Prius Personal Log  #702

March 29, 2015  -  April 4, 2015

 Last Updated: Sun. 7/26/2015

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Hatch-Open Driving.  This was an interesting experience, something I haven't done for decades.  Back in college, I owned a 1984 Dodge Omni.  It was my first hatchback, which proved to be remarkably convenient.  That's what made me so excited about Prius becoming a hatchback too.  Anywho, every now and then, I'd encounter a load of cargo to carry that was larger than the cargo area.  With a small hatchback like that, it happens.  With a large hatchback like Prius, not so much.  In fact, that's never happened for me.  Even that 11-foot folding umbrella we purchased last year fit inside, with the hatch shut entirely.  This time though, we weren't so lucky.  We accidently had the 20-foot collapsible ladder transported by the movers to the new house.  It was too long to fit inside the Prius to bring in back.  So... I did what I had done all those years ago... drove with the hatch open.  Securing the load & door was no big deal.  What differed though from in the past was there is now a warning beeper.  I had to listen to it for 29 miles.  Ugh.  Thankfully, it was a beautiful day out and the efficiency was still outstanding.  Even with the aerodynamics of the Prius compromised and no plug-supplied electricity available, it delivered 52 MPG.  You gotta like that.


Told You So.  Only one person accused me of having an attitude like that.  He's a well known antagonist, one who thrives on debate.  So, there would have been a slight bit of disappointment had there not been any sort of negative reaction.  He just wanted closure too... by claiming this outcome was inevitable, wondering how anyone could have ever thought otherwise.  What load of crap!  But that's ok.  No one else had any issue with the recent developments.  In a way, Volt was doomed from the start.  With so much emphasis on performance and such a negligent approach with cost, there's no way it could possibly be competitive.  That's why those like me never saw it being discontinued.  As a specialty vehicle, it could thrive.  After all, that's what Corvette & Camaro have been for decades.  Why not Volt too?  It did fail though... falling well short of sales goals.  No excuse could cover the fact that expectations were for it to achieve mainstream popularity by the third year.  That didn't happen.  Not even close.  It was a disaster.  Had the approach of delivering a second model been addressed from the start, things could have been profoundly different.  But instead of embracing the idea of sharing the technology with another vehicle, there was intense opposition.  So, the fact that GM did a complete reversal and just announced plans to do exactly what enthusiast feared the most, there's been a quiet death.  No, not Volt.  Enthusiasm for it.  The thought of just the hybrid portion of the design being featured as a premiere offering is devastating.  They could have declared that a technology victory.  Instead, their own precedent, looks upon that as terrible waste.  They brought about their own demise.  Seeing the "vastly superior" attitude not replaced by a fear of me playing the "told you so" card is quite vindicating.  I welcome the FULL hybrid that we'll be getting from GM.  Finally, there will be something for mainstream consumers.  Yeah!


RAV4 Hybrid, details.  Some were revealed today.  Nothing about efficiency, performance, or price was shared yet.  But at least there was confirmation that it indeed would be a 2016 model.  Hearing the hybrid will deliver better acceleration and more horsepower was quite a tease.  I'm sure some are now want efficiency information more than ever.  Isn't marketing great?  Speculation about MPG is that low 30's will be realistic.  That's obviously a far cry from Prius, at least it helps to help end the reign of large SUVs without forcing people to actually give up SUVs... over their dead body.  That's yet another reason it is so important to know your audience.  Souring appeal for the larger guzzling SUV by offering a smaller that's more efficient and much cleaner is a decent step forward.  It's too bad there have been many who didn't understand that.  They just figured if you made a compact car appealing enough, the draw of the SUV would vanish entirely.  They were wrong, very wrong.  Now, that reality is easy to see.  Unfortunately, we have to wait until this Fall to see them on dealer's lots.  At least there's something to look forward to in the meantime.  It's a category which seems to be well time for strong sales.  Toyota should do well.  It's an odd situation seeing that Ford chose to discontinue with the option of starting fresh again later with a small SUV hybrid.  They were ahead of the time.  No, they have the opportunity to diversify.  So, all is certainly not lost.  How long do you think it will take GM to offer a hybrid Equinox?


Malibu Hybrid.  Details are have been released.  Like what Prius already has and what Volt will be getting, it too will feature a Exhaust Gas technology.  Being able to recover heat and recirculate air that would otherwise be lost is great.  I really like the fact that attention to design features such as that are pressworthy now.  Course, in the past, the reason some things were excluded by the media and by supporters was due to only the competition offering it.  But who cares.  GM is finally catching up.  The rating numbers from GM (which EPA will certify) are 48 MPG city, 45 MPG highway, and 47 MPG combined.  That truly is competitive... functionally.  The system itself may be somewhat expensive still though.  Interestingly, it has an EV limitation of 55 mph listed.  How much do you want to bet that will be used to mislead?  Toyota's non-plug hybrid limit is 46 mph and Ford's is 47 mph.  But the values are basically just a note for trivia.  Travel at speeds faster without the consumption of gas is a normal part of the operation.  Having the engine pump with the valves open causes very little resistance.  Anywho, the part I get a kick out of is the size of the battery-pack.  It's just like what the other automakers.  That's confirmation of what we've been saying all along, for many many many years.  Thank goodness GM is finally on the right track.  Volt will just fade into the background with other niche offerings.  Meanwhile, we'll see growth hybrids and a decline in traditional vehicles.  That makes taking the next step so much easier.  This will help.  Having a major automaker strongly against FULL hybrids was holding back the industry.  Some sort of cooperation was needed.


Understanding.  It becomes a major problem if you hold discussions with the same person thread after thread after thread.  They get mixed up, forgetting if you said something or if it was actually someone else.  Remembering when a statement was said also becomes an issue.  That's why I blog.  The exact quotes are saved, giving me an opportunity to search back to verify who actually said it.  As for the when part, the blogs are written as the history unfolds.  So, there's no conflict ever related to looking back.  The perspective at the time is documented in detail.  Anywho, today is was this: "And here I thought the discussion was about pushing forward technology that would help spread electrified cars (and here we can include hybrids, phevs, and bevs).  So again, I will admit to not understanding your point."  Still attempting to convert foe to friend, since this is taking place on the big Prius forum, much effort will be expended to ensure clarity:  Many people fall into the "advancement" trap.  It's far more common than you'd ever expect too.  The belief is that pushing forward technology can only be achieved by reaching beyond the current limitations.  That makes a lot of sense, which leads to a lot of incorrect assumptions.  Reality is though, the advancement requires sunset of the older technology.  It's why traditional vehicles are still such a massive barrier.  They are holding back steps forward.  The gauge of progress is measured by how the step is taken.  Using a carrot (tax incentive) or a push (government mandate) will only help to advance the technology itself.  That will not change the attitude of the masses.  They'll continue on, perfectly content driving their traditional vehicles.


Progress.  It can be painful.  But if you stick with principle (good business), it will eventually win out.  This was interesting:  "The volt though, that created a new category.  I can understand the doubt in some peoples minds, but I don't understand the lack of understanding that erev phev's may expand the market, while another me to midsize hybrid is likely to add little growth.  That is unless you see something I don't where the malibu hybrid is better tech than HSD."  The raising-doubt response to the news was to be expected.  The pessimism was annoying.  The assuming was frustrating.  It was the growth part that got me in the end though.  GM's stance changed from fighting to joining in.  Contributing to the very approach the automaker had been opposed to for so long is a major barrier overcome.  All that focus on Volt at the expense of FULL hybrids was always a problem.  Rather than being part of the team, it was declared superior without justification.   That obviously backfired.  The result is bewilderment for some.  I posted:  The assumptions in this forum are what hold back constructive discussion.  In this case, there's the belief of better/worse and success/failure causing the problem.  People continue to assume that's the stance being taken when posts are made.  And no matter how valiant the effort to focus attention on the market instead of individual automakers, some just plain don't see it.  The lack of understanding fits that.  The category... or whatever other identification means chosen to describe a technology... makes no difference.  It's still the same problem.  Paradigm shift simply isn't possible.  Period.  That's been overwhelmingly confirmed.  So, no matter how great the technology, it just plain will not interest a majority of the consumers until their current offering is discontinued.  They will just keep purchasing what they feel comfortable with instead.  Some people have fought so many years for the advancement & acceptance of battery vehicles, they've lost sight of the original problem... which is what has allowed it to persist for so long.  It is absolutely vital to be attentive to the predecessor.  Focus solely on the end-state creates a new barrier to overcome... an avoidable challenge if you establish a bridge.  Ironically, that idea of a "stop gap" being given a stigma of bad caused people to dismiss the very solution needed to overcome anchors to the past.  In other words, that's why FULL hybrids have been so fundamentally important.  They are what will bring the production of traditional vehicle to a drawdown, not EV alone.


Malibu Sales.  I really got a kick out of reading this: "Lack of a full hybrid version was not the reason for poor Malibu sales."  There wasn't anything at all posted by me with respect to that.  He just saw the words "sales" and "Malibu" appearing in a post pointing out Volt's struggle and got came up with that to voice his anger.  He's one of those upset about how things turned out.  In fact, he even accused me of "I told you so" posts as a result of recent events.  Wanting someone to use as a scapegoat is nothing new.  Neither is my support for FULL hybrids.  An for years, I've been pointing out how sales of Volt have been lost to vehicles like Malibu.  So, twisting my words to make it seem as though my attention to Malibu was something else entirely was to be expected.  It all comes down to that product gap.  Having no affordable choice without a plug was an obvious problem which could only be denied for so long.  Long story short, I wasn't pleased an expressed my feelings this way:  That isn't even remotely close to what I posted.  Again, the reason for no HIGH-VOLUME BUSINESS-SUSTAINING sales, something directly competitive, was due to nothing being offered.  Nothing in the category was a blatant problem.  There was a huge product gap that scores of outspoken Volt supporters refused to acknowledge.  Thankfully, GM finally did.  btw, I've been saying the same thing about FULL hybrids for over a decade now, to the point where people complain about me sounding like a broken record.  So, I don't see how my stance could possibly be misinterpreted.


Who? (answer)  The quote came from an outspoken antagonist, an individual who went out of his why in the past to spread misinformation about Prius.  He had been a Volt owner who felt threatened by Prius, not accepting the possibility that co-existence was possible.  Coming from a "vastly superior" background, getting over that realization of having been greenwashed is a challenge.  No one wants to discover they've been misled.  So, I was happy about the opportunity to change a foe to a friend.  After all, that is the ultimate defeat... and the goal all along with Volt.  Looking for an ally has been a long journey.  Anywho, his response was: "How and why would I "acknowledge" something I know nothing about?  I don't care to know what the current GM product line up is.  I care about the Volt. It's an awesome, fun, inexpensive to drive car and I would have bought it if Hyundai was selling it."  Only seeing a single tree in the forest is often the source of a problem.  There was no product gap as far as they were concerned.  Volt enthusiasts went way out of their way to ensure that limited scope didn't grow too.  That's why looking at the rest of GM's production caused so much of a stir.  It's also what contributed to Volt supporters emerging, those who wanted true success rather than just some trophies.  Sales enough to affect the true market were what's been important, those who would otherwise just purchase a traditional vehicle offered by GM... hence the "Who?" question... and finally an answer.


Who? (question)  It's very interesting to revisit that question, now that things have fundamentally changed.  There is already a growing attitude of inevitability, as if no one ever said this wouldn't happen over their dead body.  I find it amusing.  The pressures of economics can only build up for so long.  Anywho, that puts Volt in an awkward position... allowing for comments like this:  The "Market" is as always: Someone not wanting to burn gas on their daily commute (and the related engine maintenance), in a fully functional EV, and yet they can take off for the coast at a moments notice!"  I accepted this invite:  As always, that difference between WANT and NEED is something not properly addressed.  The market described is a desire, what supporters of plugging in have wanted for a very very long time. C onsequences of having hoped that would be a game-changing solution are now quite apparent.  It's really unfortunate that lesson had to be learned the hard way, especially with so many warnings along the way.  But it was a WANT they were willing to gamble on... and lost.  The NEED was to replace the business-sustaining vehicles, those which sold in high-volume for a profit.  That's a profound difference.  We knew who those consumers were.  Yet every time the "Who?" question was asked, the reply was focused on the WANT audience instead.  It was a disaster in the making.  Volt was declared victorious despite not fulfilling the NEED.  We could all see that it did not capture the mainstream consumers as anticipated.  GM's own customers simply were not interested.  So rather than expanding the "market", emphasis was focused on conquest sales instead.  That cannibalized what had already been achieved, getting people who had already switched to a high-efficiency vehicle to another.  The popular smaller vehicles of GM... Malibu, Impala, Cruze, Equinox... continued on, totally unaffected by Volt.  Meanwhile, Toyota pushed hard with Prius, diversifying into 3 distinct models and augmenting the most popular.  That pushed the brand to top-seller in Japan and to mainstream quantity in the United States.  All without tax-credit incentives.  Prius has survived the test of time and will be getting a next-gen upgrade later this year.  A new vehicle using HSD will be introduced as well.  They are all helping to fulfill the NEED.  Looking at GM plans, we see an upcoming introduction, the full-hybrid Malibu.  As much of a WANT there was for Volt to become a high-volume profit-earner to help sustain the business with, we see that it is not.  There is no expectation for that with the next-gen model.  It will remain a specialty choice, a desirable vehicle for a niche.  Focus and hope will be directed to the new Malibu.  As a hybrid, there is potential to appeal to showroom shoppers, those intending to purchase a GM vehicle anyway.  It will be able to compete directly, a strong advantage over Volt.  That NEED is long overdue.  The "too little, too slowly" concern has finally been taken seriously.  Yeah!  It's really unfortunate how much of a diversion Volt ended up being.  Oh well.


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