce much power or torque and rely on the motor to provide these instead. This is why Toyota paired an electric motor and battery with the engine. The hybrid system allows the engine to run at its' most efficient RPM range (extracting maximum energy from the petrol), while the battery can store excess energy or provide extra energy as required. By using the motor as a generator, braking energy can also be captured and stored instead of being wasted as heat. In Hybrid Synergy Drive therefore, the motor compensates for the inadequacies of the engine and visa versa.

I was surprised at the authors statement, "cars have become burdened with more weight in the form of safety features and superfluous gadgets". Since when is safety a burden? The Prius has a 5 star EURO NCAP rating. Does the authors' Corolla have an air conditioner, and how would that affect his fuel consumption?

The author is absolutely correct that people should make greater use of bicycles and public transport, provided acceptable public transport exists.

A potential car buyer should indeed weigh the cost of switching to a hybrid vs. keeping an existing vehicle on the road. Unfortunately keeping the existing car will almost always win because of cost. Older cars are also less reliable. It is better to compare a new non-hybrid with a new hybrid and then decide which to buy.

I believe Toyota got it right. Hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains will become more common, even in performance cars.

Finally, Toyota can indeed make the Prius use less fuel by stripping it, but who would want a car like that? Covering a vehicle in PV cells will indeed generate power to charge the battery and reduce fuel consumption, but only slightly. Also, the cost of the PV cells would be prohibitive compared to the benefits.

 

27 March 2009

Look what I can do!

I managed to average 4.5l/100km in my Prius for the last 281km

 

25 March 2009

Toyota is planning to release the Yaris in Hybrid guise by 2011 (USA and Japan) to counteract Hondas' Insight. Talk is that a Yaris with HSD could achieve up to 3.7l/100km. It would also be priced below the Insight. The Hybrid price war has begun. Good news for the consumer.

The Insight counter move from Toyota is a Hybrid Yaris.

 

Driving Somerset-West to Cape Town, N2, cruise control at 100km/h, aircon off, fan only

 

18 March 2009

Honda Hybrids to be sold in SA

Insight

(City/Highway/Combined)

5.88 / 5.47 / 5.73 EPA

 L/100km petrol

$19,800

*A 1.8 i-VTEC LXi manual is R200 900 in SA and $18,125 in the USA. Price ratio = 11.084.

R220 000 *

Civic Hybrid

(City/Highway/Combined)

5.88 / 5.22 / 5.6 EPA

 L/100km petrol

$24,320

*A 1.8 i-VTEC LXi manual is R200 900 in SA and $18125 in the USA. Price ratio = 11.084.

R270 000 *

I've had e-mail confirmation from Honda SA that the Insight and Civic Hybrid will be sold here in the very near future. While neither of these hybrids offer the economy of the Prius, they are likely to be cheaper than the Prius. This is especially true for the Insight. Having cheaper hybrids available will get more bumms behind the wheel of a hybrid. More importantly though it'll bring competition to the South African hybrid market which is currently dominated by Toyota. With the Prius at R314 000 the market is just screaming for cheaper hybrids.

"The Honda Insight should become available at the end of 2009/ beginning of 2010. Price and spec levels haven’t been confirmed yet."

Hannes Smit
Automobile Product Planner
Honda South Africa

"Civic Hybrid will be  available in SA we just don't have specific month and date but we will keep your details on the system and we'll inform you as soon as it arrives. And it will be this year.. "

Dina Mathebula
Customer Care Operator
Honda South Africa

A fully kitted out Prius like you get in SA is $27,765 in the US. If we apply the same price ratio as Honda (11.1) we get R308,191. With the Prius priced at R314,000 this is right in the ballpark. It also shows that the Insight and Civic Hybrid will be cheaper than the Prius. The base model Prius in the US is $22,720 and would cost about R256,000 in SA.

 

15 March 2009

Gave the Prius a good clean today. She's due for her 75000km service soon and she also needs new tires before winter starts. I'll buy a set of the same Bridgestone Turanzas she's got now. Otherwise everything is fine. No problems and fuel consumption is as expected.

 

13 March 2009

An article in the MAR/APR 2009 issue of Toyota Zone Magazine describes a Prius donated to the Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies at Stellenbosch University. What caught my eye though is the fuel consumption of this particular Prius. In a nutshell...it's a bit high. To be fair, it could be that the car is still running in. If the hybrid components are still "tight" the increased resistance will increase the fuel consumption. Their car is at 22000 km odd now. I only bought mine at 31000 km when, presumably, the car was already run in. Frankly, I have to try and get my Prius' consumption this high. Sure if I go haring around everywhere at 140km/h I'd get it this high. Either they're driving it fast, or they're taking many short trips. Members of Priuschat concur.

Check the l/100km column and compare with mine. Click to enlarge

 

12 March 2009

Photographed an unusual Lenticular cloud formation over Devils Peak. It's cooled down. Phew!

UPDATE 25 March 2009 below, after the devastating fire on the mountain

 

9 March 2009

Got a nice complement today. Someone at work showed interest in my car. When asked how long I've had my Prius I responded; "Almost two years". Upon which he responded; "What?, but it still looks new".

 

6 March 2009

It's freakishly hot. Driving in from the city at about 4pm it was 39C! Just before I took the picture below it thankfully dropped to 38C. I had to run the AC on the "MAX LO" setting for most of the day. It's not that the AC struggled, I just love cool air. It did take a nock on the fuel consumption though at 5.7l/100km. Up from a typical 5.0l/100km. Very hot air is also less dense which reduces efficiency further. There's less oxygen in a fixed volume of air.

Reply on my e-mail. At least they took the time to respond.

 

3 March 2009

Prius sightings more frequent

I went to Claremont today to run some errands and saw two Prius within the same hour! I also stopped at a garage for a cooldrink and another customer struck up a conversation about my car. Had lost of questions. He said he was curious and he saw the car in the paper. He also used the strangest pronunciation of "Prius". I didn't wanna correct him. That would be rude.

 

1 March 2009

More wildfires here. Everything is all smokey and sooty. Ash is depositing on everything. Many of these fires are caused by people who are careless with cigarettes. My chest is acting up from the dirty air. I'm coughing and sneezing while I'm working on this page. I encourage anybody who read these pages to engage with local government on environmental issues. Our mayor has the right idea already. She ditched a BMW 550 for a far more responsible ride. Thank you Helen. I hope more people in government follow your example.

The mayor of Cape Town, Helen Zille, uses a Prius. It's my favourite colour too.

Copies of e-mails I sent to the Mayor of Cape Town

Click to ENLARGE

 

Today's ridlle: What grows faster than a cabbage? Bear the cat

16/12/2008

The day after I rescued Bear.

2 months later

 

25 February 2009

 

24 February 2009

Wildfires in the Somerset West/Helderberg area. The smoke plume is visible from space.

A MODIS Terra satellite image of the smoke plume at 10am February 23, 2009(CSIR, News24 user & Nasa)

 

I'm seeing a lot of Lexus on the roads. People really seem to have taken to the brand. I even saw a HYBRID Lexus last Sunday. I was digging through some old photos and came across pictures I took of Prii on the dealer floor only days after I first test drove a Prius for the very first time. It was some of the first pictures to be used on this website. It took another year for me to actually buy one.

April 2006

2005 Model. Notice the absence of the side badge. Cloth interior, no NAV

2006 Model. Notice the hybrid badge on the side. I have a 2006 model. Leather interior, with NAV

 

23 February 2009

Saw another Prius on the highway again today. This was an older model though as it had cloth upholstery. It was silver. The air here is all smokey and sootey from the veld fires. Had a reply from Platbos, they're gonna plant my trees. Cool. I plan on taking a vacation to that neck of the woods some time. I want to see this place.

 

22 February 2009

Saw another Prius today on the highway. A silver one. Also, When I was at my parents' house I was standing in the front yard. A Lexus pulled up to the Stop street. As it pulled away I immediately knew it was a GS450h without even having to look at the badge. It was too quiet and I could hear the subtle whine of the motor. The motor is very quiet. I'm just used to the sound and somewhat tuned to it. I've seen many Lexi on the roads, but this is the first hybrid Lexus outside a dealer. Cool.

 

21 February 2009

I like to buy carbon offsets, but I also want to support local initiatives. After some surfing I discovered a local reforestation project at Platbos. I've sent a request to sponsor the planting of ten trees. Let's see if they answer. In the meantime I've decided to also give them some free advertising on my main page. I'll let you know how it goes.

Google Earth View

Click to ENLARGE

 

20 February 2009

The diagram below shows the 3.6km I managed to drive today using no fuel. Going down De Waal drive the battery becomes full on regen. Going down-hill towards the Good-Hope centre I still need to use no fuel as the Prius is still running all electric from the full battery. Only at the Good-Hope centre did the engine come on when I needed to go up on the bridge. With careful driving (this was hectic city traffic afterall) I could've managed to go further without engaging the engine. I would've easily made it onto the N1 towards Paarl if I tried.

Given the right geographic conditions and city layout, you can drive a Prius without the engine coming on for 5km, easy.

Click to ENLARGE

2.6 km from the top of De Waal drive to the CPUT parking, all electric

I often arrive at work with this on the MFD. The energy in the petrol used to go up the mountain, is put back using regenerative braking going down the mountain.

 

18 February 2009

Full battery indicator after going down De Waal drive towards the CBD

which makes it easy to drive all the way into the parking lot in EV mode.

Click to ENLARGE

From the top of De Waal drive to the parking area is 2km where I just glide downhill and don't use a drop of fuel while all the while the cars' battery becomes fully charged from the regen.

13 February 2009

I realized that my previous comments on the price of the Prius wasn't entirely fair. Not only did the Prius get more expensive, but all cars got more expensive. Let's review:

CAR Magazine price guide Toyota Prius Toyota Avensis 2.0 Advanced Mercedes C180K BMW 320i Steptronic
May 2008 R269 000 R241 000 R310 000 R286 000
January 2009 R292 500 R241 800 R327 700 R318 500
  8.7% more 0.3% more 5.7% more 11.3% more

 

12 February 2009

I'm appalled at how expensive the Prius has become! R314 800 will buy you a new Prius (recommended retail according to Toyota.co.za). This is waaaay more than I think most people have to spend on a car of any kind. At this price I'm sorry to say I don't see much of a future for the Prius in SA. It'll still remain a niche product. The best way to own a Prius now is to do what I did, buy a used one. I paid R220 000 for mine with 30 000km on the odo. This was when they were R270 000 new. I wish we can get more hybrid models down here, especially from Ford and Honda.

The problem is that the Prius is fully imported. The SA government must wake up and say:" Hey guys, let's reduce the import duties on hybrid vehicles". If you simply must spend money to reduce your carbon footprint, buy a smaller car for say R150 000. Use the remaining R150 000 to put solar panels on your roof. You'll have the panels for the next 25 years. The car will conk out after 10.

 

8 February 2009

My Prius recently clocked over to 70 000km. She's due for service at 75 000km again. No problems so far. It's weird, I can go weeks without seeing another Prius then today I see two in only a few minutes. A white one like mine and a silver one. It's freakishly hot here. The outside temperature was 32C today coming back from my parents house, but the Prius aircon keeps everything nice and cool. I keep mine on 21C. Fuel consumption currently stands at 5.0l/100km. It could be lower, but the aircon is using more power than usual to keep me cool in this hot weather. If I keep the aircon off I can easily get down to 4.6l/100km.

Little "Bear" is getting BIG. He loves my other male cat and they often play. The older male even grooms him. Bear is such a clever boy. He figured out the cat flap all on his own.

Bear

 

24 January 2009

Word on the street is that Toyota will keep building the 2G Prius alongside the new 3G Prius. The plan is to offer the 2G Prius with a stripped down interior at a lower price to compete with Hondas new Insight. There still seems to be some debate going on about whether these 2G Prii will only be sold to fleet customers or to you and I as well.

Toyota Will Keep Selling Old Prius

Priuschat forum topic

12 January 2009

So, the new Prius has been "officially" unveiled. Very attractive car. The shape is not a massive departure from the current shape. It' just been sharpened up a bit. The biggest changes are inside the cabin. The new Prius comes with a host of new and unusual options such as a solar panel covered roof and a radar collision avoidance system. I'm very happy with my current model and will keep driving it for a while still. It's not known when the new model will be available in SA.

The backside is still unmistakably "Prius", but with some sharp detailing added.

Up front you're greeted by a more "aggressive" face. A prominent shoulder line runs from front to back. Toyota managed to reduce the coefficient of drag to 0.25. Down from the current 0.26. The 2010 Prius also comes with a 1.8L engine.

2010 Prius gallery at Priuschat

 

15 December 2008

Bear

I rescued a kitten today. A friend and I was driving to the mall, in his car, when this little kitten tried to run across the road in front of us. It changed it's mind and ran back into the bushes. We stopped an I tried to catch it, but it kept hiding from me. I then recruited some nearby kids to help me catch him. I paid the kids about R60 in coins I had in my wallet. Took the kitten to a nearby vet. He's fine. A bit thin and he scratched his cornea. Should heal just fine. He's about 7 weeks old. Very cute.

He's quite scared still and hides a lot, but he ate and pooped. I try to give him his space. The vet figures someone dumped him, cause he doesn't appear to be feral.

 

8 December 2008

A pretty serious wild fire has flared up on the mountains in Gordons Bay.

Looking towards Strand, Gordons Bay

Same vantage point at night.

A cloud of smoke hangs over the Strand.

7 December 2008

There are a group of people out there who build complete working computers out of discrete 7400 logic chips. Pretty cool. Below is an ALU from a computer called Magic-1. It's on the Internet an you can login on it and play games. No CPU, just discrete logic. It even serves webpages.

In other news, I washed the Prius and blew out the cabin with compressed air. No problems, she's running beautifully.

 

28 November 2008

I haven't reset the Prius fuel consumption read-out in about 3 months. It's sitting at 5l/100km. I'm just driving normally.

 

8 November 2008

Johannesburg International Motor Show 2008

I just flew back from Johannesburg and boy are my arms tired! Stupid joke...I know. I spent the last day in Johannesburg visiting the Johannesburg International Motor Show at NASREC. Toyota was kind enough to invite me up for the show. I would like to thank Toyota, but especially James Smith, for organizing everything. Thank you.

Toyotas stand at the show was a real crowd puller. Mostly due to the presence of the FT-HS hybrid. I was really there to see the Hybrid Synergy Drive and Prius display, and Toyota did not disappoint. A very cute Prius was on display, painted in an unusual colour. This too was a crowd puller and people seemed really interested in it. Toyota allowed people to touch the Prius, sit inside and open the doors. This was important as people who wouldn't give a Prius another glance, now had the opportunity to have a much closer look. They seemed impressed.

A full range of Hybrid Lexus was also on display. After going through the show I have to say that Toyota certainly have embraced hybrid technology. The only other stand, I saw, who had hybrid technology was the BMW stand. Even then, the single car was cordoned off and to the side. Kind of like an afterthought. Toyota ruled the hybrids!

The only electric car was from GWM and even that was a poorly built concept vehicle. Cute though...

I had a great time at JIMS, I'll definitely go again.

GWM EV

FT-HS Hybrid

This horse statue is outside Toyotas' headquarters in Johannesburg

My visitor tag for head office

Interactive HSD display

I was granted access to the Toyota VIP area with free drinks and finger snacks

The unusual blue colour Prius

This Prius was specially resprayed in this un-named, yet gorgeous colour

 

4 November 2008

I've had my car 18 months now. I'm still very happy and have no problems to report. The current ODO is : 65723 km

I've driven about 1900 km per month.

 

25 October 2008

Is AVIS renting hybrids or aren't they? A news search in Google suggest they are and so do their advertising, but I haven't been able to secure one for a trip to Johannesburg. I'll be attending the Johannesburg International Motor Show on 7 November. I was hoping to rent a Prius from AVIS at OR Tambo airport. The Internet quote just says that the selected vehicle is not available. So where are they? AVIS is making a very big deal about how green they are becoming, but you cannot even rent a Prius from them at a major international airport. Is this greenwashing? Did AVIS sell their fleet?

UPDATE : To be fair I phoned AVIS today at 11:29 AM 2008/10/25. I wrote the above blog entry very early in the morning. The Prius is available on request only and does not show up on the system (Internet pages). Weird.... The cost per day was quoted as R622.00 with no free kilometres. The cost per kilometre was quoted as R6.33.

You have to actually PHONE AVIS to book a Prius.

Tel: ( 27) 11 923 3660

Who sold their fleet?

travelwires.com

Where are they?

The Prius is still listed with their other cars, but don't try to actually reserve one.

OR Tambo selected

No luck!

Cape Town International selected

Again, no luck!

 

16 October 2008

2010 Prius

Photo's leaked on Priuschat

 

Prius used to test Hydrogen tank

 

 

15 October 2008

Now this is clever. It's called the Eco Button. It's a simple button that plugs into your computers' USB port and allows you to quickly and easily switch your computer into sleep/powersave mode. Many computers already have a sleep button on the keyboard, usually somewhere in the corner. I guess this pretty green button helps to remind you to do the right thing.

10 October 2008

Here's a locally developed electric car that is very attractive. In fact, I think it's gorgeous! It's called the Joule. Check it out at Optimal Energy, Cape Town. South African creativity and ingenuity triumphs again. I would love to test drive one, but it looks like I have to wait a bit. I do hope this car gets off the ground and doesn't just die a quiet death after the hoopla subsides. I'm sure a car like this would suit many South-Africans as it is perfect for the short home-work-home commute. It's reported to have a 200km range with one battery module. FYI, I drive 96km round-trip every week day, but I won't trade in my Prius just yet. You won't be able to tackle a trip from Cape Town to Jo'burg in a Joule, but you can in a Prius. Hybrids still have their place as you can still refill in mere minutes at thousands of locations and drive long distances.

"Optimal Energy CEO Kobus Meiring says the car should be ready for local buyers towards the end of 2010."

Click on picture for article

 

3 October 2008

Mercedes introduces a hybrid to go on sale in 2009

 

Article from BusinessWeek

 

28 September 2008

Have you seen my blog on Hybridsynergydrive.co.za?

The web publishing company produced this gorgeous graphic. Nice.

My Prius' current odometer reading, 62581km

 

27 September 2008

I bought a Betamax VCR. Whoohoo! I've always wanted one. I have no idea why. I guess I enjoy being different. It's a Sony SL-C30E. It's very clean. It spent most of its' life tucked away apparently and never saw much use. It is big, heavy and built like a tank. I love the Japanese. I chose a cartoon to test the machine....lots of saturated colours and sharp edges.Have a look:

Righ-click, Save target as

Righ-click, Save target as

Click for larger version

Click for larger version

I still remember when my dad brought home our very first VCR. It was a JVC-HR7200EG VHS machine. It was 1981/82. This VCR was big and heavy. It had a top loading mechanism, soft touch buttons with servo control. Pretty advanced for its' time as well. It was a novelty in circa 1982 to watch TV at any time of the day. Our national broadcaster at the time only broadcasted one channel (where we lived). It started at 17:30, and closed down at 00:00. That was it until about 1986 when day time programming began. We used this machine right up till 1994. The buttons were crap and fell out eventually. We never bothered replacing them as the spares were very expensive. So we just stuck our fingers in the holes where the play and FF buttons were for 10 years. Other than that the machine was built like a tank. It endured daily use and never asked for replacement heads.

We did on occasion had special events on TV. I distinctly remember my mom calling me inside to watch the very first shuttle launch (STS-1) on TV. I also remember my dad pointing at the sky that night and telling me that there's a spaceship up there. It was April 1981. It was just before my 5th birthday. I also remember watching the landing.

I even remember the very first time I saw a solar panel. It was a sunny (summer?) day. My dad had the panel outside on the backyard lawn with a black and white TV connected to it showing the test card below. I thought it was the coolest thing. Powering a TV from the sun. Wow! I must have been 5 or 6. It made a real impression on me. Incidentally my dad still has that panel and it still works.

The exciting day-time programming I enjoyed as a child. I played outside during the day. Like kids are supposed to. (below)

(above) A SABA clone of the JVC HR7200. Ours was very similar in appearance, but was silver and the buttons were much smaller. The rest of the layout is identical.

(above) Our neighbours (1982-1992) had a Sony SL-C7. At the time it was the most gorgeous VCR I had ever seen. Still is.

 

Sunday 21 September 2008

This is a novel idea that started out in Japan. You know those grooves you find at the entrance to many highway petrol/rest stops that are supposed to warn you to slow down? What if you arranged them to play a tune instead? It's a great way to get people to drive at the speed limit, because only then will the tune have the right pitch. There's another one in  Lancaster, CA in the USA. It's gonna be paved over soon cause people living next to it complained of the screeching noise it makes when people drive over it too fast.

 

 

Saturday 20 September 2008

The last couple of weeks we've just had terrible rainy weather here in the Cape. I haven't been able to wash my Prius and it was getting really grimy. When I got home yesterday there was some sunshine so I grabbed the opportunity and gave her a much needed wash. The road-film was so bad I essentially had to wash her twice, but she's all sparkly clean again.

GM finally unveiled the Chevrolet Volt. The Volt is a plugin hybrid. It can travel 40 miles (65km) just on battery power. After this, a small petrol engine kicks in to recharge the battery and the car drives like a regular hybrid. Unlike the Prius, the Volt has no mechanical link between its engine and the wheels. The engine is used solely as an electric power source and the car is always propelled using the electric motor. This makes it very easy to replace the engine with a diesel, hydrogen or even natural gas engine.

 

 

Tuesday 2 September 2008

There's two Prius that I often see around Somerset-West. One is grey (see Sunday 8 July 2007) and the other is metallic green. The green one has the registration ALLERGY-WP. Now I can't help but wonder how the owner chose that registration? Is he allergic to petrol and want to minimize his exposure by driving a Prius? Is he allergic to big oil companies? Who knows. If you read this dude, drop me an e-mail. Maybe he's a doctor?

I also saw some of the new ads for the Lexus Hybrid in SA on DSTV.

The new Avensis is gorgeous!

I also came across this video on cnn. 100mpg is 2.35l/100km! This would be an example of a plugin hybrid or PHEV. I'd void my Prius' warranty if I tried this. USA warranties work differently so you can do this yourself. This is what makes the Prius so amazing. It already has all the components of a fully electric car. All these people are doing is increasing the battery storage capacity and adding an external charging system.

 

 

Monday 1 September 2008

Spring has sprung, but don't look out the window yet. Enjoy this view instead and imagine driving a Prius on that lovely winding country road.

 

Sunday 31 August 2008

Will parts of the world become uninhabitable due to severe and repeated storm activity? Look at New Orleans. They're being pummelled by a severe hurricane again, called Gustav. This not 3 years after they were hit by Katrina. I'm sure that they have not fully recovered yet from Katrina and now this. How long before people say:" Enough! I'm moving away from this crazy place". People talk about global warming, but it's really called climate change. Weather is becoming more extreme and it shows. Rain is heavier, droughts last longer, heat waves are hotter and hurricanes are stronger. Even here in the Western-Cape we've been hit by torrential rain and wind like I haven't seen for a long time.

Climate change doesn't just affect other people. It affects you and me. All of us. We must all do what we can to stop it or slow it down. Reduce your carbon footprint. You can:

  • switch off lights and appliances you don't use

  • use energy efficient bulbs like CFLs

  • buy energy efficient appliances

  • look for the Energy Star logo on electronics and appliances you buy

  • recycle, many suburbs in the Cape Metro have a recycling program in place

  • drive less, drive a Prius or another smaller car

  • use your bicycle or walk

  • use a motorcycle instead of a car

  • use public transport

  • install a solar water heater

  • plant trees or donate to charities that plant trees

Hosting update:

AISO is asking me very nicely to stay, but I already signed up with WEBAFRICA and started the DNS update process. AISO wants to "make it work". I can appreciate that, but what if I get a hosting problem again? I cannot exactly phone these people and talk to them. They're in California and eight hours behind us! With WEBAFRICA I can phone someone locally and sort out any problems. Although the site is still hosted on a US server, it's the local support that makes the difference.

 

Saturday 30 August 2008

I'm not convinced by diesel fuel. In South Africa we buy diesel vehicles if we want to save fuel, but you have to be careful when calculating your savings. Remember that diesel fuel is more expensive than petrol in South Africa. This simple fact really eats into any savings you might obtain. Also consider that diesel doesn't burn anywhere near as cleanly as petrol. This is not an issue on certain expensive German sedans as they have managed to clean up the dirty diesel emissions by using expensive and complicated filters and additives such as urea. This makes a "cleaner" diesel car more expensive than a regular diesel car. The same way that a "cleaner" petrol car (hybrid) is more expensive than a regular petrol car. A Prius, on the other hand, has a stock standard catalytic converter like you find on every new car in South Africa. Nothing special. Some people in the USA even replace failed catalytic converters (they do have a finite life) on first generation Prii with aftermarket converters. The diesel emissions control and urea injection system could be costly to replace on a modern car...

So if both clean diesels and hybrids incur a cost premium, which should you choose to be kinder to the environment? It's a complex question. You have to ask; "Where does the fuel come from?  How much am I using? What does the fuel cost?".A Prius uses regular unleaded petrol. It comes from oil we take out of the ground. It uses about 5l/100km and costs R10.20 per litre. A modern diesel vehicle (with special filters) needs low sulphur diesel. In SA it comes from oil we take out of the ground. It may use 6l/100km and costs R11.79 per litre.

In this case the Prius is cheaper to run. The diesel vehicle uses slightly more fuel, but the diesel is much more expensive than the petrol. Both cars have comparable CO2 emissions. If the diesel vehicle was to use bio-diesel instead, then the picture changes. If you use diesel made from plant oils or plant matter, you have a closed loop CO2 cycle. This means that you're just putting the CO2 back into the atmosphere that the plants took out in the first place. So the diesel vehicle would have a net zero effect on atmospheric CO2 levels, because the CO2 you put out is used again by new plants. In this case the diesel would be a good option too.

We don't have bio-diesel in South Africa....yet. A big issue with bio-diesel is where the plant material comes from. If you make bio-diesel using discarded cooking oil and non-edible plant material then that's ok. You're not taking food out of anybodies' mouth. However if you make bio-diesel using food crops like corn (mielies), now you're taking food and putting it in your fuel tank. Food in some African countries are already scarce. Food prices are already high, here too. What do you think will happen when a farmer can get more for his corn as fuel than as food? Farmers will start growing fuel instead of food. Deforestation will increase as farmers clear more land to grow more fuel. A vicious circle. We try to save the planet and end up destroying it even further. I will not support any kind of bio-diesel if it is made using food crops. And neither should you.

Just avoid al the problems (political, moral, environmental, technical) of diesel and zip around in a petrol sipping Prius.

Hosting update:

I cancelled my accounts with Greenesthost and AISO.NET. We just could not solve my FTP problem and dealing with people on the other side of the planet makes it so much harder. So I'm back on WEBAFRICA. It's a shame. because the site won't be hosted purely with solar energy anymore. Perhaps someone in SA can setup a solar powered internet hosting company? AISO.NET now wants to move me to another server to see why I cannot FTP. Why didn't they do that a week ago?

 

Friday 29 August 2008

Hosting update:

AISO.NET is still valiantly trying to solve my FTP problem. They keep saying that it works, but I keep telling them it is not. At least they answer their support e-mails which is more I can say of greenesthost. The sad thing is you'll only be able to read all of this after I solved my problem. Oh well...

 

Thursday 28 August 2008

Hosting update:

I joined AISO.NET only to discover that I still cannot FTP to their web servers. I can FTP to sites in the USA and here, just not to AISO.NET or greenesthost. They tell me they fixed it, but then why does it still not work. I would love to keep this site hosted on a solar powered host, but the way it's goin I'm just gonna have to use something a bit more conventional and perhaps local. If it's hosted locally at least I can scream at someone on the phone (no I'm always polite). It's a bit expensive to phone to California and they're eight hours behind us. Sigh, I hope I can get things working soon....

 

Tuesday 26 August 2008

I took my Prius in to Helderberg Toyota this morning. I dropped the car off at 8:00. It was quite busy at the service reception, but everything was handled promptly and smoothly. I picked her up again at 15:00. No problems. The next service is due at 75000km. Helderberg Toyota gave me a very nice leather-look pouch to keep the manual and service book in. The service agent was surprised to find out that I did not have one.

I have had great difficulty updating this website so you may read this posting only later. My hosting company, greenesthost, does not seem to answer their support e-mails. I have not been able to FTP my updates since the weekend. I'm considering moving directly to AISO.NET. They manage greenesthosts' server farms and it is their PV panels greenesthost is using.

 

Thursday 21 August 2008

Petrol price may drop by R1 a litre

Story from Mail and Guardian

Could it be? While such a large drop won't affect me too much (Prius), it would bring much needed financial relief to many cash strapped South Africans. Maybe diesel will even cost the same as petrol? Let's wait and see. It's also good news for inflation and food prices as everything we use and eat needs to be transported in some way or another. I just hope that supermarkets pass their transport cost savings on to the consumer. There are many poor people in SA and I think it's about time they are given a break.

 

Tuesday 19 August 2008

I phoned Helderberg Toyota today and booked my car in for its' 60 000km service, next Tuesday the 26th of August. The dude on the phone was friendly and efficient.

 

Monday 18 August 2008

I was sitting in traffic this morning and I noticed that many people were blattering on their cellphones. Holding a cellphone to your ear while driving in South Africa is illegal, but many people just don't bother getting any kind of handsfree kit. Remember, if you make an accident while you're talking on your cellphone your insurance company could have grounds to NOT PAY YOUR CLAIM. Even a simple Bluetooth headset is sufficient to keep your hands on the steering wheel. These headsets are not expensive and make you look kinda cool when you drive.

The Prius, being the technology powerhouse that it is, has a Bluetooth handsfree kit built-in. Once paired to your cellphone the system will automatically connect to your phone every time you start the car. You can then make and receive calls using the steering wheel mounted controls or touch screen. The microphones are mounted near the cabin light in the roof. The same microphones are also used for the voice-recognition command system. Yes you can give your Prius orders. Another way Toyota makes sure that you keep both hands on the steering wheel.

I also noticed petrol being advertised at Caltex for R10.20 per litre and diesel at R11.79 per litre. South Africans generally buy diesel vehicles when they want to save fuel, but with diesel being R1.59 more per litre than petrol, any savings are immediately wiped out. Also consider that diesel vehicles are often more expensive and require more frequent servicing than petrol vehicles. Look at this comparison. All things being equal a Prius is cheaper to run than a diesel vehicle.

 

Friday 15 August 2008

I was browsing www.lexushybrid.co.za today and spotted something curious. Lexus describes the regenerative braking system as such: "The motor also functions as a second generator by capturing HEAT ENERGY created during deceleration and converting it into electric energy to be stored in the high performance battery. The ingenious motor requires a CURRENT of 650V to run...."  :-)

This section has two errors. First, the regenerative braking system does not capture heat energy. During braking the spinning driveshaft spins a generator which generates electric current. The spinning generator acts like a brake on the driveshaft, slowing the car down. Kinetic energy is converted to electrical energy. The same thing happens with a dynamo driving a lamp on your bicycle.

To convert heat directly to electrical energy you need a different device called a Peltier unit or thermoelectric unit. These devices use a clever combination of metals and semiconductors to generate electricity from a heat differential. Interestingly enough, thermoelectrics is being tested to convert the wasted heat in car exhaust into electrical energy. Using a thermoelectric system the wasted heat in a hybrid cars exhaust could potentially also be used to top up the battery. Deep space probes like Pioneer, Voyager and Cassini also use thermoelectric units called RTGs to generate power from the heat generated by the decay of plutonium or uranium.

The Lexus site also says that the motor needs 650V of current to run. Current and voltage is not the same thing. Current refers to the rate of electron flow. Voltage refers to the pressure exerted by those electrons. It's kind of like a garden hose. When you open the tap wide you increase the flow of water or "current". When you press your finger on the open end of the hose you can feel the water pressure or "voltage". I don't know the exact specs but the Lexus motor might need 1 Ampere of current at 650 Volts to run. That's a more correct way of saying it.

Interestingly the toyota.co.za site explains regenerative braking in two ways on one site. The first explanation says that "braking energy" is converted to electricity. That's OK. I can live with that explanation. Elsewhere on the site the most correct explanation is used namely that the generative braking system "recovers kinetic energy".

If Toyota is to grow their hybrid market in South Africa they have to educate people correctly on how hybrids work. Pick an explanation for a technology and stick to it. Toyota SA should also ensure that their sales staff can explain the hybrid technology correctly to a prospective buyer. Incidentally, when I purchased my Prius I found the sales staff fairly well versed on the operation and functioning of the car. I have had an e-mail from a Prius buyer who says that sales staff could not explain even some basic functions of the car...Oops. I guess it depends on the dealer. Toyota in Paarl and Strand is fine.

Toyota, please be careful. Conflicting or incorrect explanations will only serve to create consumer confusion and a confused consumer isn't going to buy anything. This is a shame because they'll be missing out on a fabulous car.

 

Thursday 14 August 2008

I saw this advertisement on TV yesterday for IBM and I thought it was really cute. I love the way the flowers and animals appear around the man behind the desk when he realises that being green actually makes good business sense and can save you money. Prius drivers aren't all grenola munching treehuggers. We're mostly just normal people who realised how wasteful regular cars are and have decided to make a more intelligent choice. We want to save fuel and money and if we happen to save the planet in the process, so much the better.

 

 

This is the coolest robot ever

 

This is BigDog from Boston Dynamics. It reminds me of how a moose would move. Very exciting stuff.

 

Tuesday 12 August 2008

Having your hybrid and eating it too

I think all South Africans would agree that the two things pictured above work better when they're combined. I'm talking of course of coffee and rusks. For many years South Africans have enjoyed the simple pleasure of dunking that delicious crunchy biscuit into a cup of sweet milk coffee. Did you think for a moment that you're actually creating a hybrid? The coffee on it's own doesn't fill the gap at teatime and the rusks on their own are just too hard to chew. Dunk the rusks though and you create a delicious snack that'll take you through to lunchtime.

The same is true for petrol engines and electric motors. Of course you don't eat either of them, but I'm making an analogy here. On their own, internal combustion engines and electric motors have shortcomings, but combine them and together they shine. Internal combustion engines only work efficiently over a narrow power and torque band, yet everyday we expect them to operate over a wide range of power and torque. They also cannot produce torque from 0rpm. A car using only electric motors may not have adequate performance. It may have limited range and would require large, heavy and expensive batteries to come close to providing the performance of a petrol engine.

If we create a new type of drivetrain that combines a petrol engine and an electric motor we end up with something very special. This new drivetrain can provide masses of torque from 0rpm. The engine need only run at it's most efficient power and torque, because the electric motor can compensate for and variations in speed and torque demand. The engine doesn't need to idle when you're stopped because you can use the electric motor to pull away. The electric motor is also powerful enough to start the engine instantly should you need the extra power. Finally, the electric motor can also act as a generator. This means that when you apply the brakes, the motor turns and generates electricity which is put back into the battery pack. All other drivetrains waste that energy as heat. This is Hybrid Synergy Drive. It combines the best properties of internal combustion engines and electric motors to deliver an "engine" which is ultra efficient.

 

How to listen to DMX in your Prius

My brother gave me a MiniDisc player that he wasn't using last year. It's battery had long since died so I made my own plan. I connect the player to my PVR via the optical interface and then I record DMX music to a MiniDisc. Voila! One disk holds about 70 minutes of music. I then just plug the player into the AUX audio input of my Prius sound system. I also have an iPod. I love it too much to leave it in my car. I use it when I work and I need to tune out the worldly noise. It also cannot record DMX.

Messy, messy, messy

My MiniDisc player connected to my PVR via the optical SPDIF output

My Sony MiniDisc player

 

Monday 11 August 2008

I love cats and I love this cartoon. Cats are so human.

 

The MFD just before I filled her up again today.

Going down De Waal Drive towards CPUT always leaves my car with a nice full battery from the regeneration

 

Friday 8 August 2008

I attended the opening of the first solar powered computer laboratory in the Western Cape at Bernadino Heights Secondary School, La Boheme Road, Scottsdene, Kraaifontein. Read more about the project here. Khanya is a project of the Western-Cape education department. It's goal is to make computers and computer education available to as many schools in the province as possible. Here's some photos:

There were speaches

A display of the solar panels used in the project (50W each)

Learners using the new computer lab

Three inverters powering the lab

Batteries

A view of the 60 panels powering the lab. At 50W each that's 3kW of panels!

 

Thursday 7 August 2008

Fuel consumption so far is phenomenal. The tank is reading just under half. I've been driving 85-95 km/h with the aircon off.

 

Wednesday 6 August 2008

WOW! So far so good. Look at the fuel gauge. The tank was full when I started.

 

Tuesday 5 August 2008

I've done over 400 km on my current tank and the consumption is still sitting at 4.6l/100km!

This website also seems to be doing well. Type "Prius" into google.co.za and this is the result. I'm listed above Toyota South Africa. Cool! Thanks to everybody who visit often.

Saturday 2 August 2008

If I had to describe this winter, I would say it was the winter of the torrential downpour. Wow! We've had some serious downpours so far.

OK, so the petrol price is dropping by 27c/litre. That's a saving of R12.15 on a 45 litre Prius tank. If you're like me and you fill up about 4 times a month, that's a saving of about R50 per month. Whoopee. (sarcasm is the lowest form of wit...I know).

I took a 157 km round trip yesterday from Somerset West to Durbanville to Cape Town and back the same way. I averaged 4.7l/100km! Must have been the fresh tank of BP fuel cause I wasn't even trying, or was I? It's become second nature to me now...driving efficiently. I would like to give a shout-out to Robert. He finally joined the Prius family. He mailed me in November last year with many questions which I patiently answered. Welcome aboard, buddy! Let me know how your Prius behaves over the coming months.

UPDATE

After going to work and back this morning, this is what my consumption screen looked like. WOW!  I averaged 4.6l/100km over the last 253km! I drive at between 90-100 km/h with the aircon off. I coast as much as possible and watch the consumption screen very closely.

My current ODO : 58407km

I drove 26638km in 15 months. That's an average of 1775km/month. My Prius is due for a service at 60 000km.

 

Tuesday 29 July 2008

Die Burger newspaper reports on a new climate plan for SA. (article in afrikaans)

Air pollution in Cape Town

Air pollution in Cape Town is often worse in winter due to the effects of an inversion layer. Also, a lot of smoke is produced by people burning coal and wood in the townships for cooking and heating. In summer we have the south-easter wind that blows the smog away.

 

Monday 28 July 2008

The petrol price is set to drop by "about 15c" next month. All I can say is:"Whoop-dee-doo!" Call me when it drops by 50c. Let's see 15c/l on a 45 litre Prius tank.....carry the three...square root....A saving of R6.75 per tank.

High Definition TV is here, 24 August 2008. See M-NET HD. Now all I have to buy is a R15000 HD TV and probably R4000 for an HD PVR. I don't think too many people are gonna watch the first broadcasts. At least not till the prices come down.

 

Wednesday 23 July 2008

No news is good news. The Prius is still a happy bunny. Multichoice is due to start rolling out their HDTV offering next month. Word on the forums is that they'll be using a customized version of the PACE TDS 850. While browsing the forums though I came across a very good cartoon showing the difference between standard definition TV and HDTV.

Sunday 20 July 2008

Gave the Prius a thorough wash today. Winter driving can really leave all kinds of crap on the car. I had to use restorative polish around the front wheel areas to get some of the more stubborn spots off. She looks all sparkly white again. I think it'll be 60 000km service time around end of August...

 

Saturday 19 July 2008

CNN reports that Sales of Fuel saving gadgets are on the rise in the US and I suspect internationally. DON'T BE A FOOL. Many, if not all, of these devices don't work.

Devices and additives that claim to improve fuel economy are often just snake oil.

 

Monday 14 July 2008

Many upstart companies in the USA are beginning to offer PHEV conversion kits to the general public. Prices range from $4200 - $10000. One of these are:

Poulsen Hybrid Power Assist System

Hybrids Plus

Many existing PHEV conversion units are geared towards the Prius. One of these are made by Hymotion and cost $10 000! The Poulsen conversion though will work with any car. You can also install it yourself as opposed to the Hymotion unit which require specialist installation.

 

Friday 11 July 2008

We have had two weeks of very cold and wet weather. I received these pictures of frozen cherry trees in Ceres through the e-mail grapevine. It was 4C when I drove to town this morning on the N2 at about 7:00. My Prius will be due for its' 60 000km service in about a month or so.

 

Wednesday 9 July 2008

I picked up on an interesting Prius related news story.

Toyota to equip Prius with solar panels

Friday 4 July 2008

Interesting story on motoring.co.za. Toyota will be introducing the luxury Lexus Hybrid range into South Africa as a Japanese import. The article contains some interesting stats though:

"almost 600 Prius units had been sold in South Africa since the model's launch in January 2005.
Current sales were about 30 a month and the firm had an average order period of three months"

Remember when the Prius was introduced you could only lease/rent them? I wonder if the above number include initial leases AND outright purchases. The article also continue to say:

"Toyota SA could sell about 50 a month if it could get sufficient stock from Japan"

which imply a supply and demand problem. In my previous entry (30/06/2008) I did mention that I did not see a single Prius at my local dealer. I wonder if there is a waiting list and whether they have outstanding orders? Guess they won't tell me. If you have ordered a Prius or have test driven one and you know how long the waiting list is, please mail me.

Monday 30 June 2008

I visited my local Toyota dealer today, Helderberg Toyota, to pick up a part for a Toyota Corolla that's also in the household. It was curious in that Helderberg Toyota no longer seem to stock Prius. I did not see a single one, not even a demo parked outside. With petrol prices as they are one would think they would at least have one on the showroom floor. Toyota Japan are having trouble building enough Prius due to high demand. Could it be that SA is low on the list of countries getting delivery? Perhaps most of the Prius are going to the US where demand has increased dramatically.

Friday 27 June 2008

My brother sent me this. It was entitled "What will happen once petrol reaches R20/litre"

 

Friday 20 June 2008

Looks like Toyota is planning to bring the Lexus Hybrid to South Africa. The hybrid strategy for Lexus seems to favour performance over economy. Still you get great economy considering the engine size. A 3.5-litre V6 which manages 7.9 l/100km is pretty impressive. My 3.0-litre V8 BMW used 12l/100km.

Lexus Hybrid in South Africa

 

Wednesday 18 June 2008

My current ODO, 55961km

4.8 l/100km, 393km into a tank so far. At this rate I should get over 900km on this tank

 

Monday 16 June 2008

I was surprised to see this story on cnn.

What I don't understand is how people can claim that vinyl records, which are technically inferior to CDs in every way, actually sound better! Perhaps records sound so good because CDs sound so crap. Allow me to explain. CDs record music with perfect fidelity. A sample which was recorded as X, is stored as X and read out as X. Here comes the trouble though. CD players need a DAC (digital-to-analog converter) and the thing is that you get good DACs and bad DACs. I've had the opportunity to experiment and listen to several CD players and DACs and I can tell you now; You can hear the difference. Some DACs sound awful, while others sound sublime. The sad thing is that the DACs you find in a typical consumer CD player are often not that good. It's not all the DACs fault though. Some CDs are also badly mastered. Remember, rubbish in -- rubbish out. Look at the issue of dynamic range compression.

THE PERILS OF PUTTING OLD DISKS ON CD

25 Years CD: August 17, 1982 - August 17, 2007

So next time you want to say that a CD sounds too bright or harsh or whatever, rather blame your DAC. You're not actually hearing the CD after all. You're hearing the DAC.

 

Tuesday 10 June 2008

I'm now officially sick of flying. No more! Arrived at Zwartkops and we immediately jumped into shooting the segment. The idea was that each of the two presenters would drive around the track while I guide them into how to use the least amount of fuel. While certainly entertaining, I do not believe that this "test" in any way shows off the capabilities of the Prius. However, I was their guest and so I decided to "play along". The car was heavy. It was me, a presenter, two cameramen and one sound guy. All in one car.

I did have a good time in the end of the day (had Sushi at the airport) and I hope I don't look like a complete dork. Everybody was very nice, but somewhat hurried as they still had more shooting to do later. The director was very serious and in no mood for anybodies' shenanigans. That's showbusiness. The area at Zwartkops where we drove is highlighted in the photo here.

I flew Kulula.com today. I was placed on a British Airways plane going to Johannesburg and that was fantastic. Coming back though on a Kulula jet.....Jeeezus Christ!! Now I'm not one to complain cause Hybrid Living graciously paid for my tickets, but common Kulula! Fluorescent green tray tables? This is not a high school cafeteria and I last saw vinyl like that in a VW Beatle. Even the walls of the plane is this light green hospital operating theatre check-if-you-have-your-gown-on colour. The seats are microscopic. Thank you, but no thank you.

The insert we taped is for episode 9. Which should air 25 June 2008 on SABC3 at 21:30 (sometimes 19:30).

Arrive 12:30

Makeup

Afterwards 14:13

How much equipment can you fit in the back of a Prius?

 

9 June 2008

Well, I'm off to Johannesburg tomorrow morning. The shoot of the Prius insert will take place at Zwartkops Karting track. It's gonna be exciting.

 

7 June 2008

Looks like I'm gonna be on TV. Flying to Jo'burg on Tuesday morning for the interview. Yipee!

 

6 June 2008

People in the US are resorting to stealing fuel as petrol and diesel prices are skyrocketing.

Diesel thieves wreak havoc on California farmers

Biofuel 'home brewers' raid grease barrels

 

5 June 2008

I've received an official invitation to appear on the show "Hybrid Living". I've accepted their invitation. I'll report as more info become available. Here's the e-mail:

Good Day Mr. Bredekamp
 
My name is Nonzi, researcher for the SABC 3 eco-lifestyle programme
Hybrid Living. We will be filming an insert on the Toyota Prius as a
hybrid car that is fuel-efficient and also emits minimal CO2. We will be
interviewing an exec from Toyota about their product and would really
love to film a Show & Tell segment where our two presenters are
practically shown how the Prius works; it's features and how to drive it
most efficiently (as i understand that things like driving slower is
more efficient etc.) Having done background research on this we have
found that you are practicall yinformed in this regard and we would like
to ask you to please be a part of our shoot next week Tuesday and show
our presenters what you know about the Prius. Please find attached the
official and detailed request.
 
Kindly get back to me at your soonest convenience to let me know if you
will be able to be a part of our shoot.
 
Kind Regards
 
Nonzi Bogatsu
Researcher - Hybrid Living

 

Friday 23 May 2008

22/05/2008 11:40

Toyota's hybrid car, the Prius, is the highest-ranking model in the latest JD Power and What Car? 2008 UK Car Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) survey.

LINK

Big surprise....NOT!

 

Sunday 18 May 2008

I always thought my Prius had a hot coolant storage system. Turns out only the North-American version has this system. It uses a tank very much like a thermos to store hot engine coolant. When you start up your Prius this hot coolant is circulated through the engine to help the engine reach operating temperature quicker. This was all done to comply with very strict US emissions laws. The US Prius though is not fitted with an EV button and the driver seat isn't height adjustable. So there. I'm kinda happy about it. Fewer things to break.

 

Saturday 17 May 2008

According to a 15 May 2008 report on CNN, Toyota has sold 1 000 000 Prius hybrids worldwide. Sales are set to increase further as consumers worldwide are beginning to feel the effects of higher oil prices.

 

Sunday 4 May 2008

I've had my Prius for a Year

My current ODO: 52774km

Drove about 21100km in one year.