Prius Personal Log  #771

October 25, 2016  -  October 28, 2016

Last Updated: Sat. 12/10/2016

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10-28-2016

Availability History, drawing conclusions.  What allows you to draw conclusions about approach and believe it cannot change during the generation's availability.  So what if Prime may only be initially available to those who are willing to hunt one down, rather than stumble across it on the dealer's showroom floor?  That exactly how sales began for the no-plug model all those years ago.  Heck, even the battery-pack was upgraded mid-cycle back then.  Who's to say that same strategy won't work again?

10-28-2016

Availability History, approach change.  The raised floor is another obvious issue of dissension.  Toyota's choice of function over form is not new.  They saw the benefit from that change of approach and went for it.  The cargo benefit of a hatchback comes primarily from the ability to carry long & wide objects.  The height of objects wasn't even mentioned until 9 years later when the wagon model was introduced.  Notice how that touch-screen and digital-speedometer are still standard, despite having been a profound change for a vehicle's dashboard?  Who will really take issue with it not being as tall?  Look at how well small SUVs sell, even though they offer a lot of height but very little depth behind the seats.

10-28-2016

Availability History, very wrong.  Early this year, we discovered just how very wrong those greenwashers were... and how they'd quickly change their claims, focusing attention on perceived shortcomings instead.  The exclusion of a middle seat is the obvious new highlight.  Toyota's effort to explore & expand is outright dismissed.  That 5th could be offered later.  But then again, maybe it won't.  Product diversification would suggest offering in on second vehicle choice instead.  Whatever the case, it has been a distraction from the technology... a clear effort to undermine.

10-28-2016 Availability History, production end.  In June 2015, the decision was made to end production of Prius PHV.  Almost immediately, the greenwashers pounced on the opportunity to deceive about Toyota's intent.  They'd raise doubt and draw conclusions based solely on specific observations, absolutely refusing to acknowledge the fallout of having to deal with the very problem Volt now faces with having become known as a niche and being configured accordingly.  The did everything in their power to deny the possibility that a much improved plug-in hybrid system was in development and that promoting the old one any further would have negative consequences.
10-28-2016

Availability History, plug-in model.  Prius PHV rollout was to be a mid-cycle update to gen-3.  The platform itself was already designed to accommodate the larger battery-pack and faster EV speed.  Cost was still very expensive and the market acceptance of plugging in faced with fierce resistance.  The struggle with Volt sales made it all too clear that a limited rollout would be a wise move.  So as the time approached to expand availability beyond the initial 15 states arrived, Toyota decided not to.  Instead, they'd continue study in the established markets to provide valuable information about how to attract buyers with the next generation instead.

10-28-2016

Availability History, third generation.  The rollout of gen-3 brought about quite a stir.  The outgoing generation had been very successful.  Could a more efficient & powerful system not only retain mainstream interest, but also attract new buyers?  News of plug-in offerings sometime in the future was common, but the viability of the technology was still unproven.  Longevity & Cost issues were very real concerns.  The economy had fallen apart.  Gas prices were bringing uncertainty.  It was a challenging time, especially with the lack of reasonable competition.  Prius was often paired up against Jetta TDI in bias and questionable comparisons.  And of course, we now know that "clean diesel" was a massive deception.

10-28-2016

Availability History, second generation.  When gen-2 was rolled out (late 2003), greenwashing spin was alive & well.  Fortunately, Toyota's decision to limit Prius in such a way revealed itself to be a wise decision.  They had target an audience who would become strong supporters of the technology.  Rather than just rolling out to an open market, they successfully limited availability and changed expectations.  The feedback from those owners really paid off too.  The next generation would be configured to appeal to a much wider audience.  It would also be profitable right from the very first sale.  All that was a major undertaking that many had either misunderstood or went out of their way to cast doubt upon.

10-28-2016

Availability History, first generation.  Let's start with a look back at Prius history.  Rollout began in Japan.  Sales began in December 1997 and continued exclusively there until August 2000 with the first major upgrade, which went to the United States exclusively.  Despite providing a much improved battery-pack and more engine power, it was labeled as a first generation vehicle.  Some of that came from clueless writers.  Some of that came from intentional undermining.  Toyota was unbothered.  Rollout would only be to online orders and the vehicle wouldn't offer cruise-control.  Instead, it came with a touch-screen and digital-speedometer.  The reason why for such odd choices was far from obvious... until many years later.

10-28-2016

Availability History, background.  Few are asking why we're seeing Prime being rolled out they way it is.  They just draw conclusions based upon observation of the present.  Oddly, neither the future nor the past are being taken into consideration.  Pointing out what's coming is basically futile.  It's far to easy to spin that information.  So, I usually don't bother.  I can provide lots of history though.  And in the case of availability, I certain have a lot of that for Prius to share.  This series of posts is how I did that:  People without a business background (having taken accounting, economics, and marketing classes, then studied the automotive industry for the past few years), will have a very difficult time understanding Toyota's approach.  Look forward to a lot of assumptions and greenwashing efforts as a result.

10-27-2016 Mini Countryman.  The topic of battery-capacity is an interesting one.  Volt enthusiasts outright dismiss everything else.  If it doesn't deliver 53 miles of EV like Volt does, it's not worth bothering.  Thankfully, the rest of the industry isn't so close-minded.  We're seeing shorter ranges from a wide variety of automakers.  All focus on that smaller offering for the same reason... cost & size.  Wanting to provide more requires tradeoffs too great for competing; business need falls apart as a result.  The latest example of trying to deliver that delicate balance comes from Mini (a division of BMW).  The new, much larger SUV, will be available with a plug.  It will be a "thru the road" type hybrid.  The front wheels will be driven by a traditional propulsion system.  The rear wheels will have an electric motor, accompanied by a 7.6 kWh lithium battery.  It's a simplistic approach with implementation complexities.  What I find most interesting is the "24 mile" estimate.  You wouldn't expect that much EV range from a heavier vehicle than Prime.  It makes us ask the question of estimates.  If BMW's is accurate, it would tend to indicate Toyota is yet again downplaying.  I suspect that's the case.  Seeing a few more miles than the estimate from my Prime would be great.  We'll find out eventually.  Who knows when though.  Winter lasts a very long time here in Minnesota.  Fortunately, the plug-in hybrid Mini won't be available until later in 2017 anyway.
10-27-2016

Not Yet.  This blog will likely be lost somewhere in the pre-rollout memories, but it won't be forgotten.  The topic was thoughts about gen-5.  What could the approach be for it?  Would the plug become standard?  Would the hybrid-only not be offered anymore?  Many questions are being asked.  This is what I injected into the discussion:  I thought the upcoming flip was easy to see.  Apparently, it's not... yet.  Think about what happened with the computer industry.  Where are all the desktop computers now?  That format which once dominated the market has become quite rare.  Those high-priced portable devices have very successfully replaced them.  They have even been supplemented with smaller version now depend upon for routine communication.  Intel announced quite a number of years ago that they would stop producing desktop processors, that 100% of what they'd offer would be a portable design.  Have you looked inside a new desktop computer?  It's actually a notebook with a large case, lacking a battery and a screen. Mission accomplish.  The desktop we all grew up with is now long gone.  Hybrids will follow a similar evolutionary path.  Offering a plug and some degree of EV operation will be the norm, hopefully by the next generation.  Plugging in will become so convenient, there won't be any need to further push HV abilities.  Prime offers a rock-solid 50 MPG following depletion.  Prime also addresses every need related to EV operation.  Lowering cost a little more, while also improving energy-density a little more, is all it should take to make the plug part readily available for everyone realistic.

10-27-2016

Confusing Reports.  We starting to see quite a few articles & comments posted about Prime that are actually about Prius.  To make matters even more confusing, many of the things being reported are about the gen-3 model.  Casual readers won't have a clue.  Not getting information about the newest generation available is an understandable problem.  People are sloppy, failing to point out their comments don't apply to the what's available now.  Sometimes, it's a simple oversight.  Sometimes, they aren't aware their information is outdated.  Sometime, their posts are intended to mislead.  Whatever the case, that's all to be expected.  It happens with every generational shift.  The new problem is referring to plug-in model but sharing data from the regular model.  There's quite a bit of interchanging going on.  That really confuses mattes.  So when it comes to corrections, you're doomed.  Worse is the reality that some of the facts are incorrect for either.  I have no idea where the numbers originate.  Today, it was an article with "Prime" being compared to Volt, but really it was the no-plug version of Prius.  Why would you do that?  It makes no sense.  The photo and all the information was indeed about the regular model.  Then a comment was posted about the "20 mile" rating.  Where the heck did that come from?  What a mess.  Clearly, this chapter in plug-in history is the first to reach ordinary consumers.  The niche audience of the past certainly didn't have issues like this.

10-26-2016

Order Uncertainty.  It was interesting to hear from Toyota marketing today on the big Prius forum.  They were surprised we hadn't received any recent notifications about Prius Prime.  Finding out 11 weeks had passed since hearing anything raised a concern.  We all wondered if something had went wrong with the mass-email process.  I could easily see a software issue going unnoticed.  Whatever the case, we have their attention now.  I was responded to directly.  A few others were too.  Our reach out to dealers for information about how to place an order right away are being addressed.  My salesperson name and the fact that she has accepted a deposit should mean help is provided with allocation of the vehicle through the region's distribution.  They usually don't have to deal with buyers like me seeking out a purchase opportunity before the first shipment even arrives in the country.  The variety of packages, colors, and options adds to the effort.  It will all work out too.  But rumor is the estimated sales for 2016 would like to be around 20,000 worldwide.  Getting everything into place to achieve those sales within just 2 months is a monumental task.  Is it logistically possible?  How do you match supply to demand in such a short amount of time?  We'll find out rather soon...

10-26-2016

Photos on Dirt.  Before encountering all that red rock, there was another road.  That was the type of dirt I'm used to seeing; however, the landscape certainly wasn't.  It was elevated, high above parts of the prarie.  There was a deep valley too.  Overlooking that made for quite the photo opportunity... with the Prius, of course.  If you look closely at the detail in the background of some, you'll discover oil pumps.  Way off in the distance, you can see them going up & down.  That most definitely isn't anything you'd ever see in Minnesota.  But there in Wyoming, it's a common sight.  I took advantage of the location.  That type time of year made it especially exciting to capture.  Light deposits of snow really stand out.  I couldn't have picked out a better day for that either.  Lucky me.  Running around with the camera can be quite fulfilling.  I even got to be a bit silly, intentionally leaving a set of footprints to add to the dimension of a photo.  I had a good time taking these... photo album 189

10-26-2016

An Incredible View.  When you drive somewhere in the dark, it's difficult to know what to expect the new morning.  In this case, it was a destination at the end of a long dirt road out in Wyoming.  Late at night, I couldn't see much.  When the sun rose, we were treated to an incredible view.  I had no idea.  It provided a great opportunity too.  My Prius was parked next to another.  Shadows were still long from the early sun too.  The color of the hybrids on the bleached brown prarie with a cloudless light blue sky begged me to run out into the cold with the camera to capture that memory in the making.  I did too.  See... photo album 189

10-25-2016

$15 Billion.  The diesel disaster is coming to an end.  Approval of the settlement was given.  Virtually all the diesel cars in violation of grossly exceeding emission limits will be taken off the road, bought back from owners by VW.  There was simply no way to fix them without serious compromise.  The expense is a high price to pay.  Most will go to consumers.  There will be some dealer compensation as well, which wasn't actually part of the judgment against VW.  The buyback was.  Also included in the court requirement was payment to cover environmental damage and funding to help progress the charging infrastructure for plugging in.  Focus is switching from diesel to electricity.  It's quite an abrupt & unexpected change for the better.  Who knew all that smug would ultimately end in such a victory?  The outcome is great.  The means to which this came was awful.  Imagine if VW had just come to terms with the emission challenges a decade ago?  Prius owners were well aware of the tradeoffs required to achieve exceptional levels of cleansing.  Of course, that was well in excess of the minimum VW supposedly delivered.  "50 state" approval is the dirtiest allowed.  The PVEV emission-rating Prius delivered was the opposite end of the scale, the cleanest by a very wide margin.  Oh well.  It's over now.

10-25-2016

Red Road Photos.  We took a trip to Wyoming over the New Year's holiday.  I finally got a chance to look through the photos and publish some.  Sharing my experiences visually like that has always been rewarding.  Looking back at a vacation like that is especially fun.  In this case, we found a long dirt road, made up of red rocks.  You pretty much never see a red road like that here in Minnesota.  The minerals in are ground are different, making the color different.  So, I was really excited about having the opportunity to take photos of it with the Prius.  The light dusting of snow made added to the prarie background too.  It was a very interest... and quite isolated... location to capture.  Check out what I saw with the camera... photo album 188

 

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