Personal Log #403
January 31, 2008 - February 8, 2009
Last Updated: Sun. 1/03/2010
page #402 page #404 BOOK INDEX
Generation Zero. Since I'm a true tech, fitting the stereotype all too well, referring to the Original model of Prius with a "0" as the generation number is no big deal for me. After all, many of the programming languages I support at work use that value as the first in numeric sequences (arrays) rather than a "1" common for non-tech use. Shouldn't zero be the logical choice, considering how Prius is the most advanced technology you'll encounter on the road during everyday on your daily commute? Anywho, I hadn't actually ever pointed out why "3" is acceptable to me as the official identifier for the 2010 model. Of course, numbers don't work as well as a word anyway. Just look at how well accepted "Iconic" already is as a reference for the 2004-2009 design by the media, while also serving as a preventative from antagonist undermining. Regardless, there are 4 distinct versions. So, it really doesn't matter how they are are identified. Each has unique characteristics.
9 Years Ago. I've been busy assembling a new User-Guide, one for the 2010 model. Lots of questions remain. Detail about many new features will have to wait until I get the hands-on experience with them. But at least I get start with the portions that closely resemble the Iconic model. The last page has always provided a quick-spec comparison of the generations... to point out how labels can be relative... since we routinely see the competition cherry-picking criteria to fit their own need. Anywho, one bit of data I've never included was combined engine/motor horsepower. That's mostly because the primary goal has always been to emphasize emissions instead. But now, that's worthwhile to add. So, I retrieved my archives. Articles written about the model before Classic were available back in 2000 online and I had saved a number of them. To my surprise though, they all recited the same press-release info... which didn't include that value. Thankfully, the specification webpage on Toyota's own website 9 years ago did! Talking about a credible source to data historical from. I'm sure glad I had that available.
2010 Introduction. The first constructive use of the collection of photos I took at the Detroit reveal has emerged. I wondered what the heck could be delivered with so much information still not available. But the digital images that were captured turned out well and there's enough to provide something similar in nature to a brochure... which isn't anything I've ever provided before. Cool! A brand new idea came out of the desire to offer online content for the 2010. After all, I was one of those desperate for anything Prius related 9 years ago... long before 2000 availability. Being on the other end of that situation now sure is exciting. Anywho, there's now a heavily illustrated document with some brief descriptions highlighting some new features, for your downloading pleasure... 2010 Introduction
Success & Goals. That discussion on the Volt blogging website was later inundated with the trophy mentality. You know, there was lots of the usual cheerleading with virtually no accounting for economic realities. Whatever. They'll figure it out... quite likely soon too. This was typical of those posts: "Sounds like Ford doesn't want to admit GM beat them to it." The SERIES hybrid is supposedly better than the FULL, but none can explain how the market itself will change. Proclaiming a goal is rare... though a select few are actually trying now. Perhaps it's just to shut me up, but nonetheless that's still progress. Not addressing what "success" truly means has been a problem for way too long. Superiority is not determined on paper. Vehicles produced & sold is the how impact is measured. That's true success. Anywho, my response was: To what? GM is competing with itself. The battle is from within. Think about 99% of the other vehicles? 8,000,000 will be produced by GM each year. If the second year of Volt production is 50,000 then only 0.625% of their annual inventory is using the high-efficiency technology. That�s less than 1 percent!
How Many Times? The same
question keeps getting asked over and over and over again. No effort is
made on the website for Volt enthusiasts to clear up the confusion about the
different types of hybrids. More and more I get the impression that it's
intentional, to keep threads active. After all, we know for a fact a very
big automotive blogging website has done that. Discussions are much more
interesting to both read and participate in when the topic is well rehearsed.
Why move on when you can just repeat the same thing again? After all, Volt
has little to discuss anyway. Until the vehicle is actually produced &
sold, the discussions are just a way of keeping interest. Anywho, here was
that same old question: "What the hell is a parallel series hybrid?"
I chimed in, again... ASSIST = Insight & Malibu = parallel; FULL =
Prius & Escape & Tahoe = series-parallel; EREV = Volt = series;
Hybrids like Prius operate with the engine motionless at times (up to 42 MPH),
offering abilities of a series type hybrid. The electric A/C, second
electric motor, and power-split-device are what make it different from parallel,
offering much more than just assist for the engine.
Power Fade. That's the term Ford has given the condition when engine-running and battery-chemistry aren't fast enough to charge as needed, leaving the vehicle with limited power. After all those times of pushing to find out why a SERIES hybrid is provided with such a large pack, we finally get a confirmation from an outside source. It really can't use a smaller battery to be competitive. In fact, that's why the size of the engine in Volt was changed from a 1.0 to a 1.4 liter. Efficiency, Power, and Price are all engineering tradeoffs. To deliver a vehicle that works well for its entire life without major expense later, a tremendous amount of configuration research is required. So, those staunch defenders of GM really do deserve the credit for recognizing that effort. But calling the technology a "game changer" and dancing around the fact that "power fade" is a fundamental shortcoming is inexcusable. Thankfully, they do neither anymore. Now that facts have been exposed, enthusiasts have accepted them. With doubt removed, attitude toward constructive discussion is actually emerging. Makes you wonder how much the bailout situation served as a wake-up call. A harsh dose of reality seemed to have done a lot of good.
Another Name Change. It's gone well beyond the point of absurd. Shortly after choosing to go with the "EREV" name, they've changed their minds again! Now the plan is to use "Voltec" as the identifier for the technology. You can't help but to wonder if this lack of harmony will lead to anything. 2 years later, not even being able to settle on a name really makes you question constructive support. Fortunately, the rest of the hybrid world doesn't really have to care what marketing nonsense takes place. The type of hybrid is a SERIES. So no matter what they end up calling it, that won't change. Naming it whatever they want is fine. It's still a vehicle with a large electric motor providing propulsion and a battery-pack with an engine-powered generator providing electricity.
30's Forecasted. Ahh! Finally a bit of warmth.
Being well below freezing for so long really gets to you. This thaw is a
welcome change. It's suppose to last a whole week too! Then reality
sets in again. But the cold is brief then. No extended spells
anymore, just snaps. That's good for efficiency. I want this to be
the last I ever see the upper 30's for MPG. Next year should be with the
new Prius, which has design refinements to reduce the impact Winter has.
In the meantime, I'm looking forward to enjoying the next few days of upper 30's
Succeeding? When a Volt enthusiast asks a constructive question, you have to give pause. Unfortunately, it turned out to be disingenuous. His intent was to discredit automakers not planning to offer a SERIES hybrid by asking: "How can they succeed if they aren�t even trying?" The fact that GM is not planning to offer a FULL hybrid to compete with Fusion-Hybrid, Camry-Hybrid, or Prius quickly brought that debate to an end. Looking at the big picture works equally as well. Direct vehicle comparisons are an obvious greenwashing technique used to distract from the other vehicles. Having only a compact plug-in won't offset a fleet of guzzlers. But having the FULL hybrid option offered across the entire fleet will... which is exactly what Toyota is striving for. Significant reduction of emissions & consumption from the wide range of vehicle production sold at a profit sure sounds like a formula for success to me.
January Sales. The total of hybrids sold for the month by
Toyota was 11,876. Compared to GM, that's a drastically larger quantity.
But it is unfortunate that the down economy and upcoming new model Prius is so
ill timed. Those spinning to mislead you into believing Prius sales are
struggling will take advantage of the 8,121 number. Oddly, Lexus hybrid
sales are up quite a bit from the same month last year. But then again,
stating that count of 1,630 is easy enough to spin. Camry-Hybrid saw
1,141. That's way down. But Highlander-Hybrid isn't as bad with its
984, considering the vehicle size & type. Escape-Hybrid at 753 wasn't too
bad either. The 1,556 purchases of RX400h were surprising. You could
interpret it all any way you want. It boils down to the reality that sales
must go up later. The 299 Tahoe-Hybrid and 168 Yukon-Hybrid make that
clear and the 153 Vue-Hybrid, 145 Malibu-Hybrid, and 19 Aura-Hybrid blatant.
Looking forward, 1,076 Civic-Hybrid sold makes you wonder what expectations will
be set for the new Insight. The next few months will be historic, that for
sure. Eyes are definitely on this market for upcoming prosperity.
Hitting Bottom. Sales last month were horrible for every automaker. Detroit claims this point marks the bottom. How they came to that conclusion is a mystery. No one else knows what's to come. Whatever the case, it's not pretty right now. GM only sold 923 hybrids, that's all types & models combined! That makes it really hard to mock Toyota anymore, especially since their combined sales count for the month was 11,876. Whatever the spin, we need intent to be declared. Ford & Honda are gearing up for a hybrid push, hoping that will help build momentum for better times. Toyota is obviously readying for sustained high-volume with the new Prius. What the heck will GM do?
Economic Stimulus. The bill voted on by the Senate today had an interesting provision added. People purchasing new vehicles between November 12, 2008 and the end of 2009 will be able to deduct the tax they paid. That won't really equate to much, but it sure is nice. I'll certainly find that a "stimulating" incentive. The vote results were 71 to 26 in favor of the $900 Billion. So, I'm quite curious what will happen next.
From Austria. The past few days have been buzzing with this news. The chanting of "Buy American" from the Volt enthusiasts came to an abrupt end upon learning that the engine won't be built in Michigan. Sharing an engine with Cruze was a great plan for all. But now that retooling of the local plant has halted. Instead, the engines for Volt will be shipped over from Austria. That not only wrecks the domestic appeal, it also tarnishes the green image by having a major component shipped across an ocean. To make matters worse, you have to ask about Cruze. That compact car marked a shift in GM intent, finally offering a competitive small & efficient traditional car. Now what will they do?
Monthly Reports. They sure have changed. No longer are they a trigger for trading or dividend frenzy by stockholders. Economic hardship has transformed them back to the long-term forecasting measure they should have been all along. Executive compensation, fed in the past by short-term gain, is quickly shrinking. Millions of dollars exchanged for no progress simply doesn't make any sense... and getting rewarded even though employees are losing jobs is awful. Thankfully, all this is changing now. Getting bailout money from taxpayers imposes new management regulations & limitations. High risk gambles without consequence are business nightmares our government never wants to have to deal with ever again.
Info-Display. While busy assembly a User-Guide for the 2010 Prius, I discovered a rather big naming problem. The device many had been calling the "Multi-Display" for 9 years no longer serves the purpose of conveying Energy-Monitor & Consumption-Screen information. It won't be standard anymore either. Instead, it will be an option that provides an interface for the navigation, phone, music, and backup video. That new device also introduces Eco-Meter and Past-Record trip information. Officially, both are called a Multi-Information Displays. That's obviously going to cause confusion. So, I'm coining "Info-Display" to keep things. Hopefully that makes sense. After all, all four screens provide driving information.
Are They Nuts? Even the enthusiasts are getting angry. GM is now furiously promoting Volt, Converj, and Flextreme. Their current problem is offering many brands all featuring similar vehicle models. Are they repeating that same history by spreading themselves too thin again? It has become absurd at this point, promoting several different EREV vehicles even though not a single one of them will be on the road for quite awhile still. To those closely watching the bailout situation, it sure looks like they are trying to paint a pretty picture of a situation doomed to fail. Not addressing the actual need is a big concern. Large quantities of affordable high-efficiency clean vehicles are what people have been demanding. Neither that nor the immediate financial survival changes seem to be getting any serious attention.
January Thaw. It's hard to believe we went almost the entire month with temperatures well below freezing. That hasn't happened for 30 years here. So, you can imagine just how annoying Winter had become... until today. We went from sub-zero just two days ago all the way up to 48 F degrees. It was truly amazing! The Prius certainly enjoyed the warmth. It couldn't have been better timed either. On a saturday which you have lots of errands to run is perfect. Of course, that resulting MPG could really screw up the monthly average (depending bladder-effect, of course). The warm, moist air is a drastic improvement. Efficiency is significantly better. That's ok though. I'd gladly accept the abrupt data fluctuation.
Accord verses Prius. Searching for efficiency information on the internet today, I stumbled across a college presentation from a few years ago. It was an analysis comparing the SULEV Accord (non-hybrid) to Prius. To my surprise, the featured photo of Prius was one of my own. That's surreal unexpectedly encountering content originating from yourself. But having the oldest & largest collection available, that's bound to happen more and more. The desire for analysis material will obviously grow as the technology strives for the ubiquitous level. It's becoming prolific already. A few more years of the same, you'll see hybrids everywhere you go.