Prius Personal Log  #880

June 29, 2018  -  July 2, 2018

Last Updated:  Fri. 7/20/2018

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7-02-2018

Average Price.  This came from a 2011 Volt owner: "Armchair quarterbacking at it's finest.  You ever price the "average" car here in the US?"  I got the impression he jumped on the great pricing opportunity all those years ago and never really paid attention to the market.  He clearly didn't like my reference to the "driver confidence package", choosing go with the it's-worth-it argument.  Ugh.  There's far too much enabling nowadays, where people just go along blind assumption.  They just support what feels right, never bothering to actually do a little research or even ask question.  This basic approach to pricing provides a good example.  It was void of any numerical information.  Nothing whatsoever is a source for concern.  Any type of detail... even just a generic category... can help narrow focus.  That was so vague, it could have included everything.  It makes no sense lumping together gaint trucks and subcompact cars.  Yet, that's apparently exactly the nonsense he attempted.  I don't put up with that, especially when the first sentence in a reply is so snarky.  I fired back with:  Average is totally inappropriate.  Proper pricing assessment is to compare vehicles with similar traits.  The typical consumer will shop for "compact car" or a "midsize suv".  They most definitely don't mix together everything available to come with with an average.  As for price, Volt is about to lose that generous $7,500 tax-credit, which will make it compete directly against other vehicles in its same class.  As for the effort to avoid addressing additional cost of safety features, that's online posting at its finest... just ignore what isn't liked.

7-02-2018

Single Standard.  It came down to only wanting to support a single standard, but that idea being presented in a contradictory manner.  He started with praise for the "recharge the battery to 80% in an hour or less", then carried on in great length about how vital speed was.  Over and over, being fast was presented as key to success.  The essential part of that was to not support L2 in an manner, that it was essential to only have DCFC.  Then out of the blue, the focus shifted to medium.  It was so hypocritical of a stance change, I was confused.  What happened to the importance of being quick?  Looking back at the posts, I see a long chain of "limitation" claims and the word "wrong" being used several times to describe L2 technology.  Basically, it was just another encounter with an individual unwilling to accept anything more than a single solution.  It's that one-size-fits-all mentality.  Some people simply don't believe co-exist is a viable outcome.

7-01-2018

Fast Charging.  That long, drawn out, debate about DCFC had me quite curious.  What was his goal?  Eventually, I would find out... and after series of more posts, I did.  He changed his story to now be about "medium power" for DCFC... which makes makes no sense, since the "F" in that acronym stands for "Fast".  All along, he's been posting about how the kW rates are so much higher.  Then, he abruptly changes it to mean just 24 kW.  That's barely any higher than the 19.2 kW for a L2 running on a standard 240-volt connection at 80 amps.  I jumped on him at the very beginning for even attempting to compare such different rates.  Fast requires a 480-volt connection to actually be fast.  He knows all too well I caught him on the cost barrier.  That's a lot more expensive, especially if you require enough amps to truly be impressive.  Complaints about 50 kW being minimal have lead to the unveiling of a handful of 150 kW chargers and the annoucement of some future charging-stations delivering 300 kW.  This is what he's been implying we should all favor instead, not to even consider slower technologies.  What I get a kick out of is if that supposedly is "medium", what the heck is "small" for a DC charging rate?  It seems bizarre to have an expensive charger output DC without any benefit of what a cheap AC charger can deliver.  Needless to say, I caught him up in an effort to deceive.  It has become clear he's simply an advocate of DC charging and didn't realize anyone who catch his bait & switch about speed.  That was interesting though.  I didn't even have to get into the cost of the electricity itself.  When you require that much that quickly, the electricity providers place you into a more expensive pricing tier.  Those higher fees are only affordable for commercial business making money from that usage.  This is why free access to Tesla SuperChargers is so heavily desired.  Without, it can be quite expensive to fast-charge.  This is why L2 has been promoted so much.  There will be fast-chargers too, but they will accompany L2.  Not everyone is willing to invest so much for speed.  The cost to a charging-station owner is especially prohibiting.  Remember, L2 (level-2, the standard 240-volt plug) can still be quite a bit faster than L1 (level-1, the standard 120-volt plug).

7-01-2018

Opportunity Recharging.  The fastest possible recharging isn't necessary.  Most people only want a top-off so they can reach home using electricity.  All those local shops... grocery, retail, hardware, coffee, snack, etc ...are brief stops with major payoffs from nothing but a L2 recharge.  At venues where you will be spending more time, like a movie theater or sitdown restuarant or large mall, that still necssary.  Seeing DC fast-chargers emerge along highway corridors makes sense but that isn't what the debate was about.  He simply wanted to win a point.  That's why his push for the off-topic content was so relentless.  It's an obsession with "best" or "most" or "superiority" that wrecks constructive discussion.  It is the reason I ask for goals... relentlessly.  Finding out what motives that person is much more important than that facts at hand.  It's easy to manipulate posts to change focus.  You need to find out why they are doing it.  In this case, it was the belief that charging as much as possible is the best outcome.  I attempted to end the nonsense, seeing it was turning into rhetoric, by drawing attention to the fact that recharging during peak hours is not a good choice.  That is often the most expensive and most dirty time to be demanding electricity.  So, promoting a maximum then is counter-productive to a goal of being green... which is why "opportunity" should be understood as just what you need at the time you need it.

7-01-2018

Fast Refill.  This coming next was inevitable: "The problem is that without the DCFC interface, that gas is the only way to fast refill a Volt."  It's the problem that comes from dealing with someone trying to solve a problem exclusively from an engineering perspective.  He's dead set against L2 use anywhere but for long-term parking.  Simply stopping at a grocery store for a quick partial charge is unexceptable... despite the fact that it works so well for so many.  I stop for a coffee or fresh food item, then leave shortly after.  Those few minutes are more than enough to reach home with nothing but the electricity from the charger moments earlier.  Needless to say, I'm getting tired of the close-minded responses:  That's the fundamental mistake EV advocates are trying to get word about to other EV advocates for charging-station use.  Spreading a belief that they are there exclusively for *REFILL* is counter to the effort so many have striven to deliver.  They can be very, very effective used for just a quick partial replenish.  Most of the time, you don't need full capacity anyway.  Remember, the goal is to replace traditional vehicles... not to solidify an end-game.  We are trying to establish charging-spots and built up patronage.  L2 can always be upgraded later, especially once repeat usage becomes common.  It's that initial investment we need to focus on now.  Taking that first step is the most difficult.  People will see charger availability and begin to feel comfortable with moving toward electrification.  Fast refill is not necessary for that to happen.

6-30-2018

Anti-L2.  This sentiment is emerging: "The faster folks understand that L2 is for nothing other than overnight charging, the better off we'll all be."  It's the latest form of being vastly superior.  The belief is that the best 240-volt AC charging available is totally inadequate compared ot the higher voltage DC charging.  Pushing it as a mutually exclusive solution is the problem.  Having a mix of AC & DC chargers is unacceptable as far as he's concerned.  In doesn't make sense to invest in the more affordable choice, which would in turn mean more chargers could be made available.  A few of the ones with a much higher cost are what he favors... as his history of posts clearly confirm.  Well, in a way, this is progress.  New issues are being brought up now, focusing on infrastructure rather than just the vehicles.  I replied back to that with:  Not going to happen.  Think about how many parking spots there are at your local grocery store.  A typical 20-minute stop easily provides enough range to get home.  You can provide far more L2 than DC for the same cost.  DC takes more realestate to accommodate too.  19.2 kW is ample electricity rate for a restaurant or movie stop.  So, the absolute of not offering L2 won't get much traction.  You should focus on DC offerings at those coffeeshop/gas-stations combinations.  That's a realistic bridge to the future.

6-30-2018

Upcoming Fallout.  Yesterday's annoucement about the mid-cycle updates for Volt was quite predictable.  Monday will bring about the first counts since GM decided not to report sales monthly anymore.  This quarter wasn't expected to be a good one, so the tactic to distract fits their behavior pattern.  Not selling as much means the tax-credit will last longer.  Not selling as much also means things aren't going well.  It's the reason why enthusiasts are ramping up rhetoric again.  I'm pushing back hard though, since there is no excuse to sugarcoat anything anymore.  They know trouble is brewing and don't want to be trapped in their own hypocritical web.  I endured years of their nonsense for this moment, when Volt is no longer a barrier to mainstream acceptance.  GM really messed up the market... just like they did with diesel decades ago.  Ugh.  Oh well, not much to do about it at this point, other than document the heck out of the situation so lessons can be learned.  Here's the way I put it:  As logical & sensible of a configuration that may seem, the reality of sales struggle must finally be faced.  That formula simply hasn't worked. Even with a $7,500 tax-credit, GM wasn't able to entice many of their own loyal customers to purchase a Volt.  A very large portion of sales were the conquest type, attracting outside interest without gaining any loyalty.  Ironically, the biggest failure-point for Volt is what we heard mentioned heavily way back when it was still being developed... PRICE.  The goal of "nicely under $30,000" was talked about on a very regular basis.  With a MSRP that low, it would stand a chance of competing directly against traditional vehicles by the time the tax-credit expired.  $33,220 is far too expensive, especially when you compare to the vehicle most often compared to... Prius Prime, which starts at $27,100 and includes "driver confidence package" features you must spend $4,350 more to get with Volt.  In short, GM had a good idea but poorly implemented it.  Faster charging won't change any of that.

6-30-2018

Tariff Consequences.  The cost we will have to deal with as a result of having elected a narcissist to lead the country is going to be tremendous.  He just plain does not understand the consequences of lashing out at those we are perceived to be taking advantage of us.  True, there is an imbalance, but the tradeoff of stability is absolutely vital.  You build upon that to achieve improvement.  Good things can come from overcoming challenges.  Simply doing things for spite can have terrible consequences... which are are starting to see already as a result of the new tariffs: "General Motors warned Friday that if President Trump pushed ahead with another wave of tariffs, the move could backfire, leading to "less investment, fewer jobs, and lower wages" for its employees."  That's a horrible first line to read in an article published today on the topic.  All the big news organizations had similar statements to share.  Our president doesn't understand that who we trade with need to be treated as partners, especially with the automotive business.  Vehicles are extremely complex products... sourced from a variety of locations worldwide, very large & expensive, and with long replacement cycles.  It's not like other products.  A massive amount of employment is required just to sustain.  To be profitable in such an agressively evolving market, you need cooperation.  This is as if there's an effort to sabotage our own success.  Why?  What motives someone to be so wreckless?  These decisions will hurt so many... not to mention our environment.

6-30-2018

Pointless Bragging, part 2.  Someone else got snippy: "Unless you need 5 seats, the Volt is a way better car than the Prius, and you know that.  No amount of rationalizing will change that fact."  It's the type of desperation I dealt with for years.  They absolutely refused to accept defeat and move on.  So, I keep fighting back with inconvenient truths:  Being rational means recognizing facts that are moot... of little or no practical value, meaning, or relevance; purely academic.  The goal of Volt was to "out-Prius Prius", which meant becoming a more popular clean & efficient seller.  10.5 years into Prius sales, the total count on roads around the world had already surpassed 1 million.  (1,050,000 to be more precise.)  Volt sales have been so much less that GM hasn't even the 200,000 limit for tax-credits in its own home market in that same amount of time, despite having so much more experience.  Fact is, only enthusiasts saw "way better" as a reason to purchase.  Mainstream buyers just plain were not interesting, quite unlike the history we've seen with Prius.  GM did indeed deliver a nice product, but it simply did not match purchase priorities of their own showroom shoppers.  Again, GM's focus is on Trax, Equinox, Traverse, and Blazer being top-sellers for ordinary consumers.  Volt will remain a desirable niche.

6-29-2018

Who?  I've seen anger coming from that die-hard Volt enthusiast who sung praise for GM all those years, speaking loudly in favor of PHEV over EV, then abruptly jumped shipped to purchase a Tesla.  That type of hypocritical behavior is typical of those who value pride above actually being constructive.  So, I ignore him entirely.  That kind of troll cannot thrive in a venue with such a diverse audience.  He requires many enablers for that.  This blogging sight doesn't have that, quite unlike the old Volt daily blog.  There are less intense participants there too.  They simply see power & range as superior and give no thought to what actually makes a difference.  It's easy to deal with them with a few basiec facts.  I do that along with posing a question, with the hope of some type of sensible response to reply to:  Volt is neither a leader with EV nor HV efficiency.  Note the kW/mi and MPG ratings.  Using less electricity and less gas is the goal, right?  Also, GM's goal was to "right size" battery capacity.  So, the option of faster recharging is a bit of a head-scratcher.  Who would be interested in that option?  Remember, GM's ultimate solution to "range anxiety" ended up being Bolt, which makes Volt without any specific audience now.

6-29-2018

Mid-Cycle Updates.  GM announced improvements coming for the 2019 Volt.  This the ususal upgrade approach known as "mid-cycle updates" which has become quite common for plug-in vehicles.  That has become a normal expectation now.  In fact, we have that to realistically look forward to for Prius Prime.  In this case, GM is adding a feature everyone expected for gen-2 originally... faster charging.  It was a somewhat pointless feature based on the way Volt has been marketed though.  We've been told the 53-mile range was plenty... which would negate any benefit from recharging anytime other than when at home overnight.  It's a goal contradiction no one wants to address.  The other was changing the low-temperature threshold for the engine starting to a range most owners won't actually benefit from; for the rest, that feature won't provide as much of a gain as it implies.  This is yet another "devil is in the detail" situations.  A much better upgrade would have been cost-reduction to drop price significantly to deal with the loss of the $7,500 tax-credit.  Sales are struggling already.  Achieving the necessary business growth is basically impossible with such a niche approach.  Anywho, I posted:  Better is dependent upon who the audience is.  Ordinary consumers certainly haven't been asking for faster L2 charging. In fact, most mainstream shoppers have absolute no idea what that even means.  Their primary request has been a reduced MSRP to make it a more compelling choice.  As for the ability to run a power-hungry resistance-heater at temperatures below 15°F, that's nice but not feature many will actually be able to exploit.  Even here in Minnesota, there simply are not that many days when that would deliver a huge payoff.  Doesn't EV become available after the coolant reaches a certain temperature?

 

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