Personal Log  #767

October 6, 2016  -  October 9, 2016

Last Updated: Sat. 12/10/2016

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Random Summer Commute, video.  This was actually test footage from my new camera.  I didn't even bother with the complete glare-prevention setup.  It was just an experiment to capture some video samples.  Summer's end came far too soon though.  I didn't get a chance to film this particular commute route in warm weather again.  And since my Prius Prime has now been ordered, I won't ever get the chance with the 2012 Prius PHV.  So, I'm sharing this.  It actually turned out really well.  You can see there's a decent amount of randomness.  I start with EV mode, then switch over to HV mode after the first stoplight.  Once the engine warms, you can see me switch back to EV.  On the big hill, I switch again.  On the ramp to the highway, I accelerate faster than the 100 km/h (62 mph) EV maximum.  You can then see the system automatically go into EV-BOOST mode.  That's a blend of high-draw from the battery-pack along with a low-power assist from the engine.  Rather than getting off the highway to drive along the river, like I usually do, I stayed on and drove into the city.  From there, I enter the ramp for work from above.  Check out the resulting MPG from the ride.  The average of that random mix of driving showed an impressive overall average... Random Summer Commute


Understanding MPGe.  This new measurement system to convey electric efficiency baffles people.  Until recently, I even stayed away from it.  Why mention something so different without much real-world data to compare to?  People won't understand what that MPGe number is trying to tell them.  For example: "Amazing to see how Toyota is always chasing Chevy Volt in fuel economy numbers when so many years ago it was the other way around."  The big battery was all Volt enthusiasts understood for the longest time.  They laughed hysterically when I pointed out electric guzzlers.  They simply believe guzzling electricity was fine.  You could use as much as you wanted, as long as little to no gas was consumed.  How do you point out that some systems are more efficient than others when electricity is perceived as clean & abundant.  I'm starting the process, now that we have a wealth of new data to work with.  In this case, it was a comment to a MPGe article about Prius Prime on an auto-enthusiast website:  Prime's lower production cost (and resulting MSRP) makes it a serious contender for the masses, especially since rear-seating height is midsize rather than compact.  That MPGe rating indicates how much more efficient of a system it delivers, reflecting some of how the lower production cost is achieved (the other being the new TNGA, Toyota New Global Architecture).  It needs less battery-capacity to travel the same 25 miles.  For my 19-mile commute, where I can recharge at work, greater battery-capacity wouldn't provide any benefit.  For my other driving (frequent long highway trips), the 54 MPG rating for hybrid operation following depletion is a big plus.


Preconditioning.  At least it's a new topic to discuss...

The definition of "preconditioning" is already all over the place.  First, it was referred to as a battery warming method from using cabin air.  Then it was direct for providing full operational temperature.  Next, it was to just keep above freezing to allow recharging.

That raises a bunch of red-flags.  Misconceptions emerge from the lack of clarity.  Greenwashing emerges from no one making an effort to stop the exploitation of assumptions caused by so many vague mentions.

The first that jumps out is that the battery cannot be charged when its temperature is below freezing.  That is implied and certainly could be interpreted that way.  It's false, of course.  The warming is to make the process more efficient.  Colder means higher resistance, which means more electricity will be consumed as part of the transfer process (in both directions, charging & drawing).

The next problem would likely be the belief that EV simply isn't available if the temperature of the battery drops below freezing.  That most definitely isn't true either.  It's not as efficient, but drawing electricity for driving certainly is available.  If you push demand, by firing up the heater or pushing speed & power, the lack of warming would require the gas engine to join in at some point.  But we know for certain even the Prius PHV from 2012 can deliver EV at 50 mph without any trouble at 20°F just fine.  I would do that routinely with mine, and it didn't have any warming feature. 

Then there's the confusion of cabin warming.  The system will use the heat-pump for that.  Even the better informed will pause to consider whether the battery is used for that or if electricity is drawn directly from the plug.  Then they'll question what happens with timing and the charge-rate at different capacities and with faster chargers.

Needless to say, topics like this open up a new cans of worms for us to deal with.


Prime MPG.  Basically, Toyota pulled off the impossible.  The belief that adding battery-capacity will reduce efficiency due to the increased weight of the vehicle is quite common.  Ask yourself why it wouldn't.  It's so counter-intuitive seeing numbers to the contrary, there's no precedent for the situation.  Yet, here it is.  ECO: 56 combined, 58 city, 53 high.  REG: 52 combined, 54 city, 50 high.  PRIME: 54 combined. 55 city. 53 high.  The higher MPG numbers from the ECO model is to be expected, that's the "economy" configuration.  No big deal.  You're expectation are realistic.  But with that difference between the regular model and the plug-in... Whoa!  That solid 2 MPG difference really emphasizes the technological step forward... since it stirs questions how.  Removal of non-essentials didn't take place, as with the ECO model.  The PRIME somehow achieved improvement over the REG without taking anything away... to deliver a gain!  How isn't really important either.  After all, mainstream consumers don't understand the engineering anyway.  The know MPG quite well though.  That combined estimate of 54 speaks volumes.  Even without plugging in, the resulting efficiency will be well above what a non-hybrid could deliver.  It's a major selling point not to be overlooked.  It means you'll get outstanding efficiency no matter how you use your Prius Prime.  Yeah!


Rough Edges.  It amazes me how even the most devoted supporters of Prius don't know the history.  Perhaps they don't have an effective means of learning it.  You must immerse yourself to understand that perspective of the past.  Simply reading a summary looking back doesn't portray the nuances required to really grasp what was happening back then.  You can't appreciate how different things were, especially with so much uncertainty of what the technology will offer.  When you don't know what's realistic or even possible, how can you anticipate market reaction.  It's far to easy to distort and overcome assumptions long after you already know the outcome.  We didn't back then.  So, the rollout of Prius was different from how people then to think of it.  People tend to forget about the attitude back then too.  We were encouraged to guzzle oil and couldn't care less about emissions.  It was a wasteful, uncaring situation.  There was a lot of pressure to retain the status quo as well.  Change was fought against.  Looking forward to battery improvements was unheard of.  There was no expectation of any sort.  It was all about how much bigger and more powerful the next SUV would be.  That's why original accounts of Prius are so skewed.  Recognize how different things were.  Take the time to read these blogs... the (gasp) thousands and thousands of entries accounting for that history as it played out.  There's nothing more effective than reading documentation written at the time those events occurred.  The one example I can point to is the exclusion of cruise-control on the 2001 model of Prius.  People were baffled how such a basic feature would be excluded, especially when it was so simple & inexpensive to provide.  It should be obvious why Toyota made that choice.  They wanted to attract only those truly committed to the technology change Prius was introducing.  A paradigm shift on such a magnitude requires devotion, even if it means a big tradeoff.  Sound familiar?  The switch to 4 seats resembles that.  Of course, there is the benefit this time of introducing luxury seating in back.  The feedback from those first buyers, not the critics, will determine the next choice.  Leaving it rough around the edges is like not pouring cement for a sidewalk until walkers have worn a path of where they prefer to walk.  Toyota could bring back the middle seat.  Toyota could stick with 4 and introduce heated seated.  Those are mutually exclusive, each offering a benefit.  Understanding audience is key.  There is no certainty.  You have to try.  Markets fluctuate too.  Just look at what people demanded back when Prius PHV was being developed.  That's quite different from what they ask for now with Prius Prime.  Study the past.  Consider how those rough edges should be smoothed.


Growth Misleading.  The message from this quote is what I've found quite troubling: "...Then the number of available plug-in models has grown faster in the past 6 years faster than hybrids did in their first 10."  It's told over and over again, with no regard for omissions... even when called out.  It's really an excuse.  They just don't see how damaging their effort is.  Excusing slowness masks the true problem.  The "faster" claim doesn't address the "Who?" question.  On a very regular basis, we are assured all is well.  They don't care about tax-credit expiration difficulties.  They don't care about the growing level of conflicting choices.  They don't care about the aspects of business.  All they care about is better numbers than in the past.  That's like being happy with a "C" grade, because you got a "D" in the past.  Ugh.  I posted this in dismay about such nonsense continuing:  That's an overly simplistic summary which portrays circumstances as being similar.  We can argue difference details until the cows come home, but it won't do any good.  A fundamental mistake continues to be made... sadly, by the majority.  Most people are overlooking scope.  They assume the audience is just a growing number of homogeneous buyers.  Who they are isn't being taken into account.  Such a flaw in logic must be brought to the attention of all those celebrating the supposed faster progress.  Reality is, current buyers are still only early adopters.  That low-hanging fruit is running out too.  We haven't seen any affordable offerings selling in a market without tax-credits either.  If the subsidy money runs out before those vehicles become well established as a mainstream choice, potential buyers will just move on to something else.  Why purchase a plug-in when their prices aren't competitive with traditional vehicles running on cheap gas?  Audience is absolutely vital.  Sighting statistics that only represent early adopters causes us to incorrectly perceive progress.

10-07-2016 Omitting Facts.  You get a very different story when an important part is left out.  In this case, I was especially annoyed from reading this: "I suggest there was a 3rd blunder .... not developing a pure EV. Toyota went with hydrogen..."  People posting claims like that are antagonists.  They stir the pot for something they disagreed with in the past and never let it go.  So no matter how much changes following that, all they see is previous actions.  Needless to say, I wasn't about to put up with another round of that nonsense.  So, I let him have it:

That's telling a story through omission.  They may not have revealed a mass-market body, but that doesn't mean nothing else happened.  Not hearing knocking in the past didn't mean they were not preparing for it later.  After all, Toyota has always been tight-lipped about mainstream changes in the not-too-distance future.

Toyota switched all but the base model of Prius liftback over to lithium.  Of which, that chemistry has been improved.  The high-volume production now taking place very much benefits future EV offerings.

Toyota is about to deliver the world's most efficient heat-pump for a vehicle.  The real-world experience from that vapor-injected system in Prius Prime will very much benefit future EV offerings.

Toyota is about to deliver CHAdeMO (rapid DC charging) with the rollout of Prius Prime in Japan.  There's not a big benefit of having such high-speed abilities with only a 8.8 kWh capacity, but a future EV offering certainly would.

Toyota is also pushing dealers to begin the acceptance of change.  Prius Prime will usher in a graceful transition.  Rather than having to face the intense support battles other automakers have to deal with, the modest EV capacity will ease them into it.

Toyota continues to refine motor, controller, charger, and software for electric-only operation.  How is that not beneficial to future EV offerings?

Want more?  Think about how much easier it will be to sell EV offerings to customers later, who owned a Prius Prime prior to that and upgraded their garage by adding 240-volt charger.  Having that equipment already makes the next purchase yet another benefit.

In other words, the full story is that Toyota is doing far more for EV advancement than people are giving them credit for.


MPGe Rating.  The official estimates are now being revealed.  The big one is MPGe.  That's the miles-per-gallon equivalent value used for comparing EV efficiency.  Prior to the gen-2 offerings, there was little reference of comparison anyone cared about.  People would simply refer to the battery-pack capacity.  More miles of EV was perceived as cleaner.  The attacks I had to endure just by the mere mention of guzzling electricity was amazing.  Enthusiasts would flip out.  Even before Volt was rolled out, the idea of not using any gas was conveyed as the strongest selling point.  Knowing their audience could handle the high sticker-price and would drive as many EV miles as possible, the amount of gas consumed too precedence.  They'd totally ignore kWh usage.  It was all about using the fewest gallons.  That's over now.  Reality is crashing down on that greenwashing.  No more.  The belief was this would come about from a pure EV.  That makes sense.  When your propulsion system is electric-only, you do everything you possibly can to avoid waste.  That isn't as high of a priority for a vehicle with an engine available... or so they thought.  Toyota proved them wrong.  The rating for Prius Prime revealed today was an amazing 133 MPGe.  That's well above Volt's 106 MPGe.  So as you could imagine, the downplay of that value started immediately.  They really get annoyed with those who study Prius and hold the priorities of Toyota in high regard are proven correct.  This confirm of "vastly superior" engineering felt great.  For far too many years, the idea that a much bigger battery was required to be cleaner was pushed.  If you don't drive to capacity, a less efficient EV will waste electricity.  It's that simple.  We don't want to shift our guzzling problem from one energy source to another.  We want to use less.


0-60, pointless.  It never ceases to amaze me how people aggressively pass.  We all see the weaving through traffic, where they don't look far enough ahead to notice the lane they just got in isn't moving fast either.  That's just plain stupid.  Yet, it happens routinely anyway.  The reason why is obvious: they are in a hurry and think every little bit adds up.  It usually doesn't.  You tend to keep up with them by simply remaining where you are.  The other type of passing is especially frustrating.  I can be cruising along on a highway in South Dakota at 80 mph.  No one else on the road expect me and the person rapidly approaching from behind.  They get into the left lane, pass by, then cut you off.  Ack!  There's no reason whatsoever to do that.  Slowing down after passing, causing the person you cut off to also slow down, seems downright evil.  It's annoying and puts them at risk.  Why?  Needless to say, that's where the dynamic-cruise comes in handy.  Having the car deal with that rather than me needing to sure is nice.  What's the point of such behavior?  I suspect these drivers are the ones saying 0-60 needs to be faster.  From their point of view, my guess is they don't think they are doing anything wrong.  Ugh.


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