Prius Personal Log #476
September 2, 2010 - September 8, 2010
Last Updated: Weds. 11/10/2010
page #475 page #477 BOOK INDEX
Too Little, Too Slowly. Evidence of this is becoming
undeniable. It was the concern originally brought up by the
automotive task-force, when doing their assessment of GM for the bailout...
then bankruptcy. It was the forward-looking view of the "over promise,
under deliver" problem of the past. Even if the new GM could deliver,
a small quantity at a pace not meeting market-demand would still be a problem.
In other words, even if Volt actually did meet design goals, waiting a long
time for rollout to the entire country and only a few delivered to
each would be unacceptable. 12 to 18 months for just 10,000 fits that
profile well. 45,000 the following year does too. But the real
concern is what comes after that. Will production be limited until the
second generation? How many will be produced then? What kind of
profit (if any) will it deliver? Remember, this isn't just new
technology rollout, this was supposedly a design to become a major portion
of their product line-up. When will that happen?
Second Generation. It's truly amazing watching the "over promise, under deliver" actually play out... again! The first generation of Volt didn't achieve price, emissions, or efficiency goals. So, now they are diverting attention to its successor instead. Makes you wonder if the Osborne effect could occur, where boasting about the upcoming product ends up harming sales of the current. Of course, Volt isn't even available yet and won't be in all states until over a year still. GM isn't planning to be as forthcoming about expectations next time either... or should I say even less than this time. My pointing out that this could be a positive sign was frowned upon. Even saying "lesson learned" and moving on wasn't acceptable. The enthusiasts simply don't like criticism of any kind. Mention of parallels to Two-Mode are dismissed. And don't try to say anything about continued investment in BAS. It's quite a mess. Too bad there wasn't an effort to prevent history from repeating... again!
PHV - Plugging In. Photos of the cord, door, socket, and indicator light
are all available now. I took quite a few in different locations under
different lighting conditions. You can see it all. This is what
I especially wanted to document, features unique to the PHV. Of
course, the equipment itself follows the SAE S1772 specifications & receptacle...
a new industry standard. The charging-system & coupler requirements
were officially approved, which means most of the automakers will all be
plugging in their battery vehicles exactly same way. It's exciting to share
photos like this. What's part of a discovery process for us now will
become common place in years to come. Seeing the sight of a plug
attached to a car sure would have thrilled my father. Many decades
ago, he introduced me
to the automotive world and inspired my interest in it. I sure wish he
could have lived to see what I saw...
photo album 156
Auris-Hybrid. The first report was published today. It's the first Toyota hybrid built in Europe for their own market using a traditional vehicle already available there. The same system in the 2010 Prius was used, even though it is a smaller car. Oddly, that brought about a direct comparison to Civic-Hybrid rather than Insight. There wasn't much to compare though. The 55 MPG from Auris out-performs the 40 MPG from Civic by quite a margin. Nothing to debate about that. The system offers more power too. It will be quite interesting to find out how well it sells... there in the land where diesel was king until smog-related emission concerns became a priority. Concern about carbon emissions are a bigger deal there too. So, there's much potential for a hybrid light this. Stay tuned.
Ignoring PHV. Pretending a plug-in model of Prius doesn't exist was the theme prior to a bunch of Prius supporters sounding off on the daily blog for Volt. Guess what? Now that many have left from the attempts to get discussions to be constructive failing, the same old attitude is back. They totally disregard the PHV. It's that same old nonsense we had seen for years. The enthusiasts of Volt simply don't want to deal with a market which offers a more affordable plug option. They still don't want anything to do with a lower capacity battery-pack for Volt either. So, it's definitely not the "EV at all speeds" excuse as they claim. Choice is limited to "Hybrids", "BEVs", and "EREVs" only. The plans Toyota, Ford, and Hyundai have for plug-in models are avoided at all cost. They simply won't acknowledge them. Talking about making everyone else feel unwelcome. Rather than being part of a team in the effort to electrify, they see the others as counter-productive with no opportunity of succeeding in the market.
Past Blogs. I wasn't even aware of the term "blog" back when I first started my "personal logs". They were just my own effort to document my thoughts, a mechanism that would force me to think through events as they were unfolding. Opinions differ greatly when you look back afterward. Uncertainty of the moment is gives a very different perspective. The fact that it was a public diary or that it would later serve as a historical archive were just nice extras. But now, that's become rather important. The hype of Volt is very much following the disastrous history of Two-Mode. We've seen several examples of "over promise, under deliver" already. So many, in fact, the vaporware claim has been validated. What's left is a deliver intended for early November that has now shifted to early December. Sound familiar? My blogs document 10/30/2007 as when Two-Mode production began. The production begin date for Volt (which has changed frequently) is now expected to begin on 11/11/2010. It wasn't until 2/08/2008 that the very first report of a sighting was made, 3 on a truck, which were only believed to be demo models being delivered to dealers. 3/02/2008, there were still no reports of Two-Mode purchases. It wasn't until 3/16/2008, that reports of the first delivery to consumers surfaced. Actual performance is already being downplayed. The second-generation model is supposed to fulfilled consumers expectations, not the first. How often do I need to point out the "too little, too slowly" concern? What will the next few months bring? When should real-world data from owners emerge? Should I be afraid of the propaganda & greenwashing in the meantime? What about vague reports? Then there's the problem with limited market rollout, where the entire country won't have the option to purchase until well over a year from now. Expect many more blog entries. Things about to get very interesting.
PHV - Photo Discoveries. My effort was to document my experiences with as many photos as possible. Turns out, I'm noticing things now that I wasn't aware of then. That's a normal part of the new owner experience with each next-generation Prius. You make discoveries for months afterward. Heck, sometimes it takes an entire year to witness all the clever features the system has to offer. This is especially true for seasonal differences. Unfortunately, all I had was a few days. But in that time, I gave my digital cameras quite a workout. Looking back, I'm making discoveries. An example is the "14 mile" capacity for EV. A photo from my first commute with the PHV model revealed 0.3 miles left after 16.2 miles of driving. The system clearly seeks out recharging opportunities. I saw that on long hills, where the EV distance available would go up on long suburb hills. What I hadn't expected was how well the HV use of those sub-packs would boost MPG at high-speeds, yet still leave you with some EV later. This point was lost in the scramble to write about my experiences at the moment. The photos brought it to my attention afterward. What other discoveries await?
Affordable? That had been a big topic in the past. It still comes up for the PHV model Prius. Estimates place it well in excess of Volt. Why? That doesn't make any sense. The battery-pack is only 5.2 kWh and it is divided into sub-packs. The smaller capacity in itself helps to keep the price lower. The division allows less expensive thermal management (air rather than liquid). The intent is to offer it with a mid-grade package, rather than high-end. They took GM's own recommendation of �nicely under $30,000" seriously. They also have a high-volume production benefit to help lower price, since the non-plug model uses most of the same parts. And of course, Prius is designed to appeal to mainstream buyers, not striving to push the limits of acceleration & handling. Appealing to middle-market means aiming for the middle. That balance of price & performance should be obvious. Some still don't see that though.
PHV - Reports. I'm thinking there's going to be a study
flow of reports. Providing automotive publications with the
opportunity for long-term testing has been common practice for ages.
Heck, I remember reading them for the Original Prius from a year before
rollout here. So, with Toyota's 600 of the PHV now in the wild, it's a
realistic expectation. This one came from a magazine... one rarely
associated with vehicles intended for middle-market. But the word
"performance" is now beginning to be associated with efficiency... so, new
interest is stirring. Anywho, they had the PHV model for 32 days and
drove it 1,880 miles. Unfortunately, there was no mention of how often
it got plugged in or how far the typical trip was. What we do know is
that it used 26.2 gallons of gas. Doing the math, the average
calculates to 71.8 MPG. Oddly though, they reported 70.4 MPG.
Not sure why there's a discrepancy. Gotta watch the details.
What kind of reports do you think we'll get for Volt?
At An Impasse. That "trophy mentality" from years ago transformed into a "superiority complex". The long hoped for ally is looking highly unlikely at this point. Volt is "better" than Prius, so Prius will die. It's an attitude exceeding smug. How does one deal with that? Some of those enthusiasts believe the PHV model is wasted effort. Sound familiar? It's the same old "stop gap" nonsense we heard years ago. And seeing this so closely resemble the history of Two-Mode is amazing. But now, the leader of this community is reaching out with hope a bold final effort just prior to rollout could get things back on track. It boils down to not having clear goals; simply wanting more is unrealistic. How will they even identify success with such vague requirements? I grow tired of the lack of constructive posts (propaganda), uncompetitive comments (greenwashing), and intentional spreading of misconceptions. It seems unlikely anything can alter the path they've chosen at this point. Fallout after rollout begins could be an opportunity though. Look at how quickly the second-generation Insight fell apart. The difference between the attitude of consumers verses those of enthusiasts was quite a priority wake-up call.
Who's the Fool? When you share a photo from your plug-in driving experience and get this as a response, "Who do you think you are fooling?", how would you react? I posted this: Do you know how great it is to read that? If a Volt enthusiast doesn't believe it actually happened, a consumer curious about buying a PHV will find it unbelievable! Toyota tossed me a FOB and said "have fun", knowing I'd drive it a bunch and take a tons of photos. Each trip started with MPG well over 100 no matter what speed I drove. Then when both EV sub-packs became depleted, efficiency reverted to regular hybrid MPG. The end result was a big boost at an affordable price. That's the point. Mainstream sales require balance, a concept some apparently cannot see nor desire� because they question why I post on the site� yet another similarity to Two-Mode history� further confirmation that the first generation won't be a draw beyond enthusiasts. Appealing to the masses is the goal, to replace traditional vehicle production quickly.
Blatant Greenwashing. It's getting pretty bad now. Certain Volt enthusiasts are simply just making up stuff about Prius now. It's still a bit hard to accept that they'd attempt claims like this: "PHV Prius�, which can't operate at freeway speeds and is negligibly better than a regular Prius under those conditions will get in..." No wonder Toyota shared a plug-in with me. I responded with 2 photos and the following descriptions, which obviously ended up making them angry: Negligible? Absolutely not! See this: (photo of consumption screen, 14.2 miles, 99.9 MPG). It's the first half of my commute to work. By the 4th segment, I was already driving at 70 MPH and continued at that speed for 9 miles. Notice the MPG is dramatically higher than a regular Prius. And this: (photo of consumption screen, 33.4 miles, 80.0 MPG). It's the final result of that commute. The round-trip drive, only recharging the night before, produced an outcome with MPG better by a wide margin.
Ally Hope. It's almost entirely gone now. When Volt was new, there was the possibility of it becoming a partner in the effort to rollout plug-in vehicles to the masses. Now, it's just become a game to enthusiasts, claiming superiority over the PHV model Prius. They have absolutely no interest in an ally. The only hope is that consumers in general may see things differently. Though, that's rather remote at this point. Final efforts to save what the smug don't want aren't promising: Well engineered technology that's powerful & reliable, but it's expensive, inefficient, and not cleaner. That was the story for Two-Mode a few years ago. Upon discovery of that unfulfilled criteria, focus shifted to the next generation. Optimistically waiting. Hoping the pattern will break. No such luck. History is unfolding the very same way for Volt. Even the comments from enthusiasts match those of the past. So, what happens now?
What a Mess! With the purpose & market of Prius so clear, how could Volt have become such a mess? This was posted today, stirring much interest from me: "Exactly how is it GM feels this is aimed at the AVERAGE consumer?" My hope of something sensible in response obviously had a disappointing outcome. Those enthusiasts simply don't care anymore. The canned response is that the second generation design will address current issues. Dismissal of actual shortcomings is not big deal for Volt, but they are pretty fine making up stuff about Prius. The hypocritical nature of their attitude is very easy for consumers to see. Enthusiasts are proud of what makes their vehicle stand out. The typical middle-market purchaser. who's desire is for affordable, reliable, efficient, clean transportation for their family, will see Volt as niche... a vehicle worth it's price, but not what their interested in. What part of $41,000 is so hard to understand?
Beyond 145 MPG. Seeing the boost the plug-in
provides is so satisfying. That 145 MPG from lowest-load engine
contribution with the 2010 is quite a difference in comparison... and that
was only possible on a flat 30 MPH road. Today, I plunged down a big
hill at 60 MPH watching what the MPG would indicate with fuel cut and the
engine spinning at only 992 RPM. It struggling to hit 225 MPG, even
with the help of gravity. The PHV model can easily exceed that on a
flat highway with the engine running the same speed at 70 MPH, through the
use of extra electricity. Knowing how simple progression toward the
plug will be with this next model of Prius is so exciting. Mass
adoption will be no big deal. All you need is a normal household
outlet in your garage. No paradigm shift is required as with Volt.
In fact, the regular model of Prius will continue to be sold to consumers
with different requirements. It's easy to understand what you're
paying for too. The plug pushes MPG beyond 145 at its most efficient
with the engine still spinning and gives a significant boost overall.