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Old 01-05-2009, 12:52 PM   #41
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.... when/if hybrid or all electric vehicles become viable due to either improvements in their technology or skyrocketing petroleum prices, demand for electricity will increase. Even if we only allow charging at night, we'll still burn more coal and natural gas to keep generators normally idle in the wee hours crankin' away 24X7.

.... It's just that I discuss electric or hybrid cars with folks who somehow forget that electricity has sources beyond that outlet on your wall! That seems to go over the head of lots of folks, ....
Yes, and the fact that EVs are referred to as "Zero Pollution" vehicles sure does not help educate the public on that fact. An efficient EV may produce less overall pollution than an ICE, but from the wildly varying numbers I've sen, it's not a huge difference, and negative in many reports (esp if coal is the source).

I still like the idea of all electrics, but they are not a silver bullet with foreseeable technology.

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Old 01-05-2009, 01:24 PM   #42
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If you haven't driven a Prius then you just don't understand. While I agree with those who say that you'll never pay back your price premium, just make sure your cost assumptions include lifecycle maintenance as well. The Prius' electronic controls do a lot of good things to avoid engine & brake wear.

Those interested in a detailed discussion of Consumer Reports' PHEV evaluation and the Hymotion mod would get less misinformation at PriusChat.com.
Nords, I think the payback discussions were mostly relative to the OP - the payback of spending $11K to add 5KW of plug-in capability to an existing Prius. So all the other pro-Prius points are a wash - it was, and still is, a Prius (but maybe one w/o a full warranty?).

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Old 01-06-2009, 08:20 AM   #43
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I just read about Fords hybred Fusion. Looks pretty slick, no MSRP released yet. Also, will check out Hondas Insight, supposidly starting at $20K.
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Old 01-06-2009, 05:47 PM   #44
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It'll be interesting to watch natural gas prices as those gas burning mini-plants currently only on-line to meet peak demand periods crank up and let 'er rip 24X7!
The other part of that equation is that many of those peak demand power plants use the most expensive, and usually less efficient systems - be it natural gas, coal, oil, or other. That excess capacity, when put in service, will cause the electric rates to soar, as many utilities (here in Texas especially) have a deal that the rate they pay, and base their charges to the consumer on,
is based on the highest single rate they are paying. So when that oil fired 45MW standby plant is called on to bid a spot price to supply that last 20MW needed out of 2500 MW, the whole cost and price is reset to the highest level. How's that for improving the cost of PHEV vehicles.
This is the problem, when we focus on one particular solution, and ignore the extraneous impacts to other uses.
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Old 01-06-2009, 06:08 PM   #45
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Also, will check out Hondas Insight, supposidly starting at $20K.
I'm thinking that's going to bring even more folks into the hybrid tent, and the next gen Prius is due out about the same time and same price as the Insight - both seem to be shooting for $20K.

While GM is planning on the Volt in 2 years at $40K/copy - and we should bail them out?
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Old 01-06-2009, 06:36 PM   #46
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The other part of that equation is that many of those peak demand power plants use the most expensive, and usually less efficient systems - be it natural gas, coal, oil, or other. That excess capacity, when put in service, will cause the electric rates to soar, as many utilities (here in Texas especially) have a deal that the rate they pay, and base their charges to the consumer on,
is based on the highest single rate they are paying. So when that oil fired 45MW standby plant is called on to bid a spot price to supply that last 20MW needed out of 2500 MW, the whole cost and price is reset to the highest level. How's that for improving the cost of PHEV vehicles.
This is the problem, when we focus on one particular solution, and ignore the extraneous impacts to other uses.
This is silly, unless I am misunderstanding your pay structure.
The spare excess capacity is enough to charge 73% (conservatively) of the entire light duty vehicle fleet of the US if they were PHEV. PNNL: Newsroom - Mileage from megawatts: Study finds enough electric capacity to “fill up” plug-in vehicles across much of the nation
The west seems to be the sticking point.
And, as others have said, I expect that you won't swap out the entire light vehicle market instantly

Midpack, while I am not a fan of bailing out GM, the Volt is a different type of hybrid which will allow for NO gasoline usage for the first X number of miles. This is perfect for people that don't have a long commute. I'll cut them some slack until they announce that they had to crush all the Volts as it was not fiscally feasible (then I will go buy the next gen Prius).
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Old 01-06-2009, 07:45 PM   #47
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Midpack, while I am not a fan of bailing out GM, the Volt is a different type of hybrid which will allow for NO gasoline usage for the first X number of miles. This is perfect for people that don't have a long commute. I'll cut them some slack until they announce that they had to crush all the Volts as it was not fiscally feasible (then I will go buy the next gen Prius).
You missed my point. Honda and Toyota are introducing high mileage next gen hybrids within a year with a $20K price target. I am aware of the Volt's greater EV capability and how it differs from the Insight & Prius. But by GM's own admission (Bob Lutz), they are hoping to keep the Volt price under $40K! Why would anyone except maybe celebs and eco-chic's buy one? I wish it weren't so...
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Old 01-06-2009, 08:59 PM   #48
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I agree with you IF they settle on a 40 mile range. If they can double or triple that... well it may be different.
No it won't be a PHEV for the masses, but I don't expect they are trying to market it as such.
Unfortunately, there are a number of pure EV competitors which are also due out in 2010 (or earlier). So I don't think GM will have that limited market to them selves.
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Old 01-06-2009, 09:01 PM   #49
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You missed my point. Honda and Toyota are introducing high mileage next gen hybrids within a year with a $20K price target. I am aware of the Volt's greater EV capability and how it differs from the Insight & Prius. But by GM's own admission (Bob Lutz), they are hoping to keep the Volt price under $40K! Why would anyone except maybe celebs and eco-chic's buy one? I wish it weren't so...
Until we know the specs of that $20K Insight, how can we compare? We have some round figures for the VOLT, but AFAIK, the Insight is purely speculation.

And, as been expressed in this thread, many buyers are not basing the decision on economic factors, so who knows?

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Old 01-07-2009, 12:04 AM   #50
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Like I said in my post, most people buying a Prius do not sit down and do a return on investment. It is a mindset that includes the environmental issues. I'm in the dark about the warranty. Is there anythng special from Toyota regarding battery replacement or maintenance?
The Prius 12v battery seems to be a bit expensive to replace-- I've seen prices over $100 for what's essentially a custom-molded case around a higher-quality car battery. I think it's a 60-month battery but I'd have to research that. Ours is approaching three years old and I'm just going to replace it when it hits four, hopefully without risking any voltage/charging problems.

IIRC the Prius high-voltage battery is warranted for 10 years, 15 in CA. I can't remember because the number of Prius warranty battery replacements happen roughly as often as the number of blown engines in Camrys or Hondas: not often enough to be a concern to the average owner. Of course Toyota will instantly nail your hide to the wall void the warranty of anyone doing a PHEV conversion, but the aftermarket companies promise to pick up that guarantee. The real bleeding-edge risk-takers are the ones doing their own home-brew lead-acid PHEV conversions.

The oldest Priuses (in Japan) are just now hitting 11 years and their batteries are at least two generations behind the current ones. The oldest American models are only eight years old and still under warranty.

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I hear that most owners don't have the proper technique to driving one. I think I saw that the mileage in town is greater than that on the highway. I guess the trick would be to avoid the jack-rabbit starts--and other things to keep the gasoline engine from engaging. I've spoken to an owner (at a gas station of all places) who admitted it's like driver training to get the hang of eeking out the best mileage. He loved the vehicle but was not getting the mileage he expected.
Depends on how you're charging the battery. If you're charging the battery from an electrical socket then yes, you want to minimize engine starts and maximize the battery life by minimizing its voltage transients. Just like any electric vehicle.

But the Prius usually charges its battery from the internal-combustion engine. If the car's wheels are turned by discharging the battery then the charge/discharge loop involves a number of efficiency losses.

So the basic technique is: accelerate briskly from stops. Get the engine started and rotating at its most fuel-efficient (higher) speed so that the car minimizes battery use. (If the engine is producing more than the car needs then it'll just charge the battery.) Once the car is up to speed then feather the accelerator ("pulse & glide") and let the microprocessor decide whether to use the battery or the ICE. Coast to stops as much as possible, letting regenerative braking recharge the battery. The ECU's logic depends on speed, acceleration, and not overspeeding the motor generator so it gets a lot more complicated than this simple explanation-- but it's a straightforward driving technique.

An exception to that technique is when the destination is downhill. When I'm coming the 1.2 miles home from our kid's school it's all downhill. I can do it without ever turning over the ICE, and the battery has more charge when we get home than when we started in the school's lot. Of course we lose all that on the next uphill drive.

Several of the PriusChat high-post-count enthusiasts have installed ScanGuageII systems with real-time readouts. They practice P&G, very high tire pressure, hypermiling, and a number of aggressive high-mpg techniques that most of us would never even think of let alone consider using on our daily commute. They publish ScanGuage printouts and write tutorials on the ECU logic tricks. But one of the aficionados was quite ecstatic to get his first 70-mpg tank. That's an entire tank of gas at an average consumption of 70 mpg, or over 700 miles between fillups...
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