Prius Personal Log  #787

January 8, 2017  -  January 14, 2017

Last Updated: Sun. 3/12/2017

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1-14-2017

Commitment.  Between the spin and the effort to restore pride, this was no surprise: "It's possible to see the tiny Prime EV range as a lack of commitment on the part of Toyota rather than as a deliberate strategy.  20 – 25 miles is about as small a range as they could get away with and still claim value.  It does seem like Toyo is at least five years behind and that Prime is *too little, too late.* "  I especially liked that vague 5 year claim.  What does that even mean?  Volt struggled with sales growth until just recently.  There's no guarantee demand will be retained either.  Bolt rollout influence may only be temporary.  Heck, it may end up drawing prospective Volt buyers.  Where is GM's commitment to draw interest from those shopping for Malibu or Cruze?  I ended up posting:  It took awhile to figure out how to respond to such a profound misunderstanding of purpose & risk...  Attempting to deliver as much as possible with as little as possible is a huge gamble that takes a great deal of research & development.  Anyone can simply add more battery and hope for the best.  It takes a lot of guts to deliver a minimum instead.  Toyota is doing that with the 25 miles from Prime.  Adding to that risk is taking the chance of not including liquid cooling.  It's an expense & complexity avoided, which puts them ahead of others who are not investing in better chemistry for cooling.  All the excuses & deflections attempting to draw attention away from the goal of replacing traditional vehicles simply won't work.  How can something be too late when others haven't delivered on that goal yet?  Nicely under $30,000 selling profitably in high-volume is the purpose.  We see the risk being taken.  That's substantial commitment.

1-14-2017

Assumptions.  Talking about making incorrect assumptions.  Read this: "Although Toyota sacrificed fuel economy for style by altering the Prius' typical backside, the Prius Prime still gets excellent mileage at an estimated 55 mpg on the highway."  The style does quite the opposite.  That dual-wave curve in back is for increased fuel economy.  It provides greater aerodynamics.  The measure of reduced air disruption is an easily quantifiable figure.  The improvement should be obvious.  How a reporter could come to the opposite conclusion is disturbing.  Apparently, some don't do any research at all.  We know many are written without ever taking a test-drive.  But to not even consider that increased shape could lead to a more slippery profile is quite strange.  Think about sports car design.  None have plain, flat surfaces.  Instead, you see elegant forms.  Some are quite costly to achieve.  In fact, that's where some of the carbon-fiber forming originated.  You could get complex shapes with the added benefit of reduced weight.  Anywho, I found that quote quite annoying.

1-13-2017

Road Trip.  There's nothing like planning a 1,600-mile trip for the coldest time of the year.  It's what you do when you want to celebrate the holidays with family that doesn't live close.  With the temperature below freezing on the way there and driving at a steady 80 mph, hopes for high efficiency aren't good.  To my surprise though, results weren't too bad.  The MPG displayed after 716 miles of driving that first day was 41.  That's pretty good.  I had only used 60% of the battery available too.  The drive home is expected to be much warmer.  It really makes me wonder what the same circumstances will yield with the Prius Prime.  The engine is more efficient, so results will naturally be better.  Having the ability to recharge while driving will be an interesting new twist too.  All the travel once off the highway will be using electricity.  That's an operation/efficiency tradeoff which I'll be able to take advantage of.  In the meantime, I look forward to the drive home in the Prius PHV.  It drives really well, even at such high speed.

1-12-2017

Honda Hybrids.  They've been a little odd.  The hybrid technology delivered, but was expensive and demand was surprisingly low.  Adding a plug didn't do anything to boost interest either.  Accord simply faded away last year.  By the end of this year, there's a renewed expectation.  In a vague announcement yesterday, we heard about an upcoming plug-in hybrid version of Clarity (Honda's fuel-cell vehicle).  Supposedly, it will offer about 40 miles of EV range.  That's all Honda reveal to us.  Nothing else to ponder is disappointing.  But then again, getting that is a whole lot better than being left to wonder... especially since the CR-Z hybrid just faded away too.  Production ended and nobody noticed.  This could be a new twist to help shake up the industry to help it move forward... or it could just be yet another expensive choice that doesn't provide any benefit.  We hope this isn't one of those deterrents, making the option to plug less appealing simply because it is out of reach financially.  We'll see.   At least one encouraging point is that it assists with the effort to demonstrate confidence in batteries.  Each automaker contributes to that advancement in forward thinking.

1-12-2017

Tax Credits.  This started off the morning: "If change is to be made to the Plug-in credit program, hopefully it is the change that should have been made long ago."  Then he went on to endorse Tesla, GM, BMW, and Nissan with the reasoning of them having done the most development and taken the greatest risks.  Why not include Toyota?  If the intend of the vehicles is electrification, how isn't attempting to convert the existing fleet to hybrids not a risk?  And what about the work done to shift Prius over to lithium and to do it using only air to cool the pack?  There's also the problem of Prime undermining Prius.  A runaway hit with the plug-in model means the regular model will suffer.  How is that not risky?  Neither Volt nor Bolt have any risk of taking away existing green customers, because GM doesn't have any.  Toyota does, a very large quantity too.  That's why Prius took a radical turn with gen-4.  It was a risk Toyota was willing to take that none of the critics are willing to acknowledge.  Anywho, this is what I posted in responded to that hopeful comment:  Changes didn't happen because there was no agreement upon purpose.  Are the credits for the automakers or for the consumers?  Then there's the subjective problems of "most" and "biggest" measurement, especially when there is no agreement upon what should be delivered.  Think about goals & risk... Nissan really took a gamble with their effort to deliver a system not requiring liquid-cooling.  Ask yourself: why?

1-11-2017

Shame & Anger.  My opportunity post resulted in an explosive retaliation, a clear confirm of having got the point across and the message having identified a weakness in their stance.  There was definite anger.  The return message made that obvious: "So, how many of the millions of P-cars sold were plug-ins? Shame on Toyota!"  An abrupt shift over to attacking Prius is a dead giveaway, especially when there is also an emotional appeal.  So, I took that invitation to punch back and went all out:  Ironically, all those millions of P-cars saved more gas than Volt.  There's power in numbers.  The point is, the design readily supports the transition to a plug.  Adding a clutch and swapping in a larger battery is quite basic.  Prius (hatchback) already does that.  RAV4 (compact SUV), C-HR (crossover), and Camry (sedan) are all positioning for that too.  We see the potential for GM to do the same thing.  Should we push for that or shame them for not?  Wasn't the point of Volt to have its tech spread to other vehicles?

1-11-2017

Opportunity Missed.  The same old antagonist wasn't happy, again.  This time, it was from an article highlighting the redesign of Camry, specifically this snippet: "for its redesigned Camry lineup which includes a Hybrid version with *Prius-like* efficiency."  You could tell his lashing out was specifically to me, even though I hadn't actually made any comment: "Why didn't they put a plug in it? What a missed opportunity?"  The intent was obvious.  I pointed out just yesterday that reality of "too little, too slowly" in the form of opportunity missed.  Why haven't we heard anything at all from GM?  It's a good question.  Meanwhile, we can see that progress happening with other automakers.  So, I was happy to answer those questions:  Who's to say they won't?   Switching Camry over to TGNA production is the first step.  Toyota is currently busy ramping up lithium battery production.  The gen-4 Prius uses it.  Camry hybrid will now too.  At the same time, they are also introducing the C-HR hybrid.  So, much is happening with electrification besides the Prime rollout.  Remember, the goal is to have the architecture in established.  Adding a clutch and switching battery-packs is a small part of the equation, an easy next step.  Don't forget that RAV4 is already being positioned for that.  What step is GM at with SUV plug-in choices?  How about Malibu hybrid with a plug?

1-10-2017

Why No Announcement?  The autoshow in Detroit sure is stirring the pot.  Bolt rollout already being underway means people are looking to find out what comes next.  Nothing is being said though.  Silence from GM is obviously causing some to become concerned.  What will become of Volt?  Knowing the success of SUV hybrid RAV4 and expecting the upcoming Nissan Rogue and the upcoming Kia Niro... both SUV hybrids as well... should put pressure on GM to finally offer one of their own, I couldn't resist asking about Equinox.  I started by pointing out that last year's sales were 10 times that of Volt; yet, we nothing of intentions to offer it as a plug-in hybrid... or even a hybrid.  That must frustrate supporters to no end.  You can't really label me as a troll for pointing out such an obvious situation either.  Wasn't the point of Volt to establish "Voltec" as technology to spread to other GM vehicles?  With Equinox being so popular and the continuing strength in that market almost a guarantee, why haven't we heard anything still?  No announcement of any kind is reason for concern.  Opportunity is being missing, as I pointed out:  Sales went to guzzlers instead… a lot of sales.  What is GM waiting for?  Seriously.  Why no announcement of any sort, especially from an automaker which thrives on publicity like that?  There should at least be something to look forward to.  Way back in early 2005, there were hybrid SUVs.  Where is GM's plug-in taking advantage of the already well established Voltec?  With gen-2 Volt widely available, it makes sense to shift focus and set an expectation on what GM primarily sells… not compact cars… SUVs.  What is the delay?

1-10-2017

Classic Cars.  How strange.  I ran across a glowing review of Prius Prime today.  The detail was spot on and the photos were outstanding.  That certainly was unusually.  It stuck out as an oddity among some of the other news twists lately.  This was quite nice.  It got me wondering though, even before I finished reading.  What was the source?  How did something so different emerge?  The answer became apparent when I scrolled down to the bottom of the webpage.  Vehicle after vehicle was decades old... all in incredible condition too.  What the heck?  Why so many articles about classic cars?  Oh!  I was on a classic car website.  That was intriguing.  Somehow, Prius Prime was so impressive, the website decided to provide an endorsement for it.  That quite an unexpected twist.  Who knew such a positive could come out of nowhere like that?  I've been growing weary of all the negative.  That certainly was a welcome change.

1-10-2017

2018 Camry.  Things are getting interesting now.  The very old hybrid is getting a big improvement late this Summer.  Sales last year were respectable at 22,227.  The expectation is much higher though for a best-selling vehicle, at least 30,640 like the year before.  But then again, the much newer Fusion hybrid only had 33,648 purchases.  We need more.  Growth is needed.  The potential for this next-generation doing that is looks good.  The reveal yesterday showed us a stylish sedan hinting at "Prius-like efficiency".  There will be 2 flavors of hybrid too.  One with a NiMH battery-pack, we assume similar to the base Prius.  One with a lithium battery-pack, featuring a design which allows it to be hidden under the rear seats, rather then consuming space in the truck.  None of that is the interesting part though.  It's the sport mode.  That will offer simulated "gear" changes with a paddle-shifter.  Since Corolla's CVT has automatic simulated gear-shifting, providing a type of manual for Camry can be a realistic purchase enticement to try out.  Why not?  Since production will be TGNA, expecting a competitive price isn't too much of a stretch.  This is what we've been waiting for.  Yeah!

1-09-2017

Voltec SUV.  Has the message finally gotten through: "Most of us on this forum had been begging GM to release a Voltec SUV; however, even though GM had a major lead on all other players, it was Chrysler that stomach punched them with the Pacifica Hybrid."  Asking doesn't do any good though.  There's basically nothing in common.  A minivan does not compete with a SUV in any way.  We see the potential, but don't see action being taken.  That old "too little, too slowly" concern has been so overwhelming validated at this point, it's hard to know what to do next.  Basically, GM doesn't express any care.  They don't want to disrupt their SUV market by offering plug or hybrid technology.  That abandonment happened years ago with Two-Mode.  I can still attempt to keep the topic alive:  242,195 Equinox were purchased last year.  That's a massive amount of missed opportunity.  We see the potential from the popularity of the plug-in hybrid Outlander in Europe, over 100k purchased overall so far.  We also see the purchase of over 45k RAV4 hybrids last year as potential too.  The opportunity to offer a Voltec model of Equinox still remains an excellent idea.

1-09-2017

Reporter Mistakes.  Wow!  What a mess: "Because the Prius Three is larger and heavier, don't expect any record quarter-mile elapsed times but you'll be pleased how peppy the package actually is.  However, the ability to drive 25 miles on full electric power is quite impressive."  That was bizarre to read.  The article was about the gen-4 Prius, specifically the package 3 that had been tested and was featured in the photos.  Yet, there was that added comment about the 25 miles.  How could that be?  My guess is the reporter assumed he was driving a plug-in hybrid, but never bothered to actually check on anything related to electric driving.  Somehow, he got information about Prime and must have assumed that's what all Prius offer.  Needless to say, that made it an extremely misleading article.  But more concerning than the obvious reader problem is the fact that such terrible reporting can take place.  Doing so little research is as disturbing as people making decisions solely upon sound-bite impressions.  Mistakes like that are what contribute to greenwashing.  Don't assume the writer is well informed.  Always confirm facts.  Like in this case, some will be found to be wrong... which makes dealing with fake news even harder.

1-08-2017

Fake News Deception.  These attempts to undermine Prius has turned to outright lies.  Today's new article claimed "The latest generation Prius is severely struggling to attract a lot of buyers..." without providing any actual numbers.  They hope you will assume the quantity is low and you won't do any comparisons.  Reality is, there were 989,863 of the regular model Prius purchased here in the United States last year.  How an that be considered a struggle, especially since sales didn't begin right away.  Remember, the gen-4 sales didn't begin until February.  There was also a "stop sale" for almost an entire month due to the parking-brake recall.  They don't tell you that though.  They don't tell you the popularity of Prius in its domestic market either.  They just say "struggle" and hope you assume the worst.  They carefully avoided mention of other vehicles also using that hybrid system... like RAV4, which was the second-best seller here last year with 45,070.  Instead, they paint this picture: "Toyota Prius: Did Losses Cause Secret To Escape?"  That title was to get you to believe Toyota is becoming so desperate, they must now sell their secret technology to other automakers to allow it to survive.  That's an outright lie.  Rebranding is a common business practice... so common, Toyota already did that years ago.  It's not a secret, as the article claims.  There was a Nissan Altima hybrid.  Reading new articles published everyday that are clearly designed to undermine Prius is quite frustrating, but at the same time vindicating.  To see some group going to such effort is confirmation they are worried, that the technology has become so capable of competing with traditional vehicles, they feel it is necessary to greenwash about it.

 

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