Personal Log #461
May 27, 2010 - June 5, 2010
Last Updated: Sun. 10/24/2010
page #460 page #462 BOOK INDEX
New Situation. What does a greenwasher do when confronted with confusing facts? Believe it or not, he confessed to getting mixed up! The situation started when attempting to exploit an assumed weakness. I pointed out that was misleading, at best. It was the "concern" about the plug-in Prius not being able to recharge a section that wasn't the active one. As any Prius owner will point out, there isn't enough electricity captured from regenerative braking anyway. It's easy for them to see that's a non-issue. But those who don't have access to a Prius or understand the system could easily interpret that as a lost efficiency opportunity. Even Volt supporters know how little electricity is gained from regenerative braking and how wasteful it is to force recharging. So oddly, they become an ally... exactly what I've wanted from the very beginning! Even stranger, that discussion was taking place on the big GM forum and was about Nissan's Leaf. How about that! With so many different plug-in prototypes over the years and now unique pre-production configurations emerging to serve a variety of very different market segments, it's no surprise that a greenwasher would become confused.
Poor Prius. Remember the percentage greenwashing a few days ago? The totals for the year through May here are now available. 15,626 Jetta TDI were purchased. Without any perspective, that could be thought of as a lot. But when compared to the sales of Prius, which are supposedly disappointing, you are confronted with the reality of those who wish to mislead. During that same time period, there were 55,041 Prius purchased. That's more than triple in quantity, yet they attempt to spin it as bad anyway. They also continue to post only statistics for the United States... because mentioning sales Japan makes the situation much worse. 27,208 Prius in just May alone were purchased there. Of course, I'll be the first to point out how much monthly inventory fluctuates. Fusion hybrid supporters didn't this month though. That gives the impression of a huge spike in interest for Ford, even though there isn't a massive difference in the year-to-date totals: 7,998 for Fusion and 6,537 for Camry hybrid. Always step back to consider the big picture.
Forgotten Classic Photo. Stashed away in my digital
archives, there it was. I was shocked to realize such a scene had been
forgotten, from over 8 years ago. My purpose was to survey a parking lot in front of the state
capital to see if it would be practical for the first-ever green event there,
featuring hybrids. It wouldn't happen until Spring, but I was there that
cold Winter evening checking out the location in advance. My timing was
great. The sun had just set and the lights had come on, illuminating the
ice-coated parking lot covered with a fresh layer of snow. You can clearly
see tire tracks, revealing a shine from the lights on the exposed slick surface.
Under one large light, there's a large pile of snow made by a plow. Under
another, there's my Classic Prius. Further off in the distance is the
capital building for Minnesota, well illuminated behind a sea of tree and ground
lights. How could I have allowed such a moment to go unshared for so long?
Check it out...
photo album 147
Get Ready. As the rollout date for Volt draws closer, the comments from those frustrated with the approach seem to be drawing positive attention. Complaints about lack of disclosure of Price and MPG in CS-mode are gaining merit. How come other upcoming vehicles already share information like that, yet GM remains dead silent despite having claimed unprecedented transparency. Will that equate to constructive discussion? Can goals finally be objectively analyzed? After all, the counter-productive trophy-mentality can't last forever. Remember how that completely fell apart for Two-Mode shortly after rollout? Anywho, here's what I posted with surprisingly little upset afterward: At this point, we all know GM should have promoted Volt as a "progressive improvement" platform rather than a "bet the farm on Nov 2010" vehicle. Had they taken the other approach, aspects like price & mpg wouldn't matter as much since consumers would just expect it to change. Instead, we're getting a slew of mixed messages and uncertainties without any idea what consumers actually want or what will happen next. It's setup to unfold abruptly in 5 months. Get ready for that.
One Year Later. Declaring bankruptcy was an interesting
page in automotive history. They claimed the situation would never come to
that. It did. They claimed marketshare for foreign competition
wouldn't grow even more. It did. They claimed interest in climate
change and dependence on oil would not become a consumer priority. It did.
Being wrong over and over again is bad enough, but not changing one year after
admitting to those problems is worse. We're starting to see the same old
mindset re-emerge again. The trophy-mentality combined with
short-sightedness doesn't inspire confidence. Remember the "too
little, too slowly" assessment? That advice clearly wasn't taken to
heart. Recovery isn't easy. Allowing bad habits to take hold again
makes it even harder. What now?
Sierra-Hybrid Sighting. I saw my first today. Considering how rare they are, it was definitely noteworthy of an experience. Of course, that probably sounds belittling or sarcastic. Perhaps it is. The market for such a large hybrid pickup is tiny anyway. It most definitely does not target mainstream consumers. In fact, it doesn't even target those who traditionally purchase large pickups either. Many who actually use a truck like that for purposes it was designed prefer diesel. It's just as efficient and provides much more power. In other words, this particular hybrid configuration is an oxymoron. It's too bad there isn't a practical configuration available, something smaller and much more affordable. They absence of choice is what irritates. It's that same old one-size-fits-all problem I've been complaining about with Volt as well. Only a single engine/motor/battery configuration isn't wise for business and certainly doesn't help consumers.
Chasing The Storm. Further down the road, now in open
country out from all the trees, there was that same Summer storm off in the
distance. In the bright sun with a background of falling rain, it was a
recipe for rainbows. Sure enough, one emerged. I just happened to be
in an area where there was a variety of landscapes too. By tall corn, by
golden wheat, and by green hills with trees, I was able to capture the colorful
optical effect with storm clouds behind it. That sure is rewarding when
you are in exactly the right place at exactly the right time with a camera.
Those are opportunities I really look forward to. You can see why...
photo album 147
Peak Oil. A decade ago, those of us supporting hybrids got mocked about this topic. We said 2010. But since hydrogen fuel-cells would supposedly be available by then anyway, it was just brushed off as a non-issue by those who weren't mocking. Neither extreme wanted to take the issue of oil dependency seriously. The topic of "global warming" wasn't even a consumer controversy back then. Gas was cheap. Emissions were only for treehuggers. Few grasped the reality that the hybrids would become the new standard, that everyone unwilling to change would become greenwashers... those who believed the "Too Little, Too Slowly" was just politics. Now, reality is quickly coming crashing down. Oil has indeed become expensive. The easy to obtain stuff is vanishing. The high-grade stuff is vanishing. The belief of safety is vanishing. The consequences are becoming overwhelming apparent.
Both Types of Emissions, part 2. This is what I posted, still in disbelief about the lack of awareness there: I had no idea people were still lumping together *BOTH* types of emissions... CARBON is the type directly related to fuel efficiency. SMOG is the type that usually *INCREASES* as a result of higher MPG, which is very much the case with diesel. This explains why the greenwashing is still so rampant. Adding cleansing equipment to meet minimum sale requirements (which diesel does now) is one thing, but to achieve an emission rating of SULEV or PZEV is entirely another. Cleaner causes a MPG penalty... something the gas hybrids overcome much easier than engine-only diesel. All of the Ford & Toyota hybrids have delivered either the SULEV and PZEV ratings from day one. The diesels being discussed are "50-state" rated, which is a level dirtier than ULEV and 2 levels dirtier than SULEV.
Both Types of Emissions, part 1. Discovering that someone who's been pushing an increase in the MPG standard for years was unaware there were 2 unrelated types of vehicle emission was quite a shocker today. It came up in a discussion about diesel efficiency. I chimed in with a basic comment, assuming most everyone already knew what I was talking about. Instead, when I checked on that thread the next day, my claim had turned into a controversy not supported by any proof !! If haven't figured it out already, it was on the big GM forum... where emissions are almost never discussed... mostly due to that not being a priority for GM. In fact, their Two-Mode hybrids are actually dirtier than their gas counterparts. But I didn't mention that. They can be their discovery when researching emission ratings.
Latest Attempt Failed. There's not much to say. The latest attempt to stop the oil failed. The spill keeps getting larger and larger and the damage gets worse and worse. There's no end in sight anymore. All the "easy" options have already been exhausted. This is the worst and now goes deep into unknown territory. We've never had a mess this bad to deal with, ever! It's a disaster with nothing encouraging on the way. How long will the oil flow (not really a spill, since the supply is very much a mystery) continue?
56 MPG. The temperature was 90 F degrees. The
headwind I was traveling into was in the 20's. It was a hot & windy day,
perfect for a bike trip on a trail primarily canopied by trees. That meant
a driving almost 60 miles each way to enjoy it. I was curious as heck how
my now broken-in 2010 Prius would handle those conditions. To my delight,
the MPG hung around 53... despite use of the A/C set at the lowest temperature
with medium fan. I couldn't wait to find out what the return trip would
bring, several hours later when it would be a tailwind on that 65 MPH highway
I was such a fulfilling sight. Outside temperature &
wind almost identical to earlier that day. A/C running. I watched the MPG average
slowly crept up to 56. Yeah!
Percentage Greenwashing. The diesel supporters are still at it, attempting to mislead through the use of percentages. I saw this today and just shook my head in disbelief: "Clean diesels outsold hybrids in 2009." It was a short article which stated nothing but percents. That was the only numerical information provided. For anyone who takes the time to actually look at statistical data, they can see how easy it is to greenwash by not including actual sales counts. Think about it yourself. The first year of sales for Volt is 8,000. If the sales increase to 24,000 for the second year, that's a 200% increase. For Prius currently selling at 140,000 per year here, that increase of 16,000 more only represents an 11% increase... even though it is the very same quantity.
Follow or Lead. I'm still dwelling on that problem the Volt enthusiasts are allowing to continue. Actions are reactive, rather than proactive. It's been that way for years. Since many of the daily bloggers aren't even planning to purchase for awhile, how will the activity change? Their reason for not getting one as soon as it becomes available is price... which is the very thing I've been concerned about from the very beginning. GM didn't design a platform which could gradually be improved as battery technology & prices improves. Instead, they built the end-product hoping for a major breakthru and intending to keep production low in the meantime. That keeps consumers in the follow position. They cannot become leaders like Prius owners have if their only option is to wait. It's easy to promote something others can actually buy.
Listing Requirements. Not doing that has been the heart of the problem from the very beginning. Consumers like Prius because what it delivers is very clear and easy to see the benefit of. Supporters like Prius since it actually achieves requirements they've listed and have pushed automakers for. Volt enthusiasts have taken a very different approach. Rather than actually stating what they want, they just accept whatever GM is willing to offer. It's like they are afraid asking for anything different will cause the development program to end. After all, GM did claim consumer demand for EV1 was so low it wasn't worth continued production... even though most of us never had an opportunity to actually make that choice. That's why it has become the responsibility of consumers to speak up. That's also why Prius has been so successful. Toyota has been very receptive to comments. We told them what we want.
Shot The Messenger. That has been the typical response to not wanting to deal with an issue. They make it personal with some type of insult, hoping to distract attention away from the actual topic at hand. This time though, I found a way to avoid that entirely by clearly stating the reasoning and leaving the question itself rhetorical: Go on accepting the status quo (too little, too slowly) by watching the competition gobble up market opportunity, rather than actually stepping up and doing something. It's the consumers who drive the market, not the automakers. Hasn't the lesson of EV1 taught you anything?
All They Hear Is Prius. It's fascinating to witness history repeating itself. As product rollout draws closer, the supporter becomes less and less receptive to constructive feedback. They simply block out all criticism claiming it is just a ploy to undermine by the competition. This particular example is quite blatant too. In this case, Volt enthusiasts fear Prius. Each new success milestone for Prius makes them more belligerent. Even though nothing you say ever mentions Prius or even the technology, all they hear is Prius. They cannot fathom why someone who has supporter another automaker would ever want to help. Why they don't understand the desire to expand automotive-grade rechargeable battery production through cooperation across brands is still a mystery. It's as if the traditional market doesn't even exist. All they see is one plug-in technology. Devote focus is great, but denial of the realities of current production is detrimental. The fact that other plug-in hybrids could help end that production much sooner means nothing. It's the purist mentality, sacrifice all for a single objective... regardless of cost. That's exactly what we saw for Two-Mode. No cooperation. No interest in balance. One size fits all.