Prius Personal Log  #347

September 9, 2007  -  September 12, 2007

Last Updated: Mon. 1/21/2008

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9-12-2007

Losing Money.  It should be no surprise that Bob Lutz (GM vice-chairman) confirmed the fact today that they still don't know how much the battery-pack for Volt will actually cost.  So the fact that Volt could initially lose money shouldn't be a surprise either.  When a modest profit will be possible was a big deal for the rollout of Prius.  It was a factor that limited the production volume for quite awhile.  Overcoming cost isn't a quick process... making the enthusiast declarations of quick high-volume availability for Volt just propaganda.  I wonder when the reality of that will finally sink in?  Being objective requires acceptance of facts.

9-12-2007

It hit $80 today.  That's the highest daytime price ever.  $79.91 per barrel is what it closed at, breaking the previous record by $1.70.  It has become a new market.  The United States appetite for oil is being dwarfed by the rapid growing demand from China and India.  We most definitely have a big problem to deal with.  History will no longer sight "peak" as the greatest concern anymore.  Instead, it's "supply" being insufficient.  Our consumption is way beyond what it should be... and we are about to pay the price... figuratively & literally.  The situation is starting to get ugly.  Judging by the sheer number of mini-cars being announced, it's easy to predict that the non-service guzzlers are about to become extinct.  Denial isn't an option.  Waiting isn't an option.  Solutions for the masses are needed now.

9-11-2007

48 F Degrees.  Seeing that on the Multi-Display this evening pretty much ended all hope of seeing Summer temperatures anymore this year.  It's over.  Fall has arrived.  That goodness the seasonal MPG decline is subtle, not the dramatic plummet Winter can sometimes bring.  But then again, this year I have a ScanGuageII connected to the Prius.  Having more data always available will allow me to experiment with grille-blocking in a fashion that could deliver quantifiable efficiency results.  Others have noted improvement, but not enough to provide a solid expectation.  With me on the other hand, I have already accumulated 4 years of data to compare to.  Overcoming vague observation entirely realistic.  So I'm growing excited about the upcoming colder weather.

9-11-2007

9/11 Reshaping.  How much of the domestic population paid attention to politics before the 9/11 attacks?  How many took an active role influencing political change here?  For that matter, how often was it that they looked beyond our own borders?  That tragic day is reshaping our population for the better.  Today's anniversary made that clear.  I was really pleased with some of the comments those I work with made.  Before those horrible events took place, their interest in our nation's well-being wasn't something they often thought about.  It's much like the new vehicle market... many didn't pay attention until they get close to the time to purchase one.  But that's changed.  The much higher gas prices and the changing climate has raised awareness significantly.  Interest is growing.  And that's a very good thing, as 9/11 continues to remind us.

9-11-2007

Broke the Silence, competition.  Since sales were brought up as the ultimate determination of success, I could resist chiming in with a reminder of what the purpose really is.  Competing against traditional vehicles is something they are absolutely refuse to accept.  So, with a hint of spite, I posted this... The ultimate irony would be for GM to be a victim of its own success, where sales are so strong they have no choice but to reduce production of their old-school traditional vehicles to support capacity for an unexpectedly large hybrid demand.  Some here mock Prius for being both different & successful.  It was easy to make fun of at first.  But all the attention backfired and helped push it into the top-20 sales list... qualifying it for mainstream status... making it no longer different.  Just wait for the waiting-lists to expand and the impatience to become unbearable.  The label of hypocrite is harder to deal with than smug.  At some point, they're going to realize the actual competition is non-hybrids.

9-11-2007

Broke the Silence, insulting.  Someday I'll look back at these personal log entries with delight.  Documenting examples of some of the nonsense I had to deal with will help, like quoting certain forum messages from troublemakers.  This one fulfilled that desired role perfectly: "GM is delivering one that is superior.  Go back to your Pious."  They interpret everything you say as spin.  Even though they can't figure out why.  They just assume you must somehow be defending Toyota.  It's a paranoia you almost have to witness to believe.  My guess is that they have never found a vehicle like Camry, Malibu, or Fusion appealing, so they never paid attention to the impact on the market they make.  After all, when all your attention is focused on flashy niche vehicles that capture headlights, that does make sense.

9-11-2007

Broke the Silence, undisputable.  Well, what do you know!  His tone wasn't cocky anymore.  It was polite like mine tried to be.  That sure was refreshing.  I guess the release of facts from GM pretty much makes certain things undisputable now.  What else can we now overcome now that hybrids are no longer supposed to be scorned?  Of course, no everyone will expect the spirit of cooperation.  How they can dismiss the reality that traditional vehicles are still a problem is beyond me.  I guess they either don't take the overall problem seriously or fail to realize just how long change can actually take.

9-11-2007

Broke the Silence, confronted.  That same guy spreading incorrect information about Volt in the past was at it again today... which officially makes it misconception spreading now, since he was already directly confronted about being erroneous.  I wonder what the response will be this time.  He claimed: "You figure you'll run the engine for 30mins every 40 miles."  So I sounded off, despite wanting to remain silent there, by pointing out how that is not how the system will be configured along with this... Please read the details GM has published.  They clearly state the purpose of the engine is only to maintain the 30-percent minimum charge-level.  That's it; otherwise, the point of the plug would be lost.  Rapid recharging shortens the life of the battery too.

9-11-2007

Opel Flextreme.  Yesterday marked the debut of this newest concept vehicle.  It's supposed to be the European counterpart to the Chevy Volt concept.  I don't see that though.  The electric-only range is "34-mile" estimated and the engine is diesel.  If it were just those differences alone, that could be deemed close.  But the passenger doors are swing the opposite direction, so there's no center pillar.  The vehicle is a hatchback instead.  The back opens with two gull-wing doors and it has a center pillar.  The roof has two long, wide glass panels.  All the mirrors are replaced with cameras and video displays.  And there's special storage in back, with doors & ramps for two Segways.  In other words, this is a rather extreme concept vehicle... one that goes well beyond just offering the "series" hybrid system.  Being that radically different has always resulted in much publicity but very little for actual production.  It most definitely won't be competing with any of the upcoming three Prius models or Camry-Hybrid.  Price will be significantly more.  Of course, there's no talk of getting it in the United States anyway.

9-10-2007

Technical Triumph.  That's the term I recently tested out in the hostile forum.  No one came up with a rebuttal.  It seems as though that is the terminology which will help us overcome all the hype.  Replacing traditional vehicles with cost-effective hybrid technology should be what we're striving for.  Vaporware is often the result of soundly designed new technology failing due to reasons outside of the engineering itself.  So the terminology we should be drawing attention to is "Market Penetration".  Because even if a new technology actually is delivered, that doesn't mean it will ever advance beyond the realm of being only a niche.

9-10-2007

The Competition.  To determine the objectivity of a potential antagonist, just ask them what the competition is.  If they respond with a comment about who has the "most advanced" technology or "having an edge", making a genuine difference very likely isn't their goal.  Our dependence on resources must change; oil was just 30 cents shy of the all-time record high yesterday.  Our attitude toward the environment is changing; smog & carbon concerns are growing dramatically.  Our economic foundation has become unstable; the typical consumer cannot afford a vehicle well above the $21,000 average.  That means help is needed now.  Efforts to deliver significant emission & efficiency improvement at a reasonable price in large quantities should be the goal.  In other words, the competition is traditional vehicles... not bragging rights for the superiority.

9-09-2007

Seeking Fine-Print.  I wasn't expecting to actually find any.  But well aware that important facts tend to get overlooked, especially when the significance of such detail is not understood, I thought it couldn't hurt to look.  After all, criticism is better when very well researched.  To my surprise, the seek for fine-print was fruitful.  Getting to the point... I wanted to know what the "40-mile" electric-only range truly entailed.  In one of the very first articles written about the Chevy Volt, I discovered a note that the value was specifically for "suburban" driving.  That's very important.  Driving faster, as on the highway, requires more electricity... which shortens the range available.  Continuing searches, I found another note stating the range was for "city condition" driving.  That peaked my curiosity.  More searching paid off too.  On GM's own official website was this footnote about Volt, confirming those others findings: "40-mile range based on EPA city cycle."  In other words, certain enthusiasts have either been making incorrect assumptions or intentionally feeding a misconception.  I had a hunch there was more to what they've been claiming.

9-09-2007

2008 Model.  Forgot to mention... the first delivery took place a few days ago!  The 2007 Prius is now a chapter in history, no longer the newest available.  Cool!  Its model-year statistics should prove very interesting.  Naysayers never believed progress this far was possible.. and the previous year was just building up of sales momentum.  The likelihood of slowing isn't realistic.  Many factors indicate strong demand will continue.  Sweet!

9-09-2007

To The Bank.  We've all heard that expression before: "I bet you laugh all the way to the bank."  This evening, I heard that when making a candid interjection about owning a hybrid.  The conversation between salesperson & customer was about impressive new technologies.  I could help but to respond.  And since it was only a few minutes before the stored closed, they didn't hesitate stopping everything to ask me about the Prius.  That really caught me off guard.  I hadn't delivered a spontaneous mini-presentation in ages since the most understand the basics of hybrids now.  Needless to say, their desire to learn more was surprisingly intense.  The topic of saving gas has obviously become quite popular.

9-09-2007

35 MPG.  What do you say to someone when they boast about getting 35 MPG?  That's the question a friend of mine asked me, one who owns a Prius.  A coworker telling him about that efficiency was proud of what driving his motorcycled resulted in.  When you average MPG in the upper 40's from the comfort & safety of a midsize hatchback, that comparison is rather disappointing.  Technology has obviously surpassed what a very small vehicle with a very small engine can deliver.  Needless to say, my friend just nodded and smiled.  Polite silence was all I could suggest as well.  You really don't what to offend, but then again, the most influential of discoveries stem from intense emotional events.  Who knows.  That may have been the ideal opportunity to introduce that person to Prius.  Oh well.  Perhaps the next encounter like that will be the time to respond differently.

9-09-2007

Afterthoughts.  I posted this in response to the responses to my 7-year anniversary post...  Back in 2000, based on my extensive experience with new computer technology adoption, I braced myself for a 10 year wait with hybrids.  And so far, it sure looks like that expectation will maintain the schedule.  I'm hoping by 2010, the choice will be obvious... where people ask themselves how there could have been any doubt that hybrids like Prius were the next large-scale natural step forward for the automotive industry.  In fact, the ultimate vindication will be when someone argues with me, claiming my example of past resistance couldn't have actually happened.  We'll see.  In the meantime, Prius is well on its way to solidifying undisputed mainstream status.

9-09-2007

$76.70 Per Barrel.  Watching the price of oil continue to rise but gas prices remain stable doesn't inspire confidence.  Pressure has to be building somewhere.  When will the breaking point be hit?  Paying $2.93 per gallon for gas ($3.04 per gallon for diesel) is just like when oil was quite a bit cheaper.  Why?  Are we back to delivery lag like in the past?  Whatever the case, an average of around $3.00 nationwide has become the norm and guzzling now considered politically incorrect.  The coming year should definitely be interesting.

9-09-2007

7-Year Anniversary.  It was 7 years ago today that I was handed a set of keys for my first Prius.  I still remember the awe, knowing very well that the automotive world was entering a new age.  Within a month of that, it became apparent that I would be playing an active roll in the foundation of hybrids.  Since then, quite a bit has happened.  Resistance to the technology grew intense and a standard industry approach is far from being agreed upon.  We are still very much in the "lots of untapped potential" stage.  Reaching mainstream volume is currently the biggest challenge.  Prius is still setting sales records, but the competition has shown no interest in production on that scale... let alone the substantial increase Toyota is striving for.  Oh well.  At least people now understand what the heck a "hybrid" is now and the fact that they don't require a plug.  Lots of the original misconceptions have faded away too, like concerns about battery-life.  What will your thoughts be after 7 years of Prius ownership?  I'm quite certain year 8 will be very exciting.  Stay tuned.

 

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