Personal Log  #666

April 16, 2014  -  April 27, 2014

Last Updated: Tues. 5/27/2014

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Bonding.  Attacks coming from the desperate are contributing to that bond we've been striving to achieve for a very, very long time.  Volt & Prius supporters are working together to squash their greenwashing.  The biggest effort is to end their lie being spread about PHV only delivering 6 miles of plug-in capacity.  It goes way beyond misleading at this point, and that's stirring anger.  Intentional deception is just plain wrong.  So, the shared endeavor to end that is much appreciated.  The other bonding aspect comes from the acknowledgement of the need for business-sustaining profit and the consequences of being dependent on government subsidies.  Concern for overall well-being is redeeming.  It's long overdue and very welcome in any form we can get it.  The fact that it's coming as a result of a small number of Volt enthusiasts determined to portray other plug-in offerings as inferior is rather ironic.  They had accused the effort to seek out cooperation an act of undermining.  I found it funny that no matter what you said, all they'd hear is "Prius" even if Prius was never mentioned.  That's what happens when you get desperate.  Who knew it would contribute to bonding too?


Dealing With Change.  It's hard to believe a former Prius owner who leased a Volt, then replaced both with Teslas would claim the "vastly superior" period of history never happened.  I have hundreds of pages of blogs documenting the belittling of Leaf and Prius PHV coming from the voices of Volt.  Those die-hard enthusiasts caused all kinds of trouble.  Pretending that wasn't the case contributes to the barriers we are still trying to overcome.  So, I had quite a bit to say when it was denied:  I'm enjoying the change which has taken place since the end of last year.  A spirit of cooperation has emerged now that everyone is in agreement about who the competition actually is.  It's about dang time.  My participation on the Volt blogs came about shortly after the initial reveal.  There was an intense campaign to mislead about Prius, and posts to provide correct information were looked with suspicion.  They believed that was really an effort to undermine Volt.  It got really bad.  My own blogs are loaded with their quotes, documenting the rhetoric we had to deal with.  Then, it got worse.  When Prius owners started asking constructive questions about range reduction from heater use, depleted efficiency from series operation, cost from battery-capacity & system-complexity, the response was routinely hostile.  They were brutal.  Then, reality hit.  Many of those individuals abandoned the blogs, knowing they'd have to confront their own posts from the past... showing them to be dismissive, hypocritical, and just plain wrong.  That's made moving on much easier.  Phew!  Now, it gets interesting.  Recent posts from Volt owners are revealing frustration with a handful of Volt owners.  Rather than FUD, those few are outright lying about Prius PHV.  That desire to restore integrity is quite encouraging.  They are taking it upon themselves to ensure reputation isn't tarnished by the intentional spreading of incorrect information.  Gotta like that.  For me, it's rewarding to interact with other plug-in owners.  I park with a Leaf everyday at work.  This weekend, I'll be at an Earth Day event showing off the PHV with others.  There's a plug-in owners group here in Minnesota now.  All the automakers are represented. It's fascinating to interact so directly with Volt owners there.  What a difference.  Seeing the Tesla, Energi, Leaf, iMiEV, and Prius all mixed together sure is exciting... with each owner doing their part to support choices for the masses.  It's unfortunate there are a few bad fish in the pond.  I really hope people will eventually read my blogs in dismay, not believing it ever could have been that bad.  Right now though, we have a strange mix of support... especially owners of Volt who purchase something else when their lease expires.  There is obviously the desire for greater capacity from a Toyota offering.  But those who move on from Prius take along with them other purchase priorities, more than just efficiency.  That's a win-win.  They understand the pressure traditional vehicles pose.  They continue to help even as former Prius owners.  So, whether you own one still or not, the advancement forward helps.  As long as they don't revert back to a guzzler or spread FUD, it's good.


Discouraged.  The reality of traditional vehicles being the actual competition is finally becoming apparent.  To think that it would take this many years to get recognition of the true problem... it's mind boggling.  What it took was a change of perspective and the information coming from a different source.  Volt enthusiasts don't what to hear that from a Prius owner.  In fact, some will go to extremes to avoid acknowledgement.  Sadly, that meant having to deal with misleading and dishonest posts online.  Fortunately, we are finally get past some of that rhetoric... but not in the best way.  This statement from Consumer Reports is what contributed to the change of attitude: "In our own tests, we found the Prius Plug-in offered a scant mileage advantage over the standard Prius at a huge additional cost."  Taken at face value, that could be used as material against Prius PHV.  But when you give it some thought, the statement doesn't actually tell you much.  What does "scant" indicate?  What about the meaning of "huge"?  They are both vague, void of any detail.  For that matter, who is the "additional cost" referring to?  The price some consumers pay is nearly identical right now when you take federal & state credits into account.  Toyota's cost is more, but they don't make that clear.  And since when is comparing to another model appropriate without including a baseline?  After all, the point is to look at the big picture.  Why no mention in comparison to other Toyota vehicles?  Of course, there's no way to summarize in a single sentence anyway.  Prius PHV offers a major advantage over the regular model for short trips, hardly a "scant" aspect about that.  The warm-up process is greatly improved for longer trips too.  We have lots of real-world data clearly showing that.  The reality is, plug-in supply is limited and profit for the dealer very small.  It's far more lucrative to sell traditional vehicles, so that's what they do.  Articles about discouraging practices at dealers should be no surprise.


Rerated MPG.  Remember the public outcry and legal action late last Summer about Ford?  Those not distracted by the chaos caused by Volt do.  The hybrid model of C-Max has really been struggling, and that's what ended up being the big news for Earth Day today.  That's not the kind of attention desired.  Unless of course, you're GM.  There is a sense of relief for Toyota too.  The advertisements praising C-Max efficiency over Prius V was quite intense.  We saw countless television commercials.  It really got annoying, since things didn't seem to add up.  Eventually, that claim of 47 MPG was revealed to be false.  The efficiency numbers were rerated, reducing the 47/47/47 rating officially to 40 City, 45 Highway, and 43 Combined.  That stirred emotion from owners and scared off many potential buyers.  In fact, if it wasn't for the Energi (plug-in) model of C-Max, it would have been looked upon as a market failure like Insight.  The reputation was tarnished and continues to be.  That's a real problem without any good solution available.  How do you recover from that... especially with a next-generation Prius on the way?


More Progress.  Evidence of this new chapter is becoming easier and easier to find: "The amount of disinformation and FUD I constantly see here regarding the Prius is incredible.  Why is there such an inferiority complex and a constant need to bash the Toyota by a tiny but vocal minority of Volt owners?"  That particular quote came from a forum dedicated to Volt, one in which I do not participate.  Being just a lurker there has provided a great opportunity to observe without influence, watching how enthusiasts & supporters interact with each other.  Lately, it hasn't been pretty.  Spreading of FUD (that's Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) combined with some outright lies has become a liability.  The reputation of their forum is threatened by loss of credibility from such activity.  The very same thing happened on the big GM forum.  Eventually, the moderators had to take action.  Allowing it to continue wasn't worth it, even when that meant having to ban some of their own most popular long-time posters.  They're the real troublemakers, thriving on any chance to exclaim superiority.  That idea of partnering for a common cause is unacceptable and the thought of a "Volt lite" is bringing out the worst.  They wouldn't go to such extremes if the idea didn't have substance.  It's a good sign though, a sign of progress.


Spring!  We hit the 70's for the first time in what seems like forever.  Temperatures that warm seemed like a distant memory for those of us up here in Minnesota.  Thankfully, they returned today.  It made for a fantastic Easter Sunday.  You could tell, the highways were filled with everyone else taking the opportunity to drive somewhere too.  Next week it will be colder and the replenishing rains will arrive.  That's a welcome situation.  It will help open up the lakes, melting away the final layer of ice.  I'm getting anxious to kayak again.  The rack for the roof of the Prius is ready to go.  It will be just a matter of waiting for the water to warm up.  Perhaps I need to finally get a wetsuit.  In the meantime, I'm watching the green grass emerge.  That usually means photo opportunities.  Hopefully, I'll find a new location to take advantage of the improving weather.


Enjoying Outdoor Recreation.  We tried.  Unfortunately, our timing was off.  Heading up north with the bikes seemed a sensible escape.  After all, all the snow was gone.  Sadly, the only nice day for temperature was really windy.  Then, it snowed.  On the way back, there was a fierce headwind, temp was in the 40's, the Prius was packed inside, and we had 2 bikes on back.  I knew that 175-mile trip with lots of highway travel at 65 & 70 mph wasn't going to be ideal.  38 MPG was a pretty good outcome in those circumstances.  How many other cars could accomplish the same thing?  That's the only way to look at it.  The efficiency penalty for enjoying outdoor recreation is well worth it.  Sometimes, you do get lucky.  I've taken my kayaks that distance too.  Surprisingly, they don't impact MPG much more than carrying the bikes.  Still, upper 30's is quite a bit below the usual commute MPG from a fully recharged battery-pack.  Oh well.  With the warm season so short and nice days when you have time free, it's best to try to take advantage when you can.  Being able to use the Prius to do that is nice, really nice.


Progress.  Now that there's a message of support for a model of Volt actually affordable & profitable, the divide is growing.  We're seeing a group embracing the idea, thrilled something from GM not serving just a niche.  Nothing available for the mainstream after all this time was making them feel let down.  They're a stark contrast from the other group, those who continue to make "still no competition" proclamations and are quite insulting when pointing that out.  It's the typical enthusiast stereotypical response we've come to expect.  I don't see them as much of a concern.  Attitude like that doesn't earn any respect.  The other is what stirs interest.  They're saying exactly what some of us who were labeled as "trolls" said years ago.  It's quite hypocritical, but that's progress nonetheless.  The realities of highway-travel and winter-warming have overcome the blindness those chanting for EV purity have caused.  Toyota delivered the design needed, through blending of power.  Admitting that won't happen, but supporting the efficiency outcome doesn't require a sacrifice of pride.  That was the reason for stating goals all along.  Too bad so much chest-pounding prevented the progress we are only now seeing.  Oh well.  It sure feels good having supported what was truly needed.  The assumption that switching from electricity to mechanical was better than balancing the too sounds so absurd now.  Yet, there were a few who passionately believed it.


Outdated.  The discrediting continues.  Fortunately, each attempt appears more and more desperate.  I sounded off to one today with:  Ironically, the antagonist position is to claim Prius was cobbled together in haste, a direct response from Toyota as a result of Volt.  In reality, it was the opposite.  Toyota already offered a refined hybrid system and was able to augment it with a plug by basically just swapping out the battery-pack and adding a charger & plug.  The platform already supported that next step forward into the mainstream.  GM was scrambling to keep from being left behind, so they squeezed in as much battery as possible, connecting it to an upgrade of the Two-Mode system.  That's why the topic of "transmission" is brought up so often.  We all know GM didn't start from scratch.  That wouldn't make sense.  Trouble was, the expertise they had acquired was from an expensive system which didn't deliver as high efficiency as needed.  But in the short term, adding enough battery-capacity to compensate for that could hold them over in the meantime.  Problem was, it trapped them into a non-competitive design.  Every time the idea of a reduced-capacity model came up, there were highly emotional (and sometimes hostile) responses... since depleted efficiency and reduced power were such obvious shortcomings.  To make matters worse, there was little doubt Toyota's plug-in design was profitable.  Though priced a little out of reach for the target market, the cost-reduction was achievable within the current generation.  For GM, there was no chance of reaching profit until the next... which is how the "old" claims came about.  The effort to portray Toyota's design as "outdated" rather than acknowledge it had matured for the masses was rather desperate, but quite common.  The idea of getting any type of recognition that Prius offers a nice balance of priorities is still too much to bare.  Watch the type of reply we get to this.  Avoiding the topic of business need for the sake of winning an argument is pretty much inevitable... here anyway.  Elsewhere, we do see some GM supporters in favor of a competitive model turning on some current Volt owners.


Traditional Competition.  Downsizing to a small SUV has been the solution for many of those who had been driving monster-size guzzlers.  That's obviously an improvement.  But still, the resulting efficiency is well under anything actually competitive with a hybrid like Prius... which ironically, offerings larger seating & cargo capacity in some cases.  Later this year, that most definitely will be true.  GM is introducing their subcompact SUV known as Trax to our market.  It has been available in Canada & Mexico since 2012.  It will continue to be produced in South Korea & Mexico.  Sales potential seem pretty good, considering the 26 City and 34 Highway ratings.  After all, most consumers have been greenwashed to believe that is efficient MPG.  The idea of traditional vehicles delivering efficiency in the 40's has long since been abandoned.  That's why Prius hasn't seen much growth.  We've lowered our standards.  That's sad.  But just like the automakers perversely predicted, vehicle size would get smaller.  It's an absurd reality, since some had become so large they no longer fit in garages and were quite difficult to squeeze into parking spots.  Needless to say, it will be quite interesting to see what happens later with sales when gas prices rise again.


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