Prius Personal Log  #807

April 30, 2017  -  May 5, 2017

Last Updated: Tues. 6/27/2017

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5-05-2017

Amazing Lights.  We finished dinner.  It was a beautiful evening.  There was a little over an hour available to drive from where we were in Rapid City up to Mount Rushmore.  With the amazing lights on the Prime, why not see what climbing up a secluded mountain in the dark is like?  The curves, the elevation, the possibility of encountering an animal all added to the thrill of seeing the monument lit up in the dark and having very few people to share the view with.  We could even get a chance along the way to stop on what would normally be a busy road to enjoy the sight.  Turns out, we were all alone, on the drive up and when we got there.  A park ranger welcomed us to indulge, since we had the entire place to ourselves.  The drive up was a pleasure and the journey down would recharge a large portion of the battery-pack.  But to have that moment, in that place, all to ourselves.  Wow!

5-05-2017

80 MPH with A/C.  Upon embarking on my long-distance, high-speed voyage, I was not expecting impressive efficiency.  Instead, I'd be watching my lifetime average plummet.  Going from heavy use of electricity to only gas with a massive amount of aerodynamic resistance, it's reasonable to set outcome expectations low.  There's simply too much drag on the vehicle when traveling at 80 mph and passing at even faster speeds.  To make matters worse, it was uncomfortably warm outside.  That meant also running the A/C.  With both those demands, I was delighted to see 41 MPG for the average.  The long trek across South Dakota, from Minnesota to Wyoming wasn't as bad as I had anticipated.  Nice.

5-05-2017

Potential.  Reality is setting in: "Don't get me wrong I think the Volt is a fine automobile but I think its doomed to fail."  There isn't much to say about the situation anymore.  Arguing with those who won't ever accept defeat is pointless too.  So, it's a short & sweet response:  Phaseout of the tax-credit will be mid-cycle.  Volume with the subsidy is too low to survive the loss of such significant financial help.  There won't be anything to help it compete.  Volt is a nice vehicle with a limited audience.  Prime reaches out to middle-market buyers.  There's a great deal of potential… and we are only just seeing it begin.  Toyota will achieve what GM continues to struggle with… appealing to its own customers.

5-04-2017

Pulsing.  The system in Prime automatically pulses.  You can see the MPG go up & down even when driving at a steady speed on flat highway.  I believe it was Hyundai who experimented with automation of that behavior, taking advantage of engine & motor interplay to squeeze out more efficiency by exaggerating it.  Toyota obviously nailed it.  The effect is so subtle, you wouldn't even know it was happening without a gauge to see what was happening.  When that was first tried with Prius by owners all those years ago, it was an impairment to traffic and required a great deal of concentration.  That's how the "Just Drive It" came about.  I refused to endorse what ultimately ended up getting the term "hypermiling" coined to it.  That distracted & annoying behavior simply wasn't worth it.  That is no longer of any value anymore either.  The system is more capable than human interaction.  It doesn't take much to come to understand how a computer can be quicker and have more refined actions.

5-04-2017

Yup.  Getting agreement on priorities is virtually impossible sometimes.  With the case of Volt, that denial situation dragged on for years... throughout the entire first generation and well into the second.  Now, we get this, starting with: "It's simple…"  That was followed by this presented-as-if-it-was-new wisdom: "MPG/Size/Brand/Price/Standard features are all more important than EV range…"  To those enthusiasts deep in denial, I could see that as a revelation to them.  Even though that's what I have been saying for an entire decade, it's good to hear.  Their hate for the messenger was so intense, taking the time to actually read & understand the message itself was clearly not of any importance to that.  Any validation for the "too little, too slowly" concern was met with an emotionally overwhelming response.  They'd lash out, negative voting to hide what had been posted.  Such a childish head-in-the-sand response was remarkable to witness... until learning how many people live their lives that way.  The presidential election was overwhelmed by a mindless need-for-change attitude.  A shockingly high number of people voted for change just for the sake of change.  It didn't matter what the consequences were.  It didn't matter how unlikely it was that promised would be fulfilled.  They just didn't want to deal with any more of the same... even though that stability and slow growth was exactly what was needed.  A nice balance of priorities isn't exciting.  The thrill of possibly finding a "tremendous" new outcome by taking an extreme risk was totally worth it, in their minds.  We're finding out how terrible of an idea that really was... just like Volt enthusiasts finally seeing the same thing people like me saw right from the very beginning.  What a waste.  But at least there is still a dim glimmer of hope.  Remember how I asked about goals?  Agreement to them is a good start... all more important than EV range.

5-04-2017

April Sales.  Things are getting interesting.  I posted this on a green blog dedicated to open discussion for all types of participants:  Anyone who still thinks faster & further is what will attract the consumers doesn't understand mainstream purchase priorities.  High-Volume sales are the result of a nice balance of features & price.  These safety features are standard, available on all models of Prius: Dynamic Radar Cruise, Pre-Collision Braking, Lane-Departure Detect with Assist, Automatic High-Beams.  Things like that are what ordinary buyers want included.  Volt is still lacking with respect to balance.  Volt's efficiency following depletion isn't enough to attract interest.  Little headroom in the rear and the legless middle seat doesn't help either.  That's why a majority of the sales were the conquest type, attracting buyers who otherwise wouldn't have purchased a GM vehicle.  Toyota configured Prime to appeal to their own customers.  That's true change.  They are striving to alter their product-line to become more electrified.  That balance of features & price will allow Prime to survive the expiration of tax-credits.  It's a genuine effort to replace traditional vehicles.

5-03-2017

Please Hurry.  Whoa!  Reality set in surprisingly quick.  The ultimate expression of acknowledgement emerged: "Please hurry."  It was from a long-time Volt enthusiast who antagonized about Prius to an extreme.  The same disappointment from gen-1 Volt sales is clearly repeating with gen-2 Volt sales.  He sees the next step clearly as getting that technology into a vehicle format actually wanted by GM customers... a small SUV.  I asked him the "Who?" question so many times, it was making him crazy.  He just plain did not want to admit Volt wasn't appealing to an audience beyond conquest purchases.  Those buyers are in no way representative of ordinary GM shoppers... which is why I fought him from well before rollout began.  To make matters even more stressful, I pointed out the next-step problem by expressing the "too little, too slowly" concern over and over again.  He finally gets it!  Phew!  The nightmare of endless disappointment may finally come to a close.  Either that plug-in hybrid technology gets abandoned in favor of EV offerings or it finally gets put in a vehicle type GM shoppers will actually buy.  His desperate plea would seem to favor the latter.

5-03-2017

Ironic Greenwashing.  Perceived obsolescence could be a problem: "Look at how long Toyota has breathed life into its legacy hybrid synergy drive and how far behind it is today."  That same old brain-dead mindset persists.  People are led to believe that EV range is the measure for progress.  More indicates being further along.  In reality, that's hogwash.  Other factors are far more important, like reliability & cost.  Simply having connected more cells together achieves greater range, but there very much is a tradeoff for such simplicity.  That's why things like Tesla's effort to improve energy-density and reduce packing also come into play.  It's complicated.  Those who claim "behind" without anything other than an implication of short-range EV are clearly not helpful.  They just contribute to the confusion most consumers struggle with.  Repeated often enough, it becomes greenwashing.  Intentional or not, it does cause harm.  I find it ironic how that long-term investment is spun to sound like an effort to milk outdated technology.  In reality, we are only now seeing hints of just how wise that continuous effort to upgrade really was.

5-02-2017

Inventory.  Change is upon us: "Although all totals aren't in yet, the major players have reported so I think it's safe to say April 2017 will be the first month the Prime leads all plug-in sales. It was only by 12 units but a win is a win!"  I couldn't resist jumping in with additional information:  A quick look at inventory makes solid prediction for more wins...  4,683 Bolt.  4,288 Volt.  1,014 Prime.  Prime is basically not available anywhere in the Midwest yet.  Some people who placed orders there last year are still waiting for delivery.  Word of mouth about how it actually performs is only beginning to spread just now.  So, it's a very safe bet we'll see demand grow nicely.

5-02-2017

Understanding Hybrids.  Sometimes, an argument comes from assumptions.  In this case, it was clear the person didn't actually read what had been posted... assuming it was a lack of knowing that energy cannot be perpetual.  He didn't bother to see that conservation was the topic.  I was annoyed by the snarky attitude.  Not taking the time and turning on the poster is what scares away those genuinely trying to learn.  That's sad.  Oh well.  All I can do is jump in with some type of helpful information, as with this attempt:  The situation is a matter of using energy more efficiently.  No part of that is "free".  Nothing is 100% efficient. In fact, there are EV guzzlers.  Some are far better at conversion & transfer than others.  Using more electricity to travel the same distance is a problem too.  Just like with hybrids, it's a matter of seeking out efficiency opportunities.  Used wisely, there can be a gain... put another way, a prevention of greater losses... which is exactly what charge-mode can offer, used wisely.  The gas engine can be taken advantage of to control overall energy usage in favor of a better return by reducing waste.

5-02-2017

Misconceptions You Thought Were Dead.  This was quite a surprise to encounter: "Using the engine to charge the battery is never a benefit unless the charge is absolutely needed for a specific reason (ie climbing a very steep grade)."  Toyota knew there would be issues with charging up using the engine.  That's why charge-mode is discretely hidden.  The subtle nature of that extra feature makes the learning process more of a teaching opportunity, rather than a stumble-across-then-guess situation.  Antagonists like to exploit misunderstandings, spreading them widely & often to create a misconception.  People like me try our best to overcome that.  This is my short & sweet response to today's effort:  That misconception was proven false way back in 1997 by the first Prius.  Hybrids have been doing it ever since, showing undeniable benefit.  Yet, 20 years later, some still believe that’s not the case.  Ugh.

5-02-2017

So What?  It needed to be asked after reading this: "Anyone who sees the Volt for what it is realizes how great of a car it is."  We've heard the same thing since the day it was rolled out 6.5 years ago.  It hasn't made much of any difference.  Conquests sales are what resulted, not a measurable change to the status quo.  GM customers continued to purchase traditional vehicles.  There wasn't a shift to plugging in.  Notice how even GM's new hybrid has barely even made a peep?  I bet you didn't even realize there was a Malibu hybrid.  It was supposed to squash the Fusion & Camry hybrids.  That didn't happen.  Gen-2 Volt didn't result in a stir either.  I fired back:  So what if Volt goes faster & further?  It's too expensive to sell in large numbers even with the generous $7,500 tax-credit.  Prius Prime starts at $27,100 MSRP and is loaded with safety features (Dynamic Radar Cruise, Pre-Collision Braking, Lane-Departure Detect with Assist, Automatic High-Beams).  Toyota clearly positioned Prius Prime to compete directly with the actual competition, traditional vehicles.

5-01-2017

Prime Shines.  In Japan, sales came to 2,781 last month, bringing the total so far there to 6,011.  Sweet!  Unfortunately, there's still quite a bit of pushback here... much of which in the form of visual appeal.  You know, how the owners of plain-looking SUVs give cars grief for actually having some style.  Ugh.  I find it amazing how so many people prefer plain, that anything which stands out is given some level of "ugly" factor... until it's been out for awhile.  Then, attitudes change.  Each Prius generation has seen that.  Know your audience.  Those buyers don't want ordinary.  60 MPG following depletion of the battery will help draw interest after awhile too.  Seeing that on the few long trips I've taken so far is another great selling point.  Lastly, there is a charge-mode available... which has proven useful on the long trip where I didn't have an opportunity to plug in.  It took me 38 minutes to go from 0 to 80% charge.  That was 40 miles of highway travel at 66 mph.  The tradeoff was 37.8 MPG while that surprisingly aggressive recharge was taking place.  In other words, using that EV wisely afterward will yield an overall benefit.

4-30-2017

EV Efficiency Measure.  It's so refreshing to finally have constructive discussion.  Today, it was about measuring EV efficiency.  That got me excited, as you could easily predict:  miles/kWh is a means of measuring efficiency for electric propulsion.  kWh/100mi is another, for electricity.  gal/100mi is the appropriate measure for gasoline, not MPG... which is highly misleading and often used to greenwash.  Seeing that result of 5.1 is reason to celebrate.  That's great.  Many plug-in vehicles, aren't anywhere near that efficient.  In fact, some actually guzzle electricity.  That's why the new way to indicate usage is so prominently displayed in Prime.  Results that nice are something to be proud of.  Keep in mind that Prime offers roughly 6 kWh of usable electricity from the 8.8 kWh battery-pack.  Multiple that 5.1 by that 6, you get over 30 miles of estimated EV range.

4-30-2017 Selling Safety.  We're seeing this topic pop up a lot, especially when it comes to Hyundai.  More attention pushes GM further out of consideration.  I'm intrigued how that will play out.  The absolute of Toyota being the enemy is all messed up when a serious contender joins the mix.  This is what provoked my response: "Active safety system should be standard, just like the Toyota safety sense in Prius Prime.  Volt sales going down."  There's no way to resist such a lead in.  So, I didn't:

Yup.

- Dynamic Radar Cruise
- Pre-Collision Braking
- Lane-Departure Detect with Assist
- Automatic High-Beams

Those are all standard safety features that come with all Prius, including the Prime models.  That's what will attract ordinary consumers.  The nonsense of wanting more range & acceleration is just enthusiast banter, something mainstream buyers simply won't be interested in paying extra to get.

4-30-2017

Flexibility.  Don't undersell Toyota's ability to take advantage of the flexibility their design offers; other automakers are simply stuck when the market changes.  That was all I needed to say.  There's so much spin about what happened in the past, it's easy to overlook what should be obvious.  We've seen HSD adapted to a variety of different platforms, each proving some type of claim false.  Yet, there are some who still don't see it.  Perhaps now seeing how easily a plug was added and how much that provided in return will finally get the point across.  It never ceases to bewilder & flabbergast how a fundamental, like flexibility, doesn't get considered important.  Of course, there is that tendency in our nature to prefer absolutes.  The ability to adapt counters that stance, which forces actual thinking rather than the simplicity of yes or no.  Oh well.  You don't have to understand design decisions to benefit from what gets delivered.

 

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