Thursday, May 26, 2016

You Ain't Got No Alibi, You're Ugly...

Well, CNET's Roadshow certainly didn't hold back.
So, more TL;DR...

CNET's reviewer really thought the new Prius was ugly. And everyone he talked to thought so too.

He liked the MPG.

He liked that the car was more drivable than previous generations but still calls it an "appliance".

He hates Entune (like all decent, god fearing people).

Unlike Consumer Reports, CNET thought the Prius represented a good value with a huge caveat, namely, the Volt which offers great EV range and the upcoming Model 3.

All in all, it's not an unfair review in my opinion. I think the ugly thing is a hook too many car writers hang their Prius caps on. Do think the value proposition isn't as strong as it has been in years past and, since I still have not driven it, I can't really comment much on the rest.

What do you think?

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Nine Million Hybrids

Say what you about Toyota's overall green car efforts, there is no denying the seismic impact Toyota has had on the world with its hybrids. Hybrid Synergy Drive is, far and away, the most successful hybrid vehicle system on the planet.

From GreenCarReports...
Toyota has reached yet another hybrid-production milestone since launching the original Prius in Japan in 1997. 
Nine months after building its 8-millionth hybrid, Toyota says it has now sold just over 9 million hybrids globally. 
The build date for that 9-millionth hybrid was actually April 30, so the company has likely passed that mark by a significant margin since then.

The total includes hybrids from both the main Toyota brand and the Lexus luxury brand.
Lexus by itself delivered its 1-millionth hybrid in April, 11 years after it first began selling them. 
This is the second time in a row Toyota has increased its global hybrid-production total by 1 million units in less than a year.
It took the company 10 months to grow production from 7 million units to 8 million units.
The company currently sells 33 hybrid models in more than 90 global markets. 
Congratulations to our friends at Toyota and all of our Prius owners out there!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Camry Hybrid Sales Up In India

I know, India? I think it's interesting when we can look at sales trends in other countries. A while back we reported, right here, on how dismal sales of Prius were in India due, almost entirely, to a large tariff on the Japan built hybrid. Camry hybrid, on the other hand, has been assembled in India since 2013 and yes, it's cheaper, by a good amount, than Prius. So yeah, Camry hybrid sales are going great.

Hybrids Sales Surge In Korea

From Business Korea...

Long story short, Hybrid sales are up in Korea, diesels are down. While diesels are still the lion share of the market, Volkswagen and Audio both saw a decrease of about 30% in sales the first part of this year.

Meanwhile, the new Prius and RAV4 hybrid are both up.

Don't Take My Word For It

Car Talk: Battery life not problem in Toyota PriusBy Ray Magliozzi
Dear Car Talk:I'm thinking of buying a new Prius Two. Will the battery system need replacement after, say, eight to 10 years? Does replacement hinge on driving habits, or luck of the draw? I am retired and live in a city with constant traffic congestion. I don't drive more than 5,000 miles a year, mostly stop-and-go. The low carbon footprint and great gas mileage of a Prius appeal to me; however, the expense of a new battery system in a few years is worrisome. Shall I forget the Prius and opt for something more reliable, such as a Camry? — Lois
Well, the Prius batteries are warrantied for eight years and 100,000 miles in most places, 10 years and 150,000 miles in any state that has adopted California emissions laws. How many years and miles are you under warranty for, at this point, Lois?
Seriously, the drive-train battery pack on the Prius has proven very durable over the years. In all the years we've been servicing "Prii" at the shop, I think we've had one customer who needed a new battery pack. And that customer had over 150,000 miles on his Prius.
That doesn't guarantee that you'll never have a problem. But in our experience, the Prius has been extraordinarily reliable. And so has its battery pack.
For 2016, Toyota is introducing new, lithium ion batteries on some higher-end versions of the Prius. And we don't yet know how well they'll hold up over hundreds of thousands of miles. Write to me if you're still around in 15 or 20 years, and if I'm still around, I'll tell you!
But the Prius Two that you're considering uses the tried-and-true nickel metal hydride batteries that are still powering tens of thousands of Prius taxis in urban stop-and-go traffic all over the country. 
So, the batteries are not a reason to shy away from the Prius, Lois. The looks, perhaps. But it's a great car, and if that's what you want, get it.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Why Do Some People Hate The 4G Prius So Much?

I could rant for hours but I'm going to keep this simple (but not very short).

This was inspired by this article.
From the article...
So how far can the new fourth-generation Toyota Prius travel purely as a zero-emission EV? If the first part of your drive is a climb up a steep hill like here at "Casa Owen" then you'll be lucky to reach the end of your street before the 1.8-litre petrol engine has to fire up and begin burning all those nasty hydrocarbons again
Yeah, well, that example is a little more extreme than it sounds but at least the author is coming from a good place, not wanting to burn oil.
It's this lack of a useful Electric Vehicle (EV) mode that classifies the newest Prius more as a user of 20th Century hybrid powertrain technology than one taking full advantage of the latest advances. Without a plug tofully exploit the cost-effective electric-power alternative, or a lithium-ion battery to allow more efficient storage of accumulated energy, the days of the Prius being the poster vehicle for the hybrid movement are now well and truly over.
Ouch. That hurt. And while describing it as a 20th century powertrain might sound unfair, it is Toyota's continued and strenuous resistance to plug-ins and EVs that led directly to that author writing what he did.
The newest Prius might be a smidge more efficient than the third-gen vehicle that precedes it, and it is a far better drive, but it can no longer live up to a model name that is the Latin word for "to go before".
I'm guessing he hasn't seen that soon to be award winning series of fun Prius commercials demonstrating the Prius is the perfect vehicles for a number of things including robbery and escaping the police.
Automotive leadership in reduced environmental impact now belongs to either the pure electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf (still available here as an $18-$25k used import), or plug-in hybrids like said new Beemers and others that can lead air quality-promoting double-lives as EVs over their entire weekly home-work-home commuting duties.
Now the delay on Prius Prime is really stinging.
Of course, none of the above really matters. For the only people who are really passionate about the Prius these days are taxi drivers. So during my time with the GX, I went down a line of taxis waiting for customers at Auckland airport to quiz the drivers about how they felt about their petrol-electric Toyotas.
Now that's pretty ridiculous. I mean, it's just blind to a huge swath of Prius owners who are passionate about their vehicles. But sure, whatever...
To a man (and they were all men), those who drove a Prius were all hopeful of one day being able to graduate to a Camry hybrid (better room and comfort for all, they said).
And I would bet, if we asked some more probing questions  and dug into this the main issue would be, as mentioned, size and comfort, not the lack of more EV technology on Prius.
Lowest in the pecking order on the rank were those who drove the third-generation Prius. For these vehicles were scorned by drivers of the second-generation Prius because their batteries weren't as durable.
These latter taxi professionals were immensely proud of vehicles that had travelled 400,000km-plus and were still using their original batteries. In the eyes of the average taxi driver, the second-gen Prius is the pinnacle for its bulletproof reliability and hyper-mileage economy. Coincidently, it's also the Prius we all think of whenever anyone mentions the name. You know, the one that looks like an overripe zucchini on wheels.
Into this context of a model already viewed as going backwards by those who appreciate its virtues most, steps this, the fourth coming of the Prius. Perhaps we should call it the Imperial Stormtrooper version, given that the interior of the GX reminds of a Star Wars costume party with its eye-searing white plastic decoration.
"Eye searing". Yeah, sometimes our reach exceeds our grasp.
And this is definitely no great leap forward in taxi technology either. Most of us will experience this Toyota from the back seat, where we'll feel claustrophobic thanks to the reduced height of the window glass. And spare a thought for the groomers of the taxi fleet, given that quite a lot of Friday Night Excess can no longer be accurately expelled out of the smaller rear windows and is therefore more likely to be deposited on the floor.
Ok, now we're getting too deep. Which follows with two more paragraphs of why this new Prius isn't the greatest taxi on the planet which, as I seem to recall, was not one of the main criteria Toyota used to design it.

But then we get to this, at the bottom of the page, almost at the end of the story.
But, while the latest Prius isn't a better taxi, it is a far better car. Built on a new platform and now possessing fully independent suspension all round, it even drives like a car these days where the others handled like golf carts mounted on bicycle wheels. And, what's this on the centre console? A selector for a sports mode? Be still, my beating heart. 
Where the back seats are Spartan with their furnishing, the ones up front are comfy and squeeze and support in all the right places. Ride quality is now up with the very best-suspended medium sized sedans, and while twirling the tiller still represents sensory deprivation, there is now a biddable handling balance on offer. To the point that this was almost a Prius that I could contemplate as my own at a personal outlay of $47,490.
Then I quickly snapped out of this semi-scary prospect. If I ever buy a hybrid, it'll definitely come with enough lithium to glow in the dark, OK? And a plug. 
So, good and bad. Sort of.

But at the top I was trying make a point, wasn't I? I think I was. Here is the succinct reasons I think writers, reviewers and bloggers hate on the Prius as they famously do at times:

-They've always hated Prius and this is just a new opportunity to use all the same old tropes they've been wallowing in for more than a decade and half.

-They are actually right about some specific things but take it too far and generalize about the entire vehicle.

-They are just assholes.

-Link bait.

-They wanted to write about, rant about or review a different kind of vehicle but their editor told them to do the Prius thing and shut up.

-They really hate the Prius and can see nothing good about it whether it's there or not.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

KBB Says 2016 Prius Is Number One

Our friends at the Kelly Blue Book have made a list, it's the top ten "fuel sippers for 2016" and like the terrible title, the list isn't all that great as much as we love to see the Prius taking the top spot.
Kelley Blue Book's 10 Favorite Fuel Sippers of 2016 
1.  2016 Toyota Prius 
The Prius made the idea of a mainstream hybrid realistic, and helped change the way we look at cars. The all-new 2016 Prius is more enjoyable to drive, while at the same time boasting even more amazing fuel efficiency.
City/hwy/combined mpg: 54/50/52 
2.  2016 Chevrolet Volt
The second-generation Volt is more efficient, more practical and just plain more appealing than its predecessor.
First 53 miles: 106 mpge combined
Next 367 miles: 42 mpg combined 
3.  2016 Tesla Model S AWD - 70D
The celebrity of electrified personal transportation, the Model S appeals with an impressive mix of good looks, massive 17-inch touchscreen, jaw-dropping acceleration, everyday practicality and unmatched battery range.
City/hwy/combined mpge: 101/102/101
Range: 240 miles    
4.  2016 BMW i3
The futuristic and fun-to-drive BMW i3 is the most efficient car in the country according to EPA figures. It's even manufactured in an earth-friendly manner, in a plant powered completely by four wind turbines.
City/hwy/combined mpge: 137/111/124
Range: 81 miles
Ok, great so far. All good cars. All reasonably, well, sort of, priced. All readily available.
5.  2016 Volkswagen e-Golf
Combining the instant oomph of electric power with sharp handling and engaging European driving feel, the e-Golf delivers a unique mix of efficiency, affordability and fun.
City/hwy/combined mpge: 126/105/116
Range: 83 miles
Name how many of these you've seen in the wild? On a lot? The only place I can find this car is in a Google image search.
6.  2016 Kia Soul Electric  
Packed to its tall roof with style and features, the gas-powered Kia Soul is a regular entry on our annual list of the 10 Coolest Cars Under $18,000. Electric power raises the price, but makes the Soul even cooler.
City/hwy/combined mpge: 120/92/105
Range: 93 miles
I don't really have anything smartass to say about the Soul EV. If you like the styling, it looks like a fun EV.
7.  2016 BMW i8
The i8 is a 357-horsepower supercar that's also an eco-minded all-star. The stylish coupe rockets from 0-60 mph in 4.2 seconds, yet can be driven on pure electric power with zero emissions. It's also the most expensive car on this list, with a starting sticker price of $140,700.
First 14 miles: 76 mpge combined
Next 316 miles: 28 mpg combined
Nah. Sorry, at a buck and half large, it's really kind of silly. I get that it's a performance monster but the Tesla is faster and, arguably, almost half the price.
8.  2016 Toyota Mirai
As clean as an electric car but quickly refillable like a gas-powered car, the hydrogen-powered Mirai is something of a best-of-both-worlds proposition. Availability is extremely limited – both the vehicle and the fuel -- but the otherwise practical, comfortable Mirai is a promising glimpse into a possible future.
Combined mpge: 67
Range per refill: 312 miles
This makes no freaking sense at all. Again, a rare beast and for good reason, the fuel for it may be the most common element in the universe but trying fueling up your Mirai can be next to impossible. It might be time to acknowledge that H2 fuel cell vehicles never delivered on any of their promises they've been making for a very long time.
9.  2016 Toyota Camry Hybrid
The famously reliable and well-rounded Toyota Camry is the best-selling car in the country year after year, and the sub-$30,000 Camry Hybrid adds a 41-mpg cherry on top.
City/hwy/combined mpg: 43/39/41 
10.  2016 Ford Focus Electric
Like the traditionally powered Ford Focus compact car, the Focus Electric is simply more fun to drive than most of its competitors.
City/hwy/combined mpge: 110/99/105
Range: 76 miles
Like fuel for the Mirai, this is almost imaginary. Ford runs this thing up the flag whenever someone pokes them and asks them what they're doing that isn't gas but Ford's commitment to this vehicle, actually making it and putting it on dealer floors and selling it to customers, is a sad, sad joke.