Prius Personal Log  #558

March 16, 2012  -  March 20, 2012

Last Updated: Weds. 4/11/2012

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3-20-2012

All Of The Above.  We've seen how Volt turned into a politic pawn.  That came about from hyping expectations.  Not being realistic leads to trouble later.  Sure enough, that's exactly what happened.  Part of that was the portrayal of Volt as an EV.  When the cold season arrived, engine running for initial warm-up became an everyday occurrence... regardless of how full the battery-pack was.  That wrecked EV promoting.  Then there's the direct-drive reality, when the engine contributes to thrust at times after the depletion.  EV use of an engine for mechanical propulsion violates the definition of even being a SERIES hybrid.  Then to make matters even worse, the MPG itself while depleted was well under expectations.  Each successive disappointment has contributed to the backlash we're seeing now.  President Obama has supported funding on all fronts, investing in "Energy Independence".  That doesn't mean the absolute of never using oil anymore, despite all the spin saying that was his original intent.  This is why Toyota's approach with PHV irritates some so much.  It significantly reduces consumption of gas, rather than eliminating entirely.  Remember all that original promotion of Volt's engine as an emergency device, something only ever used to prevent "range anxiety" exclusively?  That was supposedly why MPG was no longer mentioned following the fallout of the horrible "230 MPG" advertisement campaign.  Anywho, the point is to invest in solar, wind, hydro, nuclear, ethanol, biodiesel, and yes, more oil drilling.  While at the same time, invest in technologies which reduce the consumption of those fuels.  That's the all-of-the-above approach.  That's quite difference from the one-size-fits-all we've seen with Volt so far.  Think about how PHV is much more efficient than traditional vehicles even without plugging in.

3-20-2012

Affirmations.  Even some of the loyal GM supporters are going tired of the mixed messages about Volt.  Recently the CEO "reaffirmed Volt's existence" and that made big news.  What does that even mean?  Supposedly the far-right is claiming the far-left has failed miserably with their support for Volt and see it dying soon.  Huh?  Since when would any automaker kill a niche like that?  Why not just remind people of priorities instead, keep the focus on business objectives?  Oh!  Not having any specific goals makes that difficult.  But at least sarcasm helps us deal with the frustration.  Needless to say, affirmations without any clarity are pointless... which explains the weary comments.  That was to be expected though.  With gas prices high and Earth Day approached, it's really difficult not routinely encountered efficiency technology in everyday discussions.  I resonated this:  It's nice knowing the game is changing anyway.  This month the last of the 2011 will be cleared out and first of the PZEV models available.  That's going result in a sales boom with nothing certain for the following month.  CEO reaffirmations will have to be clarified at that point, especially with the Prius PHV adding a layer of market complexity for consumers.  Simply saying Volt will continue doesn't actually tell us anything.  What are the actual plans?  How many?  What cost?  When?

3-20-2012

The Last Wait.  My purchase still isn't complete.  To finalize, the process required more waiting.  I needed proof from Toyota itself that the PHV delivered to California was immediately transported out of the state for registration in another state.  That document was delivered to me this evening.  One step closer.  Now, I can go to my local department of motor vehicles to submit for title, pay my sales tax, transfer the vanity plate, and officially sell my 2010.  It's been quite an adventure along the way.  My salesperson was a dream come true.  She handled everything wonderfully, from afar.  I look forward to a trip out to the West Coast (something I've been dying to do for years) finally happening.  The route will take me near the dealership, so I can thank her in person.  That will be exciting!  So much waiting... but totally worth it.  Great memories.  My first plug-in.  To think about how many years I waited for this to happen.  This last step in nothing in comparison.  Soon, all will be done.  Yeah!

3-19-2012

Unbelievable.  3 weeks later, I finally responded to this: "The PHV gets 6 miles in EV mode and 11 miles in a blended mode of gas + electricity."  The claim came from an outspoken troublemaker, the one from the big GM forum who mocks me in his signature.  Ironically though, he doesn't actually understand that his intent to insult isn't interpreted that way by newbies.  The text actually means the opposite.  But anger clouds logic.  I find it amusing, taking it all in stride instead.  Anywho, that comment was his very first post on that daily blog for Volt.  He wanted to capitalize on the opportunity to spread the misconception about "range" stemming from the window-sticker information.  He knew PHV owners we easily exceeding 11 miles without the engine ever starting.  He wanted make people believe that wasn't possible.  I simply responded to his desperation with this:  EPA estimates don't reflect real-world driving, nor are they intended to.  They're just standardized testing results from a variety of measurement criteria provided as a means for comparison.  14 miles of continuous EV driving before the engine started up for the first time was what I experienced on my commute to work this morning in my PHV.

3-18-2012

New Again.  There's a renewed vision of the past now.  I'm looking forward to filming the drive I did several times throughout last year, those routes to the coffeeshop and back.  Today was my first opportunity to try with a full battery-pack.  I took the suburb route.  Total distance is 15.6 miles.  Since firing up the engine was inevitable with a capacity of 13.1 available, I did it intentionally.  First time was by pushing the Power button for the first time ever.  It was along a route with a speed limit of just 40 mph.  That meant very little need for the engine.  My interest was how much EV range would be added from the HV driving and at what temperature the engine would shut off at.  Range was about 0.4 miles.  It was hard to tell though, since some was consumed by a hill and accelerating from a stop.  Plus, there was some gain from regen too.  It was a similar situation on the way back.  Coolant threshold (while EV is still available) appeared to be 132°F, though that was hard to tell with the value rising so quickly.  On the return trip, it looked like the same temperature for the engine shutting off.  213 MPG was the final average from the entire drive.

3-18-2012

Just Drive It, video.  This was my very first drive with the ScanGauge connected to the 2012 Prius PHV.  I attached it to my filming rig with a camera, then covered them all with a box to block out all the external light.  That meant I couldn't see any data until watching the video capture afterward.  So, I was able to "just drive it" without any influence.  The first thing I noticed afterward was the age and generic nature of that aftermarket gauge was inaccurate reporting of travel speed.  Darn!  It looks like the gauge is under-reporting by 3 MPH.  Oh well, maybe there will be a new version available later for owners like me.  That data isn't needed for my driving anyway, especially since I have a HUD (Heads Up Display).  The next observation was engine RPM.  It's accurate, but slow to refresh and reports when the engine motion has come to a halt... not when fuel is actually cut.  Fortunately, the PHV model has an EV indicator, informing you exactly when that fuel consumption has ended rather than waiting for the fuel-less engine to stop spinning.  MPG an unknown.  Since I couldn't see the gauge while I was driving, I'll have to wait for future drives on the 70 mph highway for comparison.  FWT (coolant temperature) is priceless in an fashion.  You could clearly observe how I entered the highway with the system still cold, how long it took to warm up, and how long that warmth was retained once returning to EV driving.  For me, I especially like seeing the low RPM and high MPG while traveling at high speeds.  The values themselves are revisions to the system since the early model PHV.  That one drained the battery-pack faster, not taking advantage of the engine as much as this one does.  This results in an overall higher efficiency and provides more opportunity for EV later.  Remember, while in HV mode, the EV range will rise due to the engine running and regen opportunities.  Follow this link to watch the video:  Prius PHV - Just Drive It

3-17-2012

EV replenish from HV.  The first time I saw EV range climb while driving, it was 37°F outside and heat/defrost was needed.  Since the engine was now running, why not use some of that energy to generate electricity?  That made sense.  It's taking advantage of the power-split ability, allowing the engine to run in an optimal fashion.  Power flow is divided & directed in the efficient portions to the needed components.  Today as the EV range approached only 1 mile remaining, I switched over the HV mode.  Naturally, the stoplight I was racing to changed sooner than expected.  I was stuck there, but witnessing the warm-up cycle for the very first time with an aftermarket gauge.  That was intriguing.  Warm-up for PHV is different from the regular model.  It wants to keep the engine off as long as possible.  So, rather than shutting off as soon as the coolant temperature hits 103°F, it continues.  PHV attempts to build up a heat reserve to allow it to shut off the engine as quickly as possible when still in HV mode.  The result of that engine running, while I was still stationary for that horribly long stoplight, was EV replenish.  The range went up. It started at 1.3 and increased to 1.7 miles.  I then had to climb up a large hill and glide down the other side.  By the time I got to my turn, engine & regen contribution had bumped EV range up to 2.2 miles.  That was sweet!

3-17-2012

Did You Know?  I particularly enjoyed posting a comment to this particular forum message: "I would go for the standard Prius at this point, it's a proven technology with a long history of reliability.  When you've beaten it into the ground, the PHEV and EV's will be in their second or third generations and be far more practical!"  Most people don't know of the history.  Did you?  The 2012 PHV is third generation.  Toyota started testing plug-in abilities back with the Iconic model, just a simple doubling of the pack to exploit the 100 km/h EV already built into the design.  It was neither practical nor affordable, but it did indeed work.  Then with the Gen-III model, Toyota switched from NiMH to Li-Ion.  They now had both a larger electric motor and larger gas engine to take advantage of.  And they did.  It was clearly practical, but still pushed it for affordability.  Now, there's the 2012.  Cost is within grasp of the mainstream and the system is more refined.  Having driven that PHV for almost a week now, I can easily see the revisions Toyota made over that previous model I drove in 2010.  Besides the obvious physical size reduction, there's the way it is being used.  The previous depleted the pack faster when traveling above the 100 km/h threshold.  Overall, that was wasteful when you consider it would only take a few minutes to consume the entire capacity available.  So, they refined the system.  A quick look at Volt is all it takes to realize use of its engine usage approach is crude in comparison. I easily get 50 MPG after depletion from the PHV.  Toyota did much more with much less.  Yesterday's commute confirmed that, traveling 16.7 miles and still having 0.7 mile of EV remaining while delivering a 156 MPG average.  The other day, I watched the EV range climb whenever the engine started up to provide heat.  In short, there is a history already.  Toyota's distribution of earlier plug-in models returned a great deal of valuable feedback most people are never aware of.  They did the same thing back in 1999 with the Original model Prius here, making revisions before rolling out the Classic to this market.  Most people had no idea there was already a previous generation test-driven in the United States by ordinary consumers.

3-16-2012

Can't Win Them All.  I just reviewed today's video.  The drive home gauge video is nothing but a menu screen.  Oops!  With so much to setup and so much excitement, I was bound to miss something.  So, that footage isn't any good.  The drive to work is great... and quite revealing about how well thought out the system is.  Seeing sustained high MPG and low RPM at high speed says a lot.  And of course, all that driving at 9999 MPG with 0 RPM does too.  The flexibility of the system to deal with so much real-world variety give a lot of hope for significantly reducing emissions & consumption.  Stay tuned.  This is just the first of many.  There will be lots more opportunities over time.  I just wanted to get something out there right away for those anxiously waiting delivery and craving real-world data... just like 11.5 years!  It sure is fun being able to pioneer a new frontier again.  So, whatever I can share is a win regardless of when a setup or equipment problem occurs.

3-16-2012

Driving Home.  The drive home was really with the video cameras was fun too.  I made no effort to keep the engine from starting.  Heck, I was just as curious as others about what would happen.  So, when I got out onto the thruway, I accelerated hard. It started and ran for a bit.  No big deal.  Efficiency was still outstanding.  Then when I got to the highway, in EV, the engine only fired up briefly.  The climb up out of the river valley was at just a little over 55 mph... all in EV.  The cruise to the 70 mph section was too.  Then when the speed limit changed, I punched it... just as I was passing a 2012 Prius just merging on.  At that same moment, I got a bluetooth call for the very first time in the PHV.  That new interface & ringer sure got my attention, especially now zipping along the highway.  So, I told my friend he the conversation was being picked up by the cameras audio recording and told him about other Prius.  The driver was now racing to catch up to me, well aware of what I was driving.  He pulled up along side, giving me a big thumbs up.  That was quite amusing.  The drive itself began with Entune sending me an email informing me the recharge was complete.  Shortly after that, there was a text from ChargePoint telling me the charge had stopped.  They were playing my song.  Time to head out.  103 MPG was the efficiency for the commute home.  121 MPG was the overall efficiency for the entire trip, which was 34.0 miles total with 2 full charges.

3-16-2012

Just Drive It, thoughts.  The day was starting out great, Friday, of course.  The temperature was 50°F degrees out.  I was all ready to got too.  I connected my ScanGauge to the PHV for the very first time, placed a video camera in front of it, then covered both with a box.  That way, my driving wouldn't be influenced by what the gauge was actually telling me.  Then I placed another video camera in the window, without any of my usual lighting extras or even cleaning the windshield.  This was my "Just Drive It" footage.  No mode changes.  Nothing.  I just jumped in the car pressed the power button and drove... while capturing it all on camera.  The engine fired up around 50 mph, while acceleration up the ramp to merge onto the 70 mph highway.  It stayed on until slowing down to 62 mph, when entering the 55 mph segment 9 miles later.  The engine didn't start up again until I got stuck as the lone vehicle at a light with a large bunch of vehicles that caught up with me the moment it turned green.  That was the perfect opportunity to show the rapid on & off of the system.  To my surprise when I finally got to my parking spot, after driving a total of 16.7 miles, there was still 0.8 miles of EV remaining.  That was quite impressive considering the speed of travel and the resulting average of 156 MPG.  Needless to say, I'm excited about sharing video of this particular drive.

 

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