Prius Personal Log  #867

April 7, 2018  -  April 12, 2018

Last Updated:  Sat. 5/12/2018

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Nope.  The spin about sales cannibalizing keeps coming up, but no one can actually back the claim with anything of merit.  In fact, most only make their statement by omitting detail then don't like.  They establish a narrative with just anecdotal observation.  Most people don't bother to do research of their own.  So, the message is usually just accepted at face value and passed along to others.  That spread of any type of message with facts to support it is unwelcome.  I interject information, ask questions, and disagree.  Sadly, most don't take on the challenge.  They just repeat the same dribble elsewhere.  But at least its not totally without resistance-free acceptance:  Nope, since that would imply intentional sales loss.  What they did was take risk, pushing appearance to an extreme with the attempt of attracting new customers.  Market growth is essential.  In the land of SUVs all sharing a similar appearance, it was a logical step to go in the other direction.  Keep in mind the goal of 5,000 sales per month is still pretty much intact.


Genius.  I asked:  How do you break a typecast problem, especially one on the magnitude Toyota faced with Prius?  They have other hybrids, but no way to draw attention to them. 52 MPG from the new Camry is amazing.  Most shoppers have no clue it even exists though.  Giving Prius a standout look is a stroke of genius.  It prompts the customer to ask if anything ordinary looking is available.  The salesperson response is "Well, as a matter of fact..."  There's a next-gen RAV4 hybrid on the way too.  This is the classic negative-promotion technique, an approach proven to be very effective when you step back to consider the overall goal.  After all, Toyota is working toward the phaseout of regular hybrid in favor of the plug-in model.  Abandoning that polarizing look mid-cycle and replacing it with something that resembles the desired target makes the transition easier.  It's a sensible method, which also earns a reputation of being responsive to market feedback.  Rather than waiting a full cycle, the automaker responds with a refresh along the way.


6 Years.  Some still assume that's how long the first Prius was around.  They have no idea there were actually 2 offerings within what they believe to be a single generation.  That has come up several times just today alone, due to the 2019 rumor.  I posted this in response:  That misconception is an interesting one.  It reveals much about the understanding/recognition of how generation is actually defined. What criteria do you use?  Gen-0 (many programming languages start counts at 0, not 1) was the first 3 years.  The following 3 were what we know as Gen-1, to account for the 6 people assume was all the same.  That unknown past comes from only being available in Japan.  It was a major update very few here knew about... the bumpers were gray, the screen wasn't touch, the engine had less power... but most significant was the battery upgrade, from "D" packaging to prismatic cells.


2019 Refresh.  It sounds like a mid-cycle refresh for the hybrid Prius will be more than just a few cosmetic tweaks and some possible system refinements.  The rumor circulating today is it will take on a look similar to Prime.  That makes sense.  There was much benefit to the polarizing look.  But once its role was fulfilled, it's time to move on.  Why must the entire product-cycle be squeezed into a 6-year span?  With vehicles now being designed on computers instead of being craved out of clay in full scale, it doesn't make sense not being receptive to market feedback.  If there's a trend to take advantage of or a shift in market desire, why not capitalize on it?  You search for interest, then jump when the opportunity presents itself.  That's why the computer design was adopted in the first place.  That flexiblity reduces time & resources needs to reach production.  I see the refresh as a refreshing new trend.  Why must a longer product-cycle still be required?  After all, aren't suppliers looking for opportunity too?  Not being able to plan the next year to chase an advantage emerging how money is made.  You don't want to get stuck with a product facing a downward trend.  Becoming the trend is far better.  Somehow other manufacturers have been able incorporate flexibility into their business approach.  Why not automakers too?


Looking Around.  It's becoming very difficult to not see change.  Accepting what it actually is can be quite disheartening.  That realization of it being an abandonment of cars expresses a clear indifference to emissions & consumption.  We are at the precipice with EV rollout.  Tax-Credit phaseout means that challenge to appeal to ordinary consumers will become much harder.  Very few had been taking that situation seriously anyway.  Now with the inudation of bulky guzzlers, we have trouble brewing.  It is rather fortunate that those large bodied vehicles can more easily support a large battery-pack.  But the cost will make the technology more of a reach to obtain.  We know GM and Ford are actively moving away from smaller vehicles.  It's when you you have other automakers, like VW and Chrysler, staying silent there's a need to look at the recognized efficiency leaders... like Toyota.  I see a ton of RAV4 and C-HR in dealers lots.  Toyota is racing to establish choices that will appeal to the masses as plug-in hybrids.  Camry should survive the SUV/CUV onslaught, but only due to it being the market leader.  That makes the choice to make Prius Prime more of an upscale offering an obvious choice now.  Those who thought that an absurd conjecture 2 years ago now have reason to take pause.  It's beginning to really make sense.  Honda's new Clarity is somewhat of a bulky beast itself... what Volt should have been.  The much larger interior justifies the price.  No smaller offering though.  Thankfully, Hyundai offers Ioniq.  They quickly diversified to both a larger sedan and a CUV.  So, we do see targeting plug-in hybrids at the affordable size.  Not many though.  The same is true for EV offerings.  Looking around, it's easy to see the cars are starting to become fewer.  That makes the transition to electricity appear to be even more of a problem.  But then again, tipping points can be reached faster when the journey to it is filled with carelessness.


Threatened By Change.  His rant got surprisingly intense.  Starting with dismissal, it became a defending of pride.  Volt was better, period.  Sales didn't matter.  He just insulted all the Prime owners and moved on.  That was intriguing.  My focus is always on the automaker, not people who choose to purchase.  In fact, I congratulate & thank owners of all plug-in vehicles.  It's the short-sightedness that has always been the problem.  If a choice for the masses doesn't emerge prior to tax-credit phaseout, there will be very real problems to deal with.  Anyone who dismisses that is a barrier to success.  After all, the goal is mainstream acceptance.  So, who was this person hell-bent on taking me down?  His attack pattern perfectly matched that of the past, just like what I dealt with from the EPA spin attacks.  Coincidence?  Nope.  Doing some searches, I was able to confirm his id had recently been switched.  With over 30,000 posts, it was easy to see how he feel threatened.  This change is just like how the others from long ago fell.  Overwhelmed with evidence of a paradigm-shift, his kingdom has fallen apart.  There's nothing left to defend anymore.  Seeing Toyota, Honda, and Hyundai/Kia take over is devastating.  So, he finds a scapegoat to blame.  Shoot the messanger with the hope that distraction will save some pride.  It's sad, really sad.  It's undeniable evidence of change too.  This new chapter defines "vastly superior" as a vehicle capable of competing directly with traditional vehicles... not simply offering more range & power.


Traction-Control Off.  I never believed in spinning tires wildly to get out of slippery snow.  It leaves a streak of ice behind for the next person who encounters that same spot.  Why would you knowingly do that?  To make matters worse, it hard on the tires.  If you get out and look at the location afterward, the snow will be sprayed with a light layer of fresh rubber.  That's why having a means of disabling traction-control wasn't ever any interest to me.  Nonetheless, that button is available in Prime.  No magic override from an option on a hidden maintanence screen with this model.  It's right there on the dashboard.  So, I gave it a push.  I hadn't all Winter and this was hopefully the last snow of the season... unlikely, I know, this is Minnesota.  Anywho, the results were spectacular.  The car went from having a solid grip on the road to swaying from side to side.  The reduction to traction that had really surprised me.  You don't realize just how much the technology is working to keep you safe until shutting it off like that.  Whoa!

4-08-2018 Video:  Commute Home (Ultra Cold).  Archived long ago.  Shared today...  Prius PHV - Commute Home (Ultra Cold)

This is footage & data collected years ago from my Prius PHV, but never published.  It was a very busy time in my life then, so the approach was to save what I could for use later.

This drive was the commute home, to the old house on an extremely cold Minnesota evening.  This plug-in generation didn't have a battery warmer, so efficiency in such low temperatures was really a statement of impressive design.  The system worked very well.

This is one of my more complex captures, where I used an ODB-II reader to save data for visual presentation.  Each passing second wrote data to a file in spreadsheet format.  From that, I converted the numbers into image frames to combine with the window & dashboard video.

It turned out really nice; though, the cameras available back in 2014 weren't as good as what I use now with the Prius Prime.


6 Minutes.  That was the extent of my stop to get coffee from the Starbuck's in the grocery store.  Parking in front at one of the charging-stations makes a quick in & out possible.  I get enough of a recharge to travel the remainder of the distance home using only electricity.  In just that short amount of time, the charger sent 0.3 kWh to my Prime's battery-pack.  That's roughly 1.5 miles of range.  The drive to my house is half that.  Since we often stop there to pick up something fresh for dinner, that EV opportunity is especially nice after having driven well beyond the pack's capacity.  It's also a nice top-off during peak hours, when I'd pay a higher-rate.  Instead, it's free while shopping.  That's an effective way to attract business.


New Audience, New Document.  It is somewhat surreal promoting Prime.  The mainstream market is basically clueless about plug-in vehicles, just like when Prius was new.  The first generation hybrid model went almost completely unnoticed.  Sound familiar?  That's the same way PHV was.  Now, we see this newest generation about grab the attention of ordinary people.  Most won't purchase one though.  Just like with the no-plug generations, it won't be until the next that takes the market by storm.  That's the natural progression of technology.  Each audience has a very different approach to adoption.  In this case, many will accept the idea but not embrace it until an upgrade comes along.  That may not necessarily be a Prius either.  We could see the first really big seller as a RAV4 or C-HR here.  Cars simply aren't that much of a draw now.  Of course, that doesn't mean Prime won't sell like hotcakes.  It just means the other offering will be even more popular.  That's what is leaving me scratching my head about next steps.  It seems as though I should focus more on the concept rather than the vehicle, creating a document for the technology rather than a true user-guide.  There's much to teach, lots of opportunity to share, an entirely new audience to inform.  Thankfully, I don't have to do it alone.  There are many who like to contribute ideas.  That's what makes the gatherings so fulfilling.  In-Person exchanges are very insightful.

4-07-2018 Video:  Early Spring, Winter Returned.  This is what I published...  Prius Prime - Early Spring, Winter Returned

Squashing misconceptions is an important part of Prius history.  Having video available to counter the intentional spread of misleading claims is essential.... which is exactly what this particular footage provides.

On the dashboard of Prius Prime is a dedicated button for clearing the windshield of moisture.  When pushed, it will engage the MAXIMUM mode for the blower.  This starts the gas engine, since your request was for the fastest and most powerful means available.

If you don't need MAXIMUM clearing, you just use the regular window blower option.  This is the feature included with all the other settings on the Climate-Control screen.  The key difference between this and the dedicated button is it will not start the gas engine.  This option is entirely electric.

Those individuals determined to undermine the success of Prius Prime will lead you to believe an electric-only option is not available.  When confronted, they'll claim the feature in Climate-Control is not effective in cold & moist conditions.

This video features those very conditions, an extremely wet commute to work with the temperature at freezing.  Watching the detail provided very clearly shows the gas engine is unnecessary, that the entire drive was exclusively with electricity and at no time was window clearing ever an issue.

To those dishonest about how the plug-in hybrid system works, you now have this video to prove you wrong and expose your attempts to spread a misconception.

And for those who took the time to read this entire comment, yes, that is indeed a Tesla Model 3.  By lucky coincidence, this filming just happened to be my very first sighting of one.  I was thrilling to have the camera capture that moment.


Called Out.  My rebuttal was terse, yet polite.  I really wanted to make the point but without pushing too far.  It was an effort to educate, not to offend.  I want to avoid a repeat of this same encounter elsewhere.  Making the video a clear source of contradiction to his claim will hopefully squash the obvious attempt to mislead.  This is what I posted, along with a link to the video itself:  I am pointing out facts with detailed captures of real-world driving.  When someone makes a claim that is false, attention will be drawn to prevent the mistake from being spread.  That footage & data clearly shows under those conditions the gas engine is not required and was never used.  What started as an incorrect assumption will not be allowed to become a misconception.  The 18.7 mile drive in that video was at 32°F in very wet conditions.  You can clearly see the snow falling and the air quite moist; yet, there is no fogging whatsoever using the regular blower.  That MAX mode simply is not necessary.


Outright Lies.  There are a few Volt enthusiasts who hate Prius so much, they'll just outright lie about it.  To make the claim really stick, they'll make the situation sound as if you're getting called out for being dishonest.  Here's the entire quote I was faced with today: "Defog isn't defrost.  The fact that you think blower air clears just fine means that you are making excuses for something that is incapable of doing.  In Northern California, the winter is rainy and foggy.  That means every time it rains, the defogging is needed.  That means the engines starts in the daily rainy weather for about 6 months of the year!!  Stop your spin!"  That came after a folly of posts attempting to belittle & misrepresent Prius Prime.  There's a very real resentment for EV abilities that Toyota vehicle delivers.  Exceeding Volt in several important regards makes the antagonist desire to insult range & power quite difficult.  Prime's efficiency & affordability is more important to mainsteam consumers... and they know it.  So, posting lies about how the system works is what they have resorted to.


2018 Inventory.  Exactly as predicted, anticipation has been replaced with confirmation.  Phew!  The new model-year (2018) is being delivered to regions that didn't carry the previous model-year (2017).  That always made sense.  You don't introduce a new product during clearance time.  It's a logical approach to sound business.  Passionate emotion must be replaced with sensible patience.  Now that Spring is just about here (4 to 6 inches is forecast for tomorrow, but a week from now temperatures should reach the 50's), it makes sense ramping up sales.  Before that, you just don't get many shoppers.  No one wants to deal with the mess.  Even test-drives are a challenges when it's still cold & wet.  I did a quick such.  9 dealers had a total of 42 Prime freshly delivered or scheduled to be.  That's a very thin spread, especially when you take into account the big Toyota dealer a few miles from me don't have any inventory yet.  Rollout is usually slow.  Dealers & Salespeople need to become accustom to the new offering.  With Prius, that often comes in the form of well researched consumers leading the way.  They study the material provided by early owners (like me!) who share their real-world experiences.  Each generation has seen great success with that approach.  Interest grow as inventory climbs... right on schedule with Toyota's sound business plan for sustained & profitable high-volume sales.  Woohoo!


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