So is the plug-in electric market right now kinda the automotive version of the Republican Presidential race? That is, basically a two-candidate/horse/PEV battle, in this case the Nissan Leaf versus this new Prius? If so, who do you think will come out on top?
This strategy seems like it could really take root with consumers, especially if the price is right and given Toyota's huge success with the original Prius. I think beyond the people who are totally committed environmentists, this slow-stepping into a pure EV vehicle might be the right strategy to ease people into alternative vehicles without having to make a total transformation all at once.
Alex: yes, in terms of what's available right now, it's a two-horse race. As Beth points out, the Prius' existing customer base, combined with a big price difference between it and the Volt, probably makes it the favorite. In the end, I believe it may also draw customers away from the Leaf. The fact that it can be plugged in is important to potential Leaf customers and others who watch their carbon footprint. Those buyers could use the vehicle in all-electric mode most of the time, then use the gasoline range extension capability on those rare occasions when they need to drive farther. The Leaf doesn't offer them that option.
Actually it is not a rare occaision for me to need more than 12 miles a day but the concept of this PHV seems very good to me. Most days I commute 12 miles round trip. Some days I add a few other miles to go to lunch. Sometimes there are errands in the evening. Being able to recharge before evening errands, which tend to be short trips, might keep me in all electric mode most of the time. But every few days, and certainly every weekend I have trips of 50-200 miles where a Volt or a Leaf would not do the job and I'd a second vehicle around just for that. With the gas backup in the hybrid, I would be able to manage with just one car. EXCEPT, during the summer on weekends, I end up pulling a boat about 50% of the time. Needing a tow vehicle sometimes, you either need to bite the bullet and put up with its poor mileage all the time, or bite another bullet and maintain, store, and insure multiple vehicles. Right now the savings in fuel are not enough to justify multiple vehicles, close, but not quite. At $10/gallon, I may give up the boat and SUV.
B. 22mpg for commuting in winter snow season or for SUV tasks (<3000 mile per year)
C. 5mpg for hauling loads greater than 3 tons. (<500 miles per year)
Most people don't need C but can easily do A & B. If you look at the cost to move a ton per mile or person per mile you can see that this was indeed a very efficient setup. The real cost issue for A was that taxes and insurance greatly exceeded yearly fuel cost. The real efficiency for C was that it could carry more than it's own weight in payload.
I find a lot of this discussion, and similar discussions on previous forums, miss the point of hybrids, plug in hybrids, and electric vehicles. Each is a great alternative for some folks, and not for others - alternatives are good. Why do we have to justify each one as if it's going to become the only game in town? I have a Prius, and it's a great all around car that happens to get 50 mpg. I bought it partly for the high mileage, partly for the reliability & low maintenance (topic for another discussion) and partly because I think it's the right thing to do. I find it odd that we need to discuss the economics of extremely economical vehicles, but no one ever asks about the ROI or yearly operating cost of a Mercedes, Porsche, 12 mpg pickup truck, etc.
Actually, I think most people would prefer not "to arrive at your destination with the last watt coming out of your battery," but to arrive back home...
Speaking as a non-plug-in Prius owner, I personally would be more interested in a pure-electric drive-in-town car, and the Leaf would be a better match for that. That at least as a second car; as a one-and-only car, the Leaf wouldn't work for me, and I think not for a lot of Americans.
Oh, I forgot to add that I'm a little unsure about frequently deep-cycling Li-ion batteries. At least on laptops and cell phones, my experience is that they do gradually degrade. Toyota made it work for NiMH, but I guess we'll see how/if it works on Li-ion.
There are at least six very differnt Li-ion chemistries. Some can take a 0-100% discharge in a stride and others can't. Those that can't are generally managed so that in reality they operate between, say, 20% and 80% charge. The user will never know this because the charge meter will say 0 charge when in fact the battery is at 20% and it will say fully charged when it is at 80%.
I suspect that if we ignore those who are only out to make a statement (or who can consider the purchase a business deduction), there would be virtually no sales of the Leaf. While it could be a viable 3rd car, as a 1st or 2nd even for shopping trips the range with A/C or heat on is 30 min or less round trip. 15+ hours charge (from 110v) for 30 min of use requires a lot of planning. It would be embarassing to ask to plug it in at a friends house when we meet for dinner.
The sales of the Prius may (or may not) be mostly to those out to make a statement, but it seems to be a enjoying popularity. I believe it could be a very usable 1st car with the plug-in charging a plus and a very respectable option for a 2nd car. The only troubles I see are:
Is Toyota selling the Prius at a loss? If true, this cannot continue forever.
What is the cost of replacing the battery when it eventually fails (along with the environmental costs)?
I would like these 2 questions answered before I consider purchasing one.
The lead in paragraph suggests that Guardino was buying a car that eschewed the ICE. The fact is the Prius has an ICE. What Guardino was really saying apparently is that it is OK to burn coal or nuclear fuel at a remote location rather than burn gasoline under the hood. He is the epitome of NUMH (Not Under My Hood). I could be wrong. He might have a 10KW windturbine in his back yard.
Toyota tells us that this new version of the Prius will go 475 miles on a tank. That's all well and good, but my 2005 Insight would go 600 miles on a 9.8 gallon tank, sometimes more. Which gets me to my point. From an engineering standpoint, what makes more sense, commuting in a somewhat cramped four seater with an inefficient and complex planetary drive train or stretching out in a more fuel efficient two seater with a more aerodynamic body, a more efficient drive train and less weight?
The feature that would make a PHEV interesting to me is not the economy. Rather it would be a feature that would allow the plugin connection to work both ways so that if the power went out I could run my house for a few hours while power was being restored. After the winter of 2010, this fall's hurricanes, and who knows what else is coming this makes a lot of sense to me.
And one question that didn't get answered in the article is whether the 2012 Prius will charge all the battery when running in hybrid mode? If one goes past the 16 miles and the Prius ICE starts to recharge the battery, will it recharge all the battery 100%. If it does this then why plug it in? If it doesn't, why carry around the discharged battery like the Volt does?
This approach, in my eyes, has been a no-brainer since hybrid cars came out. I can never figure out why it takes so long to get to.
There are even aftermarket plug in kits for converting older hybrids to hybrid hybrids.
Again, the whole concept seems way too obvious. Most people commute a short distance. Even if it's over 13 miles, say 26 miles, 50% on electric 50% on gas still lowers fuel costs by quite a bit.
It's clear this is a technology in it's infancy so any way to push it along is good. There are a lot of factors in determining the true efficiency and cost/mile. The cost of emf generation, transmission and distribution is a variable. The only true "free" power (after installation costs) comes from renewable sources, wind & solar, etc. However for the average consumer who has no control over emf distribution and many other factors, getting the first 13 miles for a much lower cost than burning gas is a good thing, especially if most trips to and fro are under 13 miles (for this car).
I assume eventually, as battery technology matures, car makers will offer ways to add optional batteries to the car, the next logical step in hybrid hybrids.
As renewable power generation grows more widespread, past the initial investment, we will be able to get around cheaper with less carbon problems.
This is a good direction for we as a society to pursue.
Did you ever think of where your electricity comes from? Coal, oil, or nuclear? Those are not renewable resources. Electric cars may move the problem from the highway to the power plant, and probably are more efficient than an internal combustion engine but not renewable. Hydrogen and solar are renewable.
The first Tacoma Narrows Bridge was a Washington State suspension bridge that opened in 1940 and spanned the Tacoma Narrows strait of Puget Sound between Tacoma and the Kitsap Peninsula. It opened to traffic on July 1, 1940, and dramatically collapsed into Puget Sound on November 7, just four months after it opened.
Noting that we now live in an era of “confusion and ill-conceived stuff,” Ammunition design studio founder Robert Brunner, speaking at Gigaom Roadmap, said that by adding connectivity to everything and its mother, we aren't necessarily doing ourselves any favors, with many ‘things’ just fine in their unconnected state.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.