Prius Personal Log  #381

July 27, 2008  -  August 2, 2008

Last Updated: Sun. 10/24/2010

    page #380         page #382         BOOK         INDEX         go to bottom 

 

8-02-2008

Asking Questions.  They still don't understand all the factors at play.  But at least the nature of discussions are changing.  A few enthusiasts are now taking a step back to look at the big picture, starting by asking questions like this: "Why is it that Toyota & Honda are able to get hybrids to market so fast and compared to GM, Ford & Chrysler?"  I'm not sure how the response will be taken...  Because they didn't want to.  In fact, GM even went as far as mocking Toyota & Honda by claiming that hybrids were only a stop gap measure, that the future was in fuel-cells instead.  All that time wasted making fun of Prius.  Now they are scrambling to catch up.  I suggest you read about that history, what they hope you won't ever be curious about.  Volt could suffer the same consequences simply by not being aware of what happened before.

8-02-2008

Demand Drop.  Now that gas prices are starting to drop, someone started a discussion thread wondering if that means the demand for Prius will drop.  One response even went as far as saying: "I fear you are correct."  That was too irresistible to refrain from replying.  So, I did...  Looks like someone has lost perspective.  Sure, the spin will be a drop in demand.  But in will only be a perception of bad. In reality, the current 15,000 monthly sales targeted inventory is grossly exceeding the 15,000 monthly production.  Returning back to that would still make Prius a popular vehicle anyway.  As each year progresses and the miles of owners increase, the reputation grows.  In fact, most of the original misconceptions are dead now.  And as we've witnessed in the past, sales actually increase when Prius become available without having to wait for delivery.  So, next year's significant production volume boost should make things very interesting.

8-02-2008

Well Informed.  At the coffee shop today, I leaned out toward the window to see how much of the pollution haze had cleared up since seeing it so awful early that morning.  The comment I made was something to the effect of "not as bad" ...which unexpectedly caught the attention of a person near by.  My response to his inquiry for clarification really got him going.  He just happened to be an engineer from San Diego that was quite well informed about emissions that harm the air we breath and technical solutions available to prevent the problem from getting worse.  Telling him who I was and pointing out my Prius matched up perfectly with his comments about how much cleaner it was here than where he had just been.  Promotion of clean hybrids (SULEV & PZEV rated) is absolutely essential... the faster, the better.  People don't realize just how bad things could get.  Drilling for more oil is exactly the wrong thing to do.  Ask the well informed, not a politician wanting your vote.

8-02-2008

E85 Misconceptions.  It turns out that most consumers don't have a clue.  The "Live Green, Go Yellow" marketing campaign has proven a major failure... which surprisingly, GM has admitted.  The source & energy issues are vaguely
understood, at best.  So, new efforts are being made to push a "better for the environment" message instead.  But the question remains, why are so few vehicles offering the flex ability still?  Shouldn't such an inexpensive feature (around $200) just be made standard?  How come publicity is more important than actually making a difference?

8-02-2008

Stalls & Bailouts.  Not acknowledging how immediate our need is has become a big source of frustration.  Some simply don't see the urgent nature of the oil situation nor the consequences of continued consumption at this rate.  To make matters worse, some expect the government to come to the rescue.  How would a bailout work anyway?  What would a vehicle like Volt qualify for in the forms of tax credits compared to a plug-in Prius?  Think about the quantity involved.  That previous "60,000 then phase-out" approach we got was little more than a token gesture.  With roughly 14,500,000 new vehicle sales expected here in 2008, it should be easy to see that the grand-scale must be considered for long-term viability... which is where the stalling comes in.  Some intentionally attempt to stifle progress of the market so development can advance in the meantime.

8-02-2008

New Undermining Efforts.  You may find this familiar: "If people are willing to pay $28000 for a used Toyota Prius, then they will certainly pay $35000+ for an all electric that uses no gas at all."  But now the misleading statements is coming from other hybrid supporters (Volt enthusiasts who refuse to admit the it will use a little gas from time to time), rather than the anti-hybrid troublemakers.  This was my reply...  Prius has been on roads for 10.5 years already and has had several major upgrades over that time.  Commitment to the technology is undeniable, with the next generation on the way and several other vehicles sharing similar design.  Consumer endorsements have been overwhelmingly positive too.  Volt won't have any of that for quite awhile still.  Time is required to earn merit.  The mindset of overnight success has got to end.  Also, don't sight rare examples as if they are the norm.  Remember that the need is for millions of high-efficiency vehicles in the very near future.

8-02-2008

Awful Haze.  I'm rather embarrassed by the sight I saw today.  A road near my home 20 miles south of Minneapolis provides a normally impressive view of that metropolitan area... but definitely not today.  The heat of Summer was concentrating the effects of our pollution.  It gave the air an awful looking orange haze.  For being one of the cleaner cities in the country, I can't imagine what living in one with much worse emission problems would be like.  We need to end this nonsense and embrace change.  The need is become quite obvious.

8-01-2008

Marketer Interview.  In this case, it was the chief marketer at GM.  This was my favorite quote from that interview: "We ran some numbers the other day, and the difference between driving a Silverado pickup with a V-8 engine and a Malibu or Camry with a 4-cylinder comes out to about $17 per week in extra fuel."  What kind of nonsense is that?  It's so vague, you are left clueless.  It's completely void of any detail as to how that number was derived.  And of course, it totally ignores the reality of purchase price differences.  I found it a very disappointing response to the topic of people now desiring smaller vehicles.  How come the comparison wasn't between a large truck and a small truck?  Was he admitting that most people don't actually need one anyway, that a car serves them just fine instead.  Even some members on the big GM forum were upset with such shallow answers.

8-01-2008

$125 Per Barrel.  That's the point at which prices have been hovering for the last 2 weeks.  A result of that was gas here falling to $3.65 per gallon.  It's still beyond the threshold for guzzling.  The desire for high-efficiency vehicles is rising.  The attitude change is quite obvious.  I can't imagine what that will mean at the end of the year when the new Prius debuts.  Talking about perfect timing.  People want to pay less at the pump.  It makes the promotion of hybrids that deliver 22 MPG a losing battle.  How much demand do they believe there will be?  Oil is expensive.  Getting stuck with a guzzler is a risk many are no longer willing to take.

8-01-2008

July Sales.  Toyota hybrids kept strong, though having more inventory to work with would have made things even better.  Oh well.  The excitement waiting for delivery has proven worthwhile in the past.  The anticipation leads to discoveries online for those that normally wouldn't search for information like that.  Anywho, there were 14,785 Prius sold, 2,645 Camry-Hybrid, and 1,371 Highlander-Hybrid.  All 3 models of Lexus hybrid came to a total of 1,562 for July.  That sure makes GM numbers for the month look bad with just 228 Tahoe-Hybrid, 123 Yukon-Hybrid, 362 Vue-Hybrid, 349 Malibu-Hybrid, and 29 Aura-Hybrid.  In a market now placing much higher priority on emissions & efficiency, it really makes me wonder what next year's July report will be.

8-01-2008

It's Time.  I posted this on the big GM forum today, hoping to finally rid those genuinely concerned of past troublemakers...  Last year, asking questions of want verses need resulted in fierce responses.  The suggestion of a shift away from giant vehicles was intensely mocked.  And it was grounds for banning to compare details of hybrid design.  Now, reality is setting in.  GM's year-to-date hybrid sales here are only at 5,467.  Toyota/Lexus are at 165,522.  Consumers are flocking to efficiency vehicles.  It's time for constructive discussions. 

8-01-2008

Disastrous Quarter.  For an automaker claiming to be on the rebound, it's going to be really difficult to put a positive spin on the loss of $15.5 Billion in a single quarter.  That's the ugly situation GM is facing now.  What in the world are they going to do?  Relying on guzzlers for profit has turned into a disaster.  Having almost nothing in the efficiency category to sell is a sign of tough times on the way.  More layoffs and inventory dumps are already planned.  Will that be enough?  How will they compete?  It makes the whole "stop gap" nonsense something to really regret.  Too bad we just can't have a good laugh about that terrible judgment mistake and move on.  Paying the consequences of such an unfortunate choice isn't going to be pretty.  Hopefully, it won't be too painful.  One thing is for certain, the GM which emerges from this mess is going to be very different.

7-31-2008

Billions of Profit.  For the previous quarter, that's just 3 months, reports today were that Exxon made $11.68 billion and Shell $11.56 billion.  During of a time when some consumers are struggling to get by and others are even losing their home, that isn't exactly news well received.  Oil prices are still way into the worse-case scenario situation.  Long-Term expectations are a complete mystery.  GM and Chrysler are planning to sell lots of guzzling (20 MPG) hybrids still, in a market where people are flocking to tiny vehicles for refuge.  The outcome of this grand-scale mess should be very interesting chapter in history.

7-30-2008

5 Years Later.  Not knowing what the Classic Prius looks like makes for interesting forum discussions.  An owner of the HSD model started one today.  She knew of its existence, but had never actually seen it before.  Reading that online is a bit odd, since searches are so darn quick & easy.  But those that grew up without internet access aren't used to information always being just a few clicks away.  It's a reminder of how diverse the market can be.  In this case, reputation was all that was known.  I suppose now 5 years after the finally inventory was being sold, it does make sense that assumptions of that nature are beginning to be made.

7-29-2008

Cost Reduction.  Honda announced today that they have cut the cost of IMA system (their ASSIST hybrid design) in half.  That's impressive.  Both the next upgrade to Civic-Hybrid and the new dedicated smaller hybrid will benefit from that.  However, there are still no plans to offer a larger model.  Nothing to compete directly with Camry-Hybrid is a strange move.  Is there a limitation to IMA or are they ignoring that market.  It seems unwise with the traditional Accord being so popular and diesel not making any progress.  Oh well.  At least they will be offering something hybrid, which is much more than certain other automakers.

7-29-2008

Hybrid Introductions.  Today was the annual picnic for our department at work.  The plan was to leave for home from the park.  No such luck though.  An extra car was needed to run people back to the office.  I volunteered... forgetting that most people still haven't ever been in a hybrid.  Well, that was an exhilarating drive.  The reaction that comes from a newbie witnessing 54.2 MPG on the Multi-Display and over 102,000 miles on the odometer while cruising along in traffic at 93 F degrees with the engine off and the A/C on was quite potent.  The circumstances of their introduction to hybrids were great, and that was before even jumping onto the highway.  My 3 passengers were impressed by the experience, to say the least.  You could tell by the question asking.  Interest was obviously peaked.  I certainly enjoyed that unexpected opportunity.

7-28-2008

Driving Less.  Those who rely on highway funding from collected taxes are growing concerned.  People are driving less to save money.  That has become a crystal clear indicator that $4 is the magic threshold.  Change has arrived and the first major fallout (not directly related to the automotive industry) is this.  Gas purchases was where the money for maintenance & replacement had come from.  But when people buy less, that supply shrinks.  Next year's estimates are about to face a grim reality of significant shortfall.  This abrupt reduction was definitely not planned for.  Now what?  That once reliable source for funding has become too risky to count on anymore.  Makes you wonder what other problems will surface as a result of oil being dramatically more expensive.

7-27-2008

Limited Production.  Two weeks ago, GM told us "such vehicles would be built in low numbers through 2015" when discussing intentions for Volt.  Today, they told us that E-Flex platform annual production could grow to 1 million by 2020.  So, what the heck does that mean for the rest of their vehicles?  That quantity is pretty small, just above 10 percent.  For a decade growth, that's an awful slow progress rate during a time where change is required.  Too bad that's all that was said.  With such scant detail, it's hard to know where priorities will actually be placed.  Don't you love the publicity game they are playing.  What difference will that make anyway?  Not a single vehicle using E-Flex has been sold yet.  So, how are consumers supposed to know what this will mean to them?  It certainly resembles the nonsense of the past.  Remember how they boasted that they'd be the first automaker to sell 1 million fuel-cell vehicles?  Whatever happened to that effort?

7-27-2008

Tahoe Promotion.  Unexpectedly, during a new episode of MythBusters, there was a commercial for Tahoe-Hybrid.  It had a curious approach.  How do you sell a monster-size vehicle during a major exodus from them?  Well, their approach was to promote the fact that it was a hybrid.  As many had feared before it's debut, the technology has become an excuse to continue selling vehicles that very few people (if any) actually need.  I can understand a pickup for hauling essential cargo.  But a SUV doesn't make sense for that, especially one loaded internally as a people mover.  Work or Personal?  Who is the intended market?  How often is a load heavier than 3,500 pounds for a family anyway?  Purpose remains a mystery.  The size & power appear unnecessarily large.

 

back to home page       go to top