Prius Personal Log  #618

April 24, 2013  -  April 30, 2013

Last Updated: Sun. 5/12/2013

    page #617         page #619         BOOK         INDEX         go to bottom 

 

4-30-2013

Restoring EV.  I followed a thread on the big Prius forum for awhile.  Some owners were saying they didn't see a recovery of EV miles resulting from their push of the HV/EV button.  That electricity from the battery-pack used to ease engine warm-up is slowly restored as you drive.  I've seen it many times now… and have recently paid closer attention to detail.  That has indeed happened for me. In fact, the entire amount is accounted for prior to exiting the highway.  That means the recharging which comes from the ramp is a bonus, making the charge-level a little higher than what I started with when the button was pushed.  My guess it the small loss some have been seeing is the result of not driving far enough at a steady cruise, especially if the A/C is being used.  It's nice having the option of choosing when to draw heavily from the battery-pack.  Getting 50 MPG on the highway makes it a no-brain saving the electricity for suburb driving later instead.

4-30-2013

Collision Avoidance.  It was one of those mornings, things could go either way.  The highway merge was with a slow-poke just leaving the ramp and not a sole on the highway itself from behind.  So as I got on the ramp, my pushing of the HV/EV button came with a thought.  How fast could I accelerate while still within that first minute, where you get a substantial amount of electricity from the battery?  That temporary state protects the engine from stress by limiting RPM.  What the heck.  I gave the system a substantial amount of pedal.  Not having floored it, my curiosity was peaked. RPM went up to 1571.  That's it.  Speed jumped to 76 mph.  Then, with the radio blasting and the front windows open, I heard an alert.  The radar had automatically (collision avoidance is always active) detected danger and warned me of the approach.  It saw the slow moving vehicle, but had no idea I was going to just shoot into the next lane.  That was cool.  The acceleration boost from the electricity was too.

4-28-2013

10-Speed, Dual-Clutch.  Offering variety through product diversity is usually an excellent decision.  In case one approach fails to catch on, you've got something else to rely upon still.  There's a catch though, cost.  In the case of VW last week, they announced their effort to offer a 10-speed, dual-clutch system for their diesel vehicles.  How does increasing complexity to that extreme make sense?  Adding more gears adds cost up front and warranty expenditures later.  Some consumers have expressed displeasure when a vehicle shifts often.  With 10 gears, there’s clearly going to be more shifting.  The expectation is the new system will deliver a 15-percent improvement in efficiency.  That would equate to their latest 33 MPG combined estimate climbing to about 38 MPG… which still doesn’t compete with a gas hybrid.  Being competitive is important too.

4-27-2013

Discontinued?  A strange new thread started yesterday.  It asked whether the slow progress of PHV rollout would cause it to be discontinued.  That was an odd question, since each new generation caused the prior to be discontinued.  Curious what was actually meant and the use of the word "solution" among the comments, I chimed in.  After all, we know there will be something with a plug offered and we know how Toyota strives to keep Prius a product for middle-market.  I posted:  No one has said it was a solution.  For that matter, there's a 100% chance of it being discontinued.  Each generation gets progressively better.  The next will offer a variety of improvements which may not necessarily resemble the prior.  Heck, think about how expensive lithium-based batteries are still.  Expecting better models with new or modified technology is quite realistic.  Consider the state of the market, the diversity of consumers, the cycle timing, and the overall goals.  What we currently have is on target.  A few years from now, we'll see advancement of the system bringing us closer.  The automotive industry is mimicking the computer industry now.  There are on-going upgrades with changed priorities and different approaches.

4-27-2013

Keeping It Simple.  The current approach of restricting inventory to the initial rollout markets is proving to be a wise choice.  Reasoning for that should be obvious.  Think about how many times we see a new thread started here by a new owner absolutely insisting something is wrong with their plug-in Prius because their EV-mile estimate value has dropped.  Those are from people who have firsthand experience driving one.  Think about the scores who are only just reading posts and stumbling across hearsay.  Imagine how busy that's been keeping service & training personnel.  Misconceptions are quite a challenge to deal with.  Keeping them from spreading makes sense.  After all, Toyota has 2 major markets to deal with... the 15 states here and the sales over in Japan.  Working toward clarity prior to expanding makes a lot of sense.  After all, the first owners are only starting to report their first-year results now.  It takes an entire annual cycle to properly represent real-world driving.  The collection of that data cannot be accelerated.  We must wait for it.  But the reward is huge.  Owner endorsements are far more influential than automaker promotion.

4-26-2013

No Arguing, part 2.  When a discussion focusing on bailout & sales emerges, you just keep on providing information:  A quick search of dealer inventory for new Volts available provides a list of 8,543.  That's a heck of a lot of unsold to worry about, especially considering there are 285 used also listed. Just think what will happen when those amazing 3-year leases begin to expire 6 months from now.  It sure would be nice to see Volt on the path to becoming a business-sustaining vehicle, providing profitable high-volume sales like GM's other popular cars... Malibu, Impala, and Cruze. Heck, even their Equinox has much greater demand, despite being a small SUV.  The situation isn't pretty and Volt owners are getting tangled in the mess.  Sure, the technology works and it's proving reliable, but cost makes it unreachable for the masses.  They just end up buying some other GM vehicle instead.  That worse part is we saw this coming, but hope clouded judgment.  Now what?

4-26-2013

No Arguing, part 1.  We're in the stating-the-facts stage.  The time to reflect has arrived:  Debt & Obligations dismissed.  Many problems self-inflicted. Little concern for the future. 200 Million shares purchased by our government, then later than wanted sold back at a loss.  300 Million shares still owned by our government, stock prices still under the purchase price.  All that makes accepting the consequences of the circumstances GM is in now difficult.  Volt was promoted as their flagship, the technology leader intended to pave the way.  2.5 years after rollout, it's barely talked about anymore. S o many goals fell short, the decision to explore other options is becoming obvious.  We hear about eAssist, diesel, and EV offerings instead. Meanwhile, the "Voltec" system continues to follow the very same path as Two-Mode.  There is no clear purpose or intent anymore.  GM's own production is competing with itself and there's a massive product gap, no high-efficiency choice that's affordable for middle-market.  What are we supposed to expect at this point?

4-26-2013

Grille Blocking.  Watching the temperature climb into the 60's today was amazing.  We haven't seen warmth that nice here in Minnesota since last Fall.  It has been quite a long Winter here.  Spring will be incredibly short as a result.  We will basically jump straight to Summer.  Anywho, the new high meant removing the grille-blocking from the Prius before the commute home.  Since all I do is use the squeeze method, just squishing form pipe-insulation between the slots, it only took a minute.  Done.  Yeah!  Doing that means there's no need for extra heat-retention anymore.  Engine warm-up will be rapid.  Of course, it's not like the blocking was a big deal.  It only took 20 minutes and cost less than $2.  The dark gray among the black didn't even make it noticeable.  The benefit was though.  With the low temperatures we get around here, that extra heat was nice.

4-26-2013

Hooray!  The commute to work this morning was wonderful. 201 MPG with 0.4 miles of EV remaining from my usual route (just under 17 miles with half at 70 mph) was a welcome improvement.  The warmer temperature outside made a huge difference.  It was an amazing 57°F outside.  That's 20 degrees warmer than it's been in months.  Hooray for spring!  I still remember exceeding 400 MPG on the way to work.  That seems so long ago, I feel sharing those experiences requires me to start the story with: "Once upon a time".  Fortunately, the snow does eventually melt away.  And even with having to deal with the cold, having a plug clearly improved upon the great MPG already provided by Prius.  It did indeed raise the bar as a realistic solution for the masses.

4-25-2013

More Spark.  Some detail of the Spark EV was released today.  It's rated at 82 MILES and 119 MPGe from the 21 kWh battery-pack.  Finding that out marked the next chapter in GM history moving away from Volt as a "game changer" vehicle.  Between this and all the attention Cruze Diesel got last week, the once heavily hyped plug-in hybrid has almost totally vanished from online discussions.  That competition-from-within reality has become all too real.  It's the "too little, too slowly" concern playing out right before our eyes.  Measure of success comes from looking at each automaker's own offerings.  Their own product-line speaks for itself.  Diversity is great, but lack of direction is not.  Emphasis is not focused on anything in particular.  Of course, as always, it comes down to cost.  Production simply won't be there if cost is too high.  Mainstream volume requires the vehicle to be affordable, making a profit without dependency on subsidies is vital.  It's what enthusiasts don't want to hear; they thrive on bragging rights, not accounting.  From my perspective, I'm intrigued about how this will stimulate the market as a whole for plug-in vehicles.  With so many "me too" and compliance rollouts, it's difficult to know how mainstream consumers will actually react.

4-25-2013

Spring Expectations?  That question is far more complicated to answer than you ever imagined, still fulfilling to learn about though.  The fact that Prius PHV is a plug-in hybrid means some plug-supplied electricity will also get used for HV driving, not just EV.  Seeing blended miles like that make interpreting the improvement associated with warming weather extremely difficult to quantify.  Fortunately, you will notice the change, but getting detail from everyday observations is quite a challenge.  The transition from Winter to Spring to Summer is something I was privileged to document last year.  Looking at my daily driving graph, you can see the EV miles were all over the place.  There most definitely is not any pattern whatsoever.  Electrical resistance & capacity improve with warm temperatures.  I've seen my continuous EV-miles distance (actual not estimated) nearly double from 9 in the depths of Winter to a high of 17 on the nicest Summer morning commute.  Seasonal change is part of the ownership experience.  MPG improve & degrade for Prius even without a plug.  It because a refreshing reset every year, especially even when low the efficiency is still quite a bit better than traditional vehicles.  Having a plug enhances that.  You find it even more rewarding.

4-25-2013

He's Back.  The situation of actually deal with a genuine forum troll is rare.  You'll see brief attacks, when someone creates a new membership id, posts something to stir trouble, then vanishes.  That happens all the time.  What doesn't is when someone comes on openly & actively, but counters whatever you reply.  The bait is simple, since the discussion almost immediate wonders off-topic anyway.  About a week ago, the biggest problem the Prius community ever had to deal with returned.  He was initially a hard-core pusher of biodiesel.  Post after post endorsed that and belittled Prius.  Eventually, he gave up and switched focus to Lupo, which is now known as a disaster vehicle for VW.  But back then, people weren't well enough informed to understand the problems and most of the documentation & reviews weren't in English.  We ended up overcoming his greenwashing.  He ended up purchasing an original model Insight… which is how he introduced himself recently on the big Prius forum.  He seemed to be Honda owner looking for a replacement for his aging hybrid.  I knew who he was.  No one else did.  But I kept quiet, hoping for the best.  Unfortunately, things got weird quickly.  He started calling Prius owners Honda haters.  He wouldn't acknowledge replies to his posts either.  It was just one odd question after another.  Then things really took a strange turn.  Supposedly, just yesterday his Insight just get rear-ended by a Prius.  What are the odds of that?  Now people are starting to wonder.  I still haven't pointed out his trolling history, though I did search the old forum to have a few of his old posts handy for reference just in case.

4-25-2013

That Never Happened.  Someone asked about the HOLD button for Volt today on the big Prius forum.  I mentioned the history of resistance to it and how nice things are now that we have finally moved on.  Almost immediately, there was a claim saying that never happened.  My blogs are loaded with quotes from enthusiasts fighting against it, stating it was unnecessary and there would be no benefit.  Over and over again, I heard that even mere mention of it was really an endorsement for Prius.  It was relentless, repeating the message that it was uncalled-for.  But the more real-world need became understood, the less the purity of EV from a vehicle with a gas engine available made sense.  Why would you intentionally waste electricity?  Knowing the button would be offered in the European market made the situation worse.  The spin was that there were EPA regulatory concerns preventing the button from being offered.  Today, that same claim was made, complete with a reference link.  Of course, if you took the time to read that webpage, there was no such information.  It's a greenwashing trick, since very few people ever actually click to check.  Long story short, that button is now a standard feature for Volt and there wasn't ever any reason not to offer it… other than the fact that the plug-in Prius was rolled out with a HV/EV button, a feature very similar to HOLD.  In the end, it still comes down to pride.  Being similar to Prius equates to failure as far as they are concerned.

4-24-2013

Spark EV.  Rather than having to deal with a concept reveal, we got an actual new vehicle rating from GM today.  And with all the other automakers so quiet, this news got the spotlight.  The estimate officially from the EPA was the upcoming Spark EV would deliver 82 miles of range.  That's reasonable.  Supposedly, price will be too.  Of course, this is a total contradiction to what we were told prior to Volt rollout.  Remember all the "range anxiety" marketing?  They promoted the horrors of electric-only vehicles.  Now, they'll be selling one anyway.  It's that mixed message problem.  Each encounter, you get a different interpretation of intent.  Anywho, the rollout itself certainly will be interesting.  Spark EV doesn't address the product gap (no real hybrid), but it does expand choice and further production of batteries.

 

back to home page       go to top