Personal Log  #646

November 7, 2013  -  November 13, 2013

Last Updated: Tues. 12/17/2013

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Pride & Money.  We keep hearing about GM's desire to compete directly with Tesla.  That doesn't make sense without context.  Supposedly, that means a 200-mile EV for about $30,000.  Who will the market be?  Wasn't the goal of Volt to reach the very same consumers or is this something that somehow still has range-anxiety?  With all the anti-EV campaigning of the past, it's really uncertain knowing what to actually expect... which is the very problem Volt had in the early days of development.  Remember how all those vague & ambiguous statements led to false hope & disappointment?  What about all the hype in the meantime?  Someone tried to be the voice of reason today, but an example of Volt becoming a higher performance vehicle clouded judgment.  It's history repeating yet again!  Remember all the excitement about 0-60 times?  Ugh.  Anywho, this was the comment: "GM does not need a hotter Volt, it needs a cheaper Volt with one more seat.  Given the low sales, it’s hard to imagine GM putting a lot of resources into Volt features that won’t enhance its mainstream appeal."  I joined in with:  GM's resources will be focused on where the profit comes from.  42,660 sales of Silverado pickups last month were purchased last month.  That's what provides business-sustaining revenue, which means it will continue to get the attention to maintain sales.  How Volt will compete with that is a mystery.  Funding a low-volume seller is a very real problem.  It must change in some way to attract significantly more buyers; otherwise, it will remain a niche offering.  Like it or not, that’s the situation Volt faces now.  Cheap gas and a growing array of choices of other automakers is a sign of greater challenges to come.  The advice to just wait for the next generation to work out issues is very risky.  Time is working against Volt.  Talk about an SS model is a step in the wrong direction.


Moving On.  The ironic nature of a person doing the most to hold back progress complaining about others doing that very thing is fascinating.  We see it all the time.  Do they?  The contradiction should be obvious to spot.  Yet, we still get this: "Yes, I would like to move on and not continue to have past conversations."  That stirs anger, since bringing up the past is exactly what continues to happen... by him, not us.  It's a not-so-typical example of a troll.  The reasoning is simple too.  Just ask yourself what his purpose is, why is he there?  No answer to that question indicates he actually thrives on repeating conversations of the past... hence routinely bringing them back up... in defense of Volt, of course.  Nonetheless, I took a stab at it anyway:  What would you like to discuss?  When I bring up the big picture, it becomes an all-out assault to change the topic to something other than what to sell.  The most hypocritical thing I hear on a regular basis is the claim that Toyota has invested so heavily in the Prius design, they are unwilling to invest in something else.  Reading that never ceases to amaze me.  GM sold 42,660 Silverado Pickups here last month.  How can we possibly be taking the situation seriously by ignoring that?  That certainly looks like an extremely heavy investment.  To make matters worse, getting acknowledgement that need requires focus on replacing high-volume traditional cars like Camry, Fusion, Malibu, Impala, Corolla, Focus, and Cruze is basically impossible.  That leaves us without an audience to discuss.  It started out reasonable having a profitable target being set at $30,000.  That got abandoned though.  Things fell apart from there... leaving us with nothing to move on to.  Past conversations were attempts to find out what comes next, to move forward.  What should our expectations be for mainstream consumers, those middle-markets buyers who are simply looking to purchase a practical & affordable choice that offers higher efficiency and lower emissions?


Intentional Misleading.  Reading a post like this is maddening: "The EPA rates it as 6 electric miles, the 11 mile rating is the EPA rating that uses gas to get the 11 miles.  I'm not sure why most people think it's 11 miles. It says 6 miles right on the sticker albeit in a smaller font..."  I couldn't let that go, especially since it was a clear effort to reach out to a new audience on a new blogging website.  I knew who it was and what he was up to:  Not sure why?  People keep bringing it up to confuse and raise doubt, to intentionally undermine acceptance.  That should be obvious by now.  We keep pointing out that the capacity is 11 miles and the fact that the EPA test breaks it from being continuous due to a hard acceleration at the 6-mile mark.  The engine shuts off afterward. You continue driving along using only electricity for another 5 miles or so.  On my commute taking the river route (max 55 mph), I average 13 miles continuous.  In the dead of Minnesota winter, it drops to 9 miles.  During the nicest days of summer, it climbs to 15 miles.  So, that 11 miles is quite realistic.  But it really doesn't matter.  The purpose of a plug-in hybrid is to deliver a significant efficiency improvement.  1.5 years of driving mine (31,323 miles), the overall average comes to 76.8 MPG.  Clearly, the purpose of the added battery capacity has been fulfilled.


Asking Questions.  That's what ultimately brought the antagonist rhetoric to an end.  Everyone lost interest when they kept avoiding what was asked.  Instead, they'd accuse you of what they were guilty of.  It's the pattern of behavior often attributed to the end of chapter in history.  In fact, you'll get accused of continuing to bring up the past because they refuse to discuss the future.  I find it all quite telling.  Basically, you can flush out which areas of concern they are most worried about by observing their reactions.  In this case, it's the fact that Volt is no longer thought of as distinct.  It's simply thought of now as a plug-in hybrid with a larger battery and a smaller body that GM is struggling to sell.  Since all of the posts are taking place on the big Prius forum, you have to wonder who they think their audience is.  They are supporting claims with real-world data like I would do on the big GM forum or that daily blog for Volt.  Posts have been nothing but an effort to get people to not look forward... which makes sense, when there's nothing to look forward to.  Think about it.  How will Volt compete in a market rapidly filling up with other choices?  All it has going for it is a large battery-pack.  Ford, Honda, and Toyota all offer higher efficiency following depletion and mainstream consumers aren't interested in electric purity.  We see Tesla & Nissan dominating the EV market.  The other choices, like Focus & Spark, are barely stirring any interest.  In the end, it boils down to what I had been saying all along.  GM is competing with itself.  When Volt doesn't standout among the other automakers, those loyal to GM will simply purchase another GM vehicle.  That choice continues to be another GM traditional offering.  Malibu, Cruze, Equinox, and even Sonic are selling much better.  The other offerings, like GM brand: Camaro, Captiva, Corvette, Express, Spark, and Buick brand: Enclave, Encore, LaCrosse, Verano, and Cadillac brand: ATS, CTS, SRX. XTS are all selling better too.  Then when you take a look at the trucks, like Silverado, Suburban, Sierra, Acadia, Tahoe, Traverse, Terrain, and Yukon, it's quite obvious Volt barely even gets noticed.  That's why asking questions works so well.  They absolutely refuse to look at the big picture.  By seeing that list, it's pretty obvious why.


Always That Way.  A sign of defeat is when they make that claim.  Today, it came with in an argument starting with this: "First off, EREV has always been a subset of the plug in hybrid definition. Just like mild, assist, and full are subsets of the hybrid one."  That was astonishing to read.  I was left flabbergasted.  That isn't the slightest bit true.  People have selective memories though.  That's why I blog.  Being able to easily search the past comes in quite handy.  I chose to respond to that with:  I have many, many quotes in my blogs contradicting that claim.  They were documented back then knowing attempts to tell a different story would occur later.  Enthusiasts had much different expectations.  What they hoped for is not what ended up being delivered.  But guess what, it doesn't matter anyway.  The label continues to be vague and the official organizations have simply moved on. CARB wants significant emission reductions.  "BEVx" is a good example.  The new category is their push toward which: The vehicle must have a rated all-electric range of at least 75 miles (higher than the 50 miles required of a zero-emission vehicle);  The auxiliary power unit must provide range less than, or at most equal to, that battery range;  The APU must not be capable of switching on until the battery charge has been depleted;  The vehicle must meet "super ultra low emission vehicle" (SULEV) requirements;  The APU and all associated fuel systems must comply with zero evaporative emissions requirements.


Purity & Naysayers.  There are a few that have an extremely difficult time looking forward.  Still wanting to win arguments lost long ago burns them up inside.  You catch a glimpse of their frustration every now and then: "Also note that a pure series design would take a lot of the wind out of the sails for Volt naysayers.  The fact that the engine connects to the wheels in some driving modes seems to create a lot of negative image issues for the Volt."  Ask yourself who cares about that anymore; even most of the enthusiasts have moved on.  I pointed out:  For years, Volt enthusiasts praised the purity design.  Then when it was discovered that wouldn't actually be delivered, there was a huge uproar... by them, not the naysayers.  The rest of us always knew about the benefits of blending and were in dismay about how that approach had been shunned.  The negative image was self-inflicted and continues to be.  Notice your own comment in this thread: "Tesla feeds on the *more is better* mentality, but in the end there's really no need to haul around..."  That's another example of the same thing, image dominating discussion. It eludes to the actual problem, but ends up missing it.  Heck, even a diminishing-return graph was included.  The need is to improve overall efficiency.  Using more electricity doesn't necessarily accomplish that.  It transfers consumption from one fuel to another.  The same lesser gain (diminishing return) comes from MPG.  Yet, we see that being flaunted as the indicator of success.  Higher is promoted as better.  Real-World impact of factors like heater consumption and vehicle size aren't taken into account with graph averages.  Things like weekend errand-running and trips to see friends & family aren't represented either.  Everything must be improved.  One size does not fit all.  In other words, the hope that a small battery-capacity increase can compensate for an efficient engine isn't a real solution.  With the price of oil currently at $94.60 per barrel and gas no down to $2.89 per gallon for some regions, it should be a wake-up call that selling high-efficiency vehicles will continue to be a major challenge.


New Tire Update.  We're seeing a lot of questions about Winter driving and tires now.  This is my latest contribution to the discussion:  I've only had my set for 2.5 weeks now, so there isn't much to report yet.  The only snow we've got so far melted right away.  Reading online comments outside this forum, opinions were all over the place.  Since road conditions can differ dramatically, as well as the way people actually drive, I went with the consensus here that they'd do well.  After all, I tried the HydroEdges way back when they were still quite new and had pleasing results on snow & ice.  And living in Minnesota, I'll certainly have lots of opportunity for Winter driving.  We got hit especially bad a few times last year, so I still have vivid memories of the factory tires.  Those tires only made it to 30,000 for me, since actually reaching replacement wear-level would have been mid-Winter.  I took advantage of Fall sale prices and the fact that they were in stock.  I've heard backorder waits are common for them.  The initial impression are these tires will get my recommendation too.  Driving at 44/42 PSI, road noise was my first want-to-know.  Thankfully, they were actually a little quieter. For traction on dry & wet roads, they've been nice.  They seem to take corners fairly well. But the ultimate test hasn't come yet.  Snow handling will tell us a lot.  In the end, like most owners, I want a tire offering a nice balance of traction & wear that delivers great MPG for a reasonable price.  Stay tuned for updates.  Right now, I'm still trying to enjoy the final days of Fall.


Evening Errands.  Virtually all the discussions about plug-in vehicle use focus on commuting.  The drives you do after work are rarely addressed, even though those miles can add up to quite a lot and the vehicle may not have much or any charge left at that point.  Of course, that would be the very reason why the topic isn't discussed with Volt.  Depleted mile means very low efficiency, MPG like a high-efficiency traditional car... not even close to what Prius delivers.  Anywho, that's why when the topic is encountered, it's with respect to pure electric-only vehicles instead.  I couldn't resist the topic came up tonight.  It was a well timed opportunity to share my recent experience:  Perfect for going to get groceries?  That usage works fine for a small EV, but not for what I did last night...  Late in the evening, with my battery-pack fully recharged, I headed out to the hardware store.  There, I purchased brackets and two 8-foot shelves.  With the front seat lowered, the entire load was swallowed up by the Prius.  It's no big deal carrying cargo that large inside.  The entire drive was with only electricity too.  That practical design of Prius is what has won over many owners.  They were drawn to Prius by the emission & efficiency improvements, but it was that ability to haul lots of stuff that sealed the deal.  Competitors tried to convince people that it was the unique look, that it served as a smug declaration of being green.  Those actually purchasing a Prius knew that wasn't true.  This is why Toyota placed such a high priority on PHV design not interfering with existing interior space.  Getting a plug wouldn't mean having to sacrifice the ability to haul large objects.


History Repeating.  It is somewhat bizarre when it happens so many times, you not only recognize the pattern, you can also accurately point out what the antagonist will do next.  That's what we've seeing lately with the downfall of Volt.  It is no longer considered "vastly superior" by the enthusiasts.  They've officially withdrawn from that war... finally realizing surrender isn't necessary, that their conflict was artificially created by them... that the true war is competition with traditional vehicles.  With the plug-in Prius matching sales, despite not having the federal or state credits like Volt, it was reason enough for this attitude change.  But seeing the steady rise of Ford was a very good wake up call.  I simply didn't make any sense waging battles against those trying to win similar victories.  Thankfully, that took us back to fundamentals.  First was attacking those who were correct all along by claiming their intent was something other than what it actually was.  After all, pride still influences actions.  I've seen this before firsthand.  They'll imply you said something, but won't actually refer back to any quote... despite your requests to see the supposed quote.  It hard to know why they don't.  Often, emotion clouds memory... hence me writing blogs to preserve exact quotes.  That makes searches to find the original post simple.  They don't do that.  They make assumptions instead, which contributes to incorrect associations.  Self-Convincing is a powerful healing mechanism.  Second, they spin the difference between want and need.  You can clearly point out an example, like the need to be able to seat 4 people.  It should be easy to point out that more leg & head room is a want.  But instead, they reply with the introduction of something slightly off-topic.  Today is was: "No one needs a prius, let alone a prius phv."  We all know there is a need for improved emissions & efficiency.  That's why Two-Mode became such a major controversy.  22 MPG wasn't enough, period.  They wanted a monster-size vehicle.  But the necessity to improve the traditional offering was blatantly obvious.  Long story short, there are some who will do everything they possibly can to prevent conclusions from being drawn.  They are so desperate to retain the status quo, they are willing to say just about anything.  My advice is to state facts and move on.  Don't argue with them.  I didn't this time.  I wasn't willing to repeat that.


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