Prius Personal Log  #899

November 3, 2018  -  November 6, 2018

Last Updated:  Tues. 12/18/2018

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Fallout, perspective.  That understanding of what went wrong can be so obvious years later, looking back.  But when in the middle of it, perspective is often totally unknown.  Responses are to the here & now, not to what overal goals are and why certain decisions are actually made.  That's the reason market reaction is usually misunderstood.  You have to know what to look for in the first place.  This is why I stress purpose so routinely.  What are they trying to accomplish.  This is how races are lost.  That story of "Tortoise and the Hare" provides a great analogy.  Yet, even when pointing out the behavior pattern, it is still denied & dismissed.  Like I keep saying, oh well.  They'll eventually figure out the mistakes being made.  It will be too late, but at least it's an end to the crazy competition we have been in.  I keep trying to point out the situation though, prior to it drawing to what is now being an inevitable defeat:  That would be a more accurate description of the situation playing out now.  Being "ahead" at the moment is by no means a guarantee an automaker will win the race.  This is where the often overlooked or dismissed detail of design cost & efficiency will really make a difference.


Fallout, apologists.  There's a defend-at-all-cost mentality to that happens prior to coming to the realization of being corner.  It hasn't sunk in yet.  The nature & magnitude of change to come is difficult for some to see.  They get so hung up with their perspective, the impact to others is totally unknown.  Something doesn't go right, they respond in a manner that everyone else sees as apologetic.  Excuses seem realistic to the enthusiast, since they don't see the pattern.  That's what happens when you only consider a narrow scope of time & audience.  Looking at the bigger picture simply never happens.  That's why much of what's posted really doesn't matter to them.  They never see what really took place.  Oh well.  Hopefullly, the lurkers do:  GM must provide something for GM customers, who couldn't care less about rhetoric online.  Those customers just want to purchase a passenger vehicle from GM that's cleaner and more efficient... Malibu, Trax, Cruze, Equinox, Impala, Blazer, Traverse, Tahoe... yet there aren't any.  2 plug-in vehicles that are small & expensive and won't be profitable until 2021 should be reason for serious concern.  GM wasted tax-credit opportunity.  Calling others who did not laggards (especially when they already offer a wide variety of impressive hybrids) is what an apologist would do.


Fallout, replacement.  It continued... Buick Velite 6 will very likely become the Volt replacement, GM's move to finally take a first step toward actual change to the status quo.  It will be configured the way many enthusiasts feared... a larger vehicle with a system that offers less power and less range.  Heck, even the name itself suggests that "V"olt and "e"Assist and "lite" is a successor of GM's previous technology... which includes analogous naming.  GM offering a vehicle for their own customers is long overdue.  Tax-Credits were squandered for the sake of automaker conquest rather than GM addressing its product-line.  Having that money to stir interest would have been quite helpful; instead, this new plug-in hybrid offering will have to compete based upon MSRP value.  So much opportunity was missed, but at least GM is finally taking a step in the right direction.  Their choice of the past to listen to enthusiasts here, who clearly led them astray, equated to a terrible amount of time wasted.  Oh well.  The experience gained from now rolling out in China first will help guide a sensible decision in the United States.


Fallout, shopper.  That didn't go over well.  Effort to actually discuss GM on a website dedicated to GM is going to far, asking too much, expecting a miracle.  Ugh.  It's all about forcing a narrative about Toyota being so far behind, they'll never survive.  That gives the impression GM isn't in trouble, that the end of tax-credits doesn't mean dramatic change.  Oh well.  The clock cannot be stopped.  It will happen.  We know when.  Of course, knowing if enthusiasts will ever considering become supporters is an entirely different matter.  No one has any idea what the response will be to this stage coming to a very predictable end.  It's an odd situation, which should be this way.  Purpose was obvious.  Acceptance was far from inevitable though.  Virtually all enthusiasts fade away prior to such conclusion.  The void left behind is quite interesting as a result.  In this case, I'm especially intrigued.  Many of the original antagonist issues simply won't emerge with an entirely new audience.  Much of the technology has changed since then.  I summed up my long-term observations by pointing out the shopper's perspective:  See where this is going?  That "GM must provide something for GM customers" means people shopping at GM dealers are hoping to find something available that finally uses technology from Volt but doesn't require having to purchase a compact hatchback.  They are loyal GM customers looking for a GM vehicle.  When should we expect a plug-in hybrid Chevy Trax?  You know a GM shopper will ask that question.


Fallout, status.  When you bring up GM fallout, there will naturally be a status for Toyota posted.  No matter how hard you work to keep on topic, they always revert to basic diversion.  A blog devoted to Volt naturally means you discuss everything except matters of GM.  Ugh.  It's so desperate of an effort to keep change from finally happening.  Why do they fight the inevitable so much?  It's just a stage, not an end.  So what?  Volt failed.  It's not like another plug-in hybrid can't be offered.  But to make themselves feel better, they have to insult & belittle others.  The very idea of joining the team as an equal player is still shunned.  That "vastly superior" attitude had stirred so much false hope, that's no surprise.  Oh well, it's their loss not to be part of what happens next.  It's not like they weren't informed about how to address change:  As for that claim of missing the boat, there's no substance to such a statement.  We are still very much in the early-adopter stage, which is clearly defined as the time when sales are not directly subsidized.  Mainstream sales don't include tax-credits.  They are just ordinary transactions from dealer to vehicle owner, purchased at a nearby location without any government incentive.  None of the EV sales here have been in that manner yet.  So, there's no merit to "ahead" or "behind" assessments of status.  That stage... which represents actual change to the status quo... has not begun.


Fallout, treatment.  I could get a sense of unease immediately.  The harsh treatment I routinely got in the past was about to return.  So, I pre-emptively made the initiative.  Why not?  After all, nothing they tried in the past (and they would quite thorough) actually worked.  It was attack after attack with every excuse imaginable attempted.  They had nothing to lose back then.  Right away, there were problems with Volt.  In fact, that very first month the most prominent of supporters abruptly went quiet.  Rollout revealed issues.  The idea of promoting turned into damage-control almost immediately.  A few things I had warned about had already been confirmed.  They were not happy.  Shooting the messenger was one of the few things that brought joy.  I never let up though.  It was always a matter of waiting until tax-credits expired.  That artifical layer of protection was false hope... and now they know it.  So, my hope now is to... ironically... provide damage-control.  It's the very guidance they resented back then too, just sharing of important market information.  Too stubborn to listen 8 years ago means a bitter pill to swallow at this point.  Fortunately, it isn't too late.  It's just a matter of not letting pride get in the way.  Enthusiasts used their talent to create a very appealing niche.  Oops!  That's exactly what you don't want when the goal is to appeal to the masses.  Oh well.  Lesson learned, which I pointed out in this manner:  GM's treatment of Volt says it all.  Rather than forming it into a product their own customers would be drawn to, it was a game of conquest.  The tax-credits were exploited to please enthusiasts.  Now as the tax-credit phaseout rapidly approaches, GM has nothing appealing or cost-effective to sell.  You know GM showroom shoppers.  They are looking for SUV choices.  That's why GM added Trax and Blazer to the product-line. But neither of which offers a plug or even just a hybrid model.  They are all still guzzlers, despite having used almost 200,000 tax-credits to change that.


Fallout, narrative.  Things are picking up.  Obvious pressure is growing.  That means the narrative being pushed is no surprise.  There is fallout from GM, what we have long waited for... so others can finally fill the void promised to be addressed by Volt but never happened.  It was a monumental barrier that couldn't be overcome.  How do you fight an idea?  Delivery of promises fell apart.  GM came up short of the price-point targeted all those years ago.  Too expensive meant little to no interest from mainstream consumers.  And sure enough, sales reflected that.  Even with the generous $7,500 tax-credit, there simply wasn't a market for a vehicle with such high cost.  The choice to emphasize power & range was too much of an affordability sacrifice... and now we have overwhelming proof.  Their nightmare has become a reality.  Enthusiasts (the few who still remain) have fallout to deal with now, hence the spinning of stories now.  The thread on that old daily blog struggling for an audience remains the home for them.  So, I joined into the so-called discussion there with:  That's a narrative being spread to avoid facing the reality of EVs not being cost-effective enough to compete directly with traditional vehicles.  Turning a blind-eye to the mainstream market is why what you think doesn't matter.  As for most everyone else here, they are early-adopters.  Know your audience.  Toyota is striving to deliver affordable choices that will actually be embraced by their dealers to stock & sell.  How effective has that been for the other legacy automakers?


Contining Attacks.  Just like with the other stages of fallout, there are a few who lash out with final words before fading away into defeat.  Today, that came from a well known Toyota antagonist.  I was assumed by his short-sightedness and feel quite vindicated for not having been pulled into such self-deprecating behavior:  GM exploited tax-credits for conquest sales.  They didn't focus on delivering something for their own customers.  Like you, they focused entirely on "out there now" and didn't consider the consequences of not focusing on profitable high-volume sales instead.  Quite the opposite of that is Toyota, who has focused intensely on designing a system to appeal to their own shoppers on their own showroom floors.  Someone with an interest in Prius will be drawn to Prime.  It's an affordable solution, without dependency on tax-credits.  This is why the next-gen RAV4 hybrid is so important.  It's path to a plug is a simple one, something those with interest in RAV4 will take into serious consideration.  This is the same reason why Toyota is rolling out a plug-in model of Corolla hybrid in other markets next year.  You aren't a Toyota shopper.  So, what you think doesn't matter anyway.  Know your audience.

11-04-2018 Speculation.  I took advantage of that sales discussion, after having stirred this reply: "I would hope your speculation will come true.  I think Prime is under appreciated car in public just as Prius Plug-in was."  It's the story I have been waiting an entire decade to share, knowing GM would screw up the opportunity.  How did I know?  Simple, they were repeating the very same mistakes that had been made with Two-Mode.  I recognized the pattern... and got attacked by enthusiasts whenever I pointed out the familiar course GM was taking.  Ugh.  Oh well, it's finally about to come to an end:

It is more like observation, rather than speculation.  We witnessed a very similar inventory approach back with the Classic model.  Toyota doesn't play their hand until the time is right.  They wait for the market and study in limited areas in the meantime... even when it makes some supporters crazy with bewilderment.

In this case, it is to avoid the GM disaster.  Getting caught up in their fallout wake would be bad for everyone.  GM squandered tax-credits by obsessing with conquest sales.  Focus on speed & power blinded them from the importance of actually bringing about change for their own customers.  When things got so bad for GM with their "range anxiety" solution, they ended up making an abrupt strategy change.  They abandoned Volt to create & promote Bolt.

Now as April 2019 approaches, that $7,500 federal assistance they have depended upon heavily, will then drop to $3,750 for the following 6 months.  Following that, it will drop to $1,875 for 6 months, then phaseout will be complete.  That's really bad news for an automaker struggling just to retain attention.  Sales have been far below expectations.  The purpose of those tax-credits was to establish a high-volume profitable vehicle *PRIOR* to triggering the phaseout stage.

Remember, phaseout begins when an automaker exceeds 200,000 sales.  At that point, there is no quantity limit.  The automaker can exploit the opportunity by producing as many vehicles as possible... exactly what we are witnessing right this very moment with Tesla.  It's an opportunity GM will miss, despite knowing years ahead of time that this very situation would happen.

Toyota will be ramping up as GM struggles to remain relevant, not having to deal with confusing comparisons to Volt from having waited.  It simply didn't make any sense to make a major move any sooner, especially with the success of Tesla doing such a remarkable job of promoting plug-in vehicles.  In the meantime, Toyota continued to refine their design to make it cost-competitive with traditional vehicles.


Getting Caught.  A really, really well known antagonist who fought on GM's behalf for years only to abandon them entirely for Tesla, spoke out today.  I was intrigued.  What could he post that wasn't hypocritical?  After an entire decade of praising GM for the Volt's solution to "range anxiety" then abruptly switching to a Model 3, my interest was peaked.  That change from plug-in hybrid to EV and at the same time leaving behind a legacy automaker for a well investor-funded startup is something he himself would have attacked.  But then again, he was known to lie.  Being blatantly dishonest is what captured my attention.  What kind of a person simply says whatever makes them feel better.  Oh wait... you know.  Anywho, he said this: "I'd like to see this vehicle in the US, w/some cleaner styling, longer range, and 75kW DCFC."  It was about the upcoming plug-in hybrid GM is planning to rollout to the market in China.  It is a size-category one model larger than Volt.  So, we know it will require more electric power simply to maintain the same level of performance he sung praise for over the years and used to insult Prius with.  I especially remember how arrogant he was about Prime.  The obsession with power was overwhelming.  So, this quote from the article he commented about had me quite intrigued: "According to several Chinese news agencies, the maximum output of the motor is 85 kW."  That is only 114 horsepower, well under the 149 horsepower Volt delivers.  That would put it roughly in the same power-category as Prime.  I had caught him being hypocritical.  How would he respond?  Turns out, he pretended his focus was entirely on charging speed.  Everyone reading that post can see otherwise.  Figuring that would be the outcome, my comment was as follows:  Here?  In the land of vehicles where higher horsepower was claimed to be essential?  Remember all those arguments?  85 kW from a vehicle larger & heavier than the 68 kW from Prime puts many in a contradictory position.


Holding a Grudge.  It has been interesting to read posts from a gen-1 Prius PHV owner who was upset about the battery-pack fit.  For the past 2 years, he has done nothing but complain.  The short-sightedness of his actions and absolute refusal to look at the big picture has been very annoying to quite a number of people.  Lately, that has changed.  Now, he seems angry about everything.  There's no pleasing him on any topic.  It has been an transformation I didn't expect.  The resentment spans all topics now.  This was the most surprising: "our son is looking at an equinox (iirc) with diesel and start/stop tech, nearly doubles the mpg over gas"  Many of his posts are so vague, it's not even worth replying anymore.  In fact, he has switched to replies without quotes, just a post in the thread with an implied target.  That avoidance of detail is a dead giveaway of petulance.  I wasn't going to let that go.  So, I hit back with:  Double of 28 MPG (combined for 2018 Chevrolet Equinox FWD 1.5 L, 4 cyl, Automatic 6-spd, Turbo, Regular Gasoline) is not the 32 MPG (2018 Chevrolet Equinox FWD 1.6 L, 4 cyl, Automatic 6-spd, Turbo, Diesel) rating no matter how you consider it, nor are the city or highway ratings.  The outgoing RAV4 hybrids (to be replaced with a next-gen upgrade in a few months) delivers a 32 MPG rating and it is AWD.  There's an expectation for it to get a significant efficiency bump, much like what we just witnessed for Camry hybrid.  So, it makes no sense whatsoever to consider diesel (which is a more expensive fuel) as an efficiency choice.  We know that turbulence in the oil market is about to get worse, causing gas prices to drop.  That positions Toyota well to phaseout their top model of RAV4 as a traditional guzzler, replacing their high-end offering as a hybrid only.  It's an important step forward that should not be overlooked... though, it will be.  Toyota tends to make significant moves as subtle as possible.  Think about how effectively that sets the stage for a plug-in hybrid model of RAV4.


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