Prius Personal Log  #864

March 24, 2018  -  March 27, 2018

Last Updated: Mon. 4/02/2018

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Lost Meaning.  What is leadership?  Some don't put any thought into how change is actually achieved.  There's an over-simplification.  I see it a lot.  This was an especially annoying stir.  Having to face it, yet again: "No Plug, No Sale."  When a slogan loses its meaning, you have a very real problem to deal with.  The mantra becomes a disconnect.  They say it, but don't understand its purpose.  For that matter, you usually can't even get the person saying it to explain their own intent.  The devil is in the detail.  Ask for it.  Most of the time, that ends the discussion.  They really don't know.  In this case, I followed up with this perspective:  NPNS is itself antique.  It's so vague, there's no value.  Meaningful comment come from specifying detail, like price or range.  The variety of offerings a plug can provide makes understanding goals vital.  In this case, a worthy hybrid offering sours appeal for transitional models and paves the way for plugs.  Again, the most difficult step is the one away from transitional.  Going from hybrid to plug-in hybrid is much easier.


Risk & Spin.  There are a lot of people online who are poorly informed, which results in their posts contributing to spin.  It gets so bad sometimes, they become antagonists by pushing their incorrect perceptions so hard.  That's quite remarkable to discover after having fought with someone so hard only to later discover what bit of information it was that they were not aware of.  My hunch is this is one such example: "Toyota is like Ford.  They were on a path to be competitive in the future, then they decided they’d rather fall behind and risk destroying the company."  Lacking any type of economic, accounting, or marketing background makes such a statement easy to feel passionate about.  Destroy?  How?  Pushing a product likely not capable of sustained high-volume profitable sales may look impressive from the autoshow presentation, but that isn't at all what a dealer will support.  They couldn't care less about the engineering achievement.  That business uncertainty is far too deep of a concern to take on the risk.  So, they don't.  They seek a more realistic solution instead.  I put it this way:  Changing their base from traditional to hybrid is a path to the future, one far more realistic than getting people to jump straight to EV.  Think about how simple offering a plug-in model to the mix will be with the hybrid selling well.  Remember, the true competition is their own traditional vehicles.  In other words, you're not looking at the big picture for EV sales.  The heavy dependence on tax-credits limits them to early adopters.  Reaching the masses is far more difficult.


Leadship, semantics.  It only took a few more comments being posted before he backed himself into a corner.  The lashing out and belittling of Toyota came about from the Fuel-Cell investment.  There are some who only want purtity, a single choice for all.  The idea of diversity is unacceptable.  That one-size-fits-all belief is clearly alive & well still.  So, anything that Toyota did was a step in the wrong direction, regardless of what it actually was.  The example his sighted as where Toyota went astray was with RAV4.  That EV was the solution... abandoned, in his mind.  Only problem, his argument took on the purity requirment.  The vehicle had to be built for the sole purpose of being an EV.  No conversion of any type was acceptable.  Oops!  He contradicted himself.  I jumped in by pointing out that neither Honda Clairty nor Hyundai Ioniq would be acceptable based on his criteria either, despite both being pure EV.  Having a counterpart of any sort meant the automaker was really trying, it was an after-the-fact hack.  Catch is, that has been proven untrue.  Prius had EV ability way back in 2003.  That's where the 100 km/h ability originated.  But without enough battery to support that, the ability was never exploited.  The tech back then was far too expensive, with energy-density far too low.  So, we had to wait.  The design was already in place for electric-only travel, hence the low speed & power ability Prius did deliver in the meantime.


Leadship, failure.  How someone handles the failure of others is a sign of leadership too.  Toyota can't do it alone.  Neither can Tesla.  Whomever it may be pushing to draw in a new audience, there will always be a point to which they realize doing it alone is impossible.  GM never had an market for their small hatchback or their small wagon.  Those plug-in vehicles were clearly design to appeal to outside buyers, to score conquest sales.  Their own customer base didn't change.  Those same owners of old traditional GM vehicles will replace them with new traditional GM vehicles.  Status quo remained the same.  That's not leadership.  Recognizing that and providing the means to change is.  We are witnessing Toyota and Tesla do exactly that.  Hyundai and Nissan are standing strong immediately behind them.  It's a team effort.  Breaking ground isn't the only task required; yet, it is the only which gets deemed leadership.  The idea of each doing their own part to fulfill their own need to a concept beyond the grasp of the simple-minded.  Each automaker must excel in its own way.  GM's obsession with Pickups & SUVs meant it should have focused on Pickups & SUVs.  After all, that's what Two-Mode was all about.  We didn't like that obsession.  But it was obvious from the start the effort to develop Volt did not have a sincere goal of changing their customers.  There was a trophy-mentality right at the beginning of it all.  It was doomed to fail as a result.  There's no benefit from "I told you so" now either; however, that history does reinforce audience.  Leading means understanding who you intent to lead.


Leadship, change.  I got the impression from this that the person simply has no engineering background: "Prime simply adds a plug to a hybrid.  Good that they did but this is still a totally different animal than a 100% BEV built from the ground up to be a BEV."  Reading other posts, the vague nature of those claims seemed to confirm that too.  It's strange to think some people have no idea how certain advancements come about.  It's like they are totally unaware of the upgrade process, assuming a new product comes out of nothing and it an immediate success.  Those are the same type of people who think a singer with a #1 hit had incredible talent, that their 20 years of refinement singing in dumping venues to get to that position never happened.  The odds of an overnight sensation are virtually impossible.  Reality doesn't favor luck.  You have to work very hard to succeed.  This type of extreme thinking is why change is so difficult.  The status quo always has a large group fighting to retain that stability, fighting change any way they can.  It's starts simple, like when an definition is altered, then you just keep telling yourself nothing actually changed.  I dealt with that denial all the time:  Nope, that's just semantics, easily disproven by Honda Clarity and Hyundai Ioniq.  Both are offered as EV, despite also having a model with an engine.  The body used for that is not relevant to the production & sale of the vehicle.  Consumers will get an electric-only driving experience regardless.  So what if the electric-only is short-range?  You still get the full EV driving experience.  I routinely see 0 RPM on the tachometer for the engine on my entire commute.


Leadship, intent.  Figuring if someone is poorly informed or if they simply are trying to mislead is very difficult.  Take this example: "There's a huge difference between a hybrid like the Prius and a 100% battery electric vehicle.  While other auto companies have been working on architectures, drive and power systems for some time, Toyota has been focused on Fuel Cell which for a manufacturer is much closer to ICE than a BEV is.  Unless Toyota have a quite large group hidden somewhere working on this then they are a considerable ways behind the rest of the industry."  Did the just succome to the hydrogen rheotric or are they completely clueless about how Prius actually operates?  It's very hard to tell and you don't want to offend someone who is just naive.  There are a lot of people passionate to improving emissions & consumption that have no idea how any of the technology works.  Some don't have any engineering background whatsoever.  This may even be there first encounter with anything beyond just plugging in their phone.  There's a lot of incorrect assumptions you can make with such lack of education.  Oh well, sometimes you never find out the true intent is.  But at least I know Toyota is doing far more than this person was aware of:  That's interesting.  I didn't think there were any newbies on this site, still unaware of Prius Prime.  That model offers full EV.  You can accelerate up to 84 mph and sustain that speed using only electricity.  It offers an electric-heater more advanced than Volt.  In Japan, you can even get a CHAdeMO connection for fast charging and a solar-roof for green charging.  I'm approaching the 1st anniversary with mine.  16,100 miles so far, with 2 trips over 1,700 miles mostly driven at 80 mph.  Despite that, along with a Minnesota winter, I have a lifetime average of 101.7 MPG.  In short, that claim about Toyota not being focused on delivering EV is quite incorrect.  They have been refining design & production of motor & battery all along, you just hadn't noticed yet.


Video:  Early Spring - Bike Trail (From).  To my delight... and relief... the video in both directions turned out.  Being able to document the entire drive was important.  But with technical obstacles, you just never know.  Opportunities to try again if something doesn't work are few and far between.  I got lucky with this.  It was my first vacation day of the year, where I figured there would be a little relaxation time between household tasks I still needed to do.  Rather than go out for a coffee to blog, I setup camera and hoped for the best.  It paid off too.  I think being able to refer to this footage later will come in really handy.  Detail at this level is hard to come by.  That's how the rhetoric is able to persist.  It goes on and one if you don't have anything but hearsay to counter with.  This is video with multiple feeds... 4K driving location & conditions, dashboard guage information, and data from an ODB-II reader... all assembled into a convenient link that's easy to share.  Yeah!  Too bad I didn't have such a powerful resource at my disposal in the past.  That sure would have made the online combat a whole lot easier to fight.  Here's part 2, the drive back home...  Early Spring - Bike Trail (From)

3-26-2018 Video:  Early Spring - Bike Trail (To). 

On a gloomy Spring day, when the sky is gray and the temperature still chilly, thoughts of going to your favorite bike trail dominate your mind.  That opportunity to actually use it is still a month away, but driving to that scenic location to capture valuable data on video could happen right away.

If the 4K camera didn't overheat, I would be able to share round-trip footage of that entire trip.  With the variety of conditions... country road, open highway, extreme hills, and a climb in & out of the valley... it would be quite a scenic drive.  So, I gave it a try.  Here are the results:

TO:  31.1 miles / 104.2 MPG = 0.298 gallons

FROM:  31.2 miles / 79.3 MPG = 0.393 gallons

OVERALL:  62.3 miles / 0.691 gallons = 90.2 MPG

The advice given to Prius Prime owners is to save EV driving (plug-supplied electricity from the battery-pack) for non-highway driving.  With the variety on this trip, that was an easy thing to do.  Watch the "EV Mode" indicator.  Also, what what happens on the crazy up & down of those hills and the effect that valley where the trail is located.

On those glorious days of Summer, I hope to get down there for actual biking.  Who knows if I'll be able to capture that drive.  There will be hours delay before the drive back too.  Efficiency from the warmer weather is much better too.  Nonetheless, the results of this particular round-trip provide ample real-world data to consider.

Hope you enjoy watching it...  Early Spring - Bike Trail (To)


More Generalizations.  It's too easy to jump on the same bandwagon: "Toyota, Subaru and a few others are quite behind the curve..."  This time, it was a poster on a blog who seemed to not give any thought to what was actually posted.  He just made the claim with nothing but an anecdotal observation.  That's unfortunate.  But maybe it is possible to get a change from pushing back with more than just a gentle nudge:  Reality is, Toyota produces 1.5 Million hybrids per year now... each with an electric-motor & battery-pack.  No amount of rhetoric can conceal that production shift.  The foundation is being laid by getting dealer & consumer to abandon traditional vehicles.  That first step is the hardest.  Each purchase after that is far less intimidating.  It's unfortunate you perceived them as behind, since they clearly are not... and you have been informed why.


The Other Shoe.  Former enthusiasts continue to sound off: "Yet another sign GM just doesn’t care about EREVs anymore..."  This came from the fight GM's CEO has engaged in against the state of California, pushing for those standards to be lowered.  She wants requirements for fuel-efficiency to be reduced, eliminating that increase the previous administration had targeted.  Rollback & Elimination of improvement goals is sickening.  When you know the technology is realistic, why fight against using it?  This is especially concerning with the knowledge of just how much damage to the environment will happen as a result.  But even worse, it's handing over opportunity to others.  Rather than engaging automakers producing vehicles here in the United States, they turn a blind-eye to the doors the resistance opens elsewhere.  It's not like the rest of the world will ignore climate-change or oil-dependency.  Only we will.  Allowing them to develop & refine technologies while we remain back in the past is econmic suicide.  Why would anyone sacrifice so much just to retain the status quo?  Turns out, GM is willing to throw away what they had worked toward.  Today, we found out Terrain will get a diesel option too, adding to the non-pickup choices from GM.  Ugh.  Seeing Cruze & Equinox offered that way was bad enough.  But we all know Two-Mode was supposed to be the efficiency choice for GM's future, offered as a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid.  Instead, the choice has become diesel.  There's nothing to deny anymore.  That other shoe has dropped.


Speed, part 2.  To my surprise, there was quite a bit of positive feedback to my post.  This comment added some dimension to the discussion: "I got tired of people asking me if the car could keep up with traffic on the freeway..."  Bringing a little history perspective into the topic was an unexpected plus.  So, I added so more to find out just how constructive we could get:  It was amazing (and quite annoying) how widespread the power misconception was.  People genuinely thought electric motors wouldn't have enough power for freeway speed.  My guess was household rechargeable batteries of the time were weak.  So, they just assumed automotive-grade would be too.  Of course, there are some who... still to this day... trying to undermine Prius by spreading FUD like that.


Speed, part 1.  People obsess with it.  We've been brainwashed into thinking faster is better, even though need was exceeded years ago.  Marketing caters to want, selling you more power than you'll ever actually need.  They focus on rare circumstances, trying to protray them as normal.  Others will present the situation as if you are in grave danger if you don't have that.  It's a game that is ulimately lost.  We've seen that playout with computers.  Faster was no longer the most important priority.  That's how laptop computers transformed into tablets, pads, and phones.  Speed simply wasn't a selling point anymore.  We're not quite there will cars yet, but mighty close.  That means you still need to play the game a little.  So, when the topic of "fastest" came up again, I chimed in to answer that question:  Prime is governed at 103 mph.  I tried it out on a lonely highway in South Dakota. I also tried it with the PHV.  It is governed at 104 mph... which are both worthless trivia.  Knowing you can sustain a cruise at 80 mph for 2 hours non-stop and achieve MPG in the upper 40's is information of true importance.


Expectations.  Fortune does not favor the foolish.  Assumptions can be costly.  The enthusiasts who blindly followed without doing any research are now feeling remorse: "After buying my 2014 Volt, I was so impressed with the technology that I assumed that I would soon be replacing my Subaru Outback with a GM PHEV SUV.  GM has proven that they are not all in with EV drive."  Their problem came from study of only the engineering.  That's an easy mistake to make.  They believed the effort put forth by GM was to be an on-going investment, one of many steps forward.  That's why whenever I brought up Two-Mode, its history was immediately dismissed.  Enthusisasts felt it had no relevance to what was happening now.  They were wrong, very wrong.  I recognized the pattern and was shunned for it.  They attacked relentlessly, claiming my true purpose was to undermine GM's efforts.  Sadly, I have been vindicated.  That pattern was indeed playing out.  It has been confirmed that the effort with Volt fizzled.  GM hasn't shown interest.  There's nothing to expect anymore.  True, something will eventually emerge.  But the hope of leading is gone.


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