Prius Personal Log #941
May 20, 2019 - May 24, 2019
Last Updated: Mon. 7/29/2019
page #940 page #942 BOOK INDEX
Tradeoff. Another thing I find annoying is when luxury vehicles are compared to ordinary mainstream offerings. How is that constructive? Like other pointless efforts, it happens all the time. That can be an effective means of undermining a discussion. Again, this is something we often find coming from one of those individuals who use the forum for their own personal entertainment. Today, it was: "The 2019 BMW 330e loses 105 liters (3.7 cubic feet) for its 12 kwh liquid cooled battery." Even though this topic presents the option to expand upon the topic being discussed, it really wasn't helpful... since the topic has been beaten to death already. They like to repeat. That's key to their entertainment. Preventing progress is something they work hard at. After all, not many have a domain like that at their disposal. We can to much to prevent their posting. Their distractions continue, endlessly. Like usual, I keep my replies to such individuals brief: Liquid cooling adds cost & weight. To be a mass-market leader, doing the same as a luxury brand doesn't make sense. GM learned that lesson the hard way. The tradeoff isn't worth it.
Entertainment. I'm tired of certain individuals who
use the forum for their own entertainment. In this case, it's a
retired person who apparently has nothing better to do. It wouldn't be
so bad if his many scores of posts each day (sometimes even exceeding 100)
actually included some study. They don't though. In fact, we see
repeats of the same thing frequently. There is no progress, despite
such active participation. Posts never included a quote, are always
all lowercase, and rarely haven't anything of substance. That's the
same thing a troll does. For example: "toyota can barely sell
2,000 a month at the current pricing." It wasn't even on topic.
It was an comment completely out of context. We were discussing what
brought about GM's most recent disaster. Like a troll, his purpose is
to provoke. You know, anything to get someone to provide
entertainment. Being engaged in discussion is all he desires.
Progress is never made. I see the pattern repeat over and over.
Sometimes, I do actually push back to draw attention to his activity.
Vague posts are what tend to do that. Today, I kept it brief: That's
highly misleading. Toyota has clearly been delaying both promotion & rollout
until the mid-cycle. Toyota has also done all it could to avoid getting
caught up in GM's fallout.
Marketing. This is how the long string of posts about how GM messed up with Volt came to an end: "...marketing strategy aimed at the general public." Since it was something I had blogged (and complained) about for an entire decade, it should be no surprised that I sounded off about price. Way back in 2007, it sounded quite unrealistic to set a target so low for a return so high. That proved quite true too. Concern about that was blown off though. Criticism was twisted as claims of undermining attempts. Enthusiasts just plain did not want to hear anything constructive. Question is, now that those enthusiasts are all gone, what do those participating online at this point think? With Volt dead and the possibility of that technology containing unlikely, it's an interesting thing to ponder. I didn't. I just posted: GM should have stuck with its own strategy. That "nicely under $30,000" goal still stands true for appeal to the masses.
Evade & Bash. Feelings related to defending GM are still quite high. With a loss so blatant, the damage-control effort is daunting. Those few still holding on to unwarranted hope have literally nothing to work with. Tax-Credit phaseout is underway and there isn't any path forward. Stubborn resistance from dealers is as strong as ever. Why change? Bolt is simply far too different from ordinary inventory that's stocked for salespeople to bother. This is why it was so important to get a clear message of purpose. After an entire decade, we still don't have that from GM. What is their next step? Needless to say, there's no interest in actually addressing that issue. Instead, the response is to evade & bash. Doing everything possible to change the topic. Where have I encountered that? Anywho, this is how I dealt with that nonsense: Toyota is demonstrating a clear path forward that is proving to be very successful. Dealers are pleased with the results and there's a great deal of potential for growth. That wide variety of hybrids, each on a platform that can affordably & profitably offer a plug, is the solution GM had always hoped for.
Cry Spin. Attack is the theme. Rather than deal with the issue at hand (effective marketing and a path forward), it's better to declare the messenger the real problem. Ugh. Fortunately, I don't have to put up with that nonsense anymore. Toyota's plan to diversify has been going really well. Progress of that goal is obvious. Sweet! This is how I responded to the troublemaker who clearly isn't ready to face reality yet: 6,556 RAV4 hybrid; 2,128 Camry hybrid; 1,403 Corolla hybrid; 1,104 Highlander hybrid (next-gen coming later this year). All are examples of popular vehicles adopting the hybrid technology and selling well. Those numbers are just from April alone. Think about what that's doing to interest in their traditional counterparts. That's a solid path forward... non-disruptive... an approach dealers will embrace... exactly what's needed for electrification to reach the masses. As the hybrid models become more popular, a plug-in variant will be added. Cry spin all you want. It won't change the reality that we still don't see any fleet plan from GM.
Competition. The best word to describe today's situation is "Ugh". It was a staged competition to compare the MPGe of an AWD Prius to that of a Tesla Model 3 AWD. See the problem yet? If you've read my blogs from the past, you'll recognize the MPG issue. Yup, just like that coast to coast drive of Jetta against Prius, it was a measure designed to focus specifically on just a single trait and dismiss all else. The video repeated that mantra over and over again, as if that's all that ever matters in terms of understanding the ownership equation. To be unbiased, you avoid ever doing such a thing. This is why those trying to honestly represent true usage always report their lifetime value. That measurement takes everything into account... daily driving... seasonal changes... vacation trips... running errands... holiday shopping... family gatherings... entertainment stops... you name it. To attempt to make a specific test representative of true performance is a common undermining technique we've seen all to well. So whether the video posted was intended to be bias, that's what it ended up being. Perhaps if they follow up with a variety of other drives, then it would balance out. But this first one was not appropriate as presented. And I didn't even mention the huge price difference. Since when it comparing vehicles with such a large price difference a reasonable representation of competition? Ugh.
KISS. The arguing about how marketing was or should have been continued. Distortion of history is rampant at this point. Not remembering the timeline correctly and simply just forgetting all that influenced decisions is an all to familiar problem. That's why I documented that history as it was playing out, capturing as much as I could while it was happening, to properly represent it all these years later. I just look back through the blogs to get an accurate picture of the situation at the time. It's far too easy to look back with bias once you know the outcome. Not knowing is what leads to the behavior that unfolded. In a way, its not so bad that they forget. It can sometimes present an opportunity to reintroduce an idea which had been brushed aside in the past. For example: "I drove over 1,600 miles with my most recent tank of gas." That was my marketing suggestion to the discussion. I further added: What more can be effectively said when you have the attention of a random person for just 30 seconds? That simple sentence addresses all concern without getting into an detail. It's marketing that actually works. Ironically, GM teased that very idea. Enthusiasts fought it though, not wanting to acknowledge the reality of Volt not actually being vastly superior. Other PHEV would be able to deliver the same thing. That's how the self-destructive EREV identifier came about. KISS really is the best approach.
Futile. They say hate blinds. They are right. When a person makes up their mind you have an agenda, they stop listening. That's especially problematic if they assume incorrectly about what it is. For example: "It (Volt) failed because people in EV community like you who hated it just because it is a PHEV from GM." That sentiment of not being able to be supportive of more than a single automaker is a difficult self-created barrier to overcome. Some people believe cooperation is impossible. That's absurd. We have shared goals for many things. Why couldn't electrification be among them? Ugh. I asked: The point is to change the status quo, right? Targeting EV supporters was a fundamental mistake. Yet, it continues. That "wrong audience" lesson was not learned. The goal of appealing to showroom shoppers wasn't taken seriously. It failed because enthusiasts didn't understand who the market for Volt was. Trying to sell a performance compact to loyal GM customers interested in a SUV was a waste of time & money. It was doomed to fail. Looking back, it's amazing to recall how hard certain people truly believed that would work and to what extremes they'd go to defend that risky hope. Reality is, the path forward for GM will require finally acknowledging need over want. Priorities for ordinary consumers don't view the divide between PHEV and EV the same way. Treating the situation as such is futile.
No Market. The effort to avoid anything constructive continued: The major mistake made by Volt enthusiasts was to treat the technology as a competitor with other automakers, rather than GM's transition away from its own traditional offerings. That made conquest sales the focus. It wasted the limited supply of tax-credits, achieving nothing in returns. GM's status quo remained intact. This prevented the benefits of plug-in hybrids from ever being addressed. Attention was constantly directed to minor conquest. Volt won a few battles, but lost the war. Enthusiasts enabled GM to fall into the innovator's dilemma trap. So, no amount of advertising would overcome the misdirection. Volt became a product without a market.
Campaign? As expected, the discussion got rather heated quickly. This really stirred things up: "GM campaigned on range anxiety." It was the result of the enthusiast claiming hybrid owners were the target for Volt, which makes no sense for an audience already quite familiar with dual-powered systems. Why wouldn't you reach out to those who have been waiting for an EV instead? The arguments had little substance. It was just more of the usual rhetoric. I chimed back in with: No, the problem was GM had a solution looking for a problem. Reality is, there's a huge PHEV market in the waiting and Toyota is prepping for it with deploys of a wide variety of hybrid choices. Each is which is setting the stage by replacing their traditional counterpart and making way for a plug-in model. Your own reply repeated the same mistaken message by focusing solely on Prius owners and conquest. Deciding to completely ignore the large sedan and SUV market was a profound error by GM repeated by enthusiasts. Looking now, it should be obvious how much GM messed up by not marketing Volt as a platform for other vehicles to adopt. Just imagine what that message had sent. People would be expecting an Equinox or Trax with that technology. Instead, loyal GM customers just replace their old GM guzzler with a new GM guzzler. What will GM campaign on now?
Confusion. The topic of marketing confusion for Volt came
up today. Needless to say, I had much to contribute in that
Depends upon the audience. GM catered to enthusiasts, thriving on the attention from their early-adopter niche. Toyota is focused entirely on mainstream buyers. That fundamental difference means very, very different messages.
With the case of Toyota, the forward-thinking aspect tends to get overlooked by everyone. They're effort to phaseout traditional vehicles requires setting the stage long in advance to avoid confusion when that final happens. The first part is what antagonists absolutely love to spin, the "self-charging" promotion. That marketing taken out of context can be used as undermining material. But when you come to realize that "plug-in" is the second part, their approach makes sense. That's how they will distinguish between the two very different types of hybrid offered.
On the other extreme is GM. There is no message or even a clear plan. Heavy investment was made into refinement of their plug-in hybrid tech. But rather than rollout what Volt demonstrated into a popular GM vehicle, like Equinox, the effort was just abandoned in favor of Volt's own antithesis: a full EV. Sending such mixed messages to their customers without any obvious next-step forward explains why investors are now so upset.
Knowing that business-sustaining sales (profitable & high-volume) require appeal to shoppers on the showroom floor, advertising detail of how a system operates is pointless. It comes down to the basics... size, price, features, power, handling, etc. The means of propulsion isn't really ever primary purchase criteria. Dealers (the true customer for automakers) simply weren't interested in what early-adopters wanted.
The Bigger Picture. I found my own quote from a little over 4 years ago which applied well to the topic: "25 miles (40 km) is a worthy goal." It was a prediction that turned out to be remarkably accurate. I posted this on the long-dead thread it had originated, hoping to stir renewed discussion on the topic: I was looking for a recent comment about the wish that Toyota had made the mid-cycle upgrade of Prime to deliver more EV mile, so I could point out the importance of looking forward... seeing the bigger picture. I couldn't find it, but did stumble across this look forward from the past... which never lost sight of the bigger picture. For example, there have been quite a number of complaints related to Toyota's use of the "self charging" label in their hybrid advertisements. Anyone notice how not a single one of those posts mentioned Toyota quest to phase out traditional vehicles? Having established that "self charging" identifier makes the identifier of "plug in" so unambiguous, there's no uncertainty what the difference is. Look forward, not backward... as my own quote above did from 4 years ago. Notice how I nailed the expectation for Prime long before anyone else had any idea why Toyota would do such a thing? Back then, there was quite a stir that Toyota was giving up plug-in support entirely as a result of PHV production ending. Those were the words of some spinning their own narrative. Don't listen. Pay attention by looking forward. In this case, I'd like point out an important reason why the capacity for Prime wasn't increased mid-cycle. It's quite simple. Toyota places a very high value on the used market. They go out of their way to appeal to the early-adopters, making the upgrade so compelling some trade-in for the newer model. They provides inventory for the used market. An important aspect of that used market is support. Changing capacity would have resulted in a loss of value in 2 regards. One is obviously less EV miles. The other is simply replacement coverage. If you want a vehicle to last a freakishly long time, don't make it's parts so unique they become difficult & expense to replace. That leads us to the next look forward. Would it be cost-effective to have the engineers restack the cells to make them fit better? Resulting increase in cargo area without any change to operational specs would be a benefit to both new & used sales. Doesn't that seem a worthy goal for mid-cycle?
Local Trolls. His posting have grown so bad, it has really become a problem. Today, we got this: "my ev estimate always goes down after driving hv. no idea why." It's just a flurry of worthless posting. Everything is lowercase without ever referring back to any specific message. He doesn't quote what he's referring to. There's just interjections of brainless posts without any context. There's clearly no thought involved. No one could be so active for so long and still not have any clue. I pointed that out too, as well as provide constructive comment: After nearly 78,000 posts here and 14 years of participation... let's try to use that experience to help us all advance to the next level. It's really important at this stage to engage in the more informative discussion. We are the ones who make that progress forward happen, by posting messages that are constructive. Think about how poor of a job salespeople at the dealership do for actually selling the technology. We all get frustrated by their "no idea why" responses. Doing the same here puts us at the same level of disinterest. The more we share our understanding with others, the better off everyone else will be. In this case, the answer to why is simple. The system takes an average based on the outcome of how the battery was recently used. Electricity shared with HV is less efficient than just using it with EV. The traction motor (along with associated components) isn't being used to its full potential, which is optimized for efficiency.