Prius Personal Log  #552

February 15, 2012  -  February 18, 2012

Last Updated: Sat. 2/25/2012

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2-18-2012

New Territory.  This was a first.  PHV is taking us into new territory.  I jumped on the opportunity by calling out the multi-existences at play in the various forums.  It's quite common for the same topic to emerge in many places.  The same report will get republished on other websites.  Few actually following all that activity.  Most stick to their favorite forum.  Some participate in several.  A few don't use the same id, so it takes awhile to confirm who they actually are.  They don't always take the same stance on each either.  Playing offense, I took the initiative to point out the inter-connectivity with the release of the "11 mile range" information.  It's evitable some would attempt to spin the EV nonsense, instead of just recognizing PHV as a plug-in hybrid.  Getting it all out there in the open immediately will hopefully heighten awareness, making it difficult to greenwash.  After providing links, I followed up with:  The spin about sales all throughout 2011 was endless.  Each month came with a new excuse, rather than finally addressing the need to meet mainstream pricing.  I kept reminding them about Two-Mode history and what was currently unfolding with Cruze.  They turned it around to make it seem like I was defending Prius, even though the focus was on Volt.  It was intriguing to watch more and more of their own members stating the very same thing.  They saw the internal competition from within GM itself and a situation very different for Toyota.  The intent with Prius is to phase out traditional production by offering a variety of clean high-efficiency choices as replacements.  The opposition has come from those who thrive on standout vehicles, rather than ordinary business-sustaining cars like Camry & Corolla.  I found it quite informative, providing lots of argument points long before PHV rollout.  They (obviously) enjoyed having a scapegoat available.  Oddly, it worked out to be a constructive exchange.

2-18-2012

Keeping It Simple.  That's surprisingly difficult.  When people hear "plug" mentioned, they automatically side with an extreme.  Some, believe it or not, thought Prius always had a plug.  So for them, the concept of EV range is meaningless.  Doesn't Prius already offer that?  The rest think EV is a purity, that there's a concept of switching over afterward.  The idea of blending doesn't even cross their mind.  They assume there's no plug benefit whatsoever when the engine runs.  That makes knowing your audience absolutely vital.  On the big GM forum, they're purist.  So, anything you mention about "blending" is perceived as propaganda for Prius.  That's why direct-drive to this day is still such a controversial topic.  On the big Prius forum, reporting of electricity usage still doesn't happen.  The closest we get is mention of consumption rates.  Quantity is still omitted.  That's very frustrating; however, the solution remains simple.  Keep requesting GALLONS and KWH values.  With, it's easy to be constructive.  Without, be aware of attempts to mislead.  I stated the situation as:  Volt enthusiasts have been attempting to force PHV into an EV perspective for years, disregarding entirely the purpose of the plug and extra capacity.  But no matter how much that continues, sticking to GALLONS and KWH avoids misrepresentation.  You simply state fuel consumed for the distance traveled.

2-18-2012

Meaningful Numbers.  Some still absolutely insist on cranking out calculations and depending upon them exclusively for compares.  The argument is from a pure engineering & scientific perspective, wanting to support decisions based only upon those carefully controlled measures.  Reality is quite different.  So many things affect outcome, there's no good way of comparing effectively.  Yet, that's how most purchases occur.  People glance at specifications, then seek out real-world owner information.  It's those other factors pointed out that make a difference.  Heck, even marketing spin attempts to acknowledge that reality.  To me, it doesn't matter because people have already stated over and over again that the sharing of our experiences is what makes a difference.  So, I responded to the comparison discussion with:  We know for a fact that numbers derived from dissimilar sources are meaningful.  The real-world data provided by owners has been what swayed others to become owners themselves.  In other words, they don't actually require the precision you're aiming for... because they know how far off estimates can be from real-world.  Remember, most people don't have their own data to compare with anyway... despite having driven their vehicle for years.  Marketing is far more complicated than just presenting some compare values.  How much is ULEV verses PZEV worth?  What about the MPGe estimate?  Then there's the issue of vehicle size.  It's all a jumble of factors influencing the purchase decision, not just efficiency alone.  Some people won't have the opportunity to ever use a 240-volt charger either.  In short, for the technology to move from niche to mainstream, those other factors must be included.

2-18-2012

Winless Battles.  Over the years, we've seen countless attempts to prevent conclusions from being drawn.  The longest thread... with extremely intense debate ...was that "up to the chore" nonsense.  They dragged that on for a year and a half before the moderator finally sounded off, declaring hybrids indeed were, then promptly closing it.  Enthusiasts were doing the same type of thing with Volt, attempting to stall backlash while GM figured out what to do about the slow sales.  But now with PHV only a week away, that won't work anymore.  Attention will just leave instead.  They worry about being forgotten, that excitement will shift over to Prius instead.  I find the prospect very exciting.  With the price of gas just having hit $4 per gallon on the West Coast and the new lower cost Prius c about to rollout, there is much consider now about the demand for high-efficiency vehicles.  My post on this was:  It's really going to be a challenge getting into plug verses no-plug discussions without someone interjecting something about a vehicle other than Prius.  Of course on the GM forums, even if no one says a peep about Prius, it is assumed to be the point of reference... since that has become standard to which all else is measured.  PHV is what I've been looking forward to for years.  That battery-pack is sized big enough to give a substantial MPG boost but still small enough to be affordable as a package choice.  So, I'm really looking forward to contributing to that topic.

2-18-2012

Blending.  That's when more than one source of thrust is combined to propel a hybrid.  There's no quantity associated with it though, just an indication of not being pure.  EPA estimates continue to contribute to the confusion, rather than providing clarity.  It's an unfortunate reality of trying to simplify such an extremely complex set of variables.  Needless to say, the official "range" value for PHV coming with a "blended" disclaimer will stimulate much discussion.  The biggest problem, of course, is the insistence upon comparing Volt to PHV directly in terms "gallons saved" with no regard to electricity consumed.  Arrgh!  I responded to the newly emerged discussion on this with:  What does "blended" actually mean?  It's likely the same definition as "city", which means not highway.  Based on that, I would expect "blended" to mean not electric.  And since there could be a brief moment when the engine runs, that qualifier would fit. So even if it's just 1% of the time and uses only 0.01 gallons of fuel, the label of "blended" would make sense.  In the end, it doesn't matter anyway.  On paper calculations are just crude estimates.  They don't take into account all the nuances of everyday driving.  Just look at how wildly Volt's EV distance varies for those with the same daily commute.  Always look deeper when detail isn't provided.

2-17-2012

Drinking Coffee.  Enjoying the morning sun, sipping a cup of joe, I'm at the coffee shop typing personal log entries.  The table & chair are next to the window, by the drive-thru.  Guess what just pulled up.  You guessed it, a Volt.  When I stood up for my first ever look close-up, the guy next to me recognized the significance and asked specifically what I was looking at.  My remark was about the lack of a back bumper, wondering how you'd carry bikes.  My first trip with the PHV will be up north, to bike.  That means the interior stuffed with cargo and bikes on the outside in back.  I asked him how that could be accomplished with a Volt.  Both of us then noticed how low the car was.  Adding a receiver-hitch would mean some scraping.  The design clearly didn't take recreation into consideration.  It appeared the only option available would be a rack on top.  So instead of a simple $99 strap-on for the back, you're looking at over $400.  That was my fourth sighting so far.  Coincidently, the count of Prius v sightings is the same.  Regular model Prius are abundant.  Where, and more importantly when, will I have my first Prius c sighting?

2-17-2012

The End Is Near, specifics.  Vague has been the approach ever since Volt rollout began.  A basic website for tracking owner miles emerged, but it lacked critical data.  There was nothing about gas or electricity consumption, only MPG values.  That's extremely misleading, to the point of being deceptive.  For people like me who will have access to a recharging-station at work, you know they'll have a fit over seeing my drive statistics.  But recharging twice per day is quite logical for me.  Overnight would be the usual.  I'll consume that on the drive to work.  Let the pack cold-soak until about 2 hours before I'm ready to leave.  Then recharge using the some electricity from the parking ramp... which just happens to have an 82 kWh solar-array.  Whatever else electricity I need will come from the natural-gas plant down the street.  Coal is no longer used around here.  Anywho, we know for a fact that Volt owners are taking advantage of during-the-day recharge opportunities too.  But that's from random reports in forums, none actually tracked on that website.  Needless to say, that's going to become a source of greenwashing.  No specifics is reason for suspicion.  Fortunately, the newest production of Volt now includes kWh data on the display.  PHV will have it from the very start.  There's no excuse not to include that or to withhold gallon data.

2-17-2012

The End Is Near, shocker.  Was it really a shocker?  One year ago, the founder of that Volt daily blog abruptly said goodbye.  Four years of building excitement and contributing to hype, then shortly after getting his Volt, goodbye.  What the heck!?  It surprised many.  To work so hard for that moment, then leave when it arrived.  That meant no ownership reports from him, no guidance, no support.  The website had been purchased by a large provider of many online automotive forums & blogs.  It was no longer the domain of enthusiasts.  Someone was being paid to provide content and stimulate discussion.  Needless to say, things fell apart after that.  The blog became a venue for generic industry news and a source for spin.  Volt support fell apart there.  In fact, looking at the forum (which has also struggled along), it's easy to see that participants there were avoiding the blog.  That brings us to the news this morning.  There won't be daily updates anymore.  He'll be providing content for a generic hybrid website instead, since there is almost nothing new to report about Volt now.  The timing of this decision was quite predictable.  An inevitable wave of real-world data in support of PHV is approaching.  Just one week from now, the first ship will be docking on the West Coast.  When the deliveries begin, their lack of support material for Volt is going to cause quite a stir.  No shock there.

2-16-2012

The End Is Near, fallout.  It was amazing, truly remarkable, almost unbelievable to read the posts on that daily blog for Volt today.  There was no doubt about the end being near.  Wow!  I was astonished just how bad things had become.  It started with the same old excuses, comparing sales of Prius over a decade ago... with complete disregard for gas prices back then and all the battery & motor experience GM gained prior to Volt.  They simply don't care about being constructive, stated most eloquently with this: "Toyota was wrong."  Then it went on to the bragging about how "better" GM technology is.  (I found it amusing how they suddenly switched from using the word "superior"; there must be a stigma associated with that now.)  And of course, Prius got the "ugly" insults.  If that wasn't enough, there was even mention of second-generation Two-Mode and third-generation BAS.  How can they be so out of touch with what the market actually means?  Fallout from poor sales has had quite an effect on that particular group.

2-16-2012

The End Is Near, HOV.  Being able to single-occupant drive on some heavily congested highways in California was a rare opportunity years ago.  That stimulated sales & controversy without any monetary exchange.  Only the cleanest vehicles qualified.  Not all the hybrids met carbon & smog-related emission requirements for that.  It was a big deal.  People could take advantage of the HOV lane without actually carpooling.  That caused remarkably high resale values too.  But it was all temporary.  The purpose to promote purchases was fulfilled though.  Now, it's about to start again, but this time with plug-in vehicles.  This time, only 40,000 permits will be available rather than 75,000 as in the past.  A few Volt supporters have already accused PHV buyers of wanting that plug-in for the sole purpose of getting HOV privileges.  That would be strange.  But then again, Prius delivers better efficiency than Volt after depletion.  Funny thing is, we now have proof of that demand working in reverse.  Someone who had priority-ordered a PHV cancelled today to get a Volt immediately instead.  He became very nervous about missing out on the HOV access opportunity.  It was quite a surprise to read this, especially considering how far his commute is:  "I think I'm the anthesis of everyone else on this forum.  For me, the HOV lane access is the single most important thing.  My 51-mile commute takes 45 minutes with no traffic, with traffic, it can take 1:30-1:45 (each way).  Saving myself about 2 hours per day is worth almost any price... to be honest, I don't care if I get 15 MPG combined as long as I get to be in the HOV lane."  That makes us all wonder what he'll think 2 months from now, seeing PHV in the same lane as him.  It also makes you wonder how much time it really will save him and how long of a commute others in the same area routinely endure.

2-15-2012

On The Ship.  It sure is exciting to check the online status of my PHV delivery.  The webpage is different now.  The information there previously was the date of when the status had been updated, not when the event itself actually took place.  So, now I know exactly what's going on.  The ship transporting it over the Pacific left port last week, on the day I had originally thought it was built.  That means my PHV is even closer than I had thought.  If that isn't enough, I can actually look where the ship is!  It's amazing what information you can find online nowadays.  Of course, that does explain the animosity we are getting now from certain individuals.  Their worry is my confirmation though.  You don't get such intense reaction to something not perceived to be a genuine game-changer.  Resistance to change comes in all forms.  In this case, it has been PHV all along stirring the pot.  You'd think they would have been better prepared for this.  Oh well, I did.

2-15-2012

The End Is Near, reached.  You know the end has been reached when that's all they post.  I was beside myself how extreme the insulting & bragging was today.  It was a flashback to years ago, on the eve of other big hybrid milestones.  The support of Volt has taken on the same attributes.  They (the online blogging group of enthusiasts, who hopefully aren't representative of most owners) have completely lost touch with priorities.  It all comes back to my begging for goals and constantly asking who the market was.  There's no accountability if claims of the past are brushed aside.  They've redefined the purpose of Volt thinking we'll simply accept what emerged rather than remind them of what's actually needed.  We aren't even getting the excuses anymore.  Of course, with PHV deliveries so close now, it makes sense to abandon all that nonsense.  What they'll come up with next will be interesting.  The next sales results will come right when new plug-in owners will be taking delivery.  Including me!

 

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