Prius Personal Log  #1088

August 21, 2021  -  August 27, 2021

Last Updated:  Sun. 11/28/2021

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Diverting Attention.  A classic response to losing an argument is to divert attention elsewhere.  Today, it was: "Explain how no sales make profits, please.  I'm very interested to know how they will do that."  Way back when Prius Prime was first rolled out, GM not only admitted Bolt was not making any profit (it was still quite new), it was also revealed how much.  That amount was $9,000 per vehicle.  Expectation was battery cost would rapidly drop, just like what enthusiasts hoped for with Volt.  So, that wasn't looked upon as a serious problem.  But when you anticipate a miracle, things don't always work out.  That was true with Volt and now is quite undeniable with Bolt.  Hearing such bad news is just like the mess we are facing in Afghanistan.  How do you accept the reality of losing a war?  Turns out, it's quite easy.  Just like with countless other messes the Republican party created, the Democrat successor will be forced to clean up.  That makes it unnecessary to even place blame.  You just divert attention to other problems while the clean-up itself is consuming lots of resources.  That puts the responsible people at a disadvantage.  This is why there is a continuous effort to stir controversy, creating new issues where none actually exist.  It can be quite subtle.  You just express interest toward something else.  Notice how often "50 kW" charging is brought up?  Ugh.  Knowing this attempt was a red-herring, I kept my response brief:  Sales don't necessarily equate to profit.  GM told us none of the Bolt with batteries from Korea were profitable and the ones from Michigan would likely be sold at a loss too.  It wouldn't be until Ultium battery vehicles that profit would be possible.


Fighting Pandering.  You can only fight the inevitable for so long.  Today, there was an article published today forcing the narrative of a race between Tesla and legacy automakers... more bait for enthusiasts.  Ugh.  Online media thrives on reader participation.  So, it is a series of battles.  Enthusiasts don't always have to take the bait either.  Sometimes, the writer will put a provoke directly in their article: "Something like that could still happen, at least to some of the more backward-looking brands (cough, cough! Toyota)"  That was what followed a lead up including "legacy automakers wither away" as the market condition of disruption was being addressed.  The obvious evade of detail is what made the pandering obvious.  I know that audience.  They pretend plug-in hybrids with EV drive don't exist.  They refuse to acknowledge Toyota's success and deny desired features, like the heat-pump, have been available from Prius Prime since late 2016.  I decided to fight this particular battle with:  Race implies the first to cross the line.  That is most definitely not the objective.  What must be accomplished is an appeal to the masses... which is something Tesla most definitely has not achieved yet.  An ordinary consumer looking to purchase a vehicle for around $30K is basically out of luck still.  That's where Toyota comes into the picture.  The narrative about them being behind or disinterested is a clear attempt to mislead about both audience & need.  Anyone who takes the time to study the success of EV drive for both Prime models and the approach for the upcoming "bZ" models will see what automaker priorities are.  To further confirm the narrative, quotes like "Hybrids are increasingly seen as legacy technology" tell that story.  They portray technology as if there are no offerings that match EV drive available from BEV.  Painting a picture to mislead about what PHEV are capable of is just plain wrong.  People can drive their daily commute and run errands using nothing but electricity in their PHEV, just like BEV.  That shows Toyota really isn't behind, that they are really just working their business from the bottom-up, rather than top-down.  Rolling out choices that appeal to dealers & consumers, making the sale of plug-in choices simple is how the "race" is won.  That's where sustainable profit and high-volume sales come from.

8-25-2021 Preventing Pandering.  We have seen alternative-reality perspectives ever since the beginning over 20 years ago.  No matter what the topic, some enthusiast will interject their spin.  In this case, it was an article about a 101-year-old man sharing his driving & ownership experiences that provided the temptation.  That nice story was irresistible bait for pandering.  Though pretty much inevitable, I tried my best to prevent the spoiling of it in the comments.  This is what I jumped in with a reply to: "Time gives you perspective...."  That was the entire comment.  I found it a great invite to dive in with:

Unfortunately, it's enthusiasts who are especially unreceptive to that wisdom.  They don't want to hear parallels, when you point out a pattern of the past repeating with an undesired outcome.  Having been very active with green choices, starting with EV1 and watching the birth of hybrids, I'm quite familiar with that perspective.

What should be obvious now to even those without extensive background is GM's repetition of pandering to enthusiasts.  Time after time, we'll get plans saying nothing about how things will actually change at their dealerships, where influence of their own loyal customers is vital.

Craving the spotlight is a legacy automaker problem that hurts far more than a newer entry, like when Tesla was growing.  It sacrifices the well-being of the company as a whole for the sake of promoting a limited product.  That's fine initially, like if Volt had spread its technology across the fleet.  But after awhile, it becomes an anchor without that spreading.

Enthusiasts like to hate Toyota for that very reason.  We now see the hybrid technology spread almost across the entire fleet of vehicles offered at the dealership.  Ordinary consumers are starting to notice the plug-in technology from Prius has carried over to RAV4 now too.  Just think what will happen with bZ4X later when that same tech gets offered as bZ4 and bZ3X and bZ3...

Notice the brand loyalty mentioned in this article?  That is what VW wants to capitalize on, essentially skipping the hybrid & plug-in hybrid stages to jump straight to BEV.  That will only work if ID.4 here is complimented by other choices.  Showroom shoppers need to see that change taking place for them to embrace it.

In short, pandering doesn't work.  It shouldn't take much time to appreciate to that perspective.


Ford's Production Targets.  They are changing.  Originally, expectation was set to 40,000 annually by 2024.  Now, serious consideration of pushing to 80,000 is being talked about.  That isn't actually a lot thought.  For some perspective, that's only one-tenth of F-150 annual sales. (2020=787,372.  2019=896,526.  2018=909,330.  2017=896,764.  2016=820,799)  Starting next year, initial build quantity should be about 15,000.  Ford plans to raise it to 55,000 in 2023.  The second-generation for Lightning should follow in 2025 with around 160,000 annually.  So, whether you look immediate or in the not-too-distance future, it begs the question about what else Ford will offer with a plug.  Will there be a big PHEV push?  What about a smaller pickup as a BEV model?  With all the praise given already, it doesn't seem like the Osborne Effect so many enthusiasts are now all exciting about.  That is a slow, natural step forward.  It's undeniable progress.  Kudos!  But setting the bar that low while attacking Toyota at the same time doesn't make sense.  The numbers don't add up.


Blame.  With all of the Bolt ever built now being recalled, there is lots of speculation of how the relationship between GM and LG will play out.  There's talk of quality-control issues verses being poorly designed.  Far more likely is this was a "perfect storm" type situation, where the fires happened under just the right circumstances to modules that just happened to have multiple flaws.  That is an unfortunate reality.  I'm still baffled by the allowance of charging to 100% though.  That is never really a good idea for a vehicle.  People are rarely attentive enough to ensure that full state-of-charge isn't exposed to stress.  It simply isn't worth the risk.  There is always the potential for a deep-discharge too.  Combine that with a wide variation of very difficult to track usage scenarios, you've got a mess.  Fortunately, GM does collect data from owners using their service.  That does help identify conditions & patterns, but how do you force a supplier to help with the burden of replacement or take full responsibility once you find the problem?  It seems totally unrealistic to place blame.  Whether that's justified or not, think about consumer perspective.  Recall always falls upon the automaker image.  Regardless of circumstances, they are the ones who the customer sees at fault.  Who knows how this will took out... how long the process will take... or what kind of new expectations will come about.  This is that wake-up call for enthusiasts.  As much as they feel the market has matured, this is overwhelming evidence to the contrary.  The industry is barely out of the early-adopter stage, at best.  More realistically, we are just beginning to stir attention... which means no mainstream sales for awhile... which is a solid confirmation of "not yet" being the proper label.  All that equates to the blame really not mattering.  During early stages, there are naturally just some winners & losers.  There is success & failure.  It's costly process, but quite normal.  GM appears to be taking another major loss... and not dealing with it well, again.


Bullying.  What an interesting outcome.  A moderator of the big Facebook group for RAV4 Prime was removed.  I always had to be careful when posting there due to his dominance.  Calling out a mistake on his part could have resulted in me getting banned.  I still tried to carefully expose the truth despite that.  He would annoyed with data refuting what he had claimed.  Most of the time, it was in the form of dismissal claiming that Prius Prime and RAV4 Prime had nothing in common.  That close-mindedness was a bad sign.  I knew that others had their posted just outright deleted.  I was not aware that it went beyond that though.  It did.  Turns out, he was acting in a similar fashion toward others too.  His motive was to promote his YouTube channel.  The other moderator eventually caught on to that and posted: "I'm sorry to all for the bullying and account deletions/blockings by ***.  He is no longer in the group.  This is a safe space to discuss the RAV4 Prime."  Signs of trouble to come were there if you looked.  He had a lot to lose.  On YouTube, his subscriber & watch count was enormous.  Someone open-minded won't get defensive about unfavorable comments.  He did.  That was a red-flag.  Complaining about it later raised concern.  He had a grudge of some sort... the attitude I recognized from ages ago with Volt.  Remember that one enthusiast who I called out for spreading false information?  He kept doing it and each pushback on my part became more intense.  You can't just dismiss data you don't like.  They both did.  Neither liked the outcome.  I'm thrilled.  Thinking more about this, I remember the same thing happening on the big GM forum too.  After awhile, the regular poster went too far and was removed.  Cool.  This was yet another example of how showing patience and being polite is worth it.


Limited Scope.  Today's discussion on the potential for increased fines due to non-compliance of MPG requirements brought up that outdated graph again.  People thrive on something like that they can easily refer too, especially if it presents data in a distorted manner.  That provides a basis for them to support their narrative.  For example, this conclusion in a long rant that got posted: "Get the message people.  Ya need to be more fuel efficient.  Toyota, I'm looking at you."  I know he knows better.  You get familiar with regular commenters.  He simply took advantage of a move-the-spotlight opportunity.  I took advantage of that to interject some facts:  Toyota is more efficient already.  That cherry-picked graph excludes recent data.  It doesn't look forward either.  To completely disregard planned new rollouts is a set of misleading expectations... feeding a false narrative.  Toyota sees no need to rush.  In fact, Toyota sees benefit from taking time to do it right.  That's why the upcoming "bZ" brand based on their new e-TNGA platform is moving along at a pace frustratingly slow for enthusiasts.  No one else cares though.  It will easily fall within the scope of upcoming tighter efficiency regulation.  Keep in mind, when you aim to sell 10 million vehicles per year to a very diverse worldwide audience, what happens in one of the bigger markets doesn't necessarily mean a shift of the entire product-line is required.  True change, the kind that is both wide-appeal & profitable, takes time.  Far too often, early-adopters judge based upon a limited scope... like that limited data in the graph.


Outdated Data.  Showing a graph with data from 2013 to 2018 is very misleading; yet, it happened today.  There are some of us who routinely complain about misrepresentation from outdated data.  It's a form of cherry-picking the media thrives on.  Content like that results in a lot of comments being posted.  I see them.  For example: "Honestly, the most surprising thing on that chart is that BMW is ahead of Toyota on average efficiency."  It's difficult & pointless to resist chiming in.  So, I do:  Being surprised by outdated data tells us the narrative has been effectively passed along.  Reality is, Toyota has pushed 4 hybrids into the mainstream that are not reflected in that data.  RAV4 hybrid was introduced as a late-model offering, so its existence wasn't even known to most until the next-gen which rolled out in late 2018.  Corolla hybrid wasn't rolled out until the following year.  The biggest impact though was elimination of traditional offerings for Sienna and Venza just last year.  Both are only available as hybrids now.  Excluding that data presents a very distorted perspective... and that's without addressing the omission of the newest plug-in hybrid, RAV4.  Of course, comparing a luxury brand only one-quarter the size of a mainstream brand doesn't make sense in the first place.  That's 2.3 million sales in 2020 worldwide compared to 9.528 million.  Both price & audience make them too different for such a generalized assessment.  Lastly, BMW has discontinued i3 REx.  A graph showing the missing data (years 2019 and 2020) would likely reflect a drop in MPG efficiency for their fleet as a result.  But since that data wasn't included, don't be surprised.


Desperate Lies.  When you have a friend that loses their way, you don't necessarily abandon them.  You can only take so much mindless propaganda though... especially when some of the posts are flagged & confirmed as false information.  So, you keep a distance.  I have been checking up on one from time to time via Facebook.  The terrible things he shares is really disappointing.  I had really hoped he would use his brain rather than just pass along obvious efforts to mislead & undermine.  With his political nonsense, I refrain.  But when it comes to green efforts, I sometimes respond.  This was one such quote which I couldn't just let go: "The lifespan of an electric-battery is 10 years and is not renewable.  By 2050 these batteries will fill landfills with 50 million pounds of waste that does not break down."  That was just plain wrong.  I replied with a few hard facts to point out the problem with such a claim:  Incorrect.  Tesla's new recycling process claims it can save up to 92 percent of the elements that make up a battery-pack.  Last year alone using this, Tesla recycled 1300 tons of nickel, 400 tons of copper, and 80 tons of cobalt.


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