Prius Personal Log  #411

April 2, 2009  -  April 6, 2009

Last Updated: Sun. 10/24/2010

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4-06-2009

Two-Mode Sighting.  My first official sighting happened today.  All those in the past were, I believe, owned by businesses.  This one had an ordinary license-plate on it.  Just sitting there in front of a parking-meter, I couldn't resist getting close for a look inside.  That hybrid Yukon looked just like I expected.  Seating was like Camry.  The girth of the vehicle was for rugged operation, not interior space.  The larger vehicle size didn't equate to more leg room.  It's as if the full-size conversion van never existed.  Passengers don't take precedence to obsessive power.  That vehicle is utter nonsense.  Sold for utility but used to move people only is gross overkill.  Fortunately, the excessive design suffers from an excessive price.  A more realistic configuration of the technology may have captured the market, but GM wasn't interested in balance.  In fact, the next generation will deliver even more power.

4-06-2009

End of Life.  Point this out.  Everyone does.  But it's always from the design perspective.  The wait for real-world data is clearly not being taken seriously.  Learning from Prius seems to be elusive in discussions about vehicles with a battery-pack.  It's like they don't want to admit the reality that consumers will wait, not wanting to buy until the entire life-cycle is actually demonstrated by consumers.  That's why this particular time in history is so important.  As reports of the 2010 model trickle in with their first complete year of ownership, some Classic owners will be celebrating 10 years of ownership.  That's a sales endorsement like no other.  It makes those end of life concerns fade away.  Newer technologies will still be waiting for that.

4-06-2009

$2.05 Per Gallon.  I wondered how long it would take to finally break that $2 barrier.  Consumers don't like seeing that 1 change to a 2.  So, it stays below even when oil prices rise.  And lately, they have been... delaying as long as possible before prices rise.  Today, that inevitable change happened.  The arrival of warm weather was likely the influence.  It's hard to tell now.  With the price of a barrel of oil at only $52, predicting what that means to the consumption market is like throwing darts.  You just don't know.  Higher in the Summer is a realistic expectation though.  And with some of us already driving a 2010 Prius by then, things are going to be exciting.  The timing is great.  Not seeing $4 again for a long time would be great.  But too low, the forgetful nature of consumers hurts.  A little bit of a rise is a good reminder.

4-06-2009

Commute Vehicles.  The insanity of using a SUV which can tow thousands of pounds of cargo for a commute vehicle, empty and without any passengers, was acknowledged by the very automaker responsible for pushing the idea to the extreme it became.  But their solution is many years away still.  And even then, it still isn't expected to be totally competitive.  Thankfully, they don't have the resources anymore to sustain such nonsense.  The time to get serious, though long overdue, has finally arrived.  Just doing the minimum and at a snail's pace isn't acceptable.  The engineering we know we're capable of must be used.  No more excuses.  No more passing of responsibility.  Just do it!  Some day soon, we will hopefully be able to look be with amazement that anyone would even try to use a utility vehicle as a passenger car.

4-06-2009

Soapbox Time.  The shallow attempts to discredit irritate.  I know I'm not alone.  So, making it clear who was responsible and what the problem was (but without actually pointing a finger) could be beneficial.  Though, it's hard to know how many actually bother to read it.  Anywho, my soapbox time resulted in this...  Rather than Prius being an ally moving toward electrification in the fight against traditional vehicles, certain Volt enthusiasts have negatively labeled the smaller battery capacity offerings.  It started with calling the plug option a "hassle", even though that provided a substantial MPG boost.  Then the switch was made to calling that "anemic", without providing any detail to support the claim.  There's no attempt to be transparent.  Certain people absolutely refuse to compare a Prius and a Volt with the same size battery-pack.  That lack of objectivity says a lot.  The insults make it worse.  Some of us are really getting tired that.  Unless discussions become constructive, much will be lost.

4-05-2009

Lowering Expectations.  A discussion about the rollout of a new SUV which delivers 30 MPG Highway was where I confronted the Volt enthusiasts, wondering if that's what they think is the solution for GM recovery.  It was the perfect example of lowering expectations so SUVs could live on as a commute vehicle.  Anywho, this is what I posted there...  It's interesting to see how quickly Volt is being re-categorized as a long-term solution.  What was once just beyond the horizon is now getting pushed out further for the sake of becoming a competitive platform and no longer part of the recovery effort.  2015 seems to be when expectations are being set for achieving mainstream status.  Question is, what will be sold at high-volume to typical consumers in the meantime?

4-05-2009

Some Already.  Not all the enthusiasts are resistant to the proposed change in plan.  In fact, some embrace it.  That ideal becomes less of a problem when the approach is instead  deliver a long-term solution.  But in the meantime, something else must be delivered.  Sticking with traditional vehicles which only deliver 30 MPG Highway is totally unrealistic.  The competition will be offering hybrids, making those non-hybrids increasingly more difficult to sell.  Some enthusiasts acknowledge that reality, while a few continue to pretend that the next 5 to 6 years won't matter.  I'm looking forward to observing the upcoming battle from within.  Embracing hybrids like Prius, which are pushing battery production well into the mainstream, is a benefit for all in the long-term.  Some already see that and accept that.

4-05-2009

New Proposal.  An approach to separate Volt technology from the recovery effort of GM is to request a different loan entirely... which is precisely what GM has done.   They are hoping to be provided with $2.6 Billion specifically for that.  Enthusiasts would then have to acknowledge the re-categorization of Volt, no longer comparing it to Prius, since it will be targeted for an entirely different base of consumers and much later than hoped.  The expectation of delivering profit could then be dropped too.  Co-Existing with whatever the plug-in option and next generation of Prius brings wasn't appealing in the past.  All other technology was considered inferior.  But with this change, they'll have to live with that reality.  Excluding Volt from GM's financial trouble makes the final proposal to the task force more likely to be accepted.

4-05-2009

Acknowledgement.  The new CEO of GM was on "Meet The Press" this morning.  He clearly conveyed that the "Not far enough. Not fast enough." assessment from the task force was understood.  Unfortunately, the enthusiasts still won't accept it.  Their holding of the "40-mile" ideal at the penalty of high cost is impairing progress.  If 50 MPG is what Volt will deliver after the battery-pack is depleted, why in the world can't the capacity be reduced to lower cost?  The point is to transition away from traditional design as quickly as possible while building & selling the newer technology as much as possible.  An extreme won't reach the masses.  The majority want a mid-priced vehicle that delivers significant improvement... which is what that proposed configuration of Volt would do.  Delay is unacceptable.  Waiting years still before positive cash flow is achieved will not be tolerated.  Viability much be achieved in the short-term and paying back of the tax payer money following that.

4-05-2009

Electric Mode.  What in the world does Ford think that means?  This recent quote from a spokesperson really makes you wonder: "This car actually can go up to 47 miles an hour in pure electric mode, which is more than double any other hybrid on the road."  It sure appears as though they are lying.  Prius has been able to drive at up to 42 MPH using only electricity (known as "Stealth" mode) since the very beginning back in 1997.  The introduction of "EV" mode in 2003 provided a greater acceleration threshold from a speed tradeoff, but even that was up to 35 MPH.  So, what the heck does the "double" comment refer to?  Are they really spreading blatantly incorrect information?

4-04-2009

Yup, Misconception Still.  He really didn't have know how hybrids achieve efficiency gains.  The assumption was all of it came from the battery-pack and electric motors.  Engine alterations were never considered.  Being able to sacrifice power for the benefit of more MPG is simple, if you are aware of the combustion pumping cycles available and that different sizes & weights of components available.  But then again, he also assumed the electric-motor wasn't ever used while cruising either.  It makes you wonder how many others don't have any idea what happens under their vehicle's hood.  More than a single configuration of the engine itself is possible.  Thankfully, technical description isn't usually needed.  Just provide real-world data.

4-04-2009

It Lives!  Giving the benefit of doubt, this comment was responded to: "Hybrids offer 90% of their benefit when driving in stop and go traffic. They offer little, if any, benefit on the highway..."  Of course, the person who posted it could have intentionally trying to undermine.  I'll find out based on his posts that follow.  This was my attempt to find out:  It's hard to believe that misconception still lives.  There's so much real-world data to the contrary now available, you don't even have to point out technical differences anymore.  Being naive isn't much of an excuse after all these years.

4-04-2009

CEO Advice.  People were sounding off to the new head of GM today.  This was my contribution...  Make the first version of Volt affordable for the masses.  Price should be an important priority.  The original goal of "nicely under $30,000" has been lost in the chaos.  Achieving high-volume quickly is important for the new GM that emerges.  A niche configuration may be more exciting, but that's not what will sustain business.  Selling lots at a modest profit is the key.

4-04-2009

Getting Along.  Complaints are growing.  One enthusiast in particular is presenting data only to his favor.  Omissions are obvious.  The devil is in the details, and we all know it.  Yet, he persists anyway.  If you haven't guessed, it's comparing Volt to Prius with an equal size battery-pack.  That's what is always missing.  Same capacity forces the technology itself to be looked at.  But his belief is that anything less than the 40-mile size will harm the market, even though the identical thing has been said about price countless times.  So, all we continue to get is a matrix portraying ideal-condition values comparing extremes without disclaimers stating the assumptions or conditions.  Realistically, it doesn't matter.  The clock is ticking.  June 1st is coming quick.  Reality is about to come crashing down.  The superiority nonsense will end.  Getting along will become a necessity.  The time for loan justification will be over.

4-03-2009

Fusion-Hybrid Commercial.  Saw my first tonight.  Wasn't expecting it.  So, I missed most of what was said and shown.  Most of the time, I just tune out Ford commercials.  But naturally, the word "hybrid" caught my attention.  It makes one wonder what the demand will be.  Getting the word out that there is now a hybrid sedan available from Ford is important.  Of course, with the intent to only produce 25,000 the first year, you really don't want to attract just anyone.  Well informed consumers work best as new-product purchasers.  They'll find out about it without much budget being spent for advertising.  But then again, Ford still needs to do some of this for image too... just in case federal money is required to keep operations running smoothly.

4-02-2009

Beyond Suspicion, part 5.  By the way, the diesel was a manual transmission.  Knowing that alone is all you actually need to see that they weren't trying to be constructive.  Consumers don't want to have to shift.  Having an automatic transmission is what's considered normal.  But we all know that the convenience comes with an efficiency penalty.  Resulting MPG will be lower than the 0.44 difference observed between the non-hybrid diesel and the Prius on that drive.  Of course, the fact that diesel costs 25 cents more per gallon messes up their argument too.

4-02-2009

Beyond Suspicion, part 4.  Credibility had been lost weeks ago anyway.  So that unexplainable altering of numbers meant little in the end.  After all, rushing to use the older model Prius rather than waiting for the new... which would undeniably be more efficient ...revealed a bias from the start.  Those videos & comments that followed confirmed it.  There was no control vehicle for comparison.  There was just a cross-country drive which heavily favored the diesel vehicle and no detail documenting the experiences.  The outcome was tarnishing the already bad reputation for "clean" diesel.

4-02-2009

Beyond Suspicion, part 3.  We were delighted.  It took a whole month to finally provide a single sentence about MPG and both values were supposedly messed up?  How could such profound errors happen?  The odds go way beyond suspicion.  Lack of detail is always a concern.  We had always hoped the delay was somehow just due to someone struggling to make a nice spreadsheet, complete with graphs.  But waiting 4 weeks for just one sentence with two totals is absurd.  The values themselves were great though.  The diesel increased exactly 4 MPG and the Prius exactly 6 MPG.  There's nothing to explain such an odd "correction".  Both new numbers are reasonable outcomes too.

 

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