Personal Log  #819

July 3, 2017  -  July 9, 2017

Last Updated: Sat. 10/21/2017

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Misrepresentation, labels.  Use of labels to misrepresent is something we have to deal with on a regular basis.  It's really a pain when that type of endeavor to impede is taken.  Since official ratings or certification is sighted, it gives the impression of whatever you post as a desperate measure to spin the truth.  What the antagonist hopes is you won't bother to actually look at the detail of what that label represents.  They hope you'll assume what they are implying rather than what it actually means.  The on-going nonsense included this: "GM is not just saying it seats 5, it is the official government passenger rating of the vehicle..."  That's frustrating to read.  What a waste of time having to deal with stuff like this.  All it takes is a few seconds in the vehicle itself to confirm the effort to misrepresent is quite desperate, that they feel threatened by the idea of losing yet another argument point.  Unfortunately, online exchanges make that a challenge to overcome.  Oh well, all I can do is stuff like this:  We've seen the "official" word be exploited again and again to misrepresent.  You know all to well that the spirit of the "5 seat" label is not being acknowledged.  No one in their right mind would ever call a location without a place to put your legs a proper seat.  Having to straddle a hump to squeeze your legs into the area being used by other passengers is absurd, especially with a car that's narrow in the first place.  The firmer padding for that middle area results in a reduction of headroom too.  It's quite telling when the message of "facts" is really an effort to portray something obviously false as no big deal.  If this is how Volt comparisons to Prius will continue, be prepared for a serious backlash.  Effectiveness of misrepresentation can take an abrupt turn.


Misrepresentation, opinion.  This round of attacks included trying to misrepresent the cargo area by not stating an opinion.  He figured by posting a link for a video to have someone else say it for him would be looked upon as passing along information instead, that he was just provided facts.  That, of course, is a load of crap... and I was unwilling to put up with his continuing stream of posts:  Incorrect information posted with "opinion" is yet another example of misrepresentation.  Leaving out purpose for stating "just the facts" is a problem too, since it contributes to false assumptions.  In this case, it is not "around 8 inches under the cargo cover" as claimed.  It is actually 10.5 inches.  It is not impractical as implied either.  In fact, that's quite the opposite.  After showing my Prime to enough people, I have discovered the advantage of the raised deck.  It's at an extremely practical height for carrying routine cargo.  You don't have to bend over and lift.  Getting items out of the back, like groceries, is a simple matter of sliding.  If you do have an item larger than the area above the cargo cover, you simply drop one of the seats to hold it.  No big deal.  In other words, your vague attempts to undermine have not gone unnoticed.

7-08-2017 Why further discuss?  The past few days have included an intense sparring session between Volt and Prius.  It wasn't from me either.  True, I was the one responsible for shifting the rhetoric away from the daily Volt blog over to the general audience blog, but I didn't actually provoke.  The new participants are responsible for that.  It's all new to them; however, the arguments are not.  They are much more diluted too.  There simply isn't enough vague anymore.  Too much real-world data readily available is helping prevent any of the old material from gaining any traction now... which was the point.  You bring up the topics again and watch how they play out differently this time.  Only thing is, I'm not just watching.  I jumped it to response to that question asked of an obvious antagonist struggling to undermine Prime:

There is no point to his "not a hybrid" argument.  Gen-2 of Volt blends engine & motor operation even more so than Gen-1 did.  Neither operates as a "range extender", which is a serial design that never provides any momentum power to the wheel.  The only hybrid that does that is BMW i3.

Since Volt's initial rollout, there has been a desperate effort to separate it from Prius.  Yet, as this discussion topic clearly highlights, that hasn't been possible.  It has a gas engine and electric motor, using them to squeeze out maximum efficiency... and falls short with both.

25 kWh/100mi  is the EV efficiency rating for Prime.
31 kWh/100mi  is the EV efficiency rating for Volt.

54 MPG  is the HV efficiency rating for Prime.
42 MPG  is the HV efficiency rating for Volt.

With the 52 MPG rated Camry hybrid LE about to rollout, there's a new fear of Volt being left behind.  So, it's quite understandable seeing so much semantic bickering at this point.  That's a sure sign of having run out of "facts" to support the effort of realistic replacement for traditional vehicles.  It's very easy to imagine it supporting a plug in the not-too-distant future.


Leaning Down.  Being parked next to a Volt during an event showing, you learn a lot about the supposed competition.  Our effort is to replace traditional vehicles, so that belief of competing with each other quickly melts away.  Supposition is replaced by an effort to find strengths.  With Volt, it obviously offers greater EV range & power.  The obvious tradeoff is a much higher MSRP.  The not-so-obvious is what caught my attention for the first time.  It wasn't until today that I noticed the deeper storage area in back is actually disadvantageous for some.  That fact was pointed out by someone simply seeing both side-by-side.  Virtually everyone focuses on the depth.  This person pointed out leaning down.  With Prime, you simply slide out cargo.  Things like grocery bags are easy in, easy out.  No bending required is a big deal for some.  After all, how much more do you do that rather than cargo something so large it needs to go on the lowered seats instead?  I hadn't ever thought of that.  Heck, even an idea like that hadn't crossed my mind.  This is just like seating.  We had the comment today that Model X was more appealing than Model S simply due to the entry & exit height.  The owner of an S was looking to switch to a X for that very reason.  Heck, this is why Toyota is giving C-HR a try.  It's a Prius with the platform raised... for that very reason.  Interesting discovered, eh?


Model 3 Production.  It began today.  Tesla rolled out the very first on.  What an amazing coincidence that we just happened to have a panelist discussion and vehicle showing scheduled for the same day.  It was extremely well timed.  This particular audience was one that felt the original Tesla offerings were simply too expensive.  That's why when I mentioned a base MSRP of $27,100 for Prime, which included 4 key safety features, really caught the attention of those checking out of our display in the parking lot.  Knowing that Tesla is aggressively working toward having their own affordable offering is quite a message to convey... something GM failed miserably at with Volt.  How can you reach the masses if the price is too far out of reach?  Progress like this is wonderful.  Think about how the work Nissan has done in this regard.  Rather than suffering from the Osborne effect, quite the opposite happened.  The heavy investment in a next-generation Leaf has stirred more sales of the older one.  That wasn't anticipated.  GM may have hoped the same would happen with Bolt, showing an overall investment in support of plugging in.  The outcome has been leaving Volt in a very awkward position.  Had Volt offered a larger interior like Bolt or Model 3, things could have been different.  Unfortunately, it's still quite cramped in back... not at all the approach Tesla has taken.  It's easy to imagine Model 3 becoming quite common as a family vehicle.  We'll find out soon enough.  Projections are that 20,000 will be delivered by the end of the year.


Parking Lot Presentations.  There we were at a CON, the 4-day event where sci-fi exploded into a celebration.  We had reserved a room for a panel talk about plug-in vehicles, which was clearly too small.  It was a great opportunity.  I was one of the speakers.  When it finished, we all left the hotel to see those cars in the parking lot.  With so many people walking through that area, it was a nearly ideal venue.  Lots of questions were asked.  With everything from my Prime to a Tesla Model X, the variety really drew a crowd.  Being parked next to a Volt was nice.  You could compare them side-by-side.  The smaller size of the seating for Volt was obvious.  The higher cost for Volt was obvious too.  Seeing that Toyota had chosen to just raise the floor for the added battery capacity made it quite clear why that design was so much more affordable.  You take an already well-refined hybrid, then augment it with more electricity.  That's a strong business case for reaching the masses.  You can give GM credit for making an appealing niche, because people there checking it out were definitely intrigued, but that falls short when it comes to common consumers actually purchasing it.  The same was true for Tesla.  It's an impressive as you could imagine, but far too much for competing directly with everyday vehicles like Camry & Corolla... hence the approach with Prime.  Interest in the Leaf there was intriguing.  People were clearly excited about the potential the next one could offer.  That's likely why I was asked so often about plugging in at home.  Fortunately, I had my 120-volt charger there.  Showing people that it plugged into an ordinary household outlet made the discussion short & sweet.  They understood the simplicity.  I can't wait for more opportunities to do presentations.


Panelist Discussion.  There we were at a convention in a room filling up with those interested in finding out more about plug-in vehicles.  Volt, Prime, i3, Leaf owners and an expected Model 3 buyer (who had a Leaf) were all there representing the future that audience wanted to know more about.  We could have easily gone twice as long, especially if the room had been bigger.  There were a ton of questions... none of which included anti-EV sentiment.  That's quite different from showing many years ago.  Battery technology has proven reliable.  Now, focus has shifted to cost and how recharging takes place.  That's undeniable progress.  Yeah!  I thoroughly enjoy the experience.  It was very encouraging.  It did point out how much longer we still have to go though.  People simply have no idea what they are considering... but at least consideration is finally taking place.  That's where Prime comes in.  New rollouts like the upcoming next-gen Leaf and Model 3 will validate the market shift toward electricity.  The crude roar of a combustion or compression engine is being replaced with the smooth & silent of an electric motor.  No more noise.  No more shifting.  No more worry of excessive wear.  Think about how long an engine in Prime will last.  That high-optimized power source simply won't be worked as much or as hard.  And with a pure EV, that electric-only propulsion comes exclusively from a brushless motor.  Ever hear of a Prius motor wearing out?  Nope.  It simply hasn't happened.  Those electric motors keep going and going and going.  Eventually, the battery-pack will loss capacity, but replacement basically resets the vehicle to almost new status.  That doesn't work with a traditional vehicle.  You still have a transmission to consider even with an engine replacement.  Anywho, it was very rewarding to be part of that.


Predictive Efficient Drive.  Did the Prime just brake on its own?  That certainly wasn't a question I had ever thought I'd be asking myself.  It was as I approached a turn into my neighborhood.  After some research, it turns out the Prime did.  I had driven enough for data to confirm that location was easy to predict.  There's a feature called "Predictive Efficient Drive" that the Premium & Advanced models have.  Toyota included this without really promoting it.  Owners with enough miles are just discovering the feature now.  It's designed to "help boost real world fuel economy".  I suspect it will for many too.  Think of it as an automatic hypermiling behavior.  That's something which no quick review or rating would ever include, a nice extra discovered long after purchase.  Cool.  After some poking, I did find an option on the screen to indicate were data had been collected so far.  They show up as bright green diamonds on the map.  Sweet.


Misrepresentation.  It's easy to find examples of cherry-picking.  They are often used to make generalizations.  For example: "Most Prime drivers will have to use gasoline quite a bit, while lots of Volt drivers will avoid it 95+% of the time."  What's difficult though is to dismiss that example, especially if you are not certain that it represents an extreme.  Vague claims make that even more questionable.  How many is "most" and how much is "quite a bit" are valid things to ask.  Most of the time, you don't have to though.  The real-world data emerges on its own.  Patterns begin to emerge.  That's why they attacks on Prime are so intense now.  They know the opportunity to undermine is limited.  Owners sharing stories will drown out the rhetoric after awhile.  I pushed back with some of my own information and points to consider:  2,074 miles with the most recent tank in my Prime shows potential for that to be false.  No real-world data indicates the claim speculation only for now.  53 could be overkill, especially if "most" Prime owners are like me.  Currently, that range pushes cost out of reach for "most".  In other words, drawing a conclusion based of a specification isn't a good idea.  Also, don't overlook the big picture.  Sales of more Prime would offset a lower volume offering anyway.


First Tank.  This was her first refill after 5 weeks of ownership.  Being on vacation required far more use of the gas engine than usual.  But that's ok.  This is what the system was designed to deliver.  Regardless of drive demands or availability of an outlet to plug in, you still get great efficiency (and clean too).  In this case, it was 1,278.5 miles for the tank.  That worked out to an average of 130.3 MPG overall.  That certainly isn't anything to look down upon... though seeing the maximum 199.9 MPG on the display everyday while commuting is nice.  That certainly is higher than my average too.  Our round-trip to Wyoming in my Prime was over 1,700 miles with lots of the travel at 80 mph.  So naturally, my average overall is lower.  No big deal.  It will creep back up over time.  I wonder how high.  Hmm?


Holiday Travel.  We have been doing some in my wife's Prime.  So far, the average for 251 miles of driving comes to 58.1 MPG.  That's with the A/C running the entire time.  It also included taking advantage of Charge-Mode.  For just a recharge from the wall, I'd say that was pretty darn good.  Think about what a regular Prius would get under the same conditions, especially when taking into account the spans of highway at 70 mph.  It's nice knowing that even under demands of vacation, you can still enjoy the benefits Prime has to offer.  Consider what a traditional vehicle would deliver under the same circumstances.  Visits to see the family over a holiday are quite routine.  Today though, we were all over the place.  That's what happens when it occurs during the middle of a week, rather than on a weekend.


Time-Of-Use Meters.  It took some work to finally get them installed.  The first attempt last week was a bust.  All they needed to do was swap out the hard-connection in the socket with a meter.  It is literally just a device you plug in.  The catch is, that device must be programmed correctly.  It wasn't.  They should have tested it prior to delivery.  Oops!  Oh well, I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with the installer.  He was very well informed and was happy to answer my questions.  This took place only an hour following the inspector having sign-off on the contractor work.  He found the lines from the service-box in the garage, which punched through the wall for outside installation of the 2 socket boxes for the meters (known as "cans") then returned back into to the garage, nicely done.  The lines & outlets were too.  He even liked the brackets I came up with.  What he didn't like what the chargers themselves, since they are not UL listed yet.  Fortunately, I'm well informed.  My study of that hardware confirmed the redesign early this year was for certification.  The obvious part of that was the shortening of the outlet cord.  For UL approval, it must only be 12 inches.  That meant the convenience of the prior 6-foot length would be lost.  The thickness of the cord had been increased substantially too.  This is why I had to so carefully consider mounting.  Anywho, I knew papers had been officially filed and what I had purchased met all the criteria.  Testing would soon be complete.  So, my use & endorsement later would be no big deal.  The inspector took the time to share detail I could provide our plug-in owners group with.  It worked out nice.  We got the needed sticker.  The service guy from our CO-OP (the local power-supplier) came over shortly afterward and popped those time-of-use meters in the cans.  All 3 categories registered.  They cycle through the display, allowing us to see how much kWh of each we'll be billed for.  Very nice!


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