Prius Personal Log #420
May 31, 2009 - June 4, 2009
Last Updated: Tues. 6/16/2009
page #419 page #421 BOOK INDEX
The Goal, frustrated. The propaganda has become horrible. With GM desperate to redefine itself, the Volt enthusiasts are pushing the "superior" mindset... with no regard for actual need. Many of them only want to crush Prius, to earn the crown of "best" technology. The following comment is what really got me frustrated: "The goal is to sell millions of cars per year to Joe public." A supporter was truly trying to get them to be constructive, but most simply ignored the statement. Price is the biggest problem... which they just carelessly dismiss with a "rebate" reference. High-Volume production soon is not a concern. They figure people will just tolerate guzzlers for at least 6 more years. It's amazing how they see the situation through blinders, never attempting to look at the market as a whole. In the United States alone, the expectation is 8 to 9 million new vehicles annually. A plug-in technology only available on a compact car is clearly not enough. How many do they think will be produced? How long do they think we can wait? How much do they think we can afford?
Best Online Advertisement... Ever! What a surprise that
was! I went to look up a word online. To my shock, the small entry
field on the usual neutral background had been transformed to a large scenic
vista along with a Prius. I had never seen an webpage feature that
elaborate of an advertisement. And of all things, it was for the 2010.
It was strange though. Why hadn't anyone else pointed that out? That
answer came shortly afterward. I was the first to stumble across it and
report the discovery. The creative approach ended up being reported by the
media. What I thought was the most clever was Toyota's placement of extra
promotion on the webpage that provided the definition of "solar".
It came complete with an advertisement specifically for that new Prius feature
along with Prius related words.
Solar Powered Ventilation. I feared a misconception of battery charging would emerge from the existence of a solar option being offered. Fortunately, Toyota's promotion of the feature always include the word "ventilation". That makes it nearly impossible to understand the purpose incorrectly. That strategy seems to be paying off already too. Even before the television commercial which highlights it specifically, some complained that it lacked the ability to charge. Making intent clear is very important. Certain competitor still haven't learned that lesson. That ambiguity can lead to disappointment.
Eating Inside. It didn't take long before I finally decided to eat inside the new car. There was a "free rootbeer float" promotion. It was late, after a stressful day at work. And I could really go for a hamburger. So, I swung by my to pick up my sister (who was also craving the indulgence) to catch up with here and show her the 2010 Prius. The plan was perfect... if neither of us spilled anything... which, we didn't. Interesting thing is, the new car smell was almost gone already anyway. The air-filtration system does a great job of addressing all breathing-related aspects of cleansing.
Deceptive Comparisons. Writers are capitalizing on the timing opportunity. This morning there was yet another example of the Iconic Prius being compared to a new vehicle, in this case Insight. The hope is that readers don't realize the numbers quoted aren't for the new Prius. Being vague allows for assumptions to take place. You end up with the impression that the 2010 was what the MPG came from, but that's not actually the case. Take this quote: "I get around 50 mpg in my Prius and the Insight is rated lower — 40 mpg on city streets and 43 on the highway." That intermixing of real-world and estimates really adds to the deception. I'm tired of dealing with this nonsense. That goodness I'll have real-world data to rebut with soon. I'm only 130 miles into the second tank, but the MID is showing a study 59 MPG. Want to compare that?
One Week Later. Driving my 2010 Prius has been quite an adventure. The surprise process is incredible. We hope to make discoveries, but have no idea what to really set expectations at. I've been averaging 59 MPG on this new tank. That's amazing. In fact, that alone makes for a compelling technology argument. Seeing the price of oil climb to $68 per barrel and the price of gas to $2.65 per gallon, along with the bankruptcy of the biggest source of resistance, sets the stages for unimpeded growth. Owners endorsements will flood in at an incredible rate. We are clearly on the verge of major change in the automotive industry... with heavy emphasis on producing lots of vehicles like Prius. Gotta love it! Just one week into ownership and I can already share many stories of upgrade satisfaction. The commute to work has become an amazing experience. Flirting with 60 MPG is efficiency that ends the nonsense of the past. The decision to abandon traditional vehicles for hybrids has become a no-brainer.
May Sales. It's hard to know how to comment anymore. GM
hybrids didn't sell well. Only 1,739 total in May. But with the reality of
bankruptcy looming, consumers were likely more hesitant than usual. Prius sales
are up, a nice climb go 10,091 for the month. Consumers are obviously making
decisions about whether to snatch up a last minute deal on an Iconic model or to
endure a wait for a 2010. I wonder how those still wanting to undermine will
spin that. Heck, the 2,941 sales of Camry-Hybrid were a good sign too.
Even the 2,780 for Insight show where the market is going. If that's not a
wake-up call for GM and supporters, just direct them to the 1,870 count for the
new Fusion-Hybrid. The hybrid SUVs also sold at respectable numbers:
Escape with 1,702 and Highlander with 1,351. Civic was the only other
hybrid with substantial numbers at 2,077. These are tough times.
Recovery of the automakers depends more than ever on changes. Hybrids will
play contribute to that in a big way. Growth is the key. There's lots of
We Knew All Along. When the new CEO of GM in an interview today was confronted about the initial $40,000 price for Volt, he responded with a "we knew all along" reply. Was that an admission of the previous promotion being just greenwashing? Remember how much we heard the "nicely under $30,000" price target? It's hard to know how to respond to such repeated deception. We said that even after 5 years of production, such a price still wouldn't be realistic. Yet, enthusiasts insisted it wouldn't be anything to be concerned about. But now with the urgency to deliver high-volume soon, they don't want to acknowledge that past. In fact, there's still heavy dependency on tax credit even though the quantity now required for a business-sustaining and competitive product will cause it to expire in the very first year of production. Cost of the battery can't possibly drop that much that quick. Some of us knew that all along.
That PWR Button. I found a great use for it... when waiting to turn left in heavy traffic. You know, when the light is green but the flow of vehicles is really dense. You sit there patiently waiting for the opportunity to drop the pedal. At the moment that opening finally arrives, being able to launch with a huge burst of power would really be nice. And now, that's what we have. In the past, Prius was easily competitive. Now, it's positioned to impress. We still don't need a faster "0 to 60" with respect to MPH, merging into the flow of traffic was fine already. That need was already satisfied. But the "0 to 60" speed in terms of feet, where all you need to do is pierce through an opening is a valid application for faster. It has always been inherently dangerous crossing traffic with any vehicle. Some streets can be really nasty. If the use is just to move an extremely short distance in a clearing, why not? True, the ability could easily be perverted. But that's true with most technologies anyway... and of course, the desire to see the MPG remain high compels you to switch PWR off immediately after using it.
Delivery Truck. My commute route takes me along the same highway where deliveries to the Toyota dealer occur. So when I see a carrier approaching in the distance, I prepare to watch closely as it passes. Today was the most satisfying experience doing that ever! Seeing that it had 1 new Prius on top and 3 on the bottom was quite exhilarating! What a thrill to see so many 2010 models together all at once. New owners in my area are just days away. Hooray! As much as I love driving such a unique & special vehicle, I would prefer it become vanilla common quickly. That's the technology which the mainstream will benefit greatly from. In fact, it is essential. More Prius! Yeah!
Empty Promises. How should one react to a comment like
this: "The Chevy Volt program shall remain intact and not derailed in any
way." Making a promise like that is irresponsible. There's no
possible way to guarantee such an outcome. But then again, it's extremely
vague. After all, we don't really know what "Volt" truly is anyway.
The vehicle is something that will offer a plug and go 40 miles using
electricity under ideal conditions. The "program" is just an effort to
make the technology available for consumer rollout. Neither of the two
most important questions are part of a promise. I posted this to ask for
that detail... PRICE: Are we still talking a $40,000 vehicle to produce with hopes of
getting price down to the low 30's within the next 5 years? VOLUME: How many should we expect to be produced within the next 5 years,
will it become mainstream at over 100,000 annually?
Stealth Discovery. I got an opportunity to contribute a discovery of my own today. When I plugged in my ScanGaugeII (an aftermarket display) into the 2010, it revealed something I we've all been really hoping for. It seemed odd that the MPG indicator next to the speedometer stayed at 100 even when driving at the fastest Stealth speed. Sure enough. The old threshold of 42 MPH did indeed change. I was going 45 MPH, yet the RPM still displayed as 0. The engine remains stopped at a faster speed now. 46 MPH is the threshold for the new Prius. That will definitely contribute to higher suburb MPG. Sweet!
Solar Surprise. I forgot the system was activated. So when I ran into the store today for a quick errand, jumping back into the Prius afterward sure gave me a surprise. The fan was running! I had totally forgotten about it. Hearing it busy at work trying to keep the car cool while I'm gone sure is a fascinating situation. You don't expect your vehicle to have a mind of it's own like that. I bet the owners with adaptive cruise-control will feel the same way. Conveniences like that certainly aren't necessary, but they are nice. After all, isn't having stuff like that why I worked so hard? And after enough satisfied consumers like me, the option could become standard. Just look at what the dashboard of Prius offers. Even the base model comes with a MID. That happening to solar anytime soon is unlikely. But you never know. The point is we get the choice to try it.
Online Prius Discussions. They were virtually all about
the 2010 model today. I suspect the official collapse of GM contributed to
the abrupt attention loss for the Iconic model. Seeing the shift over take
place so quickly was unexpected. It was inevitable, but I thought it would
take longer. All it takes is a wave of new owners joining into online
discussions. It's what we saw when the previous generation of Prius
emerged. Overwhelming veteran owners doesn't take much. There's not
a whole lot to say about such a reliability vehicle anyway. Discoveries
with new features and much improved efficiency will naturally draw attention.
Bankrupt! It actually happened. GM did indeed file for bankruptcy. Of course, most everyone figured that would be the result anyway. The money from the government and the requirement for thorough restructuring plans was an effort to reduce impact of what was pretty much inevitable. That loss of consumer confidence which would supposedly be caused by filing could be prevented by taking these measures. So, that's what they did. It's amazing how we had to endure the "more models" argument for years only to come to an end where that was a terrible thing to have argued for. GM must down quickly purge that excess. The redundancy was killing them. Focus should have been on a limited number of choices all along... exactly what those of us in support of Prius were arguing for. Such vindication! Now will this new GM finally address needs seriously?
Waiting For It. This morning's upcoming filing of bankruptcy by GM is making everyone crazy. The big GM forum had a discussion thread started to offer everyone an opportunity to chime it with their thoughts on the situation. Here's what I contributed to that: June 5, 2000 was when I put down a deposit on my first Prius. It was the only FULL hybrid available back then. There was hope that all the other automakers would offer their own years later though. The push began to get GM and Ford to deliver something... anything! Ford made & broke promises, but after taking much longer than expected they finally did. GM decided to mocked hybrids, devoting resources to the extreme opposite instead. That lack of diversity and planning ahead is coming back to haunt them. It's very strange that end of decade predictions actually did come true. We were correct. Now what?
Small Car Production. Today's news, on the eve of
bankruptcy, came with mixed opinions. GM agreed to build 160,000 small
cars locally, instead of over in Asia. Their practice of outsourcing the
smallest vehicles and building mostly giants one here is coming to an end. Of
course, there was an immediate backlash to that announcement. Those
driving wasteful vehicles fear having to switch to a teeny, tiny subcompact.
Why they don't ever acknowledge the existence of midsize vehicles boggles the
mind. Whatever. GM will finally become diversified, focusing most
heavily on the middle rather than the extremes. This first move was
actually the hardest... which is why they got it over with right away... before