Posted on January 8th, 2010 1 comment
I’ve met and like John Voelcker from Green Car Reports. He’s a nice guy and he’s done some great reporting. This story though, I do not get. It feels like filler to me. Well, that and one more thing, it annoys me. The article annoys me because it’s blending two things that in reporting should not necessarily be mixed up, reality and promises.
Reality is walking out your front door, getting into your car and driving someplace. Promises are waiting on the street for a friend to pick you up. Sure, it’s a friend and they’re reliable and all that, but maybe they’ll be late. Maybe your friend you forgot you needed a ride. The two things, while having some similarities are, in practice, very, very different.
And so it goes with the much lauded Chevy Volt (the promise) and the Toyota Prius (the reality).
The Prius is a vehicle that has been on the market for more than ten years now. It has a track record. There are, quite literally, mountains of user collected data on the vehicle’s performance.
The Volt, it’s still in prototype testing. The Volt is now “scheduled” for release sometime, as John points out, sometime in 2011 (a date which has been moved back from Chevy’s original 2010 claim). Maybe Chevy will hit this date, maybe not. Maybe the Volt will do everything Chevy claims, maybe not.
Now, to be fair to John, he’s comparing the not yet in production Prius PHEV (that’s plug-in hybrid electric vehicle for those of you new to the acronym). So in a sense, I’m being a little tough on him. However, the Volt as a platform doesn’t exist at all now It’s all new, designed, according to Chevy, from the ground up. The Prius PHEV on the other hand is merely a modification of an existing vehicle to add PHEV functionality. This is something third party companies such as Hy-Motion have been doing for about five years now. In other words, even though Toyota is carefully testing the PHEV Prius this year for release next year (possibly), there is already data on how the vehicle performs modified as a PHEV.
My point here is this, it’s not really fair or even reasonable to compare one car that does exist to another that is still vaporware. Aside from the basic design differences between the vehicle (which are significant), the Volt is far from production ready. The Prius PHEV could go into production very soon if it were not that Toyota is a very conservative company that rigorously tests new concepts before releasing them. I think that’s a huge difference and it’s not realistic to compare the vehicles, at the very least right now, for that reason among many others.
Finally, John ends his article with this:
The big question: Will the experience of pure electric drive for three times the distance give the Volt an edge over a Prius Plug-In engine that stops and starts whenever it wants?
Here’s why this is NOT the big question and frankly, why John’s question is a terrible one, the Volt’s ICE will start and stop to charge the vehicle. Technically, the vehicle is “pure” electric drive but it’s a gas generated electric system so the idea that one has a motor that stops and starts and the other is “pure” is incorrect and misleading. Yes, what drives the wheels in the Volt is electricity only but what keeps that power flowing, is gas powered.
The big question is actually a few questions. Will the Volt be what Chevy says it is? What level of performance will the PHEV Prius offer? Will auto buyers flock to the established PHEV system in the Prius or run to the novelty of the Volt’s new hybrid system? Which system will hold up better over the long term and produce promised results? Will the size difference between the two vehicles be a factor for consumers (positive or negative)? trying to boil all this down to one question isn’t a reason able goal right now.
Thursday night in New York. A clear, windy and extremely cold night. After driving the three hours from Lancaster to NYC I was glad to see a friendly valet take my Prius and welcome me into the Skylight Gallery.
While the layout in New York was different all the components were the same. The same three Prii that we saw in Detroit (Michelle V. of Prius Chat compared the VIN numbers). It was nice to have some more time with the car to sit in it, check out the controls and ponder which 2010 should be sitting in front of POG-HQ in May.
While I was there I had the pleasure, yes, genuine pleasure to meet someone who makes a lot of appearances here on the POG, no less than Jerry Flint of Forbes Magazine (picture below). While I disagree with Mr. Flint, sometimes vehemently he was one of those people whose warmth instantly wins you over. He happened to be sporting an old American Motors pin in his lapel which caught my eye as my father worked there when I was a kid. So, Mr. Flint while we may continue to disagree on auto industry strategies and how we view the various accomplishments of the big three, you won this round on humanity.
Back to the New York Prius Connection…
Mr. Tim Morrison of Toyota welcoming the attendees to the Prius Connection New York.
Ms. Natae Rayner of Toyota discussing the new 2010. I want to say that Natae was very helpful (and sympathetic) with my own questions about the 2010. Thanks Natae!
As an aside, these little things were some kind of amazing fig concoction that can only be described as a nuclear fig newton on steroids laced with whatever addictive substance you care to name. They were tasty. Cheers to Toyota for the wonderful food.
The Skylight Gallery.
Now here is something that doesn’t happen every day.
This is Mr. Gary Carter, Prius owner and POG reader. I don’t meet many people who actually admit to the existence of this little site so I was delighted when he recognized the site right away and said he was a reader. I had a great time chatting with Gary and he was kind enough to pose for this shot.
Yes, Prius trivia was a central part of the connection in New York as well. And to add even more surprise to the evening, I triumphed in one round although I was competing against my kid and one other person. So it’s not like I was faced with a panel of experts from Priuschat (thankfully).
The kid got the “Prius Genius” t-shirt.
You can see the entire gallery from the New York Prius Connection by clicking here.
So, late Sunday night we begin the eleven hour drive to Chicago for the final Prius Connection (that I’ll be attending). That takes place on Tuesday, expect a full report and pictures from the trip and the Connection. And while this is the final Prius Connection report for the POG it is by no means the end of the reporting we’re doing on the 3G 2010 Prius. Huge things are coming very soon. Stay tuned.
Our old friend G. Chambers Williams III is back on his “hybrid look like hybrids” high horse again.
And these guys get paid to write this stuff.
What am I doing wrong?
Now this one is a beaut…
But like I said last week, cops can so much easier haul a dead body in the
cargo hold of a Jeep Cherokee than they can in the back of a Toyota Prius.
Well thanks for clearing that but once again, I would disagree. Perhaps that’s why the paper hides this junk behind a scrip wall.
OK, let’s just get it out there: The 2010 Ford Fusion hybrid is the best gasoline-electric hybrid yet.
What makes it best is a top-drawer blend of an already very good midsize sedan with the industry’s smoothest, best-integrated gas-electric power system. It’s so well-done that you have to look to the $107,000 Lexus LS 600h hybrid to come close.
You’re kidding me right? The next best thing compared to the Fusion is a six figure Lexus hybrid? In what way exactly? It’s not hybrid performance. So it must be something else.
he Toyota Prius crowd will protest. Prius is lower-priced, has about the same room inside, has a handy hatchback configuration, gets better mileage — and most of those attributes could improve when the 2010 Prius goes on sale in a few months — so how could Fusion be the best hybrid?
And I can’t speak for the “Prius crowd” but when you compare a vehicle that performs at a lower level than the Prius and costs more and then call the second place Fusion “the best” perhaps this Prius owner just questions your judgment.
Jim Motavalli at the NYC Prius event and here’s his report.
Someone really wants a diesel.
I don’t get it. I guess I’m a “wuss”.
Roman Mica, writing for the Philly Examiner seems transfixed on the idea of exploding hybrids even though his initial report on the Lexus explosion early last week was completely debunked.
Honestly, are you afraid of batteries or just stupid?
Oh, and seriously, just a friendly suggestion, stick to writing about triathlons. Every time you stick your nose into the hybrid issue you just look worse and worse.
This article mentions the Johnson Controls i3 PHEV and the importance of making advanced batteries here in the U.S.
According to numerous sources and press releases the Insight is now on sale in Japan.
Enterprise Rent-A-Car is adding about 5,000 hybrids to its nationwide fleet and designating almost 80 rental locations across the country as “hybrid branches.”
The addition of gas/electric hybrids doubles the amount of hybrids Enterprise owns, according to the company.
The new hybrids will be available at nearly 80 locations in 24 major markets across the country, including the 10 busiest airports for business travelers in the U.S.
Customers will be able to choose from several makes and models of hybrid vehicles including the Toyota Prius, Nissan Altima, Ford Escape and Toyota Camry.
The company also offers a nationwide car sharing program that provides hourly rental options. The vehicles are placed in designated parking spaces where they can be accessed electronically.
Last September, Enterprise opened its first “Green Branch” in Sacramento.
Seriously, Fox isn’t a “source” for journalism is any sense of the word I understand. This headline is just one of many make that point.
The gist of the story. Other countries pollute, why should we even try to reduce our pollution.
Sad, just sad.