Prius Personal Log  #409

March 27, 2009  -  March 29, 2009

Last Updated: Sun. 10/24/2010

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3-29-2009

Sustaining Business, part 2.  What I'm hoping they'll figure out is that Honda & Ford also took the same approach as Toyota.  The goal chosen by GM is higher risk.  To make that work, they must be flexible.  Unwillingness to alter plans at all as things develop could become a weakness that impairs success.  Engineering is a balance of compromises anyway.  Reasons for decisions need to be re-evaluated over time.  Looking back afterward often reveals problems.  Insight from what you've learned along the way helps make that next step the right one.  Not even acknowledging the need to consider the big picture is a real problem.

3-29-2009

Sustaining Business, part 1.  Getting caught up with details often causes people to forget about the big picture.  The federal task force was established to do exactly that, and the time for their decision to be made is rapidly approaching.  That's freaking out some.  I was more than happy to provoke big picture discussion, with this...  Emission & Efficiency improvement approaches differ tremendously.  Toyota set a price goal and worked carefully within those bounds.  GM set a technical goal and said a high price could be justified.  Both, of course, expect high-volume production to reduce price in the end.  But the benefit from that is quite different.  For Toyota, it makes a product that already reaches the mainstream even more appealing.  For GM, it just makes the product acceptable for the mainstream.  When you consider the need to sustain business in a highly competitive market, one approach has a distinct advantage over the other.

3-28-2009

EV Threshold.  Reading through the wonderful collection of 2010 Prius reviews recently published, it has become clear that the change of EV maximum from 35 to 25 MPH is a welcome one.  Stealth is still at 42 MPH, so there's no loss or compromise with that electric-only drive feature.  It's how EV has been changed to for the typical consumer to benefit from.  Now you can press surprisingly hard on the accelerator-pedal without triggering the engine to start up.  No skill required.  You just push the EV button and enjoy the heavy commute traffic you just got stuck in... or the drive-thru... or the on-ramp... or to pay for parking.  The more generous kick from the motor isn't just software changes either, it also comes from the battery-pack now delivering 27kW of electricity rather than 25kW as before.

3-28-2009

Public Outcry.  After typing the previous entry, it occurred to me that information really needed to be posted for discussion feedback.  Conveniently, there just happened to be a post relating to spending.  I interjected with this, making sure to again point out the need for Volt enthusiasts to finally do more than just blog...  Excessive risk taking contributed heavily to this financial disaster.  The economy is collapsing now.  How much people can afford really hurts the high-priced vehicle market.  Argue all you want about whether or not Volt is worth it.  The sticker-price once the short-term tax credit expires will be a very big deal.  GM is attempting to remain transparent by stating intent to price the vehicle well in advance.  The lack of transparency from the Volt enthusiasts is becoming a problem though.  They continue to be vague and very little easy-to-find detail is available for newbies as a result.

3-28-2009

80 Percent.  That's the number we've been beaten to death with over the past 2 years.  80 percent of the population drives 40 miles or less per day.  So, it's been the key argument point for Volt all along.  They used that to justify the purchase of an expensive plug-in vehicle, dismissing comments by those who have a daily commute of only a few miles.  They say it's worth it, then present an array of reasons in support of that... except one.  What percentage can actually afford that expensive plug-in vehicle?  Turns out, very few.  Whether or not the purchase is worth it is completely beside the point.  They simply cannot afford it.  2 years ago, risk taking was all the rage.  Now that the economy has collapsed from that, there's a very real problem with their argument.  It's not worth the risk.

3-28-2009

Diesel Refute.  The person responsible for that challenge hasn't been cooperative.  In fact, he's been ignoring comments about emissions entirely.  And still, we haven't been presented any MPG data.  Needless to say, some of us are now speaking our minds about the obvious bias.  Here's my refute...  Panic.  That pushed them to do something, quickly before the 2010 became available.  TDI supporters know their in trouble.  The T2B5 emission rating is embarrassing, especially knowing that VW has shown off prototypes of diesel vehicles delivering PZEV.  So, they divert attention to highway efficiency instead... much like the rest of the non-hybrid industry.  The fact that the 2010 Prius also improves that must be quite humbling.  Didn't they know we'd respond this way?  Prius count is over 700,000.  EPA restrictions kept TDI sales low, to around 15,000 annually.  Doing the math really quick, it's easy to see how outnumbered they are already.  MPG data makes the situation even worse.  So, they decided to conceal the results.  Non-Hybrid diesel is not the future.  Get over it!

3-28-2009

2010 Discussions.  I told them what was in store.  Have they noticed yet?  At first, discussions about the 2010 model were rare... even on the big Prius forum.  What happened years ago was a good sign of what to expect again.  Sure enough, posts are increasing quite a bit... to the point of where you can easily see them dominating once rollout begins.  Those with the Iconic model will wonder if their peers will drop off.  Sadly, many will.  When you have a car that long which runs that well, everything eventually gets discussed.  Once in awhile, a veteran will chime in to say "all is well still" or something to that effect, but their post often gets overwhelmed by all the chatting about the new model.  Participating will shift to the 2010.  It will dominate.  That's what really reinforces mainstream acceptance... witnessing the next generation take over.

3-27-2009

CAFE Requirements, PHEV.  This is the category of great interest, since the government has been rather quiet on this particular topic.  The previous administration hyped it, but nothing actually materialized.  This one intends to push delivery.  They were defined as: "Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) are very similar to other strong hybrid electric vehicles, but with significant functional differences.  The key distinguishing feature is the ability to charge the battery pack from an outside source of electricity (usually the electric grid).  A PHEV would have a larger battery pack with greater energy capacity, and an ability to be discharged further (referred to as “depth of discharge”).  No major manufacturer currently has a PHEV in production, although both GM and Toyota have publicly announced that they will launch plug-in hybrids in limited volumes by 2010."

3-27-2009

CAFE Requirements, 2MHEV.  Rather than just lump Two-Mode into the same category as the other FULL hybrids, it was separately defined: "The 2-mode hybrid (2MHEV) is another strong hybrid system that has all-electric drive capability.  The 2MHEV uses an adaptation of a conventional stepped-ratio automatic transmission by replacing some of the transmission clutches with two electric motors, which makes the transmission act like a CVT.  Like the Power Split hybrid, these motors control the ratio of engine speed to vehicle speed.  But unlike the Power Split system, clutches allow the motors to be bypassed, which improves both the transmission's torque capacity and efficiency for improved fuel economy at highway speeds.  This type of system is used in the Chevy Tahoe Hybrid."

3-27-2009

CAFE Requirements, PSHEV.  Those of us driving Prius for many years have been calling this a FULL hybrid.  They defined it as this: "The Power Split hybrid (PSHEV) is described as a full or a strong hybrid since it has the ability to move the vehicle on electric power only.  It replaces the vehicle's transmission with a single planetary gear and a motor/generator.  A second, more powerful motor/generator is directly connected to the vehicle's final drive.  The planetary gear splits the engine's torque between the first motor/generator and the final drive.  The first motor/generator uses power from the engine to either charge the battery or supply power to the wheels.  The speed of the first motor/generator determines the relative speed of the engine to the wheels.  In this way, the planetary gear allows the engine to operate independently of vehicle speed, much like a CVT.  The Toyota Prius and the Ford Hybrid Escape are two examples of power split hybrid vehicles."

3-27-2009

CAFE Requirements, CISG.  The first of the two categories is: "A Crank Mounted Integrated Starter Generator (CISG) hybrid system, also called an Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system, utilizes a thin axial electric motor (100-144V) bolted to the engine's crankshaft.  The electric machine acts as both a motor for helping to launch the vehicle and a generator for recovering energy while slowing down.  It also acts as the starter for the engine and is a higher efficiency generator. An example of this type of a system is found in the Honda Civic Hybrid.  For purposes of the final rule, NHTSA assumed the electric machine is rigidly fixed to the engine crankshaft, thus making electric-only drive not practical."

3-27-2009

CAFE Requirements, BISG.  The first of the two categories is: "A Belt Mounted Integrated Starter Generator (BISG) system is similar to a micro-hybrid system, except that here it is defined as a system with a 110 to 144V battery pack which thus can perform some regenerative braking, whereas the 12V micro-hybrid system cannot.  The larger electric machine and battery enables additional hybrid functions of regenerative braking and a very limited degree of operating the engine independently of vehicle load.  While having a larger electric machine and more battery capacity than a MHEV, this system has a smaller electric machine than stronger hybrid systems because of the limited torque capacity of the belt driven design."

3-27-2009

CAFE Requirements, ISG.  This is what is commonly referred to as an ASSIST hybrid.  It's technically the "parallel" type, but those responsible for the document are well aware of how that term is used to intentionally mislead.  So, that opportunity has been prevented.  The proper term is now: Integrated Starter Generator (ISG).  Their definition is divided into two distinct categories as follows: "There are 2 types of integrated starter generator hybrids that are considered: the belt mounted type and the crank mounted type."

3-27-2009

CAFE Requirements, MHEV.  There isn't a whole lot to this particular design.  In fact, many often argument that this really isn't a hybrid since no propulsion power is ever contributed by the electric motor.  It is defined as this: "Micro-Hybrid (MHEV) systems are the most basic of hybrid systems and offer mainly idle-stop capability.  Their low cost and easy adaptability to existing powertrains and platforms can make them attractive for some applications."

3-27-2009

CAFE Requirements, definitions.  The document detailing 2011 model-year efficiency minimums is 857 pages long.  Talking about being thorough (lots of charts & calculations).  I like that.  The long awaited increase in MPG is finally starting to materialize.  Nonsense of the past, like "utility" vehicles over a certain weight being exempt, no longer exist.  That loophole which was so terribly exploited has been eliminated.  Taking responsibility for what is produced has finally become a priority.  Anywho, the following entries (a reference I'll depend on later, I'm sure) are the definitions that document provides for the various hybrids available now and in the near future.

3-27-2009

iPod Mentions.  When you read a review and the lack of a proprietary connector is the only thing that they complain about, you know the car did well.  I was quite amused.  iPod was mentioned 8 times!  It's interesting how they felt their readers would share the same sentiment.  Creature comforts are becoming more and more of a priority.  The appeal of the monster-size guzzler is definitely fading.  This is long overdue.  I wonder how long it will take before comparing electric-only aspects of driving will become common.  That's when you know the market has truly taken a big step forward.

3-27-2009

Transparency.  A shortcoming of Volt enthusiasts is starting to become uncomfortably apparent.  GM itself dropped the hint today.  Once their allies, now the enthusiasts are interfering with the transparency effort.  GM always wanted intentions to be blunt.  So, they have made announcements along the way.  Today, it was about when pricing would be determined.  Six months in advance is unusual.  But that keeps intent very clear.  Enthusiasts generally weren't unhappy about that.  They still refuse to provide detail.  They figure the competition will exploit it, especially with lots of time available to rebut.  GM doesn't agree.  How will this emerging conflict play out?  Remember, part of the loan/bailout agreement is to be as forthcoming as possible.

3-27-2009

Outright Lies.  The upcoming decision from the Obama administration is freaking out some GM enthusiasts.  It's only a few days away now and use of government money requires commitment... in other words, change.  So predictably, they lash out at those who represent change... like me.  Again, I got accused of changing my purpose, making wild claims, and outright lies.  But when I confront those accusers, restating a concise goal, they shy away.  (From a technical standpoint, it's support for all FULL hybrids.  As stated on my website homepage for many years, it's "To significantly reduce emissions & consumption in a reliable & cost-effective manner.")  When it comes to claims & lies, they refuse to actually point out the specific post or even the subject matter.  That same old technique of being vague reveals their attempt to mislead.  Oh well.  It will be over soon.

3-27-2009

Mandated MPG.  That was a hot discussion topic today.  CAFE standards will be raised next year.  2011 vehicles will need to meet a fleet-wide efficiency average of 27.3 MPG.  That's an 8 percent improvement over the current requirement of 25.3 MPG.  This is the first mandated increase in over 25 years.  It's about dang time.  This is long overdue.  The estimate is that 887 million gallons of fuel will be saved as a result.  That sure sounds better than "Drill Baby Drill!"  Remember that nonsense last year when people panicked about the $4 gas?  It was quite the wake-up call.  How much do you think hybrids will play a role in this and the next step of the mandate?  The new Prius, new Insight, and hybrid Fusion should serve as excellent examples of realistic solutions.  We'll find out soon.  Change is coming.

 

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