Posted on October 31st, 2012 No comments
I just finished my seventh as second driver to the new Prius c. It’s a package IV in black metallic pearl with a sunroof.
But that’s not my problem.
It’s not Priusy enough. For me.
My wife, who is first driver, loves it. I don’t. I don’t dislike it. I enjoy driving it. The MPG we’ve pulled out of the car without really trying is fine. Consumer Reports just rated it as one of the most reliable cars you can buy right now.
My problems are mostly my own. I hate the floor mounted shifter. I the computer system in it is slow and the touchscreen is more of a push hard screen. The telematics are better, in many ways, than other previous Prii but also worse. The nav is slow, clunky and neutered by a “Confirm” screen as well as being disabled while the vehicle is moving (as it is with all other Prii).
For me, it’s the conscious decisions Toyota made to make this vehicle more “mainstream” that frustrate me. The stuff other Prii have that this one doesn’t. Some of the little technological flourishes like the ceiling mounted LED spotlight in my Gen2.
That said, I don’t hesitate to recommend the c to new, potential Prius buyers. I’m fairly sure they would not see the things that annoy me as annoying having no history with Prius.
I’m working finishing several video reviews one of which will detail my ownership experience with the c, coming soon. Then you can hear and see all my little gripes and see all the good things about the Prius c. As usual, you can then make your own judgment.
Posted on March 23rd, 2011 No comments
Straw men are easy to construct and even easier to knock down. That’s really the idea isn’t it? Create a fake issue, then counter it, voila! Your argument is made and won, all in the same breath.
So it goes with Marty Padgett’s piece on carconnection, “Why Detroit Isn’t The “New” New Orleans“.
I was directed to this piece by John Voelcker, an associate of Padgett’s. I’ve read, argued with and agreed with John’s writing for years. Basically, John is a good guy and so, I am sure, is Mr. Padgett. Which leaves me wondering, what was the impetus for carconnection to deliver what’s really a flame at the people of Detroit. Was it really one sentence in some Jalopnik piece? And how many sentient beings out of their teens really take Jalopnik seriously about anything?
Let’s start with the straw man. Padgett writes…
They’re both withered and pretty much defenseless–but does that mean Detroit is the new New Orleans? Does it deserve some kind of federal intervention? Here’s what our colleague, Jalopnik editor @RayWert says:
“Detroit’s New Orleans-like loss of population received no telethons or FEMA assistance. America doesn’t care about Detroit people.”
About what I would expect from Jalopnik. And Padgett deftly explains that no, you don’t get FEMA assistance for the kind of slow burn economic disaster that’s befallen Detroit for the last two decades (or more). That’s obvious. And without reading the Gawker piece (after years of wasting my time, I just don’t bother giving Nick Denton the click) I can’t really further delve into why Wert wrote what he did. Nor do I care to. I’m much more interested in what Padgett wrote for his site.
My argument with Padgett begins here:
And yet Detroit got cash anyway. The city and its suburbs–via automakers and by extensions, suppliers, employees, and dependents–received billions in bailout loans in 2009 that probably prevented the city’s head count from falling twice as far.
We have to parse this one carefully to really see the folly contained inside. On the exterior, it seems to a reasonable, common sense remark but it isn’t and here’s why.
“Detroit” didn’t get the “cash”. GM, Chrysler and Ford have been getting the cash. The difference is enormous. That, for the most part, GM, Chrysler and Ford care really care less about Detroit and the other former locations where they once made cars is self-evident. In the rush to “stay competitive” the big three have off-shored as much production as they possibly can ignoring any tie to the communities left behind in the desolation.
Then Padgett drops the trickle down bomb, “The city and its suburbs–via automakers and by extensions, suppliers, employees, and dependents–received billions” but it’s a weapon of misdirection. Again, the people of Detroit, the city of Detroit didn’t get this money. The automakers who have become pseudonymous with the city they once built cars in got the cash. Some of that federal largesse went to facilities in Detroit, much of it, arguably most of it, did not. None of it went to the people of Detroit or the city of Detroit to help them grapple with the problems they face.
That doesn’t even begin to account for the ongoing subsidies Detroit gets indirectly from federal programs for investing in green-car technology and in sub-federal money that keeps factories alive when they probably weren’t viable on their own account.
Again, the difference between the city receiving monies and the car companies, two thirds of which are now located the suburbs surrounding the city, cashing in is enormous. In many cases the big three have invested that subsidy money, as they have to, domestically. Have that money been spent in Detroit? No, not in its entirety by any means.
As for factories that “weren’t viable on their account” who is to blame for that? The people of Detroit? Are they somehow less productive employees than other places? Or maybe it’s the city of Detroit, maybe the city itself is to blame? I think the blame for the viability of factories rests solidly, but not solely, on the car companies, their managers and executives. Those same executives, by the way, who have been real benefactors of the government bailouts Padgett mentions. Those execs have been collecting their salaries and bonuses while their former factories decayed and their business models were invalidated. Blaming it on the city or on the employees isn’t just wrong, it’s malicious.
Padgett continues to erect straw creations for ceremonial burning…
The second point’s much worse. “America doesn’t care about Detroit people” is political plutonium.
And then he launches into some sideways thing about George Bush. Look, honestly, America doesn’t much care about Detroit any more than it cares about Wilkes-Barre, Cleveland, Gary, Pittsburgh, Rochester, South Bend, Flint or Milwaukee (to name just a few cities). America, passively or otherwise seems to be pretty comfortable allowing the industrial part of our economy to wither and die only to be replaced by the service economy, yes, a nation of fast food and hotel employees. I don’t want to get off track and dig into the politics of all of that but I do think it bear mentioning that if we, as a nation, cared about this sector of the economy and the cities and states that depended on it, we might have talked about building other things or modifying the ways we build things here. Instead, most of us were perfectly content to encourage and subsidize the big three to move as much manufacturing out of this country as possible. If that is “caring” I’ll take apathy.
It’s inflammatory, much like the Jalopnik post that inspired Padgett to write what he did but I do think there is something valid in the comparison. Not a direct one to one comparison, life and reality is seldom that simple. But as a metaphor things like the image below help us see things differently. They force to re-evaluate the so odiously misnamed common wisdom and perhaps, see more truth than we did before. This is one of the first page of Michael Moore‘s 1996 book, “Downsize This!”
The top image is the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City that was bombed by Timothy McVeigh. The lower image is a closed factory in Flint. Before you dismiss the comparison, again, not a direct one, consider the following. The Murrah tragedy was the act of one man intentionally trying to destroy federal property and maim and kill. The second image, the Flint factory was the direct result of auto executives making intentional decisions to close a local factory, fire workers there and demolish the building. They’re not the same acts by any means but the point Moore makes in his book is simple and obvious, both acts had much the same results. Lives were ended prematurely. Families were destroyed. Communities were devastated. Was this the fault of those workers? Were they just not good enough? Did they deserve what they got?
In his second to last paragraph Padgett blames Detroit’s ills on, “the unions, and an overbearing, overburdened city government”. Notice what’s missing?
Padgett won’t get an argument from me that some unions have, at times, been out of control. But it’s difficult to blame the big three’s ills on the unions, after all, did the big three also sign onto all those contracts? If those contracts are burdensome or badly negotiated, why did they agree to them?
And Detroit’s civis issues have been well publicized. Their laughable civic government is, well, laughable. And not defend them but allow me to add this. Anyone who has ever run a business can understand this. A growing business is one that is typically much more simple to manage than one that is shrinking. Detroit has been a basket for a long time because of an ever more eroding tax base, and ever increasing burden of costs associated with managing a shrinking economy. For anyone, even the best of civic leaders, Detroit would be a serious challenge.
And ponder this for a moment, what’s been run worse? The city of Detroit, with no federal help and a shrinking economy or the big three car companies with tons of federal assistance and a mandate from the government that they are too big to fail?
Padgett closes with the follow…
New Orleans has levees. Detroit has denial. They’re both Achilles’ heels, but one doesn’t have to be.
Wow, game, set, match. If only Detroit would just pick itself up by its rusty bootstraps and be a real city, it wouldn’t be losing population at a ridiculous rate, turning over entire blocks into improvised gardens and still be host to innumerable empty factories, homes and offices.
I would say that there is some serious denial taking place but it isn’t on Detroit’s part. No, it’s denial from those of us who think that a city devastated by outsourcing, rampant with private enterprise management as malfaisant as the very worst of its civic mishandlers, can just bounce back with a good attitude and the power of positive thinking. Detroit, as a place full of people, is emblematic of the what’s happened to once vibrant middle class this country had. And we ignore that lesson at our own peril.
My note: The title of this piece is, obviously, a line from Pink Floyd’s “Time” which, for some reason I only half understand, was resonating in my head while I wrote this. -russell
Posted on March 5th, 2011 No comments
It has. I don’t post here with the rapidity I used to.
Which doesn’t mean I don’t care rather, I’m hoping you’re picking me up in a few other places. So, let’s get that out of the way first.
You can hear me co-hosting What Drives Us with Priuschat.com‘s Danny Cooper and a panel of experts that I very lovingly and sincerely call stellar. If you’re interested in the future of transportation, in all its forms, listen, please. You search for “What Drives Us” on iTunes, we’re there. You can also download us or stream the show from the site.
Since I last posted we haven’t really heard much about the Prius v, other than the somewhat interesting variant for sale in places that are not North America. The Prius + has two important differences from our version. The Prius + has a third of row seats. We haven’t seen pictures of this third row yet. Unlike the Prius v, all the shots I’ve seen have the back hatch closed and there are no interior shots of this semi-mythical third row. It will be interesting to see how Toyota deploys this feature in the global version of the big daddy Prius.
The other difference is one that is quite intriguing to me, it’s a lithium Ion battery pack Toyota is placing, wait for it, under the hood. My assumption is that this is to make room for the third row of seats and they’re using Lion cells here as opposed to the NiHM packs Toyota uses everywhere else. Lions are smaller so this makes sense when trying to stuff them into under the hood. I have to question the wisdom of placing Lion cells next to a motor but I’m no engineer and Toyota’s record, late night jokes aside, on these matters is pretty solid.
Rumor is that the “v” will sell for a starting price of $28,500. Not bad pricing. If you think that’s high, don’t feel too bad. Japanese future owners of the “v” will be paying about $36,500. for their version.
The noisemaker saga took a surprising turn for the even more ridiculous this week when two companies ran afoul of actually selling cars to buyers for two, exact opposite reasons.
If you recall, late last year congress pass a bill requiring manufacturers of hybrids and EVs (not all quiet cars, just hybrids and EVs) have some kind of noisemaker warning pedestrians when those vehicles are running at ow speed or without the ICE running. This all takes affect around mid 2014.
So Nissan was so much in a hurry to have these installed now is somewhat beyond me. Suffice to say, their eagerness bit them on the ass when a shipment of Leafs was held because they had these noisemakers. Yes, there’s a law in the U.K. that a vehicle produce extraneous noise between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. Leaving the Leaf to sit on the dock while the noisemakers were disabled.
Across the pond, the first shipment of Hyundai’s delayed Sonata hybrid sat, buyers waiting anxiously for their Sonaten. The problem here is that Hyundai has, as an international default, a switch on the noisemaker so you can manually bypass it. Again, rather inexplicably Hyundai decided that this switch was a very bad thing here in the US and held up the shipment while they rewired the vehicles removing the switch and the ability to shit the pointless noisemaker off.
There’s a lesson in there somewhere.
Posted on May 11th, 2009 No comments
I’m out sick today. I’m almost able to post this. Almost.
So while the lovely and talented Mrs. Priusownersgroup was out procuring some things to make my sickbed a little less miserable this happened,
Some sort of weird grouping was taking place. Sure, it’s 2009 and Prii aren’t the unusual sight they once were but still, three, right next to each other?
She talked to one of the other Prius owners (who was kind enough to snap this shot) while she was out.
And by the way, that awesome white 2005 Prius in the middle…it’s for sale. Yes, you can now buy the official Prius Owners Group Prius. Only 41,500 miles with a few nifty extras and new tires. If you’re seriously interested and somewhere near Lancaster, PA, drop me a line: email@example.com
And why, you may ask, am I selling my Prius? My new 2010 Prius should be delivered around the beginning of June.
Posted on August 7th, 2008 No comments
McCain Mocks Obama’s Accurate Claim About Tire Pressure
By Eric Kleefeld
It looks like John McCain won’t be backing down from his campaign’s attack on Barack Obama over tire pressure and energy conservation. At an appearance in Ohio just now, McCain mocked Obama for suggesting that people do such a thing as easily save money and energy by maintaining their cars.
“He’s claiming putting air in your tires is the equivalent of new offshore drilling,” McCain said. “That’s not an energy plan, my friends — that’s a public service announcement.”
The problem is that keeping your tires well-inflated is at least the equivalent of new offshore drilling in terms of how much money you’ll spend on gas. In fact, as Time reported the other day, it could potentially be better than new drilling — if everyone did it we’d consume three percent less gasoline, while drilling would only meet one percent of our overall oil needs.
“In other words,” Time said, “Obama is right.”
Hmm. Could we be catching another glimpse of that GOP “pride in being ignorant” that Obama noted the other day?
I don’t think we need this kind of smart-assed ignorance in the white house.
Posted on August 4th, 2008 No comments
I avoid politics here. It’s a conscious decision, not apathy on my part. I think there are enough places on the net to comment on political issues, I don’t need to inject that here.
That said, this is so outrageously stupid and counter-productive it deserves to be ridiculed here.
Not long ago Barack Obama suggested, as a way to save money and oil, that Americans take it upon themselves to regularly check their tire air pressure. Regular POG reader, Prius owners and anyone else that has taken the time to actually look into it knows this is absolutely true. You can save as much as 10% by keeping your tires properly inflated.
So what has the McCain campaign done?
And for a $25 donation to John McCain’s miserable campaign you can get your own tire pressure gauge. Here’s the page on the McCain web site.
I can understand why John McCain would do a lot of nasty, pointless things in his campaign. He’s clearly behind and frankly, given his platform, one most of America does not support, and his party, riddled with problems, I understand McCain is desperate. But in this time when fuel is expensive and every more difficult to get, to mock the one, most simple way that every car owner in America can make a difference is beyond stupid and self-serving, it’s destructive.
Shame on John McCain (not that he has any shame left, I’m sure).
So let me urge you to register to vote. Take some time out of your busy life to educate yourself on the issues. Support your candidate. Donate time to their campaign. Be involved in our democracy. We all deserve better than this.
Posted on August 1st, 2008 No comments
And it’s a beautiful thing to have survived another week.
There’s not much news today. Kind of slow for a Friday but I’ll add to the pile as the news continues to come in.
One word of thanks. A huge thank you to those of you who have generously donated using the Paypal link over to the right. I’ll have a special thank you coming in the mail to you soon. Your support is important and very much needed and I do appreciate it.
Thanks for for visiting and reading here at the POG.
Have fun and drive safe,
Posted on July 29th, 2008 No comments
Surprisingly that’s the news for today. A very slow day for the Prius.
Thanks for visiting and if you think it’s worth, drop a few nickels in our tip jat by clicking on the link below and the right. Your support helps keep this site going and means a great deal to me.
Drive safe and have fun,
Posted on June 25th, 2008 1 comment
Last night, 185 miles, from Lancaster, PA to Baltimore-Washington International (and back) with a couple of side trips. Started out 4:00 p.m. when it was 82 degrees out, ended at 10:00 p.m. when it was 74. Ran the A/C the entire time. A light breeze blowing. Averaged about 65 MPH for the trip, the vast majority of the trip was freeway. No big traffic slowdowns. Three adults and luggage in the car as well three bags of fun from Trader Joe’s.
Why do so many people say the Prius doesn’t do well on the highway? Is there anything that can match that performance and do it comfortably with a decent amount of room? I’m not a hypermiler. This isn’t the result of doing anything extraordinary to get this MPG and I can do this on the highway anytime.
Posted on June 18th, 2008 No comments
I find this very disturbing. The NLC appears to be a legitimate non-profit investigating human rights abuses. That said, I urge each of you to look into this and see what you can find before making your own judgment.
Toyota May Be a Shade Greener Environmentally but has badly stumbled with Human Rights Abuses
NEW YORK, June 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Today the National Labor Committee (NLC) is releasing a 65-page report, “The Toyota You Don’t Know” documenting serious human rights violations by the Toyota Motor Company, which will disturb most Americans.
“Celebrities like Julia Roberts, Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pit, Bill Maher and others have led the way in turning Toyota’s Prius into a symbol of concern for our environment,” said Charles Kernaghan, director of the NLC, “We hope that these same celebrities will now also challenge Toyota to improve its respect for human and worker rights. As a start, Toyota should cut its ties to the Burmese dictators and end the exploitation of foreign guest workers trafficked to Japan.”
* Toyota linked to human trafficking and sweatshop abuse: Toyota’s much admired “Just in Time” auto parts supply chain is riddled with sweatshop abuse, including the trafficking of foreign guest workers, mostly from China and Vietnam to Japan, who are stripped of their passports and often
forced to work–including at subcontract plants supplying Toyota–16 hours a day, seven days a week, while being paid less than half the legal minimum wage. Guest workers who complain about abusive conditions are deported.
* Prius made by low-wage temps: Fully one-third–10,000–of all Toyota assembly line workers in Japan are low-wage temps who have few rights and earn less than 60% of what full time workers do.
* Unpaid overtime and “overworked” to death: Mr. Kenichi Uchino was just 30 years old when he died of overwork on an assembly line at Toyota’s Prius plant, leaving behind his young wife and two children. Mr. Uchino routinely worked 13 to 14 hours a day, putting in 106 1/2 to 155 hours of
overtime–depending on whether work taken home was counted–in the 30 days leading up to his death. Toyota claimed that he had only worked 45 hours of overtime and that the other 61 1/2 to 110 hours were “voluntary” and unpaid. His wife had to go to court — which ruled that Mr. Uchino was overworked to death — to win a pension for their children.
* Ties to Burmese dictators: Toyota, through the Toyota Tsusho Corporation, which is part of the Toyota Group of Companies, is involved in several joint business ventures with the ruthless military regime in Burma. The dictators use these revenues to repress and torture the people of
* Toyota and the race to the bottom: Toyota is imposing its two-tier, low wage model at its non-union plants in the south of the United States, which will result in wages and benefits being slashed across the entire auto industry.
Access report at: http://www.nlcnet.org/article.php?id=562
There’s no reason we can’t have high quality manufactured that do no rely on abusing people to make them. It’s always been my belief that we should support companies that do have good records of dealing with their employees fairly and not support companies that abuse their people.
Posted on June 18th, 2008 No comments
Look, I love the way the Clarity looks. Really. I love Honda as a manufacturer. I nearly bought an Insight before I bought my Prius in 2005. That said, it might be a bit early for “Clarity Porn”.
And I don’t be perceived as beating up on Honda. As I said, they’re a great company and I think, very soon now, we’ll have some great new hybrids from them that will give the Prius a run for it’s money.
That’s good for all of us.
But the in its all too typical rush to predict the “next big thing” the media has missed a big part of the story with the Clarity. As I understand it less than 200 of the FCX Clarity will be produced and only some of those will be sent to this continent. Of the Claritys that arrive here, it seems most will be sent to celebrities for “testing”.
In other words, it’s really much more a publicity event than anything else.
Look, if you wanted to really road test the thing, you’d send 50 Claritys (or whatever) to the local Yellow Cab. You wouldn’t dangle in front of jay Leno (who has a quite a number of other cars) and other glitterati from Hollywood. If you really wanted to test the vehicle, you’d lease them to various company fleets.
Which leaves with a slight taste of disingenuousness on Honda’s part with all the Clarity PR taking place. What this country does not need is another concept car. We need a production vehicle that people can buy and drive.
Yes, this is all part of that process. In a way. But it’s also part of the PR process and that part really doesn’t do much for me.
Posted on May 16th, 2008 No comments
Today happens to be one of the slowest news days I can every recall. There’s nothing out there that we haven’t already covered. Of course, news being what it is, something could happen later today…
But I won’t be seeing. I’m shooting a local event here that will be keeping me quite busy for the next thirty-six hours. If you want see what’s going on there (starting about 5:00 p.m. EST) today, check my business site:
I’ll be posting updates as often as possible, probably every hour or so. It’s a fascinating event. Here are my images from last year’s shindig.
I’ll be back next week with another week of news and commentary about the Prius, hybrids and driving more eco-friendly.
Have a great weekend. If it’s raining where you are as well (it’s pouring here as I write this), stay dry.
Drive safe and have fun.