Prius Personal Log #398
December 21, 2008 - January 2, 2009
Last Updated: Sun. 10/24/2010
page #397 page #399 BOOK INDEX
Power-Split. That was the term which contributed to the favorable swing. The unintentional antagonists still don't understand what that actually entails, but at least they know it is significant. The frustration of having pointed out the power-split-device countless times over those almost 2 full years, it seems to have finally sunk in. How they could have read about the device so many times without questioning what the heck it does is mind-boggling. Never wonder about the competition. Just dismiss to the extent that the difference between a FULL and an ASSIST hybrid isn't taken into consideration. Both generically labeled as "parallel", then carelessly declared unworthy. That changed. Who knows if it will result in any progress. At least awareness was finally raised.
Finally! It boggles the mind. After almost a full 2 years, they finally figured out what the heck I've been complaining about. Phew! What a relief. Patience paid off. Though, my amiable persistence resulted in gross over-reaction. Of course, that in itself was a benefit. They won't forget it! Anywho, over all that time, almost all the Volt enthusiasts referred to Prius as a "parallel" hybrid, including the website moderator. For so many to not understand the fundamental differences between Prius and Insight for so long, it was very troubling. Confused arguments were incessantly posted. But today, that changed. The importance of what I had described suddenly made sense. Apparently, it never dawned on them to that very moment how much the design could affect outcome. Now, it does. Yeah!
Remember Fuel-Cells? Over my many years of hybrid ownership, I've had to endure quite a bit of propaganda... from the naive. It's really unfortunate that consumers are intentionally mislead, then spread it themselves. But sadly, that's the way the market works. Competitors try their hardest to divert attention away from current products with the hope of delaying purchases until they have something to sell. That meant Prius supporters constantly hearing about the promises of fuel-cell vehicles. Remember how 2010 availability was so heavily boasted? Talk of it was so prominent that some simply disregarded hybrids as a fad, not worth the effort. Today, it is 2009. Clearly, that future isn't working out as promised. Instead, the promise has changed. Now, it is a SERIES hybrid... which consumers don't understand. They are given the impression that availability will be abundant & affordable in just 2 years... again, diverting away from FULL hybrids like Prius. It's quite frustrating.
2008 Lookbacks. They are starting to trickle in. The first I encountered claimed Volt would be available in late 2009 as a 2010 model. That's just plain wrong, so it made me wonder about the praise that was given for Two-Mode. The next article I came across was quite the opposite. It slammed Two-Mode for boasting so much about being superior but selling so poorly. GM didn't come close to sales projections and Chrysler abandoned the technology. What ends up being said about BAS is really making me curious. It's sales were even worse. As for Prius, anything goes. Results are always spun many different ways. Looking back at 2008 sure is good history. I wonder what lessons will be learned from it. Hmm?
Year End. The one called "2008" sure was odd for hybrids. Build up for new models from Toyota, Ford, and Honda was exciting, but were left waiting until the next year for any substantial detail. GM and Chrysler hybrids were a totally different story... one suffering from low sales, the other from no sales. Gas prices climbed to records levels, feeding a hybrid interest frenzy, then deteriorating. We have no idea what the ultimate short-term outcome will be. There's lots of potential for practical-sized hybrids offering significant efficiency improvement. Vehicles of all types that guzzle are in trouble. They won't sustain the business anymore. Cash reserves are exhausted. Plans for a viable future are essential. The long-term outcome requires that we reduce consumption. No more denial. It's time for serious change. 2009 can't come fast enough.
Breakeven Nonsense. I guess they'll publish anything that helps sell a newspaper. Believe it or not, the cost to breakeven is what we are reading about again. Don't you love how they are once again pushing the belief that the price of gas will never rise during the lifetime of the vehicle? That was totally unrealistic back when the first rise to $2 per gallon began. They should know better. The stalled economy will recover. Paying more than $1.66 at the pump is inevitable. Who regrets what? It's the same nonsense from years ago. Geez! I had no idea the repetition of history would be so thorough.
Classic Sightings. This is what I posted in response to a very excited chat member seeing a "different" model Prius for the first time, wondering what the heck it was: It's really weird reading a post like that. I saw the ORIGINAL model Prius back in April 2000... after waiting an agonizing long time for the opportunity. The wait for the CLASSIC seemed like forever, mostly because the only real-world info we had came from Japan. The ICONIC wasn't too bad, since I already had a Prius to drive in the meantime. But now... 9 years after having initially discovered Prius... I find myself yet again having to wait... wondering if the both the newbies and veterans have any idea how much will change when this next generation starts appearing on roads. It's going to be intense.
Hitting Bottom. Watching that blog website for Volt self-destruct has been interesting. The prediction of their fate wasn't rocket science. The pattern emerged back the Summer of 2007. It was easy to recognize. The enthusiasts acted like Insight supporters did, many years ago. Unfamiliar with that history and unwilling to study the competition, their progress eventually halted. At that point, traits started to resemble the diesel supporters. You know, arguing about complexity and doing nothing to reach out to the mainstream. This post today summarized the attitude perfectly: "I'll say this again: plug-in E-REVs are vastly superior to plug-in PHEVs by any measure." Despite the endless arguments by many individuals about fundamental problems like price, that overlying theme dominated. It's too bad their desperation got to this point. But with the financial disaster of GM and the plummet of gas prices, the inflexibility of the ironically named E-Flex held back progress. Fortunately, even though the plan hasn't changed yet, the design itself can be adjusted. But those enthusiasts are still unwilling to accept anything like that... for example, switching to a smaller battery-pack to make the debut vehicle more affordable. Oh well. It's not like they weren't told that engineering alone won't sell a product.
Battery-Pack Prices. Replacement is extremely rare. In fact, most owners will never need it. At 110,000 miles, my Prius certainly doesn't show any signs of failure. Aging appears to be perfectly normal. Routinely dealing with dramatic elevation changes or excess heat will likely accelerate the process though. To comfort owners, Toyota officially released the prices. For the Classic model, it's $2,299. For the Iconic mode, it's $2,588. That's if you buy it new at MSRP. Getting a used one from an accident Prius is quite a bit less. Whatever the case, that's totally in line with the price people pay for new transmissions... an expense Prius owners won't have, since there are no gears and nothing ever shifts. Total cost of ownership is proving the naysayers wrong. Gotta love it!
Anticipated Frustration. The misrepresentation and old-school thinking still prevails. A review of Fusion-Hybrid included this: "0-to-60-mph acceleration time of 8.5 seconds isn't stellar". What the heck are they expecting from a family sedan? Geez! Of course, just like in the past, other hybrids were described incorrectly... as with this: "The Fusion can be driven up to 47 mph on electric power alone, depending on how leadfooted a driver is. Most hybrids can pull off the electric-only trick only as high as 25 mph or so." Most? No. Only the old Ford hybrid design. GM offers 30 for stealth. Toyota has been 42 since the very beginning over a decade ago. Honda still doesn't at all. Makes you wonder what consumers think if this writer is perceived as a topic expert, eh? And naturally, emissions were missing entirely. No mention whatsoever begs the question if they think hybrids are for reducing consumption only. It's frustration I anticipated. Each new hybrid brings it.
Sneak Peeks. Today, I published the second here on the website. Being first to unveil two new photos of the 2010 Prius direct from the Toyota Marketing team has been quite a thrill. This one was of the new "Eco Meter" feature. The one last month was of the new Digital Speedometer. Seeing enhancements like that in the new model is very exciting. I can't wait for the opportunity to finally own this upgrade. Getting to see it in person next month will really raise the level of anticipation. Waiting for delivery again will bring back very pleasant memories. It's totally worth it!
Hybrid Requirements. Before the Iconic Prius became available, I listed out the requirements a hybrid should fulfill on a webpage. It was a true measure of progress. Moving forward meant meeting the criteria listed. After 5.5 years, the content was still quite relevant... so much so, in fact, that it was converted into a downloadable document. Each section remained true to the original, but detail was updated to better reflect terminology and examples which emerged since then. That was my proof of intention. Goals were clearly stated and remained unchanged. For so much to stand the test of time, it was quite vindicating. Check it out... Requirements
Still At It. A few Volt enthusiasts just make stuff up,
or at least it appears that way. It's probably just assumptions that no
one ever bothers to confirm. After all, there are a number of claims they
make about Prius that are quite incorrect. Anywho, this claim today got me
worked up in a topic intended to stir debate: "Toyota has repeatedly come out against its series-design, arguing that the
parallel configuration used in their hybrids is more efficient." So,
I posted... Really? Prove it. Show me an efficiency argument.
The statements made have been with respect to production. Toyota wants a
high-volume affordable hybrid design, something they can replace a large chunk
of their traditional fleet with before the end of the next decade. That's
millions of vehicles.
GM's goal is quite different. They are aiming for a time further into the future
with E-REV, which is why they still have to focus on BAS and Two-Mode in the
meantime. In other words, Volt won't be a direct competitor with Prius for many,
many years still… despite all the hype.
There is no FULL vs. SERIES debate yet when it come to price & volume.
Two-Mode Spin. The misleading about year-end results has already begun. This is what everyone has dreaded. GM will draw a conclusion based on what the sales total come to. Being way off of projection could lead to another "there's no market for them" declaration. It's the EV1 nightmare all over again, but this time with hybrids. I sure hope they scale down Two-Mode to a configuration capable of directly competing with both Camry-Hybrid and Fusion-Hybrid. But after all this time, we haven't heard a single mention of the system being capable of integrating with a 4-cylinder engine. Anywho, this was claimed today by one of the outspoken supporters: "The Tahoe Hybrid is meeting its 10K unit sales forecast even in this horrible market." Since that isn't even close to actually being true, I responded to that with... That doesn't look like the case, unless April was one heck of a month. Tahoe & Yukon hybrid combined sales were Jan-Mar = 655, Apr = ?, May = 589, June = 547, July = 351, Aug = 797, Sept = 1010, Oct = 602, Nov = 594.
EPA Numbers. Certification of Fusion-Hybrid is complete. The official numbers for the window-sticker estimates will be 41 City and 36 Highway. That's pretty darn good MPG for a nice sized family sedan. Makes you wonder when the upgrade for Camry-Hybrid is scheduled. Ford will be providing genuine competition for Toyota. It's about dang time they finally got serious about competing. There's still nothing in the works from GM. But at least part of Detroit is getting their act together. Saying advancement forward was a crusade would be a bit of an understatement. Change obviously does not come easy. But in the end, it looks like it could turn out quite nice. Now let's hope availability isn't a problem.
First Loss, in 71 Years. That's the big news today. Of course, with all the zero-percent financing being promoted, maintaining a profit in a declining economy (especially with a dollar to yen conversion) was quite a challenge anyway. So the announcement of a loss now being expected wasn't a surprise to anyone. It's a sad reality. Too many factors were putting too much pressure on several different industries all at the same time. Fortunately, the future was already planned for. The new Prius is just a few weeks away from official debut. That sure will help with the long-term outlook. It makes short-term losses easier to accept. There's hope once we all get past this struggle.
Mississippi Plant. The investment Toyota was making to
be able to produce Prius in this country has been put on hold... temporarily!
Of course, reading some articles you get the impression that the plan is
cancelled. One even spun it by saying construction was "indefinitely"
suspended. In reality, it's just stopped until the economy rebounds.
Credibility of the media is that high anymore. They pretty much say
whatever they want about hybrids now, without consequence. Errors like
this are frustrating: "Prius sales are down nearly 50 percent for the
year." In reality, it was just for the month, not year. Who
knows why that was printed wrong. But the fact that activity at the
Mississippi location has generated so much attention is fascinating.