Prius Personal Log #836
October 5, 2017 - October 9, 2017
Last Updated: Sat. 10/21/2017
page #835 page #837 BOOK INDEX
Looking Back. That crazy thread was about Bolt sales. They didn't take off as hoped. In fact, they lagged in the shadows of Tesla all year. Rather than being that runaway hit that revolutionized the industry, interest was tepid. Breaking the 200-mile distance milestone didn't end up stirring much interest. Supporters are learning the hard way that there's much more than faster & further when it comes to sales. Range-Anxiety wasn't the biggest hurdle to overcome after all. That's what made my favorite quote from the so-called discussion so meaningful: "Hybrids? Why are you talking about old technology? We are talking about replacing these vehicles with plug-ins, not more gassers. This is the problem with Toyota, innovator's dilemma, thus: too little too late." It confirmed a complete lack of understanding of how Prime actually works. I had wondered if the hate had grown so intense that there was no intellectual exchange anymore. Toyota's brilliant next step of adding a clutch to allow the 2 motors to operate together to provide additional electric propulsion-power basically meant nothing. It was a innovation so subtle, providing such a great return, that there was no real notice. It was assumed just a gimmick... rather than a stroke of genius... since it was a remarkably inexpensive upgrade. That's exactly what the industry needed. GM wasn't able to deliver that $10,000 cost-reduction the enthusiasts had boasted about for years. They counted their eggs far too soon. Clichés are often convey a profound teachable moment. This was it. Cutting corners on Volt to make its price competitive turned into an epic fail. Meanwhile, Toyota was able to improve Prius to make Prime bay enhancing the existing design. In other words, they started with an affordable platform. Looking back, that's what I said would be advantageous right from the start... hence the enthusiast hate. My study of the industry took far more than just engineering into consideration. Having a background in marketing, accounting, and economics really paid off. Who knew a computer science bachelor's degree with a minor in business would be so beneficial in this. I understood far more factors were at play and correctly assessed their impact. I guess that means all that study in system design made difference. College was really fun. I got more out of it than I ever realized. Anywho, my prediction of Toyota being right on time with the right approach looks very promising. Cautious consumers will take notice; ironically, they'll notice the subtle those terrible troublemakers did not.
The Last Word. After the hell they put me through, a harsh
reminder was of what's important is appropriate. You don't just say
whatever you want for 7 years of sales, they walk away without giving
thought to the loss... pretending none of it ever happened. These blogs
extensively document the mistakes they made... as well as the ways they came
up with to torture the messenger... the one who stood true to purpose. I
ended it with:
Remember that "5,000 per month" goal ?
Look at annual sales of Volt, excluding 2011 due to rollout and ramp-up inventory limitations:
2012 = 23,461
2013 = 23,094
2014 = 18,805
2015 = 15,393
2016 = 24,739
2017 = 19,848 (15,348 thru Sept 2017 plus 4,500)
That lack of growth, despite all the years of hype from enthusiasts with blinders on unwilling to see the facts, is the real problem. No amount of hiding posts or ignoring the messenger changes that. They were who set the precedent. They were the ones who smugly claim "vastly superior" status.
Now the tables have turned and reality of the economics is becoming undeniable. That mainstream minimum value was set as a goal to ensure the technology could not only sustain itself, but follow a course for significant growth.
That didn't happen. New choices from other automakers filling the void Volt did not are getting attention. This is why focus has shifted over to Bolt instead. This is also why there is such intense resentment for the reminder of goals.
Like it or not, that's the way things turned out.
New Chapter. Remember what got repeated relentlessly when antagonists were attempting to portray Toyota as lost and going in the wrong direction? They certainly don't... yet their posts are so abundant, it's effortless to find. The mantra they kept pushing was fuel-cells. Rather than them being a complimentary electric-propulsion technology that would co-exist with electric-only vehicles, it was claimed to be a complete waste of resources. All that time. All that money. Poor Toyota. They wouldn't acknowledge any of my facts posted about GM's fuel-cell past and their on-going effort to advance development of fuel-cell vehicles. Each time, I was attacked. Each time something praising Toyota came up in the news; sure enough, someone would start a rant about fuel-cells. It all changed abruptly with that announcement a week ago. It's amazing how that has all been forgotten. None of that ever happened... Ugh. This is how the 7 years of trouble from Volt sales struggle will be looked upon too. I can see it slipping into discussions already. Volt was simply a "stop gap" only intended to serve as a temporary bridge to electric-only vehicles. The fact that interest faded so dramatically mid-cycle is something that GM planned all along. Ugh. It is well documented that wasn't the case. Of course, evidence of this change being unexpected isn't necessary. Economics of a premiere product don't support it. Remember how Volt was to lead to a paradigm-shift, where Voltec would be spread among the fleet to be profitable & abundant? They don't. It's so hypocritical, but in no way a surprise. This is why Toyota is now being portrayed as "late" with electric-only vehicles. It comes down to pride. They don't want to admit having misunderstood the market. They don't want to admit that it is actually more difficult to build a plug-in hybrid than it is an electric-only vehicle. Both are obvious huge challenges financially, but technically not having to integrate a combustion-engine is obviously harder. In other words, Toyota already had an electric-only vehicle. When I accelerate onto a highway at 70 mph and know I can accelerating all the way to 84 mph, what else is there to prove. That requires far more energy than simply maintaining that speed afterward, which Prime easily does. GM failed at their attempt to replace traditional vehicles, again. But rather than do what can be done to learn from the mistake, there's an effort to pretend this was the plan all along. This is how mistakes are repeated. We have no idea what the plan is now. All we know is a new chapter has begun. GM, their supporters, and their enthusiasts all see forward now. Whatever happened in the past is in the past and doesn't matter. Ugh.
Being Observant. Yesterday, we got back home from a trip up north. After unloading the Prime (which holds far more cargo than the raised floor leads you to assume), I plugged in. It had been a whole week with only that single original charge, which I used sparingly while away. There was no place to recharge. Yet, overall efficiency for the 618 miles of driving was an amazing 61.8 MPG. That's especially impressive when you realize the temperature varied between 47°F and 65°F, which meant no more warm-season engine startups and running the heater. We had to deal with rain a few times too. Anywho, after a little bit of plugging in. I grabbed my phone to check on charger status. Nothing. Huh? Turns out, I needed to reset the extender for my Wi-Fi. No signal. For some reason, the channel for the garage was out. After that quick fix, the charger displayed status. I took a quick print-screen, not realizing the significance of that moment I just captured. An hour later, I got a notify that charging had finished. Again, I wasn't paying close attention, but took print-screens. After all, I had gone an entire week without recharging. My desire for a full battery-pack had peaked. It was especially interesting, since that was the first time my wife had actually plugged in to recharge at the very same time. We installed 2 independent 40-amp lines for that benefit, why not take advantage? That full recharge (5.8 kWh) only took 1 hour and 17 minutes to complete! How could it take so much less time? It usually requires about 30 minutes longer and my history log clearly confirmed that. Nothing looked out of the ordinary. I routinely see a sustained charge-rate of 3.6 kW. Faster didn't make sense. So, I shared all the information I had online. Our guess is that I uncovered a bug in the software for the charger. It pays to be observant. I wonder how many others have run into odd sets of circumstances like that? Writing software myself, the experience doesn't surprise me. There are many unknowns that are difficult to predict. It's nice knowing the fail-safe worked. Despite the signal loss, the charger worked anyway. I wonder if the newer model would have worked differently or if the addition of a Wi-Fi signal indicator was the solution. After all, that's ultimately what you want fixed, since the charger has no control over that.
The Push, Why? The senseless waste continued on until
this was posted: "After years of FUD against all plugins that aren't
branded Toyota, you've painted yourself in a corner, and no one wants to
listen your nonsense." That abruptly brought it all to an end:
I can put up with the false claims of my past. Distorting position by exaggeration and mixing up when things happened is tolerable. The internet is filled with incorrect information and having a good laugh (even at my expense) is useful to keep discussions going. But there's no escaping this. You crossed the line.
Everyone knows I've been active in our local plug-in owners group for years. My push for lithium battery use in plug-in cars was well known. Even with that small pack in the Prius PHV, an outspoken endorsement was obvious & undeniable. 5 full years of real-world data, including detailed video. Then I upgraded to a Prime Prime... larger lithium battery-pack along with an upgrade to 240-volt charging and Time-Of-Use discount meters at home for 2 cars at the same time.
Everyone knows how much I worked with the other owners of other plug-in vehicles. They know how much I've enjoyed the car gatherings and was able to develop friendships, despite our different plug-in vehicles. Lots of stories have been shared. We've had lots of good times. It was all an effort to find genuine solutions for ordinary people, figuring out the next step beyond early adopters.
What are you trying to accomplish? All the "late" claims without explanation are bizarre. Now this. Why?
The Push, journey. Providing a positive outlook for those who only see hate really doesn't accomplish much. It may not be futile, but it seems like just a waste of time. In reality, attempts to summarize do help if some type of "what's next" is included. What good is a push if you don't supply expectation? Remember how the hate originated. There was a resentment for Prius being so far ahead and so popular. Toyota had research need so well, you couldn't do anything but follow. The formula for success had already been proven. GM certainly tried. Two-Mode was a disaster though, so bad the next step wasn't acknowledged until that too had failed. It was Volt. Their ambition was to deliver a series hybrid with a plug so efficient, the death of Prius would be painfully quick. Instead, the design ending up being a series-parallel similar to Prius, but no where near as efficient. In fact, Volt efficiency in HV mode was so bad, enthusiasts shifted focus entirely over to EV mode operation. That could have worked too, if battery-capacity had been higher and cost significant lower. Unfortunately, that isn't even realistic now, a decade later. To make matters even worse, the next-generation Volt was only a minor upgrade. That really hurts when you look at Prime and see how significant that upgrade became. Dramatic cost reduction with a undeniable class-leading efficiency. HV is so impressive, there's nothing to say. EV is only now getting recognized with a "we're in trouble" realization. That's why whenever any type of design discussion starts, it ends with a Volt enthusiast angry due to the approach resembling something Toyota has already delivered. This is why the GM announcement for "all electric" vehicles on the way came about... right on schedule too. Literally, it was the first day of the third year. Talking about being predictable! Needless to say, I was happy to bring this chapter to a conclusion. This has been a wild journey: It does seem reasonable of an expectation. We've had quite a journey getting there though... Two-Mode = start. Volt gen-1 = upgrade. Volt gen-2 = refine. Bolt = almost. Each of those steps had peril, but not an end. It's really too bad so much conflict came along the way. Missing important milestones is a problem, but you learn from that and move on. The finish line is mainstream acceptance. Measure of that has never changed. Sales of 5,000 per month (the ordinary type, not subsidized) is a clear indication of having achieved that goal.
The Push, production. With judgment of progress clouded to an extreme, it's easy to see how audience is misunderstand. Over and over and over, I remind about the ultimate goal of replacing traditional vehicles... since getting lost is sales is far too easy. Each month it's the same thing, enthusiasts will cherry-pick data. In other words, they isolate counts to just that of the plug-in market. Completely ignoring the market as a whole is the only way to stay positive. Ironically, there's always complaints about how slow Toyota is supposedly moving, yet GM isn't going any faster. In fact, it was from the GM crowd we've had to endure the "just be patient" posts, yet they won't heed their own advice. We all know GM will announce, then proceed painfully slow... hence the "too little, too slowly". It's becoming increasingly difficult to say the same about Toyota. We see the Prius, Camry, RAV4, C-HR potential already... hence all the denial lately and my push. Anywho, I was somewhat surprised the spin is still going on about conquest sales being all that matter: That goal is about changing vehicle PRODUCTION, reducing the number of traditional vehicles being PRODUCED. If 0% of the customer base doesn't change and all those "lure" vehicles represent are new customers, the outcome is only compliance sales. Selling the same original count of traditional vehicles means no progress… no replacement yet. GM electrification "plans" don't actually tell us anything.
The Push, overlook. The heart of the problem comes from living in the now, only seeing what's happening at the moment. It's a "worry about it when necessary" attitude. Rather than plan ahead and prepare for the next stage, it's all about enjoying the moment. That can be a horribly costly mistake. But when dealing with someone who clearly never took an economics class, it doesn't matter. They have no idea what you are talking about. I do keep trying though: You have completed overlooked the phaseout period. During that time, there is no sales quantity limitation. Vehicles experiencing strong growth could exploit the opportunity. To achieve this, demand must already be established. For GM with Volt, we're seeing a decline. Interest is fading, since conquests sales are over and no plan for EREV advancement has be proposed. Instead, focus is shifting over to EV. For Toyota, the preparation for ramped up production is obvious. They are clearly working to attract their own loyal customers to a plug-in hybrid purchase. Dismiss all the evidence. Spin lots of excuses. Do whatever you want. It just wasting time... the very thing Toyota has carefully planned to take advantage of.
The Push, behind. Watching the tortoise and the hare play out is fascinating. Simply being ahead at this point is reason to celebrate a victory? The race has barely begun and enthusiasts are calling it already. Wow! I kept pushing for perspective, hoping to prevent a Two-Mode abandonment... though, it doesn't look promising: Behind what? The economics don't support your claim. GM squandered credits by not using them wisely. They were wasted on conquest, rather than trying to lure in their own customers with a sustainable product. Toyota adapted, saving credits until they had a product capable of high-volume profitable sales. That makes the credits available a tool for mainstream penetration, rather than just proving a technology. In the meantime, Toyota also rolled out a platform in 4 different bodies capable of supporting a plug. Each can deliver a full EV driving experience. Each is establishing a reputation ahead of that market. The architecture is already in place. All that's needed is more cells to make the battery-pack larger. Claims of behind have no merit.