Prius Personal Log  #567

May 3, 2012  -  May 8, 2012

Last Updated: Weds. 6/06/2012

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5-08-2012

Downplay, promotion.  It's advertised as being an EV.  It's promotional information focuses on MPG.  Talking about downplay!  It's quite frustrating to not get kWh data.  With electricity being the primary, you can just leave out that detail.  All we get is "gas saved" references.  The usage of gas in a vehicle that also uses electricity makes it a hybrid.  Yet, there is fierce retaliation toward anyone who points that out.  Neither GM nor the Volt enthusiasts take the situation seriously.  The hope is consumers will embrace it just as they did Prius.  Trouble is, they don't understand the history of how that happened.  That's why references are often vague.  It's also why some quite angered when you point out examples from the past.  They just hoped for the best and allowed hype to flourish.  Clearly, that wasn't the correct approach.  They missed the effort supporters put forth to gather feedback and make sure those making decisions acknowledged the need.  Promotion alone is far from enough.

5-07-2012

Downplay, traditional.  For over 5 years, I've been reminding Volt enthusiasts that traditional vehicles are the enemy.  Yet, all they heard was Prius.  That complete disregard for such apparent facts was very frustrating.  Why would a new vehicle fight a well-established one if the goals were the same?  Unfortunately, they really did believe Volt was going to leap-frog Prius immediately upon rollout.  It was going to be a slaughter.  The leader of high-efficiency sales would be dethroned.  Volt was destined for rapid mainstream acceptance.  The invasion would begin November 2010.  But when that time actually came, the signs of trouble were already too big to ignore... hence the start of the downplay.  Price was a major problem.  It wasn't compared to Prius price either.  It was that of traditional vehicles.  Cruze was only half the price and available immediately on that same Chevy dealer's lot, with many colors & packages to choose from.  How could they not have seen that competition, despite the endless stream of warnings?

5-07-2012

Downplay, greenwashing.  As anticipated, their efforts totally fell apart.  There's nothing left to argue about.  There was an attempt to spin the "6 mile EV" measure as absolute, but no one wanted to contribute to such blatant greenwashing.  Why participate when obvious misleading takes place?  It served no purpose.  Selling vehicles to middle-market is very different.  The response has left them dumb-founded.  The final line drawn by a flurry of insults about Toyota and Prius buyers wasn't worth it.  That was sad to witness.  So as had been done years ago, it is best to simply wait.  Each month of meeting sales expectations reinforces statements already made.  No need to repeat them.  The reverse is true too.  Each month of missing sales expectations confirms what was said about want verses need.  No amount excuses can change that.  The best they can do now is downplay. 

5-06-2012

Downplay, pattern.  The final sign is how quickly the rhetoric ends.  That previous entry was my last post on that thread.  They ran out of argument material so quickly, there wasn't anything remaining to say.  I just provided a summary of the situation and moved on.  Their focus on bragging-rights falls on deaf ears now.  Very few participate in that nonsense anymore.  The MPG boasting is a weak as 0-60 acceleration was a decade ago.  It faded away as need was exceeded.  Want is difficult to appeal to in this new economy where gas is expensive and financial risk has harmed the well being of so many.  Priorities have become more balanced.  Purchases are occurring now, not waiting for a next generation years from now.  They know it too.  This is how an enthusiast becomes an antagonist.  They realize goals were met by a competitor and not by their preferred automaker, so they do everything they can to undermine the competitor's progress.  Watching this same pattern of behavior play out again is fascinating.

5-06-2012

Downplay, validated.  Disregarding business need became the theme awhile ago.  Whether it will ever be acknowledged or not, the "too little, too slowly" concern has been validated.  That's why the plug-in Prius won't be liked regardless of what's posted.  A quick look at the specs makes you wonder why the heck a 60 kW traction-motor was used, since many of the other hybrids use only 10 & 15 kW.  Such a big difference should have made it obvious that being able to take advantage of a larger battery-pack later was already built into the design.  But instead, there's just spin claiming the plug was an after-thought.  None of the excuses or downplay will cover up the reality that consumers have shifted priorities, making efficiency an important purchase factor.  That means each automaker must somehow fulfill that demand; otherwise, the opportunity is lost to traditional vehicles... as we are now witnessing.

5-06-2012

Downplay, the end.  Confirmation of having arrived at the end of "rollout" is easy to see when all the excuses have vanished.  What a relief.  Phew!  Many of us were hoping the unmet sales expectations of Volt wouldn't interfere with the introduction of PHV.  The plug-in model Prius was intended to establish itself within the first year, so nationwide rollout the second year would be a natural step... quite unlike the struggle we've seen with Volt.  Downplay of expectations, though hypocritical of enthusiasts, was the answer.  They had to decide to change stance though.  Anything from Prius supporters would just be dismissed as spin.  And of course, they'd never admit to such a paradigm shift.  Sales were to meet the mainstream level (5,000 per month) beginning the second year.  Now, they're saying we must be patient and wait for the next generation design instead.  All the current owners are only "early adopters" rather than middle-market consumers as originally planned.  Whatever.  Labels don't mean much anyway.  It's all about sales... which is why they were totally silent about April results until I finally chimed in.

5-05-2012

Plug-In Newbies.  Hearing from new PHV owners is very exciting.  They're emerging everywhere.  On the big Prius forum, the first clue is by looking at their post total.  New members only have a very small count.  Watching their messages, you find out pretty quick whether or not their previous vehicle was a Prius.  For a large majority of them, it wasn't.  They found past Prius interesting, but not enough to purchase until the option of a plug was offered.  Being able to effortlessly achieve over 60 MPG is quite a draw.  Knowing that not driving far or recharging at work will result in even higher MPG makes it more compelling.  I'm delighted with the efficiency I've seen so far with mine.  So what if the engine runs at times.  That's the point of being a hybrid.  You get greatly improved design over traditional vehicles without a major price premium.  Keeping the battery-pack so small was a brilliant decision.  Newbies obviously figured that out too.  Their comments on the forum and in automotive blogs make their acceptance & understanding quite clear.  It's very uplifting to see proof of market expansion like that.

5-04-2012

$98 Per Barrel.  The price of oil dropped below $100.  It's been a very long time since that was the case.  Expectations of gas prices dropping are realistic now.  In fact, the influencing factors of higher prices are gone.  It looks like peak has already passed, that the Summer struggle won't actually happen now.  It's bittersweet for those counting on expensive gas to help sell vehicles new traditional vehicles with an efficiency emphasis.  Prius is also green (low smog-emissions) and still remarkably practical, being a hatchback and now a wagon.  The plug-in model of Prius doesn't depend heavily upon either monetary enticements or the absolute of no gas.  Keeping gas below the $4 per gallon mark is a major priority for many, in multiple industries.  This is where vehicle design balance is so important.  It must be able to deal with changes in the market.  Remember how people started buying guzzlers again, right after the scare of $4 gas had passed?  Having something already a common sight on the road when efficiency favor swings the other way is really important.  That means achieving mainstream sales now.  Delay is missed opportunity.

5-04-2012

PHV vs PIP.  There are a variety of terms that can be used to identify the most efficient model of Prius.  Some are descriptive simply by recognition of the acronym.  Some are abbreviations of somewhat arbitrary references.  The ideal would be EVHV, but that hasn't emerged in discussions.  Perhaps it's because "Electric Vehicle" combined with "Hybrid Vehicle" is self-explanatory.  What has is limited to particular audiences.  On the big Prius forum, like like "PiP" as shorthand for the "Plug in Prius".  I don't care for that, due to its scope only applying to a single vehicle.  In Japan, the emblem on the vehicle itself is "PHV".  It represents the same as PHEV, but don't have the redundancy of plug & electricity describing the same thing.  To stimulate discussion, with the hope of stirring ideas I can use in documentation later, I started a new thread with the following:  PHV means "Plug-In Hybrid Vehicle".  It's the universal standard established to identify all plug-in hybrids.  It will become quite useful over time, as other automakers offer their own models.  That's a much better way to distinguish the difference between the plug-in and the regular model than an abbreviation unique to each hybrid.  In other words, I haven't been and have no intentions to support PIP.  Past experience has made it overwhelming clear that newbies have no idea what the heck you are referring too, since the same convention was used to differentiate traditional models from hybrids and it was quite ineffective.  Keep your audience in mind.  PIP means "Picture In Picture" for anyone familiar with television.  PIP also already refers to the measurement of fuel on the Prius gas gauge.  PHV is distinct, yet can be used across the industry.  Any hybrid that offers a plug as a package-option needs some type of simple identifier.  PHV will work well for that.

5-04-2012

Final Proclamations.  The last of the Volt comments are being made.  The audience has left.  Very little is posted about it on the big GM forum anymore.  It's just like Two-Mode, following that same history of being far too expensive to appeal to the mainstream and struggling with sales as a result.  Those few who remain loyal seek out something to blame.  PHV is an obvious target.  Today, there was this: "It's just amazing, for $3k more PIP buyers could have had a Volt with lots more range and much better mileage (before it switches to the hybrid mode)."  Curiosity got me more than being compelled to respond.  Feedback of any type is hard to get now.  I wondered if anything constructive was even possible.  So, I tried:  Keep in mind that tax-liability isn't high enough for some to collect that entire $7,500 credit for Volt.  The range/mileage assumption very much falls into the YMMV category too.  Think about how different weekend travel can be from weekday commutes.  Looking forward, it's easy to see how Toyota configured their first offering for the "affordable plug-in" market.  That most definitely isn't the approach GM took with Volt.  Trying to squeeze out very high efficiency from a battery-pack only around 5 kWh simply wasn't a priority.  Instead, the was focus on EV driving... which is clearly more expensive and heavily dependent upon tax-credit money.  My most recent tank measured 96 MPG at the pump & plug (7.314 gallons of E10 and 78.1 kWh of electricity for 701 miles of travel).  Since automakers require a high-volume profitable vehicle to sustain business, something for middle-market is required.  What are those consumers actually looking for?  There's nothing wrong with continuing to offer Volt's current configuration as a niche.  But recent sales certainly don't support the argument of it being a primary product.  Something else is needed to attract those would otherwise purchase a Cruze or Malibu.  Notice how sales of Prius are now eclipsing that of Corolla here?  That overtake happened years ago in Japan.  Fuel efficiency has become an important purchase factor; however, sticker-price is still paramount.

5-04-2012

A/C Use Data.  To stimulate new PHV discussion, I tried something completely different.  Nothing had been mentioned about A/C usage yet.  It's not warm enough yet.  So, data has been non-existent.  Unexpectedly, it got "hot" here... that means low 80's in Minnesota in the Spring.  I had my Prius facing the sun parked in the open lot.  That was enough to make the interior a bit uncomfortable.  It was the excuse I needed to give the new feature a try.  I took advantage of the remote A/C, via smart-phone, but I bet the via FOB works the very same way.  Watching the real-time data the ChargePoint app offers, I saw exactly what happened when clicking the "Turn On Climate" button within the Entune app... after the battery-pack had been fully recharged.  It showed the rate at which power was being drawn through the 240-volt plug connection to run the A/C, which confirmed the battery-pack wasn't being used.  More importantly, it showed how much energy was used.  For a 10-minute remote run cycle, 0.25 kWh were consumed.  That's worthwhile data.  It was fun to collect too.

5-04-2012

Best Tank?  I wonder how thing will change as Summer approaches.  The real-world data I just collected may be unlike what I see going forward.  This is uncharted territory now.  It's very exciting.  None of us know how things will ultimately play out.  So, celebrating small victories is ok.  That's what I'm doing now.  Technically, this is my best tank anyway.  Will it remain that way?  Here's the detail and my thoughts at the moment:  96 MPG measured at the pump last night.  7.314 gallons of E10, from traveling a total of 701 miles.  78.1 kWh measured at the plug (25.2 recharges @ 3.1 kWh each).  I suspect that will be my best tank for a very long time.  Biking season has begun, so lots of long-distance highway cruising is in store.  Carrying 2 kayaks on the roof will obviously impact efficiency too.  Of course, the biggest news is that I will have to begin sharing the plugs at work.  Eeek!  It was nice having that entire area all to myself.  Not being able to plug in anytime I want will obviously influence results.  But then again, that area was designed to support additional charging-stations later.  It sure would be exciting to see the demand for more emerge right away.

5-03-2012

No Resistance.  There hasn't been any aspect of backlash.  Nothing has become of falling way short of the revised sales expectation for Volt.  Scaled back from the much hyped 60,000 for the second year, it was recently changed to 45,000.  That meant 3,750 per month.  But rather than acknowledge that April's count of 1,462 didn't come anywhere close, the response was: "Volt has third-best sales month yet."  How is that constructive?  Odds are quite good the reason for silence from the once very vocal antagonists is that the new plug-in model Prius is doing much better than they had anticipated.  Remember, these are the same individuals who absolutely insisted that engineering alone was all GM needed to succeed.  Their blatant disregard for business & consumer need supposedly just a twisted perspective ploy by those hoping to kill Volt.  That refusal to deal with economic realities was an endless source of astonishment.  Those pointing out the necessity for high-volume profitable sales quickly weren't trying to make production come to an end; they were trying to prevent it from becoming a niche.  Getting stuck at that status is extremely difficult to overcome later.  Yet, despite major examples of the past (like Two-Mode), they followed that same path anyway.  What a waste.  So much potential lost.  I guess that explains why there's no resistance now.  How could you respond without sounding hypocritical?  Needless to say, on the thread in the big GM forum linking to a sales article highlighting the recent Prius sales, no one responded to the original post or my addition to it which followed later in the day:  Here's the individual US sales counts for April:  15,661 = regular;  4,006 = c;  3,847 = v;  1,654 = PHV.  Note that sales of the regular model were not lower as a result of other choices being offered. In fact, quite the opposite happened of that prediction.  For the PHV model, all sold are still pre-order deliveries and only in the initial 15 states.  So it's there isn't any way of gauging actual demand.  In March 911 were delivered.  On February 28 & 29, the only days in that first month, 21 were delivered.

 

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