Prius Personal Log  #384

August 22, 2008  -  August 30, 2008

Last Updated: Fri. 9/05/2008

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8-30-2008

Greenwashing Alert.  Today, I had to point out some of the techniques used to mislead.  In this case, it was a reporter who was once against hybrids but now gives you the impression that he isn't anymore.  But in reality, it was really just a change of approach.  The tactic now is to lead you to believe that there is no way to draw a conclusion yet.  They pretend that more data collection is still required.  They don't want you to know out how many owners have already proven that there is no reason to doubt anymore.  It's quite frightening to think that some people assume they are being given all the facts and it a non-bias manner.  Fortunately, it's very easy to jump on the internet yourself to do your own research.  There's plenty of reports of high-mileage Prius now available.  Hopefully, consumers will find them rather than being greenwashed by reading articles like the one today.

8-29-2008

Total Chaos.  As new information gets revealed about Volt, the next generation of Two-Mode, and Toyota's upcoming plug-in, the GM enthusiasts get torn further and further apart.  Their lack of unity toward purpose is really becoming obvious.  A quick search through threads reveals a disturbing number of posts debating cosmetic concerns.  It's hard to believe just how high of a priority some place on look.  Others are focused to the point of obsession with MPG bragging rights.  Some believe price doesn't matter.  Few acknowledge what high-volume production truly entails.  Almost none want to address the topic of winter driving.  Self-Deprecating is probably the best way of describing the situation.  What a mess.

8-29-2008

Photos Leaked.  The production version of Volt is part of the upcoming sequel to Transformers.  So to no ones surprise, unauthorized photos of it were taken during the filming... which of course lead to a leak of them on the internet.  Needless to say, extremely long hood of the concept model is gone.  It simply made no sense.  Why would a vehicle with a smaller engine/motor need have a front-end longer than most all of the other vehicles in the same class?  That was a clear waste of size, weight, and cost.  This, of course, resulted in an outcry by many enthusiasts.  The look they fell in love with has vanished.  They are not happy.  I'm delighted.  It looks a lot more like any other compact car... something with a much higher likelihood of being produced & sold in large volume.

8-28-2008

16 Two-Mode.  The sighting today very much conveyed mixed messages.  All those monster-size hybrid SUVs were parked among a lot filled with other monster-size SUVs that were not hybrids.  It was a herd of elephants (pun intended).  That symbolized something.  I'm just not sure what.  No other consumer location has that high of a concentration of vehicles that large anymore.  In fact, looking out at the lot here by the coffee shop and grocery store, I see 4 large pickups, about 70 miscellaneous vehicles, 3 Prius, no monster-size SUVs.  The market for hybrids the size of Tahoe & Yukon is tiny.  Very few consumers will actually benefit from them.  We desperately need smaller hybrids.  The ability to tow more that 3,500 pounds is gross overkill.  Focus on what the majority of the market needs instead.  Produce something to compete directly with Prius and Camry-Hybrid already!

8-27-2008

Running The Engine.  We finally got a little bit of information about Volt operation in the Winter.  Knowing that Li-Ion has challenges to deal with when the temperature drops below freezing, I was curious as heck what the approach would be.  This type of battery chemistry requires warmth to operate at full potential.  The catalytic-converter does too, especially if the vehicle is to be considered green.  And of course, people inside the vehicle want to get warmed up quickly.  In other words, Lutz having divulged that the engine will "run for a few minutes to warm up the battery so that the battery can take over" was of great surprise & disappointment to some Volt enthusiasts today... even though I've been saying that for over a year.  But they don't want to listen to a Prius owner... despite the many times I pointed out how routine it is to let your car sit outside in temperatures much colder than just freezing for the entire day while you work.  Everything is horribly cold after 8 hours and you want the heater running as fast as possible.  That's the reality of life in the northern states.  They now have no choice but to acknowledge that gas will be routinely consumed.

8-27-2008

No Moderation.  It has become overwhelmingly obvious that the Volt blogs are simply just a place for enthusiasts to visit daily.  The lack of moderator intervention causes each new topic to become undermined within just a few responses.  There is no interest in adhering to the intended discussion.  So, it's basically impossible to find where something was mentioned or to even attempt a constructive exchange of information.  Participants just chime it with whatever they feel like, whenever they want.  It's the same old problem hybrid enthusiasts saw years ago on another popular website.  Since then, pretty much all of those members moved on to proper forums with threads.  I wonder if that history will repeat itself here too.  The desire for focus grows stronger over time.

8-27-2008

Daily Sighting.  Today there were 8 Tahoe-Hybrid, 2 Yukon-Hybrid, and 1 Malibu-Hybrid.  Seeing that convergence of Two-Mode and BAS vehicles was a sight to ponder.  Clearly they are taking advantage of the promotion opportunity that this convention is bringing.  I wonder what the result will be.  After all, politicians have been shown the plug-in Prius and plug-in Escape-Hybrid many times now.  Too many pressures are still pushing against the effort to endorse FULL hybrids on the scale that's actually needed.  And of course, seeing those massive SUVs (hybrid or not) is not exactly politically correct anymore.  Our addiction to oil and concerns about climate change are at least enough to teach us that better choices are available.

8-26-2008

Efficiency Plateaus.  As Prius owners are quite familiar with already, the system achieves higher MPG in part by trying to keep the engine operating at a near constant speed.  Depending on demand, there are several efficiency plateaus the RPM will settle at.  Having an electric motor available is how this is accomplished.  Without that, the engine RPM would have to change more often and some type of gearing would have to be introduced.  In other words, there is no single optimum.  Too much happens during the course of driving for a one-size-fits-all approach.  Volt enthusiasts thought their SERIES design would be different.  Turns out, it isn't.  Their hybrid will have efficiency plateaus the engine will operate at too.  That should be interesting to observe.  I wonder how often it will change.  Hmm?

8-25-2008

Repeating Questions.  There was a small glimmer of hope from the Volt enthusiasts today.  A few of them sounded off their frustration about reading posts of the same questions over and over and over and over again.  I've been hoping that eventually they'd catch on to why the educational materials for Prius were created.  They've been resources to help newbies gain a basic understanding of the concepts and have served as a basis for consistency... which has proved a major benefit for online discussions ...something that's really becoming a problem for Volt.  They are just now figuring out the problem that arises when not everyone has the same knowledge of a topic, attempts to be constructive erode to just chit-chat.  To make matters worse, they still have some fundamental questions (like engine operation) that remain unanswered.  Hopefully, seeing those same questions continuing to repeat will finally get an enthusiast to take the big step toward becoming a true supporter.

8-25-2008

Saw 2 More.  This time it was two red Tahoe-Hybrids at the RNC, both had manufacturer plates.  It makes me wonder if there will be a push for them to get some media exposure or if they are just to influence the attendees.  Whatever the case, that is gross overkill for that downtown location.  The size of the tires alone make you shake your head in disbelief.  Did it really make sense for such a massive vehicle to become hybrid first, especially since it offers to improvement to smog-related emissions?  I sure hope GM catches on to the consumer desire for something more practical.

8-23-2008

First True Sighting.  This time, the Tahoe-Hybrid had a Minnesota license plate and was just two blocks from my home.  That counts at the real thing.  My first true sighting.  My first thought was that I hadn't realized how un-SUV-like the aerodynamic enhancements for the hybrid would look.  To an eye accustomed to the rugged appeal, that's more of a difference to the front of the vehicle than they may want to accept.  That adds a twist to the already struggling monster-size guzzler market not discussed yet.  Things are definitely getting interesting.

8-23-2008

Compact SUV Market.  Abandonment of the SUV entirely is what we are currently seeing.  GM is hoping that's just a result of improved choices not being available yet.  They hope the upcoming Two-Mode Vue-Hybrid will capture consumers wanting a more efficient option.  But will that really?  Their hybrid SUV will only be available with a 6-cylinder engine.  Based on calculations, that will result in EPA estimates of about 26/35.  If fuel efficiency is the push, how will that compete with Escape-Hybrid which has 34/31 estimates?  The real-world numbers should favor Ford.  Actual MPG will favor not buying a SUV.  How much market change will we witness in the next year or so?  Efficiency wasn't a priority until recently.

8-23-2008

Hypocritical Posts.  Sadly, there are some of them too.  The engine in Volt will need to run briefly at times, for housekeeping and warming needs.  The die-hard enthusiasts dismiss that as "only a small amount" without hesitation.  But when it comes to acceleration, they continually mock Prius for running the engine briefly for that.  So, which is it?  How can roughly the same quantity of fuel be acceptable for use by Volt but not for Prius?  Fortunately, that type of campaigning for a particular design doesn't get too far.  The "complexity" arguments certainly proved that.  Fulfillment of price & size requirements far outweigh semantic spinning.  The typical consumer simply isn't interested.  After all, most don't have any idea how an automatic transmission works anyway... but they have a clear understanding of how much money it takes to purchase a vehicle and fill the tank.

8-23-2008

Market Awareness.  A big part of the trap those greenwashed enthusiasts fell into was focusing so heavily on the ideal.  They can determine what would be most helpful, but fail to recognize what the want the typical consumer will actually buy.  For the majority, people are drawn to something realistic for their budget that fits a balance of needs & wants.  Getting off the SUV craze where some grossly over-extended and under-estimated has caused a loss of perspective.  You'd think it would be obvious.  Once upon a time, the roads were dominated by the family sedan & wagon.  That fit the price & size requirements well.  It was a no-brainer until the farce of SUV safety promoted by the motive of profit obscured the choices.  Fortunately now, we are returning back to reality.  Only problem is that some enthusiasts and some automakers aren't interested in a "many will drive" vehicle.  They yearn for niche, failing to see what is vital to actually make difference.

8-23-2008

Making That Determination.  The major clue came from a few of the regulars (greenwashed enthusiasts) making comments about being able to "hypermile" their Volt.  It begged the question.  I yearned to hear an answer.  But got nothing.  Some of those prominent voices really don't know how their preferred hybrid type or the others actually operate.  Here's what I asked...  How would that be accomplished?  An engine running at a fixed RPM and an electric motor as the only source for thrust provides nothing to interface with.  There needs to be a transmission or PSD allowing for the user to adjust for optimization to overcome the default behavior.  What do you believe will be available for you to control?

8-23-2008

Greenwashed Enthusiasts.  I couldn't figure out how several warnings of being careful to make statements clear, that what they said could easily be taken another way, repeatedly fell on deaf ears.  I didn't even get a response from any of the times I pointed out how a comment could be considered an attempt to greenwash.  That's because they themselves have been.  You'd get the same vague posts as antagonists.  But never any rebuttal when called upon.  It was too overly simplistic to make any sense.  Discussions even got to the point where regular message posters kept contradicting each other but no one cared.  That certainly wasn't the situation in the pass from those in favor of previous hybrids from Honda, Ford, or even GM.  All encounters with them were met with fierce resistance and a tenacity to defend no matter how fine of detail the posts required.  But for Volt, nothing.  Such a drastic break from the usual pattern of support really had me puzzled.  Could those routine contributors be so idealistic that they hadn't actually thought through the technical and market requirements... or even know what they all are?  Well, I finally got my answer.

8-22-2008

Speculation Response, chill.  To further convey the benefit of avoiding the danger of making assumptions, I interjected this too...  Chill.  Enjoy the history you're watching unfold now.  You'll later regret trying to rush it, especially after discovering just how much of a challenge the competition has to catch up.  These times are the stories you'll tell your grandchildren many years from now, about how the auto industry was transformed.

8-22-2008

Speculation Response, patience.  Some get really worked up about what could be, without any solid reasons to do so yet.  Today, it was reaction to the interior of a test vehicle.  They had absolutely no clue if any part was intended for the next Prius.  They didn't care.  I hoped to spread a dose of perspective...  Patience.  It was a thrill to see ORIGINAL model.  That made the wait for my CLASSIC an exciting one.  While driving that for 3 years, the patient wait for my HSD progressed.  Anticipation was relaxing, rather than overwhelming.  That approach was totally worth it!  The same for this next model will be too.  I've been waiting almost 5 years already.  1 more is no big deal.

 

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