Prius Personal Log  #396

December 3, 2008  -  December 10, 2008

Last Updated: Sun. 10/24/2010

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12-10-2008

Bailout, stance.  The attitude from GM enthusiasts is strange.  On the big forum, the most outspoken anti-hybrid troublemaker is saying nothing in response to the need to have a balance portfolio, dependency on oil, or either type of emissions.  All that's be focused on is the "drop" in sales with gas prices so low.  In other words, there is absolutely nothing being said about the future.  I guess he's overwhelmed by how quickly and how bad GM has fallen.  As for the Volt enthusiasts, their stance is a mystery too.  None want to address how much their favored hybrid could change over the next few months.  Survival is the utmost concern now.  Deal with the rest later.

12-10-2008

Predictions.  This comment today required an immediate & blunt reply: "I find it uncanny how *** is able to predict this stuff so far in advance."  It was a about how a popular Volt enthusiast predicted this market shift a few months ago.  Apparently, many there still have no idea what the rest of the industry has already experienced.  From their point-of-view, it's all new.  No wonder the idealism persists.  The hybrid supporters from years ago actually said the same things.  But they don't study any of that online content.  Anywho, this was what I posted...  Back in 2004 when Lutz proclaimed hybrids were a "stop gap", owners were predicting the same thing.  Read the old forums & blogs.  The writing has been on the wall for years now.  By the way, that is the very reason Lutz doesn't want Volt to be called a hybrid.

12-09-2008

Halo Greenwashing.  It's amazing how some still attempt to mislead others into believing that Prius is just niche vehicle not intended as a replacement for traditional vehicles.  With so many already on the road, that doesn't make any sense.  Yet, the convincing persists with nonsense like this: "I agree that the Volt is a halo car that won't make money just as the Prius is a halo car for Toyota."  That would mean GM being held to the same criteria.  15,556 was the quantity sold here that first year... way back when gas was cheap and misconceptions were abundant.  GM should at least match that... an entire decade later, after hybrids have already become well established.

12-09-2008

Slow Sales.  With a title like this, you can see where the mindset is: "Low Gas Prices, Troubled Economy Slow Toyota Prius Sales".  The quantity sold per month would have diminished anyway.  When you are so close to heavy promotion of a new model, you don't want to get stuck with a large inventory of the older one.  That's normal for any vehicle.  But with the monster-size Two-Mode hybrids, they depended on high gas prices and a strong economy.  For both factors to turn against GM while at the same time legacy costs still being a burden, supporters obviously want to picture a disheartening picture for the entire market.  Hearing about fast sales of new Prius next Summer is not what they're looking forward to.

12-09-2008

Bailout, 2016.  The Congressional panel heard about profitably of Volt from CEO Rick Wagoner last week.  He said it would probably not provide a return on the investment until the second generation is delivered.  With the first being available in early 2011, it's reasonable to expect a run of about 5 years before a major upgrade occurs.  That means waiting until around 2016.  That's 7 years from now!  Doesn't that completely miss the point of getting bailed out?  The government shouldn't be making long-term outcome decisions like this.  The purpose of emergency funding is for keeping the automakers viable, so they can sell competitive vehicles soon.  How long are we suppose to wait for payback, especially if so much emphasis is being placed on a design with an uncertain market?

12-09-2008

Bailout, lawsuits.  A desired outcome of the bailout by those formulating the plan is to prevent automakers receiving the money from "pursuing, funding, or supporting" any lawsuit which challenges state laws regarding carbon emissions.  It's hard to believe that is still even an issue.  After all, wasn't money set aside to help pay for the retooling to build more efficient vehicles?  Oh!  Guess what!  The money they are asking for is that!  In other words, they could potentially fight with the very money provided so they wouldn't have to.  Arrgh!  Anywho, it's hard to take them seriously at this point anyway.  We'll all find out what happens soon enough.

12-09-2008

Fusion-Hybrid.  The first test drives of the new FULL hybrid sedan from Ford have begun.  On the particular drive reported about today, 43.1 MPG was the efficiency reported.  There were no details about how this was actually achieved though, so conditions could have been ideal... knowing the event would get lots of attention.  The driver was likely well informed about FULL hybrids too... knowing an article would have to be written about that experience.  Whatever the case, it's still good news... especially from Detroit.  We are all tired of hearing how impressive 30 MPG Highway supposedly is.

12-08-2008

Bailout, apology.  That's not what anyone expected.  Of course, that doesn't mean it will change the outcome at all.  Nonetheless, consumers got a formal apology from GM for having "disappointed" and "betrayed" them.  Who knows how this will be taken.  What I got a kick out of was this first post in response to this on the big automotive green blog: "I don't understand why GM is apologizing to consumers for focusing on gas guzzlers.  It was the consumers who were buying them."  Are some people that oblivious to the importance of having actual choice?  Since all of GM's vehicles were guzzlers, what else could consumers buy?  Look at how many advertisements we get about all the models they offer that get 30 MPG highway.  Where's the 50 MPG choice?  For that matter, GM doesn't even offer a 40 MPG choice.  Prius has been available since 1997.  Waiting 11 years before getting acknowledgement that GM should have also pursued emission & efficiency technology like that is long overdue.

12-08-2008

Bailout, goodbye.  Their was a call for the CEO of GM to step down in the form of a hinted suggestion.  Odds are, it was just a tactic to place responsibility for what happens in the next few months solely on his shoulders.  Aiming a target like that can be quite inspiring.  Changes that wouldn't occur under normal circumstances stand a greater chance of actually happening that way.  And if the necessary improvements don't gets addressed properly, there's someone already clearly identified to blame.  With so much money and so many jobs at stake, taking this matter seriously is long overdue.  Steps to offer competitive & responsible products shouldn't be delayed any longer.

12-08-2008

$40.81 Per Barrel.  Seeing that is quite a surprise.  Of course, that's just an artificial low.  Once the economy stabilizes, the price for oil should be somewhat higher.  $1.53 for gas isn't what I would have ever predicted.  The current $2.73 for diesel is more likely what of a realistic expectation later.  But that will probably change in the meantime too.  Many industries are struggling now.  Fallout could take awhile.  Cash reserves haven't run out yet.  Once they do, then we're in trouble.  Businesses can only tough it out for so long.

12-07-2008

Bailout, fear.  It's growing.  The die-hard Volt enthusiasts are discovering just how little the rest of the population actually knows about the technology they desire.  Since basically nothing was done on their part to promote, it's a rude awaking.  Just blogging doesn't accomplish much beyond just educating an inner-circle.  To get the word out, at the very minimum they must engage in forum discussions.  That way, at least topic-related information can be found.  In the chaotic world of blogs, detail is simply lost... buried in the clutter of daily chat... only to be discovered upon chance.  And to their surprise, stumbling across enough necessary education to deliver a constructive comment is rare.  As a result, misunderstandings are rampant.  Needless to say, fear is setting in now that use of the retooling money is being considered.  Too bad that hadn't done more to increase exposure.  People are likely to dismiss a dream than a prototype vehicle which operational details are well known.

12-07-2008

Bailout, downsize.  Witnessing the size of vehicles shrinking sure is a change.  It was inevitable that downsizing would could some day.  After all, when guzzlers grow so large they can no longer fit inside the garage, the problem should be obvious.  But to all of a sudden seeing teeny-tiny cars like Smart routinely is bizarre.  Prius is enormous in comparison.  Remember how some mocked Toyota for expanding out to the Scion brand?  Those vehicles had nothing in common with Toyota's regular offering, so the expense of producing a unique low-price platform didn't make sense in a thriving market with cheap gas.  The situation sure has changed though.  It was clearly a smart move.  And now those smaller cars are in a great position for increased sales.  With so many already on the road, there is nothing to prove.  Consumers like them.  They fulfill the need in this new market.

12-07-2008

Bailout, discontinue.  Talk of reducing the number of models offered is abundant & frequent.  Saturn is getting the most focus.  GM's technology debut vehicle, the Vue, would vanish.  To go from offering a confusing array of choices to nothing is not what anyone expected.  But it could happen.  The redundancy among the automaker's brands is becoming too much of a financial burden.  Something must be done to remain competitive.  Different labels on vehicles that are essentially the same is a big liability.  Too bad they were always so proud of model count, rather than focusing on the number actually sold.  In other words, they now realize spreading resources that thin is a terrible approach when times are tough.  Entire dealerships will likely close as a result of this upcoming restructure effort.  Hearing discontinue discussion now sure is different from what we had to endure 2 years ago.

12-06-2008

Bailout, reality.  The reality of the situation is that the temporary economic low our world is currently experiencing won't last.  Thank goodness.  Demand will return.  Then the unfortunate reality of that is the fact that dirty 30 MPG vehicles just don't cut it.  Rapidly growing places like China & India will make it quite obvious that heavy investment in affordable & profitable designs should be made now.  Producing large quantities of vehicles like Prius, which deliver at least a SULEV emission rating and 50 MPG, is a reality.  A vehicle like Volt will remain a trophy for many years, simply because in cannot meet the required criteria yet.  That is a dream still.  In the meantime, the fleet of vehicles must deliver some type of substantial improvement.  After all, does anyone really believe that tiny non-hybrid cars will be appealing when so much attention is given to the new Prius... and new Insight... and new Fusion-Hybrid?

12-06-2008

Bailout, back.  They came back to plea their case to Congress.  And naturally, the returning CEOs each drove a hybrid as opposed to the highly controversial choice of flying in a private jet... like they did last time.  Thursday, the Senate heard their tales of woe and asking questions.  Friday, it was the House opportunity.  Saturday (today), supporters attempt to digest all that said and those in Congress decide what should be done.  Watching the C-Span coverage sure was interesting.  Repeatedly, a few from all sides attempted to argue that the money set aside for fuel-efficiency retooling should be tapped for this immediate financial survive loan.  Certain people couldn't understand how bad of an idea that was, how next year they'll be in a similar situation again without that "step 2" money available.  As important as "step 1" is, not having anything competitive to sell is just as much of a problem.

12-06-2008

Bailout, token.  We got to see Volt in Washington D.C today.  It was obviously a public relations stunt, since we all know the CEO drive from Detroit was in a different vehicle.  That represented a token effort, much like the production of the vehicle itself could.  Taking them seriously means volume.  Most automakers can produce a few vehicles to draw attention with.  Just look at all the fuel-cell prototypes.  High enough quantity to actually make a difference is an entirely different matter, which is what Congress wants from them.

12-05-2008

Winter's Arrival.  The sudden arrival of several inches snow brought temperatures well below freezing.  The change is here to stay.  December is a reality now.  Salt & Sand is coating the Prius already.  That extra grille blocking I did has demonstrated its ability to retain warmth effectively.  The new tires are doing their job well too.  It is the sixth Winter for this Prius.  I'm looking forward to the seasonal shift.  It's quite refreshing when it finally melts away... many, many months from now.

12-03-2008

Bailout, plans from GM.  The self-promotion was disturbing.  Rather than sticky to facts, words like "world leader" were interjected.  And if that wasn't enough, other words like "catastrophic" probably did the trick.  Regardless of the unnecessary adjectives, section 6.4 was dedicated to fuel efficiency improvements.  Sadly, the number of models was the basis for their plan rather than actual production quantity.  To make matters worse, it specifically said "volumes expected to be low".  That doesn't exact inspire confidence.  Oddly though, fleet average MPG values were provided.  Car is expected to go from 31.6 to 37.3 and for Truck it should go from 24.6 to 27.5 in 4 years.  It left you wanting more and wondering what the investment in hybrids would actually be.  No sense of any shift was conveyed.  Will that do?

12-03-2008

Bailout, plans from Ford.  Section 2 of the plan they delivered wasn't too bad.  They are reducing guzzler production through a "shift to smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles".  Expectations of fleet averages were provided.  14 percent improvement next year.  26 in 2012.  And 36 in 2015.  Of course, we've been disappointed by promises like that already.  What's the penalty if it isn't delivered?  And what value are they basing the calculation from?  It doesn't actually state any MPG goals.  For that matter, emissions were missing too.  Of course, the hybrid system they offer is rather nice.  And it did state they are "targeting a substantial increase in hybrid volume through a greater than 30 percent reduction in cost".  But then again, no quantity was actually mentioned.  Overall, it was weak.  Will that be enough?

 

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