Prius Personal Log  #584

September 4, 2012  -  September 8, 2012

Last Updated: Mon. 10/08/2012

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9-08-2012

Politics.  It doesn't matter what the topic is.  The same old rhetoric can be found.  I closely follow the claims about hybrids.  So, I'm quite familiar with the circumstances of how those hoping to undermine progress function, like raising doubt.  No matter how much information you provide, it's never enough.  They mislead ordinary people to take a counter-productive stance themselves too.  For hybrids, it was always the "save money" argument.  Since when isn't just breaking even the goal?  Why must you somehow come out ahead instead?  And how will that raised standard actually be measured?  The devil is always in the details.  Don't allow vague sound-bites to dictate outcome.  Without specifics, they can basically say anything they want and just later claim their statement meant something else or was misunderstood.  Sadly, the examples of this with hybrids are plentiful.  Setting of unrealistic expectations is another that comes to mind.  It's all quite frustrating... which is why there are so many who simply avoid politics.  They know how insincere the comments they hear can be.  Oh well.  Stand true and continue to provide lots of real-world.  That speaks for itself, allowing consumers to make their own decision rather than be told what to think.

9-08-2012

Sonata Hybrids.  I sure have been seeing a lot of them around here lately.  Minnesota has many Prius, which can be attributed to a number of supportive factors.  So, it really isn't a surprise that is happening with this newcomer.  It makes me more curious than ever what will happen with C-Max when it becomes available in a few months.  Following that, both the Ford & Toyota plug-in hybrids will debut here.  I can't wait... though, I'll have to.  It would be rather strange rolling them out until Winter is well away.  That's a long time from now.  We're just seeing the first signs of Summer ending now.  Anywho, I doubt many people notice those hybrids as I do.  To them, it's most likely just another Sonata.  Sadly, they probably aren't even aware a hybrid model is available.

9-08-2012

Battery Size.  It was inevitable.  Seeing how great the MPG is from the plug-in Prius, argument tactics to favor Volt are changing.  Attention is being diverted to battery-size.  They are attempting to portray the PHV approach as too small.  Since most people have no concept of scale, they are hoping the same appeal other bigger numbers had in the past will now apply to plug-in vehicles.  Assuming bigger is better is the key, hence moving away from the detail MPG provides.  This is the quote on this new topic got me going: "You mean the 4.4KWh battery that ONLY powers the car in EV mode if you drives like grandma?"  It's sad to realize they think that will work.  These are different times.  Consumers are no longer compelled to purchase more size & power than they actually need.  The financial consequences of that choice have been quite painful.  Repeating that mistake is unlikely.  Many have learned that lesson the hard way.  Anywho, this was my response:  Greenwash.  You get 4.4 kWh of electricity benefit regardless of how you drive.  My morning commute includes 9 miles of driving at 70 mph.  Again, so what if the engine runs?  I see +100 MPG for each of the 1-minute segments on the consumption-screen while cruising at that speed.  The benefit comes from the engine running at extremely low RPM (varying between 992 and 1024).  That rate consumes very little gas, hence the high efficiency.  Having the engine run is a big deal in Canada and the northern states too; it allows the heater to take advantage of hot coolant.

9-08-2012

Vastly Superior.  The past week has been loaded with examples of flagrant bragging.  There have even been cries of "traitor" to those who purchase an imported vehicle, even though that import significantly reduces the importing of oil and provides employment for many here.  This is likely why the membership has increased significantly on the big Prius forum and participation on both the daily blog for Volt and the big GM forum has dropped significantly.  We are at a turning point.  In other words, this is the transition from enthusiast to mainstream.  That's putting tremendous pressure on need, which is a big departure from all the attention previously place on want.  The difference between this and the past is scale.  The time has come for a solution for the masses.  Needless to say, there isn't any reason to participate on the struggling blog & forum anymore... except one, trolling.  They've been dropping quite a bit of bait lately, calling me out by name and surprised I don't respond to all their taunting.  I finally did.  This was my favorite quote: "He is just loathe to admit that the PIP is inferior.  Yet anyone with even a bit of honesty would immediately point out the fact the Volt is vastly superior as an EREV.  It has no compromises in its drivetrain."  I responded to it with:  Except cost and engine efficiency and emission rating and...  Of course, there is no solid definition of what "EREV" actually means.  There's just vague references to speed & power, both of which are blurred by the plug-in hybrids Ford & Honda will be offering.  Again, ordinary consumers have different priorities.  That's why they purchase cars like Cruze & Malibu.

9-07-2012

Available In Canada.  Today, sales of PHV began in Canada.  It's nice to see that market finally getting an opportunity to purchase.  I'd go nuts not having any way at all to purchase one until sometime next year.  Purchasing mine in California then having it transported to Minnesota is unusual, but knowing a great salesperson out there made all the difference.  Now, I can collect & share real-world data to help others with their decision... here in the 45 states that PHV isn't available in yet.  Canada is different.  You cannot cross the country border as I did with the state.  It gets very complicated.  Things like warranty coverage and safety/feature configuration are the same here, so it's no big deal.  Paying the appropriate sales tax and titling isn't too terribly difficult either.  There, the option to purchase elsewhere simply wasn't available.  Being that far north, there's the obvious desire to enjoy the new vehicle before Winter sets in too.  I understand the situation, but can only provide so much vicarious experience.  Now, they can firsthand.  Sweet!

9-07-2012

Intersections.  It's rather surreal when you pull up to an intersection in a plug-in Prius when there are already 3 more Prius stopped there.  The other vehicles were an old-school Pontiac and a Smart Car.  Where have the monster-SUVs gone?  To think that they, along with giant pickups, dominated the roads.  I still remember, years back sitting in the Prius at an intersection with my father, pointing out that my vehicle was the only car there in that crowded maze of traffic.  Things certainly have changed.  The claims that $4 gas wouldn't have the influence protagonists stated were indeed the case.  Clearly, consumer preference is different now.  A quick survey of any store parking lot confirms that.  The lust for size & power has vanished.  It's as if that ugly chapter in our history never happened.  Seeing so many Prius now on the road does an especially good job of validating progress.  Symbolically, the intersection well represents what's happening.  The stop & go marks the end & begin.  The guzzlers are fading away.  Yeah!

9-06-2012

15.2 Miles.  My record continuous EV distance has been 17.5 miles.  I made it all the way to work, taking the long route, ending with 0.3 remaining after having parked.  The morning temperature was 88°F.  That's well above the norm here in Minnesota, so I don't often refer to that particular experience.  Here, the maximum EV distance I've seen on a regular basis on my morning commute has been 14.1 miles.  So, today when it hit 15.2 miles, I was left scratching my heading wondering how that happened.  The drive was quite typical, a mix of hitting lights green & red with medium traffic... nothing I haven't seen routinely.  The variables at play are plentiful.  Even someone with a heightened awareness like myself can miss all the circumstances there are to observe.  This complexity is why we tell owners to "Just Drive It".  The response to random outcome can lead to a misinterpretation of how it was achieved.  So like me, we just point out the observation for the sake of giving others an idea of what the system is capable of delivering, but carefully avoid setting that as an expectation.

9-06-2012

Japan Sales.  August was yet another strong month for Prius in its domestic market.  23,828 of the liftback model were purchased in Japan then.  The count for the c model was great too, with 19,076 purchase there.  Imagine if we saw that many here.  Not only would Prius be mainstream, it would be near the top.  There were times in the past when sales spiked here, but never were they sustained.  The thought of not one but two models accomplishing it would be clear evidence of traditional vehicles losing their title of common.  Someday, the standard choice will be hybrid.  Sadly though, that won't happen here anytime soon.  As the technology continues to be refined and batteries enhanced, the thought will become reality.  After all, the business-sustaining aspect of is already.  Long gone are the days of being dismissed as a niche.  Yeah!

9-05-2012

Accord Plug-In.  Details revealed by Honda today about their upcoming hybrid with a plug were interesting.  It will have a 2-liter gas-engine, a 124 kW electric-motor, and a continuously variable transmission.  Since the system uses clutches, it's a confusing mess trying to figure out how the system actually operates.  Supposedly, it will be totally electric up to 62 mph.  What happens faster than that and once depleted is still unknown.  The 6.7 kWh Li-Ion battery-pack will supply 10 to 15 miles of EV travel.  It takes up a large chuck of the trunk, making it narrow & tall.  Since the pack itself is located behind the rear seat, there is no fold-down or pass-thru available.  How consumers will perceive it is anyone's guess.  Price will obviously have a big influence.  The EV purity is what I'm curious about.  Utilization of electricity on-paper differs quite a bit from reality, since most people's expectations don't account for all the variables at play in real-world driving.  Simple things like the need for heat are a big unknown until you actually sit in the driver's seat.  I know this firsthand, having owned a plug-in Prius for almost 6 months already.  Time will tell.

9-05-2012

Facing Reality.  Some just plain don't want to.  Volt didn't meet expectations.  I helped the process along today:  The withholding of CS-mode efficiency data was the first sign of expectations not being realistic.  The MPG following depletion fell well short of what had been hoped for.  Then came the reality of heater demands in Winter.  No matter how many times we pointed out the impact to EV range electric-heating would have, the enthusiast just plain did not want to acknowledge it.  They even fought intensely against the benefit of having a HOLD button, despite the reality that it could help overcome that problem.  The reason for resistance was obvious.  They wanted to differentiate Volt from Prius... hence all the "vastly superior" chanting we had to endure prior to rollout.  Now there's the reality of acceptance.  PHV delivers great all-around efficiency and without the need to consider purchase of an aftermarket charging-station.  PHV also comes close to middle-market pricing without dependency on tax-credits.  Energi availability will change the dynamic too, creating more pressure to compete with an array of features rather than just heavy EV focus.  The reason for the "too little, too slowly" concern will become more apparent in the next year.  Time is not abundant.  Reality will be faced.  Change will be required.

9-05-2012

Exaggeration.  To conceal the problem at hand, a common technique is to exaggerate.  The thought is over-emphasizing will cause the reader to agree with you and simply dismiss the topic without giving it any further consideration.  This example today was a classic: "Many journalists started writing stories that GM shut down because lack of sales... that the sales had gone down to nothing."  I never saw anything claiming an absolute like that.  It was surprising a supporter would even attempt such deception, but that's common practice in politics.  Heck, keeping people from wondering about detail is what we see in television commercials all the time.  Sadly, it's easy to distract... especially when there's brand loyalty as a factor.  Needless to say, I wasn't thrilled about reading that and fired off this in response:  Nothing?  No.  It was said that supply was much greater than demand, that there was already enough inventory available to sustain sales for awhile.  It made sense too.  GM had anticipated a demand of 3,750 per month.  Selling at a rate of roughly one thousand less and meant dealers didn’t need to have any new ones delivered soon.  Profit is lost when unsold vehicles sit on the lot.  Avoiding that is good business.

9-05-2012

Same Old.  First thing this morning, I was treated to an article comparing the plug-in Prius to the Vauxhall Ampera (that's the European model of Volt).  Getting a non-American opinion seemed hopeful.  But instead, nothing.  There was neither mention of emission-rating or expected efficiency.  All it did was focus on EV abilities and portray the design as a stop-gap.  This is the modern version of the same old GM support we saw nearly a decade ago.  It boggles the mind that such desperation would emerge again.  They call the technology a compromise to distract from the reality that it delivers upon business need.  In other words, the PHV model appeals to consumers with just the right balance of traits to achieve high-volume profitable sales... which infuriates the competition.  But rather than attempt to greenwash, they instead to label it as inadequate.  Think that same old nonsense will work this time?  It failed miserably before.

9-04-2012

Plan B.  What is it?  Knowing the sales of Volt will continue to be a struggle, what the heck will GM do?  What are supporters expecting?  What will consumers purchase?  Something will be produced in high-volume for business-sustaining sales.  What will those vehicles be?  What about when the tax-credits expire?  The situation is a confusing mess.  This is why the media and online-comments go wild.  We have no clue what to expect now that hope didn't match reality.  Of course, there was no sense of realism in the first place, hence the fallout.  It was mostly hype, since there wasn't data to support the claims.  Putting all your eggs in one basket is never a good plan anyway.  What other high-efficiency offering will there be?  And will it actually be affordable?  Remember GM's own goal of "nicely under $30,000" when Volt design just began?  What is the alternative plan?

9-04-2012

August Sales.  Here in the United States, it was a good month for Prius.  Sales counts for other hybrids are mixed.  The hybrid version of Camry was among those that did well, selling 3,840 in August.  That outpaced Sonata with 1,766 and Fusion with 1,071 by quite a bit.  The Lexus hybrids aren't doing too bad either... CT 200h at 1,472 and RX400/450h at 1,170 and the ES at 817.  The eAssist story is rather odd, Malibu at 2,414 and LaCrosse at 1,024 sold, since that version of Malibu is the only 2013 model available and LaCrosse isn't offered without the hybrid system.  So, neither really tells us much about actual demand yet.  At with MPG so low, what's the point?  The only other noteworthy number to point out is the Lincoln MKZ with 998.  As for Prius, there were 13,311 for the regular model, then 3,428 for c, then 3,325 for v.  PHV, still only available in 15 states, came through with 1,047 sales.  I can't wait until nationwide rollout for the plug-in.  At that point, there will be plenty of real-world data to entice sales too.  Less than 6 months doesn't tell much of a story yet.  Lastly, there were 70 for Silverado, 63 for Escalade, 36 for Yukon, 36 for Tahoe, and 26 for Sierra.  Needless to say, this is why Two-Mode isn't something GM is interested in selling anymore.  With numbers that low, what's the point?  The story for Volt continues, the 2,831 sales in August falls well short of goal and is subsidized by a tax-credit triple that of PHV.  Fortunate for Toyota, they have a large market in Japan too, allowing production to take advantage of higher volume... something that's really important when subsidies expire.  Next year certainly is going to be interesting.  The availability of plug-in vehicles should push hybrid sales highway.  The question is, what MPG will consumers seek?

 

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