Prius Personal Log  #422

June 9, 2009  -  June 13, 2009

Last Updated: Sat. 3/06/2010

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6-13-2009

2.5 Weeks Later.  It's finally starting to resemble Summer here.  That means time to play with the still-very-new Prius.  Yesterday, it was a drive in stealth like no other.  Up hill and several blocks before the engine started.  That was truly delightful, some might say electrifying.  Today, it was driving from the bank to the far end of the strip-mall across the street using EV mode.  Never having the engine run was great.  When stopped, I went to stop while the solar-panel did it's thing.  The car was comfortable when I returned.  Having the fan blowing fresh air through the car while I'm gone is difficult to describe.  It's quite unique of an experience.  Opening the roof for the drive back topped the errand outing for the day... or so I thought.  To my surprise, I discovered all the windows in this model Prius are automatic.  No more button holding anymore.  Cool!  Needless to say, I'm really enjoying the 2010... even without mentioning the 55.5 MPG average for this tank.

6-13-2009

Excuses & Commitment.  We are getting a lot of one and none of the other.  Fear of change is obviously pushing these extremes to the forefront.  Promising to deliver what's needed is basically an admission of guilt.  So clearly, that's not going to happen.  It's frustrating.  The exploitation of the SUV was a delay of the inevitable.  Sure enough, the day of reckoning has arrived.  The typical consumer needs a midsize car at a midsize price.  That means hybrids like Camry, Fusion, and Prius should be given extremely high priority.  That's what we need.  It's not what some want... or so they think.  Those resisting make far too many assumptions about what the technology has to offer while at the same time dismissing the our dependence on oil and our problem with emissions.  No more excuses!  It's like when a child refuses to do what must be done.  They know they'll be better off afterward, yet they resist anyway.

6-13-2009

Acceptable Delay.  A new theme is rapidly emerging.  In the past, there were occasional references to how long it took Toyota to achieve profit from Prius.  None in defense of GM ever acknowledge the barriers back then.  It's a complete disregard for the attitude toward guzzling back then, when gas was cheap and the SUV was a status symbol.  Anyone concerned about either type of emission back then was mocked.  Misconceptions were absurd & abundant.  Heck, even data about hybrids themselves was hard to find.  Now, the situation is dramatically different.  GM is already producing vehicles which use battery-packs and electric motors.  So with all that, why should it be acceptable for 6 years after rollout begins before we can expect high-volume production of Volt?  Even under normal circumstances, why should we endure such a long delay?  Let's not forget how taxpayer money is expected to be paid back.  How long must we wait?

6-12-2009

Not The Same.  Rather than hybrid type, it is now intention.  GM is getting attacked from every angle for doing too little, too slowly.  The response has been to give the impression they are doing exactly what Toyota did back when Prius was new.  This was the quote that finally provoked a response from me: "The Prius didn't' come out making a profit when it first hit the market, why are you criticizing GM for doing the same thing?"  It's very easy for me to see that's not the case, because I witnessed that history firsthand.  Those just tuning into the hybrid market now don't have that insight.  So, convincing them of a different history isn't much of an effort.  I'll do what I can to point out how the situation now is not the same, with posts like this...  Unlike Toyota, we are not getting an AFFORDABLE configuration first.  In fact, we aren't even getting a CHOICE. They are totally disregarding the midprice market.  For GM to be doing the same, they'd have to start by offering a small battery-pack.  Those with short commutes would be quite content with that and pleased with the much lower price.  Those with longer commutes would still benefit from the efficiency the generator offers after the battery-pack is depleted.  Later, GM would then follow up with a OPTIONAL larger battery-pack.  But that's not what they are doing, so it is not the same.

6-11-2009

Not About Sales.  It's hard to believe all the "image" nonsense.  The denial is truly amazing.  A few exerted great effort to conceal the success of Prius.  They portrayed it as just a status symbol, insisting it has no effect on the product-line... just a excuse to allow automakers to continue producing guzzlers.  Well, now that the truth is being revealed, their strategy is changing to make the technology seem outdated... as summarized in this quote: "The hybrid game isn't about sales, it's all about image and making the other guy's technology obsolete."  They want the label to act as a stigma.  I just find it amusing, knowing how many non-hybrids are still being produced.  Isn't that engine-only technology extinct by now?  Anywho, I replied with this:  That quote goes in the blogs!  It's hard to believe such misguided thoughts still persist, even after bankruptcy.  You'd think attitude would change and they'd noticed the world is now different.  But no!  Even when Toyota is increasing volume with the hope of Prius eventually rising to the number-two bestseller in their product-line, the competition is still in denial claiming it's just a "halo" vehicle.  The image nonsense is getting absurd.  Profit is being made.  Hybrids are now mainstream.  Accept it already!

6-11-2009

Wheat Straw.  Advances in the production of ethanol are proceeding well.  Today, news came in the form of an announcement about a station in Ottawa planning to offer a production of 40,000 liters (10,500 gallons) of ethanol per month from wheat straw.  The move away from food sources is a welcome one.  Strangely, all the propaganda for corn-based ethanol brought attention to the non-food opportunities.  Remember the "Live Green, Go Yellow" advertisement campaign?  It's hard to believe that certain automakers thought they could avoid having to reduce consumption by simply switching to a renewable source alone.  Thank goodness we've already overcome that deception.  Phew!

6-11-2009

It's So Small.  That was the exclamation today from someone at the coffee shop asking about my new Prius.  I turned to look out into the parking lot in amazement.  The 2010 Prius was the largest vehicle out there.  And of things, it was parked next to a Geo Prizm... dwarfing it in size!  The guy had obviously never looked closely at the Prius.  He defense was that as a student seeking a degree in Automotive Engineering, it was easy to just dismiss hybrids in favor of diesel.  Acknowledging the fact that a hybrid vehicle could use a diesel engine was apparently a sin.  So, I avoided that topic in favor of pointing out the upcoming strict emission standard in Europe this Fall would cause diesel MPG to drop and price to rise.  It was clear the discussion had ended.  He didn't want to face that reality.  Things change.  Blatantly incorrect assertions, such as size, don't work anymore.  I wonder if he realized just how easy it is now to debunk claims which worked so well in the past.  Hmm?

6-11-2009

Understating MPG.  This idea often surprises Prius supporters.  My guess is they don't engage in online combat as I do.  After all, participating on the hostile forums isn't for everyone.  But I'm determined to help keep the greenwashing from getting out of hand.  But rather than promoting the potential the 2010 has to offer, I just state 55 MPG as a typical experience.  That's it.  The value is under what I am seeing now, but still well above the EPA estimate.  The number is pleasing without overstating.  After all, that's what the competition did... with little success.  I'd rather understate.  Remember, my motto has always been "Just Drive It!"  You can squeeze out higher MPG, if you desire.  But that's not good for real-world comparisons with traditional vehicles.  There's no need for more.  55 MPG easily sells the vehicle anyway.

6-11-2009

Repeating History.  It boggles the mind how some don't learn from mistakes of the past.  Remember all the hype behind Two-Mode?  The same is happening with the technology in Volt too.  They are so focused on pushing technology to the extreme that they neglect the very consumers they are supposedly developing the vehicles for.  In other words, bragging rights are given much higher priority than price.  In fact, price is so low on the list of concerns that it is often brushed aside.  Two-Mode does indeed deliver lots of towing capacity, as promised, but the price is well beyond what most people are even willing to consider.  So, sales are poor.  How will Volt (as currently configured) be any different.  You'll get the very impressive MPG, but you have to pay dearly for it.  How many people are willing to do that?

6-10-2009

Death of BAS.  Sales have been almost non-existent.  Production has been halted, with no intent to ever resume.  Inventory is really backed up.  The only substantial deliveries have been to the government, as part of the bailout effort.  In other words, what some of us have been saying for years has finally been proven true.  That mild ASSIST hybrid simply couldn't compete.  To make matters worse, pointing that out has been with reference to the success of Ford's new FULL hybrid.  So those who defend GM by attempting to discredit the information claiming it's just Toyota spin are trapped.  They've run out of excuses and far too many references in the past reveal they were wrong.  Priorities were misplaced.  The announcement today about the end of what was once deemed a large part of GM future sure makes for interesting blogging!  Change is now.  That awful plan of doing the absolute minimum is now part of history... too little, too slowly.

6-10-2009

Happy With Iconic.  There's a crowd who isn't interested in trading their current Prius for the new model.  That's ok.  The market is focused primarily on newbies anyway.  But since I did take the plunge, something must be said to those I left with the Iconic.  So, here's what I posted:  I enjoy witnessing the rollout process all over again.  It's beginning to resemble the computer industry.  Each hardware/software upgrade is consists of a pleasing set of improvements.  Nonetheless, they aren't for everyone.  Some aren't ready yet and will wait until the next round.  Some (like me) pounce at the opportunity.  Others will be on the fence, torn about what to do.  This is new for the automotive industry.  New vehicles purchases didn't involve compelling features we find in Prius.  They will though.  The bankruptcies are forcing the change which was resisted fiercely in the past.  Drawing consumers simply by pushing size & power doesn't work anymore.  Yeah!  Enjoy your Prius, whichever model you drive.  You're doing your part to help that change along.  Thanks!

6-10-2009

Fiat.  It's official.  Though the process wasn't exactly smooth, the bankruptcy sale of Chrysler to Fiat did end up happening.  Product offerings will take 2 to 3 years before the new automaker identity truly starts to emerge.  But in the meantime, the plans they set forth will be enlightening.  A shift toward cars, away from trucks, is absolutely inevitable.  The age of overkill is over.  Appeal for the sport aspect of driving, as opposed to just sheer size & power, is what most expect.  Witnessing that over again will be very interesting.  Remember, the same thing happened back in the late-70's thru mid-80's.  The purchase that occurred today is an interesting step away from the absurd obsession we had to deal with in the 00's.  Good luck Fiat!

6-09-2009

Nearly 800 Dealers.  Hearing the stories about Chrysler dealerships permanently closing their doors, after decades of dedicated sales & service, is truly shocking.  What in the world are they going to do?  How will this affect small communities?  The impact of poor automaker decisions is now really harming those who weren't directly responsible but were still very much part of the business.  That's an extremely difficult position to be in.  No one has any idea what comes next.  All we know is that the magnitude is huge.

6-09-2009

Above $70.  It finally happened.  We all knew the price of oil would climb back up again.  Summer's start was the most likely time.  The driving season has brought about rude reminders of our dependency several years in a row now.  This is probably disheartening for some.  I could imagine a few clenching the hope of somehow not having to deal with the reality of change becoming a necessity.  Automaker struggling just to survive should be a clue that things are only temporary.  We can't just continue doing only the minimum.  After all, consumption isn't our only problem.  Emissions (both types) is a very big deal too.

6-09-2009

Prius Profit.  We were treated to a Bloomberg article about the profit Prius makes for Toyota.  How many of those still trying to undermine hybrid progress will pretend no such thing was ever published?  Even just acknowledging anything on that topic was printed could be looked upon as being responsible for greenwashing.  When the amount itself is available... 100,000 yen ($1,042) to 200,000 yen... it's really difficult to deny.

6-09-2009

Contradicting Propaganda.  You read the information about Two-Mode.  The material claims it is superior to other hybrids due to its ability to offer a direct mechanical energy path, avoiding any conversion to electricity.  You read the information about Volt.  The material claims it is superior to other hybrids due to its ability to operate using only electricity, never having a direct mechanical energy path.  So... which is it?  GM's own propaganda contradicts itself.  How can both be superior?  Mixed messages like that is why there is fighting from within.  Competing for its own resources, the automaker is divided.  There is such a thing as a happy middle.  Will those running the new GM ever figure this out?  The enthusiasts still haven't.

6-09-2009

Diminishing Returns.  You expect to read glowing review statements like this: "The pep and power of the smooth, refined, and quiet Volt motor can't even be compared to..."  But do you take them seriously?  Here's how I responded:  "Diminishing Returns" is a term that is often dismissed here, despite the fact that the typical consumer is quite satisfied with the driving refinements already available.  If they aren't seeking anything better, why do you think they will want pay extra for it?  It's as much of a selling point as the difference between a 0-60 time reduction from 10 seconds to 9.  Most consumers won't ever benefit from it.  The same applies to towing capacity.  Automakers can promote the upgrade, but the usage doesn't change.  The difference is moot.  Efficiency, on the other hand, really will draw sales.  However, we don't have any data on that.  So, there's nothing to discuss yet.

 

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