Prius Personal Log  #834

September 28, 2017  -  October 2, 2017

Last Updated: Sat. 10/21/2017

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10-02-2017

The Trap.  It's amazing how gullible some people can be.  My guess is it's a combination of not paying close enough attention combined with a blind hope of enthusiast dreams coming true.  Whatever the case, I'm seeing the pattern and posted about it:  Notice how the "at least 20 new all-electric vehicles that will launch by 2023" follows the GM reputation for ambiguous statements? It's so vague, interpretation will be all over the place.  That's what GM did countless times in the past.  It generates hype without obligation.  No actual quantitative measures are provided with respect to production.  There's an obvious absence of detail.  People easily fall into the trap anyway.  As a result, the same old rhetoric starts up, yet again.  And sure enough, that's exactly what we are seeing.  Watch how dealers react.  Will the potential for greater variety help with their lack of interest shown for Volt and Bolt?  If so, when and how?

10-02-2017

Instant Tension.  Reaction was immediate.  Volt is getting pushing into the plug-in hybrid category by EV supporters.  It should have been obvious to them that anything with an engine would not be welcome.  All that enthusiast fighting against Prime, only to find out they are looked upon as the same.  Heck, just a few hours ago I posted how the two plug-in hybrids yield similar results in real-world driving.  Hype of further range doesn't mean better MPG in return.  It all depends upon how the technology is actually used.  That's a very hard lesson learned, now especially.  This isn't a sucker-punch to all the enthusiasts though.  Some changed loyalties recently, jumping ship when they saw sale results.  In fact, this is why the announcement was made today.  We'll be getting September counts tomorrow.  The expectation is that Volt's struggle is getting worse.  GM targetted a niche audience, which is now totally saturated.  Opportunity has shifted to mainstream buyers... which Prime is configured to directly appeal too.  It's much lower price and generous collection of safety & comfort features make it much more appealing.  Who is the market for Volt?  Watch the tension build as that question becomes painfully obvious of a problem.  Volt is suffering an identity crisis now.  It's not an "all electric" vehicle as previously hyped and enthusiasts have been dead set against ever calling it a plug-in hybrid.  Why?

10-02-2017

It Begins, Again.  Right on schedule.  Exactly what we've seen in the past.  When 3 year begins, GM makes an announcement of something new on the way…  Two-Mode, Volt gen-1, Volt gen-2, each having predictable & recognizable turning points.  The pattern is undeniable.  I bet there will be quite a bit of denial though.  It will start with the usual vague & ambiguous nature of the announcement.  GM states there would be 20 new "all electric" vehicles delivered by 2023.  For the past 7 years, we've been hearing that Volt is an "all electric" system with an engine for when the battery-pack is depleted.  In fact, that's what all the AER hype was about.  The "AE" stood for "All Electric".  Remember the thousands of posts claiming Prius PHV had only 6-miles of All-Electric-Range officially, but that the AER rating should actually be zero since you couldn't accelerate onto a 70 mph highway using only electricity?  And now that the upgrade to Prius Prime can, they changed the argument to a required "40 mile" minimum AER instead?  I can't imagine the spin that will emerge from this.  But then again, that should be easy to foresee.  The nature of GM announcements are that way to stir online posting and contribute to hype.  We've seen this so many times in the past, how can anyone deny it isn't beginning again?

10-02-2017

Arbitrary Divisions.  People are drawing lines without any rhyme or reason: "With a minimum AER rage of 40+ miles for PHEVs, none of these 20 mile PHEVs."  Seeing an arbitrary division intentionally being made without any clear explanation of why that particular value was chosen is a dead giveaway of trouble to come.  When they just choose a number that sounds sensible, but has no merit based on any obvious measure, it is clearly a defensive maneuver.  In this case, it's the result of California making a consideration of banning the combustion engine at some point.  That puts plug-in hybrids in an awkward position... for Volt enthusiasts, anyway.  That AER value is coming back to haunt them.  Now that Prime drives "all electric" just like Volt, the only argument remaining is to claim that more capacity is necessary.  They know that isn't true.  But there's nothing else to argue.  I'm doing my best to expose that weakness too:  Establishing a plug infrastructure at home is the goal.  Any size battery-pack will achieve that.  To plug in, you require a dedicated line in your garage.  Most can find an outlet to use.  Delivering electricity for a second vehicle is no where near as easy though.  Notice how everyone is focusing entirely on the low-hanging fruit (only 1 plug-in) and overlooking that dilemma?  It's a very big problem for most households, since they typically have at least 2 vehicles.  With my household, there are 2 Primes.  Each has its own 40-amp line, complete with L2 chargers and individual time-of-use meters.  That wasn't a cheap upgrade, but it was totally worth the investment.  The first 1,000 miles of travel with my most recent tank only used 3 gallons of gas.  So the "rage" about AER (funny typo!) doesn't have much merit.  You can achieve outstanding MPG even with a smaller battery-pack and it forces owners to start the upgrade process at home.  That is a very real step toward banning traditional vehicle sales.

10-01-2017

Mini Countryman Plug-In.  7.6 kWh battery.  221 horsepower.  12 mile range.  Those specifications sound promising for the market supposedly targeted.  But the fine print says the electric-motor will the car up to speeds of 55 mph.  That isn't encouraging.  Then it turns to true discouragement when you see 27 MPG after depletion.  Who will this appeal to?  With a sticker-price of $37,650 in the United States, it seems like a very small audience.  Potential buyers can't be plentiful in any regard.  Remember how we had relentless spin from Volt enthusiasts who did everything they could to paint a rosy picture for GM?  Is there anyone to speak up for this?  Mini doesn't sell that many vehicles anyway.  But with such an expensive and strangely configured choice, it shows the market is all over the place now.  The old days of "more is better" are long gone.  Whether it be plug-in hybrid or electric-only, the preferences for buyers is far from clear cut.  Configurations can be anything at this point.  Makes you wonder what automakers will try next.  Makes you really wonder how consumers will respond.  Thank goodness its easy to see how Prime is a natural progress from the regular model Prius.  Adding battery & plug is a next step that's very easy to understand.

10-01-2017

If You Build It.  Just how naive some supporters were about dealer & salesperson interest is becoming quite apparent.  They were beyond clueless.  Assuming that if the automaker would build a plug-in vehicle, the customer would buy it is far from reality.  It's far more complex of a situation.  Enthusiasts shunned & ridiculed me for being what they thought was pessimistic.  Turns out, I was being realistic.  Simple, it is not.  Reading a financial article about GM dealership support for Volt & Bolt, the findings were glum.  It was summed up with: "No interest and no demand."  How much did you encounter from GM about their plug-in hybrid over the past 7 years?  There's no message of support, no message of direction, no message of intent.  They are just a "halo" vehicles.  Isn't that ironic?  Knowing GM's history, that fate is well deserved.  It's unfortunate though, since this could have been prevented.  Watch what Toyota does as the worldwide rollout of Prime takes hold.  Having targeted ordinary people, its far easy to get dealers to take interest.  That sets the stage for salesperson interest... if inventory is ordered.  With a MSRP of just $27,100 and Prime not skimping on standard features, it is realistic to see sales not requiring much initiative.  That should be enough to attract a customer with a basic understanding of plug-in benefits.  This is very much like how hybrids were first marketed.  There was just enough awareness prior to shopping to draw attention to them.  The same should for plugging in too... far more than just building it... but not difficult if you properly identify audience.

10-01-2017

Simply Not Worth It.  Attempts to mislead & undermine aren't working anymore.  The come off as desperate.  For example: "The awful 0-60 times of the PP also qualify it as sub-par.  But, it's the small battery that really makes it a joke.  Especially given that it's their second attempt to make a PHEV."  Remember how Prius owners were supposedly smug?  That role is exclusive to a few Volt owners doing everything they possibly can to hold back the advancement of Prime.  Knowing sales results for September will be out soon, and they are anticipated to heavily swing favor in Toyota's direction, this childish behavior is to be expected.  It's the enthusiasts perspective taken to an irresponsible level.  There's nothing at all wrong with having an appreciation for performance.  Misrepresenting it though is an entirely different matter.  I'm not going to put up with it either:  Same thing every time.  A few are so focused on faster & further that they completely overlook the market as a whole... and end up laughing alone.  It's somewhat of a surprise at this point that the "vastly superior" attitude continues with a few.  Everyone else has seen the importance of sales.  Growth is essential.  Catering to a small audience by highlighting power & performance is a waste.  Mainstream buyers are unwilling to sacrifice their purchase priorities for that.  Toyota nailed it with the balance of price & features.  Ordinary consumers have taken notice.  The motor & battery are right-sized for the price, allowing them to get a nice assortment of standard safety & comfort features too.  For them, the extra power & capacity is unnecessary, simply not worth the tradeoff.

9-30-2017

Camry Hybrid.  Speaking of hiding things to pretend they don't exist... that was the strategy of Volt enthusiasts that is no falling apart... finally!  Ever notice how they kept focus exclusively on Prius, never acknowledging the existence of other hybrids?  That's because Prius placed more of an emphasis on efficiency than power.  To get more, you have to pay more.  That made Camry hybrid a bit too much of a tradeoff... until now.  The new one offers that next step without a MPG penalty.  Toyota did an amazing job of making that affordable.  My wife and I took one for a test-drive the other day.  What a great experience.  There's a clear distinction of approach.  Yet, you still get great performance... that one aspect of argument the Volt enthusiasts can no longer exploit.  It's over.  This next-generation upgrade truly delivers.  Remember the "too little, too slowly" concern?  Those antagonists claimed Toyota was resting on its laurels, only to discover the opposite was true.  Toyota wasn't.  It was actually their own GM who got caught up in misplaced priorities.  That's why this fallout from Prime success and the very likely success of Leaf is becoming so apparent.  They are now stuck in a hypocritical situation.  Watch for the spin.  That's an inevitable outcome.  They hope to confuse readers enough to protect their damaged pride.  Ugh.  Why not just focus on goals instead of letting ego get in the way?   Remember, it's all about replacing traditional vehicles.  That makes GM's own offerings on Chevy showroom floors the competition, not what Toyota offers.  When will they get a clue?  Perhaps Camry will provide some perspective.  It's not Volt verses Prius!

9-30-2017

Progress.  There are some winners.  There are some losers.  Seeing them emerge is how you know progress is being made.  Advancement of technology shakes out the better choices and leaves behind what couldn't compete.  I summed it up this way:  It's unfortunate some are still trying to rewrite history.  Details about what was actually said and when are well preserved in the blogs, so there's no need to rehash or clarify.  What is undeniable is the fact that Two-Mode had a plug-in prototype of a SUV.  All those years ago... and we are still waiting.  Looking forward, there is a growing expectation of that long awaited plug-in SUV from GM to come as Volt reaches the end of its product-cycle.  Hope is that this will come much sooner... especially since we see a variety of plug-in SUV offerings on the way from other automakers.  In the meantime, the Volt enthusiasts can say whatever the heck they want.  Spin about Toyota having been against lithium is an outright lie.  The word from way back when Volt was first being developed what that it was TOO EXPENSIVE to compete.  And sure enough, even in 2017 with tax-credit subsidies, there is still a struggle to grown sales beyond niche.  We are seeing progress in terms production-volume increasing.  Toyota is using lithium in both the Prius and Camry hybrids, as well as in Prime.  First year sales of Prime look to easily be in excess of 50,000 worldwide.  That's a great start for such an AFFORDABLE plug-in. Let's hope other automakers are able to jump into the game with their own priced low enough to actually compete directly with traditional vehicles.

9-29-2017

Prius Problem.  We know that it is truly over because Prius is no longer a problem.  Volt enthusiasts were painfully aware that GM sacrificed affordability for the sake of fulfilling want instead of need.  That was a repeat of the mistake GM had make with Two-Mode.  Making it again with Volt was, in their mind, manageable though.  They just figured some effective marketing to emphasize performance instead would be the solution.  It wasn't.  Ordinary consumers never placed that much importance on acceleration.  I knew power wasn't a purchase priority.  You can't study mainstream behavior for that many years and not notice it.  So basically, the only true way of winning was to wait.  Eventually, they too would see it.  Toyota's effort to deliver balance would become apparently.  Oddly, that wasn't from Volt though.  The lesson was ultimately learned about from Bolt.  Too make it affordable, some sacrifices needed to be made.  GM's choice to deliver an interior often described as "cheap" and missing some obvious standard appeal features (like dynamic-cruise) exposed shortcomings with the Volt approach.  Far more than just better advertising was needed and simply making the vehicle more basic wouldn't be enough.  Toyota's approach was correct all along.  Agreeing with me wasn't acceptable though; however, hiding what I said would conceal what was actually happening.  Admitting the mistake meant swallowing their pride... which is why it never happened.  Of course, Prius continues to lead the way regardless.  New York just began an new rebate program for plug-in vehicles.  40 percent of the vehicles registered were Prius Prime.  Only 10 percent were Volt.  We're seeing that not only is the performance acceptable, so is the distance.  Selling a vehicle based on the desire for faster & further isn't working with non-early-adopters.  It should have been obvious that all the low-hanging fruit had already been picked.  To reach the next audience would be considerably harder than just flaunting specifications.  Now they know what "vastly superior" actually means.

9-28-2017

Too Late.  The time has come!  I posted:  Some are now in the awkward position of finally coming to the realization that even though I was clearly anti-Volt (large-pack config) that all along I was always pro-GM.  The quest was to find an ally in the effort to promote plugging in.  What's so difficult about accepting the desire to replace traditional vehicles?  This is why I repeatedly kept bringing up Two-Mode.  It was that I saw the potential in Volt technology, but understood how easy it would be to fall into the same traps as GM's previous attempt.  I was looking for those who also wanted to embrace electrification and had valuable experience to share.  Unfortunately, those former lessons learned fell on dear ears... only to be heard now.  It is sad that tax-credits were used in such an unproductive manner.  Building up a supportive dealer & salesperson network while educating GM customers didn't happen.  Opportunity missed.  Now GM has to entice potential SUV plug-in buyers by some other means... which is going to be much more difficult.

9-28-2017

Missed Opportunity.  You have to wonder what the person knows & thinks when asking this: "Is it a missed opportunity though?"  With so much change recently and more on the way, it's difficult to recognize what their perspective actually is... especially with what just transpired.  So, I went with: Look back at how many trade & conquest posts there were.  It was overwhelmingly clear that Volt didn't attract GM's own loyal customers.  That's why I gave up on the second model push.  Even those cost-reduction was absolutely essential, another model of Volt with a lower sticker price wouldn't appeal to showroom shoppers.  Those potential buyers were looking for a high-efficiency SUV... and many of those who opposed me came to realize that same thing.  This is where the missed opportunity comes.  That plug-in hybrid SUV won't benefit from the tax-credit.  It will start sales without ever having that purchase incentive... which will make rollout that much more difficult in a market with a variety of choices at a time when gas is still cheap.

 

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