Prius Personal Log  #736

March 26, 2016  -  March 29, 2016

Last Updated: Tues. 5/03/2016

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3-29-2016

It's Cost, Not Price.  Ugh.  Good thing I haven't been counting the number of times must that same fact be pointed out.  That had to be repeated yet again today.  The discussion got off on a tangent about price.  At least there's was an opportunity to address it.  Topics having to deal with profit and automaker motivation typically die from quick, short deaths.  People get so hung up on engineering and have such weak backgrounds in business, they just plain don't understand what I'm talking about.  Who knew all those accounting, economics, and marketing classes in college would compliment my software engineering degree?  Go figure.  I jumped in with:  Actually, it's COST that's everything.  How much Toyota must spend to produce the vehicle is what determines its future.  Because once those tax-credits expire, only the well planned out designs will be able to maintain high-volume profitable sales.

3-29-2016

Ioniq Compare, part 2.  Turns out, that mystery detail is available.  The electric-motor in the plug-in hybrid model of Ioniq will be 45 kW (60 hp).  Seeing how much of the early market didn't understand the benefit of boosting MPG and was obsessed with EV power, that could be bad news for Ioniq... or maybe not.  It's really hard to tell where the line will be drawn.  It is more power than what the current Prius PHV offers, 38 kW (51 hp).  Ioniq will be a smaller vehicle too.  Heck, it may even deliver higher HV efficiency.  Will that matter?  What will people want?  We have no idea.  The only thing getting attention right now is the expectation of more EV miles.  But that's only based on estimates.  Toyota likes to keep their value low, under-representing expectations to avoid any possibility of disenchantment.  Hyundai is an unknown.  Their MPG estimates have been too high.  But then again, will it matter.  Price will likely be the greatest influence.  Undercutting Toyota would be advantageous.  Toyota treats cost as a factor of great importance.  Prime could be quite competitive.  After all, it will need to face traditional vehicles.  That presents a huge pricing challenge.  Whatever the case, we have to wait roughly another 5 months before we find out.

3-29-2016

Ioniq Compare, part 1.  Today's daily blog topic was all about Hyundai's upcoming offerings, all 3 of them.  I'm obviously most curious about the plug-in hybrid.  So, I dove into the discussion:  With only a 0.1 kWh difference in battery-capacity compared to Prime, it will be interesting to see how the plug-in hybrid compares.  Since Hyundai hasn't released specs on the electric-motor yet, knowing what to expect is a mystery.  The guess is it won't use the same one as the EV model.  Will it be what's in the hybrid model?  If so, that's only 32 kW (43 hp) plus whatever boost the larger battery may be able to deliver.  Toyota has released Prime detail.  With the 2 electric-motors combined, the expected output is 68 kW (91 hp).  That's quite a bump over the current 38 kW.  Toyota will also be delivering electric warmth for the winter.  It adds an interesting new twist for comparisons, especially since it will come from a heat-pump with vapor injection.  That's an industry first, which increases efficiency of heating by roughly 20%.  That will reduce the negative impact on EV range.  Also, keep in mind that Ioniq is smaller inside than Prime.

3-28-2016

Lose-Lose.  That's an interesting situation, when no matter what is done the outcome will be a loss.  I found this a concern: "Granted all marketshares are kind of small, but the Prius Prime is reaching in all those directions while compromising what it was originally...a Prius family, eco friendly car!"  Some people seem to be spinning the purpose of Prius being a family oriented vehicle as one that caters to just the young.  They aren't giving any consideration to what happens once the children begin to grow up.  A family isn't just car-seats & elementary school.  When the kids grow up, you still have to transport them.  At that point, they are larger and have different comfort requirements.  For that matter, some may be driving... putting you in back as a passenger.  Doesn't it make sense that Toyota would recognize what happens over the years and want to retain those customers?  I was annoyed by the absence of consideration for that, so I posted:  Prius was a sedan for 5 years.  For gen-2, it became a hatchback with midsize seating. With Prime, it is still a hatchback with midsize seating.   True, it doesn't offer a place for a 5th person.  But then again, families grow up.  Isn't it trying to continue to appeal to an audience that's changing?  Retaining all of the same aspects of the past means not attempting to adapt to not keep the existing or reaching out to appeal to the new.  That sounds like a lose-lose scenario.

3-28-2016

Naming.  There are some who don't feel Prius Prime is properly named.  That makes me wonder what they are thinking.  Why do that feel that way?  So far, responses have been quite vague.  I jumped in with my thoughts on the topic:  I couldn't imagine "Prime" not catching on.  After all, there is only a small group of early adopters & enthusiast who ever used "PiP" anyway.  The market for plug-in hybrids is still quite new.  Most people know little beyond the basics and certainly aren't aware of the history.  We want to make it clear which generation we're discussing.  So, it is our best interest to intentionally differentiate the generations.  Calling them each by a unique name makes it a heck of a lot easier, especially with respect to searches.  Simply altering an unfamiliar abbreviation is not the way to go.

3-28-2016

Wrong.  What do you do when you encounter information where some is mixed up and some is totally incorrect.  This really go me head scratching: "The new electric motor is all the more commendable because it can achieve up to 95 kW or 127 horsepower compared to the previous one's 68kW or 91 horsepower. With this, the newly launched hybrid can run up to 22 miles at 82 mph..."  95 is just plain wrong, as is the 127 value.  That 68 isn't for the previous, neither is the 91.  Both are for Prime instead.  The 22 is wrong too.  You'll get that under normal driving circumstances, like a 60 mph highway and through town.  Getting that 82 mph isn't realistic.  Aerodynamic drag increases significantly with faster driving.  Where did that 82 come from anyway?  The maximum EV threshold is 84 mph.  Needless to say, all that was such a mess, I didn't bother to respond.  It's simply not worth drawing attention to such a collection of potential greenwashing material.

3-28-2016

Why?  It's rather bizarre reading an article which compares a 2011 Prius to a 2016 Volt.  Why not the newer generation Prius?  Why not the plug-in model?  Why not something from GM instead?  Obviously, it was one of those filler articles with the hope of drawing attention to that publication.  You can't really get anything constructive out of such a mismatch.  Though, I was intrigued by the attempt.  After all, it takes quite an effort to make them seem similar effort to compare, but you can if you gloss over certain facts... like production cost, price paid, seating & cargo size, carbon & smog emissions, and depleted efficiency.  My response on the big Prius forum was:  The underlying point of the article is rather impressive...  You can actually compare a gen-3 Prius to a gen-2 Volt.  It shouldn't make any sense to do that.  One is 5 years older and doesn't even have a plug.  We've heard all the rest before.  But now with Prime on the way, this type of comparison comes off as just floundering to keep readership active.  Why wouldn't there be any mention whatsoever of a plug-in Prius or any of the other plug-in hybrids being offered?  For that matter, why not compare to GM's own hybrid... the upcoming Malibu?

3-27-2016

Electric Heating.  Hooray!  The topic is finally getting some attention.  I'm excited.  It's hard to believe something so vital could have been neglected for so long.  With the gen-1 plug-in offering though, it simply didn't get discussed.  There was little to no detail available.  All we ever really heard was that keeping yourself warm in the Winter meant a rather significant EV plenty.  Range would just plummet and there wasn't a good solution available.  But now with gen-2 models drawing attention, we are finally stirring some interest.  Supporters are seeking out information for a better understanding.  I'm getting to note key differences.  It's exciting to know that Toyota will be including an industry-leading setup.  It's much like the A/C system all those years ago.  Not only what is fully electric, it also was the most efficient design available.  Hearing that Toyota will do the same with Prime is great!

3-27-2016

Mid-Cycle Updates.  That's a topic getting unforeseen attention.  In the past, any improvement to the system along the way was seen as an expectation, something that just naturally happened with new technology.  We've grown so accustomed to it with computers, we don't even noticed model changes anymore.  With vehicles though, that's a different story.  Generational upgrades were always such a big deal, changes mid-cycle were simply looked upon as a refresh.  There was never an expectation of anything worthy of drawing attention.  When you've got a plug though, the story is different... and continues to change.  Volt got minor tweaks to it's battery & system, allowing modest range increases.  Leaf experienced the same, until just recently.  This latest improvement wasn't modest.  Combined chemistry & packaging improvements equate to a rather substantial update.  It's not mid-cycle either.  Nissan just offered what they could when they could.  People are already speculating something similar could happen with Prius Prime.  What if the raising of the false floor when away mid-cycle?  That's entirely possible.  No need to increase range, though that is an option too.  The benefit of squeezing the 8.8 kWh capacity into a smaller area would stir interest.  That's a great thing to have happen along the way, especially with the entire industry striving to reach mainstream consumers.  Think about the timing.  When automakers hit their tax-credit phaseout trigger, that will put pressure on the entire industry.  Nissan, Tesla, and GM will all face that in roughly 2 years.  Toyota positioning to deal with that seems rather sensible.  The fact that some are seeing that already is rather surprising.  Cool.

3-26-2016

EV Fanatics.  This was an interesting comment: "I don't think anyone but few EV fanatics know about that..."  I agreed and was delighted we are now discussing perspective.  Far too often, people overlook others.  They assume everyone else has the same background and same needs.  That difference should be obvious. Often, it actually isn't though.  So, I said:  We understand scope all too well.  In general, people don't pay close attention.  They never get enough detail to be properly informed and they forget the few things they did know.  To make matters worse, facts get blown out of proportion and dates get mixed up.  It's an unfortunate reality we've had too deal with for years.  I've blogged extensively over the past decade and a half.  It's fascinating to read that history documented as it was happening.  You get a very different perspective from those looking back well afterward.  The EV stance is already quite distorted.  Fortunately, a number of those who kept trying to stir the pot have grown silent.  That's pretty sweet.  I'm not going to let their efforts get in the way of what comes later this year.

3-26-2016

1.8 Miles.  The drive out to the coffeeshop to start out my weekend with some blogging is an interesting drive as Winter melts away.  With the temperature just above freezing, I can just barely make the drive there and back using only electricity.  It's remarkably close sometimes.  As I'm backing into the garage, I can see the EV range brush up against the minimum reading.  I make it though, without doing anything special.  Getting up to 55 mph and keeping it there for about two-thirds of the 4.5-mile drive really pushes it.  In the Summer, no big deal.  It's the cold.  That causes electrical resistance to increase, which means EV driving range decreases.  It doesn't help that air-resistance is greater then too.  If the engine starts, it isn't the end of the world.  But to be so close, it becomes an interesting experience to witness.  Not trying to squeeze out more is what makes the experience worthwhile.  You truly don't know what the outcome will be.  That's over now though.  I got smart and wondered... what if?  Rather than taking the same route home, forcing the Prius up to 55 mph after having sat out in the cold for around 2 hours, I took a residential route.  Speed only briefly gets up to 50 mph.  The rest is slower and cuts through the area diagonally.  That makes it both shortly and less demanding.  I made it home with 1.8 miles still left, despite nearly identical conditions with last weekend's drive.  I had no idea it would make that much of a difference.  Sweet!

3-26-2016

3.3 kW Recharging.  Toyota is quite pleased to point out that the recharge rate from a 120-volt connection (a standard household outlet) will be quite a bit faster.  In fact, it will supposedly be faster than what Volt offers.  But then again, with Volt's battery-pack so much larger, you pretty much need a 240-volt connection anyway.  Not having to upgrade your wiring at home is an expense nice to avoid.  Keeping the purchase process as easy as possible is a big deal.  That upgrade is simple for some.  For others, it requires some major rewiring.  That extra cost could be a purchase deterrent... which is why being able to stick with the 120-volt is so nice.  It depends upon where your electrical-box is and how much power is has available.  Fortunately for me, it's in the garage and I already have 200 Amps available.  Of course, I may not upgrade, especially since I'd like a smart-charger.  Being able to connect it with Wi-Fi to track charging data would be great.  Those devices are relatively new still.  So, waiting is fine.  In the meantime, I'd be watching the maximum rate jump from 2.2 kW with the Prius PHV to 3.3 kW for the Prime.  That's a substantial increase in recharging speed without having to change anything at all in the garage.  Cool.

3-26-2016

Complaints.  The biggest complaint found online... which served as constructive criticism... ended up being battery-pack capacity.  That's no surprise.  The cost verses size verses weight verses efficiency, with respect to the wide variety of consumer need, made that a huge issue to tackle.  Taking the end-product approach like GM wasn't an option for Toyota.  That expense & risk just plain isn't worth it.  GM learned that lesson the hard way.  Toyota got a lot of grief for having avoided that dilemma with gen-1 by taking the upgrade approach instead.  What does that mean for consumer perception?  Doubling capacity seems the most sensible balance.  Density & Packaging improvements, combined with system efficiency upgrades, made that a realistic expectation.  Many goals could all be addresses at the same time, rather than sacrificing some for the sake of more EV.  The top speed for EV was obviously the next issue frequently posted about.  Adding a clutch to disengage the engine and allow both electric motor/generators to provide propulsion power at the same time was a logical reconfiguration.  The design could support that without having to sacrifice hybrid efficiency.  More EV power is what people wanted... and that's exactly what we got.  Toyota listens to complaints.  The variety of sources all sounding off really made a difference.  It's too bad GM focused almost exclusively on enthusiast input.  That's how they ended up with such a niche vehicle, one that still garners a great deal of praise from those enthusiasts.  Unfortunately, that does very little to entice ordinary consumers.  Not drawing them in to grow sales is a very big problem.  Toyota is clearly taking that seriously.  Another interesting outcome of complaints was simply what to call it.  If you still want gen-2 to carry the Prius nameplate, yet be easily identified as unique in every venue, how do you do that?  The decision was to call it "Prius Prime".  That particular decision made me absolutely ecstatic.  Way back in November 2008 (specifically on the 30th), the select group of us chosen to go to Detroit to participate in the gen-3 reveal were having a discussion about what to name the various generations.  Having identified the 1998-2000/01 model of Prius as "Original" and the 2001-2003 model of Prius as "Classic", we saw the need to coin a name for the outgoing generation.  I posted this, not realizing how forward-thinking or significant my suggestion would become:  After searching and searching through the thesaurus.  It just hit me, like a ton of bricks!  Since the current model is the one that was adopted by the mainstream, I followed logic of words like "established", "common", and "widespread".  The word "mature" has been used countless times in response to greenwashing attempts.  All those took the mindset beyond "historic" and "founding".  It was the "familiar" feel I was looking for, a sense "base" that was heavily "celebrated" among typical consumers, even "renowned" by some.  Being "well-known" by a "broad" spectrum of people gives it reason to have the spotlight... and will continue to, even as the new model takes hold.  See where I'm going with this?  I suggest we call the 04-09 model: Prius PRIME

 

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