Prius Personal Log  #385

August 31, 2008  -  September 7, 2008

Last Updated: Sun. 10/24/2010

    page #384         page #386         BOOK         INDEX         go to bottom 

 

9-07-2008

Refunded Deposits.  Toyota corporate was not at all pleased that a few dealers started taking deposit money from people for the plug-in Prius... which won't be available to them for 2 years still.  They demanded that refunds were provided immediately.  Making promises there's no way they can keep was totally inappropriate.  I can't imagine what the signed purchase-agreement stated.  How could the dealer possibly sell a vehicle who's configuration & price are such big unknowns still?

9-06-2008

2-Year Prizes.  Have you noticed how people aren't awarded vehicle ownership as prizes now?  Instead, they only get a 2-year lease.  That's an interesting change.  It's an undeniable sign that the economy isn't as strong as it once had been... for many, many years.  I blame the negligence of this current administration.  Priorities were misplaced... and you don't need to look to prizes as an indication of that.  Housing, Education, and Medical expenses make it overwhelming obvious.  Automotive use has clearly had a shift in attitude as a result.  Most likely, people don't want to be stuck with certain vehicles longer than 2 years anymore.

9-05-2008

Same Words.  Yesterday's acceptance speech by a certain presidential candidate used many of the same words we've heard before.  I was hoping to hear something different or at least details telling why this time it will work. The promises to be supportive of hybrids and renewable energy haven't actually resulted in much.  In fact, barely enough happened from the outgoing administration to even be considered a token effort, yet they said what we just heard again last night.  Where's the substance?  What will the change actually entail?

9-04-2008

New Insight, design.  IMA (Integrated Motor Assist) is Honda's hybrid system, it's an ASSIST design.  That means there isn't a second motor or a split-device.  The one motor it does have is much smaller than in FULL hybrids and there is no active cooling for it.  So there's only so much that it can be made to do.  Powering the vehicle exclusively by electricity for more than just a short distance is not realistic.  That means the business approach for offering a plug-in upgrade option (like Prius will have) won't be available.  What kind of disadvantage that could be won't be known for years.  But the way GM is already promoting the ability, it does make you wonder.  Perception does have an influence.  It should be interesting to witness reaction to all this.

9-04-2008

New Insight, production.  Unlike the original Insight, this one is actually capable of delivering a profit... though small.  Setting the production quantity high is how Honda will deal with that.  The goal is 200,000 annually worldwide.  It's a business-model certain automakers don't like.  They prefer to focus on high-profit vehicles instead.  But that's not realistic anymore.  Change is occurring whether they like it or not.  Volume like this coming from another source is a wake-up call for those still resisting serious investment in hybrids as product replacement now.  We are finally approaching the time where more than just a token amount of the fleet will be hybrids.  Consumers will consider not doing that as... what... irresponsible?

9-04-2008

New Insight, cost.  Reduction of the hybrid system cost was the emphasis of the press release.  In fact, neither emissions nor efficiency were even mentioned.  It is assumed that an aspect of the engineering refinements lowered weight, but what kind of effect that will have will be very hard to quantify.  The first new model will be smaller than Civic and the Insight was an aluminum vehicle.  That leaves nothing but waiting for real-world data for a basis of comparison.  Regardless, it's a wise move.  Honda deserves credit for continuing the hybrid push.  Toyota also has cost reduction as a priority for the new Prius, though we have been explicitly told there would be an efficiency improvement too.  The new hybrids will make next year very exciting.

9-04-2008

New Insight, appearance.  Honda revealed their new hybrid, but gave it the old name.  This time, there will be 3 models.  One will resemble the original crossed with a CR-X.  There will be a bigger hatchback, which looks like their fuel-cell prototype crossed with a Prius (confirming the rumors we had heard).  The other will come in sedan style, but will still have a tapered back like Prius.  In other words, that "wedge" shape that some antagonists hate is becoming more popular.  That's cool!  It sure beats the "brick" shape of most SUVs.  The most important aspect though is the fact that each body is hybrid-only.  There will not be a traditional counterpart, the very thing experts praised Civic-Hybrid for.  Fascinating new developments, eh?

9-03-2008

Safety Compromise.  Believe it or not, Lutz has requested that safety requirement standards be suspended for the next 3 years... so that more efficient foreign-market models that currently don't meet those requirements can be brought over the United States quickly.  Having nothing available for this market is their own fault.  Diversification is what schools teach in entry-level business classes.  Yet, they disregarded that advice despite being warning.  They even went as far as mocking it.  Now this!  Will consumers really be interested in buying vehicles that score worse than a "poor" rating for safety?  Remember, the roads and driving habits are different here than in some of those other markets.

9-03-2008

August Sales.  They are down for the industry as a whole.  Toyota lowered overall annual estimates.  Camry sales were up here though.  7.8 percent of them were hybrids (that's 3,456).  For Prius, there were 13,463 purchased in August.  That brought the year-to-date total up 119,688 for the United States, which is 4,932 less than this time last year.  Makes you wonder how many could actually be sold if it wasn't for the limited battery supply, eh?  It's a darn good thing production will be boosted next year.  In the meantime, we have to make do with waiting lists.  Highlander-Hybrid was 1,227 for August.  How those sales will be interpreted by GM enthusiasts when compared to the hybrid Tahoe/Yukon monthly total of 797 is anyone's guess.  The rest of GM's hybrids were: Malibu=388, Aura=26, Vue=417, and Escalade=1.  From the Toyota luxury division, there were 1,383 Lexus hybrids purchased.  It's an interesting time we live in.  Each month brings results to ponder.

9-03-2008

Transmission Swap.  You know how they say: "The Devil is in the details."  That was definitely the case today.  All the Two-Mode talk revealed this neglected bit of information, which makes you wonder why it wasn't mentioned until now.  Remember how this hybrid design was touted as a major benefit over HSD because offering it was only a matter of swapping the transmission?  Well, it turns out the chassis must first be redesigned to accommodate the larger size.  How many vehicles will actually undergo this change without major expense or a penalty to the traditional model?  And how long will that take?  If Toyota's offerings become hybrid as the default model and non-hybrid a special option, that supposed benefit for GM has will be lost.  In fact, isn't the point of hybrids to phase out traditional offerings?

9-03-2008

Total Agreement.  Well, every now and then, you get flabbergasted with by a response from a normally hostile forum.  He was in total agreement with my statement of: "GM MUST OFFER A FULL HYBRID TO COMPETE DIRECTLY WITH PRIUS AND CAMRY-HYBRID".  And yes, I posted that way in all capitals, as well as in bold.  Making my message absolutely clear was vital, since the reason for it was to counter some spin an antagonist had posted to misrepresent what I claimed was needed.  It's frustrating when some attempt to discredit.  But in this case, the message itself was ambiguously conveyed.  Yeah!

9-03-2008

New Honda Hybrid.  It makes its official debut tomorrow.  Once again, the debate over the FULL type verses the ASSIST is stirring discussions.  I personally don't think they serve the same market.  The Honda will work just fine, but abilities are limited and the technology can't really evolve.  With only 1 small motor that isn't liquid cooled, what would the next level of ability be?  A battery-pack with higher-capacity couldn't be taken advantage of, like with Prius.  The platform simply wasn't designed to support more.  That being said, Honda still deserves credit for this upgrade that reduces size, weight, and cost.  Consumers will definitely like that.  But this debut is for a vehicle smaller than Civic.  Those looking for a hybrid the size of Accord are still left waiting.

9-03-2008

Looking For A Fight.  The most silly of comparisons became a hot discussion topic this morning.  It was a Two-Mode pickup compare to the high-end Lexus hybrid.  They have absolutely nothing in common.  Those vehicles couldn't be any more different.  Yet, they tried to justify that banter anyway.  Naturally, it was this slam that got me worked up: "The fact is Toyota can't make their second-rate HSD work on anything bigger."  Which lead to...  Bigger?  For who?  How large do you think the market actually is for consumer vehicles that can tow more than 3,500 pounds?  Reality is, above that threshold, there are very few.  In fact, it's a niche market when you consider how appealing diesel is at that scale.  If GM wasn't neglecting the majority, matters would be different.  Families want a decent size car that delivers 40-50 MPG.  When will those be available?

9-02-2008

Education Needed.  The problem continues to grow worse.  Today, it was innocent inquisitive looks into the upcoming plug-in Vue-Hybrid.  Despite information of how FULL hybrids can support larger battery-packs and what the outcome of that upgrade with a plug brings being available for years now, that group in favor of SERIES hybrids can't seem to find any of it.  So there's an unnecessary struggle taking place to understand what it all means to the consumer... and the business, for that matter.  How can they endorse something they don't know the differences in compared to the competition?  Searching the internet for what's already out there or starting an effort of their own to learn & teach really needs to start soon.  Discussions are losing effectiveness when that many stumble over the basics.

9-02-2008

Below $110.  The media sure made a big deal out of this today.  It's as if they have no recollection of the price of oil ever being significantly lower.  Remember it being around $60 less than 2 years ago?  The chance of seeing that again is long gone.  They don't even bother with speculation anymore.  The dropped today of $7 came as a complete surprise.  Everyone figured the active hurricane would have caused a spike up.  But now operations are shut down in advance.  The market is tired of the bounces.  Settling at a price this high is still way above what the experts predicted.  Prius owners saw it coming though.  The end-of-decade wake-up call is right on schedule.

9-02-2008

School Buses.  This is a new problem that makes the already bad situation even worse.  Some school districts simply don't have budgets big enough to transport students.  So, this first day of the school year has some parents driving their children to school themselves instead.  A whole lot more fuel will be consumed this way.  Families will have to spend more (both money & time) than they had planned on.  Demand for oil will increase.  It's going to contribute to even greater frustration about these times of change.  This makes me wonder what other fallout will emerge as time progresses?

9-01-2008

One For Every Need.  I'm getting so sick of hearing that quote!  How can GM sincerely promote hybrids with the claim "one for every need" when they don't offer one that competes directly with either Prius or Camry-Hybrid?  Highlander-Hybrid doesn't have a GM equivalent either.  Seeing that television commercial over and over again is making me crazy.  BAS efficiency improvement is minor.  BAS smog emission improvement is non-existent.  Two-Mode is better for efficiency, but the smog emissions are actually worse than its traditional counterpart.  It's more greenwashing.  When will this madness finally end?

9-01-2008

"Range" Misleading.  Over and over again, the upcoming plug-in Prius is snubbed for offering a "range" of "only" about 10 miles.  That's intentional misleading, a clear attempt to undermine.  The electricity supply available is a factor of battery-pack capacity, which has absolutely nothing to do with the hybrid technology.  Those attempts to convince you otherwise are antagonistic nonsense.  Toyota's choice is clearly a matter of containing cost, to keep the price for the consumer at an affordable level.  Of course, the topic of "range" for a FULL hybrid is deceptive regardless, since that extra capacity is shared with the engine to improve efficiency, not consumed first like a SERIES hybrid as a substitute.  This type of deliberate confusion was to be expected.  That's why I've been pushing the education so hard.  It was easy to see this type of trouble coming.  Remember:  MPG BOOST

8-31-2008

Government Bailout.  The talk of a federal "loan" to rescue GM is intensifying.  I climbed up on the soapbox to express my feeling on this topic...  They fought intensely against hybrids for years, causing a fierce resistance for Prius to struggle with.  Rather than helping promote new technology, they focused heavily on monster-size traditional vehicles instead.  Now to make matters worse, they are promoting the SERIES hybrid at the expense of the FULL hybrids.  How does any of that help the general population?  Waiting another 6 years before Volt is able to reach high-volume availability at affordable prices is totally unrealistic.  And that's just the first E-Flex vehicle.  What in the world are people going to buy if they require a larger, yet still efficient hybrid?  GM has no plans to offer midsize FULL hybrids with 4-cylinder engines.  In fact, it doesn't even appear that Two-Mode can support a configuration that favors efficiency over power.  That lack of flexibility in design reveals where this automaker's priorities have been.  What would change if they were provided with loan/bailout money?  Clear deliverables must be stated.  They must be held accountable for meeting emission & efficiency objectives.  Timelines must be strictly adhered to.

 

back to home page       go to top