Prius Personal Log  #405

February 17, 2009  -  February 22, 2009

Last Updated: Sun. 10/24/2010

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2-22-2009

No Control.  The first thing everyone is taught about scientific measure is that you must have a control.  Without one, you have nothing to compare to.  Yet, that's exactly what the city of Seattle did... and subsequently drew a conclusion from.  They have a fleet of 14 plug-in Prius which recently drove a total of 17,636 miles.  The complaint is that they only delivered an average of 51 MPG.  Supposedly, that's bad.  But what were the driving conditions?  Having one Prius in that fleet which wasn't a plug-in is required to indicate what the MPG improvement was.  Heck, we have no idea how often each vehicle was actually plugged in nor how long they had an opportunity to recharge.  The study was disturbing to read about.  Sloppy testing with no data sharing is a very real problem, something to be quite concerned about.

2-21-2009

Gallons/100 Miles.  Long overdue is this need.  Our MPG system is so terribly misleading.  It allows those wanting to exploit the "saves gas" greenwashing to seemingly win "uses less" debates.  In other places around the world (those that don't guzzle like we do), they rely on a unit/distance quantitative system instead.  And that has proven much more effective.  But in their case, it has been: liters/100 km.  That won't work here.  So the EPA finally delivered with this equivalent: Gallons/100 Miles.  I'm tired of the past nonsense and delighted to point out this rating system.  Go take a look.  Here's a link... Find a Car

2-21-2009

Hybrid Logo.  Someone complained today, wishing Toyota wouldn't have included the hybrid logo on the 2010 Prius.  I don't think they ever really gave the situation a thought.  Have you?  Here's what I posted...  Do you realize the consequence of that request?  Think about it.  This market is obsessed with having some type of label attached to their vehicle.  "Hybrid" is by far the most benign choice.  Do you really want to see the equivalent of "3.0 L" or "V6" or "Turbo" appear on hybrids instead?

2-21-2009

Former Foe.  Depending on your perspective, he was either a pain or a partner.  We sparred daily.  MPG was the obsession.  He was interested in achieving the highest.  I was content with the "just drive it" motto.  That was ages ago.  Since then, he kept pushing and contributed to an official record-setting voyage... in a hybrid, the very thing he had once fought against.   Now, the data he had gathered from his travel is being used to mercilessly crush the diesel misleaders.  We're both tired of how they insist engine-only technology is the better choice.  Clearly, the MPG doesn't support that.  But they keep trying anyway.  Why?  Can't they envision a hybrid ever using a diesel engine?  Wouldn't a tiny one be a nice match for some SERIES hybrid uses many years from now?  It's bizarre how losing the emissions battle has caused them to keep trying for a win on efficiency, despite the much lower EPA estimates.  But what's even stranger is how a former foe is now helping with that fight.  Who would have thought?

2-21-2009

50 MPG is 50 MPG.  That was well said, on a Prius thread today complaining about yet another diesel challenge.  The competition hates that reality.  Average taints their bias comparisons.  They've been selectively pushing either city or highway estimates, whichever is to their favor.  I'm tired of watching that same misleading on television commercials too.  How many people are successfully mislead by that?  Fortunately Toyota decided to use only the combined value for the reveal of the 2010 Prius.  That's a welcome change... which just to squash efforts to mislead. 

2-21-2009

Short On Detail.  That's the response to the restructuring plans submitted to the Canadian government by GM and Chrysler.  Voicing clear disappointment was important, to at least try to avoid the same mess the United States is faced with... since those plans leave much to be desired too.  A rough timeline with vague references is not what taxpayers provided billions of dollars of support want to see.  Production of how many of those new "high-efficiency" vehicles is actually planned and intended target market are missing.  We aren't actually being told much.

2-21-2009

Superior Technology, answer.  Needless to say, I didn't get one.  Follow up is rare.  For that matter, actual product support would be a miracle.  Daily blog entries is pretty much the most anyone wants to contribute.  It's like they aren't the slightest bit interested in using any of the methods Prius used for gaining market share.  They're just a small static group exists that likes to self-vindicate.  I had learned a lot about the "superior" technology in the past from them.  That, I'm thankful for.  But it's as if I'm the only one who has noticed that progress has stopped.  No next steps are being taken, despite the bailout situation.  It's just the same old routine... the very thing that kept the other competition from reaching out to more consumers.  Explain to us why it is superior.

2-21-2009

Superior Technology, question.  Some simply never learn.  You can point out how for years diesel enthusiasts proclaimed simplicity was the key, yet sales never reflected that.  The same happened for the hybrids which only offered assist.  Consumer demand isn't about engineering fine points.  It's about what is actually delivered.  What do they get for their money?  Some just like to show off a trophy, not interested in actually making a difference for the ordinary person on the street.  So, I responded to a Volt superiority claim with this...  What makes it superior?  FULL hybrid systems replace automatic transmissions.  That's a big step in the right direction, eliminating many gears in favor of a power-split device.  Eliminating the power-split device really doesn't equate to much.  It's basically just a differential.

2-21-2009

There Isn't Hope.  When it comes to a certain automaker, it sure seems hopeless.  If you got the impression that I'm picking on GM, it's not your imagination.  Today provided the ultimate opportunity to explain myself too.  The Volt group had a discussion on the upcoming plug-in Vue.  That allowed me to refer back to a particular personal log entry, the one from  8-19-2004  titled: "Ever Changing Story".  I was upset then, from GM continuously altering plans some many times 4.5 years ago.  We are going to do this.  We aren't going to do this.  Now, we are going to do this instead.  Now, we are back to doing this again.  It's that lack of commitment that drives me crazy.  There's no reason to believe them anymore.  So the fact that the story has changed yet another time, really makes no difference.  Vue-Hybrid with a plug option will be delayed now until 2011.  That's the year production of Saturn vehicles end.  What's the point?

2-21-2009

There Is Hope.  A handful of enthusiasts (of the non-Prius type) have begrudgingly allowed me to point out mistakes.  Those wanting to support Volt have been the most receptive, though taking the suggestion but not acknowledging unintentional misleading caused by prior posts.  The best example I can think of  is how one had described the flow of electricity but specifically left out the excess generated because it represented less than 1 percent of the overall battery-capacity.  I pointed out that regeneration from braking did too, yet he included it anyway.  That detail hadn't ever occurred to him.  The learning process is slow.  It takes awhile to break bad habits, like making assumptions.  Some expend the effort.  That represents a bit of hope, at least for consumer education, in these very uncertain times.

2-20-2009

Divided Automaker.  By observing recent online posts from GM enthusiasts, it's pretty obvious that a majority are unaware of company strategy as a whole.  The number of times I've read questions asking what BAS is truly amazes me.  And the lack of interest in Two-Mode gives the impression that the future is being bet on Volt instead, despite the fact it once was the hot topic on that big GM forum.  Where & How resources are being spent doesn't seem to be an issue.  Each group of people has their own specific interest and just ignores the rest.  This problem isn't new.  Ford still has that after many years, where hybrid & non-hybrid discussions simply don't mix.  A new engine or transmission is all the rage.  Meanwhile, the automaker as a whole continues to sink deeper into financial trouble.  Enthusiast influence appears to only be alive & well still for Prius.  Toyota is positioned well.  Honda is striving for the same.  Ford has lots of potential.  Chrysler is a big unknown.  GM is a mess... divided from within... lacking a clear recovery plan.  That's why I document my observations so thoroughly.  Watching this history unfold is fascinating.

2-20-2009

Being Viable.  That's the name of the game in this new financial reality.  Nothing has been presented showing how Volt could achieve that.  In fact, it's been stated many times now that money won't be flowing in the correct direction until the second generation.  That hybrid depends on something else sustaining the business in the meantime.  In other words, bailout money will aid the struggle to deal with legacy costs but GM is still without competitive vehicles.  What will they sell to compete with the Camry & Fusion hybrids?  What about Prius & Insight?  Mention of both Two-Mode and BAS is vague at best.  Those of us watching all this unfold from the beginning (many years ago) keep asking, repeatedly, how will they be viable?  Oil dependency and emissions are not being addressed by the domestic automakers.  This is why money is being allocated via the stimulus instead.

2-19-2009

Ford Ranger.  It has been produced just down the highway from where I live for decades.  Unfortunately, the factory is now preparing to permanently close.  Ford claimed there was no demand for small (normal size) pickups anymore.  Yet, they just revealed a new model Ranger which will be sold in Europe starting in April and could be available in the United States by 2011.  Why the heck aren't they offering it here sooner?  That just plain does not make any sense.  Waiting 2 years for something that could immediately contribute to a  more fuel-efficient fleet, giving consumers a choice where there soon won't be one.  You get the distinct impression they are killing the small pickup now only to bring it back later as if it was a totally new idea later.  After all, this market has a terrible memory.

2-17-2009

The End, Reality.  The impression is that GM is still in a deep state of denial.  Face reality already!  They don't expect change to occur on a scale the rest of the industry is forecasting, nor are they taking the problems of oil dependency or vehicle emissions (both types) seriously.  Don't they see the world embracing this unfortunate economic downfall as an opportunity for a new beginning?  Prius has proven that new technology opens up the possibility for consumer acceptance on a grand scale.  It has improved & expanded.  Why hold so tightly to a business model that is failing?  Vehicles that depend exclusively on an engine and only deliver 30 MPG simply don't make any sense in 2014.  Yet, that is what most of the plan focuses on.

2-17-2009

The End, Shifting.  Looking through the appendix, chart B14 especially caught my interest.  The reference to it in the document states: "GM's oil price forecast predicts an increase to $130 per barrel by 2014." and "Rising oil prices are expected to drive a segment shift away from trucks towards cars and crossovers over the 2009-2014 period."  It gives you the impression of sincerity... until careful inspection of the actual numbers.  The change for "Cars" over the next 5 years will be a 4 percent increase, from 46 to 50.  For "Crossovers", 2.8 percent from 20.2 to 23.  And for "Trucks", 6.8 percent from 33.8 to 27.  In other words, GM only expects modest change despite the influence of oil price and the competition.

2-17-2009

The End, Two-Mode.  There is mention of "Gen 2 strong hybrids", but nothing whatsoever to describe what that actually means.  We have to wait until 2012 for it too.  Could they proceed any slower?  No detail, especially in a document that large, raises serious concern.  The more I read, the more I question what will actually change.  It sounds like more of the same single-automaker promoting with no regard to what the rest of the industry is doing.  The Camry & Fusion hybrids should be competitive targets for Two-Mode.  Will that hybrid system finally be adapted for use with a 4-cylinder engine?

2-17-2009

The End, vague.  What are the objectives and what penalties are there for not meeting them?  How "sustainable profitability" really means can actually be a subjective measure.  And predicting what the market will become is quite a gamble, one that many have failed miserably with in the past.  It's going to take awhile to review all the details.  How the press and consumers will react has me quite curious.  I'm not optimistic.  There's nothing compelling in the report, just lots of reorganization type information.  That doesn't provide a clear message for the future.  Strategy seems quite vague.  The next few week should be interesting.  The next deadline is March 31.

2-17-2009

The End, volume.  The restructuring plan milestones provided on page 87 really highlighted the problem.  Brand & Model counts were listed, not volume.  Who cares that the number of 30 MPG models were 20 last year and will grow to 33 within the next 5 years.  How many they actually plan to produce is the real concern.  For hybrids, it will supposedly go from 6 to 26 during that same period.  But considering how their entire inventory sold for all of last year was less than Prius in a single month, what's their point?  Why are they being so evasive about production volume.  How many of those vehicles will actually be available for purchase?

2-17-2009

The End, fuel-efficient.  You get a sickening feel very quick when looking for detail.  The most obvious for me was how they define a fuel-efficient vehicle as one that gets "30 miles per gallons or more in highway driving".  That's nothing to be proud of and certainly not a solution to our dependency on oil.  But yet again, immediately following that previous phrase came, emphasized with underlining was: "more than any other manufacturer".  The attempt to spin circumstances for the better was obvious.  The automaker is in serious trouble and still does not want to face the facts.

2-17-2009

The End, hybrids.  Fortunately, use of the term "hybrid" was divided into three categories: BAS, Two-Mode, and EREV.  Unfortunately, the only reference was vague and was to tout their "leadership" in the area of "technology and fuel economy".  It boiled down to a chart on page 22 indicated the current phase, the next beginning in 2012, then followed by 2015.  A variety of different technologies besides hybrids were listed, but no reference whatsoever to volume.  It was all just a generalized plan. 

 

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