Personal Log  #681

September 3, 2014  -  September 21, 2014

Last Updated: Tues. 6/27/2017

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Most Important.  Like the other post, I suspect the reply to this will fall on deaf ears too: "And for plug-ins the most important number is the electric range, so that should be the largest text."  The only reason I even bothered to respond was these numbers didn't exist 5 years ago.  There was no standardized measurement approach available back then.  Now that there is a basis of comparison, it's not good to allow misleading to take place.  It's like watching a bully.  If you don't speak up, you're an enabler.  In this case, these particular Volt enthusiasts are still trying to push the purist view.  Any blending whatsoever is considered a violation of what they hold most dear.  It's actually quite amusing, a source of entertainment at this point.  When GM finally offers a lite version, they sure are in for a reality shock.  No matter how much you point out the goal of reducing gas consumption doesn't require elimination, they cannot come to terms with electricity utilization actually being wasteful.  How that electricity is consumed is more important than making sacrifices to prevent the engine from running, even if brief.  Whatever.  As time progresses, that real-world data will also become difficult to avoid.  I simply put it this way:  You mean KWH capacity, since RANGE is not a constant.  Think about the impact temperature has.  The amount of KWH the battery can deliver is always the same, but the RANGE you actually get from that varies significantly.  Then there's the benefit of taking advantage of the engine at times.  You're still consuming that same KWH, but it won't be counted in the RANGE due to the engine joining to contribute power.  It's still the same plug-supplied electricity being consumed, which fulfills the purpose of plugging in.


Meaningless.  This was the first of the superiority posts I chose to respond to:  "That EPA value is as meaningless as saying that your Volt uses 5 gallons to travel 200 miles, when every ICE users understand miles per gallon and few travel 200 miles in one day or trip.  We have to educate correctly.  A meaningless value confuses even more, and more questions will be asked.  Keep it simple, straight, and related to something that has a cost."  I found it very amusing that his attempt to greenwash was so blatant.  There's been a huge effort to educate which focuses heavily on how misleading the MPG value is.  In fact, that was the very reason those new EPA values were created.  Yet, he attempted to claim the opposite.  It makes you wonder what other concepts he has a fundamental misunderstanding of.  That would explain the constant arguing.  Anywho, I responded with:  Actually, most of the rest of the world uses QUANTITY/DISTANCE to measure efficiency, which has been overwhelming proven a more effective means of conveying that information.  Our misleading system of MPG is being phased-out in favor of using QUANTITY/DISTANCE instead.  For far too long, advertisers have exploited those MPG misunderstandings.  People assume that the measure is linear, when in reality it's a diminishing return.  That's why the difference between the higher numbers is less and less. See how the gallon reduction is less as the MPG increases... 300 gallons from 50 mpg.  200 from 75.  150 from 100.  120 from 125.  100 from 150.  86 from 175.  75 from 200.


Questions.  It's refreshing to get ordinary questions, new owners taking notice of more as they drive, then asking for more information.  The craziness from the supposed competition is annoying.  Ordinary consumers aren't interested in bragging rights.  They just want a nice experience from the vehicle they chose to purchase.  Anywho, I enjoyed responding to this today: "Is EV mode only available when the battery has been charged via the charging cable, even though the battery is fully charged via regeneration?"  The discussion already had quite a bit of activity by the time I jumped on board.  That too was encouraging.  I posted:  It's available at other times, but that kind of side-steps the purpose of being a plug-in hybrid.  For starters, the behavior of "EV mode" is different for the plug-in than it is for the regular model.  The plug offers both more power and more speed.  It also allows you to engage it without the emission system already have been pre-warmed, but will consume gas for the sake of cleansing emissions once you have exceeded the power/speed threshold.  Put simply, the system is designed to take advantage of plug-supplied electricity.  You'll see that by watching the MPG display.  At times, it will be sustained at the max, even though the engine is running.  That's achieved by taking advantage of the battery-pack to allow the engine to run at a very low RPM, which in turn is very efficient.  Those miles of travel won't be counted as "EV" though, since the engine wasn't stopped.  They'll be counted as "HV" miles instead.  Over time, you'll observe when it's best to allow the system to do that.  The "HV/EV" button lets you disengage that electricity boost.  For long drives on the highway, you'll find saving the battery-pack for later better overall.  You'll also discover there are circumstances that will allow you to top-off the battery through brake-regenerating, like when exiting off the highway.  It's quite a dynamic system, very smart with how it utilizes the electricity available by taking advantage of the engine at times.


5 Years Ago.  The calm lasted just a little over a week.  Ugh.  The daily blog for Volt was basically dead, barely any mention of this generation anymore.  It was just casual mentions of plug-in related topics, nothing even remotely like anything in the past.  Then, bang!  Something poked the sleeping bear.  That same old hype from 5 years ago showed up again.  Excitement about the next generation being superior to the competition emerged from the rubble.  Nothing of any substance to support claims is available.  Yet, the chest-pounding started.  GM will crush the competition... even though who they're competing with is a mystery.  It will be better and that's all that matters.  There's no point in asking for goals this time.  With the previous rollout, the avoidance to acknowledge and obvious back-pedaling made it quite clear that particular group was just a bunch of enthusiasts who wanted to celebrate some type of victory, even if it was hollow.  Giving them something to fight about again is just a waste of time.  The pattern is well established.  I will post a few facts though, since now there is lots of real-world data to confirm the information.  Hype grew due to blind hope.  Stuff like driving videos show the true nature of the situation.  That's a level of detail well beyond what we had available 5 years ago.


The Turn-Around.  We've reached that point.  Hold on.  It's going to get ugly.  You can tell something is amiss when "this is what I meant t say" is used in replies to a rebuttal.  In other words, those who have discovered they've lost the battle are attempting to stay in the war by now finding a way to agree.  That's been happening a lot recently, coming from those who have firmly stood their ground for years.  An abrupt change of stance like that doesn't make sense.  But with the real-world data so plentiful, clearly confirming they were wrong, what other path is there... other than to save face by backing down for now.  It's quite hypocritical, though welcome nonetheless.  Not fighting anymore is nice.  In the end, it doesn't matter anyway.  There's an entirely new audience waiting.  I went through the drive-thru the other day and absolutely fascinated the employee who looked in and commented on the dashboard.  He had no idea I was driving anything special until pointing out the current 81 MPG average.  That certainly got his attention.  So, the nonsense with Gen-2 of Volt will begin shortly.  Wait for it, a bang after a delightful silence.  This isn't a prediction.  It's just observation and good memory.  We've seen the pattern before.  It will happen again.  Lessons of the past will be completely unknown.  They'll consider that a fresh start with no possible connection to errors of the past.  It's a turn-around, but not necessarily in the right direction.  Sorry to be so pessimistic, but stuff happens.


Change of Season.  The temperature here has plummeted.  It's 30°F cooler now.  Conditions have switched from being comfortable with the A/C to desiring use of the heater.  That certainly will change the data for me to collect.  Last night was the first taste of it. I set the timer, but forgot to actually plug in the Prius.  That's what happens when you're in a rush.  Anywho, the drive out from one end of the cities to the other... without any EV charge available... resulted in an average of 59 MPG.  That's certainly nothing to complain about and it got me thinking about battery temperature.  On the return trip this morning, I got 59 MPG again.  But this time, I started with both an engine & battery that didn't have any hint of warmth.  In fact, I had to fire up the heater.  It was just 52°F outside and I was still dressed for Summer.  The Fall conditions immediately revealed interesting data.  The battery banks reached highs of only 79.12°F, 80.26°F, and 78.92°F.  That's well below even the starting temps I had seen just last week with when pushing EV with it hot outside and no A/C cooling.  HV driving clearly isn't anything to ever be concerned about.  I'm looking forward to observations with plug-supplied electricity now that the warm season is just a memory.  Winter will make things especially interesting.  I sure am glad for having figured out how to share all that heat data before the cool arrived. It should be quite a contrast when you're required to wear a jacket & gloves.


Reluctance.  This was a reasonable assessment: "I'm starting to suspect, as some posters here have mentioned, that the reason Toyota is reluctant to release the PiP nationwide is because they don't believe there's enough demand in the states that don't normally sell them."  It's based on anecdotal evidence though.  Observation of activity, rather than knowing background & purpose, can lead a person to draw an incorrect decision.  So, you have to be careful when responding.  Being made aware of missing information is part of the learning process.  You don't what to alienate someone due to a simple misunderstanding.  Here's my attempt at being constructive: That's not reluctance.  It's smart business.  There has been overwhelmingly confirmation that the mainstream market is not interested in any vehicle offering a plug.  Even with great incentives, the plug is confined to just a niche audience.  It simply doesn't make sense rolling out a product to the masses when the masses aren't ready for it.  Look at how Volt's approach made no difference.  Designed with the assumption that "range anxiety" would be a major purchase deterrent, the hope was it would crush the plug-only competition.  Clearly, that didn't happen.  It didn't come anywhere near close to anticipated sales volume either.  The goal of being able to offer PHV as a competitively-priced Prius package option is especially challenging in a market that doesn't even embrace hybrids.  Prius sales are flat and the other automakers face even more of a struggle.  What would there be to gain by expanding rollout right away?  It was smart of Toyota not betting the farm on a single choice.  GM really backed themselves into a corner with Volt.  No one knows what their next move will be or even what it should be.  At least with Nissan, we see the commitment and a solid plan forward.  The path for Ford is clear too.  But none are in a position to compete now.  Traditional vehicles pose far too great of a barrier to overcome still.


Red-Herring.  It's easy to see how the fuel-cell offerings will be used to confuse & mislead.  It's getting annoying already.  In reality, it's really a distraction.  What happens with fuel-cells doesn't have any bearing on what happens with hybrids.  They will co-exist.  But you know how certain people want to paint a different picture.  For example: "The three biggest reasons for car buyers not purchasing plugin cars are: high upfront costs, fear of new technology, and lack of public charging stations.  Honda and Toyota's answer to low plugin sales is fuel cell vehicles.  Good luck with that!"  Knowing how to respond is a challenge, since the comments will basically fall on deaf ears.  They want you to waste time on the distance, hence being a red herring.  It's much better to stay on topic, rather than follow.  But smetimes, you can't resist:  The effort to offer fuel-cell vehicles is in no way related to plug-in cars.  They are mutually exclusive.  They are a diversification of business product.  They are not a replacement.  Toyota has been working to reduce upfront cost at the same time.  The question has not changed and neither has the answer.  That's why Toyota hasn't been pushing the plug-in beyond just raising awareness and building up real-world experience.  The choice to share a platform with the non-plug model is an obvious path to reduced cost from high-volume production.  They are preparing to compete in a world *WITHOUT* any tax-credit incentives.


Good Questions.  This was asked today: "Why isn't Toyota building more PiPs?  Do they lose money on every car sold?  Are they worried about reliability and don't want too many out there?"  The answer boils down to audience, no different than what we've been seeing for years.  That aspect of business is absolutely vital.  Simply building & offering a nice product isn't enough.  That's the lesson GM has learned the hard way.  You have to understand what they buy.  I responded with:  This topic has been discussed in great detail many times.  The aspect which continues to float up to the top is: Staying within the initial rollout states has the advantage of learning how to penetrate a market which has already satisfied early adopters.  In other words, Toyota wants to figure out how to appeal to ordinary consumers.  It's absolutely vital.  The reality of tax-credits expiring and HOV stickers running out is a very big deal.  Toyota would like to be well positioned for when that happens, which means figuring out how to achieve mainstream sales.  Knowing that in advance of rolling out the next-gen design will have a big payoff.  Simply building more won't reveal that desired information.


EV-Boost - Video.  Unlike the "heat push" video, when I did everything I could to stress limits through ordinary circumstances, this was a demonstration of what an owner is more likely to actually do.  Avoiding direct sun is the most obvious means of protecting the battery-pack for longevity.  Since rain was in forecast for later that day, the cloudy conditions would ensure the interior of the vehicle didn't get too warm.  Another technique is giving the battery-pack time to rest both before & after recharging, which I did.  That gives it a chance to cool in the meantime.  The humidity level had climbed nearly 100% by the time I was ready to leave work.  That moist air was uncomfortable.  A/C use was the sensible choice for interior cooling, for both myself and the battery-pack.  My plan was to drive that same route under similar EV conditions as the "heat push", but at a cooler temperature for summer had worked out.  (Sometimes, you get lucky!)  A few drops of rain had just begun to fall.  The edge of the approaching storm made for a rather scenic situation to film, while also serving as a comparison video.  The drive itself was indeed quite ordinary.  Having started out with both a lower air-intake temperature and all 3 battery-banks on the cool side, the data expectation was it would be quite a contrast.  Sure enough, that drive home was what I had hoped… other than I forgot to reset the display statistics before drive.  So, you get to see my overall results for the work commute, morning & afternoon drives combined.  Looking at the temperatures, the effectiveness of the air-cooling system is clear.  It works well.  Also, to my delight, that same route driving with the windows half open was barely any more efficient overall than just running the A/C instead.  I now have data showing the penalty for being comfortable is negligible.  It's nice to see results so revealing.  Using the electricity for cooling and the engine for assisting delivers a clean & efficient drive.  Gotta like that...  Prius PHV - Commute Home (EV-Boost)


August Sales.  Nothing new to report.  Sales of high-efficiency vehicles are flat.  Sales of traditional vehicles are strong and growing.  Cheap gas and little to no concern for the air we breathe and dependency on oil makes for a very difficult situation.  That's why it is so important for the high-efficiency choices to actually be competitive.  Those who choose to measure success based upon sales of other plug-in vehicles, rather than looking at the market as a whole, are worse than cherry-pickers.  That refusal to acknowledge the true situation has consequences.  In other words, sales to improve quite a bit.  Status quo is really presenting challenges.  Sad.


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