Personal Log  #805

April 18, 2017  -  April 24, 2017

Last Updated: Sun. 5/21/2017

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Not Free.  Attempting constructive discussion with Volt enthusiasts became a waste of time years ago.  They simply aren't interested.  The endeavor wasn't futile though.  That old daily blog served as an effective venue for bouncing ideas around.  The nature of instant criticism meant anything seemingly anti-GM would be called out with uncertainty right away.  What didn't emerge as an intolerance problem clued me into what the larger audience would actually be interested in.  Being dead set on being "vastly superior" blinds you to opportunity.  I took full advantage of that, to the point of exploiting their blindness.  Ironically, it was the Volt supporters who I'd bring my findings too.  They have been very receptive to my constructive findings.  In other words, I was using that daily blog for research.  It was a treasure trove of material to work with, which they gladly provided... unknowingly, of course.  Realistically, there is simply no excuse to be that naive still, after so many years of being informed what to look for.  Oh well.  It used that to solicit feedback.  Today, there was a discussion about charging for the use of chargers.  I jumped into the series of comments being posted with:  We've found it helpful for all provider types to charge a small fee.  That way, it no longer is an entitlement/obligation for owner or business and ICE blocks are reduced knowing they are preventing a monetary exchange (which translates greater likelihood of enforcement). The problem though is finding out what that fee should be.  Basic L2 fees are all over the place. Some charge per session, some per kWh, some per time. I have even seen minimum fees on top of the time/kWh quantity. And that's the simple setup. It gets especially complicated when high-speed kW rates can be delivered.  Any suggestions?

4-23-2017 Teaching Moments.  The discussions are changing in this new chapter.  The history of Volt cannot be changed.  Antagonists of Prius now have the choice to join into the team of those pushing electrification efforts or disappear with a loss from their own personal "vastly superior" effort having failed.  I prefer finding a way to welcome them.  We can take advantage of "teaching moments" to help bridge the transition.  Exchanging detail about each others plug-in vehicle is a gain for everyone involved.  The catch is, you have to accept whatever is learned.  Facts cannot just be dismissed, as we had to deal with in the past.   Following a thoughtful post of one former foe about dealing efficiency impacts, I provided detail specific to Winter driving:

Prius Prime has a Winter advantage over Volt with it's more efficient heater.  In fact, the vapor-injected heat-pump Toyota provides is currently the industry leading tech for dealing EV range reduction due to cabin warming.  Another handy cold-temp feature Toyota has delivered is the ability to direct air-flow.  If there are not passengers in back, it doesn't blow warmed air back there.

Prius Prime also comes with standard heated-seats and the ability to program the timer to pre-condition the cabin prior to driving.  Getting warmth directly from electricity while plugging in is a handy feature all the automakers offers.  It's really nice.  I believe many offer battery-warming too, as Toyota now does.  Using a warmed battery overcomes the added electrical resistance lithium-based batteries have to deal with when temperatures are below freezing.

Lastly, there's the heated steering-wheel in the advanced model.  That certainly isn't necessary, but it sure is nice.  Another advanced feature is being able to control the heater, front-defroster, and rear-defroster remotely (from your phone) while still plugged in.

In addition to all that, though it hasn't been cold enough for me to try it yet, is the possibility of taking advantage of added engine load from charge-mode to provide engine-generated heat more efficiently.  It will obviously take some work to determine if the resulting EV from the higher RPM is truly a better use of gas.  But one certainty is that will provide engine-generated heat faster, since Toyota provided that with the first generation plug-in using defrost-mode.

4-23-2017 Charge-Mode Details.  As anticipated, my posted results ended up stirring some discussion.  This was the quote which stood out: "The additional 25 EV miles resulted from the forced charge were not achieved at 66 mph but, as I understand, mostly at city driving."  That provided a good basis for providing some detail.  So, that's what I did:

First, keep in mind that "city" is a term that's very misleading.  Some people think of it as slow speed with lots of stoplights.  Other people think of it as anything goes suburb travel... not highway.  They are labeled the same, yet the two yield very different results.  They really should be separate categories, like the rating system in the UK.

Second, the use of the term "highway" is even worse.  It spans any speed from 55 to 80, which vary drastically for efficiency results.  It also includes hard-accelerations for some people's measure and is only cruising for others.  Whether or not you are steady cruising or passing vehicles makes a difference too.

With all that said, my particular test yesterday included the variety of "highway" driving with charge-mode generated EV miles.  I took advantage of that electricity elsewhere (scenarios thought of as non-highway) but did still include 2 hard-accelerations onto the highway and some electric-only cruising at high-speed.  The goal was to collect data from an ordinary trip... which in my case was extremely realistic, since I was traveling in tandem with 2 other vehicles.

Long story short, this served as an example of diminishing returns.  You can indeed squeeze out greater efficiency if you so desire, but there isn't much of a point.  Once you achieve 60 MPG fueled by only gas, you can consume the resulting power as you desire.  The sizeable gain has already been achieved.  The next big step is simply plugging in when you can.

4-22-2017 Charge-Mode Data.  Having the opportunity to do a full test of charge-mode on Earth Day worked out really nice.  This comment about it was brought up yesterday and I've been wanting to try it firsthand anyway: "The charge-mode uses more gas than you will gain from EV. Just HV should get you 60+ mpg."  It was perfect timing for an observation of the process from end to end.  So, I did, reporting these results:

I drove from Northern Minnesota back to the Twin Cities today.  Here's some real-world data from that...

  charge-mode = 40.0 miles

  charge-mode = 37.8 MPG

It took 38 minutes at 66 mph with an outside temperature of 64°F and a light crosswind to recharge the battery-pack form 0 to 80%.  I took advantage of that recharged 25 miles of EV (estimated) to keep the engine off while making our two stops along the way and when getting trapped in weekend traffic at a major highway junction.  These were the final results...

  overall = 153.7 miles

  overall = 60.4 MPG

In other words, just charge it.  If you'd like engine-generated electricity for use later, go ahead.  There does not appear to be any penalty for doing so.


As Much As Possible.  We get this on a regular basis: "I want to be in hybrid mode but avoid the engine turning on as much as possible, my understanding is this is how the Prius/Prime/Hybrids in general increase mpg's."  It's a misconception based on assumption.  Most newbies fall into that logic trap.  They fail to recognize the importance of overall efficiency by fixating on a particular segment of driving.  Oh well, all we can do is provide coaching:  That is the formula for poor MPG.  Following instinct, rather than what the system was designed for, is exactly what not to do.  JUST DRIVE IT has been the advice since the first Prius and continues to be for Prime.  Here's a simple guide...  Plug in whenever you can.  EV mode for city & suburb driving.  HV mode when out on the open road.  CHARGE mode when you know you won't be able to plug in.


Moderator Correction.  Repeat the same lie over and over again, until no one realizes the original source anymore.  They grow use to hearing it.  Some greenwashing efforts in the past have been surprisingly successful.  Usually, there's a misconception emerging from an assumption which an antagonist exploits.  Other times, there's an extreme repeatedly sighted as if it is a common experience.  In this case, it was a total fabrication.  An unknown "source" was claimed to be a person of authority who leaked the information.  Referring back to that as if some credibility had been confirmed later on gave the impression of that entire exchange being genuine.  Since people almost never research, taking linked articles at face value, repeating the same reference over and over adds to the believability.  I was annoyed.  The claim was Toyota was rolling out the next plug-in Prius with a 35-mile EV range.  That most definitely never happened.  Yet, that claim got posted again today.  Fortunately, the blog moderator wasn't about to allow that nonsense to persist.  It was an obvious effort to deceive.  He pointed out the situation with:  "As for carmakers over promising and under delivering on range estimates, that has been true in many cases.  More recently after the Prius Prime was unveiled in NY, Toyota put out press releases saying "22" miles range.  It later announced EPA said 25, so that was a case of under promising, over delivering."  I was delighted to read that.


Guzzler Plug-In.  Who the heck would buy a vehicle that guzzles electricity?  GM believes some will be interested in their Cadillac which does exactly that.  62 MPGe was the rating revealed today.  That's low, really low.  The 62 MPG rating was too, especially when using a 31-mile EV capacity to achieve it.  From an electricity perspective, the 54 kWh/100 mile rating is mind boggling.  Prius Prime only uses 25.  In comparison, Volt uses 31... quite efficient when compared to the Cadillac.  It's the disinterest for delivering something to the masses which continues to be the source of frustration.  True, there is a BMW and Mercedes-Benz with similar designs, but those are both luxury brands... without any middle-market consumers.  Neglect for such a large audience by GM, especially when promised that wouldn't happen, continues to be a problem.  Where the heck is a choice for ordinary people?


Charge-Mode.  Today was the day I tried it for the first time... in my own Prius Prime anyway, under controlled conditions.  It recharged the battery 22% in just 10 minutes.  I knew the mode was aggressive, but didn't realize by how much.  That explains reports of lower than expected efficiency.  If you are choosing to use it, you are continuously choosing the trade.  That works fine for me.  I know when EV can be effective.  I don't use it just for the sake of using it.  There can be times when having the engine stay off is a better choice.  Anywho, the temperature outside was 46°F and the speed I was traveling was 100 km/h (62 mph).  The observed efficiency displayed was 35 MPG.


Dual-Wave Window.  There was a hard, steady rain yesterday.  It brought about a surprise I was hoping to experience again today.  Sadly, the rain was much lighter.  But the impression of what I witnessed sure won't be forgotten.  Too bad the next time I likely won't be in an area where filming while I drive would be so convenient.  Oh well.  What I saw in my rear-view mirror was quite different from all my previous Prius hatchbacks.  Rather than the bubble of air keeping rain from hitting the window, there was a very obvious air-stream pushing the rain down through the channel the dual-wave window.  I hadn't expected that aerodynamic characteristic.  I had hoped there would be something like that with snow, but the thought of rain drops being swept away hadn't crossed my mind.  Sweet!


Back to Basics.  This summed it up nicely: "...the company is out of touch with reality and public want."  It was the start of a rant that ended with: "Shame on you Toyota."  We are clearly back to basics again.  Enthusiasts cannot tell the difference between want and need.  Toyota is an automaker that focuses heavily on need, which is why they are so often criticized as having such boring cars.  That's also the reason why so many of those cars are purchased in great numbers.  That's a reality enthusiasts don't like.  They prefer a focus on want, which is why GM is their preferred automaker.  Volt delivered exactly what they desired.  A vehicle exceeding necessity is quite a challenge to sell though... since most of middle-market is boring.  They seek out well-balanced offerings... not something catering to a maximum.  The reason why is easy to understand too.  More ability means more money from the buyer.  Paying extra is not what mainstream consumers are willing to do.  Shaming Toyota for delivering a vehicle to match purchase priorities of ordinary shoppers is absurd.  But then again, not being able to tell the difference between want and need is too.


Disregarding Facts.  Reading through the comments posted so far this morning, this particular one stood out: "The Volt is simply a better EV in every measurable way."  When you post a fact enthusiasts don't like, they'll negative vote it to make that post disappear once it hits a count of 10.  When a publication publishes a fact enthusiasts don't like, all they can do is disregard it.  Pretending that fact doesn't exist is their only means of conveying their distorted view of reality.  In other words, that's a common method used for greenwashing.  They mislead by omitting information.  In this case, all you have to do is look up the actual EV rating for each vehicle.  31 kWh/100mi is the value stated for Volt.  25 kWh/100mi is the value stated for Prius Prime.  That measurable way makes it absolutely clear that Volt requires an additional 6 kWh of electricity to travel the same 100 miles.  Efficiency is the point of the plug-in vehicles.  Prius Prime is undeniably better EV in that respect.  Yet, enthusiasts continue to disregard that fact.


Vastly Superior.  Exactly as anticipated, news of the KBB recommendation made it to the old Volt blog, where just a few days ago they made it overwhelmingly clear that constructive discussion is not welcome.  Immediately, the posts came claiming Volt was vastly superior and that the premium price is totally worth it... without any regard for production-cost.  That's the same old nonsense all over again.  No concern whatsoever for the well-being of the business.  More battery is better, period.  The fact that the EV range delivered pushes price higher is a complete non-issue.  An expensive configuration is necessary in their mind, settle for nothing less... regardless of consequence... as this so eloquently states: "Where are all of the inbred, political TV educated, lowlife scumbags screaming that Toyota must be losing money on every Prius sold?  Odd, I don't hear them.  The human trash certainly were loud and obnoxious when it came to the Volt.  Not since the smear job against Tucker Motor Company has the automobile industry seen such a malicious and destructive propaganda campaign."  From the perspective of the enthusiast, they truly believe a great product is being undermined.  Being too costly to actually compete with the rest of GM's own product-line is rubbish, an utter impossibility.  It's a game of blame the scapegoat.  So naturally, I've become the antitheist in this situation.  Ugh.  I never thought Volt would fall apart so abruptly like this.  But then again, diesel did in a similar fashion.  Enthusiasts became so desperate, their methods of defense had little merit.  Anyone taking the time to think about what was presented would notice shortcomings with their logic.


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