Prius Personal Log  #576

July 2, 2012  -  July 8, 2012

Last Updated: Tues. 8/07/2012

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7-08-2012

New Advice.  Actually, it's the same old advice of the past.  But now we have a new audience.  The nature of online forums is a dynamic with much uncertainty.  PHV doesn't make expectations any more clear.  It's a little better though.  The big warm-up penalty of the past has been reduced rather significantly.  The hybrid system is taken advantage of even more.   Nonetheless, we still have lots of emotion to deal with when it comes to the purchase of unfamiliar technology.  I put it this way:  I have a feeling it's going to be common hearing complaints about EV range.  It's a sad reality that people will seek out a venue when they're upset but remain totally unknown when pleased.  What's worse is the disregard for purpose, which is to boost MPG, not electric-only driving.  I'm sure we'll gain quite a bit of experience with this in the next few months.  Hopefully, maybe, some of those silent owners who are quite pleased with their purchase will sound off too.  We've seen a lot of venting over the years... where they've already made up their mind.  So no matter what suggestions are offered, they're already done.  When it comes to plugging in a hybrid, that is definitely new territory.  We are bound to encounter a variety of misconceptions and unrealistic expectations.  The best we can do is what we've done in the past, just keep sharing real-world experiences.

7-07-2012

Missed It!  Someday I knew it would happen.  Stopped at the light today, I was taken by surprise when a subtle vibrating sensation grabbed my attention.  It was the engine warming up.  For the first time with my PHV, the transition from EV to HV was totally overlooked.  There's was lots of traffic at the time and I had just climbed a very steep hill amongst all those vehicles.  Running out of electricity at exactly the right moment prevented me from noticing.  That was cool.  I figured not focusing on the screens so closely would allow that automatic mode switch to occur without drawing attention.  After all, the engine runs at a low RPM and the pumping cycle makes it faint in comparison to traditional vehicles.  The startup process itself is different as well, far less strain on the engine.  The system waits until oil-pressure is established and spins the engine up to idle speed instead.  Long story short, I missed it!

7-07-2012

Signs Of Hope.  The bait dropping got quite intense lately.  They missed me on the big GM forum.  All the provoking & taunting to get me to post something was very amusing.  It's like they have no idea that forum is a fanboi venue, not having any reflection on what ordinary middle-market buyers are interested in.  Other websites focus on what you get for what it costs instead.  They thrive on bragging rights, not caring at all about business objectives.  With the price of a barrel of oil currently in the 80's and gas around $3.49 per gallon, it should be clear that efficiency is a higher priority for buyers now... but not the highest.  Price of the vehicle itself is having a major influence on sales.  That target of "nicely under $30,000" is still a major goal.  Oddly, that message is getting through.  Fewer and fewer antagonist attacks prevail.  They simply aren't drawing attention anymore.  With 39,970 regular model and 28,736 c model sold last month in the US and Japan, it's not much of a stretch expecting growth for the PHV model.  Everyone knows it too.  The Volt rhetoric is dying down.

7-06-2012

Entune Updates.  Toyota has been delivering updates to their in-car information/entertainment systems to customers via postal mail.  With such a variety & quantity of vehicles, many more than just Prius, getting something at home is much more convenient than having to come into the dealer... especially when it has nothing to do with vehicle operation itself.  That means most owners are discovering a USB memory-key in their mailbox.  You plug it into the port somewhere inside the vehicle, then accept the update prompt on the screen.  For advanced plug-in owners, like myself, the process is different though.  I didn't get anything in the mail.  The update was broadcast to me wirelessly via my smart-phone over a bluetooth connection.  That's happened twice now.  I pull up the screen in my garage and discover an update is available.  Clicking YES, the software is updates.  It only takes a minute if you have a fast internet connection too.  Someday, most everyone will likely get updates that way.  For now, I'm among those helping to verify the wireless method works well.

7-05-2012

First Mega-Regen.  The result of 87 miles of driving, using only the electricity from overnight recharging, was 71 MPG.  That was quite pleasing, especially considering this drive to a remote bike-trail included use of the A/C.  On the way back, it was late in the evening.  Open windows did the trick that.  Of course, that cooling reduces efficiency too.  The most exciting part of the journey though was a long decent downhill.  That was my first opportunity with the PHV.  In the past, I had used "B" to avoid over-charging the battery-pack... since the 2010 didn't have enough capacity to hold that much electricity.  This Prius does.  So, I was quite curious what would happen.  Down the scenic valley road I went, watching the charge-level climb.  When I got to the bottom, there was 1.4 miles of EV now available.  That was the kind of result I was hoping for.  With MPG having been so great up to that point, I was reassured the return trip up wouldn't be much of a penalty with that much electricity to help out.  That indeed ended up being the case too.

7-05-2012

Dual Sighting.  I spotted a Prius c up in the distance.  It was that Habanero color (the vibrant orange), very hard not to notice.  I caught up to it at the next intersection.  Me getting into the left turn lane meant pulling up next to it on my side.  I looked over to check it out.  The owner was obviously use to getting the attention from what see was driving.  She just passively looked over at me, then my car.  You could see her expression suddenly change to bewilderment.  She had obviously noticed the "Plug-In Hybrid" emblem and was in the process of recognizing what that actually meant.  The expression transformed to a smile.  We had just checked out each others Prius.  It was quite an unexpected experience.  That adds even more to how Prius makes waiting for a light to turn green a more pleasant event.  I cannot wait until I finally spot another PHV on the road.  Here in Minnesota, it could be a very long time still.  Rollout won't hit this state until next year and it's rather unlikely many will pounce on the opportunity in early January... the dead of Winter.

7-04-2012

Competition.  I provided the sales numbers for Malibu, Equinox, Cruze, and Sonic.  This was the response: "Only in your mind is that the competition for the Volt. Unbelievable."  It boggles the mind how greenwashed GM supporters have become.  It's a game and a race to them, but only Volt, Leaf, Focus-EV, and Prius PHV are competing.  To them, nothing else matters.  They don't see the rest of the market or any pressure to become affordable quickly.  Sales lost to those other vehicles don't matter, as long as their own category of vehicle has Volt on top, all is well.  Thankfully, not all feel that way.  But the majority participating online certainly don't see any problem with GM having dropped sales expectations for 2012 again.  That's so bad, it seems pointless even bothering to point out the limited inventory of PHV still.  I'm better off just waiting for stock delivery and distribution to the other states.  In the meantime, interest will build from forum posts and website updates.  Currently, the typical person isn't even aware that a plug-in Prius has been rolled out.  That's quite a drastic difference from the heavily advertised Volt with television commercials.  My follow-up post was with this: The "game" is traditional vehicle replacement.  The "race" is mainstream penetration.  To achieve those high-volume sales, you can't just disregard the other choices available.

7-04-2012

EV with A/C.  The holiday was going to be a hot one.  We were all planning to do some shopping around town.  That meant driving EV with A/C.  It was an opportunity to observe firsthand the punishment those down south have to routinely endure.  Seeing triple-digit temperatures use to be rare up here in Minnesota.  Now, it happens routinely... a few days here and there.  I cannot imagine what that would be like all the time.  But then again, I bet that's exactly what they say about sub-freezing conditions up here.  Anywho, I looked forward to the day's travel.  We had 4 stops.  Each was long enough to allow the car to heat back up when we stopped.  I was generous with the A/C, curious if the draw would cause the engine to run at some point.  It never did.  EV driving through the suburbs was no big deal.  I was very pleased with those results.  Errand running is quite pleasant with the plug-in model Prius, exactly as I had hoped it would be.

7-03-2012

Sales Breakdown.  The impatience and self-defeating mindset of monthly sales hit Toyota hard this month.  There are people waiting for c model delivery.  PHV availability is very limited as well, even within the states it is currently offered.  The number-crunchers don't care though... and neither do those yearning for an opportunity to claim falling demand.  Guess what happened.  Yup, the resulting 695 sales of the plug-in model for June were indeed spun as market interest dropping already.  That's so hypocritical.  With all times we were told by Volt enthusiasts to be patient and wait for the second-year, not doing the same now is the ultimate show of disingenuous intent.  Of course, when we did wait, they made excuses to wait until the next-generation model rollout instead.  Thankfully, the short-sighted nature of these reports makes it easy to focus on year-end results later.  For the month though, there were 11,514 of the regular model here, next with 3,657 for the c model, and 3,284 for the v model.

7-03-2012

PHV Sales.  It didn't take long to find out the tally for the United States.  June was the first month of open availability, but inventory wasn't stocked with more than just a very limited selection until last week... and that's only in California.  So if you didn't want what they specifically had and wanted one that wasn't a demo model, you were out of luck.  July should be different, the first to offer a hint of actual demand.  Neither March nor April did, since both were pre-order deliveries.  May was a mix of pre-order and pre-sold units.  But those facts won't stop the antagonists.  Here's what I posted on the big GM forum, hoping to at least present some facts before they start their Volt spin:  695 sold from the 14 states it is currently available (California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, and Hawaii) in June.  It sure will be nice when nationwide happens.  But then again, people still await real-world data to make their purchase decision.  Warm weather has been making quite a difference with mine.  Today I drove my morning commute, that's 17.2 miles, entirely with electricity.  In fact, I ended up with 0.3 left in the parking ramp.  That's well above the EPA's 11-mile estimate.  My current tank is just under 900 miles, averaging 120 MPG.  So, I do indeed see it as a better compare than a pure EV like Leaf.  I still wish there was a more affordable model of Volt available.  Diversification is needed anyway.  Offering a choice of a smaller pack with a system tuned more for HV efficiency would be a win-win for both automaker & consumer.

7-03-2012

Sales Spin.  We all saw this coming.  Televisions commercials for Volt have been abundant.  Promotion of zero-percent financing, state & federal tax incentives, and HOV privileges was heavy.  Constructive discussion never emerged, despite efforts to establish.  There was hope without anything to actually support it.  A popular Detroit publication took month-end results and titled that report with "sales rise".  In the article itself, there was this quote to peek interest: "The company abandoned its 2012 U.S. sales forecast of 45,000, saying it would instead match supply to meet demand."  And it did too, I was quite intrigued to read on.  The remaining half of what had been written was all about how much lower Nissan Leaf sales were.  Why acknowledge the 31,402 Malibu, 20,793 Equinox, 18,983 Cruze, or 6,785 Sonic of GM's own offerings when you can draw attention to an unrelated vehicle from a competitor instead?  Needless to say, the Volt quantity sold was much lower: 1,760.  That's below the number to even make the newest revised goal.  Unfortunately, there isn't a breakdown available for Prius sold with a total of 19,150.  Fortunately, it still holds the third position behind Camry's 31,107 (including the hybrid model) and Corolla's, 26,647.  The goal of diversification is clearly being addressed by Toyota.  It will be interesting to find out how PHV did, being available only in select states still.  Meanwhile, the article stated that 5,300 Volts are available for immediate purchase as of the end of June.  So, the supply meeting demand question has clearly been answered.  Reading the comments, it was very clear that people are worried about the politics and slow progress... seeing the situation very different from what Volt supporters have been saying.

7-03-2012

kWh Gauge.  That idea has been tossed around quite a bit over the years.  Currently, we have an analog representation of percentage and an estimated distance.  Neither of which give you a clear understanding of what the outcome would be.  kWh measure for EV really wouldn't either.  But the thought is that could be more informative, especially when used in conjunction with the other displayed values.  I've always liked Toyota's KISS approach.  The simplicity has proven to attract mainstream buyers too.  Is having a plug different?  Would introducing that be too complex?  Would it contribute to new assumptions or help dispel misconceptions?  At this point, no one knows.  These are my thoughts I posted:  Unfortunately, a kWh gauge wouldn't work either.  14.1 miles had been my record EV distance until recently, when the hot summer mornings arrived.  Although the EV estimate stated 13.7 miles yesterday, I actually traveled 15 miles of EV with 2 miles remaining when I arrived at work.  It was 84°F degrees that morning, quite a bit higher than the usual mid-60's.  Today, it was 77°F and I was curious as heck how far I'd be able to travel in EV.  So, I refrained from the usual HV button push to warm-up the engine during the most efficient portion of my drive.  17.2 miles later, I was in the parking ramp with 0.3 miles of EV still left.  The entire commute was with electricity, even though the EV estimate stated only 13.7 miles were available.  In short, YEVWV is the new term we'll have to learn to accept.  Your EV Will Vary, based upon acceleration demand, cabin comfort, window clearing, and outside temperature.  There's simply no way to accurately depict expectations.

7-02-2012

Prorogation.  It would be nice for the current backlash/fallout/downplay to truly be concluded.  The Volt owners who launched an offensive on the big Prius forum have grown quite quiet.  In fact, the one who made a huge deal out of my stance, who said he'd help out with the effort to share information, has vanished.  But looking at his past, there was only a single post last year and none before that for an entire year.  So, it's not like he was contributing anyway.  Everything was about keeping Volt in a good light still.  That meant belittle Prius and turn a blind eye, denying that was happening.  It was so obvious they were not being sincere.  But that was a fantastic way to find out what each individuals purpose was, since they'd never just outright say it as I do.  That approach worked.  Of course, one particular individual took to the old antagonist technique of changing a definition.  He attempted to spin "too little, too slowly" as a reference to Toyota.  It was a desperate effort to conceal the reality of it meaning something must be delivered to the masses soon.  That was said back in 2009 as part of the GM bankruptcy recovery plan.  3 years later, we are now being told it will still be another 3 years before something could possibly be available as an affordable mainstream choice.  It's a sad statement, but closure nonetheless.  Meanwhile, Toyota is rolling out several options for middle-market buyers.  My favorite is the PHV model.

 

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