Prius Personal Log #344
August 21, 2007 - August 25, 2007
Last Updated: Sun. 8/26/2007
page #343 page #345 BOOK INDEX
$71.09 Per Barrel. Yup, the price of oil still remains high. Gas (which is actually E10 here) is selling for less than expected, about $2.80 per gallon. Our state tax for it will inevitably go up, due in large part to the attention the Minneapolis bridge collapse has brought to our underfunding of road support. But the long-term, wide-scale effect remains uncertain. A quick glance survey of the nearby parking lot reveals far fewer large vehicles than in the past. Will hybrids (any technology that improves both emissions & efficiency) become the norm relatively soon, or are we in for a painfully long wait?
Fuel = Hybrid. I was rather concerned. My aftermarket scantool device (ScanGuageII) for the Prius stopped working. Moments after starting to drive, it would die. I had forgotten about having unplugged it earlier. It took me awhile to figure out that every time the engine shut off, it did too. That's the way it's supposed to work for traditional vehicles. When the engine isn't running, it shouldn't either. But in a hybrid, the engine is often off while driving. So... you have to change a setting to inform it to go into sleep-mode based on different criteria. Specifying "hybrid" as the fuel type does the trick. Remembering that the setting is reset to default (non-hybrid) when the plug is removed probably won't be anywhere near of a challenge next time. But this time, I'll admit to struggling for an answer. Oh well. Live and learn...
Corrected EPA. Some of those I had been struggling with deserve the label of antagonist. They outright lie. I got a reminder of that this afternoon. He claimed Toyota ignored the needs of rural residents by not providing a hybrid that delivered an efficiency improvement on the highway. Those of us that drive a Prius know that simply isn't true. Heck, my trip to Chicago two months ago was almost entirely highway driving. The average calculated to 52.4 MPG. That improvement is undeniable. Yet, they still attempt to deceive anyway. The old EPA estimates contributed to that, since it became common knowledge that they were not accurate. But what about the new EPA estimates? How will those be perceived by consumers? Will the troublemakers still somehow mislead with those too? Owner real-world efficiency will exceed those numbers, revealing that the corrections to be conservatively low. But I bet they will still find a way to protect their interests... especially since being dishonest hasn't a problem for them.
Declaring a Winner. Participating in the HD-DVD verses Blu-Ray history has been interesting. It provides an intriguing parallel to that of hybrids. The winner will be declared the same way. Replacement of DVD will come naturally, when a high-definition disc format is delivered for only a small price increase above what consumers are currently paying. It should be pretty easy to see that being the same way for hybrids. People pay a certain amount for traditional vehicles. Some enthusiasts expect a paradigm shift, where consumers end up spending substantially more upfront for significant fuel savings later. I don't. That's why my hope for HD-DVD is a long-term expectation. Victory touted in current press-releases are just battles, not the war as a whole. Until either new format has a very direct impact on the standard-definition disc itself, the high-definition market remains only a niche. See the similarity to hybrids? Replacement is the key. It's that "mainstream" classification which ultimately matters. Very large sales numbers are the only way to achieve that.
Assist verses Full, effort. Why do they refuse to acknowledge the big picture? I realize it's a normal human response to be driven by the "team mentality" mindset. But this isn't a game. The well-being of the planet is a very real problem. So even if the intent is to protect your employment to support your family, the children will later pay the penalty anyway. Why delay dealing with the solution until the need is urgent? Embrace it now. Make this into an effort where a new team can form, one based on merit rather than automaker. The measure of MPG improvement, emission reduction, and affordable pricing isn't difficult. Remember how well the computer upgrades during the height of the development period (late 90's through early 00's) worked? That was enormously successful and most of the players ended up winners. We all benefit from shared effort like that. They need to see that is what I'm striving for. The FULL hybrids are the platform which the upgrades will come from.
Assist verses Full, clarity. The mess started with my response to the "Incorrect Info" thread. Before that, no one had been asking questions. The Power-Split diagram I provide doesn't illustrate Speed-Reduction. That's mostly because it has never been a source of confusion. The passing of power through another planetary device to alter speed is no big deal. It's easy to understand. But the Two-Mode design includes that feature within the transmission housing, so enthusiasts want to make it a big deal to stress the complexity aspect. They want to count it as a feature of Two-Mode without admitting that the newer models of HSD also have it, but in a different place. I tried to get them to divulge that, since being clear about how Two-Mode actually works was the topic of discussion. They'd rather withhold certain facts. I'm not surprised. In the past, the same type of response came from certain Honda & Ford enthusiasts too. Oh well.
Assist verses Full, conspiracy. Remember that whole "not the
same" fiasco? I kind of feel like I'm on the other side of that
now. Only with this, there is not a profound operational difference. The
behaviors of the hybrids are indeed the same, much more than just fundamentals. But when dealing with
certain individuals on the verge of panic, forget reasoning. All they see is
conspiracy. Somehow your ultimate purpose there is to cause harm.
So they use circumstantial actions as evidence. After all, it's against the laws of nature for a foreign automaker and a domestic automaker
to agree... right? That determination to prove you wrong prevents them
from seeing reality. In other words, this is a rather strange example of how
the fear of change can manifest itself.
Assist verses Full, purpose. Some are clearly losing focus of the point. It isn't to prove who has the most complicated hybrid system. It's to deliver a product that significantly reduces emissions & consumption in a reliable & cost-effective manner. The idea of new technology being grouped into categories is intolerable to them... but it makes sense. Having each automaker being totally different does not. Obviously one design will be better than the other in some aspects. But why is that a problem now? Automatic transmissions for traditional vehicles have always varied greatly. No one took issue with that though. It wasn't a big deal. Consumers recognized that there were differences. Why wouldn't that be true for hybrid systems too?
Assist verses Full, need. I wonder how my question
will be responded to. Their hate for Toyota is blinding them from the
reality that new ASSIST hybrids are popping up in markets outside
the United States. The smaller foreign automakers (like those in Korea,
India, and China) see that one-motor direct-integration design as a low-cost,
easy-to-support solution. So, they don't see enough reason to risk an investment in
FULL hybrids. That safer choice does take a step forward... but not one
big enough to solve our problems. It's like bailing water out of a sinking
boat too slowly. You can still lose a war despite victory from individual
battles. The need is there whether they choose to acknowledge it or not.
Cooperation is required to overcome the true adversary.
Assist verses Full, competition. They needed a reminder of
what the competition actually is...
When Camry-Hybrid debuted, the hybrid system was labeled as the same as that
used in Highlander-Hybrid which was described this way by Toyota itself: "Power from the gas engine and MG2 is distributed to the drive wheels via a
planetary gear-type continuously variable transmission, which eliminates
specific gear ratios. Two planetary gear units are used in the system. The
Power-Split unit divides the engine's drive force two ways: one to drive the
wheels and the other to drive MG1 so it may function as a generator. The Motor
Speed Reduction unit reduces the speed of MG2 and increases its drive torque,
significantly boosting acceleration performance."
That natural next step in the "one-mode" hybrid improvement freaks out the
"two-mode" enthusiasts quite a bit. Why?
All along I've been stating my favor for FULL hybrids, which puts both designs
into the same category. They could leverage off of the success of the other
while the uniqueness of each still being understood.
Read my blogs. Over and over and over again I state the benefits of two electric
motors and the ability to split power as a major advantage over the other type
of hybrid. That still holds true. What's the problem?
Highway To The Future. The Toyota hybrid tour that's been
traversing the country is currently making an appearance at the Minnesota State
Fair. So today, I got to play. It was a heavy reinforcement for
everything I've been doing. Their many interactive multimedia
presentations covered the very same topics I have over the last 7 years. I
felt quite vindicated... but very much alone. No one their had anywhere
near the experience as me. But that really didn't matter. The point is to
teach newbies about the hybrid technology and the goals it was designed to achieve.
It was obvious how realistic that purpose had become, simply by looking at the 3
hybrids on display outside the exhibit. They weren't concept vehicles
loaded with hype. They were all vehicles you could purchase later that
same day at your local dealer. I bet that exhibit will make a strong
impression on some people.
Undermining Two-Mode. The ability for GM to self-inflict wounds is truly amazing. Their concept "series" hybrid vehicle is getting so much attention now that their soon-available "full" hybrid is struggling. The reason should be obvious. People aren't interested in a hybrid that promises to deliver 25 MPG. Regardless of size & power of the vehicle, a number that low simply doesn't offer much appeal... especially when compared to the touted 150 MPG potential Volt could deliver. People see an "only" associated with the 25 MPG. Because at $3 per gallon for gas, the financial pain which comes from filling the tank has become quite intense. They are undermining their own success by focusing so much on specific vehicles. A super-efficient sedan offering Two-Mode would easily overcome that previously counter-productive hype, but the automaker has shown no interest nor the majority of supporters. It makes me wonder what's going to happen in 2 months with Tahoe-Hybrid. The situation closely resembles Accord-Hybrid already... an opportunity lost by not targeting the largest demographic first.
Weakness Discovered. I wasn't even looking for one. But that's how they say discoveries most often happen. Anywho, I was trying to learn more about Two-Mode. The most obvious difference is the clutch which allows the engine to disengage. Next is how the 2 motors and 2 planetary-devices connect & interact. They are clearly different from that in Camry-Hybrid. But the GM enthusiasts simply don't care. Understanding detail on that level isn't helpful for conquest of forum threads. Quibbling about whether the second planetary provides "mode" or "speed" operational variation doesn't seem matter either. It's the existence of that part itself. I had no idea just pointing out that there was a second planetary-device would cause such upset. It certainly did though. In their mind, it makes them too similar. They don't like that at all.
More Propaganda. Would you recognize it when you see it? Try this opening statement published in an article about Volt today: "It has been leaked that General Motors plans on selling as many as 60,000 Volts in its inaugural year on the market. That's about four times the sales of Toyota's Prius when it made its U.S. debut." And this is the sentence it closed with: "While the market is more acceptant of fuel-efficient vehicles now, it took the Toyota Prius nearly 5 years to reach 60,000 in annual sales." I find them totally misleading. They make no mention of how cheap gas was way back then and how few actually cared about either type of emission. The world was most definitely a different place from the time Volt will finally debut in late 2010... which will be an entire decade after Prius here. And how come the first year of the HSD model Prius was ignored entirely? Could it be that it was an attempt allow you to assume incorrectly by not presenting all the facts? I think so... since 60,000 of them were sold then, making its debut even more impressive since that occurred so much earlier. See why this is becoming such a source of irritation?
Unexpected Outcome. I've haven't found it productive to spend time anymore on the daily banter & propaganda from certain enthusiasts... that are way too enthusiastic without a reason to be. My interest in GM hybrids has dwindled down to just learning more about Two-Mode. So that new thread started the other day had me captivated. There and on another thread internal clutches had been mentioned, both claiming there were 4. A new one? What the heck? I asked what it was for. The only response was an empty sarcastic one. Having including a schematic showing only 3 with my question must have struck a nerve. How ironic. Those attempting to end the spread of incorrect information had apparently done that very thing. My best guess is that they had misinterpreted information in the original promotional pamphlet without ever questioning it. They when I provided detail from a published study about hybrids, they realized there were in error... hence refusing to actually answer me and faced with a credibility issue. That was quite unexpected of an outcome.
Kia Rio-Hybrid. 2 years ago, the chief executive of Kia announced they were accelerating the development of their hybrid program. Now it looks at though they will indeed deliver quickly. The Rio-Hybrid will come with a 1.4 liter engine, a 12 kW electric motor, a CVT transmission, and a 144-volt battery-pack. In other words, it's an "assist" hybrid similar to Civic-Hybrid. There are no plans yet for availability in the United States. But the Korean Ministry of the Environments has ordered 3,390 more. I have no idea how many they started with. More is good though, especially in developing markets. I wonder what consumers there will think. Hmm?
Greaser Story. Not all diesel engines can be converted to use WVO (Waste Vegetable Oil). And sadly, one owner found this out the hard way. It took 57,000 miles before the big problems crept in. The engine was a mess. After a series of expensive repairs, he gave up and swapped in a different engine. What a pain. But worse is the tarnishing this could do to the reputation of bio fuels. Diesel faces many challenges to overcome still. It can though, if people are properly informed. Too bad this guy didn't study more before the conversion. Some vehicles quite simply are not capable of supporting that big of a change. Design really does vary more than people realize. Just look at how much incorrect assumptions supposed automotive experts make about hybrids.