Personal Log  #825

August 3, 2017  -  August 9, 2017

Last Updated: Sat. 10/21/2017

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8-09-2017 Charge-Mode Video, part 1.  I finally got a chance to do a little bit of filming.  It was on the return portion of a biking trip.  There was a stretch of highway I could take advantage of.  Unfortunately, all I had to work with was 1 camera.  But it was still an opportunity to exploit.  After all, the busy Summer schedule doesn't allow me to play that often.  There would be construction to deal with and the warmer weather meant depending upon the A/C.  So, my choice to capture Charge-Mode would mean a longer drive than my first experiment back in the Spring.  It's a topic that needs much discussion, since so little is understood about it.  This is definitely a new topic when it comes to plug-in hybrids.  GM's offering isn't efficient enough to make the option worthwhile.  Toyota's is though.  So, there's a very real possibility of showing advantage... if we can clearly convey the circumstances.  This is my first attempt:

Wisely used, the choice to consume EV miles generated by the gas-engine rather than from plugging in can result in an efficiency gain. Poorly used, the resulting MPG will be lower.

In most cases, you are better off just using plug-supplied electricity.  However, I have discovered on long highway trips with my Prius Prime and no place to plug in, it can be handy to take advantage of charge-mode.

This video footage is a capture of the complete charging cycle, presented at 15 times normal speed.  Pop-Up of the DRCC (Dynamic Radar Cruise Control) is usually a pleasant visual experience; the car automatically slows down upon detecting a slower vehicle ahead of it.  At this speed, the display can be a bit disruption.  So, pause the video from at times to see detail.

Overall efficiency, including acceleration onto the highway and deceleration to exit afterward, was 40 MPG.  That's incredible considering the A/C was at the coldest setting (that's "LO") with the blower on medium the entire time.  This caused the recharge to take 10 additional minutes, but 50 minutes is much faster than when plugging in anyway.

Watch the video careful.  Keep in mind that brief recharging is likely what you'll end up using, not the entire 80%.  When you do, choose wisely...  Prius Prime: Charge-Mode


Let Me Tell You.  There's some very real abhorrence when that phrase is uttered by the president.  It's so obvious how poorly informed he is, especially when telling us that.  We don't get anything of substance to follow.  That is his closing remark.  Ugh.  It makes you wonder how clueless those supporting the performance aspect of Volt are when saying this: "That is worth the price difference, let me tell you."  If they gave equal weight to other aspects of appeal, then it may be worth listening for more.  But when all they do is quote acceleration-rate without anything else, it's just brain-dead power trip.  The obsession, known as "trophy mentality", has blinded enthusiasts for an entire decade.  All they cared about was being "vastly superior".  In fact, they even said that for years.  Fortunately, that time has been used up and I now get to tell them:  There is no audience to receive that message anymore.  All the low-hanging fruit has been picked.  After 7 years, it should be obvious.  Time to recognize the larger market.


Winter.  Things will get interesting when it arrives.  Rather than cold-season rollout, we basically all started with a warm-weather perspective.  Those months of low temperatures had been when the other generations of Prius were rolled out; consequently, that resulted in a bunch of reviews only reflecting Winter performance.  Catch was, people didn't understand impact of heater use and engine warm-up.  In many cases with Prime, there may not be engine warm-up.  Trips could be entirely with electricity.  That means heat for the interior will come exclusively from the battery; though, the well-informed will experience pre-conditioning from the plug.  Whatever the case, it will open up new dialog.  Current discussions don't even begin to address the topic.  I'm attempting to change that:  We've addressed speed & distance, which is important.  But I don't see any comments about WINTER, which is also important.  The impact cold has on efficiency is a big deal, something not to be casually overlooked.  Prime offers the industry's most efficient choice, a vapor-injected heat-pump.  No contest.  It consumes the least amount of electricity.  The next is a regular heat-pump.  You'll find that in a variety of plug-in vehicles.  A few still use resistance-heating, which requires the most electricity to operate.  Prime also offers battery-warming, as do some other plug-in vehicles.  It maintains the temperature of pack to prevent the efficiency hit caused by the cold.  For lithium batteries, electrical resistance increases significantly when below freezing.  Keeping it warm means more EV miles will be available.


Lost What?  The rhetoric has become weak.  Antagonists really don't have any substance available anymore.  This was rather lame: "Toyota has lost a lot of EV ground since the beginning with the Prius..."  It did have me yearning for more.  In their mind, what ground are they referring.  We know most consumers only have a vague idea what EV availability is.  Basically, they've heard about them being available and may have noticed a few on the road.  That's it.  Charging stations go unnoticed.  Knowledge of actual operation vague, at best.  And detail about an actual purchase is basically just a myth.  They have no clue.  Some people drive them, that's all they know.  So, the idea of somehow being behind is meritless.  Behind what?  I was curious how the "lost" claim could be substantiated, especially with such dependence on tax-credits still.  We basically haven't even passed the first milestone in the race yet.  So, the idea of progress is extremely difficult to measure.  Think about how many actual plug-in vehicles a dealer has in stock at any particular moment.  It is such a tiny quantity, the count of zero is often quite releastic.  I fired back with:  What was lost?  Prime delivered the industry's most efficient heat-pump, aero-improved glass, carbon-fiber components, and EV drive.  Combine all that with high-volume use of the newest lithium chemistry, claims of somehow being behind don't add up.


Quoting Extremes.  It was an obvious attack, but not on me this time.  The classic undermine-by-understate was being used against Prius: "On the highway you will only get around 12 miles EV range in the Prime."  I was quite curious about source & intent, so I proceeded with this response:  Where do people get such incorrect ideas from?  That is just plain not true.  If I take the back way on the commute home, it is almost exclusively highway.  Starting with a climb out of the river valley at 55 mph, it changes to 65 mph, then ends with a stretch back at 55 mph.  Even with the A/C on, I can just barely make it home with a little bit of electricity left.  Total distance traveled on that drive home 25.4 miles.  Where ever that 12 mile nonsense came from, it ends here.  You've been told by an owner... who routinely sees EV distances in the low 30's ...that it was incorrect, by quite a bit.


300 Miles?  You ever wonder how this claim can actually be made: "I'm getting up to 300mi per charge currently... and that's with occasional A/C use."  I highly doubt there will be a constructive reply to my questions.  But I really want to know.  Don't you?  Is that actual miles or just an estimate?  What type of driving would they even consider normal?  For that matter, does it actually matter?  Prime uses Miles/kWh to indicate efficiency.  What is the value for that Bolt owner?  When you think about it, there are many unknowns.  Since this was a first of such claims, I started my quest for information in this simple manner:  How are you measuring that?  It's difficult to imagine an owner driving for several days without recharging or pushing the pack to almost empty, and we all know how estimates are often very optimistic.  At what point do you plug back in?


26,867 Sold.  That worldwide count of Prime sales for the first half of this year is bringing out a lot of hate... to an extreme.  Outright lies began to emerge over the weekend.  That Volt blog has become the nastiest.  On it, there's a claim that Prime only delivers 11 miles of EV.  The person stirring this new greenwashing effort is hoping that rating from PHV will be mistaken as what is offered now delivers.  It's a common type of deception.  Using outdated data gives the impression of being trustworthy.  After all, you can even provide a handy link for verification.  The hope is readers won't realize something newer is now available.  That type of desperation is telling.  Rather than the usual FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt), they take advantage of assumptions with the hope to mislead.  It's easier.  It tends to work too... when you know most of the posters will go along with the rouse and readers won't bother doing any research.  In this case, I have that one video published to refer to.  In the past, that was an effective debunking tool.  Hopefully, I have a number of them available.  But for now, that single bit of footage has already been viewed over 3,100 times.  So, we're off to a good start.  Just think what will happen when production ramp-up kicks in.  That sold count will really stir the rhetoric.


On-Going Greenwash.  This is quite common when a new generation of Prius is rolled out.  Some online source will publish some type of greenwash material, then it gets referred back to over and over and over again.  The reason is simple... there's not enough real-world experiences from actual owners shared yet.  That means any uninformed reporter or some writer with bias can exploit the knowledge gap.  It's unfortunate.  It happens every time.  Thankfully, it doesn't last much beyond the first full year.  It sure is annoying in the meantime though.  I chimed in about the situation with:  It's amazing how far an article like that can persist.  As an owner who commutes with a Prime using only EV, it makes me wonder what could have happened for them to print such a blatantly incorrect claim.  Saying "it cannot function as a complete car without gasoline" is just plain not true.  That statement is so easy to disprove too.  How could it continue being passed as a reputable source?  7,000 miles into ownership has convinced me that retractions of error, or at a minimum a revisit report, is good reason to make a point of drawing attention to misleading articles.  In this case, that is definitely one of them.  The first 25 miles of travel (at least, I'm seeing low 30's during the warm months) Prime operates as a full EV.  Regardless of power demand or need to heat/cool the interior, it's entirely run using electricity.  The engine does not start.


From The Beginning.  I couldn't resist contributing to this: "Actually Toyota have not made the plug-in Prius from the beginning (1997)."  It was an interesting comment posted about an article highlighting Toyota's upcoming 20th anniversary for Prius.  I jumped in to point out:  Actually, the original model sold in 1997 had a plug.  That was discontinued, since capacity was small and price was large, that simply didn't make it worth it.  When the second generation was rolled out in the United States, we discovered it had the ability to drive up to 100 km/h (that's 62.1 mph) in an electric-only mode.  Catch was, battery technology of the time couldn't deliver the capacity to sustain that.  Same problem.  The energy-density was still too low and the cost was too high.  Aftermarket providers attempted to exploit that untapped design feature anyway, but interest was very low.  It wasn't until 2012 when the energy/cost ratio actually made the approach realistic, but not for the mass market yet.  Early adopters were happy to purchase & drive that though... which provided Toyota with a wealth of real-world data to design a high-volume offering... which is how we got Prime.  Think about what consumers are willing to pay.  That's been the hold up all along, not the ability to propel the vehicle.  After all, EV1 demonstrated it was possible.  Battery played a major role, especially when you add in the requirement to provide heating & cooling with electricity.

8-05-2017 Reflection.  It's truly amazing how some still don't see it: "That the UAW was first to boast "Volt is dead" (when that decision is not final) tells me that they are exactly in the same camp as nasty fossil interests."  They are putting up their own barriers.  In the meantime, their position continues to erode.  Having a different and powerful source draw attention to the issue is wonderful.  You wouldn't expect anyone to be so clueless.  Getting lost in a hopeless cause will do that though.  Perhaps they will finally notice what has happened:

Turning a blind-eye to what was happening on the other end is just as much of a problem.

Volt showed the world you could have a great performing plug-in hybrid, if you were willing to pay.  That message of it being worth the premium was conveyed relentlessly.  We've endured 7 years of enthusiasts reinforcing that idea, setting a precedent against affordability for mainstream consumers.  Volt enthusiasts were their own worst enemy.  When confronted about the vital nature of production cost, we were always assured that the vastly superior design would triumph.

The UAW is now bringing up those same concerns the so-called "trolls" had been saying for years.  Lack of high-volume profitable sales *SOON* will be a very real problem, one that would threaten acceptance of the technology.  That's why there was so much of a push to get a "lite" model and a SUV version built. That diversification would establish sustainability, a vital aspect of continued employment.

Enthusiasts stood firm, preventing the status quo from changing.  Efforts to show progress toward mass-market acceptance were shunned.  There was a constant stream of belittling comments and insults to supporters.  There was a trophy-mentality that prevented being affordable from rising as a priority.  The obsession with faster & further still continues to be a problem.

Take a serious look what camp those here are in.


New Camera.  My oldest video camera overheated.  I was really annoyed.  Finally getting a chance to film a drive into work and just 60 seconds from finishing that commute, I hear it beep then shut off.  Ugh.  It had a polarized-lens glued onto its case, so that had been the ideal for capturing window footage.  It was really a pain to setup and control though.  The replacement for it failed the following day.  That one was for other play.  It too was quite a few years old.  4 minutes into that drive, I lost the Wi-Fi connection.  18 minutes into the drive, it overheated... despite having a just a frame rather than a case and no secondary component attached.  Ugh, again.  Since neither had stabilization, the time had come to upgrade.  Yeah!  I could get a much better camera.  It may take awhile to get setup with it, but the wait should pay off.  This one will be must more robust and will deliver higher quality.  The easier use will be a plus too.  I still remember all those years ago trying to document what the driver saw & experienced.  That was a clumsy series of experiments.  Since then, the process & equipment is much improved.  Stay tuned for new videos.


Enthusiast Blinders.  They only see what's directly in front of them.  Looking around simply doesn't happen.  It's really unfortunate.  You run into comments reinforcing that perspective all the time too: "The volt improved everything that was derided on with the second generation."  The most definitely is not true.  Some things were indeed upgraded.  Not everything got the priority needed tough.  That's a very real problem for growth.  Random improvement isn't enough.  Those enthusiasts are only now starting to see the consequences.  They were so focused on faster & further, they had no idea other needs were also important.  The obsession blinded them from seeing the bigger picture.  Oh well.  It's not like I didn't keep trying to convey that message.  In fact, I still try:  The most important aspect still falls short: PRICE.  Sales growth hasn't been achieved, despite the $7,500 subsidy.  When that tax-credit expires, then what?  5,000 per month is a minimum for realistic sustainable, profitable sales.  Not coming anywhere close to that by the end of year-2 for gen-2 is the reason for consideration of cancel.  Using the tech in some other vehicle is viable, but Volt itself simply doesn't have a big enough audience for the production-cost and resulting price.


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