Posted on November 1st, 2012 No comments
For the Prius c and probably all other upper package 2012 Prii.
My 2012 Prius c recently started giving me problems when connecting my iPhone to it. It would just load either, for a very long time or non-stop. Sometimes, afterwards, the entertainment system would crash and be useless until the car was powered off and back on.
Turns out, the problem was somehow linked to recently upgrading iOS6.
A simple and quick hard reset on the phone and now it connects via USB in seconds and plays just fine.
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 February 10th, 2012 No comments
Posted on December 8th, 2010 No comments
Toyota has been very sly with their rollout of the next member/s of the Prius family. The first phase was a puzzle of images of the dash of the vehicle distributed through a group of sites. For the next phase they’re doing (sort of) the same thing, with different sites. Here is one piece of the puzzle which, when complete, should be an image of some part of the new Prius (Prius V?).
Posted on November 18th, 2010 No comments
Powered by Tesla. Not a bad tagline. Not bad at all.
Posted on April 13th, 2010 No comments
(photograph courtesy of Toyota)
Earlier today Toyota unveiled the Prius PHEV within the confines of the tony Torrey Pines Lodge in San Diego. An exclusive list of invited media attended and had a chance to drive the PHV as well as participate in some seminars on “sustainability”. Festivities continue through tomorrow so I imagine the news stories will start flowing between now and then as it appears Toyota has not embargoed driving impressions of the new Prius (somewhat surprising).
Here’s Toyota’s FAQ on the Prius PHV.
While I languish at POG HQ here in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, my partner in crime, Danny Cooper of priuschat.com and co-host of What Drives Us is out there suffering through San Diego weather and what is surely an onslaught of underpriced media dinners. So, that means a full report on this week’s What Drives Us which should hit the streets in the next day or so (once we get this week’s podcast done). And yes, the What Drives Us take on the Prius PHV will be the definitive one. I would put forth that we might be only two reviewers who also own 2010 Prius (since the PHV is based on the 2010 Prius).
Check back soon and hear me grill Danny on the new PHV and whether or not he was able to sneak off to In-N-Out (it’s only a few miles down the road from your hotel Danny!).
Posted on April 3rd, 2010 No comments
If you do then maybe I have a new desktop for you…
You can browse the entire gallery here.
Posted on March 27th, 2010 No comments
The Daily Telegraph says a lot of good things and stupid things. This one falls into the latter category:
Look, I love Top Gear but it’s a TV show and all which that implies. It’s sometimes silly and shallow. It’s sometimes quite stupid. It is however, frequently entertaining, something which more TV shows could look into.
And with all that said, Top Gear isn’t the problem. It’s “motorsports” which are the problem. Let’s be realistic. Motorsports are defined as sports with motors in them, and by that I mean, gasoline motors, often, large, loud, polluting, fuel inefficient motors. It’s the way the genre has been defined for generations. Top Gear is hardly to blame for this.
And while I’ll leave the main blame laying to others I’ll tell you who I think is also to blame for this, many of us eco-driving warriors, that’s who.
Look, cars, motorcycles and the lot are fun. They are. You can do all sorts of exciting things with them and people do. They drive them in circles really fast. They drive over exciting and challenging dirt surfaces. They drive them in marathons. They crash them into each other. They do things with vehicles that are exciting, for many people, to watch.
What have we, the alt-car crowd come up?
Seriously. That’s our contribution to motorsports.
Why aren’t having fun with fuel efficient cars? Why aren’t coming up with exciting new ways to compete in vehicles that aren’t necessarily wasting inordinate amounts of fuel and creating enormous clouds of oil tinged pollution? What have we done to change the existing paradigm? Nothing. Well, very little.
It’s partially our fault the public thinks fuel efficient cars (and EVs and electric scooters…) are boring because that’s all we shown them. We can drive them slow, we can compete saving fuel. Chess is exciting in comparison. And don’t get me wrong, MPG Challenges are fun (for some of us). I’ve been to more than a few but frankly, it’s never going to be a widespread phenomena and for good reason.
It is incumbent upon us, the fuel efficient, low pollution devotees to come up with something less environmentally disastrous than the Daytona 500 and slightly more exciting than watching corn grow. I think we can do it if we try.
One of the most fun things I saw at the Tour del Sol in 2006 was the autocross competition amongst the vehicles there (EV’s, biodiesel, hybrids and whatnot). That was fun. It was relatively low impact and it was a chance to use those vehicles in ways most people never consider. Why aren’t we, we being the green car community, doing more things like that? Why aren’t we sponsoring efficiency contests that not only reward MPG but add in a real life element, time. If all you are doing is managing your MPG chances are, you’re a road hazard. However, if you had to do that and stay within a realistic time bracket, suddenly your skills must be a bit more attuned to, dare I suggest, the real world? The world most people live in? I’d like to see more rally style competitions where timing and efficiency are the point. Rewarding only efficiency is too narrow. There’s no reason why we can’t organize fun rallies that aren’t tortoise versus tortoise competitions. Car clubs do it all the time.
And I don’t mean to limit these competitions by other traditional definitions. Why doesn’t a car company who is often proud that so many of their older vehicles are on the road honor that more tangibly? Yes, building a great car is the main point but again, we’re talking about changing paradigms here. For most of my life I was a devoted Volvo owner (until I bought my very first new car, my 2005 Prius). Volvo has a wonderful program whereby they send very nicely done metal plaques to owners of Volvo who have clocked over 100,000 miles. They also do it for 250K and 500K. What a great program, rewarding and recognized longevity. And while this isn’t exactly related to what I am discussing here, it is outside the “norm” when we think about cars. It’s this kind of thinking that we need to engage in.
I’ve always wanted to put one of these logos on my Prius. Why? Well, I love the idea that TRD isn’t just about bigger, louder, faster. I love the idea that anything can be “raced”. A great driver can compete, in any number of ways, in any vehicle. So yes, right now I love the TRD logo that isn’t (but should be) on my Prius because it’s kind of ridiculous. But I also love it for what it could represent, a rebellion against the louder, faster, bigger and towards something else. A whole new definition of performance that isn’t so narrowly defined.
Which brings me to the final bit of finger-pointing, I’m going lay part of the blame one other place. The car companies. All of them. They spend tens of millions of dollars supporting motorsports as they exist now. They have, as much as anyone else, created the paradigm that bigger, louder, faster and gas-hoggier is better. It’s time they diverted a small amount of that money in a different direction. It’s time for, especially the companies for whom fuel efficiency is a major selling point (Yes, my dear friends in Torrance, I’m talking to you) to invest some small part of what they pump into F1, NASCAR and all the rest helping to build a new paradigm. A paradigm which, I would hasten top point out, supports their long term business model much better than NASCAR or Formula One. This won’t be changed overnight. It will take decades but now is the time to help the pioneers reshape the perception of the personal transportation device, help people who are trying to reframe the conversation away from horsepower and torque to one where agility, efficiency and versatility are more important. You can do it. After all, you built the existing motorsports model. Imagine in fifty years people looking back with a whole new view of “motorsports” and seeing what we could do today as groundbreaking. Now that’s exciting. If we do it.
Posted on March 12th, 2010 1 comment
So earlier today Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas decided to rear up on his hind legs and grab some national attention by filing a class action suit “on behalf of the residents of Orange County”.
(image from the District Attorney’s office)
Clearly the worst problems in Orange County California appear to be, it’s not getting enough national press. If this is what occupying their district attorney then truly, Orange County must be a little slice heaven.
Keep in mind, this is the county, one of the most prosperous in California, that managed to go bankrupt in the mid nineties. I suppose by now the embarrassment from that has faded so this issue must loom large in the sights of ace law enforcer Joseph “Tony” Rackauckas. Sure, the Orange County has struggled with plummeting property values, rampant mortgage fraud and home foreclosures, losing jobs but this Toyota thing, well, it has to be addressed.
Here’s a PDF of the complaint. Here’s a bit of it:
3. This case is based on several simple and provable facts: (a) millions of California consumers purchased defective Toyota vehicles; (b) Toyota knew that these defects existed; (c) Toyota failed to disclose these defects, and actually took affirmative steps to hide the defects and mislead the public about them; (d) as a result, none of the California consumers knew about, or reasonably could have known about, the defects; (e) millions of California consumers have been harmed by owning or leasing Toyota vehicles that contain defects which completely undermine the safety and reliability of the vehicles; and (f) the value of every Toyota vehicle owned by California consumers has been reduced because of these defects.
So one has to wonder what evidence Rackauckas has that congress apparently lacks, oh, and the entire news media since we’ve seen no evidence that Toyota has done any of this. What we have seen is a lot of very bad reporting, some folks with claims that are backed no physical evidence and make little sense and a general, “We hate Toyota” sentiment that seems to be driving this in some areas.
Here’s the kicker:
Relief sought by the OCDA
The OCDA is seeking to permanently enjoin Toyota from continued unlawful, unfair, deceptive, and fraudulent business practices as it pertains to both consumers and competitors. The OCDA is seeking civil penalties in the amount of $2,500 for every violation of the Unfair Business Practices Act. The Plaintiff is also seeking recovery of attorneys’ fees, investigation costs, and any other equitable relief as deemed just.
So the “relief” is twenty-five hundred bucks for each Toyota owner plus legal fees? As usual, the attorney’s here bill for millions and the actual people might see as much as $2500. Great deal if you can get it, for the attorneys.
And because everyone deserves a chance to tell their own story I called the DA’s office in Orange County. I spoke with one of their spokespeople there and I asked a few questions to try wrap my mind around this thing.
I asked how many complaints the DA’s office had received regarding Toyota vehicles. The response was that this action on the part of DA Rackauckas is not based on consumer complaints from Orange County residents. Why Orange County first? Why not let the Feds deal with this. The response, from DA Rackauckas’ own speech is as follows:
As these cases continue to pile up, I became increasingly uneasy, knowing that many thousands of California consumers have purchased defective Toyota vehicles. I became increasingly concerned that Orange County consumers may be purchasing many more Toyotas without knowing the full facts.
I feel it is the duty of the Orange County District Attorney’s Office to protect the public and our consumers from unlawful, unfair, and fraudulent business practices. I feel it is our duty to make sure Toyota is not gaining an unfair business advantage over other car companies who are not doing what Toyota is doing.
Nice of OC to step up and offer to fight Toyota on behalf of, well, everyone. A little more history, directly from DA’s speech this morning:
You may remember that in 2002, we joined forces with the Robinson, Calcagnie & Robinson law firm in taking action against giant international oil companies to clean up poison from ground water. As a result, we forced the oil companies to clean up over 300 sites and pay over $25 million in penalties and millions more in unlimited costs for cleanup of contaminated sites.
(editors note: I can only find records of OCDA getting a little less than $10 million in these suits)
It’s no secret that our office has been enduring a severe budget crisis. We have to prosecute the same number of cases with 10 percent less prosecutors and investigators. As important as protecting the public from unfair business practices and this case may be, I could not take prosecutors away from prosecuting murderers, rapists and gang members.
We all know that as soon as we file this suit against the world’s largest, most successful car corporation, they are going to be parachuting in lawyers, with all kinds of legal tactics up their sleeves. We need the assistance of a law firm, with expertise in these types of cases, to help us defend against the barrage of legal attacks we expect from this gigantic international corporation. Believe me, they will spare no expense to hire an army of lawyers from fancy firms.
Brave, I guess, but then fighting paper dragons often sounds much more impressive than it is. So, the mostly broke office of the Orange County District Attorney is going to take on Toyota over what they perceive as some kind of mounting crisis because no one else will? And they’re going to do it armed with what facts? And taxpayer paid outside attorneys? With what evidence? Based on news reports? And let’s be clear here, getting oil companies to pay to “study” and clean up after 143 leaky gas stations is a lot different than somehow proving Toyota has been knowingly selling defective cars and intentionally hurting people. The evidence with the oil companies was measurable. And even that settlement didn’t clean up all the gas stations, it only provided that the oil companies would spend several million dollars studying the sites to determine if a clean up was necessary. And the OCDA got $5 million in legal fees. Funny thing, those same oil companies with the Lake Tahoe water district for a similar issue. The result, Lake Tahoe got $60 million. Not such a great deal for Orange County residents, eh?
What’s more, let’s pretend for a moment that DA Rackauckas has a point and he’s doing god’s work here. Why just Toyota? There are more than handful of other recalls on other vehicles from other companies, some going back years. So why just Toyota?
As I’ve said here before, I’ll lead parade with torches to the Torrance offices if someone can show me proof Toyota has done what many in the media and the DA of Orange County is claiming. Keep in mind, I have a big, fat car loan right now on a 2010. My kid drives a Corolla. I have no desire to prop up a company that would knowingly hurt people to make money least of all, hurt my family and I.
But where’s the evidence?
And without that, people like this asinine DA in Orange County have caused me harm. Armed with a “timeline” they’ve damaged the resale value of my property, this DA and the media, without evidence and without care to actually reporting facts. It’s my opinion that I can prove that. I can point to the hundreds of bad, misleading and inaccurate articles that have damaged what my property is worth. I can point to idiotic grandstanding by the media and now, an officer of the court, namely, the District Attorney of Orange County California all of which have done nothing to “protect the consumer” and a lot of harm millions of Toyota owners all over the United States.
Where’s my lawsuit?
If were an OC resident right now, I’d be pissed my tax dollars trying to chase some Toyota gravy train that is highly unlikely to ever come in. And let’s be honest here, he’s not doing it for people of Orange County, Rackauckas is doing it for himself and for the other attorney’s. This District Attorney has a history of chasing these kind of budget problems. Only last year DA Rackauckas came under fire from a death penalty proponent for prosecuting so many death penalty cases? Why? They’re expensive. And in a time of budgetary problems it seemed pointless to spend the money prosecute these cases and incur the additional cost of asking for the death penalty in a state that has no death penalty.
He’s going to spend Orange County tax dollars paying outside attorneys to prosecute this case and he’s doing it to try and build himself a bigger name. And that’s pathetic because I don’t think that’s what Orange County residents elected him for.
Posted on March 11th, 2010 1 comment
And here’s where I rip CNN a new one.
Let’s face it, running a huge multi-national, like the proverbial sausage factory, isn’t pretty but that doesn’t stop millions of people from gobbling up the product.
This story, no matter how it ends, is going to be real ugly for Toyota.
Apparently, a person whom CNN describes as “former in-house defense attorney Dimitrios Biller” resigned from Toyota, cashing in a four million dollar severance package and walked out with more than 6,000 documents and emails from his former employer. In the article, Biller claims the documents are damaging to Toyota, “Not potentially, they are. They are very damaging,”
There’s little doubt in my mind that just about any lawyer could produce documents that were damaging to a former client. That’s the nature of legal representation, right or wrong, we’re only pondering half the story if we can’t admit that. So even under the best circumstances, this is going to be another nightmare for Toyota.
So the real question is, so what does he have? What do these documents show us?
So what did CNN learn?
The documents — some of which were reviewed by CNN — were sent by Biller to Toyota officials. There are numerous references to so-called “Books of Knowledge,” highly confidential information on design, safety systems and testing records allegedly generated by Toyota engineers on everything from roll-overs and roof safety to sudden unintended acceleration.
Here’s a photograph of one of the not-so-secret “Books of Knowledge” I took in January of 2009. It happens to be “the Book” for the third generation Prius. The man holding it is known simply as the “The Chief”. He’s Chief Engineer of the Prius, Akihiko Otsuka.
And this picture…
And this picture of The Chief actually consulting the book to respond to a question…
So, yeah, secret book of knowledge. The Chief referred to this “book”, well, folder, that appeared to contain a vast amount of very well organized data on the the third generation Prius, many times throughout the presentation and questioning.
Here’s how CNN described it;
highly confidential information on design, safety systems and testing records allegedly generated by Toyota engineers on everything from roll-overs and roof safety to sudden unintended acceleration.
Of course any company that designs and builds a car has this information. In fact, I would guess that every car company has this information on every vehicle they’ve made and yes, it’s confidential. Is that surprising or somehow “damaging” to Toyota?
Again, the question is, depends on what’s in there. But by no means does mere existence of this information mean Toyota has done something wrong. This is shoddy, tawdry reporting. Give me an example of something that’s damning from these documents which CNN claim they have examined. CNN does, later on, but it’s, well, read on please…
So far, we know an ex-Toyota lawyer grabbed a bunch of privileged communications and is now, now that he’s out and has his four very-large bonus, he’s claiming these documents are damaging.
Further on we read about a specific liability case. A case, as it turns out, which Biller defended Toyota in. The accident was a Camry rollover which Toyota settled for $1.5 million. The plaintiff’s lawyer in the case is quoted as saying,
Embry, who added Toyota provided just enough information to show Toyota vehicles “met the minimum standards.”
Perhaps sad but again, what I would expect from any company defending itself in a multi-million dollar and not proof of guilt by any means.
Again, from the CNN article:
Included in Biller’s documents is an e-mail he said he sent to his bosses summarizing negotiations. It says, “TMS [Toyota Motor Sales USA] concluded that it would be better to pay a premium to settle this case and avoid producing the ‘Books of Knowledge.’”
So Toyota decided to pay off this claim rather than divulge what is basically a blueprint for building the Prius, even more, they’re the results of building the vehicle using those plans and testing it. I’m sure there’s a lot of folks that would like to get that information for free. GM claims to have spent three quarters of a billion dollars designing, building and testing the Volt, so far. Who wouldn’t love to see “the Book” on the Volt? Do you think GM would fight to keep that information secret?
Although Toyota calls the materials “trade secrets,” Embry said,
So why, if Biller knew a judge had ordered all information produced, didn’t he produce it? He said he tried but was stopped by a superior who told him, “You have to protect the client at all costs.”
“Even if that includes,” Biller asked, “committing criminal acts or violating the law?”
The answer, Biller said, was yes.
Did he break the law? “No, I did as much as I could as a lawyer for a client to not break the law,” he said.
At least he follows orders.
Toyota says publicly that Biller is full of it and they will continue to fight to keep those documents private. I can’t blame them but I will add this, if there is something in there that is truly damning, I’d be at the head of the line to kick some Toyota ass. But the evidence has to be there. I won’t do it on the allegations of a former lawyer who left Toyota years ago because of a “nervous breakdown”, grabbed a bunch of privileged communications and then, four years later, threatens to make them public.
I want evidence. Where is the evidence? We have enough allegation and assumption on this issue. Enough to clog the news organs of this country all too much. Where are the real facts?
There’s no doubt CNN should be reporting this story. My question for them, when will they actually do some reporting? If their goal was act as flack for this former lawyer, job well done. If their goal was to inform the public, they haven’t really bothered to tell us anything important, have they?
And as I said at the top, there’s no way this can end well for Toyota. It just adds more ironic gasoline to the fire. Even if Toyota is successful in keeping “the Book” and rest secret, then they lose image wise. If they make it public, everyone gets everything they spent millions learning.
Yes, this is going to suck for Toyota.
And by the way, just for laughs, here’s The Chief and I later in the day…
Posted on February 19th, 2010 No comments
BBC World News Hour, one of my favorite shows called me to talk about the Prius braking issue. If you want hear the interview, here it is…
Posted on February 9th, 2010 No comments
And not much for brains.
The AP is reporting that the City of New York pulled all of the Prius in their city fleet today. Why? Well, something scary is going on, right?
Apparently, this decisive action by the Mayor involved six vehicles.
The rest of the story is a veritable style guide of contradiction and conflation. Read it if you must.
Now, this story, also sourced from the NYPost, is great. There’s a Toyota dealership in Manhattan offering free manicures to customers waiting during recall service. The story also mentions other dealers in the area giving movie passes and whatnot. I think this is great. It may sound silly on the face of it but look at this way. The silver lining to this recall cloud is that all these customers are going to pass through the dealers again. It’s a great opportunity to re-connect to your existing customers and show them you care enough about them to do something. Anything.
I’ll be interested to see if this catches on nationwide.