Prius Personal Log #809
May 12, 2017 - May 18, 2017
Last Updated: Sun. 5/21/2017
page #808 page #810 BOOK INDEX
29.5 Miles. EV range is increasing in my Prime as the temperature rises. I got 29.5 miles today from mixed highway/suburb driving, with it in the 50's. I can't wait until no jacket weather finally arrives. Warmer makes quite a difference. Of course, I do look forward to the return of Winter here in Minnesota, but not for awhile. The benefit of that vapor-injected heat-pump, battery warmer, seat warmer, and heated steering-wheel can wait. The remote climate and charging-prep can be used in Summer too. Both warming & cooling are full electric. What will make more of a difference... Heater or A/C ? Being able to run both from the charger prior to using the car will be interesting... and beneficial to EV range. I do really like driving with the windows open though. The next few months will be exciting. I really enjoy the discoveries made by owners about Toyota's upgrades during the first rollout year. This one, I managed to capture with my phone... photo album 206
EVSE Shopping. I have been doing some serious research lately. The goal is to purchase two level-2 chargers for home in the not-too-distant future. I held off even discussing the matter until getting my Prime. Waiting meant getting the latest & greatest. Not having Wi-Fi to monitor & collect information wasn't something I was willing to sacrifice. It's quite common to find 240-volt chargers with plugs now, rather than having to hard-wire them. Cords are much longer too. I wanted something waterproof as well, not just water-resistant. Waiting also means getting much higher capacity for the same price. Of course, the system in Prime won't be able to take advantage of that. But in years to come, you never know. It's very likely I'll have friends with plug-in vehicles visit. They'll be able to recharge while visiting. My particular situation is very nice. When hunting for a new house 2 years ago, I made sure adding lines would be easy. In this case, it will be remarkably easy. The 200-amp box is in the garage and the wall that would accommodate wires is completely open. Both lines can be run across the tops of the garage door and an outlet installed each side. We really got lucky with such a nice layout. Turns out, our electricity supplier (the local co-op) offers $500 per line setup too. So, that effort will likely be entirely without cost. Sweet! Purchase of the two chargers (EVSE, which stands for "Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment") will be covered entirely by the rebate coming from my credit-card. I've been saving up that money for years to redeem toward the purchase of my next Prius. Needless to say, I'm quite excited about the upgrade opportunity. Though in no way necessary, the faster recharging could come in handy. But more importantly, the new lines will be setup for discounted service. They will be on a Time-Of-Use plan, which offers lower cost electricity when your use is during overnight hours and on weekends & holidays.
Hatchbacks & Minivans. All those bold & meritless statements coming from GM on a regular basis is why that automaker gets blogged about so often. Bolt sales not meet hype expectations has resulted in a shift of focus over to profitability. GM wants to be the first to make a profit from selling EV. We know that they are currently losing money on each and that the $7,500 tax-credit is absolutely essential for its rollout. Looking beyond that is a becoming more and more of a problem. Plugging in isn't discussed anymore on the big GM forum. Members simply aren't interested in small cars. A thread about Cruze hatchback barely stirring any customer interest highlighted concern. GM customers want Trucks & SUVs. That's why Volt never made any sense. That's the same reason why Chrysler's new Pacifica hybrid is already becoming an issue raiser. How many people are willing to pay that much for it? Being a high-efficiency people & cargo mover is great, but there simply aren't that many who is could appeal to. The importance of being affordable cannot be stressed enough. We need real efforts, not token gestures. Toyota has had a hybrid minivan for over a decade, but recognized the lack of potential here in this market. So, they tried a wagon and a SUV hybrid for diversification. When will GM finally try something else? How long will it take Chrysler? What about Ford? What about the others?
Charge Now. It's the little things that get overlooked. I'm scrambling the best I can to find & document them. Today, it was emphasis on the "Charge Now" option. Toyota made the timer much easier to setup. You can now schedule repeatable events. The most obvious is morning departure. A time can be set, complete with climate-prep (running the electric Heater or A/C) prior to leaving. You don't need to do anything beyond just plug in when you get home. The system will figure out the charging & preparation time needs for you, then execute automatically... regardless of how much charge (if any) you ended with. It's quite handy. Unfortunately, the first few times with that, you'll probably forget about immediate needs... like plugging in to recharge while stopped for groceries. I did that today. Annoyed about getting 0 kWh while inside, I looked for a convenience option. Going through the menu is cumbersome, though sensible for scheduling. Where was a quick option? Yeah! I finally noticed. Rather than on the usual dashboard screen, there was a pop-up on the big touch screen. There's a simple "Charge Now" button which automatically displays when you shut down. I hadn't thought of looking there. Duh! I knew Toyota would have studied behavior and provided a convenience feature. Sure enough. There is was.
Higher Emissions. Reports from first-drives of the new Hyundai Ioniq hybrid are revealing interesting results. MPG is indeed competitive with Prius; however, emissions are not. Measurements taken by an independent party confirmed the usual concern, that particulate & CO emissions are higher. Toyota's priority of keeping emissions as low as possible, even if it means sacrificing a little efficiency, are appearing to be something not shared with Hyundai. That's the very same problem we had with VW. Questions of how the MPG was achieved were drowned out by efforts to undermine Prius. I sure hope that nonsense doesn't happen again. You can easily see most people simply not caring, saying emissions are clean enough. That does echo similar concerns of the "clean diesel" campaign. It will be interesting to see how the MPG situation plays out. It may be a non-issue, if Hyundai didn't take into account the brutal impact Winter can have. Toyota has 20 years of experience with that. Will we see that level of sophistication from Ioniq owner reports? Reviewers rarely ever provide detail to properly portray what ordinary people see firsthand when leaving work after the car having been parked in temperatures well below freezing for over 8 hours. We'll find out in 9 months.
Claims of Sabotage. I brought up that quote
again: "Why can't GM offer..." That's
what started a constructive exchange on the thread, so why not use it to
conclude too? After all, there was a mix of responses... some not so
friendly, others were a clear effort to move on to more intelligent
discussion. So, I summed up with:
Enthusiasts absolutely insisted they had no way to influence GM, that we'd all have to be patient and wait for whatever the automaker determines to be important. Ironically, it was their own obsession with faster & further which sent a clear message to GM of priorities, never realizing those statements of preference in online posts would become the source of that determination.
Yet another example of Toyota's careful study of audience is the new venting system in Prime. If no one is detected in the rear seats, blowers back there are not used. Lack of weight in those seats cause the vents to automatically shut. In the front, if there isn't a passenger in that seat, that vent shuts too and all blowing is directed only to the driver. When a front passenger joins, the front vent automatically opens for them.
That automatic adjustment of climate control provides an efficiency gain. Energy for A/C & Heating is not wasted on unoccupied seats.
There's no reason GM couldn't offer that too. Unfortunately, priority was given to going faster & further instead. Nice amenities like that weren't considered important... because GM mostly just heard about a need to make Volt faster & further for gen-2 to appeal to a wider audience. Those enthusiasts screwed up their own fate. Growth is now struggling as a result, despite the generous $7,500 tax-credit.
It's really sad that the message of balance was dismissed with claims sabotage, rather than the reasons for concern they actually were.
Hooray! A friend of mine picked up her Prime this morning. A few hours later, we got together for a brain-dump. I shared as much as I could based upon the type of queries she had. Not knowing what a new owner doesn't know is a challenge. Her willingness to let me bounce stuff off of her for User-Guide material was great. The experience ended up being quite a treat for the both of us. Parking in the 2 charging spots at the nearby grocery-store, we explored the screens in my Prime. All the while, we watched people walk by and check out her Prime. The charging-cord was quite visible the way she parked, so it was obvious that shiny new vehicle was something special. I'd pause my comments to point out yet another passerby stopping to admire. 2 people ended up taking photos. I was fun to witness. I got a lot of great feedback from that opportunity. I provided a bit of uncomfortable how-to information as well. To get that spot for her, I had to loudly say: "She would like to plug in." A woman in a minivan parked in that spot, hoping no one would need the charger. The moment she realized her actions had been called out, she very politely vacated... and even said "Thank you." That kind of polite response isn't what you'd expect. But then again, why did she attempt to park there in the first place? Needless to say, there is much about the ownership experience to share. Later when more charging spots are added to parking lots, they will be further back. Up in front for the first few is to promote their existance. You have to start somewhere... much like the one-on-one effort to share information today. Having great technology is a large step in the right direction, but far from the end goal of replacing traditional vehicles. Today's events contributed to that better future.
Know Your Audience. I
keep pushing that message, over and over again. This time, it was to "Awful
awful design." That was the conclusion of a terse statement
exclaiming disappointment for the acceleration times of Prime. That
brain-dead belief of faster being an absolute necessity is what has blinded
Volt enthusiasts from becoming supporters for an entire decade. The
consequences of such unwillingness to accept want over need are becoming
apparent now. Growth of sales is basically non-existent. Loyal
GM buyers aren't interested. Sales are still stuck on the conquest
type. The status quo has not been influenced. That alerts to
upcoming trouble, especially with the tax-credit phaseout approaching.
I pushed, yet again:
Comments here will have no influence on showroom shoppers, the target audience. They'll never see them, nor would they even care what an enthusiast has to say. They'll make their own decision by taking a test drive.
That was the secret of success for Toyota with Prius. It was available for the curious to try. They were aware of the reputation and saw it could be purchased for a reasonable price. No pressure, no doubt, no concern... just go for a test drive.
Prime builds upon that. Base model MSRP is competitive, even without tax-credit help. An ordinary 120-volt household outlet is all it takes to recharge too. That's a major challenge for EV offerings to overcome and a barrier other automakers strive to finally reach for plug-in hybrids.
In other words, look at why the reasons for purchasing electric are deemed important. Notice how nothing related to power is listed? That's because need has been exceeded and more simply doesn't achieve sales growth. It's not what buyers are looking for.
Know your audience.
Beyond Desperate. I stumbled across an article today comparing Prime to Jetta. Why such a bizarre pairing? tI didn't take much reading to encounter the first outright lie, a dead giveaway this was a bias article written intentionally to undermine Toyota's effort: "The high-tech Prius Prime Premium has an manufacturer's suggested retail price of $30,060." Where the heck did that come from? Premium's MSRP is $28,800. Advance's MSRP is $33,100. Neither made any sense to compare to the Jetta anyway... since the writer put it up against a 5-speed manual. How is that even the slightest bit comparable? Plus's MSRP is $27,100 and it is much nicer equipped than the $21,715 Jetta in the comparison... which you are required to shift gears yourself. Ugh. Coming from a Tennessee publication and reviewed by someone with them for over 20 years, I just don't understand how such blatant greenwashing continues. That is a sign of being beyond desperate to impede change. On the opposite extreme, there was the less obvious, quite subtle "no-nonsense body lines" description of Jetta's look. That's the spin version of making "plain" sound appealing, very much an effort to retain the status quo. The really standout part of the article though was the fact that nothing was said about a test drive or any data presented related to results. Not a peep about actually driving the vehicle is good reason to be suspicious of intent.
Charge-Mode. I took advantage of charge-mode on my 1,700-mile road trip last weekend. To my delight, the impact to MPG from charging while going 80 mph was barely noticeable. There wasn't even a performance hit. The system is clearly configured seek out optimum operating efficiency to extract electricity. Those resulting EV miles came in handy later, when running around for dinner later in the evening after arriving at our destination and settling in at the hotel. It was also nice when droving to a coffeeshop in town for beverages before heading back out on the highway.
Who? How? Determining if progress is actually
being made can be a challenge. Today's was how to interpret a response
asking what "NPNS" meant. That was an antagonist chant of the
past, now a very real problem for some. Saying too much reveals the
hypocritical nature of their stance. Rather than having focused on
goals, they belittled & mocked only later to find out those would become
self-deprecating actions. Oops! It's too bad some get desperate
to prove "vastly superior" at the expense of burning bridges.
Oh well. This was the start of the response: "No Plug No Sale. It was used a lot when
new hybrids were being announced..." Shortcomings of what has
been stated were too plentiful to choose from, so I kept it to an overview:
Many things were said back then, but have since changed. In fact, some of the quotes above are out of context without knowledge how they were used, which confuses their meaning & intent. The situation now is that we are into gen-2 rollouts, putting some previous stances at odds with what the market has evolved into.
Toyota's latest delivery is what the "lite" Volt had been hoped to become... more affordable, more efficient, and more roomy. We still await that from GM. We also still wait for the first high-efficiency SUV offering. That's why there's such emotion stirred in some posts.
As the plug-in hybrid market expand & evolves, we are seeing similar advancement with EV offerings. That puts GM in an awkward position, having built Volt upon a "range anxiety" concern which no longer exists. What will they promote to sway their own customers to consider a plug?
This is why there are continued attempts push for a consideration of the bigger picture... asking who & how. The obvious example is public charging-stations. After all these years, there is still no clear message of intent. Who should be using them? How should they be used?
Another motto often quoted was this is not a One-Size-Fits-All situation. Notice the 11 reasons listed to buy an EV also apply to plug-in hybrids replacing traditional vehicles?