Garmin Street Pilot i5

Another thing I recently obtained was a GPS that speaks and has a 3D map and is very small that you use in the car. Its a lot like the Hertz “Never Lost” system from a few years back. I never bothered with this type of GPS in the past because I always knew where I was going, however I would like to share a couple of discoveries about this technology in general. If the navigator is asleep and you’re on an interstate, I had in the past simply followed my mental map connecting one interstate to another, but the GPS will direct you along the limited access highways and bypasses to avoid the core of a city, saving time and not disturbing the navigator from her slumber. If you are in a well known city, all you have to do is turn onto a side street if you encounter traffic, and the unit will immediately recalculate your route and give you a short cut around the traffic (assuming you start driving away from the congestion!).

If there’s some question about which route is quicker (that you might know of), the unit will settle the question. I tried it in a city I had never driven in (Columbus Ohio), and never once had to open the paper map to get where I wanted to go. It worked like a charm.

* Warning: contains technology known to cause confusion to residents of the state of California.

Bush talks about hybrids

U.S. alternate energy goals

I was puzzling over why one of my fuel-cell stocks went up 10% yesterday. I consider those kinds of stocks super-high-risk, so I barely made enough for a night on the town. Actually, there’s been a 6-10% decline in several Japanese-stock mutual funds in the last few days, so I think we’re talking red-numbers here.

Hey, I think I’ll change the +ve numbers on my stock portfolio to blue-numbers. heh. Stocks to watch today: (for news!! Don’t buy any on my account! (or Bush’s for that matter))
— say if anyone knows the real situation at BLD.TO, who was controlled by
& F, and sold their euro-ops to DCX, I believe, send me an email at — Some folks lost a lot of money on BLD.TO as well as F more recently.

And by the way, TM is going to have a Camry in this years NASCAR series, with one in last Sunday’s Daytona 500 Nascar race. Maybe I should get Nascar’s in-car package this year. I sure hope I can find HD converage.

[edited to add links]

Hybrid Update

Are you ready for $1.75/L gasoline? Hurricane Rita is set to make Katrina look like a cake-walk in trying to get refineries back online after it passes. Anyway, our hybrid Highlander has settled into about 8L/100km now that it is mostly used for commuting and shopping. This is because I decided that since the highway performance was lowering my average, I wouldn’t waste by exposing it to wear and tear, and we use our car for long highway drives when possible. The car makers are all getting set to ramp up hybrid production: Google for hybrid news

Highlander Hybrid Update

Hybrid Synergy Drive
Just this past weekend and here:
“Highlander Test Drive”
people have said that it will take a long time for a hybrid to pay for itself.
Well in May, when gas was 30% cheaper, the math was different, but as I told the salesman then, gas prices were not flat, they were rising.
The current math for the hybrid is, assuming that the $5000 in hybrid equipment keeps about $2500 in value (and why wouldn’t it be more now?), is:
break-even in 2.5 years at 20,000km/year assuming you’re going from a 13L/100km SUV to 8L/100km for your driving.
It’s amazing what a few *days* of gas price hikes can do to this equation.
It seems to be big news — National Post even mentioned the Highlander Hybrid in the continuation (p5?) of a front-page story today.
Anyway, a hybrid won’t help you on an open highway, so your mileage may vary.

Toyota Highlander Hybrid

We finally got it today.
It’s good fun watching which way the energy is moving on the little diagram on the dash.
I tried to get a feel for what it was doing and I eventually got it to drive from a bus stop all the way home (500m?) without burning a single drop of gasoline.
Generally however, it seems to prefer using gasoline to speed you up to cruising speed and then expend battery power while cruising (against the wind) and then recover that spent energy while braking for the next light.

Now, I know the batteries are under the rear passengers’ seat, but in an Intrepid, that’s where the gas tank is, so I don’t know how they did it, but I can’t see any difference at all in cargo space between the regular Highlander and the hybrid.

Under the hood is a thick orange cable which the salesman said was “high voltage — do not touch.”.

Instead of a tach, you get a meter that shows how many kilowatts are being used by the motors.
It goes 0-200kW.

The thing is super-quiet, you’d think it was a good thing, but the good old brain emphasizes what you can now hear more of: the other cars.
No psychological gains there.

The specs of 7.3 s to 60mph seem about right, I’m not going to lead-foot it for a while.

Btw, as with other hybrids, when you turn the key to start, a light that says “ready” comes on, along with the other dashboard stuff, but the motors and engine do nothing.

When parking, the engine does not come on and there’s no traffic to hear… It just seems like the law of gravity has been rescinded while you roll hither or thither.

According to my calculations, if my wife just drove it to work, she would only have to buy a $48 tank of gas once a month.
I think it would take about 4 years to make back the extra money they charge you for the Hybrid hardware but for us, that’s not really the whole point.

The allotment to Canada this year is about 400.
That’s 2 per dealer on average.

Presumably in 5 years everyone will be driving hydrogen fuel cell motorcycles, but hey, no car lasts forever anyway.

Our Highlander