Prius Personal Log #897
October 26, 2018 - October 30, 2018
Last Updated: Sun. 11/04/2018
page #896 page #898 BOOK INDEX
L, LE, and XLE. Most of the time, what Toyota does goes unnoticed. Why should it anyway? Toyota focuses on its own customers. When something about them is brought up in automotive discussions, it is almost entirely negative. That's because enthusiasts just plain don't care about mainstream offerings, but find Toyota an excellent "What about?" to distract from their own problems. In this case though, even this slipped by quietly. That's probably because nothing good could come from pointing out that Prius is very much a mainstream offering now. Being available in the United States since for over 18 years now and being available in a wide variety of models, as well as having diversified the technology as rollouts in other popular vehicles, there's a solid history of not being a niche. After millions of sales, it is the new normal... especially as we approach the final year of the second decade of the 21st Century. Guzzlers just plain don't make any sense anymore. That's why the annoucement last week of Prius package naming is such a fundamental move. Rather than the numbers, Prius now gets identifiers instead... just like the other Toyota vehicles. In this case, it is L, LE, and XLE for the 2019 model year.
Turning Point. The antagoists didn't see it coming.
I took them by complete surprise. This (along with an attempt to
personally slander, of course) was all they could stir up: "At least GM
is taking a stance." I found that particularly informative.
But even better was what followed, a link to a video stating the predicament
GM is now in. I took advantage of that for my secondary reply:
Listen to that video? The summary reveals the true story: "In other words, a ZEV mandate would benefit a company if they already have the technology ready to go."
Toyota does. They have already been producing motors & controllers that are affordably competitive with their own traditional offerings. That's because they invested heavily into driving costs down and efficiency up through their hybrid sales, which brings up the second point: "If GM is going all in with electric in the future and already has vehicles in the pipeline, a zero-emission mandate could help fund development of those models as well as secure sales."
It's GM being subtle about asking for more government assistance. That makes sense too, since also investing in improvements to traditional vehicles to meet the current MPG mandate would be very expensive... a problem Toyota does not have... since Camry hybrid already delivers 52 MPG and the upcoming next-gen RAV4 hybrid is expected to deliver similar efficiency.
That "too little, too slowly" concern has been validated. GM didn't use their tax-credits wisely. Their "stance" is really a request for help. And don't you dare attempt to spin this about me, because I'll just point out how many who use to frequently post here have traded in their Volt for a Model 3.
Like it or not, a turning point has been reached. It's time to move beyond niche offerings. The fleet itself must finally be addressed. GM must provide something for GM customers.
No Longer Quiet. The quiet of GM has changed to sending mixed messages. That sounds familiar. We are back to the uncertainty stage, yet again. It makes sense, knowing the timing of the tax-credit phaseout and how poorly plug-in sales have been. The downturn of the stockprice and market pressure from the new tariffs having a negative effect is really making a mess of things. What should investors expect? For that matter, what should customers expect? Both of those questions raises uncertainty for dealers. What will they sell? I took offense for today's play, grabbing the ball and running like hell with it. I don't think the antagonists saw this coming: GM did not target its own consumers; instead, they offered vehicles appealing to enthusiasts. That is the very definition of niche. Mainstream buyers should have been targeted. They were not. Technology developed for the purpose of widespread deployment was never widespread deployed. The origin of Volt was the Two-Mode hybrid, which we saw a prototype of with a plug way back in 2009. Yet, all these years later, there is still no SUV with a plug available from GM. Attempts to change the topic or make up info about the messenger won't change any of that.
You can feel the pressure growing. With Tesla speeding ahead, the
decisions for legacy automakers is finally getting some necessary attention.
That's long overdue. Direct comparisons to a well-funded
investor-supported startup is a terrible measure progress forward for the
market as a whole. Many early-adopters are only now coming to realize
that. Too bad they didn't listen to that message over a decade ago.
Ugh. Oh well, they have no choice but to listen to it now...
especially when attemtping to belittle Toyota:
That claim about Toyota possibly failing is a narrative you should be smart enough to see beyond. You know Toyota is waiting for the cost tipping-point to be reached before deploying to the masses. It makes no sense doing that prior to the profitability stage being reached. That's why rollout is being held to limited markets. The tech is being refined in the meantime.
No legacy automaker can go all out with high-volume deploys yet. Batteries are still too expensive and density too low for that profitable level to be reached. It will happen, perhaps very soon. But until we see sales growth without tax-credits contributing to that, we haven't left the early-adopter stage.
Consider audience. Buyers of plug-in vehicles now are pretty much exclusively enthusiasts. Reaching mainstream consumers... those who basically just go to their favorite dealer and trade-up for the latest model of something there... will be extraordinarily difficult to appeal to. Current plug-in offers have too high of a price-tag still, even with the tax-credit, to be a realistic competitor yet.
In other words, look at the preparation is each automaker is making to address their own particular customers. What must they do to achieve & sustain profitable sales of plug-in vehicles? With that, you can see Toyota is well under way. Having a wide selection of hybrids in place makes taking the next 2 steps much easier for all involved... dropping traditional vehicles and rolling out plug-in choices.
What legacy automaker do you think is better positioned? It certainly isn't GM with their stubborn reluctance to spread plug-in tech to one of their mainstream vehicles.
Behind. It has been interesting watched firsthand: "The fact that you continue to stick up for Toyota says it all. Had they continued to push forward to EV they would be light years ahead. They have buried their collective heads in the sand. When they come out with an EV they will also be years behind vs. the years ahead they should be." That story is told over and over again... but without substance. There isn't ever any detail provided to support the claim. They just get angry and declare "behind" without follow up. Having studied business so extensively in college (it was my minor) and worked in retail for that many years, then followed the automotive industry closely for the past 2 full decades, I know what I'm talking about. You don't study so much for so long without recognizing success patterns. There's also my passion for computers which dates all the way back to the 70's. Watching that industry evolve was quite exciting. Anywho, I get tired of those who don't bother to do their homework. Making empty claims is unacceptable. If you have good reasoning, share it! Don't just start a quarrel without any intent to back it. Geez! Oh well. That's what I have to deal with. In this case, I responded with: Behind what? The market hasn't even emerged out of the early-adopter stage. Whether or not you accept the fact that Toyota is working to refine their already available EV drive, plus related components & software, is not their problem. They are busy setting the stage for dealer & salesperson, as well as building a process for traditional vehicle phaseout. It never ceases to amaze me how some feel "ahead" should be quantified based on short-term measure, even though production cost is still out of reach and energy-density still isn't quite there yet. As for where they should be, where exactly is that? There's no basis for a mass acceptance of plug-in vehicles yet. High-Volume sales without subsidy haven't even been attempted yet. Reliance on tax-credits is a problem Tesla is scrambling to avoid though, but it is not a legacy automaker. GM is and will inevitably pay the price from not having a competitive product prior to triggering phaseout. Toyota still has time and will smoothly pass by from having taken the slower path to adapt a system capable of sustainable profits with a clear path to a wide variety of plug offerings. They carefully studied the market, rather than rushing to it. It's like watching the Tortoise & Hare story playout right before our eyes...
Whoa! I just had a parking lot encounter at lunch today. It was with my 2003. I was able to confirm up close that it was indeed my old Prius from 15 years ago. The package was a rare choice, quite distinct in appearance, and I put a very unique dent in it. That was strange seeing it after having upgraded 3 times since the trade. There were a few new dents and one of the headlight fogged. But otherwise, it looked fine and was obviously still in use. Too by I wasn't able to chat with the current owner. I had been looking for years, hoping the purchase was local. I did see it roughly a month after having upgraded, but not since. Doubt about ever seeing it again is realistic; though, today was a heck of a surprise. At least I know it survived beyond the duration anyone expected it to. That's a great endorsement for Toyota's forethought. They really designed a system to last... something quite realistic for ending the reign of dirty guzzlers.
Phew! It's nice to enjoy a pause from the fight. This was just an ordinar response to an ordinary discussion, a very nice change from the growing mess: The genius of Toyota's approach has been flexibility. "Just drive it" provides results well above that of traditional vehicles, regardless of your driving circumstances. The addition of a plug builds upon that. When you recharge from an outlet, results are amazing no matter what you do with that electricity. Having the option to recharge using the gas-engine is a bonus. If you want to exploit the design to squeeze out even higher efficiency, you have that ability. It is by no means necessary or required. Some owners will never take advantage of having it. Others will exploit the opportunity. The point is, you are given that choice. So, we make an effort to explain how it works. Keep in mind that you also have the choice of recharging speed. For 120-volt connections, you have 8 & 12 amp options. For 240-volt connections, it is currently limited to 3.6 kW. As demonstrated by this video, you can see that 7.2 kW may be offered in the future. It's a flexible design. Toyota carefully studies how it is used & responds and tweaks choices accordingly. Give it a try.
Getting Messier. I got called a "shill" many times in the past for my critical thinking. They'd claim that under the pretense that it was really just a defense of Toyota. Seeing the reality that it was actually just good business sense for any of the automakers we too much to accept... because one can never agree with a competitor. Never wanting to accept the fact that traditional vehicles are the competition has been the problem. That means you much acknowledge a problem from within, rather than just blaming someone else for your own struggle. Oddly, they keep trying. This time though, it was so desperate, I was left beside myself. The claim now is that autonomous driving is an essential part of EV delivery. I fought back that nonsense with: Autonomy. Huh? The article topic didn't make any mention of it. That certainly hasn't ever been anything I've been interested in or even commented about. It's totally unrelated to any type of EV mandate. Why was it brought up? Let's try a different perspective... Profitability. That's how you know an automaker is attempting to deliver a product targeted at mainstream consumers. If the vehicle was designed to sustain high-volume sales, that's all the more confirmation you need. What does a mandate achieve? We've seen both Volt & Bolt rolled out as niche offerings, since they rely heavily upon tax-credits and haven't demonstrated appeal to GM's own loyal customers. If there was mandate already in place, it would be easy to label them a compliance rollouts. Remember, the goal is to replace traditional vehicles. That's means what is found on dealer's lots must change. Waiting many years for a few token offerings is not enough. The entire product-line must have some type of path to electrification. Without that, dealers simply won't bother, which means potential customers won't have anything with a battery-pack to purchase.
What A Mess. There's an obvious effort beginning for
GM's defense of their end as supposed leader. Proposing a new mandate
was today's desperate move. It's obvious because it was so vague and
set the bar so far back. Bold initiatives of the past are all but
forgotten. It is that reset we've been expecting. I took the
stage for this one. No soapbox this time. It's an all out battle
This is the same old rhetoric repeating, apologists cry FUD when actual change to the status quo is brought up. Inevitably, that is following by "laggard" claims as distraction. It all comes down to GM not having targeted their own customers with Volt or Bolt. Who shops the showroom floor of a GM dealer looking for a compact car to purchase? GM's audience is primarily SUV buyers; yet, all their SUVs offered are traditional still.
GM's plug-in hybrid tech should have been rolled out to a small SUV years ago; instead, there was an effort focusing on diesel. Both Cruze & Equinox diesels were offered post-dieselgate. Why? Now we see Trax & Blazer completing a full passenger SUV product-line, none of which offer a plug still. Why?
GM offered Two-Mode an entire decade ago. It was even followed by a plug-in prototype SUV. Yet, all these years later, there is not a single green SUV offering... nothing with a plug or even just a hybrid option... despite so much praise for supposedly being the leader of legacy automakers.
Now, we see an effort to downplay. Rather than make an effort to actually electrify their product-line, it's just more token gestures. Actually trying to change the status quo still isn't happening. Their dealer's showroom floors still look basically unchanged.
Toyota gets slammed all the time for their effort to change. Camry, Corolla, RAV4, CH-R, Highlander, Avalon... are all available as hybrids in different markets. That's an undeniable investment into electrification with an easy & profitable path to offering a plug. We also see Prime demonstrating potential for EV choices, by establishing production and promoting refinement of related EV components.
Remember all the hype about a "Volt lite" years ago, when enthusiasts tried to push GM to offer a more affordable plug-in choice? They knew the disaster of tax-credit phaseout would arrive someday, when GM would get stuck with plug-in vehicles totally unappealing to dealers. Why even try to sell an expensive choice that will deliver such little profit? Even if that inventory was stock, what salesperson would even bother trying to persuade a shopper for so little commission?
This has been a problem in the making since sales struggle of gen-1 Volt resulted in a dramatic price down... which didn't result in an overall sales increase. All these years later, we still see sales on the bottom of GM's list. That's a blatant sign the technology should either be diversified or abandoned. Seeing no progress in that regard to Volt and the rollout of Bolt as their solution to "range anxiety" instead, there's good reason to question motive of the recent proposal.
Notice the lack of detail and how low the bar is set for time & quantity? Rather than "just do it" to force the other legacy automakers to follow suit, there's a negotiation with the our government taking place. Why? Talk is cheap. We're seeing pushes in Europe & China regardless of whether or not the United States joins in. The world will suffer from oil-dependency & climate-change regardless of whatever official mandate gets passed.
In other words, how long must we wait for an affordable Chevy Trax plug-in hybrid to finally be offered... or Equinox... or Traverse... or Blazer?
Closed Minds. There are a few on the big Prius forum who focus entirely on the short-term. They just plain don't care what's coming. That means any effort that's long-term is simply ignored. Closing your mind to anything except the immediate is a terrible waste, since it makes progress a challenge. People don't want to invest in the future. That's why the tax-cuts were recieved with such high praises. Barriers that move to live in the now created weren't taked into consideration. It's a selfish move. You intentionally sacrifice the future. Yet, there are many in our socieity who do that. This is how great powers fall. We have many examples throughout history. There is a cost to pay. Sadly, some contribute to the mess. You have to turn on former allies as a result. It's the figurative slap-in-the face, with a hope of waking them up to their complacency. Maybe it will work. Maybe it won't. The point is, I tried: You are feeding a greenwash narrative by cherry-picking like that. Prime was clearly designed for profitability. Compliance vehicles don't bother. Toyota's effort to deliver affordability is overwhelming evident that it is targeting mainstream sales. Choosing to only acknowlege the short-term perspective is intentionally misleading.