Prius Personal Log #845
November 29, 2017 - December 3, 2017
Last Updated: Sun. 1/28/2018
page #844 page #846 BOOK INDEX
No Jacket. Reading this was interesting: "This is the energy drawn from the garage outlet during a TESLA 30 minute pre-heat. It amounts to 1.64 kWh of electricity obtained from the house, instead of the car's battery." I asked why 30 minutes. That's excessive in regard to any garaged vehicle. 10 easily removes the edge. Then I asked if he was driving without a jacket on. Turns out, he was. Imagine allowing yourself to run the car so long before driving that it's toasting warm inside. Regardless of fuel used, I couldn't imagine that level of waste. Never would it even cross my mind to do that. Wearing a jacket is a perfectly normal thing to do. Even if I could afford one of the nice models of Tesla, using so much electricity is wasteful. That's roughly 8 miles of EV driving distance in warmer conditions. With my recent Winter driving, it would be about 6 miles. The 10-minute pre-condition (warming before you leave) when set on MAX only uses 0.37 kWh. I have mine scheduled to use the 65 ECO setting instead, which uses quite a bit less. How anyone could use so much more without considering the energy involved is troublesome to think about. We don't want to juse shift our wasteful habits from one fuel to another.
Change. It can be quite painful for some.
The Volt enthusiasts inflicted an endless stream of hostile posts on me.
Listening to the voice of experience, with a reasonable goal of helping all
who wanted to promote plugging in, should have been welcomed. Instead,
it was fight, fight, fight. Volt was "vastly superior" and
nothing else mattered. They were wrong, wrong, wrong. What a
waste. Now, there is a collection of choices growing, all defying the
nonsense their rhetoric claimed was necessary. Now, it's time for me to
provide some pain... by pulling off the bandage from their own
self-inflicted wound. That's the best way to deal with the problem
remaining. Get over it! Then we can finally focus on that
reasonable goal. Ugh. Needless to say, I enjoyed posting this...
with the hope of it being the very last on that terrible daily blog, which
had such a negative influence on market change:
Too little, too slowly was the concern brought up well before the rollout of Volt. It was expressed due to the need to make sure sales were strong enough to allow the technology it used to be spread quickly in a profitable manner.
That never happened. There was so much missed opportunity, it became a business model of what not to follow... a modern example of how good engineering advancements can be seriously undermined by poor management decisions.
* 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine
* 8.9 kWh lithium-polymer battery
* 60 horsepower (44.5 kW) electric motor
* combined output of 139 horsepower
* 48 city, 44 hwy, 46 combined MPG
Those are specifications of the recently revealed Kia Niro, which will be available for purchase in the next few weeks. It's the plug-in hybrid SUV which had been long expected from GM, but never delivered. The belief is it will affordable too, around $30k.
The claim of industry leadership from GM has proven false. So many other automakers have stepped up to fill the void everyone had anticipated GM would fill, there's simply no attention being focused on Volt anymore. Those days of carefree rhetoric are over. Enthusiasts have some humble apple pie to eat now. It was not vastly superior. Lack of sales growth overwhelmingly confirm it.
The question now is: Will a spirit of cooperation finally emerge? Remember, the original purpose of participation on this blog was to find an ally in the quest to conquer the reign of traditional vehicles with plug-in choices.
Hindsight. Reading this on the big Prius forum sure caused me to flinch: "In hindsight, it is obvious GM wasn't planning on the Volt itself in becoming wide appealing. It is a C-segment car after all." It came from a well-known antagonists, a person who prides himself in being the ultimate devil's advocate... which works fine when looking forward. But when you look backward, that reverse perspective becomes an attempt to rewrite history. These blogs here are written to prevent that, by documenting what happened when it happened. I wasn't about to let him mislead with such blatant misrepresentation: No one's going to believe that greenwash. Even before it was rolled out, some of us were screaming from the rafters that it was going to be a niche vehicle. With those performance specs, it was clearly not aimed at the mainstream audience. Concerns of "trophy mentality" clouding direction emerged right from the very start. The design was unrealistic for mass appeal. There isn't basis for a hindsight claim. There is an abundance of evidence confirming Gen-1 would be stuck as a specialty offering. Gen-2 made that bad situation even worse. GM knew all along it could exploit the opportunity of tax-credits for reputation building, rather than actually delivering something for ordinary consumers... their own loyal customers simply looking for a green option to replaced their aging GM vehicle.
Not Good. The positive sales spin started right away. Prime pulled ahead in the year-to-date tally compared to Volt, so that was to be expected. If you create enough of a diversion, no one will hopefully notice: "And the Volt moved up to 1702 deliveries, which is down from last year but a nice move up from last month’s 1362 deliveries. Not bad." I was delighted to provide some perspective on that narrative: There's always a year-end rush to take advantage of tax-credits. Adding to that surge in demand is the possibility of those tax-credits not being available come January 1st. An important aspect of demand not to be overlooked is supply. As of this post, there are 2,118 new 2017 Volts listed as available still. That's not a good sign going into December, especially when there are 2,929 of the 2018 models listed too. That brings some perspective to the "not bad" assessment, basically changing it to "not good". In fact, this is part of the reason why production was temporarily halted. To really drive the point home, think about how much harder sales will be the second half of next year when the tax-credit phaseout has been triggered. That higher MSRP will really make Volt a challenging sell, especially against Bolt.
Cross Shopping. Comments online from the prior chapter (early-adopter phase) often obscure progress forward. It's too easy to slip into the trap of looking backward, rather than keeping attention the goal... moving forward. The biggest problem with that is understanding who. In the past, there were only a handful of choices available. You had no option available. It was either consider the purchase from an automaker you really had no preference for or settle for a traditional vehicle. The selection of plug-in vehicles were far too few. But now with this new chapter bringing about a choice from each automaker, there's no reason for cross shopping anymore. You can see investment in the future taking place. The expectation of multiple models coming is quite realistic. It has become a matter of when, not if. That's why a reminder is necessary from time to time. Today, it was with the plug-in owners group: Know your audience. Wanting more is perfectly fine, but it makes you an enthusiast, not a mainstream consumer. Think about who shops from automaker to automaker.
Not Enough. Open discussion on venues not just for Volt offer far more diverse comment. And since Volt no longer dominates the media, those venues actually have a chance of finally be heard. Remember the concern of the past was that GM would impede progress by promising something that wasn't actually realistic, resulting in a stalled industry... which is exactly what happened. They did the same in the past with fuel-efficiency decades ago. Rather than pursue the problem constructively, they ended up stalling advancement with the diesel debacle... which never really recovered. Only VW made any supposed recovery... but that ended up being a purposeful deception. True, we know GM's focus now has been on halo, but at least that's out in the open... due in part by other automakers stepping up: "Clarity PHEV looks interesting, but only 42 miles rated EV range. That's not enough range to do much more than to drive to work and back for most people. 2011 Chevy Volt was introduced in December 2010." That posted comments was mistaken with the 42, which is actually 47. Nonetheless, the point was understood. We all see the changing market. People are becoming receptive to the idea of plugging in. Problem is, there are Volt enthusiasts who still have a superiority complex. They choose to belittle still. It's really annoying. Fortunately, I have real-world data to help counter their impeding efforts: 232 MPG was my average for November, with "only" an EV range of 25 miles. Calling that "not enough" doesn't mean much when real-world results show such a massive efficiency boost.
Late? It never ceases to amaze me how often the claim of "late" is used to support GM's supposed leadership without providing any reason other than EV range. No concern is given for cost or audience. It has always been that. GM delivers on promises and their announcement about upcoming reveals is all they need to justify their continued stance. Ignoring the fact that there's significant dependence on tax-credits, the reality that Volt sales are shrinking, and that Bolt in no way targets GM shoppers isn't an issue for them. All is going well. Ugh. Fortunately, I that rhetoric isn't getting as much attention as of recent. With so many other automakers revealing their own plans for electrification, the missing opportunity GM had is quite obvious. No need to rehash any of that now. I just keep it simple... and get likes in return... the sentiment has most definitely changed: We're just getting started. The early-adopter phase hasn't even ended yet. This new batch of plug-ins is for that next audience, those closer to ordinary mainstream buyers.
Enthusiast Magazines. Ugh. There's simply no getting through to some people. Fans of certain things seek out praise, disregarding source for the sake of feeling good. We have seen that from Volt enthusiasts for years. They absolutely refuse to acknowledge audience. The reality of it being a niche never made any difference. Scope was just reduced to a scale where it looked impressive. Those trying to be objective call that cherry-picking. You can't just eliminate the data you don't like. That's not the slightest bit realistic. It gives a distorted view of reality. Of course, some people are fine living in their own world... hence: "2017 Chevrolet Volt Premier vs. 2017 Toyota Prius Prime Advanced - Comparison Test." Using that article from what had been known as a "muscle" or "sport" magazine of the past is very much cherry-picking. Look through back issues? Find any praise for the most popular vehicles... like Camry or Corolla? Despite such high sales numbers, mention is almost non-existent. That's not who they write the articles for, which is perfectly fine if you understand that. But if you use it for greenwash material, to intentionally misrepresent, that's an entirely different matter. In the topic of discussion on that recent article, I posted this in the comments: Ordinary shoppers just plain will not care. They aren't enthusiasts. They're just normal consumers looking for the same formula Toyota has always delivered.
Shortages. Here's an interesting thought to ponder: A now obvious advantage of sticking with smaller packs during the introductory stage allows more plug-ins to join the population while working to lower costs at the same time. People are rarely ever aware of the impact shortages can have on business. Do you remember the LCD shortages when that technology first became viable? The computer industry struggled for years with the shift over to them for laptops as a mass replacement for desktops and as an alternative to the large monitors. Yields of flawless quality (who wants a dead pixel?) were a big problem. It was costly to achieve and warranty coverage was a big unknown. Sound familiar? That's the same type of thing we are seeing with batteries now. Demand is rapidly growing and supply simply isn't there. How common do you think those highly desired "300 mile" range packs will be? That's quite a few cells being packed into a single vehicle. Think about how much more impact to the market they'd have spread among a group of plug-in hybrids instead. A dozen with 25-mile ranges could be offered instead. That's a far more effective way to change the market... and deal with shortages in the meantime.
Hello Niro. With GM sales being so heavy in favor of SUVs, the fact that there was never any effort or even interest to deliver one with a plug was highly suspicious. Why not? This was how the endless questioning of audience came about. Who was the market for Volt? It simply never made any sense. Needless to say, the market doesn't care anymore. Interest has shifted to other automakers to deliver instead. In this case, it will be from Kia. Their upcoming plug-in SUV was revealed today and will be available for purchase before the end of this year. Yes, within the next month. This is why there was a relentless push for acknowledge of the "too little, too slowly" concern. The denial ran so deep, those enthusiasts saying everything was fine really didn't have a clue. They weren't paying attention to any of the information being conveyed. It was nothing by blind hope that things would work out. Instead, there's a wide-array of choices on the way... none from GM. In fact, this is why I withheld comment about Kia. Each of the other new offerings needed attention first... since Niro would be the final nail in the coffin. As well as Volt worked, it was a disastrous business venture. What a massive waste of opportunity. GM had the technology, but didn't actually capitalize on it. Those precious tax-credits were used for conquest sales, rather than actually changing GM's own customers. Thank goodness Kia isn't doing the same thing. It's quite obvious they are appealing to their own shoppers. The 26-mile EV range will keep price affordable... giving it the potential for high-volume profitable sales. It's nice to be able to welcome a new choice with so much potential.
Goodbye Volt. This offering from GM is rapidly becoming a footnote in history. With the start of the Auto Show in Los Angeles, we have already had a flurry of announcements. Most focus on what will be coming in the 3 to 5 years. That's creating a very big opportunity for the affordable plug-in hybrids. Turns out, the 25 to 30 miles of EV range is perfect for that category. You get your plug-in without having to tradeoff much. Basically, just some storage space is reduced. The spin, nonsense, rhetoric, excuses, and delay we've heard from enthusiasts falls completely on deaf ears. No one cares anymore... which is clearly reflected in online posting activity. It's amazing how things have died down to almost a deafening silence over the past 3 weeks. This new audience is very, very different... not at all interested in the games they play. I knew this would happen, simply based on experience. You cannot witness the transformation of Prius firsthand like that without noticing the patterns. Gen-2 was the introduced here to mainstream potential. (Gen-1 was far to rare to even be recognized as what a "hybrid" had to offer. In fact, most people didn't even hear about it until Gen-2 was rolled out.) It established the potential for change. Gen-3 is what actually brought it about. The reason was simple. It matched mainstream purchase priorities so well, there was nothing to debate anymore. Appealing to ordinary consumers is absolutely essential. Whether it is the draw of size & ruggedness from the SUV or the smooth & silent from Luxury, there must be something matching the current status quo. That's how paradigm shifts are triggered. Everyone just naturally advances forward. The delivered interest presents itself as an obvious choice. Squeezing into a ordinary-equipped compact with the price of a nicely-loaded midsize is a strategy doomed to fail. Volt couldn't possible succeed beyond niche. This market is far to fickle to accept that. It's why the road being paved by Prime offers so much more potential. It's so easy to see a Camry hybrid with a plug. The same goes for RAV hybrid. (Since we don't have CH-R hybrid in this market, that will come later.) No big deal. It's an logical next step. The same potential exists with the upcoming Kia Niro too. Some people will want a bulkier vehicle than Prius Prime, but don't care for a SUV. Having the choice is key. This is where the "too little, too slowly" came from with GM. That opportunity for GM to offer a plug-in hybrid SUV of their own was missed. Time is up. Too late. This is why saying goodbye to Volt is the topic now. It's collateral damage. Nothing going forward has consequences. People see GM isn't interested in offering plug-in hybrids. They see a shift to expensive electric-only vehicles instead.