Prius Personal Log  #544

January 6, 2012  -  January 11, 2012

Last Updated: Sun. 1/22/2012

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1-11-2012

Opened The Roof.  For some reason, I was uncomfortably hot on the morning commute.  Just a few minutes into the drive, there was serious consideration to opening the window.  And I didn't even have the heated seat turned on.  It was just the blower from the heater on high.  But at some point during the Winter, you adapt and tolerate the cold here.  That must have been today.  Despite going 70 MPH, I was compelled to open the roof.  Why settle for a door window when you've got a great sunroof still available?  I sure am going to miss that when the plug-in arrives.  You can't have it all... and the plug definitely rates higher on the priority list.  How strange this Summer will be.  I'll load up the kayak.  Go for an EV drive over to the lake, just a mile away with a top speed of 45 MPH.  That's perfect for taking advantage of remote A/C afterward.  Carrying all the equipment & kayak up the hill then be greeted at the top by an already cooled car... using only electricity... sure will be a surreal experience.  True, I can do that with the 2010.  But the electricity didn't come from a cord.  With the PHV, it will.  And no gas will be used for the drive to or from either.  Needless to say, I'm making memories and looking forward to new ones.  Today, it was driving to work in January in Minnesota with the roof open.

1-10-2012

Exceeding 220,000.  That's the goal set for this market this year for Prius.  It goes without saying that "Prius" represents all of them... the regular model, the bigger one, the smaller one, and the plug-in.  No one disputed that statement from a Toyota executive today either.  The thought was basically just accepted by all as realistic.  How strange is that, when even antagonists don't rise to the occasion?  It seemed a bit odd.  But then again, no one really had an opportunity to speculate.  The number was provided before we had a chance.  Spin is really difficult when dealing with the proactive.  After all, much of the past has been filled with the reactive.  A paradigm shift means the typical greenwashing tactics don't work.  The are typically based upon assumptions, which take time.  People guess and group-think builds hype.  That can't happen if a concise goal is provided right from the start.  What they'll have to think about instead is how often you'll spot a Prius on the road.  With sales increasing like that, the growing population will be difficult to not notice.  That certainly is an exciting thought.

1-10-2012

NS4 Reveal.  Now that Prius has become so common, it tends to make sense another plug-in hybrid to draw in another part of the market would emerge.  That type of diversity is how growth comes about.  In this case, it was the reveal of NS4, showing us a concept of what the sedan could become.  After all, not everyone likes a hatchback.  And since trunk space is limited in a sedan, designing one specifically with more battery capacity from the start is a good next step.  I especially liked how the current hybrid technology was coined as "conventional".  That reinforces the raising of expectations over the next 5 years, where there is no question of traditional vehicles being phased out.  The central focus isn't even about emissions & efficiency anymore.  Those are established as high priorities now, with continued improvements every few years.  The acceptance of that technology ushers in the opportunity to advance other aspects of the drive experience... with safety as a key element... making hybrids even more appealing.  NS4 is just a concept.  It showcases elements of what's to come.  The reality that Prius is so mainstream now that this can happen is very exciting.

1-10-2012

Prius C.  We saw how the larger engine contributed to improved highway efficiency.  That's was counter-intuitive, but real-world results confirmed it.  We also already knew that shorter vehicles have less of an aerodynamic benefit at high speeds.  So, the estimates aren't a surprise.  Sure, a slightly higher highway MPG would have been nice, but that has nothing to do with the biggest deep-market penetration barrier: PRICE.  Toyota certainly delivered in that category.  Wow!  Coming in at "nicely under $20,000" sure gives the competition something to worry about.  Pricing that low is a red-flag, marking the end of traditional vehicle dominance.  The technology has achieved a level only academics had taken seriously for over a decade.  Now, it's a reality.  Prius genius... photo album 167

1-09-2012

It Has Begun.  Right after midnight, a press release from Ford emerged.  There were details about the next-generation Fusion hybrid.  Stealth speed will increase from 47 to 62 mph.  The engine will be reduced in size from 2.5 to 2.0 liters, without a change in performance.  Efficiency rating is expected to be 47 MPG highway and 44 MPG city.  There was mention of an upcoming plug-in model too, with an anticipated 100 MPGe rating.  Of course, we have no idea what capacity or price will be.  There were no new details about C-Max either.  But all of a sudden, my purpose for griping about Volt becomes overwhelmingly clear.  No one can deny the "too little, too slowly" concern when the reasons come from Ford too, not just Toyota.  An interesting note was the fact at that the 1.6 liter traditional model of Fusion will be Ford's first to offer a start-stop system.  It took 12 years for that feature to go from, we can do better than Prius's rapid restart, to actual delivery.  That point though is that 2012 is when the change became obvious.  It has begun.  This year is already turning out to be the one when the industry looks different.  Emissions & Efficiency are finally being taken seriously.  I can't wait for Toyota's announcements tomorrow!

1-08-2012

Shift & Target.  Things are about to change.  That's not stopping a final bit of spin though.  It looks like the last attempt will be comparing the sales of Volt to the diesel version of Jetta.  I responded in regret with:  The whole "shines" perspective is a change of intent.  Immediately upon the announcement of price, the audience was no longer mainstream consumers.  We got a downplay shift to "early adopters" instead.  It was a dead giveaway the results of first-year sales would become a huge issue, making any attempt to address goals nearly impossible.  Will that be the same for second-year too?  With both Toyota & Ford rolling out their own plug-in hybrids in 2012, there will growing pressure to identify the target market for Volt.  What traditional vehicles is it planned to begin replacing and when?  For Prius, it is very easy to see how it targets those considering a Corolla or Camry purchase.  Since Volt carries a huge premium and requires a plug, seeing sales lost to Sonic, Cruze, Malibu, and Impala is a very real problem.  How will GM overcome that?  Saying sales shine compared to diesel or electric-only vehicles is only a diversion.

1-07-2012

56 Prius v Photos.  Last Spring there was a very brief moment when the cold & rain subsided... just barely enough to squeeze in a photo opportunity.  Unfortunately, the conditions switched to another extreme.  But armed with a new camera, I took full advantage despite it suddenly being hot & muggy.  That resulted in a over 700 photos to sift through... which took until now to finally select the best, then edit out most of the dust & smudges caused from that particular car having been viewed & demoed so frequently.  It was exciting getting to see the larger model.  I was impressed by the how much the higher roof increased cargo area.  Many times over the years people have made the comment about wishing Prius was a little bigger.  Now there is a model available, with rear seats that slide & recline as well as having large back window.  The interior introduces some variety too.  You can't go wrong with such a larger interior from such an efficient vehicle.  I was especially impressed with how easily it swallowed up my bike.  Having the EV, ECO, and POWER mode buttons right next to the cupholder should make taking advantage of the hybrid system easier too.  I was quite pleased with Toyota's new member to the Prius family.  There are 56 photos available, on these 4 webpages... photo album 168  to  photo album 172

1-07-2012

Warming Madness.  It's cold in the Winter, usually.  Being just a little below freezing when I wake up in early January isn't typical here though, in Minnesota.  But I can still understand the desire to make the interior of your vehicle comfortable after it spending the night outside in the driveway.  However, that warming should only a take few minutes... not 37.  Of course, that is an improvement over the 45 minutes I witnessed the other day.  Hearing the rumble of a neighbor's vehicle running that long is quit frustrating, especially knowing how much faster heat comes from the engine when the vehicle is in motion rather than sitting still like that.  The waste is astonishing.  How much warmer does it actually get after more than 10 minutes?  At least with a Prius, the engine will shut off when the desired temperature is achieved.  With traditional vehicles, forget it.  They just keep running and running and running.

1-07-2012

Greenwashing Efforts, competition.  Those who had very recently been fiercely fighting anyone who expressed even a hint of interest in other automaker plug-in offerings are quickly growing quiet.  It was just before the holidays that the big GM forum erupted with a huge uproar of supposed trolls.  Now they are seeing teaser photos & video from Toyota highlighting a new "advanced plug-in" concept vehicle about to be revealed in a few days.  They always assuming the competition would be the plug-in Prius.  Now there's going to be another from Toyota, one more aligned with Volt instead.  Product diversity, what a concept!  Anywho, all the attention draws the Prius model even closer to everyday consideration.  Once a standout vehicle (primarily due to being the only midsize hatchback available in a market with very few compact hatchbacks) is now a well known hybrid about to sneak in a plug-in as just another package choice.  That makes it very easy to imagine the desire to greenwash... anything they can do to slow down progress.

1-07-2012

Greenwashing Efforts, reality.  It's about to come crashing down, and they know it.  I recognize that same desperation from the past.  First year sales of Two-Mode also ended up well under expectations.  So, seeing the same thing play out with Volt was quite predictable.  The reality of being too expensive really hurts.  Promoting a vehicle by claiming "it's worth it" is difficult enough in an economy where people no longer want to take on huge debt anymore.  But adding to that the reality of the youngest generation simply not being as interested in driving makes a bad situation even worse.  Look at how the monster-size guzzlers were an effortless sale, even though they were such a poor match to consumer need.  Now, we've got a plug-in that doesn't focus on need either.  More power & capacity is nice, but the sacrifice of seating space, engine emissions & efficiency, along with price clearly puts want far too high above need.  It was a recipe for struggle... which is exactly what ended up happening.

1-06-2012

Greenwashing Efforts, invalidating.  On quite a few occasions, I've read posts from Volt enthusiasts angry that the slow sales of Volt don't prove the technology is a failure... despite no one actually saying it.  They just imply that was the intent.  It's an interesting greenwashing effort.  By planting an idea that can be debated, they confuse the topic at hand.  This is why over the years I've repeatedly stressed a second model is needed instead.  You could see their panic about disappointing demand coming.  So, it didn't surprise me at all this evening reading a toned down version of the same message: "There are critics who have said (often on this site), that initial high costs and low unit rollout somehow invalidates the entire Volt program."  That hasn't been the situation.  Scores have stated price must be reduced... change, not termination.

1-06-2012

Greenwashing Efforts, problems.  Believe it or not, there are a handful of Volt supporters trying to convinces others there are problems with Volt that Toyota has been hiding.  The one this morning blew me away.  Supposedly there are "malfunctions" being ignored and this person is "disgusted" with what he has seen but cannot disclose.  It was just some vague reference to safety considerations, providing nothing whatsoever to clue anyone in to what he was talking about.  And of course, following the Prius online community so closely, I was astonished a greenwashing effort on that scale would ever be attempted again.  Scare tactics from eluding to some inevitable uncertain danger is worse than the political spin we've had to learn to deal with.

1-06-2012

Greenwashing Efforts, sales.  They've been quite remarkable lately.  Most blatant was the article with this title: "Chevrolet Volt Outsells Toyota Prius".  It was a comparison between first year's sales of the two new-to-market vehicle technologies.  Buried in the fine print there was mention of Prius sales not starting to the second half of the year.  5,600 in just 4.5 months is clearly a better selling rate than 7,600 in the must longer span of 12 months.  But knowing that would make the comparison unfair.  So, it was conveniently excluded from blog & forum posts.  And of course, detail like that was excluded entirely from the articles following that, referring to the original as their source.  Greenwashing efforts like this confirm things are not going well.

1-06-2012

Spring Excitement.  Having daytime high temperatures around 40 lately has been very trying.  I enjoy the seasonal scenery change.  The blanket of snow is quite refreshing.  It's always something to look forward to.  The melting away process afterward is like pushing a reset button.  That annual cycle reminds you to take advantage of warm-weather opportunities.  And we do here, making the best of Summer.  But when it comes to Spring, it's the unpredictability that keeps you young. You never know what to expect... beyond MPG improving as the weeks roll by.  Warm up can be quick or painfully slow.  This year is different.  It's actually warm during what normally is the coldest time of the year.  My plug-in Prius order is for "Early 2012".  In my mind, that means Spring.  And since it feels like that now, I'm getting excited too soon.  There's 2 to 3 months of waiting still.  Ahh!

1-06-2012

60 MPG Again!  Well, what do you know.  This mild Winter resulted in another great morning commute.  That certainly was unexpected.  I figured yesterday was just a fluke.  Though, I did still had my camera at the ready... just in case  The warmth (a full 10 degrees above freezing) won't last long.  All it takes is some snow cover for the temperature to plummet and not return.  Of course, what I find interesting is the fact that those individual 1-min bars on the consumption graph never match other drives.  Traffic has a major affect on the fine details of efficiency.  Seeing that in graph form makes it quite clear.  But then again, it's the overall result that matters.  60.6 MPG yesterday.  60.3 MPG today.  The average speed was faster today, 48 instead of 44.  That number is misleading though.  It counts every moment, including when the Prius stopped waiting for a light to change.  Regardless, of the factors, it happened again.  I was very happy.  Check it out... photo album 172

 

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