Prius Personal Log  #577

July 8, 2012  -  July 14, 2012

Last Updated: Tues. 8/07/2012

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7-14-2012

New Chapter, marginal.  On the big Prius forum, the Volt owners there have claimed there haven't been any posts which belittle PHV.  That was rather shocking to read.  I see it all the time.  How can they be so selective about what other owners have been saying.  This was the example from that newest thread: "The PIP makes no sense, it's too expensive for the marginal improvement over the basic Prius."  Apparently, an improvement of around 50-percent is just marginal.  That makes you wonder how they evaluate the difference between mild hybrids and traditional vehicles.  Watching my MPG jump from 50 to low 80's is quite an increase.  How can claim it isn't?  But coming from a thread starting with the word "disappointing", it was obvious they wouldn't actually be constructive.  It was really just an chance from them to collect & distribute so-called facts... and me the opportunity to document what they're up to.

7-14-2012

New Chapter, the engine.  The other aspect of design they want to mislead you about is that the engine starts up whenever you accelerate.  No matter how many reports of PHV drivers running errands through the suburbs, exclusively with electricity, without the engine ever running, they pretend that isn't true.  Heck, I've even done an entire 17.2 miles on my morning commute entirely in EV mode.  They don't care.  Pointing out motor-power and battery-draw falls on deaf ears too.  Facts don't matter when you're still holding on to that "vastly superior" hope.  And they said Prius owners were smug.  Geez!  Anywho, I liked reading this quote: "The max speed 62 mph is not the whole story any time you step on the gas you use gas in other words the electric motor assists the gas engine."  That just plain is not true.  And on those occasions when the engine does start, it shuts off quickly anyway.  But looking at the resulting MPG doesn't matter.  They still push the mentality of purity... even though Volt has and uses an engine too.

7-14-2012

New Chapter, 62 MPH.  I always wondered whether or not those particular Volt enthusiasts understood how PHV actually worked.  Unfortunately, time has revealed they really do... but simply don't care.  I've seen it far too often.  How would you respond to that?  This quote was a good example of the situation: "However, you would get crucified here for driving 62 mph or less in an HOV lane so it really doesn't even work here."  No matter how many times you point out EV-BOOST mode, it doesn't matter.  They don't want you to discover that MPG is over 100 while traveling faster than 62 mph.  They just want to spread the belief that there's no benefit of having a plug unless you are driving slower than 62 mph.  It's a misconception they've been working hard to maintain.  They have been exploiting the assumption.  That's how greenwashing works.

7-14-2012

New Chapter, the present.  Even though things have settled down both on the big Prius forum and the big GM forum, there's still trouble.  Thankfully, it's not that daily blog for Volt anymore.  That turned about to be a conduit for hype, a source of building hope based on unsupported expectations.  Prior to rollout, they said what ever they wanted without needed to take challenges seriously.  The uncertain nature of the information was basically just propaganda, making it easy to accept & dismiss.  Now, we know.  Those facts can no longer be denied.  So, no more blog.  It's just a general newsfeed now.  There is a forum though.  That's where those particular die-hard supporters went to.  And they sure are trying to stir the pot now.  A new thread was just started, a blatant effort to spread misconceptions about PHV.  Reading the quotes left me in awe.  I was amazed they would even attempt such nonsense.  That is quite a change from being frustrated, as in the past.  This present is very different.  It appears to be a desperate effort to greenwash.  So, I collected my favorite quotes from the thread to document here... wondering if anyone will later believe what they posted.  But in these early days of PHV rollout, there is still opportunity to mislead.  That won't change until more real-world data becomes available. 

7-14-2012

New Chapter, the past.  Many years ago, we watched the anti-hybrid campaign transform into efforts of support.  The messages were mixed though.  How much of an investment they'd become remained a mystery.  With automakers like Toyota, Ford, and Honda, it was a push to get a lot from a little... always keeping price as a major priority.  From GM came a complete disregard for that; they sacrificed being affordable for speed & power.  We wondered if that would eventually change.  It didn't.  The next big step forward with motor & battery technology again focused on speed & power.  That was a disappointment for many, including enthusiasts.  But those disenchanted are long gone, forgotten by just about everyone.  Online discussions revolve around the survivors, those standing true to an ideal rather than becoming realistic about what the market actually needs.  That brings us to last week.  On the big GM forum, no matter what I said about the demands of business, the reply from the die-hards was that my efforts were to prove PHV superior and discredit GM.  In other words, they made up what they wanted instead of acknowledging what was actually posted.  That finally upset other forum members.  Their disingenuous replies were too much.  It was harming the forum's reputation.  They began speaking out, making themselves the target rather than me always being a scapegoat.  I was awestruck by the change.

7-13-2012

Time Overlooked.  The availability of public charging-stations is an interesting new topic to address.  How will they be perceived?  How will they be used?  How will they be paid for?  That last one is the biggest issue.  Will owners of businesses be interested in offering them with the hope of consumer patronage in return?  With so few plug-in vehicles on the road currently, that's a big uncertainty.  Cost is a major factor to.  You don't want to tear up a parking lot for just one.  Leaving room to expand is important.  The location itself is a problem too.  Where do you put them to entice without taking away prime parking spots from others?  Then there's the problem of snow removal, a serious dilemma for those of us in the north.  The charging-stations prevent the plow from pushing away the routine Winter mess.  Needless to say, there are a variety of concerns to address... just to stir installation interest.  In the effort to justify cost, the aspect of time was completely overlooked.  Business owners will never recoup enough from usage fees to cover the labor & equipment cost, so they must focus on opportunity.  When visiting a restaurant or coffeeshop, a stay of 1.5 hours is quite realistic.  Longer is not.  The same is true for shopping.  For strip-mall availability, the quantity needed and the competition to consider, the factor of time makes it compelling.  I find it intriguing.  That just happens to be the exact size of the PHV battery-pack.  It takes 1.5 hours to fully recharge.  Coincidence?

7-12-2012

Bickering.  We've been watching the situation progressively get worse.  Using me as a scapegoat isn't working well anymore, causing some to finally speak out about the bickering outcome.  Ignoring those attempts to provoke results in the fabrication of intent.  They claim I said things to get me to react.  Reluctant to be their conduit of blame, I sometimes respond anyway.  This was the post today, shortly after hearing that the president of GM's European division will be stepping down:  It always comes down to the realities of business.  Volt can remain a great niche, enjoying a classification similar to that of Corvette & Camaro, or it can become a popular seller like Cruze.  Lots of profitable sales are required.  The catch is time... and that pressure has been growing quite intense lately.  The recent drop of stock price to under $20 per share makes that all too clear.  GM will need to focus on the business-sustaining products.  That means vehicles like Cruze, Malibu, Equinox, and Sonic will get a bulk of the resources... undermining some Volt advancement.  Blaming the competition is the best way to feel better, rather than actually dealing with the situation at hand.  Attempting to be constructive, my suggestion would be to aggressively work to drop Volt cost by no longer adhering to the EV mentality.  That obviously makes it appear as though it's an endorsement for PIP.  Well, too bad.  Step up to the plate by supporting something actually capable of achieving high-volume sales relatively soon rather than waiting for a miracle drop in production & battery cost.  Diversification by creating a Volt family is good business anyway.  So what if one model offers far less EV capacity.  Isn't the point to spread the technology?

7-12-2012

Why?  How this question could be asked at this point is a topic of fascination: "Why would anyone buy a Leaf or Prius over this?  I don't even get it."  Do those participating on that discussion thread this afternoon really not know, after all this time and all those attempts to explain?  I provided this:  Understanding buyers has been a fundamental problem.  Price is a major priority for middle-market, the consumers who a hybrid like Prius targets.  Look at all the cost-analysis papers over the years.  A gain in performance simply isn't taken into consideration if it increases price.  These vehicles are expected to be sold in high-volume at small profit margins.  Car enthusiasts have never embraced common vehicles which focus primarily on getting from point A to point B using medium-grade components.  Their version of competition is comparing rare designs that strive to exceed top-of-the-line specifications.  They have no interest in the middle.  In other words, the appeal factors for Volt don't match that of mainstream expectations.  Notice how no one challenges the performance claims?  The power & handling exceed what's actually needed.  There are highly desirable traits which simply cannot be justified when considering a purchase of the family car.  That's why there have been separate categories for sports & luxury vehicles.  The difference between want & need is far greater now than when it was back in the days when monster-sized SUVs guzzled their way to dominance.  There a very real need to balance efficiency with affordability.  Watch how Volt adapts over time to better target middle-market buyers.

7-12-2012

Failure.  I pretty much had to respond to this today: "What is it about the Volt that makes people actively root for its failure?"  Saying anything about Prius translates to speaking out against Volt.  That automatic association is quite maddening, for all involved.  No matter what you say, they hear spin to give the sense of Volt failing.  That's why I have such a difficult time avoiding the topic.  It comes back without even trying.  There's a sense of self-fulfilling-prophecy compelled by the urge to defend.  It makes me wonder why there still hasn't been any real offense taken after all this time.  Why always react?  Being proactive is so much better.  Oh well.  I posted this:  Looking at the plug-in market exclusively, it's very easy to get the impression.  Stepping back to look at the entire auto industry, there are those pointing out struggled efforts of the past and recent successes... all which point out the challenges Volt still faces.  What has been the response?  It's shooting the messenger and telling people to be patient, rather than actually acknowledge the concerns.  Watching opportunity slip away isn't a good plan.  But the fierce avoidance of setting goals does exactly that.  In other words, if you don't actually define success, just about anything could be interpreted as failure.

7-11-2012

Factual Errors.  How much damage is caused by articles publishing facts that are incorrect?  Some websites circulate errors too.  What does that do to those who are genuinely trying to do constructive research on a purchase.  The majority likely don't understand the numbers or how they are derived anyway.  Being misleading makes that information even worse.  They probably don't do enough searches to verify facts either.  That limited effort makes clarity absolutely vital.  It contributes to online debates quickly turn into heated arguments.  Some people have no idea as to the accuracy of what they found.  To complicate the problem further, they are unaware some of that is intentional.  Information that's vague or outdated transformed into facts without a source.  Some people spread that, not realizing they are contributing to efforts to greenwash.  It's a mess out there.  Adding a plug provides a whole new dimension of misunderstandings.  I wonder how we'll deal with so much content new for so many people.  Buying a new car now is much more difficult than in ages past.

7-10-2012

Statistics.  The sharing of real-world data is priceless.  It's a major component in market acceptance.  Without owner endorsements, it's quite a challenge to get consumers to try something new.  PHV very much falls into that category... since there is no basis of comparison available.  Allowing assumptions to persist is not a good idea.  So, I jump at the opportunity to provide information about my experiences.  Today, there was a rather constructive review published.  It wasn't perfect, but the effort to deliver true journalism was clearly there.  It wasn't just the weak observational reporting we've had in the past.  The following is what I posted as a comment for that review...  Here are stats on my advanced model 2012 Prius plug-in:  5,752 miles. (includes a 636-mile road trip, 34-mile round-trip commute)  115 days of ownership. (it's been a thoroughly enjoyable experience)  185 recharges total. (There's a charging-station available at work.)  68.9 gallons of gas. (10% ethanol blend, measured at the pump)  574.1 kWh electricity. (3.1 kWh per-charge estimate includes conversion loss)  83.5 MPG calculated average overall.

7-10-2012

Superiority.  It was like watching an avalanche.  There were cries of superiority coming from the few remaining Volt supporters who believed the discussion about middle-market sales was somehow a campaign to prove Prius was better.  Then when someone provided some historical background pointing out that the most popular sellers are typically not the vehicles that earn the highest scores in every category, they were at a loss about what to do next.  Nothing followed later either.  Those attempts to distort facts about Prius PHV no longer had an audience.  The reality that simply getting over 100 MPG on the highway will attract lots of buyers appears to finally be sinking in.  It doesn't take much study of hybrid history to confirm how big of a deal being affordable has been.  That's absolutely essential to achieve high-volume sales.  No level of promotion with change that.  It's the nature of the industry... and even more of a problem when you look beyond the market just within our borders.  Global realities and demands of business, not to mention oil-dependency or environmental problems, are only now becoming a worry.  They're noticing a big penalty for having only considered needs from an engineering-only perspective.  Why did it have to come to this?  Why couldn't they have listened sooner?  Ugh!

7-08-2012

62 MPH Assumption.  What do you do when an assumption undermines your own actions?  That's what some of the Volt supporters have been asking themselves recently.  Turns out, there was a sincere belief that once speed exceeded 62 MPH the plug-in Prius would revert back to HV mode... despite information to the contrary provided countless times over the years.  With all my talk about the boost effect, I thought they were just greenwashing.  We've seen the intentional spreading of misconceptions in the past.  Why would this be any different?  To my surprise, that belief was real.  No wonder some of the retaliation was so harsh.  That assumption enabled the antagonists to shoot the messenger without consequence.  It was just looked upon as rival automaker banter, acceptable regardless of what was said in defense of their own.  To think something like that could persist for so long.  Thank goodness some are now questioning what had previously been assumed to be correct.  A power-split hybrid drawing enough electricity from the battery-pack to allow the engine to run at an extremely slow RPM, raising MPG significantly as a result, should be obvious.  It clearly wasn't.  The plug provides electricity, rather than the engine.  With it, there's much more electricity available to draw from... which is exactly what happens when you exceed 62 MPH.  That's quite different from HV mode, which is just ordinary hybrid driving without plug-supplied electricity.  There's no MPG boost like you get when drawing heavily from the battery-pack.

 

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