Sunday, October 30, 2005

Some Good News!

Well KCT figured out where to put the XM satellite radio in the Hybrid so we are back in business with no commercials. Yippee! I get to listen to CNBC in the morning again. Have to get my morning financial fix. KCT has his coffee fix (gotta hava Wawa), I have my financial fix. I'm back in happy commuting land.

We are using the cassette and it is a much clearer reception. Finally I now know what the cassette player is for. How silly of me. KCT hooked the roady up into the vent by the center display screen so it is within easy reach for the driver. And there was an outlet nearby so everything is close and somewhat neat.

Still a bit challenging as there are some wires that we just didn't know what to do with but it doesn't look bad at all. We certainly didn't want to take the dash apart but once we figure it out perfectly we'll give everyone a hint.

Wish We Had!

Now I haven't confirmed that we don't have this feature but boy would I like to know the average miles per gallon per trip we take. Certainly we can reset every time we take a trip but then we would lose the average miles per gallon for the tank of gas. Guess I can't have it both ways but boy wouldn't it be cool to challenge each other with each ride we take, especially since KCT is letting me drive more often. I'm getting better at higher miles to the gallon. It sure is a different way to drive. But so much more relaxing.

The non hybrid feature that I really wish we had was the memory seat. Some how the passenger seat got mixed up from where it normally is and I still haven't gotten it quite right yet.

Happy driving!!!! We still love our hybrid.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Finally My Turn To Drive

Well I finally got my turn at driving the Hybrid for a couple days. It is definitely a different feel than the Acura TL. The drive has a much softer feel but one thing I notice I am doing is looking at the screen ALOT!!!! I keep wanting to know how I am doing with the mileage and trying to use the battery as much as possible. There is definitely a difference in driving style. I do see myself driving much slower and more aware of coasting when going downhill. You definitely drive slower in a hybrid. I wonder does anyone else do this or is it just me and Kevin? Let us know your style.

The brake and accelerator are much softer. I feel in the Acura I know I am pressing on the peddles and pressing hard. The Hybrid takes a softer touch. You don't need to push much to get it to go or to stop. Once you get use to it, it is wonderful. I am enjoying the driving when I get to do it. Yes, Kevin loves driving the hybrid. But I don't know if he likes looking at the screen more or driving it. Hmmm he'll have to tell us.

I have a goal though to get enough juice in the battery. I want to get 8 bars. The only problem with that goal is that would mean I'm using more gas to charge the battery than using battery to drive the car. I'll take a picture of it when I reach the goal.

Kids still love it too. They find something new everyday to experiment with.

Happy driving everyone!!! We love our new ride.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

8 yr-old child's thoughts on the nano & Hybrid

So I got to record a podcast in the Hybrid with my 8-year old son, Tyler late last week. We cover a bunch of topics and he tells us what he likes best about the Hybrid. He's not paying the gasoline bills, but it's funny that the gas savings enters his thoughts! I also put a brand new iPod nano in his hands to find out if he knows what it is and how to use it.

While you're listening to that, I'll be reworking our gas savings spreadsheet. We got an insightful comment about our last post and the $185 in savings we saw last month. We're comparing the Hybrid gas costs to our old Dodge Dakota. Someone wants to know what the savings is compared to a regular Toyota Highlander, so we'll do the math and let you know!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Almost $185 saved in first 30 days

We've had the Hybrid for 30 days now and we've saved $183.53 in gas costs in that time. This is based on our old vehicle and reflects the changing gas prices, of course. Overall, we've got over 1,600 miles on the Highlander right now, because we're trying to use it as much as possible. Barb's car, an Acura TL, uses premium gas so we're trying to use it sparingly.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Last week's podcast from the hybrid. Oops!

Holy cow, I completely forgot to point out last week's podcast in the Hybrid! I'm uploading another one right now, so I'll let you catch up from last week and then post up the new one in a few days.

My bad! On this 'cast we talk some more about the battery dying as one of our listeners & readers drops us a note to explain what will happen. Thanks Benson!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Our Hybrid survived the NASCAR race

We took the Hybrid down to Dover, Delaware on Sunday for the MBNA RacePoints 400. Oh, what a joy it was to sit in traffic and not use gas! The 110 mile one-way trip usually takes us anywhere from 3 to 5 hours on race day. We got lucky somehow; we left by 6:15am and were parked by 9:15 am. The first 80 miles of the trip you run "at speed." It's those last 20 miles where over 120,000 fans are trying to get in to the track that are the killer.

We did the same on the way home; just 3 hours for some reason. The Hybrid kicked butt as usual. We averaged 28.3 miles per gallon for the 220 miles. When you think about the time spent on the road (6 hours), it's even more impressive. Previous years, I've burned a whole tank of gas on race day just because you sit in bumper to bumper traffice for a good several hours.

On the way down, we got to thinking. Why doesn't NASCAR start a new racing series that only allows hybrid vehicles? You can change as many tires as you want, but you only get one tank of fuel!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Another fill-up: update on our savings

We had a little less than a quarter of a tank on Tuesday, so I stopped in to fill up. Prices of regular gas have dropped about twenty-five cents per gallon in the past ten days; hopefully the trend continues. We did well on the last tank, averaging 30.7 miles per gallon as shown in our spreadsheet:

With our commuting schedule, it looks like we'll be filling up every 10 days or roughly three times per month. Most interesting is our cumulative savings over our prior vehicle. It would have cost us $105.47 more over the past 20 days if we still had our Dodge Dakota. Hey, I don't mind saving $5 a day; that really adds up, not to mention the lower exhaust emissions too!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Pictures of the Hybrid energy display

While driving home yesterday, we did our CommuteCast where we described the display of the Hybrid Synergy Drive usage. Traffic wasn't so bad and I had our digital camera, so I took a few pics of the touchscreen at different times to illustrate the type of information it provides. You can see a larger view of these three pictures by clicking on them.

This first picture shows the basic functions and status of the Hybrid Synergy Drive. You can see the battery indicator in the center, which at this time shows 6 of 8 "bars", so we're roughly at a 75% capacity level. You can also see that neither the gas engine, nor the two electric motors are in use. At this point, we were just idling in traffic, as indicated by the "Current 0.0 MPG" at the bottom of the screen.

I took the next picture as we started moving. Since we were at a standing stop, both the gas engine and the electric motors were kicking in. The brown arrows going from the engine to the front wheels indicate the power created from the standard V6 engine. The orange arrows from the front electric motor are also powering the front wheels at this time. The use of the gas engine is evident by the poor gas mileage at this point.

This last pic was taken after I got up to speed and took my foot off of the gas pedal. I guess I should say "off the accelerator" since it's NOT just a gas pedal! ;) We started coasting so I snapped a pic showing the return of energy to the battery. Notice that all four wheels, or both axles are returning energy and our Current MPG is maxxed out!

The central touchscreen display adds tremendous value to the Hybrid, but is only included in the $2,000 DVD Navigation option. I'd like to see Toyota make this display standard at a much lower price because not everyone needs the nav system. We'll follow up with more pictures and information on the other functions in the future.

Another podcast in the Hybrid

In episode 33 of our CommuteCast, we spend a few follow up minutes discussing how much the battery was used during my one hour commute the other day. There's a bunch of other non-hybrid stuff, but we cover the battery issue with our concerns about next week's long trip. We're heading to Dover, Delaware for the NASCAR race and we'll be traffic for hours!

If you have questions about the Hybrid, just shoot us a note and we'll try to answer them while we record our podcast IN the Hybrid!