Prius Video Files

Winter - PHV

Last Updated: Weds. 4/10/2013


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Prius PHV - Very Snowy Commute (dashcam)


17.3 mile commute today. 55 mph maximum. 36 minutes driving. 32°F outside. Cabin-Heater set at 68°F. Heated-Seats off. Headlights & Foglights on. Driving through fresh snow. 10.7 miles was the EV estimate upon leaving the driveway (video-camera setup consumed 0.2 mile). Drive-Ratio reported: 9 EV and 7 HV. End result: 127 MPG.

Watching that drive afterward brings back interesting memories. Dealing with wet, lumpy, slippery roads isn't something everyone does. I've done that countless times over the years though. With a Prius, the efficiency was always a nice benefit from being forced to go slower. Having plug-supplied electricity to augment the situation makes it even better. I removing a surprising amount of the stress from the unpredictability and increased drive time.

Video like this will come in handy later, as people research the sale of a new vehicle. The consideration of winter commutes raises lots of questions in forums & blogs. It will be nice to point back to this particular one then.


Prius PHV - No Heater (-2F)


-2°F in EV speaks for itself.

I wanted to know if the battery-pack could deliver the power needed for my daily commute in such extreme cold conditions. It did... and I'm quite thrilled how well the video turned out.

The ride itself wasn't exactly warm, but I did it without wearing gloves for the first 24 minutes of driving. The heated seat on high does a remarkable job. The point was to find out how well the EV would perform, so I kept the heater off. 9 miles of electric-only driving was what ended up being available. I fired up the engine shortly before the battery was fully depleted of EV, not wanting the upcoming hill climb at 55 mph to consume lots of HV capacity (electricity is used to allow the engine to gracefully speed up).

Watching the video to the end, you can see close-up display photos of the outcome. The total distance traveled was 17.2 miles. The result was 117 MPG. That took approximately 3.0 kWh of electricity (including charging losses) along with 0.15 gallon of gas. That would be impressive even if wasn't -2°F.
I still miss summer though, since EV works better then.


Prius PHV - Coffee Run (dashcam)


Just like the other suburb drives I've filmed, this one takes me to that distant coffeeshop. The run back & forth is a good basis for demonstrating what happens as the EV capacity is utilized, then what happens after it's gone... which is why I filmed that same route prior to getting the plug-in model. You can clearly see the benefit.

This footage featuring that rare lighting circumstance when a single camera can be used. Too early or too late, there will be over & under exposure. The refresh of the screen will become an annoying flicker as well. In this case, I took advantage of the sun setting with the horizon obscured by clouds. It provided a nice balance between dashboard and scenery, as well as show a nice pink in the final moments before the sun disappeared.

As for the drive itself, shown at 5X normal speed, you can see me pull out into traffic driving in just EV. But with a route longer the total capacity available, I fired up the engine right away. That resulted in a boosted MPG until warm-up is complete, then the engine shuts off. Watch the estimated EV distance value. I suddenly drops from 9.6 to 8.5 when I turn on the heater to blow air on the windshield to keep it clear for the filming. Capacity itself is unchanged. That's simply how you are informed of the potential EV loss the heater could cause.

Driving was uneventful, the usual stoplights & stopsigns you'd encounter driving through the suburbs. When accelerating hard, the engine will come on to help provide power. Watching the MPG, you can see that doesn't actually lower MPG much and it shuts off relatively quick afterward. In the summer, it shuts off even faster. But at 28°F outside, it runs longer.

Halfway through my drive back, you can see me approach a long hill. Climbing that with only 1.8 miles of EV remaining wouldn't be the best use for that electricity. So, I switched over to HV mode by pushing the button for that on the dashboard. When at the top, I pushed it again to switch back to EV mode. That feature comes in handy when you want to preserve electricity for use later.

At the conclusion of the drive, the overall result was 135 MPG for the 15.7 mile round-trip. The entire EV capacity was consumed; that's roughly 3 kWh of electricity including charging losses.

That was a great drive for winter, but I sure miss summer. In warmer temperatures, resistance with the battery itself is lower. That more efficient transfer of electricity allows you to drive further EV from each recharge. So whether you use gas or electricity, cold weather reduces efficiency.


Prius PHV - Heater Dance (dashcam)


9°F outside this morning meant an opportunity to try out single-camera filming again. The sun was rising quickly; that meant I'd be pushing exposure limits with the contrast between dashboard scenery. I really wanted another example showing what happens while you "Just Drive It". The battery had finished recharging 6 hours earlier. The engine hadn't been used for about 10 hours. The garage temperature was around freezing. I pulled out, adjusted the camera, hit record, then drove away. After traveling about a block, I turned on the heater. It was set to 70°F with the blower on 2 bars.

The request for heat caused the engine to start. Still being in EV mode (the default), I was looked forward to it shutting back off as soon as the warm-up cycle completed. That happens when the coolant reaches at least 145°F and there isn't demand for high power. The engine will then remain off until the coolant drops to 136°F. Note that lower the heater temperature also lowers the coolant threshold.

As I drove, the engine starts up, runs shortly, then automatically shuts back off. That's why I call that a "heater dance". That same cycle repeats over and over again, until the battery is finally deplete of EV capacity. Following that, the same things happens in HV mode but with less electric-only power. The purpose of the plug is to boost MPG. So even when the engine runs, the system is still taking advantage of plug-supplied electricity. EV driving is not necessary for great efficiency. This video clearly demonstrates that.

17.9 miles was the total distance traveled. 85 MPG was the result, with 1.3 miles of EV capacity still remaining.


Prius PHV - Winter Commute (dashcam)


I got really lucky the other day, leaving work at exactly the right time. My plug-in Prius was all ready to go. The sun was just setting on that overcast day, which had delivered about 6 inches of fluffy new snow. It made for a great opportunity to film my commute home without any special video setup. Lighting was perfect. Scenery was compelling.

Traffic would allow driving EV the entire capacity too. I'd be able to deplete completely without needing a hard acceleration or having to turn on the heater. That particular drive requires a climb out of the river valley at 55 mph, something I've been yearning to show others.

You can see me leave the ramp from work. I pull out of my usual spot where I plug in to recharge. It's a few miles of driving at suburb speeds, with the occasional stoplight. From there, I jump onto the highway starting at 55, then speeding up to 70 mph. Watch the exterior lighting. You can see it getting darker as I go. The snow begins to fall again too.

On the vehicle gauges, what I normally see is what's on the video. I didn't reset. That way you can see the results of the entire commute, instead of just that drive.

The 34.5 mile round-trip with two full recharges resulted in a 94 MPG average. Even though the temperature was just under freezing on the way to work and only 21°F on the way home, that's still quite good. The cold isn't so bad when you have a plug.


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