Prius Personal Log  #591

October 14, 2012  -  October 19, 2012

Last Updated: Tues. 1/08/2013

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10-19-2012

EV Goal.  How many times does that come up in discussions?  We continuously hear the misrepresentation of PHV stated in terms of an EV goal.  In fact, that's by far the biggest argument used against it.  Why?  It's a plug-in hybrid.  When has there ever been a statement made that its purpose to offer electric-only travel?  For over a decade, the goal has been to significantly reduce emissions & consumption.  Each generation has brought improvements to engine, motor, and battery.  Who says that intent has now changed?  What's wrong with getting 100 MPG on your daily commute?  At what cost is the efficiency tradeoff too much?  Remember, vehicles purchased in high volumes are those which offer a balance.  So what if other vehicles favor more of a particular aspect.  There are always going to be luxury, sport, and niche vehicles.  Those aren't what middle-market buy though.  Just like with computers, there's always something faster or with more capacity... but that doesn't make it the better choice... especially if it isn't necessary.

10-19-2012

Change Happens.  The transition away from conflict of the past has been a welcome expectation.  It's finally happening.  And of all things, I just happened to contribute in a very unexpected way.  The active thread resulted in more thoughts on the situation:  Getting a heads up on my phone from both ChargePoint (the charger) & Entune (Toyota's service) about charging being interrupted is nice.  ChargePoint's latest upgrade gives you notification when recharging is almost complete, detecting that rate is slowing.  You automatically get the following text: "Your vehicle plugged into ... is drawing very little power and my be fully charged."  It also provides a phone number.  If an unplug incident happens to me again, I won't hesitate to call.  That way, ChargePoint will have it on record and will report to the owner that preventative measures may need to be taken.  Heck, they might even have some handy suggestions available too.  In the event of charger sharing (2 spots, 1 charger), knowing that your recharge is almost complete gives you the opportunity to offer the charger to the other vehicle as soon as it becomes available.  It will be rather interesting as time proceeds.  There was a lot of animosity about PHV from Volt enthusiasts in the past.  Fortunately, that's faded away as those concerns sighted actually transpired.  We are now looking at an upcoming year with plug-in hybrids from Toyota, Ford, and Honda.  The diverse variety of choices repositions the approach to plug-in support.

10-19-2012

Cold Start.  Those attempting to misrepresent PHV would claim the starting of a cold engine following plug-in capacity depletion would result in terrible emissions & consumption.  That was a big antagonist topic prior to rollout, but not anymore.  Proof quickly emerged from owners that the battery-pack had a reserve not included in the EV miles estimate, specifically set aside for the warm-up process.  The system doesn't actually start a cold engine the way the rhetoric claimed it would.  The RPM is kept under 1500, rather than revving high as people would assume.  That provides the opportunity for warming without strain, preventing it from being dirty & inefficient.  It's too bad they took advantage of the lack of real-world data rather than just considering system design and goals of the past.  But with that other plug-in struggling to meet its own self-imposed sales goals, the misrepresentation was no surprise.

10-19-2012

New Topic: Unplugged.  I has no idea how much attention my thread would draw.  It's an entirely new topic no one has ever addressed, since the circumstances are so unique.  Boldly going...  Anywho, many are jumping in to contribute their thoughts.  As for me, I'm glad my decision was to just quietly drive away.  Who knows how a confrontation would have brought.  This was my follow up:  Basically, there's no reason to ever interrupt a charging session, regardless of who.  Once a recharge is complete, then someone immediately plugging into their vehicle with that same plug is acceptable.  That's why some chargers offer 2 parking spots.  Nothing good comes from walking away after having laid the plug down on the ground... which is exactly what happened to me.  We also face the reality of a plug-in spot being used by a traditional vehicle.  The term we identify that situation by is saying the spot was ICED, since the vehicle parked there preventing you from using the charger has only an ICE (Internal Combustion Engine).  Sometimes people just don't care.  It's tempting to setup my GoPro camera to capture an unplug event on film.  But hopefully, what I experienced will be quite rare. Then again, such occurrences would serve as a source for finally overcoming the belief that a cross-automaker alliance really is possible.  Volt rhetoric of the past had strong roots in brand loyalty rather than the motive of high-volume sales.  Moving beyond that by way of traditional-vehicle supporter backlash could happen.  Reasons for bonding often come from unexpected sources.

10-18-2012

Demand Spin.  It was interesting to read an article from Detroit with this title: "Electric car market is badly in need of a charge."  A graphic started out with this setting expectations: "Problems for battery cars".  Seeing that in bold print above a chart with numbers and images of vehicles was a bad sign, especially before any wording.  This is what followed: "Sales of electric and plug-in hybrids cars have not lived up to expectations."  The tone was pretty obvious.  The expectations themselves were never explained either.  For that matter, the count of Prius PHV didn't have a disclaimer pointing out that it was only available in 15 states.  It was all quite vague... the same old spin we've come to expect.  They paint a picture of demand by leaving out detail.  This time though, GM had a featured vehicle.  Volt was the dominant plug-in, which indeed has been struggling.  Next came Nissan with Leaf, who's sale projections were much lower than Volt.  But again, leaving out particulars leaves you to believe something else... especially when seeing the counts for Ford and Mitsubishi.  Naturally, only the American sales were mentioned.  Also, we know much will change by next year when C-Max Energi, Honda Accord plug-in, and Prius PHV all become available nationwide.  But with politics so hot of a topic now and government bailouts & tax-credits along with gas prices getting so much attention, this view of demand is no surprise.  2013 seems so far away.

10-17-2012

Unplugged By Someone Else.  I needed to make an unexpected trip to the mall this evening, without any electricity available.  There are plug-in stations there, something I wouldn't usually be able to take advantage of living so close.  The price had been recently dropped, now $0.49 per kWh.  This happenstance was too good to pass up.  There at the mall, I went about my business, checking charging status along the way.  I suddenly got a text stating: "Your vehicle has stopped charging at ... because the plug has been removed."  With so few plug-in vehicles here, especially near closing.  That wasn't a good message.  Something was wrong.  Sure enough, I spotted someone walking away from my Prius then getting into his to sit and observe.  Laying down on the ground was the plug.  He had absolutely no reason to be touching it.  Were his actions just out curiosity or an ill-intent encounter?  Needless to say, I silently drove away without doing anything other than returning the plug to its holster.  Hopefully, that was a rare situation.

10-17-2012

HV Compare.  My data collection for grille-blocking had an unexpected opportunity.  It was 55°F this morning, very close to yesterday's temperature at the same time along the same route.  That meant a great chance to do a direct compare.  I'd use regular HV mode instead of EV-BOOST.  The result at the 9.5-mile mark was 188°F, warmer by 20 degrees.  That was interesting.  At that point, I switched over to EV mode, continuing the commute to my usual parking spot.  There I observed 136°F as the final coolant temperature, 15 degrees warmer than yesterday.  Losing more on the high end tends to make sense.  Later with much colder conditions outside and the grille-blocked, the retention of heat will be of upmost intrigue.  Of course, what got me on this particular drive was the end result.  It was 108 MPG with a surprising 5.0 miles of EV still remaining.  For having traveled 16.7 miles, that's pretty darn good.  In other words, I could have easily went over 20 miles without any worry of dropping below 100 MPG.  Gotta like that.

10-16-2012

Bailout & Gas.  The presidential debate brought up favorite topics of mine.  Gas prices and the bailouts got a surprising amount of attention.  I enjoyed seeing of how one particular candidate stated his goal was to have us become energy independent but then in the same breath mentioned approving an oil pipeline from Canada.  Since when are those provinces to our north part of the United States?  He also mislead about the price of gas, claiming it was only $1.87 when the president first took office.  Leaving out important details is how the "being vague" aspect of greenwashing works.  Failing to mention that was when the economy collapsed and that gas was $4 before that is one heck of a detail to omit.  People fall for that type of misleading though.  It's really unfortunate.  The same is true with the bailout.  They exclude to give a false impression.  True, the initial loans were paid back, but our government still owns 500 million shares and their market value has already resulted in a loss of about $9 each.  There's spin about drilling permits too.  It's all so frustrating to know reality doesn't match what's being claimed.  Anywho, it's at least reassuring those topics are getting attention.  In the past, we were actually encouraged to guzzle... because it was "good for the economy".  Aren't politics fun?

10-16-2012

5 Seconds.  Today was forecast to be the warmest day we'll see here in Minnesota for a long time.  That equated to 57°F on the morning commute.  I toggled the HV/EV button to start the engine.  It shut off at the 9.5-mile mark.  Coolant temperature got up to 168°F.  The remainder of the trip wasn't the usual all EV though.  Unlike my other days of data collection, switching from the 55 mph road to 50 mph included a hard acceleration.  The engine ran for roughly 5 seconds.  That caused coolant to rise from 136 to 139°F.  The remainder of the 16.7-mile route was with just electricity.  There was 0.5 miles of EV left upon parking.  The average was 198 MPG.  Coolant had dropped to 121°F.  My curiosity about Winter is definitely rising.

10-15-2012

Another Sunset.  This time, I was driving by a lake.  I could see the sunset beginning to emerge, but was quite uncertain about where I'd actually be able to park.  I wanted to someone see the lake through the line of trees, to show the reflection of pink on it rather than clouds only.  This time, I only had about 2 minutes to decide what photos to take.  It was quite fortunate I just happened to be in the area at the time.  That opportunity could have easily been miss.  Thankfully, I didn't.  Settings for the new camera were now familiar too.  I was well prepared this time.  Hopefully, you can tell... photo album 178

10-15-2012

Persona Special Edition.  Toyota announced a new package for the liftback Prius today.  It's between 3 & 4 with some distinct changes to make it visually distinct.  The most obvious uniqueness will be a color choice of Black Cherry Pearl.  On the exterior, there will also be 17-inch alloy wheels.  On the interior, there will be charcoal colored SofTex material with black accents and red stitching along with a few other differences to make it stand out.  At $27,130 for the MSRP, you can envision those wanting a Prius that has a little bit of character of its own seeking out this particular package.  It's good to see the variety expanding.

10-15-2012

Data Collecting.  I enjoy it.  With the seasons changing, you really don't know for certain what will happen.  My collecting of data is becoming a source of intrigue, since I know how cold it will get in 2 months.  Then 3 months from now, it will be the dead of Winter here in Minnesota.  That sure will be interesting with a plug-in Prius.  The regular model certainly brings a new experience to those unfamiliar with the importance of keeping warm and still being efficient... especially when it comes to warm-up on short-trips.  But since my morning commute is farther than battery-capacity and warmth for the heater comes from the engine, my interest is specifically on heat retention.  Today, as usual, I fired up the engine prior to climbing up the ramp onto the 70 mph highway.  It was 45°F outside.  Traffic was flowing just under the speed limit.  There was no need for the heater.  At the 9-mark, traffic slowed and the engine shut off... automatically swapping the system to EV mode from EV-BOOST.  The coolant temperature was 168°F.  To my delight, it was another one of those commutes where the engine never restarted.  In fact, I finished the 16.7-mile drive this time with 0.1 miles remaining.  The result was a pleasing 192 MPG.  Coolant had cooled to 100°F.  Now, I'm more curious than ever what the results will be after blocking the lower-grille entirely.

10-14-2012

Most Worrisome.  There are two topics which continually stir passionate response.  When a discussion about Volt had been brought up in the past, the topic had been price.  But since that is now overwhelmingly obvious, not much time is spent on it anymore.  So, the question has become what makes a supporter worry the most now.  It would appear to be the one-size-fits-all problem.  Lack of diversity is a violation of basic business practice.  You don't put all your eggs in one basket.  Supporters were hoping there's enough time to delay that particular issue.  Now, it has become difficult to conceal it as a shortcoming.  The technology needs to be spread to offer choice.  We get confirmation of that too.  Threads often bring it up.  A recent twist has changed that though.  Ford's ability to deliver two hybrids offering 47 MPG makes the 37 from Volt stand out, especially when hearing reports of how often plug-in Prius owners get 50 MPG.  Turns out, that stirs some intense reaction.  Facts put the pressure on too, making them really worry.  It's too bad they didn't want to acknowledge the concern 2.5 years ago, when that Freedom-Drive publicity stunt highlighted that as important to address.  Some still don't.  Instead, we got yet another one of those gross generalizations about driving patterns... which is very hard to believe at this point.  Oh well.  I was happy to contribute my real-world data:  That statement of "The plug-in Prius delivers a solid 50 MPG after depletion." is very easy to confirm.  This weekend provided the perfect example of deviation from any pattern.  It's something quite normal which throws travel estimates into disarray.  That's what real-world is all about.  In this case, we had a family get together to celebrate a birthday.   I didn't have an opportunity to recharge.  All driving today was powered entirely with the gas engine, 85 miles total.  The result was an average of 55 MPG.

 

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