Prius Personal Log  #315

February 11, 2007  -  February 17, 2007

Last Updated: Sat. 3/03/2007

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2-17-2007

You can go green without going broke.  That's the slogan now being used in the UK for the advertising of BAS.  That type of approach frustrates me.  People don't realize the benefit of an interface offering more than just an "ECO" indicator light until long after their purchase.  The money saved loses its appeal.  Of course, you wouldn't go broke anyway.  The difference won't actually be that much.  And how would the typical person really quantify the gain from stealth through an advertisement?  That typically only reveals itself through real-world data, when you have a firsthand opportunity to observe just how long the engine really does stay off.  Then there's the issue of not really being green.  No reduction of smog-related emissions could be considered false advertising.  People won't realize that it's global-warming emissions only.  Needless to say, some will be misled without more information.

2-17-2007

Still Nothing New.  No matter how sincere the efforts of a few are, nothing new is actually being said anymore.  I've read the same thing many times now over the years.  Every time a different audience is reached, the same responses result.  I keep hoping for something new, but a time comes when you have to acknowledge the lack of a revelation.  Fortunately, the slower "allow them work it out themselves" approach is indeed progress.  But that usually includes some suffering along the way.  Some people will end up making a purchase only to be later disappointed from not having a good understanding in the first place.  In the past, when the collection of educational materials were being created, something new did indeed reveal itself from time to time.  That was very helpful.  And I suppose I can deem the lack of that happening now as helpful too, a confirmation that every point of confusion really has been identified.

2-16-2007

They Have No Idea.  After all these years, some online forum participants still have no idea what actually makes the hybrid types different.  At least there is awareness of different types now.  That's a big step forward.  But I thought they'd figure out why fairly easy, once they realized there were differences.  Turns out, that's definitely not the case.  Reading a thread about Silverado on a forum that caters to all vehicles hybrid, I saw very troubling descriptions.  Operation was explained in absolute terms, rather than the reality of varying degrees.  Either the vehicle was capable of electric-only propulsion or it was not.  Considerations of speed or duration were clearly overlooked, as well as emissions.  The market has obviously expanded to consumers without any technical background.  In a way, that's good.  But if they end up with something less than what they thought they were buying, that's bad.  And as I have pointed out many times, there are some people that intentionally mislead.  I wonder what's going to happen next.

2-15-2007

Camry-Hybrid Wins.  It just got named: "Canadian Car of the Year".  That's pretty sweet!  What else can I say?

2-15-2007

Sales Soar.  On this side of the pond, media spin makes the sales questionable.  But in London, it's an entirely different matter.  There they have a fee each daily commuter must pay.  This is intended to help reduce congestion.  How much you are charged is based upon how much fuel your vehicle consumes... which translates directly to carbon-dioxide emissions.  The lower they are, the less you pay.  Needless to say, sales last month for Prius were dramatically higher in January this year than the previous January.  So rather than the single-digit increase we saw here in the States, they saw an increase of 135 percent!

2-15-2007

Declining Sales?  I saw responses like this coming: "There is no way to explain the increase in inventory." and "Prius has been seen declining sales."  It was inevitable.  Why in the world would Toyota begin an advertising campaign to increase annual sales by 50 percent if the didn't have inventory in stock to actually sell?  That's such a simple explanation for the increase that it seems silly to even have to ask.  Yet, they made me anyway.  There is no "decline".  100 percent of the inventory was sold shortly after being delivered.  The claims about demand dropping is complete nonsense.  Of course, so is the argument itself.  When there is only a finite quantity available in the first place and that entire allotment is sold quickly, how can anyone possibly draw a conclusion on overall demand?  But with respect to what consumers had to choose from, 100 percent were sold at a rate faster than the average vehicle.  There was barely enough supply to prevent waiting lists.  So saying that more says are likely is a safe bet.  And from my point-of-view, I don't see reaching that goal of 150,000 the slightest bit unrealistic.  It can be done.  That's good business.

2-14-2007

Greenwashed.  Some still make this claim, despite the attention now draw to our addiction: "A hybrid truck actually saves a lot more fuel than a Prius."  Put more appropriately, with respect to our dependence on oil... A hybrid truck actually uses a lot more fuel than a Prius.  If a Tahoe-Hybrid is used for the purposes it is designed... UTILITY ...then it is fine.  Most people do not have a problem with that.  But using it for your daily commute with only a single person inside and no cargo at all is a clear waste.  It will also emit quite a bit more NOx (smog-related emissions) than a Prius.  The belief that MPG is the most appropriate consumption measure is the problem.  That's an American twist.  Many other countries use quantity-per-distance instead, as stated by L/100km.  It's a more appropriate system.  Emphasis is placed on how much you actually "use" rather than what you "save" is the difference.

2-15-2007

Hybrid X.  In 3 weeks, Toyota is expected introduce this new concept hybrid vehicle in Geneva.  I can't wait.  It will make the hybrid environment even more interesting.  That exactly what's needed to stir the online community.  GM got quite a bit of attention a few weeks ago.  What will happen in 3 weeks?  Finding that GM doesn't actually plan to deliver what we saw for a number of years still makes this situation one of great curiosity.  How will concepts be viewed?  Does the ability to actually purchase what a consumer sees outweigh the brief Auto Show press blitz?  It should.  But those frustrated by the continued (and quite undeniable) success of Toyota have a lot to lose.  Expecting some type of backlash is pretty realistic.  Losing small battles really hurts... even though it shouldn't.  But sadly, long-term objectives are often not given the credit they desire.  A concept vehicle could really make a difference... if there is something to build off of it in the first place.  But with some automakers still not offering any type of competitive hybrid, it's hard to take their claimed intentions seriously.  We'll see.  Even negative publicity is attention that wouldn't otherwise have been given.  Raising awareness does help.  Regardless of short-term confusion, there is typically some type of positive outcome.

2-14-2007

Patent Infringement.  Remember that lawsuit which attempted to prevent Toyota hybrid imports?  After a year and a half waiting for a judge's decision, we got one today.  There was not any infringement.  I figured this was a fairly cut & dry case.  The claim was weak & vague.  How could they really expect a verdict in favor of the lawsuit without anything compelling to support wrong doing?  Oh well.  That's part of the game.  When there's something to lose, someone will complain.

2-14-2007

13,000 Jobs Cut.  It is Daimler-Chrysler's turn.  More autoworkers will be losing their employment.  Overall production of 2.7 million vehicles annually will be reduced by 400,000 as a result.  Basically, either you accept change or it will be forced upon you.  The automaker tried to avoid it as much as possible.  Now they have to adapt to this new reality.  At this point, all should be aware of the market shift.  I sure hope this marks the end of denial.  But realistically, their will likely be more suffering before things finally get better.

2-14-2007

Many Years Away Still.  Many enthusiasts of the "series" hybrid will have a very difficult time accepting that reality.  Just last week, before the clarification from GM itself was published, some were bashing Toyota for falling behind by supporting outdated hybrid technology.  Now the limitations that outspoken Prius supporters have been well aware of for years are beginning to become apparent to others.  What surprised me after reading that was the fact that I was reading that.  The report clearly pointed out the concerns about cost, lifetime, and temperature.  To have such a definitive word on the status of battery technology is quite redeeming.  The hybrids that some have been dismissing as unrealistic suddenly get a boost of validity, an endorsement long over due.  Yeah!

2-13-2007

Mission Accomplished.  How bizarre.  Our culture is being filled with people jumping to conclusion so prematurely you have to wonder what in the world they are thinking.  The nightmare in Iraq will be forever haunted by that "Mission Accomplished" declaration, years before any type of control was achieved.  I'm enthralled by the Blu-Ray supporters exclaiming victory over HD-DVD already.  That doesn't even make any sense.  The game has just begun, since so few worldwide even have the ability to view high-definition.  How can they possibly say it is over already?  But then again, we are seeing the same nonsense in the hybrid market.  Some GM supporters are claiming Toyota's technology is outdated already.  Some have went as far as saying it's obsolete, even though there isn't any competition yet.  That's absurd.  We have only crossed a point early in hybrid history.  Much remains, lots still to accomplish.  The mission is far from complete.

2-12-2007

The Hype Is Over.  Phew!  This quote from Lutz confirmed the fear of enthusiasts: "What we're targeting internally is three years."  In other words, Volt is no where near ready for production.  The start of rollout could theoretically begin 4 years from now.  But that would naturally be a only small number to start with.  And waiting many months for delivery, just like when Prius was new, is definitely within the realm of possibility.  Put another way, don't expect anything anytime soon.

2-12-2007

Limited Inventory.  Just like we saw years ago, the same old deception continues.  Prius is only available in limited quantity.  The third-party suppliers providing essential components (like the battery-pack modules) prevent the building of more Prius, even if demand warrants it.  Despite that fact, some pretend there isn't a limited inventory.  So naturally, when sales last year were the same as this year, this claim was made: "Sales of Prius have been flat for a year."  That implies those purchased were a direct reflect on demand... which is anything but the truth.  If you only have a supply of 100,000 vehicles available, you simply cannot sell more than that.  No conclusion can be drawn if there isn't more than just a fixed amount to work with.  Unless supply has the ability to be adjusted to fill dealer shipment requests quickly, the resulting sales don't reflect what the consumer market actually wants.  There is no reaction.  It's a predetermined schedule being followed.  I always thought being predictable was good business too.  Apparently not (he said, sarcastically).  It's that dang short-term mentality again.

2-12-2007

Drive MI.  A group by that name in the state of Michigan is attempting to build support for a 47 percent increase in their gas tax over the next 3 years.  For diesel, they want an 87 percent increase.  The revenue would be used to improve state roads.  I wonder if they'll have any success.  Efforts like that here in Minnesota have failed miserably... which is quite unfortunate, knowing how bad our roads need that type of funding.  Good luck... they're going to need it.  Doing the responsible thing is quite a challenge.

2-12-2007

Something New?  The morning of the next day brought a surprise.  Apparently, "Plug-in hybrids do everything that hybrids can do but at a lower cost to consumers."  How exactly is that possible?  The larger battery-pack requirement has made that unrealistic to augment a Prius for years now.  Are those in Detroit really betting the farm on a technological breakthru that will dramatically reduce the price?  Of course, if you really think about it, the inability to compete with the current hybrids would lead them to focus all attention on the long-term instead.  But then again, to be successful, they would have to produce & sell them in large quantities.  Are they really willing to invest that much money for a major retooling on that scale while still bleeding large sums of money each quarter in the meantime?  There's the issue of battery-pack life too.  It's easy to squeeze out a farther electric-only driving range by allowing deep discharging.  But lasting the entire lifetime of the vehicle becomes a problem then.  Sadly, this is nothing new.  The same realities of cost blocking progress in the past still exist now and will remain for awhile.

2-11-2007

Nothing New, part 3.  In a strange sort of way, all the hype is a very good thing.  It draws so much more attention to hybrids than usual that genuine pressure is building.  GM will eventually have absolutely no choice but to actually deliver something.  People will only tolerate promises for a short time.  Then they become frustrated.  It is not a matter of "if", it is just having to be patient enough for that "when" to be fulfilled.  The next gas price spike could make the situation quite interesting.  With the price of oil now back up to $60 per barrel and gas holding above $2.09 per gallon here, seeing higher later is inevitable.  The pattern of price climb due to the travel season is to be expected, especially with demand continuing to grow.  Time is a difficult enemy to fight.  Change can only be resisted for so long.  They will finally have to actually deliver something new.

 

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