Personal Log  #675

July 1, 2014  -  July 9, 2014

Last Updated: Weds. 9/10/2014

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Commute Home (Deplete EV) - Video.  This is my commute home, taking the scenic route along the river via the high-bridge to the bluff.  It's a very pleasant drive through the park and on roads with lots of trees.  I used that Bluetooth device again to capture ODB-II data while I drove.  Unfortunately, it got hung up for almost a mile, leaving a gap in the recording.  Fortunately, it picked up and synced nicely with the video afterward.  It's still, by far, the best way to record lots of data for presentation later.  I started with a full charge.  That's a battery-level of 85%.  Not charging to 100% is what most automakers are doing to ensure longevity of the pack.  The other technique used is to not discharge entirely.  For Prius PHV, which has a 4.4 kWh total capacity, that means ending EV travel at 23.5% and HV at 18%. Having an engine makes that easy.  You can see that happen in the video too.  Watch for it 12.4 miles into the trip.  The hybrid system has an engine and 2 electric motors.  The RPM values for all 3 are shown in the video.  They are connected via a planetary-split-device (similar to a differential) to combine and direct power.  Coolant temperature is important to be aware of... not so much in the summer, more in the winter.  The engine will run until demand for emission-cleansing and/or heater-warming is fulfilled.  Running will stop when specific temperature thresholds are reached.  Battery intake & bank temperatures are becoming more and more of a discussion topic.  Heat accelerates aging.  Keeping the pack cool is important.  Showing the effectiveness of the system goes a long way toward greenwash prevention.  You can clearly see how well it works.  My 17.4 miles of driving home from work yielded fantastic results.  190 MPG overall.  You can see the video here... Prius PHV - Commute Home (Deplete EV)


Facts & Data.  They can be painful to accept, which is how all the spin comes about.  The cold hard reality of what the competition is and who the audience is has become an endless source of rhetoric.  Scope is arbitrarily just cherry-picked.  Basic principles of business are just swept aside too.  It never ceases to amaze me how things like affordability are so easily dismissed.  Fortunately, it's easy enough to see past all that... once you start seeking out the facts & data.  Interestingly, we're seeing a pattern now.  Toyota waits for the competition to complete their rollout before making a move.  It avoids getting caught up in any fallout. And this particular stage, what a payoff!  They were able to stay clear of the many troubles with Volt and the rating problems with Ford.  There's a fresh canvas now for them to paint a picture of what a well-balanced plug-in hybrid has to offer.


Happy & Sad.  It sure felt good reading that post from Toyota Marketing on the big Prius forum confirming they would indeed be doing what I had predicted the next step would be.  With so much studying of what should be done, that is rather obvious.  Sad part is though, most people don't pay close enough attention to notice.  Even more sad is that some choose to now see.  Thankfully, there is a happier side.  We will see 2 television commercials and get an online video soon.  They will kick-off their education/advertising campaign for Prius PHV.  Based on the response to that, it's easy to see some expansion begin.  Why's those few individuals arguing with me can't see that is baffling.  I suspect trying "win" a debate is more important.  After all, accepting compromise has been given a stigma of acknowledging defeat.  We'll be intrigued as ever going forward.  Rollout to other states, like Florida & Texas, seems quite realistic with the 2015 model.  By then, we should have seen growth in the currently available states.  Happy for them.  Sad for us up in the north though.  Winter is a nasty time to rollout a new Prius.  The key is setting realistic expectations... which still isn't the norm for the regular model.  Why would it be any different for the plug-in?  Whatever the case, some of us were well aware of the backlash.  Sadly, it's the same few people each time too.  Happily, it doesn't last long.  Really sad is that newbies aren't aware of this and commonly find the rhetoric frustrating and don't realize the attitude will shift relatively quick as the antagonists exhaust their new found argument points.  Anywho, the tide change is coming.


Expect the Worse.  Anticipating a series of unpleasant responses when pointing out someone was incorrect is good advice.  Some type of negative response is inevitable.  That certainly was spot-on today.  Whoa!  Looking at those posts from a distance, it's easy to see the outright dismissal.  Today, the word "nonsense" was used quite frequently.  Taking a step closer, it was the usual misrepresentation.  Your words are twisted to imply something else.  More often than not, they take context from other people's posts (since the words themselves are easy to remember) and state them as if you had actually said that.  After all, remember who is difficult.  Next comes vague spin.  They pretend the topic hasn't ever been addressed in full and accuse you of leaving out detail accordingly.  Today, it was ironic that there was an attempt to restart debate by being vague and making it sound as if I had with my reference to that conclusion from elsewhere.  This type of behavior is quite typical.  It's no surprise.  Any time a next step forward is taken, particular individuals will go out of their way to stir the pot... hoping new bait will bring back active discussion which will result in a different conclusion.  It all boils down to the same thing: they so strongly believe something, there don't recognize any alternative outcome.  It's that "all or none" mentality... the classic over-simplification.  That clashes with the balance approach and leaves no opportunity to staging.  So, the reality that Toyota allowed for flexibility in their approach is beyond their perception.   There is only one or the other, nothing in between.  It's an easy barrier to encounter when you attempt to have a constructive look at the economies of business with someone who has no actual exposure to the industry.  That's why there was so much fallout with Volt.  We had well educated engineers not understanding why consumer interest and dealer support was so low.  If you don't know how those complex and counter-intuitive the situation is, you're not likely to have a strong positive outcome any.  So, the idea of adaption isn't even a possibility.  Adding to that it being of an accounting & marketing nature instead, it's a mess.  You basically say your piece and move on.  Expecting some type of closure isn't realistic.  They will be angry for you having been correct... which makes you wonder how much that same situation will repeat.  I've seen it so many times, there's no way to count them.  Each advancement comes with someone being left behind.  That's what sales are all about.  That's why a hybrid like Prius continues to progress.


In Other Words.  The hope is this newest round of rhetoric will end quickly.  Each time seems to be shorter and shorter.  Nonetheless, it is still annoying.  The trouble and source of the backlash is well known.  Unfortunately, those new to the forum don't know that.  They have no idea why such behavior would even take place.  I suspect only a few of even the frequent posters actually go to other forums, making a true representative of the big picture limited to only a handful.  Reading posts from the same individuals in a different venue sure is enlightening.  The different audience causes them reveal other bits of info we don't get on the big Prius forum.  It's especially informative with the websites not friendly to Prius.  That certainly can be eye-opening.  Doesn't really matter though.  No amount of online spin will make a big impression on someone who doesn't participate online anyway.  That's why so much of what goes on in posts fails to make any difference.  Too bad that real-world mentality is so hard to come by.  Oh well.  At least some insight can still be shared and some question still be asked:  In other words, successful sales increase which can be maintained afterward is the sign that expanding beyond the initial 15 states is realistic.  Otherwise, why would dealers be interested in stocking a vehicle that would only attract a short-term gain?  A brief boom from "early adopters" is not what you want to risk inventory on.  Unless a strong case for them is presented, dealers in the other 35 states won't embrace the supposed opportunity.  The market must be well established first.


PiP Education.  This suggestion left me without an effective reply: "Make the cars available to people."  That's all I got when the topic of education for the plug-in model of Prius was brought up.  To him, the design is so simple, there's no reason to bother teaching... which he stated by saying: "There is very little to learn with the PiP."  Despite there still being misconceptions about Prius itself and the frequency of incorrect claims about PHV at nearly an overwhelming level sometimes, he still believes mainstream consumers only need the vehicle itself to understand it.  I wonder how he thinks the correct information will be conveyed.  With the media routinely publishing reports that are incorrect, misleading, and from time to time contain an outright lie, that's certainly not realistic.  And for the chance that anyone beyond the well studied will have the ability to sift though forums to find necessary detail, that's wild fantasy.  After over a decade of dealing with the rhetoric, the poorly informed, and the greenwashing, the reality is rather disheartening.  Heck, even the Volt supporters agree with me on this one.  Time after time, we keep hearing them beg GM for more educational advertising.  Anywho, this is how I responded:  Simply making more available was a disappointing response.  The purpose of achieving permanent growth cannot be fulfilled by just offering more.  That alone isn't enough to result in higher sustained sales.  There must be education too.  That requires the clever part of marketing.  Most often, it's in the form of television commercials with something that stands out to catch consumer attention.  Coincidently, Toyota is doing exactly that starting next week.  We were told: "The goal is to help educate people about the benefits of Prius PHV in a fun and interesting way."  Remember how I stated that the best next step was to expand within the currently established markets?  Toyota's effort to learn how to appeal to a wider audience there is priceless information to know prior to expanding to the larger market.


Lesson Learned?  Sadly, the answer to that question is no.  This today reiterated the problem:  "It looks like a real opportunity for "conquest sales", if other manufacturers are able to produce affordable all electric or PHEV vehicles with "adequate" all electric range and performance."  It's hard to believe how pigheaded certain individuals will continue to be.  They choose to selectively look at the market, dismissing anything without a plug.  That's called cherry-picking.  It's handy when you want to win a battle but couldn't care less about the war.  Disregard for overall goals and just having a purpose of short-term gain is a very real problem we still have to deal with.  Why?  You'd think that lesson would have been learned after having faced such a terrible economic collapse.  Not wanting to go through all that nonsense again, I avoiding rehashing history by focusing on what's been important all along:  KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE.  That's absolutely vital.  Yet, some still only see current buyers.  The 4th generation Prius will be taking on traditional vehicles.  Those are the conquest sales being sought, not that from the tiny-slice of the market for plugging in.  It's mainstream consumers be directly targeted, those would otherwise purchase an ordinary engine-only car.  That's cannot be stressed enough.  Taking on the traditional market directly is the focus for this next release.  It's not early adopter time anymore.


50 MPG.  111 miles, against the wind, with 2 bikes on back.  Trying to use as little electricity as possible, so I'd have it available when we arrived at our destination, that was the result.  HV efficiency (the MPG when there's no EV or EV-BOOST) is quite impressive.  What other hybrid could accomplish that, even without those aerodynamic compromises?  We had the interior packed with lots of stuff too.  Being a holiday, enjoying the long weekend was key.  Not having to sacrifice in terms of travel is fantastic.  It sure is nice being able to load up the Prius like that to escape the everyday pressures of work.  Now, the only thing I have to worry about is getting sun burnt... and perhaps eating too much.


Chiming In.  It's difficult to know when to finally post a response.  You know certain individuals will spin whatever it is, regardless of content.  Some just like to debate.  Others simply don't see the big picture.  Their reaction is quite predictable.  We'll see what this does:  I've been waiting for the if-it-does-not-plug-in-it-does-not-count people to say their piece before chiming back in.  Their refusal to look at the entire market is not helpful...  The goal for the past 14 years is to replace traditional vehicles with a choice that's cleaner and more efficient.  Remember Toyota's milestone set for 2020?  That means competing directly with all the other vehicles currently available.  Growth is necessary, which is what makes the 4th generation such a big deal.  Gas prices as well as their associated taxes will inevitably go up.  People won't be driving non-hybrids forever.  For those hoping to upgrade/replace sooner, you'll end up stuck with a vehicle which should hold out in the meantime and has a proven record of retaining resale value even when the next generation rolls out.  Not getting to trade-up when a lease expires is an interesting situation, since we've dealt with long delivery waits in the past anyway.  Hopefully, that will work out.  It makes sense that Toyota is stating intent so directly.  For those sitting on the fence, you can now firm up your own plans... especially now that we see how the competition is with hybrids.  They won't even be able to compete directly with the current Prius hybrid system. Toyota's improvements to next will be nice.  As for the plug-in model, there is a decent opportunity to finally expand beyond the initial 15 states.  Yeah!  Education about its purpose and how it actually works is going fairly well.  We've seen a clear improvement based on the questions here and the reduction of rhetoric elsewhere.  Sales didn't plunge when HOV sticker availability ended either.  That was good news.  Retaining sales at the current level will be even better.  That, combined with advertising and ample supply, will make full rollout nationwide realistic.  Remember, it's not just consumers that need convincing, it's the dealers too.


Lots Of Data - Video.  It took a very, very long time to finally figure out how to present all the data I had been collecting from my plug-in Prius.  I was able to capture video of a few gauges while driving, but more simply wasn't realistic.  The road vibration made mounting a camera steady for more data (smaller images) impossible.  After lots of trial & error, I eventually figured out a way to utilize the numbers themselves instead of depending filming.  By converting log file provided by the ODB-II reader application and using a Bluetooth adapter, the video could be created with some formatting software.  Then, all I can to do was combine it with the scenery footage.  Since data is transmitted wirelessly from a device accessing the vehicle's computer live while driving and a cell-phone running an app is franticly trying to translate & record, the result isn't perfect.  There will be an odd number (unusually high or just zero) from time to time.  But overall the purpose is well served.  You'll see what happens, starting with a battery-pack close to the fully recharged (85%) and driving all the way to the depletion point (23.5%).  The gas engine will turn on at times, then shut off again when not needed.  Much of the 18-mile drive (to my favorite coffee-shop and back) is using only electricity, specifically 13 miles of EV.  The rest is hybrid driving, known as HV.  Overall efficiency from that drive ended up being 146 MPG, as photos of the display screens at the completion of the video show.  The full-charge of the battery-pack uses varies from 2.6 to 3.0 kWh of electricity, including losses from charging.  Here's a link to the video... Prius PHV - Lots Of Data


Delay Discussion.  At one point, the word "sucky" was used to describe the situation.  That's quite understandable.  Taking a look at the bigger picture does change the attitude though.  Of course, it won't necessarily help those with expectations for sooner, but what are you going to do?  It is a for-profit business after all.  I interjected saying:  Another nice part about the sucky wait... [silly smile] that there will be less to rhetoric to have to deal with.  The amount of FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) we've been dealing with about the plug-in model is a real problem.  The more data we gather with the current model, the less opportunity for those intentionally trying to undermine.  It's sad, especially when it comes from supporters of other plug-in vehicles, but that's the reality we face.  In a twisted kind of way, it is actually a beneficial... since designs incapable of appealing to the mainstream will reveal themselves.  Hiding behind false claims only goes so far.  Then of course, there are those who are just plain not interested in change.  Their denial is easy to overcome when sightings become frequent.  To think that some people will still see hybrids as "too complex" as the 2nd generation complete their lifecycle with great success is perplexing.  But then again, there's has been fallout in the automotive market lately.  The re-rating of MPG estimates along with an overwhelming number of recalls does give reason for pause.  So, it does make sense for there to be a delay.  Think about how well established the C and V models will be at that point too.  Toyota gets the opportunity to work on improving them in the meantime.  People are obviously going to be expecting them to get upgrades quickly after the regular model.  It will work out fine. But for those who were looking forward to the chance to upgrade sooner, it will be a test of patience.


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