Prius Personal Log  #911

January 1, 2019  -  January 3, 2019

Last Updated:  Sun. 2/24/2019

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1-03-2019

Lesson Learned.  The verdict of this is what made antagonists suddenly vanish: "I guess they've learned a lot from the two generations of Volt and from the Bolt, but they sure have failed to use the tax credits to move into the mass market.  Very disappointing."  Looking back at discussion threads just a few months ago, you would have never expected such an abrupt change.  They were dishonest, offensive, and sometimes even hostile.  Why they held on to the bitter end, while watching so many of their peers abandon ship, seems to be a matter of pride.  Too proud to admit defeat is unfortunate.  That's how the history repeats again later.  Not learning from mistakes is a painful outcome easily avoided.  But then again... Two-Mode, Volt-1, Volt-2, Bolt... how many times could they be fooled into believing an "it's worth it" approach would result in a large number of people willing to pay a premium?  Each of those failed attempts had the "leap frog" hope.  Their technology advance would outsell Prius.  None did.  The struggle to draw customers from within (not conquest from outside) never bore any fruit.  I knew it was futile, simply because you cannot out Prius a Prius without understanding its formula for success.  It comes down to appealing to mainstream consumers.  If you do, enthusiasts will feel let down.  A vehicle without emphasis on size & power isn't worth consideration, as far as they are concerned... which is now why I haven't heard from certain individuals now.  They seem to have recognized their mistake.

1-02-2019

Median.  I get quite annoyed by those who don't understand what averages actually tell us.  The assume middle, which is often quite incorrect when looking at the actual data.  That's why detail is always requested.  Statistics can be used to mislead.  Intentional or not, that is the outcome.  I made sure that was clear:  Average is a misleading indicator.  Since it is not weighted in any way, the value is distorted by an extreme. In this case, that extreme is Model 3.  To accurately build a true representation of the market, a straight average must be avoided.  Otherwise, the number will end up feeding a narrative.  Median is the more informative value, as this real-world example points out: "The average U.S. worker today earns roughly $46,641 a year, according to data from the Social Security Administration.  The median salary in the country; however, is only $30,533, which tells us that a greater number of people earn less than the average than more."  On a regular basis, that same problem comes up with vehicle pricing.  The value is distorted without any context to tell us what it really represents.

1-01-2019

Same Dance.  How times have we heard a different song for the same dance?  This time, it was: "The hybrid rose on the rise in price in gasoline, and now falls with the fall in gas prices.  And yet fully electric vehicles continue to rise.  How could that be?"  I wasn't pleased:  That narrative has a fundamental flaw.  From Jan. 2000 to Dec. 2005, there was no tax-credit available for hybrids.  All you'd get for purchasing a green vehicle was a $2K deduction, which worked out to between $300 and $400 for most people.  Despite that, sales of Prius grew to exceed the 100,000 annual milestone.  EV purchases have yet to prove their ability to reach mainstream volume without tax-credit help, which is quite generous at $7,500.  As for the narrow-minded view that a plug-in hybrid cannot have a huge impact to being green, you're fighting people on the same team.  Those are really messed up priorities that the oil industry will appreciate.  Even with a small battery-pack in Prius Prime, owners commute can dramatically reduce oil consumption... to the point where some are entirely electric.  Also, keep in mind that hybrid choices were very limited then and some automakers were fighting fiercely against electrification, most notably GM and VW.  There was no sense of electrification being the future like it is now.

1-01-2019

Not Happy.  Today's post was supposed to be an attack on Prius.  I kept that from happening by forcing the bigger picture.  Some were not happy, especially this person: "Finish the sentence: I have changed the subject from Prius to RAV Hybrid, because..."  Of course, I took that as an invitation to stress the point:  ...because the market has shifted interest to SUV choices and the AWD model of Prius won't be available for a few weeks still.  I find it intriguing to see topic spin as an attempt to polarize.  Rather than seeing Toyota's effort to diversify, it's a one-size-fits-all perspective being pushed.  That's the very thing that killed Volt.  GM failed to spread the technology.  In other words, I didn't actually change the subject.  I drew attention to the fact that the single-mindedness was creating a false narrative of what's really happening.  The goal is to end the production of traditional vehicles with electrified choices.  That's exactly what Toyota is aggressively pursuing.  What other automaker is addressing their entire fleet of Cars & SUVs like that?

1-01-2019

Tradeoffs.  Discussion of how we got to this situation has been interesting.  With Volt dead and Tesla tax-credits now in phaseout status, the problem of cheap gas and fossil undermining has been pushed aside.  More and more attention is being put on Toyota.  I find that quite peculiar.  Why?  The source makes you wonder too, especially with comments like this: "I'm a big fan of PHEVs, especially as only cars... but one needs to be realistic about the tradeoffs."  That's the want verses need issue so convoluted, nobody can reply... which may be the point.  After all, that is exactly what our president does to push his agenda.  I don't put up with that though, as I pushed back with:  Ironically, not seeing that a 5th is rarely ever needed and not acknowledging the large cargo area from folding down seats are great examples of being unrealistic.  Both are excellent tradeoffs.  It's weak arguments of claimed necessity that discredit sources like this as anything beyond group think.  That is what killed Volt.  Few saw the pattern then (a clear repeat of Two-Mode history), so it is no surprise the same mistakes playing out again.  Balance for an affordable price is what mainstreams shoppers seek.  That is why Prius was so successful.  Rather than delivering more capacity & power, Toyota carefully weighed tradeoffs to find a pleasing middle... a concept clearly not embraced by many of the posters here.

1-01-2019

Disappointment.  For 2 years, we've had a Prius enthusiast who owns a Prius PHV express disappointment about Prime.  He had unrealistic expectations.  And after 2 more years of the same, with complaints on a regular basis, it's getting quite annoying.  He just plain does not want to accept results different from what he anticipated: "lets face it, prime has been a disappointment, as have gen4 sales. this isn't about camry or rav4, it is about prius losing sales to tesla, and that is a fact. if toyota knew their audience, they wouldn't have to give up to $8,000 off to sell them."  More than anything, it's the diversification coming from Toyota that makes him crazy.  Prius no longer being the premiere family mover is too difficult to accept.  I let him have it:  You clearly don't understand Toyota's strategy... probably by having focused so much on seating.  That red-herring has wasted so much of your time.  Now, please read closely.  I'll take the time to explain.  First is to recognize audience: TOYOTA IS NOT COMPETING WITH TELSA.  Got it?  They are working to establish plug-in hybrid technology by transforming their own fleet.  That push away from legacy offerings is a major undertaking, well worth putting some money on the hood in select markets.  The real-world data they get in return is priceless.  So what if early-adopters seeking a new experience and taking advantage of the $7,500 discount experience Tesla?  That in no way guarantees future purchases anyway.  Just look at how many conquest sales GM gained with Volt only to lose later to Tesla.  It's all about changing the status quo, not scoring praise by pursuing low-hanging fruit.  Keep in mind that 200,000 tax-credits is a drop in the bucket.  Through November of last year, Toyota sold  298,991 Camry;  257,093 Corolla;  224,128 Tacoma;  221,386 Highlander;  and 159,189 RAV4  in the United States alone.  That perspective is very important to knowing why focus on Tesla isn't important.  Toyota must appeal to their dealers.  That means the new technology offerings must deliver a nice profit and be easy to sell.  Aggressive rollout of TNGA and the spread of hybrid choices is so important for that reason.  In the meantime, PHV/Prime likely came close to 60,000 purchases globally in 2018.  Knowing all that above, now explain how it is disappointing.

1-01-2019

Top Story.  It's amazing to see how many positive votes the post with this got: "Prius was always an unassuming very conservative styled car."  It came from an article published claiming how Tesla killed Prius, and was labeled as the "Top EV Story Of 2018".  That website caters heavily to early-adopters and very much thrives on attention from the low-hanging fruit.  To think that anyone would spin Prius as "unassuming" is remarkable.  This is why fake news was able to get such a grip on our society.  Cheering the crowd rather than noticing what everyone not at the event is saying allows such misleading.  They don't critical think.  It's become mindless.  Evidence all around goes unnoticed.  I fired back though, stirring the post to get noticed:  Attempting to push that narrative is what I would call the "Top EV Story Of 2018".  You can't be serious.  Prius was mocked from way back even before the word "smug" was coined and the South Park episode aired.  15 years ago Prius was labeled as "fugly" and mocked relentlessly for being a standout vehicle, that the only reason people purchased one was to make a statement about being green.  This is why so many mainstream consumers turn their back on EV advancements.  Prius was the only midsize hatchback available back then and it delivered 50 MPG for a competitive price.  Years later when the next-generation was rolled out, it had established a strong reputation for reliability & resale... and the look was anything but conservative styled.  RAV4 hybrid is what really turned the table.  For only $800 more than the traditional model, you could get Prius technology in a SUV.  The market lost interest in all types of cars, as sales of the entire segment confirm.

1-01-2019

Who's Schedule?  I see comments like this on a regular basis: "There should be a fully electric successor to the Prius by now. Toyota failed us all."  It comes from those focused only on the EV market.  That niche distorts their reality.  They don't understand how difficult it is to reach ordinary people.  The everyday person couldn't care less about plugging in, since they have no background.  Think about how misconceptions there are to overcome too.  All I can do is point out their lack of insight:  Fully electric by now?  No.  Cost is clearly not there yet for mass-market acceptance.  The entire industry is still showing dependence upon tax-credit subsidies, investment capital, and the support of early-adopters.  We thank all those who contribute to the cause, but the death of plug-in hybrids is grossly exaggerated.  Automakers are a for-profit business.  Dumping new product on dealers with poorly informed customers, no infrastructure, and an appetite for guzzling cheap gas makes no sense whatsoever.  How well did Nissan or BMW's exploration into that approach work?  Tesla's advantage is not having that legacy to address, but that makes reaching loyal legacy buyers a challenge.  To say "Toyota failed us all" means turning a blind-eye to ordinary consumers.  We see that Prime delivers all-electric commutes for many owners.  Keep in mind, the small battery-capacity makes it an affordable choice, delivering a MSRP so low it can compete directly with traditional vehicles.  How many fully electric vehicles can do that?  Think about how my vehicles per year are required.  Not understanding cost & volume makes constructive discussion basically impossible. 200,000 tax-credits is less than a single top-selling vehicle in this market.  To be both popular & profitable, it takes far more than just a large battery-pack.

1-01-2019

Let It Go!  Ugh.  This just never ends: "there'll be no major changes to prime. maybe a fifth seat. maybe."  He throws out comments about the middle seating daily.  It makes me crazy that he refuses to see the car market has changed.  People wanting family movers are switching to SUV choices.  Denying that is futile.  Yet, he still wants Prius to remain like it was imagined 3 generations ago.  Seeing it adapt to become more like a luxury offering and less like an economy vehicle is unacceptable.  He doesn't want Prius to change, period.  I'm not going to allow him to pollute the discussions anymore, continuously interjecting comments like that without any constructive acknowledgement of the rest of Toyota's fleet.  That dismissal of information is as bad as the antagonists.  In fact, that is basically what he is becoming by refusing to recognize the bigger picture.  Oh well, he had this coming:  You're obsession is such a wasted effort.  Prime is morphing into a more than just an "economy" offering, so the idea of forcing back to something it was +15 years ago is pointless.  Toyota has moved on.  Camry delivers 52 MPG and the potential for a plug. RAV4 with its 39 MPG will be exploring that as well.  Both are larger vehicles targeting the family audience.  Put another way, I find it absurd for you to expend so much effort hoping for a squished middle spot. It's not comfortable sitting there in a regular Prius. Anyone who's taken the time to consider options for a people mover would simply purchase a larger vehicle. So even if the convenience of trading the comfortable & handy center armrest with storage for a seat, that won't be a draw anyway.  Know your audience.  The market has shifted.

1-01-2019

Dead.  I wondered when the topic would be stirred on the big Prius forum.  It was the afternoon of the first day of the next tax year by a Volt-1 owner.  He never upgraded to a Volt-2 and has shown interest elsewhere.  So, coming from him was sensible: "The name Volt will be dead, but it doesn't mean the concept will.  I'm sure GM will continue on with it in some form or another."  It was obvious damage control... which is an opportunity for me to jump into the discussion, and I did without hesitation:  That "concept" was never clear.  In fact, that contributed to the demise of Volt.  Enthusiasts tried prompting the "EREV" identifier, but kept changing the definition each time another plug-in hybrid rolled out.  Basically, GM had no idea what direction to take.  It was obvious 12 years ago, when Volt was first revealed.  Almost immediately, we got mixed messages of purpose.  Goals were unrealistic and the target market uncertain.  The true death part though is the simple fact that there is no successor.  Tax-Credits were intended to help push a product into the mainstream; instead, GM decided to abandon the technology just as phaseout approached.  In other words, GM wasted a massive amount of opportunity.  Someday when a realistic offering debuts, GM will have to start all over.  Sadly, we knew back when Volt-1 was rolled out that the market was gravitating toward SUV choices and that GM had little interest in promoting a compact hatchback.  Yet, we saw a Volt-2 without anyone beyond those taking advantage of the $7,500 discount wanting to purchase it.  Those owners did what they could to promote, but SUV shoppers couldn't care less.  It was an ideal example of what not to do.  GM took praise for a subsidized niche and let their minions spin Toyota as an automaker "kicking & screaming" in resistance to mainstream offerings.  The hope was that GM's silence would go unnoticed, that their reluctance to actually address change of the status quo would be overlooked due to Volt.  Two-Mode failed to reach ordinary consumers.  So did Volt-1 and Volt-2.  Now, they only have an awkward Bolt that doesn't appeal to even their own dealers to stock as inventory.  Needless to say, GM isn't taking the situation seriously.  Making fun of Toyota for their seemingly timid approach will be their downfall.  The potential for Toyota's fleet of everyday hybrids... Corolla, RAV4, Camry, C-HR …to later offer a plug is enormous.  So what if none are standout vehicles?  The point is for the technology to become common.  In short, ugh.  What a waste.

1-01-2019

Tesla Killed Prius.  The article spelling out the end of the hybrid era.  Naturally, there's was barely a mention of Prime.  I find that the dead giveaway.  Avoidance is a major clue most of the time.  Why wasn't it more than just a vague reference?  Inventory is almost never addressed.  I did some online searches.  There are only a few dozen available on the West Coast.  Within 500 miles of Minnesota, I found just 17.  Concentration was on the East Coast, favoring the north.  Along that stretch, there were about 700.  That's it.  All are 2018 models too.  The burndown of supply and painful silence of Toyota leads me to believe there will be news coming soon.  My expectation is it will come with the press showcase in less than 2 weeks at Detroit.  A nice compliment to the next-gen RAV4 hybrid and Prius AWDe rollouts would be something new for Prime.  It would explain the availability holdout.  This isn't anything new.  Toyota did that with debuts of both Prime and with Prius itself.  Anywho, I sounded off with:  The focus of this article takes too narrow of a view.  Had it been "How EV killed the Hybrid" instead, that would have been a constructive look of the entire market.  The reach of 2018 was only to early-adopters with the benefit of a $7,500 tax-credit.  2019 is the true measure of progress and it won't be focused on just Prius.  The next-gen RAV4 hybrid will take the "conventional" buyers by storm.  It's quite obvious when you read an article from a GM source and they omit mention of Toyota's newest offering entirely.  39 MPG from a 219 horsepower system for only $28,000 will definitely draw in SUV shoppers.  Tesla has a great deal of potential, but the mainstream market is far more fickle than early-adopters.

 

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