Prius Personal Log  #568

May 8, 2012  -  May 12, 2012

Last Updated: Weds. 6/06/2012

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5-12-2012

Looking Back, sparring.  The biggest takeaway from the past was the experience from all the online debates.  It was a full-scale shakeout well in advance of when that information would actually be needed.  I found out the perceived weaknesses of PHV that people would argue long before and had plenty of time to come up with concise rebuttals.  Being concise is important, since there are so many assumptions & misconceptions at play.  Remember, this is in response to what people believe, not necessarily anything supported by fact.  So, posts containing real-world data are simply dismissed as some type of misleading.  I looked upon those opportunities as sparring.  You learn moves of the opponent.  They throw countless red-herrings at you, hoping you'll waste time & effort following them.  From that, I've learned to stay focused.  Remaining on the point makes a huge difference.  They provided lots of practice for that.    I feel well prepare... and those enthusiasts spreading hype ended up contributing to their own struggle.

5-12-2012

Looking Back, forgetting.  There was that never ending "Why are you here?" question.  The antagonists would continually ask your purpose, even though you posted it on a regular basis.  They wouldn't even claim to forget it either.  You were always grilled as if it was the first time.  That was a dead giveaway they couldn't care less what you posted.  They knew, but simply didn't like your answer.  Cooperation among plug-in supporters was unacceptable.  Superiority was all they've ever known.  Having a common enemy was regarded as suspicious.  So, it's been terribly unconstructive.  It's finally changing.  To what is quite uncertain though.  All that's clear is those enthusiasts of the past were rude & insulting, sometime downright hostile.  They want to forget all that.  It's why those who remember are now treated so harshly.  Referring back to the old posts is a genuine fear.  They made statements which are now rather embarrassing and assumptions that are quite incorrect.  Can I forget that?  Sure.  But it requires some type of effort on their part to be constructive now.  Let's not forget how much can be learned from looking back.

5-12-2012

Looking Back, confusion.  The unfortunate reality of having allowed the hype to get out of hand is showing its ugly face now.  Just imagine how different things could have been if expectations were better managed prior to rollout.  To make matters worse, those who warned about that all along are now belittled for even just suggesting that such a thing ever happened.  It makes constructive discussion difficult, for Volt anyway.  Choices like upgrading from a regular Prius to a plug-in are still a challenge though.  I like to point out that the kWh of electricity are used regardless of speed or distance.  Your travel will improve from the plug.  How much varies quite a bit depending upon circumstance.  But there is a still less gas being consumed.  As time goes on, the choice will become easier... especially once the tax-credits expire.  Reports of real-world MPG help a lot too.  For now though, good luck with the decision.

5-12-2012

Looking Back, goals.  A big part of the problem has been the reality that Prius PHV did indeed achieve the goals Toyota was determined to deliver.  Seeing such a huge MPG boost from such a small battery-pack provides the basis for some serious market penetration, quickly.  There's no good way for those supporting other plug-in vehicles to address that.  How do you deal with a situation which draws so much attention and has so much risk?  Of course, that is why the request for goals was made countless times prior to rollout.  Each was responded to with efforts to avoid detail.  None wanted to state anything definitive with respect to cost or need.  It was always the appeal to want and hype about immediate strong demand.  Looking back, that was unwise.  Looking forward, we wonder what comes next.  What are the goals now?

5-12-2012

Looking Back, foes.  It's fantastic that so many have totally vanished.  They made unfounded assertions about either PHV or Volt.  Then upon being proven quite incorrect, their posts abruptly stopped.  Looking back through my documenting of what they actually said, it makes me wonder if they were blindly hoping, poorly information, or just flat out lying.  That last one comes with denial, since presenting data to disprove the incorrect claim continued right up until rollout fell on deaf ears.  They sliver of doubt gave them the opportunity to believe it was just speculation rather than fact or could possibly be different with the final production model.  Now that those plug-in vehicles are now on the road, it's all over.  That's why 2012 is such a pivotal year.  No more hype.  The wild optimism has been replaced with a healthy dose of reality.  And for those foes, the barrier they put up to impede progress is gone.

5-12-2012

Looking Back, survival.  We've heard countless reports of people supposedly trying to kill Volt, but none of them appeared to like green vehicles anyway.  I want to know who in support of plug-ins actually said Volt wouldn't survive... because it's often implied they were the ones.  People like me were saying the current configuration of Volt is far too expensive to reach middle-market.  Even with cost reductions, it would still be far from competitive with GM's own offerings.  How long must we continue to wait and for what specifically?  We never saw Volt going away.  It was always a matter of having to realign to actually met the mainstream needs.  The niche appeal would force the offering of a model with a balance similar to other high-volume vehicles.  It's how many, not if.

5-12-2012

Looking Back, replacement.  It has always been about replacing traditional vehicle production with high-efficiency choices.  Remember Toyota's goal of 1,000,000 annually by the end of 2012?  Unfortunately, impact of surprise scandal & disaster seriously hindered the effort.  Despite that, there were 252,528 Prius were sold in Japan and 136,463 in the United States last year.  And with the popularity of the new models, achieving two-thirds of the original goal worldwide by the original deadline is still realistic.  Those are actual numbers, not some vague hope.  We still have no clue what to expect from Volt.  To make matters worse, we see GM investing in eAssist & diesel along with a push for more small car sales.  What kind of future is that?

5-12-2012

Looking Back, when.  The time has come to leave this behind.  It was confirmed.  Saying more doesn't accomplish anything.  Focus should switch to asking what comes next.  Push for details, preventing hype to build again.  Don't let them take vague comments and make wild assumptions with them.  It certainly don't tolerate any more "vastly superior" claims.  That obviously didn't pan out either.  I stated it this way:  The concern was "too little, too slowly".  Watching Cruze & Malibu become strong sellers without Volt, as consumers embraced fuel efficiency, wasn't part of the plan.  That was a change which came about after rollout.  Having to wait several more years for something that still may not be competitive and settle for vehicles with combined estimates in the low to mid 30's for MPG in the meantime validates the concern.  Profit is now being made from vehicles that don't actually meet intentions.

5-12-2012

Looking Back, sales.  With a comment like this, how would you respond: "Volt sales are much higher than you and those --- news guys were whining about.  It's a first generation car."  We all know that "first" is a weak identifier.  Many aspects of EV1 and Two-Mode are readily identifiable.  Heck, even some of the same engineers & managers were part of Volt development.  But none of that has anything to do with sales expectations we had been told.  The count is much lower.  So, I posted:  Not even close.  Much has been forgotten and changed.  All along, Volt was promoted as a vehicle for the masses.  Sales were to become mainstream the second year, not the second generation.  The hope abruptly shifted upon learning what the price would be.  Then it really got ugly when the EPA revealed their estimates.  There's a drastic difference between early-2012 and early-2010.  You have to choose a point-of-reference for expectations claims.

5-12-2012

Looking Back, moving on.  We've reached the point where hype & perception of the past doesn't matter much anymore.  People just claim you misunderstood or were poorly informed, especially those who didn't participate in that history.  It's always different when you look back.  That's why the blogs are so valuable.  They tell a very different story.  Volt was intended to leapfrog Prius in every way, including sales.  Remember all the hope for 60,000 the second year and as much as double that the third?  Those setting expectations now certainly don't.  In fact, they embrace the "early adopter" mindset as the obvious, completely dismissing any possibility of downplay having occurred.  That's why arguing is pointless.  Their disconnect from the past makes it a moot matter.  It is what it is now.  After all, who would admit falling so short of so many goals anyway.  Focus on the future instead.  Stay focused & productive rather than dwell.  That's why I'm noting what actually happened.  It makes moving on much easier.

5-11-2012

Oops!  I unintentionally blew past the high-end on the measurement scale.  Being a Friday morning, commute traffic was rather thin and I was able hit a few of the lights green which I normally have to stop for.  And since acceleration from a stop consumes far more electricity than just maintaining a steady cruise, I was looking at the potential for an unusually good result.  I certainly wasn't expecting this though: 563 MPG.  That's a "huge" improvement over the 271 MPG from the very same drive the other day, using the button just once to start the engine then quickly switch back to EV mode.  Realistically, that's only a difference of about 0.03 gallons of gas, but it's still exciting to see.  The supply of electricity is consistent, since it is used entirely.  It's the same amount each recharge: 3.1 kWh.  What varies wildly are the traffic conditions, which consequently influences the amount of gas required to supplement the journey.  This is why large sampling is needed to accurately determine the true efficiency.  That means several months of real-world data collection is needed just to get a general idea.  To really be thorough, you need to document each season several times.  Fortunately, I have.  So, that's a great basis of comparison... much better than relying upon an oops to serve as an example.  Though, it certainly is fun to experience results like that!

5-10-2012

Still Climbing.  The estimated EV distance shown after a full recharge started at 13.1 miles for.  It ended up going down to 11.2 miles from my trip up north with lots of highway driving and little opportunity to plug.  It's been climbing since then, now back up to 12.8 from being able to recharge at work and not having taken any lengthy trip lately.  Others are seeing the same type of behavior, the computer utilizing their recent driving results to calculate EV potential.  None of us know for certain what the circumstances truly are, like if there's any battery pre-conditioning or break-in also included.  But patterns can be identified from lots of owner observation.  So, that's what we've been doing with an online poll & discussion.  I suspect mine will be returning soon to that original 13.1 miles.  Going above could happen too.  Others have seen that.  Of course, it really doesn't matter.  That value is only an estimate anyway.  I've driven beyond that without the engine starting several times now.  But it's always nice to know how the system works, since newbies always ask lots of questions when something unexpected happens.

5-09-2012

Newbie Questions.  I enjoy when they share their thoughts, especially when a question emerges about PHV.  You never know where ideas come from or how attached they are to a particular theory.  But there's no to get feedback without contributing yourself.  So, I jumped at the chance after reading this:  "If the car is in full EV mode and then gets on a freeway, the car's ICE will wear prematurely.  I'm sure Toyota engineers took some precaution by increasing EV boost but basic driving rule is don't get on a freeway with a cold engine."  That reminded me of the questions way back when about the engine restarting so frequently.  To think how much of a concern that was back then and how much of a non-issue it is now.  The same thing will happen with the plug-in hybrids too, given some time and some sharing of observations.  This was mine:  Those attempting to mislead about PHV and undermine its progress have been spreading that belief, since it builds from a reasonable assumption.  Don't fall for the greenwashing!  That absolutely is not the case.  When you accelerate hard with a cold engine, the battery-pack is called heavily upon regardless of charge-level.  I did that specific verify just yesterday.  The engine RPM only got up to 1532, despite a demanding acceleration up hill onto a 70 mph highway.  That is a truly remarkable RPM, way lower than anything you'd ever expect for such a situation.  The engineers designed a system that already takes cold starts into consideration and protected against engine stress.  There is nothing to worry about.  Just drive it.

5-09-2012

KISS HV/EV.  Finding the most simplistic use of the HV/EV button has been the focus.  Today was the "along the river" route again.  This time, I pressed the button a few seconds before turning onto the 50 mph thruway, then pressing it again as soon as my merge was complete.  It was 50°F outside.  So, it took a stoplight and about a mile of travel for the coolant to reach 130°F.  When it did, the engine automatically shut off.  The engine wasn't needed again for 18 minutes.  By then, the coolant had cooled to 82°F, I was about 1 mile from work, and there was only 0.1 remaining of EV.  Warm-up brought the EV up to 0.3 mile, just enough to reach my parking spot with only electricity.  And I did.  The resulting overall efficiency (using 3.1 kWh of electricity plus a little bit of gas) for 17.2 miles of driving was 271 MPG.  Simple with great results.  Gotta like that.

5-08-2012

RAV4 EV.  The price was announced today, an MSRP of $49,800.  That was about what had been expected for this newest EV, since it is expected to be rated with a 100-mile range and features 6-hour recharging.  With lots of cargo space, offering plenty of features, and being surprisingly quick, it will be fascinating to see how consumer perceive it.  There's a very small market and that niche isn't expected to reach out beyond the initial CARB market.  But it does support the movement toward electrification as a whole.  The much smaller battery-pack in PHV becomes even easier to embrace when you see what implementation with greater capacity can offer.  After all, the design of hybrids like Prius is to provide a best-of-both-worlds approach.  That means seeing what EVs can deliver is quite supportive.  In fact, that's what diversification is about.  Most people will seek out the balance... not everyone though, which is why having a choice is so important.  This RAV4 is for them, late this Summer.

5-08-2012

Self-Drive.  The vehicle Google has been testing for years, equipped with sophisticated hardware & software to enable the vehicle to drive itself, has officially been granted permission to be used on public streets.  This is the first time ever any state, in this case Nevada, has approved such a request.  And you guessed it, the vehicles (there are 3 of them) are Prius.  The license for this identifies them as "autonomous".  The plates are red and have an infinity symbol on them.  It's fascinating to watch the video.  Driving without a driver raises many questions & concerns.  But like what has come from other innovations, you really don't know the outcome until it's tried.  How will the technology be used and how it will be implemented starts with real-world data collection?  We've seen that already from Prius.  The earlier models provided a wealth of insight, revealing how efficiency could best be delivered... some times in support of what had been originally suggested and other times proving the attempt or hypothesis insufficient.  I look forward to hearing more about what develops.  There's definitely near-term opportunity for things like safety improvements to come from this... not to mention the ultimate goal of letting the vehicle drive you to your destination entirely on it's own... especially if it's a Prius!

 

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