Prius Personal Log  #851

January 1, 2018  -  January 6, 2018

Last Updated: Sun. 1/28/2018

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1-06-2018

More Than The Vehicle.  There's much more.  Unfortunately, most people don't even see the entire picture for the vehicle itself.  So, expecting them to be aware of everything else at play with respect to electrification is quite unrealistic.  Most simply have no idea.  That means posting exposition from time to time, with at least the hope someone will notice that there is more.  Today, I shared:  Our local plug-in owners group strives to draw attention to needs of the entire transportation sector.  Much of that focus lately has been on infrastructure, to the extent of us working with the local power-companies & equipment-providers to address issues and raise awareness.  Electricity required to power our plug-in vehicles is a necessity; otherwise, usefulness of the vehicle is severely degraded... not a good selling point.  Using things like battery-banks to offset dirty peak generators is one of many factors often not known, rare for anyone to even be aware of.  Have you ever seen the duck curve?  Also, think about how large recharging areas will be able to supply a spike of electricity demand.  The 21st Century equivalent of a gas station may need to have an assortment of electricity sources to be able to keep up.  Imagine 350 kW charging speeds.  That's what people are expecting.  Supply from power-lines may not be enough.  Do you really want to have an unpredictable recharge time that varies significantly?  A supplemental supply source is needed.  In short, there's more to our plug-in vehicles than just the plug-in vehicles.

1-06-2018

Big Picture Refusal.  Attacks on Toyota are almost all the same.  Either has been the "faster & further" obsession or the "fuel cell" distraction.  Now, it seems to be changing to just: "I think BEV's will be fine."  It other words, the enthusiasts are giving up.  Neither attack approach is getting much attention anymore.  Affordability of plug-in hybrids is becoming realistic, which negates any draw for standing out.  And the complexities of actually dealing with energy transfer simply confuse discussions to the point being repellent.  It's a good note to finishing closing things down on then.  So, I posted this reminder that the situation is much more complex:  That vague of a response is considered dodging the issue, especially since it diverts discussion from storage to vehicle.  Electricity must be stored somehow. The grid can only temporarily hold it. Storage overnight or longer needs something to contain it. Batteries can handle a sizeable portion, but the quantity needed is enormous... and takes away from the supply for vehicles. Hydrogen, whether used directly or converted back to DC for charging, is a means of supplementing that need.  In other words, I used your response to draw attention to the bigger picture.  Far too many don't notice there's more at play than just vehicles.  That's a fundamental oversight.  Storage is a huge consideration which must be addressed.

1-06-2018

Heat-Pump Threshold.  I have been watching temperature closely.  The 14°F cutoff is actually a little squishy.  It can be a little bit colder outside before the engine will start-up to produce heat for the cabin.  And even then, the heat-pump will continue trying to produce as much warmth as possible.  In the meantime, while the coolant is warming but still hasn't collected enough heat yet, you can see electricity from the battery-pack being sent to the heat-pump.  I hadn't thought of checking the energy display until the moment came.  And there it was, confirmation of a smooth transition.  It's a nicely thought out approach.  This is similar to the value stated for EV capacity remaining.  In the extreme cold, it will leave a few percentage of a buffer for the transition.  Toyota simply understates to set realistic expectations.  Far too many early adopters are completely clueless about what the mainstream perspective is.  Moving from the initial rollout stage to one with a much wider audience means looking at more than just faster & further.  You'd think they would catch on after a few years.  Not yet, but hearing from a more diverse set of first-time owners should help a lot.  No more Volt rhetoric means progress can finally be made.  The unfortunate holdback GM caused and enthusiasts greatly contributed to sure made education more difficult.  Oh well, we seem to finally be stirring constructive discussion.

1-06-2018

Video:  Single-Digit.  Starting from a garage warm, the first few blocks of driving were with electric-heat.  Watch the temperature drop.  The engine then cycles on & off, allowing for heat from the coolant while driving with only electricity.  All gas & electric vehicles pay a penalty for having to deal with the more dense air of winter and having to provide heat for the cabin.  The end result with my Prime from that 18.7 miles of driving was 67.1 MPG.  That's quite impressive when the temperature drops all the way to just 1°F.  Here is a link to that video, available for viewing education & pleasure in 4K... Single-Digit Winter Commute

1-05-2018

Hate.  The end really did come.  It has been a bitter pill for them to swallow too.  Those few remaining enthusiasts were so let down by the news of Prime sales having exceeded Volt, despite the limited supply, it was too much to acknowledge why.  I did some more searches online.  Knowing that the Los Angeles and Boston areas had ample inventory readily available, where else could Prime be purchased?  The results shouldn't have changed much from a week ago.  But curiosity got me.  I also wanted more documented for reference later on.  Portland, Denver, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Pheonix, Dallas, Atlanta, Orlando... none had more than just a token few available within 500-mile radiuses.  Toyota basically just concentrated on the initial markets for Prime, just like they did for PHV.  This time though, we know more are on the way.  Holding off on 2017 models makes a lot of sense, even more so now.  They knew the market would be a confusing mess in the second-half of the year... and it was.  Rollout of Leaf & Model 3 put Bolt in a position of struggle.  The race for long-range EV attention left Volt without purpose anymore, abandoned.  All those mixed messages from GM finally sunk in.  My concern was confirmed correct.  They hate me as a result... which the posts on the thread I refrained from participating on clearly reflected.  A scapegoat to tell their excuses to was desperately needed.  Refusing to state goals has consequences.  They know that all too well now.  My push was an effort to recognize what was truly important.  They chose to focus on faster & further instead.  It was a terrible decision.

1-04-2018

More Retrospective.  I stayed up on that soapbox and continued with my observations of the past, providing more insight about how we got to this state:  2018 is looking great for growth potential of plug-in hybrid sales.  Major impediment to the plug-in hybrid market is finally subsiding: Volt.  It was promoted as a EREV all throughout gen-1 development. But when rollout finally happened, Volt turned out to be a PHEV instead.  Enthusiasts refused to accept that though, claiming otherwise... which created a great deal of market confusion.  A few years later when BMW rolled out i3, it became clear what Volt actually was... or more accurately, wasn't.  That confusing message to the market should have ended then; instead, we ended up getting new rhetoric from enthusiasts about what gen-2 would deliver.  That turned into an expectation disaster too.  Rather than tuning down the impressive performance traits so it would attract ordinary consumers, they were increased.  It was a complete disregard for the priority of reducing price to grow sales and compensate for the upcoming loss of tax-credits.  Now, we see the competition stepping in to fill the void GM is clearly shying away from.  It's odd to see such abandonment of an entire market segment, especially after such bold promises.  But that's what we have witnessed for plug-in hybrid efforts from GM.

1-03-2018

Great Insight.  That was the reply posted about this retrospective I posted:  GM configured Volt gen-1 to appeal to enthusiasts, which was a bit risky even back in 2010.  But without any other choices on the market yet, there was time to explore what gen-2 would need to attract a wider audience.  Supporters were convinced that was an acceptable strategy.  It became a huge a big mistake though.  GM fell into the innovation's dilemma trap of making the successor even more appealing to that same group.  Those changes needed to adapt Volt for ordinary consumers didn't happen. The obvious priority of reducing early-adopter features to make the design more affordable were totally disregarded.  The range & power were fine already. Increasing them was exactly the wrong thing to do... which is now very obvious into the third year of gen-2 sales.  So much opportunity has been missed.  Toyota used their own gen-1 to research the market too, only they made the decision to make affordable a very high priority... which is paying off already.  Even with inventory basically non-existent in big chunks of the United States, the first year of sales beat Volt... despite the $3,000 tax-credit advantage.  We see Hyundai & Kia working to also capture the affordable market, targeting the same mainstream shoppers as Toyota.  Things will get interesting as production & inventory ramps up. I n the meantime, it seems GM is just abandoning the plug-in hybrid market in favor of EV sales.  Oh well.  It's yet another "over promise, under deliver" story.

1-03-2018

Achievement.  Year-End sales being posted had brought about a tsunami of attacks.  The antagonists are spinning wildly, in desperate attempts to undermine.  It's quite subtle though.  They know trouble is on the way.  So, we get stuff like this: "What's holding Toyota sales back is the New Leaf, and the Model 3."  How they respond to my reply is key.  It confirms their stance.  They try everything they possibly can to evade.  Not acknowledging the fact presented is a dead giveaway.  I've seen that pattern countless times in the past.  Each time plays out the same way.  I sure it will again with this:  That's an anecdotal conclusion, not what is actually happening.  First year sales were hampered by striving to reach 3 distinct major markets all at once (North America, Europe, and Japan).  The result was extremely limited availability in many areas of the US, but the total production was still an impressive 50,000.  Initial rollout sales of those 50,000... especially when it includes new tech (dual-wave glass and carbon-fiber hatch) ...is certainly a noteworthy achievement.

1-02-2018

Dual-Wave Glass.  The self-clearing nature of that glass on the back hatch cannot be understated.  Having driven in snow and through the message that follows, the trait is now quite obvious.  After hearing so many comments about how terrible it would be to not have a wiper, it is really nice getting confirmation that Toyota thoughtfully researched the situation.  Eliminating the need, while also improving both aerodynamics and visual appeal, is a very big step forward... so much so, most people won't have a clue... even after taking ownership.  You tend to not notice things that aren't a problem.  Air getting funneled into that dip creates a pushing effect.  The 2 waves get cleared of water & snow right away and the rest slides down the middle.  It's quite remarkable to witness.

1-01-2018

Change.  Remember what Toyota said about their audience changing... Prius owners who shopped for a growing family back then, now handing the car down to a child and looking to Prime as a vehicle for their new found freedom?  That was the question I asked.  This was the answer I got back: "That's me, but I would still like a full hatch."  I was intrigued where this new twist on an old discussion topic would take us:  That's the older generation.  That isn't necessarily what the newer generation deems a priority.  Toyota is trying to avoid falling into the same "generation" trap that GM did, finding their formerly-popular product now something only appealing to a rapidly shrinking audience.  Keeping an offering aligned to match up with middle-market, where high-volume sales are dependable, requires adaptation... changes over time... the kind some former buyers may not be interested in. Regular Prius clearly focuses on the younger crowd, those seeking to have a standout look.  Remember, there is no longer Scion choices available to serve that purpose anymore.  Plug-In Prius has moved up, where the unlikely-to-be-needed middle seat was abandoned in favor of taking on the layout found in higher end vehicles.  In fact, that's exactly the reason why such a large display is offered.  That is why also having lots of height in the cargo area isn't a priority.  Dropping the seats for hauling lots of cargo is no big deal for this audience.  Don't forget how many other "Prime" hybrid upgrades could be offered in the not-too-distant future.  They have their own audience too.  A full hatch would be a priority in that upcoming new larger model of Prius.

1-01-2018

Honda Clarity.  The sponsorship of this year's RoseBowl parade was Honda.  The featured vehicle was Clarity.  It was great.  The background banners had images of the new plug-in hybrid.  The car itself made a reveal during the performance.  And while the parade took a commercial break, there was a full 60-second television commercial aired.  It was an excellent way to debut a new offering.  They had quite a number of opportunities for product-placement and product-mention.  It made me wonder how much people were paying attention.  Would that make enough of an impression for some to be curious enough to take a next step?  If nothing else, it was a really good attempt to raise awareness.  I bet we'll see it again in 1 month, during the SuperBowl... which is here this year, in Minneapolis.  I wonder what how that will play out.  The following month, we'll have our big autoshow.  There will be a room for the plug-in vehicles again.  Sure hope Honda will be present.  Clarity looks really nice.  I know of 1 couple here locally who have already purchased one.  It's happening.  The plug-in hybrid market is expanding.  Yeah!

1-01-2018

New Audience.  Having left that enthusiast website behind means participation elsewhere.  In the case today, it was on the big EV blog.  That gets lots of posting activity from a wide variety of electrification supporters, many of whom barely know anything about plug-in Prius operation.  The mindset there was one of no interest for years.  They all just assumed Prius would never be part of it.  For that matter, anything not pure EV was questionable as being market leadership.  Basically, if it had an engine and you were supporting it, your priorities were no acceptable.  There was no sense of unwelcome, it was more of a "don't waste our time" type mentality.  Seeing Prime success and anticipating other automakers also striving to make the affordable plug-in hybrid category popular, there has been an obvious attitude change.  They still don't understand what it means though.  There's a bit of smug due to lack of background: "Are you suggesting that the gas engine kicks on, even when the car is in EV mode? LOL huh?"  He went on to say: "This has been my experience in Prius plug-ins as well as some Fords."  To what was he actually referring?  We know Volt acts that way at times during Winter.  I took it as being poorly informed, a good opportunity to provide some exposition:  Prius PHV (2012-2015), yes that was the case.  Much of the driving could still be EV exclusively, but a hard acceleration caused the engine to temporarily join in for additional power.  Prius Prime (2017-), most definitely not.  While in EV mode (not EV-Auto), the engine stays off under all driving circumstances... hard-acceleration, driving at 80 mph, running the A/C.  Only when the system temperature drops below 14°F, the engine will cycle on & off in place to provide cabin-warmth.  In sub-freezing temperatures higher than that, the electric heat-pump works fine for keeping the engine off.  In short, Prime offers more EV power due to the addition of a one-way clutch to allow the second motor to be used, so much of the previous generation's history simply doesn't apply.

 

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