Personal Log #673
June 17, 2014 - June 24, 2014
Last Updated: Weds. 9/10/2014
page #672 page #674 BOOK INDEX
Back On Track. It's been a heck of a struggle finding a way to capture & share a large quantity of video data. Seeing the system in action is a powerful learning tool. Conveying so much information without misunderstanding is quite a challenge any other way. But attempting to film a smart-phone while driving doesn't work so well, even under the best of circumstances. To complicate matters, more data than what can be fit on a single screen is needed now. In other words, filming the action live just plain won't work for anything beyond the basics. Improving the look is a plus too. So, for the past year I've been struggling to find a way... hoping something could be derived using the raw data instead. Thankfully, I finally came up with a viable solution. It gets a bit involved, but the outcome should be a high-quality overlay with driving video. This is what I've been experimenting with: 1) Save the data log from the Torque App. 2) Convert the CSV file to Excel format. 3) Import that Excel file into Word using Mail-Merge. 4) Save that Word document in PDF format. 5) Convert the PDF to PNG images of each page. 6) Import those image files as an album into PowerPoint. 7) Export the PowerPoint presentation as MP4 video. 8) Combine that data video with the driving footage. It's many steps, but they're just jobs you submit and wait for... letting the computer do all the work. The trade off is it will make the filming process itself quite a bit easier. The numbers presented will be much nicer on the end-product. No more vibration from having to actually use a camera for the data. Obviously, the raw values themselves will be available for further analysis too. Long story short, we'll eventually have more info to help squash the FUD. It's very exciting to see the process take shape. Yeah!
Brisk Acceleration. We've been having a problem lately with a Prius PHV owner. He has absolutely no idea how the hybrid system actually works, yet argues with people attempting to correct his assumptions. That push away from facts is troubling. Some people believe he knows what he's talking about. It's unintentional greenwashing. Odds are he got some of what he thinks that way. Misinformation is easy to spread too. His particular comment today about needing to accelerate slow enough to upset the people behind him got me upset. That assumption of slower being more efficient is a common one. It's relatively easy to rebut too... with a regular Prius. Having the plug-in model makes that observation more difficult... and he refuses to purchase an aftermarket gauge to see what we're been saying. This was my attempt to deal with that: Brisk is easy to explain. Owner commonly make the assumption that using the gas engine means an efficiency penalty. They are unaware that it runs in an optimized manner, taking advantage of having a power-split-device interacting to 2 electric motors and a battery. Accelerating with generous pedal will often result in a lot of electricity being generated on-the-fly, the result of the gas engine settling in on a RPM with minimal waste. Some of that electricity is consumed immediately for propulsion power and some goes to recharging the battery. The operation is quite dynamic. In other words, the overall MPG is what to consider, not the acceleration itself. Far too often, owners see the power-bar spike and believe that is a bad thing. The design reveals it typically is not.
GM Disaster. Things did not work out well for Volt. We know all about that mess. But when the trouble spreads, then what? ELR is getting attention from lack of sales. Seeing an article in a popular national publication with this title, "Cadillac Bombs on ELR Plug-In Luxury Coupe Sales", there's not much to say. There certainly wasn't any surprise on the big GM forum. So far, the count for that one recall alone is 2.9 million. As of the end of last week, there were only 199,457 vehicles actually serviced. The time & expense is mind-boggling. It's a disaster on a scale unimaginable. How does reputation get repaired after something like this? What will they focus on? There must be some type of "look forward" campaign to move beyond the present. But with an automaker not offering anything but traditional vehicles and plug-in heavily dependent upon tax-credits, who's going to be interested? It's that audience problem again. To think of how much anti-advancement crap we had to deal with. The push-button start was routinely mocked. Ironically, eliminating the traditional key start is exactly what's needed. Though hypocritical, that would be a good next step. Status quo is most definitely not acceptable anymore.
Significant Impact. When pushed for clarification & detail, those overly-dramatic naysayers tend to back down. It usually takes more effort to achieve that outcome though. This time, it was surprisingly easy. We got this later in the day: "I'm just saying that cabin temperatures that feel hot to humans are likely contributing to somewhat faster battery aging in the PiP battery and should be minimized or avoided when it's not too much effort. Just basic common sense." Getting several posts from others all finding shortcomings in the charts provided and nothing to explain where most of the numbers came from, not to mention the obvious generalizations, he chose wisely. After seeing the recent all-out assault, being ready for online battle was likely still quite fresh on his mind. I find is very amusing. We went from one extreme to another within just a single day. Gotta like that.
Charts. Several were provided in response to my data. I pointed out: I always park facing the sun, having the front windshield taking the brunt of the hot shine. I also always leave the shade in the cargo area extended to fully cover the hatch area. I leave the Prius in the shade until right before plugging in too. The sun here in Minnesota is less direct than in Arizona as well. So basically, solar exposure in back can be minimized... a point often not taken into account. Yesterday's data collection was an intentional act of leaving the Prius out in the sun and parking with the hatch facing the sun, though the cargo shade was extended. The high temperature during recharging was only 35°C (95°F), a value low on the charts provided. How many owners will recharge during the hottest time of the day anyway? And I do take issue with those charts. That supposed "significant impact" glosses over the reality that temperatures are not hot year-round. In fact, here, we only see the potential for temperatures above 25°C (77°F) just 4 months out of the year. That means the battery stays very comfortable for the other 8 months. There's also the fact of SOC level not being addressed. Those charts, from 2006 & 2008, don't make any mention of that. Back then, 100% capacity was the norm. The battery was always recharged entirely. That was years ago. We've learned since then that avoiding 100% is a good practice for battery longevity. Prius stops at 85% for that very reason.
More Data. It had been specifically asked for me to observe temperatures of the battery while recharging was taking place. That was an attack point we hadn't been prepared for. Now that the attack is over and the thread dead, it's providing a great opportunity to present & discuss. Hopefully, I get more collection chances soon. But with the crazy rainy weather we've been dealing with, hot & clear days have been rare. Fortunately, today was one. So, I took full advantage of it. That's exciting. Few owners have actually made those observations firsthand. It's so new to us and there's lots to discover & analyze still. I'm getting my nerd on! Here's more: I got that data today. The Prius sat out in the parking lot from morning through lunch, with the hatch facing the sun. The surface temperature was 81°F. The air-intake was 90.7°F. The bank temperatures for the battery-pack started at 90.9°F, 91.7°F, 90.3°F. 1 hour 10 seconds later, 2.235 kWh of power had been used for recharging and the current rate was 2.257 kW. At that moment, the air-intake was 98.7°F and the bank temperatures for the battery-pack were 94.6°F, 94.8°F, 94.8°F.
Playing Offense, fallout. Looking back, it's easy to see how some people won't believe any of this ever actually happened. We've seen it before. Two-Mode continues to be a great example too. It was long hyped as being far superior. But then when it was finally rolled out, the "over promise, under deliver" problem became all too real. It was quite apparent right away there were a number of shortcoming, many significant. It wasn't a matter of refinements to come, like with Prius. The next generation would have to be major redesign. So naturally, the choice by a few was to belittle the hybrid that continue to persevere rather than address the problem and set goals accordingly. Fortunately, he choice by the majority was to simply move on. That makes introduction of what comes easier, since there's nothing related it to the fallout of the past. Unfortunately, that disassociation means pretty much starting all over again with respect to product marketing. At least that turning point is no longer just a pattern change recognized by those paying close attention. Penetration of plug-in vehicles into the mainstream will proceed. It will be slow going. But the closer the match to consumer purchase priorities, the better chance the vehicle has to becoming common... which is the point... not a trophy. It was rather satisfying to see it come to a close so dramatically. With all the agonizing torment of misleading that never seemed to end, suddenly we find ourselves with a moment of relief. The persistence with a big push to finished worked out really well. Yeah!
Playing Offense, victory. The conclusion came dramatically quick. Within an hour, the thread was gone. That hoped for "it's over" had become a reality. He lost his soapbox. His posts well off-topic would no longer have to be tolerated. None of the past would either. In an instant, all that nonsense vanished from readers. The content was removed. Yeah! There were over 50 pages spanning over a month. The original poster had left long ago. It turned into a place for undermining Prius. The moderators saw the revolt (pun intended) taking place and wanted it to quickly end. Trolls will always be a problem. But when matters are escalated to what would inevitably become a slaughter, the final step must be taken. In other words, he outed himself. Basically, the switch from us having to defend to choosing to play offense forced him to confront directly... something he hadn't anticipated and unmistakably wasn't prepared for. Seeing that his purpose was not innocent, that he really was attempting to greenwash, made the decision to end easy. That attention combined with the absence of the ill-intended posts can actually have a positive outcome. It presents an opportunity to change without getting kicked off the forum or even having to apologize. It's a second chance. That is usually quite effective. Many take it as a lesson-learned and move on. I can name a number of individuals who changed after recognizing their understanding was based on incorrect beliefs. True, it rarely ever comes to this extreme. But at least there's hope. You really wouldn't want an enemy forever. After all, the technology advances over time anyway. That gives everyone a prospect for a better future. It's just those few who don't take defeat well that we have to deal with in the meantime. They don't want to accept failure... even though that has no indication of whether or not the next attempt will be a success. Toyota understood their audience and recognized need. Goals were set accordingly. GM did a terrible job of identifying who and embarrassed the business with struggling sales... which explains why certain individuals had such a resentment for Prius.
Playing Offense, panic.
It took until the next morning to get a reply back. But rather than be
a rebuttal, he changed argument points entirely. Obviously, nothing he
already tried was working. It was a clear sign of panic. My
preparation was undeniable. With so many Prius owners contributing
value information and sharing their observations, my summary of the
situation hurt. That stance change made it unambiguously known that I
wasn't going to take it any more. With so much real-world data
collected to back all that had been said by so many already, he didn't stand
a chance. Hooray! Wasting so much time & effort on a person who
continued to put taunts at the end of his posts challenging his claims just
plain wasn't worth it. The tables were turned. I struck with
this: The push now is Cost-per-Mile, but the value used for the calculation is
price paid rather than the actual cost to produce. That business model is
unsustainable. A vehicle must be able to make a profit without dependency on
Then there's the blatant disregard for actual consumption. Stating a range
of 6-11 miles is a obvious dodge to avoid acknowledgement of the capacity
available. The electricity is still taken full advantage of, even when the
Prius PHV clearly can hold its own in the competitive world of traditional
Playing Offense, armed. I hit hard, well armed with data to support whatever he had to counter, responding directly to this taunt: "Are you still fuming about the directions this thread as coursed through? Enlighten us, please!" The gloves were off. But little did he know or even try to understand, my goal was never to disprove Volt superiority. No matter how often I pointed out business need and having no interest in trophies, he was too pig-headed to recognize that. It was a weakness of most enthusiasts I was going to exploit. They assume your goal is to prove Prius PHV is superior. I couldn't care less, since no mainstream car has ever really aspired for that. Balance is quite different. Anywho, this was my response: Fuming from blatant undermining? Such obvious trolling isn't worth much to respond. You've may a valiant effort to belittle & insult the plug-in Prius and still have no victory to show for it. There's nothing to defend. The system works quite well. The need is fulfilled. However, this nonsense is an invitation to play offense. So, I will. We've been through this many times in the past. Over the years, it's been intriguing to see the lengths some would go to. A few got very desperate. But in the end, they gave up. They didn't want to acknowledge requirements or even state goals. Finally coming to realize the true competition is traditional vehicles can is a humbling experience. The most recent attack on PHV has been to claim liquid cooling is necessary. No evidence was provided. Heck, we didn't even get any data. It was just an empty statement. I got to do some more testing, in hotter weather pushing the EV system further. The temperature of the battery-pack remained the same, right at the comfort level of 100°F. There's nothing that has been presented to show concern about being able to keep it operating cool with just air. It's a scare attempt falling on deaf ears. Then there's the other superiority claim of electricity usage. Even though there's data showing PHV is more efficient than others, the obscure reference to needing some electricity to hold the sun (MG1) power carrier in place keeps getting brought up. So what? The tiny amount of electricity needed is accounted for in the total consumption stated, which is still lower. Yet, with another plug-in, there's never any mention of the complexity used instead, having to utilize a clutch to allow the system to carry around a gas engine it goes out of it's way to avoid using. What about that waste? There's no reason to have to deal with the obvious rants of a few anymore. The plug-in Prius is proving it's design & approach is capable of taking on the true competition. It would be great if others could do the same. But that's no reason for continuing to put it on the defensive without supporting data. It's pointless baiting. Give it up.
Playing Offense, time. It finally arrived. When the troll gets so bad nothing else can be done, there is still an option. That belief of ignoring is the best choice really isn't at that point. He or she will continue to drop bait and sucker some innocent lurker to participate. In the meantime, their influence continue. Others will read the posts have no idea their intent is to undermine. You know when to make the move. It's when they outright taunt you in clear disregard of being exposed as a troll. They crave the endless debates. It gives them a thrill and provides interactive entertainment. I've dealt with that in the past. The well known is the "up to the chore" thread. It lasted 2.5 years. There were a number of us fighting to prove hybrids were. But rather than the expected outcome, we went for a stalemate. It forced the moderator to eventually declare hybrids were... then hide the thread. Removing access to it was the ultimate win. All that senseless rhetoric achieved nothing for traditional vehicles but provided a valuable opportunity to shake out argument points. Each time they tried something new, we found evidence to prove the claim was false. That worked great. This situation with "another prius vs prius plug in thread but i badly need your advice" appears to be coming to the very same end. We gleaned a bunch of points from an absolute desperate Volt owner... yup, the same one who months ago started by outright lying about how Prius operated with "redline" claims. Reading his posts on the forum dedicated to Volt made intent obvious. It even upset some of the Volt supporters, who ended up fighting back. But there on the big Prius forum, those allies weren't able to deal with it. Some of that simply came from lack of data... a resource I have in abundance. So, I stated my intention. Rather than being forced into a position to defend, I was about to launch an offensive.