Personal Log #655
January 24, 2014 - January 26, 2014
Last Updated: Weds. 3/05/2014
page #654 page #656 BOOK INDEX
Caught Misleading. The spreading of incorrect
information generally comes in two flavors... intentional and transposed.
The first is an obvious attempt at greenwashing. Sadly, we encounter
than far more than you'd like to think. Thankfully, that's relatively
easy to deal with. The next isn't as nice or as simple to overcome.
It's when the poster mixes up details. They'll user wrong quantities
and mess up timing. In their mind, the information is correct. I
know when they are wrong. It's just a quick search of my blogs to
confirm that. The facts are spelled out in great detail, documented
when those events happened. Trying to recall them years later is prone
to problems. Looking up the history written as it was happening is far
more accurate. Some get irritated when caught misleading. Some
make up excuses. Others pretend it never happened. Here's an
example of some misleading I had to deal with today: "As I remember the Prius
in it's early years got a tax rebate which could be carried forward."
This particular one was complicated by being so blatantly vague. But
in the context of the posts it immediately following, the intent of
greenwashing was obvious. I responded to that with:
There was only a $2,000 tax DEDUCTION for the first 5.5 years of sales. That
worked out to $300 to $400 for most of the buyers back then. The $7,500 tax
CREDIT for Volt is dramatically more. When Prius did finally get a tax
CREDIT in 2006, it was only less than half that amount ($3,150) and was only
offered for the first 60,000 sold per automaker. GM gets 250,000 right from
the start. Expecting more on the road as a result is reasonable... which
makes designation of "niche" an admission of not being up to the chore...
which explains the posting behavior seen on this topic.
Too Little, Too Slowly. That concerned wasn't taken seriously, right from the start. Such heavy focus on the looks of Volt was a big clue of problems to come. The disastrous "230 MPG" campaign overwhelmingly confirmed it. What a mess? Not even being able to get past such basic misinformation should have set off alarms; instead, the downplay began. It kept getting worse. How could they not see that was slowing down the progression? Of course, upon debut, they were already shifting focus to the next generation. Slowing down acceptance by adding another 5 years is far too long of a delay. Yet, that was the path chosen. Consumers ended up with little in return. Hope rapidly faded. 3 years later, the thought was attitude would change and the stumbles of the past would have long been forgotten. You know, acknowledge mistakes and move on. Instead, they still resist. Making adjustments to match preferences of your target audience is a basic business fundamental. Didn't any of the enthusiasts take an economics class? What the heck? True, my bachelor's degree includes a business minor. But you'd think that knowledge wouldn't take a college focus to understand. Hmm? You'd think observation of the market itself would inform you for changes that need to be made to attract more sales. Apparently, that's not the case. Of course, there are some who are too stubborn or too proud to admit when a mistake was made. Errors happen. Get over it! Calling for delay and hoping for a miracle in the meantime isn't a good plan.
2014 Change. The new year certainly has ushered in change. Discussions have transformed. Who would have thought efforts to forge an alliance would return? I had given up on that years ago. But when that moderator of the daily blog intentionally stirred by pot by declaring Volt a niche and asking if it would remain that way, it definitely ruffled some feathers. The thought of competing head on with traditional vehicles is not something they are not ready for yet. That's quite obvious. So on the other side, the effort to find cooperation at charging-stations with other plug-in vehicles, is an issue they aren't even addressing. The choice of Volt enthusiasts to isolate from everyone is drowning out the few Volt supporters who would like the mutual aid. It's a dynamic none of us have dealt with yet. There's both cheerful willingness and staunch resistance. I get the impression that's a sign of progress. In the past, fierce denial of the need to change resulted in an abrupt abandonment. Those who fought against no longer feel welcome, since everyone else accepted change. We'll see. The year certainly is off to an interesting start.
Banning People. What happens when the posts are on the topic of discussion, when members there simply don't like certain suggestions? Some cry out for the person to be banned, even when they are polite & constructive. It's how some deal with change, or in this case, the lack of... "I agree about the right to express one’s opinion. I'd even go so far to say we NEED people like him." That was specifically about a friend of mine. I was mentioned in an earlier post, but with hostile intent. This kinder, more objective response resulted. I replied with: The sense of balance and willingness to share goals hasn't emerged yet, despite now being into the 4th year of sales. Those negative votes are a clear indication the enthusiasts are still not ready to do what it takes to make a Volt offering for mainstream consumer appeal. They thrive on the niche status. Becoming a ubiquitous vehicle, one so common it ends up fading into the crowd, hurts the sense of pride they've grown so attached to. Trading trophies for accounting numbers is a difficult transition. Watching a vehicle be transformed from performance to practical is something enthusiasts want to avoid. They hope for a miracle in the meantime, to prevent having to give anything up. The word "compromise" has been given a bad stigma, rather than it meaning mutual concession. At some point, you have to draw the line though. Choosing to ban certain input, despite those suggestions already having already proven successful, is a choice available. That means forging on alone. Accepting the risk of taking on different goals, despite massive competition (traditional vehicles), is something others have chosen to avoid. Alliance with other plug-in owners has been easy with all but Volt. Why? Do they fear no longer standing out is too great of a loss? Unwillingness to acknowledge middle-market purchase priorities was big a problem in the past. Is it still? What will it take to recognize need?
Banning Hybrids. When someone outright hates hybrids and regularly attacks the forum, how do you respond. This particular individual goes well beyond the typical troll. His motives are obvious too. He's a strong supporter of diesel and sees the threat hybrids, especially the plug-in models, are to him. This is what we got yesterday: "I would simply ban all hybrids from using the chargers." It was on a new thread discussing how a limited number of chargers should be used when the population of plug-in vehicles exceeds them. Some of us are amazed by his outright discrimination and choose to carefully think out responses. Here's mine: Banning all plug-in hybrids would be telling those living within EV range, too bad. And what about those who live just a little beyond it and barely use any gas? You'd also be catering to EV owners who have capacity that greatly exceeds their commute distance to recharge, even if they don't need it. When someone chooses to purchase a vehicle with a plug, they should have the opportunity to plug it in. Ride share programs have been available for decades. Why not start a plug share program? You get a number of plug opportunities per month. Owners find ways of making it work. After all, how many hours to you actually need to be plugged in? Count & Duration can easily be limited by the chargers. Think about it. If you are given 4 hours to recharge and don't unplug & repark before that session expires, another session is deducted from your account. If you repeatedly violate the opportunity, you aren't given more sessions later. It's not complicated and there's no need to ban.
Rewriting History. Attempts to pretend the vaporware claim was proven true continue. That's nothing new. Why they continue to try to rewrite history is a mystery though. What would that actually prove? I guess in the mind of an enthusiast, it supports hope that the next generation will deliver as well. The catch is, the first didn't. Yet, the claim keeps being made anyway: "GM did deliver on the Volt from concept in 2007 to customers in Dec 2010." With this daily topic already getting way out of hand, what is there to lose by posting so more facts, sprinkled with comments: The Volt revealed back in January 2007 is not what was delivered in November 2010. Remember that car called "Volt" we heard about initially? It would deliver 40 miles of EV under all conditions, 50 MPG after the battery was depleted, and be nicely under $30,000. It would accomplish that without ever driving the wheels directly too. Remember all the bragging about it being a "series" hybrid, about the purity of always being electric-only propulsion? Needless to say, the "Volt" that was made available to consumers ended up quite different. That's why there's such a silence about goals for the next. Being burned so bad by the "over promise, under deliver" problem a second time (first was Two-Mode), it's better just to improve the system quietly. The hype of unrealistic expectations got way out of hand. It limited design opportunities too. The next "Volt" will bring improvements to widen appeal. It will disenchant enthusiasts, but that's what happens when a vehicle goes from niche to mainstream anyway. Just look at the top selling cars for a dose of reality. Those choices being purchased profitably in high-volume better match priorities of ordinary consumers. Look at GM's popular vehicles. Tell us what traits Volt should share for its sales to grow.
Advocate. They still don't want any who doesn't own a Volt. That type of resistance is amazing. Why? Heck, I park next to a Leaf everyday at work. Supposedly, there will be a Fusion Energi joining us later too. What's the big deal? Despite my obvious endorsement for both lithium batteries and plugging in, some feel compelled to attempt to discredit anyway. That's bizarre. I'd gladly welcome a Volt owner to our little slice of parking paradise. I don't have any personal gripes with purchases. It has always been the misalignment of product and market. With GM selling what it wants rather than what it needs, that disconnect should be obvious. Whatever. My effort to demonstrate plug-in vehicles for mainstream consumers are realistic continues, regardless of what a select group of enthusiasts believe. This was my sound off about the topic: Being a strong advocate of affordable hybrids for the masses, especially after so many years, it's quite common to see posts from some who make stuff up about me. It's hard to know if the intent comes from frustration or simply not remembering correctly. But since they keep inviting me to respond, I do. The delivery of a plug-in Prius which provides a significant efficiency boost without sacrificing interior space or depleted MPG and achieving it at lost cost pretty much makes anything I say sound like an endorsement for a specific brand. It's not. It's an effort to promote the replacement of traditional vehicles. It's unfortunately certain individuals still don't acknowledge that. Thankfully, it doesn't matter. I'll keep driving and plugging to help demonstrate how realistic the technology is, as well as how little it takes to purchase yourself. That's the key. Besides necessity to be within reach of mainstream budgets, there's also an intimidation factor... another reality not being acknowledged.
Outside Opinion. It's clearly not welcome there. No matter how constructive your criticism, having shown acceptance of a competitor makes you an outsider and your opinion an attempt to undermine. You'd think they'd be long over that by now, that they'd recognize the need to realign to target middle-market. Clearly, that not happening. The enthusiasts still think change isn't necessary. This comment from a friend really got them riled up: "GM wasted a $billion chasing a market that does not exist with a car that could not sell without heavy government assistance." Now into the 4th year of sales, well under expectations and far from being self-sustaining in any respect, it's amazing to see such unwillingness to compromise. Anywho, this was my follow up to his post: For all those who refused to answer the question "Who is the market for Volt?" and chose to downvote instead, it is quite clear why that was continually asked. Everyone now has confirmation that the assumed target audience was far too small. GM should have been chasing their own Malibu, Impala, and Cruze customers. Enticing them to purchase a plug-in rather than one of their traditional cars should have been an obvious goal. Instead, focus was on trophies and praise. That means Volt needs to be reinvented. Changing the configuration fundamentally to grow sales is required, especially since the tax-credit won't last forever and the vehicle must be profitable.
Another Example. This was another example of unexpected blatant misleading. This one came with an insult too: "The plug-in Prius only has 6 EPA miles all-electric range. This is so pathetic..." How many times must the detail be posted before the rhetoric ends? Even some of the Volt supporters are getting annoyed. I was happy to provide more facts: Rather than mention the actual available capacity of the battery-pack, the outcome of a specific test is stated. That's called cherry-picking, by most. Some call that type of data omission greenwashing. Whatever the label, it's misrepresentation. As for the adjective used, that's a sign of desperation. It's a 4.4 kWh battery. Available capacity for EV mode is from 85% to 23.5%, which is 2.7 kWh. Knowing that EV driving typically consumes 27 kWh/100 miles, it's very easy to confirm the distance is not 6 miles. In fact, you don't even need a calculator to see that it's 10. And knowing that the battery-pack isn't actually empty at the depletion point, that it's still "full" for HV mode (which offers EV driving), you can add another mile. That comes to 11 miles, exactly what the detail on the window-sticker states.
The Other Website. That same topic got posted there today, on the child. The parent didn't end up stirring much debate. It was mostly a collection of various opinions. There were pros & cons mentioned. Participants were quite civil, no strong emotion in any manner. The exchanges were constructive. There was a welcome tone. Either side of the fence felt comfortable contributing. What a drastic difference the daily blog brought. Right away, you could tell it was going to get hostile. And boy did it ever! To my surprise, there was an outright lie posted: "There is a center seat area in the C-Max Energi, but the leg room is the same as the Volt." Huh? I responded with the official measurements: "C-Max Leg Room - Rear = 36.5 and Volt Leg Room - Rear = 34.1" That was my entire post. No opinion. No comment. Nothing else. Just facts. They didn't like that at all. Whoa! Having sat in Volt and played with the seat adjustments, I know being a compact competing with midsize vehicles is a sensitive topic. But such blatant attempts to mislead lately has been a surprise. You'd think they'd just move on to something else.