Posted on February 19th, 2010 No comments
Play the latest What Drives Us episode
This week Danny and Russell joined by Tony Schaefer to discuss, sorry, more on the Toyota recall, ton foil hat conspiracies, why does “sudden acceleration” occur (hint: it has to do with the gas pedal), more on the Nissan Leaf and the return of Maximum Bob Lutz, GM’s prognosticator supreme. We also pass along our most sincere sympathies to the families and staff of Tesla Motors for the tragic loss of three of their engineers in a terrible plane accident.
Download it through iTunes here.
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 July 12th, 2009 No comments
Here’s the gear that makes Prius Drive Thru Possible. Click on the links to read the reviews.
Heil Sound microphones
HDR Soft Photomatix Pro software
Keen HybridLife footware
VholdR ContourHD video camera
Johnson Window Film
Third Generation 2010 Toyota Prius
Apple MacBook Pro
Canon HFS100 camcorder
Nikon D700 digital SLR and Nikkor Lenses
G-Tech G-Safe 1TB Mini Raid
Apple iPod with video 5th Generation, 80 gig
Posted on July 10th, 2009 1 comment
Prius Drive Thru
Sponsored by Toyota
A priusownersgroup.com Road Trip (Hey! That’s us here!)
With the vital support of the following technology providers;
Prius Drive Thru is the classic American road trip seen through the digital eyes of the 21st century. A month long, 8,000-mile journey around the United States in the new, third generation, 2010 Prius. Stopping in twenty-two cities and passing through twenty-one states Prius Drive Thru will visit or pass through more than dozen National Parks, Monuments and Forests taking in some of the most dramatic scenery American has to offer.
Thirty days on the road is a long time and to keep the Prius Drive Thru team company during the drive will be hundreds of thousands of viewers (maybe millions?) on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Yelp. iTunes and the most popular Prius fan sites on the planet. Viewers will get live updates throughout the day through a number of social media channels as well as HD video and high-resolution still photography.
Prius Drive Thru isn’t just about the online review or the 140 characters or less pithy remark, along the way they’ll be compiling in-depth performance data on the vehicle and sharing that publicly as well as creating a database of knowledge that anyone driving to any one (or more) of these locations can use for their vacations.
The Prius Drive Thru team recently celebrated their tenth wedding anniversary by renewing their vows in front of Mayor J. Richard Gray, Mayor of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, their home. Russell Frost is a professional photographer. Kimberly Frost is a retired Federal employee. They both love car trips and have already spent thousands of miles together on the road.
It’s not a reality show, it’s real. Prius Drive Thru will provide real data on the new Toyota Prius and genuine experiences that will be valuable to anyone who wants to pack up the car and take a few days off somewhere in America. Prius Drive Thru begins July 14th in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and will conclude on August 12th when the Frost’s return home.
Official Prius Drive Thru Facebook page:
Official Prius Drive Thru Twitter feed:
You can also follow the trip at:
July 14th Toledo, Ohio
July 15th Racine, Wisconsin
July 16th, 17th, 18th Madison,Wisconsin (Green Drive Expo)
July 19th Sioux Falls, South Dakota
July 20th Rapid City South Dakota (Mount Rushmore)
July 21st, 22nd Yellowstone National Park
July 23rd Burns, Oregon
July 24th Crater Lake National Monument
July 25th Fort Bragg, California
July 26th Napa, California
July 27th, 28th San Francisco, California
July 29th Yosemite National Park
July 30th Torrance, California (Toyota US headquarters)
July 31st, August 1st Rancho Bernardo, California
August 2nd, 3rd San Diego, California
August 4th Sedona, Arizona
August 5th Santa Fe, New Mexico
August 6th White Sands National Monument
August 7th Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
August 8th Little Rock, Arkansas
August 9th Nashville, Tennessee
August 10th Asheville, North Carolina
August 11th Staunton, Virginia (Blue Ridge National Forest)
August 12th Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Posted on July 6th, 2009 1 comment
Multiple news sources report that a “mass produced” Prius plug-in model will be available in 2012. The reports claim Toyota will be producing 20,000 to 30,000 plug-ins for general per year at that point. Further details weren’t offered but it’s almost certainly a Lion cell based plug-in.
My main concern with a plug-in Prius is the weight of the vehicle. I think the Prius is too large and too heavy to be a successful plug-in with battery technology where it is right now. If Toyota was talking about a smaller, lighter vehicle, I think making it a plug-in would make more sense. But that’s just my opinion and it will be very interesting indeed to see what Toyota comes up with.
Posted on June 3rd, 2009 No comments
Kevin Bullis, writing for the MIT Technology Review has some things to say about GM and the Volt…
After GM filed for bankruptcy this morning, a spokesperson for the company told me that the filing will have no impact on its plans to start selling an electric car called the Volt at the end of next year.
Bullis’ article in no way question the unnamed GM spokesperson but I sure as hell would. This is coming from a company that has reversed themselves so many times they’re not sure which direction they are going anymore. I would question the roll out date, the viability of the vehicle and what spokespeople told me about it.
It’s not clear that the government will tell GM what to do about the Volt.
Which is an odd thing to write immediately before you quote the President saying that
the new GM, not the United States government, will make that decision.
Call me whacky but I’ld tend to listen to one of these people before the other. Continuing on with the theme that if anything happens to the Volt it’s not GM’s fault…
If the government does get involved with the Volt, it may not be good news for the vehicle.
Why is that? I don’t think anyone over the age of eight with even a cursory knowledge of GM doesn’t know about the Volt and the pivotal place it could fill in GM’s future. Assuming, and here’s the real leap of faith, that GM can deliver on what it’s flacks and worthless executives have been prattling on about for the last year. If indeed GM cannot deliver on that hot air then yes, let’s quit pouring money down that rathole pretending to be green and all high tech and have them start on a real vehicle that they could sell.
There’s a lot of blather about GM and the government and the future of the now 60% owned by the taxpayers company. A lot of blather. As a counterpoint to some of that I would suggest checking out Eugene Robinson’s article in the WaPo.
Posted on June 1st, 2009 No comments
According to a recent study conducted by JPMorgan, hybrid sales are about to take off. Last year, there were some 480,000 total hybrid vehicles sold around the world, which represents less than 1% of global sales. By 2020, though, JPMorgan predicts that 11.28 million hybrids will be sold annually, representing over 13% of all vehicles sold.
Much of that increase in sales will be attributed to the United States, as the report suggests that hybrids will capture nearly 20% of total market share in this country. The study suggests that the increase in hybrid vehicle sales will be influenced by such factors such as increased pressure from government agencies to reduce fuel consumption and overall vehicle emissions, as well as a drastic reduction in the cost of hybrid technology.
This is the kind of linear, conservative thinking that looks really bad in hindsight. To wit, who knows in the next ten years what developements will allow us to deploy a better generation of fully electric vehicles? Who knows in eleven years what gasoline will cost and how we will feel about burning petroleum for personal automobiles when we need petroleum for so many other things? I don’t know and frankly, I don’t think the folks at JPMorgan do either. Some egghead there, possible the same one who thought in 2007 that our economic expansion bubble could never end, is just extrapolating hybrid sales and voila! Hybrids should be 20% of the market in 2020.
It’s possible they’re right but the truth is, that’s probably way off. It’s just as likely that hybrids will be 70% of the new car sales market in 2020 with the other 30% being EVs. We don’t know and what will determine are factors no one, not me, certainly not JPMorgan, knows about.
The Carconnection reports that Suburu is discussing the possibility of using Toyota technology to create their own hybrid that they would like to have on the market in 2012.
This article in the Japan’s Daily Yomiuri Shimbun claims that Toyota executives are considering offering “core technology for hybrid vehicles” to GM to help them.
The benefits to Toyota are obvious. HSD would become, overnight, an industry standard and the ubiquity of the system would help further reduce costs. The article says that Toyota is considering this option because they are concerned that US parts suppliers could start failing thus further crippling the US auto industry and the US market, something which Toyota has a significant stake in.
It’s an intriguing idea but like any industry in turmoil, rumors such as this circulate regularly based as much on wishful thinking as real insider information. This morning, The Wall Street Journal claims this won’t happen. No matter, it will be interesting what comes of this as this week, GM faces filing bankruptcy.
This article details some of the concerns of emergency workers face with newer vehicles.
I think the article is bit overblown. Toyota has been working closely with emergency workers across the US for years now training them on hybrid systems. The article also speaks, somewhat nostalgically about how backyard mechanics are on the wane with the technology being deployed in newer vehicles. Perhaps, but frankly, I’m not all that enthusiastic about folks fixing cars with a crescent wrench and a manual as a selling point. Sure, it would be nice if we could all service our own vehicles but that’s never been the case and new cars offer a wide range of safety enhancements for the driver and passengers that, in my opinion, far outweigh saving twenty bucks on an oil change.
And while the article starts talking about hybrids and the “danger” of electrical systems to emergency workers it seems the real hazard, towards the bottom of the article, are airbags, which can be very dangerous if activated during a rescue. Like any innovation, training is the key and feedback from emergency workers will help the car companies further develop these safety enhancements for our benefit and the for safety of those people we never hope we need help from.
Posted on March 13th, 2009 No comments
Via Toyota PR and the kickingtires blog, an outline of trim packages for the new, 2010 Prius…
Electronic stability control
Tilt/telescoping steering wheel with audio and climate controls, plus Touch Tracer system
Hybrid informational display
Auto up/down power windows on all four windows
Prius III adds
Eight-speaker stereo w/CD changer, XM Satellite Radio, eight speakers
Prius IV adds
Advanced smart key system
Leather seats with heated front seats
Auto-dimming rearview mirror
Prius V adds
LED auto-leveling headlights w/washers and fog lamps
There are three option packages, which cannot be included on every trim level:
Navigation Package with backup camera (available on Prius III, IV, V)
Solar Roof Package includes Navigation Package and adds solar ventilation system and remote A/C system (available on Prius III and IV)
Advance Technology Package includes Navigation Package and adds pre-collision system, dynamic radar cruise control, Lane-Keeping Assist and Intelligent Park Assist (available on Prius V)
Kicking Tires expressed some confusion over the combinations of options available. For instance, why you can’t get the sunroof with larger wheels and some fo the advanced technology options. When I asked this question at the Detroit debut a Toyota executive told me it had to do with parasitic weight and vehicle performance. I suspect that’s not the entire story. I suspect it’s also the result of negotiations between TMC (Japan) and TMS (US) on how to package these options. Sometimes things don’t make sense, they just are though I agree with David Thomas at Kicking Tires, it would be nice to have seen some of the advanced technology stuff available with the sunroof. If you think there is some self-interest on my part involved, you would be correct.
Posted on March 4th, 2009 No comments
The MIT Technology Review asks an interesting question,
Does GM’s Volt Make Sense?
Unfortunately I think it’s a question that should asked after this question, “Will GM’s Volt work?”
And I don’t mean to be flip but GM has already backpedaled on a few things regarding the Volt. So before we even decide whether or not it makes sense and how to judge that, which is what two of the studies discussed in the article deal with, isn’t it important to know that the Volt will do what GM claims?
It’s a very succinct and good article. Check it out.