Prius Personal Log  #684

October 7, 2014  -  October 14, 2014

Last Updated: Sat. 11/15/2014

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10-14-2014

Data Discovery.  Someone with access to the large GM database posted this today: "From the OnStar data average mileage is going 100 miles on a gallon of gas plus 22 kwh of electricity."  That tells a very different story from the self-selected enthusiasts who expose their data on a public website dedicated to sharing Volt statistics.  I quickly calculated my own 100-mile average.  Go figure.  It was much lower.  In fact, I used the old 3.0 kWh per full-recharge value.  It's long overdue that I switch to the 2.75 kWh value that ChargePoint has been routinely reporting.  Knowing how much electricity is loss as a result of recharging is important.  The battery-pack has a 4.4 kWh capacity and uses 61.5% of it, which means roughly 0.044 is consumed from the act of plugging in.  In other words, only 90% of the electricity is actually used by the vehicle while driving.  Anywho, it's part of the equation... sometimes included, sometimes not.  Unfortunately, the amount of gas consumed is rarely ever stated by Volt enthusiasts.  That recent thread on the daily blog overwhelmingly confirmed that.  The choose to focus on electricity instead.  Who knew that was so inefficient.  I knew Toyota's system was more refined, but we really surprised to discover it was by so much.  This was my reaction to that:  Wow!  That is horrible.  My 100-mile average is 1.36 gallons plus 8.8 kWh.  I had no idea Volt was so much less efficient. What a great example of MPG being misleading!  Are you sure that is correct?

10-14-2014

kWh & Gallons.  On that surprisingly constructive thread today, they took a closer look at MPG.  The comment was made that when in "proper context" that value tells the efficiency story.  I was somewhat in dismay to see that posted, replying:  There is no proper context.  We all know the variance within EPA testing results and real-world vary dramatically.  Beyond 100 MPG, that variance can be greater than the value itself.  A consumer choosing a 300 MPG vehicle over one listed at 230 MPG may not use any less gas, based on how the vehicle is actually used.  And even if they did get exactly what the sticker states for testing results, that's only a difference of 15 gallons over the course of 15,000 miles.  That's just 450 miles of travel for a 30 MPG vehicle.  That same "70 MPG" difference equates to 350 gallons of gas when comparing that same 30 MPG vehicle to one which delivers 100 MPG instead.  That's 10,500 miles of travel for the 30 MPG vehicle.  Context is far from clear and will basically never be represented properly in terms of MPG.  The only appropriate method is stating KWH and GALLONS.  For example:  300 MPG for 15,000 miles = 50 gallons;  230 MPG for 15,000 miles = 65 gallons;  100 MPG for 15,000 miles = 150 gallons;  75 MPG for 15,000 miles = 200 gallons;  30 MPG for 15,000 miles = 500 gallons;  Notice how higher MPG doesn't actually make much of a difference?  Notice how that MPG is achieved is not told?  Then, there's the reality of how far a person travels before recharging.  That makes comparisons even between like vehicles unrealistic.  Between different vehicles, it's even more difficult.  Since it takes a lot more battery usage to compensate for a less efficient engine, that mismatch complicates matters tremendously.  It's a mess!  How could vehicles appropriately depict efficiency without having kWh quantity information?

10-13-2014

Engineering Only.  This perspective is getting old; yet, it needs to be addressed again.  I guess the classics never die.  After all, we still see some of the really old greenwashing techniques being used... despite being exposed as blatant efforts to undermine.  It never ceases to amaze me how some people fail to recognize the forest round them.  That cliché of only seeing the tree in front is far too fitting.  I suppose if you never take a business class, you have no idea what economic & accounting influences are and how much of a role they place.  So many factors related to sustaining sales are simply disregarded, it's like having to listen to 30-second television commercials.  All you get is hype about performance.  Anywho, I tried to inject some sense into the discussion:  I had countless arguments with enthusiasts about their engineering-only perspective, insisting they take notice of the business perspective.  They were blinded by the performance and design.  Consequences of refusing to acknowledge the market were provided and warned about, repeatedly.  They didn't care.  They didn't want to accept the reality that engineering skill alone wouldn't be enough.  Management decisions made a mess of things.  That's how we get to the situation we're in now.

10-13-2014

Acceptance.  My issue with those decisions of the past was not addressing need. If GM executives had delivered a sporty type Volt in addition to one aimed at middle-market, good for them.  It would have been a win-win. Both business & consumer would benefit from the platform being used in a diverse manner.  Instead, GM gambled on the sport, hoping its performance focus would appeal to the masses.  It didn't.  They also hoped cost would rapidly fall as gas prices continued to climb... neither of which ended up happening.  Toyota focused on middle-market, delivering a platform able to be augmented further as cost justified.  In the meantime, there would be something relatively affordable without any dependence on gas prices.  That's a very different approach from GM, especially when taking into account only get 1/3 of the tax-credit.  The hope is GM will take that proper step, reaching out to mainstream consumers.  Achieving profitable high-volume sales is absolutely essential with this next-generation.  A configuration designed for the massed is required.  If they also deliver and second choice, a more expensive model, good for them.  But if that's all they deliver, game over.  I see Prius PHV as the true game changer, since if focuses heavily on the low end.  Yesterday, I had a bunch of weekend running around to do.  After 84 miles with just a single recharge, the average came to 60 MPG.  Providing an effortless efficiency boost like that is what will really make a difference.  Imagine people pulling into their garage and having the system automatically recharge wirelessly. They set it up once, then JUST DRIVE IT.  With such a small battery-pack to keep cost down and not compromise large cargo carrying or seating in back, that's realistic.  Hopefully, other automakers will pursue a similar goal.  Without gaining acceptance from the masses, what are we accomplishing?

10-13-2014

Decisions.  We have an interesting dialog going on about the next-generation Volt, in the big Prius forum.  That's been remarkably constructive.  People have been quite candid too.  It a very good sign of change.  Too bad the daily blog is still quite hostile.  I wonder how that will change over time.  This was my interjection to the discussion today:  I had countless arguments with enthusiasts about their engineering-only perspective, insisting they take notice of the business perspective.  They were blinded by the performance and design.  Consequences of refusing to acknowledge the market were provided and warned about, repeatedly.  They didn't care.  They didn't want to accept the reality that engineering skill alone wouldn't be enough.  Management decisions made a mess of things.  That's how we got to the situation we're in now.

10-11-2014

Sales & Who?  That question is finally getting some traction.  Simply telling us about Volt owner satisfaction doesn't get much attention anymore, since we're seeing more and more comments like this: "Tesla is moving product while GM gets more nervous."  It's hard to believe how much effort was expended to distract from the purpose of sales.  Fortunately, that isn't effective anymore.  I pointed out and asked:  While the rest of the industry strived to deliver something for the masses, GM launched a massive "range anxiety" campaign.  They even went as far as trademarking the term.  It was a gamble that battery capacity would remain low and cost remain high.  The plan was to deliver a "game changer" product which would "leap frog" competitors.  The hype was amazing.  It was unsupported nonsense being spread like wild fire.  How could so much be achieved in so little time?  It ended up being a disaster.  The design fell short of a number of goals.  Any hope that was left turned into spin.  Sales clearly revealed the game was not changed.  In fact, quite the opposite happened.  Both Tesla and Nissan demonstrated there was a market without anxiety.  Volt didn't have an audience.  This is why Prius so often got attacked.  It weathered the publicity storm.  Staying out of the spotlight by offering a modest (affordable) boost to emissions & efficiency was enough to demonstrate it too had a market.  The next generation offerings are what will make a real impact.  GM is scrambling now.  Who will they target this next design at?

10-11-2014

Unheard Of.  This is a quote to make you think: "10 years is unheard of in consumer electronics."  I was pleased to see that.  Most people, including myself, don't look at the situation from that perspective.  It's a great point.  Imagine a phone or computer battery lasting even half that long and still delivering so much.  We not only expect them to need replacement, we face the decision directly.  The catch is the expense is much less.  But then again, how many people do you know who still carry their phone from 5 years ago?  Their computer?  More often than not, that necessity of battery replacement leads to the decision to replace the entire device.  So, it's rather hypocritical to hold an automobile to a much higher standard.  The reality of Prius batteries lasting 10 years is truly remarkable.  But then again, if you understand how it is utilized, that should be no surprise.   The engine is used to protect the battery-pack, starting up at times to ensure longevity.  Imagine if you had that ability available for your phone!  So, it really isn't unheard of.  It's well designed... to keep you from having to deal with replacement.

10-08-2014

Pointless.  That closure I was looking for was presented this way: "...obviously comparing a hypermilers mpg with a fleet average is kind of pointless."  It was a fascinating journey witnessing hope transform into hype, then disappointment become excuses.  That's why goals were a continuous request prior to rollout, then following later as sales struggled.  What could be said at that point to be constructive?  Progress has to be achieved somehow.  Toyota proved Prius was a solid platform to continue improving.  As battery cost dropped and energy-density increased, the system would benefit.  Reaching more and more consumers was the goal, not winning praise.  Declaring victory from an online debate doesn't accomplish anything.  It always comes down to sales.  High-Volume & Profitable is absolutely essential.  You'd think after all these years that particular group of troublemakers would finally see that.  Clearly, that don't.  So, I let them have it with this point and move on:  Yup, that's why the certain somebody's here with the trophy-mentality can't use their own data.  From me, it's a different story.  I've published a collection of videos clearly showing results of just driving along with the flow of traffic.  You can see for yourself how the system operates.  And with my own data, I drive several 400-mile trips per year with the bikes on back and no charging.  That certainly drags my average down.  All the running around to see my fiancée and her family without charging does too.  It doesn't matter anyway.  This group refuses to consider the entire fleet.  That cherry-picking isn’t constructive.  Whenever the rest of GM's production gets mentioned, their panties get in a bunch… which will certainly make things interesting when a "lite" model of Volt is eventually rolled out… since some statements made will end up becoming contradictory.  The market will become more complex too.  Reaching out to new consumers means new options.  Things like wireless charging will certainly stir the pot.  Even if it doesn't catch on, that will still get a new audience to take notice of the selection of plug-in vehicles available.

10-07-2014

Panic.  There's one individual on the big Prius forum who consistently uses adjectives to stir emotion.  His words, like "flaw" and "defect", tend to make me crazy... especially when used to describe a well-proven operational behavior of the system used in Prius.  My guess is he doesn't have much of an engineering background.  Just picking up knowledge along the way is fine, but don't instill a sense of panic to others.  Geez!  Of course, some people thrive on the attention such actions provide.  It's like a child using a "naughty" word.  They know they'll get the attention of the parent that way.  So, responses need to be well thought out and not demeaning... since he is striving to learn, just not in the most appropriate way.  I ended up posting this:  Neither applies to the plug-in Prius.  A charge of "full" is actually just 85% and the "empty" level is really 23.5%.  And when you want to save the maximum charge while out driving (after the engine has fired up), it depletes to 72.5% for optimal longevity.  The battery is always kept in that happy place, automatically for you.  Overnight charging is the best, since you take advantage of the lowest electricity rates while also minimizing grid demand, as well as recharging when the pack has had an opportunity to cold soak (rest).

10-07-2014

Back to Basics.  It is very easy to step away from that small obsessive group of Volt enthusiasts now.  All that could be learned up to the reveal has been.  It was important to learn about their perspective well ahead of time.  Today's topic heavily reinforced their attitude.  It was about EV miles and saving gas.  They just plain didn't care how much gallons were actually consumed.  Their clearly stated they had no interest in how much kWh of electricity were consumed either.  It was totally about bragging rights.  I was astonished how they just plain didn't care... but not surprised, since that is why their group stands apart from those who genuinely hope GM delivers something for ordinary consumers.  Another vehicle for enthusiasts is clearly not want they should be cheering for.  At this point, I'm simply aiming for closure.  Those few individuals caused quite a stir over the years and didn't actually achieve anything.  Now, we see GM branching out with the plan to deliver a different design.  Meanwhile, Toyota, Ford, Honda, and even Chrysler are pursuing a choice for the masses, a vehicle with mass appeal, striving to deliver the basics rather than having something to brag about.  As I put it:  Removing tax-credit from the equation levels the playing field.  That absence of subsidies is what will reveal the winning approach, since success absolutely requires on-going profitable high-volume sales.  Automakers will have less than 2 years of full government assistance available when the next-generation offerings are rolled out.  So, it's best to plan to sustained sales without.  As for battery-capacity defining whether a plug-in hybrid is PHEV or EREV, that's contradictory criteria… since the "lite" version of Volt wouldn't fit the definition.  An increase for Prius could be done too, which would increase EV power and offer electricity for heating.  In other words, there is neither specific nor even arbitrary measures to label type.  That's just marketing… as effective as "range anxiety" was.  Instead, they'll end up being categorized based on vehicle size, consumption ratings, and kilowatts available.  Recent reveals from both GM and Chrysler further solidify that aspect of consumer awareness.  People won't care what a technology is called.  They'll focus on the results of using it.  They won’t even care about recharging.  Overnight is overnight.  Each morning, it will be back to full.  They won't even care about when the engine runs either.  Seeing MPG well above what a traditional vehicle delivers will satisfy their purchase choice.  It's back to the basics.  Is it reliable, comfortable, practical, and affordable?

 

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