Prius Personal Log #395
November 24, 2008 - December 3, 2008
Last Updated: Sun. 10/24/2010
page #394 page #396 BOOK INDEX
Bailout, want. Their needs vary. GM wants a total of $18 Billion, with $4 Billion of it available by the end of this month. Ford wants $9 Billion set aside, for use if they need it. Both are pursuing market confidence restoration in this now very shaken industry. Chrysler doesn't seem to be getting much attention. I'm not sure why that is. Whatever the case for each, they are all in trouble. Not having competitive products put them in a bad situation anyway. Status quo (more of the same) is not what you want when the economy falls apart... which unfortunately, is precisely the situation they are now in. The lust for size & power blinded them from the now obviously risk they were taking. Expecting strong sales from high-profit guzzlers wasn't a good plan. Whether it was environment, oil dependency, or economy a cause for change didn't matter... since all three were building pressure anyway. All three needed to be addressed. None truly were. Now they want to. Interesting, eh?
Bailout, responsibility. They were provided for all to review today. Combined, the Big-3 are asking for a total of $34 Billion to help them survive these troubled times. In other words, this makes it official. Again, they did indeed get caught unprepared when an abrupt change in the market occurred. So many factors were stacked against them. The odds were bad. But the fact that they did not push hard enough is the true problem. Rather than hoping everything would somehow workout by selling guzzlers in the meantime, they should have made a sincere effort to change. Diversification should have been a best-practice they followed. That didn't happen. Now instead, they have to swing production heavily in favor of responsible vehicles. Government, Environment, Consumers, Employees, and even the market itself are at stake... which no one can deny anymore. The nonsense of quarterly profits and the obsession with size & power are ugly memories of the past. Today, things look very different.
November Sales. With traditional vehicle sales down quite a bit, seeing these numbers from the Toyota hybrids isn't too bad. 8,660 for Prius. 2,174 for Camry-Hybrid. 907 for Highlander-Hybrid. 624 for RX400h. And 79 combined for the other two Lexus hybrids. The GM numbers are still considerably lower. 404, 190, 173 for the Tahoe, Yukon, and Escalade Two-Mode hybrids. 328, 195, 45 for the Vue, Malibu, and Aura BAS hybrids. That puts the GM total annual count of 11,884 hybrids well under the monthly amount for Toyota. Makes you wonder what they'll claim next month, when the year comes to a close. More importantly though, what will they say about expectations for 2009 production & sales?
Loan Payback. It's the misleading. That makes me crazy. Priorities are seriously misplaced. Technologies, like what's intended for Volt, don't actually solve the problem at hand. Later when production of battery-packs is well established, that's a different story. But right now, capacity is still under 5 percent of total annual sales volume for the leader. There's no possible way enough profit can be generated from them to sustain the business, not to mention payback of the government loan too. Sadly, promotion of those plug-in hybrids as the solution is really just a distraction. Yet, certain people are pushing the idea hard anyway. What about the other 95 percent? Will that inventory be just the same old traditional engine-only type for years to come still? How will these automakers remain competitive? There's also the problems of emissions and oil dependency. Immediate survive is important, but other on-going expenses seem to be forgotten entirely. It's the same negligence we've seen for years. How will this be overcome? Will the money just disappear and we'll be facing the same situation again later? No loan should be provided without a clear plan for paying it back.
Do The Calculations! Obviously, he didn't. It was
his post about how the CEOs of the Big-3 should next get to Washington DC which I had
fun with: "Wagoner should drive to DC in a Volt and then announce how much gas was used
compared to a Prius." I was even generous with the estimate for Volt,
knowing it probably won't be quite that efficient and the new Prius mostly
likely will. That was a good thing too; otherwise, there wouldn't have
been any benefit at all. You do the calculations. Watch what happens
when you input 54 MPG for the new Prius... remembering that my trip to Chicago
in 2007 yielded a 52.4 MPG average. Then read what I posted...
10.76 gallons for 2004 Prius (527 miles at 49 MPG).
10.13 gallons for 2010 Prius (527 miles at 52 MPG).
9.74 gallons for Volt (40 miles electric-only plus 487 miles at 50 MPG).
So, is Wagoner going to make a serious production quantity commitment so those
0.39 gallons per trip can be saved?
Raising Doubt, plug. Loss of the plug for a SERIES hybrid is what they fear. Market acceptance will steal away the spotlight from their dream vehicle. After all, the great majority of attention for Prius is on the model currently available now. Talk of a plug option is quite limited. Consumers are well aware of how prohibitive the price is for battery capacity that large still... beside the fact that current hybrids don't require a plug. Sorry, but starting with a product that large quantities of can be sold immediately makes a whole lot more of a difference that pushing the high-end configuration on the same platform first. Prius can offer a factory-installed plug and greater battery-capacity, but that option has been postponed until the population of hybrids is so deeply entrenched that taking that next step is thought of as natural. You'll know that point has been reached when traditional (engine-only) vehicles struggle to retain consumer attention... when demanding for hybrids isn't necessary anymore... no more doubt.
Raising Doubt, contradicting. Late in the evening brought a new thread. By dumb luck, mention of a small battery-pack fit perfect. Seeing the appropriate mention opportunity, I dove in again. And sure enough, that was also disregarded. (Note that this blogging page does not offer an ignore feature. So, I know darn well he saw it.) Anywho, the point is that there is no technical reason Volt must have such a large battery-pack. Marketing is the true reason and some enthusiasts are working hard to conceal that reality. In fact, more information contradicting the claim was posted just an hour earlier... directly from someone who had visited the Volt displayed at the LA Auto Show just the day before. There he was told: "after the first 40 miles are driven on battery power alone, the engine will fire up and the Volt will get 40 to 60 mpg for several hundred additional miles". How does that give even the most remote impression that it won't work? The system is clearly designed to operate with only minimal stored electricity available.
Raising Doubt, nothing. New posts appeared from him, but
nothing to acknowledge mine. So, I pushed some more about the "won't
That has already been proven false, a few years ago. Everyone should already
know that. We desperately need a FAQ for this type of info!
A prototype SERIES hybrid used a smaller battery for a larger vehicle. It was
just a NiMH pack which delivered 21 kW of power. There was no plug. Power was
supplied exclusively from a fuel-cell stack. In other words, it had a
steady-state generator working much like the engine will in Volt. The battery
provides the extra power needed during times of heavy demand, like acceleration.
It worked just fine.
Want to know more? Do a search for Toyota FCHV.
Raising Doubt, size. I've read countless posts by this particular individual. He has mislead in favor of Volt so many times, the most appropriate label for it now is greenwashing. This was the latest example: "In addition, the size of the battery must be significant enough to supply the peak horsepower. Bigger batteries not only have more energy storage (kWh) but also more instantaneous power (kW). So a little battery with a 5 or 10 mile range won't cut it. By the way, people on this site have been asking about this since the summer of 2007, and the answer has been the same. It won't work." And my reply... Cut what? The engine runs at an optimum for efficiency. A bulk of that resulting electricity gets used immediately for propulsion and the small amount remaining goes to the battery-pack for use later during moments of peak draw. That's no big deal. In fact, Prius has been doing it since 1997. It almost sounds like you are implying that there is a shortcoming with charge-sustaining mode. We've been told that Volt will deliver 50 MPG under those conditions. But that post gives the impression that you can't drive for several hundred miles without plugging in. Please explain. What won't work?
Biodiesel Waste. Remember when I asked a vegi-diesel supporter the glycerin disposal question? Years later, I still wondered what the answer was... until today. When you take that used vegetable oil home from the restaurant and add chemicals to it, the separation process results in two fluids. One is biodiesel that you can use as fuel for your vehicle. The other is a waste byproducts, primarily glycerin... which can be deadly to aquatic life. A man in Missouri learned this the hard way. By dumping his large quantity of waste into a ditch, he ended up contaminating the nearby water... resulting in a sentence of 2 years probation and a $10,000 fine for violating the Clean Water Act.
Production Ended. Ford's truck plant in Michigan rolled the final guzzler off its assembly-line today. No more SUVs or Pickups will come from that location anymore. Retooling begins, now. In 2010, small fuel-efficient vehicles will begin being produced there instead. GM may still not see the light, but Ford is finally acknowledging & doing what needs to be done. It's a transformation that's long overdue.
$54.44 Per Barrel. It's hard to know what the heck to make of that value for oil with such an unknown economic outlook during the heaviest consumer spending weekend of the year... and I'm getting really tired of all the Detroit nonsense. Putting so much emphasis on high-profit guzzlers got us into this mess. They've claimed it wasn't their fault, even though we were never given the choice of a high-efficiency vehicle. That's why I'm so big on pushing "50 MPG" mindset now. They can't spin that. It's not a relative measure. People know exactly what 50 MPG means. So even with the price of gas currently deflated all the way down to $1.59 per gallon, guzzling is still considered a bad thing now. The current $2.79 per gallon price for diesel helps keep things in check too. We must start offering vehicles that target 50 MPG for an affordable price. Remember the PNGV project? Way back in 1993, that targeted 80 MPG. So this is quite reasonable 15 years later, especially with so many Prius already on the road.
Raising Doubt, profit. It is beyond frustrating to read
this: "After a decade of relative success with its hybrid Prius, Toyota has
sold about a million of the cars and is still widely believed by analysts to be
losing money on each one sold."
Smoking resistance used that same "raising doubt" technique.
They'd refer to unknown so-called experts with the hope of making you question
something that the well-informed already knew wasn't true. Many naive consumers
fell for it too. Others used that as an excuse to not change.
Undermining progress is their hope. And in the case of hybrids, it has been
quite effective at slowing down acceptance. That's really sad.
What did we learn? It's hard to believe that question even has be to asked. But the resistance to looking back has been fierce lately. Significant mistakes were made too recently. The pain from them really stings still. Few of those struggling to survive want to admit errors in judgment. They just assumed new technology would emerge in time, being affordable & plentiful. That didn't happen... and won't for awhile. The thrill of guzzling blinded them from investing in the future. Power & Speed obsession made Smooth & Quiet along with Clean & Efficient something to mock. Now they are suffering the consequences. Complex problems of employment obligations should have made long-term planning a main priority. Instead, that was disregarded, not taken seriously. Offering a diverse product-line is something taught in Basic Economics class. For those in charge to make such a fundamental error by investing so much in just large guzzlers shows they didn't actually learn much. Did you?
Shape Category. I wonder when the general population will step back and recognize Prius as being in a new category of vehicle shape. The profile still seems unique. But with the upcoming new Insight and new Lexus, that line will be blurred. Taking a close look at some offerings available in Europe, it gets blurred even further. Decades ago, the minivan stood alone too. But as other automakers started to offer their own, it went from a specific vehicle to a category. The SUV as a commuter vehicle, rather than its original utility purpose, went through a similar type mindset change. Its shape is the main identifier now, rather than the awful market-spin attempting to call it a car. The fact that the shape of Prius is one of extreme aerodynamics combined with very practical function just happened to be the perfect packaging for high-volume sales of hybrids.
Green Now. Remember years ago? I use to sing about the blues, but now it all about being green. The charge-level on the Multi-Display was almost always at 6 bars, which means they are all displayed in blue. The color only changes to green as an indication that the level went up, to 7 or 8. That rarely ever happened when the Prius was new though. But now, it happens around a dozen time per day now. My guess is this behavior was built into the design and naturally just took us this long to discover it, since so few have driven enough miles yet to notice the pattern. Time will tell. As for why, the impression is that it is simply a factor of late-life break-in. Parts continue to loosen as they age. That reduced drag translates to recapturing more energy, hence more bars being displayed.