Prius Personal Log  #557

March 11, 2012  -  March 16, 2012

Last Updated: Weds. 4/11/2012

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3-16-2012

EV Default.  There was an article recently published about PHV from a website which focuses on green cars.  They tried their best to deal with the misconceptions caused by the EPA window-sticker information, then contributed their own by interjecting this: "One final note: The Prius Plug-In Hybrid requires the driver to select EV mode to use battery power when the car starts up. If a driver doesn't do so, the car operates like a regular Prius right off the bat."  Needless to say, that incorrect information presented at the ending like that really stirred some feelings.  EV does not have to be selected.  I have no idea why they thought it wasn't.  So, I posted this:  That's not what happens.  The default is EV mode.  Everyday when I pull my new Prius PHV out of the garage, it's automatically in EV mode until I accelerate onto the 70 mph highway nearby.  And when I have switched to HV mode to retain EV capacity for later, the range value actually climbs up a little as I drive... something most people never considered would happen, since they tend to forget how persistent the hybrid system is even while still delivering 50 MPG.  Yesterday's commute and running around afterward came to 58 miles.  With only a single charge the evening before, the result was 71 MPG.  On the day when I only drove the commute and recharged at work too, the result of those 36.8 miles driven was 144 MPG.

3-15-2012

The Competition.  From that same 40 MPG concern came this: "Put the Volt and Cruze on different ends of the Dealership.  Cruze is Volts biggest sales rival; trust me I bought a Cruze over a Volt."  Some are beginning to see that Prius isn't the only competitor to fear.  Competition from within GM is nothing new; dismissing it as a problem is though.  Hearing awareness about that is a good sign.  My reply was:  It's good to hear others also showing concern about Cruze.  But sales strategy is complex.  With Volt having so much higher of a MSRP, waiting an entire year to collect tax-credits is a tough sell.  The tax-credit dependency won't work with growing popularity either, since there's only a limited quantity actually available.  Cost must be seriously reduced quickly. Just think what the ECO models (aka eAssist) will do to Volt sales.  Then of course, you've got people like me promoting affordable plug-ins.  That's suppose to be seen as a push to get Volt cost reduced quickly, but most often all that's heard is "Prius".  So, there's that distracting from the Cruze rivalry.  Big problems rarely only have a single influence.

3-15-2012

The Rhetoric.  Reading this from a Volt owner shows a glimmer of hope: "I'm so tired of the "40 mpg highway" hype out there!"  With all the misplaced priorities and the desperation emerging, some sense of cooperation & understanding would eventually emerge.  Unfortunately, that comes at a cost.  The thought of compromise is quite a challenge for those previously having exclaimed "vastly superior" as their status.  Thankfully, with enough time, change comes.  Anywho, I responded with:  Welcome to the club.  Some of us have been saying GM is its own worst enemy ever since Cruze rollout out here.  It's too bad many here only heard "Prius" regardless of what was said actually about "competition" concerns.  Of course, what I focus on now is Prius.  The result of my 36.8-mile commute yesterday, which included a recharge at work, was 144 MPG.  Tell me when Volt can do the same thing for a MSRP of $32,000.  Whether or not Rolls Royce offers a plug-in [the topic of discussion] has nothing to do with the business-model GM depends upon for sustaining profit.

3-15-2012

Today's Drive.  Like the day before, I switched over to HV for the highway portion... but only half of it this time.  I had no idea just how efficient the system really was.  The result of the 16.7 miles of morning commute was 111 MPG with 3.3 miles of EV still remaining.  Darn!  It could have been even more efficient had I switched back sooner.  Oh well, so I did not plug in at work.  The commute home was the long way, to the lake to walk the dog with Mom first.  This was the day the water was revealed.  Only a small bit of ice remaining... the perfect time to begin ownership of a new PHV.  Anywho, When I finally did get back, the total miles driven was 58.0 miles.  The overall MPG for the day was 71.

3-14-2012

Charger Security.  How do you prevent someone from taking your 120-volt portable charger when plugged in at a public location (not a charging-station, since they already have locks)?  It was the big question that recently emerged, which I had been patiently waiting to provide an answer for.  I already had a solution, but no PHV yet.  Today, I finally did, plus it was nice outside and I had the time available to take & edit photos.  One suggestion had already been made, drilling a larger hole in the trigger-button of the handle.  But the lock you could fit in there was tiny and all it did was prevent it from being squeezed.  I wanted something that could allow you to secure the charger to the car in a robust way, something not easily overcome.  The solution was a new type of lock.  It's a cable without the traditional loop at the end.  That allows you to quickly & easily pass it through the Prius's tire.  Then to lock it to the charger, use a padlock.  By running that cable and the charger's cord through the padlock, both would be locked together.  It's eloquently simple and quite secure.  That should alleviate any worry PHV may have.  Here's photos of what I came up with... photo album 173

3-14-2012

Terrible Comparison.  An online article was published today.  The title was: "Is the Nissan Leaf or a Toyota Prius a better commuter car?"  Naturally, I assumed it was a comparison between plug-ins.  However, no mention of electricity was made.  For that matter, it was all quite vague.  The only clue to which model of Prius was being compared was: "Prius cost $5.02 because it required 1.2 gallons of gas."  The distance referred to was 64.5 miles.  Why?  That's horribly arbitrary.  Since when is that a typical commute anyway?  And why was $4.19 per gallon selected for the price of a gallon of gas?  It was supposedly a lifetime cost analysis, because all the five paragraphs provided was a bunch of numbers.  No mention of the vehicle itself was made beyond this though: "Leaf costs more to buy."  The article was such a appalling example of journalism it did nothing but frustrate.  Some people actually believe what they read without question, assuming the source thoroughly researched the topic and wrote about it without any specific intent.  It was presented as an honest inquiry, awarding Prius as the better.  To me, it looked like just a filler article written in haste without concern for content quality.  That's terrible.

3-14-2012

Everyday Driving.  Having to run an errand before or after work is quite normal.  Today, it was before.  So, when I drove up the highway entrance ramp, I switched to HV mode.  That immediately stopped the battery depletion, saving EV capacity for me to use later.  To my delight, the PHV was still remarkably efficient.  So when the the 70 mph segment ended 9 miles later, I was ready to switch back, but didn't.  What the heck, I kept in HV on that last of 55 mph stretch before getting off.  It was mostly EV then.  The engine fired up twice for a hard acceleration.  That resulted an EV capacity bump... something those arguing against PHV never considered.  It's not the penalty they always made it out to be.  The engine shuts back off remarkably fast afterward too.  The result was arriving at work with 2.7 miles still available.  The 22.4 miles of travel averaged 86 MPG.  I took the extreme scenic route on the way home, driving through the park along the river rather than using the frontage road on the other side.  That may the final EV especially enjoyable.  When I got home, the total distance came to 41.3 miles with an overall efficiency of 75 MPG.

3-13-2012

Newbie Again.  Still having EV available at the end of my commute certainly reinforced the study of real-world data Toyota had collected with the early model.  The system is remarkably adept, seeking out efficiency opportunities pundants never addressed, wrecking any prior analysis reports they had come up with.  It's difficult to describe how dynamic the power-split system is, despite all the years of arguing with antagonists about the potential.  But now finally seeing it in action, taking advantage of externally provided electricity, speaks for itself. The test-drive experience certainly will compel the curious to purchase.  There's a whole new excitement to the commute now.  I feel like a newbie again!

3-13-2012

Afternoon Commute.  At lunch, a good friend and I drove a few blocks down the road to a park.  There, I used up the remaining EV while showing off the PHV.  When we returned, I plugged in for the first time at work.  Leaving there fully recharged was an exciting prospect.  Of course, circling down 7 flights of the ramp to exit would mean regenerating electricity from the brakes.  Should I put the car in "B" mode to help prevent that?  I didn't that time and did indeed gain a tenth of a mile, leaving with 13.1 miles of EV available.  On the drive home, I took advantage of HV mode on the short 55 & 50 mph sections of the drive.  Being able to toggle out of EV to preserve that electricity later sure was nice.  It provided the opportunity for me to take a scenic detour through the suburbs.  After all, the 64°F temperature was near the record high for Minnesota this time of year.  Needless to say, that was a very enjoyable ride.  Overall distance was 36.8 miles, with 0.4 miles of EV remaining upon reaching my driveway.  144 MPG was the resulting efficiency average.

3-13-2012

Morning Commute.  I decided to take the "along the river" route to work today, which has a maximum speed of 55 mph. It was a cool spring morning (37°F) and the battery stated 13.0 miles of EV was available for the 17.3 mile trip.  The defroster would be needed to clear the windshields, so I knew the engine would run from time to time.  What I didn't know was that each time it fire up, it would add 1/2 mile to the EV.  So, I actually ended up at my parking spot with 1.6 miles of EV left still from the engine running briefly 3 times.  It was quite the journey.  I didn't know what to expect.  Discovering the "EV" emblem was actually an engine-off indicator was pretty sweet.  Now everyone will know when 0 RPM is without needing an aftermarket gauge.  The system does it all automatically too.  The "just drive it" motto is very much something to continue promoting.  Anywho, the average for my commute to work ended up being 156 MPG.  I can't wait for it to get warmer.  Efficiency will easily go higher without the need for cabin heat.

3-12-2012

Changing Definitions.  The most common technique for dealing with a lost battle is to spin the circumstances of that outcome.  For those last few Volt supporters who were fiercely fighting PHV, the approach was to change how "hypermiling" was defined.  Their arguing degraded to the point where if you weren't passing everyone on the road, you were trying to improve MPG.  What kind of nonsense is that?  Driving along with the flow of traffic obeying the speed-limit is unacceptable, a blatant attempt to distort reality... according to them.  Needless to say, no one had taken them seriously since then.  The threads on the big GM forum and those Volt daily blogs have slowed to a trickle.  Could it just be a coincidence that PHV just happens to be on the road now?  Could it be that gas prices have been soaring lately.  Or could the reason be all the media attention "economy" cars have been getting lately.  Of course, even that definition is changing.  Who knows all the factors involved.  What I find humorously ironic is how easy it has become to improve MPG now.  The PHV slips into EV mode surprisingly easy, shutting off the engine quicker than my 2010 did.  The HUD in the Advanced model (Heads Up Display, which projects Eco-Meter information directly onto the windshield) provides an unheard of level of awareness & convenience.  It's great!  In other words and to put it shortly, things change.  Some like it.  Some don't.

3-12-2012

First Depletion.  I plugged it in last night, then headed out to the DMV first thing this morning.  There's lots of new goodies to explore, not to mention the drive experience itself.  I blew it though, accidently firing up the engine by messing with the climate-control settings.   Oh well.  You quickly discover PHV isn't about EV purity anyway.  It seeks out efficiency opportunities, taking advantage of the engine at times.  Watching the HUD, it was interesting to see the difference between a full charge and the HV only I had last night.  The electric power is indeed there.  I enjoyed climbing the steep neighborhood hill from a dead stop at the bottom to sustaining 40 mph the way up, all with only electricity.  When I finally finished running around town and headed out to work, the Prius was going 61 mph up the ramp in EV before the engine started up.  So, then was a good time to switch over to HV mode.  The morning's 13.3-mile charge had already depleted to 6.2 miles.  To my surprise though, the value almost immediately started to climb from powering split.  I drove 9 miles at 70 mph and another 3 to the river at crossing 55 mph, watching the EV value creep higher as I went.  It was at 7.2 miles when I swapped back over to EV mode.  Upon reaching my parking spot, there was 3.6 miles of EV still left with 22.7 total miles of travel and an average showing 78 MPG.  That's pretty satisfying with a car not broken in yet on a cold & rainy day.

3-11-2012

To The Mall, Display.  That final video with the 2010 Prius was again that same route.  Only this time, the second camera was used to capture speedometer & eco-meter information from the vehicle itself rather than an aftermarket gauge.  It provides a much better depiction of what most owners will observe... which is great, since there are likely few who really want to know about engine RPM and coolant temperature.  Anywho, this was the description of that experience I provided:  It was a challenging final capture with the 2010 Prius.  The scenery camera kept failing.  Turns out, it was an automatic overheat protection feature that kept shutting the camera off halfway through the drive.  But since it was such a fantastic day out, the first true Spring weather we've had here, that was no big deal.  The 64°F felt wonderful.  Once I finally figured out the problem, a few minutes with the case off in front of a fan and cool battery did the trick.  Too bad it doesn't have active cooling like the PHV does.  Anywho, that meant the drive was quite representative of a normal Sunday.  You get home from something, then immediately head back out for something else.  In this case, it was a drive to the mall then a pleasant back route home.  The 10.4 miles displayed resulted in an average of 60.5 MPG.  The Prius really thrives on drives through the suburbs like that.  Watch the indicator bars on the Eco-Meter and the instant MPG.  There's a lot more at play while you drive than most people realize.  Prius automatically seeks out efficiency opportunities.  The readouts allow you to do the same.  I just drive it, but still find it fascinating to watch the system operate.  See:  Prius - To The Mall 3

 

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