Prius Personal Log #996
March 21, 2020 - March 26, 2020
Last Updated: Tues. 4/07/2020
page #995 page #997 BOOK INDEX
Intentional Misleading, part 2. Midway through the article, this was added to the mix: "Additionally, the Model 3 will come with Tesla's semi-autonomous self-driving feature..." That doesn't come with, it is an extra. That package upgrade is $5,000. No where is that mentioned though. You are lead to believe it is included as part of the car's usual features. Stuff like that is very frustrating to encounter. If you're lucky, there is a comment section. The odds of someone reading what you post is slim too. So, what's published is usually all the reader ever knows about. They don't question industry writers. That information is implicitly trustworthy. Ugh. This isn't anything new. We saw the same deception practices 20 years ago. Having some type of recourse is nice. That's why countering it with video has become so effective. That is a fact which is difficult to dispute and easy to share. I still get tired of the endless battles. Honest debate is asking too much. The lazy and those with something to lose will just follow the crowd, helping to enable misleading along the way. Fortunately, sticking with the cause ultimately results in victory... as I have blogged about many times here.
Intentional Misleading, part 1. Today was off to a good start... ugh. The title of the article was "Why Would Anyone Buy a Toyota Prius Prime When You Could Buy a Tesla Model 3?" The opening paragraph highlighted affordability. That was a bad sign. Sure enough, the next paragraph stated "Carfax says the Prius Prime starts at $34,600..." Yup, this was an article with the intent to mislead. I wasn't happy. I did a search to find out where that number came from. Turns out, that number came from Limited model, the fully loaded edition. It also included the destination fee. The reality is, starting price is actually $27,900. That's significantly lower than we were led to believe. And since the premise of the article was why and focused on affordability, that means there should have been mention of the tax-credit still available. That can reduce the price by up to $4,502. The story changes dramatically when you discover starting price of a Prius Prime is actually $23,398. You don't even have to look up the starting price of a Model 3 upon finding that out. But if you do, you'll find it is $39,990. That's such a drastic difference, there's no possible way the writer of such an article could be considered a journalist. That's outright deception which only took me a minute to confirm. Internet searches aren't rocket science.
Sienna. This shouldn't be much of a surprise to anyone. Sienna (Toyota's large minivan) is due for a next generation. It will be last of the TNGA upgrades, which brings about a number of big improvements. The most obvious is to make hybrids directly competitive with traditional vehicles... in every regard... to the point where phasing out the traditional is no big deal. And that is exactly what we have been witnessing with the other vehicles Toyota produces. But with the minivan, it's a market with a very limited audience and fading competition. Simply outright abandoning the traditional model, to offer only the hybrid, makes sense. That's the rumor we heard more of today. Supposedly, there was a dealer preparation meeting for the 2021 product-line and that information got leaked. It immediately fed speculation about a "Prime" model. The system used for RAV4 Prime would lend itself well to the minivan platform too. That would be sweet. We'll find out... and that could be abrupt as well, since the 2020 model year is coming to a screeching end. When production resumes after the virus shutdown, it will be time to start watching inventory to avoid having to clearance out too much. That will be quite challenging this model-year... but a welcome fresh start for an all-new Sienna.
Deny, Distract, Deflect, Divide. Speaking of conquest, our horrific president is failing miserably too. Trouble is, the situation with the spread of the virus is trouble for our immediate health, not the long-term as with emissions & consumption. People are dying from his employ of the same tactics those terrible enthusiasts had used. I most definitely recognize that pattern. The deny, distract, deflect, and divide is very much what I had to deal with over the past decade from them. It was a relentless fight to stay on target. They would do everything possible to undermine those efforts. In other words, rather than focus on the actual goal, it's a game of blame. That is so upsetting, with regard to vehicle production & sales. Think about the magnitudes worse it is with regard to people suffering from a sickness we have had the power to significantly reduce. It comes down to prevention. Some see it as expensive & unnecessary. They prefer to brush off the risk as insignificant. Look at what happens as a result. So much opportunity wasted... Sound familiar?
Rivian, Ford, Porsche, Tesla. Remember that daily blog for Volt,
my look back 2 weeks ago? I kept wondering if the website that had
turned into a venue for rhetoric would change as a result of GM's recent
affirmation of purpose. Hope that the rapidly approach end to their
tax-credits and the obvious new market challenges would bring about perhaps
some type of rethink. Nope. It was the same message of intent,
GM would go all in with BEV by abandoning PHEV entirely. Of course,
that leaves you wondering. It's the same lack of commitment we saw
with Volt. Sure, they were endorsing a technology, but there was no
accountability... hence the "too little, too slowly" concern that
came about way back in 2009. That turned out to be exactly the problem
too. GM delivered the minimum, a halo product. The irony of that
situation is profound. Repeating that again is stupidity.
Doesn't anyone else see the pattern? Not learning from history...
Anywho, back on that website and speaking of repetition. I was curious
if it would somehow turn into a propaganda machine again. Nothing
new had been posted since June 19 of last year. All those nasty
antagonists have vanished. Not a single one of them comments anywhere I frequent anymore.
They either stopped participating online entirely or started a new identity to hide
behind. It was always a dead giveaway they really didn't care when
they'd launch an attack on you by posting personal information about you.
They realize a revealed identity means being held accountable for
comments... which is why they would always make sure theirs was never
revealed. Needless to say, I was surprised to discover 4 new
articles had popped up within the span of just 2 hours. I had checked
at exactly the right time. The previous 4 distressful articles had
rolled off the rotation. All that was left was the awkward & abrupt
final post. The new ones featured Rivian, Ford, Porsche, and Tesla.
That was telling. Nothing about GM on a website dedicated to Volt.
There was no comment section anymore either. It was simply given a "closed"
label. The end had come. It was truly dead... exactly 1 week
prior to the end of tax-credit exploitation. The hope conquest sales of
a supposed "game changer" would bring about an embrace of that
technology had failed miserably... and everyone knows it.
Survival, accountability. My biggest gripe with GM was sighted right from the start with Volt. It came from having watched Two-Mode become a mess. There was no accountability, transparency, oversight from within. So when the government bailout came along and the success of Volt became intertwined in that effort, I worried about the very same thing. We had no clue what the program deliverables were, there were no timelines, there was no one to ensure progress was made. The same thing is happening with our "bailout" of the country now. I'm seeing the same no-strings-attached approach. Remember all the tax-credit money being wasted on conquest sales rather than being using to actually improve the company? Heck, what about the corporate windfalls a few years ago? All that relief money from the lowering of taxes resulted in lots of stock buybacks. How did that actually help consumers? How will any type of money given to automakers now be used any different? There is still no accountability. Without specific milestones agreed upon, what incentive is their to strive for the overall goal? No penalty for falling short or not delivering anything at all is a very real problem. Survival depends upon always making some type of progress forward.
Survival, facts. Some are showing willingness to do what is necessary for immediate survival, but I am still not seeing anything with regard to climate change or oil dependency. Not only does that sentiment remain intact, despite the pressing new circumstances, it looks like there may be excuses brewing to do just the opposite. Rather than take responsibility for what needs to be done, there is a very real possibility of relaxed regulation. The idea of moral or civic duty means nothing to a society already stressed. That makes the new problems even worse. Ugh. An interesting perspective though is that only applies to our culture, here in the United States. That sentiment has been true for Japan. Remember long ago, before the Great Recession? They had their own economic collapse. Recovery from that was quite a struggle; however, it taught them well about how to prepare and deal with future economic & social challenges. We are now looking at the start of a new Depression, the real thing. Countless businesses will close. Those that survive will likely have to completely rethink their strategy. This will directly impact the automotive industry, in many regards. Toyota is one of those businesses with a good understanding of how to plan next steps and to implement them with knowledge of how to deal with surprises along the way. The chance of GM being able to do that is what? They are barely surviving their own undoing as a result of failing with PHEV advancement. The concept was sound. The approach was flawed. Having just abandoned that for supposedly an all-out BEV investment sounded doubtful even before this virus turning the economy upside-down. Of course, rolling out a small hatchback to an audience of SUV buyers never made sense anyway. Survival is not a strong trait for some...
Survival, recovery. Throwing money at a problem won't always fix it. In fact, most of the time that doesn't result in the best choices being made. You want to do more than just survive. You want a recovery that will bring you forward. So, it should be no surprise that the rush to get a massive recovery bill voted for will have some opposition. Wanting to do it right means thinking through and discussing options. That's not happening; instead, there's a clear effort to invest in the past. Not a single penny has been allotted for clean energy or anything renewable. Rather than looking at this as an opportunity to take a joined step to better ourselves, there's an obvious effort to help the industries already struggling to survive. Prevention requires doing more than maintaining the status quo. You invest in the future to protect against slipping back. Look at the instability we have seen with oil prices. They have been all over the place... even before the bottom fell out. Seeing $1.79 today for a gallon of gas is an undeniable sign of trouble... especially as we are witnessing solar & wind technology advance to become cost-competitive. Think about how much will be spent on just covering lost payroll due to this virus outbreak. That's just an effort to keep things afloat. Nothing to build upon what was lost is a very real problem. You can't just expect aged industry to recover without anything to push it forward. After all, we saw witnessed how GM exploited government help, using it for profit & praise rather than investing in the future... as those funds had been voted on for. Remember how the tax-credit money came about? Sadly, the automotive industry is only a small piece of a very large puzzle. However, the energy & emission aspect of it affects many other industries. In fact, they are so tightly knit, we are going to see a lot of unraveling soon. It's not going to be pretty.
Survival, blame. The tie of the economy into the automotive industry is important. So much of what we do depends upon those vehicles. The catch is, different cultures address survival differently. What we see here is a lot of blame. That is especially obvious with regard to our president, which trickles into his party and supporters. Rather than do something about the problem, they complain about something. Sound familiar? That's exactly what I witnessed over the years with transportation advances. The technology not going anywhere came from GM, a business that played the victim so often goals were forgotten. There was plenty of blame. Look at where it got them. 10 years after Volt, there isn't any progress. In fact, dealers are actually in a worse position now. That advancement to serious emission & consumption reduction will be even more difficult. Quite the opposite is the position for Toyota... an automaker who has had to endure several economic collapses. In fact, most people here aren't even aware of the recession Japan had when the United States was thriving. Toyota learned discipline. Toyota learned patience. Toyota made sacrifices and invested. It was about a better future, not a better bottom line. Ironically, they have no one to blame but themselves for not having anything of substance still. Survival is about finding a way to move forward.
Survival, change. We know the "zombie" businesses will be gone. There's simply no way for those small independent places struggling to survive prior to this will have the resources or desire to continue, even with special grants or loans. They'll move on to something else. Pressure to rebuild will be too much. Combining what's left for talent & ambition works well for long-term outlooks, those willing to suffer through the lean years of recovery will be what emerges from this mess. It's an inevitable reduction/reshuffle. It reminds me a lot of what I have witnessed over the past 25 years with family businesses downtown, where I would eat my lunch from time to time. Patronizing their establishments, which had been there for a very very long time, was always pleasant. There was history I recognized but wasn't really ever part of. They faced challenges over the years. Some adapted. Some closed. However, none had the kind of accelerated timeline we see right now. It's a reality quite unexpectedly aggressive. This isn't just the usual small shop closing up after decades of service either. We'll also see it play out on the grand scale, watching the automotive industry get hit especially hard. It grew dependent upon people willing to spend a large portion of their income on an inefficient means of transport. That's not the situation anymore. Overnight, we now have re-evaluation of that choice taking place on a monumental scale. Just how intertwined those decisions made were part of our lives will become quite apparent, not something to just brush off as in the past.
Flat Tire. Working from home and not going anywhere in public doesn't mean you can't use the local coffeeshop drive-thru, especially when the short drive uses nothing but electricity. That was the only escape from our exile today. So, I was looking forward to the experience. As I was pulling out onto the main road, I noticed the low-pressure warning on the dashboard was illuminated. Hmm? I plugged the ODB-II reader at the next light and prepared my phone to open the Tire-Assistant app when I got to the waiting line. There, I fired up the software. 3 of the tires reported exactly the PSI they should. 1 showed it was only at 10. Ugh. Sure enough, when I opened the door and looked out, the tire was squishy. My decision was to just hope for the best on the way back home. It was only a few blocks. When I parked in the driveway, what had happened was obvious. A screw for sheet-metal had nicely wedged itself between the tread that still looked new, on the tire purchased just late last Fall. That allowed it to be pushed directly in, creating a slow leak. After jacking up the Prius in the garage and taking a closer look, the hole appears to be one that should be easy to plug. Phew!
Gas Prices. They are dropping. It's interesting how not filling up the tank for several months changes your perspective. Today, it was a friend with this remark: "I stupidly filled up at Costco this past December at $2.559." Being able to avoid carrying around winter-formula gas during the warm season is nice. Combine that with the reality of price naturally falling a little anyway due to the transition back to summer-formula, you have a face-palm situation... as was that post. Oh well. I normally use gas a lot faster. But now with the stay-at-home situation, I find myself in the same predicament. Nonetheless, it doesn't stop me from also participating in the discussion: I saw $1.997 the other day. That struck me as truly bizarre, focusing in on the partial cent rather than the reality of gas falling below $2 per gallon. When have any of you ever seen that fraction as anything other than the 9/10th value? Of course, it doesn't really matter. With a job that allows working from home, it could take me a very very very long time to use up the current tank of gas. Even our far away restaurant now with drive-up service is within EV range.