Prius Personal Log  #366

February 21, 2008  -  March 1, 2008

Last Updated: Weds. 9/22/2010

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3-01-2008

Parallel Problem.  As I've pointed out countless times, the fact that Prius offers stealth scares the "series" hybrid supporters.  The reality that the design currently provides the ability to drive at 42 MPH using only electricity, with prototypes already testing a new maximum of 62 MPH (100 km/h), is a problem for them.  That's too much in common with Volt... which is why the proper label is "series-parallel".  They don't like that at all.  I try to avoid conflict by using the "full" terminology instead.  I want mainstream, vehicles that everyone drives using new technology.  They want their vehicle to stand out and be special... so they attempt to dilute by calling everything else "parallel".  I have a real problem with that.

3-01-2008

Intentional Undermining.  I had wondered if one of the prominent supporters of the "series" hybrids was intentionally undermining the other hybrids by labeling both the "assist" and "full" types the same way.  So, I gave him the benefit of the doubt.  But after being confronted several times about doing that without any acknowledgement in return, that doubt vanished.  Today provided the final confirmation.  When reporting about an article that explicitly indentified a suppliers new lithium-ion batteries would be used for "mild" and "full" hybrids, he noted that as "parallel" instead.  It's just another form of being vague.  Avoiding detail allows you to assume incorrectly... so you ultimately draw the wrong conclusion.  This is the same misleading that took place years ago when everyone else identified those two the same way.  They don't anymore.  In fact, the only time you ever encounter the "parallel" label is when Volt is being promoted.  Interesting, eh?

2-29-2008

$101.84 Per Barrel.  The closing price for the week sure paints a gloomy picture.  Oil keeps going up.  I was disappointed that I hadn't well documented things before the hitting of $50 per barrel.  Was that ever a long time ago!  Whoa!!  Now cost of things certainly are getting lots of attention.  The ugly situation high gas prices has on the economy is becoming something you simply can't avoid anymore.  What kind of affect is this going to have?  Just how seriously will the problem be taken?  Are the solutions going to require years of waiting still?

2-28-2008

Early Adopters.  The spin some put on news is fascinating at times.  That was definitely the case with the bill the House just passed.  It proposes $18 billion over the next ten years to be used as tax credits for plug-in vehicles: $4,000 plus $200 per kWh above the required battery-pack minimum of 5kWh.  Certain enthusiasts claimed it was a great idea since the tax credit has worked so well for early Prius adopters.  I jumped all over that.  Since when is 5.5 years after introduction considered "early" still?  The actual purpose of that credit was to help the market move beyond just early adopters, to rapidly shift the position of hybrids into the mainstream.  Those enthusiasts didn't like hearing that at all... since mainstream status is many, many years from being achieved for them.  Lots of other plug-in hybrids will be using up that fund in the meantime.

2-28-2008

Blog On, part 2.  This was the origin of it all: "Here we are on the verge of another great engineering invention, and what do we do - immediately the worst is brought out..."  That's why I couldn't resist joining in with:  My concern is how the purpose of being a great resource for Volt has become overrun with clutter.  Normally, it's those fighting your cause the attempt to nudge discussions in a non-constructive direction.  That's called undermining.  But here, that damage is self-inflicted.  What kind of impression does this make when someone does a search on Volt and discovers this website?  The answer is they get turned off and leave, never to return.  Some websites ban volatile topics (like politics) for this very reason.  Sorry, but that's the reality of the situation.  At this very moment, the price of oil is $102.95 per barrel.  Higher gas prices are on the way... conditions perfect for promoting hybrids.  Think about the competition... both other hybrids and the overwhelming force of traditional vehicles, as well as the forces trying to prevent change.  It's your choice what to do.  Choose wisely.

2-28-2008

Blog On, part 1.  That was the comment made today... on that forum which has recently lost its direction.  But to my surprise, posting this was actually responded to positively, some agree:  Hmm?  The good old days when Volt was discussed seems to be long gone now.  Stuff like� safety (size), shams (global warming), terms (ideology), and politics (taxes)... are all we seem to get anymore.  What is the purpose?  Clearly adhering to goal should be the focus.  A united cause sure would be a whole lot more productive than repeating the same old stuff that has been debated for many years already.

2-27-2008

Free Prius.  There's nothing like when a new owner introduces themselves by saying their decision to purchase a Prius was the discovery that they could get it for free by using the gas money that would have been spent on their guzzler to make payments on a hybrid instead.  What more can you say to that?  No other justification was necessary.  It was that simple of a choice for them.  Sweet!

2-27-2008

Theory Chat.  Watching the Volt enthusiast forum lose focus so quickly has been quite interesting.  At first, their purpose and direction was clear.  But with 3 years until availability, it was a mystery how that could be retained for so long.  Close to a year was actually longer than I expected.  What will they do now?  The lesson learned from Two-Mode is that without unity, not much will get accomplished.  Their quarreling from within proved at too well.  Focusing on theory of "best approach" hasn't been working for Volt.  I've suggest study of hybrid history and education of how the current offering actually operates.  That fell on deaf ears.  The desire for the ideal doesn't take into account market realities.

2-26-2008

Encouraging Thought.  Fortunately, there is good news every now and then.  Matsushita (Panasonic) is planning to increase battery-pack production to 800,000 in 2009.  The source didn't state what the current rate is, but it did point out that 429,000 NiMH were produced by them for Toyota last year.  It also said that a small number next year will be Li-Ion.  Progress is being made.  I can't wait to see the resulting increase in hybrids on the road.

2-26-2008

Depressing Thought.  Ever wonder what happens to some of the gas-guzzlers people are parting with in favor of something offering better MPG?  A small number use to emerge in the market south of the border.  But not anymore.  That quantity has increased rather dramatically lately.  Great, eh?  Rather than those SUVs turning into weekend excursion vehicles like they always should have been in the first place, they are remaining full-time use vehicles... being used for purposes other than what they were designed for continues.  It never seems to end.  What a depressing thought.

2-25-2008

Veto Override.  It's about dang time!  The governor here in Minnesota pledged no new taxes, period.  No matter how bad the need, he threatened to veto any attempt to raise funds for road maintenance.  (Also, don't forget that we had a bridge fall here.)  The budget is showing signs of struggle.  The state deficit is near a record high.  Money simply isn't available.  Adding a few cents to our low (by national comparison) gas tax makes sense.  What's collected will be used specifically for repair & upkeep of where that gas is consumed.  But no.  He vetoed the bill to do that.  Fortunately, our legislators refused to allow such nonsense by overriding it.  Some were shunned for standing up to finally address the need.  That's sad.  But at least the money will now be available.

2-24-2008

First-Year Production, part 3.  Don't you love how the Volt saga is progressing?  The plot continues to change.  Both price & quantity have shifted dramatically.  What's next?  Purpose remains a mystery.  It sure is entertaining, which I believe is the sensible way to look at it.  Because if you take each bit of news to heart, it can get very frustrating.  Looking back at these personal log entries years later sure will be interesting.  Of course, it's a whole lot more exciting as the events are taking place.  Afterward is different.  You already know what hasn't been learned yet.  Decisions seem fairly obvious later on than they do at the actual moment of choice.

2-24-2008

First-Year Production, part 2.  This is how I responded online to reading his quote:  Both BAS and Two-Mode rollout have taken longer than originally hoped.  Learning a lesson from those experiences and planning accordingly makes sense... especially when you become aware of just how long that will make order delivery.  Knowing ahead of time that you may see Volts on the road a whole year before you get your own helps.  Just look at Prius history.  The 6-month waits were a challenge for some and a deterrent for others.  But at least they knew what they faced ahead of time.  It's a bitter reality though.

2-24-2008

First-Year Production, part 1.  The hope for 60,000 Volts being produced in the first year was pretty optimistic, requiring quite a commitment.  There's risk too.  Engineering alone is not enough.  Training takes time.  There's lots to learn.  Being able to respond to customer needs requires time too.  And with the annual seasonal cycle, reports of owner experiences won't come quickly or without skeptics.  So it was hard taking claims that 100,000 initially could be possible.  That's just not realistic.  Needless to say, this quote from who else (Lutz) wasn't a surprise: "Volt will be about 10,000 units the first year, just to make sure we�re prepared for any issues that might come up, and then ramp up production from there."

2-24-2008

Some Advice.  I wonder how they'll respond to this...  How come none of the calculations here ever include interest paid?  Most people take out a loan when purchasing a new vehicle.  No mention of that extra cost originating from the plug-in premium is disingenuous.  If you want people to take your effort seriously, you shouldn't do that.  For that matter, you shouldn't do a 2011 comparison using the 2003 design of Prius either. Yet, we see it being done all the time too.  Credibility is lost when that occurs.  You are harming the chance of mainstream acceptance.  Take this advice to heart; otherwise, it could become a regret later.  The antagonists thrive on stuff like that.

2-23-2008

The Way I See It.  The founder of the Grist organization, Chip Giller, worded the situation so eloquently I couldn't resist mentioning it here: "So-called "global warming" is just a secret ploy by wacko tree-huggers to make America energy independent, clean our air and water, improve the fuel efficiency of our vehicles, kick-start 21st-century industries, and make our cities safer and more livable.  Don�t let them get away with it!"  I love sarcasm.  What a great way to get a point across.

2-23-2008

Ever Wonder?  I don't, anymore.  It's quite clear at this point that the understanding of how "full' hybrids work is a complete mystery for some.  They simply assume and never bother to verify if they are correct.  Thankfully, I'm not alone.  Others have noticed this disturbing trend too.  In the past, you'd have to accept ignorance to a certain degree.  But with such a large amount of money at stake, it shouldn't be taken too lightly... especially with them being available for so long now.  Oh well.  They'll eventually figure it out.

2-23-2008

Television & Monitor Analogy.  It seemed to be a good one, with reference to battery cost dropping.  But naturally, I had to point out something that had been overlooked...  You missed a vital factor.  The old market was abandoned entirely.  Not producing the CRT anymore is what made a massive difference.  They committed to the new monitor & television technologies as a complete replacement.  That follow through resulted in massive price drops.  Something similar must happen for hybrids too.  Toyota is racing to switch over 10 percent of their annual product.  GM will be struggling to hit 1 percent. Ford & Honda will contribute some as well.  All that barely dents the overall worldwide vehicle production.  In other words, its going to take a whole lot longer than you think.  And all the negative talk about FULL hybrids here is impairing that progress.  Slowing battery demand by insisting SERIES hybrids are the only worthwhile investment is counter-productive.  Look at what is needed and how soon.  Was the success of the new television market achieved by people waiting for the 50-inch 1080p LCD?  No, of course not.  Yet, that's what people are claiming should be done here by dismissing all other choices except Volt.

2-22-2008

Automotive Cheerleading.  The prior year brought lots of it from GM enthusiasts... though nothing never really ever materialized as a result.  The undisputable milestone, owners speaking out, simply hasn't happened yet.  That's a sharp contrast to what we expected.  It's the most obvious measure of advancement forward.  We know sales have been few.  But why complete silence?  Even those hyping Volt have grown quiet.  Instead, we are seeing heated discussions about safety (size), shams (global warming), terms (ideology), and politics (taxes).  What happened to the technology?  Remember the intensity that once came from comparing design?  That's gone now.  Is it the reality that gas is already too expensive and there is no chance of it falling much anymore?  That initial excitement from those supporting competitors has faded.  No more cheering.

2-21-2008

The Lutz Blog.  He responds with comments of his own.  This corporate executive has a voice where others aren't heard, so much so that what he writes will sometimes be published.  That was the case today.  My favorite quote was: "The Volt is not a hybrid. It's an extended-range electric vehicle. Hybrids have an internal-combustion engine driving the wheels, aided by an electric motor. The Volt's wheels are driven by electricity, solely."  How is saying that constructive?  After all the negative things he said about hybrids years back, no one expects him to ever admit that Volt is a "series" hybrid.  So why waste any effort drawing attention to terminology?  Move on already!  And what's the deal with the "aided" reference?  That certainly isn't appropriate for a plug-in Prius driving 60 MPH with the engine stopped.  Perhaps we should say that Volt is "aided" by an engine too.  So what if a majority won't exceed the distance threshold.  The same could be said for speed.  Stop spewing marketing spin.  Let us decide for ourselves.  Focus on building the car.

2-21-2008

No FAQ.  Not having a User-Guide or any type of reference materials available is really starting to frustrate some, including me.  Prius didn't initially.  But then again, it wasn't hyped for years in advance like Volt is.  There wasn't much of a need back then either.  Gas was cheap and the rollout audience was the well informed.  The large & diverse audience hadn't emerged yet.  Things are quite different now.  Someone needs to create & promote a FAQ.  Too many are making incorrect assumptions.

 

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