Prius Personal Log  #642

October 13, 2013  -  October 19, 2013

Last Updated: Tues. 12/17/2013

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10-19-2013

Hauling Trash.  Today was a bit on the crazy side.  Some reconstruction at mom's finally began, stuff that hasn't been touched since dad's passing several years ago.  It resulted in 2 very full loads of trash getting hauled from there over to my place, where I'll sort for reuse, recycle, and proper disposal.  Loading so much dirty material into a car isn't what most people would ever consider.  But with a large tarp to protect, why not?  I've taken full advantage of the massive cargo areas several times in the past... including the transport of wet leaves to the compost.  There was a stack of leaky bags loaded inside.  It was no big deal.  Properly packed, that large space in back has proven very handy.  I couldn't imagine what I would have done with a trunk?  The haul included 2 glass shower doors and a large glass window.  Imagine hauling that away unbroken without a hatchback.  There was a stack of wood with nails too.  No big deal.  It all fit just fine.  Of course, that mess is now at my house to deal with.

10-18-2013

Lease Residual.  The stories are beginning to trickle out.  Residual value on leases is determined at the time of signing, not when the vehicle is later returned.  For Volt, that situation is turning into a difficult problem to deal with for those who leased a Volt.  Those extremely low rates were very attractive, since payments would otherwise have been to high.  Purchase simply wasn't realistic then for some.  Turns out, purchase now problem too.  The residual (price to purchase) of their current Volt is higher than simply just buying a new one... which will have higher payments and none of the previous payments would count.  That means starting all over again, requiring an additional cost they never imagined.  To make matters worse, the banks which provided those leases are now stuck with having to deal with that loss of value.  MSRP dropping $5,000 wasn't in the plan.  They will be forced to sell those lease-returns at a loss.  Oops!  It was a business approach that didn't make sense.  It was too risky.  Consequences some of us eluded to years ago are now playing out.  To add to that mess, the vehicle itself isn't selling well either.  What do you think will happen in the used market as a result of all this?

10-18-2013

PHV Again.  Parked on the street, the closest spot next to the doors at work, there was that Prius PHV again!  I was quite surprised.  Was that an amazing coincidence or will it happen again from time to time?  Seeing another PHV sure is refreshing.  It was quite a thrill, especially considering those routine Leaf sightings for me.  Searching online, there are none to be found within 500 miles of here.  Toyota is obviously trying to clear out existing inventory prior to taking the next step.  That's quite a difference from the approach GM took.  That underscores their fundamentals of not being the same.  Expectations basically have nothing in common.  Prius offers a variety of choices, including a model with a plug.  Diversity is necessary, especially when offering a compact like Volt.  Oddly, Nissan's decision to also limit rear legroom hasn't been as much of an issue.  Why is that?  At least it took the priority of price seriously.  Whatever the case, it really does boil down to sales.  When rollout happens here, making PHV readily available, how will consumers respond?  Properly setting expectations is of major importance.  We've seen what happened in the past when those expectations are unrealistic.  Will people understand what PLUG-IN HYBRID means, what it is intended to deliver?  Will see.  Today's sighting provide a bit of encouragement.  Real-World data is the best way to stir interest.

10-17-2013

5 Leafs.  I'm seeing Nissan's electric-only vehicle on a regular basis now.  But to spot 5 Leafs all in one day, that was quite vindicating.  The fear of "range anxiety" doesn't seem to actually be a problem.  The hype didn't materialize into a feature anywhere near as beneficial as hoped.  Volt tradeoffs are still too much for mainstream appeal.  Does that mean Leaf will overcome the daunting barrier of middle-market need?  We still don't know.  But the outright dislike for a plug-in offering only a battery for power isn't what actually happened.  In fact, the rare sightings of I have of Tesla vehicles offer reason for pause.  What is the tipping point?  There's a balance of capacity & price for each consumer group.  The bread & butter crowd, where the business-sustaining profit comes from, is the target.  Prius PHV is designed to compete in that segment.  Leaf is too.  What will happen in 2014, as the plug-in market advances forward with more choices, lower prices, and increased awareness?  I can't wait to find out!

10-16-2013

Kicking Of The Can.  We saw the effort of the Super Committee fall apart, resulting in the Budget Sequester.  That was suppose to have been the solution; instead, it became a kick-the-can response with unfortunate consequences.  It taught us that cooperation presents significant challenge.  So, it's hard to believe recent attempt the Republican Party made to block change would result in a kicking of the can.  Not only wasn't there a final decision made, but it also resulted in additional expense... a particial government shutdown.  The cost to taxpayers was enormous.  Just like with other delays, there's a penalty for not responding when required.  What a mess.  Those supporting hybrids know this all too well.  We are quite familiar with the cost that comes from resistance.  Fighting progress doesn't make sense.  Yet, it happens again and again.  Why deal with it now when we can address it later?  They take advantage of the reality that people are forgetful by nature.  That allows this cycle of on-going reset.  Cost is lower the sooner action is taken.  Yet, it doesn't happen.  Delay is often the outcome.  It's maddening.  Thankfully, not all automakers think the same way.  Some are sensible enough to understand the "too little, too late" problem and respond properly... despite criticism from those not understanding situation.  Don't let antagonists undermine.  Don't like the can be kicked again.

10-16-2013

Sales Increase.  There are a surprising number of so-called news sources that don't disclose the fact that Prius PHV is only available in 15 states.  That paints an unrealistic picture of demand when comparing it to sales of other plug-in vehicles available nationwide.  Yet, they do it anyway… even when asked to add a disclaimer.  They simply don't care.  That same situation existed way back when Prius was first rolled out here too.  Even though Toyota set a strict quota and people were waiting up to 6 months for delivery, those sources couldn't care less.  They felt free to misrepresent anyway they wanted.  In fact, they felt no obligation to mention that Prius wasn’t new when it was rolled out here either.  They pretended the previous years in Japan never happened. It makes you wonder what they'll say next year, when Prius PHV availability is finally expanded.  My guess is they'll be forced to acknowledge the reason for sales numbers increasing and will pretend the limited rollout was always well known, so there was no reason in the past to ever explicitly point it out... even though now, it's still a blatant misrepresentation.

10-15-2013

Final Argument.  Remember all that rhetoric from the Volt enthusiasts.  They attacked Prius PHV every way imaginable.  None of their efforts worked though.  In the end, they found out you couldn't belittle the plug-in hybrid by misrepresenting it.  So, they switched from offense to defense.  That fell apart too.  Nothing could withstand the reality of slow sales… except, delay.  The final argument is to convince people more time is needed with respect to when Prius was first rolled out.  They've even given up on the "early adopter" claim now.  The entire focus is direct comparison to what happened over a decade ago.  The catch is, their reasoning quickly falls apart.  They hope you make the assumption that all current conditions match what happened back then.  That couldn't be further from reality, but that's how greenwashing works.  Even if you consider the extensive history GM had with motors & batteries already, prior to Volt rollout, there's no way to deny the market is different.  Even when the second generation of Prius was delivered, there was nothing that could be considered industry cooperation.  In fact, most of the automakers were against hybrids.  GM and VW were campaigning hard to undermine their progress.  The push by Ford to dominate with SUV growth was an obvious big move in the wrong direction.  It was ugly.  The only other automaker in favor of hybrids was Honda, whose approach was quite different than Toyota.  Knowing that Toyota, Honda, Ford, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Smart, Fiat, and Tesla already offer plug-in vehicles and other automakers have announced their intent to makes this a market quite unlike what Prius faced.  There is a clear spirit of cooperation at play that there wasn't back then.  Claiming otherwise is dishonest and not the slightest bit constructive.

10-15-2013

PHV Sighting.  My commute home from work offered quite a surprise today.  I was pleased with myself for having noticed a train coming, just before turning and committing myself to that wait.  On the alternate route which took me through some city streets, I noticed 2 Prius parked along the road.  Both were the same dark gray color and likely the same year.  I assumed while driving by them the view would be identical.  To my surprise, it wasn't!  Always hoping to spot another PHV, my focus is aimed to see side emblem.  The first said the usual HYBRID.  The second was 2 lines deep.  Oh!  That caught my attention.  Sure enough.  As clear as day, it said PLUG-IN HYBRID on that one.  Sweet!  The rear had the distinct clear taillights (as opposed to having the red strips) and that special silver backing.  It was my very first sighting in that color, as well as a being a rare circumstance… since there still aren't any available for purchase within a 500-mile radius of here.  Someday that won’t be the case, but it certainly is at the moment.

10-14-2013

Planning Ahead.  That happens a lot with Toyota, so much so, moves appears to be an afterthought... since the design supports it so well already.  In fact, that's what antagonists have been trying to spin about the plug-in Prius.  They want you to believe it came about as a panic outcome from the competition catching Toyota off guard.  Those of us who were paying attention years ago know that is just plain not true.  But how do you prove it when threads are loaded with red-herrings and attempts to discredit?  An example of something they weren't able spin was the 2-speed design.  The reason is most likely because they didn't understand its importance.  Toyota quietly rolled it out.  Those of us in the know carefully watched it in Camry-Hybrid.  We saw the benefit and silently rejoiced when the next Prius got the same upgrade.  Having other platforms available to real-world validate the value of alternate approaches is brilliant, especially when no one is paying attention.  A new example of this is liquid cooling.  That's overkill for smaller hybrid systems, even the plug-in model.  But in the future, there may be a benefit.  Already having discreetly rolled that out in another vehicle allows for the much more visible Prius platform to get the second generation... with very few people knowing.  Heck, that's how Prius was delivered to the United States.  Virtually everyone assumed it was first generation.  Only those doing research discovered it was actually second.  Anywho, that battery-pack using liquid rather than air to keep cool is in the new Lexus ES300h.  The cells are actually just NiMH.  But the system delivers a combined (engine & motor) rating of 200 horsepower.  So, we know the electric-draw is higher than usual, a great opportunity to study thermal effects.  Toyota is willing to push harder with a platform where a more expensive design is perfectly acceptable.  The experience is priceless later, when important decisions need to be made.  Planning ahead pays off.

10-14-2013

What They Wanted.  On the big GM forum, there's a very long discussion thread about Cadillac ELR.  As a result, a few of those troublemakers I use to battle with have found themselves struggling in defense of Volt.  Things are falling apart for them.  GM sold what they wanted, not what they needed.  This new offering reinforces that mindset.  Those vehicles are being regarded as indulgences for the rich.  It supports what I asked countless times, asking who.  On what's left of that daily blog, there's post after post attempting to draw a distinction between Volt and the other plug-in hybrids.  The new Accord doesn't have a power-split device.  That ties the engine and traction-motor together, not allowing for independent RPM.  Either they are integrated or separated (via a clutch), with no variability in between.  That makes it more like Volt than it does Prius.  They don't like that... especially since it delivers much better depleted efficiency.  That also supports what I had said countless times.  It other words, this is quite vindicating.  Of course, all I did was study history and the market, coming to the same conclusions other well-informed individuals did.  We all saw this problem coming.  With such an incredibly difficult industry, highly resistant to change, simply hoping people would be easily convinced to embrace the new technology was madness.  Even the computer industry, where devices are far less expensive and have a much shorter life, has a difficult time getting people to change.  Warnings were dismissed.  Advice was disregarded.  Messengers were shot.  They let this happen.

10-14-2013

Not Get It?  (part 2)  The next morning, after not getting a response, I replied to that same statement again:  Observing customer preference and being able to react to it has always been a strength of Toyota.  The system is designed with flexibility in mind, being able to offer small improvements.  That too is a strength.  Why are you portraying those traits as a bad thing?  Look at well positioned Prius PHV is now for 2014.  There's lots of real-world data available now, enough to prevent the spread of misconceptions revealed by the limited rollout.  That's reacting to actual situations, rather than guessing what could happen.  A clear message is sent about expectations.  We've also observed consumer price preference.  Toyota adjusted price accordingly, prior to entering new markets.  Delivering what matches expectations is a good thing.  The build it and they'll buy it hasn't proven successful, which is why Toyota isn't doing that.  Notice how it instead resembles the sidewalk wisdom?  Laying sidewalks where the paths have already been worn results in dramatically higher acceptance.

10-13-2013

Not Get It?  (part 1)  I really enjoyed responding to this: "Do you really not get it? The point is that Toyota's entire approach to the PiP has been reactive and minimalistic."  Having a strong background in business (it was my minor in college), the accounting & economic factors that come into play are something I'm well aware of... and know well that the typical person isn't.  So, I rebutted with:  What possible benefit could come from being proactive and taking major risk?  Observing other automaker mistakes in the emerging plug-in market to avoid making them is a wise move.  GM claimed price didn't matter, people would be willing to pay for what they were offering.  They were wrong.  Toyota avoided association with that mistake by restricting availability, while gathering valuable real-world data from actual owners in the meantime.  Now, they're using that information to expand & improve.  Ford rolled out their plug-in hybrid late last year.  That configuration seriously compromised cargo space, but claimed the capacity tradeoff was well worth it.  We still await results of that.  Based on sales so far, the impression is consumers don't agree.  Toyota's choice continues to show potential.  The impression I get is you believe there's missed opportunity.  Having driven a Prius PHV for 1.5 years now in an area not even supporting the EV beyond being just a curiosity, I can strongly disagree.  The other automakers misjudged the challenges of rolling out vehicles offering a plug.  Toyota's approach makes sense.

 

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