Prius Personal Log #450
February 21, 2010 - February 27, 2010
Last Updated: Sat. 3/06/2010
page #449 page #451 BOOK INDEX
Lexus CT 200h. This is the newest hybrid just revealed by Toyota. Advancement goes on, despite the crazed market at the moment. It's a luxury compact. That should make things interesting. Downsizing of vehicles is hitting all types of vehicles. What that will translate to for MPG is a topic for pondering. Being smaller than Prius but using the same size engine should give it some kick, yet still deliver very nice efficiency. Not much else is known yet. We'll have to wait until closer to the end of the year when it rolls out.
Statistical Nonsense. Something that has irritated me more than anything, an inspiration to collect daily-driving information of my own, has been the endless quoting of GM's claim that 80 percent of people drive less than 40 miles each day. We never really knew much about that particular statistic, despite heavy use of it. Later, we uncovered the reality that the sample size was only 1,000 drivers. What are the odds that it doesn't represent a wide demographic? Well fortunately today, another survey was revealed in a new Argonne study. The sample size it had collected was 84,000. And you guessed it, the percentage was less. It was only 62. Just think how much lower that could be if the survey had sighted 35 miles in Winter. More and more, Volt is becoming just another efficiency option that will be available... rather than a leap-frog, make everything else obsolete technology enthusiasts have been claiming. Add that to the pile of nonsense observed long before rollout began. Then when it does, we won't be accused of rewriting history. Those concerns about misleading are well documented already.
Disproving Nonsense. I'm planning on another Prius upgrade. (It sure is nice they hold their value so well.) When the plug-in model becomes available, I intend to be among the early deliveries. That's why I'm so diligently collecting real-world data now. Later when I do finally get that opportunity to plug, I'll have a great basis of comparison available. It's worked well already for comparison of prior generations. My same commute results in clear evidence of MPG improvement. But with this next model, we'll have the added challenge of disproving nonsense spewed by other competing plug options, not just traditional offerings or less capable hybrids. Their claims are based on estimates, which have inherent shortcomings. Real-World data takes care of that.
Ending Nonsense. The point of my pestering is to end the nonsense. I do it for Prius too, not just Volt. So those who think I'm showing a bias haven't bother to actually do any searches. Any misleading portrayal is confronted. Prius supporters have seen the damage (far too many times) caused by having inflated expectations. When new owners discover what they read about was an ideal, rather than real-world, they become very upset. Yet, that's exactly what some Volt enthusiasts are doing without disclaimer. It's far too easy for the uninformed to expect the nonsense (that's hype they believe). The reminder of YMMV (Your Mileage My Vary) is excluded, intentionally. It's very frustrating to witness that.
Believing Nonsense. Sadly, there are some who take information posted at face value, never searching to confirm whether or not it is correct or misleading. Simple proof of that is the number of comments still posted by those who claim Volt will "use NO GAS at all, and after 40 miles, 50MPG". That's absolutely false. We know for a fact that even in the optimal conditions, Volt will still run the engine an absolute minimum of 10 minutes monthly. Fluids must be circulated and that is the longest duration GM will be allowing. We also know that the 50 MPG estimate was from the original 1.0 liter 3-cylinder engine. That was dropped in favor of an engine we know is less efficient even under ideal conditions, a 1.4 liter 4-cylinder. We even have test-drive observations stating 38 to 40 MPG. Lastly, we know for a fact that Winter will require the engine to run for warm-up and that battery capacity will be less and demand greater, reducing the range from 40 miles to somewhere around 30. Yet, knowing all this already, some continue to post what they hope for rather than something realistic.
Shoveling Nonsense. That new document couldn't have been better timed. Yet again, a certain Volt enthusiast posted extremely misleading & vague numbers, then attacked when I pointed out a revision was needed and provided data to support it. There's no opportunity for constructive discussion. If you don't like their talking points, your posts are considered bashing. It's pretty sad. In this case, I pointed out how the lifetime portrayal of 120,000 miles of driving did not reflect an accurate depiction of gas gallons consumed due to using only the city estimate of 230 MPG. Saying the car would never be used on a highway (which has much lower MPG) its entire life was just plain not realistic. His response to that was anger. So of course, when I pointed out the use of a 40-mile city estimate was also misleading, it fell on deaf ears. He simply does not want to deal with real-world conditions, like heater use in the Winter. It's the same old nonsense from a supposed leader there. Over and over and over again, we get it shoveled to us. Do they honestly think setting up expectations based upon ideal conditions without disclosure is going to help?
Thinking About Trading. This caption above a photo in an
article about Toyota today sure caught my attention: "May owns a 2010 Prius, a recalled model, and he's thinking about trading it
in on a new one." Don't you love how things can so easily be twisted
or blown out of proportion? What the heck does that actually mean?
Is he really concerned about the recall or was this just a simple case of buying
the base model and seeing an opportunity to upgrade? Since the recall is
nothing but a software update, trading for that reason alone is completely
pointless. Software is updated in computers routinely. It's no big
deal. In fact, programming improvements are an expectation... not an
exception. What possible concern could that owner have? It would be
unfortunate to discover a salesperson motivated by commission is pushing the
idea of trading for a new version of the same package. Unfortunately,
we'll most likely never find out why.
RAV4 Hybrid. We got news of this being official today. Spring of 2012 is when it's expected. As some of us anticipated, the physical size & power growth of Prius has opened up opportunities. In this case, the same size engine will be used. In fact, that was officially stated as becoming the automaker's "core powertrain" for hybrids. It makes sense. Having driven mine for 8 months now, I see it as an excellent balance of wants & needs. Anywho, this particular new hybrid is direct competition with the only other smaller FULL hybrid SUV available. That should make things interesting. Competition in the practical-size market should benefit everyone, especially when in comes to improved emissions & efficiency.
Makes Others Better. An interesting theme emerging from all the attention on Toyota's reputation is that it will somehow raise the status of the competition. The supporters of the other automakers don't believe the raising of standards actually at issue will affect them too. They just see it as an opportunity to sway the poorly informed away from interest in Toyota vehicles. That will probably work in the short-term too... if all the consumer is looking for is a basic traditional vehicle. If they are looking for a solution to the ever-climbing gas prices, Prius will continue to be the first hybrid they research. What's a mystery is that 40 MPG market, where there's a mix of choices emerging. How will consumers be convinced those are better? What makes them the best choice from the point-of-view of a poorly informed consumer?
In The End. This quote truly upset
the Prius supporters:
"The MPG drop was just one of my concerns in the Prius and turned out to be
the least one in the end." It came from an owner who harassed
the online community, complaining about his MPG in every possible
manner you could imagine. We got over 1,000 negative posts from him. It was horrible!
Tolerating those complaints about his trouble with the Winter drop causing
financial strife was making us crazy. His
purchase decision was all about saving money from fuel expense. But he clearly
hadn't done any homework before purchasing. He just heard MPG 2010 reports
during the Summer and assumed he'd get that all year long. It's was
case of buyer's remorse. He later declared his desire to trade in his new
Prius for a diesel to compensate for the MPG he required for his daily long
highway commutes. What did he end up getting in the end? It was a
Hyundai Sonata. What the heck! The MPG estimate is only 22/32.
That choice doesn't make any sense. He flat out denied MPG was ever
problem. Talking about hypocritical.
Hummer Is Dead. The effort of GM to sell Hummer to an heavy equipment manufacturer in China fell apart. It was yet another failure to unload assets. So, this brand will die too. Production is winding down. Sales were way down already, just a few hundred per month. Someday, we'll actually get good news from GM. But now, it's the on-going need of recovery from the bankruptcy... which is inherently bad news during this phase. Do you think anyone will miss this gas-guzzling behemoth?
Recall Perspective & Awakening. With the "unintended acceleration" recall being Toyota's first involuntary recall in its 52-year history here, those who have been struggling to with their own problems had the ultimate distraction... or so they thought. Turns out, the congressional hearing which began today served as an awakening. Perspective was given by pointing out how common involuntary recalls have become. Other automakers had several last year. To be fair, this is due in part to standards being raised. Of course, some don't want to be fair... pushing the idea of absolute certainty, no possibility of a failure ever under any circumstances. That's not realistic. What is realistic though is better communication among all parties and improvements to the overseeing authority, NHTSA. Much good can come out of this. How long do you think some will dwell on the bad though? It got pretty ugly over the past month.
Wonderful Sighting. There's nothing like stopping at the local store and seeing several Prius nearby in the parking lot. There were 3 Iconic and a 2010 all within throwing distance of mine. What a sight! It was wonderful. That was a fantastic reality check from all the hysteria we had been dealing with. It's hard to believe things got so blown out of proportion. To think panic can so easily emerge. Just imagine what things could be like if gas climbs up to $4 again, but this time doesn't come down as quickly or as far. With Prius better established now, much due to this newest generation, the choice of buying one is much easier. Prius is already a common sight on the road.
$2.75 Per Gallon. With the price of oil slowly rising
to $80 per barrel, it's a given that gas will become more expensive too.
That's a hint of the economy recovering. Sadly, the result is more traffic
to deal with. A certain large automaker hoping gas will remain at the
$2.49 level for many years to come still is already in trouble. We have
already witnessed the end of the SUV age. Those expensive leases for those
terribly inefficient vehicles have expired. Consumers are trading them in
cars that don't guzzle instead. The unwanted SUV lease-returns are shipped
out of the country. Hopefully, they'll actually use them for utility...
quite unlike what we did here. Using them for daily commuting was a
terrible waste. But when gas was cheap, people didn't care.
Abandoning 230, document. Back when the hype began, I
created a spreadsheet you could insert a typical week-long scenario into and get
an estimate in return. 6 months later, I've collected enough real-world
data to do calculations with. No need to "what if" anymore. There's
actual numbers to work with now. This information compiled into a new
document tells an interesting story. Of course, we all had a feeling that
the "230" claims were just ideal condition claims anyway. Now, you can see
that along with reasons stating why. Check it out. In the meantime,
I'll continue to collect data. Another chapter awaits as the next season
arrives. Misrepresentation is very frustrating. Having something
like this available sure helps to provide perspective...
Abandoning 230, goal. What is it? We get an awful lot of trophy mentality, where the goal of transitioning away from traditional vehicles is neglected in favor of bragging rights. If Volt were as efficient as Prius in charge-sustaining mode, why wouldn't they offer a model with a smaller battery-pack? Some still claim MPG with after depletion will be 50. Others say even higher. That simply doesn't make any sense... especially when the test-drive in early December by a well-known supporter only delivered MPG in the upper 30's. Attitude is dismissive. Cost is exorbitant. Goal is puzzling. Why is GM betting the farm on just this technology? In does not seem a realistic choice for the replacement of traditional vehicles.
Abandoning 230, history. How many times has the reference to "over promise, under deliver" been made? It was so common of a problem from GM that the effort to promote "230 MPG" was immediately responded to with doubt. I like pointing out actual occurrences in hybrid history to make that point clear, especially when in comes to Volt. Today, it was posting this: Keep in mind, history has taught us that it can repeat if mistakes of the past are not understood. In advance, it was easy to see Two-Mode would be very expensive. It was also easy to see the added complexity would make integration into other vehicles quite a challenge. And of course, the MPG claims always seemed questionable. Sure enough, after rollout began our fears were confirmed. Volt has the same set of problems to deal with. Expense, Integration, and MPG have all raised concerns long before rollout. Yet, supporters just shrug them off and refer back to the earliest days of Prius, disregarding the reality that the market has changed dramatically since then... in part due to failed hybrid attempts like Two-Mode.
Abandoning 230, data. Collecting of real-world data began immediately after the "230 MPG" campaign. I wasn't about to let vague estimates undermine the progress of Prius to later offer the option of a plug and improved battery. It was greenwashing easily prevented by having some data available for reference. That meant documenting the distance driven each day... which is quite convenient with a 2010 Prius, since the odometer value automatically illuminates *after* shutting off the power. So, that's what I did. It was interesting to see the fluctuation from day to day. That variance is something never mentioned with estimates. All we had ever been provided was a vague statistic. Generalizations like that are what lead to trouble. Disenchantment comes from having false expectations. Preventing assumptions by providing real-world data has already proven very helpful in that past.