Prius Personal Log #950
June 28, 2019 - June 30, 2019
Last Updated: Mon. 7/29/2019
page #949 page #951 BOOK INDEX
Fallen Leader. Anyone remember all the relentless attacks on Toyota about how far behind they were, that following the industry leader would be a painfully difficult struggle? It's hard to believe that was less than 6 months ago. GM was the praised automaker who could do no wrong. Today, there was an article published where the comments posted said GM could do no right. Interestingly, there was much agreement. The reason why is obvious... sales of Volt & Bolt never amounted to any actual change. Status quo remains intact and early-adopters are upset. Despite so many warnings of tax-credit exploitation and niche pandering, they are dumbfounded about the outcome. It's quite extraordinary to witness. Timing is exactly as anticipated too. We are halfway through the 50% tax-credit phaseout and 2nd quarter sales results will soon be revealed. Everyone knows such bad news is on the way that there's nothing to fuel hype anymore. It's over. Right on cue to step through the ashes is Toyota. Their choice to not upgrade the battery-pack mid-cycle makes more sense than ever. It means they have a solid 2 years of real-world data to leverage. That scale of owner endorsement is how growth is achieved. Rollout to the remaining 35 states will be so much easier with that experience to refer to. This is why I put up with all the nonsense from those Volt enthusiasts. They were too shortsighted to understand who the effort should be targeted at. Appealing to enthusiasts was a momentous mistake. GM really blew it.
Who? Anger. Reading through the series of posts
again, it became obvious that he had no idea how a plug-in hybrid actually
operated and was quite frustrated with the lack of progress from legacy
automakers. Back when there was Volt, that all too familiar delay
attitude was expressed upon missed goals. Shortcomings would be
resolved with the next generation, so act of waiting would be all that was
necessary for targets to be reached. That was quite a gamble, very
risky. Depending on to many things to happen for an objective to be
reached is one thing. But now, there isn't even to shoot for. He
just labeled the finish line as "full battery" without specifying anything
else. There was no substance and I called him out on it. So, he
deleted all his posts. Getting caught in the act and responding that
was is intriguing. Since I have email notify enabled, I already had an
offline record of all the posts. That meant I could constructively
respond anyway. And I did, with a call out.. since the who became him:
Who? Hate. Lashing out is the next step, when
an antagonist becomes so frustrated with the information shared, the effort
turns into an expression of hate. For example: "I have no love for any of the traditional majors and could
care less if they go out of business. The ones that actually care about
doing full EV's I care about. The rest? Hell with them."
He was letting emotion steer the discussion. Logic was abandoned.
Points about having something quantitative to aim for... you know, a goal...
was lost in the frustration of me not listening to the rhetoric. I
wasn't taking the bait and he couldn't see why. That's because he
didn't know who he was dealing with. Know your audience. I don't
give in to hate. I don't let group-think make my decisions. I
share observations and explain why my stance was taken:
Lack of substance invalidates that argument. It's so vague, there's nothing to actually discuss. We've been hearing the "all electric" mantra for an entire decade. The unfortunate legacy consequence of that was an exploitation of tax-credits.
The problem is forcing a specific approach, which history has repeatedly revealed to be a path to failure. Changing the mantra from "all electric" to "full battery" doesn't change anything either. It should always be about goals. Establish something meaningful for automakers to deliver. Without any real target, there's no competition, no incentive, no push. Business as usual simply continues.
In other words, you're giving them exactly what they need to retain the status quo. Notice how some automakers have announced the number of models they intend to deliver by 2025, rather than any actual vehicle quantity? All they need to do is rollout a token few to fulfill that horribly vague promise. They don't have to be affordable. They don't have to provide any specific range. Heck, they don't even have to use electricity efficiently.
So what if the industry expert in hybrids delivers a Prius Prime, Corolla Prime, Camry Prime, and RAV4 Prime? Each will provide exceptional electric & gas efficiency (as EV and HV ratings for Prius Prime already confirm) at an affordable price. And since they will based upon high-volume platforms their customers already strongly demand, supplying an alternative propulsion system is a sensible approach.
I understand the desire to aim for the best, to not waste resources on transitional technology. But the reality of the situation is that legacy automakers are a for-profit business who serve dealers that require easy to sell vehicles who will favor profitable inventory. That idea of abruptly switching to a specific approach when it is "ready" doesn't fit within the realities of consumer need, salesperson need, dealer need, supplier need, or automaker need.
Who is the "full battery" label supposed to appeal? Someone commuting with a PHEV that's within the range of their employer or where they park provides chargers will experience "full battery" driving. So what if there's a gas engine available for long trips. The bulk of their driving will be "all electric" anyway. The bulk of their driving will be with only electricity.
Who? Excuses. The exchanges continue. I could tell he was just searching for an excuse to dismiss me, rather than actually consider the information being shared. This summed up the situation well: "And I believe you give people no credit for actually figuring out how to use new technology." That was a polite means of shooting the messenger. It was an attempt to get the consumer involved in the supply & demand discussion. I know how vital inventory is. With the initial rollout back in August 2000, through May 2002, you could only get a Prius by ordering one. All new purchases were sight unseen. The who back then was Toyota's diehard supporters, which is why they made getting one more than just pointing to one on the dealer's lot. That's why the mid-cycle rollout of the first plug-in Prius was also internet only, then switched to only select states. Toyota knew its audience and had a very clear objective (collecting real-world data from well-informed markets). So later when next generation came along, rollout come be to a wider who without any surprises. Unfortunately, the fallout with GM caused delay. But that's not an excuse, that's a wait with very good reason. This exchange was none of that. He just plain did not like what I was posting and I wasn't about to allow him to continued without a callout: That's a red herring, diverting attention away from the topic of dealers. People can't buy what isn't available. In other words, the true customer of legacy automakers are dealers, not the end consumer.
Who? Wait. There's nothing wrong with delay... as long as you have a solid reason for it. Enthusiasts will wait for a miracle, hoping some announcement will result in a huge overnight success. They don't understand how much must actually take place for the sales they want to become a reality. It isn't a matter of build it and they will buy it. That was a painful lesson learned for the Volt enthusiasts. They truly believed a "vastly superior" product was all it would take. In fact, some still think the lack of advertising on GM's part is all it would have taken for it to achieve high-volume profitable sales. The realities of stocking inventory and the act of selling never get any attention. Focus is always entirely on the consumer... who doesn't pay attention. From their perspective, it really is just a matter of waiting. The problem is, for how long? That sentiment keeps getting passed along. We never actually arrive at that time. The wait becomes indefinite. I tried to convey that in this series of exchanges: That "just give it a couple of years" reply is getting really old. It's unacceptable to just give legacy automakers a free pass with an "all segments will be covered by 2025". The reason why is simple. Dealers will just wait. That's an entire vehicle generation, just waiting for introductory rollouts. Then how much longer after that do we have to wait until the high-volume sales actually begin? Annual sales worldwide are over 80 MILLION vehicles. Change needs to begin now.
Who? Dealers. I remember getting feedback about
my attitude, claiming it wasn't the message, it was conveyance of it.
That seemed sensible, until you recognize the pattern of dismissal.
The information itself was never acted upon. Those not recognizing who
just kept on with their pattern of defiance. They knew best and
nothing provided would sway their belief. Their act of stubbornness
contributed heavily to the death of volt. The reality of
dealer-not-consumer never sunk in. That epiphany never happened,
despite countless attempts to get them to see the problem. Ugh.
It's come down to a lesson learned which some still refuse to accept:
Dealers have been the problem all along. Trouble is, early-adopters weren't interested in the bigger picture. Focus was entirely on conquest purchase, not actually changing mainstream buyers. GM crashed & burned because of this. Tesla gave a valiant effort to avoid the inevitable plateau resulting from tax-credit phaseout. Things will work out fine in the end, but that slow down wasn't an expectation properly set... despite countless warnings of it coming.
The only legacy automaker with a solid plan for getting dealers to embrace change is Toyota (though their is lots of potential for Hyundai). Across the board, we are seeing hybrid rollout... Corolla, Camry, Avalon, C-HR, Highlander. The latest has been an incredible success: RAV4. Think about how much easier selling the PHEV and EV models will be later with widespread acceptance of hybrids. That risk of change would have been mitigated, and in short time too. The expectation is currently set at 20 to 25% of RAV4 to be hybrids. What other automaker is seeing that level of penetration? Dealers who are on their game will establish a welcoming of new tech as a sales advantage.
Toyota also has the unique opportunity to also appeal to Prius owners, a massive base to draw interest from for their first PHEV offering. And with the Corolla PHEV rolling out elsewhere in the world later this year, there's an undeniable effort to stir attention from dealers. Corolla is a top-selling vehicle. Getting a plug-in version to market is a really big step forward. Income from routine maintenance will be lower, but being able to keep demand strong for sales will reduce dealer apprehension.
Who? Reset. It's easy to see history hitting the reset button. Know your audience. Almost the entire collection of antagonists are gone. These were the individuals who embraced group-think to push Volt. It's seemingly started innocent enough, with just a bunch of early-adopters sharing the same vision. But as their support systematically dismissed evidence of hurdles too big to overcome alone, they embraced "vastly superior" rather than seeking out alliances to help break down barriers. They became enthusiasts fueled by hope. It grew into a terrible hype. The ideas of substance & merit were abandoned. They'd eventually come to resist any type of constructive discussion. It's an awful pattern I have witnessed several times now over the 19 years of being actively involved in fighting the status quo in the automotive industry greening. They'd target me, rather than those fighting against change. Ugh. That was the origin of the "Who?" question but didn't become something to highlight as a problem until Volt came along... when I started asking "Who is the market for Volt?" They thought I was crazy. To those enthusiasts, the answer was obvious... them... hence, the group-think. My recognition of the same thing happening with ASSIST hybrids, then Two-Mode, then EREV is the result of meticulous study. Each made the pattern of incorrect audience a well defined match. They were all focusing on engineering and basically just brushed aside all other purchase priorities. They'd confuse want with need. That lose of perspective is what doomed them. It's like the EV problem now. I keep seeing "affordable" associated with the price of a vehicle in the low 30's. How is that supposed to be a realistic choice for someone looking to only spend something in the low 20's for their next vehicle? Corolla hybrid has a starting price of $22,950. Remember the "nicely under $30,000" goal? Those unwilling to acknowledge history don't. In fact, they pretend many of the other lessons learned from history simply don't apply to their situation. It's a push forward based on hope, rather than sound business. That's too much of a gamble. We've seen it failed several times on a huge level.
Worth It. Far too often... in fact, it is almost all the time... people don't place any worth on contributing to being green. Effort to endorse infrastructure and related components (like equipment & employment) get overlooked entirely, never given even a cent of value. It never gets talked about by those researching vehicle purchases and gets dismissed by antagonists. Undermining is the silent enemy. Progress is impeded by basically just ignoring what contributes to it. Ugh. So, I look for opportunities to draw attention. For example: "A 240-volt Level-2 charge station is almost never worth the money. It provides much faster recharges, but that only matters if one can save enough gasoline which almost never happens or if one is serious about not burning gasoline." That advice excluded factors not related to anything directly returned to the owner. I always hope some mention of green worth unrelated to "saving" is included. Sadly, that rarely happens. But at least I still get the opportunity to draw attention to the omission: Hope you don't mind me pointing out the trap you fell into... That's a sad sentiment passed along from rhetoric long ago, unaware of the message it truly conveys. Read that message again. Notice the complete absence of the other benefit? Most people don't. Focus is diverted entirely to gas consumption. That's the trap. There's no value whatsoever placed upon simply being greener. By installing a level-2 charger, you are doing your part to endorse infrastructure upgrades. It gives electricians & manufacturers both profit & experience to benefit the rest of the market. So, whether or not you ever take advantage of the reduced charging time (which undoubtedly, you will at some point), you've contributed to the movement forward... which we all appreciate. Sorry, it ends up almost sounding like a guilt-trip, but that is how to appeal to people when they focus on "worth it" equations which leave out some factors. Think about how easy that fact was to overlook.