Prius Personal Log  #550

February 7, 2012  -  February 11, 2012

Last Updated: Fri. 2/17/2012

    page #549         page #551         BOOK         INDEX         go to bottom 

 

2-11-2012

The End Is Near, benefit.  In either complete bewilderment or fear of conspiracy, this was asked: "What possible benefit can there be for them?"  Them means people like me, who continue to push for something that actually addresses need.  This was my reply:  You really don't understand the situation.  Cruze is kicking Volt's butt.  There are ton of people who don't want plug-in vehicles to succeed.  But instead of doing something about them, it's misrepresent Prius and bragging about Volt.  What the heck?  That's not the slightest bit constructive.  Neither is downvoting facts when you don't like them, especially when it's a correction to a false post.  The benefit comes from realizing that Volt is too little, too slowly.  So what if it drives well and uses very little gas.  If only a small number of people buy them, the purpose remains unfulfilled.  Can't you see that it's a moving target?  Traditional vehicles will continue to be invested in, refining engine thermal efficiency and depending on those minor gains exclusively rather than investing heavily in battery improvement.  The next generation Volt will have to compete with a raised bar.  The goal is to change mainstream production & purchases quickly... none of this be patient for a few more years nonsense.

2-11-2012

The End Is Near, expectations.  It was time to climb up on the soapbox.  No need to even mention emissions.  With so many other problems already being addressed, particularly with this: "My point is Mass market.  The Honda Fit crowd, the Ford Taurus, Toyota Corolla or Camry, the Chevy Cruze buyers.  Until the VOLT is priced for them, it will only sell to very small market of techno-greens that have the money, and maybe a few that will save up the money."  That was my invitation to sound off:  That's well said, but falls on deaf ears.  54,181 expressed interest in buying a Volt.  Only about 5% actually will.  It's a fairly typical statistic.  Yet, enthusiasts absolutely insisted there would be a serious supply constraint and extremely long delivery waits due to overwhelming demand.  Listening to the voice of reason was always a challenge here.  We had quarrels about everything.  It started with price. How in the world was GM going to deliver a 40-mile capacity for "nicely under $30,000" by the end of 2010?  Lithium was way too expensive then, and still is now.  They didn't want to acknowledge that.  50 MPG from a vehicle so heavy didn't make any sense either, especially with Two-Mode having already fall short short of efficiency expectations.  Then there was the heated arguments about the reduction of range due to winter.  The group-think convinced everyone that seeing range drop into the 20's was totally unrealistic, just an attempt by the competition to undermine Volt.  Turns out, the people who's motives were question did indeed end up being correct.  Demand, Price, Efficiency, and Range all had been way over hyped.  Had expectations been set differently, perhaps the sales struggle now wouldn't have been so bad.  There certainly would have been far less negative press.  As a result, dealing with the big problem of price is even harder.  Despite all the warnings, they ended up shooting themselves in the foot.  That's why I keep asking: What now?  It's very difficult to see what the next appropriate step is, especially with another plug-in coming within the next month.

2-10-2012

The End Is Near, competition.  The autoshow in Chicago is the big news at the moment.  It's obvious the end has already come for SUVs.  They aren't getting much attention nowadays.  The shift reminds me of 30 years ago, when the guzzlers of the time were pushed aside in favor of small "economy" cars.  Fortunately, what happened back then won't be a repeat now.  The technology in Prius combined with it's very strong reputation will usher in the plug without much resistance, creating an entirely new look up what high-efficiency can mean.  That does stir some trouble for the competition though.  The big news has been Cruze will available in a new form this summer, as a wagon.  And guess what, that won't be here.  The United States doesn't get either the hatchback or wagon model.  GM is clearly pushing the cargo convenience to Volt here.  Competition within its own product-line was a serious problem in the past.  Avoiding that post-bankruptcy is wise.  But the price difference between Cruze & Volt is drastic.  There is simply no way consumers will be convinced to make that big of a financial jump, especially when a plug is involved.  We'll never know how many sales will be lost to Prius v & c do to that intentional lack of availability decision by GM.  But if it promotes hybrid sales, that's great... though quite an odd way for it to happen.  Ford will be offering the C-Max hybrid & plug-in this year.  They too will focus on cargo convenience.

2-10-2012

The End Is Near, no plug?  When you tell people you've known since the 90's that you're getting a plug-in Prius and their response is, "Didn't your Prius always have a plug?", you know that a clean start is about to take place.  It's an honest indication that some people truly don't have any idea what's been happening in the automotive industry.  I see that as a golden opportunity.  To think that I'll be able to present real-world data without any bias on their part, just assumptions they're happy to entertain as incorrect.  How about that?  It's very exciting to encounter that type of reception!  I can't believe those Volt enthusiasts don't take advantage of that.  They just gloss over detail and mention nothing but gallons of gas.  An entire year on the road prior to PHV rollout wasted.  All they did was push the EREV label without any clear definition of what it actually meant.  People see an engine and a plug, they think plug-in hybrid.  After all, I'm finding out some believed that's what hybrids offered all along.  Rather than the misconception being debunked, it instead became a non-issue... which is why I see opportunity.  Some have already accepted plugging in as no big deal... despite never hearing any detail.  So, when I mention 3 hours of recharging using nothing but the standard outlet in my garage, they'll probably just ask how long the cord is.  No other concern from them would seem to indicate easy acceptance.  After all, many of us have already become accustom to routinely plugging in our portable electric devices.

2-09-2012

The End Is Near, electricity.  Unbelievable.  Today's rant was about how Fox News simply doesn't care.  GM gave them a Volt to drive around for a week, hoping that real-world experience would change their attitude.  Huh?  Since when would a gesture like that make any difference?  They've been dealing with the same nonsense for years.  Of course, the assumption always was a lack of understanding.  But the Volt owners only make it worse.  They brag about MPG, still refusing to include kWh data.  Not mentioning electricity usage, but promoting Volt as an EV doesn't make any sense.  Neither side is even trying anymore.  That's how you know the end is near.  The particular quote that got me going was: "I am a Volt owner with 8900 miles to date and total Gas used of 9/10ths of a gallon."  Again with the exclusion of kWh.  It's amazing how that simply don't care either.  In fact, this was the response from another when I pointed that out: "Anyway you really look at it, direct electrical power is vastly cheaper than any refined petroleum based fuel and accessible from your home outlet."  No concern for the reality that electricity primarily comes from coal & natural gas, neither of which is renewable or truly clean, makes no difference.  It can be used carefree and without accountability since it is so much less expensive.  What kind of nonsense is that?

2-09-2012

The End Is Near, now what?  It's bizarre how easy it is to see now.  Volt owners claims their focus isn't bragging rights.  Yet when an opportunity comes along, nothing of substance is can be found.  They just complain!  They have no idea what to actually do.  I tried one last time at coaxing out something constructive:  We all had a good laugh over the years with all the "vastly superior" claims.  It could have served as an effective method of shaking out true argument points, since far too often those with something to lose don't even try to be objective and carefully avoid detail.  Instead, it wasn't taken seriously.  The lesson of who was the actual opposition wasn't learned.  Now those not wanting change are doing everything they can to undermine progress.  In other words, this is a critical time.  A new approach must be taken.  Prius owners learned how to deal with this situation years ago.  Why continue fighting the ones with the experience to help and the same desire to spread the acceptance of plug-in hybrids?  The group wanting to retain the status quo is far larger and more resourceful than you realized.  A backlash against Volt was inevitable.  The continued intense support for oil drilling should have made that quite obvious.  To even stand a chance of making a difference, Volt must be sold at the same rate as other top vehicles... which had been the hype prior to rollout.  Everything was gambled on Volt being able to change the game alone.  That turned out to be unwise.  Now what should be done?

2-08-2012

Build Update.  I'll never know what the actual circumstances were, but the build database was updated.  Turns out, my PHV was actually built last week... on Groundhog's Day.  That means the excitement has grown even more.  It's that much closer now.  Of course, I was always thinking early March for arrival at the dealer anyway.  Being a leap year, that meant an extra day to wait... as if I haven't been going nuts waiting already.  It's stuns me to think that a year and a half has went by since the last time I drove a plug-in Prius.  That was an early model design too.  This one will be more refined.  I can't imagine how surreal that first driving experience will be.  Though, the final step of the journey will seem the longest... after I've completed the payment & delivery steps and endure the transport from the coast to here.  To think that my wait for delivery of my Classic model (which still seems so vivid) was 12 years ago.  Of course, it was 15 years ago I did my first internet search for details on EV1 and Ranger EV.  I was excited about plugging in way back then.  I even have the printouts still from that memorable event.  Now, I'm about to start a new chapter in this history.  Sweet!

2-08-2012

Jetta Hybrid.  Details were revealed today.  It will be an ASSIST hybrid using a 1.1 kWh lithium-ion battery pack to deliver 45 MPG.  There was no mention of price.  Being a 3,300 pound sedan, it's not exactly something that will ever be compared to Prius PHV.  What will others think of it?  The Camry hybrid makes more sense, though that is bigger and offers more power than Jetta hybrid.  There was no mention whatsoever about emissions either.  That means it's highly unlikely to be AT-PZEV rated.  Anywho, I posted this as commentary on the automotive green blog:  A seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is far from the simplicity of the power-split design used in Prius.  That makes you wonder about cost, flexibility, and real-world efficiency... especially using just a 20 kW electric-motor.  There have been complaints from consumers about highly complex systems feeling unnatural with so much shifting and at unexpected times.  Comments from test-drives should be interesting.  Of course, it's hard to take it as a serious contender to Prius when the benefit of being a hatchback isn't even acknowledged.  There's no opportunity for a plug-in model with such a small electric-motor either.

2-08-2012

Built Today.  I got a kick out of checking my PHV order status this afternoon.  It said: "Your Plug-In was built: 2/8/2012".  The first thought that came to mind was, does that mean today or yesterday?  After all, in Japan it's already tomorrow.  Then I wondered what the next status values would mean, since the ship will cross over the international dateline.  Going in a direction from east to west, travel would be backward on the calendar.  Right?  Perhaps my mind has already snapped in anticipation of the excitement of getting behind the wheel of a PHV again... and this one even better than the early model I drove 1.5 years ago.  Yeah!

2-08-2012

v Repeat.  It wasn't.  The first I saw was blue.  The second was red.  This Prius v was white.  That was rather patriotic, eh?  More interesting though was that made 3 sightings within two months of rollout.  Volt has been out longer, yet I've only seen 2 of them.  It makes me wonder when I'll have my first Prius c sighting.  Seeing them on the road routinely is what really counts.  That's the true indication of acceptance.  It's also what provides encouragement for others to consider a purchase.  No matter how much we say online, there's nothing like actually seeing a vehicle on the road in everyday traffic.  How long do you think it will be until I have another sighting?  This is getting very exciting!  I remember years back going for walk over lunch playing the "Spot A Prius" game.  Frequency of sightings increased.  That was how we knew Prius was catching on.  It's an indicator of growth that cannot be argued.  More is indeed better.

2-08-2012

c Detail.  More information was released today.  We already knew the battery-pack was 144 volts.  The weight wasn't known though.  It was revealed as 67.2 pounds.  That's surprisingly small.  Of course, the one in the regular model is only 91 pounds.  The pack itself contains 20 modules, each with 6 cells.  That's 120 for the c model verses the 168 in the regular model.  Voltage is stepped up from 144 to 523 DC, then converted over to 520 AC.  The regular model operates at 650 AC.  All that's nice to know, but wasn't the purpose of the press detail today.  It was package pricing.   There will be 4 offered here this year: $18,950 and $19,900 and $21,635 and $23,230. This is the magic price-point people have stated as the holy-grail all these years.  It makes calculating the cost-benefit of Prius a no-brainer... especially when gas prices go up.  This is the "right place at the right time" scenario about to play out.  It will be very exciting to watch a flood of new consumers embrace hybrids, with Prius c leading the way.

2-07-2012

Classic Video.  This very long sequence showing energy flows on the Multi-Display from all those years ago (specifically on July 20, 2003) with the Classic model is my pride & joy.  Lighting was perfect (it was moments before sunset on a warm Summer day).  The Prius had a long, straight, flat, desolate country road to play on.  My friend and I setup the camera and let it run.  All one take. It came out perfect.  We were able to capture quite a variety of conditions, each very easy to observe.  Watch all the details closely.  The length of the footage helps to explain what you'd actually encounter in real-world cruising on streets at 30 to 45 MPH with moderate amounts of traffic.  You'll see the energy-flow change frequently based on the speed and charge-level:  Prius (Classic) - Multi-Display

2-07-2012

Luxury Appeal.  I enjoyed reading this today: "It's nice to hear that you recognize the luxury of the Volt."  It came from an individual who declared superiority years ago and insults Prius every chance he gets.  Naturally, he doesn't like me.  Since rather than challenging him directly, I point out what puts Prius on equal footing.  That's because I couldn't care less about bragging rights.  For me, it's all about supporting technology for the everyday consumers.  Needless to say, I had a "luxury" reply readily available for such an occasion:  Actually it's the smooth & quiet electric motors offers.  Ironically, consumers don't want that 100% of the time.  We've learned that all too well from CVT experience.  Comment has been overwhelming consistent; they want some type of feedback from the system when accelerating hard.  In other words, people are expecting a downshift of sorts.  Coincidently, that's exactly what PHV provides.  60 kW handles suburb driving without any need for engine assistance.  It isn't until merging onto a highway that the extra power kicks in... exactly when people would expect a downshift.  Remember how GM engineers matched Volt throttle position to match consumer expectations for acceleration in CS-mode?  How is the PHV any different with respect to system feedback?

 

back to home page       go to top