Prius Personal Log  #355

November 11, 2007  -  November 16, 2007

Last Updated: Thurs. 11/22/2007

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11-16-2007

Court Ruling Talk.  There's been quite a bit of discussion about that light-truck ruling yesterday.  The Bush administration is really in trouble.  On NPR (National Public Radio), they pointed out how the court focused on the failure to take climate-change into account.  No consideration of that whatsoever makes it pointless to try to overturn.  By ignoring carbon emissions entirely, it branded them as not fulfilling their responsibility to account for all factors of influence... a gross oversight.  Now they have to correct their negligence with a more strict efficiency improvement requirement.  And to make matters even more pleasing, their attempt to categorize SUVs as "utility" vehicles was deemed inappropriate as well.  Since over 70 percent of them are never taken off-road, that qualification is null without any need for further argument.  In other words, since they are almost always used as if they were a family car, it is no longer proper to allow greater emissions as if they were a truck for work use.  The judicial branch is fulfilling its duty to keep the executive branch in check.  I'm very happy!

11-16-2007

Adequate Acceleration.  Some of it is well-deserved venting of frustration.  Back when the HSD Prius first debuted, the 10.1 second 0-60 acceleration speed was mocked as a considerable shortcoming.  But now that the mild hybrids are pushing their way into the market and fuel-cell prototypes are being demonstrated, slower rates are deemed "adequate".  Some attempt to conceal their hypocritical stance change by arguing semantics.  What a pain.  Apparently, taking 15 seconds to reach 60 MPH is no big deal... now.  Figures.

11-16-2007

Trash Talk.  This morning's article about what happened at the LA Auto Show yesterday was pretty entertaining... since I have logs noting what originally happened.  Remember how that investor presentation had a quote taken out-of-context which completely ignored the aspect of large-scale production?  They tried using that spin again.  Of course, some of the suffering on GM's part was self-inflicted.  They were too vague about intentions with Volt at first.  So... even sincere attempts to clarify now are met with skepticism.  Allowing false expectations to grow wasn't smart, especially when the heavy advertising campaign for Volt still lacks detail.  Fortunately, it sounds like plans to rectify are in place.  The end of first quarter next year, they will deliver "street-drivable" prototypes.  Yes, I realize that in itself is vague.  But at least it is solid enough of a milestone to keep the trash talk from getting too far out of hand.

11-16-2007

Tired of Greenwashing, analysis.  Sometimes you just happen to have chosen a career that's perfect for the support of your crusade too.  I'm a lead programmer.  Part of my responsibility is to make sure the system overall is best served.  Tahoe-Hybrid is like a resource-intensive webpage.  It will end up consuming more than 10 of the efficient Prius like webpages.  In most cases, that means you want to limit use of it to prevent the entire application from suffering.  So, use it when there is a genuine need is just fine.  At other times, it's a bad idea.  When there's only a finite amount of resources available, you absolutely must consider how that choice will affect your processing as a whole.  There's nothing wrong with special-use features.  But the consequences of using them too frequently will do far more harm than good.

11-15-2007

Tired of Greenwashing, numbers.  Sometimes claims like this are actually greenwashing techniques: "The fact is, the hybrid Tahoe will save much more fuel over its lifetime than a Prius ever would."  Because when you look at all the numbers, rather than just that selected data, the outcome is quite the opposite.  Given 20,000 miles per year... going from a 15 MPG average to 20, the gallons saved would come to 333 for Tahoe-Hybrid. From 30 MPG average to 45, the gallons saved would come to 223 for Prius.  The next step is to take vehicle production quantity into account... $50,000 hybrids are not going to be produced or sold in large volumes.  $21,000 hybrids will.  So for the next year 15,000 Tahoe-Hybrid = 4,995,000 gallons saved.  150,000 Prius = 33,450,000 gallons saved.  That clearly reveals how Prius ends up providing greater savings, by a very large margin.  Isn't it amazing how different the story is if you step back and consider the entire picture?

11-15-2007

Tired of Greenwashing, perspective.  Sometimes newbies aren't aware of the whole situation...  One automaker is showing little concern for emissions & cost, focusing almost entirely on efficiency alone.  The other is seeking improvement of all 3 criteria, but not getting acknowledgement of that harder challenge.  Praise for technical marvel should still be given when achieved.  But to actually make a difference, the majority must be served.  That is not the market for monster-size hybrids.  The streets are dominated by not-so-sexy practical-size cars.  Knowing that there are over 60,000,000 new vehicles produced worldwide each year, why wouldn't we get upset?  Think about how many times we've had to endure the "gallons saved" argument.  The greater savings is revealed by looking at the entire picture.  10 Prius will be purchased for every 1 Tahoe-Hybrid.  Those Prius will end up saving more overall.

11-15-2007

Cruel Disappointment.  That's how Lutz described the wind-tunnel testing results at a dinner event for the press about Volt the other day.  What in the world was he expecting?  The front of that concept vehicle is shaped like a wall.  There's was way more flat surface area than you would ever want on a car optimized for efficiency.  Needless to say, it will be reshaped rather dramatically for the production model.  Many enthusiasts felt let down.  Their obsession with the vehicle looks, rather than the technology, is already proving unwise.  Personally, I was shocked to learn that no wind-tunnel testing had been done yet.  How the heck did they calculate electric-only range if they didn't have a drag-coefficient available?

11-15-2007

SUV Standards.  Reading this today sure made me happy: "The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration failed to address why the so-called light trucks are allowed to pollute more than passenger cars and didn't properly assess greenhouse gas emissions when it set new minimum MPG requirements for models in 2008 and 2011."  That places the responsibility to correct (and blame) directly on the Bush administration.  Many of us were pretty upset when the pitifully tiny increase (from 22.2 to 23.5 MPG) was proposed.  It was considered an insincere token gesture.  In other words, nowhere near enough.  Fortunately, that needs to be properly dealt with now.  Yeah!

11-15-2007

Casting Doubt.  That antagonist technique was alive & well yesterday.  In an act of true desperation, we got to read quite a few new posts with dead misconceptions in them.  The person pretended answers had never been found.  At this point, I really doubt any of the forum readers buy that nonsense.  Unlike in the past, data proving the claim is false can easily be found.  But when you've got a vendetta against Toyota or you fear change (it's really difficult to tell in this particular situation), you're willing to say just about anything to undermine.  And... we got plenty of fresh examples of exactly that.

11-14-2007

Mega Disasters.  Last night's episode on The History Channel was titled: "Oil Apocalypse".  It focused squaring on the mess we are in right now.  They stated it is already too late for a "soft landing".  In other words, the transition over to more responsible energy use won't be seamless.  That opportunity to embrace change has already come and gone.  Our addiction has created a very real problem.  The abundant smooth flow of cheap sweet crude is wavering.  Demand is outpacing supply and the supplements we are choosing are more expensive.  Goodbye monster-size vehicles used for silly purposes.  Denial is a dangerous thing.  And unfortunately, they pointed out how much of it still persists.  It's a disaster in the making.  They are still moving too slow to provide a genuine remedy.  Remember how we were amazed when gas his $2.25 per gallon?  The anti-hybrid fiercely argued that would never happen.  Obviously, it did... and then some!

11-14-2007

Found Out.  Perhaps I shouldn't have asked that "Now What?" question.  Quickly finding out the answer made me sick to my stomach.  They've lost all objectivity.  See, yesterday just happened to also be the day the first Two-Mode pickup truck was announced.  GM enthusiasts declared victory... even though it won't be available for a whole year still and no production volume intent was provided.  It really is a technology bragging contest to them and they consider the other automakers to be the competition, not non-hybrid models that very same vehicle.  Hopeless is a fairly accurate description at this point.  Converting a large chunk of new vehicle sales over to hybrids makes no sense to them.

11-13-2007

Now What?  Today we found out what emission rating for the first Two-Mode hybrid would be: Bin-5.  Not only is that the worst allowed, it is also dirtier than the non-hybrid version of Tahoe.  A step in the wrong direction like this wasn't something I expected.  Talking about a inarguable not-green move.  Both Ford & Honda recognized the importance of smog-emission improvement by following Toyota's footsteps.  What the heck is GM thinking?  Different is not good in this case.  In fact, with emissions that bad, the argument for just buying a diesel instead is pretty convincing.  If you didn't understand why I got grief on the big GM forum, now you should.  I've been singing the same song of objectives for years now.  It's totally inappropriate to improve efficiency at the penalty of emissions.

11-12-2007

Looking Back.  I hadn't realized until that "catalyst" comment that clarity has come from time.  My purpose may have been difficult to see back then.  But now as other automakers join in and declare their objectives, identifying goals that match is pretty simple.  My engineering friends taught me well.  But it's my college business professors would be pleased.  I was obviously paying attention... despite what those grades for my non-computer related classes actually showed.  The roles that economic & accounting factors play are significant when trying to expand from niche success to mainstream.  My underlying principle was time... back when we had it to spare.  Now oil is approaching the $100 per barrel mark, triple what it was when I got my first Prius.  Speed is of the essence.  Profound change is required within the next few years.  Keep looking back to see how my purpose remains on target.

11-12-2007

Calling Shenanigans.  At some point, you just have to.  Years ago, we had a small number of people that intentionally misrepresented the "assist" hybrids.  They expended great effort to lead you to believe those were just like the "full" hybrids.  It was very frustrating.  But knowing their disingenuous motive, the persistence to expose them came easy.  In other words, Honda supporters attempted claim their preferred hybrid was THE SAME as the competing Toyota design.  Needless to say, it wasn't.  Now some cheering for Chevy are trying to do the very same thing by grouping them all into the "parallel" category.  It's very frustrating.  Their technique is to be vague... because if you provide detail, the real story becomes obvious.  Well, too bad!  I will.  Prius uses a 50kW motor.  That's not "small" like they imply.  And when the engine spins, it may not be using any fuel.  So the "kicks in" references are definitely misleading.  Whatever the case, it isn't just a parallel since attributes like stealth & reverse operate like a series design... hence Prius actually being a "series-parallel" hybrid.

11-11-2007

Green Television, Hybrid Commercials.  Talking about a prime opportunity for promoting.  GM bought a ton of advertising time to take advantage of this current "green" blitz.  They figured the audience would be quite receptive to their "less bad" products.  I wonder how those commercials were actually perceived.  Hmm?  Volt still won't be available for years, so seeing in featured in 30-second spots only seemed to undermine the fuel-cell promotion just like that in the past.  The advertisements for Tahoe-Hybrid was demeaning to all smaller hybrids.  That still sounds to me like GM shooting itself in the foot.  Personal choice means being responsible for our own actions.  Hopefully at least being better aware of the choices will have some type of positive outcome.  That still remains to be seen though.  There's a big difference between concept/niche products and those produced at mainstream volume.  You can't buy want isn't available.

11-11-2007

Green Television, Climate Change.  The debate is over.  Last week was a "green" blitz on NBC.  This week it is on The History Channel.  That misnomer term of "global warming" is dead.  Most people are recognizing that it is actually climate change... where weather systems are affected in a very negative way.  Humans have been identified as major contributors to that.  We are amplifying & accelerating cycles that are normally destructive anyway.  It's making a bad situation even worse.  Fortunately, that is being acknowledged.  Just like with smoking, there are a few that still deny the undisputable evidence long after the debate is over.  But their voice is now hard to hear in a crowd of growing concern.  The vehicles we drive are the most obvious contributions to the problem.  So it only makes sense that change for the better begins there.  Watch how the reception to change improves over the next year.  Those other automakers are finally reading the writing on the wall.

11-11-2007

Wild Questions.  Naturally, those continue too.  But that has been relatively constant throughout the years.  When a person takes no consideration to risk or cost factors, the comments are fairly absurd.  You also get the occasional conspiracy claim.  It's quite entertaining... no reason to get all worked up about.  Logistics of production and concerns of priority tend to drown out chaos like that anyway.  I do get frustrated though.  There's a big difference between a half-hearted effort and a no-turn-back commitment which isn't discussed.  Far too often, we get the dismissal of "good enough" rather than a more serious attitude.  So I suppose the wild questions can be a way of keeping perspective... a reminder of how the market in general doesn't pay close enough attention to detail.

11-11-2007

Realistic Questions.  There is evidence that the hype around Volt is starting to subside.  I wonder how the upcoming Auto Show announcements will change that.  Hmm?  Anywho, the questions being asked now are fairly realistic.  Unfortunately, they are coming from an audience that is totally unaware of how many of their answers are already available from the design choices made for "full" hybrids.  Many of those very same considerations of motor & battery usage apply the very same way as with the "series" hybrid.  Interestingly, talk of reduced capacity models being available are surfacing more often too.  If the system is that efficient anyway, why not offer one with a shorter electric-only range?  Needless to say, with 3 more years of waiting still, observing how things mature as education grows should be very interesting.

 

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