Prius Personal Log  #806

April 25, 2017  -  April 29, 2017

Last Updated: Sat. 10/21/2017

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4-29-2017

Closure.  It sure feels nice that's all is truly concluded.  It's finally over.  Phew!  We did indeed see Volt as a "game changer" vehicle in the end.  It triggered a paradigm shift; ironically, the outcome was the opposite of what had been hoped for though.  Rather than delivering a technology resulting in strong mainstream sales, it delivered a configuration demonstrating what to avoid with that technology.  Too much emphasis was placed on making it go faster & further.  That sacrificed cost & appeal.  GM's own customers simply have not been interested... even with the generous $7,500 tax-credit.  Some ordinary consumers were drawn, but conquest sales from enthusiasts are not a solid business model to follow.  In fact, that's how the end was brought about.  They were revealed to be the "low hanging fruit" of the industry.  Running out of them has resulted in market saturation... the very "too little, too slowly" concern I warned about for years is now an undeniable consequence of such complacency.  Enthusiasts allowed it to happen, gambling that a dramatic shake up of the industry (the tree) would result in more customers (falling fruit).  That didn't happen.  The risk never made any sense.  They hoped battery-cost would drop so much, Volt would quickly become competitive.  The catch is, there was no understanding of who the competition was.  They assumed other plug-in hybrids would be competing for buyers.  Turns out, the reduction of battery-cost ushered in affordable electric-only offerings... killing off any chance of attracting more sales to a cramped compact hatchback with much smaller EV capacity.  Bolt replaced Volt.  It became the "range anxiety" solution, leaving GM with an uncompetitive plug-in hybrid.  Prime's capacity had been relentlessly mocked, belittled, and insulted by them... until recently, having discovered Toyota not making the same sacrifices means a much greater change of appealing to the masses.  Prime is a configuration capable of drawing mainstream interest, even without tax-credit subsidies.  Its balance of power & efficiency will triumph.  That's a very painful lesson for those who refused to learn from the past.  Oh well.  Their loss.

4-29-2017

Hypocrites.  It ended in a tangled web of hypocritical posts.  The short-sighted approach of Volt enthusiasts was their downfall.  It's what made them stand apart from Volt supporters.  That fundamental differences is why the one group would celebrate any victory it could and the other would carefully weigh the benefits of alienating future allies.  It was obvious from the beginning that their trophy-mentality was huge risk.  Yet, it was one post after another declaring Volt was "vastly superior" to Prius, even if Prius or Toyota was never mentioned.  That sounds a lot like our new president.   Rather then actually work for progress, there's a never-ending battle to paint a positive picture.  The other thing in common we seeing coming from the new administration is an effort to suppress information.  When I point out a hypocritical claim, it immediately resulted in negative votes to hide the post.  Make it go away by not being visible anymore.  I was flabbergasted by the foolhardiness of such a move.  What a senseless waste.  Ignore the problem, don't actually deal with it.  As time went on, the nature of their hypocritical behavior became obvious... the obsession for purity was causing blindness to logic.  Bolt was described repeatedly as superior to anything that consumed gas.  I couldn't believe the never-ending stupidity.  These were die-hard Volt enthusiasts so hell-bent on the mission to "leap frog" Prius that they embraced technology in a self-deprecating manner... and never noticed.  Bolt has become their weapon for victory.  Using it meant destroying Volt in the process.  None of those brainless buffoons were smart enough to realize the problem they had created for themselves.  It became a fascination for me to witness their own destruction.  I had no idea the madness would end with a self-inflicted wound.  But then again, that is a similar manner of death the die-hard diesel enthusiasts suffered.  They became so fixated on one particular battle, they ended up losing the war in a spectacular way.  Watch what happens in the next few months with Prime.  That balance Toyota carefully strived for will really pay off, the very trait enthusiasts poo-poo'd over and over and over again.

4-28-2017

C-HR Rollout.  My wife and I were at the dealership yesterday, visiting with my salesperson.  When you know someone that long, you check in from time to time to exchange information.  She really wanted an update, to find out what I had learned about my new Prime over the past few weeks.  She also wanted to see the new receiver-hitch I had installed.  We wanted to find out more about the market for Prime.  Rollout to the Midwest has been very slow.  With deliveries going to Japan, Europe, and the United States all at the same time, inventory is quite limited.  That's a heck of a debut effort.  Anywho, while were would their swapping stories, a vehicle drove by and caught my eye.  I ended up making a scene... yelling out that it was the brand new C-HR... a new vehicle type for Toyota not expected until this Fall.  What was it doing here already?  Maybe I had mixed up the rollout schedule with the hybrid model.  No, this was a 208 vehicle and it is still only April.  Huh?  Needless to say, I got the attention of everyone nearby.  They too were intrigued by the hints of a new vehicle driving by.  I got up.  Walked over.  Someone immediately grabbed the FOB and handed it to me.  I guess that type of enthusiasm gets rewarded.  I got to take it for a short drive before any of the salespeople.  Whoa!  So, I did.  It was nice... for a non-Prius offering.  The hybrid model won't be anywhere near as efficient, but it most definitely will attract a new audience.  And you know me, I'm all about market growth.  I look forward to the stir this will bring... or better put, a continue of the excitement I started.  It is nice being married to someone supportive of such excitement.  She actually jumped in the driver's seat for a spin right after me.

4-27-2017

What Happened?  Today was when I watched it all fall apart completely.  That problem of purity, which Volt enthusiasts based their entire premise on, ended up causing it to become fundamental contradiction.  This final comment snippet in the final argumentative post summed it up: "...on a GM fan site to explain why a car using no gas is inferior to one that does."  Remember how no matter how much I struggled to get them to focus only on GM's own product-line, they'd inevitably shift discussion over to Toyota and Prius?  Diverting attention away from their own struggle was all they had left.  I was now just waiting for closure.  Exactly like with Two-Mode, the second year of sales would bring about conclusions.  Remember how it fell apart?  Supporters moved on to the next thing.  In that case, it was gen-1 of Volt.  Of course, when that fell apart, they moved on to gen-2.  But now that gen-2 is struggling... focus has shifted to Bolt.  That recent sign of change (this chapter in history having come to a close) was attempts to switch the topic away from GM failing.  I was on a GM fan site discussing GM's own offerings, commenting about GM's own customers.  Not a mention of my own plug-in hybrid irritated them to an extreme.  I wouldn't bite any of the bait they were dropping.  Remaining on topic and speaking of the audience the blog addressed meant I was behaving and they were not.  My purpose was obvious too.  I even asked: "What happened to Volt?"  When that contradiction came about, nothing more needed to be said.  It was over.  They had backed themselves into their own corner.  Bolt was what they wanted all along, not Volt... and it was only just then that they realized the predicament.  The desire for purity was fulfilled by Bolt, not Volt.  I noticed the pattern early on, how much they resented the gas engine running.  All those insults to Prius also applied to Volt.  They simply hadn't understood the precedent they were establishing until it was well solidified... long after they couldn't do any damage control... too late.  That's why simply asking what happened is all that was necessary.  They knew.  Message received.  Problem understood.  Huge mistake.

4-27-2017

Nice Try.  It's quite odd how you can see an end approaching.  That's what all the blogging about a chapter closing has been.  Signs of conclusion looking like this are posted: "Consumers will look at the aggregate number and extrapolate to themselves, not the country as a whole, just as they do when they vote. But nice try."  That's so generic, so vague, it could mean anything.  The attempt to divert attention away from the bigger picture is what makes it obvious.  As important as individual votes are, they don't matter if enough aren't cast for the candidate you choose.  The race to win is that of plug-in vehicles verses traditional vehicles.  No matter how compelling arguments in favor of EV are made, those electric-only vehicles don't have a large enough audience.  This is actually was regular hybrids alone weren't enough either.  The market-share they captured was struggling to grow.  That aspect of growth is absolutely vital... hence the constant reminder of audience... Who?  That comment with the "nice try" was a desperate effort to press the reset button.  Hope of starting fresh and not having to deal with any aspect of the past is not realistic.  I was happy to point it out too:  What about Volt, Prime, Ford Fusion Energi, Hyundai Ioniq, Honda Clarity, BMW i3 and the other plug-in hybrids?  How do they fit into the bigger picture?  Remember, the inevitable phaseout of tax-credits will be reached mid-cycle for most all of the plug-in vehicles.  Consumers will most definitely take the loss of generous subsidies into account.

4-26-2017

More Discoveries.  I was playing with the buttons, scrolling through settings looking for new things.  To my delight, I found another surprise.  I had heard about "split" screen, but didn't actually know what it meant.  Turns out, the extra large area for the speedometer can actually be shared with a choice of 3 different efficiency meters... one showing the battery-charge level... one showing the energy level... one showing the kWh/mile efficiency for electric-mode then MPG for hybrid-mode.  That's quite handy.  They obviously did their homework with this upgrade.  In the past, I've seen how my Toyota studied driver usage.  In fact, that's what the first-generation offering was all about.  They rolled out to a decent sampling size, they stopped.  Growing any further wouldn't have accomplished any more.  The diverse spread, enough to really get an understanding of the market, was achieved by reaching out to those initial 15 states.  Obviously, they took into account all the stuff we were posting online too.  The forum & video knowledge sharing is a win for everyone.  Complex things in the past, like finding out what the actual state-of-charge level was rather than only getting an estimated distance value, is now just simple choice on a menu.  You get all kinds of detail display options.  It's really sweet.  Today's uncover of the "split" was really rewarding to stumble across.  I wonder how many other owners take the time to look.  Hmm?  I'll create a new user-guide over time to point out goodies like this.  In the meantime though, they'll be buried in the blog achieve... like this very entry.

4-26-2017

Real Numbers.  You could feel the instant the anger boiled over.  I had exposed the deception.  Fans wanted something to celebrate.  With both supply & demand falling well short of expectations, there was a desperate need to find a victory in that mess.  I was correct again.  That same old "too little, too slowly" concern applied.  Shortcomings were being revealed and each attempt at damage control was only making the bad situation even worse.  What surprised me was how easy it had been to find other numbers, something to provide a basis of comparison.  Right away, I was worried about cherry-picked data.  Not seeing anything whatsoever to provide perspective was a red-flag.  Be warned whenever a seemingly large number is posted without any reference of any kind.  That was definitely the case in this situation... and the enthusiasts new the effort to mislead was being called out... and I had caught them attempting to greenwash by spreading the misleading information.  People often assume the entire story is being told.  They don't take the time to research for omissions.  I do.  Pointing out what had been excluded to portray a different take on events was especially redeeming this time too:  Looking at the bigger picture, it's easy to see 175,000 gallons really isn't that much.  143,370,000,000 gallons (yes, 143 billion) is how much gas we consumed in the United States last year.  391,730,000 gallons is what that averages to per day, which makes that 4-month total for Bolt a rather trivial quantity in comparison.  Always consider the bigger picture.

4-26-2017

Bigger Picture.  I was rather flabbergasted to stumble across this comment in a GM press release: "Chevrolet reported today that 3,492 Bolt EV owners in the United States have driven a cumulative 4,570,300 miles as of April 2, 2017 since the vehicle went on sale in December 2016. These all-electric miles have resulted in more than 175,000 gallons of fuel saved based on the average EPA-estimated 26 mpg for 2017 vehicles in the United States."  Seeing history repeat in such a concise & predictable manner is quite surprising.  They just keep trying the same thing.  Rather than learn from previous mistakes, some acts are repeated with hope of a different outcome.  We've seen thing before.  The same old "gallons saved" approach fell apart with Volt.  Simply pointing out how much more was saved by Prius made that an embarrassing situation.  That's why taking a look at the entire product-line becomes such a huge disappointment.  The audience is quite diverse.  Taking such a tiny sample and bragging about those results isn't constructive perspective.  That's why the push for spreading the technology was so important.  GM shoppers don't want a compact hatchback.  The don't want a compact wagon either.  They are truck & SUV buyers.  That's why Volt & Bolt sales are conquests.  They attract those who wouldn't otherwise consider a GM purchase.  Little to no change of GM's own loyal customers is a recipe for disaster.  The precious few tax-credits available will be wasted.  Volt enthusiasts are finally starting to realize that disastrous situation too.  Ironically, they had argued Toyota was resting in its laurels with hybrids.  Turns out, they were thoughtfully designing a plug-in hybrid for mass appeal, hoping to capitalize on the opportunity.  Now looking at GM, turns out they were the ones resting.  Rather than rollout a profound new Volt to attract GM showroom shoppers, they simply upgraded Volt to appeal even more to enthusiasts.  Ordinary mainstream consumers simply aren't interested... and the enthusiasts now see that.  I took advantage of this newest promotion attempt to point out that lack of progress:  Looking at the bigger picture, it's easy to see the same being achieved by other means.  Data from those Bolt owners was compared to owners of 26 MPG vehicles.  Comparing the same to twice as many 52 MPG hybrid owners, you get the same gallons saved.  That reveals, hybrids like Fusion & Prius are already saving far more gas, since they are selling at much larger volume... and without the benefit of a generous tax-credit subsidy.  In other words, the use of "gallons saved" isn't a meaningful advertising approach.

4-25-2017

Heads-Up Surprise.  While toggling through the HUD options (pushing the button on the dashboard repeatedly), I discovered the lane-keep assist will by displayed on the windshield when triggered... which happened at that moment... since I had caught myself off-guard by noticing something new.  That was sweet!  That feature wasn't anything I had even considered.  It's like when the navigation system is being used.  You really don't expect to see the arrow & distance to show up there.  But when you think about what the heads-up display is for, it makes perfect sense.  Duh!  I wonder what other goodies I'll discover along the way.  Taking ownership of a next-generation vehicle shortly into its life-cycle, there are things to stumble across.  We expect that of Toyota.  They provide extras for owners to find on their own, stuff reviewers aren't informed of.  It adds to the participation feeling.  Not everything is revealed right away.  You can become part of the group experiencing firsts.

4-25-2017

Prius PHV.  It's a strange experience to see your own vehicle drive away.  After 5 years of enjoyment, that's exactly what happened today.  I really liked driving that generation of vehicle.  The 2010 was a nice improvement over the prior two Prius that I had owned.  But when I had the opportunity to upgrade within that generation to a model with a larger battery-pack, giving it more electric power and much further electric-only range, I jumped on it.  That 2012 served me well for all that time to follow.  I plugged in a work, taking advantage of electricity whenever realistic.  Unlike with the Prime, it was a blend of plugged-supplied benefit.  You could clearly see the gain from it too.  The resulting MPG made that obvious.  So, I know the new owner will enjoy driving it for many years to come.  It still was odd though to witness it pulling out of the driveway for the very last time.  The final distance recorded was 92,012 miles.  I refilled the tank to get lifetime efficiency data.  That ended up calculating to 71.1 MPG.

 

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