Prius Personal Log  #783

December 19, 2016  -  December 24, 2016

Last Updated: Sun. 3/12/2017

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12-24-2016

Hope & Progress.  You ever wonder what will ultimately happen with GM's efficiency efforts?  We're now hearing that MPG shortcoming fines won't be enforced as planned.  There's been a massive push to delay any type of reaction to violations of the agreement already in place.  In this case, we can clearly see the demand for SUVs and Trucks is preventing automakers from reaching targeted levels.  With potential enormous penalties, it's easy to see how much hope was placed on the success of Volt, then shifted over to Bolt.  There was a strong belief in the "if you build it, they will buy it" motto.  Turns out, that doesn't always work.  You have to carefully study want & need.  With GM, they surveyed small groups and enthusiasts.  It was a flawed approach... since focus was entirely on want.  You have to seek out the opinions of those showing no interest, those who stick strictly to need.  That's how progress is made.  If you can find a means of swaying their beliefs, that supply will result in demand.  It's a tricky balance though, since want & need are so easily confused.  Some people genuinely mix them up, to the point of swearing a want is actually a need.  That's how hope came about.  It was an expectation of a goal being fulfilled that didn't actually represent a step forward.  Delivery didn't result in a progress.  That's a very big oops!  It's the reason why GM gets so much attention.  You wouldn't think repeating the same mistakes would be so easy.  Yet, that's what we are seeing.  Ugh.  Thank goodness the other automakers don't follow the same approach.

12-23-2016

Charge-Mode Misconceptions.  It was only a matter of time before they emerged.  This is what I stumbled upon: "My understanding is that I can use charge mode to give the battery a boost with the ICE.  Would it be advantageous to force this charging when descending a long hill, or would the car, in normal operation, do this charging without my intervention?"  That seems innocent enough, until you read the discussion thread for context.  Posts had been related to power and lack there of.  It's subtle enough to overlook, especially if you focus on the when part.  There had been concern expressed about how the electric system behave when the battery is low.  I jumped in with:  That's an interesting new misconception.  It's easy to see where that assumption came from too.  Volt has a "Mountain Mode" which is designed to fulfill that very need.  It provides a 10-mile buffer on the battery-pack for times of high-demand.  That most definitely is not what "Charge Mode" is for.  Prius Prime already has plenty of power readily available.  That's what "EV Auto" will provide automatically.  "Charge Mode" is for special circumstances when you don't have the opportunity to plug in, but would have the advantage of EV mode efficiency if that electricity was available.  In other words, if you are on long highway trip and your driving around at your destination will be just short jaunts where preventing engine warm-up would be beneficial, go for it.  I routinely take trips like that.  Once there, the running around from place to place is only a few miles.  Being able to do that entirely in EV from electricity generated while efficiently cruising along the highway prior to that will be great.  Being able to avoid having to run the engine at all will be a nice improvement, clearly enough of a gain to offset the earlier charging.

12-23-2016

New Education.  We're are now starting to see the real questions of new ownership emerge.  Unfortunately, I still don't have my Prime yet.  So, the real-world data is quite limited.  I can provide examples from the past though.  There's enough of that to have proven importance of certain information.  In this case, it was about how the ECO mode works.  We have forum participants who have never been exposed to any of the detail; their basis of knowledge is only anecdotal.  That presents opportunity.  I took advantage of that today by posting about the heater:  With gen-3 came ECO mode, which would lower the "engine on" threshold from 145°F to 114 °F for the coolant temperature.  That enabled the heater to run longer when the engine was off, since that trigger could be adjusted by the driver.  It resulted in less gas being consumed.  With PHV came a tiered approach, dropping thresholds even lower depending on heater settings and battery-pack temperature.  (I've seen it down to 82°F).  That resulted in an even greater return from ECO mode.  You need an aftermarket gauge to see the sophistication of the system.  Toyota does not provide that level of detail in the owner's manual.

12-22-2016

Fake News.  Everyday now, I'm seeing articles posted about Prius... all saying something about how it competition is eroding away it's popularity.  It's clearly a propaganda effort.  The source is unknown, but the websites publishing the content adhere to the template.  The style is very easy to spot.  I've seen it so often, the pattern is obvious.  A great deal of effort is being spent to spread this fake news.  The appearance appears credible.  But when you read for content, there isn't actually anything there.  The articles don't actual say anything.  There's just a string of vague implications with the attempt to get you to assume there's a problem with Prius.  Seeing that over and over and over again is how they get you.  The feed of information is so consistent, the hope is you will just keep reading that rather than do any research on your own.  That's how the successful brainwashing happened with the election.  So, that's what we are seeing in the form of greenwashing in the automotive market.  Just keep saying bad things about your opponent.  Whether they are true or not doesn't matter.  Even if facts don't add up or are incomplete, it doesn't matter.  None of it matters.  All they do is keep repeating the same message.  Sound familiar?  That's how GM built up hype for Volt.

12-21-2016

Good Enough.  The spin & denial got out of control.  Excuse after excuse in defense of GM.  That pattern is quite familiar.  Do whatever you can to mislead & distract.  It was an amazing display of desperation.  I posted this to bring the discussion to a screeching halt: "TRADITIONAL VEHICLE SALES ARE ABSOLUTELY CRUSHING PLUG-IN VEHICLES."  It did too.  That harsh reality is painful to acknowledge.  No matter how much they try to sugarcoat the situation.  The actual numbers to support the optimism.  And that's with the status quo perspective!  Once you take into consideration the mounting opposition from the upcoming new administration in addition to the inevitable expiration of tax-credits, the situation does not look promising for GM.  That's why Nissan has been so incredibly quiet lately.  That's why Mitsubishi has been on their continuous delay.  That's why Ford & Toyota aren't committing to long-range EV offerings until the next product-cycle.  That's why we don't actually get any detail from Chrysler.  It boils down to uncertainty and the unwillingness to admit change is needed.  Since Toyota embraced change by halting PHV production and switching over to a new approach with Prime really stings.  Toyota actually took that step.  Meanwhile, we see GM taunting Tesla.  Why?  What the heck will that accomplish, especially at the expense of Volt?  It makes no sense spreading resources so thin... knowing that was one of the problems contributing bankruptcy.  If the goal of competing with traditional vehicles was taken seriously, the risk could be acceptable.  But with nothing but a stream of excuses with a good enough attitude is totally unacceptable.  Settling is not how you get the masses to embrace change.

12-21-2016

Inventory Call.  I finally heard back from my salesperson.  There's only so much she can do for me.  Living so far away from both coasts, delivery to the center of the country simply takes longer... and in this case, isn't a priority.  Next month will be different.  Right now though, the end-of-year focus means taking advantage of high demand right there near the ports.  That means very limited availability here in the Chicago distribution region.  My phone rang.  She did the best to reduce my expectations right away.  I was told the package I wanted could be obtained, but not my color preference yet.  They had a gray one in inventory.  I knew that was coming.  Waiting for the color unique to Prime meant an inevitable extra wait time.  It's worth it too.  And with plenty of Winter still to come, there really isn't any rush.  True, it would be nice to take delivery prior to year-end; that certainly isn't necessary though.  I thanked her for the check.  Verifying that my interest still was very much on getting the Blue Magnetism color was nice work on her part.  I appreciate that.  I also feel good that a few deliveries will be taking place locally, even it if isn't mine yet.

12-21-2016

Fundamental Question.  Almost immediately, I had more to contribute... and ask?  Clearly, that question was a popular one.  It was evident that others had been thinking the same thing.  So, I added this to the discussion in response to the "why do so many suspect low bolt sales (especially so early) ?" question:  We also recognize the pattern.  Things just don't add up.  Then when you look to find out why, evidence showing goals being missed becomes obvious.  So, we ask a fundamental question.  Years ago, it was: "Who is the market for Volt?"  That ultimately revealed the problems with gen-1.  Now that there's nothing too prove technically, the question had changed.  The fundamental question is: "How will growth be achieved?"  How that is answered will tell us much about GM's electrification future.

12-21-2016

So Early.  This came up from an unexpected source: "why do so many suspect low bolt sales (especially so early) ?"  You wouldn't look to someone who talks down Toyota's approach to electrification on a regular basis to suddenly pop out a question like that.  The response was an easy one:  Because GM said that's what we should expect.  That's why I've been questioning supporters, to find out what they expect now that the bar has been set.  How will growth be achieved?

12-20-2016

Growth.  The fundamental question of purpose is coming up on a regular basis now.  Growth is vital.  That essential nature of the business isn't being taken seriously though.  I'll continue to point out its importance:  Prius PHV was a mid-cycle update, rolled out allowing for change based on market response, with gen-2 already well into development.  At the very same time, Toyota introduced Prius V and Prius C.  Additionally, prior to gen-2 rollout, Toyota also introduced RAV4 hybrid.  We most definitely didn't see anything of the sort from GM for product diversity.  It was a one-size-fits-all solution.  They bet the farm on Volt, which hasn't achieved mainstream sales rates.  Bolt doesn't have high-volume expectations either.  That's why what's happening now comes into question.  What should we expect from GM?  We know Toyota will be promoting Prime.  The potential to draw new interest is clear.  It's not a regular Prius with a larger pack and a plug.  There's opportunity with this unique & affordable configuration, even in a market favoring low gas prices and little desire to reduce consumption.  What is there to attract ordinary consumers to Volt or Bolt who simply aren't interested in spending much for getting a plug?  It's similar to the problem hybrid have always had, but amplified due to the tax-credit dependency.  In other words, how will growth be achieved?

12-20-2016

2017 Kia Niro.  This upcoming new hybrid is stirring interest.  The official rating is 51 city, 46 highway, and 49 combined.  With MPG values that high, its supposed SUV appeal should draw more than just attention.  The estimated $24,000 price is raising questions though.  That's quite low.  How is such a vehicle possible?  Something does add up.  It would be great to have another automaker reinforce the raised efficiency bar.  It doesn't seem realistic though.  Maybe the body is really small.  Perhaps it is underpowered.  You'd think Ford would have been working to deliver something like this, no Kia.  But then again, the parent company (Hyundai) has been striving to improve product & image after their previous issues.  There is potential.  There is also good reason not to just accept claims without proof of some sort.  Estimates leave much to wonder about.  We need detail to really know for certain.

12-20-2016

Buyback Complications.  There really aren't any now.  That hope VW had to fix the remaining 60,000 of their TDI vehicles is rapidly fading away.  These are the ones with the larger engine, those more expensive luxury models.  It makes sense that their would be an effort to make the diesel emissions from those clean enough to meet minimum clean criteria; otherwise, it will cost VW a great deal to pay for those too.  That's not realistic though.  The $15 billion in settlement claims will have to grow.  Those only accounted for 20,000 in the larger-engine category of 80,000.  Adding those others is pretty much inevitable now.  Of course, we knew from the start the buyback would be loaded with complications.  Far too many issues arise with retrofitting.  The existing design is compromised too much.  Owners won't be happy with fixes.  Owners will be happy with compensation.  Being able to purchase a new replacement vehicle with that money from VW is very appealing... especially at this point with so many much, much greener choices emerging.  We never imagined an abrupt end to diesel.  The reveal of a scandal exposing the violation of 475,000 vehicles is a trying remarkable point in history.  On one specific day, the death can in the most harsh of possibilities imaginable: penalty enforced buyback.  Whoa!

12-19-2016

-20°F.  All I can say is: Whoa!  The temperature plummeted and our plans for staying inside all day didn't work out.  A few errands needed to be run.  That meant jumping into a very cold Prius PHV and starting the engine right away.  It was not a time to be taking advantage of blending.  Use of plug-supplied electricity isn't helpful when the heater is powered by the gas engine.  Warmth from the coolant is how the current generation of Prius I'm driving gets heat.  There's just an old-school core transferring that energy to make the cabin comfortable.  True, that is a very efficient method of warming (since the energy would otherwise be wasted).  But I am looking forward to electric-heat with the Prius Prime.  True, that uses a heat-pump which won't work in -20°F conditions.  So, I'll still be relying on a heater-core anyway.  But thankfully, it's not that extreme outside here often.  We routinely see temperatures in the teens throughout the Winter on average.  The heat-pump will work fine then.  It does indeed get much colder, but those are cold snaps... not the entire season.  We get a few days in a row with below zero.  Today, it was quite a bit colder.  The Prius drove just fine anyway.  We stayed warmed too.  The only penalty was MPG.  It dropped to 35 for that short trip into town with a few stops.  That's actually impressive.  Think about how much lower a traditional vehicle would operate in the same conditions.

12-19-2016

Follow Up.  Someone else called me out on my response to that personal attack.  There was an item of importance he objected to: "let's also 'not' remember that genII Prius (2004) did have yellow stickers in the largest state, California, as well as access in other states' HOV lanes."  That seemed a valid point.  I wanted to find out for certain.  Often, the devil is in the detail.  It's quite common for a timeline to be forgotten or the scale to be misrepresented.  Fortunately, the big Prius forum doesn't dismiss facts like that daily blog.  Finding out more about what actually happened and when will sometimes bring a debate to an end.  So, I gave it a shot by hunting down some detail:  September 23, 2004 is when approval for the yellow stickers was given.  Distribution followed shortly afterward.  They were not effective until January 1, 2005. So... the HOV access was first available for the 2005 model.  Again, writing off the first 4 years isn't exactly a true representation of what actually happened.  I do appreciate the fact-checking effort to keep it all on the up & up though.  Point being, we're still getting a lot of excuses from GM supporters.  The need still very much exists for targeting showroom shoppers.  Watching the Bolt vs. Volt battle play out isn't helping those who simply want a high-efficiency SUV.

 

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