Prius Personal Log  #861

March 6, 2018  -  March 10, 2018

Last Updated: Mon. 4/02/2018

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3-10-2018

In The Way.  That was how I saw Volt.  Had the promises been fulfilled, it would have been different.  Instead, it was just meritless bragging.  Mainstream sales were not achieved.  Now, we see Prime stepping up to fill that role.  In fact, we routinely get comments about Toyota "imitating" what GM delivered.  That obviously isn't true.  Toyota didn't sacrifice affordability for the sake of more range & power.  Yet, we get claims of Prime not advancing the automative industry forward.  Reaching that audience of ordinary consumers is far more difficult than those nasty antagonists ever want to admit.  They somehow think sales will suddenly surge among the masses, despite the loss of the generous government financial incentive.  How?  Sales are terrible now.  Losing $7,500 will make the situation even worse.  I was annoyed... and find those enthusiasts very much in the way, as I stated:  Early Adopter = Tax-Credit subsidized purchase.  That stage is rapidly coming to an end.  Toyota knows this and is positioning its products to be directly competitive with traditional vehicles.  The loss of that incentive will have little impact.  Their hybrid reputation and solid performance record will make the transition to plug options easy.  GM will be in a world of hurt soon, as the recent statement from its CEO to have tax-credits extending clearly confirm.  The choice to deliver Voltec in a small vehicle with emphasis on range & power has proven to be a big mistake.  Sales growth was not achieved.  Claiming Toyota is "standing in the way of a better tomorrow" by disregarding the terrible business choices GM made is just plain wrong. GM squandered the early-adopter opportunities by focusing on conquest.  Toyota focused on appealing to their own showroom shoppers instead... an investment that is about to really pay off.

3-10-2018

New Participants.  The previous chapter in plug-in history, that early-adopter phase, consisted primary of those with engineering backgrounds.  They were either actual engineers or knowledgable in the realm due to their extensive exposure to niche vehicles.  This was similar to the earliest days of hybrid history.  A profound difference is emerging though.  This next batch of active online participants don't have any business background.  They are basically clueless.  That's bad, really bad... since the next phase is mainstream penetration.  Reason for this is simple.  We're seeing an onslaught of high-performance EV annoucements.  Coming from luxury automakers, where paying a very high-premium is the norm, that's no big deal... for them.  But for the audience of ordinary consumers, those people who come into a dealer to shop, there's a distorted perspective.  When you don't have anything specific in mind, graviting to the high-performance the high-premium delivers is easy.  The catch is, legacy automakers won't be stocking that type of inventory.  Everyday vehicle purchases are simple sales with affordability as the focus.  Whether it is a low sticker-price or low monthly-payments, that is the key to the business-sustaining sales the dealers & automakers depend upon for profit.  Niche vehicles don't provide that.  Unfortunately, these clueless new online participants don't understand that.  They are so focused on that in-the-now perspective, seeing beyond low-hanging fruit sales or the discounts from tax-credits doesn't happen... and anything you point out in respect to that is viewed upon as hate.  It's really unfortunate.

3-09-2018

Hate.  This is what usually brings about the short-sightedness.  The person has some dislike or problem from the past that has mutated into hate.  Once that happens, they really don't see anything else.  So, we end up with hypocritical accusations and double standards... which is how you identify hate.  Watch for those signs.  Anywho, this is what stating goals is so important.  They can be broadly applied and measured objectively.  So, when I detect the hate, I call in out in some manner to draw attention to the situation and away from the emotion:  No automaker should be given a free ticket to make unrealistic promises, then never be expected to get called out on it.  We want choices targeted at showroom shoppers, so dealers can confidently stock plug-in inventory.  Heavy dependence on tax-credit subsidies for low-volume conquests sales is most definitely not what we want... yet, that's what was delivered.  Labeling discussion of it as hate doesn't fix the situation.

3-09-2018

Cannibalization.  The short-sightedness continues: "Prime is already canabalizing Prius sales."  You'd think the transition would be obvious.  But then again, online commentary often comes from those who really don't give much thought to what they are posting.  That becomes quite clear if you ever ask someone what their purpose is.  They can't actually articulate goals... or refuse to.  That's a sign of bias, in addition to not thinking long-term.  It's really annoying to have to deal with that.  But you have to, Since newbies aren't aware of the efforts to undermine.  Keeping the response simple is what tends to be most effective:  Cannibalization implies an unintended consequence.  That most definitely isn't the situation.  Toyota wants to transition from hybrid to plug-in hybrid.

3-09-2018

Reluctance.  Not understanding the complexities of automotive business decisions make this comment a really big deal: "The reluctance that Toyota shows towards putting a plug on their vehicles is so strange."  From that person's perspective, they sense reluctance.  Adding a plug seems such an obvious opportunity being missed.  That often comes from not having any clue what the tradeoffs are.  Those challenges from just the engineering approach are immense.  But then when you factor in the resistance to change from competitors, as well as customers, you end up with a confusing mess.  This is why software developers (like myself) never aim for more than 90% success.  That extra 10% is incredibly expensive to address.  In fact, with so many unforeseen potential issues, even just reaching an 80% success rate can be quite a stretch.  To minimize risk, as well as cost, the approach of incremental updates is taken.  In days long before the computer, this was known as the "muddling" technique.  Nowadays, we just called that upgrades.  You know what you deliver won't ever be perfect, but feel comforted by the ability to adapt to an ever-changing market.  With respect to Toyota's stance right now, I put it this way:  Waiting until the price-point is competitive isn't reluctance, it's smart business.  You bring up the base in the meantime, which is exactly what Toyota stated they would do... what we are witnessing now.  The step from hybrid to affordable plug is far easier than from traditional to expensive plug.  Remember, sales at mainstream volume won't have tax-credit subsidies available.

3-09-2018

2019 Corolla.  The reveal was today.  With Corolla being the best-selling vehicle of all time for the entire industry, likelihood of it representing the tipping point for traditional vehicles is quite strong.  This would be a very good reason for Toyota to invest as much as possible in the traditional technology, making the final fling worthy of competition for years to come.  After all, you don't want to waste resources on something that won't last.  Meanwhile, everything else will see that shift to hybrid in bulk sooner.  Look at how impressive the new Camry hybrid is.  Anywho, this upcoming Corolla will introduce a next-gen CVT.  It will include a "launch gear".  Think of it as a type of low gear for the cone & belt transmission.  This approach will allow for efficient starts from the vehicle being stopped, in addition to making the CVT itself more efficient.  Not needing a "low" for power anymore allows the belt size & angle to be optimized for cruising, since less demand will be put on it.  Oddly, it will still offer shift-points with paddles, even though there really aren't gears to shift.  This is why the introduction of the hybrid model (available as Auris in Europe and Corolla in China) will eventually find a place here.  There's still enough of a difference.  Who knows how things will play out.  If Prime really does redefine Prius as more of an upscale offering, a Corolla with a plug would fit right into the product-line.  It's a big step toward sunsetting traditional tech for the entire fleet.    The tech must be spread.  Product diversity (good business) requires variety.

3-09-2018

New Attacks.  There is a very real hate for anyone who stirs the status quo.  The act of trying to be constructive is clearly not looked upon favorably.  Level of hostility from recent posts make that quite obvious.  Nonetheless, I persist:  None of the other legacy automakers set such unrealistically high goals.  GM did and missed them quite a number of times... hence their reputation.  Calling someone a hater for pointing that out is an absolutely terrible way to get constructive feedback.  Again, GM set a target MSRP for Volt by 2010... missed it by a wide margin... tried again for gen-2... missed again.  The reason for such a vital goal made sense, they needed that MSRP low enough so Volt would be competitive with traditional vehicles without tax-credit dependency.  Neither Toyota nor Hyundai stated that goal with the same deadline.  Yet, both actually delivered already.  Prius Prime and Ioniq PHEV have prices that low.  We still wait for GM.

3-08-2018

Patterns.  They are simple to observe, if you take the time to look for them.  The gullible & lazy nature of so many who randomly participate in green vehicle threads make them easy victims of intentional misleading though.  They just believe the narrative being expressed, rather than doing a little research of their own.  That most definitely was the case topic.  This particular individual got quite angry with me.  He clearly didn't have the background.  His assumptions were obvious.  There was nothing provided to support claims.  Even the most staunch of enthusiasts will make some type of reference to raise/restore credibility.  He had nothing.  GM had never done wrong, ever.  No automaker is perfect.  That's why there are generational upgrades.  Heck, that's why we get mid-cycle refreshes with more than just cosmetic tweaks too.  Learning from experience is normal.  In fact, it is an expectation.  The catch is, you try to avoid repeating the same overlook again.  GM doesn't.  In fact, quite the opposite happens.  We get these statements of grand achievement yet to come... but, it rarely ever does.  Volt gen-1 fell well short of expectations.  Volt gen-2 did as well.  And now, we see Bolt floundering in missed goals.  The same pattern keeps repeating.  Rather than aiming for the middle, something realistic, it is always a claim to superiority.  Ugh.  This is why GM stands out among the legacy automakers.  Others have learned not to do that.  GM clearly hasn't.  Yet, the die-hard enthusiasts don't notice that pattern.  Why?  Are they just so poorly informed, my mention of it is the first they have ever heard such a claim?  Anywho, I posted this to draw attention to repeatition:  No, I'm just well aware of GM's reputation... over promise, under deliver.  Notice how the announcement is void of any actual detail?  That pattern is all too familiar.  Tell us, what specifically will be delivered?  When?  Where?  How many?

3-08-2018

Common Error.  Whenever GM makes a crazy vague annoucement, it stirs posts about Toyota.  Nowadays, that means we get misleading & misinformed comments about Prime.  This time, it was: "I put it in EV mode and it kept automatically bumping it out of EV mode."  It's easy to see the unfortunate reality of someone unfamiliar with Prime to make assumptions about how it works.  After all, how would you research it?  There is no quick-guide available... yet.  That button labeled as "EV Auto" can easily be misinterpretted as meaning it is some type of EV mode invoke.  It's not.  Instead, it means you want the system to come out of HV mode as quickly as possible to resume EV mode when power demand is no longer peak.  Many have no clue they got it wrong, thinking you are forcing into EV mode to stay.  That's such a simple thing to learn, it's not the slightest bit of a problem for new owners.  But for someone doing a quick review without any study whatsoever, they'll assume incorrectly... as was the case this time.  Who knows how he'll interpret this attempt to convey that knowledge:  That was your mistake, a common error among newbies.  EV mode is default.  Pushing any button instructs the system to also use the engine.  In your case, you likely switched it to "EV Auto" mode.

3-07-2018

Ambiguous News.  The vague announcement anticipated from GM in January didn't happen until today.  As usual, the comments are so ambiguous, this news is nothing but imagine-building nonsense.  It's amazing how little was actually said.  All we are told in the long press-release was that Bolt production would increase late this year.  That was it.  How many?  What seems such a logical question resulted in a flurry of hostile responses from GM defenders.  They felt deeply offended by us not blinding praising such an annoucement.  It's the same old guible spin of the past, where the enthusiasts feed on the vague then amplify expectations for GM, thereby removing any accountability in the process.  We aren't given any specifics; yet, that is supposedly enough to declare superiority over all other automakers.  Based on what?  There was literally nothing to refer to.  Making matters worse is the fact that GM depends heavily upon LG for virtually all of the vital components for Bolt.  That relation goes well beyond just being a supplier.  There are very real limitations that cannot be quickly overcome.  Offering an increase is complex & expensive.  That's why the way Toyota will leverage hybrid designfor plug offerings provides greater flexibility at lower risk.  Anywho, it boiled down to posting this summary:  More and more, the impression is that Volt will fade away.  There simply isn't a market within GM's customer base for an expensive compact hatchback.  The realities of production cost could not be avoided.  Later on, it's easy to see a small SUV with a plug emerge.  So much for their supposed industry lead.

3-06-2018

Goodbye.  Angered by my obvious win, I got this: "...where he's not wanted, with non-sequitur comments..."  It was buried within a rant, in an attempt to vent frustration from the blog having died.  An entire month since the most recently daily topic brings everyone to the same, undeniable conclusion.  The owner decided to stop feeding the enablers.  Seeing them fight constructive discussion, insult & belittle anyone not in agreement, and outright dismiss facts and lie, is simply not worth supporting.  They can just use the forum instead.  That's all I wanted all along anyway.  So, the anger is understandable.  I get what I wanted.  Using a venue which strives for some integrity is much better than being a breeding home for antagonists.  To one of them especially rotten antagonists, I posted in response with:  Breaking of the status quo is rarely welcome activity.  As for claiming non-sequitur, that’s the enablers at work, doing everything they can to divert.  It's doesn't matter though.  Time was wasted, exactly what the "too little, too slowly" concern was all about.  Despite so many claims of GM being years ahead of everyone else, this weekend a friend of my purchased a Kia Niro PHEV.  There simply wasn’t a SUV choice available from GM.  Opportunity missed.  With the tax-credit expiration approaching, the situation should have been taken seriously.  There was so much the enthusiasts could have done to help promote...

3-06-2018

Expensive.  There have been quite a number of EV annoucements recently.  Nearly all luxury models though.  It's the Prius conumdrum finally playing out.  All those years ago, Toyota's system delivered a smooth & silent ride only available from a luxury vehicle.  Mainstream consumers thought that was great.  Luxury consumers pretended that wasn't the case.  With the hybrids, avoiding the inevitable wasn't too hard.  But now with Tesla making such an impression in Europe and the affordable EV choices emerging here, the ability to ignore that paradigm-shift is becoming quite difficult.  Not only are ordinary middle-market shoppers beginning to take notice of the smooth & silent, they are also discovering the lack-of-power belief to be just a misconception.  The industry response is to bump up the game by focusing almost entirely on expensive offerings.  Fortunately, we see Nissan & Hyundai already striving to break through the ploy with affordable choices.  Toyota's effort isn't as obvious, since their focus is on components rather than the vhicle itself.  You get the point though.  They are preparing to take full advantage of the next generation battery.  In the meantime, choice will be limited.  That makes you wonder what GM will end up doing.  My guess is very little until then.  The same is likely for Ford as well.

 

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