Prius Personal Log #961
August 16, 2019 - August 21, 2019
Last Updated: Sun. 10/06/2019
page #960 page #962 BOOK INDEX
Waiting For Profit. It didn't work. Focus was simply diverted to another antagonist topic: "Kodak and Blockbuster waited until there were sustained profits to be made also..." That is also a hypocritical trap. There's no possible way anymore to claim Toyota is behind without acknowledging the lack of progress from GM. Exactly as predicted, no effort to reach mainstream consumers would be made. GM built a vehicle with no appeal to dealers. What possible incentive is there to stock Bolt inventory? We have been told directly from GM that Bolt will not be profitable until next-gen rollout. That means the next few years will remain stagnant. Without a tax-credit available, such a high sticker-price, the pressure from other automakers, and the lack of dynamic-cruise, lane-keep-assist, or super-speed charging, what's the draw? GM is clearly resting on its laurels. Looking at the bigger picture, seeing an effort elsewhere in the fleet could justify the stall. But there's nothing, quite unlike Toyota's push of hybrids across the entire fleet. So, I responded with another short post: Turning a blind-eye to GM doing that is what? The rest of us see how Bolt's push has stalled until profit can be made.
Declared Failure. Whenever something about Lexus hits the news circuit, rumor mill, or just gets a random stir, there is always someone to push the resistance narrative. Wanting to portray Toyota as if it has the same audience as Lexus is what makes that effort standout. It comes from GM having normalized the multi-target approach with Volt & Bolt. We never really knew who the market was. Having a distinct market for mainstream and a distinct market for luxury seems beyond the grasp of some... hence the continuous mantra of one-size-fits-all. I replied to today's post that claimed "kicking & screaming" with my own message. Remember how the initial worry with Volt was that it would struggle to achieve mainstream sales, resulting in GM abandoning it with the claim of no interest? No one seems to anymore... now that the concern has come to fruition. That's exactly what happened. GM simply moved on to their token EV without any looking back. All that "range anxiety" campaigning was for what? I kept my reply brief, hoping the hypocrisy trap would keep any type of retaliation in check: It's interesting to watch the "kicking & screaming" rhetoric play out as the herald leader, GM, did a "declared failure" rollout without anyone complaining.
Administration Rhetoric. Just like we had to deal with when Prius was new, the current administration is dead set against promoting green technology: "Trump said company founder Henry Ford would be "very disappointed if he saw his modern-day descendants wanting to build a much more expensive car, that is far less safe and doesn't work as well, because execs don't want to fight California regulators." That's really sad. It's the same old scare tactics. Say whatever it takes to prevent the move forward from being considered. Remember those claims of the past, where they said countless jobs would be lost if this new risk were considered? Not only was it meritless at the time, it was later to be proven false. Not adapting to a changing world is how so many careers were destroyed. They held onto the past as long as they possibly could. The same old fight to retain the status quo is taking place now. This is easy to see too. The desperation is manifesting itself the same way. Well being of the automaker is placed on the gamble that high-profit guzzlers will continue to sustain the business. That will inevitably fail. Change is essential to remain competitive. Our president knows they are safer, knows they work well, and knows they are overall less expensive. He'll ignore all that in favor of rolling back regulations and encouraging consumption. There won't be any way to hold him accountable for the extensive damage that will be caused for future generations to deal with. The rhetoric will obscure most of that effort to undermine anyway.
Not Really News. The dashcam footage from Tesla owners and all the hype about autonomous driving is starting to dilute plug-in news to the point of people losing interest. It's the quantity over quality issue. News organizations commissioned to deliver a quota of content every single day is counter-productive to the mission of cleaner transport. They push whatever content they can find to stir participation. Reads & Comments are more important than having a compelling story... which of course, dilutes the compelling story when it finally comes along. That loss of value is how many blogs fall. People simply become disenchanted with either the content or the vehicle itself. It's a very real problem for those trying to make a business out of the emerging plug-in market. What draws sustainable interest is a very real problem. If the vehicle simply works, like Prius, people naturally just participate for a short amount of time anyway. That's the sign of a good product. New owners check in for tips, share a few experiences, then move on. You don't actually want a product that endlessly requires some type of on-going effort. So, I'm watching the EV news struggle with lack of anything actually taking us forward. With so much ground broken now, focus needs to switch to building market, not pushing for faster & further. Recognize that problem from the past? You should... Give us real news!
Finally, It's Dead. Today marks the final moment of that daily blog for Volt. 2 months ago, the very last topic was posted. You could submit comments, but nothing ever got approved. That pending status became impossible now too. A moderator removed the ability to do anything. It is marked as read-only. All activity has halted. That terrible source of misleading, a training ground for enablers & antagonists is now day. I had no idea such rhetoric could have transformed into a fake news outlet. So much hate emanated from there. I knew that would happen from long before Volt even first rolled out. The big clue was when the look of Volt changed from concept to production. Anyone who had submitted an interest form was not allowed to update their status. The count continued to grow, despite such a dramatic shift of expectations. That number became the first big source of spin. It had no association whatsoever with GM itself, yet was promoted as a commitment to purchase. There was no obligation of any sort. No deposit. No salesperson. No dealer. It was just a survey that grew way out of hand. Any familiar with such information knows only a small fraction of those who express interest actually follow through. Those numbers were treated as sales, long before any specifications of the vehicle was even revealed. That's how I knew this day would eventually come. You cannot run a business on hope. Enthusiasts gambled everything on meritless claims and group-think. It was doomed. Each ambiguous bit of information provided by GM fed them. I witnessed spin and damage-control on an incredible scale... or so I thought, until witnessing this president. He actions resemble the same behavior I had to deal with on that daily blog. That's why "know your audience" is so important. Fortunately, his ability to play a crowd will someday come to an end too. In the meantime though, just like GM did with Volt, there will be a lot of damage caused along the way.
For The Boat. After all these years, that excuse still lives on. Someone who owns a giant boat justifies their purchase of a giant guzzler as necessary. They feel that logic validates their choice for daily commuting in that vehicle. It's what I heard today at the barbershop. You could tell he had absolutely no interest in any opinion from others. That was what he would continue to do, period. That's how Two-Mode came about, offering a solution for exactly such a situation. Only trouble was, the technology was far too expensive. It worked, but simply wasn't worth it. Ironically, the "gas saved" campaign went nowhere. In fact, that's why any attempt to try the same for Volt simply fizzled. It is what happens when emotion is the basis of a purchase.. the whole need verses want problem. They find ways of justifying the irrational. So, the fact that I encountered the very some "logic" all these years later is no surprise. People are compelled to follow their heart, rather than their mind. They may work out fine with other things, like relationships, but it's typically an expensive choice when it comes to lifestyle. Those are the facts of life...
Effective Marketing. It boggles my mind how the difference between want & need is so confusing. As a software engineer, that distinction has been absolutely vital for a successful career. You must carefully listen to the customer, correctly identifying the type of request. Are they specifying a requirement or a nice-to-have? Design with mistaken priority can be quite costly. You should balance what's delivered. Too much of either won't be a product the customer will enjoy using. Sadly though, marketing doesn't work that way. It heavily favors want, to the extend need isn't even addressed at times. The definition of each should be easy to understand. The reason why should be too. Sadly, I have to post that information from time to time, when an argument grows to an extreme due to a failure to distinguish the difference. Hopefully, today's attempt will provide some insight: Want = Feel, Opinion; Need = Fact, Necessity; Not seeing the difference is why the topic (snow tires) gets brought up so often. But then again, this is why Prius has been able to sustain for so many generations. Campaigns have come and gone, each trying to convince us of "need" based up what is actually a want. People have moved so far out of touch with recognizing or even questioning the difference, that lack of distinction is now normalized. Some would call that effective marketing.
Now, it's just a "Hybrid". I find it quite amusing how intensely the Volt enthusiasts fought for "EREV" as the identifier of technology for Volt. Long before rollout began, they pushed to make it unique from any other offering other automakers would later rollout. And when that happened, the definition would be altered accordingly. Ugh. That happened twice, for both Ford Energi and BMW i3. It was so obvious that attempt to build demand for Volt while belittling all others was a desperate marketing move. Without any operational difference to actually distinguish it, that was just a meaningless label... as Prius Prime has overwhelmingly confirmed. Again, ugh. So now that the table has turned, I find the hypocritical nature of the claim quite fulfilling. To promote Bolt as the future of GM electrification efforts, Volt has been re-categorized as just a hybrid. No one refers to EREV anymore. In fact, antagonists get very frustrated when you bring up that past. They want to pretend that ugly chapter in their history never happened. Efforts to divert attention and downplay the situation are abundant. I particularly liked this one: "There has only been one hybrid that did any good and that was the Prius. Even now sales on it have tanked. The hybrid was a compromise that just seldom worked out well."
Vague & Ambiguous. Statements like this are a common problem: "It's easy to implement hybrids. Implementing a true BEV is much harder and more expensive, as Tesla found out with the massive development costs of the Model S, Model X, Model 3 and soon Model Y." They do nothing to look forward. They gloss over detail too. That "soon" is basically meaningless. It you are waiting to purchase one, how long does that actually mean the wait will be? Needless to say, I get annoyed by the lack of critical thinking. Many just post to make themselves feel better, rather than making an effort to help advance the masses forward. In reply, I posted: Since the topic is PLUG-IN hybrids, not regular hybrids, that claim is a red-herring. It's also quite ambiguous. What does "implement" actually mean? Getting dealers to train mechanics to support and salespeople to sell anything with a battery-pack is a major challenge. Also, Tesla's reach beyond the early-adopter market has yet to be observed. We have no idea how ordinary consumers will respond to a Model 3 without that generous tax-credit available. Heck, we don't even know how they will purchase a Tesla vehicle. So, that could be considered a red-herring too. It's what happens with legacy automakers who sell millions of vehicles per year that will shift the market. With worldwide sales well over 70 Million, turning a blind-eye to the established biggest players to instead focus entirely on a small-in-perspective startup isn't a balanced approach. Think about what next steps are required to reach beyond early-adopters.
Baby Steps. Focus on Toyota has really become a hot topic: "Toyota still making baby steps while others are racing forward." It's a sign of impact. Antagonists see the potential... and don't like it. So, they attempt to belittle & insult any opportunity they get. It doesn't work though. I gladly point out why: Toyota's goal is to convert their fleet, replacing traditional offerings with hybrids. So what if it is looked upon as a baby step? It's a move on a monumental scale. Others are not racing forward in that regard. Focus on low-hanging fruit (subsidized token offerings) gives a false impression of change. The status quo isn't actually altered. GM's failure with Volt is the ideal example. Enthusiasts argued for years about how that "leadership" was winning the race. Those naysayers who absolutely refused to acknowledge it was a tortoise & hare situation have since grown silent. They were wrong, very very wrong. The culture at GM dealerships didn't shift to electrification. In fact, we have seen sales of guzzling SUV & Pickup choices grow. Don't be fooled into thinking what's in the spotlight at the moment represents progress forward. It's all about lifting the base. Appearance of being a leader doesn't take into account what it actually takes to get difficult customers to embrace change. Baby steps are almost always what's required to get them to accept a paradigm-shift. In other words, setting the stage for BEV by first getting the base to purchase PHEV offerings will likely be a much more effective means of achieving large-scale change quickly. Remember, Toyota sold 10.7 million vehicles worldwide last year.
Sales Decline. You gotta love seeing posts starting like this: "PHEV sales are declining in nearly all markets..." How long did that sentiment persist for hybrids? Needless to say, having over a decade of experience seeing such efforts to mislead & undermine has taught me to keep on pushing. That nonsense has very little impact. Understanding change is not something anecdotal observations can teach you. I fired back with: Generalizations tend to give misleading conclusions. Failing to recognize data is why. In this case, we see a major decline due to the exploit of GM coming to an end. Volt was clearly a niche, targeted at enthusiasts who took advantage of the tax-credit. That early-adopter audience has nothing whatsoever to do with the mainstream market. Demand for such fundamentally different groups cannot be compared. Prius Prime was only available in limited markets, waiting for this mid-cycle update (the 2020 model) before going nationwide. Corolla PHV isn't even available anywhere in the United States yet. Both are targeted squarely at ordinary showroom shoppers sharing nothing in common with early-adopters. The same will be true for a PHV model of RAV4. Keep in mind, appealing to those who would be content purchasing a traditional vehicle is far more difficult than winning favor by someone reading these comments. Their priorities have little to nothing in common with this group. Many couldn't care less about many of the arguments posted here. Know your audience.
Realistic. It's nice to see hope growing for new PHV
models to come from Toyota, but there's much people have yet to "notice"
about the design. Some of it comes from outdated or incomplete
information. Some of it comes from rhetoric. That means
responses to new threads on the topic are all over the place. I saw
that coming today and jumped in as quickly as possible to provide some
background. Sadly, the antagonists are usually faster. And sure
enough, that happened this time. But I still managed to provide an
intercept: Keep in mind, purpose of that original plug-in Prius
was to boost MPG and an affordable MSRP, not to provide any type of
all-electric drive experience. So, there was never a sound reason to compare
it to Volt. They were from entirely different categories. The initial
rollout of Prius Prime was limited to select regions of the country, knowing
the mid-cycle update (2020 model) would be the one to deploy nationwide. For
those watching inventory recently, that ramp-up is now underway.
Remember, the upgrade from regular Prius to plug-in Prius to create the
"Prime" model (known as PHV in other markets) was to just add a one-way
clutch. That enabled the second electric-motor (usually used for generating
electricity) to contribute to propulsion power instead while also
disengaging the gas-engine. Combined with a larger battery-pack, it pushed
EV limits to provide an all-electric drive experience. Doing the same for
RAV4 hybrid is quite realistic.