Prius Personal Log #351
October 7, 2007 - October 16, 2007
Last Updated: Sun. 10/24/2010
page #350 page #352 BOOK INDEX
Volt FAQ. The very thing the
Two-Mode supporters have fought intensely against is exactly what the Volt
enthusiasts now want, a collection Frequently Asked Questions. Sound
familiar? This is yet another example of history repeating itself.
The Ford hybrid supporters wanted one. The Honda hybrid supporters didn't.
What did we learn from that? It should be obvious. The sharing of
information is required to advance forward. Without it, progress is
impeded. Put another way, what knowledge do they hope to suppress?
Remember how much resistance I faced when trying to learn details about
Two-Mode? If the design is superior, why wouldn't you want to provide the
reasons? A descriptive explanation sells itself. There's no hype
involved when reading through operational detail... which is exactly what the
Volt enthusiasts now seem to desire. They have already grown tired of the
propaganda. Taking this next step is a sign of hope. I wonder
they'll come up with. Hmm?
40-Mile Backfire. Discussion of the plug-in option for
Two-Mode came up today. It was immediately soured by the fact that range
is expected to be less than 40 miles. Originally, we got the impression it
would be 10. Now the rumor is 25. Whatever the case, that is way
under the distance GM has been promoting as important. So naturally,
disappointment is should be expected. It's the false expectation problem.
Keep telling people they "need" something that isn't actually necessary and the
"want" will eventually take over... like acceleration-speed or towing-capacity.
It's that "more" mentality at play. Marketing toys with your sense of
desire, convincing you to not be satisfied with anything less... which means any
attempt later to sell you less (something more affordable & practical) could
actually backfire. It's a risk they likely shouldn't have taken.
3,500 Pounds. That towing capacity is what "Class II" hitches are rated for. It's a category which has been around for ages... since it is all that's needed for the typical big trailer. So this hype about GM doing best by serving the largest first is very, very misleading. Few people actually need "Class III" capacity of 5,000 pounds. And how many do you actually see using the "Class IV" towing a trailer even heavier? Their first Two-Mode system is overkill, serving an extremely small market. HSD already supports the ability to tow 3,500 pounds. But those obsessed with more being better simply don't want to accept that and GM doesn't want to offer an equivalent hybrid yet. In other words, I'm speaking of the size vehicle of Highlander-Hybrid... since it does indeed support "Class II". When will production of hybrid vehicles that can be sold in mass quantities finally become a priority for them? The consumer desiring a mid-sized, mid-priced hybrid isn't being taken seriously. The extremes draw far more attention.
User-Guide Updates. There's not much revising required
anymore, just the occasional tweak for clarification. But today, I had new
information about efficiency estimates and emission ratings to add. It's
good that detail about those topics is needed now. Observations of online
discussions clearly show struggles to understand those topics. I hope the
latest update helps...
326,333 Miles. What more can you say? When a Prius reaches distances that extreme still using the original battery-pack, you can't help but to hope his voyage exploring North America continue. Keep on driving! The newest photo he's shared with us clearly shows an odometer at that astonishing distance... owner: jesse
Morning Surprise. As my garage opened, the scene in the driveway across the street that came into view included a Prius! It's as close to home of a sighting that you could possibly hope for. I most definitely wasn't expecting that. Seeing other hybrids in the neighborhood is a very welcome change.
Ending with a Question. Just like the anti-hybrid troublemakers in forums, some reporters do what they can to prevent you from drawing a conclusion too. The trend is increasing. I'm seeing more articles that end with a question, making you wonder. So as sincere as what was written up to that point seemed to be, that final interjection of doubt reveals a different intent. It's similar to sarcasm. And thankfully, some of the enthusiasts have caught on. They see that despite so much real-world data, there are people who refuse to accept the facts. Remind you of anything? Study the history of the tobacco market.
What About Emission Rating? That question is finally starting to raise interest. With all the hype surrounding MPG from hybrids and concern about climate change, all the benefits are now being discussed. In other words, there are a whole lot more people getting ticked off when I ask that question. Follow that up with a "Is the air really as clean as you'd like your children to be breathing?" and they'll immediately surrender. They know quite well how the increase in population will just make our already bad situation even worse. Those air quality warnings issued throughout the summer will continue to become more frequent. Status quo simply isn't enough. Cleaner is necessary. And thankfully, the hybrids that don't actually deliver an improved emission rating are beginning to get acknowledged as unworthy.
Non-Hybrid Comparisons. We're seeing that quite a bit more now. Unfortunately, rather than using the more objective class average, they compare to a specific vehicle. And in the case for some, their traditional counterpart was a terrible guzzler... among the worst in their class. So naturally the percentage of improvement for the hybrid option will be impressive. That's a simple statistical trick... an easy way to mislead. Instead, why not just look at the MPG numbers? For example, the 2008 Vue-Hybrid is being hailed for delivering a combined city/highway estimate of 28 MPG. Since when is that good? Look at all the non-hybrid advertisements hailing 30 MPG as great. How come this is greater consumption is acceptable if the vehicle has a "hybrid" label on it... especially when emission rating is rarely considered?
$83.69 Per Barrel. This week's oil closing price is a
record high. We've never seen anything so bad... and there's nothing in
place to keep it from getting worse. Those days past where we were
carefree and wasteful are becoming memories of a very different time. The
obsession with ever larger vehicles is only for the deepest of deniers.
There's an overwhelming number of studies proving they are not the safety choice
they had once been touted as. And the operating expense is horrific.
It's over. Yeah! Makes you wonder how the debut of the monster-size
hybrid will go, eh?
Nobel Peace Prize. The United Nation's International
Panel on Climate Change awarded Al Gore that prestigious prize today. His efforts to
raise awareness about the environmental consequences of our choices have gotten
important worldwide attention. Conditions on the planet are changing
whether people agree about the causes or not... and it will attempt to rid
itself of the problem: Humans! Accelerated and more extreme weather cycles
will affect our way of life. What the former vice-president has done is
raise our awareness of the situation. Sharing that knowledge is a big step
forward. His efforts have definitely helped, hence the prize.
Rivalry Discussions. Having stepped back from participant to observer, it has become quite obvious that delivery of a vehicle which doesn't draw a lot of attention simply isn't of any interest. Some people thrive on hype. It's why the stubborn individuals on that big GM forum never wanted to discuss Camry-Hybrid. Being designed for typical consumer appeal, combined with the fact that it has been selling well, makes it a undeniable winner... putting them on the perceived losing side, since they actively seek out confrontation. Joining another automaker in pursuit of a technological step forward is against their core principle. They are supposed to be the competition, not dirty gas-guzzlers. The concept of an outside ally simply doesn't make any sense to them. That's sad.
Expensive Diesel. The current abundance of ethanol has no effect on diesel, since blending is only with gas. As a result, its price remains high at $3.13 per gallon. That is roughly what I should expect to be paying when filling my Prius tank... and probably will be by early next year. It's a good reminder of what forces influence price. We're fortunate for the moment. But reality will come crashing in. As the population grows, supply will become more and more of a problem.
Cheap Gas. Even though oil prices closed at $83.08 per barrel this evening, we are seeing $2.69 per gallon of gas here. Why it has been so "affordable" lately has become apparent. It is an over supply issue as some, including myself, had suspected. The reason why was unexpected. I had forgotten about the E85 pump hold up, where the EPA halted new licenses due to safety concerns. That saturated the market with an abundance of ethanol. E10 can be pumped anywhere and used in any gas vehicle. So it was. That 10 percent mix became the miracle fix for gas demand. Supply went up, price went down. But now that the ethanol pumps have recently received a UL approval, the sale of E85 will be allowed at new locations. Gas supply will shrink again. Brace yourself for the return of higher prices.
Silly Question. The timing of this question was remarkable: "This may be a silly question: Can a non-hybrid gasoline vehicle with similar EPA ratings, "pollute" more than a Prius?" It was followed by a comparison between Prius and Yaris. Before I could even finish typing a response pointing out emission ratings, someone already did and a troll scanning for the word "Yaris" picked up on that. Proof of the situation came so easily! Anywho, here's the message I intended to share... Silly? Most definitely not. The SULEV and PZEV emission ratings exist to answer that very question, since is MPG not a measure of smog-related emissions. Only carbon emissions have a tie to efficiency. Put another way, if you ask that same question to a different audience, you could get a very different answer. Watch out for those that focus entirely on MPG. Passionate supporters of other hybrids, alternative fuels, and economy cars have a bad reputation for dismissing concerns about smog. So naturally, they absolutely hate when you remain objective by sticking to the emission ratings saying their preferred efficiency technology is welcome as long as it meets that smog reduction criteria. It makes your purpose clear, identifies the truly clean vehicles, and reveals their disingenuous intent.
Sensible Question. This unfortunately revealed that the
casual forum poster still has no idea that there are different types of hybrid:
"Now on the highway, without regeneration, if the electrical motor were
activated the batteries would be depleted with no way to recharge them.
Can you explain that? I would really like to understand where the energy
to crank the electrical motor comes from." And the following response
generated no feedback, leaving me to wonder if it was understood...
The ASSIST hybrid design is what you have described. It only has a single motor. Its electrical system is passive.
The FULL hybrid design has virtually nothing in common with the ASSIST... hence
all the confusion. It is quite the opposite, very persistent. With the FULL,
electricity is being generated 100% of the time the engine is providing thrust
to the wheel, since there is a second motor as part of (but not integrated
directly to) the system.
In other words, please study the PSD (Power Split Device). Seeing how components
within are spinning all the time makes its role in electricity transfer rather
obvious. The switch from consume, to recharge, to both at the same time, to
another 10 to 20 times per minute is no big deal. It's just a matter of changing
electric activity based on the ever changing road pitch and traffic conditions.
Another way of putting it is to point out how the "depleted" state never
actually happens. On the highway, the battery is continuously being topped off by
that second motor as you drive... without you ever touching the brake.
Hybrid Cars Make No Sense. Remember that quote from a certain GM executive in early 2004, less than 3 months after the sales of the HSD Prius had begun? The article containing very negative remarks about hybrids was quite clear, stating how bad of a business choice producing hybrids would be. GM had declared their position... strongly against hybrids. Needless to say, it makes perfect sense that they don't what Volt to be called a "series" hybrid, despite the term having been around for decades to describe that very type of system. By using the newly coined term "electric vehicle with range-extender" instead, they are hoping to avoid being identified as having a complete attitude reversal. Such a drastic change in stance is hypocritical, and they know that. It's why I get labeled as a troublemaker. No matter what I say, the die-hard GM supporters are always on edge expecting me to point out that there is no guarantee until a vehicle is actually delivered. GM could easily change their stance again.
Better Comparison, cooling. Had a smaller engine been
used for Camry-Hybrid, there would have been another benefit. Downsizing means less surface area is required for cooling, allowing for a
more aerodynamic front. That type of gain is often overlooked when when discussing
hybrids. For that matter, so is the fact that additional models can be
offered later with different engine sizes. I have no idea how to spread
knowledge like that. Too bad understanding such design aspects is so
difficult. People simply weren't interested in the past. Thankfully,
times are changing.
Better Comparison, engine. Unfortunately, even the sincere attempts to be objective lack information to be accurate. Hopefully, the points I contribute to clarify will be helpful to those with open minds still. Like this response... You can't make generalizations like that either. Direct comparison of Camry to Camry-Hybrid is misleading too. The hybrid system allows an automaker to downsize the engine, which reduces consumption. Toyota chose not to for that particular configuration though, but could have. The result was the hybrid gaining horsepower to make a model that was easier to market. For Prius on the other hand, Toyota did downside. Even though Prius is a little bigger than Corolla, it does indeed have a smaller engine. In other words, the equation isn't as simple as you believed.