Personal Log  #817

June 19, 2017  -  June 27, 2017

Last Updated: Sat. 10/21/2017

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50 miles = 200 MPG.  The teaching moments are plentiful now.  EV range posts were popping up all over that very active Japan sales topic.  Focus only on "25 miles" is the classic, not considering the big picture problem.  That's an invitation for me to jump in... which is what I happily did:  50 miles = 200 MPG.  That's what you get when taking the time to study Prime.  30 miles of EV from a 25-mile rating is nice, but it really does come down to looking beyond electric-only range.  As more Prime fill our roads, that real-world data will become more prominent.  Seeing 199.9 MPG on the screen is what will solidify the purchase decision.  No complicated math or detailed spreadsheet is required.  It really is that simple.  Plug.  Drive.  Get great MPG.


Purchase Analysis.  As a lurker, it's really easy to get draw into arguments.  You start reading to learn about the various points being posted.  You want to learn why those are important.  What does all that mean?  Not knowing up front what topics apply to what outcomes create a lot of confusion.  It's easy to focus, forgetting the overall purpose.  For example: "As a cost conscious consumer I really struggle with the whole Volt vs Prime purchase analysis."  Sadly, there no simple solution.  Today, I got into it with:  Notice the level of desperation of some to paint an ugly picture for Prime?  That extreme is confirmation of a paradigm shift.  They see the true competition. It isn't other plug-in vehicle. It's traditional vehicles... and reality is about to come crashing down soon, when the tax-credits trigger phaseout.  The measure of success comes from replacement of those guzzlers. A plug-in with a "right sized" battery will compel the masses to buy. Drawing attention isn't enough. It's all about high-volume profitable sales.  Change doesn't come from someone like you who takes the time to consider detailed analysis.  Change comes from those shopping the showroom floor who take an unexpected pause to consider the purchase of a plug-in vehicle, a thought they hadn't ever entertained.


Spreading Misinformation.  This got me really riled up: "It can't regen the LI battery, it can only regen the Hybrid battery. It’s a two battery system..."  There were already some posts attempting to figure out what the situation was.  How could such incorrect claims be spread?  Was that particular post intentional?  Was the source of which it came attempting to greenwash?  We wanted to know, especially me:  It's hard to believe anyone would attempt to spread such extreme misinformation.  Where did you get that belief?  There is one battery-pack.  A large portion of it is dedicated to EV driving.  It's what gets recharged when you plug in.  The other usable portion is for HV driving.  If  you drive down a mountain or turn on charge-mode, the EV portion is replenished.  6 weeks ago, I took a trip to Wyoming from Minnesota in my Prime.  One stop along the way was Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota.  The trip down from it resulted on about 10 miles of regen.  Stop spreading that clearly incorrect information about Prime.


Great Expectations.  You hope for the best.  When it actually happens, you celebrate.  In this case, I shared the experience online.  The cheers of rejoice was nice confirmation of others also seeing reason to celebrate.  Many have great expectations.  But with so few deliveries so far and it simply taking awhile to encounter situations to exploit the systems design, you have to live vicariously thought others.  That's what I help to provide.  This time, it was:  Today was a 27 mile drive home from work with my wife.  We started with a full charge.  The climb out of the river valley at 55 mph with the A/C on was rather demanding.  That changed to a 65 mph cruise a good chunk of the way.  I passed twice in excess of 70 mph.  Got home, still 1.4 miles of EV left.  The entire trip was all electric.


One Sentence.  Participating in venues where there is a diverse set of opinions is how you learn.  After all, avoiding group-think is very important.  Of course, even on the friendly forums, you do have to deal with the "reset" experience, where antagonist simply pretends you haven't already discussed that topic.  The only way to avoid that repeat is to not take their trolling bait.  That doesn't work in hostile forums though.  You have to respond in some manner.  What I've come up with to deal with that is the one sentence reply.  It's an approach that doesn't leave them much to work with.  You come up with a message so concise, they really struggle to spin it.  Brevity is key.  There's little opportunity provided with just a short stream of words crafted into a thought with the precision of careful consideration.  This has proven very effective so far.  Too bad it took so long to come up with the method.  But then again, things were never this bad.  There's a strong sense of hopelessness emerging from the status quo being shaken by Prime.


1.1 Miles.  Backing into the garage with that much EV available isn't the ideal.  To get the most from the battery-pack, you should arrive at your destination without any electricity remaining.  On these warm days of Summer, that's what is happening if I don't recharge at work.  Curious about how far that single charge will take me, I drive EV continuously.  With all those consecutive miles building up, not taking advantage of HV mode is a missed opportunity.  I've seen a little over 33 miles a few times now.  That means the engine starts up close to home (for the 37-mile round-trip commute).  Unlike with the PHV, the system in Prime warms up aggressively.  It can be a very efficient approach, if that added load (which results in electricity being generated) is used effectively afterward.  In my case, it has not been.  I need to finally start using HV prior to running out of EV.  That way, I will be able to take advantage of that 1.1 miles.  Why not exploit a 55 MPG for 999 MPG trade opportunity, knowing that I can?


Attack Spin.  When all else fails, the antagonist will claim the problem is with branding.  With Volt, it's understandable for GM supporters to play the Toyota card.  They figure with such a terrible reputation for "over promise, under deliver" that customer distrust alone is enough to undermine a product... regardless of how bad it actually is.  We know Volt is small, expensive, and inefficient.  That doesn't matter to them though.  They still feel strongly that brand is the problem: "The very minute Toyota comes out with a greater range, watch John change his tune and explain why the new figure is *superior*. "  It's that trophy mentality.  If you point out any advantage whatsoever about another vehicle, they think you are claiming superiority.  The same is true if you point out a shortcoming of their favorite.  Pride blinds them from having constructive dialog.  They feel they are always being attacked.  What a waste.  That obsession with range makes it even worse.  The very idea of a moving target evades them.  Toyota focuses on price-point.  So naturally, the range offered will increase over time.  You offer what's affordable for that particular time.  When an upgrade is realistic, that becomes the norm.  It's not a fixed value.  It will change.  No amount of spin will convince shoppers that good enough is competitive.  The balance of cost & need allows improvements.  Greater is not always necessary though.  But looking at the big picture, you'll always see why the next step was taken.


Tank Refill.  The potential to drive for months without refilling the tank is a new situation, a paradigm shift for which few have any experience or even reference.  If you don't drive much beyond the EV range available, the gas will last a very long time.  Only highway trips are when you notice an impact to the gauge.  Otherwise, the miles remaining really doesn't change much.  Having 2 plug-in hybrids in our household now makes it especially odd.  We'll take the Prime with more EV available when going out in the evening, trying to carpool as much as possible on weekdays.  On weekends during Summer, the carrying of bikes & kayaks will be exclusive to mine.  But then again, what if I can plug in at those destinations?  We both carry squeegees in our Prime so the window can be cleaned, if necessary.  Rarely ever going to a gas station makes you do things differently.  What a great new situation!


Poor Decisions.  He should have known better than to utter such a statement: "I say let the market decide."  We've seen disasters with self-regulation.  For that matter, we're now seeing a disaster play out with letting poorly informed and emotionally influenced people vote.  I wasn't surprised.  That came from a member of that blog which up-votes intentional misleading.  Today, it was a blatant lie about Volt outselling Prime... a claim easy to disprove.  Dealing with enablers certainly is a challenge.  Anywho, I decided to this way:  That's exactly how the problem of "halo" vehicles and the lack of subsidies comes about.  Mandates have overwhelmingly proven more effective.  Some automakers take advantage of the situation. Knowing the regulation is coming, they step up their game instead of just delivering a minimum.  Look at how the market has shown preference for large guzzlers instead of small sippers.  There simply hasn’t been any incentive to endorse a vehicle like Volt… which is why it is still stuck as a niche offering.  Regardless of enthusiast praise, interest has floundered.  What is there to get consumers to change?  They already have speed, power, and cheap gas.  Dealers certainly haven't been interested either.  Reality is, the market doesn't care… hence California's push.  They can balance increased regulation with HOV incentives and charging infrastructure.


Camry Hybrid.  More proof that the end has come wasn't hard to find.  The embargo on Camry Hybrid reviews was lifted today.  We were told what the next-generation design delivers.  There's a lower cost NiMH option and the full step forward with a Lithium battery-pack, just like what Prius offers.  The results are amazing too.  That more efficient choice delivers a whopping 52 MPG combined (53 city, 51 highway).  For a larger more powerful vehicle, that's remarkable.  Like with the newest Prius, you get a substantial improvement to the body & suspension.  It's very exciting to know that not-so-obvious improvements are adding into the mix.  Now, it's just a matter of waiting for rollout of the 2018 model.  This is very exciting.  The market has been patiently waiting for the long overdue upgrade... which clearly has been worth it.  Expectations were met.  Toyota will be delivering a very nice improvement, something which could end up being a standout hybrid offering.  Of course, there is still a little bit more wait required.


Looking Back.  It certainly was insightful to look back at the attacks last week.  They know their last remaining card has been played and there's no chance of winning that game... so, they attempted to change it... desperately tried.  I was rather shocked how dishonest some were, making claims that were blatantly false.  That's how you know.  There was some spite too, where they simply want to go down with a fight.  That's the problem with progress.  Not every attempt is successful.  You keep trying and go with what works.  I summed up the situation like this, for a latecomer who felt like he missed it all:  Their spin is interesting, they take time to come up with something actually thoughtful.  It doesn't hold much merit though when compared to goals, but that's still better than the outright lies others tell... which there were plenty of this time.  In this particular thread, it was the lack of understanding what 200 MPG actually represents.  For driving a Prime during summer, the distance traveled from a single charge yielding that result is a little over 50 miles.  Assumptions that 25 miles of EV isn't enough fall apart when that real-world outcome is witnessed firsthand.


How Far?  I was quite curious how far 200 MPG would actually take you.  After EV capacity is depleted, the engine running in HV mode isn't apparent.  In fact, it takes a surprisingly long time for the MPG to finally drop below the 199.9 maximum.  With the gauge topped out like that, most owners will get use to seeing that number.  Who doesn't?  How much driving does it take with that single charge used up before 200 MPG no longer applies?  Remember, this is the value antagonists had been arguing about for a very long time.  They assumed it was so high, that would only apply to Volt drivers.  The thought of Prime being able to deliver it too hadn't crossed their minds.  I participate on the hostile websites to stir feedback.  It doesn't take much either.  They are happy to shovel as much crap as I can handle.  Trouble is, every now and then they accidently throw something valuable my way.  It this case, it was that "200 MPG" coming back to bite them.  I kept driving, past my house on the commute home.  I figured the coffeeshop would be a perfect destination, something I very realistically could do anyway.  So, I did.  It wasn't until I was about a third of the way home when EV depletion.  The engine fired up.  Distance was 50.7 miles.  Cool.  That was further than anticipated.  Arguing 25 miles of EV wasn't enough is more difficult to argue now.   Having a plug-in hybrid isn't about exclusive electric-only driving.  If you want that, it makes no sense carrying around a large engine too.  That's why BMW's i3 actually delivers on the EREV promise and Volt still comes up short.  (1398 cc is more than twice as large as 647 cc.)  That's also why the 54 MPG rating for Prime is so rewarding.  When you use it, no big deal.  The real-world outcome I witnessed today confirmed it too.  I found out how far.  I can't wait to share that information.


Prime in the Wild.  Unfortunately, my commute home wasn't filmed.  I wanted to, since I time that day and the weather was quite pleasant.  Work was rather demanding though, so I just wasn't up to setting up cameras.  My postponement to some other day was actually rewarded.  The delay would have prevented spotting my first Prime in the wild.  While waiting for the light to turn green, it appeared right in front of the path I was about to drive.  Making a left with the driver starring directly in my path, I flashed the lights, waved a hand out the window, then switched to honking.  There no way he could have missed me... especially since he also owned a standout color... Blue Magnetism.  Sweet!  I was a bit bummed that moment wasn't digital documented.  But the location meant it could happen again.  It was just a few blocks from my house.  The odds of another encounter someday is entirely realistic.  Of course, nothing is as impressionable as actually seeing them for sale on a dealer's lot.  I remember when that first happened with the Classic Prius.  Painfully long delivery waits for orders transformed to ordinary shopping experiences.  Being able to see one, take it for a test-drive, then draw up purchase papers all within a single visit to the dealer is a noteworthy turning point for a new technology.  Hopefully, that time isn't too far off with Prime.  But then again, demand so high that supply remains a challenge isn't necessarily a bad thing.


Makes More Sense.  When you want to really make a point, quote yourself: "Tax-Credits will run out before something able to compete with Cruze, Malibu, and Equinox is securely in place."  That was especially useful in this case.  One of the regulars on the Volt blog wasn't able to participate in the attack on the "makes more sense" thread.  Comparing Volt to Prime was an exciting topic for the others.    He felt like he totally missed out.  I took advantage of the opportunity to summarize & remind:  There has been quite a bit of spin attempting to misrepresent my stance.  That has been it all along… with GM, with Ford, with Toyota. Each of the automakers need to offer something actually able to compete with the true competition: traditional vehicles.  Toyota carefully considered configuration to ensure it was up to the chore.   GM did not.  That's why Prime makes more sense.


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