Toyota polled my opinions: Anyone else get polled?

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Main Forum' started by Eric Nothman, Jun 2, 2007.

  1. Eric Nothman

    Eric Nothman Prius owner

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    Today I was polled by a 'marketing research' company, but the questions made it clear it was on behalf of Toyota regarding the next generation Prius. To me it appears they are trying to figure out whether it could be viable to offer a plug-in option (i.e. enough demand at the required cost trade-off), and if so where to position EV distance vs. increased $$$. And, interestingly it appears as if a four wheel drive type drive train is a possibility. I felt honored to have had the opportunity to put in my 2 cents.

    It appears to me they are also concerned about how much additional acceleration vs. how much gas mileage improvement to provide. I believe the existing performance is all that is needed, and higher gas mileage (i.e. lower carbon footprint) would be the best trade-off.

    Here is a paraphrase of some of the most relevant questions (as I recall), but not in the order they were asked. If others were polled, please feel free to add in to this post.

    1) After reading a description of a plug-in to me the caller asked:
    a) How many miles would a plug-in need to go on electric only power? (I answered 16-20)
    options were 5-10,11-15,16-20 etc.
    B) How much would I be willing to pay for the incremental additional cost of a plug-in (I answered $3,000)
    c) Would the cost of electricity be factored in to the value calculation? (I answered yes)
    d) How often would be OK to plug it in? (I answered - once a day)
    options were (twice a day, once a day, once every two days, twice a week, etc.)

    In a separate section of the survey (that was ultimately about 4 wheel drive):
    2) How often do you drive in snow?
    3) How often do you drive on fairly good dirt road?
    4) How often do you drive on pretty rough dirt road?
    5) Would you find value in a 4 wheel drive?

    Performance related questions:
    6) How important is acceleration? How do I rate the existing acceleration?
    7) How important is acceleration from the stopped position? How do I rate the existing acceleration from the stopped position?
    8) What is the average length of distance typically travelled over hills (my experience/my area)?
    Note: these hill related questions are fascinating because it was prevously reported on Prius chat that Toyota was looking at including topo info on the Navigation maps, then expending more battery power just before the hill peak, knowing it would be recouped on the downhill side - with expected boost of 15% in improved overall gas milage from this change alone.
    9) Do I maintain speed going up a hill? If so, for how many seconds (on average)?
    10) How much wieght do you typically carry?
    11) How many people are typically in the car? (I commute and use for the family. I stated 3 or more people, but really I probably use the Prius for more total miles in my single person commute)
    12) Is passing performance important? How do I rate it in the current Prius?
    20) How often do I use the air conditioning (options: sometimes, all the time, etc.)? When I do what temperature do I set it to?
    21) How important is it that the gas pedal be quickly responsive (i.e. car moves immediately when pedal is depressed)?

    Questions that made me think this was Toyota (besides all the detailed performance criteria):
    13) Do the seats in the back get too hot?
    14) Is the storage space sufficient?
    15) How important is it to incorporate the most recent technology?
    16) How likely is it that my next purchase will be a Prius?
    17) Did Prius mileage meet my expectations? If not, by how much (options: 1 mile, 2-3 miles, 3-5 miles, etc.)
    18) Overall how satisfied am I with the Prius (scale 1-5, 5 being highest, I rated it a 5)
    19) What model/year car did I have before I purchased the Prius?

    This was a real treat to be able to participate.
     
  2. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North
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    wow, nice!

    For 13, I'm guessing they're debating whether to add rear vents and a rear sunshade? lol.

    Interesting.
     
  3. MickeyA

    MickeyA New Member

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    While I do own a so call 'sports' car as my weekend car, as I am getting older my daily driver Prius's performance is all I feel I need.

    MPG is definitely a greater concern than performance.

    Just my own thoughts. Obviously, it's a tough thing to hit the sweetspot for Toyota.
     
  4. pewd

    pewd Clarinet Dude

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    >...looking at including topo info on the Navigation maps, then expending more battery power just before the hill peak

    I didn't get polled, but was wondering if they could determine , using GPS, that I was approaching home, or the office, and go into EV mode the last 1/2 mile or so.
     
  5. hobbit

    hobbit Senior Member

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    GPS isn't a transmitter...
    .
    _H*
     
  6. efusco

    efusco Moderator Emeritus
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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(pewd @ Jun 3 2007, 03:10 PM) [snapback]454522[/snapback]</div>
    As hobbit mentioned the GPS doesn't transmit, so you can't be tracked. Also, going into EV mode the last 1/2 mile isn't, necessarily, the most fuel efficient thing you could do.

    That said, Toyota has patented some terrain mapping technology that integrates with the GPS and the ECU and could be used to predictively use the battery and/or ICE in the most efficient manner for the route of your travel. I'm hoping this will be up and running in the next gen Prius.
     
  7. hyo silver

    hyo silver Awaaaaay

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    Interesting poll, Eric. Thanks for sharing.
    You'd think the pollsters would find all the willing participants they wanted, right here.
     
  8. Eric Nothman

    Eric Nothman Prius owner

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(efusco @ Jun 3 2007, 11:53 PM) [snapback]454787[/snapback]</div>
    For many people (including me) half or more of their miles are accomplished during a commute. The number of routes one takes in a commute are likely to be quite limited, as are other types of frequent trips (i.e. going to the local store, etc.). With a limited amount of 'memory' the car could watch the routes most frequently used and if an altimeter were incorporated (to track feet above sea level) the car could likely collect over 50% of a typical driver's routes specifically including hill height/length. There are ways to store such data in a shorthand way, limiting the cost to keep this data. This information could be used to predict downhill energy generation opportunities even without a massive topo database.

    In other words, a massive topo database may not be needed for a typical driver to get much of the benefit of predictive energy generation. This could potentially lower the cost and complexity of implementing this feature since collecting/maintaining/providing and then processing real-time topo info for the whole USA might be a significant cost factor and not be as accurate as actual on-the-ground measurements.
     
  9. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North
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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(efusco @ Jun 3 2007, 08:53 PM) [snapback]454787[/snapback]</div>
    Indeed, this could be very interesting!
     
  10. Eric Nothman

    Eric Nothman Prius owner

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Tideland Prius @ Jun 4 2007, 06:31 PM) [snapback]455243[/snapback]</div>
    My responses to the survey indicated a $3,000 incremental charge for a plug-in with 16-20 mile range. Now that I have had more time to think about it, it seems to me that different people use their car for differing average daily amounts likely based on their commute. Assuming most people would only want to charge the battery once a day (at night) a larger battery would only be a real benefit for those traveling more miles than my typical 25 in a single day.

    For example, 12,000 miles a year breaks down to an average of 32 miles a day, but since a portion of that accrues during long trips this might indicate a typical day's travel might be 25 miles (my situation). So, a battery that provided 25 miles of electric only range would be most cost effective. However, someone that drove 20,000 miles a year might have an average of about 40 miles a day, so a battery twice as large could make good economic sense. Please keep in mind that electricity providing a gallon equivalent of distance in a Prius is about $1.25 a 'gallon equivalent'. So, in comparison with gas at $3.00 a gallon a plug-in saves about $1.75 a 'gallon equivalent'. Please note this cost analysis is not appreciably different when using wind certificates for pollution free wind power.

    This leads me to think that a modular battery design would be best for a plug in hybrid. Imagine the base next generation Prius that has no plug in capability with a 9 mile electric only range. Then, there would be an option for plug in capability that came with an additional battery module boosting the range to 18 miles (or two more modules boosting the range to 27 miles). If there was a false bottom in the trunk (or hatchback area), then the additional battery modules could simply be added there, incrementally taking that space. This would be similar to the third party battery add-ons for the current Prius that make use of the under the hatch back area. This modular approach would encourage the ability to incorporate newer battery technology over the presumed 12 year life of the next generation Prius. For example, in five years the Lithium Ion battery module might well cost less than today and perhaps provide an improved range.

    Toyota can keep the 'no need to plug it in' theme for the base next generation Prius. For those who could afford the initial investment and the multi-year pay back period (about 5 years in the example above) the customer would then be able to decide to purchase an appropriate number of battery modules (in 9 mile increments - perhaps costing $1,500 each) to suit their budget and their commute.

    Toyota could retain their reputation as a technological leader by being first to introduce plug-ins while not being 'on-the-hook' for as large a number of plug-ins as they take the risk of implementing a new technology. Plug-ins would gain legitimacy and consumers would gain a valuable option - tailored to their specific needs. Everyone wins.

    Now, if there were a separate 'charging docking station' one could bolt to the driveway that would enable the ability to 'plug-in' by pulling into a home's driveway - most people would likely not consider charging a problem. This would go a long way to making plug-ins mainstream. Since Toyota already has automated parallel parking in the Japanese version of the Prius, one can assume that connecting to a home 'charging station' would not require any additional technology - especially if one purchases the docking station from Toyota.

    Note: If the plug-in battery technology is not quite ready for 'prime time' at the time of the initial roll out of the next generation Prius, the modular battery approach could be used at initial roll out to permit the better batteries to be incorporated a year or two later as part of an optional 'upgrade' program.
     
  11. sawbert

    sawbert Junior Member

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    Yesterday evening, June 5th, I was polled via phone (approx 15 minutes). The caller identified himself and the marketing group (which I forgot, my apologies). He mentioned that he was aware that I had purchased a hydrid highlander (June '05) but not that I had also purchased a Prius (Nov '05).

    The first barrage of queries concentrated on the perceived acceleration, passing power, and hill climbing capabilities of the HH. To all of these questions, for those who haven't driven the HH yet, the only answers which came to my mind was that the vehicle was very impressive.

    The next set of questions related to 4WD capabilities, expectations, and requirements. Confusing terms were used: rough dirt roads, off-road use, etc. upon which the poller could not amplify or further clarify. I found it difficult to answer these questions in anything but a general sense.

    The third barrage was related to hill climbing. "How long are the hills you climb in your vehicle?" I almost didn't answer that because I found the query so vague and difficult to quantify. There were several ill-defined questions like that.

    The fourth set dealt with plug-ins, my expectations of performance for plug-ins, my willingness to pay extra for plug-ins and this gem, "How far would you expect a plug-in hybrid vehicle to be able to run in electric mode only?". Followed by, "How long would you consider it acceptable to plug-in your vehicle to achieve a 'full' charge?" I understand that they're trying to ge ta sense of the public's attitudes and expectations but I balk at such qualititative questions.

    Like most who peruse PC I was quite willing to participate; unlike the previous evening when I was asked if I would still support candidate X for office Y if I knew that they had committed crime Z.
     
  12. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North
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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Eric Nothman @ Jun 6 2007, 04:54 PM) [snapback]456947[/snapback]</div>
    I like the modular idea although I still like to keep my cargo space ;)


    About the docking station, it'd still be cheaper to use the 110V because it uses existing technology and would be of minimal extra cost to the consumer (it'll be like ordering an engine block heater or sth).
     
  13. Eric Nothman

    Eric Nothman Prius owner

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(sawbert @ Jun 6 2007, 08:24 PM) [snapback]456972[/snapback]</div>
    This was definately the same interview. I, too, was asked about what would the acceptable time for a plug-in to charge - and the other questions line up with my experience.
     
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