Prius Personal Log  #853

January 15, 2018  -  January 20, 2018

Last Updated: Sun. 1/28/2018

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Looking Back.  Another obvious sign of having progressed to the next chapter are posts reflecting upon that past.Making calls about a choice following its completion is rarely ever objective.    Looking back makes it easy to forget about all the factors of influence, especially when outcome was so uncertain.  I attempted to point that out:  It's easy to say that long afterward.  Deviation from original intent has been a problem for years.  Making excuses now doesn't help.  Labeling some as "laggards" only makes the problem worse.  There's no way to establish the next round of incentives without any clear focus of what should be achieved by them.  Why is there still no focus on qualitative measure?  We don't want to just shift the guzzler problem from gas to electricity, since it doesn't take into account emissions concern.  Notice how there is a disagreement about how charging-stations should be used.  Not addressing fundamental issues like that is how disagreement about subsidies come about.  What are they trying to achieve?  Consider what "fallen behind" actually means.  That shouldn't have anything whatsoever to do with battery-pack size.  Dealer support and salesperson interest focus on entirely different priorities.  Aren't they customers from the automaker perspective?  Think about the success of Prius.  Just a tiny about of EV driving made for a compelling draw, one that resulted in millions of sales.  Setting an arbitrary level on capacity and shunning those who choose to deliver less is counter to move toward electrification.


Laggards.  That concern of "too little, too slowly" is dead.  GM faied to deliver, despite on the assurances this would never happen.  It's so bad, there are green apologists emerging.  It would be nice if they were realists instead, but lack of any concise message cancels that out.  You need a plan.  No goals means no expectations.  That's a very real problem... hence the original concern.  Anywho, we now have the new label of "laggard" to deal with.  Rhetoric to support that spin is rapidly growing too.  That's what happens when hope falls about.  I posted this on the topic:  Taking the viewpoint of "laggard" requires turning a blind-eye to the original intent of the tax-credit, which was to bring about a profit high-volume product prior to it expiring.  Those automakers who squandered that time, available on their own timeline, are now beginning to complain that their niche is too expensive.  Why the heck didn't they design the vehicle for the wider audience like they were supposed to in the first place.  For example, Chevy Volt is a compact hatchback with an emphasis on range & power.  Who was that vehicle for? GM shoppers overwhelmingly prefer SUV choices.  As a result, the GM tax-credits were wasted on conquest sales, rather than actually getting their own base to change.  Meanwhile, we can still Toyota shifting battery offerings in their hybrids from NiMH to Lithium and the first of the plug-in hybrid choices rolled out worldwide.  So even though there is a clear effort to reach a wide group of consumers by adapting their profitable platform to offer a plug, they are labeled as "laggard".  That disregard for purpose & intent is harmful to the effort of electrification.  You can't just dismiss the approach you don't like and not expect a backlash.  Think about the negative impact expiring tax-credits could have on production volume for those automakers without a profitable offering available.


Halo Benefit.  Is there one?  An article published today attempted to point out a flaw in the tax-credit approach by labeling those not already pursuing EV production as "laggards".  There was nothing to actually quantify the effort though.  In other words, the exploit of that money is getting support.  The mindset is focused only on what they can see directly... that usual shallow analysis of the market simply by making anecdotal observation.  That's really unfortunate.  Efforts to reward automakers working toward profitable plug-in vehicles that don't guzzle electricity are not recognized.  The tax-credits can be squandered, wasted on vehicles clearly not intended for mainstream buyers, then beg for more afterward.  Wise spending to help ordinary consumers isn't addressed.  As a result, there's no concern about when or how.  The idea of significant sales growth has been abandoned entirely.  This is clear evidence of change... the market approaching sateration with no plan what to do about it.  There's just talk about when the credits expire.  By the way, that expiration timeline includes a quarter (3-month) buffer, pushing the trigger expectation to this time next year, rather than in the fall.  Remember all that hope for high-volume?  These expense designs forego any of that.  Inability to achieve profit, combined with the disincentive from dealers, is stalling progress.  That leaves us with nothing but a "halo" benefit from most of the automaker.  Autoshow reveals at Detroit confirmed it too.  Everything coming from it reset the clock to the early 20's.  This generation is basically abandoned by all by Nissan, Toyota, and Hyundai/Kia.  Nothing is expected from the Detroit automakers.  It was strangely quiet.  They clearly aren't ready.  They just plan to appear green by making bold annoucements for years from now, rather than actually delivering anything soon.


Plug-In Owners.  Our group meeting this time was very crowded.  The number of people attending has increased significantly.  Pacifica, Clarity, Outlander, and Model 3 were all present.  Those days of limited choices are a quickly fading memory.  2018 is off to a very good start.  It had bit of a solumn feel though.  We know how poorly informed those not there are.  Understanding how much everyone else doesn't know by sharing what we do brings about that not-so-optimistic outlook.  We are realistic though.  We are well aware how much work it will take to even just stir interest.  That's why there's such an investment toward the upcoming autoshow here in Minneapolis.  To have a very large crowd expectation is great.  Last year's dedicated room for plug-in vehicles was extremely popular.  With more to see this year, that venue is a solid target for reaching out to the wider audience.  It's very exciting.  In the meantime, we are discussing infrastructure, solar recharging, and at-home storage.  This particular meeting had local electricity providers sharing time-of-use discount information.  Mine discussed the upcoming pilot rollout of smart meters.  Enabling people to see their own consumption, via the internet measured every 15 minutes, is quite empowering.  It's like the screen in Prius.  Going from summary bills to a breakdown to tiny intervals will teach far more effectively than anything they have ever imagined.  That simply act of real-time observation is priceless.  Like any feedback, you make discoveries.  We hear stories routinely about encounters with people asking about our plug-in experiences who don't have any idea how the vehicle actually operates.  Too bad more groups like ours don't exist yet.


Video:  Heat-Pump with Engine.  As outside temperature approaches single digits, the effectiveness of the electric heat-pump drops.  So, the engine starts up to heat coolant, which is then used as supplemental heat to warm the interior.  Watch as the engine cycles on & off.  Notice how much electricity is still used for propulsion in the meantime.  Overall, this is more efficient that using just electricity alone in extreme cold.  The cutoff is around 14°F, but the heat-pump will still run until engine warm-up is complete.  When the temperature is above 14°F, the system will run entirely with just electricity.  It's a very efficient process, taking advantage of having an engine available but only using it in an optimized manner... Heat-Pump with Engine


Range Matters.  That one last post, playing offense now rather than defense, provided the opportunity to feedback... with the hope of change.  Nope, it didn't happen.  The same old rhetoric of range mattering was spewed out.  It was nothing but meritless hope.  The antagonists want that to be true, so they keep repeating the mantra with the belief it will push away evidence to the contrary.  Their ignorance is costly.  You can only disregard & dismiss for so long.  That's why I am no longer in a defensive position.  They lost the ball.  I turned and ran with it too:  It does not, as the effort to hide those other traits clearly confirmed.  There would be no reason to suppress that information otherwise. In fact, the opposite should happen.  You'd want to point out those as shortcomings... rather than validating them as strengths.  Sales decline of gen-2 Volt also reinforces the finding that range does not matter.  The increase from gen-1 made no difference. Instead of achieving the much hoped for growth that upgrade was intended to deliver, demand dropped.  199.9 MPG is what shows on the dashboard when the engine starts in Prime.  In the summer, you can drive up to 50 miles before overall trip average drops below that maximum display value.  It's that efficiency result, not always having the engine off.  That's why people purchase a plug-in hybrid rather than an electric-only vehicle.  This is also why so many other automakers didn't follow GM's supposed lead.  They saw other priorities and focused on them instead.  Range proved not to be most important.  It's like a wage increase for some professions.  It isn't an incentive for careers that involve problem-solving challenges.  Once you reach a certain level, other aspects of the job are more important.


Clueless.  When you come to the realization that the person you've been debating with doesn't have a clue, what do you do?  I posted the following to find out: "25 kWh/100mi means Prime will consume 25 kWh of electricity to travel 100 miles.  31 kWh/100mi means that vehicle requires 6 kWh more to travel the same distance.  This is the EV equivalent of MPG ratings, depicting the efficiency for electricity consumption."  The response was amazing.  He had absolutely no idea what I was talking about.  He kept forcing the perspective of range & capacity, with no regard whatsoever to efficiency.  The fact that Volt is a guzzler of electricity clearly hasn't ever come to his attention.  It was always a lashing out about the other choices offering far less.  That level of uncare & unaware is dangerous.  He is clueless, but has a group of followers unequally clueless to drown out posts of logic.  I remember years ago, how facts would be down-voted until they became hidden.  I always thought that was an effort to conceal evidence pointing out their blatant mistakes.  Now, it really looks like they were just dismissing what they didn't understand.  That borders on basic stupidity, where you cause problems for yourself by not taking the time to figure out what's going on.  Not actually knowing what the situation is, yet arguing about it anyway, is why I called their spin nonsense... since, it didn't make sense.  Finding out they didn't recognize something as simple as how EV efficiency is quantified, is amazing.  It would have been a massive waste of time, had those exchanges not provided some insight to what they believed... since perception was clearly altering their reality.  The measure of "kWh per miles" is a basic concept.  That's how you determine electricity use.  Just like gasoline use, there's a number.  For MPG, higher is better.  For EV, lower is better.

1-16-2018 Leadership.  The hate for Toyota, especially when it comes to Prime, can be quite intense from a few certain individuals.  By no coincidence, all were Volt enthusiasts turned antagonist.  Frustrating by the growing sales struggle and complete absense of support from GM, they feel let down.  The result is to make sure others are not successful where they failed.  I find it quite remarkable how they never want to surrender to a spirit of cooperation.  So, they spin circumstances any way they can.  The most effective... in their mind, anyway... is portraying the image of leadership as a measure of capacity: more is better.  Apparently lacking knowledge of how business actually works, their brainless banter just continuously spews out that same weak message.  Rebuttal in any form is just brushed aside, since they simply don't care... or understand.  So, I don't bother addressing those attempting to gain satisfication.  Instead, I post detail why sighting why their claim is meritless, as I did today...  This sure looks like leadership:

 - $27,100 MSRP
 - 25 kWh/100mi EV
 - 54 mpg HV
 - Vapor-Injected heat-pump
 - Dual-Wave glass
 - Carbon-Fiber hatch
 - standard: Dynamic Radar Cruise
 - standard: Pre-Collision Braking
 - standard: Lane-Departure Detect with Assist
 - standard: Automatic High-Beams


Market Growth.  The effort to dismiss obvious efforts to move away from traditional vehicles are ramping up.  Failure of Volt to capture the market was indeed the tipping point.  GM was a legacy gaint who would lead the way.  We heard about the supposed leadership for years.  But then when it came to measure of actual progress, there was hostility & denial.  My efforts to document the unfortunate history playing out provides a great deal of satisfaction.  We now have a resource pointing out problems as they were formulating, rather than looking back long afterward.  The blogs contain speculation & detail you can't get any other way.  They also highlight the denial, all those attempts to conceal truths about what was actually happening.  Ugh.  All I can say to that is "oh well", since comments just like this fall on deaf ears:  Camry and RAV4 hybrids are becoming the dominant choices here.  Corolla and C-HR hybrids are available elsewhere already, with the opportunity to be brought here later.  Seeing those everyday choices taking over for Prius, while watching Prius itself take on a standout look is part of the diversity effort toward hybrid market growth.  In the meantime, we are watching Prime introduce the plug-in option.  This is a very realistic plan for phasing out traditional vehicles.  Disruption to dealer, salespeople, and mechanics is minimized.  The transition is a clear cut one for consumers too.


GM Promises.  The reason GM gets featuring so often in my blogs is the ever-changing stories are an endless source of insight.  That reputation for "over promise, under deliver" gets renewed over and over again.  A product gets hyped to an entreme, rolls out with disappoint, then they move on to the next.  It's a continuous cycle, with the new chapter starting today... at the Detroit autoshow.  It began today, upon an obvious death of Volt.  That compact car never made any sense.  For that matter, neither did the EREV marketing... since it very directly contradicted any possible intent toward EV support.  To embrace Bolt, they must discard Volt.  The original hunch has been confirmed, they were indeed given similar names for the sake of obscuring the transition.  GM wasn't able to deliver an affordable plug-in hybrid platform.  That reality has been overwhelmingly confirmed today with the announcement of the newest promise... to make money on all-electric cars by 2021.  Claims by antagonists have indeed been confirmed as false.  GM is in no position to be rolling out at mainstream volume yet; instead, they are making a serious investment in the future... abandoning any hope of competing with Toyota in the process.  This is the very thing Volt enthusiasts feared the most.  GM has become a player on the team, not a stand-out leader.  It's really unfortunate pride became such a barrier to progress.  They succumbed to faster & further, rather than supporting something for ordinary people.  Oh well.


Calm Before.  Denial runs deep.  Some are doing everything they can to prevent the following message from getting attention, but finding it a struggle with no other news to distract with:  The variety of choices on the way causing a sales plateau was a very reasonable expectation.  In fact, that serves as a gauge to indicate change.  As mentioned, RAV4 hybrid, Camry hybrid, and Prime all had an impact.  There's a lot of "wait & see" anticipation to acknowledge too, namely how Model 3 and the new Leaf will stir the market.  We'll see the ramp-up & distribution of Prime contributing more to the shift.  It's an approach that can yield a good return for dealers & salespeople, which is vital for the advancement of green tech.  They don't need to do much to sell Prime.  The low MSRP and easy recharging basically speaks for itself.  Simplicity was the key to Prius sales.  We see Prime following that same path. 20 years later, having a plug become standard is a logical next step.  It's not going to happen overnight though.  Owners sharing their real-world experiences takes a year or two for the word of confidence to emerge.  Being one of the earlier owners, I haven't even reached the first-year anniversary yet.  Two trips over 1,700 miles each and a few in the 400-mile range, combined with daily electric-only commutes, sure is providing nice experience to share... especially with the extreme cold we are currently experiencing here in Minnesota.  Consider this moment, the calm before the storm.  The technology works and is very affordable, an excellent match for mainstream consumers.


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