Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Blog Primer & Recap for First Timers

In case folks are new visitors to this blog, triggered perhaps by a recent blurb about my situation in Newsweek magazine, a quick refresher. I drive a 2004 Honda Civic Hybrid. I passionately believe in the power of hybrid-technology. I was so excited about buying a hybrid I started this blog, bought a license plate that read "Mo Miles," and had my wife videotape my entire purchase experience (which the dealers loved, I might add). The problem, now reflected in this "focus group" of a blog, is that my hybrid only gets 33 of the "advertised" 48-49 MPG, and I'm feeling a tad burned. But the issue is far bigger than Pete Blackshaw. This is all about how advertisers set expectations with consumers. To this day, Honda still sets unrealistic expectations with consumers about the potential mileage, still dedicating messaging -- even a brand new TV advertising campaign -- to the very faulty EPA estimates that everyone in the industry (but not regular consumers) knows to off the market. Why do this? Consumers like Pete Blackshaw will STILL buy and drive hybrid cars because of the emissions-improvement, golf-cart "silence effect" (which makes the stereo rock, by the way), and more -- as long as they are not oversold or misled on the mileage benefit. There are more folks than I can count who feel the same way, and many of their experiences are captured here and beyond.

38 Comments:

At 11:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A real irony of your hybrid fuel efficieny woes, Pete, is that vapor fuel systems enabling cars to achieve dramatically increased per gallon mileage appear to have existed for decades. I just interviewed David Steckling, President of Vapor Systems Technology, who told me that he intends to give a public demonstration of what this technology can do by driving his 1997 Toyota Camry from San Diego to NYC on a single tank of gas. Wow! I reviewed the CD his company sells identifying hundreds of patents -- many of which have expired and are now in the public domain -- for vapor systems that increase fuel efficiency. There actually are hundreds. It's amazing.

I justed posted the story yesterday on my blog, AutoMuse at http://vehicleinfo.com/AutoMuse.

E L Eversman

 
At 3:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Pete;
Sorry to hear about your struggles with poor gas mileage. I can totally sympathize with you. My name is David Steckling, and I'm the President of Vapor Systems Technology (http://fuelvapors.com) in San Diego, California. The previous reader's posting is in reference to my company and our product. More on that in a minute. This summer, the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline here in San Diego was over $2.50. We are purported to be the highest priced city in the US when it comes to gas prices. I've been interested in high mileage vehicles for over 25 years. I was an auto mechanic at the time, and came across a booklet titled 'The Secrets Of The 200 Mile Per Gallon Carburetor'. That booklet changed the course of my life, and I've been pursuing this technology with a passion ever since. As a matter of fact, my first endeavor after reading that booklet was to try and build some type of fuel vaporizing device for my car. I owned a 1968 Cadillac Eldorado with a 472 cubic inch engine. They didn't get any bigger back then. I created a device that cost all of $2, and was able to modify my carburetor and increase gas mileage by 35%. I actually got 23.5 miles per gallon in that monster of a tank!
I have been on a quest for many years to research and develop a high mileage fuel system, and recently concluded over 400 hours of research at the US Patent Office into just such devices. What I found confounded and amazed me. I located over 1400 inventions that are designed specifically to increase mileage and performance, and as a byproduct reduce emissions. I chose the best 900 of them and put them on a cd. There are 80 years worth of inventions, and almost a dozen different categories of fuel vaporizing systems. Finding the information was extremely difficult, as they are categorized in many obscure ways. After much research on the internet, I'm convinced there has never been as complete a collection of information on these systems as I have on our cd. Actually, not even close. The most successful fuel vaporizing systems increased gas mileage 8-10 fold. That means on your car, you would get 300-350 miles per gallon with a vaporizing fuel system.
In case you doubt what I'm telling you, let me inform you that our government owns at least 5 patents for such systems, the oil companies hold at least 15, and car makers around the world have at least 94! All of these systems are on my cd, and many of these inventions have expired patents, meaning anyone can build them or sell them to the public.
I am now an automotive technical editor for one of the major providers or repair information to the auto industry, and have been for 6 years. I'm a certified ASE Automotive AND Heavy Truck Master Technician, I was a California-certified smog technician for over 15 years, and have been working on cars for 30 years.
I spend 8-10 hours a day researching repair information in auto manufacturer's books and on their websites. In 6 years of doing so, how many of the 94 patents held by auto makers do you think I've found service information on? Exactly ZERO!
I don't know if that makes you feel any better, probably not. You should know, and your readers should know as well, that we've had the technology for over 80 years to be completely energy-independent, but for whatever reason chose not to be so (could the reason be greed, perhaps?)
I was also interested to know, did you consider Toyota's Prius before purchasing a hybrid? I'd be interested in any comparisons you could offer.
One final note;
If you do a search on the internet for Tom Ogle or Charles Pogue, you'll find a ton of information on the 2 most successful inventors of these high-mileage systems. Good luck in your endeavors with Honda, I hope you will get satisfaction.
David Steckling
Vapor Systems Technology
http://fuelvapors.com

 
At 8:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My wife and I have had a 04 Hybrid Civic for a few months and now, after some long trips halfway across the country, have over 2500 miles on the car. What we noticed is that we had to learn how to drive the car (thanks to some early advice from a VW TDi owner) and we get great MPG. In the summer/fall when going 50-55 mph we get 45 mpg with our CVT Hybrid. And when going on short trips less than 35 mph or even longer stints at 65 mph we get in the 30s... as I said we're learning and the car is breaking in...

We're very happy with our Hybrid and hope you will be soon too (but it doesn't sound like it).

 
At 11:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Pete. Jesse here. Here is an update on my father's 2005 infinate ratio HCH. We have just hit 3,000 miles. I would say I have driven a solid thousand of them if not 1,500. It is very chilly in Hingham MA. Recently driving from Hingham to the Taunton Weather service and then from there to a lecture a Bridgewater State college then back to Taunton and then home (over 100miles) I averaged about 45mpg. Temps were in the low 20's fahrenheit and speeds on the exp-way often topped 80mph. Avg speed on highway was probably 70. Then today on my final commuted from school this semester I got 55.6mpg on a posted 35-45mph state road. The trip is 36 miles round trip. Temps were near 45. Speeds ranged from 30-50mph with stop and go. I am confindent you have a lemon or simply take 2 mile trips all the time or cruise at rediculous speeds. (I hit 107mph once just to see how it felt and it was smoothe but lousy fuel econ. Well happy holidays. (Also my 2002 prius is at 137,000 miles and still meets or exceeds epa and runs like new.)

 
At 9:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My husband and I bought a Civic Hybrid 2003. We have been very happy with the mileage. In the warmer weather, we get 48-55 mpg. In the colder weather, when we let the car run, we get around 35-45. the car has been great to us. Sounds like you might have a lemon?

 
At 8:42 PM, Blogger Clinton M. said...

After reading this I am VERY glad to be driving my Volkswagen VW Jetta diesel. We just had a week of below zero (F) temperatures here in Minnesota and my mileage dropped to 40mpg. And I was using light fuel with additive... so there definitely wasn't the BTU power available. In summer and during the #2 diesel season, I get between 45 and 49mps consistently. and it starts clean. and if you read about emissions... it's cleaner than a gasoline engine, even though the soot looks bad, overall the environmental impact is better than gas powered vehicles.

 
At 3:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think hybrid are notthing but hypes. In this case, maybe you shold read the part or the sticker that says "Your milage may vary" before you buy the Civic?

 
At 1:15 PM, Blogger Ernie Rogers said...

Hello, Pete,

Sorry about your bad fuel economy.

Cars can improve mileage two ways: Improve engine efficiency, or make a car that runs on less power. Hybrids follow the second path: lower drag, lower rolling resistance, help from the electric drive when useful. Because they have less reserve engine output, they suffer when operating under extra load.

Having a more efficient engine is the better way. Practically the only engines on earth that run on gasoline are in cars. That's because they are too inefficient for commercial use. My car is a diesel-- I know, that's a bad word, we should find a new name for them. I don't lose mileage with AC on, at least not so bad, because my engine can handle the extra load. And the diesel cars consistently get better mileage than what the EPA figures show. For example, my Beetle TDI diesel is currently getting 50 /60 in winter, up to 70 mpg in summer. (These are accurate measurements, not casual "driving tests.")

There's been a lot going on in CI (compression-ignition) technology in the last few years. You probably heard about the coop research project between EPA and Ford on a clean diesel engine. You may not know that there are very clean diesels already in operaton. One engine currently in use gets 46%+ efficiency and is already below tier-III emissions limits. (Compared to about 30% efficiency in the Prius.) You won't read about this engine in the newspapers. This CI engine is made by Wartsila and runs on natural gas--you can read about them at www.wartsila.com. Look for data on generator sets.

Now, about cars-- I am working on a CI engine design that should be capable of meeting EPA emissions limits while moving a car with 60% efficiency. (The engine in my Beetle is only 43% efficient, and gets its high mileage through lower drag and rolling resistance--pictures are available at www.max-mpg.com)

Ernie Rogers

 
At 1:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is site that is tracking drivers: http://www.greenhybrid.com/index.php

The MPG is very close to the rated EPA - is this a hoax?

 
At 1:00 PM, Blogger Cayos said...

Why not get a lightweight small car? the early tricked out Fiats could get over 70mpg. My second hand, 3 cyl straight shift geo metro gets over 50mpg and costs less than $1000. How much did your hybrid cost???

 
At 1:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pete
Given the fact that I am viewing a "dead blog" over 6 months after its last post, it's clear to me that you've more than likely lost your battle with Honda.

I was able to read all of your posts coverying your entire experience in less than 15 minutes, and it seems to me that what your blog shows is a reluctance to let go of a preconceived notion. Actually, two deeply held beliefs:
1. "I passionately believe in the power of hybrid-technology".

Yet your experience, and those chronicled in the Wired piece undermines this belief.

Is it possible that your belief is wrong, and if not, what proof would you need inorder to give up this faith in hybrid technology?

2. Companies care about their marketing campaigns. You seem to expect Honda to react like you would if you were the VP in charge of marketing. "A guy is having trouble with his hybrid? We'd better make him happy to prevent negative viral marketing".

Is it possible that you are wrong here as well? Is it possible that companies do not perceive the connections between profitability and marketing because these connections simply do not exist?

Finally, you complain about Honda's lack of contact info, yet I couldn't find your email address on this site.

Too bad...
Scott Kirwin
www.therazor.org
skirwin@therazor.org

 
At 7:04 PM, Blogger Smartcar said...

I live in Canada and just before the latest spike in gas prices, I bought a 2005 Smatcar.
It is a 3 cylinder diesel and I'm getting between 65 & 70 mpg.
Yes I know it is a two seater, lighter and should get good mileage but 85% of my driving is by myself or with one other person. This car is exactly what I needed. I have a second car with 5 seats but we use it (on average) once a week to drive to church.
I looked at the hybrids and I was concerned that I may save some money on gas but I will pay it (and more) in repairs down the road.
Another benefit is that I don't even look at the gas prices anymore. Before I bought it, I could not drive past a gas station without comparing prices. Now I just drive on by.

WARNING: If you buy a Smartcar, be prepared to have people approach you at almost every light or every time you park. It may attract more attention than you may be prepared for.

 
At 4:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To get good mileage while driving ANY car requires a light right foot! My 05 Honda Civic Hybrid has taught me how to get about 10% better mileage in my 01 Toyota Camry! We regularly get mileage in the 40s with the Civic, though I also find slightly lower in stop & go (creepy) traffic and slightly higher while doing long continuous driving.

 
At 4:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To get good mileage while driving ANY car requires a light right foot! My 05 Honda Civic Hybrid has taught me how to get about 10% better mileage in my 01 Toyota Camry! We regularly get mileage in the 40s with the Civic, though I also find slightly lower in stop & go (creepy) traffic and slightly higher while doing long continuous driving.
I was a coimputer programmer in the '70s working under a DOT contract to "model" hybrids. They looked promising. My 05 Honda gets slightly better mileage than we modeled then. AND GENERAL MOTORS RECEIVED A COPY OF OUR WORK IN 1980! They could have done this earlier!

You need a lighter foot and stop being in such a hurry!

 
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I'm not asking for your pitty because we got our ownselfs into this mess but we would love you and thank you in our prayers if you would just keep this link on your blog for others to view.

God Bless You.

Melissa K. W.
To see my family view this page. My Family


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Tip Of The Day
Click Fraud and How to Deter It


Pay per click (PPC) advertising continues to gain popularity in the online marketing world as an effective and inexpensive way to drive targeted visitors to web sites. Research firm eMarketer reported that between 2002 and 2003 the paid search listing market grew 175 percent.

Major trusted search properties such as Google, Overture, FindWhat, Search123 and Kanoodle, all offer PPC campaigns in which you pay only when someone clicks through your banner ad or link. But PPC also has an enemy--click fraud--and understanding what it is and what to do about it should also be a key part of your PPC campaign.

What is Click Fraud?
Click fraud is when someone or something generates illegitimate hits on your banner or text advertisement causing you to pay for worthless clicks. AS PPC campaigns have grown in popularity and keyword prices and bidding have become more competetive, click fraud is on the rise.

Online marketers are becoming increasingly worried about the prospect of click fraud. According to CNET News, some marketing executives estimate that "up to 20 percent of fees in certain advertising categories continue to be based on nonexistent consumers in today's search industry."

This estimate is certainly unsettling for advertisers who, recently, have been paying hefty amounts bidding on desirable search terms. Financial analysts report that in the year 2004 advertisers are paying an average of 45 cents per click. Compare this to 40 cents in 2003 and 30 cents in 2002 the bidding wars continue to rise.

Who's Doing it and Why?
Click fraud perpetrators are most often motivated by trying to increase revenues from affiliate networks or attempting to damage competitors' revenues by forcing them to pay for worthless clicks. The Google Adsense program, in which affiliates receive payment for clicks whether they are real or not, has caused great concern for Google and has intensified its focus on click fraud.

Those engaged in click fraud use a variety of techniques to generate false clicks. Low cost international workers from all over the world are hired to locate and click on ads. The Times of India provided investigative reporting on payment for manual click fraud happening in India. Unethical companies may pay their own employees to click on competitor ads. Last but not least, click fraud can be generated by online robots programmed to click on advertiser or affiliate ads. Some companies go to great lengths creating intricate software that allows for this to happen.

How Can You Deter It?
Many advertisers know about the possibility of click fraud but generally haven't done much in the past to prevent it. Some feel that if they complain to any of the search conglomerates, it could ruin their free listings. Others feel like the problem is beyond them.

"It is a bigger problem, but folks just don't want to take the time to track it down because it's a complex problem," stated John Squire, of web analytics firm Coremetrics, to CNET. "Given that some of the largest marketers manage up to 1 million keywords in a campaign the data can be difficult to crunch."

Companies who do understand and report click fraud to search engine properties have had success receiving refunds for fraudulent clicks. For those advertisers who want to address the possibility of click fraud in PPC campaigns, good option do exists. At the most basic level, advertisers can use general auditing many have been known to compile lists of sites that generate high numbers of clicks but not sales. This will indeed put up a red flag.

On the other hand, because click fraud is advancing at such frequency, click fraud detection companies and software have been popping up all over the country. Let's take a look at some of the options:

- WhosClickingWho.com - This fraud detector tracks all PPC search engines, detects multiple IP's, and even pops up a "ClickMinder" after a potential abuser clicks repeatedly over five times.
- ClickDetective - ClickDetective allows you to track return visitors to your site and alerts you if there is evidence that your site may be under attack. Its reports show you every click in real time rather than a summary hours later.
- BogusClick - BogusClick can help advertisers determine competitor IP addresses, originating PPC search engines and/or partner sites involved, as well as keywords used.
- Clicklab - Clicklab employs a score-based click fraud detection system that applies a series of tests to each visitor session and assigns scores. Calculations are made to indicate bad/good sessions to show an advertiser the quality of traffic.

Click fraud is a big problem in search engine marketing that's only going to get bigger in the future. It is wise for any online advertiser to implement some auditing system. Why continue to waste precious campaign money?!

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At 11:25 AM, Blogger sexedman said...

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At 2:54 PM, Blogger golfing-girls said...

I just bought some second hand golf for dirt cheap, wanna go play tomorrow... oh yeah, nice blog btw ;)

 
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