Prius Personal Log #923
February 21, 2019 - February 24, 2019
Last Updated: Sun. 5/12/2019
page #922 page #924 BOOK INDEX
Silence. It is amazing to look back and see how much worthless noise Volt was actually making... all bark... no bite. Those declarations of leadership lacked substance at the time. Now, we see there was no merit to those claims. None are coming forward to fill the void. It is somewhat bizarre for such silence to come so quickly. Production ended. Without a successor, the technology is dead. Whatever "EREV" was supposed to represent, it doesn't anymore. The long-predicted collapse upon triggering of tax-credit phaseout happened. To have brought of concern of dependency on those subsidies, been attacked for doing so, then getting vindication afterward for proving to be correct. I was polite. The message was sincere. Reaction was to get attacked. They made it personal. What a waste... or so it would seem. Reality is, that history is documented in great detail. Their denial of facts and spin of news was noted while it was playing out. No level of recall afterward can compare to study of was written during the time those events were unfolding. There will be claims now of how market change could have never been predicted. Evidence proving otherwise is here. That is what has shut them up. It all turns to silence when you finally recognize your mistake. No amount of "my bad" will change this lesson learned, especially after seeing history repeat. I will use the knowledge gained from witnessing their errors firsthand to remind them.. Remember Two-Mode? Remember Volt?
When Things Go Bad. At the point an enthusiast realizes there is nothing constructive to post, they revert to personal attacks and name calling. This evening, discussion turned to "anti EV" for Toyota. That seems to make them feel about GM's struggle... and on a thread about Volt's death, such a turn was inevitable. Right away, I fired back: That narrative of an automaker only being able to sell a single choice is what messed up GM. Remember all their "range anxiety" nonsense? They embraced the one-solution-for-all approach, which resulted in abandonment of Volt mid-cycle in favor of Bolt. GM is missing so much opportunity. Reality is, a large automaker needs offer a variety of choices. That means they don't need to send a unified message in their advertisements. One can show strengths of an EV and the next can show strengths of a Hybrid. That's why a Plug-In Hybrid fits so well into the mix. Portraying Toyota... a 10-million-per-year automaker ...as a business that must choose only one solution to sell is just plain stupid. Diversity is an essential key to high-volume sales. Anyway, we know for a fact that there's a Corolla PHV coming later this year and a C-HR EV next year. More choices with a plug will follow. So, you can stop with the "anti EV" greenwash and show a little patience. Put it this way, because GM wasted tax-credits on conquest rather than focusing on delivery of a product their own customers would be draw to, you shouldn't be diverting attention to what happens with Toyota. It should be obvious GM needs to regain the support they lost.
Loss of Trust. Consequence is becoming evident already: "But I really don't believe much of anything from GM any more." Everything related to Volt hinged on the belief that GM was committed to the technology. Evidence that GM was not became abundant. That's why I ended up blogging so much about the situation. Enthusiasts were expending an enormous amount of effort defending GM by attacking those who raised concern. That level of defense with basically no offense whatsoever meant the best outcome would be not losing any ground. Problem was, everything else was advancing. Even that Prius they loved to attack was drawing more and more near to the hearts of mainstream consumers. It was a simple matter of battery-technology improvement. Being able to deliver the same for less was that needed step forward. More range or power isn't necessary. Cost reduction was of the greatest importance... and a smaller capacity makes that easier. Neither GM, nor their enthusiasts, ever learned that lesson. Obsession with range & power blinded them from being constructive. And now that their gamble has proven a terrible choice, there's a loss of trust. Being able to take on new risk will be much harder. Virtually all of those holding the line have vanished. Whatever GM announces going forward will require new support. Those defenders of the past are gone. I still see some of them posting. Their attitudes have changed though. That quote above is a good example. To that, I responded in dismay about him being so out of touch: Any more? It's bad enough words of warning about how Two-Mode was handled and concern expressed from the bankruptcy recovery task-force wasn't taken seriously. But then GM disregarded advice about how to make the second Volt appeal to a wider audience. How many times will GM be given a free pass? Remember, it was enthusiasts who encouraged the disastrous course that was taken. Those of us who pointed out those details, noting observations to confirm the terrible choices being made were treated poorly (to put it politely) for our effort. And we were correct! It really did all fall apart... and for the reasons stated way back when it was playing out!
Unprofitable & Uninteresting. That discussion topic
addressing end-of-production for Volt sure has stirred a lot of opinion.
Posting activity usually dies the following day. That's the nature of
blogs. This one is different. Lots of people have lots to say.
I homed in on this particular comment: "Chevy has lost their minds. I have a Volt, it is a great car."
Could you blame me, especially after having dealt with an attitude of "just
trust GM" for so many years? That blind faith has cost
enthusiasts dearly. They lost the war. No many how many battles
they won in the past, this final outcome says it all. Having endured
so many insults along the way, it's quite vindicated for having remain
polite and true to purpose. I let them know that in my own way too,
keeping focus on what needed to be achieved:
Being so unprofitable for GM and so uninteresting to GM's own customers was good reason for ending production.
GM needed a popular vehicle using that technology, not a "halo" that only ever achieved subsidized conquest sales.
We all know GM shoppers want SUV choices. That is why GM introduced both Trax & Blazer to their product-line, neither of which with a plug or even as a hybrid. That disregard for the technology Volt demonstrated so much potential for was just completely abandoned. What a waste of opportunity, as well as tax-credits.
Think of how loyal customers shopping the showroom floor of a GM dealer will feel walking around looking for an efficient SUV choice. GM has nothing. Whether or not that person who has purchased many GM vehicles in the past is aware of what other automakers may be offering doesn't matter. They will be stuck with gas SUV choices of a 28 MPG Equinox, 28 MPG Trax, 24 MPG Blazer, 22 MPG Traverse, or 18 MPG Tahoe.
Think of how popular a SUV choice with a plug could have been.
Placing Blame. There's a lot of that going around right now. Dependency on tax-credits still isn't being taken seriously either. You'd think after all that has already played out, that lesson would have been learned. Clearly, that isn't the case: "Badly written legislation killed the Volt." Seeing the blame placed on government subsidies, rather than the automaker is pretty bad. Volt wasn't a good product. It targeted the wrong audience. No amount of artificial price manipulation will fix that. Correcting the problem means actually addressing the issue. Pretending the source of the trouble isn't the automaker is hypocritical too. I'm still seeing GM supporters attack Toyota on a regular basis for that very reason. Automaker choices is the problem GM chose to deliver a niche, not a vehicle for mainstream buyers. Their own loyal customers never expressed any interest. And after 8 years of denying that, it's time for the message to finally be acknowledged. Get over it. Stop placing blame elsewhere. Anywho, this is how I responded to that particular comment: Volt wasn't selling well even with the $7,500 tax-credit available. Looking at GM sales of their other vehicles overwhelmingly confirms that. Intended purpose of the tax-credit was to make that automaker's choice of technology competitive with its own traditional offerings, a means of moving beyond their product-line of just guzzlers. The belief of it to be a tool used for conquest sales against other automakers is a terrible misrepresentation of what such a subsidy was meant to achieve.
Missing The Point. Death of Volt has brought about a
flurry of posts looking backward about mistakes (which were denied until
very recently) and complaints about the tax-credits. That monetary
incentive is now looked upon as a major disadvantage, even though other
automakers don't actually have that many left. Think about how quickly
they could be used up when ramp-up takes place. A sustainable approach
must be established before expiration, something GM did not take seriously.
For that matter, GM didn't even bother. They just let Volt die,
shifting favor to Bolt... the very antithesis of what Volt was designed to
compete against. Remember all that "range anxiety" nonsense?
That's the problem with the single-minded belief. An automaker
offering a variety of choices is unacceptable. Enthusiasts shot
themselves in the foot... a problem originating from not understanding the
point of the technology, as I continue to try to convey:
GM competitors? You've completely missed the point.
Volt's competition has always been other GM offerings, those vehicles sharing the same showroom floor.
I asked the question "Who is the market for Volt?" hundreds of times over the past decade. Enthusiasts didn't get it. Their contributions to a false hope helped to make Volt fail. They were their own worst enemy and never figured that out. It was always an effort to divert attention to other automakers, rather than taking any time to self-reflect. That's why "Know your audience" is what the mantra has changed to.
Early adopter purchases didn't lead to anything. Those owners were absolutely delighted with their choice, focusing so much on factors unimportant to ordinary consumers, their endorsements made the chance of GM diversifying the technology less and less likely. Volt became a modern example of "Innovator's Dilemma". It's a trap that could have easily been avoided by putting the same components into an Equinox or Cruze.
Instead, GM focused made diesel their recent focus for an efficiency choice in their popular vehicles. Both Equinox and Cruze got that instead. Meanwhile we see the "competition" offering their equivalent as full hybrids. Notice how Toyota, Honda, and Hyundai/Kia are all spreading their affordable choices to a variety of vehicle shapes & sizes?
Meanwhile, we see efforts to offer some hybrids with a plug too. None sacrifice cost (resulting in a very uncompetitive sticker-price) for the sake of range like GM did with Volt. What does that tell us?
Game Changer. Yesterday, we found out production of Volt had actually ended already, the week before. No one knew the "March" target would come so much sooner. But then again, Volt was doomed right from the start. I had proof of that too, in a blog I had written way back then. It seemed very fitting to post that in the discussion topic on the EV site about this news. So with a short introduction, that's exactly what I did: People seem to forget the mess Volt was right from the start. Shortly after rollout began, that's over 8 years ago, I posted this reminder of how expectations didn't match what GM ended up delivering: Hype vs. Reality. What was revealed to us 4 years ago is quite different from what we actually got. Most just want to move on at this point, especially those who were responsible for allowing unrealistic hope to continue for so long. Anyone who studied the EV knew very well that demands of the heater reduce available range significantly. But enthusiasts absolutely insisted the "40 mile" promise took that into consideration. It obviously didn't... and they know that well, now. It's a harsh reality they're finally coming to terms with. Too bad they didn't listen to those sharing that information all along. Oh well. It's like the price target. That was totally unrealistic too. Yet, that hype remained right up to the price announcement. As for MPG after depletion, that approach never made any sense. So, Volt now faces a market rapidly filling with choices. It's a plug-in hybrid competing against both pure EVs and other plug-in hybrids... not the "game changer" they wanted.
Fanboy Instructions. Volt production will be coming to an end soon and we still haven't heard anything at all from GM. No one has any what's in store. Heck, even the most hopeful have moved on... or so I thought. That old daily blog turned into a place for this & that posting. There would comments about the political stage and some environmental tech exchanges. It was pretty blah. What could they bring up that hasn't been beaten to death already? Turns out, I got an answer to that this morning. One of the troublemakers, a particularly nasty one known for posting lies about other automakers, started a "how to" for dealing with trolls. I was intrigued, since he chose Tesla as the automaker to attack this time. The quote that caught my attention the most was: "Trolls are jealous about GM's thorough technical quality, even though they don't understand any part of it. So they undercut anyone that does treasure it and easily explains it." That ultimately revealed what was really being posted. It was really instructions for preserving that fanboy site. It was the final refuge for anyone still hanging on to the belief that an expensive solution would prevail. Volt never made any sense. They didn't want to hear that. For years, the denial persisted. They wouldn't give up, regardless of how evidence stacked against that. GM wasn't interested in pursuing something so unprofitable. Poorly designed for efficiency... resulting in low Miles/kWh for EV driving and low MPG for HV driving... there was no possible way to compete. Other automakers would deliver better plug-in choices and GM's own traditional choices would be a better buy. Heck, even the early-adopters showed their true colors as the $7,500 subsidy end drew near. No one is interested anymore. This is where that "too little, too slowly" concern seals the coffin on the technology. GM made no effort to diversify. The technology should have been spread to a more appealing vehicle years ago. Volt-2 should have been a small SUV, not another compact hatchback. Of course, that inefficient drive still would have presented challenges. But at least it would have been a step forward. Instead, GM will just let it be buried... and the fanboys know it.
Tax-Credit Intentions. I certainly enjoyed taking offense on this play: "It has almost completely done what it was intended to do, jump start an EV renaissance. Don't reward the laggards..." The opportunity to choose a fight with a well known antagonist, spelling out his mistake with such simplicity, was a delight. I'm tired of the insults and there's no reason to allow such blatant attempts to mislead. So, I don't put up with that nonsense anymore: That was not the intent. It's easy to prove too. Had it been, there would have been an industry-wide limit instead of it being for each automaker. What those tax-credits were actually intended to do was help each of those automakers establish a viable (profitable & high-volume) product of their own, something appealing to their particular customers. GM squandered that opportunity, wasting their allocation of tax-credits on conquest... vehicles clearly not targeted at their own particular customers. Why would someone loyal to GM switch from their beloved SUV to a compact hatchback or wagon? Intent was not fulfilled. In other words, the label of "laggard" is grossly inaccurate and it distracts from the true problem. We shouldn't have to deal with rhetoric people spread without giving thought to origin or purpose. Automakers who saved their tax-credits for something they believed would become a product that could compete with their own vehicles on the same showroom floor should not be misrepresented like that.