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Why I have come to love the Prius


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I'm a classic British car fanatic who drives a 1969 Morris Minor 6cwt utility van on a daily basis. It took me a while to warm up to the new-fangled idea of hybrid cars, but now that I have some training and service experience under my belt, I have developed an admiration for the technology, especially as applied in the Toyota Prius. As most of you know there are a myriad of applications of so-called hybrid technology, some as simple as using the generator as a motor to supply a little more zip and perform auto-stop. Toyota, in my opinion, got it right in the Prius. It's an amazing integration of gas and electric power to make it go and make it stop, all of it so transparent to the driver that they decided to show a little movie of what's powering what as you drive down the road. Fascinating stuff. But the crowning glory to me is the transmission. it's usually advertised as a CVT and, if you're like most techs, you cringe a little when you hear that. Special fluids, start clutches, metal belts, shuddering as you accelerate and the near certainty of limited life make you think seriously about the value of this supposed innovation. But the Prius CVT is a completely different animal that uses a principle that can be a little hard to grasp. It's a planetary gear that is in constant mesh with no slip/friction components involved. What prompted me to post this is a neat website I found that describes the operation of the tranny in detail. It's at http://eahart.com/prius/psd/ and it even has a little widget that let's you "shift the gears" and see the results. It's no wonder that, since they improved the traction battery starting with the Gen2 in 2004, these little guys are just about bulletproof and it's not unusual to find them humming happily along at 250,000 plus.

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That is a pretty interesting page, I'm going to do a little more reading there when I get time. We do a lot of service on hybrids especially Prius, including rebuilding Gen1 batteries with gen2 cells and civic/insight IMA pack rebuilds. It's pretty good business and there is no one else in the area doing it. I've only seen one trans failure on a Prius and that was due to the HV motor overheating so they are quite bulletproof.

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

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      It always amazes me when I hear about a technician who quits one repair shop to go work at another shop for less money. I know you have heard of this too, and you’ve probably asked yourself, “Can this be true? And Why?” The answer rests within the culture of the company. More specifically, the boss, manager, or a toxic work environment literally pushed the technician out the door.
      While money and benefits tend to attract people to a company, it won’t keep them there. When a technician begins to look over the fence for greener grass, that is usually a sign that something is wrong within the workplace. It also means that his or her heart is probably already gone. If the issue is not resolved, no amount of money will keep that technician for the long term. The heart is always the first to leave. The last thing that leaves is the technician’s toolbox.
      Shop owners: Focus more on employee retention than acquisition. This is not to say that you should not be constantly recruiting. You should. What it does means is that once you hire someone, your job isn’t over, that’s when it begins. Get to know your technicians. Build strong relationships. Have frequent one-on-ones. Engage in meaningful conversation. Find what truly motivates your technicians. You may be surprised that while money is a motivator, it’s usually not the prime motivator.
      One last thing; the cost of technician turnover can be financially devastating. It also affects shop morale. Do all you can to create a workplace where technicians feel they are respected, recognized, and know that their work contributes to the overall success of the company. This will lead to improved morale and team spirit. Remember, when you see a technician’s toolbox rolling out of the bay on its way to another shop, the heart was most likely gone long before that.
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