Personal Log  #801

March 29, 2017  -  April 4, 2017

Last Updated: Sun. 5/21/2017

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First Commute.  What an amazing experience!  Thankfully, it would be fairly routine... not the crazy fog-relate accident debris mess I had drive through with the Classic on its first commute.  This was a beautiful morning.  The 19 mile drive was a delight.  Travel was entirely using only electricity, with the heater on.  I still had 9 miles of EV remaining when I got to work.  Last weekend, I passed someone on the highway at 75 mph, all in EV mode.  What is GM waiting for?  What's taking so long for GM to compete?  Where is the affordable choice for loyal GM shoppers?  This is the mass-appeal vehicle everyone has been anticipating.  Toyota delivered it.  Yeah!


Road Trip Photos.  We went on our first road trip with the new plug-in hybrid.  With so much anticipation, you could imagine how eager I was to take photos.  It was an especially big deal due to the particular color of my Prime.  When looking online for samples, you quickly find the true look is very difficult to confirm.  Photos vary by quite a bit.  Heck, my own phone shows it as a deep blue.  That's really strange.  What is that palette doing to the sensors?  The differences are really surprising.  How can that happen?  My guess is accuracy was never a big priority.  I rarely ever take photos I intend to publish using my phone.  It's pretty much always with my camera.  The only exception is if I don't have the camera handy, since the phone is always readily available.  Anywho, these are the first few photos I have available to share...  photo album 204


Road Trip!  The very next day, it was road trip time.  My wife had hoped to surprise me with this trip during "prime" timing.  Unfortunately, that had been missed by 2 weeks.  Delivery was later than expected.  We were to travel to the river valley to witness bald eagle migration.  That got missed entirely.  Fortunately, there is still a population of bald eagles which nest in the area year-round.  So, we still saw a few dozen... but not the hundreds possible, had it been earlier.  Oh well.  That was still a lot of fun.  I got "prime" parking too, the spot directly in front of the entrance to the National Eagle Center.  What an experience, discovering a brand new generation of hybrid technology just hours after having taken the back end apart to install a hitch.  Our drive totaled 163 miles.  The average came to 69 MPG, despite the cold temperature.  It was a great experience, lots of opportunity to try out a number of features.  Photos on the way.


Bike Hitch Photos.  That was quite an experience.  I didn't realize taking apart the Prime right away to install a receiver hitch for carrying bikes would get so involved.  Thankfully, I won't ever need to do that again.  Though, it would be much easier process now that I've been through it and know what to look for.  I also took the time to document what I did with a few key photos.  In one, you can see the factory bumper and 4 big pieces of facia that had to be removed to squeeze in the aftermarket equipment.  Such a snug fit made the work a challenge... as well as a learning process.  All those sensors and wires had me concerned.  What was the proper process for accessing an area never intended to be accessed?  All the connectors are that one-way type, designed to be pushed in then snap for a tight fit.  The idea of breaking one or accidently pulling too hard on a wire could be breaking the sensor-array I wasn't familiar with.  Eek!  The pressure to get it all done that night for our road trip the next day would have been overwhelming without such an understanding.  I really love her.  Good thing she trusts me with such an expensive endeavor.  She sat outside for awhile to chat with me as my effort progressed.  Then she went inside to make my favorite dinner... a celebration for when I finally finished... which I eventually did.  The hitch turned out nice.  It's well concealed and will likely need an extender.  But not sticking out like the previous did on my Prius PHV is a nice improvement.  Using an extender will push the bike-rack out a few inches too.  That will guarantee the hatch won't ever bump on handlebars.  So, we're pretty happy with my crazy decision to take the Prime apart for that.  Take a look at the situation I faced during the install...  photo album 205


Bike Hitch.  The desire to install a receiver hitch for carrying bikes was intense.  Biking season has begun and the time to take about the car to connect the hardware was limited, especially if you want to sacrifice nice weather for the effort.  I did.  That beautiful Spring day was begging for it.  The was, I only had about a few hours available.  It was already mid-afternoon.  Have you ever taken apart a new-to-everyone vehicle just moments after driving it off the dealer's lot?  This was to install a hitch only made available for the first time the week before.  There was a lot of complex fascia to remove before even getting access to the bumper, which I also had to remove.  The hitch nestles in behind the bumper.  So, you could imagine how much of the back of the Prime got removed.  Blah.  I was basically having another "where no one has gone before" experience.  Sweet... or so I thought.  This is how I reported my doings to the big Prius forum afterward:  OMG!  They weren't kidding when the install difficulty was listed as 10.  It turned out nice, but that's not a recommendation I can give to anyone unwilling to really get involved.  The steps are tedious & numerous.  It took me 6 hours.  Of course, you could always have an installer put it on.  Stay tuned for photos.


Prime Time!  It's hard to believe, over a full year of waiting, delivery actually happened.  The wait to place my order seemed to take forever.  There's was a lot of uncertainty about how the process would take place.  Interestingly though, we had enough thorough reviews to satisfy the anticipation.  It was quite clear any delay would be well worth it.  Taking advantage of the new pre-conditioning, electric-heating, battery-warming features was something I had looked forward to.  But the idea of driving a brand new car through the craziness Winter roads here wasn't something to want right away.  The heavy traffic and instant dirty is a pain.  This way, Spring had already arrived.  The day was upon us.  My wife and I drove to the dealer to reveal our salesperson.  It was to be an emotional release for all of us.  What a surreal moment to remember too.  So much to do all at once.  The workers at the dealer had their first Prime to prep.  I was rather let down that they hadn't plugged it in.  The car was parked just 4 feet from an outlet too, inside their delivery room.  Ugh.  There was plenty of time to get a decent recharge.  Oh well.  All the paperwork went fine, even transfer of the vanity-plates.  No big deal.  After all, this was my 5th Prius purchase... making me the only person in the United States to own all 5 models.  That means lots of new photos & video to add to the collection, over time.  For immediate future, I have much to learn.  There's lots of little details to study before the major sharing of information can begin.  Let the driving begin.  It's Prime Time!


Historical Footnote.  As the years went by, an on online ally became a friend.  We even got to meet in person years later.  In this case, it was the guy who stepped up to help provide proof that Prius was indeed up to the chore.  It was an on-going discussion thread about the Classic model Prius, back when it was brand new and the only other hybrids available were the original 2 from Honda... which were both the "assist" type.  The only "full" type was from Toyota.  That was ground-breaking, a new technology with potential very few understood.  It was yet to be seen if the mainstream would even be interested.  At that point, Prius was still an order-only vehicle.  It wasn't even available on dealer's lots until nearly 2 years after I had placed my order on the internet.  Anywho, we know how popular Prius ended up becoming... and that was all without any tax-credit help!  That next generation to follow achieved sales of over 100,000 annual here on it's own.  The subsidies to follow were to provide a push further into the mainstream, not to serve as a initial financial support as we see with the introduction of plug-in vehicles.  This generation was quite significant.  That friend of mine (Dennis) got the honor of naming it.  The group of 50 who had been invited to Detroit for the next generation reveal were trying to come up a label which could be as well accepted as "Classic", so our references to the past wouldn't be misidentified.  He suggested "Iconic".  What a great idea!  I was proud to support that.  The identifier caught on surprisingly quick too.  We heard Toyota executives using it almost immediately.  My suggestion wasn't fitting... or so I thought.  Little did I know that the seemingly insignificant day back November 30, 2008 would become a footnote in history.  Looking forward, rather than back, brought about some clarity to what I had done... all those years ago... that I would contribute to the name of a new Prius.  This is what I posted:  After searching and searching through the thesaurus.  It just hit me, like a ton of bricks!  Since the current model is the one that was adopted by the mainstream, I followed logic of words like "established", "common", and "widespread".  The word "mature" has been used countless times in response to greenwashing attempts.  All those took the mindset beyond "historic" and "founding".  It was the "familiar" feel I was looking for, a sense "base" that was heavily "celebrated" among typical consumers, even "renowned" by some.  Being "well-known" by a "broad" spectrum of people gives it reason to have the spotlight... and will continue to, even as the new model takes hold.  See where I'm going with this?  I suggest we call the 04-09 model:  Prius PRIME


Pre-Delivery Photos.  What a surreal day.  My wait is over... well, kind of.  I got the call.  My Prius Prime was delivered to the dealer, but I won't be able to pick it up until tomorrow.  My salesperson is very busy with deliveries and the dealership needs time to prep.  Hopefully, they'll recharge it.  But if not, at least I know it's getting close.  The ultimate emotional stir didn't come from that news though.  It was the revelation that my wife could have tortured me... with a golden opportunity.  Unfortunately, she didn't think of it until I got home from work.  She was working from home.  That meant there was time to sneak out to the dealer to see the car before I did.  The thought of her sending a photo of my Prime before I had a chance to get out there would have been a prank of epic proportions.  Heck, tomorrow is April Fool's Day too.  I haven't ever actually seen the Blue Magnetism in person.  My salesperson (Kathy, a wonderful person to purchase a vehicle from, btw) said the color looks amazing in person.  My wife could have.  That was the ultimate gotcha... missed!  Sigh.  Oh well.  We stopped by the dealer on the way out to dinner in the evening.  This is what we saw...  photo album 204


Concluding Thoughts.  It's over.  I'll be taking delivery of my Prius Prime soon.  That brings the absurd situation with GM to a close.  My concluding thoughts on that bring us back to the beginning.  GM customers prefer SUVs.  That's what they buy.  That's what is profitable.  That's why GM pursued hybrid technology for them.  Abandoning the effort in favor of Volt didn't result in a game-changer vehicle.  How could a compact hatchback compete?  It never made any sense.  The rollout confirmed that too.  Volt wasn't able to achieve high-volume sales, even with a enormous subsidy.  That massive tax-credit should have propelled Volt into the leadership position, as countless enthusiasts ferociously claimed it would.  Finally recognizing audience is long overdue.  Of course, this came about as a result: "Wouldn't you say ALL LEGACY ICE AUTOMAKERS’ challenge is the same?"  Ugh.  Not recognizing the problem specific to GM seems to be root of most of the trouble.  All along, that has been a fundamental barrier... some still to this day don't recognize.  Oh well.  It's not like I didn't try to point that out.  Here goes... one last time:  No, since some automakers still do quite well with car sales.  It's the imbalance with GM that has been the concern since the first reveal of Volt a decade ago.  Prior to that, focus was on making SUVs more efficient... hence Two-Mode.  For many years, the argument was those large vehicle were much more important.  We heard technology should be developed for them, since cars were already efficient.  Abrupt change of focus and hypocritical stance on diminishing returns is what brought about the immediate conflict for Volt.  The task-force overseeing GM's bankruptcy recovery accepted the new focus, recognizing that potential Volt had to offered... not realizing GM wouldn't actually capitalize on the opportunity.  How many complaints over the years have we heard about GM not promoting Volt?  With gen-2 rollout falling well short of expectations, clearly not resulting in a choice able to compete with GM's own traditional car offerings, it's time to finally get serious about SUV offerings.  People shopping GM showroom floors clearly don't show a preference for cars.


Charger Charges.  How much do you get charged to charge?  There is no standard fee.  It varies quite a bit.  The property owner can set a fee by time, by consumption, per use, a combination, or free.  That's what I tell people who ask about price.  There are lots of unknowns and it's hard to tell what the person is actually asking about.  In fact, the vague question of "how much" can often be misunderstood as being a reference to time or distance, not what you pay.  For that matter, how to pay is usually a mystery to people.  That will obviously become a section in the new user-guide I'll be writing.  This is very much like back in 2001, when I discovered the large number of unknowns being asked about needed to be compiled into a resource to provide easy answers.  Back then, that start helped move along the promotion of hybrids.  This time around, it's for plug-in hybrids.  Too bad so much time was squandered by Volt enthusiasts.  None really stepped up to be supporters, providing assistance just like that.  You'd think the success would have inspired.  Oh well.  Their loss.  Now, it's prime time!  I'll point out how you can request an access card or setup an account on your phone.  Using the app or card will all you to unlock a charger.  It's needed, even for the free ones.  But the process is simple.  You can check status while the charging is taking place, then look at statistics afterward.  It's very informative.  You can find charging-stations and check to see if they are available.  Prices are listed too.  It's very handy.  So handy, you will likely desire a Wi-Fi enable charger at home to get some of those same data features.  Mainstream consumers will have many questions.  Most answers are very simple.  Finding an effective means of sharing that information is very important.


Tomorrow.  What strange timing.  I found out my Prius Prime delivery window has shifted sooner by a day.  I could potential hear about it being on the dealer's lot tomorrow.  As that anticipation plays out, I'm hearing the president exclaim he's bringing about the end to the war on coal.  How ironic.  You get the impression that will be an effort to bring back jobs by dropping regulations.  Even if environmental concerns about the impact to air & water were abandoned, that won't change the risk to works lives & health.  The fossil-fuel industry has moved on.  The bulk of our energy from the non-renewable sources is split between petroleum and natural-gas.  The demand for them as led to such a precipitous drop in coal interest that there will be very little to gain.  Then if you look at the massive employment boom there has been from the wind & solar industries, it simply makes no sense bothering with coal.  Think about how wasteful it is simply to transport all that coal.  Sending renewable electricity through power lines is profoundly better.  Anywho, as that all continues to dominate the news, I rather impatiently await delivery.  Just think of how my real-world data will stir interest.  Owners have already contributed a great deal.  I join in, with 5 years of detailed data to leverage.  There's a lot to share.  It will be very exciting to do that too.  The catch is, I have to wait until tomorrow to begin.


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