Prius Personal Log  #645

November 1, 2013  -  November 6, 2013

Last Updated: Tues. 12/17/2013

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Must Be Replaced.  Sometimes, I need to vent.  Certain individuals online thrive on attention, so they'll intentionally cause trouble.  They are what I refer to as antagonists.  They will do everything they can to prevent a discussion from ending.  Drawing a conclusion brings an end to their entertainment.  They aren't actually like trolls though, since there is an aspect of being thought-provoking.  They don't just contradict and argue for the sake of spite.  They repost old talking points over and over again.  Fortunately, it gets old.  Drawing focus back to purpose often ends a particular debate effort.  It gets tiring though... but there is an aspect of curiosity.  Do they care?  Anywho, I posted this:  That careless disregard for ordinary consumers never ceases to amaze me.  But then again, it isn't at all a surprise.  Automotive enthusiast interests weren't ever focused on middle-market needs.  We all know how well positioned Toyota is already for delivering an affordable & profitable plug-in hybrid.  That irritates to no end those who support niche efforts.  The voices of the mainstream keep pointing out what's truly important.  Continue distracting all you want.  Pretending the big picture doesn't matter isn't constructive.  It won't change the reality of the situation.  Traditional vehicle production must be replaced.


Japan Sales.  Honda's Fit unseated Prius from the top-seller position in Japan.  Last month, 23,281 were purchased.  (There, a hybrid model is also offered.)  Sales for the regular model Prius were 20,886.  For the smaller model, known as Aqua, there were 19,984.  So, kudos to being able to compete so effectively with Toyota.  I get a kick out of how much higher the numbers are there in Japan than what we see here.  That wasn't always the case.  Hybrid sales in the United States were leading the industry.  Japan's economic recovery combined with the need to replace caused by the multiple disasters the population faced sure changed things for the better.  Someday, perhaps that will happen here.  Oh well.  It's not like progress isn't being made.  It's just slower here... frustratingly slower.  But that's still a step forward.  In this case, it's a month at a time.


Party.  Things sometimes fall apart.  Certain individuals like to provide their own "leveling" information.  They want each automaker to be treated equally, regardless of the situation.  That's not constructive.  In fact, it's quite annoying.  This got me going: "Toyota will be very late to the party."  That was obviously someone coming out in defense of GM and Volt.  Thankfully, 2014 isn't too far away.  That automatic resetting of stance due to a new year starting really does help... because the doses of reality we provide certainly don't for some:  The goal hasn't ever been to party.  It has always been to change the norm, to break the status quo.  There's a fundamental difference between targeting early adopters and appealing to middle-market.  Fortunately, even those who has previously exclaimed "vastly superior" are finally accepting that reality.  Selling in high-volume and making a profit doing it, without the assistance of subsidies, is what each automaker is striving for.  None have achieved that yet.  So, there is no concept of late either.  The rush some insisted upon and careless disregard for consumer needs wasn't anything worthwhile to pursue.  Seriously, what was there to lose by waiting?  A midyear rollout to new dealers may sound good on paper, but in practice it takes awhile for salespeople to learn about the new vehicle.  That takes time.  Waiting until the 2014 model arrives instead makes sense.  Step back to look at the big picture.  Toyota has been working hard to replace traditional vehicle production with hybrids.  That's the point.  Expanding to offer a plug will draw in both PHV and more regular Prius sales.  We see how many misconceptions and how much pushback there is still.  Look at where the other automakers are with respective to replacement.  Business is not a party.


The Engine.  When it runs, those instances are noted.  Patterns are observed after awhile.  Detail is often missing.  Incorrect assumptions are made.  Advice is provided based on that.  It turns into a mess.  They don't understand a mistake had been made on their part.  The trap is easy to fall into too.  We do our best to educate without being pushy.  Today, it was this that stirred the pot: "In addition if you want heat or of you need some acceleration the engine comes on.  Hope this helps."  That sincere effort to assist another owner should be respected.  After all, the forum environment is often filled with lots of people contributing thoughts.  Hopefully this was worthwhile:  Actually, you just unknowingly contributed to the generalization misconception we've been struggling to squash.  Heat will indeed cause the engine to start, but it will shut back off too.  People jump to the conclusion and just assume it never does.  To keep warm, all you need is not engine coolant... which remains that way for awhile, even with the engine off.  Years ago, I remember getting stuck in a really bad snow-congested traffic jam with my 2010.   was able to creep along with the other cars in EV, watching the engine remain off for 8-minute cycles.  Acceleration isn't cut & dry either.  I certainly can't accelerate onto a highway using only electricity, but turning onto the big 45 mph road through town in EV is no big deal.  Climbing the steep 40 mph hill by my house from a dead stop at the bottom is no big deal in EV either.  But even if the engine did fire up, when warm, it shuts off immediately after the acceleration is complete... and you sometimes get a little bit of electricity replenish from the engine at the same time.  In other words, the system is much more dynamic that people realize and we often don't realize our side comments contribute to confusion about how it actually works.


Interpretation.  I liked reading this:  "A very common conceptual mistake is to interpret battery "EV miles available" as a fixed rational unit of measure, such as gallons or liters are for volume, or miles or meters are for distance."  I joined in by adding:  That is an excellent point.  Back when Toyota was rolling out the early model of plug-in to ordinary consumers for review, a common discussion was on how EV capacity should be represented.  Most with EV background stated range in terms of PERCENT was their preference.  That made sense too, since most addresses the most misconception.  However, it is still misleading.  Driving fast.  Accelerating often.  Using the Heater or A/C.  They all have a big influence on outcome.  Add to that the confusion new models introduce.  An increase in kWh would result in much more EV, but that wouldn't be represented by a PERCENT value.  It would contribute to problems in the future.  That's why Toyota chose to use MILES instead.  The number still misrepresents, but it gives a better idea of what you might get.  It's too bad many people don't realize MPG in their traditional vehicle fluctuates too.  Have a display that provides on-going detail about efficiency is a mixed blessing.  The consumers who were used to just filling up their tank with gas every 300 or so end up struggling to interpret the wealth of information the regular Prius provides.  Adding a plug complicates matters.  The come from a world filled with assumptions.  We introduce them to new concepts.  That takes time & patience to get through.  Some, like the poster who recently revived this old thread, assumed there was something wrong and brought his Prius to the dealer feeling lost and unhappy.


Took It To The Dealer.  We cringe when we read that.  It's often the first post from a new member.  You never really know what their intent is or how they will respond.  Today, it was the owner was unhappy with the estimate value having dropped.  Naturally, he made no reference to actual MPG results.  It was solely a concern about that much misunderstood range of electric miles they've come to expect but never actually pay close attention too.  Lots of assumptions makes responding a challenge, especially if you cannot keep their attention for long.  Some just need to vent.  Some are too frustrated to listen.  Fortunately, some do end up enlightened and drawn more to the technology as a result.  We hope for the best.  Maybe they'll be more receptive to our posts than their visit to the dealer.  I provided:  There are countless threads about the misconceptions of how EV range is estimated & delivered.  At this point in the year, maximum is no longer available for those seeing temperatures near freezing.  That's how batteries work.  Capacity is reduced and electrical resistance increased.  Of course, cold affects engines too. So, the end of the warm season efficiency is nothing new.  Remember that Prius PHV isn't an electric-only vehicle.  It's a PLUG-IN HYBRID.  So even when EV numbers goes down, you're still getting the benefit of the plug-supplied electricity.  Those miles are simply counted as HV instead.  We call that blending EV-BOOST mode.  It's what normally happens when driving at speeds above 62 mph.  But with the engine starting more often due to the cold temperatures, you'll see it happen when going slower too.  In short, stop focusing on the EV number.  Expectations should be on the resulting MPG.  Notice that it's still well above what a Prius without a plug could deliver.


Good Observations & Questions.  A owners noticed the drop of in charging rate that happens after about an hour.  He asked if interrupting it was ok then, since the bulk of the battery-pack capacity had already been replenished.  Several of us were delighted to respond to that.  I did with:  That's normal for plug-in vehicles.  It's why charge-to-80-percent is so often quoted. That's the capacity which the highest speed charging can used without sacrificing batter longevity.  Above that level, it ramps down the rate at which electricity is drawn to ease the burden on the chemicals within.  Observant owners with L1 chargers at home take advantage of that knowledge.  Being aware that waiting for the final part of recharging isn't required comes in handy.  New owners assume the charging rate is linear, having no idea a large portion of the capacity is replenished right away.  So, they wait the entire time.  Good job on the observation, right away too.  And it's more difficult to notice that difference with a L2 charger.  I'm sure there plenty of other owners out there who won't make that same discovery for a very long time... or ever.  You now know the system is more dynamic than many realize.  Sharing tips like this add to ownership experience.  Go ahead, unplug before recharging is complete.


Stigma, innovation.  There are some who fall victim to the greenwashing efforts, totally unaware that they're preventing the spread of progress.  We see it originating from the belief that innovation only comes one way.  They think pushing range & power are key indicators of success, followed by price.  The thought that it can come in more than one form or fashion isn't ever entertained.  When an alternate method is suggested, it's just outright dismissed.  Even sales are disregarded.  They don't see how altering a design to target middle-market could result in any type of advancement.  Factors like gas prices being relatively low don't get acknowledged either.  As far as they're concerned, fuel cost doesn't even come into play.  That is the result of so many years of effort from others to downplay importance... mostly because consumers are purchasing Prius regardless of what happens with the oil industry.  Volt depended heavily upon the price of gas being high... making its particular configuration more appealing.  The small battery-pack with respect to EV choices and the low MPG after depletion compared to Prius PHV made it quite a gamble.  Being perceived as innovative required circumstances that didn't materialize.  As a result, we now have a small army of supporters supporting an inflexible design not matching the goals of mainstream consumers.  So, they attempt to stigmatize.  That's just another technique to undermine.  But lots of people are fooled into believing the arguments without doing any research themselves.


Stigma, reasons.  Sometimes, there is an element of disbelief which contributes to your stamina to rebuttal, a backfire on the part of antagonists.  This quote definitely fit that: "The only reason Toyota had to adapt to the market is because the problems with the PPI were ones they created."  I was amazed anyone would try to make such a claim.  When has an absolute ever been the case?  There are always multiple reasons.  In this case, there are many many many of them.  We try our best though to listen to what others have to say.  After all, sometimes an antagonist will reveal what they actually feel... which is what we are really after, since words are commonly a disconnect to what they are really thinking.  The key is to keep discussion brief and on-topic.  Then, it defeats the effort to antagonize and helps to retain some element of being constructive.  I fired back with:  Only!  Wow!  This forum is loaded with other reasons.  Haven't you been reading comments owners and those researching purchase have been making?  Assumptions, misconceptions, and efforts to undermine are still a problem.  Simply reducing price and advertising would not have overcome that.  Of course, we all know that focusing on what could have been is a red-herring.


Stigma, reactive.  We have heard about the importance of being proactive so often, the antagonists are taking advantage of that by attempting to convince people that being reactive is bad.  True, if you were caught totally off guard and took an extremely long time to actually react, that would indeed be bad.  But waiting to see what others do before taking the next step yourself should be common sense.  In the world of online forums though, senseless arguing is what's common.  That's really unfortunate.  Oh well, we have no choice but to deal with the nonsense each time it comes up:  Remaining flexible has always been a positive trait in the past.  If your business cannot adjust to change, you lose opportunity & money.  Clearly, the greenwashing effort to stigmatize being reactive has successfully entered the mindset of some.  It's pretty obvious too.  The definition of change itself has changed.  In the past, success was measured in terms of looking at overall production.  Nowadays, automakers aren't given credit for replacing their high-volume fleet.  Focus is almost entirely on trophy vehicles instead.  It's really unfortunate that adapting to the market as you go isn't considered being innovative and that conclusions are drawn without looking at the big picture.


Stigma, blending.  Sales results stirred up the rhetoric.  That was expected.  I joined in with:  Rollout of PHV has made sense.  Like the Original model, only select markets would get the opportunity to purchase.  Like the Classic model, production was limited to size small enough to cause dismay.  Since the goal of Prius has been to reach wide & deep into the mainstream, rushing the design that offers an option both affordable & profitable wouldn't provide any benefit.  Let the hatchback, compact, and wagon become common first.  Also, it should have been obvious that Toyota didn't want to get sucked into the struggle GM was having. Volt sales have been neither affordable nor profitable.  Taking such a profoundly different approach was good reason to keep distance and prevent association.  After all, Volt goes out of its way to avoid using the engine and Prius PHV takes advantage of it.  That sacrifice of electricity for the sake of purity is a fundamental difference which can easily contribute to consumer confusion... in a market already filled with misconceptions.  Seeing PHV sales exceed that of Volt, despite only being in available in 15 states, suggests that rollout decision is working.  Knowing that only 1 of those states offers credit incentives beyond the federal credit, since there are 9 others for Volt but not for PHV, further supports it.  Also, don't forget that the federal credit for Volt is triple that of Prius PHV.  As more people discover plug-in hybrids offer more than just an EV experience with an engine backup, it will become easier to sell.  A big part of that is simply having enough owners reporting real-world data.  It's ironic how there have been many attempts to stigmatize blending over the years, none of which have been able to prevent the advancement of Prius.  That only slows it down... which is exactly what's needed for greater acceptance.


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