Personal Log #1073
May 24, 2021 - May 30, 2021
Last Updated: Mon. 8/02/2021
page #1072 page #1074 BOOK INDEX
Who? That question asked hundreds of times has become my mantra. Business success comes down to understanding your customers. So, over and over and over, I end up focusing on its importance. Some just plain don't understand that though, hence: "The price of a Tesla Model 3 SR+ here is £5,000 less than this. Who, in their right mind would buy the RAV4 eh? The Toyota is overpriced by around £10,000." Coming from a UK discussion about RAV4 Prime, I was intrigued... initially, but then the discussion fell apart. That's a different perspective. Much could be learned from a more receptive market. Of course, they not only have far more BEV choices, they also have a wide array of disappointing PHEV choices. There are so many with small battery-packs and terribly inefficient gas-engines that the entire category has basically collapsed. The barrier Volt created here actually left a void behind, allowing Toyota to take advantage of the opportunity... exactly the reason why I kept saying there was no rush. Allowing Volt to fail without collateral damage was a wise move on Toyota's part. Of course, GM knew that would happen... hence the "Bolt" name. It was a obvious means of planning ahead, preventing to much fallout by confusing labels. Ugh. Anywho, my response to the post above was a short & sweet sharing of statistics: 859,448 sales worldwide in April. 3,014,557 sales for the first 4 months of 2021. Know your audience.
Omitting Context. This was an outright lie, inventory actually piled up to an embarrassing level: "As far as Volt demise in the USA, every one manufactured was sold in short order..." I didn't take that bait though; instead, my response focus on who. All along, it was undeniable that Volt didn't appeal to Chevy owners. Neither dealers nor GM itself showed any investment in the technology. It was never anything beyond a showcase for what could be. Selling what was simply didn't ever become a priority. It withered on the vine. The antagonist posting these provokes know that, which is why he omits that context from any post. He also gets really annoyed when I draw attention to audience. So naturally, that's exactly what I did in my reply: KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE!!! Volt was discounted heavily, both sale & lease prices, to stir interest. The only bites GM got were from fleet & early-adopters... neither of which achieved any type of change... the very purpose of the tax-credit. They were nothing but hallow victories. The lesson-learned was conquest does not impact the status quo. GM's business actually got less green as a result, despite so much praise for supposedly being the legacy leader. We witnessed the end of car choices and now a reincarnated obsession with Hummer. Remember all the hype about Two-Mode, how it would evolve to offer a plug? Remember the prototype and all those excuses about delay? Toyota ended up delivering the promise instead... a product targeting their core consumer. We are still waiting for GM.
Speaking of Hate. A certain automaker sure makes doing that easy: "When you're in the Hummer EV, for example, and you go from zero to 60 [miles per hour] in three seconds silently, I think that that excitement will accelerate the enthusiasm over the electric vehicle." That was the quote from a GM executive recently. It's the same old nonsense, again. GM obsesses with halo vehicles, catering to niche interest to garner praise from enthusiasts. There is still no focus on their core customer. Watching GM end production of cars for the sake of devoting resources to SUV and Pickup choices puts their only BEV offering is an empty choice. Who shopping their showroom floor would be interested? Think about that. It is why Volt, now Bolt, result in conquest sales. Almost none of their own loyal customers have any desire to drive a small wagon or large compact or whatever you want to call it. Neither share any resemblance to what a GM owner wants to replace their current GM vehicle with. It's like beating a dead horse when such an obvious fact sounds like a talking point. But they are the ones who bring it up, not me. Remember how that daily blog continuously brought up Prius? It was a means of retaining attention. Hummer serves the same purpose. How many of that ultra-expensive impractical vehicle will actually be produced & sold?
Hate. There are some forum members who are obvious
trolls. This was one such individual who thrives on response to bait
he continually drops: "All that does is enrich big business ... as well
as those that can afford a $61,000 RAV !!! and yes john - that's what
happened to the GM Volt too - that you continue to hate on." It's
quite annoying to see that on a regular basis, especially when I make no
mention whatsoever of GM or Volt in the new thread. He clearly wanted
to stir posting, to get a lively discussion going after having lost so much
of his audience. I waited a day, then posted:
Such a blatant provoke reveals an important fact. Some focus so much on a point-in-time response that they completely miss the lesson learned and fail to see when change takes place. They don't recognize cherry-picked examples either. In this case, we may have seen some initial surge in demand which consequently resulted in mark-ups. But seen within context, $4 gas of that time really puts on understanding on supply a new offering. But when you fast forward 2 years, we see that supply was piling up. Then came the massive price drop. That $5,000 reduction tells us much about GM's problem.
It wasn't Volt. In fact, there was never any hate. It was all about not doing anything with the technology. Volt was a conquest vehicle, a model designed specifically to appeal to early-adopters who otherwise had no interest in any type of GM vehicle. That would have been fine if the technology was rolled out to other models. Diversification is a Business 101 fundamental. If you don't spread the achievement, the opportunity for growth will be lost... which is exactly what we witnessed. GM became desperate for sales.
This topic of new FEDERAL EV INCENTIVES ties directly to that. $7,500 tax-credit became a dependency. Sales were a struggle even with such a large subsidy. Much of that can be attributed to the message from GM about lack of confidence with its own technology. Not seeing it offered with any other vehicle was a big tell. Why would a supposedly well proven design not be spread across the fleet? After all, we were watching Toyota do that with its hybrid tech. Why wasn't GM doing the same with their plug-in hybrid tech?
In short, you are wrong. We have seen Prime technology spread from Prius to RAV4. In China, there is a Corolla PHV too. Quite unlike Volt, there is no intention for conquest sales. Those are vehicles targeted directly at Toyota's own core customers. That is real change, not a "halo" as GM delivered.
Notice how Corolla Cross is now heading to North America? Just like what we saw for RAV4, making it a Prime model is easy to accommodate by lifting the floor. Toyota is setting the stage to further spread their tech in an extremely popular vehicle on a high-demand platform... which brings us back to this topic of new FEDERAL EV INCENTIVES. Toyota has time on its side. There's a penalty for rushing. Taking the time to prepare for a variety of offerings is opportunity.
Tesla did an exceptional job of taking advantage of the tax-credit phaseout period, increasing production dramatically during that time to maximize the opportunity. Tesla knew that resulting momentum would result in sustained sales afterward. It worked like a charm too. Key to that was drawing & building an audience. GM never bothered. Volt was for conquest, not to change its base. Looking at GM dealerships, that is undeniable. There simply was no interest.
Ford sees that as opportunity. 70% of their Mustang Mach-E sales are conquest. They recognize that niche audience. This is why true Mustang fans are still waiting for an actual Mustang model, not a SUV with familiar labeling. This is also why their premier BEV model will target their core customer, the F-150 owner looking up replace their old F-150 with a new one offering a plug. That couldn't be any more of an extreme of a difference from GM.
Put another way, the supposed "hate" has been called out as really just an effort to stir posting. It wasn't constructive. It sighted no purpose. It was void of any detail. This reply, on the other hand, explained the situation in a nature no one can interpret as vague. The past and future of FEDERAL EV INCENTIVES is a topic of complex responses to challenging situations. Some automakers take the situation seriously; others do not.
Lessons Learned & Talking Points. My response made no reference whatsoever to GM or Volt; yet, that is what I got attacked about. Such blatant efforts to draw attention away from the points being made is remarkable. They desperately hold on to the only remaining talking points remaining. That's what happens when the rhetoric you have been shoveling turns into a lesson learned of what not to support. The topic was federal incentives and I brought of the parallel to China's subsidy effort. They didn't like that at all. So rather than replying with anything they could attack, I posted the conclusion paragraph from the source article my detail came from and included the link. Here's the quote I shared: "If Washington does head down China's state-heavy road, Beijing's experience offers crucial lessons. Subsidies to automakers and their customers might be necessary to give the industry the initial push it needs, but excess generosity could prop up failing firms. Taxpayer money might be more productively spent supporting R&D and building infrastructure such as charging stations, because in the end, the electric-vehicle war will be won in research labs and car showrooms, not the halls of Congress."
Reaction, Not Action. Sure enough, that audience made it all about me... rather than the subject of discussion. They don't like what I say and agreement is not what stirs thread activity. And of course, their cognitive-thinking capacity remains at zero. It's sad that they don't even try. It's just the pattern of complaints & blame... not even excuses anymore. Sound familiar? Teaching lessons learned from the past would be an example of something constructive; instead, they pretend it never happened. That's what we saw with Volt. In their mind, nothing of EV-1 or Two-Mode had any relevance. Ugh. I posted this in response to this most recent nonsense: History is being ignored. It's really unfortunate that some believe any type of incentive expiration or removal will somehow put the genie back in the bottle. Even if Tesla fails to deliver an affordable choice for the masses or if the base model of F-150 Lightning remains a choice only for commercial sales, that won't change the reality of them having exposed the world what change has to offer. In fact, that is exactly what Toyota has been doing with fuel-cell technology. We all know it will be primarily used in commercial industry related to construction, merchandise, and mass transportation. It's the exposure to that which brings about endorsement & support. With regard to these incentives, they will be problematic. Look at what similar subsidies did to China's market. There was no goal of profitability in mind or sustainable sales beyond the subsidy. There was hope of a magical shift to green choices, but that isn't what actually happened.
Federal EV Incentives. A new topic on the big Prius forum was started. It would inevitably become a discussion focusing on nothing but rhetoric. Sadly, that expectation is quite realistic. That behavior pattern is all too familiar. The audience thrives on reaction, not action. Ugh. Oh well, I still post facts will the hope some lurkers pick up some constructive content: Bias of reporting what is actually in the proposed "Clean Energy for America Act" has been interesting. The narrative of victim has focused entirely on EV credits, rather than addressing the true problem. It's a bandage approach. Rather than draw attention to changing the market, only the automaker industry is being treated as a resource needing help. Fortunately, those who read the prepared document by the Senate committee see things differently. Sadly, the proposal fails to what would really incentivize change... infrastructure for overnight recharging... but it does directly attack the source of how we got into this mess. Section 5 is titled: "Termination and Modification of Certain Fossil Fuel Provisions". Those are magic words for anyone who has been involved with trying to make change a reality, struggling for decades to address the true source of the problem. The proposal sunsets some amortization & deduction incentives and repeals a number of credits. In short, this is a mark in history indicating we are past "peak oil" and that industry is now seeing the loss of subsidies as a result. Additionally, trust funds for oil spill liability are being modified. Excise tax for this will modify definition of "crude oil" by expanding to encompass crude oil from tar sands and oil shale. Lastly, there is also a repeal of credits related to advanced coal and gasification projects.
Big Oil Suffers. Today... all within a span of just a few hours... Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, and Chevron Corp all took a major hit. Combined loss of court cases and being forced by shareholders to address climate change is now playing out. This isn't a narrative about pace like we hear with Toyota, where there's an agreement about direction but it isn't fast enough. This is outright defiance, where investment is in heavy expansion of new drilling sights... the very opposite of what's being asked for. It simply makes no sense searching for new oil sources and developing new sites. We need to dramatically reduce demand, not retain funding & resources to maintain it. There is nothing for those giants to justify not investing heavily to change. In fact, this is a fundamental Toyota has presented which many refuse to acknowledge. Toyota sees the necessity for those oil giants to spend money to become providers of green energy. Why would an automaker need to build distribution... charging-stations and its required service... when that will be an essential component of those businesses for survival? This is why enthusiasts dictating something to the contrary is such nonsense. That industry's dependence on a non-renewable resource has become an act of deep denial. They have mutated into corporations pursuing growth of wealth & influence rather than adapting to new demand. Having lost some power from inside derails that dynamic. Turns out, some board-members were replaced in those forceful acts today. That type of change from within is a very real win... a truly suffering blow to the few desperately trying to hold onto the past. Think about donor money, how this could break political expectations.
Faster Rate. This is another circumstance where I shared some real-world experience and got quite a number of unexpected likes. From that, I gather a user-guide will finally start to take shape. Wanting to reach a wider audience than just with Prius, I waited & observed with the hope of collecting a good impression of what newbies understand. From that, I'm getting an impression of what RAV4 owners know and don't know. Starting with the basics, there's a now obvious confirmation of most not even recognizing the variance to which electricity is delivered. That difference between "110" and "120" never gets questioned. People just tend to state whatever value they were raised to call it without any thought or notice of inconsistency. That makes for a difficult foundation to build upon... or perhaps not. Starting at the beginning with a type of "for dummies" document is how consistent messaging came about in the early-stages. Why not try the same now? Here's an example of what needs to be documented, a sample from what I ended up posting in reply: Electricity supply varies. It can be anywhere from 110 to 120 volts for ordinary household service. Most people never notice though. When you double it for level-2 charging, that variance changes to 220 to 240 volts. Doing the math... 220 volts * 30 amps = 6600 watts or 6.6 kWh. When you have service like mine delivering 245 volts, that charge-rate ends up quite a bit higher... like what others have observed.
Next-Gen Outlander. There was brief mention today about the upcoming next-generation of Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV in the UK. Supposedly, it will deliver EV range of 100 km/62 miles (WLTC). That beats RAV4 Prime by a tiny bit, 95 km/59 miles (WLTC). It was pretty much inevitable that next offering would either have to be an upgrade worthy of direct comparison or somehow be abandoned. The market is starting to see that stage approach where weaker choices begin to fall from interest. This is how death of that so-called "vastly superior" plug-in hybrid called Volt played out. Attention faded due to shortcomings. Not being able to meet consumer expectations will ultimately bring about that fate. In the case of GM's resistance to adapt, it was both size & price of the vehicle. Ironically, battery-capacity was fine. You just can't neglect other purchase priorities. That's why RAV4 Prime has been so popular and why Prius Prime's next-gen must deliver more range. It's a balance. Prius Prime already delivers a competitive price & seating. Seeing EV range increase (along with corresponding cargo regain from pack reconfiguration), is the next natural step to remaining viable for high-volume. The change from potential to actual sales is approaching. The market (and political environment) can see that on the horizon. We welcome Outlander to be part of that.