Prius Personal Log  #466

July 6, 2010  -  July 8, 2010

Last Updated: Sat. 7/24/2010

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7-08-2010

Misconceptions, fear.  The very thought of change made some quiver with fear.  Who's going to force me to give up what?  It was a very real problem to contend with.  How do you convince consumers that hybrids are the next natural step in the evolution of automotive history.  It's that bridge to electrification... relying on clean sources of energy, which are also renewable.  The thought that Prius could lead to a practical & affordable plug-in ability was absurd, yet consumers eventually saw that.  The ASSIST hybrid supporters actually feared this even more.  They saw that FULL hybrids offered the ability to support a plug.  Some fear was unwarranted.  Other fear was legit.  That misconception influence of what could happen is now a complete non-issue.  It is well known & understood now.

7-08-2010

Misconceptions, oil.  With the monumental scale of the oil disaster in the Gulf Of Mexico now, this topic has become an interesting one.  Prius owners had to endure the endless arguments over the years of there being so much of a oil supply still, we'd have nothing to worry about for many decades to come.  The thought of a well gashing out millions upon millions of barrels uncontrollably was something totally unrealistic... an exaggeration so extreme, no one would ever take an argument like that seriously.  Needless to say, they were dead wrong.  It makes the debate points of oil quality and the ease of extraction pointless now.  Risk far outweighs benefit.  Oil was not thought of a problem then, but most certainly is now... even without ever mentioning politic strife.

7-08-2010

Misconceptions, guzzling.  Popularity of the monster-size SUV became truly disgusting, exactly as the first of the Prius owners in the US were celebrating their first anniversary.  Remember the "good for the economy" nonsense.  The administration of the time encouraged the purchase of guzzlers with large tax incentives.  Stigma of excess had vanished.  Neighbors competed with each other to possess the largest vehicle.  It was an embarrassing chapter in our history... which few admit to still and even fewer want to discuss, hence the misconception twist.  To pretend none of that ever happened or had any influence on the growth of hybrid acceptance is a topic of shame.  Yet, that's what we are dealing with now.  They disregard the resistance toward hybrids that caused, which is no longer a factor.  It certainly was back then though.

7-08-2010

Misconceptions, greenhouse.  Remember "global warming" a decade ago?  It rarely ever got mentioned.  When it was, they portrayal of the speaker was as some kind of a treehugging hippie.  Greenhouse gases were not a topic of science.  Heck, it wasn't even considered much of a business & political tool back then either.  The thought of "climate change" was far from the consumers mind.  They had absolutely no clue that warming could contribute to cooling elsewhere, more frequent storms, more violent storms, and a prolonged influence on multi-year weather systems.  It was simply too difficult to notice a pattern, especially with the technology of the time.  That's changing.  Showing concern & responsibility for the environment is becoming a way of life now.  We are finding practical ways to achieve carbon-neutral lifestyle for our children.

7-08-2010

Misconceptions, plugging.  Back in 2000, people didn't have a clue what the word "hybrid" even meant.  I was amazed by how many times I had to explain that the engine was used to generate electricity.  The assumption that you always had to plug the car in at night was so deeply engrained into their subconscious, you'd sometimes end up arguing to prove there really wasn't any way to actually plug a Prius in.  They had a hard time grasping that concept, despite the fact you could point out how portable generators used a combustion engine as a source of power.  The "how far can it go" question was actually fun to answer.  My response was 500 miles.  You to would have been delighted by the confused look on their faces, seeing them try to figure out how that could be possible.  To further inject humor into that often frustrating situation, I would add "of course, it depends on the length of the cord".

7-08-2010

Misconceptions, speed.  This was the one that made me absolutely crazy.  I was constantly getting asked about driving my Prius on the highway.  Since electric cars of previous decades had always been homemade conversions, they were very heavy.  The battery & motor technology of the time resulted in slow vehicles limited to just city travel.  Driving at highway speed with one was totally unheard of.  So, it did make a lot of sense that I was asked "how fast can it go" back then.  It was frustrating though.  Did people actually think I would purchase a vehicle that couldn't go fast?  It really made we wonder.  This in fact was a reason that influence taking lots of photos up north.  Seeing my vacation travel with a Prius made it overwhelming clear it could handle highway driving just fine.

7-08-2010

Misconceptions, 10 years ago.  They were quite abundant back when Prius first hit the US market.  Yet, misconceptions are never sighted as a contributing factor to the slow pace of the rollout then.  People wanting to undermine the success of hybrids exploited them repeatedly.  People simply fearing change believed them without question.  People wanting to promote hybrids were continuously having to explain them.  They had a powerful influence.  Seeing misconceptions excluded as reasons for that slow pace of Prius to justify the slow rollout of Volt have to make you wonder.  Could their omission be based upon assumptions?  How could something that big missed when researching hybrid history?  It does make you suspicious.

7-08-2010

39 MPG.  One Chevrolet dealer has begun advertising Volt.  In big print it says "39 MPG" in a box titled "Range Extended Mode".  Everyone's been scratching their heads wondering what that means.  It certainly looks like an official estimate, the combined value.  The enthusiasts don't want to remark about the value itself though; their only interested in its origins.  The response resembles panic... something else they hadn't prepared for.  What I'm most curious about is what the dealer hopes to accomplish.  Will that 39 MPG draw people in and hold their patience long enough for what is easily expected to be a 9-month delivery wait?  Or is the hope that they'll become impatient and just buy something else instead?

7-07-2010

HOV Privileges.  Certain media sources are making it seem as though the HOV privileges expiring at the end of the year are a major loss for hybrids like Prius, will harm upcoming sales of new hybrids, and resale values will plummet.  The situation is being spun in such a way, it's really disgusting.  The reality is that the state of California only offered 85,000 permits in the first place.  Those were all used up over 2 years ago.  So, purchases since then had absolutely nothing to do with HOV.  Resale values were actually grossly inflated for the 85,000 which got them too.  So, their value will just return back to normal, not far below as they've implied.  They don't mention that most states never offered HOV privileges anyway or how sales weren't really affected when permits ran out for those that did.  In fact, they make it sound as though hybrids privileges are getting revoked, rather than just expiring.

7-07-2010

Tax Credit Detail.  Tired of so many different references to credits, some of which I questioned the accuracy of, I looked up today.  After all, information easily becomes outdated when dealing with hybrids.  On the IRS website, I found "IRC 30" detail.  Sure enough, capacities & values were being quoted incorrectly.  Here's precisely what was stated in the document:  For vehicles acquired after December 31, 2009, the credit is equal to $2,500 plus, for a vehicle which draws propulsion energy from a battery with at least 5 kilowatt hours of capacity, $417, plus an additional $417 for each kilowatt hour of battery capacity in excess of 5 kilowatt hours.  The total amount of the credit allowed for a vehicle is limited to $7,500.  The credit begins to phase out for a manufacturer's vehicles when at least 200,000 qualifying vehicles have been sold for use in the United States (determined on a cumulative basis for sales after December 31, 2009).

7-07-2010

Production Plans.  This is the latest from GM... which hasn't exactly proceeded as many had hoped:  10,000 through the end of 2011.  30,000 produced in 2012.  This is what I posted on the big Prius forum to summarize my observations:  It's getting interesting.  Some of enthusiasts on the Volt blog are beginning to show frustration... and actually agreeing with me!  I pushed them to recognize why the task-force gave the "too little, too slowly" assessment.  They're obviously starting to see it.  On the big GM forum, they have grown silent.  That's a drastic change from the past, where they had mastered spin and being smug.  I'm curious as heck what comes next.  It would be fascinating to finally have constructive discussion.  But with Prius approaching 500,000 sales per year, even before the plug-in, that's probably not likely.  Here's what I posted there:  Remember the intent to ramp up production very quickly to meet demand?  Remember the production capacity of 60,000 planned for the second year?  Is this where I point out the "over-promise, under-deliver" concern and ask where all those who absolutely insisted this would never happen went?

7-07-2010

Better?  Things have been wild lately.  The rollout plans for Volt recently announced sure have stirred emotion.  Attitudes about my posts have shifted from extremely negative to surprisingly positive, even though my stance hasn't changed.  That makes wondering about what tomorrow will bring as predictable as the weather.  Anywho, I posted this without any backlash, perhaps a sign that things are getting better... maybe even a little bit of constructive discussion:  Strange.  On one hand, I never liked having posted so much for those here to push for more.  On the other hand, there is some regret for not having strived for an even harder push.  Having been through this supply/demand game before, it was easy to see what was to come and that the tone of that stance would not be liked.  Yet, the outcome is unfolding as foreseen.  Had to try.  What happens now?  What are the next steps?  Any ideas?

7-07-2010

Newbie Misconceptions.  What's being done to prepare for newbies?  The bickering between Leaf, Prius, and Volt supporters isn't all that helpful, though clever ideas do pop out from time to time.  Supposedly an all-electric Ford Focus will join the chaos too.  How are those new consumers going to choose with so many mixed messages?  The information being presented is quite random, nothing representing what they'll need to make a purchase decision.  This is why some of us are pushing hard for detail now.  We want facts to work with, not marketing hype.  Unfortunately, that hype is all we'll likely get for quite some time still.  What a pain.  Rather than preventing misconceptions, newbies will be exposed to a dump of misleading claims.  It's very frustrating.  Not much can be done to stop it though.  Real-World data simply isn't being shared from particular sources yet.

7-07-2010

Not Happy.  The Volt enthusiasts weren't happy anyway.  They didn't like this either...  There was ample time to prepare.  Plenty of warning was provided that this was coming.  Fallout happened anyway.  Lots of damage control is now needed to deal with all the spin.  Ready for the next?  Choosing to be proactive makes it a whole lot easier.  Publicity can take an ugly turn if expectations aren't met.  Here's what should be done to prepare:  Ask yourself what are you going to do when the EPA estimates are released.  How are you going to react to seeing a particular MPG value?  Will you have scenarios to illustrate what the MPG represents?  What will you say to those more concerned about sticker price?

7-06-2010

July Numbers.  Looking at them, you get kind of a deflated feeling.  All sales but Fusion, Escape, and Prius are really low.  The market overall is really struggling now.  Makes you really what will happen with Two-Mode, especially with both Volt and Cruze complicating matters later this year.  When the economy finally recovers, there is no doubt hybrid sales will be strong then... especially since consumers no longer look upon them as a niche... you can thank the upcoming plug-ins for that.  People take a look at the 2010, see all the refinements and think nothing of the misconceptions anymore.  It's what a car of the 21st Century was always supposed to look like.  Fortunately, even with sales low, there are so many hybrids already on the road that the thought of buying one doesn't bring up any type of stereotype.  People from all walks of life now own them.

7-06-2010

61.3 MPG.  Seeing that routinely is great.  It was the end result of today's commute.  Between the warm weather and the slower traffic due to congestion from construction detours, the formula is wonderful for efficiency.  I certainly enjoy the drives like that.  It nicely balances out the other extreme 6 months from now.  I cannot imagine what the situation will be like later, when word-of-mouth reports spread.  There's typically a delay when dealing with mainstream consumers.  They wait at least a year before considering a purchase.  The real-world data they end up hearing about is what seals the deal.  In other words, they don't trust automaker hype.  It's what owners have to say that really makes the impression.  And from this owner, I can provide a one-word assessment that says it all:  Sweet!

7-06-2010

31,876 in Japan.  What do you say to seeing a monthly sales total that large?  It keeps Prius at the top for the 14th month in a row.  Being the most popular vehicle in Japan for over a year now sure is vindicating.  I always wondered how long it would take for a hybrid to be considered a mainstream vehicle well beyond any doubt.  No more arguing anymore.  No more convincing.  Nothing left to prove.  The technology is clearly the next step in automotive standards.  How long it will take to spread and what degree of modifications will be needed to accomplish a reach deep into a variety of classes & markets is the question now.  That goal of achieving one-million-per-year hybrid production by the original date of 2012, despite the down economy, isn't actually too far off.  Momentum is building.

7-06-2010

Freedom Drive, fallout.  It was obvious that the choice of not revealing any performance information whatsoever wasn't a good one.  The fallout has grown pretty intense.  They didn't like this attempt to focus discussions back on constructive thought either:  There was ample time to prepare.  Plenty of warning was provided that this was coming.  Fallout happen anyway.  Lots of damage control is now needed to deal with all the spin.  Ready for the next?  Choosing to be proactive makes it a whole lot easier.  Publicity can take an ugly turn quick if expectations aren't met.  Here's what should be done to prepare: Ask yourself what are you going to do when the EPA estimates are released.  How are you going to react to seeing a particular MPG value?  Will you have scenarios to illustrate what the MPG represents?  What will you say to those concerned about the overall cost?

 

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