Personal Log  #991

February 17, 2020  -  February 26, 2020

Last Updated:  Weds. 3/25/2020

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Priceless.  There are some who have no idea how we got here and where we are going.  That comes from not really understanding what is involved with a vehicle as a whole.  Much more is required than just motor & battery.  This particular comment provided an invitation to point out some of that: "Funny how VW was able to develop a sophisticated software program to cheat emission testing but can't come up with something to basically control a vehicle."  Recognition of what's really involved isn't easy.  So much of that can be overlooked by the masses, and often is.  Even this extreme example involved the diesel scandal didn't do much to raise the knowledge of many who believe to know a lot about the automotive industry.  I pointed out a few things this person most likely had no clue about:  Simply programming a disable isn't sophisticated; ironically, not wanting to be sophisticated is how the cheat came about.  VW mocked Toyota hybrids with its diesel technology, somehow claiming efficiency was superior.  In the meantime, Toyota advanced their hybrid programming to deliver full EV driving.  So what if range is limited?  That's software operating in real-world conditions deployed in several markets used for several years now.  That proven reliability ahead of the larger capacity offerings is priceless.


Differences.  To some, the choice isn't clear.  So, they ask: "Why did you choose Prius Prime and not Chevrolet Volt 2, what is the advantage of prius?"  That sounded sincere to me.  It makes sense that there are many who have no idea what the difference are.  This is why I really try to focus on actual data, rather than getting pulled into the rhetoric.  Hopefully, I did a good job of that this time:  Volt offered less efficient EV drive (31 kWh/100mi) compared to Prius Prime (25 kWh/100mi) and less efficient HV drive (42 MPG combined) compared to Prius Prime (54 MPG combined).  Electric heating from Prius Prime was also more efficient, offering a vapor-injected heat-pump rather than a basic resistance-heater that Volt used.  It was also obvious Toyota was investing in other important design aspects of efficiency, as the carbon-fiber hatch in Prius Prime clearly confirms.  Another easy decision-maker was the simple fact that Prius Prime was larger inside.  Looking at the bigger picture, it was obvious Toyota would be spreading their technology to other platforms... as we now see with both Corolla PHV and the upcoming RAV4 Prime.  That greening of the entire fleet is very important.  GM seemed to be all bark and no bite, which has since been proven good reason for concern about actually moving forward.

2-23-2020 First Post, Prime Curious.  When you see a "1" in the counter for someone on the forum, there is good reason to give extra attention to their particular post.  We often see extremes from the new... either someone innocently joining to ask a genuine question or someone joining with the hope of stirring trouble.  Suspicion is easy to raise by just reading what they provide and watching for the reply.  That return on whatever comment you provide tends to reveal motive.  You can detect a pattern to satisfy misgiving.  Here's what caught my attention: "To give a quick background, wife and I are ready to upgrade from our 2006 Acura TL (that recently needed a rebuilt transmission) and we have been very intrigued by the Prius Prime..."  Was that from a person truly researching a purchase?  I posted:

Interesting.  That's what my wife traded in for her Prime.  She bought her TL used, with a replaced transmission.  I think the previous owner didn't know how to drive with a clutch.  She also had to have it rebuilt after the back corner got struck by a careless driver.  It made a mess of the navigation system, which was stored in the trunk.  Anywho, she drives a Prime now and loves it.

There will inevitably be a new Prius Prime in the next few years that will be a huge step forward with the technology.  I have been upgrading with each new generation of Prius for 20 years now.  Toyota's investment toward electrification advancement is.  We see hints as parts of what is to come from what gets rolled out with their other hybrids.  Ultimately though, Prius has been a great platform for the greenest of us.  And as the "car" slowly vanishes from this market, it makes sense to see Prius evolve into a strong choice for those not interested in something that resembles a truck.

As for your choice of when to purchase, how long do you intend to keep this Prius?  There is always something better on the way.  That's how new technology works, especially in an emerging market.  To take advantage of whatever the next-gen Prius Prime offers, you should consider charger setup.  Recharging with an ordinary 120-volt outlet should work fine, but the charging standard at that point will almost certainly be a speed step up from 3.6 to 7.2 kW.  If you don't ever intend to provide a dedicated 40-amp line for a charger, a feature of the new tech would be missed.  Supplying electricity faster isn't necessary, but that is what you'd be paying for as part of the next-gen offering.

It goes without saying (though I will), that EV range (efficiency/capacity) will increase and the battery will become more robust.  That's just another natural step forward with the progression of any maturing plug-in technology.

This generation of Prius Prime has been a wonderful choice for us.  We have two.  Long highway trips to visit family and the countless drives to grandpa's stuffing the cargo area in preparation to sell his house has proven worth of the technology.  Our commutes are entirely electric too, since we can recharge at work.  I'm hoping to upgrade to the next-gen Prius yet again.  But in the meantime, I'm thoroughly enjoying the EV driving experience this generation provides.

I hope my ramblings helped.  Good luck with your decision.


Next Step.  At what point does the next step become obvious?  Some people still wonder: "There is a rumor on the Bolt EV Facebook page that there *might* be a reason that Bolts are being heavily discounted and that they are being cleared out."  Knowing that Bolt was never profitable and there is no expectation for profit until GM's next-gen platform is rolled out, it simply makes no sense carrying forward with this offering.  Without any tax-credit to leverage, just clearing out stock is a subtle way to allow the failure to fade away seems the best choice.  After all, who is there left to speak out in favor of Bolt?  All of the Volt enthusiasts have vanished.  It's rather strange for all of them to be gone now.  Their constant antagonist activity was always such a pain.  Now, it's difficult to even convey the gravity of their influence.  How could a supposed group of such massive underlying effort now be entirely absent from discussions now?  That's just the way it is.  The next step required abandoned the terrible path their were on.  Forward was not the direction they favored.  They endorsed a niche, something to reign over others rather than being an actual game-changer.  Ugh.  I responded to that *might* comment with:  Seeing GM move to another platform for their EV offerings shouldn't be a surprise.  The very idea of an automaker dominated by the sales of Pickups & SUVs having their premiere plug-in a small hatchback or wagon was a bit absurd.  After all, GM had a prototype plug-in SUV over a decade ago.  There's the reality of RAV4 Prime from Toyota becoming a serious draw too.  So, starting fresh by moving away from Bolt is a sensible next step.


Interesting Requests.  I especially like comments posted about the videos.  This one in particular stood out: "Have you or could you please do a commute with EV-Auto, where the car determines the best option between electric and engine? I'm thinking you would obtain better mileage if it choose for you?"  It was a request.  I like those.  Coming from an audience beyond the reach of the online forums, they are often quite compelling.  After all, hearing from those outside your peers is the best way to get new ideas.  And now that I have covered the essentials, it would be nice to be able to provide some other information.  The suggestion of EV-Auto is a worthwhile one.  At some point (meaning the warm season, when it's a lot easier to setup all the equipment), I could see myself following up with that request.  Ideally, I would do the same drive twice for good measure.  We'll see.  In the meantime, this was my reply:  With this particular type of drive (temperature well below heat-pump minimum), the use of EV-Auto would make no difference.  The engine would cycle exactly the same way. I n warmer conditions, if your destination is within the charge range, keeping it in the default EV mode is best.  The only situation where I could see EV-Auto as having any benefit is on a long trip when there will be several demands for high power, which is when having the engine available (already warmed up) would provide an overall savings.  On my commute, in all but the extreme cold (as in this video), my entire drive can be in EV.  Switching to EV-Auto, would be a waste.  Being able to recharge at work negates the need for engine running at all.  For me, it's there for longer trips.


Preparation.  Expecting RAV4 Prime to take the market by storm, I have been preparing by creating informational videos to share about how that plug-in hybrid technology operates.  Our recent super cold day provided a great opportunity to capture a commute with my Prius Prime.  I took a non-highway route to highlight how the engine cycles on & off to give you cabin warmth while also allowing for short jaunts of EV driving.  That turned out great.  Good thing too.  With changes of extreme cold dwindling as hints of Spring start to enter our forecast, this was basically my last opportunity to film.  Work schedules and nice lighting don't often coincidence nicely with weather patterns.  So, I considered this opportunity a fortunate one, something not to missed.  It worked out nicely too.  Knowing that even Tesla is playing catch-up, since they have not offered a heat-pump yet, any data showing how that technology will benefit all the extremes is helpful.  Under ordinary Winter driving, that's all you need.  The less efficient resistance-heater is only necessary during the limited times when it really is the cold season's peak.  I have been enjoying that benefit for 3 years now.  It's interesting how that makes a difference.  Most people won't have any idea.  We do though, the people watching for detail on technical videos.  So, I'm glad to have created a collection to share prior to the desire for that knowledge from the curious.


Video:  Prius Prime - Sub-Zero Commute (alternate route).  In the quest to get a variety of data to share, I took this alternate route to work.  It's another sub-zero commute.  But unlike the other vehicle, this alternate route completely avoids the highway.  With temperature much lower than the 14°F threshold for the electric heat-pump, it's another example of how the engine cycles on & off to provide cabin warming.  The drive itself is rather pleasant, lots of hills & turns.  The extreme cold doesn't present any challenges. Watch the temperature of the coolant as the engine heats it.  When it reaches a certain level, the engine shuts off.  When it drops below the minimum, it starts up again.  As the system warms, that minimum drops.  So, the engine stays off longer the more you drive, despite the cold outside.  Overall MPG goes up and the drive proceeds.  Plug-Supplied electricity is used for propulsion when the engine is off.  You can see that detail on the aftermarket app (a device connected to my tablet via bluetooth from the car).  It's handy to have more information available than just what the display on the dashboard shows. 
Here's a link to that video...  Prius Prime - Sub-Zero Commute (alternate route)

2-19-2020 One Year Ago.  This was posted a year ago, as the death of Volt was unfolding.  That reality hit enthusiasts hard, it was beyond their worse nightmare.  Besides their beloved vehicle being abruptly discontinued, there was the fact that I was right about the investment in the technology all along.  GM's heart just wasn't in it.  They were content fulfilling a niche to relish in praise from those whose opinion was really just a facade.  They had lost the war with me.  All those battles didn't actually accomplish anything.  But what they hated most was my message never changed.  I was always pushing for the spread of clean & green technology to the masses, disinterested in glory.  Their "trophy mentality" meant nothing to me.  It made them crazy.  I find it fascinating.  A great example of that is how relevant my post from one year ago has become.  I nailed it with the prediction and even back then they knew it:

That attempt at damage-control is pretty lame.  The advertisement for RAV4 hybrid features the second-generation now being rolled out, not the first as you imply.

I have been talking about a "Prime" upgrade to that platform for years, just add a one-way clutch and more battery the same way Prius was augmented.  It's a simple & affordable way to offer a plug option.

Each time I brought up the larger and more powerful hybrid, I got attacked.  In fact, I expect the same with this post… especially when I remind everyone of how GM recently chose to offer Equinox as a diesel, rather than a hybrid.

See, with the RAV4 hybrid becoming a popular choice, due to the regular RAV4 being Toyota's top-seller and the hybrid being so affordable, taking the next step by offering a plug in a no-brainer.  Those loyal showroom shoppers will see the plug-in and seriously consider the purchase, simply by association.

All the senseless efforts to undermine Prius and attack me were in vain.  Enthusiasts here failed to heed the warning, despite being told hundreds of times GM must diversify their plug-in hybrid technology.  It was never spread to a SUV… and clearly should have.


Illogical.  Reading this made me sigh: "I'd like you to ask PHEV manufacturers standardize a light in the upper rear part of the vehicle that is ONLY powered on when the car is in pure electric mode.  That is absolutely necessary for PHEV's to be considered a green alternative.  If those cars have an ONLY ELECTRIC external indicator, you can consider them green to enter the city as long as they turn their engines to only EV."  This is what you get from some newbies, those who haven't really ever given the circumstances or technology any real thought.  They just make up something on-the-fly that seems sensible, but really doesn't equate to any benefit.  That's just like the insistence upon more range being better.  It sounds logical, but nothing is actually gained from having more capacity.  In fact, beyond actual need can turn into a negative.  Want can be costly to fulfill.  There are tradeoffs.  Anywho, I responded to that with:  That is an illogical request.  To ensure a PHEV has enough EV capacity available for restricted-city access, it must have a means of preventing that electricity from being used up during the initial drive to the city.  Having a "hold" button means the toggle between EV and HV is at the control of the driver.  So at any time, the engine can be turned back on after entering.  More importantly, what if the owner lives in the city and that's where they plug in.  If EV capacity is used up prior to reaching their recharge destination, then what?  It sounds like a planning issue, but getting stuck in city congestion with the electric-heater running presents a problem the owner simply cannot predict.  Surprise inner-city delays happen.  Lastly, keep in mind that when the engine runs, it is actually cycling on & off.  So, there is a mix of EV and HV while you drive even following depletion.


PHEV Bridge.  We are really seeing an increase in the "bridge to EV" sentiment now.  The role plug-in hybrids will provide toward bridging the electrification transition and it is becoming very difficult to just brush away now.  It's becoming evident how little people understand EV technology.  Through no fault of their own, there's much ignorance.  Exposure is very limited and misconceptions are abundant.  That makes undermining progress very easy... and we're seeing that being exploited in many ways.  Choices like RAV4 PHEV should help turn the table though.  Being able to so easily stir interest will be a game-changer.  Remember how that was supposed to be Volt?  This is why I pushed "Who?" so much.  It was obvious whatever technology that came about and was proven would necessitate spreading for growth.  The ultimate irony of "laggard" will be playing out in the next few months.  The enthusiasts have all by grown entirely silent already.  They saw the bridge but failed to find a way to across get across.  It's all about reaching mainstream consumers on the other side.  Bridging from enthusiast to the masses is how you achieve the advancement forward with technology.  Engineering alone is not enough.  People must accept what you present.  Appeal to what they can do:  PHEV are an effortless bridge that encourages upgrades at home.  It's a painless decision being able to simply drive off the dealer's lot and recharge at home using nothing but a standard 120-volt outlet.  After doing that overnight routine for a while, the owner becomes compelled to look into the 240-volt upgrade.  No pressure on the when & how is key.  After all, most households are simply not capable of recharging 2 plug-in vehicles overnight without an upgrade.  Somehow, that bridge needs to be crossed without intimidation.  Know your audience.


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