Prius Personal Log  #903

November 25, 2018  -  November 28, 2018

Last Updated:  Tues. 12/18/2018

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11-28-2018

Closure, Get Over It.   Their denial is overwhelming.  It really is over.  Volt failed.  Moving on after such a loss is difficult though, especially when they resist acknowledgement.  Oh well.  I'll keep reminding them of how they got themselves into such a mess and suggest ways of getting over it:  My concern for GM not carrying forward the technology in Volt to something GM customers (those who are looking to replace their older GM vehicle with a new one) will actually purchase has been overwhelmingly confirmed as valid.  Why would I go anywhere when the effort to get proper attention about the lack of advancement is finally taking place?  I couldn't care less about hurting the pride of some enthusiasts not interested in supporting something for ordinary consumers.  They'll just need to face the reality that range & power did not actually equate to a "vastly superior" vehicle.  Volt was unsuccessful.  Who cares.  Try again.  The goal all along has been to get each automaker to deliver something that would be able to replace their own traditional offerings.  GM still hasn't attempted that yet.  Rather than build an Equinox or Trax using Volt technology, but with a more affordably sized motor & battery configuration, GM wasted time & credits on conquest.  That "more is better" approach Volt took failed.  Neglecting mainstream priorities was a terrible decision.  So what if I was the one who pointed that out years ago and kept reminding everyone that the imbalance was too much of a sacrifice?  Get over it by focusing on what much be done next, rather than shooting the messenger.  Continuing to evade the issue will not fix it.

11-28-2018 Closure, Questions.  The situation for GM has been revealed to be an economic disaster.  The enthusiasts are quite angry by this outcome... what's remaining of them, anyway.  So many became disenchanted, they are nothing but bad memories now.  To think of how many of them moved on to other early-adopter conquests...  That's why they hate me so much.  To find out I was correct, that my concern for business well-being was indeed sincere, is too much to accept.  What do you do at that point?  I warned them about missing so much opportunity.  Rather than persuade GM to take a better course, they obediently followed without question.  It was a terrible choice.  Fighting me made it worse.  They have no doubt anymore that the outcome I warned about was a genuine concern... because that's what happened.  Sadly, I was right.  There was a hope someone in management would wake up.  But with so many executives stepping down every time there was a problem, there wasn't ever a clear message of intent.  What were they trying to accomplish with Volt?  At each stage, the goals listed changed... and not for the better.  Ugh.  I ask questions for good reason.  Here's are the most common:

Who is the market for Volt ?

The years of trying to evade that question and doing everything possible to avoid detail with regard to GM's intent are over.  Volt failed without any successor established.  Now, enthusiasts refuse to address the future.  There's only vague mention of something coming... to the extreme of not even making claims of being "vastly superior" or "10 years ahead" anymore. This is disenchantment to an extreme.

Too Little, Too Slowly ?

That was the concern.  It always comes down to the reality of economics.  GM took a terrible approach with a half-hearted effort that did not result in the widespread acceptance required for a new technology to become a viable replacement for the old.  No amount of spin can conceal that either.  We all see that sales were a struggle, even with the $7,500 tax-credit.  Phaseout of that subsidy is rapidly approaching to.  So, it makes no sense building a money-loser anymore... which brings up a new question:

Will there be a plug-in hybrid ?

GM's message of Volt being the solution to "range anxiety" was abruptly changed when Bolt was revealed.  That EV offering was to become the new solution, since it offered 4.5 times the battery capacity, extending range without ever having to use a gas engine.  Unfortunately, sales of Bolt did not achieve the significant growth that was required.

Where does that leave GM now ?

Hope to portray an image of industry leadership has been lost.  GM has slipped into the bucket of automotive choices, no longer a choice that stands out. In fact, we see several other automakers all striving to deliver what Volt failed to achieve... being an affordable offering sold to mainstream consumers.  It makes you wonder if GM leadership is willing to accept the idea of cooperation, becoming an industry player instead of being an example of what not to do.

What do you suggest GM should do ?

11-28-2018

Closure, Downplay.  It's common to address defeat by downplaying the outcome.  That's an expected response, as they put it: "Much hand-wringing about nothing.  We always knew that Volt was a gateway drug.  This move by GM was expected.  Continuing to produce models that are in a declining sales spiral would be worse."  I was amused to read that, knowing there's never any substance to claims.  That absolute of avoiding detail at all cost is their mantra.  Next thing you know, they'll spin the plant shutdowns as preparation for a new electrification program.  Trouble is, that couldn't be any more vague.  What is GM attempting to achieve?  Preventing job loss isn't getting addressed.  It's that continued blindness of business.  Keeping focus only on engineering efforts to advance technology can (and this case did) result in consequences of negligence.  What the heck are dealers supposed to supply in sell if there is nothing to transition to?  A diesel model of Equinox was such a wasted of resources.  Yet, that's why GM delivered instead of something electrified.  I posted this in return:  That is a direct contradiction to what scores of enthusiasts have been saying ever since the topic of tax-credit phaseout was brought up years ago.  Rather than abruptly stop production mid-cycle, GM's supposed plan was to drop MSRP to match the subsidy reduction.  There is no expectation from GM.  Using up limited tax-credits without establishing a successor in the process is a reckless business approach.  What were they risking the PLUG-IN HYBRID approach for, to establish EV sales?  That makes no sense.  Even the narrative of succession is baffling.  GM wants to produce Pickup & SUV only.  Investing in a compact hatchback and a compact wagon is counter-productive... especially knowing that GM had already demonstration a plug-in SUV a entire decade ago, intended for rollout in 2009.  Your attempt at damage-control is a load of rubbish.  It's easy to prove too.  Being an expectation would mean a plan has already been conveyed.  What is the plan?  What does GM intend?  Tell us about the next move.

11-27-2018

Closure, Wild Ride.  That's how I describe today.  Fallout from yesterday's announcement has been all over the place.  One enthusiast came up with spin to label the 14,000 employee's GM is planning to layoff and the 5 production plants they will close as a move to electrification.  Several stated this was the plan anyway, to abruptly stop production mid-cycle without any type of replacement already in place.  Ugh.  Our president got angry and threatened GM will some bizarre statement about taking away subsidies.  What subsidies?  The tax-credits will trigger phaseout next month regardless.  One publication took substituted "Cruze" for "Volt", then went on and on about expectations not having been met.  Of course, none of it matters.  Production of both will end anyway.  Impala will be discontinued as well.  It's a nightmare for anyone who ever attacked me claiming the "too little, too slowly" concern was actually an effort to undermine Volt.  That has been proven untrue to such an extreme, there's no recourse.  They are simply screwed no matter what they say.  As a result, it has been remarkably quiet on that front.  I have been watching their wild ride.  Uncertainty about what happens next is growing.  The belief is GM will make an announcement in the next few months about an upcoming successor to Volt.  It will undoubtedly be a scaled down version of the system adapted for a SUV... something long, long overdue.

11-27-2018

5 Days Ago.  It was a loooong Monday at work.  I wasn't able to sleep well as a result.  So, I jumped online and stumbled across this reply to an old post: "You hang out here too so you can bash the Volt just like you do at [the daily blog for Volt]?  Geez.  Not wasting my time with you here just like I don't waste my time with you there...  Buh bye..."  In that post from 5 days ago, he could see the build up to the fallout about to come... a didn't like it.  There are many who don't want to face reality.  Consequences of the poor choices they endorsed were starting to emerge without any means of denial available.  All the excuses have been exhausted.  Pretty much anything you say at this point has become hypocritical.  I was delighted to point out the situation too:  Pushing GM to finally diversify by offering Volt technology in a vehicle like Equinox is bashing?  You've got really messed up priorities if you think that.  Of course, just 5 days later, I've been vindicated.  The reason for my "too little, too slowly" concern was about Volt's financial viability.  If GM didn't find a way to increase sales volume, it would be discontinued.  That's basic economics.  If the product doesn't grow, it will fail.  Turns out, that is exactly what happened.  Rather than the plant producing volume ramping down Cruze as it needed to build more Volt, the entire operation collapsed.  The transition to an electrified offering failed.  You wasted your time by not listening.  My concern originated from the bankruptcy task-force, those put in charge of making sure GM had a solid plan to get back to good financial health.  Volt was claimed to be part of that effort.  Calling my contribution to get GM to diversify bashing is just plain wrong.

11-26-2018

Closure, Begged.  They claim to have had a consideration of the bigger picture.  Evidence to the contrary is abundant.  Whenever I brought up Camry hybrid, they would freak out and scramble to change the topic.  That's why RAV4 has been even more of a scare to them.  GM abandoned the idea of plug-in hybrids as a solution.  We had confirmation (ambiguous in GM's usual approach) of that over a year ago.  They announced 20 new "all electric" offerings to come.  It was a vague reinforcement of the effort with Bolt... which makes sense, because GM makes terrible hybrids.  They are expensive and are not efficient.  It came down to this:  "The Volt was front and center when GM begged for their Bailout 10 years ago."  No surprise that topic was stirred to look at the beginning, rather than focus on the end at hand.  Look backward, not forward.  Ugh.  I punched back with:  "Too Little, Too Slowly" was the concern raised by the bankruptcy recovery task-force in response to that.  They had good reason to question how Volt would become a profitable contributor to GM's well-being in those next few years.  Our government lost money in the end, selling their bailout shares of GM stock at a loss.  Volt struggled with sales despite the $7,500 tax-credit, never achieving growth to a sustainable level and far too expensive to be competitive.  It has been a slow-motion disaster, as we watched GM fail to adapt to change.  They have no clear path to electrification still, after all this time.  There is no hybrid system in place to usher in plug options for any of their larger vehicles.  Equinox should have been taken on the role of Volt successor long ago.  There isn't even a hybrid option available yet.  How is a 26 MPG rated vehicle going to be profitable when the competition is about to rollout an equivalent size & style offering with a 39 MPG rating?  How will something with a plug addressed with such a disadvantageous stage now set?  To all of you who were hostile to those words of warning, what do you suggest should happen as a next step?

11-26-2018

Closure, What A Mess.  Objectivity became a lost cause almost immediately: "Where do you get that we’ve reached peak oil?"  When you are dealing with people who are supporting a narrative, it's easy for them to forget about their own blinders.  They fail to see the bigger picture.  This was a great example of that.  I responded with an explanation:  Instability of the market supply caused investor activity to become unpredictable.  That marked "peak" oil.  That combined with sedan marketshare has falling from 50% in 2012 to 31% now.  Chevy Cruze sales have plummeted.  The Lordstown assembly plant will be closed, as a result.  That's where Volt was built.  This is the "too little, too slowly" outcome those here shrugged off as a concern... the missed opportunity so often brought up as a problem not to be taken lightly.  Volt is now dead without a successor established yet.  That model of Trax or Equinox using Voltec should have been made available years ago.  GM fell into the innovator's dilemma trap.  That lead they had was lost.  Meanwhile, we see EV rollout challenges that have not been properly addressed.  What will happen with Bolt now?  Will GM promote plug-in hybrids at the same time, despite the mixed "range anxiety" message?  That abrupt change of approach going from Volt to Bolt is very confusing for potential customers.

11-26-2018

Closure, Introduction.  Surprise!  Things sure took an interesting turn.  Exactly one month ago, the final attack took place and dragged on for weeks.  It was the end of Volt was drawing near.  Such an expensive offering unable to grow sales beyond a niche was doomed with the loss of $7,500 subsidies helping it barely sustain.  Today, a post declaring an end to production, complete with the March 2019 date specified, meant everyone still a hopeless enthusiasts would show up on that discussion thread to provide damage control.  Keep in mind how much pride fundamentally influences their actions.  Being misleading & dishonest had become routine for them.  I could witness all kinds of emotionally driven responses.  Objectivity never really existed.  They selectively supplied information to create a narrative.  That's why they were called "enthusiasts" rather than being seen as supporters.  You can't just ignore what you don't like.  In their case, it was business goals.  They were compelled to focus solely on engineering achievement.  That made them blind to profit & growth.  Tradeoffs for the sake of delivering a balanced product was unacceptable.  Their desire was a standout vehicle, not for something to become ubiquitous.  That meant those enthusiasts would be at odds with supporters.  It was the fighting that would emerge as a result which I concentrated my efforts on.  What would they say & do to undermine themselves.  It was a conflict of purpose.  You can't have both.  Either the technology would be for the masses or it would remain specialty.  Those concepts are mutually exclusive.  They didn't understand that.  IT would spell their doom... and that's exactly what this topic was about.  I suspect my blog entries for the next week or two to document that downfall, addressing the mistakes they made and the effort to conceal & deflect.

11-25-2018 Holiday Road Trip.  $2.29 today for me, on the way back from Wyoming.  We celebrated the Thanksgiving Holiday with out-of-state family.  Our drove back through the Black Hills of South Dakota over the weekend during a snow advisory.  It was difficult to see lanes at times, but road handling was just fine.  Overall efficiency, despite the 80 mph travel and no opportunity to plug in, was 45.2 MPG.

That 1,532-mile trip to coal country for the holiday really got me thinking about this upcoming oil crisis.  We are about to see the bottom drop without any easy path to recovery.

We hit peak back in 2010, clearly marked by the loss of supply stability.  That original measurement of oil quantity available in the ground still was proven worthless the moment investor activity started to become unpredictable.  Seeing how much of a push coal has become in opposition to both natural-gas and renewables is what really made the problem obvious.  The oil industry was already fighting among itself.  That meant the entire energy market would end up getting turned upside-down.

Listening to the supposed "experts" related to plug-in vehicle support, any solution is problematic.  Most have no idea what happened in the past.  They don't bother to study hybrid history.  Repeating the same mistakes will happen as a result.  It's like reading reviews from over 15 years ago.  There is no understanding of the market or what motivates mainstream consumers.

Our biggest problem in that regardless appears to be perspective.  People here look at China as pusher of mandates and never bother to look beyond the government influence.  If they did, it would become apparent that the culture there is more accepting of change.  Our attitude here is if the vehicle isn't absolutely perfect, it will fail.  We obsess so much with fine detail of reviews, we completely miss the point of the technology.  That's really sad.

This plummet of gas prices will bring that point home in a painful way.

Watch what unfolds in the next few months.

 

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