Prius Personal Log  #345

August 26, 2007  -  August 30, 2007

Last Updated: Sun. 10/24/2010

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8-30-2007

Volt Details, definition.  The nonsense continues.  Some supporters of Volt have become quite adamant about not calling it a "hybrid".  Instead, they want it to be considered an electric vehicle with a range-extender.  In other words, they are changing a definition to fit their needs.  That's something the anti-hybrid tried all the time.  Now, it's more a matter of marketing.  "Electric Vehicle" apparently sounds more impressive.  Anywho, I responded to that silliness with this...  SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) has been using the "series" classification type for over a decade now.  They clearly label Volt as a hybrid with this: "An electric drive vehicle equipped with a heat engine."  Changing a definition to suit needs is inappropriate.  Some people aren't going to like hearing it.  But that's the way it is, from a credible and well respected source.  And if they don't care for the technical approach, there's the dictionary which also classifies Volt as a hybrid with this: "Something of mixed origin or composition.

8-29-2007

Volt Details, misconceptions.  Concern about incorrect information being spread was a rapidly growing.  The claim that irritated me most was that Volt would entirely recharge the battery-pack using the engine while you drive in just 30 minutes, allowing for 40 miles entirely with electricity following that.  My experience with hybrids immediately raised warnings.  That didn't make sense.  But the guy was so smug, it was well worth waiting until later when it was easy to prove.  A dose of humility should help to prevent such erroneous posts in the future, which unfortunately lead to the spreading of misconceptions.  So today, I finally responded with this...  As with the "full" hybrids, recharging is limited to thermal restrictions.  Faster results in more heat.  Heat damages the chemicals within, causing them to age quicker (and in extreme cases explode).  So for the longest possible battery life (very important for hybrids), slower is better.  GM has chosen the slowest approach for their first "serial" hybrid.  The gas engine will only be used to supply electricity for immediate use and maintain the minimum 30-percent threshold.  It will not replenish.  That's what the plug is intended for.

8-29-2007

Volt Details, replenish.  The purpose of the engine appears to be just to maintain that minimum charge-level of 30 percent.  Capacity beyond that will be replenished by the external plug after driving has completed.  The battery-pack will not be recharged while on the road, as some overzealous enthusiasts had assumed.  (This is redeeming news for those of us with thermal limit concerns from heat caused by recharging to quickly.)  So there is indeed a dependence on plugging-in, which makes proper energy consumption estimates at least somewhat more accurate.  Though, draw from the Heater and A/C remain a mystery still.

8-29-2007

Volt Details, percentage.  As for the detail itself, let's start with "long-life" capacity.  This is the electricity supply range utilized during normal operation.  It is the portion available for use that puts the least amount of stress on the battery-pack, allowing for maximum year/distance operation.  80-percent will be considered "full".  30-percent will be considered "empty".  In terms of the energy itself, that should be about 8 kWh of electricity for the advertised 40-mile electric-only driving range. 

8-29-2007

Volt Details, opposition.  I am quite impressed with the emerging effort to find & share details about the upcoming "series" hybrid from GM.  Naturally, it's taking place on an entirely new small forum.  The old big one is so entrenched with those protecting their favorite automaker's reputation that progress is seriously impaired.  Staring over is sometimes the best approach, and this seems to be proving that.  It's interesting.  Those in support of Volt are delighted with the level of electricity reliance.  They place heavy emphasis on the large size of the electric motor, pointing out its impressive power available.  From Two-Mode support, you get the very opposite.  They stress the benefit of two small motors instead, claiming an advantage over the One-Mode hybrids... but at the same time it puts them directly at odds with the others cheering for GM success.  In other words, the detail avoiding we've seen from the GM "full" hybrid enthusiasts is very much what the GM "series" hybrid enthusiasts are against.

8-28-2007

Holiday Gas Prices.  I wonder what the Labor Day holiday weekend will bring.  Hmm?  Some stations around here are now selling gas for $3.09 and other are still at $2.95 per gallon.  A price jump was expected.  This is the final opportunity to enjoy Summer.  The warmth is already fading away and the daylight available is definitely decreasing.  It's almost over.  Fall is nice, but saying goodbye to the high temperatures is tough... especially when it comes to the MPG difference that makes.  Oh well.

8-28-2007

Kleenex of Hybrids.  You just can't deny the humor in certain analogies.  They're clever ways of getting a point across.  This recent comment from the senior VP of Honda (John Mendel) qualifies for that distinction: "The Prius has become synonymous with hybrid; it's the Kleenex of hybrids."  When you say the word "Prius" now, people know exactly what you're talking about.  None of the "who makes it" or "what does it do" questions come up anymore.  It's the undisputed leader, by a rather large extreme.  Allowing the practical aerodynamic hatchback shape to define a unique look and discussions of MPG to define its purpose proved to have an industry-shaking outcome... and that's without usually any mention of smog (breathing related) emissions, which would also make for a good "Kleenex" reference.

8-28-2007

Market Need, substance.  There isn't any.  For merit to be earned, something must actually be delivered to consumers.  Nothing has yet.  All we are getting is propaganda, where claims are made about Toyota struggling to catch up to GM.  Since neither automaker has a plug-in vehicle available for purchase yet, the market status is equal.  Of course, I could point out that Prius already supports an EV mode and aftermarket battery augmentation does increase MPG substantially.  But I won't.  That's something more appropriate for owners taking advantage of the design to gain benefit... since that too could be considered hype.  For it to be credit worthy, we need substance... like purchase numbers or real-world data.

8-28-2007

Market Need, plugging.  The introduction of a concept model "series" hybrid has dramatically increased the discussions about plugging in.  With an augmented "full" hybrid, the plug was considered more of an option than a requirement.  It wasn't that big of a deal.  Think of it as a 25 MPG boost, when desired.  But with the "series" type, the expectation is to use as little fuel as possible by plugging in as often as you can.  Think of that as an electric-only vehicle.  Such a big difference is drawing focus to those living in apartments & condos where a plug won't be available.  What will they buy?  If GM isn't planning to offer a regular "full" hybrid for Prius sized cars and smaller, nothing is a bit of a problem.  Paying for a large capacity battery-pack you won't be able to take advantage of doesn't make any sense.  Reduced capacity in a "series" would though.  But all the "40-mile range" advertising is preventing serious attention being brought to that.

8-28-2007

Market Need, towing.  That's the only purpose I can imagine a 6-cylinder engine being needed for with a hybrid... and that's only when the trailer weighs more than 1,000 pounds.  A decent 4-cylinder can handle towing a smaller load just fine.  That will out accelerate its traditional counterpart too.  The highway efficiency of Vue-Hybrid with 6-cylinder Two-Mode is expected to be very similar to Escape-Hybrid, which uses a 4-cylinder engine.  Towing will basically be the only true advantage if city efficiency is similar too.  Cylinder-Deactivation is the primary difference.  So it begs the question whether or not Two-Mode will just will be offered with 6-cylinder engines.  Asking that really upsets the GM enthusiasts.  My guess is that they figured out a "full" hybrid option is needed for smaller vehicles.  The 4-cylinder is obviously less expensive (much fewer parts), especially without special mounts to cushion deactivate vibration.

8-27-2007

"Generation" Problem.  Now the very same criteria shifting we've seen from both Honda & Ford is coming from GM too.  I was quite correct with my push to recognize the transition from Original model Prius to the Classic as a generation... because all 3 of those other automakers have labeled their less significant changes as a generation.  I saw this coming years ago, but few listened.  Now what?  Knowing their self-promoting was going to undermine wasn't enough.  I should have fought harder.  But way back then, the internet was less developed and simplifying for the sake of immediate benefit outweighed consequences that could follow.  Oh well.  The other benefit my over 25 years of computer-programming skills for planning ahead have taught me is: You can't win them all.  With limited resources available, you have to choose your battles carefully.  Perhaps enough will study hybrid history and uncover the "generation" problem on their own.  Anywho, an upgrade to BAS is expected next year or two.

8-27-2007

HCCI, again.  2 years ago, it was a Honda prototype.  Now, it's a GM prototype.  Problem is, no one seems to remember what already happened and the lack of progress since.  For that matter, they don't have a good understanding of how it could be used either.  Anywho, HCCI is the technology that makes a gas engine behave like a diesel.  Rather than using a spark to invoke combustion, compression is used.  The result is higher efficiency.  Unfortunately with gas (which is cleaner), it only works at slower speeds.  55 MPH with a light load is currently the maximum.  Beyond that, the system has to revert to a spark instead.  So the benefit is limited to city driving.  It's likely not to be compatible with the alternative pumping cycle hybrids already use (Atkinson-Miller) to improve efficiency for both city & highway driving anyway.  But if it's inexpensive, the extra weight of the heavier engine doesn't have too much of a negative impact, and smog-related emissions aren't increased, it could be a decent solution for non-hybrid vehicles... though, I wonder if clatters like a diesel.

8-27-2007

Gathering Location.  6 years ago, I searched for a scenic & isolated place with a large parking lot where hybrid owners could get together and swap stories.  On that hunt, I took photos of the potential candidate to later solicit opinions from others with.  It was so perfect of a choice, I essentially abandoned the photos... and forgot about them until recently.  That means I now have something "new" to add to the collection... featuring my Classic Prius!  After all this time, I hadn't expected to publish anything else with that green guy.  But here's a half-dozen more featuring it... photo album 122

8-27-2007

Perspective.  I've been reading a lot about Toyota supposedly resisting the idea of plug-in hybrids now, actually wanting them to fail.  Since when?  What's changed?  The wait for affordable batteries and clean electricity is the same now as it was back before the Volt concept vehicle first debuted.  If anything, there's been progress forward.  Revealing details and video about their testing currently taking place is evidence of advancement.  Normally they are very quiet about stuff like that, not saying anything until the production date nears.  Just look at events of the past and market attitude for perspective.  Obviously, the bashers aren't.  Their judgment is rendered solely on recent events.  Makes you wonder what will happen during the long upcoming wait, eh?  The hype in the meantime is really going to get annoying.  But I suppose that still could be considered better than previously, where most hybrid-related content was instead frustrating.

8-26-2007

Thought Provoking.  It's nice to run into the rare post that actually makes you think.  Today I was lucky enough to do exactly that, with this:  "Bush is wrong.  We do not need to fight the terrorists there so we don't fight them here.  We need to fight them here, at home.  It is easy.  We will start in late 2010.  We will give them a 60,000 Volt shock."  That makes sense too!  Over there is the bandage approach, just trying to heal open wounds.  Over here, we can try to prevent injury in the first place... or so it would have been if everyone joined the effort back in 2000 when hybrid sales began in the United States.  10 years later is obviously a reactionary response.  But it is better than continuing to ignore the problem.  And hopefully, the thought provoking messages will help with the effort to reach a wider audience.

8-26-2007

Hybrid Price.  Honda unexpectedly provided a reminder of its importance today.  The business plan for their next hybrid states it will be a 5-passenger family-car priced under $22,000.  That's the very market segment I've been nagging about.  The more expensive ones are important too, but they aren't what the bulk of the worldwide population would buy.  Honda recognizes that.  After all, there's a wide selection of traditional vehicles priced for less.  An appealing hybrid choice needs to be available.  If they don't offer it, of course something else will be purchased.  It makes you wonder just how smart the consumer will become.  The internet is empowering.  Chat about upcoming technology is growing intense.  Expectations are becoming clear.  Meeting them by affordable means is critical.  How much do you want to pay?

8-26-2007

Nothing To Buy.  Late 2010 is when Volt is expected to finally be available for purchase.  That's over 3 years from now.  Yet the way certain people talk, you get the impression thousands have been sold already.  They also lead you to believe nothing else even remotely appealing will be available then.  What about the 2 new models of Prius with a third on the way?  What about the "full" hybrids offering larger capacity battery-packs and a plug?  What about the million of hybrids already on the road?  Reading comments posted on the forum created exclusively for news about Volt, you see just how absolutely desperate GM supporters are to get over the embarrassment of history having repeated itself.  The automakers in Japan once again caught the automakers in America totally unprepared for an abrupt intense concern for fuel efficiency.  In a way, that is a very good thing.  They are most definitely looking forward rather than sulking.  But there still won't be anything to buy for quite awhile.  And if the hype continues to grow, supply will be far less than demand.  You could end up on a waiting list for a long time, just like when Prius was introduced- here.  What the heck are we suppose to do in the meantime?

 

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