Prius Personal Log  #565

April 19, 2012  -  April 26, 2012

Last Updated: Weds. 6/06/2012

    page #564         page #566         BOOK         INDEX         go to bottom 

 

4-26-2012

Hybrid Vendetta.  You never really know what someone's purpose truly is.  But with a quote like this, it's easy to guess: "After 1.5 years and 13K miles, I've had it with the 2010 Prius. What a pile of junk, I'll never buy another Toyota again, ever. I've bought a new 2012 Ford Mustang, 305HP V6 with 31.5MPG customized with Ford Racing components from the factory."  With 305 horsepower and a MPG clearly not real-world (the combined estimate is only 23 and city is 19), you know the person wouldn't be satisfied from anything type of middle-market. In fact, there are probably a hundred different vehicles that could fall into the same category.  We'll never find out if that was even a real owner.  But then again, someone looking to stir trouble typically isn't that blatant.  Of course, there's always that mid-life-crisis situation to consider.  I find it amusing how such a non-constructive thread could even be started.  What would the poster hope to achieve?  Perhaps there was a vendetta against hybrids manifesting itself.  After all, it's very difficult not to encounter a Prius on a routine drive anymore.  They're everywhere now!

4-26-2012

MPG Marketing.  Now that hybrid choices are diversifying, what effective method of marketing is there?  The PHV owners have happily discovered that the "only gets 11 miles of EV range" argument holds little to no merit.  All you have to do is quote your recent MPG to screw up their attempt to undermine.  In fact, that's so remarkably effective, it could be a big reason why antagonist activity has almost completely vanished.  I'm thrilled how quickly that rhetoric has ended.  It certainly didn't dragged on as some had feared.  As soon as the real-world data from Prius owners who were now plugging in was posted, that brought a profound wake-up call.  As if overnight, the shift had taken place.  Discussions of PHV intermingling with posts from those who didn't have a plug were welcomed.  There was no divide, quite unlike that of Volt.  Each Prius owner proudly shares there MPG experiences, knowing others get different results.  That coexistence is priceless.  Just let consumers spread the word by sharing experiences among their peers, who can relate directly to the circumstances.  Getting 80 or 90 MPG from a PHV is easy to understand.  Efficiency is enhanced from a plug.  That MPG boost is simple to convey.  It makes the marketing effortless.

4-25-2012

Range Estimates.  These are my most recent recharges, in the order as they occurred: 11.6, 11.7, 11.8, 11.9, 12.0, 12.1  Clearly, the system is estimating based on previous drives... since I went from only recharging 3 times over the course of driving 600 miles to recharging very frequently, twice per day.  Leaving for work in the morning means using the entire capacity and a very small amount of gas.  Then after lunch, I plug in so I can drive home using the entire capacity again.  That won't be the norm, since I travel elsewhere in the evening and weekends.  But for the sake of collecting real-world data now and enjoying the departure of Winter, why not?  It revealed the range estimate drop I had been seeing wasn't actually from the battery itself.  In fact, today and yesterday I was able to drive 14.1 miles in EV before the engine started.  That's well above the estimates which had been displayed on the screen.

4-25-2012

Short Replies.  The attempts to stir debate have dwindled to almost nothing.  The Volt supporters enjoyed heated exchanges with PHV supporters.  But back when real-world data wasn't available, it was a very different situation.  They could still mislead without much consequence.  They'd just pretend the topic lacked evidence and was only speculation.  Now, it's fact.  They've run out of excuses for struggling sales too.  It's a waste of time responding anymore.  The debates had actually be constructive last year, since they exposed argument points.  But now that those are well known and there's plenty of information available to eliminate doubt, what purpose would rehashing serve?  It's over.  So, I don't bother.  To one provoke, I posted this: "No concern for middle-market buyers or business-sustaining sales."  And to another, it was just this short reply: "Time is not a luxury."

4-24-2012

Vague & Ambiguous.  It's hard to believe the same old nonsense continues.  This wasn't much of a surprise though.  GM launched a new Volt promotional website... which included a "Total gallons of fuel saved" value.  No detail was provided though.  A footnote buried within a link at the bottom of the homepage only made reference to "Official MPG for US passenger cars".  Upon digging for the actual value from other internet sources, we found out the official value was just 27.5 MPG.  It was a great example of how standards have been lowered.  Why wouldn't they just compare Volt to itself, stating how much the battery usage offsets engine usage?  After all, that's what PHV does.  Of course, Volt comes up way short of the 50 MPG delivered by PHV after depletion.  Naturally, electricity consumption was disregarded entirely too.  Even the charging-station reports available online provide kWh information.  Why doesn't GM?  Isn't the point to give a clear representation of what the plug-supplied electricity accomplishes?  Their data is cherry picked, presenting only what advertises well rather than supplying enough for consumers to draw their own conclusions.  Arrgh!

4-24-2012

55 @ 110.  Today's driving around came to a total of 55 miles.  I started with a full charge at home, then recharged entirely at work.  The result after the commute both ways and side trip to walk the dog was 110 MPG.  That's great!  I wish all days could be like that.  Some are actually better, but more aren't that good.  My expectation of averaging around 75 is still quite realistic... at least enough to make the MPG boost obvious.  My influence of long highway trips and the depths Winter here in Minnesota make overall efficiency uncertain.  But you get the idea.  The fact that adding 2.8 kWh of capacity plus a plug (along with the switch to lithium) could results in such an improvement is the point... especially when so much importance was put on cost.  There was a clear priority of configuring the design in a way to reach a very wide market.  Real-World data like today's clearly confirms that choice was a wise one.

4-24-2012

Chrysler Plug-In.  The automaker has begun delivering plug-in hybrids for data collection.  Ultimately, there will be 25 Town & Country minivans and 160 Ram pickups.  The cost is split between the automaker itself and DOE (Department of Energy) for a cost of $26 million for the minivans and $97 million for the pickups.  There wasn't any detail whatsoever in the press-release.  It was just a generic "look at we are doing" type article for Earth Day.  Supposedly, the technology being used is Two-Mode still.  But nothing about motors or battery was mentioned.  Heck, there wasn't anything said about MPG either.  No date.  No price.  No expectations of any sort.  Oh well, at least you can't accuse them of hype.

4-23-2012

14.1 Miles.  It had been quite awhile since my last opportunity to take the long way to work.  It a more casual drive, the most efficient too.  The slower road speeds allow me to enjoy every last electron of plug-supplied electricity.  14.1 is the longest distance I've seen... and I did again today too.  Unfortunately, that end is midway up a very steep climb.  So, there's no way to find out how much further I could actually go.  Of course, other parts of the drive are far from flat too.  But running out just before reaching a plateau is somewhat of a bummer.  Then there's more climbing later.   Following that is a very, very long decent... hence the best MPG on that particular route.  However, what I find intriguing is that the maximum amount of EV travel isn't always the most efficient.  That didn't come into play today though.  My intent was to see how much I could squeeze out, especially when among morning commute traffic.  Using the engine for heavy acceleration demands is actually better.  But explaining how that's possible is quite a challenge.  So, I'm starting with a footnote about capacity potential instead.  Later, I'll get into when it's best to take advantage of that HV/EV button.

4-22-2012

Oil Reality.  No matter what the spin is about waiting for technology costs to drop, the reality is that oil is expensive now and we are heavily dependent upon it.  That "too little, too slowly" concern clearly wasn't taken seriously.  Rather than building platforms to expand upon, there are haphazard shots at delivering a high-efficiency solution.  Volt is obviously the poster-child for "over promise, under deliver".  Changing that would be great.  There isn't the luxury of time.  Offering larger motors & batteries is nice, but definitely not required.  That's a want, not a need.  Ford is preparing to deliver a sensible new hybrid, one which will also offer the option of a plug.  Hopefully, that will stir the market enough to focus attention on actual priorities rather than continuing with the propaganda.  It's so annoying to watch time pass by without actually accomplishing anything.  Traditional sales are a stimulant too, a clue that progress is more of a struggle than the hype would lead you to believe.  Thankfully, the reality of $103.88 per barrel pricing for oil this week is counter-balanced by a solution establishing realistic expectations.  The PHV model Prius delivers the MPG boost it was intended to at a price within reach of middle-market today, not years from now.

4-22-2012

Being Trolled.  Someone started an editorial type thread on the big GM forum, attempting to address the topic of mainstream buyers rather than the usual "zealot" crowd (those who support a brand without ever questioning executive decisions).  After all, there's good reason to take a better look at the market when vehicles like the Fiat 500 outselling Volt by a surprisingly wide margin (3,712 verses 2,289).  The same defenders came to action.  It didn't take long for the original-poster to be labeled as a troublemaker and for the compliant to be posted about being trolled.  That's the typical response when they don't like the topic.  It's Earth Day, so I felt obliged to join in the discussion:  Just stick to facts then.  What are consumer needs?  If GM also delivers something else, that's great! Having choice is a definite plus.  How long will it be until an affordable model of Volt is available?  Many sources, including Lutz himself, have stated $30,000 as the target price.  If 2015 is the anticipated rollout, how will such a drop of cost be achieved?  Remember, the $7,500 tax-credit would have expired by then.  Don't forget the competition either.  And I don't mean that from Toyota or Ford. I mean from GM itself.  The push of diesel & eAssist will make selling Volt even more of a challenge.

4-22-2012

Horribly Vague.  There have been abundant examples of pointless comments over the years, so it's a big source of frustration to see that continue.  This was the one posted today: "People were predicting the Cruze's outright failure and boy have they been surprised.  I predict modest uptake for the first year or so (as long as the diesel engine comes with good MPG, a slight price increase, etc.)"  Notice how there's no detail whatsoever.  It's so horribly vague, the failure judgment is totally subjective.  Nothing to actually measure was provided.  Without anything quantitative, how can a proper conclusion be drawn?  What sales count would qualify as successful?  What is a good MPG to expect?  What does "slight" mean with respect to price?  This all comes back to stating goals.  If they don't, you can basically say anything you want afterward.  Leaving such an opportunity to spin outcome is senseless.  Yet, that's what keeps happening anyway.  When will they learn?

4-21-2012

Ugly Conditions.  Well, my PHV certainly is broken in now.  Today's road trip was a demanding 194 miles.  There was a steady and sometimes heavy rain the entire time.  The temperature was 43°F, requiring both defrost & heat to continuously run.  Two bikes were strapped into a rack on back, creating quite a bit of drag cutting through the air & water.  There was no opportunity to plug in.  The interior was stuffed with cargo (including a 3-wheel recumbent).  That made for very ugly spring travel conditions.  I wasn't exactly thrilled by the thought of what the outcome would be.  Although this drive is really going to bring down lifetime average, it does provide real-world data in far from an ideal situation.  Fortunately, even when Prius is challenged, it still shines.  The result display was 39 MPG.  What else could accomplish the same feat, especially without plugging in?

4-20-2012

Great Road Trip.  It was a nagging question with an uncertain answer.  My first road trip left me wondering.  The impression was efficiency would be equal to or slightly better than a regular Prius.  But with the PHV not broken in yet and the freezing-point so near, patience was required.  Over 2,000 miles on the odometer and warmer, it was now time to find out.  176 miles driven, using 9 miles of EV capacity, maximum speed of 60 mph, the temperature was 50°F.  With the greatest of ease, the result was 62 MPG.  Gotta like that.  I sure am looking forward an ordinary Summer experience.  Spring has given me a taste of what's to come.  It certainly was a enjoyable destination.  We went to the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi River, where it's nothing but a tiny stream flowing out of a lake.  That's exciting to walk across.  The incredibly efficient travel to get there made it even better, a great road trip.

4-20-2012

Never Happy.  It is somewhat tragic to step back and analyze the situation.  You can't please all the people all the time.  Yet, that's the standard to which some are held.  I get that all the time.  Every time it reminds me that some holding positions of power, especially elected officials, have to deal with that pressure constantly.  No matter what they say, someone won't like it.  Of course, then there are a few who are never happy.  What they decided to endorse didn't meet expectations.  You become the scapegoat, someone to blame for their misfortune because you chose wisely.  My way of gauging success is when the count of those who oppose are a very small percentage.  In the computer world, the goal is to deliver 90 percent of what was requested... since that final 10 percent is often extremely expensive to address initially... and more often than not, priorities shift upon using that first version anyway.  I've seen that outcome repeat itself countless times over the decades.  So, why would an attempt like Volt be any different?  Reaching middle-market makes the need for adjustment especially important.  After all, once the enthusiasts make their purchase, who's left?  Mainstream sales down come from making them happy, not what an enthusiast wants.

4-19-2012

Smallest Capacity.  Doing more with less has been a high priority for PHV design.  Not being affordable means not selling many.  That's basic economics, a concept which continues to elude some.  It's much, much easier to increase capacity than it is to reduce.  Finding the smallest size that would be still be practical was a very big deal.  As the price of battery-capacity drops, it will make the plug-in model more and more appealing.  After all, you don't have to sacrifice any MPG after depletion.  It's still an outstanding hybrid even without plugging in.  Electricity supplied from an outlet enhances operation.  Being rolled out mid-cycle is a reality always overlooked.  No thought is given to implementation constraints... which is why the 2012 PHV is believed to be first generation.  The prior two designs are almost never mentioned in articles and are summarily dismissed when brought up in comments afterward.  Think about what the next generation of Prius will offer.  Knowing that this PHV currently offers enough room under the false floor for an addition kWh, it makes you wonder what will happen next.  A drop in battery cost could result in more capacity being offered, keeping the price the same.  Or if it turns out that the current capacity is well accepted, it's physical size could shrink to offer even more hidden storage.  That's thinking ahead.  Toyota allowed themselves some flexibility to respond to market demand.

 

back to home page       go to top