Prius Personal Log  #370

March 30, 2008  -  April 5, 2008

Last Updated: Sun. 10/24/2010

    page #369         page #371         BOOK         INDEX         go to bottom 

 

4-05-2008

Complaints.  There's an entity with a growing reputation for publishing very, very misleading information about Prius.  They find an extreme example of something and portray it as if that happens to many owners.  On the big Prius forum, we all scratch our heads trying to figure out what their true motive is.  Whatever the case, we certainly have more to work with now.  They just published an article with a slew of problem messages from Prius owners attached.  What they did was solicit complaints.  Giving people a place to submit without any means of follow-up or respond is a recipe for disaster.  For example, think about how many Classic Prius owners experienced rapid tire wear and HSD Prius owners losing traction... then complaining.  If all that you see is the complaint, you get the impression there is no solution.  But in reality, they just switch to a better tire.  Problem solved.  Then of course, there were countless complaints about EPA estimates... all listing, you guessed it, the original values.  Exclusion of the 2008 revisions is blatant misleading.  No perspective was provided either.  You were just allowed to assume other vehicles don't ever have complaints, as if Prius is somehow an exception.  In the end, I was frustrated but not at all surprised.

4-05-2008

$3.29 Per Gallon.  That's at least what it should be with oil now at $106.23 per barrel.  Makes you wonder just how high it will climb during the travel season, when demand for it will be quite a bit higher.  This is when the dinosaurs start to die.  The time for those giants has passed.  They are from an age where large diets of abundance wasn't a much of a concern.  Now it is becoming a very real problem.  Those able to deal with this new environment will begin to thrive.  Their time has finally come.

4-05-2008

Sales Volume, part 4.  Seeing beyond just a single vehicle is clearly going to be a challenge, as was quite evident this morning.  Sound familiar?  The same thing happened in the past with Prius.  I kept saying that someday other vehicles would also use the technology, that is was in fact a vital part of its continuance.  But that message was a struggle, even when Highlander-Hybrid finally debuted.  Then later when Camry-Hybrid was rolled out, acknowledgement still didn't happen... for enthusiasts of the competitor's technology.  Consumers had quite the opposite reaction, seeing it as a verification that the technology was indeed a new standard platform rather than just a specialty.  Oh well.  With volume comes vindication.  It's tough to deny success when you see so many on the road everyday.

4-04-2008

Sales Volume, part 3.  The same message of sales being so important applies to new ventures for all automakers.  GM gets the most attention because they desire it.  Invitations to the press for tours in their development labs makes that pretty obvious.  So, I feel free to chime in.  And on that website devoted to Volt, the topic of sales is often discussion but rarely understood.  Today it was this "Great exterior/interior designs + solid, innovative engineering under the hood = smash hit car." that trigger my response of...  No.  That's the formula for a collector's item.  You forgot to include volume.  A smash hit, especially in these times, is a business sustaining product.  Will Volt be produced at that high of a quantity?  It means being such a good purchase choice that it's quite common.  Mainstream volume does not sound like what the enthusiasts actually want.  To be a supporter instead, it means embracing the practical.  How popular do you want Volt to become?

4-04-2008

Sales Volume, part 2.  Making a difference means actually delivering something.  Last year, they endlessly preached the benefit of first getting Two-Mode technology in the largest guzzlers.  Supposedly, that would result in the most fuel being saved.  Well, for that to be true, sales volume must reflect some progress.  But so far, sales are heavily in the favor of smaller hybrids.  To make matters worse, I made sure they knew those sales were despite the spin.  Consumers are voting with their wallets.  That sends a powerful message.  In other words, the spin isn't working.  People are figuring out the true situation on their own... which the count of sales clearly confirms.

4-04-2008

Sales Volume, part 1.  They weren't at all happy on the big GM forum about my "missing hybrid" question.  Rather than the usual flood of defensive responses, there was only one reply... which attempted spin (twisting of facts to alter perception).  It backfired though, because I stirred the pot by encouraging more.  That caught the attention of one well-known troublemaker.  So to further emphasize the point, I added this:  It all boils down to actual SALES.  After all, they take into account the spin.

4-04-2008

Dismissed Disclaimer.  Remember the fine-print estimating Volt electric efficiency as: "40-mile range based on EPA city cycle."  Most enthusiasts just blew that off, arbitrarily dismissing the highway efficiency as not being much less.  Having no real-world data available should have been a source of concern.  It wasn't for them.  Today, an interesting reiteration emerged... since it is quite important to prevent unrealistic expectations.  An article featuring the recent PR blitz GM just offered (to feed the hype, of course) actually ended by quoting a disclaimer from the engineers:  "Without any braking, in perfectly traffic-free highway driving, the range would be closer to 32 miles."  Interesting, eh?  I never even expected it to be that low.  Combining that with A/C or heater use on my 19-mile mostly-highway commute (which involves very little braking), you'd get efficiency results quite different from what had once been portrayed.  I'm quite curious what the reaction to this from enthusiasts will be now.  The suggestion of not putting so much emphasis on "40-mile" promotion may be taken seriously now.

4-04-2008

Sophisticated.  I can't help but to be amused how often those fighting the success of Prius play the "complexity" card.  They clearly have no understanding what they are claiming.  An automatic transmission in a traditional vehicle is more complex.  But regardless of that reality, the perception of being more complex isn't taken as they hope.  The antagonist wants you to feel it is a negative.  Turns out though, the typical consumer sees that as the very opposite.  To them, the technology is "sophisticated".  That's a positive, a reason that compels them to purchase... not something that scares them away.  Talking about a backfire!  The outcome is exactly what they were trying to prevent.  They are helping rather than hurting.  I wonder if I should tell them.  Hmm?

4-03-2008

Snow Driving.  I certainly have had my fill lately.  With those new tires, I was hoping for just one last, big snowfall to play in with the Prius... not several!  The white stuff certainly has been abundant lately.  I ended up with quite a few opportunities to drive in demanding snow conditions.  It was very exciting, if non-eventful driving is what turns you on.  No slipping & sliding for this Prius!  Those high-traction tires have once again proven an excellent choice.  When the tread is deep, that special pattern really comes through.  For me, that translated to 3 Winters of use.  By the time the 4th came along, they already had 70,000 miles on them.  So traction had degraded to just the adequate level.  I didn't have trouble with them before replacement, but hill climbing certainly wasn't as easy.  The recent improvement is quite impressive.  The HydroEdges are definitely a good recommendation for owners looking for an all-season upgrade.

4-03-2008

Perspective.  Taking a look into that diesel forum from long ago, I see that nothing has changed.  It's the same old self-vindicating posts that don't accomplish anything.  The constructive nature (anything that reaches out to gain new interest) is simply not there.  That's what I envision happening to the Volt forum, especially without any owner contribution available.  Discussing prototypes only goes so far, certainly less than with vehicles already on the road.  Look at Two-Mode for a more recent example.  Silence overcame all those loud voices quite abruptly.  It's real-world data that build & carries interest.  The enthusiasts are going to have to wait.  Remember how long I had to wait for Camry-Hybrid.  For years I could point out how the "full" hybrid technology could be spread from Prius to other vehicles, but those words had little effect until consumers actually saw it happen.  Perspective comes from actions.  That makes hype easy to distinguish.

4-02-2008

Worth The Effort?  Once a product makes it to market, merit of the design can be well measured.  Discussion of it before is an entirely different matter.  Credibility lacks if the participants repeatedly post errors, which has been a serious challenge lately for Volt.  These two separate examples from routine posters really got me worked up today: "I am glad that GM didn't tool up with a dead end configuration like the Prius." and "I do not know what you are calling a "full hybrid." There are two types of hybrids - serial and parallel."  That first is just plain wrong.  The enthusiast making that exclamation is in for quite a surprise when he confirms my reply about Two-Mode.  As for the second, I've posted comments many times about "assist" hybrids (IMA and BAS) having virtually nothing in common with "full" hybrids.  Yet, oblivious statements continue to emerge.  Sadly, there are plenty of examples of being completely unaware of hybrid history too.  It's as if some believe Volt is the first major effort to develop anything beyond Prius.  They have no idea what has taken place over the past 8 years.  That's scary.  It allows for the same mistakes to be repeated, and perhaps some new ones too.

4-01-2008

Missing Hybrid?  I'd really like to know what's going on.  Rather than getting inundated by reports of experiences from new owners, we aren't hearing anything at all about Two-Mode.  With so much passion for it expressed a year ago, you'd expect rollout to be a very big event.  Instead, there's nothing.  It's as if the hybrids were missing entirely.  So, I returned to that source of all that prior emotion for answers, with this:  Two-Mode production began October 29, 2007 with expectation of those new vehicles being available at dealers in December.  5 months later... What happened?  Why aren't we hearing from Two-Mode owners?  20,635 Prius and 6,930 Camry-Hybrid were purchased in the United States last month.  So, the market for hybrids obviously isn't softening.  How do you expect me to react to this, especially after having endured so much hype last year?

3-30-2008

Long-Ago Interview, questions 10.  "What should I know about your experience that I haven't asked you?  Anything you'd like to add?"  You haven't asked my purpose!  It's to gather & share real-world data about "full" hybrid technology, which will ultimately make the r/evoluationary step toward it being available in the vehicle type of your choice (car, minivan, truck, SUV).  That will help us all reduce emissions and our dependence on non-renewable resources.

3-30-2008

Long-Ago Interview, question 9.  "What is the biggest misconception about hybrids...both negative and positive?"  Negative is simple.  Those without an engineering background (which is most of the population, unfortunately) are under the impression that the hybrid system is MORE complex than a traditional system.  But in reality, it is LESS.  The power-split device (Planetary-CVT) completely eliminates the transmission.  No shifting.  No torque-converter.  Nothing.  There are literally just a few power-carriers, permanently engaged and arranged in a method quite similar to a differential... an automotive device that rarely ever fails.  Positive is difficult.  A "full" hybrid like Prius offers quite a few improvements over traditional vehicles.  So there are a number of favorites.  But among those, I could point out the most common: "STEALTH".  That's what owners have coined for driving using only electricity, up to 42 MPH without the engine running at all... even with the A/C on!  The smoooooooothness and silence is a pure delight to experience.

3-30-2008

Long-Ago Interview, questions 8.  "Why did you choose the Prius over other offerings?  What about the second one?  You could have purchased a Ford Escape that may have been better suited to your climate, what made the Prius your first choice?"  What other offerings?  My hybrid shopping began back in January of 2000.  Prius was only "full" hybrid in production.  And now, 4 years later, it still is.  "Assist" hybrids are very, very limited in their electric abilities (a must for moving toward fuel-cell technology).  And I am well aware (having grown up in Minnesota) that a car like Prius can out-maneuver and stop-quicker on snow & ice than a SUV.  So... Insight, Civic, and Escape simply are not for me.

3-30-2008

Long-Ago Interview, question 7.  "Have you had any bad experiences with the vehicle...especially stuff beyond your control?"  Nope.  Though, hearing that really confuses people.  That find it almost unbelievable that a vehicle can deliver that well.  But it has.  And all of my observations and conversations online confirm that it is an excellent design.

3-30-2008

Long-Ago Interview, questions 6.  "What are the differences?  Are you pleased with the second one?  More pleased than with the first one?"  The 2004 clearly out-performs the "classic".  It's a new package full of upgrades everywhere.  Reduced emissions, improved MPG, increased power & speed are differences that will appeal to all.  That's a huge endorsement for the HSD (hybrid synergy drive), which will be available in more traditional vehicles like Highlander & Camry later.  The other stuff is more of a Prius enthusiast draw.  We notice every little detail Toyota has improved... all the way down to the elimination of the relay click (right before the engine automatically shut off) that only could be heard in below-freezing temperatures.  So, the 2004 is more pleasing, though I will always have a fond affection for the "classic" model... which I'll get to see at auto shows for decades to come!  And of course, our local gatherings include many "classic" owners.

3-30-2008

Long-Ago Interview, question 5.  "What compelled you to buy the next Prius?"  Safety, Hatchback, and many tech-goodies.  My "classic" didn't have side-airbags, side-curtains, VSC (vehicle stability control), HID (high intensity discharge) lights.  The 2004 did, plus it was designed to deliver a higher safety rating.  The frame of my 2001 had been designed way back in 1995, so it was just average.  My first car was a hatchback.  I really missed that convenience.  So the 2004 fit my desires quite well.  Tech-Goodies are a must in my profession.  I thrive on stuff like that.  So features like SE/SS (Smart-Entry, Smart-Start), Bluetooth (cell-phone connection), and the DVD-based GPS Navigation System in Prius is a very compelling draw.

3-30-2008

Long-Ago Interview, question 4.  "What did your friends and family think of your purchase?"  It was a silent awe.  At first, they thought I was simply obsessed with the technology, but then they quickly discovered it really did deliver as I had claimed.

 

back to home page       go to top