Prius Personal Log  #929

March 23, 2019  -  March 24, 2019

Last Updated:  Sun. 5/12/2019

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3-24-2019 Yet Another.  The troublemakers are appearing in from all over.  You can tell they fear what's to come a week from now: "Toyota is not even in the game, for some reason....."  In his case, he has chosen to raise doubt.  Attempting to get people to second-guess their conclusion is an act of desperation, especially at the last hour like this.  But knowing this individual has been a particularly nasty Volt enthusiast who has gone out of his way to spread misconceptions, it was inevitable we'd have to deal with a return on the big Prius forum.  With the 50% reduction of that tax-credit Volt was so heavily dependent upon about to become a reality, it's easy to see his motive to divert attention from GM back to Toyota.  I wasn't about to let that happen:

What good came from the game GM played?  Upon using up their allocation of tax-credits, nothing viable for the masses came about.  They have an expensive plug-in hybrid that only appeals to enthusiasts.

Why would Toyota want to do the same?  The choice for Toyota to refine their underlying electric-tech while waiting for battery cost to reach a tipping point sure makes a lot of sense.  They are setting the stage for high-volume sales to a very wide audience while learning from real-world data they collect.  That certainly sounds like a very good reason.

You mention Kia, Hyundai, and Nissan.  Notice how none of them have anything in large quantity yet here.  For that matter, how many have you ever even seen on the road?  Do you consider the "game" they play better?  If so, how?

Think about where we currently are on the product life-cycle curve for plug-in vehicles.

3-24-2019 Continued Provokes.  He didn't let up: "There is a good place for the <40 mile PHEV like the Prime, but these designs are better from the ground up.  By the time Toyota gets its battery production together with Panasonic my guess is they will be able to produce 30 mile PHEVs with battery packs that are lighter, smaller, and cost less than the 25 mile one in the current Prime."  It's interesting to read that, since arguments expire after awhile.  You simply cannot use the same reason endlessly, especially when the circumstances change.  In this case, the market is rapidly approaching the end of tax-credits... which will dramatically impact the situation.  In fact, the death of Volt makes that blatantly obvious.  Toyota clearly planned ahead.  He just doesn't want to accept the evidence.  So, he takes offensive by trying to spin perception.  I'll have none of that:

Use of "from the ground up" doesn't actually mean anything.  People have come to recognize it as representing only a first-generation model.  Why?  Anything built upon with the original intent there from the start is dismissed.  Again, why?  Upgrades are an expectation with other technologies, why not with automotive design?

Looking at Prius, we see the design way back in 2003 offering up to 100 km/h travel in EV mode.  It was pressed for power with batter-technology of the time; nonetheless, it was indeed built from the ground up.  Potential from the system has always been limited that way.  The most recent generation, we know as "Prime", was clearly it was configured to fit 4 stacks nicely inside the cargo area.  The choice to add a 5th just prior to rollout for more range & power doesn't change the propulsion system.  All it did was cause a loss of interior space.

Toyota's approach of a drop-in battery-pack means they will be able to take advantage of lighter, smaller, lower cost later.  No where does it say they have committed to older cells.  Newer will be used as the technology improves.  Those cells will be arranged in the stacks to create battery-packs for newer models of Prime.  Their design is already capable.

3-24-2019 Antagonists.  There are some who are obvious trolls, more politely referred to as antagonists.  You get the point.  Their purpose is to provoke you to reply: "I believe john's argument was that batteries are too expensive so small batteries will be better once tax credits end.  Of course Nissan and Tesla have already proved this argument completely false."  Options about how to reply are limited.  I chose my reply carefully:

You've know me for how many years?  That has never been my stance.  I have always said we need a variety of affordable choices.  Not at any time have I stated a relational between PHEV & EV with respect to tax-credits.

As for Nissan & Tesla proving it, you've lost touch with the big picture... the market as a whole.  There haven't been any non-subsidized sales yet.  So far, all we have seen is early-adopters taking advantage of tax-credit opportunity.  The stage where mainstream consumers make the choice on the showroom floor with traditional, PHEV, and EV all there as part of the decision with none getting special government incentive hasn't even begun yet.

PHEV will have a place for many, many years to come still.  Our infrastructure (all locations: home, work, businesses, public locations, and roadways) is only in the earliest stages of building and becoming green for transportation.  So, the very idea that all could be served in the near future by just EV isn't constructive in any manner.

It isn't just the expense of batteries either.  There's the problem of production-capacity and energy-density as major holdbacks.  Overcoming that still leaves us with the liquid-electrolyte limitation.  It will all happen, but claiming "completely false" already is absurd.  What has been proven is being at the "lots of potential" point with a great deal of effort required to achieve all those goals.

3-24-2019

Spinning Stance.  The most common response to my posts has been to spin my stance.  Someone will either twist what I say, take it out of context, or just totally make something up.  I always wonder if that is intentional to provoke online activity or they simply aren't paying attention.  For those troublemakers whom I have known years, it's especially bewildering.  There are posts where I wonder if they make assumptions based what they can only remember in part or they are actually remembering someone else.  That's why I'm taking the forceful stance now.  Being very direct eliminates most of the uncertainty.  We'll see if the nonsense continues or if I'm able to break the pattern.  It stands a chance of progress forward.  After all, the market itself is changing.

3-23-2019 Already.  I was annoyed upon getting this: "What will Toyota do when the $4,500 federal credit goes away?"  It was a sign that he either wasn't paying attention or simply didn't care, since we had already addressed the topic multiple times.  Well... there are some who remain clueless, not wanting to accept information.  So, that's a possibility too.  Whatever the case, I was annoyed but took the opportunity to explain yet again:

Toyota is doing it already.  They are spreading their hybrid technology as widely as possible, striving to establish a customer base readily acceptable to change by offering a variety of affordable choices... each capable of offering a plug later.  Making Prius into Prius PHV was basically just a matter of introducing that one-way clutch.  We're about to see the same upgrade play out with Corolla PHV.

It's easy to see how RAV4, C-HR, Camry could all follow the same path.  That's how successful economy-of-scale cost-reduction is achieved... exactly what's needed to overcome any type of subsidy... which Toyota has already demonstrated with the MSRP for Prius Prime.

The problem with your perspective is that you're treating the market of 2 years from now, when the tax-credits are used up... as if it is still 2018, not acknowledging how much change that's about to happen as a result of seeing so many new plug-ins on the road.  It's that big curve upward we are about to hit in the product life-cycle that will introduce a market you are quite unfamiliar with.  That's an exciting time to look forward to if you are *NOT* an early-adopter.

Remember that sales in high-volume to ordinary consumers are profoundly different.  Far too many here assume mainstream appeal is just a matter of delivering enough capacity at a reasonable price... hence the technology being affordable.  If it isn't, all those other purchase priorities people have can't also be delivered.  Early-Adopters are willing to compromise.  Buyers on the showroom floor are not... which is why Toyota is already working to deliver a variety of choices.

3-23-2019

Common.  Ordinary.  Boring.  The transition from niche to ubiquitous is what early-adopters have a terrible time dealing with.  Ironically, their exposure & understanding of the technology makes them blind to what mainstream consumer don't see.  So neither group recognizes how each is interpreting the situation.  What is obvious for the one is often be an unknown for the other.  That's why a vehicle like Corolla is pretty much never mentioned by enthusiasts but is the first consideration for someone wandering around on the showroom looking for what to buy.  There's the difference between want & need too, seen from perspective that are far from the same in any respect.  This is why I face so many barriers getting those early-adopters to recognize what's important for an audience quiet unlike them.  Often, they'll just dismiss what I say, claiming I've lost tough with reality.  That's another irony, for me to be one of the few forum & blog posters who is more in touch with your typical shopper than any of their own peers online.  They still don't realize that even just the basic act of posting participation sets them apart.  It's why cars labeled as "common" or "ordinary" or "boring" get so little attention, despite being the top-sellers and the fundamental basis for business sustainability.  That necessary profit comes from those vehicles, not the niche they endorse with such praise.

3-23-2019 No Spin.  This came from that antagonist who just kept asking the same question over and over again.  Now, he's basically becoming a troll: "We will have to wait till then to see what John's next spin will be."  I'm not sure if he's just getting lazy or realizes there's a chance of getting called out.  Eventually, others will notice the behavior pattern.  That's why they try to put the attention back on you.  Anywho, I responded to that with:

You know all too well I was correct about Two-Mode, correct about Volt-1, and correct about Volt-2. Each of those technologies had a fatal shortcoming... being too expensive.  Each time the evidence became so abundant that their shortcoming could no longer be denied, something else came about to fill the void. Now for GM, that's Bolt.

In other words, there hasn't been any spin from me.  It's the same old argument.  I say the technology must be affordable, period.  GM is the one providing spin.  I could point out some old posts about me getting complaints for repeating the same old argument over and over and over again, like a broken record.  You know that isn't necessary though.  You too are well aware of my background and purpose.

I want a wide variety of affordable choices for consumers.  They must be capable of competing directly with traditional vehicles, so those new clean & efficient choices can become the replacement.  That means none of the activity so represents the change needed.  It paves the way, but subsidized sales are sustainable... hence the concern about tax-credit dependency.

As for your obvious attempt to divert attention away from discussion of legacy automaker approach, that's disappointing.  We need well informed people like you to help with the effort to get those traditional sellers (dealers) to embrace change they can actually influence.  They won't ever have a business model like Tesla, so it makes no sense treating them that way.  In other words, I reject your spin.  Legacy automaker finances & distribution are quite different.

3-23-2019

Breaking the Deadlock.   I'm really starting to push now.  There are several individuals who like to play the game.  Hitting reset every time they begin to lose influence.  They try to keep you from drawing conclusions from pushing a misleading narrative or raising doubt.  I get really annoyed by the obvious efforts to divert discussions and the effort to repeat the same questions.  They hope whomever challenges them won't have the ability to push back hard enough.  I have earned the rank of a senior participant though.  After having whether so many battles in the past, resulting in several wars being won, it's time I take advantage of that experience.  Turns out, it's very difficult to argue with someone who has an extensive history to share that's so well summed up.  I hadn't realized all the blogging would develop the skill to see past rhetoric so well.  You learn to keep focus, regardless of how much of an influence the current hype is having.  It all comes down to having established concise goals.  That clarity is key... exactly like I theorized way back when... but since has been confirmed.  Phew!  This means I can come down rather intensely on particular individuals, intentionally making it personal.  It works when you stay focused on why.  It's not vengeance or malice.  It's the effort to find allies.  You don't try to destroy your enemy.  You work to find compromise.  Showing them a way forward can be that.  Extending a hand to move in a direction unfamiliar, but with a shared objective, can be very effective.  I intend to break the deadlock by showing force.  Remember how effective that was ages ago, when I directly confronted a diesel antagonist?

3-23-2019 Background & Purpose.  The timing made attacks like this inevitable: "Then don't allude to it."  Those troublemakers of the past will mislead & imply to make their narrative what gets the most attention.  That requires a disregard of the past.  For those paying attention, it's obvious.  For others, you need to directly point out what's really going on:

No amount of "totally go away" spin can evade acknowledgement of my years and years of expressing concern that only affordable choices will survive the expiration of tax-credits.  There were many short-sighted people who focused exclusively on the tax-credit dependent sales, absolutely refusing to recognize how few 200,000 actually is with respect to ordinary business-sustaining profitable sales.  I most definitely was not part of that group-think crowd.  I spoke out loudly against them... and you know it.

I was one who said Volt would die if GM didn't spread their plug-in hybrid technology prior to the approach of tax-credit phaseout.  I kept posting "too little, too slowly" over and over and over again, warning of the consequences of inaction.  For that, I got attacked relentlessly.  Vindication now from having correctly spelled out that situation is bittersweet.  Supposed leadership from GM didn't actually change the status quo.  Something not dependent upon tax-credits still needs to be delivered.

Seeing Toyota have to deal with rhetoric for taking their time to do it right is annoying.  How is rushing into a money-losing approach going to get dealers to embrace the idea of stocking & selling inventory that necessitates a subsidy?  That never made any sense and GM's colossal screw up with Volt overwhelming concerns how terrible of a choice that was.  GM violated basic business principles to push an expensive compact hatchback, something that stood no chance of actually appealing to their own Pickup & SUV wanting customers.

You know all too well that Toyota's effort to always focus on affordability and finding a way to spread their technology across the entire fleet at minimal cost has always been the better strategy for a legacy automaker.  Is the effort to distribution a hybrid platform capable of plug easy augmentation to a wide variety of vehicles sizes & shapes prior to actually offering a plug that slow?  Can you honestly claim that their long-term goal of achieving that diversity by 2020 was a waste of time & resources?

I'm tired of dealing with the nonsense of not taking market reach seriously.  That smug from enthusiasts can finally end by us not feeding them with material like "allude" when you know quite well that wasn't the case.  You are well aware of my background and my purpose.

3-23-2019

Impressive.  That was his assessment of current sales.  Unfortunately, such a perspective requires absolutes.  I begged to differ by posting my own: "0% purchased without tax-credits is not impressive.  Don't be fooled by only paying attention to the low-hanging fruit."  That stirred exactly what I anticipated for a response: "So you really think EV sales will totally go away once the tax credits do?"  That's absurd.  There will always be some type of niche market.  The point though is to get the technology into the hands of mainstream buyers.  This is why I called out his limited scope.  It's easy to manipulate be simply cherry-picking data.  In this case, it was misrepresenting the market.  I provide a does of reality:  Absolutes are no way to form a constructive query.  We know that there will be some winners and some losers.  Dependency on subsidies will confirm weaknesses.  For example, today's disappointing announcement from GM (basically no plan and a small investment) seems to indicate a lack of interest.  We figured something would happen as the 50% reduction approached.

 

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