Personal Log  #852

January 7, 2018  -  January 14, 2018

Last Updated: Sun. 1/28/2018

    page #851         page #853         BOOK         INDEX         go to bottom     



Suggestions.  Why do some people feel they can be more effective by pushing rather than leading?  I had a friend start a stir by labeling an upgrade opportunity as a defect.  It was strange that his stance was not changed after pointing out that nothing was actually broken.  You find something that can be improved, you provide a suggestion.  It's not a difficult to understand approach.  After all, that has been a fundamental strength for Tesla.  Owners thrive on the upgrades, especially since those are delivered over the air, into your garage overnight.  Anywho, others chimed in to defend the old-school mentality to push: "If it cannot run the advertised distance in EV, it is really just a plain ol' hybrid."  The vague nature of that is a red flag.  It had little to do with the issue at hand too, but it did present the stage for a perspective response:  Advertised?  Sounds just like complaints of the past from people who didn't actually read what the window-sticker said.  We're set on educating people.  Doing things like provide video-clips for them to observe system operation, just like we witness but take for granted, is a mixed blessing.  Think about how many people don't have a clue how their old ICE vehicle actually works.  The raising of awareness contributes to a wide variety of "issues" to deal with.  Take a look at ERDTT for Volt.  After all these years, that so-called "problem" still exists.  Ask why?  That condition of "Engine Running Due To Temperature" is a reality, whether you like it or not.  GM takes advantage of having an engine available.  It's a tradeoff.  Providing heat at the low extreme is very expensive, hence the more complex warming system in Bolt.  I don't see plain ol' hybrids offering outstanding MPG in the warmer months for only a small MSRP less.  Watch my most recent video and show proof that the tradeoffs Toyota decided upon are not worth it.  The behavior to make sure the engine is pre-warmed when using cruise below a certain temperature could easily be a safety aspect.  You're not paying as close attention when using cruise as when operating the pedal, so the windshield must be guaranteed clear.  Calling that a "defect" or a "bug" is refusal to acknowledge the possibility of it being a conscious choice.  As a software engineer, I'd see the complaint ticket and reply back that the system is working exactly as designed.  The defect ticket would then be closed, since there's nothing broken.  There would be a suggestion for future improvement, since that's what upgrades are for.


Labels.  This particular climb up on the soapbox shouldn't have been necessary:  Labeling a suggested enhancement as a "defect" won't get you too far... especially with Toyota, who uses a business-model of continuous improvement.  Take a close look at Tesla's success, who also follows that same approach.  The design is what they specified for requirements.  Since nothing is actually broken or not working as intended, hence no defect.  Instead, you should have submitted it as an improvement idea.  Looking at the other plug-in hybrids, like Hyundai/Kia and Honda, we see differences that completely mess up the rhetoric Volt enthusiasts have been spewing for years.  Their mantra falls apart when the business aspect of design is taken into consideration, especially now with those new choices.  Then ask why did Toyota make specific choices for this particular release.  It comes down to how expectations are set.  "Know your audience" does indeed go both ways.  We've witnessed that in the past with Toyota being receptive to owner feedback.  For the topic of dynamic-cruise, there was no expectation set for cruising in the suburbs.  That's new, a use no one ever mentioned that prior to its availability.  Driving with cruise-control anywhere except on the highway was simply unheard off.  And since that's what consumes EV the fastest, the expectations was that the engine would be used then anyway.  With the next iteration of design from Toyota, we could the requirement change.  Note how Tesla calls those changes to existing vehicles an update.  That works great... for them, as a new player exclusive to the EV world.  With legacy operation... such as the big traditional vehicle manufacturers, like Toyota... changes after the sale are given a "recall" stigma.  So, take into serious consideration about how changes are presented.  Business is much more than just great engineering of hardware & software.  Labels make a difference.


Video:  Snowy, No Recharge.  The expectation of snow and a challenging commute home turned out to be a great opportunity to capture a lot more ODB-II data from my Prime.  So... I took advantage of that situation.  There's lots engine cycling to witness.  Watch the coolant temperature and demand for power.  There's quite a bit of EV activity, despite running out of plug-supplied electricity at the start of the drive.  This is the description I published along with that video:  Winter storm conditions were on the way.  Precipitation followed by a rapid temperature drop was the forecast.  Exposing the Prime to that for the sake of plugging in wasn't worth it.  So, I parked within protection of the ramp with hope of filming the drive using a depleted battery-pack was the plan for my commute home from work.  Starting that snowy drive behind a police-escorted filming crew was a rather odd start.  But it certainly was an interesting way to use up that last bit of electricity remaining from the morning commute.  The electric-heater and electric-drive quickly used it up too.  Watch the ENGINE value showing RPM.  As temperature of the COOLANT value rises enough for cabin warming, the engine will stop running.  The system will use up as much heat from that supply as possible before turning the engine back on. It's a remarkably efficient process.  58.3 MPG overall from the 18.4 miles of driving was great, especially considering how cold it was and how little electricity was available...  Snowy, No Recharge


Underperformed?  The claim that Prime "underperformed" is what Volt enthusiasts seem to have agreed upon as their message of retained superiority.  How do you deal with people who disregard facts entirely now?  In the past, they would mislead.  Now, they just us vague claims to portray a false reality.  The days of posting outdated information and cherry-picking data are over.  They just avoid facts all together.  I kept my response to that rhetoric short.  There's no sense trying to provide any type of perspective anymore.  Those few in denial still just plain don't care.  So, it was thise for my post:  No.  Rollout to three major markets all at the same time was a huge undertaking.  Japan, Europe, and North America for the first year was a big accomplishment, especially at a volume of 50,000.


Huh?  This was so bizarre, I was befuddled how to answer: "The reason that Prius PHV was priced at $28K is to sell only at a lower volume.  And Hyundai has done the same with Ioniq-EV and Ioniq-PHV.  This is a tactic all automakers do to keep the sales of plug-ins lower."  You price something very high to impede sales.  Making it affordable will do just the opposite.  To have logic so backward and be arguing it fiercely is bizarre.  What would even make a people convince themself that lower would somehow scare people away from a purchase?  That actual number of Prime sold makes the situation more confused.  Was this an antagonists hell-bent on undermining to the extent of post blatant lies and not worrying about getting called out?  Our president is that stupid.  There's no other way to state that either.  It goes beyond desperation when you know the claimed fact can easily be confirmed as false.  I ended up responding to that insanity this way:  50,000 sales worldwide is hardly low-volume, especially for the first year.  As for pricing, that's an indication of high-volume intent when tied to production-cost... which was designed to be profitable at that low MSRP.  Remember, the introduction of carbon-fiber and the new glass slowed production ramp-up too.  First year rollout is typically hampered by dealer training and customer awareness anyway.


Sighting.  Yesterday's surprise at the parking ramp sure was unexpected.  I certainly didn't think an encounter with Honda's new plug-in hybrid would happen so quickly.  It made me wonder if that wasn't actually a coincidence, someone who just happened to be downtown for something special.  The guy who own's the Leaf had been plugging in their for years.  Could it be that he was ready to become an early adopter again?  Trading in his EV for a PHEV certainly would be an interesting twist.  It looks like a very nice car.  The larger size will be a devastating blow against Volt... especially when GM's tax-credit limit is reached late this year.  Imagine how easy it will be for people to consider so much larger of a vehicle, with only 6 miles less EV capacity, for almost the same price.  Clarity potential is very promising based on that first look I got... which makes me wonder even more if that will be the only time, or will it be routine now.  Hmm?


Video:  When you use up the electricity.  I'm especially excited to share this particular new video.  It shows an easy to follow set of circumstances to observe what happens then...  Heater & High-Speed use of the electricity faster than less demanding conditions.  That can make the winter commute uncertain... until you get familiar with how the plug-in hybrid system works.  Watch this video closely.  Notice how heat to keep you warm comes from the battery for the first 2/3 of the drive.  Then when plug-supplied electricity is used up, the engine starts.  That's RPM value displayed.  While the engine runs to provide propulsion, it is also warming up coolant to circulate later while the system returns back to EV driving.  That's when the RPM value returns back to 0 (zero).  Notice how the electric heater (called a heat-pump) runs both while in EV mode and later while the engine is warming up coolant.  When the coolant temperature reaches the requested heat level, it will trigger the engine to shut off.  At that point, you will drive in EV using up whatever electricity had been generated while the engine was running.  Once the warmth from the coolant is exhausted, the engine will restart.  See what all that does to the MPG value?  Despite the engine running, it remains at 199.9 MPG.  The reason for that is simple.  My commute only consumes a tiny amount of gas when I take that longer & faster route home in the winter... a value above the 199.9 MPG maximum the screen will display:  When you use up the electricity.


Cold Impact.  I remember the fanboy attacks from Volt enthusiasts back in 2009 when bringing up this very topic.  They exclaimed heresy for even suggesting such a thing.  Their denial that cold temperatures could have such an impact ran quite deep.  They didn't want to accept such an oversight.  After all those years of hype, finding out they made such a fundamental mistakes was too much to accept.  It was nasty.  I knew I was correct... since I had real-world data not only confirming it, but also providing a realistic expectation.  The numbers hurt bad.  They hated me even more when finding out for themselves that I was being honest all along.  I wasn't attacking Volt.  My claims were not an effort to undermine.  I was being constructive.  Admiting that was too much to accept though... so much so, there are a few who still resent me.  Oh well.  That's their loss.  Too bad they wasted so much effort fighting a hopeless cause.  They were wrong.  Everyone knows it now too.  We no longer have to deal with the denial.  It sure is nice to finally have objective analysis & discussion of the matter.  Of course, real-world data is still scarce.  The few articles & posts available are still quite vague and make far too many generalizations.  But at least they draw attention to the impact of cold.


Poorly Informed.  Looking past the spin and the rhetoric, I've noticed a pattern.  Some don't know how Prime actually works either.  There are assumptions being made, leading to incorrect conclusions.  This is a major reason why Toyota spread first-year rollout to multiple markets.  Education takes awhile and GM caused a lot of collateral damage with Volt confusion... hence their own enthusiasts not understanding how Volt works.  It's unfortunate that exists and is now having a noticeable impact on Prime.  You'd think the best informed would come in the big Prius forum would be able to squash resulting misconceptions.  That hasn't been the case though.  There is a glimmer of hope emerging though.  Overlooking plug-in hybrids was clearly a missed opportunity that the consequences of are starting to be recognized.  That audience GM didn't care about is now being targeted by the other automakers.  Toyota is one, well positioned to take advantage of the situation.  The poor information must be overcome still.  That's the key to success.  Resources like the videos I share are an effective means of delivering that education.  It empowers those who take the time to watch detail.  Hopefully, they'll become agents of change as a result.  Each person contributing a small nod of acceptance is all it takes to reduce the momentum guzzlers built up.  Think of how much influence mainstream sales of affordable plug-in hybrids like Prime could have.  After all, learning from observation is the first-year owners begin their influence of others.


Sad.  The idea of leadership coming from a vehicle offering less range makes no sense to the simple-minded.  They obsess.  More is better.  Ugh.  Having to endure that while getting insulted is so smug, you're left scratching your head wondering what comes next.  Volt failed to achieve sales growth.  Whether or not Prime is successful has absolutely nothing to do with GM's struggle.  The glory of conquest blinded enthusiasts from the next challenge... attracting GM's loyal buyers.  The need to get those customers currently owning a GM vehicle to replace it with other GM vehicle offering some type of clean & efficient choice is vital.  That hasn't worked; yet, Toyota's effort to offers hybrids with a transition to plug-in hybrids is labeled as "sad".  That new Camry hybrid is amazing.  Just think of what that would be like with a Prime enhancement.  It's reasonable to expect the next-generation battery... a battery offering higher energy-density from a smaller physical size... as a realistic upgrade.  Nothing else is needed.  The upgrade of Prius to Prius Prime clearly confirms it.  Heck, just think of what a mid-cycle upgrade to Prius Prime would be like with that same enhancement.  Anywho, I was annoyed and posted this as my reply:  Desperate enough to distract the *COST* benefit Prime offers?  The resulting much lower MSRP will play a major roll in mass-market appeal.  In the meantime, we patiently wait for first year ownership to draw to a close for the initial buyers.  Their real-world endorsements will play a vital role in reaching the audience Volt never could.  It's all about growing beyond early-adopter interest.  Achieving high-volume sales requires far more than just "sad" insults.  Real leaders find a way to attract ordinary people to their product.


Purpose?  It's nice to see this getting asked: " it raises the question of what purpose the plug-in hybrid Volt serves.  What does it offer?"  With Bolt being presented as the solution to range-anxiety now, that message of Volt is lost.  Why spend so much for so little?  It's a very real problem... which is the reason GM abandoned promotion for it.  They simply saw no reason to pursue any type of advertising or education for such an awkward product.  Someday, if a SUV is offered as a plug-in hybrid, it would be reasonable to expect some type of re-introduction.  But for now, it makes no sense.  Based on the comments still being posted, ending its presence would be a good idea now.  I'm still seeing a surprising number of posts from people absolutely insisting Volt is a series hybrid.  They truly believe the engine is only used for generating electricity.  After 7.5 years of knowing that isn't what GM designed, it's rather amazing with have that type of misinformation to deal with.  Such a fundamental misunderstanding of what GM actually delivered reveals a lot about how poorly it was marketed... which brings us back to the question.  What purpose does Volt serve?


That Button.  Sometimes, it is really difficult to figure out what the person actually knows and why they are asking.  In this case, I got the impression it was simply a newbie wanting to learn more: "Isn't there a "mode" that forces running the ICE to charge the traction battery?"  Sometimes, that isn't the case.  I've had quite a number of antagonists who cause trouble by resetting the discussion.  They do that to prevent conclusions from being drawn, posting that question to make it appear as though they are geniunely curious.  In reality, it's a distraction.  You can tell by watching for that to repeat.  The pattern becomes obvious... until the next generation is rolled out.  Then you have to deal with the unknown all over again.  Anywho, I hoped for the best this time and provided some information about that button:  It's the HV/EV button.  You just push it to toggle modes.  This is how you save EV for use later.  That also helps shorten the wait-for-warm-up situation.  It makes the engine start, which results in a small addition to the EV range.  Holding it for more than 3 seconds will engage CHARGE mode.  So, if there's an opportunity of engine running for sake of EV benefit later, you have that option too.


back to home page       go to top