Prius Personal Log  #739

April 12, 2016  -  April 13, 2016

Last Updated: Tues. 5/03/2016

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4-13-2016

Caught Greenwashing.  The one absolutely desperate Volt enthusiast still remaining, after having got caught being smug, lashed out at Prius with this: "After 3 years in Japan, and 4 in the US, Toyota was only selling 24,600 Prius in the US. GM sold 23,500 Volts in the 2nd year they were available."  I was shocked to see that.  It provided a great opportunity to post back with lots of facts revealing his greenwashing effort:  Wow!  There are so many misleading claims in that statement, I don't know where to begin...  First and foremost, Prius was limited to a strict quota.  That meant there was no way to actually measure true demand.  Those who did manage place orders had to wait 6 to 9 months for delivery due to the limited supply.  Second, Prius was not available for purchase from Toyota dealers.  You had to place an order through an online process and wait for regional to get it within their limited allocation.  They were not carried in dealer inventory until 2.5 years after initial rollout, which at that point gen-2 had been announced.  Third, there wasn't a tax-credit available.  Only a $2,000 deduction could be taken, which calculated to between $300 to $400 for the typical owner.  That's a drastic difference from the $7,500 people get for the purchase of a Volt.  Fourth, the 4th year of availability for Prius was the gen-2 model, which began late October 2003.  (gen-1 was late August 2000).  This was the first year sales which were not limited to a quota.  Those sales came to 54,000.  The following year, still without any tax-credit incentive, the sales climbed to 107,900.  Fifth, there were fierce market campaigns against hybrids back then, gas was cheap (no one ever even imagined $2.00 per gallon), there wasn't concern about oil dependency, (in fact) we were encouraged to drive larger vehicles to "help the economy" recover from the war, climate change wasn't on anyone's minds yet, and misconceptions about battery-packs for automotive use were abundant.  Sixth, the supposed diluting of the plug-in market now is really spin on the fact that other automakers are endorsing the idea.  That support from them is a valuable benefit, something Prius certainly didn't have back then.  Seventh, GM already had extensive knowledge of motor & battery production & sales by the time Volt was rolled out.  EV1, Two-Mode, and BAS all provided very helpful experience that Toyota didn't have back when Prius sales began.  Lastly, that 2nd year of Volt sales was the best on record (specifically 23,461).  Each which followed had decreasingly lower demand and the expectation for this year (the 6th) isn't any higher.

4-13-2016

Follow Up.  He stated it this way: "I guess we'll find out next year."  I really didn't want to leave such a cooperative exchange hanging, so I posted this as my close:  That brings us back to the topic of this thread... waiting.  Circumstances will be very different a year from now.  Look no further than what happened 2 weeks ago for confirmation of that.  Tesla's new pressure on GM will push so hard, something will end up giving.  Expect some sort of plan change.  If Bolt volume really is ramped up for the sake of getting ahead of Model 3, it very well could come at the sacrifice of Volt.  There's the consideration of both battery-pack production capacity and tax-credit availability.  There's also the range-anxiety conflict about how to promote.  It could leave Prime outside of the realm of all that.

4-13-2016

Cooperation.  There's an obvious effort to be constructive.  Some who would have presented challenges in the past are now giving a sincere try at learning more.  That really makes this fun.  I got this: "Quite right.  My mistake.  I made a broad observation..."  Which provided the opportunity to proceed with:  Looking at Volt's history, we see that it was intended to be the direct competition for Tesla's lower cost offering.  So, from the start, it was designed to be an EV.  That approach of using an engine still allowed the battery-pack to be much smaller.  The tradeoff was cost & complexity.  GM realized this wasn't going to work as the rollout of Volt approached and bits of info from Tesla were shared.  That's how Bolt emerged.  Bolt was an abandonment of all that GM had preached.  The anti-EV sentiment it had fought so much for was suddenly embraced.  Resources would be heavily invested in it instead, to the point where Volt rollout would be delayed & reduced.  Then here comes Toyota with Prime, targeting a completely different audience with a very different approach.  It never made any sense to compare the plug-in Prius to Volt and it still doesn't with Prime.  GM is pursuing those interested in the pure EV experience now.  Toyota is targeting its own customers, hoping they will chose to purchase a hybrid rather than a traditional vehicle.  Prime will expand upon the same type of appeal Prius did.  More EV is nice, but by no means necessary.  In other words, the targeted customers won't be looking for a 100% gas-free driving experience anyway.  So whatever Volt is or will become doesn't even matter, no label necessary.  This is why the question "Who is the market for Volt?" was asked so many times over the past 6 years.  The difference of audience was profoundly important, yet that kept getting lost in the "more EV is needed" claim.  If Volt wasn't to compete with Tesla anymore and wouldn't draw interest from GM own customers, what is its purpose?  Understand why?  No harm done.  Taking the time to discuss perspectives is helpful to everyone.  The rapidly evolving market deserves a fresh relook at everything.

4-13-2016

The Push.  Ever since the reveal of Prime, I've been pushing that group of bloggers to move on.  They really want to hold on to the past, where lines were clearly drawn.  The best example of that is the "EREV" definition.  Even though parts of it had fallen apart over the years, there was enough left to keep Volt in that category of its own.  The goal was to promote it as superior to the "PHEV" choices.  Prime brought that to an end.  No argument to hold up to this new generation.  That chapter in history is over.  Another example was being vague.  That was relatively easy to do without any information about what Toyota would offer next.  I milked the opportunity recent, asking what the antagonists meant.  No detail provided meant anything could be said in reply.  I pushed to something, anything.  It ended up being nothing but rhetoric posts.  They had nothing.  That means I can now just relentlessly post facts.  They hate actual constructive information.  That's really difficult to push.  I have a lot at my disposal.  The goal is to bring their nonsense to a close.  Our purpose is to endorse choices that offer compelling reasons to not purchase a traditional vehicle anymore.  Tell shoppers why, not fight amongst ourselves.  First and foremost, that means properly identifying audience.  The gen-1 Volt clearly didn't target mainstream consumers.  They didn't want to accept that, which made taking the next step impossible.  Prime clearly targets the mainstream.  Ordinary people will give it a look.  There's a nice balance of power, capacity, and style without trading too much of anything.  It's not a specialty vehicle like Volt.  It attempts to deliver some EV, just like the Ford Energi models and Honda Accord plug-in did, but still retain appealing hybrid traits.  That's what Hyundai's Ioniq is pursuing too.  Pushing to make that clear is a gain for everyone, even if the antagonists continue to refuse to play along with the rest of us on the same team.  Ugh.  There's always someone...

4-13-2016

Diversity.  That's the goal of all mainstream products.  If it can reach a wide variety of people, mission accomplished.  How else will if achieve sustainable high-volume profitable sales without?  Confirming that is a big deal.  In the big forum for Prius, we have been able to.  That's especially difficult online, since most discussion groups aren't able to draw that many people.  Looking at the current member count, the number is now at: 122,976.  That's amazing, even more so is the number of discussions: 153,010.  What blows my mind is that there have been this many messages posted: 2,292,152.  I clearly remember when it was founded.  That memory is still quite vivid.  Anywho, in a discussion today, there was a reference back to the original poster... who went missing.  That happens from time to time.  They'll post a few things, then vanish.  We sometimes don't find out why.  This was my insight to contribution to this particular thread dealing with that situation:  Some seek out a venue to vent frustration from not having studied well before purchasing.  Some make an abrupt discovery upon joining about something they had overlooked.  Some post for the sake of exchanging information and learning more.  We see all kinds here.  It serves as validation of Prius reaching a diverse range of people.

4-12-2016

More Greenwashing.  There's some blatant lies being posted.  Those I don't even bother with.  Something like this though gets some attention: "Many people seem to forget that the Prius went on sale in 1997, and initial sales were low."  He's obviously misleading us by not pointing out sales here didn't actually start until 3 years later in 2000, but that can be overlooked.  It still gives me an opportunity to raise attention to the fact that supply was intentionally limited and to state why:  Actually, demand was surprisingly high.  The sales were limited to quotas.  People had to wait anywhere from 6 to 9 months for delivery those first 2.5 years Prius was available here.  That was without a tax credit. Incentive was nothing but a tiny deduction, providing $300 to $400 for the typical person.  There was little reason to actually push sales.  The goal of that gen-1 was the same as the gen-1 for the plug-in… to gather real-world data to deliver a much improved gen-2.  That approach worked well in the past. It looks like it will again too.

4-12-2016

Intentional Misleading.  The greenwashing effort is well underway.  We knew there would be spin.  It's a twisted acknowledgement of change... which is better than denial.  The stubborn nature of certain individuals have a difficult time accepting the next stage.  In this case, the transition from gen-1 to gen-2 has been painful.  This particular Volt owner never bothered to actually read what was posted.  There was always a misguided belief that Prius couldn't ever be upgraded.  He was wrong and will do everything possible to conceal it.  Ugh.  Oh well.  All I can do is try to push beyond the greenwashing being used as a diversion from revealing the truth:  We all knew battery-capacity would increase with the next generation.  We also all knew the increased battery-capacity would provide an increase in power.  Lastly, we knew gen-2 would be right on time, since gen-1 offering had much ground to break before mainstream interest could be stirred.  Toyota did their homework during initial development and decided to take the approach of delivering more as cost justified.  That would provide them the opportunity to build up a profitable vehicle without heavy dependency on tax-credits.  Being able to continue to grow sales without that help is a very big deal.  When the opportunity presents itself again, the offering will be upgraded.  Perhaps that will be mid-cycle.  After all, the first plug-in itself was mid-cycle.  It served to show updates without a generation change are quite realistic.

4-12-2016

Antagonist Taunting.  That seems to be the best term for an internal troll.  There are a few who just plain don't want to accept compromise.  They'll do everything they can to claim superiority.  That's annoying.  The trophy mentality blinds those individuals.  That's troubling.  Posts end up becoming a major problem.  They turn to greenwashing, intentionally misleading to avoid having to acknowledge making a mistake.  That's sad.  Their underlying effort is to provoke.  It's a distraction to not have to deal with reality.  That's happening... yet again.  I'm doing what I can to address it:  Notice how certain individuals continue to be extremely vague?  For example, the continuous suggestion of "add more kwh" doesn't tell us anything at all.  It's just an antagonistic taunt to stir posts, because there's no effort to actually address the reasoning; we get a condescending comment instead.  That complete absence of detail and attitude isn't constructive.  In fact, it hurts the reputation of the group.  On the big GM forum, they cracked down on that type of activity.  Others here need to join in to help stop that, rather than watch it repeat and blame the person pointing it out.  So what if it ruffles a few feathers?  That's how you get those taunts to stop.  You need to break a few eggs to make the cake.

4-12-2016

Even Better.  Having former foes receptive to new ideas is great.  This helped that process along: "...at this point the Prius fails to generate any buzz. We're past the point when getting 50 MPG will get anyone that excited."  Coming from someone who was an intense vastly-superior warrior, it feels good seeing a glimmer of recognition that we're moving on.  Being stuck in the past was really a problem.  Now, it's all about what new market draws the gen-2 plug-in offerings will help bring about.  I jumped in to keep the perspective with gen-4 hybrids (specifically, Prius) will help bring about:  That's an expectation in economics.  You want to eventually reach that point, since becoming common (high-volume sales) requires the loss of certain technology draws.  The transition from engineering to business isn't what groups like this tend to consider; it's when interest is lost and the label of "boring" begins to be used.  Ordinary people see that as confirmation of a technology now being accepted as the next standard.  It's the "proven" stage.  First thing that must happen is the early rollout incentives vanish and sales finding a way to continue to grow without the help.  Prius achieved that.  Second is for others to join in.  We're seeing them strive for same... with Honda, now Hyundai, next will be Ford.  We may see GM join as well.  In other words, there will be a tipping point when the 50 MPG vehicle is considered the most obvious choice for purchase.  That's not exciting by any means.  There's no buzz, just business-sustaining profit for the automaker.

4-12-2016

Polarizing.  Buried within the greenwashing efforts, there is some truly constructive discussion.  It's unfortunate certain individuals do what they can to suppress that progress.  I responded to this to help the thread from getting overwhelmed with distractions: "I believe the GEN 4 Prius will not sell well because the design is too visually polarizing..."  I was curious to learn about his perspective.  They may not happen, but at least I had the chance to say:  That's a reasonable assessment; however, many people eventually seek out something that no longer fits the mold.  It's in our nature to grow tired of the same after awhile.  Toyota is gambling that point has been reached.  Looking around, it's easy to see how the most popular selling vehicles... small SUVs ...have become very similar in appearance.  They don't stand out anymore.  That could be considered boring.  LED lighting ushers in a new era of styling.  Some people just plain won't like it.  Some people will.  Not some many will be indifferent.  That's the definition of polarization.  There is no correlation to popularity though.  Sales could swing either way.  We'll find out together.

4-12-2016

Smug.  There's some really nasty bragging taking place now, attempts to take credit were none is deserved.  That type of self-validation is what those antagonists often accuse others of.  The irony is not wasted.  I see it as validating.  He even twisted that: "I'm more than happy that Toyota just validated the Gen1 Volt by making their version of it."  We expected this.  Way back in 2010 it was made quite clear that Toyota would upgrading as time proceeded and GM would reduce cost as time proceeded.  Those are fundamentally different approaches.  GM's approach was much higher risk, starting at an end-state with the hope that they guessed market want & need correctly.  Toyota's approach allowed for flexibility, providing the option of making changes along the way.  So naturally, any type of change would be spun as GM being right all along.  The attitude is annoying. Volt needs change too.  Trouble comes from disregarding that, claiming Volt is just fine the way it is.  Why not just acknowledge what hits the target market and what doesn't?  It's moving anyway, as more consumers learn about vehicle electrification.  We're supposed to be on the same team, all working together to figure out how to compete directly with traditional vehicles.  The smug most definitely doesn't help.

 

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