Prius Personal Log  #727

January 20, 2016  -  January 25, 2016

Last Updated: Weds. 3/23/2016

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1-25-2016

The Next Step.  With the Volt craziness behind us now, is it possible to get off to a fresh start?  I tried with someone else, another who was rude & insulting... having also loss a long drawn out series of battles.  The war is over.  What should the next step be?  I was impressed by his attempt: "What you must remember is that cost was the most important feedback GM got about Gen I, and most of these suggestions would have would likely made Gen II much more expensive."  The problem was time.  He absolutely hated me for pointing out it was limited, that delay would be costly.  Opportunities being missed made it worse.  Over the years, he could see I was right.  That became a distortion of what had originally been suggested... thinking I wanted that from the very beginning, rather than just hoping for a mid-cycle upgrade or for gen-2 to deliver a better aligned purpose.  Frustration will cloud memory.  Written blogs serve as a cruel reminder of what actually happened.  It's not worth pointing out those facts of the past though.  The hope is to move forward.  That means looking to the future, this new year specifically.  So, I did, but also included a reminder:  The suggestion of offering a second model with a smaller capacity would have lowered cost.  Increase in volume from that choice and the obvious improvement due to reduction of size & weight combined with smaller price tag would went a long way toward gaining market-share and advancing the tech.  Notice how many automakers are now planning something in that smaller capacity category... Hyundai (Ioniq & Sonata), Kia (Niro & Optima), Mitsubishi (Outlander), Ford (C-Max & Fusion), Toyota (Prius), Honda (Accord), and Chrysler (Pacifica)?

1-25-2016

Direct Confrontation, confirmation.  It was overwhelming.  The rudimentary nature of the response I got was treasurable: "Words. Words words words. Words?"  There isn't anything more senseless to say than just posting gibberish like that.  It was childish and obvious.  The stereotype of being clueless was confirmed.  My choice was to not bother responding.  That was the conclusion I had been looking for.  Rather than provide some type of logical reasoning, what he posted bordered on throwing a tantrum for not winning.  Wow!  So much for trying to have some type of constructive exchange.  He was polite.  Though, the anonymous post in between was very suspicious.  He was thoughtful.  Though, the statistics posted had blatant omissions.  He was persistent.  Though, the strong-will turned into desperation.  I'll give him credit for trying.  But in the end, this was excellent confirmation of an effort turning sour.  Good intentions.  Unforeseen consequences.

1-25-2016

Direct Confrontation, how.  Providing some sort of template to follow is always helpful.  You really don't want to risk insulting someone who really doesn't understand the problem.  After all, they're stuck making the same mistakes.  Finding a means of breaking them out of that harmful repetition is priceless.  I'll attempt that by proposing how:  State goals... timeline, quantity, cost, profit... then work to achieve them.  The classes teach the importance of those goals and how to respond when milestones are missed.  Clearly, that isn't what has happened here.

1-24-2016

Direct Confrontation, unqualified.  It was easy to see an end approaching.  The point of direct confrontation was to achieve some type of closure... hoping to do that by identifying root cause through an extra hard push.  I got lucky.  It actually worked.  Seeing a theme emerge was a relief.  The pattern held.  People tend to justify an outcome, convincing themselves that was the goal all along.  I'm not the type.  That's why I state intent right from the very start.  If what was set out to accomplish doesn't happen, I'll know with certainty... since I have my own blogs documenting thoughts, beliefs, and hopes of the time.  Heck, even milestones along the way are often included as guides to ensure focus is not lost.  That's not the kind of people I have to deal with though.  The specific group of individuals fighting back are quite different.  Turns out, they aren't qualified to participate.  The inability to answer a few fundamental questions reinforced that observation... which was really more like an epiphany.  Some people simply don't have the background.  That's why they had no idea what I was talking about.  It made my response easy.  Rather than risk stirring the pot any more, I just suggested:  Take a business class… economics, accounting, marketing, etc.

1-24-2016

Direct Confrontation, finally.  The discussion had lingered for days, rather than dying after just a few hours like usual.  Out of nowhere, a new poster appeared.  We'll never know who it was.  That person had attitude and was quite to the point: "Groundhog day :( Maybe this year Feb 3 will come for John and he stops this nonsense."  They get tired of having to be held accountable for past claims.  The anonymous identity is a way of relieving the stress.  After all, who wants to admit their own beliefs were based upon incorrect assumptions?  Anywho, I was happy to post:  Dislike for business accountabilities will always be there, even if I'm not.  That "nonsense" is what pays the bills and keeps the automaker viable.  Sorry, but that's the reality of the situation.  Set expectations, then do what it takes to achieve them.  Dismissing the message of status doesn't actually accomplish anything.  Refusing to state goals or even identify the target audience is clear indicator of problems.  Allowing the status quo to continue is how history ends up repeating.

1-24-2016

Direct Confrontation, purpose.  Simple, or so you'd think.  Who is the market for Volt?  It doesn't seem like that question would be so complicated to get an answer to.  It's a fundamental to know.  How can you properly fulfill a need if you don't even know the source of the requirements?  It's why Volt has had so many problems and the other high-tech, high-efficiency choices have not.  It's actually quite bizarre for it to be so unique.  The others just plain don't have that trouble.  Leaf has a clear audience.  In fact, that's why Bolt hasn't struggled.  It's obvious who GM is attempting to appeal to.  Same with Prius from Toyota.  Tesla, we easily see that too.  There are several upcoming plug-in hybrids.  With each, the targeted group is apparent.  We see pricing.  We see styling.  We see intent.  Without a clear purpose, you end up with a mess.  Direct confrontation of someone trying to support it ends up a disaster.  They struggle to reason.  They end up convinced you are somehow wrong.  There's no way to win.

1-23-2016

Direct Confrontation, who?  That response of "Who is the market for Volt?" deeply angered the defender (a well-known veteran member who posts often, stirring trouble by claiming to challenge trolls): "Look in the mirror.  Then look at the Volt and imagine a Toyota emblem instead a Chevy one.  SOLD!"  It always makes me wonder how many readers notice the transparency of that behavior.  It's an obvious provoke to serve as cheer-leading.  The hoped for outcome is simply agreement.  There is no expectation of any actual progress, hence defend.  I choose offense, hence the direct confrontation:  You're saying gen-2 Volt is an enthusiast vehicle then, continuing to remain a niche until the next generation.  Interesting.  If you had said my Mom or Grandpa or Aunt or Father-In-Law, that's an entirely different group of consumers.  They represent ordinary people, consumers who are perfectly content sticking with traditional vehicles.  That's a hard-sell getting those who don't consider performance as a priority to pay so much for it.  They simply aren't interested.  Continuing to avoid acknowledging it, rather than face that reality and finding a way to deal with it, is your choice.  Good luck.  Personally, I'm baffled how you can watch so many sales be lost to GM's own customers.  Each month's statistics show Cruze, Malibu, and Equinox absolutely devastating Volt, despite the generous tax-credit.  So much opportunity is being lost, right there on the showroom floor.  It's quite disheartening.  Making fun of me and Toyota won't fix that.  Leadership is the ability to get ordinary people to change.  Sales are the measure of that progress.  No amount of spin will hide the fact of traditional vehicles dominating interest still.  Remember, the overlying goal of the tax-credit money is getting the business to a position of having sustainable (on-going high-volume profitable) sales before they expire.  That *BEFORE* cannot be stressed enough.  Time is quickly running out for Volt.  What can be done to help in the short amount of time still left?

1-23-2016

Direct Confrontation, debate.  Someone else joined in, another one of those unhappy enthusiasts looking for someone to blame: "...and I will shun him.  He is not an honest debater."  The very concept of debate online is flawed.  There is no moderator to oversee & judge.  Interjections of off-topic subject matter are no penalized or even pointed out.  Posts simply wander aimlessly.  I often get attacked for attempting to restore the discussion back to the topic... getting called a "broken record" and being told my posts are "mind-numbing repetition".  Those are the same people who hate accountability.  They don't care about paying the bills.  They only want to win battles.  My words to deal with the nonsense were:  Why is there a debate about who potential Volt buyers are in the first place?  It seems absurd for GM to set a goal of mainstream sales (5,000 per-month average with annual sales of at least 60,000), then back away from that twice... especially when the need is there.  It was understandable with gen-1.  Some of us, including myself, pointed out the reasons why that was unrealistic... and got shunned for doing it.  But why get shunned again for gen-2 having the same struggle years later with the same goal?  There is obvious upset about how much attention Bolt is drawing away from Volt and that several automakers are rolling out new plug-in hybrids this year... Hyundai Ioniq (hatchback), Kia Niro (SUV), Chrysler (minivan), Mitsubishi (SUV).  The fact that BMW is now working toward delivering double the range for i3 compared to Volt isn't exactly welcome news either.  Using me as a scapegoat, redirecting attention to Toyota, and claiming I don't support any other automaker isn't constructive.  Why a debate?  Answer the question of audience.  Who is the market for Volt?

1-23-2016

Direct Confrontation, sad.  The choice to make it personal was vindicated: "No, what is sad is you trying to change history.  We all wanted more Voltec.  Since day one.  What you always were trying to sell was that GM put too much EV range in the Volt and the wimpy range in the PiP was the way to go.  Well GM did come out with a Gen2 Volt and they listened to the customers, who wanted MORE EV range."  He pushed aside need.  He just wanted to celebrate.  Twisting events and disregarding facts only takes you so far.  The victory was hollow and continues to be.  I responded with:  Interesting perspective.  The range claim is a distortion of what I said, if anything.  These blogs here and my own clearly confirm that I said a second model of Volt should be offered, one with less range to reduce cost & weight while increasing interior-space and depleted-efficiency.  I often find that people misquote me, thinking I said something in the past and it was actually someone else.  With so many attacks from anonymous posters, that shouldn't be much of a surprise.  Think about it.  As for the range in PiP being enough, that's just plain wrong.  From day one, back when the aftermarket prototypes started appearing, I said the same thing... Toyota would aim for a target price and adjust range accordingly.  The specific price range was even mentioned routinely, to ultimately deliver a package option $3,000 to $5,000 more than the no-plug model.  That means we expect a considerable capacity increase with gen-2, since the battery-cost has dropped quite a bit over the past few years.  With respect to listening to customers, you've lost touch, just like GM.  The question of "WHO" was asked over and over and over and over again.  For range-increase to be a customer priority, that customer would have to be an enthusiast.  Ordinary traditional vehicle buyers most definitely are *NOT* asking for more range.  Evidence of that is absolutely overwhelming.  Cost reduction for competitive pricing is by far more important.  Just think if GM had targeted gen-2 at those customers, the people SHOPPING THE DEALERS SHOWROOM FLOOR.  You've lost your mind if you think the loss of those sales aren't important.  So much opportunity is being lost...  That's the only way any automaker will be able to sell their plug-in vehicles profitably at high-volume without the tax-credit.  All those excuses you posted above about being patient tells us your focus is different, that you want a very appealing plug-in that doesn't see direct competition with traditional vehicles as important anytime soon.  That's sad.

1-21-2016

Direct Confrontation, excuses.  A long string of excuses followed.  They all emphasized the importance of being patient and waiting.  It's the same old story.  The target is always moving.  Some just don't get it.  Fortunately, many more do.  I pointed that out:  Our plug-in owners club met this evening.  Among the crowd, there was a 2016 Volt.  It is nice looking car, but dang is it ever small for headroom in back and the cargo area.  The owner (who had it shipped from CA to here in MN) was in full agreement when I pointed out just how closely it resembles both Civic and Forte.  GM's choice to make it blend into the crowd is an obvious move to give it mainstream appeal.  Our guess GM's gambling the lithium cost will come down very soon, giving it the opportunity to stand on its own competitively.  As for you, the attitude against Toyota and fear of anything constructive being said about GM in an imperfect light is not shared by other owners.  (Thank goodness!)  I had many there make comments about how effective Toyota's contribution to high-volume lithium-cell production will help the overall market.  They also complained about the mess gen-2 Volt rollout has been.  We had a lengthy discussion about how to get accelerate plug-in acceptance.  None of this nonsense of having to wait many years.  We are working to find ways to attract customers now.  Our push is shared by a state representative, who was there speaking with us at the meeting.  Her presentation was great.  The political issues & support are being well addressed.  We're also sponsoring a room at the upcoming Minneapolis Autoshow... dedicated entirely to plug-in vehicles.  This is a major effort to stir interest and a fantastic venue for doing that.  It's really too bad you constantly fight back and don't embrace the idea of a wide variety of plug-in owners getting together to overcome the true competition: traditional vehicles.  They know all too well the subsidies are a short-term benefit that will have painful consequences if the technology cannot become profitable soon and sales achieve large numbers.  They also know that regular (no plug) hybrids contribute a great deal toward changing the way people look at the benefits of batteries.  As much as I tried to get you to see the light. It's just not worth the effort.  The plug-in owners club made it quite clear their are many people who do and many more who soon will.

1-20-2016

Direct Confrontation, why?  That recent "What Is It?" argument came about from trying to figure out what Volt was, if it's not a "compliance" vehicle.  There are some staunch enthusiasts who viciously defend reputation.  No matter what, they have to be right.  They have no purpose to actually achieve anything of substance.  It's baffling. Anywho, the very same pattern is emerging with Bolt, already.  This ultimately came up in the blogs: "Oh, GM... Why do you do this to yourself?"  Immediately, that resulted in defense posts.  I jumped in with: It's hard to believe the same mistakes get repeated.  It's the mindset of management.  That's why the enthusiasts here praising Volt engineers (who did very well, kudos) had no clue what was coming.  Their focus was limited to just the propulsion system. Technical success cannot overcome the misguided approach taken by the business side.  We saw this with Two-Mode, with Volt gen-1, with Volt gen-2, and now it's happening yet again with Bolt.  The pattern should be obvious at this point.  It's unfortunate.  But what are you going to do?  Seriously.  I heard over and over that gen-2 Volt rollout was going to surpass gen-2 Prius rollout, to an embarrassing degree. Based on what? Great engineering isn’t enough to compensate for poor executive decisions.  Sorry, but reality is that's not going to happen for gen-2 Volt.  It's why I ask what's realistic.  Setting more appropriate expectations works out to be a win for everyone.  When has the "over promise, under deliver" not been very painful?  Ambiguity from "available" wording isn't encouraging.  So again, what should we expect?  For some perspective, the first month of sales of gen-4 Prius in Japan has resulted in over 100,000 orders.  Think about how cheap gas is now. Despite that, demand is shockingly high. How was that success accomplished?  What must other automakers do to achieve reception on that scale?

 

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