Prius Personal Log  #421

June 4, 2009  -  June 8, 2009

Last Updated: Sat. 3/06/2010

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6-08-2009

More Deliveries.  I saw 4 more 2010 Prius on a delivery truck today, heading toward my dealer.  It sure is nice commuting on the same route the trucks drive from the railroad yard.  Getting to have sightings like that is inspiring.  New owners often don't post online.  They just disappear into the unknown.  But knowing there's a steady flow of new Prius going somewhere is all I need to know.  People somewhere are buying them.  Every delivery adds to the total.  Each Prius helps make a difference.

6-07-2009

Changing Image, discussions.  If you think progress isn't being made, think again.  That fact that price is getting so much attention now is a big improvement.  Rather than promoting the ideal, as in the past, there is now a practical aspect emerging.  GM filing for bankruptcy is something the most stubborn of arguers never considered a reality.  But now that it actually happened, asking what makes the current configuration competitive is no longer considered an effort to undermine.  It's more of a matter of survival.  After all, just 6 months from now Toyota will be offering a small number of Prius using Li-Ion batteries... which is another thing some never considered a reality.  Change is happening... real change, not just image.

6-07-2009

Changing Image, for Volt.  For the enthusiasts on the blogging website for Volt, I posted this response to that article:  The attention to "image" is a huge concern.  Selling lots of mid-size, mid-price, mid-appeal vehicles is what the competitors do a great job at... and consequently sustain their business well with.  The "awe" inspired by vehicles like Volt & Camaro stirs much excitement but high-volume sales simply are not realistic.  A plug-in vehicle priced well above average and a guzzler in the time resource & environmental concerns don't make sense.   In fact, that's the very mindset which the old GM struggled with.  Will the new GM repeat those very same mistakes?  If the goal of Volt is to truly make a difference, that means it must be able to reach a large consumer base.  So far, no high-volume commitment has been made.  The abandonment of the original intent of being priced "nicely under $30,000" confirms a lack-of-reach priority.  In fact, making the technology in Volt ubiquitous seems to be something GM is attempting to avoid.  Rather than attempting to replace a large chunk of their fleet with it, they do all they can to draw attention to its uniqueness.  How will GM compete?  Do they really think image will help sell what they currently offer?

6-07-2009

Changing Image, for Prius.  For the supporters on the big Prius forum, I posted this response to that article:  If both vehicles are just for show and very few are actually sold, it truly is just about image.  If Camaro becomes a dominant vehicle, they've basically learned nothing and simply shifted from one type of guzzler to another.  If Volt (the $40,000 configuration) becomes a dominant vehicle, I will be beside myself.  Even some enthusiasts are now begging for a choice of one that's affordable.  Prius nailed the price/efficiency balance.  For GM to also achieve a high-volume product like that, they need to rethink Volt configuration.  Even the task-force is saying too little, too slowly.  The negative cash flow it will require for a number of years still simply doesn't make sense.  The goal should be to reach millions with the new technology.

6-07-2009

Changing Image, article.  There was an extensive article published today which addressed the image aspect of the vehicles an automaker offers.  The focus was exclusively on GM's plan to offer Volt & Camaro, how that would change their image in the future.  Needless to say, the symbolism of Prius and mistakes of the past were written about in depth.  Price was brought up, but high-volume production was not.  That topic is essentially just pushed aside waiting for "technological advances and economies of scale cut the cost of batteries".  It's the chicken or egg syndrome.  They expect cost to drop as the result of lots of people buying, but that won't happen until cost drops.  The solution to this was to request more money from the government to subsidize the first few years of production.  In other words, GM now wants money they won't have to pay back.  My question is why do they continue to insist that only a "40-mile" range is the only configuration that should be offered.

6-07-2009

Watching MPG.  The recent cold weather "killed" the efficiency average in my 2010 Prius.  When filling the tank today, I discovered the result was "only" a calculated value of 56 MPG.  Isn't that disappointing?  I don't even know how to be smug with this new model.  The attitude comes off as sarcastic instead.  I think that has to do with the technology being so well established now.  Back when that label was first applied, things were much different.  The market hadn't seen extremely high gas prices yet and climate-change was only a treehugger concern.  Now seeing Prius is no big deal.  They're all over now.  Watching MPG has become an aspect of appeal.  The days of careless guzzling are over.  The pain in the wallet is enough to draw attention and end the shun.  The problem oil dependency causes is finally a concern... though not taken as seriously as it should, nor are smog-related emission... but it's a step in the right direction.

6-06-2009

Rain Treated Windows.  That rain yesterday was my first opportunity to witness how the new special glass reacts to water.  Both front-side windows repelled the rain wonderfully.  It was odd seeing them so clear compared to the windows behind them.  That sure was nice.  I can't wait to find out how they respond in the Winter.  (Hopefully, it will seem like forever.  I don't want to rush Summer.)  The aftermarket chemical treatment never worked well for me on our salt-coated roads here.  The factory option looks promising.  I wonder how many other people will discover the feature after they take ownership.  That wasn't one that jump out at me, only a line in the long list of options the package offered.  It's a pleasing addition.

6-06-2009

2010 Meeting.  A friend from Chicago dropped me a note, saying he'd be in town with his 2010 Prius.  I raced to make that meeting happen.  It wasn't an opportunity I'd want to miss.  Unfortunately, the temperature was only 48 F degrees.  What a pain.  True, it was the result of the much needed rain we've been hoping for.  But hiding inside the 2 new hybrids pointing out features causes condensation on the windows.  To make matters even more silly, my wheels were turned.  So, he turned his to counter.  It looked absurd... those Prius alone late at night in a wet parking lot next to each other all steamed up.  In a way, it was somewhat fortunate I had forgotten my camera in the hast to get there.  That certainly was fun.  I have the solar package.  He has the one with adaptive cruise-control and lane-keep assist.  So, it was our chance to do up close comparisons.  We had a blast.

6-06-2009

Dealership Games.  Reading an article written by a reporter who interviewed someone at a dealership as their research is always amusing.  In this case, it was Ford.  The hybrid version of Fusion was spotlighted as a symbol of change, even though only one had been sold during the previous month.  It was also praised as the fuel-efficiency leader, since it is supposedly much bigger than the "small" Prius.  And believe it or not, this is how they promote it: "The hybrid technology is twofold: It's better fuel economy, and it's lower greenhouse gas emissions."  That's stating the same benefit twice, since better MPG relates directly to carbon-dioxide reduction.  The push for cleaner turned to E85, pushing the carbon theme heavily, but still never mentioning the other type of emission: smog.  It was yet another article that completely disregarded emission rating... which is too bad, since Ford scores well in that category.  Unfortunately, the dealer wasn't smart enough to point that out.  Like many, they focus entirely on "greenhouse" appeal.

6-06-2009

Engine Shudder.  It's totally gone in this new model.  With the older Prius, an attentive owner aware of the criteria required could notice when the engine stopped or started.  But with the 2010, nothing at all.  That's why connecting that aftermarket gauge was such a big deal.  Even when you knew what to expect, it didn't seem to happen.  Heat management is likely a big contributor to this.  No more dancing with a cold engine on the verge of stopping shortly before warm-up is complete while the vehicle isn't in motion.  Shut off comes much sooner and last much longer.  It's quite impressive.  But now with the shudder gone, informing newbies of what actually takes place under the hood is even more difficult.  There's no feel or sound to clue them in anymore.

6-06-2009

Leaner, Greener, Faster, Smarter.  All the television commercials promoting the "Reinvention of GM" is making me somewhat crazy.  They are promoting an idea without any substance.  What are the plans beyond reducing the number of brands & models available?  When we look back are 2009 how will things be different?  How would the vehicles themselves be improved to make the GM competitive?  In other words, what will be changing?  Without the commercials, it just looks like less of the same.

6-06-2009

EV Limits.  I finally encountered the strange "9 MPH" limitation newbies had pointed out about the 2010 Prius.  Knowing that the emission system must first be completely warmed up, I hadn't tried to prematurely engage it.  They did.  I'm also aware of when there's a benefit to using EV mode, rather than just letting Stealth engage automatically.  In short, it's when you'll be driving 25 MPH or slower for an extended amount of time without any rapid acceleration.  In other words, waiting in line at the drive-thru or on-ramp or when waiting to pay for parking.  I thought those uses were obvious.  Apparently, they're not.

6-06-2009

Offering Choice.  Telling us what we want & need has been a fundamental problem.  Which unfortunately, still has not been overcome.  Yet again, I had to point that out for the Volt bloggers:  Why won't we being offered a CHOICE of battery size?  Old GM failed in part by not offering choices.  New GM shouldn't follow that same mentality... one size fits all... lack of diversity.  Provide the larger battery size as an option, just like countless other upgrade features have been marketed for decades.  That way, consumers can choose what to buy.  A less expensive Volt would still achieve significant consumption reduction while also being able to reach a much larger number of consumers.  Not getting the CHOICE also makes Volt less competitive… which is not wise in this much more competitive market.  Remember, the business model now is low-margin vehicles sold in high-volume.

6-05-2009

10-Day Impression.  It's been an amazing experience so far.  The first full week of my 2010 Prius ownership started with GM filing for bankruptcy and ended on the 9th anniversary of having placed the order for my first Prius.  Commuting to & from work is a true delight.  Rather than incredible MPG, as with my Iconic model, this new one is truly unbelievable.  I am quite curious how the media will react once reports from owners begin to stir attention.  Heck, consistently seeing 59.3 MPG even shocks me.  Many understand how the larger engine allows for lower RPM, which contributes to improved efficiency.  But the fact that RPM is even lower during warp-stealth (when the engine is spinning, but without fuel) leaves you wondering how they did that and what other surprises are in store.  Having the engine shut off sooner sure is nice.  I was hoping that refinement was realistic.  What will next week bring.  The unusually cold weather so far is likely holding back this Prius from really shining.  I can't wait for Summer to finally arrive!  After all, that solar panel is yearning for an opportunity to impress.

6-04-2009

The Goal, determined.  I won't let their lack of constructiveness get the best of me.  In fact, it's pretty easy to rebuttal to a power message.  All I have to do is drive the Prius and document my experiences.  Real-World data & photos trumps a pre-production vehicle by a large magnitude.  People can see for themselves how realistic the technology in Prius is.  Spreading it to a variety of vehicles types & sizes available in large quantity is a very easy thing to accept.  What else is their to prove?  Seeing so many on the road is a heck of an endorsement.  The goal to provide millions a practical choice is what we are striving for, not an ideal.  That will come later.  Vehicles need replacement years later, just like computers.  The next will be even better... but you'll still enjoy every minute of the one you buy now.  I'm determined to help make that happen.

6-04-2009

The Goal, soapbox.  Here's how I responded to the "sell millions" comment:  There are many here who strongly disagree with that... though, they refuse to admit it.  Instead, focus is on the ideal engineering, not business reality.  Remember, that's the very same approach taken with Two-Mode.  Rather than designing a technology for the masses, it was configured for a niche.  Mainstreams concern, such as cost, were disregarded.  Volt is falling into a similar category.  Look at it this way... based on driving 15,000 miles per year, Prius (55 MPG) uses 273 gallons and Volt will use around 50 gallons.  For Prius to match the consumption reduction of Volt, it would need to sell at a ratio of 5.5 to 1.  Prius annual production is now being raised to 500,000.  For Volt, that sets an expectation of 90,900 just to match.  And that's not even taking into account any of the other FULL hybrids also being produced by Toyota.  For Volt to actually be a "leap frog" technology, well over 100,000 would need to hit the street the very first year of production.  4 years later, plug-in options for FULL hybrids will be common and will decrease the ratio needed... requiring even more Volt to be available.  Production increases for FULL hybrids will require still more.  GM expects 150,000 Volt annually by 2015.  That's well short of leaping and certainly doesn't reach many consumers.  Too little, too slowly is what the task-force reported.  Those numbers confirm it.

 

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