Prius Personal Log  #626

June 29, 2013  -  July 5, 2013

Last Updated: Weds. 8/28/2013

    page #625         page #627         BOOK         INDEX         go to bottom 

 

7-05-2013

Disappointment.  How do you respond to this: "My disappointment with Toyota is they dragged their heels and let the other guys jump out ahead."  The expectation was that Toyota would have rolled out a plug-in hybrid that took the market by storm and followed up with an equally impressive electric-only vehicle.  To this particular individual, cost didn't matter.  He figures a worthwhile product will justify its price tag.  I strongly disagree with that, obviously.  But he doesn't see the importance of directly targeting middle-market.  That doesn't leave to debate with.  His perspective & goals are simply too different.  That meant reflecting back upon the tried & true instead.  So, I posted: How do you know?  PHV is a mid-cycle release.  It didn't make sense to go all out, especially knowing there's lots of great feedback to leverage from by limiting the release.  After all, that approach worked extremely well with the Classic model.  The next generation isn't too far off when you consider when design finalization must be completed.

7-03-2013

3 million.  That was the big number published today.  It's how many Prius have been purchased worldwide.  I find the number and the timing thought provoking.  Exactly 3 years ago, we were suffering from the extreme smug.  Remember that "Freedom Drive" publicity stunt for Volt?  The hope that stirred was truly remarkable… but was filled with red flags.  We got little warnings during that event that things weren't quite right… but were assured that 3 years from now, the "vastly superior" vehicle would triumph.  Turns out, the opposite happened.  Prius is holding strong and Volt is just barely hanging on.  It never ceases to amaze me how evading priorities ends up costing supporters dearly in the end.  Sure enough, we watched that very thing unfold.  They didn't want to address what achieving middle-market acceptance would take.  They were excited about a niche, hoping it would somehow become a mainstream vehicle without having to change to meet the priorities of those consumers.  Prius was designed with "middle" audience in mind.  The 3 million sales confirm that goal of matching their needs was fulfilled.

7-03-2013

The Wait, rehashing.  Today's discussion was pointless.  It was just the same old questions being asked again... the ones already answered in that very thread.  They literally don't have anything worthwhile to say anymore.  The antagonists are aren't stirring attention and those who want to help aren't accomplishing anything.  It has all come down to the need for real-world data from ordinary consumers.  That means Volt faces quite a challenge.  Many of those owners take great pride in the fact that they are not common.  They have a special vehicle that they have consistency promoted as "well worth it" for quite some time now.  That contradicts the goal of being affordable.  It's a self-defeating effort which has finally been take in.  At least the wait for that is over.  As for the rehashing of content we have covered countless times already, we're not going to bother.  It's pretty clear the time would be better spent on things like educating new owners instead.  They share experiences and request feedback.  It's fun to fill in the blanks for them too.  They gobble up information from owners who have had their Prius longer, especially when it comes to the plug-in model.  Needless to say, that's what I'd rather focus on anyway.

7-02-2013

The Wait, more is better.  No more waiting.  It's over.  I was actually surprised how quickly the Volt enthusiasts backed down.  Their antagonistic efforts on the big Prius forum seem to have been abandoned.  Not getting what they had hoped for allowed the constructive discussion to begin.  I liked reading this: "Unfortunately, the original question about what would cause the PiP sales to improve is still elusive."  True, we did provide information about that many, many times already.  But finding it amongst the rhetoric is tough.  So, I was happy to restate it again.  Of course, that too involves waiting:  Time is needed more than anything.  The first-year jitters combined with simply not being available are barriers that will overcome themselves.  No redesign is needed. Prius PHV is already configured to match middle-market purchase priorities.  We knew the misconceptions related to batteries would be a challenge to deal with.  Fallout from the first attempts was the uncertainty, hence the delay faced now.  Fortunately, just the act of taking that next step of national rollout will stimulate sales even in the markets already established.  Selling a car that will basically be thought of as an appliance will never make an enthusiast happy.  Acceptance of vehicles they consider dull & boring to achieve business-sustaining sales isn't taken seriously.  Arguing with them is a futile endeavor.  The only thing it actually accomplishes is to provide confirmation that priorities were correct.  As the dust settles, those who didn't understand what was needed will grow silent.  Dealing with that more-is-better nonsense is a pain, but it's nothing new.  We've been through it many times in the past.

7-02-2013

The Wait, hotcakes.  Ignoring the spin coming from Volt support, I shifted to the problems by one particular new Prius owner.  He was lied to by a salesperson.  Being misled about a purchase hurts.  All that incorrect information steered him away from the plug-in model.  His lack of willingness to acknowledge how far off some numbers we resulted in a series of posts with generalizations and emotional outburst... not exactly what we call constructive.  But considering his thread was titled "Plug-in Prius is a rip off" there clearly has been some improvement.  Fortunately, the moderators quickly took down his thread, seeing how it lacked any effort to address facts.  Rants aren't welcome.  Questions are though.  He finally came around and posted: "There has to be a reason why they are not selling like hotcakes."  That's far more appropriate.  We can be receptive to that.  Still, there is worry that the message will get through.  Dealing with buyer's remorse can be a problem as well.  But at least there is now an attempt to exchange information.  I provided:  There has been a major greenwashing effort to convince people that the plug-in Prius is an EV with just a 6-mile range and the battery is useless at speeds faster than 62 mph.  Seeing that and confirming consumers were misunderstanding how plug-in hybrids operates, Toyota decided to slow down the rollout.  Focus on initial markets has become the priority now.  Real-World data has always triumphed over efforts to mislead.

7-02-2013

The Wait, wake up.  Needless to say, they were angered.  I simply added:  So as long as sales of Volt are better than Prius PHV, all is well?  Wow!  Some have definitely lost touch with reality.  Here's a wake-up call, other GM sales for June: 32,871 Cruze; 23,645 Equinox; 21,288 Malibu; 17,255 Impala; 43,259 Silverado.  Attempts to divert attention away from the cold hard fact that those profitable traditional vehicles are absolutely crushing Volt won't change anything.  They are just excuses to feel better about a really bad situation.  GM doesn't have an alternative available.  Want to compare to Toyota?  How about acknowledging that they could easily follow Ford's approach of sacrificing cargo room for more battery, which would increase both range & power.  Then there's the fact that Toyota already offers an HSD system which pairs a larger motor with a larger engine.  There is also the reality that the system is extremely efficient even without plugging in, as well as profitable.  Take all that and offer it in a body built as an alternative configuration.  What will GM do?

7-02-2013

The Wait, competition.  Shortly after the numbers were revealed, it was clear there would be major problems.  Online arguments would get intense if we allow them to get off-topic.  After over 2.5 years, it is clear that waiting is the only option for Volt.  That means allowing the plug-in Prius to catch up in the meantime.  And since its audience is middle-market, rather than being for niche buyers, that's a very real problem.  Awaiting a sleeping giant isn't what the enthusiasts had in mind.  It's their own fault.  They always considered Prius PHV the competition.  Now they fear when it wakes.  I responded with:  Traditional cars have always been the competition, not other automaker hybrids or plug-ins.  Cruze, Malibu, and Impala continue to dominate.  That's the reality of the situation.

7-01-2013

The Wait, tomorrow.  Sales results get posted tomorrow.  The mark the end of senseless battling.  With the "game changer" hope clearly not being fulfilled, it's over.  The electric-only plug-in, Nissan Leaf, has kept in pace with the plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt.  We expect that to go unchanged, despite the heavy discounting.  The market isn't ready.  Hybrids should do well, which is why Prius stands out.  Adding the option of a larger pack with a plug doesn't change the equation much.  The formula for success (penetration into the mainstream) doesn't require any major rework.  Volt enthusiasts don't believe that though.  They're still hoping for a miracle... soon.  With the production of the 2014 model starting in just 2 weeks, the inventory listed online of over 8,000 still is a very real problem.  Needless to say, using scapegoats to keep discussions from drawing any conclusions is the key for them.  I simply responded to their undermining efforts with:  Regardless of what I post, it just ends up being twisted.  The pattern is easy to see.  I'm done playing the game.  It's overwhelming clear that Volt does not match consumer needs.  No effort to divert attention will change that.

7-01-2013

Lithium-Sulfur.  That was this month's distraction from upcoming sales numbers.  The release of those counts alway causes a stir.  So, focusing on something else has become the routine.  There was actually a really well done write-up this time too.  It was an article detailing the potential of battery technology currently being researched.  Lithium-Sulfur was the type showing the best opportunity.  With roughly 4 times the capacity of the current Lithium-Ion, that would indeed be good news.  Something like that is many, many years away still.  We won't see automotive-grade availability until long after the rollout on small recharging portable devices first.  They pave the way, since cost & longevity is so much less of an issue for them.  Like everything else, there's waiting involved.  The topic itself is more of a curiosity than anything.  But it is compelling enough to be a worthwhile distraction... which is what was wanted today.

7-01-2013

Change.  We went from being "vastly superior" to direct comparisons of plug-in hybrid with more seating & cargo room, greater efficiency following depletion, nearly a quarter the battery-capacity, a third the tax-credit, and only available in a third the states.  It wasn't too long ago that a few outspoken Volt enthusiasts had described it as "pathetic".  Things have undeniably changed.  Reality of business need has become difficult to avoid.  The mighty have fallen.  We all know middle-market consumers don't have purchase priorities that match what Volt has delivered but do match Prius PHV.  That's an ugly fact that caused some to insist we now wait for the next generation and hope for the best with nothing but vague claims that cost will drop substantially and configuration will not be compromised.  How is such feat possible, especially without the competition also achieving similar results?  It doesn't add up.  It's time to get serious.  The rhetoric isn't getting any traction anymore.  Inventory piling up without a plan "B" available is putting a lot of pressure on Volt.  There isn't a smaller capacity or a non-plug model to offset.  It's a one-size-fits-all gamble that hasn't been paying off.  Enthusiasts can argue that point all they want, but it falls on deaf ears... since that only confirms what we had been saying even before rollout began.  GM must offer something for the masses that's profitable and doesn't depend on tax-credits.  It's essential those requirements are met.  Good luck with that next generation.

6-30-2013

0.8 Miles.  I finally got an opportunity for some serious regeneration observation.  My girlfriend and I went out on a biking trip.  There was a plunge into the river valley.  It was spread across about 3 miles and dropped a few hundred feet.  Starting in HV mode with nothing left in the battery for EV, the decent began.  When it got to that 0.7 miles of mystery I encountered the other day, my attention was peaked.  Sure enough, that next tenth-of-a-mile increment did the trick.  The indicator on the display switched over from showing a full HV battery (8 individual bars) to a solid presentation stating 0.8 miles of EV.  That was cool.  I still wasn't at the bottom yet either.  It ended up recharging the pack to 1.4 miles.  The remainder of the drive to the parking area for that long, beautiful trail out in the country along the river, shrouded by large trees, was all in EV as a result.  The drive back out later was too.  That sure was nice.  For those who actually live in areas will rolling hills or mountains can actually do what has been coined as "stacking".  Where rather than using up that EV right away, they save it and continue regenerating.  The miles keep going up.  That's something I'll never see around here, but I could simulate the same by saving the regen that comes from braking.  On a road trip, that could come in handy.  Around here though, I'll just plug in.

6-30-2013

Bike Rack.  106 miles yesterday, my first long trip.  2 bikes on back were on back.  Since I have the plug-in and there was 5 miles of EV available, my resulting 51 MPG doesn't directly apply to the regular model.  But I can comment on how well the rack itself performed.  It's definitely the way to go for convenience.  Being able to easily load and lock the bikes while still having the option of opening the hatch is great.  The rack connected to the Prius via only the hitch mount works well.  It's secure, doesn't impair visibility much, and won't ever make contact with the car itself.  It stashes away inside the hatch well too, an unexpected benefit I can take advantage of.  It is expensive though, nearly triple the cost of a strap-on rack.  But I consider it worthwhile if used often over the course of many years.  Long story short, I pleased with the choice.

6-29-2013

Ranting.  It's starting to get bad, not the slightest bit constructive and without any merit.  It's hard to tell what the intent actually is.  But I thought I'd humor this particular rant that included "isn't worth the money" and "if PPI was that great, why didn't Toyota".  You never really know what the person's motive is until attempting a discussion, so I tried with:  That's called anecdotal reasoning.  Step back and look at the big picture.  There is currently no way to justify any plug-in vehicle.  For that matter, even the "worth" of a hybrid continues to be challenged.  Sadly, part of that comes from giving no value to the reduction of emissions and non-renewable resources in those "worth" analysis calculations.  Fortunately, purchase priorities are changing for some.  Toyota took the balance of battery & cargo sizes was taken quite seriously.  As with the cost of gas, battery cost will swing in favor of that configuration.  Without any incentives, the approach will be profitable and reach the masses.  That's a very, very important aspect typically dismissed by those only looking at the immediate present.  The current effort is to establish the existing rollout markets and to better spread the word about real-world experiences.  Introducing more new owners at dealers who are also new would be counter-productive.  Expansion prior to finishing up with the first batch of owners would spread resources too thin, especially when dealing with an ever-changing mindset about plugging in from the political arena.

 

back to home page       go to top