Prius Personal Log  #556

March 7, 2012  -  March 11, 2012

Last Updated: Weds. 4/11/2012

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3-11-2012

In My Garage.  Quite literally 2 seconds after posting about my final 2010 Prius video, there was a knock on my door.  It was a neighbor.  He was excited to see my 2012 Prius PHV finally arrive... and like me, was amazed to see a massive 8-vehicle carrier rig backed down into the street.  That was quite an impressive sight, even without two plug-in deliveries on top.  It was getting dark fast.  The sun had already went down on that cloudy evening and rain was just beginning to fall.  That meant no photos and a flashlight for the inspection.  Minutes later, I could hardly see anything.  Talking about just in the nick of time!  I barely got a glimpse of the Clearwater Blue color.  The driver was paid, I signed the paper, and he was on his way.  Another neighbor came out to see what I had just taken delivery of.  It was all very exciting... despite seeing only 3-bars on the display.  That meant no EV driving until morning.  Oh well.  That completes the purchase & delivery, next comes vehicle registration.

3-11-2012

Just 4 Hours.  It is rather surreal knowing in that amount of time, there will be a truck unloading my PHV.  After years of waiting, it's on the verge of becoming a reality.  I quite ready too.  All those heated debates online prepared me well for this.  They routinely asked on the big GM forum why I was there.  This is it.  I have always a clean, highly efficient vehicle for the masses.  Toyota's approach is fantastic.  They are starting with the smallest realistic battery-pack, just enough to significantly boost MPG without having a significant impact on price.  It's easy to understand too.  The engine simply runs less often than the regular model, and in some cases not at all.  You don't need anything beyond an ordinary 120-volt outlet available either.  Plug in when convenient.  Still get great efficiency even when depleted.  Not much longer to wait now.

3-11-2012

That Downplay.  The moment price was revealed for Volt, things began to change.  That wasn't the kind of change enthusiasts were hoping for.  With such an expensive MSRP, there wasn't much hope for high-volume sales.  In fact, some of the enthusiasts themselves became disenchanted.  There is an aspect of that with PHV too, but with a $9,000 difference between that then in July 2010 and now there's little to argue.  It was going to take longer than hoped for Volt but not for Prius.  So, they began the downplay.  To makes matter worse, the reveal of EPA estimates in October 2010 confirmed that Volt's depleted efficiency wouldn't be any better than a traditional vehicle.  That's not the case for PHV, it continues to deliver MPG just like a regular Prius after depletion.  There's nothing to downplay.  To make matters even worse yet, popularity of Prius from the new v and c models and continued growth of the regular model will benefit PHV.  Sales of those no-plug Prius are positive reinforcement of the future.  Sales of Cruze do just the opposite, they harm Volt by drawing appeal back to traditional vehicles.  The new ECO model of Malibu will negatively impact Volt too.  GM is providing it's own downplay, being it's own worst enemy.  Come to the dealer to see Volt and end up buying something else.  Come to the dealer to see a Prius and end up buying the plug-in model instead.  This next year is indeed going to be very interesting.

3-10-2012

Decisions, part 2.  This what I contributed to the discussion:  Having followed the history of Volt from Two-Mode origins, it's easy to understand.  Business desire was where the compromise came from.  Engineers were impaired by what marketing had already started to promote.  In other words, they backed themselves into a corner very early on.  It was a commitment doomed by unrealistic expectations.  Promises of outperforming the competition blinded decisions.  Cost was allowed to increase without concern.  The first evidence of that I can recall was the decision to abandon the custom-designed engine and just use one from a traditional vehicle instead.  The claim was to keep price low, but the efficiency penalty made you wonder.  It contributed to the enthusiast focus on acceleration & power.  GM thrived on the resulting hype.  Focus was lost.  Things fell apart from there.  Bringing up the topic of cold-temperature influence confirmed constructive discussion was no longer possible.  Hope had taken control, long before the design had even been finalized.  Later, when it was leaked that Volt wasn't actually a serial hybrid as promoted, it started to get ugly.  Information about depleted efficiency was withheld, despite countless enthusiast requests.  Then came the price announcement.  That was the beginning of the end.  Before rollout, there was disenchantment among supporters.  So as owners began to report real-world data, it was already too late.  The damage had been done and each attempt to repair only ended up making the situation worse.  Now, we have the first PHV arrivals.  What does that mean for Volt marketing?  What about design?  What about sales?  This certainly is an interesting time in automotive history.

3-10-2012

Decisions, part 1.  There are a lot of PHV newbies all wondering the same thing... why?  So, the topic of Volt continues to pop up.  Fortunately, there are a few dedicated discussion threads now rather than having to endlessly deal with distracting interjections.  That's nice.  I certainly want to move on.  But there are some thought-provoking posts resulting from this.  This particular one was especially impressive: "I don't understand the engineering decisions of the Volt.  GM claims it is an EREV and it is, but IMO it was a brute force design not an elegant design.  Tack on a big battery to compact car is what it appears to me to be.  They presented the idea of a series hybrid, but actually built a parallel/series hybrid with a larger battery."  That opening obviously caught my attention.  The closing statement was just compelling: "Why GM chose to build the Volt the way it did boggles me.  They had the opportunity to build a car from the ground up and instead of choosing to build a truly interesting car, they designed a car with unnecessary compromises in utility and efficiency."  It's an interesting thing to consider.  How do you get perspective from the past without looking back?  Only blogs written then, as it was happening, can provide observations as they happen.  Forum posts don't have continuity, though a few threads offer a brief chronology.  It's up to those who lived it firsthand to share the stories...

3-09-2012

Location Status.  We got word of where the driver was.  He'll be spending the night near the Texas/Oklahoma border.  That's roughly halfway, with the difficult part of the journey (crossing the Rocky Mountains) already complete.  It probably means not arriving here until two days from now.  The actual act of delivery may not take place until the following morning.  That's no big deal.  I have much to do at home still, including clean the garage to temporarily accommodate two Prius.  Thankfully, the first true day of Spring weather is expected tomorrow... which just happens to be a Saturday.  It does make passing the time a bit odd though, since there's one less hour this weekend.  Daylight Savings is great timing!  I'll have one more hour to play with the PHV after work.  Getting dark right away is a pain.  Anywho, I'm running out of stuff to think about.  The wait is definitely a test of patience.  Hopefully, I'll get an email update with location status tomorrow.

3-09-2012

Agendas.  It's very easy and quite realistic to expect someone who routinely contradicts to have an agenda.  After all, not having any purpose would be rather odd.  So with discussions of Volt growing on the big Prius forum, this question was expected: "I get the impression that much of the negativity directed at the Volt is from an ideological agenda rather than anything that has to do with the actual vehicle."  I was among those who provided a response to that:  That comes from such heavy focus on engineering and disregard for actual need.  Had the technology been developed with choice available rather than the one-size-fits-all system we got, outcome would have been different.  Sure, anyone can justify an individual purchase, but support for the masses is another matter entirely.  Then there's the attitude.  On the forums supporting Volt, it's not a matter of good old fashion competition & rivalry.  Instead there's "vastly superior" declarations and endless excuses, avoiding consideration of consequences from weak sales.  They don't acknowledge the history of Two-Mode or BAS either.  To makes matters worse, there's the issue of disenchantment.  You shouldn't just abandon those who's expectations were not met.  Yet, that's exactly what happened.  Look at the diversity we get from Toyota and the concepts they continue to reveal.  It's a very situation quite unlike that from GM.  Basically, there's no good way of addressing the problem without sounding negative.  Setting new expectations would be wise next step.

3-08-2012

Next Step.  There's a fresh, new wave of observations pouring in now.  I can't imagine what it's like in 2012 looking at the plug-in market for the first time.  For me, it was back in the late 90's.  I was hoping the Ford Ranger EV, which was produced just up the road from here, would be offered here.  Instead, that market quickly collapsed before spreading beyond California.  That's how I discovered Prius was coming.  It's been an exciting 12.5 years since then.  I suppose they're view is what I had back in my beginning.  But there certainly wasn't the political issues in my time.  Of course, there wasn't the internet as we know it now either.  This was the comment today: "I get the impression that much of the negativity directed at the Volt is from an ideological agenda rather than anything that has to do with the actual vehicle."  Which, I replied to with:  That comes from such heavy focus on engineering and disregard for actual need.  Had the technology been developed with choice available rather than the one-size-fits-all system we got, outcome would have been different.  Sure, anyone can justify an individual purchase, but support for the masses is another matter entirely.  Then there's the attitude. On the forums supporting Volt, it's not a matter of good old fashion competition & rivalry.  Instead there's "vastly superior" declarations and endless excuses, avoiding consideration of consequences from weak sales.  They don't acknowledge the history of Two-Mode or BAS either.  To makes matters worse, there's the issue of disenchantment.  You shouldn't just abandon those who's expectations were not met.  Yet, that's exactly what happened. Look at the diversity we get from Toyota and the concepts they continue to reveal.  It's a very situation quite unlike that from GM.  Basically, there's no good way of addressing the problem without sounding negative.  Setting new expectations would be wise next step.

3-08-2012

Newbie Posts.  It's fascinating to see that newbies are appearing online just for the sake of a PHV purchase.  Their forum participation is exclusive to plugging in.  These are the consumers who were stirred by Prius, but not interested enough to commit.  But now with the ability to boost MPG with a plug, things are different.  They're interested now, some even engrossed.  In fact, many of the first posts are to point out they are either awaiting delivery or just drive home with one.  That most definitely qualifies as committing.  Tapping into an entirely new audience is market penetration those supporting Prius for years have dreamed of.  It's not just owners upgrading.  This is true expansion.  Each step forward leaves traditional vehicles further back.  With the no-plug version so well proven, it's only a matter of time that real-world data from these new owners begins to solidify a future where having a battery-pack of some sort is the norm.  One post after another, you can see it happening.  I wonder how many parking spaces will show up as an enticement.  After all, with a full recharge for Prius PHV only taking an hour and a half, that's perfect for a restaurant or coffeeshop visit.  That works out as a draw for movie theaters and shopping malls too.  This is getting very exciting!

3-07-2012

Yaris Hybrid.  The traditional model of Toyota's Yaris has been a popular vehicle in Europe for a very long time.  So the announcement of it being available as a hybrid in May has been a realistic expectation.  After all, Prius is a bit large compared to the high-efficiency vehicles it competes with in Europe.  There's also the potential that looking just like a common vehicle could be an appeal factor too.  That's been a very unpredictable purchase influence in the United States.  Like Auris though, we may not hear much about it.  That market is quite different from what we have here.  But then again, Yaris will share the scaled down system that Prius c uses rather than the bigger one Auris shares with the regular Prius.  What I think is great is the diversity Toyota is striving for.  Offering choice is something automakers have been quite reluctant to do.  2012 certainly is turning out to be a year of change.  With new hybrids and plug-ins pushing efficiency expectations, traditional vehicles losing more attention of the masses is a trend I'll enjoy watching.

3-07-2012

Data Thoughts.  For the past 11.5 years, I've logged DATE, MILES, GALLONS, MPG-SHOWN, AVE-MPH, PRICE, ODOMETER every time I fill the tank.  For the past 2.5 years, I've logged the ODOMETER reading every night.  I've considered adding the daily MPG to that too.  So, I'm very much in the mindset for serious data collection.  With the PHV, it looks like I'll be adding TIMES-PLUGGED to the nightly routine plus KWH and RATIO for each tank.  The resulting calculated values and on-going totals are what tell the true story, since just a snapshot of performance can be misleading even without a plug.  I'll continue to fill the tank whether it needs it or not to gather monthly statistics too... especially since here in the north, where seasonal efficiency variation will be quite the discussion topic.

3-07-2012

Transport Ready.  The shipping company now has my check.  They should have already picked up my PHV from the dealer too.  When the drive begins and how long it will take isn't known though.  I'll need to check status with the other new owner here in Minnesota awaiting the same transport.  He had no idea we'd both be able to get our cars upon first dealer delivery and be transported by the same driver.  I hoped it would work out that way.  It's more efficient hauling two at once and then neither of us will go nuts that the other already got his.  I'm glad this just happened to be a mild Winter.  The timing was a worry.  Encountering snow & ice along the way would be unfortunate.  Instead, it should be a pleasant drive.  This effort to transport makes me wonder how many others around here will do the same.  Waiting until next year for local availability is a whole lot longer than the 5 to 6 days it will end up taking the way I decided upon.

3-07-2012

Still Wishy-Washy.  How many times have I asked this question over the years: "Who is the market for Volt?"  Today the CEO of GM stated with regard to Prius about Volt that: "This is a better car for a different time."  Notice how ambiguous that is?  You never get a direct answer.  It's always vague and lacking any direct comparison.  The lack of detail is nothing new.  Without it, there's no accountability.  So, that's naturally become a routine practice.  Not getting information from GM itself doesn't mean silence though.  In fact, it's quite the opposite.  Enthusiasts fill in the gaps, feeding hype by building hope on weak statements.  We still don't get any goals or even general targets.  Fortunately, that isn't necessary from Toyota with Prius... since it simply builds upon what we already know in depth.  Nonetheless, I pointed out the question as a final reminder before moving on, then included:  I asked that question for years.  The hesitation of providing an answer was a dead giveaway expectations were not being properly addressed.  PHV will transform short-trips from "MPG killer" to "killer MPG".  It's so huge of a paradigm shift without any negative impact to long-trips that the competition is scratching their heads wondering how this new reality will alter the way hybrids are perceived.  In other words, PHV strikes out at a massive consumer base... quite unlike the current configuration of Volt.

 

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