Prius Personal Log  #541

December 14, 2011  -  December 20, 2011

Last Updated: Sat. 2/25/2012

    page #540         page #542         BOOK         INDEX         go to bottom 

 

12-20-2011

Saab Bankruptcy.  Remember how Saab was part of GM prior to its bankruptcy.  Well, now Saab is having its own... and I patiently waited for a topic like this on the daily blog for Volt before saying what hadn't been said yet.  In this case, it was with respect to the data I've been collecting about dealer inventory.  Over the past 3 weeks, the 25 local Chevrolet dealers who provide available vehicle information online (there are 35 total within a 50-mile radius) have listed over 60 Volt.  Seeing only counts going up and down by just one and about two-thirds with several in stock, that certainly contradictions the under-supply claim and long wait-listed we've been hearing about.  The data doesn't appear to agree and this we the very first time I pointed it out to them.  That had be quite curious what the reaction will be.  I predict they won't say anything, choosing to wait until the monthly totals are revealed instead.  With the potential for last minute purchase to be able to collect the tax-credit right away rather than waiting until 2013, you'd think that inventory would quickly vanish.

12-19-2011

One Year Later.  The founder of the daily blog for Volt shared his story today, after a complete year of ownership.  It was stated this way: "Thus far I have put on 8,635 miles and used a paltry 36.6 gallons of gas with a lifetime fuel efficiency of 237 miles per gallon."  Notice the absence of plug information?  There was nothing whatsoever mentioned about electricity consumption.  At this point, that exclusion becomes greenwashing.  You can't just exclude a fuel like that.  Imagine the uproar there would be if Prius owners attempted the same thing.  Though, it would actually be rather tempting to do that.  They couldn't complain; it would be hypocritical for them to do so... since that's exactly what we are seeing some Volt owners do now.  It's intentional too, because they've already been told how misleading that is.  Oh well.  When they finally face the reality of that choice, it will be too late.  As for the ownership experience itself, that followed the "it's worth it" theme we've heard all year.  What I get a kick out of though is that his commute changed to just 6 miles round trip beginning in April.  Just think how well a plug-in Prius would have fulfilled that need.

12-18-2011

Bragging.  It's the superiority complex that keeps the debate from ending.  They were amazed anyone would even attempt such a discussion.  Volt was better than Prius, period. It went on in various threads since getting the sales results from November.  That's when they truly knew Volt was in trouble.  Of course, the reaction was to call anyone showing favor for a plug-in offering anything less a 40-mile range and not delivering pure EV in all speeds "pathetic".  It was portrayed to the degree of astonishment, with responses posted just minutes after your reply.  They'd pounce, simply claim you didn't answer a question or refused to acknowledge some information.  It was all a setup.  They know a word hasn't been coined to describe their desperate spin.  The definition of troll doesn't quite fit.  What do you do when someone from the outside is polite and remains on the topic of that thread?  They attempted unrealistic comparisons and drew conclusions.  So much for being constructive.  Basically, you just stick with the thread until it is finally closed.  It is intriguing to see what they try to interject.  In this case, it was constant bragging.  Back many years ago, those same people called that smug.

12-17-2011

Astute Observation.  Here's what I believe will be the final straw: efficiency rating.  When we finally look at the numbers in detail, that will tell the complete story.  Catch is, they aren't available here yet.  However, a friend made an astute observation based on the numbers from Japan.  Based on the JC08 test-cycle there (which is similar to our EPA city measurement here), the electricity consumption for PiP is rated at 114 Wh/km and Leaf at 124.  Here in the US, the city rating for Leaf is 32 kWh/100mi and Volt is 36.  See what he noticed?  If Leaf is more efficient than Volt and PiP is more efficient than Leaf, that must mean PiP is more efficient than Volt in the city using electricity.  On the highway using gas, there's no contest; PiP is clearly more efficient there than Volt.  That's easy to deduce even with an official rating yet.  What I hoping will result from this will be the end to their "superior" claims.  We want high-volume sales, not halo celebrating.

12-17-2011

Great News.  Reading the following this morning definitely qualified as great news: "The PiP HV mode fuel economy on the JC08 test is better (31.6km/L) than normal Prius (30.4km/L)."  Those Japan testing results got me really curious when we'd find out the official estimates from the testing here.  My reply was:  I was hoping more power coming from the inverter combined with the ability to capture more energy from regen when braking would offset the 123-pound increase.  Finding out that it actually results in an efficiency gain is fantastic!  That certainly wrecks the "dead weight" arguments against Toyota's choice of battery-pack size.  Of course, I didn't notice a difference with the early model.  But now, I'm looking forward to getting mine more than ever.  Having such an abundance of real-world data to compare to, including video, firsthand witnessing how the production plug-in delivers after depletion will be fantastic.  Expectations are high and Toyota has repeatedly delivered well in the past.

12-17-2011

Full Recharging, debunking.  This is what I posted in response to that Volt owner, hoping others will sound off with their misconception debunking information too:  Believing you have to fully recharge every time you plug in does confuse the purchase decision.  People tend to get hung up on doing things only one way.  Keeping misconceptions from flourishing is something Toyota is really good at.  With GM, it's unfortunate the quantity of electricity actually consumed had been excluded from their promotion & reports.  Lack of detail is very much an enemy of change.  kWh values now being provided like that help to overcome the perception.  That's good to finally see.  (Thanks for your data.)  Fortunately for us, PIP only takes 1.5 hours to fully recharge with typical (240-volt) public charging-station anyway.  So even if the pack is totally depleted, a visit to the mall, movie theater, restaurant, or coffee shop will cover it entirely anyway.

12-17-2011

Full Recharging, misconception.  As first-time purchase decisions about plug-ins are considered, lots of assumptions make it easy to draw incorrect conclusions.  When that become a trend, a misconception will emerge.  The shared common false belief can be quite harmful to new markets.  So, there's genuine concern.  Real-World data is the best way to prevent that.  Not only did a Volt owner address this directly today, he also provided his own example: "Like today I went to work, came home and we had errands to run. I plugged/unplugged the Volt at least 4 or 5 different times today for a total of 66.9mi @ 16.6kwh."  Until recently, the only recharging ever addressed in cost-analysis reports has been overnight.  None really wanted to deal with the reality of charging during the day.  They'd just consider all hours while the sun is still shining "peak" time, even though that's really only during the late afternoon through early evening.  Then there's some like me who are fortunate enough to actually have access to solar... which obviously is only effective when the sun is shining.  Until many, many more examples are available, this too is subject to becoming a misconception.  However, hearing reports of plugging in for short visits while running errands is a start... especially from those with larger battery-packs which take several hours for full recharging.

12-17-2011

Lessons Learned, questions.  The latest debate thread provided a wealth of argument points, all recently acknowledged, all nicely contained within a single searchable location.  That could come in handy.  It's like having their greenwashing handbook readily available for quick reference.  There were many opportunities provided to learn in advance of the plug-in Prius rollout what their claims will be... practice lessons.  Then when owners begin driving them, we'll know what detail to be collecting right away.  There are many aspects of operation people will want to know more about, after finding out what the GALLONS and KWH data is from real-world driving.  Asking those questions is how you know they're getting serious about a purchase decision.  Having answers for them right away is really helpful.  Ironically, the situation was reversed prior to Volt rollout.  Do you think there's been a lesson learned from not having prepared, despite already knowing what the questions would be?

12-17-2011

Lessons Learned, scoring.  The cliché most fitting to this situation is the "moving of goal posts". All throughout the development of Two-Mode, intentions were to start with the most thirsty of the guzzlers then scale it down to smaller vehicles later.  But as rollout progressed and sales floundered, denial of that intent emerged.  They even changed what scaling meant.  In other words, the ball was kicked so short, they altered how points were scored while the game was being played.  We've seen something very similar from Volt.  The first model was intended to take the market by storm, becoming a quick top-seller.  But when rollout began, the supposed strong demand mysteriously vanished.  Abruptly new owners were called "early adopters" instead, with the hope of concealing the reality of the first generation design not meeting the market need.  This is why those cheerleaders of the past continue to be so vague about goals now.  Fortunately, others are acknowledging shortcomings with the hope that being supportive will bring about the change easier.  Unfortunately, they are still buying traditional vehicles in the meantime.  Thankfully, if the plug-in Prius doesn't satisfy the needs of some consumers, they'll just purchase a model without a plug instead.

12-16-2011

Lessons Learned, sales.  Hearing comments in defense of Volt as the first sales year comes to a close has been very interesting.  The few enthusiasts still obsessive about absolutes consider anything not favorable offensive.  To make matters worse, the parallels to Two-Mode are no longer predictions.  They've become confirmed through real-world experiences.  Thankfully, the arguing has peaked.  Some Volt owners have grown quiet.  Others are beginning to share their data... all of it too, not just gallons anymore.  Remarks about opportunity-recharging are popping up as well.  They had been hesitant about revealing that in the past, since it makes plug-ins with smaller battery capacity (like Prius) more appealing.  Unfortunately, the topic of market-penetration and credit-dependency continues to be dismissed in favor of "superior" engineering.  So discussing strategies for dealing with advanced topics, like significantly increased electrical resistance from lithium batteries when the temperature is below freezing, don't stand a chance yet.  The few chest-pounders who remain stick to basic sound-byte-like quotes, selective examples rather than acknowledge typical driving.  Thank goodness the lesson I've learned is their lack of substance doesn't keep attention of those researching a purchase for long.  What do you think they've learned?

12-16-2011

Nothing Changed.  The spin has been coming from those trying to force a plug-in hybrid into the definition of a pure EV.  Way back in 2003, the speed threshold of 100 km/h (62.1 mph) became part of the Prius design.  It meant for speeds faster, the engine would be in motion but only consuming gas when extra power was needed.  At speeds slower, the engine could be stopped entirely to allow exclusive electric-motor operation.  But to be practical, affordable high-capacity batteries would be needed.  They are only now becoming available.  Intentionally excluding engine use defeats the benefits of being a hybrid too, especially when the quantity of electricity available is so limited.  That's why the initial rollout of the EV-CITY feature is limited to Europe, where some major cities have already established low-emission zones.  We don't have that in the United States yet, nor are there any plans for restriction like that.  Even with the feature, nothing has changed.  Prius is a hybrid.  The plug replaces GALLONS with KWH.  It doesn't eliminate.  That absolute was never a goal.

12-15-2011

C-Max Pondering.  There's a specification-sheet now available for Ford's upcoming new hybrid.  The plug-in model is 304 pounds more than the regular.  Both use lithium-ion batteries.  The pack for the plug-in reduces cargo space by 10.9 cubic feet.  The tank in the plug-in holds a half gallon more gas.  The plug-in is a tenth of an inch shorter in height.  The engine & motors are the same.  Pretty much everything else is the same too.  Size compares closely to Prius v.  The kWh capacity of the pack hasn't been revealed yet.  It's believed to be closer to Volt than it is Prius.  But we have no idea how "range" is actually measured or how consumers will perceive those efficiency numbers.  We do know that larger means more expensive though.  Consumers understand that particular number.  It's quite reasonable to expect MSRP to be several thousand more than the plug-in Prius.  But how much more?  For that matter, how many do they expect to sell of each the first year?  Needless to say, there are many unknowns still.  Ford left us with more to ponder about C-Max than we had anticipated.  But with the hybrid not coming out to early Summer and the plug-in sometime in the Fall, there's lot of waiting still.  Marketing is all about giving tidbits here & there.  Of course, some automakers provide actual information... others feed hype.

12-15-2011

Late Claim.  The newest trend emerging from the Volt forums & blogs is that both Toyota & Ford are "late to the game".  How is that possible?  The plug-in market is still very much an unknown.  Have you seen a charging-station?  What about the different charging speeds?  A claim of late would make sense if production volume reflected a shift, but that hasn't happened yet.  Next year is when it begins. Toyota will be producing the plug-in Prius starting the end of January... with the intent to deliver that volume.  Next Fall it will be Ford joining it.  How can they be considered late?  Heck, even Honda is working offering a two-motor plug-in.  Of course, what difference does the label of late make anyway?  The 600 early models Toyota used for data-collection came from ordinary consumers driving them in the real-world.  Doesn't that count for anything?  It's all just a mind game at this point.  They claim what they want and disregard what they don't.  They know sales are the ultimate gauge of market acceptance, not any of their word spin.

12-14-2011

Stating Goals.  It always comes down to the basics.  If you don't know what they are, how can you determine success?  Remember all those years ago, that "up to the chore" saga?  It's hard to believe so much drama could go on for so long.  It did though, for about 1.5 years a single discussion thread persisted... and was very, very active.  Back then, it was a question about hybrids.  Ultimately, the answer was yes.  Much was learned from that experience.  The aspect overwhelming clear is that antagonists will use red herrings to discredit.  Recently, that didn't work though.  They relentlessly attempted to discredit the plug-in Prius.  When that didn't work, they turned to my credibility instead... by asking questions unrelated to success.  Then, they attacked when I chose not to bite.  I stuck to purpose.  They claimed Toyota was now scrambling to catch up and "fell short of the mark", but never bothered to explain what that actually meant.  They avoid stating goals.  After all, you can't be held accountable if you never promised anything in the first place.  The just declare failure by dodging detail.

 

back to home page       go to top