The Five Stages of Prius Hybrid Operation

Discussion in 'Knowledge Base Articles Discussion' started by Bill Merchant, Dec 11, 2005.

  1. Bill Merchant

    Bill Merchant absit invidia

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    The Five Stages of Prius Operation

    -- The Five Stages of Prius Hybrid Operation —


    The computer that controls the operation of the Prius hybrid system (HSD) appears to have 5 distinct stages of operation, which I will call Stage 1, Stage 2, Stage 3a, Stage 3b, and Stage 4. (Abbreviated S1, S2, S3a, S3b, S4.) Briefly, they govern how the HSD will combine power from the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) and to and from the battery via two motor-generators, MG1 and MG2. The following was drawn principally from my observation, after reading several posts on the subject. EV (electric vehicle) mode is distinct. I drive a 2004 "package AM" Prius.

    Disclaimer: I am not an engineer or a technician. My understanding of this is not complete.

    Definitions:

    ICE: The internal-combustion engine.

    SOC: The state of charge of the battery. (How much charge it has.) Shown by an icon with 8 bars on the MFD (multi-function display).

    MG1: Motor/generator 1. Most commonly used to crank the ICE for starting, and to generate electricity from the output of the ICE, which can then help drive MG2 or charge the battery.

    MG2: Motor/generator 2. Most commonly used to drive the car, alone or in combination with the ICE, and to provide regenerative braking.

    (Occasionally MG1 and MG2 can act in arcane ways as well.)

    Golf-Cart Mode (so called because the car is as quiet as a golf-cart): is my term for when the car is moving on electric power alone, with the ICE not running. Some have used the term “stealth†which I think sounds too militaristic for such a peaceful car, and is misleading because the car is not completely silent when moving on electric power. There is the whirr of the motor, and the crunch of tires on pavement.

    EV Mode: EV Mode is when Golf-Cart mode is entered via an EV button or switch. The button is standard on European and Japanese Prius. The button or a switch can be installed on North American Prius. For DIY instructions, see Dr. Evan Fusco's article in the Knowledge Base. For a relatively easy-to-install kit, visit Costal Tech

    You cannot enter EV mode if: You are in S1; your SOC is very near or below 3 bars; you are accelerating; your battery is too hot; or you are moving at 34 mph or faster. EV mode will automatically disengage when: your SOC reaches 2 bars; you step too hard on the accelerator; you reach 34 mph; or your battery gets too hot. The upper limits of speed and acceleration, and possibly the lower limit of battery SOC are different for EV mode than when Golf-Cart Mode is chosen by the computer. In EV Mode the upper limit of speed is lower, but the permitted acceleration is greater.

    Normal Mode: Any time the car is not in EV Mode. In Normal Mode, the car may go in and out of Golf-Cart Mode.

    I have seen references that say the transitions mentioned below depend on coolant temperature. I have also seen references to the importance that HSD gives to keeping the catalytic converter warm, to reduce emissions. I will simply refer to the system temperature in the discussion that follows.

    The Stages:

    S1:

    In Stage 1 the ICE is cold. If not prevented by use of the EV switch, the ICE will start a few seconds after the car is powered On. Until the system reaches the S1/S2 transition temperature, the ICE will run continuously. This accounts for the anomalous observation of electric regeneration or no arrows (coasting) at the same time as a low instantaneous mpg reading. No power is being drawn from the ICE, but it is running. Also in Stage 1 you will notice that battery power is used for even mild acceleration. In Stage 1 the HSD prefers not to draw power from the ICE if it is not necessary. You cannot enter EV mode while in Stage 1.

    S2:

    When the system temperature reaches 40 degrees C. (104 F.) the computer goes to Stage 2 operation. The original Japanese poster gave more detail than I clearly remember, but it appears that in Stage 2 the ICE will shut off if it is not needed to provide power. At a stoplight, in S2, the ICE will stop immediately and fairly smoothly. However, the car will not go into golf-cart mode in Stage 2. It can draw power from the battery or it can recharge the battery, but will not use the battery without the ICE. I have not ascertained if you can enter EV mode from S2.

    S3:

    When the system temperature reaches 73 C. (163.4 F.) the computer goes into Stage 3a. In S3a the ICE will not shut off unless you come to a full stop for 5 or 10 seconds. Paradoxically, it is more reluctant to shut off than it was in S2, and in S3a it shuts off very roughly. You will feel the car shudder. But once it does shut off at a full stop in S3a, it will then be in Stage 4 operation.

    Once the car is in S3a, if you reach 34 mph without having come to a full stop for 5 or 10 seconds, the car will go into S3b operation. S3b is identical to Stage 4, except that if you slow down below 34 mph and apply the brakes, you will be back in S3a. In S3 you can engage EV mode providing that you meet all the conditions for EV mode.

    I have observed that at the full stop in S3a sometimes the ICE stops after 5 seconds, and other times runs for 10 seconds before stopping. I do not know what determines the difference. I have also observed more than one rough shut-down in a trip, suggesting to me that perhaps the ICE may sometimes stop roughly in S2, and may not stop immediately when you let off the accelerator in S2. I repeat that I do not clearly understand Stage 2 operation.

    Coming to a full stop while in EV mode does not seem to trigger S4. You must be in normal mode when you stop in order to enter S4 operation.

    S4:

    Stage 4 is normal, full hybrid operation. The Prius is most efficient in S4. The car will go into golf-cart mode at the computer’s discretion. You can encourage it to do so by lifting your foot off the accelerator pedal for a moment, and then pressing on the pedal very lightly. This is known as “feathering†the pedal. Feathering does not force the car into golf-cart mode, nor is it necessary for the car to go into golf-cart mode. It merely encourages the car to do so a little bit sooner than it would otherwise do on its own. The benefit of feathering the pedal is questionable, since the computer is deciding when it thinks Golf-Cart Mode is most desirable. Increasing the time spent in Golf-Cart Mode may only increase the efficiency losses involved in charging the battery and drawing power from it. On the other hand, encouraging Golf-Cart Mode when the SOC is very high may be useful, as it creates head room in the battery to accept charge wheen needed.

    Above 42 mph the ICE must spin, and will generally provide power. It is possible for the ICE to spin without providing power to the car above 42 mph, and this has been observed. But since the ICE is more efficient at these higher speeds, Golf-Cart Mode above 42 mph (Super Golf-Cart Mode) is unusual. So the maximum speed in EV Mode is 34 mph, cutting out at a tiny fraction over 34 mph, and the maximum common speed in golf-cart mode is 42 mph. You can go faster in non-EV golf-cart mode than you can in EV mode.

    Thanks to jfschultz for providing the transition temperatures given above. They were cited by a Japanese poster some time ago but I had forgotten them.

    — Sidebar on using EV mode. The following is my personal speculation: —

    EV Mode is inherently inefficient because not all the energy fed to the battery comes back out of it. Heat is generated when charging the battery and when drawing it down. However, there are situations when I believe EV mode is desirable:

    Short trips: Because the car’s warm-up cycle burns extra gas to get the catalytic converter hot as quickly as possible to reduce emissions, if you have enough charge to complete a trip entirely in EV mode I believe you more than offset the efficiency losses mentioned above.

    End of day: This is very speculative, but I believe that the system is reluctant to charge the battery if it is at or above 6 bars. Since the ICE will insist on running until it reaches Stage 4, more power will be produced than is needed to drive the car, and it is desirable that this energy be used to charge the battery. I believe that leaving the SOC at around 4 bars (or even 3) at the end of the day will provide the head room necessary to assure that the most energy possible produced during the inefficient warm-up cycle (Stages 1 through 3a) gets into the battery. Thus if your first trip of the following day will not be short enough to make entirely in EV Mode, I think it is a good idea to use EV at the end of the last drive of the day, if necessary, to leave the SOC at around 4 bars. You burn no gas during that last half-mile or so, and you leave head room in the battery for the next morning’s obligatory warm-up cycle.

    Very slow driving: I sometimes observe very low instantaneous mpg at slow speeds even with a high SOC. And I never observe very good instantaneous mpg at slow speeds except in Golf-Cart Mode, when it’s at 99.9. I therefore believe that it’s always a good idea to use EV Mode at very slow speeds, such as parking lots or creep-and-stop traffic jams.

    Showing off: Sometimes you just want to show off how quiet the car is. It may not be the most efficient thing for the circumstances, but it’s fun.

    — End Sidebar —

    For some fascinating in-depth technical explanations of how the prius works, visit Graham's Prius Page and click on "Understanding the Prius." He wrote this for the Classic (2001 - 2003) Prius, so some of the gear ratios may be different for the 2004/2005 Prius, but the operation is the same.
     
  2. notsure

    notsure New Member

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    thanks the more read the more I understand my car to be
     
  3. bookrats

    bookrats New Member

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    Thanks, Bill -- this is a great article, and a pearl for those interested in their Prius operation in-depth. (And major thanks to Daniel for writing it!)

    I'd be curious if there is any data on whether the operation changed for the 2006s. I doubt there would be -- firmware changes don't seem to be tied to model releases -- but I heard someone on one of the '06 threads mention that they thought things were working a little differently.
     
  4. hyo silver

    hyo silver Awaaaaay

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    When I first read the title of this thread, I thought it would read more like infatuation, obsession, etc like the stages of love. Silly me.

    Thanks for bringing this back, Bill. And thanks to Daniel for writing it in the first place. It's very informative. Now that I'm done being a smart ass, I'll go back and read it!
     
  5. LaughingMan

    LaughingMan Active Member

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    Excellent article, Bill...

    Now I understand why my mileage is generally so low when I make it to work every morning... my trip i so short, I only make it to stage 3 by the time I get to work. Most of the time the ICE is still running when I'm looking for a parking spot in the morning.

    Very enlightening.

    One detail though: do you have any information about the transition conditions from S3->S4?

    You provided temperatures for the others.
     
  6. Bill Merchant

    Bill Merchant absit invidia

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    I merely reposted Daniel's excellent article.

    While I think the HSD Prius, which includes 2004-2006 model years, are substantially similar, the temperatures and transitions are exactly the kinds of parameters that ECU programming modifies. The 2006 Prius may well transition at slightly different temperatures, though I think the speeds are more mechanical, and unless the basic HSD is modified, will remain constant.

    Perhaps Daniel has more insight. But not a Honda.
     
  7. MNPrius

    MNPrius New Member

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    Thanks for the re-post. (hyo silver - you are not alone: I thought from the title the topic would deal with the stages of learning how to drive a hybrid.)

    Very interesting information! Again, thanks!
     
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  8. Spcalan1

    Spcalan1 New Member

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    Hmm.. that explains why i get 40 mpg ( rather than 50 mpg )..
    I wake up, jump in the car, and go to work - 8 miles.

    Do I need to let it warm up first? How long ?
     
  9. zenMachine

    zenMachine Just another Onionhead

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    only 8 miles? an engine block heater might help some.
     
  10. Spcalan1

    Spcalan1 New Member

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    or do I just let it run to warm up before going to work?
     
  11. usbseawolf2000

    usbseawolf2000 HSD PhD

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    You can try warming up first but it may not make a difference. I think the best approach is to drive gently in S1. Don't let the arrow from HV battery go to the wheels. You can use some HV power, especially if it is green. This is to prevent having to charge it back later.

    Always park with your head out. This way, when you leave you will not have to reverse the car. Running ICE in reverse is not efficient so you want to avoid that.
     
  12. Corwyn

    Corwyn Energy Curmudgeon

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    The energy needed to warm it up is the same regardless of whether you are traveling or not. You might as well be moving during that warm up time, just don't tax the engine too much.
     
  13. usbseawolf2000

    usbseawolf2000 HSD PhD

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    In S1 warm up, the ICE runs with a special ignition timing - making very little power. During this time, the HV battery is used first for the additional power requests. This is why it is easy to drain the HV battery easily in S1.

    If the HV battery can't provide the requested power, the ICE is used. This is bad in term of emission and efficiency.
     
  14. AndyBH04Prius

    AndyBH04Prius New Member

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    Great article. I stay off the freeway, and drive a highway 10 miles to work. I get terrific mpg's: 52-56 every day. My record is 66. Now I know why. I do 40-42 mph the whole way. AND I "feather" like crazy. I've been showing that technique to others for years. Now I know why it works. Thanks!
    ~ Andy

    P.S. Coming home is NOT as good. Traffic, headwind, maybe even a small climb.... I only get around 45 mpg.
     
  15. dbcassidy

    dbcassidy Toyota Hybrid Nation, 8 Million Strong

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    Thank you Bill for the repost.

    DBCassidy
     
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