Prius Personal Log  #334

June 14, 2007  -  June 21, 2007

Last Updated: Sun. 6/24/2007

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6-21-2007

Escalade-Hybrid, part 5.  The "series" hybrid offers quite a bit of potential, but nothing material for awhile still.  Witnessing those enthusiasts being so cruel was disturbing.  Their attempt to divide & conquer was definitely bad for hybrid progress.  But they just don't seem to care.  They did what they could to prevent the "full" hybrid supporters from combining forces... and sadly, they'll probably keep trying.  Part of it comes from the hope that people won't recognize their effort to delay, waiting for the more advanced technology.  My pointing it out should bring to light the fact that what they promise for later can actually be had sooner, through the mass acceptance of what some of us already drive.  It comes down to the old conflict of how big of a step forward the next should be.  I strongly feel "full" hybrids first, then offering a plug, then offering the "series" would have the largest impact overall.  They feel holding out until the "series" is better.  Best business practices support my diverse & phased approach has the greater likelihood of success.  We'll see.

6-20-2007

Escalade-Hybrid, part 4.  Apparently, they knew precisely what team they were on.  To destroy a lively thread about Two-Mode excitement, all the "series" hybrid supporters have to do is interject as much as they can about Prius.  It gives the impression a discussion about "full" hybrids is actually just a clever attempt to undermine the success of GM hybrids by people anyone who shows any iota of interest in Toyota products.  Talking about paranoid.  Geez!  Needless to say, hope of cooperation was vanquished in no time flat.  What a disaster.  Clearly, an effort to get hybrid supporters to combine resources to overcome traditional resistance is futile... from that automaker anyway.  The "series" and "full" hybrid supporters will end up fighting amongst themselves.  At least I tried, well in advance of anything that could interfere directly with sales themselves.  Right now, it is still just the enthusiasts... who cannot even agree what the objective should be.  That makes for a terrible team.

6-20-2007

Escalade-Hybrid, part 3.  Immediately following the technical tidbits to stimulate constructive feedback, I recited purpose and pointed out observations:  My effort has always been to provide support for all "full" hybrids.  That means fighting those that are obsessed with making it all about Prius... which as you witnessed, happens repeatedly.  Why no comparison to other SUVs here?  Attention to the other strides forward for hybrids (actual vehicles available for purchase now), like Camry-Hybrid get ignored entirely... even though those are the very successes that will help promote rapid adoption of Two-Mode.  It's quite counter-productive.  In other words, some people forget which team they are on.

6-20-2007

Escalade-Hybrid, part 2.  After the nonsense yesterday, I attempted to swing the discussion to something productive by responding to this comment: "It went in electric-only mode until about 10-15 mph."  I hope they're more receptive today...  What is the maximum electric-only speed with the engine off?  For Prius, the "stealth" tolerance is 10kW, which translates to 42 MPH.  So after the engine starts up to help with acceleration, it will end up shutting off once a steady city speed is obtained.  The draw from the battery-pack is higher in "EV" mode, but that lowers the maximum speed to 35 MPH.  The benefit is being able to accelerate harder without the engine.  Beyond that 42 MPH limit, the engine will spin to offset the high RPM of the smaller electric motor (center connection of the PSD).  So fuel isn't necessary being used, but the pumping of the pistons (with valves open) does introduce a minor efficiency drop.

6-19-2007

Escalade-Hybrid, part 1.  An enthusiast got to drive one today.  It was equipped with Two-Mode.  To tell us, he concealed his identity by creating a new online member name.  That was strange.  It didn't matter much though.  Now that Volt discussions have almost completely faded away, it makes sense that the more practical design gets attention.  But the first thing that the person did was compare it to Prius.  That's bizarre.  I asked why not a comparison to another hybrid SUV or the traditional counterpart.  A large SUV and a midsize car have absolutely nothing in common.  No one cared when I mentioned the desire for Two-Mode being offered in a vehicle like Aura or Malibu either.  It was totally a matter of pride, nothing constructive.  I wonder how much of that attitude we'll be seeing.  Hmm?

6-18-2007

Rental Hybrids.  Hertz and Avis will be adding thousands of Prius to their fleets.  What a great way to introduce more people to the technology.  It's an exposure many probably wouldn't experience otherwise.  So that in itself is a great benefit.  But the fact that it contributes to the used market is fantastic.  For some, the technology is too cost prohibitive buying a new vehicle.  At discounted used prices, that's a different story.  It's an opportunity that wouldn't be available normally.  Very few low-mileage Prius can be found.  Those darn owners simply don't want to part with them.  Makes you wonder why, eh?

6-18-2007

Frustrated.  I was, quite a bit.  After years of reading the incorrect assumptions and the intentional misleading, something finally needed to be done.  So I did it!  I was surprised how quickly that Highway Misconception document actually came together.  Responding to so many of those misconceptions on so many occasions made what needed to be stated crystal clear... to me anyway.  I know that tweaks will be needed.  So for now, I'm only revealing the document to the big Prius group.  After their contributions are taken into account, then the web in general will get to see it.  If anything, it should help to reduce the number of misconceptions.

6-17-2007

Highway Misconceptions.  A long time ago, I saw the need for a paper explain why the highway misconceptions simply don't have any merit.  Instead of writing it, I created a collection of illustrated documents.  They helped, but that type of thing doesn't reach all audiences.  And now, the new types of hybrids are adding to the confusion.  So, it looks like I may have to give it a try.  But getting constructive feedback has been quite a challenge lately.  Judging effectiveness will be tough.  In other words, finding the right balance of detail using simple language may take awhile.  Oh well.  Time is on my side anyway.  So now it's off to the coffee shop with the computer to explain how the engine, weight, terrain, traffic, motors, and battery-pack contribute to the efficiency many still do not believe is possible.  They sincerely think the only benefit of a hybrid is in city driving.  They sure are in for a surprise.

6-17-2007

Intriguing Find.  The Sunday morning search online revealed a very interesting hybrid article.  It was about Chevy Volt, written by the Detroit reporter who has a reputation of being cruel to Prius.  Either he has no idea how the hybrid system works, he doesn't want that hybrid to succeed, or he thrives on controversy.  I could never figure that out.  But with so many misconceptions being fed by his articles over the years, I was very curious about what this new one had to say.  To my delight, it actually was quite informative.  The topic was about what to call this type of hybrid.  My favorite quote was: "I write about this stuff all the time, and even I can't keep the difference between series and parallel hybrids straight."  Clearly, he has no understanding of hybrids.  If all the engine does is generate electricity, it's a "series" hybrid.  The definition is that simple.  How could he be so confused?  The industry has been identifying this design using that term for decades.  And he's considered an information resource for hybrids?  Geez!

6-16-2007

Personal Logs.  They continue to grow.  Having a venue like this to express my thoughts & observations to is great.  Some people like to read.  I prefer to write.  After all, the content to read has to come from somewhere.  But the fact that I never cease to run out of stuff to comment about and the fact the entries are larger now really surprises me.  I am most definitely in the right place at the right time.  It's fun documenting history as it unfolds.  And many years from now, I'll end up reading the entries with fascination... since at that point, the majority will look back wondering how any of the current conflict ever could have occurred.  They'll just claim that evolutionary step was inevitable, that misconceptions naturally fade away on their own... rather than owners like me having to actively fight to kill them.  What antagonists do to intentionally impede progress is what makes the history most interesting.  Those activities are often forgotten, since those responsible do everything they can afterward to deny they had anything to do with preventing change.  Whatever the case, there's one more log to read now.

6-16-2007

$68.00 per Barrel.  The price of oil continues to creep up... to record levels.  That's not good.  A rare spike is one thing.  But for it to slow rise and never drop, we should all be concerned.  Even though the price of gas has stabilized, it is clearly too high to go unnoticed.  The cost of living is rising.  All types of food are see price increases.  Any temporary buffer we had to protect from that is now exhausted.  The effects of this new reality are starting to show.  It is what the market will be.  Cheap gas is gone.  All that came with it is vanishing now.  The outcome of our indulgence will fade.  How many super-sized vehicles will end up getting replaced by tiny commute cars is the new question.  Will we really swing from one extreme to another?  Prius represents the happy medium (size, power, price, with great efficiency & emissions).  How long will it take for that to become typical?  Time will tell.  I bet it won't take long.

6-16-2007

1,000 Volts.  That's the sales goal for Chevy Volt by the end of the decade.  It was interesting to read that this morning.  Seeing a specific date & quantity was quite unexpected.  I wonder if they'll actually deliver.  Remember how their "end of decade" promise had been fuel-cell vehicles.  The fact that talk of it has subsided to almost complete silence is quite an extreme from the "stop gap" ridicule we previously had to endure.  I find this promise far more realistic.  What the price will be is an unknown I highly doubt we'll find out until the last minute.  But what's crystal clear already is the pace.  They are taking it horribly slow.  Prius is already selling at a rate of 150 times faster here.  Imagine what the entire hybrid fleet from Toyota will be then.  Heck, even Ford has acknowledged much more is needed.  No wonder I often sound anti-GM.  From the "series" hybrids being the only car solution perspective, that's true.  But that's also an out-of-context judgment.  That fact that I persistently push for widespread "full" hybrid rollout, including  GM's Two-Mode for cars, most definitely contradicts those incorrect assessments.  I want to see 100,000's of them offered right away.  Waiting several years for just 1,000 is very disappointing.  How is that going to make a big difference coming from an automaker that produces over 9,000,000 vehicles annually?  Remember, the annual worldwide combined automaker production of new vehicles is over 60,000,000.  The emission & consumption problem needs to be taken much more seriously.

6-15-2007

Volt Potential.  There's quite a bit.  But exploiting it is many, many years away still.  The resistance to "full" hybrids is still a big deal.  Imagine how much more there will be to the "series" hybrid, especially when you consider the fact that "full" hybrids could already offer a plug today.  Overcoming all that is a very slow process.  So I tried to respond to the following with some tact: "We really can not under estimate the potential of the Volt.  The Volt, if performs well and have some pretty good quality, could change GM forever."  The passage of time will do that anyway.  We're talking an absolute minimum of 4 years from now before that potential to actually reveal itself.  If Volt does become available in 2010, it will take a full year for attention to grow simply due to seasonal data not being available yet.  People will obviously want real-world comparisons to what's already on the road.  That will include two new models of Prius, with a third on the way.  Just rewind 4 years for some perspective.  There was so much anti-hybrid press it was sickening.  Misconceptions were abundant.  Responsibility for emissions wasn't addressed.  And gas was cheap.  Imagine the change 4 more will bring.

6-15-2007

E85 Hybrids.  A combination of solutions is the real answer.  Hybrid technology along with renewable fuels make sense.  We've seen many examples of "full" hybrids allowing for plug-in upgrades.  That evolutionary path is obvious.  The use of ethanol has been though.  There's much waiting required still.  Ethanol created from waste bio-matter on the industrial-scale is far from common now.  Eventually, that will come.  In the meantime, building a consumer-base to actually use it is important.  So when an announcement like the one from Ford today is made, we really hope they follow through.  They delivered 20 Escape-Hybrids capable of using E85.  That's great!  But only 20.  Why so few?  Hopefully, more will be on the way.  We hope the same is true for hybrids themselves from Ford.  We'll see.

6-14-2007

Panic!  I am really growing tired of reading new panic messages.  It's the same old thing every time.  (About once a week on the big Prius forum.)  A new Prius owner freaks out when they get stuck in heavy traffic and see the charge-level drop to the pink level (2 bars).  They have absolutely no clue that even when empty (no bars), there is still 40 percent charge remaining.  The Multi-Display only shows the common levels.  They don't realize that.  They also aren't aware of how the hybrid system actually works.  The battery-pack is well protected.  The engine will automatically startup when needed, to replenish the charge.  You don't have to do anything.  Leave the A/C running.  There is absolutely no reason to be concerned.  But sadly, getting that message out proving to be a rather profound challenge.  Oh well.  At least those messages serve as proof that the average consumer is now purchasing Prius.  They are the same people that don't know how a traditional car works either.  Just push the pedals and steer.  If they didn't have a Multi-Display, they'd do the same with Prius too.  Their introduction to that empowering device is sometimes in the form of panic.  But at least all that post a very emotional message are quickly reassured that all was ok.  Just think of what their reaction is the next time they are stuck in heavy traffic.

6-14-2007

Fuel-Cell, Lithium, CAFE.  It's been strange lately.  People are recalling all the attention to the fuel-cell years back, noting how much of that has been abandoned in favor of lithium-based battery power for vehicles instead.  Those promises essentially died.  But then again, no one could explain the benefit of hydrogen over electricity anyway.  Some were suspicious from the start.  So how is this any different?  CAFE mandate changes are inevitable.  No one is questioning whether or not MPG standards will be forced higher.  The new question is: "How much?"  So when it comes to the consideration of new technologies, the adoption of them on the grand-scale is absolutely vital.  A car that delivers 150 MPG is great... only if it is affordable too.  That means pushing the price premium beyond a certain level is a difficult sale.  Consumer opinion seems to be that higher that than 10 percent is too much.  So, I'd say that keeping it below 12 percent is essential.  If the result is a vehicle that only (sarcastically speaking) delivers 80 MPG, so be it.  That's why I like the "full" hybrid with a plug option so much.  After all, wasn't that the price-target and efficiency goal of the PNGV effort anyway?

 

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