Personal Log  #629

July 21, 2013  -  July 26, 2013

Last Updated: Weds. 8/28/2013

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Pivotal Day.  Sure enough, that same troll was back.  He just plain didn't care either.  His goal was to undermine in any way he could.  It made me think about the way I was considered way back prior to Volt being rolled out.  The catch was, my push was in the other direction.  I wanted more, sooner.  That's quite the opposite of what happened today.  It was exciting to watch the revelation come from several people, all putting together the puzzle at the same time.  They knew who was attacking and why.  The reason is vindicating.  Prius PHV is considered a threat... so much so, this was posted on the forum dedicated to Volt: "What do you all think of the idea of GM keeping the existing Volt pretty much as is, with a 40 mile range at $39,000, and also offering a Volt with a smaller battery, say 20 mile range, at $27,500?"  At this point, it has become overwhelming clear that my push for a second more affordable offering was indeed an effort to help, not to impede.  Trouble is, they understand the consequences of that choice.  Fortunately, some are now willing to put pride aside in favor of mainstream appeal.  See, when capacity is reduced, so is the power available.  A smaller battery would mean the engine would be needed at times of high demand.  They'd have to sacrifice the purity of electric-only drive.  None wanted any part of that in the past.  Of course, some still feel that way: "I would not give up range for anything............period!!"  Reading that was especially amusing.  They can be their own worst enemy at times.  The catch is, more are learning that the augmentation of Prius did indeed deliver more power.  Upgrading the battery-pack increased the maximum draw from 27 kW to 38 kW.  They didn't want to believe claims to that effect.  Heck, even one of the posts with that information got removed in an attempt to conceal the truth.  It didn't work.  To make complicate matters, they know that traction motor is capable of utilizing even more electricity... up to 60 kW.  Bigger means more power.  Smaller means less.  What makes today pivotal is the fact that some are willing to finally talk about that.  Open discussion is a true step forward.  Actual progress.  Yeah!


Move On.  The poster of the dream machine comment followed up with: "I am anxiously looking forward to seeing how much the "target" moves when the G4 is finally introduced."  But rather than entertain more ideas, he simple said it was time to move on.  That was bizarre.  What would we move on to?  Coming from a topic with 350 posts, what else could be discussed?  I posted:  We all await that.  After all, there is no way of knowing how much of a MPG improvement for HV will come.  But the market mentally is it must be substantial, even though that isn't actually associated with any particular quantity.  They expect more for the same price... even if the rest of the vehicle is improved across the board.  Despite the reality of diminishing, people want to see a bigger number.  Targeting the middle is quite a challenge.  Of course, playing the game isn't too difficult.  If you stick to balance, raising the bar later on things like capacity is way easier than trying to squeeze out cost-reductions.  After all, we've seen that approach successfully used time after time in the computer industry.  Sadly, stuff like faster warm-up speed will go overlooked by most.  The efficiency related to blending likely won't get squat for attention either. But at least we do have things to look forward to.  People simply don't have a background. They don't understand how the system works.  For me, I get excited every time I see the reaction on people's faces when they discover that recharging is a simple matter of plugging in the charger to an ordinary household outlet.  That is obviously a major misconception currently impeding growth progress.  When I tell them the resulting MPG, their first question of range becomes a non-issue.


Dream Machine.  It's hard to believe anyone would actually make a comment like this: "Wouldn't the PIP Prius be everyone's dream machine if the electric range was extended and the price was lowered 20%?"  For well over a half century, some people have been amazingly passionate about constant improvement.  Each generation ushers in advances.  It's a never ending cycle.  Better is the expectation.  So, there really isn't ever an ideal.  I tried to convey that:  Nope.  The target is always moving.  13 years of Prius support make that quite clear.  The size, price, speed, power, emissions, and efficiency of the current Prius is the dream machine compared to what I first purchased way back in 2000... and that Classic was a clear improvement over the original.  Improvement is on going.  How much can be delivered at a specific price-point is the constant.


Banned Troll.  Remember the  "rip off" poster?  He was the new member, who immediately upon joining the forum, attacked the plug-in Prius owners.  Remember how he called us out for "stealing" from others?  It was quite bizarre.  His abrupt disappearance didn't come as much of a surprise.  We figured him vanishing like that was the result of being banned.  I was thankful.  Some who doesn't even try to be constructive is worth wasting time on.  Oddly, another type of attack started almost immediately after that other ended.  It was quite bizarre too.  We never get back to back problems that way, which made me wonder.  This time though, the arguing was against Prius in general... that "short trip" penalty, presented as a myth.  It stirred the forum in an odd way.  Why bring up something already so well proven and call it incorrect?  Valid points were being presented, but they were all red herrings... not actually related to the topic.  How could anyone begin fighting everyone with nothing to gain by winning?  It didn't feel right.  Then I noticed a familiar statement in the newest post.  The myth topic suddenly shifted to stealing.  It included a nearly word-for-word sentence about PHV sales too.  That's one heck of a coincidence... or was it?  Could that be the same person, back with a different identity?  After all, that's how trolls got around bans in the past.


Growing Pressure.  I'm delighted to see Nissan Leafs popping up here all of a sudden.  I saw 3 today.  One of them is now sharing the charging-stations at work.  The others sightings were just random on the road.  I've seen a few others throughout the week too.  As you could imagine, that does contribute to the frustration Volt supporters are feeling.  That particular electric-only vehicle was supposed to have the "range anxiety" shortcoming.  Turns out, some consumers don't see that as a problem.  Consumers obviously don't see a problem with hybrids that don't even offer a plug either.  That growing pressure from both ends in the mainstream arena is becoming uncomfortable.  The question of "Who?" is being answered by them, with a response that contradicts their arguments in favor of Volt.  To make matters worse, that's a good endorsement for PHV when it finally rolls out nationwide.  The priorities of price & practically outweigh the features Volt has won many trophies for.  Engineering recognition doesn't necessarily translate to business success.  They're finding that out the hard way.  Middle-Market doesn't care much about awards, with the exception of reliability.  They want a good buy, a vehicle offering an all-around balance.  Nissan's focus on that rather than offering longer range is proving to have paid off.  Toyota's focus on price, interior room, and depleted efficiency should pay off as well.  This is why there has been a continuous push on GM to offer another model of Volt, one that strives to offer a balance instead.  We don't have to point that out anymore either.  The piled up inventory combined with other choices getting attention... like GM's own Cruze, which has been selling extremely well lately... speaks volumes.  We don't have to say much anymore.  The pressure does all on its own.


Each Month.  We know that is the ultimate goal for every vehicle; it's either niche or mainstream.  Each category has its own merits, but they are mutually exclusive.  A niche vehicle doesn't have to generate business-sustaining profit, but a mainstream vehicle does.  So, it's quite appropriate to treat them differently.  A select group of individuals introduced a new category, the "early adopter" phase.  These are the particular individuals who stir trouble every single month, which is really getting annoying.  The rest of the Volt supporters have acknowledged Volt is actually the second-generation design of Two-Mode.  Having seen that information in great detail, it wasn't be a be deal for them.  But the antagonists just plain don't like that, since it puts this stage into perspective.  Remember how different expectations were back in 2007?  Remember how they changed dramatically in 2010?  Think about how much they've changed since then.  How are they going to convince the world the third will cost dramatically less without having undergone a major transformation?  Resistance to even the idea of a second model (a smaller battery-pack and more blending) is quite intense.  No matter what you say about the importance of profit & choice, it just gets twisted into a series of excuses... each month.  We want that to end.  Ignoring posts doesn't work though.  They just attack Prius PHV to stir attention.  It's why this moment now is so important... prior to national rollout, while Ford is beginning to gain traction, and GM is attempting to clear out old inventory.  The 2014 model years represent change.  Unfortunately, this is how we have to deal with the situation in the meantime:  Volt is a polarizing topic.  The suggestion of offering a second model gets labeled as "hate" and is treated as if you are calling the current model "failure".  It's an absolute.  There's no in between.  You are either for or against.  Long story short, we will continue to see that until GM breaks out beyond the one-size-fits-all approach.  The need for diversity causes a lot of pressure.  It's a normal and quite predictable response by supporters & enthusiasts.  Prius PHV is not like that.  It coexists with other models.  The idea of altering battery-pack capacity is commonly posted about.  There aren't the avoidance issues as we see with Volt.  There isn't worry that all will be lost when differences are later introduced.


Not Right.  When you get the feeling something is wrong, how do you respond?  "It isn't something we could avoid no matter how far we drive on any given day.  So my point was why some people would give false impression that short trips are bad.  Well, short trips are bad, I agree to that but it is not something anyone could avoid."  Reading that left many frustrated, including me.  It was as if the poster simply didn't car what you had to say.  Being that close-minded is really odd, especially in the forum venue.  Owners try to help each other out, not provoke each other without any clear purpose.  Me, I ignored the banter and attempted to draw focus back to the comment actually made with:  That's the rub... you can avoid them.  We tell owners to run their errands while the engine is still warm.  That will result in less gas being used than driving later after the system has cooled down.  You plan to stop by the store on your way home or combine several trips into one.  Also, don't forget that the plug-in model provides a solution to the brief drive penalty.  So, there really is a difference that is being directly addressed by the upgrade.  The thing we can agree on is how poor of an efficiency measure MPG is.  It doesn't represent how much fuel is actually being consumed.  It's just a end-result calculation with no reference to distance traveled.


Short Trips.  There was a strange new thread started recently.  After a number of people got frustrated with the new member's behavior toward replied, I joined in:  It's always fascinating to see someone attempt to bring about new discussion by presenting something already well proven in a new way.  Antagonists do that to raise doubt and prevent conclusions from being drawn.  They enjoy the ongoing exchanges, but their polarized views and credibility attacks make it pretty easy to see intent.  Newbies are a different matter.  You don't know if they are simply poorly informed, don't have the background to follow technical detail, or just feel the need to prove something.  We do our best to get the facts out and hope for the best.  In this case, the "short trip" problem has always been the efficiency penalty caused by the first few minutes of driving, due to the engine warming up.  It meant a brief drive somewhere, like just a few blocks to the local store, would result in really low MPG.  The only way to avoid that was doing short trips while the engine was still hot.  Of course, with the availability of a plug-in model, those nearby errands can be run with just electricity.  In other words, there is no myth.


Wow!  I recently compiled a list of posters simply not worth wasting time on anymore.  They'll end up on ignore.  If something worthwhile comes from them, other members will point it out.  Then I'll join in; otherwise, it's clear their motive is to simply just keep discussions from ending.  Remember all those years ago, back when that wild "up to the chore" debate captivated so many?  That was their goal... preventing people from drawing conclusions.  Today, there was a fresh attempt with this: "I thought you said when prius phv sales started gm sales would stop."  It was a completely fictitious comment.  I never said any such thing.  He knew it too, since the next post twisted the words with the hope of getting me to respond... hence the term trolling.  They just keep trying.  I'm simply not interested.   There are so many newbies, those researching hybrids, and those deep into the ownership experience that I'd enjoy responding to instead.  It's exciting to be able to help them out.  Sadly, they too have to make an effort to ignore the rhetoric.  That's why the more experienced try to quickly squash their attempts to undermine.  I must admit, today's provoke was a good one.  I was surprised anything so blatantly obvious would be tried.


Ethanol.  Even though I've driven each of my Prius over the past 13 years using nothing but E10 for fuel, some people just plain don't like the idea of blending gas with any ethanol at all.  There's a fear it will somehow damage the vehicle (despite no evidence to actually support that) and the frustration of losing about 3% of your MPG potential.  Fortunately, mixed in among the message a constructive question emerges.  Today it was asking why pure gas is still used for EPA estimates.  That's a legitimate thing to consider.  Several of us replied back with information.  This was mine:  Listing the wide variety of Ethanol blends would quickly become a nightmare, especially when E## only indicate an up to value, not an exact quantity.  It can differ from fill to fill. E15 and E20 testing has been going on for years now, due to upcoming mandates.  Including them next to the E0, E10, and E85 values currently in play wouldn't really benefit anyone, nor would the extra expense for the testing.  The situation is confusing enough already anyway.  Keep the ultimate purpose in mind.  The EPA estimates don't actually represent a MPG expectation.  They are really only provided as a standard basis for comparison.


Diesel.  He asked: "What is the future? I think it's still better than the plain old gasoline engine. I live in the present and diesel works fine for me here."  Knowing he was a diesel owner, I could resist joining in this particular discussion: Diesel = Fine = C.  Getting a grade of just status quo isn't exactly a good sign for the future.  We really need to strive for a better tomorrow.  Comparing to plain old gasoline isn't constructive.  Some of us have been driving hybrids for over a decade already.  Hybrid = Very Good = B.  Plug-In Hybrid = Great = A.  Let's not overlook how dirty diesel actually is either.  Requiring a urea system to cleanse emissions just to bring them to the level clean enough to meet minimum allowable criteria is embarrassing.  We shouldn't have to lower our standards for diesel that much when SULEV & PZEV ratings are so easy to achieve with hybrids.  As far as the "Fossil-Fuel Mileage Champ" title of the article (for this discussion) goes, excluding hybrids fueled only by gas is quite an omission... especially when the regular Prius delivers greater efficiency in every category... not to mention that it offers a larger interior than Cruze diesel too.  And with such a massive difference between highway & city efficiency, overall MPG is going to be far lower than the advertising will inevitably lead people to expect. 46 highway. 27 city.  Combined is only 33 MPG from the diesel.  That's dramatically lower than the 50 MPG combined from Prius.  What makes diesel compelling?  The reality that it costs more per gallon than gas is a big deterrent (not to mention refilling the urea tank, roughly 7.5 gallons every 15,000 miles, or the upfront premium).  That makes the fun-to-drive argument a wash when there's a gas version of the same vehicle available.


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