Prius Personal Log #963
August 25, 2019 - August 29, 2019
Last Updated: Sun. 10/06/2019
page #962 page #964 BOOK INDEX
Electric Car Age. An article with that title was published today. This was among the first comments posted: "It amazes me how much the average person overthinks and complicates the whole EV purchase..." That's ironic, since the typical guzzler purchase is basically with little to no consideration. How many people do you know of who didn't focus on other detail of there purchase decision? What any technical aspect of the propulsion system even considered at all? If so, did that decision of engine size take more than just a quick glance at the window-sticker? Heck, I've known countless people who didn't even take that much time when choosing not to get a hybrid. It was pretty much thoughtless. That means the plug choice must be with a simplistic approach if you want to appeal to ordinary consumers. The whole KISS philosophy is priceless advice. I responded to that comment accordingly: Actually, you are also overthinking it. Reality is, the average person will notice whether or not is has a plug. If interested, they'll ask if it is one of those with an engine back up. That's all. This is why I continuously state "know your audience" as a vital bit of information when discussing the post tax-credit stage, where major growth without subsidies is essential. Reaching mainstream consumers is dramatically different from enthusiasts, which means that growth us going to be far more difficult than simply appealing to early-adopters.
That Attitude. It lives on, despite Volt now being dead. Sadly, that makes it even easier to mislead about. Detail like how poorly it was loaded with safety features compared to Prius Prime is very difficult to show or even draw attention to. So, there will be a lot of assumptions in that regard. Fortunately, most enthusiasts never bothered with items on that level. They stuck to the basics. For example: "You must have missed the 160k+ Volts sold over the years." Reading that today was annoying. It reminds me of the tax-credit for Prius, which was half that, was only for 60,000 vehicles, and remaining available at full value for only 9 months. That's a significant difference often evaded from discussion in the past. So now that this is in the past, I suspect it will too will be ignored. I'll keep providing the detail anyway: All heavily were subsidized. GM exploited the $7,500 tax-credit opportunity for conquest sales... none of which impacted the status quo. Their dealers still push as many traditional SUV and Pickup guzzlers as possible. Notice how the technology was simply abandoned as the subsidy phaseout approached? It was a massive opportunity wasted. Just imagine if GM had actually rolled out that design to a Trax or Equinox. As for the narrative about a Prius coffin, you in for a big surprise. This year brings about a new look for the regular hybrid, a mid-cycle update for the plug-in, and an AWD model. Combine that with MSRP low enough to compete directly with other vehicles on the showroom floor, it reveals the game is far from over... quite unlike what happened with Volt. Think about how many sales each automaker has each year. Notice how insignificant 160,000 over 8 years really was? It's important to keep focus on the bigger picture, how much true change is actually taking place.
Superiority, part 6. Sure enough, there was no response. He gave up the fight. I called out his attempt to mislead. It served as a great reminder of how rhetoric persisted for so many years. There was always a hope of squashing early-adopter competition by false pretense. That was a bad sign, evidence early on that Volt would face serious challenges. Overcoming them never, hence its death. Spin will lead you to believe that wasn't way. But there's simply no way to justify such a massive investment in technology to blend engine & motor only to abruptly abandon it mid-cycle without any means of succession. No passing on to a preferred platform, like Trax or Equinox. GM just let it die when there was no longer any means of sustaining what had been given the impression of superiority. Having such heavy dependence on the $7,500 tax-credit was overwhelmingly clear evidence of not being "vastly superior". Nonetheless, this owner felt the need to defend it. 12 years earlier, I sighted concern for the "trophy mentality" ...and that's exactly what kept it from making any progress. My ask of "Who is the market for Volt?" was on-going confirmation of a vehicle unable to reach the mainstream audience. To be superior, you don't have to do anything fancy. Prius introduced EV driving to a large population, period. It did. That's a fact. I enjoyed "Stealth Mode" a little over 19 years ago. No plug necessary.
Superiority, part 5. No surprise. It got quite a bit worse: "typical, a Toyota propagandist deflecting the fact they have no EVs and all their cars and trucks are destroying the environment. Where are the fuel cells? ROFL!!!!!" The back & forth had become a great example of nonsense just like I had to deal with in the past. It was history repeating itself all over again, again. I always find that repetition fascinating. There's an aspect of the human existence which people tend to follow. It can be remarkably predictable. They refuse to acknowledge facts not in support of their beliefs and respond with insults as a defense. Efforts to change the topic are nothing new. That's been done for ages. Catch is, there is now a term for it. That label coined for such behavior is the "What about?" technique. Belief is sighting something else that is worse will forgive whatever issue is being discussed. That's classic evading, now with an means of drawing attention to the effort. I wrapped up the posting with: Thanks for providing the "What about?" example. That literally has nothing at all to do with the topic of experiencing EV drive.
Superiority, part 4. He then got angry: "Sure it does. You will be polluting most every day via the gas guzzling Prius, especially in winter. It is called a fact, ALL versions of the Prius guzzle gas and pollute the environment. Prius owners are virtue signalers." That attitude was easy to detect at that point. The insult to ALL owners of Prius made it undeniable. He wanted his superiority to remain untarnished. I was threatening his position. So, it was time to push back: Typical, changing the topic upon getting caught trying to mislead. Prius Prime (the plug-in model) dramatically reduces pollution to the environment. Entire commutes can be done using nothing but electricity, including winter. It delivers EV speed up to 84 mph and has a heat-pump that will electrically deliver warmth for the cabin in temperatures down to 14°F. Claims of virtue are an attempt to evade those facts by twisting it to an ALL absolute. Again, they discovered city & suburb electric bliss long ago, no plug necessary.
Superiority, part 3. Yup. I got my confirmation: "doesn't matter that gas is used to generate that electricity. it matters if you care about pollution. Prius burns gas and pollutes every day." He clearly just plain did not care. He wanted to portray Prius a particular way, intentionally misrepresenting it. With the death of Volt, there has been an expectation of spin emerging to make it seem more than it was. The start of that comes from lowering the bar. Claims of Prius not being able to deliver any EV drive experience whatsoever is an obvious path to that deception... since it was a common claim in the past. Only then, it was about Prius PHV. But now that even the regular Prius can deliver even faster EV speed on the highway, there's reason for concern about how Volt is perceived. GM had potential, but ended up squandering for praise instead. What a waste. I posted back with: That has nothing to do with the topic of experiencing EV drive. That also attempts to misrepresent Prius by omitting the fact that the Prime model is an EV for the first 25 miles... full electric-only driving up to 84 mph.
Superiority, part 2. He was either totally clueless or a Toyota antagonist: "as they chug dino juice every day?" That's a dead giveaway objectivity wasn't going to be possible. His mind was already closed. This had already become an example of the "vastly superior" attitude I dealt with on a regular basis in the past, the heyday of Volt... when enthusiasts just plain didn't care about facts. That was the birth of fake news in the plug-in world. A website became an enabler. They would repeat rhetoric so routinely, it created a narrative telling the story of a false reality. I was blown away how they would outright lie. Those naive to their actions would get sucked in, helping to spread the misinformation. It starts with efforts just like this. Again, I carefully thought out how to reply: Doesn't matter that gas is used to generate that electricity. Once the engine shuts off to use it, the driving experience is just like an EV. That smoooooth & silent operation has been inspiring consumers for decades already.
Superiority, part 1. I saw this and immediately detected trouble brewing: "people have no concept of how loud their gas engines are until they ride in an EV. When i first started driving my Volt, the silence was eerie." Being a post on a thread about the electric-car coming to age, it would inevitably attract a wide variety of participants. So, I carefully thought out how to approach the obvious absolute perspective that message was attempting to push. It was a good idea to keep the response short and to the point: Best to rethink that claim. The 12 million Toyota hybrid owners know. They discovered city & suburb electric bliss long ago, no plug necessary.
Unintended Outcome... Plug-In. My own response
to this brought about an unintended outcome: "Yes, but that begs the question: Why is the Prius no longer considered
cutting-edge eco-conscious technology?" It was that type of "halo"
spin of the past that fueled much of the debate. Purpose of Prius was
constantly being misstated for the sake of undermining goals. Knowing
this was a general audience and a fluff piece about Tesla, the attempt to
portray Prius in a different light was to be expected. I responded
several hours later (waiting for others to comment in the meantime) with:
No, that was never a question relevant to Prius. Anyone who has taken the time to study the history (or even better, witnessed it firsthand) knows that Toyota's purpose for Prius was to bring an affordable solution reducing emissions & consumption to the masses. That's why the other hybrids have been just as important. Corolla, Camry, and RAV4 hybrids are all part of the stage being set for the next chapter, that look forward the article fails to address.
Those next steps should be obvious. But those who by into the "competitive" narrative are choosing to disregard the current chapter in history coming to an end now. That low-hanging fruit (subsidized early-adopter sales) have little reflection of demand from the mainstream market. Those consumers are entirely different. That's why Toyota has responded accordingly.
Prius Limited, Prius AWD-e, and Prius Prime (mid-cycle update) are those changes... all new offerings within the last 8 months. It's all about targeting showroom shoppers, Toyota's own loyal customers, not appealing to those who seek cutting-edge technology. Know your audience.
Put another way, Toyota is moving toward that paradigm-shift, when Prius becomes a plug-in standard. To achieve it, the technology must be proven mature, not cutting edge. Being able to deliver an affordable plug-in (meaning it can compete directly on the showroom floor, no tax-credit help) is something none of the legacy automakers have been able to achieve yet. It's the type of leadership the "innovation" crowd is still unwilling to acknowledge.
Watch what happens with Prius Prime as it rolls out beyond initial markets. Large areas of the United States have been limited special orders. That lack of inventory was Toyota's choice to delay until the mid-cycle upgrade, which began the last week of July. So, it's going to take some time to get supply even to just the initial markets. But it is quite clear there's demand for an affordable plug-in hybrid and the Prius Prime sticker at $27,600 is about to test those waters.
No Chargers. A new type of grocery/convenience store was built just down the road from where I live. It was to be a much smaller version of the grocery store I could see from my house, but at the same time quite a bit larger than anything you'd ever buy gas from. And yes, it also sells gas. All that, combined with an attached coffeeshop spelled great opportunity for that chain which already took pride in offering chargers right from the start. Problem it, those chargers also had issues right from the start. One had never, ever been usable. The construction crew accidently painted the spot with the disabled markings. So unless you have a handicap placard, parking there is impossible. That meant one charger went to waste. I contacted corporate and got a convoluted response that was just a lame excuse to cover their mistake. Nothing ever became of it. Still not fixed. So, I had little hope of this new facility built from scratch in a corn field would be done to actually support chargers. Sure enough, opportunity lost. My first stopped, I was greeted by a manager. My comment about the lack of chargers baffled him. In his mind, it made no sense to stop at that location for more than a few minutes. I silently just pointed to the coffeeshop, waiting for the view of the seating there to register. He finally responded with an, "Oh! I send that suggestion forward for you." I didn't say anything. It was far too late. No new work after just finishing up for a grand opening would obviously happen. That premiere new type of store had blown it already. Ugh. That would have been a great way to attract new business, especially in such a competitive area.
Lexus EV. There is something on the horizon. An
article today posted about a reveal coming in October stirred the rhetoric.
Right away, there was trouble. It usually starts from cherry-picking,
to portray some type of narrative. That avoidance of the bigger
picture (what a legacy automaker with do with the technology as a whole) is
a clear sign. With the tax-credit phaseout underway, anything new is
looked upon with fear. Status quo disruption is on the way. I
pointed out what was going on with:
As this becomes a post tax-credit market, most of that GM damage-control
effort no longer has an audience. GM's heavy dependency on subsidies became
undeniable. It's over. T he technology was too expensive to be spread to
other vehicles in the fleet. Two-Mode made that mistake. Volt gen-1 made
that mistake. Volt gen-2 made that mistake. Not being affordable is a very
real problem. That's what brings us to Lexus. It is a luxury brand,
serving consumers willing to spend more. So, expensive is ok. That makes a
hybrid like the Lexus UX 250h, starting at $34,150, a sensible choice. Increasing
battery-capacity and adding a plug still keeps it within the
pricing of competitive scope. People looking to get an upscale plug-in SUV
will find this, which sets the stage nicely for an EV luxury offering to
follow. It's all a realistic path follow. Looking to the mainstream
market, we see Toyota offering Prius Prime at a MSRP starting at $27,600. That
is well within the reach of ordinary joe-average customers looking for
something from Toyota with a plug. RAV4 hybrid starts at $27,850. Increasing
battery-capacity and adding a plug will work well for it too. With Corolla
hybrid starting at just $23,100, the effort to deliver affordability is easy
to confirm. No amount of rhetoric can hide that cold, hard reality.