Prius Personal Log  #716

September 25, 2015  -  October 3, 2015

Last Updated: Tues. 1/12/2016

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10-03-2015

Attack Ads.  We're getting misleading advertisements now.  That's not an encouraging sign.  From the one titled: "Chevy Volt Battery Technology: Time Capsule", here's a quote:  "This is the 2016 Chevy Volt. It uses state-of-the-art battery technology.  The Prius uses battery technology developed 15 years ago."  The lithium-ion battery, which is what Volt uses, was commercially released back in 1991.  That's 24 years ago.  What else can be said.  Newer isn't necessarily better for all applications and they certainly didn't explain why it could be in this case.  It was just another older isn't a good attack, in this for of a television advertisement.  I wonder what people seeing the commercial will actually think.  Will they brainlessly fall for that?  Will it result in more sales?  Will they even care?

10-03-2015

Better.  The attitudes of those few antagonists we routinely battle on the big Prius forum are getting better.  Today, it was: "Of course hybrids will be part of the answer.  But since they seem to max out under 4% market share, we need a better solution to pick up the slack."  My choice of rebuttal (to point out what better really meant) was:  Speaking of making blanket statements...  Drawing a conclusion already that hybrids maxed out is premature.  Only now are other automakers working to deliver competitive offerings.  Their participation is required for serious market expansion to occur.  Up until this point, they've been mostly just watching Toyota to see how far the technology can be taken before investing on the grand scale themselves.  Sure, anyone can make an expensive hybrid.  Making one that is able to compete both in terms of cost, reliability, efficiency, and emissions is an entirely different matter.  There's the economic principle of change to acknowledge as well.  The general population waits years to purchase new technology devices.  That's the way it is.  They don't spend their money until the next generation has proven itself.  For vehicle purchases, longer use-life and higher price-tag means decades of waiting.  They expect product maturity before making a change.  In other words, when the automotive industry shines their spotlight on plug-in offerings, it will indicate that hybrids are ready.  This is why we thought the Volt enthusiasts as crazy when they expected sales to be competitive just 2 years after rollout began.  Coming from a Prius background, we already knew there was a decade wait for it to even be considered a viable purchase choice.  Sure, the technology worked, but ordinary consumers simply wouldn't be interested yet.  Gen-4 of Prius will be the first to reach out into middle-market, hoping to attract buyers here who would otherwise just purchase a Corolla or Camry.  That's a hefty goal, but it's a big step contributing to the shift away from traditional offerings.  Reaching out to those buyers is vital, since the cars they purchase is where a bulk of the business-sustaining profit comes from. That's what will pick up the slack, not a better solution.  As exciting as the newest technology is, it won't pay the bills.  The so-called "boring" vehicles do, since they use refined older technology... which is produced in high-volume at low-cost... which makes it better.

10-01-2015

Lawsuits.  We hearing about class-action lawsuits being filed on behalf of TDI owners.  The legal action is to go after VW, to somehow help those diesel owners with the predicament they are now stuck in.  It's really strange not knowing what they will be seeking.  Online pop-up advertisements list details of the situation, but what to expect as an outcome is a bit of a mystery.  There must be some filing deadline.  With so much uncertainty and so many affected, the scramble is understandable.  What can be done is anyone's guess.  Clearly, this will cost VW far more than they are willing to spend.  So, it does make sense that legal battles are being prepared.  As an owner, I would simply want to continue driving the car I purchased operating the way it was delivered.  Those after-the-fact alterations were never anything an owner would ever consider, especially knowing they will reduce efficiency to some degree.  What an ugly situation.

10-01-2015

The Truth, part 2.  It took me a bit to come up with some analogy material, really good examples that would bring this particular rant to an end.  Turns out, it was quite effective.  He still hadn't responded after a day to this:  What happens when you plug a USB 3.0 device into a USB 2.0 slot?  What happens when you connect an AC wireless device to a N router?  Slow performance from those devices isn't fault of the device manufacturer.  It's not fraud, it's the need for good labeling and properly informed consumers.

9-30-2015

The Truth, part 1.  We're seeing an upswing on the attacks.  A well known diesel support is quite upset and is now lashing out any way he can.  His choice is to attach Toyota's fuel-cell advancement.  This snippet really got me: "...and you can't handle the truth."  He was going on and on about tank refill time.  It was obviously a desperate effort.  But it was still enough to make you think about how to respond.  What should the expectations be?  How should they be set?  Who should be setting them?  I replied with:  If a phonemaker sells you phone able to recharge in X minutes, but you don't have a high-speed recharger, what's the problem?  If an automaker sells you a vehicle able to refill in X minutes, but you don't have a high-speed pump, what's the problem?  Sounds more like denial of the true situation.

9-30-2015

Rants.  Some of the rants against fuel-cells are already getting quite amusing.  The one-size-fits-all portrayal share the same signs of desperation the Volt enthusiasts had back when gen-1 was all the rage.  The technology-will-never-advance portrayal is just plain sad.  It reminds me of the battery claims back when Prius was still new to most people.  The rhetoric doesn't take timeline or impact into consideration either.  Long-term projects should not be judged using short-term expectations.  There's an extremely well established oil-industry that will fight back too.  Thinking you'll be able to just tell them to take a hike goes well beyond naïve.  Hydrogen will serve consumers that EV won't.  The oil industry isn't going to miss out on the opportunity to take advantage of their transport, manufacturing, and distribution resources to capitalize on the new fuel as complications with their current endeavors grow.  The abrupt fall of diesel passenger vehicles is a rather obvious example of unanticipated change with impact on a magnitude never imagined.  More will come.  That will show how EV alone is not the solution.

9-29-2015

New Thrills.  Certain individuals gobble up new opportunity for online discussion.  Now is the time they are especially thrilled.  With the diesel mess and fuel-cell advancements getting attention, it's fair game for them.  Unfortunately, they don't play fairly.  Today, it was: "This is not fraud, it simply is another misleading fuel-cell statement."  I was annoyed and didn't want to let that go.  So, I didn't:  Notice the source of some misleading?  The original post established an assumption, portraying an exception as if it was the norm.  How many people read the statement and completely overlooked that?  Here it is again: "Toyota, Mercedes, and Hyundai claimed 1 minute of refuel time for each kilogram of hydrogen pumped into the FCV's tanks.  So a 5 kilogram tank requires 5 minutes.  In reality real-world drivers say it takes 4 minutes per kilogram.  That means the Mirai's real-world refuel time is closer to 20 minutes..."  Notice it this time?  Under all but extreme circumstances would an owner ever drive into a filling station with their tank 100% empty.  The normal refill quantity would be around 75%.  So, it wouldn't take as long to reach 100% capacity.  They start with 25% still in the tank.  Yet, that vital bit of info was not included.  In other words, some people take advantage of vague statements and turn them into misleading expectations.  Also, it would be absurd to assume the newest fuel-cell vehicles would settle for old refilling hardware.  Yet, that's exactly what the poster hopes we'll do.  Combine that with lack of clarity from automakers, you end up successfully misleading.

9-29-2015

Investments & Tokens.  Anger at Toyota for not announcing an EV right away is really stirring the pot.  Other automakers can make a token gesture, just vaguely stake intentions to deliver one at some point, and all is fine with them.  No commitment of any sort is needed, only an "we're in too" claim.  That complete lack of obligation shouldn't be acceptable.  There should be a goal spelled out... how many, for who, and when.  That's why Toyota is focusing on the hybrid offerings first.  We know the new Prius is coming nationwide within the next few months and will be targeted at the masses.  What follows is anyone's guess.  It could still be right on par with those other automakers making uncertain promises too.  In other words, to some, diversity doesn't matter.  All some care about is EV offerings now.  That impatience and nothing-else-is-important attitude is really becoming a problem.  Toyota is investing in hydrogen fuel-cells, for the long-term.  Antagonists spin that as a "token" effort though, which clearly doesn't fit the definition of what token identified in the past.  It would have to be at minimal cost with no plans to further advance the technology to qualify for that.  Unfortunately, they see it as a big step in the wrong direction.  It's that single-minded approach.  Diversification is meaningless to them.  Even though fuel-cell vehicles also use batteries and electric-motors, some just plain don't care.  They want EV offerings a soon as possible, regardless of cost.  How is rushing helpful?  Know your audience.  Ordinary consumers will just dismiss them as expensive toys for the rich.  Gas is so cheap now, why would they even bother to consider an EV anyway?

9-28-2015

Single-Minded.  That's one of the biggest challenges to overcome.  We saw that in the past with Volt and we are seeing it a lot now with EV verses FCV.  There's no reason electric-only vehicles and fuel-cell vehicles should be competing against each other.  But with the mindset we've been taught to have, falling into that "one-size-fits-all" trap is surprisingly easy.  I had to sound off about that yet again:  How many times must CO-EXIST be mentioned before it is finally accepted that this isn't an either/or situation?​​  One solution will not fix all.  We grew up in a society that worked hard for single solutions.  It was always thought of as one technology replacing another.  The duality of our future isn't going to come easy because of that.  Fortunately, we are seeing glimpses of hope.  Look at the computer market now.  There's a wide variety of ways to interact with the digital world and it's for the most part working just fine.  People have come to accept differences, rather than fight for just one approach.  Transportation will have a similar outcome.  The other choice won't be looked upon as an alternative, like some fuels are now.  It will simply be the norm.  Some people will have this.  Others will have that.  No big deal.  Remember the goals, all of them.  We are not simply replacing transportation technologies with the intent of using the least amount of electricity possible.  After all, it is renewable.  There is a pressing need to also reduce overall emissions, while at the same time not cause economies to fall apart.

9-28-2015

Change.  We're seeing the downplay, rhetoric, and trolling really ramp up.  That's a sure sign of change.  Recent posts provide a very interesting read.  They're all over the place.  VW troubles continue to grow.  Emission standards and testing methods are being updated.  Tesla sales of its Model X are about to begin.  More information about Prius has been found.  Each is pushing discussions in different directions.  Heck, even within individual communities (forums) we're seeing the dialog change.  For Prius, that's just part of the generational shift, which is what you'd expect from any major upgrade.  EV discussions are no where near that clear.  Some say the 100-mile range fulfills most owners needs.  Others say the upcoming 200-mile range offerings will be absolutely vital.  It's polarizing in nature, much like the contradicting messages from those in support of Volt.  Interestingly, emissions are getting more attention.  The diesel fallout is helping with that.  Sadly though, it likely won't change attitudes of ordinary consumers.  All the mindset alterations are coming from those already haven't taken a step toward a cleaner environment.  Nonetheless, it is progress.  Breaking away from the status quo, by any means, is welcome.

9-27-2015

Upgrade Plans.  It's interesting to hear thoughts of other Prius owners, some with an older non-plug Prius and some with a PHV already.  They're considering their purchase criteria, before details are unveiled.  That makes you really think about what's important.  I jumped into the discussion thread with:  My 2012 Prius PHV has been great. The 73.0 MPG overall average over the past 3.5 years (64,000 miles) speaks for itself, especially driving here in Minnesota.  This weekend included a 176-mile drive. With 80% of the plug-in capacity still available, the average was 62 MPG (displayed).  So, it holds it's own without even needing to plug in.  That makes looking forward to the gen-4 improvements even more enticing.  It already outperforms what the so-called "clean" diesels deliver.  Errand running is great.  We live only a few miles from grocery, hardware, and retail shopping, as well as recreation & entertainment.  So, that's usually done entirely using electricity (during the warm months) already.  Increased capacity isn't really necessary, though it could come in handy and there's an obvious benefit for other travel.  The plan is to upgrade right away, when deliveries begin next year.  I'm looking forward to refinements in the technology.  Each of the other 3 upgrades over the years were certainly worth it.  The plug adds a dimension to the already practical Prius platform.

9-27-2015

Count of Six.  This particular comment caught my attention: "Audi is the 6th car maker to say they will make a 200+ mile BEV by the end of 2018."  With the diesel fallout and the rapid increase of downplay, the topic variety in forums has rapidly expanded.  We're seeing a look more of the old rhetoric return... without any new twists.  It's basically the same arguments re-emerging.  I don't expect much of that to last though.  Their facts are so weak at this point, there's not much to bait for trolling attempts anymore.  We are definitely in a state of change.  VW prompted those hesitating to take the next move.  Hopefully, that will equate to opportunity.  I worry about token gestures, where big announcements are made but very little actually delivered.  Here's what I had to say:  From all the lessons learned over the years, that's a trap none of us should be gullible enough to fall into anymore.  We've seen many, many token gestures.  Sure, the automaker delivered, but what's the point if the vehicle isn't something people actually buy?  GM had the 2 biggest disappointments, both were heavy hyped and neither panned out.  Two-Mode was supposed to change the industry.  Instead, it wasn't anywhere near as good as promised and it was very expensive.  Volt ended up the same way.  They were promoted as technology for the masses though.  What will these 200+ mile EVs be like?  If they're small and expensive, who's going to be interested?  Sure, it's nice having the choice, but the expectation of them attracting ordinary car buyers will go unfulfilled.

9-27-2015

Hydrogen Attacks.  An extremely popular way of distracting is to bring up the topic of hydrogen.  It tends to rather effectively undermine discussions.  The choice is to ignore the antagonist and hope for the best or to address them very directly.  None of the casual responses make any difference, since their goal is to prevent the topic at hand from progressing.  They'll just keep at it.  Interjecting new information into their argument tends to do the trick.  It's difficult to evade facts without revealing intent.  So, I gave it a try after having read some vague claim about efficiency conversion:  How outdated is that loss data and where exactly will that electricity be stored prior to reaching the vehicle?  I find it amazing how many people think the grid can just hold all the electricity we need indefinitely.  It provides transport, not storage.  Reality is, the sun only shines and the wind only blows at limited times.  The energy captured must somehow be stored until it is needed.  Hydrogen provides a means of doing that.

9-25-2015

Crazy Days.  Details leaking out about several new models of Prius liftback on the way combined with the fallout of diesel is fascinating... and somewhat crazy.  The CEO of VW stepped down.  Several class-action lawsuits have been filed.  EPA has announced plans to road-test (rather than just dyno-test) vehicles subject to question.  That's all quite big.  But what gets me is that several people have told me their interpretation of what's happening with VW.  Each report comes from sources attempting to downplay the situation.  Reality is, the automaker can't fix the problem.  Even if reputation is restored back to where it was for gas vehicles sales, the damage is already done.  Those diesel vehicles sold since 2009 either need hardware retro-fitted on the car to treat emissions leaving the engine or software to manipulate the engine to operate cleaner.  The latter will sacrifice efficiency, which most owners won't want to accept.  That leaves only the option of adding equipment the vehicle should have had in the first place.  Ugh.  That effort (time & expense) boggles the mind.  Advocates of diesel will have a hard time dealing with so many disenfranchised owners, who will now take a close look at the other high-efficiency, low-emission choices available.  So, regardless of the effort to make the public at large feel comfortable with VW again, it's too late for those directly impacted by this mess.  Who would have ever thought things would play out this way... and in just a matter of days?  Crazy indeed.

 

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