Personal Log #508
March 22, 2011 - March 30, 2011
Last Updated: Weds. 5/28/2014
page #507 page #509 BOOK INDEX
Reduce Oil Importing. There was a decade-plan announced by
President Obama today. He wants to oil imports reduced one-third by
2021 through the increase of domestic production, use of natural-gas &
biofuels, and better fuel-efficiency. That final approach-point is
obviously my favorite. In fact, expanding Prius into a line of
dedicated vehicles along with a plug-in option could achieve that goal if
each automaker offered something similar. We've heard ambition
about energy independence from many presidents of the past. None have
faced permanent gas-price increases like this before, nor had a world
economy so interlinked. The current crisis in Japan emphasizes the
need for a cooperative effort all too well. It also further supports the
"too little, too slowly" concern. Think about how long a
vehicle remains in service. How can that reduction be achieved if we
don't begin a swift large-scale move toward it right away?
Better. They are really laying on the smug thick now. In that daily blog for Volt, we are seeing more of the jealousy & ignorance remarks, along wit quotes like this: "They know the Volt is a much better car. End of story." It makes you wonder what happened to the founder. None of them are making any effort to share real-world data like he did. Why not? Since I haven't posted anything there for days, that influence is gone. But as you could imagine, the pressure of not being affordable is building. There are plenty of other sources now stressing that point. What's really irritating though are the hypocritical complaints. What goes around really does come back around. Too bad the choice was made to favor bragging rights, rather than just acknowledge the needs of the mainstream. What really makes a product better... something consumers desire or something they will actually purchase?
$3.59 Gas. It's already more expensive in other
areas of the country. We only saw the jump here today. It had
fallen to $3.39, then suddenly shot up. With oil staying over $100 per
barrel for awhile now, it was only a matter of time before higher prices hit
the refineries then the pumps. After all, nothing bad has been said
about Toyota's production restart. Focus exclusively on a select few
hybrids makes sense. They should be a priority. That's becoming
an expectation. It's ironic how supporters of Volt claim Toyota isn't
doing anything with Prius... despite evidence like this to the contrary.
We see the PHV in the hands of ordinary consumers collecting data to help
refine the final product for release. We see both a larger & smaller model
of Prius on the way. We see upcoming lithium battery-packs.
Can't they see the benefit from having these targeted directly at the
mainstream with the next year? Gas is already expensive. Time is
Restarting Production. Everything came to a screeching halt in Japan when that colossal wall of water breeched so far inland the resulting damage was on a scale the world had never witnessed. Being an industrial first-world nation, the effects of the disaster were immediately felt around the world. With respect to the automotive industry, vehicle & supply production was stopped... and has remained that way ever since. The plan now is to restart, but it will be limited to only Toyota and only 3 of their hybrids: Prius, HS250h, and CT400h. All else is still on hold. Here in the United States, there are worries of supply shortages. Delays with Prius inventory were especially becoming a concern. Being incredibly practical in these circumstances, it's easy to see how realistic it is expecting strong demand for it. Unfortunately, the bigger "V" model will have to wait in the meantime. Oh well. At least it is already designed to later support a plug-in option. Next year's rollout of the PHV should help move the industry forward on a number of fronts as a result. Tomorrow is the first day in that hopeful future, when production restarts.
Old-School Thinking. Remember the size & power resistance of the past? There were fierce debates about SUVs being safer and how they'd have more of a dependency benefit if they guzzled less. Turns out, both were proven false. Automakers know this, but still refuse to acknowledge it. Instead, we now have smaller SUVs and a plug-in hybrid that already looks outdated. Those old-school approaches are working for the moment. They will become a barrier at some point. There is a "tech" generation emerging. Age isn't part of its identification either. Some consumers are simply drawn to the new... asking why you wouldn't want more than just an engine. To them, it doesn't make sense not taking advantage of motors & batteries at this point... especially since they have already proven to be reliable & affordable. The catch is, those same consumers are well informed due to their interest in new technology. Clever marketing won't overcome efficiency & price shortcomings. With such a variety of hybrids on the way, the influence to the mainstream will be similar to that of smart phones. Abilities will become apparent surprisingly quick... things that were never part of old-school thinking.
Reality Check. With the price of oil now at $105.40 per barrel, how realistic is it to expect the price of gas to ever go down? We are already past that threshold everyone worried about. Many are still intensely fighting change though, doing everything they can to at least slow so it. Progress being impaired by those resisting it is nothing new. That's an unfortunate reality. We still get excuses, lots of them. Everything you can imagine is used as justification to avoid embracing what needs to be done. Then you've got the opposite extreme to deal with at the same time, where a supposed solution is made available but it doesn't actually meet requirements. That's the problem with Volt. The priority of price was simply abandoned. This plug-in hybrid was configured for the automotive enthusiast, not an everyday person just looking for something to replace their current mainstream midsize sedan with. Are we supposed to accept that?
Game-Changer, part 9. As a closing thought, I cannot resist sharing this summary of Volt that was published a few days ago. It's from one of those reviews the enthusiasts have been up in arms about. The don't like the criticism and still don't understand how publications can say such things about the vehicle they are so pleased with. It's a matter of perspective. They are thrilled about the vehicle and simply don't care that it's only a niche. To them, it's totally worth it. To those writing the reviews, Volt doesn't represent what their readers (mainstream buyers) have expressed for purchase priorities. That mismatch is a very real problem. It highlights the challenges GM faced prior to the bankruptcy and continue to still. But in the words of that review, it was put this way: "The story of the overtouted and undersold Volt is just one example of how General Motors continues to struggle. How did so much go so wrong for this once-great company? The answer lies in misplaced priorities, miscalculations, and unfocused vision."
Game-Changer, part 8. The underlying source of many of those problems from the enthusiasts is that they are enthusiasts. Not reaching out to the mainstream to address their needs means many assumptions... quite of few of which were just plain wrong, something they some still haven't accepted yet. After all, the desire to have something "better" is a fundamental urge difficult to resist... hence asking for goals so often. What does "better" actually mean? To them, it was improved performance so impressive consumers will be glad to pay the premium for it. In reality, people are looking for an emissions & efficiency improvement instead, without exceeding the usual mainstream price. They wanted nothing to do with a vehicle offering performance aspects which were just average... which is odd, since EV driving in itself is so appealing even at just a 4-cylinder traditional vehicle level of power. Whatever. We now know quite clearly Volt isn't the game-changer it was promoted to be.
Game-Changer, part 7. Nothing constructive followed. That daily blog has once offered the opportunity to influence outcome, direct access to executives on the project and a large following of members. They allowed that to slip by though... observing history, rather than participating. Oh well. Relentless use of the EREV marketing label without any clear definition of what it actually meant was an early warning sign of what was to come. The downplay and endless excuses is clear evidence of trouble now. Of course, evading discussion of goals prior to rollout had already set that stage. It's history repeating, again. Speaking of history, my favorite excuses have been with reference to the original model Prius. To think that some Volt enthusiasts continue to pretend GM doesn't have any experience whatsoever gained from EV1, Two-Mode, or BAS is outrageous. To propose that the market situation now is as it was then is absurd. The "runs deep" motto must be in reference to their state of denial.
Game-Changer, part 6. With some many insults to choose from, I picked this as my favorite: "Get a friggin clue." At this point, it's just like with diesel and Two-Mode supporters... they simply refuse to acknowledge the big picture. That's why I like that quote. It supports the "can't see the forest" saying quite well. Irony is good confirmation of a situation sometimes. Anywho, my "you're on your own" words were: Are you really so blinded by Prius that you can't see the current effort underway for traditional vehicles to capitalize on high gas prices? Step back to consider the big picture. The 7SDC and BAS designs from GM should make that effort obvious. Their push to deliver better MPG offers a higher efficiency solution much easier for the mainstream to embrace. Those consumers won't care that those technologies won't be able support a plug-in option later. They want something to deal with expensive gas now. Continuing to make delay excuses and shoot the messenger is counter-productive, it keeps Volt as a niche rather than aiming it at middle-market. This thread is about jobs being a priority. What do you think they are going to be producing? It will be business-sustaining high-volume sales vehicles... the traditional type, not plug-in hybrids.
Game-Changer, part 5. This final effort to point out the true competition was probably in vain. The Volt enthusiasts had always thought of the opposition as Prius, despite the market question being asked countless times. But I tried anyway. It's too bad they never noticed just how strong of a hold traditional vehicles actually have. I know many are angered by Prius owner stirring their little corner of the world. But reality is, gas prices are rising and the solution for most is to produce more efficient non-hybrid vehicles... because it's so much easier and more profitable... which doesn't change the game. Regardless, I tried anyway: Haven't you noticed what else is happening, both with GM and some other automakers? They are continuing to push traditional vehicles, leaving plug-in hybrids as a niche rather than targeting the mainstream. The 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission now in the works is confirmation of that. It serves as a grim reality reminder of the resistance to change. Why allow that to continue? Why not push back? Why accept the fact that the Volt delivered was not the one promised?
Game-Changer, part 4. That post made no difference. In fact, someone even asked if he even reads the posts and if there's any attempt to accept reality. Remember, this specific person was the one who absolutely insisted right up until the bitter end that Volt had potential to deliver 60 MPG after the battery was depleted. So, that conjecture about if replies were just instinctive reactions was warranted. I appreciate others noticing and pointing out observations like that. Needless to say, I contributed one more time: Why do you think the question of who the market was for Volt was asked so many times? It was because we saw this very situation coming. The persistent message of immediately being a vehicle for middle-market never made sense. The admirable goal of "nicely under $30,000" didn't match up with the expensive configuration being pursued. And for the title of "game changer" to be exclaimed prior to rollout then replaced with "first adopters" afterward, the downplay is difficult to deny. Sorry, but the "over promise, under deliver" should have been taken seriously... and shooting the messenger doesn't do any good. Tell GM what's needed this time. Don't just accept the ambiguous remarks by executives again.
Game-Changer, part 3. It got nasty. But
coming from the very worst remaining on the daily blog for Volt, it wasn't a
big deal. The new owner can see the insults are a desperate act,
rather than something beneficial. So, I have no doubt some moderating
will bring it to an end. In the meantime, I couldn't resist a post to
For years, I asked who the market for Volt was. Instead of a constructive
answer, there were often childish replies just like that.
Now the price of oil is $105.47 and the opportunity to influence the
configuration of Volt to reach mainstream consumers has been lost. We must
now wait several more years for an affordable model which could have been
pushed for back when the market question was asked.
In the meantime, we're stuck with a model that's nice but way too expensive
for high-volume sales. It makes you wonder how other goals will be achieved. Improving both engine emissions & efficiency will almost certainly increase
Do you really think personal insults are helpful in any regard?
Game-Changer, part 2. Not all is well.
The smug thrives in a few particular individuals still. One such
person loves to call any outside opinion the work of a troll attempting to
prove Prius is better. And of course, his definition of "better" is
nothing but aspects of performances... acceleration, speed, power. The
idea that sales make a difference is beyond his scope. It's all about
engineering, not actually selling a vehicle mainstream consumers. So
naturally, any mention of price is simply replied to with irrelevant
comments. Thankfully, those red herrings are so far off-topic at this
point, the attempt to change focus is rather obvious. Anywho, I
commented to the original poster's price question rather than even
acknowledge his nonsense: There's still a massive gap between Cruze & Volt. Nothing available isn't a
If GM would have followed their original plan of a Volt for the masses, a
second high-end model would be fine. They didn't though.
The lowest price is too far beyond what the mainstream can afford.
Game-Changer, part 1. The situation with Volt becomes increasingly clear each day. Owners wanting to reach out with real-world data are emerging, helping to fight enthusiasts still attempting to mislead. It's quite interesting to see. The calm is contrasted by lashing out. Those extremes now make intent so much easier to identify intent than the vague in the past. And officially, Volt really is a game changer... but rather than becoming the new standard, it's becoming the representative of what not to deliver... hence the scramble now for the next generation. Anywho, it was a welcoming sight seeing some objective contributions on the big Prius forum from a Volt owner. I responded with: All the "vastly superior" and "obsolete" nonsense was really getting out of hand. Some enthusiasts would insult the poster and Prius itself, then totally disregard any information that was contributed. It became a nightmare when pointing out efficiency factors, like the effects heater use would have an winter capacity. That dragged on for years too... until rollout finally began and we got confirmation of being right all along. Now, we can call Volt a "game player" and finally move on. I look forward to constructive discussion. More Volt owners are interested in it becoming a mainstream success rather than just having bragging rights for a niche.