Personal Log #462
June 8, 2010 - June 13, 2010
Last Updated: Weds. 11/10/2010
page #461 page #463 BOOK INDEX
Competition? Remember all the complexity debates? They never reached beyond just the realm of enthusiasts. It was only an argument point in forums. Consumers simply didn't care. They never understood how an automatic transmission worked anyway, so differences among efficiency technologies really made no difference to them. In the end, the purchase criteria that mattered were very much the same as always... Price, Efficiency, Comfort, Size, Power, Reliability, a variety of small features. In the case of hybrids, you can add Emissions as an influencing factor too. Lack of so-called competition is a factor Volt enthusiasts are attempting to really emphasize now. If production volume remains niche, what difference would that actually make?
Believe It or Not. I actually
have 21 new photos of the 2004
to share still. I had a feeling that particular photo shoot would be the last ever
for me with it. The end of Winter, almost Spring, brought a lot of heavy &
wet snow our way. It was melting fast too, even as fresh stuff continued
to fall. I really struggled to keep the camera dry. The effort
consumed quite a few sheets of lens tissue too. Droplets of water wrecked
quite a few photos, causing the exposure to have a large blurring spot on it.
That's not good when you are trying to capture detail of snow covering countless
tree branches in the background. Tracks in the snow on the road itself
made for good effect as well. Talking about Iconic images. What I
like the most is the colorless nature of it all. The Prius is silver.
The trees are black. The snow is white. It's an absence of color
that really makes it all so memorable...
photo album 150
photo album 151
Sightings. This morning's coffee shop run certainly was
one to write home about. I saw only 1 older generation Prius. On a
cold & glooming day, maybe people just went getting out much. Wrong.
The 2010 Prius were abundant. I spotted 4 of them! That's 1 every 2
miles. Sweet! It sure feels good to see the count of the newest
generation grow so quickly. Just think what another year of sales will
bring. With so much attention being placed on efficiency and the
penetration of technology into the market, interest should remain strong.
Sightings of Prius in the top-20 seller list should be frequent. Gotta
Worst Case? Sometimes you just plain don't have a clue what a person's post actually means. Was he serious? Was it just a friendly way of stimulating discussion? Was he clueless? I had no idea how to interpret this: "I would imagine the worst case driving scenario for battery depletion would be night-time highway driving (60 mph) on a cold rainy night in December (35 degrees F)." It didn't seem like intent was sincere, considering how much colder Winter actually gets and how much faster people actually drive. I asked: That's a joke, right? December 25, 2000 the temperature climbed up to -13�F, from a -26� F low the evening before. I have lots of photos documenting that. January 2009 my commute to work was a balmy -20�F. Again, I took lots of photos. In the north (Twin Cities, Minnesota), we routinely see temperatures much lower than your worst case scenario. In fact, we can go an entire week where the day-time high never climbs above 0�F.
Spring Bike Trip. I had an opportunity to sneak up north
with the Prius again. 2 bikes on back and a 3-wheeler inside, plus lots of
stuff for the trip, sure made that chance to escape from work exciting.
The trees were in bloom and the weather was perfect. Where we stopped for
a rest on the drive up, there was great scenery in the background. I took
a few moments to capture my travel adventure. Looking closely, you can see
looks of cargo packed into the interior. It's hard to believe such a large
back fits inside too. Having a hatchback sure is handy. Thankfully,
the bikes on the rack don't equate to a huge efficiency impact. Of course,
it wouldn't really matter. After all, how often does a person get to do
that anyway? Can you tell how happy I was then, enjoying every bit Spring
now had to offer? It's the rejoice those of us annually experience when
the extremes of Minnesota Winter finally melt away...
photo album 147
Efficiency Goal. That one specifically can vary, since there's a balance involved and driving need will be dramatically differ from person to person. The other goals are more universal due to satisfying the bulk of the market so well, as traditional sales clearly confirm. Anywho, when it comes to efficiency, I prefer a smaller battery-pack with higher hybrid-operation efficiency. That reduces EV-only range, but a design like the plug-in Prius will use the electricity when most appropriate anyway. Being able to squeeze out 50 MPG on the highway is the key. It provides a solid base for boosting MPG from without heavy dependence on lots of kWh. That's a benefit, not a necessity. It works out fantastic from a high-volume production perspective too... great for both consumer & business. Efficiency will be increased for a much larger number of drivers. The plug is optional, not required. Always consider the big picture.
Pushing Goals. Over 3 years after the reveal of Volt, there's still no clear goals stated. Lack of focus is still very much a problem. It will inevitably lead to expectation let down. Yet, none seem to see that. How come studying history makes it so easy to observe when it is repeating itself? Why do they just assume a new effort will result in new outcome? Whatever. I'm pushing goals more than ever. But now, I list them. No more focusing on each individually. They are going to get really tired of me doing that... hopefully to the point where they'll state their own. I simply don't care, since it's the same thing that's needed for the plug-in Prius anyway. Until the market emerges, we need to speak out. After all, that is definitely something EV1 taught us. Anywho, here's suggestions for Volt. PRICE: nicely under $30,000. EFFICIENCY: 35-miles EV real-world & 40 mpg CS real-world. EMISSIONS: a SULEV rating. POWER: 0-60 in around 10 seconds. SIZE: 4-seat compact with average cargo area. AVAILABILITY: dealer lot (preferred), within a month order (acceptable).
40-Mile Vengeance. Awareness of the factors which affect EV efficiency hasn't been a priority. Heck, for that matter, it hasn't been for gasoline engines either. Many consumers are still oblivious to the influence use of their A/C has on MPG or how the many factors of Winter have an affect either. We were in an age of abundance, where waste wasn't given consideration since fuel was so cheap. That's changing. Unfortunately, marketing still prevails. Here's what I posted as the debate about approach really heated up today on the daily Volt blog: All along, it should have been an effort to promote available "kWh capacity" and educate what that meant instead. The "40 mile" range promotion could really come back to bite GM. Advertising an ideal or maximum hasn't ever been a good idea. They set up expectations that don't represent what owners will actually observe real-world.
EV Factors. A very interesting article was published today. It was based upon observations of Nissan's upcoming Leaf. That EV relies totally upon a battery-pack. There isn't an engine to confuse the understanding of how factors like Speed & Temperature affect driving range. The benefit of a hybrid is taking advantage of efficiency opportunities, the best of both worlds. The upcoming plug-in Prius will really emphasize that balance. Volt on the other hand, remains a mystery. We still have nothing to work with. As for Leaf, the variation will definitely raise awareness. Ideal driving conditions can squeeze out 138 miles from the estimated 100-mile range. Unfortunately, the worst of conditions can drop that all way down to 47 miles. Interesting, eh?
145 MPG. I just started watching my aftermarket gauge to see what the highest efficiency is at the lightest engine load. Today, after a walk around the lake, I started up the Prius and drove home. The engine was almost warm enough to shut off right away, but instead in stayed on for the sake of emissions cleansing. Since it was a windless day and the road was totally flat, that 30 MPH drive obviously didn't need any level of engine assist. The electric motor is plenty powerful for sustaining that drive. So when I observed the 145 MPG displayed on the gauge, I felt pretty comfortable thinking that was representative of a maximum for this particular configuration. After all, I do seem to recall seeing that same number from time to time in the past. It sure will be interesting when observations from the plug-in model begin to trickle in. I'm sure we'll be pleasantly delighted with how frequent situations like that occur. Of course, without the gauge, all you'll see is just 99.9 MPG.
Branding Madness! Does it surprise you that GM is back its old problems again? Prior to the bankruptcy, there was a lot of struggling for resources from within. Remember how Chevrolet, Pontiac, Saturn, Buick, etc. all offered similar vehicles? The redundancy was a drain. Rather than compete with the actual competition (other automakers), they'd compete with themselves (GM brands). Combating each other is time & money poorly spent. That was waste they finally ended... or so we thought. Now there's an effort underway to get those who identify Chevrolet vehicles as "Chevy" to stop. Why? It's the same brand! Yet, now they are investing in a large campaign to get everyone to just call them "Chevrolet". Instead of focusing on competing, they are once again fighting amongst themselves. There are some pretty strong opinions about the loss of "Chevy" too. So much effort for just a name.
Stating Goals. Again, the absence of them has come to the
forefront. Those stubborn enthusiasts supposedly supporting Volt refuse to
state what they actually want from GM. Can't they see how absurd it is to
just hope for the best. Such assumptions are doomed to fail. You
need to speak up! To make matters worse, consumers only vaguely know what
the intentions of Volt currently are. GM has been sending so many
different messages, they are getting all mixed up. Those here have yet to
decide upon what's most important too. So, expect those decisions about
Gen 2 to be just as chaotic. Until there are clear business intentions
stated about Volt, the engineering effort will suffer. Remember, that's a
primary reason for the success of Prius. We knew even before rollout began
precisely what Toyota wanted to accomplish.
Up North, Last Fall. I had a blast with the 2010 Prius.
It wasn't new territory, but my desire to seek out new scenery with the new
hybrid and my new camera was intense. The weather hadn't been cooperating
either. It was unusually cold and overcast. So, this warm & sunny
morning was a welcome opportunity I didn't let slip by. The trees were
mostly green still. That venture up north missed the color changing.
Leaves wouldn't expose their beauty until after I left for home. None of
that deterred though. It made me more determined than ever to park the
Prius on the narrow dirt roads and venture into the trees to include
foregrounding in the photos. Lots of trees and overhanging branches made
that easy. Of course, it helps to have hiking boots on for the climbing
involved. It was totally worth the effort. See...
photo album 148
photo album 149
Forewarned. The trolls seem to have appeared out of no where, attacking the Volt daily blog in a surprising way. I wonder why. hmm? Perhaps after hearing how little progress GM actually made 1 year after filing bankruptcy, they decided to take matters into their own hands. I nagged quite a bit about studying hybrid history. It's not like seeing this coming was rocket science. The rollout of a new hybrid becomes quite volatile shortly before actual production begins. All that advice to prepare for this obviously feel on deaf ears. Since the very same thing happened in the past several time, it would have been wise to do something... anything... to prevent it from happening again. Those wanting to undermine will exploit weaknesses, like the absence of clear goals. No data. No scenarios. No goals. No quick-reference webpages. No downloadable education material. No place to get questions answered. Nothing but a daily blog obviously isn't enough. They were forewarned. Trolling is far more of a problem to deal with than my nagging... a fact they are well aware of now.
1.37 Million Recalled. This is an interesting situation. The washer-fluid-heater in that many GM vehicles could overheat and cause a fire. The supplier which supplied the part already had a recall for the same component. The fix obviously didn't work. Unfortunately, another recall isn't possible anymore. The first cost too much, causing them to go out of business. So rather than a recall in the form of a fix, owners will be given $100 as compensation for GM deactivating the feature. It's a strange thing to have in a vehicle anyway. I certainly haven't ever needed one. Anywho, the thought doesn't often come to mind that a recall could cripple a business so bad financially that they end up going out of business. Simply plugging the plug on a device isn't something you'd ever expect either.
Status Symbol. Reading this is quite frustrating: "Hybrid
buyers are buying the Prius as a green status symbol. If you see a Prius, you
can accurately assume much about the driver." That simply isn't
true. I really didn't want to
deal with it though, but didn't want to just let it go either. So,
this is what I
Funny how only those supporting a different technology claim that. The typical person on the street doesn't even notice them or even care. So, who
exactly are these supposed Prius owners trying to impress?
The true story is that Prius is just another family car that delivers unusually
high efficiency and clean emissions� in other words, the new standard, a
baseline upon which new technologies will build upon, including the plug-in
model of Prius.
Go ahead, spin it in some other way� painted an interesting picture for those
who purchase Volt.
Understanding What? The talk of FULL hybrids from Ford
also getting a plug really works up the Volt enthusiasts. For example: "I
find it almost inconceivable that the huge advantages of EREV technology escapes
the understanding of Ford's advanced drive train engineering people!
" What exactly is the difference? If it's that profound, how
come detail explaining why isn't ever mentioned? The big motor in Prius can
operate independently of the rest
of the hybrid system. That's because it is the outer most component.
Changing its size and gearing ratio, you'd have something which acts very
much like a Volt... but with the added benefit of direct-drive too. Of
course, it's not all about engineering anyway. That's the lesson to be
learned from Two-Mode.
That's the reason for the success of Prius. How come they don't