Prius Personal Log  #798

March 8, 2017  -  March 12, 2017

Last Updated: Mon. 3/20/2017

    page #797         page #799        BOOK         INDEX         go to bottom     

 

3-12-2017

Charger Fundamentals.  There are problems.  Lack of consistency says is all.  How much you pay varies tremendously.  How you access them goes beyond randomness.  How fast of a recharge speed they provide is anyone's guesses.  You just plain don't know.  This is a big part of  "too little, too slowly" the Volt enthusiasts did everything they could to undermine.  They were likely oblivious to the problem.  It was their obsession with belittling Prius PHV to make Volt appear better that prevented actual constructive discussion.  The penalty that caused with gen-2 Volt is undeniable now.  Having focused so heavily on EV range, simple matters like charging speed was neglected.  That group of antagonists did so much damage to their own cause, they likely will never come to realize the true scope of the problem.  An option available in Japan for Prime Prime is CHAdeMO charging.  That's those high-speed DC rechargers Nissan Leaf takes advantage of.  You'd think Volt would, especially since Leaf was supposedly since it was GM's biggest conventional competitor.  (Tesla has the even faster superchargers.)  Now, Toyota does too.  Heck, Toyota's system offers delivery of electricity in the other direction too.  In Japan, you can also get a 1500-watt inverter option.  That's the ability to plug in high-power household electric appliances into your battery-pack... supplying enough power to actually run a portable A/C unit.  Anywho, even the fundamental of home recharging was disregarded.  Think of how many gen-1 Volt owners who end up buying a Bolt, then discover their 240-Volt charger is low-amp.  Having only purchase a 20, not realizing that a 40 should have been invested in is a major oversight.  Taking twice as long to replenish the battery-pack is a big deal.  Needless to say, they messed up.  Consequences of that are now becoming apparent.

3-11-2017

Back to Basics.  The level of frustration coming from former Volt enthusiasts who have turned to support Bolt is growing.  Attempts to distance themselves from that ugly history of desperate misleading for a configuration with obvious shortcomings isn't going well.  You can't just ignore mistakes of the past.  That's how they get repeated.  The pattern is starting to get recognized.  Staying true to goals is vital.  With Prius, it was a careful tradeoff to achieve balance.  Toyota didn't care about power only be average, since it meant keeping cost contained.  GM didn't care.  That priced Volt well out of reach for ordinary consumers, forcing it into a niche.  Enthusiasts hated me for pointing that out on a regular basis, since I kept warning the same mistake could happen with gen-2.  It was too.  Why?  Simple.  GM obsesses with power.  Heck, that was one of the reasons Two-Mode didn't appeal to GM's own SUV customers.  They wanted more towing capacity.  Power was inadequate... due to the relentless marketing push from GM that more is necessary.  Ugh.  I provided a bit of common sense... which is fall on deaf ears.  Nonetheless, I posted it anyway:  Replace the "no compromise" requirement with "practical & affordable", then it becomes realistic.  That's the classic NEED verses WANT problem, a difference enthusiasts have a very difficult time understanding.  Mainstream buyers know.  Their purchase preferences are regarded as boring though.  This is why Prius has rubbed Volt supporters the wrong way for so many years.  Prius addresses need.  Volt focuses on want.

3-11-2017

Carbon Fiber.  This got me worked up this morning: "German car companies have done very little beyond making minimum-range PHEVs so far."  It was on an EV website discussing the topic of Bolt, sighting how it would have never existed without Volt.  Naturally, everyone was putting their own spin on who should get credit.  Never once, in any of the comments, was the word "Prius" uttered.  With all the posts over the years, expressing intense hate for Toyota's achieve, it's undeniable there was an influence.  You don't highlight something of no significance.  That's why Volt got so much attention here.  It was validation of Toyota being right all along, that holding true to mainstream consumer need was more important than appealing to enthusiasts.  Anywho, I was happy to point out BMW's contribution.  Delivering a system using a motorcycle engine with a tiny gas tank took guts.  That's the type of risk GM was unwilling to take; yet, BMW gets ridicule instead of praise.  The bigger step forward, which continues to be ignored, is their effort with carbon fiber.  That material is 20 times more expensive than steel.  The improvement to strength and obvious weight reduction is remarkable... well worth the effort to achieve cost-reduction.  This is why Toyota traded some hybrid technology for the sharing of manufacturing expertise.  The rear hatch in Prius Prime is carbon fiber.  That's a large, complex piece of the vehicle that will have to endure impact routinely was chosen as Toyota's first step toward mass rollout.  Knowing that, it should be easy to understand my response to "very little" claim:  BMW delivered i3, the vehicle Volt was meant to be... a true range-extender, rather than a plug-in hybrid. Range of i3's first year offering was over double that of Volt too.  BMW's use of carbon-fiber has been impressive, so well implemented, most people don't even realize that huge step forward in weight reduction even took place.

3-10-2017

Preference.  Reading this, I knew the pot was about to be vigorously stirred: "Does anyone else notice that whenever there are "Cars of the Future", they are almost always these tiny little electric, self-driving pod-things."  Concept vehicles rarely resemble the production model that's rolled out many years later.  Futuristic renderings of what could be generations from now are basically pointless.  Yet, we see them on a regular basis.  It stimulates imagination and builds excitement.  Of course, that did backfire with flying cars.  The oldest generation came to expect something resembling that level of sophistication by now.  True, we are starting to see aspects of that emerging with safety features.  But we are still over a decade away from anything even eligible for the masses in terms of daily driving.  Anywho, I poked back with:  That is the very reason I asked the SUV question.  Trying to be realistic about what people will actually buy, we need to relate it to their purchase preferences.  That is why Volt & Bolt are head-scratchers.  Compact hatchbacks & wagons are clearly not what GM customers favor.

3-10-2017

It Gets Complicated.  A smaller battery-pack, offering greater cargo area in return, can face tradeoffs.  Offering the same capacity with less physical volume would mean more dense of a build... which could lead to it being heavier.  That tradeoff thought rarely crosses the minds of those simply looking at what a tape-measure reveals.  Another common oversight is cooling.  Increased density (through different chemistry or tighter manufacturing method) could result in a tradeoff influencing the ability to cool.  Thermal limitations could impact the electric draw.  You ever consider that?  Of course, there's protection of the battery-pack itself to consider too.  Keeping the design simple to produce & install is a decision factor for both engineering & business.  In a discussion with a focus of "trunk space", I pointed out that there's more than meets the eye by drawing attention to the power aspect:  Tradeoffs are a reality with any type of engineering.  Let's not forget about EV power... 68 kW (91 hp) for Prius Prime... 45 kW (60 hp) for Ioniq PHEV.  Ask yourself why.  It gets complicated.  There are many factors of influence.

3-10-2017

Rollout Delay.  I knew this spin would stir discussion: "We sometimes forget that Volt went from concept to production in a short four years!"  Disregarding for the plug-in hybrid technology itself, by substituting the Volt identifier, is very misleading.  It's a matter of semantics.  Do you argue the idea or take everything literally?  My point is that we continue to wait for that plug-in hybrid SUV promised all those years ago.  Why the continued delay?  I presented the situation this way, in a topic thread about upcoming technology:  GM had been working on plug-in hybrid tech long before that.  In fact, they revealed a pre-production Two-Mode plug-in Saturn Vue back in 2008.  Being able to deliver the engineering does not mean the business will be able to embrace it though.  The cost to produce that tech can keep it out of reach.  Watch for parts of the tech to emerge on existing vehicles as standard.  When they become common like that, then the business can move on to delivering on the next part.  For example, we are starting to see that with safety packages.

3-09-2017

Political Parallels.  Notice how this administration says everything is fine, despite an abundance of evidence to the contrary?  That's a very familiar problem.  How many times were we assured production-cost would dropped and demand would rise?  If supporters of GM ever want Voltec spread to other vehicles, they have to be honest about the flat sales and the heavy dependence on tax-credits.  Pretending all is well undermines progress.  It's a self-inflected wound.  Ironically, the opposite happened with Toyota for Prius PHV.  Not only was the mid-cycle limited-market rollout recognized as unable to compete (with the true competition: traditional vehicles), production was actually halted 1.5 years prior to a successor being delivered.  There was no denial.  There were no excuses.  There sure was a lot of greenwashing from others though.  Admitting more was needed isn't what they had expected or knew how to deal with.  So, they choose to deceive & mislead about the outcome instead.  Remember how they claimed Toyota had abandoned plugging in entirely, rather than acknowledge that halt could be the result of a much improved design on the way and the obvious benefits of not confusing customers & salespeople by rolling out the older generation any further.  It other words, they said what they wanted people to believe, disregarding the information they don't like.  That's exactly what we are seeing now in the political arena.  It has become like theater, where they hope to draw your interest based on what their performance, not what you see in the world around you.

3-09-2017

Remembering Two-Mode.  This first attempt to deliver a hybrid competitive with Prius isn't remembered, since most people don't even know about it.  In fact, when Volt first rolled out, there were intense fights claiming it was a first-generation design and we needed to show patience for GM to figure things out.  That was a load of garbage, an obvious & desperate attempt to buy time.  Later, when gen-1 Volt struggles became obvious, they acknowledged that history.  But rather than admitting Volt was a failed second attempt, they spun it as a way of expressing maturity.  In other words, the "first" portrayal turned from a fresh new approach perspective into a negative stigma.  Now that gen-2 Volt is also struggling to achieve growth and the end of the tax-credit advancing faster, hope has turned elsewhere.  It's actually rather remarkable to see how many enthusiasts say there will not be a gen-3 Volt.  That's a dramatically different attitude than in the past.  Perhaps they finally see the pattern I recognized and warned about years ago... Two-Mode was too expensive and too inefficient, GM will repeat that mistake with Volt.  Proof of that came before gen-1 rollout even began... hence the hate for Prius.  Remember how Two-Mode was going to provide so much better MPG on the highway than Prius?  That wasn't delivered for Volt either.  So, hope shifted to gen-2.  The same mistake was repeated again.  Though third time, you're out.  This current Volt just plain cannot compete.  Toyota rolled out an affordable plug-in that more efficient in terms of both gas & electricity use.  Hyundai is about to do the same thing.  Kia will share that honor, with a SUV rather than hatchback.  Now, we hear of Honda jumping in with their own offering... one unquestionably more efficient and most likely less expensive.  The problem of "vastly superior" rhetoric has finally come to an end.  Who knew the stubborn nature of some enthusiasts would cloud sensible decisions for so long.

3-09-2017

Misleading & Purpose.  New audiences means same old problems come back.  Today, the past was stirred by an article highlighting the flood of new luxury plug-in hybrids coming... all with small capacity batteries.  That puts Prius PHV front & center for real-world comparison material.  Sadly, that also means fake news re-emerges too.  Of course, back then, it wasn't called that.  We simply referred to it as greenwashing... a term now that isn't clear, to this new audience.  So, I have to reiterate some points before we can look forward:  Greenwashing was intense.  There was a major effort to misrepresent Prius PHV.  The purpose of the plug was to augment the hybrid system, for a significant MPG boost... not to be short-range EV.  Even to this day, that spin has taken hold so well, unintentional misleading lives on from unknowingly passing along greenwash material.  For example: "And it couldn't complete even 11 miles on electric power under the gentle EPA test cycles; it had to switch on its engine after 6 miles."  That statement is wrong, on 2 counts.  The EPA cycle is not gentle.  At the 6-mile mark, there's a hard acceleration.  That triggered the engine to run briefly, then it shut off.  So after, there was still quite a bit of electricity remaining.  In other words, 11 miles of EV from ordinary suburb was a realistic measure.  At 90,778 miles, the average with mine is 71 MPG.  That's from driving for 5 years in Minnesota, dealing with harsh winters and a number of highway trips without the opportunity to recharge. Prius PHV clearly fulfilled its purpose.  As for the luxury vehicles also with a small capacity, what is their purpose?  Will people really be driving long distances with them or just short jaunts into town?  Think about how those luxury buyers usage compared to the abundant much less expensive vehicles. 

3-08-2017

Review Shortcomings.  This was the parting thought on a lengthy article about Prius Prime published yesterday: "Take the tax credit and you're looking at a final cost of about $25,000 for a vehicle averaging 55 mpg."  It spelled out in detail the packages available, then listed destination-fee, tax-credit, and base price of the regular Prius.  That made it easy to understand where the final cost came from.  It was well done.  A long-time automotive correspondent knows how to properly convey that type information.  But when it comes to plugging in, he didn't have a clue.  That vehicle average simply makes no sense.  What the heck was he referring to?  Looking back at his EV references, there was a comment about the 25-mile capacity and notes of ranging from 21 to 24.6 miles electric-only range.  Reading more, I got the impressive the stated values were only the charging-estimate and that he didn't observe how many actual EV miles were delivered.  Looking at the photos, it was obviously not warm.  The leafless hardwood trees with browned foliage on the ground was a clear indicate of cold Spring weather.  My impression was temperatures were in the 40's at the time of the review and 4 recharges he did.  That meant EV range was reduced as a result of heater use.  It's too bad the writer didn't take the Prime for a drive in nicer conditions.  Of course, reporting overall MPG rather than only hybrid efficiency would have been even better.  I suspect readers won't notice that omission.  Oh well.  It was still a nice article.

3-08-2017

Clarity Plug-In.  Remember announcements from Honda on Earth Day last year?  Most people don't.  In fact, I barely had any recollection.  They made a statement about the intent to deliver EV and plug-in hybrid choices.  Both would share the same body as their current fuel-cell vehicle.  Today, 10 months later, that intent was confirmed.  Details will be revealed during this year's New York auto show, which is during Earth Day.  Nothing was said beyond what we already new.  The interior would is large like Accord, offering seating bigger than any other choice currently on the market here for plug-in hybrids, and range would be around 40 miles.  That's really nice for people hoping for more.  Price is a concern though.  Honda makes a very efficient hybrid system, but it has been expensive.  A capacity of that size obviously bumps the sticker up too.  Nonetheless, it's a new choice to broaden reach to consumers.  It's writing on the wall so obvious, those vastly superior antagonists had yet another reason to keep quiet... even more opportunity missed.  I sure am glad so much time was spent on all their terrible activity.  Having to deal with their nonsense was bad, but served a purpose.  It was to point out the ignorance and help progress along... progress just like what Honda is striving to deliver.

 

back to home page       go to top