Posted on February 5th, 2010 No comments
Most importanly, if you have questions, go here: http://www.toyota.com/recall
Chances are the media have it wrong.
Priuschat is reporting via an anonymous source at Toyota that a “fix” is imminent.
Ok, fair enough, I guess but I’d really love to hear what exactly is being viewed as the “problem” right now. I understand that because hybrids don’t work in exactly the same manner as grandpappy’s old Buick, some people feel their cars are defective. Sadly, just explaining that situation isn’t enough.
Or, is there really a problem with some 2010′s? All 2010′s? My brakes work just fine.
One thing is for certain, we’re getting a lot more heat than light from most of the media who either don’t understand the issues involved or don’t want to bother with explanations that are longer than most peoples’ attention spans. Oh. I wonder if I just nailed that one?
Suffice to say right now all we official know is that both the NHTSA and Toyota are looking into the “issue” of 2010 Prius brakes.
More here, of course, when it is available.
(hint, might be a good thing to have your VIN number handy)
Previous eight models of Toyota recalled for accelerator issues
As I understand the replacement parts are on their way or have already arrived at dealers now. The training for technicians was this week. We should start seeing dealers reaching out to owners to schedule replacements next week.
Try not to do what this idiot did…
A Toyota Tundra crashed into the showroom at All Star Toyota in Baton Rouge on Saturday morning. Officers said a customer tried to return his truck following a recent recall on the accelerator. According to the Baton Rouge Police Department, the general manager offered to fix the truck and repeatedly offered to give the customer a loaner in the meantime, but the customer declined and left the building. Police reported the man then drove his Toyota into the side of the dealership, causing major damage to the truck and the building. The customer claimed his accelerator became stuck, causing the crash. All Star said the truck was purchased last March [emphasis added] and did not have any records of mechanical problems.
Police added the accelerator was not stuck when they examined the truck after the crash, but they could not find any evidence that the crash was intentional. The driver was not ticketed.
It’s this kind of dishonesty from a customer that doesn’t help anyone, anywhere in situations such as this. Yeah, sure dude, your accelerator stuck.
Posted on January 11th, 2010 No comments
Straight from Toyota to you…
DETROIT, January 11, 2010—Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A, Inc., today unveiled the FT-CH dedicated hybrid concept at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. The FT-CH is a concept that would address Toyota’s stated strategy to offer a wider variety of conventional hybrid choices to its customers, as it begins to introduce plug-in hybrids (PHVs) and battery electrics (BEVs) in model year 2012, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCHVs) in 2015 in global markets. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted on August 17th, 2009 No comments
Green car reports (link here) misses some important details. They say,
The 2010 Insight is the least expensive hybrid vehicle sold in the US, coming in at a base price of $20,400 including delivery. The EPA rates it at 40 miles per gallon city / 43 mpg highway, for a combined rating of 41 mpg.
Problem is, it’s not the base LX that got the high rating, it was the EX which sells for a bit more. So price not being a factor, if the safety between the Prius and the Insight is the same, if the Prius gets better MPG and is more comfortable, which one is the right choice?
Posted on June 16th, 2009 No comments
I want a bright red Prius with a Fire Company logo on the side…
From the Courier-Press article…
Assistant Chief Charlie Mangold said the vehicles — the first hybrids the department purchased — have been resounding successes so far. There have been no maintenance issues, and the fuel savings compared to what the agency would have paid with the Crown Victorias have exceeded expectations.
“We thought if we double it we would be happy, triple it even more so,” Mangold said. “Now it’s right at four times what we were getting. That’s a substantial savings.”
The Priuses have been so successful that Mangold said the department likely will consider buying hybrids — or a very fuel-efficient alternative — the next time part of the administrative fleet is replaced.
Posted on June 16th, 2009 No comments
Check out these choice quotes from John Helig of the Auto Page in his review of the Ford Fusion. Apparently, the coolest thing about the Fusion is, it doesn’t look like the Prius. Mission accomplished Ford!
Toyota’s Prius is, arguably, the most successful hybrid. But it, too, looks slightly strange. You know one when you see one, and the owners all have these smug looks on their faces as if to say “I’m special. Look what I’m doing for the environment.” The fact that one-passenger Priuses can go in HOV-2 lanes doesn’t hurt either.
“Arguably”? It is. There’s really no question on this. The sales figures are pretty simple here. As Jim Rome says, “scoreboard”.
And the whole, tired South Park dig, just tired.
The Prius is good for 35-40 mpg in normal driving, but the rear seat is still compact-car size, which isn’t fun for senior citizens.
One has to wonder if Helig has ever driven or been in a Prius. The Prius isn’t a “compact” car by any rational standards and the back seat certainly isn’t small for most senior citizens, at least senior citizens under seven feet tall and 600 pounds.
But there are those of us who aren’t looking for sainthood and expecting “normal car” drivers to bow down to us as we pass. While we appreciate the virtues of hybrids, we don’t necessarily like the sacrifices we’re asked to make.
Yeah, I was thinking about this yesterday as I was driving down the road, sunroof open, relaxing in my leather seats, blasting the stereo. Wow, the sacrifices I have to make just to make a cheap grab for sainthood. Well, enough of that woolgathering. Now it’s time to practice my intimidating smug face.
In the end, I think it’s funny that the first three paragraphs of a review on the Ford Fusion are a diatribe aimed at the most popular hybrid in the world and on its owners. Good luck with that appraoch Mr. Helig. I’ll GM’s PR department has a position just waiting for you with mad skillz like that.
Posted on May 27th, 2009 No comments
just some of it. And here’s one I’ve seen a lot of on TV of late that is really dumb. Check it out…
So, what we learn from this latest blather from VW are two important things:
-Making loud noises with your car is really cool, quiet car, not so cool
-Diesel is more fun than hybrid, cuz it’s faster, or something
So, what’s the other side? Well, the EPA rating for the TDi is 30/41. But wait, didn’t the cute old timey bug say something about 51 MPG? He did. It was a world record attempt by a couple of who have made quite a career out of hypermiling and there’s nothing wrong with that, just keep in mind where this “world record” comes from. They drove the TDI 9,419 miles in 20 days. There’s no mention of average speed interestingly enough though the phrase “real world driving conditions” is dropped. I’m not skeptical they achieved what they did, I am skeptical about how “real world” it is and given that vroom vroom is a selling point, methinks Volkswagen is contradicting itself more than a little bit.
All of which ignores two things about this comparison.
-The joy of owning a diesel. The noise (oh wait, that’s cool, right?) the smell and the pleasure of memorizing every diesel station in your area.
-That no matter what, that “clean diesel” was pumping out pollution every minute that car was turned on. Sitting in traffic, check. Waiting at traffic lights, check. Unlike the Prius which shuts itself down when the gas engine is not needed.
In the end, yes, I think the Prius is a better solution, environmentally than the VW. Volkswagen makes great cars and the Jetta has had quite a run, there’s no doubt about that. But the idea that the TDI is cooler because it goes vroom vroom seems a bit childish to me and that it can outperform a Prius is just silly. Sure, on the slalom course I’ll take the Jetta. For all the rest of the my driving, I’ll stick with my quiet Prius thankyouverymuch.
Posted on May 14th, 2009 No comments
GE is building a new, advanced chemistry battery plant in New York. From Reuters…
General Electric plans to open a $100 million state-of-the-art, heavy-duty battery manufacturing plant just north of New York’s state capital, where it is expected to be the core of the firm’s new battery business, the company announced today.
The operation is expected to create some 350 new manufacturing jobs for the company, and that new workforce is expected to produce about 10 million cells each year when the site is at full capacity. According to GE, that output is the equivalent of creating 900 megawatt hours of energy storage. Put another way, that’s energy storage capacity for enough power for 1,000 U.S. homes for a month.
Announcement of the plan comes as GE seeks federal stimulus money from the Department of Energy. The firm hopes to obtain federal funding for the new factory later this summer and has a goal of having the plant up, running and producing batteries by mid 2011.
Posted on March 30th, 2009 No comments
Micheline Maynard, author the NYT‘s ongoing Prius Diaries penned this tome about Rick Wagoner’s departure from GM. Check out the headline and the second paragraph from her story…
The Steady Optimist Who Oversaw G.M.’s Decline
…During his tenure as chief executive, beginning in 2000, the company’s stock has fallen from $70 a share to less than $4 now, and its market share has fallen roughly 10 percentage points.
Ponder this against what’s happening in the financial industry and ask yourself how many people or businesses can fail this spectacularly and still keep their job. Apparently, if you’re the CEO, you’re golden. Tens of thousands of laid workers actually making something, not so much.
And if you want to see some more failure, look at the way Bloomberg described it…
GM’s Wagoner Steps Aside After Failing Obama Scrutiny
General Motors Corp. Chief Executive Officer Rick Wagoner was forced out after President Barack Obama’s task force decided he was unable to craft a plan to save the automaker he ran for more than eight years.
However this went down, make no mistake, Wagoner was a failure. He led GM’s decline into junk bond territory and obscurity. “Forced out”? If so, it’s a biting indictment of the complete lack of corporate responsibility. his guy presided over the loss of $82 BILLION. Let me say that again, since Wagoner been in charge GM has lost $82 billion dollars. What was he waiting for? The losses to pile up to over a $100 billion?
Posted on March 12th, 2009 No comments
I mean really. Here’s a few tidbits from a recent “article” on the Insight and the Prius.
Prius price starts at $22,000.
The Honda Insight is more than $2,000 less — base price is $19,800.
Well, that’s not the 2010 pricing, that’s 2009 and who knows, the 2010 Prius may have a higher base, it may not. But when talking about two 2010 vehicles, it’s always helpful to actually compare them, not to randomly insert out of date figures into the discussion.
The 2010 Prius arriving later this spring, is the third-generation model, with beefed up power thanks to first-time use of nickel metal-hydride batteries.
Well, actually no. The Prius has always used Nihm batteries. The “beefed-up” power might come form a larger ICE. 1.8 liter versus the previously used 1.5 liter motor but even that misses the point. The point of the larger motor is more vroom, vroom, it’s running the motor at lower RPMs for better efficiency.
The new Insight is powered by a 1.3-liter gasoline engine matched to a 10-kilowatt electric motor. It is EPA rated at 40mpg city, 43 mpg highway — just a bit less than the Prius.
Is three or four miles per gallon worth a $2,000 price difference? You tell me..
Just a bit? The new 2010 Prius is EPA rated at 51 highway and 48 city. So that “little bit” suddenly becomes about 20%. Not so little really.
And what this ignores, from a writer I suspect hasn’t driven either vehicle, is the physical difference between the two cars. So if you can drive a larger, more comfortable vehicle and get 20% better MPG, is two grand, when you’re spending twenty grand really important?
Posted on March 12th, 2009 No comments
Pricing for the new Honda Insight has been announced. Carscoop reported the following:
2010 Honda Insight Pricing and EPA Data
Insight LX —————$19,800—-40/43/41
Insight EX —————$21,300—-40/43/41
Insight EX with Navi —— $23,100—-40/43/41
While official pricing for the new 2010 Prius still lives in the realm of speculation, it’s pretty much acknowledged that it will cost more than the Insight. What isn’t mentioned as often elsewhere is that while Honda has announced first and figuratively speaking, lowballed the Prius, Toyota is not viewing the Insight as a direct competitor. Rather, and this goes along with the reports I’ve read and heard about the Insight, the new Honda hybrid will be a smaller, entry level hybrid vehicle compared to the new Prius’s larger, more plush, mainstream feel.
Posted on March 4th, 2009 No comments
Insurance and Hybrid Cars
When you buy a new car, there are many factors to consider other than just the sticker price. You might, if you look into more than many people, look at maintenance costs and fuel consumption (certainly something the average hybrid will do).
Interestingly, fewer than 10% of the people purchasing new cars ever consider the cost of insurance.
As a Prius owner, you can expect to have good fuel economy and spend less on gas, but you could also be paying more for your car insurance. Here’s why:
• Size: Small cars in general are more expensive to insure because there’s a higher likelihood of injury if there’s an accident. Minimal crumple zones mean less protection, especially in head-on collisions, and that means a greater risk of the insurance company having to pay out a medical or liability claim.
• Theft: Hybrids are popular these days, with waiting lists in many cities. This means that they’re also prime targets for being stolen, as with anything perceived as being new, different, or desirable. To your insurance company, the greater likelihood of theft means a greater likelihood of a claim, so they charge more to off-set that.
• Repairs: Hybrids like the Prius can’t be fixed at just any mechanic, but must go back to the dealer, at least if anything happens to the drive system. This means greater cost to your insurance company in the event of an accident, which is passed on to you. Even in places where mechanics are trained in working with hybrid vehicles, there are no off-brand parts yet available for repairs to the power system, and OEM parts, while generally covered for hybrids, are more expensive to replace.
The Good News
While all of the factors above do contribute to higher insurance premiums for hybrid owners, the good news is that there are also many discounts and credits that you’re likely to qualify for as well, even if you don’t meet the requirements for a state or federal tax credit. Some examples?
• Credit for good credit – hybrid drivers tend to be credit savvy as well as green.
• Discounts for clean records or significant driving experience – hybrid drivers tend to have at least ten years behind the wheel, and tend not to speed or have other points on their licenses.
• Home-auto discounts – As a hybrid owner there’s a good chance that you’re also a homeowner, and you can save money on insurance by bundling your homeowners and auto insurance policies with one company.
Owning a Prius – or any other hybrid cars – isn’t always about the money. For many people it’s a conscious and deliberate choice to pollute less more than a financial one. Still, being aware of potential expenses you need to plan around is never unwise. Check with your insurance company at renewal time to see if they’re offering you the best deal possible.
Car insurance premiums can add substantially to the annual cost of operating your auto. But how much do you research a vehicle’s potential insurance costs before you sign the paperwork and drive away?
Posted on March 2nd, 2009 1 comment
Last week I had the chance to drive the new third generation 2010 Prius.
And while I am thinking about it, let’s call it the 3G2K10P from now on. Ok, that’s a really bad idea.
So Toyota was kind enough to allow me and lots of people much more important than me a chance to drive the new Prius. I’m working on that article and it will be posted here, on the POG, on March 25th. So check back then.
All of which is to say, if this small recap from last week seems incomplete, it is, intentionally so but the rest is coming. I promise.
Before the drive we had the opportunity to hear some information about the new third generation Prius from three people who know a lot about it.
Sitting at the left is Bob Carter. Mr. Carter is Group Vice-President and General Manager of Toyota Division at Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A. Seated in the center is the man known simply as “The Chief”. Of course, he is the man behind this new generation of Prius. He is Akihiko Otsuko, Chief Engineer of the Prius. Seated on the right is Chris Risdon. Mr. Risdon teaches at Toyota University and knows way more about technical details than I could absorb in one sitting.
During this lecture and conference I learned the following;
Toyota has intentionally designed and engineered this third generation vehicle to be a “mainstream car”. It’s still a hybrid, of course, but the idea is that it can compete on any level with any other vehicle in that class.
2,000 engineers worked on the 3G Prius under 100 team leaders all coordinated by The Chief who did an average of ten meetings per day to monitor the progress. That is some serious dedication to making something new and exciting.
Here is an example of saving weight and improving power to weight. On the left is part of the old HSD system, on the right, the new one. Smaller, lighter and more efficient. These components contributed to saving 65 pounds in the new HSD system versus the previous version.
The Hybrid Synergy Drive system in the 2010 Prius is 90% new. In other words, only 10% of the old design remains, the rest is new and different. The HSD system itself is 20% lighter than the previous generation and keep in mind, Toyota has upped the size of the ICE in the new Prius to a 1.8 liter motor. The power plant of the new Prius is completely beltless. No friction drag on the ICE means using less gasoline and for the car owner it means one less thing to worry about wearing out. The new HSD system has eliminated the chain, one less thing to put wear on and one more efficiency boost.
Oh, and that 10% that’s the same in the HSD?
It’s batteries. Yes, the new generation has the same batteries as the old one. Why change something that works as reliably as the current battery packs? They’ve proven they’re bulletproof in the face of a storm of mainstream media speculation to the contrary.
The old “thermos” bottle is gone. Now there is an exhaust recirculation system which not only warms the ICE up faster but will help heat the interior space of the Prius more quickly (something those of us in the north appreciate).
The new 11.9 gallon fuel tank, yes, I said tank. The new generation of Prius has eliminated the fuel bladder and is using a tank with a new recovery system for gases.
All of this took four and half years to accomplish.
When you look at images of the new Prius be sure to note the leading and trailing edges. Those sharp angles aren’t just design flourishes, they’re crafted that way intentionally to help reduce drag. To further the point, the current generation Prius has one of the lowest drag co-efficient of any production vehicle at .26. This new Prius, .25.
Toyota has added LED brake lights which are brighter, react faster and use 88% less energy than convention bulbs (and they last longer).
So, to recap what you’ve just read, the whole idea here is to reduce energy and the need for energy. Lighter, more responsive, faster all with less energy.
Toyota has added what they call underbody splitter devices. Think of the tail on an airplane except smaller. These splitters help direct airflow under the car.
On a somewhat trivial note but it’s one of the little touches that I love about this car, there is now a place to stow the rear tonneau cover under the floor of the rear compartment.
The seats in the new Prius are designed to be more comfortable. Toyota has included a height adjustment now and more front to rear adjustment ability which, in addition to the headroom increase, should make the Prius less of a trial for those of you over six foot tall.
As I mentioned a few weeks ago during the rollout, this new Prius has three, well, four driving modes. A standard mode which is the default. This car also has an EV mode which will allow the driver about a mile of pure EV range as long as the vehicle is driven very conservatively and the battery has at least four bars or more S.O.C. The new car has an “Eco” mode which adjusts the throttle and AC to offer better fuel efficiency. And much to the joy of many potential Prius owners the car now has a “Power” mode which enhances the performance of the vehicle. These new controls make it easier to get what you want from the Prius rather than completely dictate the driving experience to you.
The third generation Prius’s interior is enhanced by a “Plasmacluster” which ionizes the interior air while you drive as well as a selectable pollen and dust filter for the circulation system making the interior of the new Prius even more pleasant and relaxing than before.
Along those lines the 3G’s equipped with the rooftop solar panels will, when selected, allow exterior air to circulate through the vehicle reducing the inside temperature during the hot season. For those of you living in the sun belt this is a very cool option. As well, there is now a option which allows you to, through the SmartKey, engage the AC and actually cool the interior completely before getting inside.
Toyota has added a host of new electronic features. I’ll discuss these in more depth when I post the driving review later this month.
Suffice to say, this new Prius is new.
And, as announced formally today, the new Prius has obtained an EPA certified rating of 50 MPG combined. That’s 50 MPG city and 49 MPG highway. I’ll have more to say on that later this month as well.
Toyota announced they will be bringing 150 plug-in Prius test vehicles to be used at universities and for city governments later this year. By 2012 Toyota will add ten new hybrids to their global line and we’ll see a Toyota BEV, and I quote Mr. Carter here, “on the road” in 2012.
Huge news. Great news. Toyota continues to look forward.