Prius Personal Log  #359

December 12, 2007  -  December 18, 2007

Last Updated: Sun. 1/13/2008

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12-18-2007

Frustrated.  There are some Volt enthusiasts now aware of my support for Prius, unfortunately they haven't bothered to research my background.  So, just like I've seen in the past from other enthusiasts, they just assume I'm there to undermine.  If I'm not there in support of a $30,000 Volt with a 40-mile electric-only range, I must be some form of resistance.  Can I express to them how that specific configuration isn't the end-all-and-be-all solution?  One that reduces price significantly by offering a reduced range, say 20 miles, would open up sales to a much wider market.  Their purist mentality makes for quite a challenge to overcome.  Using the engine is considered bad, period.  Most there hope to rely exclusively on a plug, thinking of the engine as only an emergency backup.  That isn't reality.  It's an ideal.  That plug will get used often, but the engine won't remain dormant as they hope.  The diversity of Prius owners reveals that.  I suppose this group of enthusiasts will become like the "hypermilers" of Prius... a small group clearly not representative of the typical owner.  So, I guess there isn't much reason to be frustrated by their incorrect assumptions.

12-17-2007

Wrong Thread.  It's extremely difficult to determine whether or not salespeople are poorly informed or intentionally allowing you to assume.  In forums, the situation is quite difficult.  Over the past few days, a long-time antagonist attempted to undermine a thread about Volt on the big Prius forum.  He does everything he can to derail discussions about the competition.  In this case, it was the technique of changing topics.  Getting people to discuss something else sours the appeal of the thread, causing the constructive nature to be lost.  Lucky for us, he picked the wrong thread.  Choosing to force posts related to emissions made it worse.  He tried to argue that more clean-vehicle choices (of the same size & type) was better.  That tends to make sense for consumer shopping.  But in reality, it's actual sales that make a difference.  And sadly, those traditional vehicles offering PZEV emission ratings have not sold well... because few have actually be produced.  Those models offered are basically just automaker trophies.  They are not purchased much, in part due to being so hard to find.  Prius on the other hand, is just a single model available in large quantities.  Sales are record breaking as a result.  One model... just like Volt will be.  That's a very limited choice, yet it works anyway.  Investing heavily in a small number of high-volume choices is often a better choice, as opposed to the risk of being spread too thin.

12-17-2007

Sales Misleading.  It has begun.  The very first report of a consumer getting Two-Mode information first from a salesperson was shared online this evening.  He was told seeing as much as 28 MPG was possible.  It was in a vague way though, so the fact that it was unrealistic would slip by without drawing attention.  Sound familiar?  Sighting an extreme and quite rare example isn't a lie.  But omitting how unlikely it is allows for assumptions... something a salesperson can gain from.  Thankfully, those in the forum burst that hope right away.  Fortunately, they are aware that false expectations are harmful.  I wonder what else they've picked up in preparation for the debut of Two-Mode.  Hmm?  Will we actually get real-world data reported in a proper on-going manner?  That approach is the only sincere attempt to portray an realistic representation.  We'll see.  There's hope.  That newbie was smart enough to ask online afterward if that information he was given sounded correct.

12-17-2007

Classic Commercials.  I bought a 2-disc DVD collection of very, very, very old television commercials.  That blast back to the past had very disturbing start.  The first dozen commercials were for cigarettes & cigars.  Back in that age of black & white, smoking had little resistance.  It was just what people did.  In fact, that was extremely popular.  Health warnings didn't come until decades later.  Sound familiar?  Worse yet, the commercials that followed stressed how more was better.  Faster relief.  Stronger strength.  It was the birth of our obsession.  50 years later, we have now grossly exceeded the need and we are beginning to realize the resulting damage.  Makes you wonder if those absurd SUV commercials for conditions owners never actually drive will be featured in a retrospective decades from now... or perhaps, sooner.

12-17-2007

Taurus X.  Ford discontinued the once very popular Taurus.  Heck, I even owned one once.  Consumers weren't pleased.  It proved to be a bad choice.  So, Ford decided to bring it back in some form.  Today, I found out how.  A new crossover vehicle shot by me on the highway.  My eyes caught a glimpse of the nameplate.  I dropped the pedal in the Prius to catch it.  Moments later, to my surprise, I saw that it actually did say that.  I could clearly see "Taurus X" on the back.  Is that what the sedan/wagon has now become?  Or is that "X" there to indicate a new line of vehicles, like Scion is and what Prius may become?  Hmm.

12-16-2007

Online Discussions, Prius.  With 10 years of history already, discussions span the entire spectrum.  You get newbie introductions followed by a post with details about what a long-time owner observed on their secondary gauges.  There's a wide variety of topics to choose from, but they virtually all have one thing in common: Prius is now a mainstream vehicle.  Misconceptions have been dispelled.  There's no reason to question success anymore.  Happy owners are plentiful balanced by a small number seeking advice for the occasional problem or those not understanding what the Multi-Display shows.  Makes you wonder what discussions about traditional vehicles are like, eh?

12-16-2007

Online Discussions, Hopeful Future.  There are some that couldn't care less about the nonsense of the past, remaining 20th Century legacy will fade with inevitable "extinct" label to follow.  Something better is guaranteed as far as they are concerned.  These discussions are intriguing, quite compelling at times too... but not always thorough.  My biggest gripe is the refusal to acknowledge all market aspects, cost/price/profit being the most important.  Consumer appeal is far from the only factor at play; however, considerations about manufacturing & supplier capacities rarely gets ever attention.  If you want cheerleading and a optimistic outlook, look there and bring a lot of patience.  Ultimately, they'll get want they want, but it won't be without the realities of economics & politics slowing that progress in the meantime.

12-16-2007

Online Discussions, Arguing Semantics.  Sadly, this is the least constructive.  Strangely, it doesn't affect the audiences you'd think.  The website dedicated to Volt actually does remain relatively well focused on the actual products at hand.  Their desire to deliver something viable (and fiercely competitive) helps tremendously.  That big GM forum is the complete opposite.  The loudest voices their couldn't care less about a competitive product.  Their priority is bragging rights.  A small quantity of vehicles with impressive engineering is all they seem to care about.  It's very frustrating.  Rather than the ultimate goal of replacing a large volume of automaker production with greatly improved technology, discussion about why you'd want to do that is all the further they seem to get nowadays... interjected with a congratulations for two-mode, despite no real-world data being available yet to support the claim or a single sale having occurred yet.  Why are they arguing the merit of hybrids still?  Semantics are pointless now that a hybrid has been maintaining a position in the top-20 sales list... especially in a world concerned about oil & pollution.

12-16-2007

Online Discussions, Sudden Death.  These are the most popular of discussions.  The draw is most likely due to the content always being recent.  Something new is announced.  It is discussed heavily.  Then people move on a newer topic.  The lifecycle is usually just two days.  On that third, comments are rarely added.  It's dead already, interest lost by those who usually participate.  The website dedicated to Volt enthusiasts fits that type precisely.  There's a forum there too, but that doesn't attract like the front page featuring recent news where comments can be posted.  So unfortunately, constructive discussion is very difficult due to attention being lost so quickly.  They certainly try though.  At least it's a handy resource for keeping up to date.

12-16-2007

Online Discussions, Introduction.  They take on many different formats, have many different sources, attract many different participants.  I like that variety.  The diversity helps to confirm the same topic is being similarly interpreted, having so many perspectives available.  It great for identifying patterns too.  But alas, all things change.  We are now in a state of change again.  The question of "if" has change to a matter of "when" for most.  So taking a moment to document the now before it becomes history is worthwhile.

12-13-2007

35 MPG Victory?  That Energy Bill passed the Senate vote today.  They ended up stripping out most of the taxing.  That means the oil companies retained their favorable standing and renewable sources won't get the help they could have benefited from.  I figured it would come to delivering the minimum.  Of course, the document is around 1,000 pages.  So whatever else is in or isn't in there remains a mystery.  It may still change anyway.  Now the House needs to vote on these revisions... and there's still the threat of a veto... which seems unlikely with so much of the tax provisions untouched.  We'll see.

12-13-2007

Frozen Conversation.  I haven't had a gas station encounter in quite some awhile now.  Much of that probably has to do with filling up the tank during busy hours, when there's no time available to talk.  But this evening, only one other person there... and he starred down the Prius as I pulled up to the pump.  Sure enough, as I began to fill he approached.  It was 12 F degrees out with a horribly brisk wind dropping the wind-chill factor below zero.  The temperature (or lack of) had that burning effect on skin.  It was very, very cold.  So what did the two of us do?  We shivered through a frozen conversation.  Had asked quite a few questions about Winter performance.  His reaction to me handing him a card with my own real-world data graphed on the back came as a complete surprise.  That was exactly what he wanted, but was the last thing he actually expected to get.  Carrying detail like that for immediate sharing with others really paid off in that situation.  It allowed me to quickly get back in the warm Prius without leaving him unfulfilled.  Phew!

12-13-2007

$3.00 Lifetime.  Why do so many accept monetary arguments against hybrids with calculations that state a $3.00 per gallon price for gas throughout the entire lifetime of the vehicle?  In the past, whether or not the price would rise as worldwide demand for oil increased was something you could debate.  Now, it is not.  Sadly, we've proven that refinery capacity prevents an increase in gas no matter how much the supply of oil is increased.  That results in higher prices, since no gas solution comes without a cost penalty.  And of course, the price of oil itself keeps increasing too.  So stating that gas will always cost $3.00 throughout at least the next 7 years is absurd... not the slightest bit realistic, in fact.  Remember 7 years ago?

12-13-2007

Intentional New Misconception, part 10.  Then I added this in a second post following that shortly afterward...  Anywho, I'm hoping to help prepare you for what's to come.  The audience will later change from the small number of well informed enthusiasts here to reporters that don't have a clue writing for large quantities of newbies out in the wild.  Based on the past, it will get ugly.  We've seen it too many times already.  Don't make the mistake of being naive thinking it won't ever happen again.  You'll read articles that are totally wrong or extremely vague or not correct for that particular vehicle.  It's very frustrating when they don't realize the differences in design and don't bother to include enough detail.  So what you see as playful banter here, may contribute to something quite different out there.

12-13-2007

Intentional New Misconception, part 9.  This response followed that odd situation: "I believe [he] was referring to the fact that the plug-in Prius will not have a very large electric-only range.  It is not a misconception..."  I replied with this:  Study hybrid history.  The very same type of comparison mismatch problem grew between the "assist" and "full" hybrids.  Those technologies were not the same either, yet they were treated as if there was little difference... which lead to misconceptions.  How's this any different?  Comparing electric-only range between a "full" hybrid and whatever you choose to call Volt simply is not appropriate.  It is an APPLE-to-ORANGE comparison.  The way they use electricity is not the same.  So comments implying similarity are counter-productive.  In other words, that post contributed to an emerging new misconception.  You may not see it as one now, but it could easily become one over time with enough posts like that.  Consider what it will be like 3 years from now when Volt is available, then you'll begin to see my perspective of 8 years.  I bet you'll do all you can make sure all is clearly understood too.

12-13-2007

Intentional New Misconception, part 8.  I have no idea what happened.  It was there.  It disappeared.  Then it came back.  My post had even been responded to in a constructive manner.  Perhaps it was just temporarily suppressed for review.  That makes sense.  I suspect many don't know how to treat me, am I friend or foe.  My intent is to inform.  They have no clue what's to come.  Too much passion has them caught up in the moment.  Just wait until the nightmare of poorly informed reporters start writing reviews.  My personal logs are filled with frustration of how they had absolutely no idea what they were talking about, or how they just guessed, or they were intentionally vague, or they defending the competition in an insincere manner...  They past was quite cruel at times.  I hope this better prepares them for it.  Taking the time here to voice my thoughts & feelings sure was worth it.  Perhaps some will read what I wrote to gain insight to my perspective.  Whatever the case, I don't what inaccuracies to be the cause of trouble.  Clear understanding is very important.

12-12-2007

Intentional New Misconception, part 7.  Well... how about one more thought?  In what way do you think aftermarket sales for augmenting a Prius for plug-in will be marketed?  That version will have a slower maximum electric-only speed, 42 MPH instead of the 62 MPH from Toyota.  Measurement criteria for range will certainly be confused by that factor, especially since there are no current standards establish.  Advertising capacity of the battery-pack would makes sense, but the current emphasis on miles could make that difficult.  Advertising real-world data from actual owners is by far the best, but that's a problem since waiting for those miles to be driven takes a long time.  My guess is it will come down to the same factor I've been arguing about for ages: Price.  I bet people will place that on the top of their shopping criteria and weigh it against their wants & needs.  After all, isn't that how people currently decide what model & trim-level of vehicle to purchase?  Finding how to appeal to consumers could be quite a challenge with a market not keenly aware of hybrid type difference; however, advertising price is very well established practice... and the industry is very slow to change.  Think about it.

 

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