Prius Personal Log #777
November 25, 2016 - November 27, 2016
Last Updated: Sat. 12/10/2016
page #776 page #778 BOOK INDEX
Acceleration Considerations. It's nice having constructive discussion. I added this to a comment about a test-drive post with Prime: 16 years ago, when I got my first Prius, there were many antagonists hoping to undermine hybrids success by emphasizing the slower acceleration. They had an extremely difficult time proving the 12.5 seconds for 0-60 was dangerous, as they had relentlessly claimed. The maximum-power from a dead-stop scenario was too rare and the acceleration was adequate. Being "adequate" is obviously a hard sell though. But when the next generation came out and was discovered to be faster, all those troublemakers vanished. If you carefully observe ordinary highway merging, you'll notice it takes quite a bit more than 10 seconds anyway. The flow of traffic simply isn't moving that fast. Dropping the pedal to the floor isn't necessary. EV AUTO mode provides that "if I need it" confidence. The default EV mode provides what some have been begging for years for, an option that keeps the engine off under all circumstances. The choice is yours. I'll be sharing my firsthand experiences with Prime soon enough. Hopefully, I'll find out on Wednesday where my order is in early December inventory.
New Hate. You gotta love posts that end with: "You are just an ignorant ignorant Toyota fan boy." The ironic nature of nature of that comment compels me to reply again. Since the intent of the design variation of Prime with Prius is a clear effort to attract different Toyota buyers, of course anything said in favor of it would be considered a "fan boy" comment. What else could it be? The goal is to achieve market growth. How would that be possible without offering another choice? Talking about ignorant of how the economics of business works. To draw interest from those shopping the showroom, that diversity is essential. As for the decision to go with comfortable seating for 2 in back, rather than squeezing in 3 and trading off extra storage, look no further than GM. After about the first 2 years of Volt availability, arguments in favor of offering that middle position faded away. And when gen-2 finally rolled out, it still didn't. There is nothing but a legless hump with a seatbelt. Quite a number of luxury vehicles don't bother with the seat in the middle either. If you have a larger family, you're not going to be driving a midsize car anyway. That's what the full-size vehicles are for. Too bad if you don't like a shift away from the status quo. Toyota's effort to try something else should be congratulated. Just think if buckets in back catch on. Someday, they could offer them as heated seats. After all, heated seats in front are now standard.
Toyota's Approach. There was a new article posted on
a green-vehicle website which attracts a wide variety of posters.
Almost immediately, an antagonist post appeared. It was the first
comment too. By the time I posted a reply though, it had already been
removed. I wasn't sure why either. It wasn't that bad.
Anywho, my reply was lost upon refreshing later. So, it only appeared
briefly. Fortunately, I saved it here. The comment was about how
Toyota is finally coming around to EV offerings, despite having supposedly
be so opposed to it in the past. I posted:
The perception of "trash talk" was never understood. People believe and repeat what they want. So, looking back at history distorts the current reality. I remember a presentation back in 2007, where Toyota clearly sighted the reason for not offering a plug-in was cost. The reaction online was spin about lithium batteries being unsafe... despite that never having been stated.
The other 2 deterrents of plug-in offerings were a big deal too. The one was obvious: size & weight. To offer something even remotely competitive with traditional vehicles in terms of distance, you had no choice but to keep the vehicle small. Heck, even Tesla confirmed that with their first offering. The second was often overlooked: recharge speed. Look no further than Volt for perspective. Full recharge time using level-1 takes around 13 hours. Getting people to add a 240-volt connection in their garage presents a very large challenge for high-volume sales.
Think about how Prius Prime paves the way. It's a full electric platform, complete with a vapor-injected heat-pump and CHAdeMO recharging. Everything is in place for accommodating larger battery-packs. In fact, a capacity increase mid-cycle appears quite realistic. It's an affordable platform with a great deal of potential. Heck, even a plug-in hybrid version of RAV4 looks realistic.
In other words, there is no back-pedaling. The approach was well thought out, but really frustrated some who felt a different path should have been taken to get to the same point.
Enough Horsepower? It's great getting doubt in the form of wanting to find out more, rather than drawing an conclusion with little to no data. Those absolutes of the past were extremely difficult to address. They wanted no part of a discussion. It was a complete disregard for objectivity. Today, one of those nice posts was: "I appreciate Toyota's desire to keep the car in EV mode as much as possible, but I just don't think the car has enough HP to do that well." I was happy to reply to that: Prius PHV already delivers enough for ordinary highway merging. I've surprised myself an number of times noticing that the engine never fired up. The increase in EV power for Prime will make that even less of a need. n other words, I think people will be pleasantly surprised that in EV AUTO it will stay electric-only on most drives.
Like Volt. What can you say when parallels are drawn that are just plain wrong? The perception that Prime is supposedly competing directly with Volt is to be expected. It's as weak as when Prius was compared to Insight though. 15 years ago, that's all there was. So, that's all people knew. Now, people really only know Volt. That means the same type of misunderstood assumptions of purpose will occur. I suspect many parallels to that situation long ago will surface over the next few months. Remember all that "not the same" nonsense? We'll see. In the meantime, this is how I put the situation of who, why, and expected reach: They are not the target market for Prime. Target is striving to grow the market, to reach beyond niche buyers. Achieving sales from mainstream customers is far more difficult than appealing to early adopters. Also, there's the reality that a large quantity of small battery-packs will have more of a environmental benefit than a small number of large battery-packs. It's no different than the way renewable combustion fuel is consumed. E10 usage in every regular gas vehicle has had a profound impact compared to the tiny amount of flex vehicles actually using E85.
Red Herrings. They distract from true purpose. Some are intentional Some are oversights. All pose barriers. I added this to the on-going debate: Toyota recognizes the "almost never" crowd and has taken a risk... the very thing antagonists claim they don't do. So, they are offering more comfortable seating in back rather than squeezing in a narrow middle spot for brief use. Think about how many times you've had 5 people squeezed into a midsize car with "seating for 5" in it. Toyota is being practical by altering the paradigm. You want more seating in the future, you'll end up buying a larger vehicle. It's like chasing the acceleration red-herring. Why waste resources on something that would rarely ever be used and isn't actually necessary?
Objective Thinking. Phew! It's nice to get some of this now: "Toyota has done that at the cost of a lower electric range. For people who drive less than the US average daily distance the PHEV Prius will be a good choice." Hopefully, my additions to that will be readily accepted: For people who drive more it will be a good choice too. 72 MPG is my lifetime average after 85,000 miles driving in a 2012 Prius PHV, charged twice on most days. Double the 4.4 kWh battery-pack is the 8.8 kWh now offered. So, even without a recharge opportunity as I have at work, they'll get that efficiency with a Prime. My driving is in Minnesota, so that real-world data includes some pretty harsh conditions. I've taken a number of road-trips too, without the opportunity to recharge. In other words, Prime will be able to reach into the mainstream with a price that's actually able to compete directly with the true competition... traditional vehicles. Think about how much of a challenge it is to entice shoppers on the showroom floor.
Missing The Point. It happens far too frequently. People get hung up on things that make little or no difference. It's a common problem online. Keeping the attention of some is nearly impossible sometimes, especially if you want to share detail. Some simply don't care. They say their piece have no interest in anything else. That's the nature of encounters in comment sections of articles for many. That makes any type of effort to be constructive a major challenge. It's still worth trying though. For every troublemaker, there are likely countless scores of lurkers. In today's case, I kept the reply concise and without measure, to make sure the bigger objective would stand out. Hopefully, it did: Toyota has delivered a more efficient system with a lower production cost. That's what will fulfill the goal of high-volume profitable sales without dependency on tax-credits. Those who disregard that, insisting that greater performance or range is needed, are missing the point.
Bolt Rollout. Being limited to just California & Oregon until sometime in the Spring is bringing back bad memories from last year. Not only is Bolt late, it isn't nationwide. Sound familiar? Whatever the impression, it grows worse when getting news of Prime rollout. Claims of it only being a compliance vehicle are quickly falling apart, simply by stating what states new owners are reporting purchases from. So far, I have read about experiences shared (many with photos) from owners in California, New York, Colorado, New Jersey, Arizona, Iowa, Missouri, Maryland, Washington (state), and Illinois. I know that irritates Volt enthusiasts to no end. With gen-1 having struggled, then gen-2 suffering in a similar fashion, and now Bolt, what is there to say? I know if I post anything, it will be perceived as an attack. So, pointing out articles which highlight the economy nature of Bolt's interior, rather than focusing entirely on range & power, will infruriate. Needless to say, I should just keep quiet. That long-await shared purpose of promoting green affordable choices will happen, eventually. I only need be patient. Sales challenges with this rollout will help us find that common cause.
No Truths. This certainly got my attention: "While
the Toyota Prius Prime comes out ahead with a price tag that is cheaper, it
offers the same output as the Chevrolet Volt and is more efficient in
regards to MPGe and mileage, it seems that the Volt is the more popular
vehicle. So let's take a look at the specs and find out why the Volt
comes out ahead despite the figures suggesting otherwise." That
was the opening paragraph to an article with this title: "Figures Tell
No Truths". I was quite intrigued to see what it had to say... so
much so, I wrote this lead up prior reading. That way, you get a clear
representation of my initial impression. Now, I will read it.
Sadly, the article literally said nothing. It only posted numbers without anything to put them in context. That's seems like a good approach, giving you the information you need without any bias. Unfortunately, that's exactly how greenwashing works. A value provided without an explanation of what it represents is misleading. In other words, it contributes to assumptions. Making people assume is how the deception works.
Anywho, I looked to the closely statement to figure out what the writer's intent was: "Despite the numbers being in the favour of the Toyota Prius Prime 56% of people chose to go with the Chevrolet Volt." That made it obvious. No source for that percentage was provided. Where did that number come from? Was it a survey? How many participated? When was it conducted?
All I can know for certain is that 56% most definitely wasn't based upon sales... the only quantity that truly matters. Prime isn't available on dealer's lots yet. Heck, even those of us attempting to place early orders are still waiting for delivery. There is simply no constructive way to draw such a conclusion. A consumers can say anything they want when no money is involved. Stating your opinion with your wallet is an entirely different matter. That opportunity is still not available
Crossover Point, part 2. Needless to say, he got annoyed by my response: "28 miles means 8.7 kWh? I don't know where you get this math from. Either you are completely making it up or you have NO idea how much the battery Volt uses to get 53 miles from." That made me wonder more than ever where he got that 149-mile distance from. Not sharing any detail whatsoever, no other numbers of any sort, provides nothing to work with. So, I attempted to provide them all with my reply: Prime delivers 25 miles of EV. Volt delivers 53 miles of EV. The difference is 28 miles. You can't just omit that electricity consumed for those 28 miles from the efficiency equation. That must be accounted for. 31 kWh/100 mi is the rating for Volt. It means 0.31 kWh is consumed per mile of EV travel. Multiplying that by 28 gives you a consumption value of 8.7 kWh. In other words, the gas quantity for the 149 miles is the same but the electricity clearly is not. Volt will consume an extra 8.7 kWh of it to reach that same destination. It simply isn't as efficient of a plug-in vehicle, as the EPA ratings tell us. Put yet another way, it will cost you roughly $1 more to travel the 149 miles in a Volt than in a Prime. That's at a rate of 12 cents per kWh of electricity.
Crossover Point, part 1. A favorite argument detail when comparing Volt to Prius PHV has always been the crossover point. That's the point at which gas-consumption is equal for the 2 vehicles to travel the same difference. Naturally, the greenwashing technique used was to completely disregard electricity use. Sadly, there are many who simply don't care about switching from one fuel to another without making an effort to consume less. They see electricity as clean & abundant and don't give it a second thought. That's a difficult attitude to overcome. They come off as incredibly smug too, dismissing your efforts to reduce consumption as anti-EV. It's a very real problem. Gas is bad, period. So, the effort to overcome their resistance to be constructive is an on-going challenge. This caught my attention: "That 149 miles only works if you disregard total efficiency and focus only on gas consumption... which is an absolutely terrible way to promote green choices." They never provide any detail. It's always nothing but a distance. That makes the effort even more difficult. Nonetheless, I tried: Those extra 28 miles of EV from Volt must be accounted for. That's extra consumption of 8.7 kWh of electricity more than Prime would use. That difference cannot just be ignored. We don't want to promote carefree consumption of electricity... especially if the source is dirty and/or not renewable.
To Actually Compete. There's quite a bit of
disconnect at play now. Many posting about plug-in offerings aren't
taking the big picture into consideration. They only look at what's
being compared. For the past few days, it has been comments about an
article comparing Volt to Prime. That isolated perspective contributes
heavily to posting battles... which is exactly what those publications seek.
They want topics that stir participation. Today, I responded to such a
comment in a long series of posts with:
Calling Prius PHV anything like "pathetic" shows a disconnect for what the market was actually like back then. It's like comparing a cell-phone of the time to what's available now. Consumer wants were very different and the technology has advanced quite a bit.
Large numbers of people were insisting upon an augmented Prius being delivered. That meant increasing the battery-pack size and adding a plug... which is exactly what Toyota provided in 2010 with their prototype rollouts.
I had the opportunity to drive one for a few days back then. It worked as hoped, the system substantially boosted MPG. Plug-Provided electricity enhanced abilities. The goal of achieving much increased efficiency without requiring a massive cost sacrifice was fulfilled.
There was no requirement to deliver an all EV driving experience. That expectation came years afterward, when it was clear that Volt sales growth beyond niche buyers was in serious jeopardy.
Think about what plugging in was like back then. Think about how few consumers there are that are even interested in purchasing a plug-in vehicle now. With gas at just $2 per gallon and the popularity of small SUVs, the priority of Toyota to keep cost down is a really big deal.
Watch what happens to the plug-in market when tax-credits begin to expire. The pressure to have a MSRP low enough to entice traditional vehicle buyers will be a very, very big deal. Being affordable is key, not having a large battery-pack. You'll get EV driving that's able to actually compete.