Prius Personal Log  #605

January 22, 2013  -  January 28, 2013

Last Updated: Thurs. 2/07/2013

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1-28-2013

EV-BOOST when in HV.  Most people have no idea there's still quite a bit of electricity left even upon reaching the depletion point when the engine starts.  They just assume there's nothing left but ordinary HV mode driving.  The fact that a minute worth of EV-BOOST still remaining to provide a smooth, low strain warm-up of the engine is often not known.  Heck, even some owners don't notice it.  That's one of those things you really only observe when using an aftermarket gauge.  Anywho, I joined a discussion pointing out today's observation of that with this:  Something is needed to identify the behavior.  I was quite delighted witnessing it firsthand today too.  It's warm now here (just above freezing).  I drove 13 minutes in EV prior to depleting the battery, including a climb out of the river valley at 57 mph.   Just as I reached the 70 mph section of highway, the engine fired up.  I watched the SOC drop all the way down to 2 bars (specifically 18.4%).  The result was the first minute of warm-up yielding 70 MPG, something clearly not possible without taking advantage of electric more than HV would offer.  Just think if there was something in the car to document that behavior, an illustration showing owners detail about exactly what happened during that warm-up.  It's a design feature some may ever even notice otherwise.  Heck, I remember certain individuals claiming that wouldn't even be possible, that the engine would start cold and have to fend for itself.  Fortunately, the boost during ordinary cruising on the highway is already easy to see.  The instant & summary bars show MPG well above what you'd get in HV mode.  Of course, that data is lost right away.  Being able to download/send/share it afterward sure would be nice.

1-28-2013

PHV Surprises.  I especially liked reading this: "I think one unexpected surprise for me was to learn that even in HV, mileage is improved by the larger battery capacity."  It's exciting when a new owner discovers more than they had anticipated.  He had several other enlightening things to comment about as well.  I saw it as a great opportunity to ask about ways to identify that behavior, since most people assume PHV either drives in EV or HV mode.  They don't realize there's a mode in between, despite the fact that the term "blending" is use so frequently.  In simply never crosses their mind that they'd see MPG in excess of 100 while the engine is running.  The fact that the motor has so much electricity available to assist the engine isn't something ever mentioned.  So, I've been helping to promote a term for that, asking about it with:  Sadly, there have been certain individuals trying to portray operation of the plug-in Prius as having no advantage once that engine begins to run.  If you had encountered that greenwashing, it didn't seem to deter your purchase.  Sweet!  You clearly have discovered that's that what actually happens too.  That proclamation of it being amazing, even in subzero temperatures, speaks volumes.  Anywho, we've been trying to spread the word about there being a plug-in benefit even with the engine running by using the term: "EV-BOOST".  Do you think that is an informative way of describing it?

1-28-2013

Halo Delay.  Since we are now in the double-standard/hypocritical/contradiction stage of rollout with Volt, the previous reasoning approach is basically pointless.  Enthusiasts arguments of the past now work against them.  That means taking another approach instead... though we can still introduce it by pointing out the irony of the situation.  It was done by reciting concerns "dead weight" issues.  I thought that was a great way of moving beyond old rhetoric.  You recognize, then try something different:  Prius supporters continuously heard "dead weight" arguments.  It went on for years and years, despite the fact that there wasn't actually any long duration when either the battery or engine remained unused.  Now when that is actually true for Volt, nada, zip, nothing.  It's wrong on so many levels, how can we expect to get constructive feedback?  The next step is going to be a challenge.  What will the current owners think of a scaled back design, one that uses a blend of battery & engine?  Approach will have to change to draw in mainstream sales.  There is the possibility of GM choosing to support both a "dead weight" approach and one that strives for a balance.  But without a non-plug model to supplement production volume, it's an expensive business risk.  Maybe their reports will help with that transition.  After all, details of the past are often forgotten or not even known anyway.  Even though it takes much longer, the halo delay really could be the key.  Arguing design shortcomings doesn't accomplish anything and they know quite well that cost-reduction won't be solved by technology breakthrus alone.

1-28-2013

Fiesta.  Oh my gosh.  Believe it or not, the small cars with the 3-cylinder engines are about to make a comeback.  Their return may not be with open arms though.  Decades ago, there wasn't a technology solution called hybrids available.  Now there is.  That makes the reveal of a 1-liter Fiesta by Ford a head-scratcher.  What will it cost an who will be interested?  Supposedly, the direct-inject gas engine with turbo-charging will offer 40 MPG city and 50 MPG highway.  Of course, nothing was mentioned about emission rating.  It will offer 126 horsepower and 148 lb-ft torque, so it will be competitive in one regard.  But special measures will need to be taken to deal with the extra noise & vibration caused by a 3-cylinder engine.  This is definitely an unusual situation in a market now trying to introduce plug-in vehicles to the masses.

1-27-2013

Not Size.  I liked reading this comment: "Hybrids are less still than 3% of the market and compete in segments with near 60% of the market.  There's a reason for that small size and it's not the price."  As the price of gas continues to put pressure on our society and people simply grow familiar with the plug-in hybrids (remember the "don't by the first year" mindset), the acceptance will become easier & easier.  It's a bell-curve too.  Momentum picks up after the slow initial progress.  The catch is reminding yourself that 3% is actually around 1/3 of a million vehicles.  In other words, this is yet another example of misleading by using a percent rather than stating the actual number.  I rebutted with:  How effective of an argument against hybrids do you think that will be going forward?  It's rapidly becoming weak as the Prius family grows.  Seeing so many on the road is far more of an endorsement to accept than a statistical percent.  Ownership sends a powerful message.  We've witnessed a clear change in priorities recently... the importance of efficiency.  The emergence of plug-in hybrids pushes regular hybrids deeper into the mainstream than any monetary incentive could.  It sends a very clear message that hybrids are indeed the next step in automotive evolution, not a niche as the greenwashing had persistently claimed.  The perception of the market expanding strong, making it very difficult now to argue against.

1-27-2013

Efficiency Pressure.  As the cost of hybrids drops and the need to use less oil increases, the pressure for delivering higher efficiency results in comments like this: "As if by magic a Jetta Hybrid appears!"  That begged a response.  It's the kind of situation which contributes to greenwashing, staring as an uninformed mention then growing into a belief.  Responses are sometimes misinterpreted as being confrontational.  So, it's best to know the person prior to jumping in with background information.  In this case, it was fine.  We exchange constructive posts routinely.  I replied with:  That's like congratulating someone who worked hard for a decade to become an overnight success.  Diesel (engine only) was doomed from the day hybrids rolled out.  It was far too dirty and simply could not compete with ever-improving battery technology.  It was destined to become a filler option as the transition away from traditional gas vehicles progressed, then be replaced by a hybrid of some sort.  With automakers like Toyota, Ford, and Honda all striving to deliver a plug-in hybrid with an affordably-sized battery along with a no-plug counterpart, there wasn't any magic.  It was inevitable that VW joined in, starting with a gas hybrid.  Diesel (engine only) quite simply cannot compete with the +75 MPG some of us are now experiencing, especially with a PZEV emission rating.

1-26-2013

Smog.  Photos of the rapidly growing problem of smog in China are capturing headlines today.  It was so bad, some industry & service had to be shutdown.  The air was like a thick fog, making traffic extremely dangerous.  Seeing that is truly frightening.  Rather than learning from mistakes we made degrades ago and have been struggling undo ever since, they focused on economic growth instead.  Now the consequences of that choice are becoming overwhelmingly obvious.  Could you imagine air so toxic it's difficult to see?  What a nightmare.  Too bad some people here just plain don't care.  In fact, some think the same thing believing emissions should be sacrificed for the sake of not having to invest in new cleaner technologies.  It's that "good enough" attitude that's really presents challenges.  What do you do what someone just plain doesn't care.  Nothing you say will convince them, but you certainly don't want to wait until the situation gets so bad it becomes extremely expense to repair.  The best choice has always been to lead by example... which is precisely what Prius owners have been doing.  Nice.

1-26-2013

Vaporware Repeat.  It's hard to believe 6 years have passed.  We went from a collection of unrealistic hopes to an idea struggling to survive.  Using the label of "vaporware" early on was very offensive, the enthusiasts did not take kindly to it.  Yet, they continued on with the something-to-prove stance rather than constructively adjusting expectations as market & design realities were uncovered.  Unfortunately, that seems to be happening again.  I'm seeing ideals emerge, claimed as necessary rather than being identified as reasonable high-end choices.  That's a warning sign.  Focus should be on what's most realistic for the masses, especially since the design expecting to deliver them is second generation.  Why do they do that?  It's one thing to strive for a goal.  This setting of expectations beyond the reach of business & consumers is troubling… especially when it repeats!

1-24-2013

No Heater.  I grew quite curious, then finally asked myself the ultimate question.  What if I didn't turn on the heater at all?  What if I just cracked the windows for defrosting instead?  Between the heated seat and the proper winter attire, I'd be reasonably comfortable anyway.  After all, a traditional vehicle wouldn't be able to provide heat from its engine in only a few minutes.  With it too, you'd be relying on the same methods of keeping warm.  Anywho, it was -2°F outside, providing a great opportunity to observe that extreme.  Prius shined.  I got 9 miles of EV out of the battery-pack, which included electricity from the camera setup prior to the 17.2 mile drive and providing electricity for my seat.  The end result was an amazing 117 MPG.  Let's hope the video footage actually came out.  It's challenging enough when the temperature outside is warm and I did have a recent failure.  With it significantly colder than freezing, problems happen.  Regardless, I did get photos.

1-23-2013

Worth It?  An antagonist of the past reappeared.  He was one who pushed the perspective that Volt's engine was there only for emergency backup, claiming virtually all but vacation travel would be done exclusively with electricity.  Claiming such an extreme view, which has since proven to be false, caused him to stop posting.  His return is now with a different perspective.  Turns out, using fuel with a combustion engine is ok.  The catch is the fuel should be clean & renewable.  Naturally, that's what I had been saying all along.  But why bother stirring up that?  It's not worth it.  Pointing out the agreement wouldn't accomplish anything.  So, I'll just document his new attitude instead: "Why are so many people pre-determined to get rid of the combustion engine?  Is there some religious belief I’m unaware of?  An EREV combustion engine range extender running on bio-fuel would give us a 100% sustainable, carbon neutral solution, all using our existing infrastructure of home electricity and liquid fuel filling stations.  What’s not to like?"  That type of turn-around never ceases to amaze me.  When someone finds out their stance didn't payoff, what do you think they'd do... after a prolonged battle to save some pride, of course?  I like the outcome, even without interjecting any type of "I told you so" comment despite all the frustration he caused in the past.  You just quietly note that they finally heard what was being said.  Phew!  What a relief... and quite worth it, from the end-state vantage point.

1-23-2013

Imaginary Interest.  What happens when a halo vehicle no longer gets attention?  We are watching that play out now.  My participation on the big GM forum was perceived as stoking the fire, the enthusiast proof of naysayers.  In reality, it appears they now recognize I was only stirring the ashes looking for embers.  Volt simply isn't discussed anymore.  Even ELR only gets barely a peep, just days after the reveal.  It's astounding to observe.  There's nothing.  Silence.  They looked forward to the participation, having no idea the interest was really only imaginary.  But with everyone else already gone, that should have been easy to see.  After all, it's not rocket science.  We all recognize who posts.  If no one else ever joins each new attempt at discussion, something is wrong.  And with the thread content itself not constructive, confirmation of trouble is abundant.  Sales results next week certainly will be interesting.  The rush for 2012 tax-credit eligibility has passed.  Details about Ford's plug-ins are available.  And the initial rollout of Honda's plug-in has begun.

1-22-2013

More Video.  Yesterday's effort failed.  One camera locked up, preventing the final segment's file from being saved.  That loss of footage meant frustration, but only a bit of patience.  Being so darn cold here, waiting until the next day is no big deal.  This morning's temperature was -2°F.  Filming setup went better, so well I decided to try something different rather than try to refilm.  I wondered how much EV travel was possible when no heater was required.  No owner has ever tried that particular experiment before in conditions so cold.  I'd put the heater on high and crack the windows open for ventilation.  I'd drive with gloves off too, a good indication of how tolerable the interior could remain in temperatures that low.  Wearing only my usual work clothes and my regular coat, my voyage starting from my non-heated but insolated garage had an unknown outcome.  I couldn't even guess what would happen.  The hope was electric-only travel until depletion.  Lithium batteries work much better in Summer.  I was curious.  Turns out, the effort was worth it.  Taking the back way (max speed of 55 mph), I pressed the pedal down really hard to start up the engine with only 0.1 miles of EV remaining.  Traveling at 55 mph and quickly approaching a hill, I wanted to have extra electricity to buffer the very cold engine warm-up.  I had already traveled 8.9 miles using only EV.  That was totally worth it.  Though, it did make me curious how much electricity the heated seat actually consumed.  When I arrived at work, total distance was 17.2 miles.  The final overall efficiency was 117 MPG.  That's amazing.

 

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