Prius Personal Log  #636

September 2, 2013  -  September 7, 2013

Last Updated: Mon. 9/09/2013

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9-07-2013

Retribution.  It almost feels like that.  There's no intent for anything like revenge, despite the obvious self-inflicted setbacks which easily could have been avoided.  There's just this sense of "Get Over It!" that really cannot be achieved without making that purpose clear.  So, it gives the impression of celebrating a victory at the expense of another.  But then again, it's not like the outcome is a surprise.  How do you deal with change?  What is the appropriate approach?  We're starting with stating the evidence: "What has changed is that the old guard mindset of developing and maintenance of an automotive brand can occur through a series of conversations and 'bright ideas' developed on a napkin are dead.  We will probably never know or see what business case underpinned the development of the Volt and the Voltec platform but it is evident the initial business outcomes did not occur as planned…"  I liked reading that summary.  My contribution which followed was:  GM didn't plan ahead.  That was the very same mistake they did with Two-Mode.  Watching that history repeat was unpleasant.  Constantly being attacked when contributing constructive advice did help the situation either.  You'd bring up business need and end up getting negative votes along with accusations of attempting to undermine.  Focus was entirely on technical innovation, which GM does indeed do well. That clouded judgment, allowing the hype to get out of control.  The resulting poor business decisions were supported until sales fell so far of expectations price had to be dramatically dropped.  All along, the message has been to tell management what to do.  All those posts telling us to just trust their choices was obviously bad advice.  They didn't deliver a vehicle for the masses, because enthusiasts enabled them to build the car they wanted instead.  It is disastrous outcome we need to acknowledge and prevent from happening again.  Hoping production cost-reductions alone will make it profitable & competitive is yet another example of not being constructive.  Those saying we should just be patient and wait have lost touch with reality.  We all know GM will need to make sacrifices to get Volt back on track.  The next-generation must become the vehicle it was intended to be, which means matching the purchase priorities of ordinary consumers.  That requires change.  Who here will continue to fight that, making "early adopter" excuses and "vastly superior" claims rather than helping GM take the next step?  Ending that mindset is essential.

9-06-2013

Finally.  That daily blog for Volt has been dying a slow, lingering, pointless death.  Fewer and fewer daily topics are actually about Volt anymore.  Most are just reposts of general news from the parent website.  Ever since the founder sold it, the new owner (an online automotive group) kept it going and was able to retain many of the original members.  Unfortunately, they are the same ones unwilling to embrace change.  So, the transition to this new reality of a cooperative culture of plug advocates hasn't gone well.  They are still fighting for superiority.  Fortunately, that is finally shifting out of their favor.  More and more, their posts are countered by constructive content showing they are not taking the situation seriously.  Phew!  That sure is a relief.  Reaching middle-market won't happen until they begin to address mainstream needs.  The most recent topic titled "EV sales report" certainly helped to do that.  It pointed out detail about Tesla Model S and Nissan Leaf, the 2 leaders in EV (electric-only) sales.  Also highlighted were Chevy Spark EV, Fiat 500E, Ford Focus EV, Honda Fit EV, Smart ForTwo EV, Toyota RAV4 EV, and Mitsubishi i-MiEV.  Remember how GM wouldn't be caught dead selling an EV, how heavily they invested in campaigns promoting the benefit of a range-extender.  Something obviously happened.  They get quite angry when you speculate what.  They also refuse to concede the fundamental difference this situation is compared to the original rollout of Prius.  Rather than misconceptions and automakers refusing to endorse, their are a variety of choices from a variety of sources.  Some are still desperately clinging to the hope of a miracle shifting preference to Volt rather than it becoming a player among a team of plug-in vehicles.  I stated my observation of the situation with this simple series of questions:  Notice this topic?  Wasn't the point of Volt to prevent EV range-anxiety?  If so, why is each automaker… including GM …offering EV anyway?  What changed?

9-06-2013

219 Miles.  We weren't as lucky on the way home as the way there.  It was hot this time.  The A/C was needed.  That meant getting in and out several times for stops along the way, into a humid outside.  Blah.  Efficiency wouldn't be as good either... or so we thought.  To my delight, the outcome ended up being an average for the 219 miles traveled of 60 MPG.  That's fantastic... but not the most interesting part.  The up & down driving in that area ended up regenerating 2.2 miles of electricity.  That's more than I've ever seen.  It's an obvious benefit to efficiency too.  The big thing though was the discovery that came along with it.  The response to that electricity was quite a surprise.  When the Prius came to a complete stop at the very bottom, the system automatically switched over to EV mode.  That hasn't ever happened before!  What the heck?  I had been in HV mode since 2 days ago when running out of plug-supplied electricity.  Seeing EV suddenly invoke itself without having restarted the system certainly wasn't a behavior I had predicted.  Perhaps it thought there may be more opportunity for the large-scale regenerating, so it was attempting to purge the current supply as quickly as possible.  That makes a lot of sense from a longevity standpoint.  It's a simple way to protect the battery-pack from over-charging.  Anywho, that 60 MPG certainly was nice.  Learning more about the plug-in system was a nice bonus.

9-06-2013

More PHV.  Whoa!  There it was again.  I got to see the Sea Foam another time.  Hope had been that I run into it twice, just like the other PHV. But for it to actually happen…  Yippee!  You don't expect things to work out so well.  I felt quite fulfilled.  National rollout will be truly rewarding.  The time spent observing & sharing experiences wanting others to find those also interesting is well spent when you see them having purchased the same.  I cannot wait anymore.  Seeing the plug-in model available for purchase locally will be a big step forward.  Having to purchase from a distant state, then drive back or hire a delivery service, isn't exactly what you'd consider the usual approach.  Being able to go to the local dealer changes everything, making it far more likely to become a reality.  With all the real-world data now available, from all the other owners contributing their stories too, there's lots of potential.  And of course, there isn't the problem GM faces.  Toyota already has a profitable path.  Drastic MSRP reductions won't be necessary.  The usual price, with some special sales from time to time, should do the trick.

9-05-2013

60 MPG and Added EV.  This day of vacation included some driving around, getting away from the tourist areas.  We ended up traveling a total of 63 miles.  Some of it got rather hilly.  The speed was a mix of city & highway.  We used the A/C most of the time.  Despite all that and not having anywhere to plug-in, the average ended up being 60 MPG.  That kind of result from HV mode only is very, very pleasing.  The fact that I started with 11.1 miles of EV and ended up with 11.4 miles makes it even better.  Rather than a little bit of depletion overall, there was actually addition.  Who would have thought you'd get that as an outcome?  Instead of using up a little bit of electricity, there was a net gain.  That's sweet.  I'm thankful for such a result too.  Taking 450-mile trips each month is dragging down my lifetime average.  But then again, there's nothing more swaying to potential buyers than data consisting of real-world experiences.  Life is too short to miss out on opportunities to play.  So what if I cannot plug in during those vacations.  The point is those are vacations.  They should be enjoyed.  Today's drive was a great example.  We watched the sunset on a secluded Lake Superior beach.  That was totally worth it.

9-05-2013

PHV Again!!!  What are the odds?  This was one that Sea Foam Green color.  I drove right by me slowly, allowing for solid confirmation that it wasn't just the regular model.  But to add to the already exhilarating situation… it drove right by the other PHV in town, which I had only noticed again moments earlier.  And since I was standing right in front of mine at the time, it mean there were 3 plug-in Prius all within the same line-of-sight.  Needless to say, I absolutely could not believe what had just happened.  Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to see more PHV in such a remote location.  But then again, walking around town we had made remarks about how many Prius there were.  They obviously work well for long-distance travel.  Adding a plug to the equation make the whole situation even more fulfilling.  Yeah!

9-04-2013

Ferry Ride.  My Prius PHV crossed a small section of Lake Superior today, without using a bridge.  Instead, it was with a boat.  That was exciting to drive onto the Ferry... since I still had an ample supply of electricity available.  In fact, there would like be enough for me to drive around on the island the entire morning using nothing but EV.  Sure enough, that is indeed what ended up happening.  We left the boat & dock behind, visiting the small town for provisions before setting off into the wilderness.  It was Madeline Island, the only established part of the Apostle Islands.  Our intent was to drive to the state park on the other side, then hike along the coast taking lots of photos and having a picnic.  The weather was perfect.  The location was beautiful.  Exploring what nature has to offer while doing it with electricity added to the experience.  We had a great time!  Even the wait & ride on the Ferry back was a good time.  It was definitely a unique day to remember.

9-04-2013

Industry Sales.  Economic recovery combined with the timing of model-year clearance couldn't have been better.  The entire industry saw a major increase in sales for all types of vehicles.  Toyota's report of having sold 44,713 Camry last month gives a great indication of the kind of growth witnessed.  That's a great number.  Of course, the Prius family did something to make people notice.  Monthly sales exceeded that of Corolla.  It wasn't by much, but the trend of both higher counts and stronger demand is difficult to deny.  That's a very big deal too, when you consider the fact that 40 million Corolla have been produced since its beginning in 1966... which makes it the best-selling nameplate of all time.  The liftback (16,157) compact (5,478) and wagon (3,932) models of Prius did well.  My favorite, the plug-in model, saw a very pleasing 1,791.  It was a very good month.  As for Volt, it still didn't reach the rate of 3,750 per month, which would have placed it at the sales rate GM was hoping for over a year and a half ago.  The 3,351 that were sold were the result of $5,000 price reduction.  And since there hasn't been any news whatsoever about lithium battery costs having dropped, we have to wonder how much below cost the vehicle is now.  Of course, the supporters don't care.  They have recently taken the CEO's goal of reducing cost from $7,000 to $10,000 as a promise of $10,000.  The "over promise, under deliver" is fed by hope like that.  It turns into unsupported hype that no one questions.  It's so harmful; yet, they do it anyway.  We all know what unmet expectations then lead to.  Fortunately, we do have Ford pushing along.  621 for C-Max and 600 for Fusion are decent numbers for the plug-in hybrids.  As for all-electric cars, Nissan did well.  Leaf sales of 2,420 are making people to take notice.  Tesla with Model S is the other among those getting attention.  The estimate of 1,700 is a big number for a vehicle well out of the price-range of middle-market.  Looking at the traditional sedan offering a hybrid model, the Camry & Fusion continue to stand out.  4,729 and 3,694 (respectively) were purchased last month.  Hyundai did fairly well with 2,303 from Sonata too.  Overall, the outlook hasn't changed.  Overall, the industry is still struggling to gain market-share.  The progress is far slower than hope and a few sacrifices have been made along the way.  Now, I'm more excited than ever to watch what happens when PHV rollout nationwide begins.

9-03-2013

Another PHV Sighting!!  What the heck?  There in the dark in front of me was another Prius PHV, this one also that unique light blue.  I was beside myself.  To see another one, roughly 125 miles from that other driving the other direction the day before, was amazing.  What caught my attention this time was the silver strip along the back.  That's a distinguishing feature unique to the plug-in models.  Sure enough, when I walked around the side, there was the PLUG-IN HYBRID emblem to confirm I wasn't seeing things.  What are the odds of such an amazing sense of timing?  To not see another in roughly a year, then 2 sighting in 2 days!  Unfortunately, the owner was nowhere to be seen.  Oh well.  I was in a tourist city anyway.  So, the encounter would have likely been brief.  Oh well.  At least I know for a fact there are others out there, coming from non-initial states.  This one was from Illinois.  It makes me very excited to see there is demand-in-the-waiting.  National rollout isn't only a few months away now.

9-03-2013

Prius, Persona Edition.  This special edition has been elusive.  I had been waiting a long time for a close encounter.  That day finally arrived.  We were walking around town, just sight-seeing.  There is was!  I had an abundance of time available and was carrying a camera too.  The special black-cherry (deep purple) color and the unique alloy chromed wheels really made it stand out.  The dark interior looked nicer than I had envisioned too.  I like the fact that Toyota offers limited models.  They add to the choices while keeping an aspect of being unique still.  We'll never know how many of them are on the road.  But at least getting an up-close inspection of one was nice.  Not everyone gets to.  For that matter, many Prius owners are even aware that variations like that even exist.  It's what happens as popularity grows.  In fact, that's how the market expands reach beyond mainstream buyers... something other hybrids won't even imagine for many years still.  Becoming diverse is that next step.

9-02-2013

239 Miles.  The trip was from the southern part of the Twin Cities in Minnesota to the northern part of Wisconsin, specifically the Apostle Islands.  Conditions for travel were nearly perfect.  It was a sunny day and so comfortable the A/C wasn't even needed.  There was a little bit of a wind from behind too.  I was thrilled with the results.  Despite all that electricity still available (11.1 miles), the efficiency was outstanding.  The overall average for those 239 miles came to 59 MPG.  That's remarkable for a plug-in hybrid that didn't actually take advantage of plug-supplied electricity.  This is why Prius is such a versatile platform.  People have a choice of the configuration to purchase and don't even have to plug in still get efficiency well above traditional vehicles.  The road-trip experience is especially beneficial, having so much cargo area in back.  That convenience is difficult to put a value on though.  You have to experience it to appreciate it.  Fortunately, the MPG speaks for itself.

9-02-2013

PHV Sighting!  During the drive up north, I saw something I've been dreaming about for a very long time… another plug-in Prius approaching.  It was the color of mine, exclusive to the PHV model.  Sure enough, my distant observation was confirmed up close.  The emblem was clearly the larger one, stating PLUG-IN HYBRID rather than just HYBRID.  Needless to say, I was thrilled.  But there's more to the story. I was driving through rural Wisconsin, a state no part of the initial rollout and far from any major cities.  It was either another vacationer or someone ambitious like me not wanting to wait for the upcoming national rollout.  It was very exciting.

9-02-2013

72.9 Percent.  I was embarking on a vacation up north.  There would be lots of opportunity for EV driving.  Wanting to save as much electricity as possible, I switched over to HV mode after reversing out of the driveway.  The estimated range, which started at 13.6 miles, was now at 13.5 miles.  Knowing the system uses EV-BOOST during engine warm-up to reduce emissions, I was curious what the EV restore would be following that.  Usually, the system will replenish that boost capacity while you drive.  However, that won't happen for the sake of longevity above a certain threshold.  This was my opportunity to find out what the values actually were. I hadn't ever measured that before.  The "full" charge started at 85 percent.  That is also for longevity.  100 shortens battery life, especially in hot climates… as we've seen with Nissan Leaf… which is why it offers a partial-charge option to specifically prevent reaching full capacity.  That reduced maximum helps and even lower is better.  With Prius PHV, that "ideal" level ends up being 72.9 percent.  In terms of a distance estimate, with respect to my particular driving circumstances, works out to 11.1 miles.

 

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