Prius Personal Log  #613

March 18, 2013  -  March 22, 2013

Last Updated: Weds. 4/03/2013

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3-22-2013

Spring Arrived.  Yeah!  One of the undeniable signs of Spring having arrived is MPG increasing.  That's easy to see with a regular Prius, but difficult with the plug-in model due to the normal variance being much larger.  There is something else related to the plug though.  It's the EV estimate.  That range increases as the temperature increases.  It doesn't have to be outside high temperatures climbing much either.  In fact, it's been colder in that respect lately.  It's the thermal warming causes by the growing intensity of the sun.  Interior temperature is a pleasant warm now after sitting out in the bright afternoon catching rays.  That's quite a noticeable recent change.  The extra warmth reduces electrical resistance in the battery, which is what MPG ends up lower when there's still snow on the ground.  Li-Ion doesn't work as well when it's below freezing.  The cabin temperature of the Prius is well above that now.  As a result, I'm seeing that estimate climb.  Today, it made it to 11.3 miles.  That had been just a long ago memory.  In the early Winter, seeing 10's became the norm.  Now, 11's are what I'll get for awhile.  Eventually, 12's will return.  The actual EV distance will exceed that from time to time.  But the miles estimated doesn't fluctuate as much.  Anywho, long story short, I have officially sad goodbye to values starting with a 10.  Yeah!

3-21-2013

Cold Pass.  I got stuck behind someone who actually fit the land-yacht stereotype.  It was a beautiful end-of-winter day out, so I totally understood the draw.  The driver was a man who appeared to have been retired for a number of years and had one of those old-school very, very long cars.  He was clearly enjoying the drive.  But when doing that, pull over if traffic builds up behind you.  Doing only 28 mph in a 40 isn't exactly contributing to a smooth flow.  Anywho, when we got to the small city along that country drive, he increased speed to 30.  What the heck!  Through town, where he could have easily let me pass by pulling over for a moment, he was now going faster than before.  Geez!  Following that, it got worse.  The speed limit changed to 50 mph, but the fastest he got up to was 35.  It was a test of my patience... and a golden opportunity.  That entire drive was in EV.  I had a very, very cold engine.  What would happen if I dropped the pedal?  That should result in a sudden surge of electricity to allow the engine to gracefully start with the motor holding combustion at 1500 RPM for the cleanest possible warm-up.  Merging onto the highway, that's what I routinely see on the ramp.  There's no need to drop the pedal then, medium is enough.  In this situation, I was about to request maximum, but only would briefly.  So, I did.  It was finally time to pass him.  That burst shot me from 35 to 57 mph.  And sure enough, the engine did indeed hold at the warm-up level.  It was surprisingly smooth as a result.  That made me enjoy the overall experience too, a nice drive for the both of us.

3-20-2013

Ignoring Prius.  We don't often here anything from the big Ford forum.  Today, that silence was broken with this: "Like the Roman Senate upon Julius Caesar, the Ford Focus toppled the 10th generation Toyota Corolla in global sales in 2012 with 1,036,683 compared to less than 971,601 units."  That was a declaration of victory, finally taking away the leadership position Corolla has held for ages.  But like many situations, the story changes when you have all the facts.  The reality that the c model of Prius took sales directly away from Corolla was never mentioned.  Nothing in the article nor any comments ever considered that.  Toyota's goal to replace traditional vehicles with hybrids was conveniently absent.  Excluding such vital information like that is greenwashing.  They don't care though.  There's no place for facts when you seek bragging rights.  All they want is a number that's better than the opponent, regardless of what it actually represents.  Limited the scope of competition is what they thrive on.  That's nothing new.  We've seen that with plug-in vehicles too.  Enthusiasts don't want to consider the market as a whole, just their own particular view.  Ugh.

3-20-2013

What a Relief.  Knowing the "third year" effect would play out in an abrupt fashion was difficult to prepare for.  When sales are bad 2 years in a row and the competition is rolling out lots of alternatives, it's pretty obvious to expect rather intense fallout.  On the big GM forum, they don't even discuss Volt anymore.  The explosive exchange of messages ended in December.  They gave up, betting the farm on ELR coming to the rescue.  It was suppose to be a mid-cycle upgrade, often referred to as the "1.5" generation.  That didn't happen.  In fact, it was such a big disappointment, almost nothing was posted about it.  With some much built up and an instant death, there was nothing to support Volt anymore.  That's a major reason why Toyota is simply focusing on existing markets for the plug-in Prius.  The PHV model will establish itself in pockets around the country.  In the meantime, the thought is that Toyota will be able to reduce cost some.  It may not be reflected at all from a price perspective when national rollout finally takes place, but that would definitely sweeten the appeal for dealers.  It would give them the incentive to keep more in stock.  Salespeople would make more commission from each sale.  That's important for a vehicle intended to appeal to the mainstream, especially without a dependency on tax-credits... quite unlike the situation Volt faces.  All I can say now is, what a relief.  The disaster GM created for itself does not seem to be having a negative effect on the efforts of Toyota.  For that matter, it looks like Ford won't be harmed either.  Phew!

3-20-2013

So Familiar.  Nothing constructive came out of those blog postings.  It turned into an opportunity to attack & insult Prius and proclaim superiority for Volt.  Watching that deterioration of attitude was spectacular.  It was like witnessing a disaster.  You cannot believe the situation could get so bad so quickly.  The outcome was so familiar, I was beside myself.  To watch someone who had in the past tried to be fair & balanced turn to misrepresentation like that, you can't believe it.  Greenwashing on that level goes beyond dishonesty.  He just plain didn't care anymore.  It's the very same thing we've seen elsewhere.  Enthusiasts are not it any way interested in the well being of the masses.  Having a vehicle available for middle-market is meaningless.  They can afford more and are happy to pay for it.  Even the idea of cost-reduction sickens them.  You can tell how deep their dislike for business goes.  Any attempt to bring up the topic of high-volume production or making profit makes them cringe.  Volt is the vehicle they and GM wanted, not what was needed.  It must stand out as special.  Becoming a common, everyday vehicle for ordinary daily transportation without anything making it unique would sour the appeal.  Volt must not under any circumstances transform to a run of the mill product... the very thing Prius is now.  They see the compact, hatchback, and wagon models of Prius everywhere.  They know that success was achieved through careful attention to cost... something GM clearly did not do with Volt.  The tradeoff is not a conciliation they are willing to accept, hence the responses growing hostile.  They know that inevitability can only be fought for so long... and are irrationally lashing out as a result, exactly what we've seen before in other venues.  Resistance is futile.

3-19-2013

Dishonesty.  That's the ultimate source of finality.  The cries of superiority coming from the Volt daily blog were truly amazing today.  I called someone out on the claim that the best Toyota could do was deliver 6 miles of EV.  The response was a long post that went on and on about the regular model Prius.  It wasn't even relevant.  There of course was attacking of the messenger, nothing's complete without that.  But the best was basing their conclusion on a single owner's comments and some random observations from undisclosed sources.  The original claim was avoided entirely.  There was nothing to support it, nor was any acknowledgement given to the fact that the very same topic was recently brought up and another member confirmed that was not correct.  He just plain didn't care.  It's the same thing on this particular venue as there was on the big GM forum late last year.  It's was started the whole hope nonsense in the first place years ago.  The only way Volt could be made to look good was to misrepresent Prius.  Things went downhill from there.  That's beginning to happen again.  I'm intrigued by how it will play out, especially since there isn't much of a need to participate there anymore.  The audience is so limited and so bias, what difference would it make?  With so much real-world data available now too, readers can confirm on their own that the information in the posts isn't honest.

3-19-2013

No Long Frustrated.  That owner ended up going to the dealer and had his computer reset.  All it actually does is just revert the EV estimate value back to the default of 13.4 miles.  His response to that was posting this: "I'll let everyone know if it starts to deteriorate again."  Sadly, that's a naive statement with total disregard for the information we had provided.  Some people just plain don't want to face facts; they just want their original assumption to be proven correct.  In disbelief to his attitude, quite curious what his next post will say, I responded with:  There's a 100% chance of that.  The estimate is a dynamic value, always adjusting based on your recent driving.  My first long-distance driving trip, the value plummeted since I couldn't plug in while on the road.  When winter changed to spring, I watched the estimate go up.  From spring to summer, it went up even more.  In my fall, it dropped. In the winter, it dropped even further.  Now that it's warming up again, the value is going back up.  That's what the estimate is supposed to do.  It reflects the conditions.  What good would it be if it never changed?

3-18-2013

Expecting Miracles.  The cycle has begun.  Observing hope emerge from rumor is disturbing.  It feeds itself, setting people up to expect a miracle without anything to actually support it.  The belief is that somehow the engineers will deliver... despite evidence showing that's an unreasonable assumption.  Volt's past had that unfortunate history.  Enthusiasts got excited about a concept and talked about it so often, the "group think" convinced them it could be true.  That turned into a disaster.  So many of the original goals fell short, discussing purpose resulted in hostile responses.  It's happening again.  They are repeating the very same hopeful assumptions.  This example in particular caught my eye: "If the Gen II Volt can step up to 45+ miles of EV range and 45+ MPG in charge-sustaining mode, while cutting the price at the same time, that would be a game changer."  It seems cautiously optimistic... until you think about the detail.  Even if battery costs come down dramatically, there's no way to offset the entire tax-credit difference and increase range... which would only retain the current price.  To get it even lower and also deliver an improved engine in just a few years would require divine intervention.  That simply is not realistic.  Then of course, you encounter this: "Volt 50/50 – 50 miles all electric – then 50 more per gallon of gas!"  It's that same senseless cheerleading of the past.  That's how the over-promise situation gets out of hand.  They clearly haven't learned from the past.  Ugh.  There's only so much that can be accomplished in such a short amount of time.

3-18-2013

Frustrated, part 4.  The activity on that thread quickly died down.  I got a few likes, then people moved on.  Only so many people can cry wolf before responses become refined and attention wanes.  My conclusion was to simply provide detail from my commute this morning.  The solution is often to just present real-world data.  The original poster rarely follows up with their own.  And if they don't bother, most everyone else won't either.  Lack of detail usually indicates the person hadn't considered or wasn't aware of all the factors involved.  Simply raising awareness does the trick.  Their complaint ends up being satisfied without us ever finding out what the true situation actually was.  That leaves you hanging, but at least they end up being able to draw a conclusion.  Here's that data from me...  17.3 mile commute today.  55 mph maximum 36 minutes driving.  32°F outside.  Cabin-Heater set at 68°F.  Heated-Seats off.  Headlights & Foglights on.  Driving through fresh snow.  10.7 miles was the EV estimate upon leaving the driveway (video-camera setup consumed 0.2 mile).  Drive-Ratio reported: 9 EV and 7 HV.  End result: 127 MPG.

3-18-2013

Frustrated, part 3.  The discussions continue:  Expectations depend heavily upon audience.  That's why the "Who?" question has been asked over and over again and continues to be.  Prius PHV is a plug-in hybrid. Toyota aimed squarely at middle-market and you can clearly see what they are working to deliver. It's intended to become a high-volume business-sustaining vehicle for mainstream competition in the near future.  That's certainly not same as an EV.  True, you do get the electric-only driving experience from Prius, but that's not the purpose.  Engine running is a normal part of operation.  It will use some gas.  The point is, that combustion will be cleaner and the efficiency will be better.  All we can do is continue to share our own experiences.  No matter what information EPA or automakers or dealers provide, it's not going to convey anything more than a generalized measure.  Owners are the only ones that can exchange detail to make help those making the purchase decision.  They can relate, making sure "Who?" really understands how the vehicle will function.

3-18-2013

Frustrated, part 2.  It's frustrating for all involved.  As active forum participants, the repetition of the same complaint is frustrating... despite the fact that most new owners end up pleased with the responses.  It's having to jump through the same hoops every single time and the new owner not having taken the time to do some searches first.  Oh well, my first post was immediately proceeding with this:  Thanks for unknowingly allowing me to climb up on the soapbox.  I hope we can help you out.  Welcome.  Specifically for me, I've watched my EV value go down.  Now, I'm watching it go up again.  In my circumstances, it's the result of seasonal change.  Temperature fluctuation is a major influence for me, up here in Minnesota.  Long distance travel without the opportunity to plug-in is another factor that will drop the value.  In the case of a battery-pack delivering roughly 2.7 kWh of usable electricity, it doesn't take much to qualify as "long".  Notice that you didn't tell us how many miles your daily drive is either.  Hopefully, you'll get past the frustration and begin to see how well thought out the design actually is.  There's much to appreciate after discovering how many factors were taken into consideration.  Simple things like the ECO button's benefit when it comes to heating & cooling easily get overlooked.  Give us more info and we'll do the best to try to help.

3-18-2013

Frustrated, part 1.  We've been seeing the same thing over and over again.  So, I climbed up on the soapbox... Setting of expectations is incredibly difficult for any type of plug-in vehicle.  With a pure EV, some owners find out and accept the reality that the range displayed is only an estimate and only delivers that value under certain circumstances.  It's a source of frustration, but they learn about the factors involved and adapt.  In time, many enjoy their vehicle again... but certainly didn't anticipate there would be such complexities.  The thought had never crossed their mind prior to purchase.  When a gas engine is introduced to the situation, matters become even more confusing and far more incorrect assumptions are made, especially with Prius.  Notice the pattern that has emerged?  Virtually even complaint about dropping EV estimates share the same thing in common... no mention of MPG. Prius PHV is a plug-in hybrid.  It's not an EV.  The purpose is to deliver a significant MPG boost, not electric-only driving.  Owners become transfixed on the EV range estimate.  Some have driving routes that bring it way down.  Others simply drive in an inefficient manner, believing more EV is better.  The forget about the purpose of the design.  They figure using the engine as infrequently as possible is best.  They end up seeking out help online.  Some of those owners are receptive to the information provided.  Some just aren't interested and really only want to vent. Unfortunately in this case, the owner stating "Either Toyota is mis-representing the product, or there is something very wrong with my vehicle" doesn't give us much opportunity to respond.  It gives the impression that it's already too late to provide feedback.  Will the owner be receptive to switching focus to the purpose of increased efficiency?  Considering how many times the EV range was mentioned and the total absence of MPG data, the feeling is, no.

 

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