Prius Personal Log  #780

December 3, 2016  -  December 5, 2016

Last Updated: Tues. 6/27/2017

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12-05-2016

Too Little, Too Slowly.  Those overseeing the bankruptcy recovery for GM certainly did well.  Their concern for not delivering enough and taking far too long was right on the money.  7.5 years later, the promise of the technology invested into Volt becoming a core offering failed miserably... so bad, there's no denying it.  Bolt is the antithesis of Volt, the very approach to plugging in GM was fiercely against.  It should have been complimentary.  But taking that stance means at least partial acknowledgement about having made a fundamental mistake with Volt... not designing it to be affordable.  The very real problem of limited tax-credits makes it even worse.  GM squandered them, focusing on building image rather than using them to rapidly establish a market.  It's such a waste.  True, there was much learned from the technology itself.  But was the customer sacrifice worth it?  I certainly don't see the end-state we are at as constructive.  Bolt won't achieve high-volume prior to Tesla Model 3 and Nissan Leaf gen-2 rollouts and Volt will be left struggling to find an audience.  Ugh.  Just think if focus had been on drawing in their own loyal customers instead.  I put intent of the recent online sparring this way:  Pointing out sales of other GM vehicles, those sharing the same showroom floor, provides context.  Do you really want Volt to stay just a halo vehicle?  The concern for what happens when the $7,500 tax-credit expires is very real.  Those traditional GM vehicles currently sell far better, without any subsidy help.  Avoiding what happens at the dealer is not wise, something my local plug-in owners group is working very hard to overcome.  Why is there so much resistance here?

12-05-2016

Tree, Not Forest.  It's hard to believe just how deep the denial got: "Actually I'd say plug-in sales growth is doing quite well."  That's sums up the situation quite well.  He absolutely refused to ever state goals.  No consideration of the overall market (forest), instead only seeing plug-in sales (tree).  It was always a wait-and-see approach.  That meant he come just make up whatever he wanted to declare victory.  There was no accountability or scale.  It was all about being looked upon as "best".  What happened for ordinary buyers meant nothing.  Only the image of GM was important.  That selfish & uncaring attitude was terrible.  Evidence of that is emerging too.  There still isn't anything other than Volt.  All that bragging how GM would deliver more & faster and Toyota with Prius was a load of crap.  It's why saying anything with respect to that status appears to the Volt enthusiasts as praise for Prius.  Even if no mention is every made, that inability to successfully "leap frog" really hurts... because they didn't want an ally, they wanted superiority.  The very idea of forming a plug-in partnership repulsed them... which sickened me.  Those I know here who own a Volt (in the local plug-in owners group) are very nice people, open-minded and very inviting.  I thoroughly enjoy working them... quite unlike these keyboard warriors.  Oh well.  I had a short & bittersweet response to share:  That's called settling.  Remember the "too little, too slowly" concern?  It was about exactly this, considering the progress made to be good enough, rather than actually meeting the goals set.

12-05-2016

Loss of Purpose.  That's what it ended up to be after the dust settled.  The "too little, too slowly" concern became an outcome.  They knew it was going to happen too.  The obvious sign of acknowledgement was the subtle shift over to a good enough attitude.  They'd declare monthly sales as "doing well", then simply move on to something else.  You could predict that.  What was uncertain though, which could be an indicator of the pattern breaking, was no longer attacking Prius.  Remember how I got involved with the Volt enthusiasts in the first place?  It was to correct the steady stream of misinformation being posted, clear attempts to greenwash.  That revealed itself to be an opportunity for finding an ally... which unfortunately, fell apart quickly.  The introduction of Prime and the rollout of Bolt presented a new opportunity.  Knowing that enthusiasts were facing an identity crisis, having a complete loss of purpose with the "range extender" philosophy having fallen apart, I took the chance.  Seeing change meant the possibly of a new audience.  No such luck.  What a mess.  There is no clarity, no sense of what to promote.  Rather than a unified sense of plug-in support, the original trophy-mentality problem is tearing them apart... consequently preventing anyone else from joining.  Ugh.

12-04-2016

Learn & Educate.  Those discussing Prius Prime are facing the expected generational split.  It's very easy to make assumptions and not want to shake up the existing unity.  Upgrades don't always play well with that though.  So far, that's the case we're seeing: "...like the thousands of people who believe trying to keep the lift back in EV is more efficient than using gas."  The discussions about Charge-Mode are building up to debates.  Some just want to pretend it doesn't exist, to keep things simple.  I'm not simple.  I feel people can be educated, especially if it has the potential to become a draw to learn more.  I sounded off about that with:  It is more efficient in EV.  Toyota knows that all too well.  For everyone else to know why, they must ask the reason for putting an EV button on the liftback model.  Understanding that is vital.  It's the same reason the Charge-Mode feature is engaged by holding a shared button, rather than having one of it's own.  The key to that understanding is to realize the topic is a WHEN situation, rather than an IF.  In other words, you're asking the wrong question.  So, the answer will never been correct.  We can easily see the feature will be misused.  It should also be easier to see that recommending "never" won't work.  Many will inevitably stumble across it by some means.  Then what?  Not even trying to learn & educate about it would be to dismiss the reason why Toyota provided the mode.  Put it this way.  How hard would it be to get an owner to change the way they use it after discovering there can be a MPG penalty when used at inefficient times?  That sounds pretty darn simple to me.  After all, we do it on a regular basis with "B" mode.

12-04-2016

Damage Control.  It's easy to get really annoyed when you are accused of revising history, yet clearly, you can see they aren't remembering events correctly.  My personal log entries (blogs) are a written record of what happened, when it happened, and what the impression of it was at the time.  It's super easy to look back on them.  Google makes those searches a powerful tool at my disposal.  I can quickly confirm the actual history.  There's no need to try to remember.  It was documented at the time those events were occurring.  That leaves you with a sense of confidence to face the spin head-on.  I have been too, to the point of being annoying back.  This moment in time will soon vanish.  Rather than awaiting Prius Prime deliveries and discovering what Bolt really can do, we'll know those details.  The shift from speculation to confirmation is a big one.  That's why I'm doing all I can to document these moments as they're happening.  Someone, I will search back for them too.  Here is today's dealing with that trophy-mentality problem:  I will continue to point out the misleading that takes place here.  For example, the recent claim of halo.  It was intentionally vague.  Yes, GM did indeed make the statement about Volt being a halo vehicle. That didn't come until the end of gen-1 production drew near though.  There was nothing stated about gen-2 being the same way.  In fact, it was quite the opposite.  An expectation was set for gen-2 Volt to very much be a mainstream vehicle selling at mainstream volume.  The misleading posts are damage-control efforts.  Ask yourself why gen-2 would only be a halo.  It doesn't make sense without any mainstream offering available.

12-04-2016

Just Drive It.  Having both a plug and a charge-mode is moving us to the next level.  This stage in hybrid evolution requires a rethink.  It happened right away: "The only non-trivial or extreme corner case reason this notion of EV in the destination city after a long trip has merit that I can think of is to reduce engine warm-up routines."  Coming from a new Prius Prime owner, I am quite intrigued what the reaction will be to my post of this in response:

That is far from trivial or extreme.  In fact, that is so profoundly significant, you just very effectively talked through the process to disprove the original hypothesis.  Doing that at work (I'm a software developer) is an extremely helpful tool for understanding & confirming design.  We stress the importance of taking the time to do that.  Great job!

Whenever I go on a trip, there is always some running around that would greatly benefit from avoiding engine warm-up.  The runs for food, shopping, entertainment, and recreation are MPG killers.  Often only a few miles, it should be very easy to see how driving those short distances using only electricity would be hugely advantageous.

After owning a plug-in hybrid for awhile, you'll see that those opportunities aren't actually trivial or extreme if you travel.  Not having a plug available, but having the ability to substitute some wisely consumed gas for recharging, can be an effective use of the system.  We're moving beyond that "Just Drive It" advice of the past.

12-04-2016

Diesel Plans.  Major cities in Europe have announced the intent to ban diesel vehicles by 2025.  This death was inevitable.  There was no possible way an engine-only diesel passenger vehicle could possibly compete with second-generation plug-in hybrids.  That alone was enough to see the writing on the tombstone.  Recent embracing of EV choices has pushed that shift into the fast-lane.  Much of the acceleration came about as a result of the VW disaster.  Nissan & Tesla's push was a great start.  BMW joining in was a great endorsement.  Now with GM about to stir halo efforts, we can see momentum growing.  What will catch on in the plugging world is still unknown, but the potential of Prius Prime reaching mainstream consumers faster than anyone had imagine is a big boost.  So, even without the news coming from California, there's reason for a very positive outlook.  $800 Million of the $14.7 Billion settlement with VW will go to the sunny state.  They will be installing a lot of charging-stations with it, as well as introduce sharing & hailing services for zero-emission vehicles.  The 10-year plan will be divided into four 30-month spending cycles.  I really like that accountability with clear & quantifiable milestones.  The horribly ambiguous and ever-changing plans GM stated over the years was a good example of what not to do.  After all, California wants to enforce clean mandates.  Investing heavily into infrastructure with this money will really help build momentum for that progress.

12-04-2016 Charge-Mode.  This innocent comment today got a rather stern response from me: "As far as force charge, it's mostly a gimmick and bad for mpg's and thusly pollution."  Since it came from a frequent and well-informed Prius PHV owner, my pounce should be well understood.  He'll know it's with best of intentions:

You're asking for quite a bit of conflict making generalizations like that.  I'll be bumping heads with you on a regular basis, pointing out that USED WISELY there can be circumstances in which you will see an efficiency gain (and subsequent emission reduction) from using Charge-Mode.

This will be a education effort for newbies, very much like what we did back when Prius was new to most people.  The assumption was made that more electric-only driving was better.  We know that's not the case.  The engine can indeed encounter situations of lower efficiency though, where a benefit can be realized by adding load.

Your use of "mostly" should be changed to "except on long trips without plugging opportunity".  After 4.5 years of driving a Prius PHV, it's easy to see how those distant drives on the highway are always followed by running around with the Prius upon reaching your destination.  In that particular circumstance, I know for a fact there will be an overall improvement from taking advantage of Charge-Mode.

In basically all other driving situations, I don't envision recommendation opportunities.  So, I'm with you in that respect.  But with a vague "mostly", expect routine replies provided clarification.  We're at the early stages when assumptions & misunderstandings happen.  So, extra care will really be a boost to our desire to help.  Best of intentions...

12-03-2016

Anything Else?  part 2.  The question asked of Prius Prime from a new owner was if there was advantage of battery-charging with the gas-engine beyond the hill-climbing and warm-up cycle.  I see this as a growing source of contention.  It reminds me a lot of how the hybrid-system was originally perceived.  Some people readily picked up on that opportunities and others totally misunderstood.  Simply reverting to a "never use" stance will yield the best results overall all owners.  But there are some who will be able to identify advantageous situations.  Why not provide that knowledge to educate?  Why treat everyone as novice drivers only?  Why shouldn't we strive for well-informed owners right away?  Collecting enough real-world data to confirm operational results shouldn't take that long.  Perhaps the current membership simply doesn't have the tools necessary for that collection.  I'm not sure... and won't let that stop me:  Yes.  As I state each time Charge-Mode is mentioned, there is a clear advantage to using it on long trips.  Far less horsepower is used to maintain a cruise on a highway than what the engine has to offer, which means the introduction of a minor load won't result in as much of a penalty as one would think.  It's counter-intuitive, much like how the hybrid system works without a plug.  Extra load can actually result in a gain.  That's how higher MPG is achieved.  So with the plug-in, once you get off the highway, having a recharged battery pretty efficiency opportunities which would otherwise be lost.

12-03-2016

Anything Else?  part 1.  Rapid fade away of GM problems allows us to put focus back on the technology.  Dealing with actual questions of owners, rather than rhetoric, is fantastic.  I certainly hope the newcomers, like Ionic or Pacifica owners, are receptive to cooperative efforts of plug-in endorsement.  It blows my mind how a few key Volt enthusiasts become the spokespeople for all of Volt online, giving it a terrible reputation of smug.  Unfortunately, we see that happening in Prime reviews.  Comments of Volt superiority are easy to find.  I sure how partnerships can be built elsewhere.  We've been able to collaborate with BMW i3 owners.  But with so few and with a vehicle little is known about, that only takes you so far.  Leaf owners are quite receptive, but the relation of EV owners with plug-in hybrid owners hasn't even been a problem.  It's only with Volt.  Ugh.  Oh well.  At least we have new Prime owners helping stir up new topics to discuss.

12-03-2016

Lack of Clarity.  Uncertainty of what comes next is the root of the problem.  There's a lot of anxiety now.  Bolt is late and the selling-point of range isn't dominating attention, as had been hoped.  It's the same type of mistake enthusiasts made with Volt.  They assumed performance was the only selling-point that would be necessary to sustain strong sales.  Recognition of that false belief led to a lot of damage-control... keeping those keyboard warriors very busy.  Milestones being missed and definitions changing were the signs to look for.  The same is true now.  Watch for that.  Casual readers won't notice what's going on and certainly won't be aware of the pattern.  Fortunately, I'm happy to point out what's going on:  The smug amplifies greatly whenever monthly sales are posted, and I get used as a scapegoat for numbers falling well short of the goal stated a decade ago for sales to be a minimum of 5,000 per month.  Remember how much I pushed for an affordable model of Volt, one with a smaller battery-pack to compliment the standard model?  Hysteria from Prius caused many to lash out in fear of that diluting what Volt was.  Remember how much they proclaimed EREV was the only solution possible?  Now we see Ford, Honda, BMW, Hyundai, and Toyota all taking different approaches to achieve the same goal.  Those antagonists were clearly wrong.  Now, you are doing what?  Not speaking out about the excuses and not doing anything to stop the misleading is being an enabler.  Shoot the messenger all you want to feel better, but it won't change what’s happening.  It's ok to celebrate a good sales month, but don't lose sight of the big picture.  That goal to make Volt a popular choice among GM shoppers is absolutely essential.  Substantial growth is required, soon.  No amount of spin or diversion will change that.

 

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