Prius Personal Log #720
November 11, 2015 - November 22, 2015
Last Updated: Tues. 1/12/2016
page #719 page #721 BOOK INDEX
Identical Path. We've heard this nonsense countless times: "It is identical to the path Toyota took." Anyone taking the time to do a little bit of research, perhaps just read the synopsis on wiki, would see that's not the case. In this situation, it's a well-known antagonists who is quite upset with Toyota and unwilling to listen to reason. So lately, the tables turned. He had been posting other people's own quotes to mislead about context. Upset by that, someone used one of his own quotes against him. His rant from a little over a year ago started with that "identical" claim and was followed by: "They introduced a hybrid car which was not profitable and didn't sell a lot... Why not give them the same chances since Toyota is no longer leading the way for electrification?" He was wrong, very wrong about Volt's future. Looking back, we were quite curious how he would respond. Sadly, he chose to abandon that thread which had been active for that entire duration. Regardless, I was happy to post this: No, it's not even close. Toyota limited initial sales to a quota and diversified right away, resulting in a profit by the final year of gen-1. That first offering was targeted directly at middle-market too. GM took a very, very different approach. GM also had a decade of battery & motor experience prior to Volt rollout... EV1, Two-Mode, and BAS/eAssist. Let's not forget about all the fuel-cell development either. As for giving them a chance, you still don't understand what "leading the way" even means. It's the ability to get ordinary people to change. Any automaker can create & sell a niche, which is exactly the GM chose to do. We don't see any high-volume plans for Volt in the future. In fact, GM is now promoting the very things they claimed Volt would make unnecessary. We were told for years that EREV was all anyone needed. It was the best of both worlds: EV without range-anxiety. No need for a plug-in hybrid. No need for an electric-only vehicle. EREV was the solution for everyone. This week the CT6 plug-in hybrid was revealed for our market and there was an announcement that the production-ready Bolt EV would be revealed in January. That's in direct conflict with the "leadership" we had been told about for years. Anyone who claims otherwise is in deep denial of what happened with Volt gen-1 promotion. We're tired of the excuses & spin. We simply want an affordable & profitable vehicle for the masses that's clean & efficient.
New Attack Attempts. The troublemakers are re-emerging. The 2016 is obviously stirring the pot. In this case, it's another Volt owner who's hate for Prius is quite evident. I found it interesting to lurk upon his posts in the Volt forum about the same topics on the Prius forum. His intent is obvious. Of course, we can see that somewhat here: "If you want a PHEV that you can just drive and not have to 'consider' when and where to use it as such, you'll need a better design than the PIP." Needless to say, this is another one of those bomb & leave posts. If he doesn't get anyone naive enough to reply, he doesn't bother. When those of us well informed attack back, we rarely hear back. That was certainly the situation here. I clearly called him on his greenwashing attempt: It's 23°F outside. I just went out into the garage, unplugged the Prius, and drove to the coffee-shop. Top speed was 55 mph. Distance was 4.4 miles. Efficiency was 999 MPG. What part of that needed consideration? Spin of the past attempting to downplay the abilities of PIP fall on deaf ears now. We have proof those claims made were misleading. We're tired of that blatant greenwashing. Plugging in significantly boosts overall efficiency. It's that simple. Our driving results clearly confirm that.
Hydrogen Traps. Supporters of "green" are falling into them at a surprising rate. Rather than actually research their information, they just recite data of the past. They have no idea it's outdated. They have no idea it's limited scope. They even have any idea what the overall goals actually are. It's just "electric is better" chanting. So, when I get a post like this, I can't help but to be both amused & concerned: "And you think building out a nationwide H2 network will be more affordable? lol" His assumptions were obvious from the discussion, just blinding accepting claims at face-value. Much of it stems from not believing the co-exist is possible. It's a terrible mindset to assume only one solution will fit all. Yet, that's quite common. It contributes to the "not reading" problem. That's why some Volt enthusiasts only hear "Prius" even though the discussion is entirely about GM with no mention at all of Toyota. The same thing happens with "affordable" when it comes to fuel-cells. They don't bother to research existing infrastructure. They just assume existing electrical distribution is up-to-the-chore without the need for an overhaul... especially with at the level of expense some of us have already begun to deal with. Anywho, I posted: You clearly haven't actually read what I've been posting. There was no comment related to being affordable. It's taking everything affected into account. For quite awhile now, I've been saying that individuals, landlords, and private business owners aren't going to foot the bill. The large industries with something to lose will. They'll want in on the new fuel as oil demand falls. Think about how much easier it will be for those big players to setup that infrastructure, already having land, labor, and expertise available. The goal is to establish something sustainable that's clean. It doesn't necessarily have to be the most efficient or the lowest cost. Balance is more important.
2016 Prius Details. Interesting timing. Along with the details we got today, we also got news of the price of a barrel of oil dropping below $40. It hasn't been that low since 2002. As expected, the price of gas has dropped too. It is now $1.99 per gallon here. Seeing that made quite an impression. Prius should be able to weather the pressure of cheap gas better than some other choices. Details of the 2016 model appear to confirm that too. The system will be getting generational improvements. The platform itself, that's different. Some improvements are rather dramatic. Rather than focusing heavily on efficiency, much attention was devoted to improving the drive experience. The stance is wider. The center-of-gravity is lower. The handling is more dynamic. Things like the new suspension in back make that obvious. Weight was traded off to make a car of greater appeal. Heck, even the look itself shakes the stereotype Prius itself created. It's not a sports-car by any means, but it is clearly not just a family transport either. As usual, it puts current owners in an awkward position. Prospective buyers on the other hand, they are quite different. There is much opportunity to take advantage of. It's like a fresh start, so much has been invested in making Prius draw in new interest. The plastic look is gone. The seating area is more spacious with the center console change and dashboard refinements. It's well thought out. Toyota obviously took suggestions from online comments very seriously. The consideration of what people were asking for, clearly outside of want the hybrid system delivers, is easy to see. That's a sign of maturity. Now that the original purpose of emission & consumption reduction has been achieved, it was time to focus on other elements even more... more so than some anticipated. But then again, with all the controversy related to MPG estimates, it's no wonder Toyota played it conservatively. Initial reports say MPG observed is much higher than we expect the official EPA values to state. More to come.
First Impressions. I did a search for newly published articles. The first I stumbled upon was from Detroit. It wasn't too bad. The observations were reasonable. I wasn't thrilled about the false information though. The writer made a comment about how the battery-pack had been moved to under the rear seats, so now the cargo floor could be flat. Ugh. It was always flat. He just assumed it wasn't. He also claimed this was the first Prius to offer a lithium battery. It's really the third. The one I've been driving (the plug-in model) for 3.5 years was first. The second was the 7-passenger wagon model in Japan & Europe. So, like I said, it wasn't too bad. To my surprise, the next article gave a "pretty amazing" comment about the rear lights. I guess the boring traditional look is on the way out. My only irk though came from Toyota itself. The rear legroom in back got reduced by almost 2 inches. Ironically, Volt supporters set the precedent for the smaller size, so anything they say would be a double-standard. I'm keeping my mouth shut, since they'll obviously try to spin it to make me appear hypocritical. Though, I could point out that front legroom increased by 0.7, making it 1.4 inches more than what Volt offers. Of course, they'll probably focus on the horsepower anyway. The new hybrid-system measurement give an impression of having been reduced, when in reality, we're getting ordinary incremental improvements where beneficial. That's what should be expected from generational upgrades. So, no change in 0-60 acceleration, but a noticeable improvement for 0-30 acceleration. We get active grille shutters now. There's a wide array of smaller improvements too. We'll find out more as the day proceeds.
Toyota Embargo. Patience is always required when it comes to Prius. This is especially true now. Tomorrow (well, actually very late tonight) we'll learn a lot more about the upcoming 2016 Prius. There were some people invited out to the West Coast to see it firsthand, ahead of the general public. They got a lot of information, including the opportunity to drive it and take video of the experience. The catch is, they have to wait for the official "ok" before revealing any of that. Toyota has an embargo; those who got to see it early are not allowed to release anything about that yet. So, we wait. The speculation is wild. A few minor leaks happened, of course. But we have no solid idea what to actually make of those incomplete tidbits. My guess is this generation focused on refining the system as a whole, rather than focusing primarily on efficiency. We know the platform will get a nicer suspension. The tradeoff is that costs more and it would add weight. It also has a wider stance and a lower center-of-gravity. That is what many had hoped, so... it would be great news to get a confirm. The system is likely more robust for plug-in support too. Even though the existing generation supported that already, there's always opportunity to upgrade. That's how technology progresses. Batteries, motors, controllers, and software all improve over time. It's a realistic expectation. How people react is an entirely separate matter. I'm quite curious about that. Remembrances of the 2010 bring back comments to mind about how radical is looked, especially the headlights. The back end is getting emphasis this time, though the front looks much more sleek. I like the new back. It really stands out, both day & night. That's the point. It's a family car that looks anything but, which will likely cause quite a stir. Critics prefer a traditional look, period. Breaking the mold with a radical look is too much change all at once. Fortunately, the critics aren't planning to purchase. Radical looks tend to grow on people over time. So, whatever the first impression, later on will be different anyway. I'm sure there will be some spin about MPG not being what was hoped for, even though we know there will be a standard and "eco" model, where the latter delivers exactly as anticipated. We'll find out those details soon enough.
Big Picture. Even those attempt to be constructive sometimes miss the big picture: "Hybrid tech germinated in the 20th century. They've ridden those coattails for almost 2 decades now." He was attempting to summarize the problems with fuel-cell rollout, but didn't take into consideration the other issues we face. That's quite common of a mistake, especially when it comes to public funding. I interjected with the following: Plug-in hybrids (available at your local dealership) and lithium chemistries are still quite new, so are some technologies for combustion engines, like direct injection. Trying label something as old to downplay it won't work. You can't just turn a blind-eye to the heavy investment still taking place with traditional vehicles either. Also, notice where the oil industry is currently? The long timespan we enjoyed of relative stability is gone. A time of unpredictability has begun. We've arrived at the so-called "peak" everyone worried about. There's plenty of oil still, but getting it to consumers is a chaotic mess. There's missing & aging infrastructure. New pipelines will need to be built. We have no choice. Are we really going to ride the coattails of the 20th century with oil, repeating another 4 decades of what contributed to a planet now dealing with climate change? Wouldn't it make a whole lot more sense switching to a fuel that can be generated using renewable energy? We know that EV won't work for everyone. There are apartments & condos which clearly cannot accommodate plugging in. There are also countless old neighborhoods with detached garages and exposed power-lines that simply won't be able to handle the addition of large quantities of level-2 chargers. There's the reality that the oil industry won't give up without a fight too. There will not be a single solution for all. Having fuel-cell vehicles co-exist with electric-only vehicle will happen.
Sonata Plug-in Hybrid. It's available now. This offering from Hyundai come with 5 times the battery capacity. That 9.4 kWh is able to deliver an EV range of 27 miles. Pricing of the vehicle is $34,600. Following depletion, the system is rated at 40 mpg combined. It should be very interesting to see how it is welcomed by our market, especially with Outlander and a new Prius PHV on the way. We wonder how Ford & Honda will respond too. As awareness & availability of plug-in hybrid choices grow, sales should pick up. It's such a painfully slow process to get all the automakers contributing. And of course, we have GM still sending mixed messages. Perhaps the isolation of Volt will allow the Malibu to reuse the CT6 plug-in hybrid configuration. Supposedly, they share the same hybrid system. Volt lacks the refined engine, so it should stand apart. Sonata seems to fit right in with the rest. That's a good sign. Hopefully, these crazy low gas prices offer a bridge to plugging. Rather than being in desperation, as back with the $4 gas, we can get people to try them out without feeling like it's a big step. True, the 75 to 100 average MPG is a tough sell when gas is just $2 per gallon, but at least opportunity still exists. It's not like there's an outright pushback anymore. The batteries themselves have proven themselves up to the chore.
Context. It's fascinating to witness a foe trip over their own argument. In this case, it was the claim that I didn't provide context. What he meant was context for that particular comment. I pointed out the context of which the comment was actually made. There's a huge difference. He was treating the situation as if it happened today. I was more than happy to explain things were far from the same now as they were: Back then (late summer 2013) was a time of desperation for Volt hopefuls. Sales had not grown to expectations by year-end 2012. That meant the next 12 months were critical... and the first 9 had already went poorly. The attacks on Prius PHV had growth to an amazing level. Remember the effort to convince people that the entire plug-in capacity was only 6 miles? It was intense and an obvious sign things wouldn't get any better for Volt. The next generation was still 2 years away. Ford's Energi models were seeing growth. Leaf was gaining appeal, despite "range anxiety" and heat-degradation issues. Tesla was causing quite a stir. GM remained stubborn, insistent upon not offering an EV, any type of hybrid, or even a more affordable version of Volt. Inventory was piling up. The price got dropped by $5,000. Sales didn't increase though. The "who" question was getting asked more and more. With BMW's i3 beginning to draw interest, there was good reason to wonder who Volt would appeal to. After all, early-adopter purchases were complete. Meanwhile, people were learning to tolerate the gas prices around $3.35 per gallon as the norm. Remember what came just a month later? The disastrous second-generation BAS called eAssist was canceled and the Cadillac version of Volt was announced with a price of $75,995. It was a mess. GM was betting the farm on Volt success. You can imagine the type of pressure that put on supporters.