Prius Personal Log  #784

December 24, 2016  -  December 28, 2016

Last Updated: Sun. 3/12/2017

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12-28-2016 Vastly Superior, features.  Things did end up getting interesting.  The discussion turned in a constructive direction.  Yes, I know it will ultimately become destructive.  But what the heck, why not take advantage of this opportunity: "But you can get a Corolla for $10K less. Why buy a PP?"  Comparing within a product-line, rather than cross-automaker is quite shift.  This came from an antagonist who absolutely refused to acknowledge anything without a plug, in the past.  Things are changing.  This was too good to resist.  I gave it quite a bit of thought before choosing to post return in this fashion...

These are all standard features, included in the base model:

 * 25 miles of EV
 * 54 MPG without plug
 * SULEV rating with TZEV
 * Star Safety System
 * Toyota Safety Sense P
 * dual 4-inch displays
 * quad LED headlights
 * LED tail & brake lights
 * dual-wave window
 * heated front seats
 * hatchback with folding seats
 * smart-key door & button start
 * backup camera
 * remote A/C

Star Safety System = Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA) and Smart Stop Technology (SST)

Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P) = Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD), Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/SA), Automatic High Beams and Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC)

12-27-2016

Vastly Superior, growth.  This is clearly the new question for this generation Volt: "How will growth be achieved by not trying anything new?"  None of the efforts with the first resulted in sales growth.  Even that massive price reduction didn't do any good.  Sales remained flat.  Hope turned to the second.  No growth resulted from that either.  So far, all we've seen is signs of trouble to come.  Bolt will gobble up interest, as well as tax-credits.  With such an extensive list of features that Prius Prime offers, it makes sense that we are seeing a final lashing out.  Reality is finally setting in.  Prius isn't the competition.  Leaf isn't the competition.  The vehicles competing with Volt are others from GM's own product line.  I can see hints of the online arguments revealing that mindset shift.  Of course, much of that comes from pride.  There's simply no way to argue against Prime's improvement over PHV.  The same thing is expected from the upcoming inevitable upgrade to Leaf.  These next-gen vehicles wreck how Volt was promoted.  Claims of "vastly superior" are of no interest to mainstream consumers.  Those shoppers have very different priorities.  All that leaves are those who have moved on to other choices.  That leaves the question of growth in a state of utmost uncertainty... which explains the fanatical behavior lately.  How?

12-27-2016

Vastly Superior, sales.  When cornered and there's nothing else left, the originating source of conflict tends to emerge.  In this case, it was clearly: "No.  Too little too slowly is referring to making weak technology, later than the competition, thus not being compelling to the market.  (see PiP)"  I got a kick out of reading such a revision of history, so easy to disprove.  In this case, it brings us back to the ultimate purpose too, sales.  It's unfortunate that unsuccessful attempts to introduce a new product are viewed as utter & complete failures, rather than just an opportunity to adopt, adapt, and improve.  You learn from the experience and move on... unless your you was to prove a technology was "vastly superior" rather than just come up with something that sells well.  Ugh.  Why does pride get so in the way sometimes?  Oh well, this is how I dealt with it:  That most definitely is not true!  The blogs of the time clearly confirm that fact too.  The automotive task-force overseeing the bankruptcy expressed the "too little, too slowly" concern to GM executives about Volt, wanting assurance that it would be sold in high-volume for a profit shortly after rollout.  That's how the 60,000 annual-rate target for sales by the end of the second year came about.  We have yet to sales even remotely close to that 5,000 monthly minimum... hence all the grief I'd had to put up with about yet another "over promise, under deliver" problem.  That's why focus on advertising has become a topic of discussion.  It's an effort to figure out how to deal with the situation.  After all, many here have complained about Volt not be promoted enough... so it makes no sense for you to respond with that "good enough" attitude.

12-27-2016

Vastly Superior, grade.  The troublemaker quickly sounded off, drowning out all the other posts... including what I my attempt at being constructive.  He wasn't happy.  He'll never be happy.  His purpose is to promote superiority at all costs.  It's intriguing to watch someone who you know won't ever give up, even when everyone else has moved on.  I was intrigued... since that type of stubborn dismissal of facts is often where ideas emerge from.  When else would anyone ever push such an extreme?  Anywho, this was how I responded:  There's no need to debate.  Advertising an ability to educate serves a purpose, but it doesn't do anything to stir emotion.  The best you could give that is a "C" grade.  Homework delivered, but in no way deserving of praise, isn't what you want to spend on television commercials.  Toyota has this nailed with Prius Prime.  The quad-headlights, dual-wave window, and larger touch-screen are standout features, a clear effort to stir emotion.  Here, we also get an optional color heads-up display.  In Japan, customers also get the option of all-wheel drive, solar charging, and a 1500-watt AC inverter.  Again, each can draw interest in a strong & unique way.  There is a collection of safety features included standard that other vehicles lack.  Prime also includes a charge-mode standard.  All that is an effort to earn an "A" grade.  What compelling features are there for GM to advertise about Volt?

12-26-2016 Vastly Superior, advertising.  He responded, but with a evasive move to avoid providing any detail.  That intentional effort to not acknowledge what was posted is the same old nonsense we saw in the past.  I stayed on track, pushing for a proper response instead of taking the bait.  It was surprisingly easy how to accomplish that too.  With a little ambiguity about which vehicle I was referring to (with the hope of it stimulating thought, rather than just another avoidance attempt), I posted this clear & concise list of detail for each step:

Audience = ordinary consumers

Venue = showroom floor at the dealer

Features = EV drive, 21st century styling

Timeframe = beyond tax-credit availability

Simple Message = affordable and easy to plug in 

12-26-2016

Vastly Superior, history.  Witnessing it repeat is an expectation.  Those shallow & empty claims online we see on a regular basis impair progress.  It's really annoying.  Reading though though brings up memories that stir opportunity for change: "In my mind, the Volt is vastly superior to the Prius Prime..."  The reintroduction of that same problem was a great invitation to try to break the cycle, using a new approach:  You need to tell us why Volt is supposedly "vastly superior" to the Prius Prime, so people will buy it instead.  That's called advertising.  Not actually conveying any information won't convince many of superiority.  First step is to consider audience.  Who the heck is the advertising for?  Targeting enthusiasts is far different from targeting ordinary consumers.  Second step is to consider venue.  Where will the advertising take place?  Drawing attention randomly from television & internet is far different from stirring interest on the showroom floor.  Third step is to consider features.  What aspects of the vehicle do you wish to emphasize?  Selling a performance vehicle is far different from appealing to a family transport shoppers.  Fourth step is to consider timeframe.  How long that specific promotion takes place can be a major factor as to how the message is received.  Bing bang is far different from on-going repetition.  Finally, you come up with a simple message.  This is what advertising will build upon.  Something is needed as a take away from the advertisement.  How should those seeing it react?  Needless to say, there is much more to advertising, as the history of "vastly superior" claims has taught us.

12-25-2016 At Home Charging.  Not at all pleased by the unprovoked personal attack on a website I haven't even posted on for quite some time, it was an invitation to say whatever I wanted.  After all, the article was about the plug-in market in general.  There was no reason whatsoever for the lashing out.  But then again, when someone is looking for a scapegoat, they tend to find one.  It was actually rather vindicating to get such a response without any participation.  It confirms the message had been received.  So, I used the stir to direct attention to something actually helpful:

Want to have a constructive discussion?

Let's post about "at home charging".

The recommendation from GM for Bolt is to use a 32-amp level-2 charger.  To accommodate that, one must have a 40-amp line in their home.  How many people actually have that much capacity available?  Many older homes only have 100-amp circuit boxes.  Upgrading to support more and run a new line to the garage is an expense no one wants to provide any details on.  In fact, all we've heard is that GM will provide financing for it, allowing you to roll it into the loan for the vehicle.

For Volt charging at home, there are many who bought & installed a level-2 charger.  What amp rating was that?  Choices years back were less powerful than now, which means slower recharge times.  Will they upgrade line & charger?  How much will that cost?  Using a 16-amp charger would get the job done overnight, but will gen-2 buyers understand that time difference upon purchase or make the discovery later?  How is GM educating people about charging needs?

Toyota kept it simple.  Using the most basic 120-volt outlet at home, an ordinary 15-amp line will provide full recharge in 5.5 hours.  That's easy to accommodate with overnight charging.  Using just level-1 means no surprise extra expense.  If you have an ordinary 20-amp in your garage, there's an option to plug in 2 chargers at the same time.  Each can be setup to draw 8 amps instead of 12 to provide that option for dual plugging.  Capacity of the Prime battery is small enough that the added recharge time would still fit into an overnight timeframe.

Think about how easy it is to plug in a 12-gauge extension cord into an ordinary 120-volt line rated for 15 amps to provide electricity for a level-1 charger.  You may understand what all those numbers mean, but a mainstream consumer probably won't have a clue.  They will have the outlet though.  So, even in a cluttered garage, they'll still be able to recharge a Prime overnight... even if the line is shared with something else, like perhaps a chest freezer.  No big deal.  The sale is simple for both salesperson & buyer.

Make fun of the "25 miles" of EV all you want.  Only enthusiasts care about that.  Consumers shopping the showroom floor want a vehicle that's affordable and easy to plug in.

12-25-2016

Enjoying The Holidays.  With the onslaught of fake news (articles with almost no substance posted to spread rhetoric), it's difficult from some to really get an understanding of what the market has to offer.  Some see the "business as usual" and just ignore the green choices entirely.  They view them as alternatives, rather than the next step.  There are others who simply look at anything with a battery in an overly simplistic manner.  They simply lump all of them together, never even bothering to see if there are any differences.  Then you've got some who think they are a good idea, but don't see them as something to decide upon.  It's seen as an option for others.  In other words, a bulk of the population couldn't care less... and that's before the next administration takes office, one who plans are quite counter to concerns of oil dependency and protecting our environment.  The holidays offer an opportunity to not have to worry about those things for a little awhile.  I look outside and see heavy rain.  This is Minnesota.  We are supposed to have a White Christmas.  That means beautiful cold scenes outside while drinking delicious warm beverages inside.  Instead, we watch the ice-skating rink on the pond wash away.  Our climate most definitely has changed.  Whether you agree upon cause or not, that's no reason not to try to reduce the impact.  Prius is on the 4th generation now and there's a growing variety of hybrid options.  What will it take for people to embrace them?  Remember the good old days when we looked forward to a predictable holiday season?  Those were the days, back when the grandparents were still hosting family gatherings.  Now, it's up to us to make things nice for the children.  They need happy memories too.

12-25-2016 Sales & Song.  With the hope of a good feeling, this spiteful peom was re-posted yesterday: "The Night before Priustmas".  It was a creative attack on myself along with a good friend from a Volt enthusiast very unhappy with the outcome of gen-2 rollout.  Things were not going well and scapegoats were needed to express disappointment.  I found it quite telling.  The childish attitude toward goals of change resulted in massive disappointment.  An entire year later, that feeling hasn't diminished.  Some still feel hurt.  One even reposted that spiteful poem... on a thread summarizing plug-in vehicles for 2016.  I took the time to layout facts and point out goals.  My response was to address actual need, not engage in games of chest-pounding.  It's hard to believe they'll allow it to come to this:

Scores of times this question was asked: "Who is the market for Volt?"  For years, the answer to that was calls of "O Come, All Ye Faithful".  But to the dismay of performance advocates, they didn't come.

Instead, celebration turned to conquest sales based upon great lease offers.  Victory became shallow, since many simply abandoned Volt when expiration was reached.  Loyal customers of GM weren't ever swayed.  Their support for Malibu, Cruze, and Equinox remained strong.  Gas was cheap and the newer model was much nicer than the one it replaced.

That now changes the question to: "How will growth be achieved?"

Despite an upgrade of Volt to second generation, sales still are not attracting those loyal customers.  They still are not interested.  They still lack the a desire to plug in.  To complicate matters, GM is rolling out Bolt, focusing limited tax-credits on an effort to attract those interested in Tesla Model 3.  Does that mean the answer to the who question remains unchanged?

This topic features plug-in vehicles of 2016.  The surprise newcomer that this group in particular, claimed would never be possible, was revealed and rollout has begun.  Enthusiasts of Volt mocked, belittled, and insulted the system Toyota offered, absolutely insisting it could never be upgraded to compete.  They refused to address the possibility that it could, and at a substantially lower production cost.

A plug-in hybrid capable of actually taking on the true competition... those traditional vehicle sharing the same showroom floor with loyal buyers very difficult to sway... is now being delivered.  With a MSRP price so low, even when the tax-credits expire, it will be able to draw interest from consumers currently without any desire to plug in.

Rather than Volt being an ally in the fight against traditional vehicles, enthusiasts chose to represent it as "vastly superior" in the very limited market of plug-in choices.  They refused to consider the big picture, to acknowledge how much faster sales must grow, to embrace the changes that must occur.  That's really unfortunate.

Oh well.  We will now hear songs from loyal customers, telling us it is Prime time.  The affordable price, combined with enough EV range to cover commute & errand driving of many, along with outstanding HV efficiency, will achieve that sales growth.

12-24-2016

TDI Buyback.  All I can say is: Whoa!  There was talk online of a few VW owners very angry with the "clean diesel" scandal.  It seems to be a cause for humiliation for them.  Think about how relentlessly some harassed Prius owners.  The arrogant & cocky attitudes outweighed any type of hybrid smug you'd encounter online.  They posted MPG data on a regular basis, driving situations that were clearly bias.  We'd call them on it too, pointing out that highway-only results are not representative of ordinary driving.  Daily commutes consist of a variety of driving conditions.  When it came to emission, the "clean" data was always exclusive to carbon.  When the smog type was brought up, they'd just dismiss it as unimportant.  We'd point out the "50-state" certification was a meeting of only the minimum to qualify for sales... the opposite end of the spectrum compared to the PZEV rating for Prius.  Even on paper, the diesel technology didn't compete.  In real world, we wondered how the MPG quoted could actually be achieved.  With so many engineers owning Prius, our breakdown of engine operation didn't add it.  How could VW have achieved such a miracle.  Turns out, they didn't.  They cheated instead.  Now those owners have to deal with reality.  Hearing about retaliation in the form of stripping down a TDI vehicle prior to buyback is one thing... seeing it is quite another.  One owner actually removed all the doors and all but the drivers seat.  The car had been gutted down to the bare metal in places.  Photos of that were quite a sight.  Needless to say, it got VW's attention.  That resulting bad PR is part of the healing process... hopefully.

 

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