Prius Personal Log  #752

July 8, 2016  -  July 15, 2016

Last Updated: Sun. 10/02/2016

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More Misleading.  Sometimes, you simply have to blog about to... because some won't believe later that it actually happened:  Here's another example of promoting by misleading: "In 2012, just as other carmakers seduced these buyers with all-electric cars and plug-in hybrids boasting ranges of about 20 miles, Toyota finally offered them a Prius that had a charging port.  But it was capable of just 6 miles of electric range—and that was only when it was driven as if an egg were under your right foot."  Not only did a supposedly reputable publisher claim just 6 miles total capacity, they also implied many carmakers were offering plug-in hybrids back then.  In reality, capacity was 11 miles and it was only Ford.  Another bit of misleading that got my goat was: "Top speed in EV mode is 84 mph, which makes it more usable than the former Prius Plug-In's (mostly theoretical) 62-mph top end in EV mode."  Since when is the 62 mph EV speed theoretical?  I see that routinely.  What is the basis of their claim?  Why does it matter anyway?  Posted highway speeds around here are 55, 60, 65, and 70. There is no need to sustain travel at 62 mph.  Needless to say, we're going to see a lot more of this misleading for awhile.  That's unfortunate.


Support Material.  I especially enjoyed sharing this today:  Speaking of information sharing, I have been collecting Prius Prime support material from my Prius PHV for over 4 years now.  By recharging the 4.4 kWh battery-pack each day at work, that resulting real-world detail provides a basis of expectations for the 8.8 kWh battery-pack with only a single charge.  It was reasonable to believe Toyota would attempt to deliver double the current capacity.  Little did I know that was exactly what would happen.  Fortunately, it did. Now we have something to build upon, even before rollout begins.  We know that Toyota has worked hard to increase efficiency of the electrical system too.  So, results from Prius Prime should be better just recharging once per day.  In my case, the 38-mile commute easily falls within the 22-mile capacity.  So, recharging at work will put me into the 999 MPG category when I upgrade.  I'm quite curious how the vapor-injected heat-pump will operate in Minnesota Winter driving.  I'm also quite excited about the heated steering-wheel and the ability to pre-warm the vehicle using plug-supplied electricity.  There's much to look forward to.  Hopefully, my wait to upgrade will be less than 5 months.

7-15-2016 Prius Prime Is Better, annoyed.  He tried to turn it back on me.  I was annoyed and wouldn't allow that, especially from such a memorable antagonist.  So, I pushed back.  This is what ultimately did it: "Agreed but I was only responding to your posts which in a full circle sort of way gets back to your OP concerning dealing with misleading statements or uninformed opinions."  And I was happy to reply with...

When I provided the opportunity to present some data, you chose to spin instead.  That's a letdown and the same waste we had to deal with back when you owned a Volt.  Why not try to help everyone move beyond that?  Here's an example of what you should have posted:

Prius PHV cuts off EV depletion at 23.5% of total battery-capacity.  If the engine is cold, up to 5.5% of the remaining capacity (down to 18.0%) may be used for warm-up.  The purpose of consuming that electricity with a high-draw is reduce emissions by limiting the amount of propulsion power demand on the engine by keeping it at a low RPM.  The traction-motor handles that burden instead.

Your supposed claim is that Prius Prime should consume that electricity for EV driving, preventing the engine from ever starting due to being close to your destination.  This would mode would automatically be activated based upon current GPS location being compared to saved driving history.

In theory, that sounds simple. Looking at the actual data, not so much.  Just under 0.25 kWh is available. Using the standard measure of 4 miles per 1 kWh, that electricity is enough to take you 1 mile under favorable driving conditions.  With the heater or A/C running, highway speeds, acceleration from a stop, or having to climb a large hill, that distance available is reduced.  Those factors will not be apparent to drivers.

In other words, a vague statement of "like EV+" only serves to feed assumptions and establish false expectations.  By far, the better approach is to present information so discussions can take place about it and other detail & experiences can be shared.  I requested that, but didn't get it.


Purity Obsession.  Some people really don't learn: "The point being gas is still being used when it might not have to use any at all."  You sometimes have to wonder just how far someone would take that.  Pushing a principle doesn't accomplish much.  It's far more effective to lead by example.  We see many stepping up to wait for the purchase of an EV.  The wait is painful.  Many actually will follow through.  They are who post comments like that though.  That unfortunate "do as I say, not do as I do" approach is annoying.  That's why I push for detail.  It reveals true intent.  I also just push back, like today:  No.  That is not the point.  It is to reduce gas consumption, not eliminate it.  You want electric-only, you buy something that offers far more capacity.  The effort to focus solely on commute distance is insincere... since most people have a life... meaning they drive somewhere else after work.  That means using some gas on a regular basis.


Reducing Dependency.  This simple message got a few likes:  89 MPG from my commute and evening driving today with my Prius PHV.  65.7 miles total. 2 full charges used.  That's 4.4 kWh twice.  In other words... it's a representation of what Prius Prime could deliver with a single charge.  Keep in mind, the newer will have a more efficient electrical system.  That certainly reduces our dependency on oil.


Wrong Audience.  I actually got a response: "Necessary, and it being what the vast majority of people purchasing plug-ins expect are two different things.  From my experience you are in the minority in not caring."  He acknowledged the outstanding MPG, but just plain didn't care.  Focus was entirely on AER.  If that "All Electric Range" isn't far enough, he considers the configuration a failure.  It's that all-or-none mindset.  The purity nonsense went no where for 5.5 years.  The niche perspective simply doesn't work.  Ordinary people don't purchase an absolute; instead, they seek out a balance.  Oh well.  Some people never learn.  For the rest:  Those early adopters are not representative of the masses.  Mainstream consumers are quite different.  They will go for an augmented hybrid.  They are not expecting electric only drive 100% of the time.  The 5.5 million Prius owners never had that expectation, but would be willing to pay more for more electric only driving but still want a hybrid... which is exactly what Prius Prime delivers.


The Point.  There was a new discussion on one of those all-audience blogs for green cars.  I couldn't resist diving in upon reading this: "The Prius Prime would not work for many commuters in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area as a commuter vehicle, even if you exclude winter."  It seemed as though I would dealing with someone who just plain didn't know how the system actually.  Sadly, I may never find out either.  Those venues have threads with short lives and participants are quite random.  Oh well.  At least I could join in:  That misses the point.  AER to cover your entire commute isn't necessary.  My recharging at work is to replenish the current 4.4 kWh battery.  With the new 8.8 kWh, I wouldn't need to since the total round-trip capacity is the doubled.  Overall MPG will be outstanding, even without recharging at work.  You still get the benefits of the hybrid system.  You still get the benefit from plug-supplied electricity.

7-11-2016 Prius Prime Is Better, expectations. 

Setting them key.  Prius PHV had a purpose.  Remember what it was?  That begs the same question of Prius Prime.

When Toyota rolled out their first plug-in hybrid, the design had a clear focus of augmenting the existing design.  Give it a larger battery and means of supplying electricity that wasn't derived from gas.  Since the design already had untapped abilities, like a more powerful traction motor than what the smaller battery could support, that extra boost was easy to exploit.  The engineers had already taken the future into account.  It was basically just a matter of waiting for cost to drop.

Turns out though, the market expectation was pushed in another direction following rollout.  Volt was directly responsible for that. GM provided proof that power beyond the existing thresholds for Prius were desirable... but wasn't actually able to capitalize on it.  GM wasn't able to capture interest from mainstream consumers as hoped.  So, Toyota halted rollout plans and instead decided to focus on the limited established markets instead.  The question became a matter of how to learn from GM's struggle and their own success with Prius.

What should the next-generation design deliver?

Toyota's approach of platform refinement & reuse has always been the key to sales & profitability.  With a plug-in model, much of the design would need to be shared to have that advantage.  The 4th generation Prius would become the first to use TNGA, a modular approach to vehicle production.  The next PHV (known as "Prime") would follow using it.

Turns out, adding a clutch to disengage the gas-engine allows both electric-motors to deliver propulsion power.  No need to alter much else.  Switching from a traction/generator relation in the regular Prius to a traction/traction approach for the plug-in really was that simple.  The increased battery-capacity could be exploited with little extra cost.  More power could be delivered.

The question now is how can Toyota succeed where GM continues to struggle.  Toyota will deliver the improvements claimed to be vital to advance gen-1 to gen-2.  Like the PHV model, Prime will deliver industry-top efficiency following depletion of plug-supplied electricity.  Prior to that, you'll get full EV driving experience, which includes an industry-top cabin heating system.

It boils down to initial reaction.  Will ordinary consumers find the 22-mile rating acceptable enough to take a closer look?  Since all the expectations are fulfilled, there isn't much else to ask.


Prius Prime Is Better, think about.  When you read this, what do you think: "Honestly, I have a feeling Toyota will cripple sales of the Prius Prime to try to prove that people don't want to but plug-in's (between lack of 5th seat, price which we don't know yet, and nationwide availability which we'll see if actually happens)."  This is what I posted:  That's a terrible way of setting expectations.  By that, I don't mean the negative attitude.  You're entitled to your opinion.  That's fine.  It's the vague nature of price & availability doesn't actually tell us anything.  In other words, what goals have you set for the measure of success or failure?  Keep in mind that not knowing is what crippled other vehicles in the past.  People will just spin results without clear expectations having been stated.  Think about the state of the market... mandates, credits, automakers, dealers, consumers, and battery technology.


Prius Prime Is Better, great example.  As supporters, we have much to share:  For ordinary consumers, the topic of PHV verses Prime really doesn't make any difference.  Today provided a great example.  At that new grocery store, just 0.6 mile from our house, there are 4 charging stations... free and in high traffic locations.  (It's a pretty sweet setup.)  That draws attention to the Prius PHV. I've had people stop to ask about what I think of owning a car with a plug.  They aren't obsessed with detail like many of us here in the forum.  They simply want to know about convenience & reliability.  Oddly, price isn't asked about.  It really is just a matter of having confidence in the technology.  That's the key.  That's what will help sell it.  Today, my wife just stepped back and let me engage in a quick conversation with a passer-by.  I answered a series of questions.  Range wasn't even asked about. I eventually just mentioned my 72 MPG average and that the newer version coming out this Fall would do even better.  Her curiosity, there in the parking lot, looked very much like what I anticipate at the dealership later with Prius Prime.  Ordinary people will simply want to know more and the basics are all easy to convey.  We learned from Volt that attracting attention of customers wandering around on the showroom floor, just randomly shopping with the hope of stumbling across something to excite them, is vital.  GM still hasn't achieved that.  Sales for Volt come from conquest. Rather than appealing to their own base, buyers are from other automakers.  That's a major opportunity lost and a sign of hard times to come.  The goal is to transition from traditional vehicles to cleaner more efficient choices.  Not being able to appeal to your own loyal customers is a very big problem.  Toyota is attempting to overcome that, trying to avoid falling into the same trap as GM.  That's why Prius Prime doesn't fit the profile we've come to expect.  Change is challenging.  I'm quite optimistic this approach will break out beyond current barriers.  22 miles seems small to us. But to the them, the resulting MPG will blow their minds.  It's easy to understand and will be effortless to achieve.  That's a winning formula for drawing in the masses.


Prius Prime Is Better, the challenge.  It continued:  The themes of "never enough" and "true competition" come up over and over again.  Each new thread may touch the topic, but none really actually address it well.  That's the challenge to overcome.  Volt just plain didn't attract the attention of the masses, even when gas was really expense.  It was those countless other factors of influence discussion struggle to get into.  So, it tends to just fall back on more EV is better.  Interestingly, the topic of Tesla popped up today at the barber shop.  Even with the 200-mile range, that simply wasn't enough.  They just dismissed the idea of electric-only travel and moved on.  At least with some focus on 4 or 5 seats, we are seeing some movement beyond the trapped mindset of the past.  Will people dismiss Prius Prime just as easily as Tesla was today?  The supposed mass-market choices, like Volt and Leaf, certainly aren't coming up in conversations.  Heck, we barely here mention of them here anymore.  Signs of change are finally emerging.  The old daily blog for Volt has been void of Volt topics for quite awhile now.  It has transformed into another venue for plug-in support discussions.  Posts no longer find Prius a competitor.  Reality is finally sinking in that traditional vehicles are really the true competition.  Consider how unappealing a plug-in vehicle is to a traditional salesperson.  When you can get a commission that's larger and much easier, why bother?  Selling a guzzler takes so little effort in comparison.  That's where Prius Prime comes in.  Even though some here don't like the approach, the lower production-cost (equating to higher commission) and obvious appeal of EV make a compelling reason for salespeople to actually try.  A simple test-drive will be enough to get potential buyers to consider the purchase.  That's hard to do with a regular Prius when you encounter a loyal Toyota customer on the showroom floor.  But with the plug-in offering a new twist on being green, but not requiring significant compromise, there's opportunity.


Prius Prime Is Better, more is better.  Sometimes, you just plain can't get the message across.  There's always someone who falls into the "more is better" trap.  That problem coming up in this new topic was inevitable.  It can't be avoided.  It can't be prevented.  It can only be responded to.  The ultimate problem is their response is a gut reaction with little actual thought.  Rather than joining them by responding with numerical exchanges, the best way to respond to that is to give them something to ponder.  Remember how senseless the acceleration-speed arguments were well over a decade ago?  Most people have no clue how much of a supposed issue that was.  The greenwashing (both unintentional and deliberate) came about from the same belief... numbers.   In that case, smaller was supposedly better.  No one could prove way though.  That's because real-world data proved it was overkill.  That's the same in this situation too.  More simply isn't necessary.  The goal of significantly reduced emissions & consumption is easily achieved with a 22-mile EV capacity.  In other words, stop thinking about "range" and start thinking about results.  I put it this way:  That belief of more EV being better hasn't proven the case so far and continues without substance.  It's not so simplistic.  The true competition isn't other plug-in vehicles either.  Consider audience and production cost.  Then think about dealer inventory and salesperson incentive.


Prius Prime Is Better, no value.  It has always been a frustration to read posts with calculations that don't assign any monetary worth to having cleaner emissions and reduced oil-dependency.  Sadly, almost all are nothing but MPG numbers.  Their focus is to justify the "hybrid premium" based solely on the cost-savings from using less gas.  They set the expectation of the "free lunch" scenario virtually every time.  Rather than promote the benefit by speaking of its value, they exclude it entirely.  That's as absurd as expecting a premium upgrade feature without paying for it.  No one ever does that when choosing the larger engine for a vehicle.  They are more than willing to pay for the increased power.  But when it comes to increased efficiency (and the resulting decreased pollution), they are not.  That goes way beyond double-standard.  But expression of emotion toward the topic doesn't achieve anything.  So, I settle for posting to-the-point comments like this:  Applying no value whatsoever to the substitution of electricity in place of gas is the same sales challenge the regular Prius has had since the beginning.  That perspective is a major problem for anything green.  For that matter, you're far better off financially sticking with your old car.


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