Prius Personal Log  #604

January 17, 2013  -  January 21, 2013

Last Updated: Thurs. 2/07/2013

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1-21-2013

Another Video.  -6°F this morning, nearly identical to yesterday's commute.  So, I took the other route, filming that too.  Having a slower speed limited, so I was intrigued what the outcome would be.  Unfortunately, the dashmat got in the way, interfering with the window clearing.  Condensation became a problem.  The extreme cold caused a camera's suction-cup to repeatedly fail too.  That made for a fun driving experience.  The end result was rather predicable, despite the unexpecteds.  The Prius handled the conditions well.  It's odd hearing the high-rev for heat though.  The engine would run at about 1964 RPM.  In the end, that got that longer & slower route down along the river was more efficient, as usual.  The MPG was 63 today rather than the 62 yesterday.  There was a 1/3 more battery-capacity remaining too.  Hopefully, today's video captures actually worked.  Stay tuned.

1-21-2013

New Video.  I was able to film this morning's commute.  I sure hope the footage looks good.  62 MPG for the trip, with 1.7 miles of EV left.  That's quite remarkable considering the outside temperature was -6°F.  It's always a complicated setup anyway.  The cold makes it worse.  Things like a smudge on the glass are difficult to notice when you are trying to be brief and avoid causing condensation from your breath.  The vents near the base of the windshield cannot be blocked either.  That shift of the dashmat alters the lighting for both cameras, forcing you to guess what's needed.  There's no opportunity to calibrate either, since a cold engine and the fullest battery possible are required.  Needless to say, it becomes quite an effort to coordinate it all.  Failures happen too.  I know I'll end up having to abandon a video due to an equipment issue.  That's reality.  But I persist.  Most of the footage turns out.  Then you end up spending a ton of time with the rendering effort.  It's a labor of love though.  That level of detail is extremely informative.  It's squashes misconceptions and puts and end to greenwashing, as well as entices the curious to want to learn more.

1-20-2013

Remembering.  What should we remember?  I obviously don't care about the personal attacks, where antagonists (having no interest in being constructive, wanting only to stir trouble) would focus exclusively on you to avoid having to acknowledge the big picture.  I don't care about enthusiast lies either, since having real-world data available now easily prevents that greenwashing from re-emerging.  They were just defending what remained of a poorly conceived plan.  Having witnessed both Two-Mode and Volt fall well short of their own goals, you really don't want that to ever happen again.  Will it?  Could they really blindly hope for a miracle a third time?  I'd prefer to start fresh.  It looks as though we can too.  But there is an inherent fear of repeating mistakes by not addressing what had already been tried in the past.  It was truly amazing how bad the hype & rhetoric got.  What comes to mind the most is how much stigma dominated discussions.  The label of "failure" heavily influenced responses.  Perhaps that's an important lesson to be learned, to remember how much emotion clouds logic.

1-19-2013

Compromise.  Anytime there was mention of a smaller battery-pack for Volt, it was always contrived to be an attempt to endorse Prius.  Every approach possible met with the same results.  The enthusiasts found Prius a threat and would not accept anything resembling its design under any circumstance.  (Watch for absolutes.)  That large capacity was the key to survival.  It's what defined Volt as different from the other other plug-in hybrids... even though it was just an arbitrary measure.  That's why aftermarket upgrades were quickly dismissed.  They exposed shortcomings... like MPG no better than a traditional vehicle after depletion.  With Prius, it remains just as efficient as a regular Prius after all the plug-supplied electricity is gone.  That the key to success.  Prius PHV can reach a massive market as a result.  With Volt, the primary selling feature has been the battery size... since reducing capacity also reduces the horsepower & torque available.  But with Toyota, Ford, and Honda all seeking out middle-market, something needed to be done for Volt.  It's why I over and over and over and over and over again suggested a second model.  That way, the original would require compromise.  The other could be consider a "lite" version.  Guess what.  That's precisely what those same enthusiasts who attacked me for that very suggestion are now endorsing.  I was told by a pastor many years ago to note how often the word "hypocrite" was mentioned in the Bible.  Those written words tell us much about life now.  To think, the Volt enthusiasts are now in favor of what they fought so hard against before.  Oh well, accepting this outcome despite all the grief which could have easily been avoided is form of compromise.  It's what we need.

1-19-2013

Defeat.  The only message I can find that still remains is this: "The PIP was a hack job of an effort to respond to GM."  That's the point Volt enthusiasts want to convey about Toyota.  It makes them feel better believing the design didn't exist way back in 2003, that Prius wasn't planned to deliver up to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) all those years ago and only had to wait until a realistic battery became available.  The owners from back then knew about the testing taking place with parallel NiMH packs.  That worked, but it was expensive and the capacity was way too small.  Delivering a system without compromise to price or interior room have always been major priorities.  A top priority was to deliver high MPG using only engine-supplied power at high speeds.  All of that is what we now find in PIP (the plug-in Prius).  Reasonably affordable batteries using Li-Ion is what changed the situation.  They want to portray that accomplishment as defeat.  They hope that one bit of history won't be uncovered.  Remember how much of an influence image (the trophy mentality) has on them, how big of a deal stigma is?  They're hoping people who read that claim feel the same way, that they'll believe Toyota was desperate instead.  That doesn't make any sense when you think about it, since there's no mention of Ford.  Declaring victory by professing defeat is what makes them feel better about the situation.  That's how certain individuals can move on without feeling disappointment.  Thankfully, the rest already have.

1-19-2013

Downplay.  To sum up the mess, allowing us to all move on, it's just a matter of looking at the downplay.  Prius was configured to appeal to the masses right from the very beginning.  It didn't offer power, speed, and handling in excess of what ordinary mainstream vehicles offered.  In fact, it was quite plain... but with an usually smooth & quiet ride.  Toyota went to great lengths to keep cost within check, delivering a design which could achieve profit without even requiring a generation upgrade.  They rolled out that model and did indeed accomplish that goal... despite gas being dirt cheap then and their being basically no interest in reducing dependency on oil or worry about either type of emissions (carbon & smog).  The intent & persistence was obvious.  That most definitely is not what happened with Volt, which had even higher expectations.  But none of the goals that were actually set are remembered anymore.  Those who had backed them deny there were any.  They'll even lie to protect their pride, making it pointless to argue.  Instead, they'd downplay.  New goals would be focused on instead, pretending that's what was intended all along.  2 years later, that's all the newbies know about.  They have no clue any of that previous history took place.  They simply assume (without any detail) it was a bit rough at the beginning and all is well now.  That's how history is allowed to repeat.  We've seen this pattern several times now, each ending in very unfortunate circumstances.  The only real hope is that goals are downplayed to such a degree that they actually become realistic.  Pride is very difficult emotion to overcome.  It's so powerful, it makes believers see what they want.  That's why no matter how often I mentioned examples from Ford, Honda, or even GM, all they would hear was "Prius".  Heck, when I pointed out the differences between the hybrid Camry and Prius, all they heard was "Prius".  It was truly amazing blinded they were and the resulting hurt from it.  The disenchantment caused them to seek blame.  I was an easy target.  I won't hold it against them either... as long as they learned the lesson from their own disenchantment.

1-19-2013

Acceptance.  It's a painful process.  Yesterday's concluding lash out confirmed even the enthusiasts are done with the long series of discussions, arguments, and debates about Volt shortcomings.  Looking back, the first was the direct-drive uproar.  They lost their purity hope.  Then came the non-disclosure of depleted efficiency.  GM absolutely refuse to share MPG data, despite their heavy promotion CS-Mode.  We knew something was seriously wrong.  They didn't what to admit it thought.  When the price was finally revealed, everyone knew trouble was to come.  And sure enough, shortly before rollout itself the MPG was finally revealed and was considerably lower than anticipated.  Sales results the first year made it worse.  Then came the second year, with sales at a growth rate fall below expectations and the new Prius family doing remarkably well at the same time.  That's why this comment yesterday came as no surprise: "But rippin' his crapbox to shreds was always a bit of fun."  The hate for Prius ran deep, but the target to troll was gone and it wasn't rewarding anymore.  They give up.  Proof was reading this from one of the most extreme of those who despised Prius... "GM needs cost savings to offset the inevitable elimination of the credit." ...since that was what I had been saying all along.  Hearing it from someone who focused on business results rather than engineering pride doesn't work though.  That's why the resentment for me grew so strong.  But the moment they got confirmation I was gone, the message immediately changed.  That's so hypocritical, there's nothing which needs to be said.  The point was to get them to accept that.  It looks like they have.

1-18-2013

Minnesota Morning.  Looking at my scribbles from the commute yesterday morning, I like what I see.  It was 10°F outside.  I drove the usual fast route, starting the engine a block shy of the highway by turning the heater on.  My garage is insulated but not heated.  It's plenty comfortable to drive those first few blocks in EV.  That way, I don't get stuck at a light with the engine running.  The heater was seat at 74.  I didn't use the heated seat today.  I wasn't wearing gloves either.  At the conclusion of the 70 mph section, at the 9.5 mile mark, the coolant temperature climbed to 159°F.  Upon slowly down to 55 mph, which shut off the engine, I turned the heater down to 65 to keep it off as long as possible.  At 10.8 miles, the engine started back up again.  The coolant was at 136°F, clearly higher than the usual 114°F threshold.  My theory is the outside temperature influences when too.  After 2 miles, the engine shut off again.  The coolant had reached 146°F.  With the heater still at 65, the newly generated heat only latest 0.9 mile.  That was no surprise, being that cold outside.  It was getting pretty warm inside though.  So when the shut off 0.8 mile later, I shut the heater off too.  Why let it start again.  I was already 14.5 miles into the trip and only had 2.2 remaining.  So, the rest of the drive was without any blower running and using only electricity.  I arrived at my parking spot in the ramp with 0.5 mile of EV left.  The overall average was 114 MPG.  That's amazing considering how cold it was outside and how little was done to achieve that outcome.

1-18-2013

It Was Inevitable.  I remember closure of the past.  When the enthusiast came to terms with their expectations not being met, they'd lash out at those who had predicted the outcome.  You could see it coming too.  Bait would be dropped on a fresh thread, provoking individuals that were correct all along to challenge them.  There's a basic desire to have one last fight, a glorious final battle.  Denying them that is counter-productive.  Even though you end up getting labeled as the troll, despite their dropping of bait being so obvious, you accept the invitation anyway.  It's the classic "can't see the forest" situation.  They focus on one particular tree.  That disregard for the big picture is a painful lesson to learn.  Hope clouds judgment though.  Pride makes it worse.  It played out like a textbook response.  I tried to point out the past to them, to prevent the repeat of the history.  I got scorned for my trouble.  Oh well.  The message about the need verses want got through.  No one said the process would be smooth.  Transition can be extremely difficult for some people.  Our past obsession with size & power has made that change a painful one.  They were determined to earn a trophy, rather than focus on the crowd instead.  It was doomed from the start.  It was inevitable.

1-18-2013

Just Wait For It.  Reading through the forum post, blogs, and comments, that message is being echoed from the head of GM all over the internet.  There isn't an effort anymore to reach out to the mainstream with Volt.  We're being told middle-market will get a choice from the next generation.  There's no sales prediction this year, we only get a message conveyed of slow increase.  It's not even worth posting there anymore.  Heck, they are now reciting what I had been saying all along.  They've even opened up to the idea of a model being quite a bit different, something to appeal directly to the masses.  The thought was that would happen shortly after the second year, since fallout with Two-Mode followed the same timing.  The long debates about priorities are over.  The enthusiasts claimed all I ever did was post about Prius.  But when you look back, there's lot of mention of consumers needs in general... the very thing being addressed now.  It was frustrating for me that they'd totally ignore anything I posted about Ford, denying there was ever anything said other than Toyota.  But now they know that wasn't ever the case.  It felt good for them to have someone to blame, a scapegoat to deal with their own frustration of struggling sales.  Focus has shifted away from this generation entirely.  They're saying "just wait for it" instead.  What a change.

1-17-2013

Not Dead.  The switch to damage-control for GM has been rather abrupt.  The reveal of their new plug-in hybrid, the Cadillac ELR, didn't get the reception they were hoping for.  Even many enthusiasts were disappointed.  The expectations was a technology upgrade; instead, it just ended up being cosmetic upgrades with nice creature-comforts and more horsepower.  As a result, focus shifted back to Volt... and people are asking the same question I had been for quite some time.  What should we expect for this third year of sales?  The fact that last year's was just half that of what had been projected has people wondering.  After all, attention to detail of the tax-credit has exposed the reality that there isn't actually an expiration-date for it, that the only criteria is sales.  That gives little incentive for high-volume production until cost has been significantly reduced.  For Volt, that's a major challenge to overcome still.  The quote given yesterday from GM's top executive was: "The electric car is not dead."  A comment like that is confirmation of having missed an opportunity.  We kept saying now.  They kept saying later.  We were right.  Ford is preparing to rollout their second plug-in hybrid, the Fusion.  Toyota will be expanding to rest of the country soon.  And Honda will be rolling out their first.  Now is the time, not in a few years.  Waiting for a second generation is too late.  They clearly didn't learn from lessons of the past.  The situation is quite a mess now.

 

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