Prius Personal Log  #775

November 13, 2016  -  November 19, 2016

Last Updated: Sat. 12/10/2016

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11-19-2016 Explosive Reaction.  We've been through this nonsense before.  The pattern matches.  Only this time, it was more intense.  The response to me was this: "YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT THE TIMING ADVANTAGE !!!"  Then there was a post from that member-id created exclusively to attack me, followed by a mass voting onslaught.  Seeing so much happen, so quickly, to such an extreme, was quite telling.  The reason for that desperation was easy to see too.  New plug-in reveals at the LA auto show showed us an industry with growth in the SUV market.  The absence of GM from that stirred some raw emotion.  So naturally, I was use as a scapegoat... again.  They should know better than to draw attention to me... because I'll us that opportunity.  And I did, with this: 
Clearly, you didn't read beyond the first 2 sentences.  And since that is now hidden, I'll have to post it again:  The huge advantage GM had over Tesla is melting away. Taking an additional 6 months for delivery isn’t what was expected or promoted. Meanwhile, 2 quotes in the recent Forbes article from president of GM’s North American operations and head of global Chevrolet should raise and eyebrow: "It's not about how many we sell." and "We need to sell them for the ZEV credits so we can sell the rest of our portfolio."
The rest of my post provided observations and concluded by pointing out the problem:  GM's unwillingness to shift away from the high-profit guzzling Pickups & SUVs is holding them back.
Explosive response to that was blatant confirmation of having nailed it.  Enthusiasts had so hoped a compelling car (Volt) would shift away interest.  It didn't work.  So, GM moved on.  Unfortunately, we already see the pattern repeating for Bolt.  It obviously doesn't compete with Tesla based on visual appeal nor does it compete with GM's own offerings in terms of rugged appeal.  It doesn't offer appeal to GM customers, which those quotes address.

Were you expecting a plug-in Equinox reveal from GM at the LA auto show and are now upset about that not having happened?


Winter Photos, back roads.  My photo seeking took me through some picturesque back roads.  I kept snapping the camera.  Lots of nice scenery was available, with all that fresh fluffy snow and the wet pavement & dirt.  The Prius PHV was still covered with a pile of white too.  It all looked quite nice.  I had no idea it would take so darn long to finally share them.  But in the years that followed, I learned how to take really good quality videos to share too.  Looking back to that simple beginning after all this time, I now have some nice memories of those first few days of ownership.  It this case, it was a melty mess with all that fresh snow.  I got really lucky having those back roads available to take advantage of with the camera, which I did, see... photo album 192

11-18-2016 Reality Crash.  The flurry of excuses from just last year with the gen-2 Volt rollout was amazing.  So even if you don't remember gen-1 Volt or Two-Mode rollout problems, that's a good recent example.  Only thing is, with Bolt it's even easier to recognize.  We have more than just fitting the pattern this time.  I decided to point that out by responding to this: "Not in CA or OR?  No Bolt for you till Spring 2017."  That set me up for pointing out what should be obvious... and I did, expecting it to be taken as a reality crash:

The huge advantage GM had over Tesla is melting away.  Taking an additional 6 months for delivery isn't what was expected or promoted.  Meanwhile, 2 quotes in the recent Forbes article from president of GM's North American operations and head of global Chevrolet should raise and eyebrow: "It's not about how many we sell." and "We need to sell them for the ZEV credits so we can sell the rest of our portfolio".

Each little detail like this reveals the reason why no talk of a plug-in SUV happens anymore.  Those prototypes we saw years ago have just become trivia notes in automotive history.  The potential popularity of an Equinox using Voltec would absolutely devastate the GM business model.

The writing is on the wall.  Shooting the messenger doesn't do any good either.  We've been through this before. It should be easier to recognize at this point.  Brilliant engineering can be a victim of poor management choices.  GM continues to repeat that mistake.  Two-Mode, Volt, and now Bolt all follow that same pattern of being far too costly to sell in high-volume.

In other words, profit-margin of plug-in hybrids and electric-only vehicles is razor thin.  That's why the quantity of tax-credits that remain is becoming a hindrance rather than helpful.  Think about how much Bolt and Volt that would be purchased without the $7,500 being available.  There simply isn't any incentive for a business to undermine its own inventory... except for Toyota.

Prius Prime delivers higher depleted MPG than the regular Prius, mainly from having a better battery.  Prius Prime handles better than the regular Prius, due to the heavier weight it carries.  Prius Prime is priced competitively with the regular Prius, as a result of the "smallish" battery delivering such a huge return.  Put another way, when the tax-credits run out mid-cycle, there's the potential for Prius Prime to become the "regular" Prius and the no-plug model transforming into a desirable niche.

Cost is what makes that opportunity possible.  GM's unwillingness to shift away from the high-profit guzzling Pickups & SUVs is holding them back.  Remember the hope that Bolt would take the market by storm?  Look at this topic and other recent articles.  With so many plug-in choices, what will make Bolt standout?  Remember, the supposed standout traits for Volt didn't result in lots of sales.  Also, keep in mind how the game has changed too.  No one expected $1.89 for gas or rescinding of emission & consumption goals.


Winter Photos, lakeside.  I had only been driving my Prius PHV a little more than a month.  The trip up north was well timing, though nothing like it was planned.  I had carried bikes on back with the expectation of enjoying the trails.  Early Spring weather makes that quite appealing.  And with the temperatures having been so nice, I was really looking forward to the opportunity.  Instead, we got a bunch of snow.  Though quite unexpected (I hadn't even packed an ice-scraper), I took full advantage of the chance to capture the moment with my camera.  Lots of photos were taken too.  Unfortunately, they remained untouched on my computer for all this time.  Now, over 4.5 years later, I'm finally sharing what I experienced back then... photo album 191

11-17-2016 Who's Laughing?  I asked that after reading this comment posted about being cost-competitive: "How about a Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, LOL"  The though that $43,090 for a base price will draw in lots of interest isn't taking the situation seriously.  That's requires heavy dependence upon the $7,500 tax-credit.  In other words, this problem emerging for Chrysler is the very same thing we saw for GM.  Ugh.  I proceeded with this, hoping for the best

When I came here looking for allies, that certainly wasn't what I got.  For years, it was "vastly superior" cries.  That eventually became "too little, too late".  Since then, it has faded to nothing.  Volt has been pretty much abandoned in favor of Bolt.  That spells opportunity for a fresh start.  So, I'll wonder again... friend or foe?  How you respond to this equation is key:  RAV4 hybrid + one-way clutch + 8.8 kWh

If you see that as inspiration for GM to pursue a compact plug-in hybrid SUV, we share something in common.  If you see that in any way as not in favor of promoting electrification with a target of mainstream buyers, you're going to be pretty lonely.  I'm not wasting time on rhetoric anymore.

Breaking out beyond the niche is what Toyota is positioning for.  That potential should be obvious.  You should be pushing GM hard at this point, raising attention that effort as well as what we see here with Chrysler Pacifica and with the upcoming next-gen Mitsubishi Outlander.  Larger, more powerful vehicles with a plug are realistic.  Finding a way to make them affordable QUICKLY is the challenge.

With gas just $1.89 per gallon now and a new administration about to take office which doesn't believe that emissions are a problem or there's any reason to cut back on fossil-fuel use, it's time to reassess priorities.  In other words, I'm reaching out now.  We can all be in this together.  It's not a laughing matter. 


CT6 Plug-In.  Quite unlike Chrysler's new plug-in offering, this one looks DOA.  With a $76,090 base price, how could it look anything other than dead on arrival?  That's absurd.  Wasn't anything learned from the first Cadillac with a plug?  The price for ELR was simply too much.  Even with cuts, the price wasn't competitive.  Supporters were horrified when it started at $74,995.   The price drop to $9,000 lower made little difference.  With the CT6 also being an import from China, rather than coming from Detroit, the odds of more than just a few being sold in the United States are low.  We get the feeling so few purchases will take place, it won't even do much for benefitting compliance requirements.  How can a 30-mile EV range compare to Tesla?  People expect more form luxury.  What was GM hoping to achieve?


Pacifica Hybrid.  The big auto show in LA has begun.  So, of course, we're learning more about upcoming new plug-in vehicles.  The first is more detail revealed from Chrysler.  But at $43,090 for a base price, how is that going to attract a lot of buyers?  Even with a $7,500 tax-credit, that's still a high price.  Though, it may be a good deal.  The point of selling in high-volume for a profit is definitely questionable.  Are people really looking for that practical of a plug-in vehicle.  As a minivan, there is potential.  It's really how to predict though.  Minivans are the rage.  Making one really expensive puts in in a challenging position.  Remember the "hybrid premium" problem for Prius?  How will this offering overcome that?  Volt certainly didn't, despite a lot more EV range than this with 30 miles.  We can hope for the best.  6 passengers and 260 horsepower sounds nice.  But there's simply nothing to really give us a sense of demand.  It's a complete mystery.

11-14-2016 EV Efficiency.  This topic is finally getting some traction.  Pushback on it was intense in the past.  That's because the use of electricity has been promoted as great under all circumstances.  The idea of it being wasted was clearly a topic of turmoil to come.  Today appeared to be the start of that.  Volt enthusiasts could only antagonize for so long.  Eventually, enough real-world data would emerge to reveal what they've been trying to conceal.  This is why I've always expressed a bit of upset.  Dismissal of facts you don't like is unacceptable.  But until recently, they had found ways of suppression.  EPA numbers provided a means of overcoming the barrier they built.  I posted this, which takes me back to my "not the same" roots...

Being more efficient is very important.  Here's a few electric-efficiency rating examples (fewer kWh is better):

31 kWh/100 mi = 106 MPGe = 2017 Chevy Volt
30 kWh/100 mi = 114 MPGe = 2016 Nissan Leaf
30 kWh/100 mi = 116 MPGe = 2016 VW e-Golf
29 kWh/100 mi = 111 MPGe = 2017 BMW i3 PHEV
28 kWh/100 mi = 119 MPGe = 2017 Chevy Bolt
27 kWh/100 mi = 124 MPGe = 2017 BMW i3 EV
26 kWh/100 mi = 133 MPGe = 2017 Toyota Prius Prime

Notice that Prime is the most efficient of the bunch.  Its official rating is specifically 25.9 kWh/100 mi.  Looking at those numbers, it's pretty clear to see that efficiency of electric propulsion varies.


Taking Risk.  The unexpected outcome of such a political mess is finding allies among those who you had formally butted heads with.  It's surprisingly easy too, simply because they are so well informed.  Falling for the rhetoric is far too easy.  Sadly, many do. For us here, whether we like to admit it or not, we have become all to aware of the goals and barriers preventing them.  In my case, I pushed Volt enthusiasts hard to get acknowledgement of how much of a challenge achieving cost-reduction really would be.  That kind of "compromise" simply wasn't acceptable... until now.  Hope of lithium battery improvements was enough to overcome the problem cheap gas posed.  But when you have someone taking office who doesn't show any interest in reducing emissions or oil consumption, it time to give up on pride.  That can be restored later anyway.  Toyota has taken a risk GM was unwilling to accept.  Prius Prime will deliver a much smaller EV range than what people supposedly want for a tradeoff of a MSRP low enough to sustain profitable high-volume sales even without tax-credit help.  That's a very big deal, something that will hit gen-2 Volt really hard in the few years... because it is quite unrealistic to expect renewal of federal aid at that point.  What does that mean for the plug-in market as a whole?  We want both plug-in hybrids and electric-only choices to thrive.  Affordable for consumers and financially rewarding for salesperson & dealer is absolutely essential.  We can't allow those still pushing extremes to impede mainstream acceptance anymore.  There's a happy balance we need to find, quickly.


Sales Spin.  I'm really getting tired of this nonsense: "Volts are indeed selling well up 63% compared to last year (ytd)."  I expressed my feeling too:  That 63% is a very, very misleading statistic, to the point of greenwashing.  You can't just cherry pick or omit detail like that.  Sales were down last year due to the inventory of gen-1 being drawn down and gen-2 only being rolled out to limited areas.  There's the "wait for the new one" effect too.  Step back to consider the big picture.  The goal even before gen-1 rollout began was to achieve mainstream volume by the end of year 2, a minimum of 60,000 sales annually in this market.  That's an average of 5,000 per month.  Sales of gen-2 haven't been even remotely close to that.  The average has only been 2,000 per month recently.  That's just a minor improvement upon the 1,700 per month gen-1 was averaging.  To say Volt is selling well is to disregard what's happening with the rest of the market.  Stating a percentage doesn't actually tell us much either.  2,191 may seem like a lot, but pales in comparison to: 16,151 sales of Malibu; 17,126 sales of Cruze; 19,664 sales of Equinox.  That's why market growth is so essential.  Hiding behind a limited amount of tax-credits and spinning the resulting sales to appear impressive isn't helping anyone.  Toyota gets a lot of heck for pushing Prime in a seeming unpopular direction, but it clearly confirms they are willing to take a risk to achieve growth... quite unlike GM's choice for Volt.


Comparisons.  I wasn't happy to read this: "The good thing is, non prius owners will never know what they lost.  They'll be comparing to other plug ins with even smaller hatches."  That's a careless disregard for the situation and a focus on the wrong thing, as I attempted to point out:  Most won't have any clue what they gained either.  People want one specific model of Prius to be everything for everyone.  The idea of balance is lost on our market, one so confused the concept of want is thought of as need.  That's how we get into our SUV mess.  So many people were told by so many people that they were necessary for safety, that belief took hold.  The want became thought of as a need.  The same thing happened with the ability to tow.  We were told over and over and over that what people had wasn't enough, that more is necessary.   In other words, the longer those mindsets persist, the easier it is to lose track of want.  You look at anything less as a compromise to great to make.  There's no effort to identify need anymore.  There's an unwillingness to change.  That's why the mindless stating of EV range ends so many constructive discussion attempts.  Someone will blast out numbers without thought, then not bother to consider anything else.  This is why overcoming status quo is such a major challenge.  Toyota gave the gen-4 Prius a radical look to make it stand out, to get people to notice it is different now.  Being able to convey the message that handling has been greatly improved certainly won't be obvious to those making comparisons.  Never noticing improvements without obvious numeric differences is far too easy.  They won't know what was gained.  They focus on what was lost, then dwell on it.


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