Prius Personal Log  #791

January 29, 2017  -  February 4, 2017

Last Updated: Tues. 6/27/2017

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2-04-2017

Competing.  There's quite a bit of spin near the end.  We saw it with Two-Mode.  We saw it with BAS.  We saw it with gen-1 Volt.  We saw it with eAssist.  Each time GM attempts to dominate a market segment with a new high-efficiency technology, things get ugly.  The process of dealing with it starts with the goals having been missed entirely or falling well short, which could be constructive... but sadly, hasn't been.  The effort to get back on track is circumvented anyway.  GM simply introduces a new product instead.  That's what we are seeing take place with gen-2 Volt.  The spotlight has been shifted over to Bolt instead.  The whole idea of "range anxiety" has completely fallen apart.  The anti-EV automaker has embraced the EV.  All that marketing for Volt as the superior choice was for what?  It wasn't just an idea on paper or something advertised on television.  The campaign resulted in 100,000 sales... which sound impressive.  Unfortunately, the heavy dependence on subsidizing profit using tax-credits has become a very real problem.  What should be done now?  That's a very good question.  But rather than answer it in any fashion, the choice has been to seek out validation.  Today, it was this spin: "Toyota is following the Volt's design.  Great validation!"  That came about by asking what the purpose of gen-2 Volt was now that "range anxiety" has been alleviated by Bolt.  Ugh.  Oh well, this was my follow up:  It was nice to see gen-2 Volt take on the blending characteristic of Prius.  That was validation of common goals.  You know all too well that Voltec didn't go for traditional vehicle competitiveness (matching mainstream purchase priorities).  For gen-1, that was fine for the sake of proving the technology was capable.  But for gen-2, it's revealing itself to be an overkill approach... which is how Bolt fits into the picture.  That engineering was carried over to make a worthwhile EV introduction... and clears the way to alter Voltec into a matured configuration, so it can compete directly with traditional vehicles.

2-04-2017

Validation.  He completely exhausted all excuses, turning to spin: "True, Toyota is following the Volt's design.  Great validation!"  It's bizarre how desperate a few get defending a lost cause.  Oh well.  Losing a battle is not like losing the war.  You acknowledge the error and move on.  I couldn't let it go without looking back to point out the attempt to damage-control mislead:  Toyota was already increasing EV top speed with Prius upgrades.  It started at 42 mph.  Then it went to 46 mph.  Then it got bumped to 62 mph.  Then it was raised to 72 mph.  Then it finally settled at 84 mph.  Each was direct result of the battery improvements.  So, there is nothing to claim in relation to Volt.  Toyota determined liquid-cooling for the battery-pack was an unnecessary complexity that added cost to the design, so they definitely did not follow Volt in that regard.  The biggest did not follow though was not rolling out a design dependent upon cost-reductions coming later or tax-credits.  Toyota offered battery-capacity based upon what they determined to be profitable.  So, that validation claim is not true.  It isn't even an alternative fact.

2-04-2017

Challenges.  Some constructive talk is emerging out of the chaos.  I suspect some of it is the result of early Prime sales are showing strong rollout potential.  This was the post I selected as discussion worthy: "The Prime can probably challenge for best selling plug-in for 2017… IF Toyota actually wants to sell it en mass."  This was my response:  Rollout is worldwide, all at the same time.  So, even if the sales total for the year is similar to others here, there are many more which must be accounted for.  The big part of the first-year ramp-up challenge for Toyota is the effort to improve efficiency in new ways.  They are delivering a low-cost carbon-fiber component: the back hatch.  That's a complex shaped piece which gets banged shut routinely.  Being able to deliver that in high-volume opens up great opportunity for other pieces in the next generation.  The weight-reduction benefit is obvious.  The other effort is delivering a dual-wave rear window.  Doing that in an affordable manner provides an aerodynamic benefit.  It also delivers style we have only seen elsewhere on very expensive vehicles.  GM deserves compliment for making Bolt a practical shape.  That can be counted as exploring new options.  It clearly addresses the low rear-seating issue in Volt.  The catch is, that success should finally result in a Voltec variant offering something similar.  In a body like Equinox or Trax, it's easier to justify the higher price than with Volt, a compact car.  Car sales only represent part of the market anyway.  We can see plug-in SUVs on the way.  Toyota, Nissan, Hyundai/Kia, and Mitsubishi are all heading in that direction.  There's the Chrysler minivan too. It seems odd for GM not to be part of that.

2-02-2017

Disruption.  It's well know and nearly impossible to argue, gas consumption of the large number of Prius replacing traditional vehicles is much lower than that of the small number of Volt.  Looking at the big picture makes that obvious.  This is why debates focus solely in individual vehicles.  In other words, bragging rights outweigh that of actually making a real difference.  Again, this is why the motive of enthusiasts has so little in common with that of supporters.  Goals clearly have not been the same.  There is a bit of hope though: "It will have to sell in mass in order to disrupt as much oil consumption as the Volt does.  The AER is pitifully small."  That glimmer of change... actual acknowledgement of fleet impact... is encouraging.  I wonder how this will be responded to:  With the Premium model $28,800 and a large number of $4,502 tax-credits available, selling twice as many Prime as Volt won't be that difficult.  That's seriously good short & mid term pricing.  The base MSRP of $27,100 certainly sets up the offerings as a realistic long-term contender too.  Even with the supposed "pitiful" range, owners will see very high MPG regardless.  There's the advantage of Prime being more efficient than Volt in both electric & gas modes too.  So, more battery isn't necessarily better.  In other words, stop with the "vastly superior" crap already.  It's time to address what needs to be done to get the masses to purchase plug-in vehicles.  Just because the packaging of Volt hasn't resulted in significant growth doesn't mean the same tech in a different body won't.

2-02-2017

Price Points.  He responded with the same old pigheaded response: "How am I moving the goal post?  Inflation exists."  I wasn't even the one who mentioned goal-posts this time.  Someone else got annoyed by such a lame excuse, giving me a like and him a scolding.  My reply was a simple counter:  That's why PRICE POINTS exist.  You can't just pick the economic factors you like and disregard the ones you don't.  An automaker targets a vehicle for that, than makes adjustments as the years past to retain that positioning.  Yes, we've seen a gradual climb over the decades, but being that far off target has proven a barrier to mass acceptance.  In fact, that is the very reason why the subsidy exists, to temporarily counter pricing while those adjustments are being made... and time is quickly running out.

2-02-2017

Acknowledgement.  Being quite annoyed by the obvious effort to deflect, I finally lashed out.  The constant attempts to change the subject to Toyota are signs of desperation so obvious, it's hard to believe so many enablers are putting up with it.  It persist, continuing to post information about GM itself, keeping on topic rather than taking the bait.  Sales results bringing out the worst in them is why I end up taking such a terse stance.  Today, the response to January sales was to post them... but not cherry-pick only plug-in vehicles.  This was showing numbers for the traditional vehicles too.  That perspective is quite harsh, especially looking at the entire year.  They speak for themselves:  It's been nothing but positive news the last 2 months, no matter how you try to spin it.  They say the most difficult step to overcoming a problem is acknowledgement…  For 2015:  Equinox = 277,589;  Cruze = 226,602;  Malibu = 194,854;  Impala = 116,825;  Camaro = 77,502;  Sonic = 64,775;  Trax = 63,030;  Corvette = 33,329;  Spark = 32,809;  Volt = 15,393.  For 2016:  Equinox = 242,195;  Malibu = 227,881;  Cruze = 188,876;  Impala = 97,006;  Trax = 79,016;  Camaro = 72,705;  Sonic = 55,255;  Corvette = 29,995;  Spark = 35,511;  Volt = 24,739.  See the problem now?  Growth of sales does not come from pretending all is going well or crying foul.  With Bolt now stealing away both the spotlight and tax-credits, it is time to finally get serious about the situation with Volt.

2-02-2017

Choice.  Some people either don't learn or don't want to accept certain outcomes.  With one person, who is rather well respected on the big Prius forum, it was using inflation to justify the still too high price of Volt.  After arguing in circles, without making any progress, we ended up getting: "Choice is good."  I continued to push:  A choice of "nicely under $30,000" was the price goal set by GM.  The reason for setting that was simple.  A configuration able to achieve that with low enough production cost would be both competitive & profitable with other choices available on the dealer's showroom floor.  Otherwise, those shoppers will just purchase a different GM vehicle instead.  We still don't see that choice of GM plug-in hybrid yet.  True, taking the tax-credit subsidy from the MSRP would achieve that goal.  But it limits inventory to well below competitive volume and is extremely short-term... hence the close look at Toyota's design.  People want to know how Prius & Prime are able to overcome both engineering & business obstacles.

2-02-2017

Bittersweet.  Monthly sales results often stir new discussion.  This was today's quote of interest: "There's some bitter sweetness to the Bolt EV.  I think we will see the Bolt EV outsell the Volt."  Seeing certain enthusiasts already mulling that perspective is encouraging.  Steps forward have to begin somehow.  My issue has always been packaging.  Choosing such a small vehicle and squishing so much capacity into it was an imbalance too great to overcome.  Ordinary consumers wouldn't be willing to accept that tradeoff of cost & comfort.  And sure enough, that was indeed the outcome.  That's why reaching mainstream buyers has become such a issue of contention now.  I expressed that point with:  The lack of growth from year-2 of gen-2 Volt does paint that picture.  The massive drop from 3,691 in December to just 1,611 in January provides reason for concern.  Dropping back to gen-1 levels, despite significant increased support for plug-in vehicles recently, isn't encouraging.  The overall goal of replacing traditional vehicles can still be achieved, but there will need to be adjustments along the way.  In the case of Voltec, the compact car packaging continues to be a barrier to growth.  Choosing to offer it in a small SUV would be a wise next step.

1-31-2017

Fuel Cells.  Wow!  What a dramatic end to an absolutely desperate attempt to divert focus from Volt.  For years, GM supporters have ridiculed Toyota supporters for their diversification effort.  They don't spin it that way though.  The misleading is to get you to believe all of Toyota's research is devoted to fuel-cell development, that plugging in is looked upon as a wasted effort.  Over and over and over again, mention of Volt sales struggle would be rebutted with "hydrogen" anti-propaganda.  Some were so dead set against the diversification, they believed that was all they ever needed to mention for Toyota arguments.  It was amazing to see such close-mindedness play out.  It comes from the one-size-fits-all stance.  Fighting an array of choices, rather than just a single solution, is beyond their understanding.  So, the approach of fighting anything that doesn't fit your expectation is considered valid.  That took a dramatic & permanent turn today though.  GM announced an $85 million partnership with Honda to advance their fuel-cell technology.  GM embraced hydrogen.  The very thing these smug antagonists most feared became a reality.  I couldn't have been more delighted.  The timing was absolutely perfect.  The idiot who had just posted a rant about how terrible fuel-cells were and how thankful he was that GM would never endorse such a technology now had several headlines in major publications stating the very opposite of that.  My guess is that he was so angered by the revelation that I'll never hear that line of arguments ever again.  And if it does happen, I'll just requote his post.  I saved a link to it, just in case.

1-30-2017

Charge Mode Data.  A report from driving around with a Prius Prime.  Yeah!  The information we get from actual owners is so much better than having to deal with undermining.  You have no idea how welcome this is.  The a change of pace this hints at is wonderful.  We have much to look forward to in the coming months.  In the meantime: "Highway driving 12 miles around 65mph for 11 minutes.  In CHG mode shows 37.2 MPG while battery charged from 0 to 25% (6.5 mile ev range).  8.9 kw charging rate consistent with..."  Others have also observed that aggressive recharging ability.  That's a nice new feature few have ever experimented with.  Results vary quite a bit though.  In this case, the efficiency hit was exactly as you'd expect.  There should be a penalty of some sort when using gas to generate electricity.  Reports of others witnessing less impact is what peaks my interest.  What are the circumstances then?  Knowing when to recommend use of the charging feature is very important.  It's easy to misuse something like that.  It's easy to misinterpret impact to overall efficiency too.  Whatever the case, we'll eventually figure that out.  For those, we're in the early stages, still sorting out the few details currently available.

1-29-2017

Lots Of Potential.  What I posted wasn't well received... since it made sense.  That was predictable.  So, I just kept posting.  The next step was to point out the potential and explain reasoning.  The catch is you have to be to the point.  Losing the bigger picture can happen when you provide detail.  Antagonists get hung up on pointless facts, spinning a web of deception simply by misdirecting.  So, I summarized instead:  We see that same "too little, too late" chant regularly now.  It's the result of Toyota having successfully delivered an affordable plug-in hybrid system sooner than GM.  No need for the complexity & expense of liquid cooling.  Like Nissan, Toyota invested in better chemistry to prevent that need.  And to make a Prius into a Prime, all that's basically needed is a clutch, charger, and a larger battery.  So, it's easy to see lots of potential.

1-29-2017

Embarrassing.  You can see an end drawing near; the spin is showing signs of desperation: "25 miles of electric range, from the company which made the first popular full hybrid car, is downright embarrassing.  It doesn't hold a candle to the new Volt's 53 miles of EPA rated electric range."  It's really sad how some don't see that the true competition is traditional vehicles, not other plug-in offerings.  The catch is, they have to admit some plug-in choices won't be good ones.  Facing that reality of a failure is extremely difficult... and self-inflicted.  If you know change is part of the process, acceptance is much easier.  That's what made Prius PHV such a problem for some.  They recognized it was mid-cycle offering with a very limited scope.  Having rolled out to just 15 states and only a small quantity made taking the next step to Prius Prime a simple one.  The mess Volt left with gen-1 meant gen-2 would struggle to re-educate.  Finding out gen-2 doesn't appeal to mainstream buyers makes the situation even worse.  So, enthusiasts turn to emotional appeal, rather than remain constructive.  Oh well.  All I can do is confront them with facts:  Embarrassing?  You've totally lost perspective.  The goal is to replace traditional vehicles with plug choices.  $27,100 MSRP positions the technology to be directly competitive.  Prius Prime is configured well in that regard, an accomplishment to be proud of.  $33,220 MSRP for Volt is what?  It's heavy dependence on tax-credit to subsidize sales and compensate for the smaller rear seating certainly isn’t a bragging point.  We want plug-in purchased by the masses.  Don't forget how much importance they place on price.

 

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