Prius Personal Log  #458

May 1, 2010  -  May 10, 2010

Last Updated: Sun. 10/24/2010

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5-10-2010

230 MPG, to be lowered.  We knew this was coming.  It was also very easy to predict it would not occur until after a certain executive stepped down.  What the new value will be and what the implications are of the change is anyone's guess.  Basically, it just adds to the ever-changing story coming from GM.  Talking about mixed messages.  Anywho, one of the first post of the day for this discussion topic included this: "Personally, I think they should leave the numbers to Cafe and the city/hwy CS mpg and city/hwy AER."  I responded with:  That seems like a sensible approach, for Volt.  But then when you consider the FULL hybrids like that from GM itself, Ford, and Toyota will be offering with a plug, not to mention others considering it like VW, Chrysler, and Hyundai, the situation becomes a mess... since they won't always have a distinct switchover from EV to HV.  Of course, even that would contribute to confusion and misleading hope due to Volt operation during the winter.  Real-World data will play a significant role in the determination of a new measurement system.  That won't come for a number of years, since there is virtually nothing to work with still.  For that matter, there isn't even much of a basis of comparison available yet.  The effects & accuracy of the most recent EPA revision are still being determined.  Remember, consumers still have a very hard time accepting that the window sticker numbers are just a basic standardized measure for the sake of purchase decision.  They do not represent an expectation.

5-09-2010

Plug-In Pondering.  My recreational drive to the bike-trail I spend some Summer days enjoying requires 10 miles of suburb driving before reaching the highway.  With the plug-in Prius, I'd reach it entirely using EV propulsion.  The HV section of the battery-pack would remain unused, topped off by plugging in.  The merge onto the 65 MPH highway would only need it at the final moment and greater capacity would be available, due to it being Li-Ion instead of NiMH.  That's a new situation, better than anything ever experienced in the past.  What kind of MPG average can I expect?  With all that driving using only electricity and the boost from the improved battery & plugging, it should be significantly increased.  However, there is still the long cruise on the highway and the extra weight from the bigger battery-pack.  Confused yet?  Add into the equation the effect A/C has.  Factors like that are fun for me to ponder.  Mainstream consumers won't be as enthusiastic researching detail like that.  Real-World data will be the ultimate reveal.  Waiting for it will be a challenge though.

5-09-2010

Technology Confusion.  Understanding what's coming is hard enough.  Once sales begin, marketing & greenwashing will be added to the propaganda already at play.  How in the world are consumers going to know the difference between facts on paper and events in the real-world?  They often vary dramatically.  Design aspects which sound good prior to purchase don't translate to the meeting of expects in practice.  Actual results depend heavily upon conditions most consumers simply are not familiar with.  Experience for most is crude, at best.  Think about how not having MPG feedback allows people to assume they are getting the values listed on the window sticker, never realizing how speed & climate significantly influence efficiency.  Naivety is one thing.  Confusion is another.  When the purchase of a plug-in is consider, it will likely be the first time many consumers ever give cost verses efficiency serious consideration.  Questioning benefit is very difficult if you know little about the technology involved.  Volt has one big battery which depends upon a gas engine after it has been depleted and for winter warm-up.  Prius will have a section battery, where part of the pack will operate exactly as it does with the non-plug model and another part that allows it to operate as an EV under a variety of situations, switching perhaps several times as you drive.  How do we prevent being confused about how each works?  And how does price factor into the purchase decision?

5-08-2010

Sectioned Battery-Pack.  The aftermarket upgrades offered for Prius have been in the form of an add-on.  The owner presses a button to switch over to a bigger battery when they want to drive in EV mode.  That left the existing battery intact for HV driving.  In other words, the pack was actually two components which were designed to co-exist.  The same is true for the upcoming factory offered plug-in model, only there will be 3 batteries and the pack will be physically integrated together into a single component with sections inside.  It will also be liquid cooled.  The intent of this configuration is to offer you generous EV power automatically.  The EV button is removed.  The gas engine is used sparingly.  For me, that means the first few blocks of my commute will be solely on electricity using an EV section, followed by a chunk of 70 MPH highway driving relying on the HV section, then back to an EV section for the remainder of the trip.  I can't wait to find out how much of a MPG boost that provides.

5-08-2010

Test-Drive Reports.  I can only imagine how exciting this news is for some.  Knowing some of those directly involved, I'm aware of the amazing things to come and just have to practice patience.  For those uncertain of where the industry is heading, that's different.  Some see it as long overdue.  Others see it as something that was naturally supposed to happen as oil prices increased anyway.  What delights me is how long the drives themselves lasted.  The first we heard about was 45 minutes long and over 15 miles.  They were allowed to deplete the EV supply of electricity entirely.  The experience Toyota offers is the opposite extreme as GM.  Who provides unprecedented transparency?  Another report covered 17.2 miles of driving, of which 14.1 were using only electricity... which didn't all come consecutively.  The system will revert to regular hybrid mode with a significant efficiency boost when additional power or speed is needed.  Overall the results was 99.9 MPG displayed with the indicator stating 61/39 for the EV/HV ratio.  The next morning, he got a chance to drive to the airport.  That too displayed 99.9 MPG, despite having traveled over 37 miles that time.  Interestingly, driving in "stealth" does not count toward EV in the ratio value, since that's part of the regular FULL hybrid driving experience without a plug.  Needless to say, I sure hope the competition is taking Toyota seriously.  The plug-in Prius is generating great reports from current Prius owners.

5-07-2010

Real Test-Drives.  There's nothing like watching a video of some friends driving a plug-in Prius, unrestricted.  None of that "crock" we have had to endure from GM.  This was the real thing on an open road, not a small closed course.  You got it, they had the freedom to accelerated beyond the silly restrictive 25 MPH limit imposed on those test driving a Volt.  It was wonderful to witness.  The speedometer climbed up to 65 before the engine started.  This model of Prius depends heavily upon the electric motor.  It's like stealth at much faster speeds, where the flow of gas ends as quickly as it started... only you can be more generous with the pedal.  The engine becomes nothing but a brief power assist.  Sweet!  Oddly, watching that made the wait to get my own even easier to endure.  Patience will really be rewarded.  That's clear to see... an extremely efficient system that will be both affordable & abundant.  Yeah!

5-07-2010

Drill, Baby, Drill.  Describing the situation as a disaster doesn't tell the whole story.  Those who have argued that drilling our way out of the oil dependency problem have grown deathly silent.  Their claims of "safe for the environment" have been proven horribly incorrect.  There's a massive oil leak and a mess which will impact that area for decades to come.  What was feared to happen actually did.  Strangely, this whole mess has caused the price of a barrel of oil to drop, from $85 to $75.  Perhaps investors have already figured out that the industry is severely damaged from a profit perspective now.  Things will never be the same after the events in the Gulf continue to unfold.  The price of gas seems to indicate problems are beginning to stir.  It jumped up to $2.95 per gallon here, which is still quite a bit less than other areas of the country.  To think of how incredibly unwise guzzling has become.  Makes you wonder what the unprepared automakers will do now...

5-06-2010

GM Perseveres.  Reading that in a blog title about Two-Mode on the Volt website makes you wonder.  With only 1,922 total sales so far this year, from 5 different vehicles, you have to wonder.  Reading the comments was scary.  Some have absolutely no clue how that particular hybrid system actually works.  Some have no concern for the fact that it will at best serve only a niche market.  Some have no idea of the complexities involved with respect to size or cost.  Some continued to spread the propaganda about "saving" gas.  Some attempted to greenwash with the same old nonsense we've heard for year.  So, it was heard to believe anything constructive at all could come out of that discussion.  Reading this provide a glimmer of hope: "This lack of availability across the pickup spectrum leaves one to wonder if GM is really *in* the hybrid business or is their hybrid offering simply being used as a halo."  But then it turned into an argument with this: "To all you -1 clickers, the Prius model has succeeded and continues to succeed even with Toyota's image in the dumpster! Who can argue with that? The numbers speak too loudly. Re-read Lutz's interview yesterday and there is only one conclusion you can make. Volt is dead, R.I.P. Fanboy posters still talked on and on about Volt gens 2, 3, and 4. Do they honestly believe GM will can Volt, but later come out with a stripped-down version?"  Needless to say, I stayed out of that topic entirely.  I posted all that in the past.  Now others are feeling the burn of fears being confirmed.  Interesting, eh?

5-04-2010

Mountain Mode.  Something genuinely new about Volt.  That's refreshing.  What it does is move up the depletion point.  So rather than allowing the battery-pack to drop to the 30 percent level before starting up the engine, it will happen somewhere in the 40's instead.  That is a simple software adjustment, likely available via a button on a screen.  Offering the option makes sense... especially when you discover the maximum output of the engine is 55 kW.  Hearing that silenced those who had just recently been gloating about the 111 kW electric motor.  Unfortunately, when I pointed that out earlier, they continued "muscle" flexing and pretended that wasn't true.  But then when an executive confirms it, the topic becomes taboo.  Perhaps it had something to do with this: "There is the possibility of severely reduced performance once the battery reaches the depletion point."  Too bad they just don't want to be constructive.

5-02-2010

Oil Disaster.  We first heard about it last Monday (almost a week ago).  Some of us immediately knew it was a situation doomed from the moment of the explosion.  A drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico claimed a dozen lives, then sank as a result of the fire which followed.  Oil squirting from a well is hard enough to deal with on land.  Under all that water, it's much worse of a situation.  I didn't even both to mention it in my personal logs... knowing the frustration of all the size & impact speculation would get the best of me.  All that stupid "Drill, Baby, Drill" chanting in the previous presidential election and the continued pressure to still open up new drilling opportunities is so frustrating.  Increasing consumption is not the solution.  Now we have what is becoming the biggest oil spill ever on the verge of hitting shores and ruining the livelihood of those who depend on the water there, like the seafood industry.  Think of all the wildlife which will die by being poisoned from all that oil too.  The risk is simply isn't worth it.  We must significantly reduce our need for oil.

5-02-2010

Goodbye.  I had to post something on the big GM forum.  This departure was long overdue.  How do you deal with an executive who did actually deliver a lot, but what's needed now is not his specialty.  In fact, he really doesn't have any interest in the type of change which is needed.  Let the replacement make a name for him or herself by ushering in that change.  Old school business practices and a mentality for sacrificing emissions & efficiency for the sake of power was never a good idea, especially going forward.  So, I avoided any type of insult for all the grief he caused us over the years by responding politely with just a touch of sarcasm.  Hopefully, that will just be accepted at face value and we can all finally move on...  Oddly, I can thank him for that and wish him a enjoyable retirement.  His "stop gap" label and intense negative campaigning served as inspiration.  Prius could have become just another hybrid if not for his influence.  Instead, it got pushed to the top.

5-02-2010

Perception.  Reading acknowledgement from Lutz that Volt won't actually be the "numerical game changer" heavily implied originally is intriguing.  Of course, considering the timing, it's not a surprise.  His departing claim is that Volt will be a "perception game changer" which will provide a halo effect for the other vehicle's GM produces & sells.  Reading between the lines, that was always the message anyway.  But certain individuals on that big GM forum especially, were intensely pushing the idea that Volt would be the first of a new industry standard instead.  And by the word intense, I'm politely trying to avoid mentioning their rude & hostile posts.  At one point, it really was that bad.  Prius was deemed evil and represented a serious impairment to progress.  They honestly believed that.  Contributing to high-volume production of increasingly better automotive-grade rechargeable batteries was something Prius was somehow preventing.  That doesn't even make any sense.  But when you are playing a perception game rather than one of actual changer, logic doesn't necessarily have to apply.

5-02-2010

Accepting Criticism.  I sure am glad to hear a lot of complaining about the upcoming debut of Cruze.  It's constructive stuff, none of the FUD (that's Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) the Volt enthusiasts are spreading about the plug-in Prius.  My favorite was the fact that the 60 kW electric motor in Prius didn't offer enough horsepower.  One person actually had the gumption to portray a sense of fear claiming it wasn't powerful enough to get you out of harms way, attempting to give the impression that Prius doesn't also have a gas engine available for power too.  Another attempted to spin the situation claiming peak horsepower was misleading, even though the 100 km/h cruising speed was clearly the topic.  I've read posts about Cruze stating the model configurations vary too much, causing concern about that ultimately harm reputation.  It will make Cruze appear to be just another small car choice rather than being a fuel-efficiency leader.  Too bad acceptance of criticism for Volt is rare.  If you say anything negative, it is simply assumed to be an attempt to undermine.  Denial doesn't solve problems.

5-01-2010

Weekend Sightings.  I ended up seeing 5 more 2010 today, bringing the total up to 8.  That sure is nice, especially combined with the countless number of Iconic & Classic models I routinely spotting as I drive.  It won't be long before the "ubiquitous" label becomes appropriate.  At that point, the threshold of mainstream penetration becomes so deep that purchase consideration is no longer based upon technology.  It's just like other advancements.  In the past, other technology improvements (like front-wheel drive and fuel-injection), were also no longer new.  They somehow became the new standard.  When is a matter of perspective though.  Those attentive to traffic would probably agree that occurs sooner as opposed to a consumer not in the market for a new vehicle.  For those who already own a Prius, they would likely argue the technology has been mature for many years already.  After all, it's the competing automakers claiming the market is content with 30 MPG vehicles still.  What do you see when on your weekend drive?

 

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