Prius Personal Log  #763

September 22, 2016  -  September 25, 2016

Last Updated: Sun. 10/02/2016

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9-25-2016

Aftermath, drive mode.  No one seems to have asked about this new button yet.  All we've heard is just brief mention of its existence, no detail.  Supposedly there's a charge option.  It could be a killer-app feature, giving Prius Prime an edge that Volt simply doesn't have a way of competing with.  The hope is that button will offer the ability to replenish EV capacity while you drive.  The penalty of recharging on-the-fly by consuming gas is obvious; it reduces MPG.  But we know Prius Prime will be more efficient than Volt once the battery is depleted.  The impression given is that it will have a 10 MPG advantage.  So, that penalty won't be much of an impact.  When you complete driving, you'll have EV available.  For me, I routinely take longer drives.  Visits to friends & family easily exceed the EV capacity Volt offers.  There would be ample opportunity to replenish EV.  Heck, I modestly achieve that now by "stacking".  But rather than having to push the EV/HV button to designate recharges while braking to be allocated to EV miles, it would be automatic and on-going.  Saving electricity generated while you cruise, rather than using immediately for better HV efficiency, allows you to take advantage of EV opportunity later.  In other words, we get more than just a hold mode.  The resulting overall MPG could be quite impressive.  Yeah!

9-25-2016

Aftermath, competition.  Commentary about Prius Prime competing with Volt will be plentiful.  The "leap frog" with sales never happened and advantage of hard-acceleration has been lost.  So regardless of past greenwashing efforts, those quantifiable points cannot be avoided.  It's a new game now, especially with the increased battery capacity.  I've heard several reviews now downplaying the 13-hour recharge time using level-1 shouldn't be a concern, since the entire EV range will rarely be used for daily driving anyway.  Not having any type of night-life is a hard sell.  People drive to places other than work.  People stay out late in the evening.  People want to use all of what they paid for.  All that, combined with the taller seating in back makes Prius Prime worthy of comparisons.  I suspect the much higher MPG following depletion will be a big draw for those who drive longer distances routinely.  There's also the dual-wave window, an obvious standout feature for those not wanting an ordinary look.  GM intentionally toned down Volt's visual points to make it blend into the crowd of mainstream vehicles.  Was that a good idea... especially now that we're seeing more an more vehicles with distinct LED lighting?  There's much to speculate about.  My guess is the aggressive pricing for Prius Prime along with the option of luxury goodies, like the huge screen, will result in a number of Volt conquests.  Remember, there's only a limited amount of tax-credits available.  Toyota has many to offer for Prius Prime.  GM has fewer and wants to dedicate as many as possible to Bolt for beating Tesla with Model 3.  That will very likely keep sales expectations for Volt quite low.

9-24-2016

Aftermath, choices.  The importance of understanding audience cannot be stressed enough.  It's absolutely vital.  Diversity is a what you use to determine what works and what doesn't.  There will typically be several that do.  For those that don't, they need to be either discontinued or downsized.  With the case of Volt, it's most likely not necessary to kill it off.  Enough seeking more range and not concerned about rear seating could sustain it economically.  Producing too many can be costly.  Producing too few may or may not make a difference, it all depends upon what the high-volume choice is.  Looking at Bolt to fulfill that role, we can move on to the other automakers.  Finally!  All that spotlight stealing wasn't constructive.  It only served to stall the push for middle-market.  Hyundai is seeking them.  With 3 choices of Ioniq, that certainly will be interesting.  Of course, it too is small.  However, price is expected to be much lower.  That affordability aspect may work for those buyers.  Again, it's a matter of trying to see what works.  We're all quite curious how Chrysler will do with they Pacific hybrid.  Being a minivan with a plug is unique.  That in itself may result in strong sales.  After all, Mitsubishi's Outlander is in a similar position.  Anywho, both are attempts to test the market.  Kudos.  I'm looking forward to a personal endorsement of Prius Prime.  Having studied both the technology and the audience extensively, I see great potential.

9-24-2016

Aftermath, why?  Did it really have to come to this?  Remember all the posts about a "lite" version of Volt?  It was to influence GM, to convince them that gen-2 should be configured to draw the interest of mainstream consumers... the same group of buyers who would otherwise purchase a Malibu or Cruze.  They didn't.  They decided not to offer a plug-in or hybrid model of Equinox either.  We got news yesterday the new Equinox would be offered with 2 turbocharged gas engines and 1 diesel engine.  Those will be the only choices.  No battery-pack of any kind will be offered.  What the heck are they thinking?  Why must that even be asked?  Who is making such terrible decisions?  Don't they see how well the RAV4 hybrid is selling?  Or are they quietly developing a hybrid after all?  It's this big mystery now that Volt has almost completely vanished from online discussions.  Heck, the media doesn't say anything about Volt anymore either.  Bolt has completely pushed it out of the spotlight.  Of course, that somewhat validates the naming choice.  Sounding so close, it can be easy to overlook an omission... even on that big.  That's the reason my commentary has an "aftermath" title.  All the battles are over.  The war has been lost.  We know look to what can be saved.  Volt as a niche is realistic.  True, hopes of mainstream sales have vanished entirely.  Thoughts of remaining appealing a particular group is enough to keep in production.  Small isn't bad.  It's just not what enthusiasts had wanted.  Of course, they didn't want it to become ubiquitous either.  Then it wouldn't be special anymore.  It was a paradox none of them ever understood.

9-24-2016

Aftermath, simplicity.  The precedent was set by Volt.  That's why I keep referring about it directly, rather than discussing the industry as a whole.  It was complex.  The very act of explaining how it operated turned off most who were curious.  GM didn't have the option of simply saying, "It's a Prius with a plug."  Toyota does.  That opportunity has been thoughtfully postponed too.  Waiting until cost & capacity could be improved to the point of it never stirring much concern was key.  A simple look at the window-sticker will cease any worry in that regard.  That's the simplicity dealer & salesperson desire.  They can focus on selling aspects of the car instead.  For Prius Prime, that means pointing out the many features of the vehicle, like the LED lights and the dual-wave window.  GM customers never got that far.  Volt didn't stand a chance.  Prius Prime has an appeal which will speak for itself.  Simply let the curious showroom shopper take a closer look.  They understand that plugging in allow the car to go without the engine starting.  Nothing needs to be explained.  Heck, even the range is so clear, there's not a thing to question.  It's like MPG rating of the regular Prius.  People simply don't ask any questions about it.  They move on to the next level of shopping, which is checking out the vehicle itself.  Toyota offers a few compelling draws... enough to entice a test-drive.  Achieving that is a major challenge to overcome... which looks quite realistic.

9-24-2016

Aftermath, outlook.  There's an optimistic outlook.  True, we still here from those who misrepresent, but the solution is the same we've seen in the past... prove them wrong with a massive amount of real-world data.  Those reports of owner experiences drown out the rhetoric.  All you have to do is share stories of your daily driving.  That's it.  The lack of any real competition to Volt gave enthusiasts an inflated sense of victory.  They felt the "mission accomplished" feeling.  Reusing to look at the bigger picture was their downfall.  Thank goodness that's over.  It's a new chapter started.  Claims of range being "not enough" will fall on deaf ears.  The showroom shoppers simply won't ever hear any of that nonsense.  True, their will be very real apprehension about 22 miles being enough from Prius Prime.  But the expectation is that Toyota will take a stance of aggressive pricing.  They won't squander the tax-credits.  First year will be the build up, giving enough pieces in place to be able to push hard.  The hope is this product-cycle (generation) will result in 1 million sales worldwide.  That's the kind of volume all automakers need to overcome production costs, as well as dealer hesitation.  Don't forget the absolutely vital aspect of participation.  Supposedly, only two-thirds of GM dealers are certified to sell Volt.  Among those, many don't bother to actually sell them.  Inventory is limited and salespeople aren't interested.  They steer shoppers to traditional vehicles.  Toyota wants to address this problem head on.  That's no easy task.  Simplicity is the key.

9-24-2016

Aftermath, promotion.  The resistance from me against Volt comes from promoting it as a mainstream vehicle.  Sales are flat and limited to those well outside the norm for what anyone would call an ordinary car buyer.  It's a specialty vehicle... which is fine.  Why not offer something that appeals to those seeking more than just a reliable transport which is affordable & practical?  After all, even Toyota is doing that by offering a divergent model of Prius.  Notice how Prime pushes those limits?  Think about it.  I see the potential in the technology.  I simply don't like the choice of a compact car with heavy emphasis on range & power.  That was never a good idea.  But cars like Camry and Corolla are labeled as boring.  So, trying to draw attention to Malibu and Cruze as viable platforms to electrify is basically futile.  Enthusiasts will fight that, as the blogs have overwhelmingly confirmed.  That brings us to the problem of promotion.  How do you promote something that really shouldn't have attention drawn to it?  Mainstream consumers couldn't care less how the propulsion system operates.  They just want results.  It's a fundamental conflict.

9-24-2016

Aftermath, upgrades.  My resentment for the double-standard coming from Volt enthusiasts seemed endless.  Fortunately, I knew what they claimed impossible would come to be.  The spin was that Prius was a dead-end, a waste of time not worth any type of investment.  The portrayal was that of hopelessness.  It was a dangerous precedent to set.  So much so, I became quite surprised that it persisted all the way until Bolt's distance reveal... which was just 2 weeks ago.  They kept holding on to the hope that Volt's larger battery-capacity alone would make it a popular seller, since Toyota was about to deliver several upgrades.  The to-the-floor acceleration was the most profound loss.  Prius wasn't supposed to be able to deliver that much EV power.  Prius Prime is about to prove them wrong, very wrong.  The ultimate Achilles heal for Volt was heater drain.  In Winter driving, that use of electricity for warming rather than propulsion was painful.  Range reduction was a major problem... and Prius Prime will be delivering a more efficient solution, making size of the battery less important.  But what drove the final nail in the coffin was from GM itself with Bolt.  The jump from 53 to 238 is massive.  That's so big, the entire purpose for Volt falls apart.  The problem of "range anxiety" now has a better solution.  Oops! 

9-24-2016

Aftermath, hostility.  There was a lot of hostility.  Rather than seek a partnership, they touted a "vastly superior" attitude.. which sadly, prevented any type of cooperation.  I worried about that right from the start.  Back then, it was referred to as the "trophy mentality".  Being awarded recognition for engineering achievement was all that mattered to those Volt enthusiasts, even if it didn't contribute to the end goal.  That praise was more important than actually making a difference.  I was annoyed... until Ford's rollout.  They delivered a plug-in hybrid that fit the new definition for Volt.  The original definition is what the EPA still uses for EREV; it is a SERIES type hybrid.  C-Max Energi fit the same criteria enthusiasts had spelled out for Volt.  They weren't seeking an ally.  So anyone endorsing that, like myself, ended up having to deal with hostile posts.  You'd get labeled as a "troll" for saying anything that didn't cast a light of supremacy.  Looking back, it's hard to believe the 4 years that followed were nothing but a stream antagonistic posts.  Fortunately, the supporters of Volt did all they could to keep a distance from those enthusiasts.  Unfortunately, that meant no help stopping them from greenwash efforts... like the "6 mile" misleading... which ended up becoming the spread of outright lies.  Ugh.

9-23-2016

Capacity & Range.  Constructive questions are getting asked now... on the big Prius forum, anyway.  This particular one caught my interest today: "What's the usable battery of the current pip?  I thought it was 3.3 kWh.  Anyone know if the primes usable battery is just double or is it more.  Does it make sense to put a % of the battery in reserve or only a set amount?  I think Chevy is one to change it up a bit from Gen 1 to 2..."  I was happy to contribute some detail to stimulate more discussion:  Knowing how Toyota routinely understates, it makes sense that we'll actually get more EV miles than what's officially stated.  The math seems to suggest that too.  Volt gen-1 (11.2 kWh of 17.1) = 65%;  Volt gen-2 (14.0 kWh of 18.4) = 76%;  Prius PHV (85% SOC - 23.5%) = 61.5% EV;  Prius PHV (85% SOC - 18.0%) = 67.0% EV+HV.  We can see there's opportunity to use more energy from the battery, that a longevity-buffer so large probably isn't necessary.  In other words, the doubling of the original 11 miles to 22 because total capacity grew from 4.4 kWh to 8.8 is likely on the low side, especially since we know the efficiency of the system itself has improved.

9-23-2016

Dealer Visit.  I stopped to visit and share information.  Those package & color details was far more than they had.  Though, I did find out what the number was for the package I want.  Two orders were in the system for that region, but who they'd go to was uncertain.  No big deal.  I can wait to submit my own later.  It would be nice to repeat the process like in the past... place an order online myself, then get confirmation from the dealer I chose.  That makes it easier for everyone involved.  It's exciting to reach this milestone.  Patience is no big deal.  I learned that ages ago.  That's essential when dealing with Prius.  The wait has been well worth it every time too.  Actually be able to get in line officially ups the ante.  Progress from the reveal to waiting for delivery is a step I've anticipated for a very long time.  Oddly, I still remember the wait for my first Prius.  The memory is quite vivid, despite it being over 16 years now.  Making new ones is exhilarating.  I can't imagine forgetting this stage.  Portions are known.  Other bits are not yet.  It's a big puzzle with parts all suddenly fitting together.  Yeah!

9-22-2016

Packages & Colors.  What a fitting way say to actually mark the end.  With perfect timing, the spotlight just naturally shifted over to Prius Prime.  We got package details today.  There will be a "Plus", a "Premium", and an "Advanced" model.  I'll be getting Advanced, which is the top offering.  It's very exciting to finally get such information.  That means delivery isn't too far off.  Of course, I can't order one yet.  But at least we know what production plans are.  That includes colors too.  The one that has me captivated is Blue Magnetism.  It's a deeper blue than I have now with a shade of green and a metallic luster.  It's a color exclusive to Prius Prime too.  We'll find out pricing in a week and a half.  Then, I bet specifics about ordering will emerge.  The wait is interesting.  We have a major election happening on roughly the same schedule.  Though, the outcome certainty from Toyota is far more predictable.  Anywho, I'm quite excited and the feeling is certainly not exclusive.  There are quite a number of others sharing the same anticipation.  We're getting closer.

 

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