Personal Log #699
February 4, 2015 - February 22, 2015
Last Updated: Sun. 7/26/2015
page #698 page #700 BOOK INDEX
Answers. It's almost to the point of madness. Why in the world would a person keep asking the same questions over and over and over again if they were truly trying to understand & advance? Realistically, I'll never find out. There are motives we'll always wonder about. With this situation though, it's clear the effort to find out won't accomplish anything. We saw this years ago when expectations weren't met. Disenchantment makes people do illogical things. Actions surprisingly unexpected are part of the acceptance process. But it sure is annoying for those of us who only feel finding out answers should only happen once. As politely as I could, this was my final post to end that endless questioning: No more agains. Remember the all BOLD CAPITAL response a few weeks back that I told you to bookmark? It was because I was tired of having to re-answer those same questions in each new thread. You may thrive on repeating discussions, but the pattern shows that isn't productive.
Questions. There are some who simply enjoy the discussions. They'll ask constructive questions... over and over and over again. These are the individuals who's time has come to be ignored. Repeating the question & answer exchange has proven a waste of time. If there were newbies participating, drawn into the thread, that would be different. But in the cases recently, it's become clear the outcome is undermining... holding back, rather than taking a step forward. It's too bad. Some of the questions were worthwhile. Providing the answers hasn't. It's the same old thing. Each new thread, they pretend that information has never been conveyed. I was stumped at first, wondering if somehow the detail hadn't been shared effected. After awhile though, it become obvious that wasn't the situation. Any of these sound familiar: So the 5,000/month, is that an average over a year? What happened if 6,000 are sold eleven months, and 4,900 the twelfth? If you have spelled this out, either in an earlier post or your blog, perhaps a link would be easier? Again, is this U.S. Sales or worldwide? And again, why the mention of two years?
Still Trying. There are a select few who are still absolutely desperate to undermine Prius PHV. I find it truly remarkable such blatantly dishonest attempts continue to take place. But then again, it's a Volt enthusiast who got burned. He has a score to settle. The Volt owners I associate with are totally different, the opposite extreme just happy to share stories with other plug-in owners. Anywho, this was what he posted today: "The next plug-in needs to quadruple it's all electric EPA 6 mile all electric range. Yes, you can drive 11 EPA electric miles but that's with using gas due to having to press the peddle during the EPA test." After posting details as follow-ups many times already over the years, I really struggled how to respond this time. He simply doesn't care. And on a open green blog, he was hoping to mislead newbies. I ended up going with this: It only takes a moment to confirm that claim is misleading. EPA lists "29 kWh per 100 miles" on the sticker as the electric efficiency. So to travel 11 miles, you only need 3.19 kWh of electricity. We know that the total capacity of the battery is 4.4 kWh. The misleading about the EPA test the engine running is getting really old. At this point, pretty much everyone knows the engine shuts back off after that hard acceleration and you still have the remaining capacity available for EV travel. If you don't have a hard acceleration, which suburb driving typically doesn't, the engine won't start. For me in the summer, I have routinely seen 13 miles of consecutive EV driving.
Excuses. I knew this would stir the pot. But it was my first ever post on a Bolt blog topic and figured it would also be my last. So, there was no reason to hold back. This is what caught my attention: "If the perceptions are so bad, why are most Volt sales conquest sales?" It was from a Volt owner who obviously hasn't considered the entire GM product-line yet. That selective vision makes constructive discussion quite a challenge. So, I included this other quote from a frustrated Volt enthusiast in my response: "Your post reveals that GM may have part of the blame, but their dealers (who have a different mindset) are the real culprits for low EV sales." It ultimately comes down to a series of excuses... every time. After over 4 years of struggling sales and an underwhelming next-gen reveal, you'd think that pattern would finally get noticed. Oh well. Bolt is their latest hype vehicle. As long as it doesn't undermine the market as both Two-Mode and Volt did, we'll probably be fine. After all, the resulting sales struggle speaks for itself. So, I posted: Conquest sales being a high percentage is because GM is unable to sell Volt to its own customers. You can't blame the dealers for people seeing Malibu, Cruze, Sonic, and Equinox as better choices. LOSING SALES ON THE SHOWROOM FLOOR is something GM only now is beginning to see as a major problem. That's a been a shortcoming some of us have been harping about even before the first Volt was rolled out. It's why the "Who?" question was asked over and over and over again. Those traditional vehicles offer a better balance of features, what the masses prefer. A vehicle optimized for efficiency that isn't cost-competitive won't sell well, which has overwhelmingly been confirmed. It is absolutely vital for GM to address the proper audience. This comment about Bolt should be reason for question: "We are moving quickly because of its potential to completely shake up the status quo for electric vehicles." Who will GM be attempting to attract? Will they really only go after the current EV market as a whole rather than actually going to appeal to those who are shopping on the showroom floor? Traditional vehicles will continue to absolutely crush sales as a result. That would be yet another opportunity to change mainstream purchases being missed. Remember the "too little, too slowly" concern?
Domestic Production. There is still a strong flag-waving presence in the market. Examples are common, but surprisingly easy to overlook. The latest is a television commercial for the new Chevy Colorado pickup. They super-impose a photo of the pickup onto a scenic background with a man standing in front. Then they exchange it with a photo of a car, asking something about which is more manly. Problem is, the car used was a Toyota, not a Chevy. Why? Unfortunately, that obvious act of bias is something most people likely wouldn't even notice. I could understand the comparison if a Cruze has been the car, but not a Corolla. Far too often we had Volt promoted as "American" as the highest factor of importance... even though it was made up of mostly Korean parts and powered by Canadian electricity for several northern states. That's sad, especially when you consider the fact that Corolla is looked upon as foreign... even though it is produced in Mississippi. Ugh. It does make sense, since over 40 million have been sold worldwide since its rollout back in 1968. Only a half million have come out of that plant here, the one which Prius was originally intended for. That's still a lot, but tiny overall quantity. Heck, when you consider the reality at 21 million Toyota vehicles have actually been produced in the United States over the decades, it really should be thought of as domestic. That level of production has generated 365,000 jobs here. Again, why... unless this commercial is actually a subtle way of finally acknowledging that. Of course, no objective analysis would ever intentionally include a factor which could so easily negate findings. Another Chevy should have been used for unbiased comparison.
Promises. Watching history repeat for a third time is remarkable. Two-Mode was a major endeavor, which never did result in many sales. Volt struggled along for 4 years, even with a $5,000 price-reduction and a $7,500 tax-credit. With years of hype prior to rollout and that undeniable failure to reach the masses, you'd think those following GM would have learned. Breaking out beyond niche takes far more than bold promises. The lack of substance should be a dead giveaway. But then again, it wasn't the first to times. What will make this third attempt to achieve mainstream sales work? Needless to say, we're hearing a lot about Bolt now. The North American President for GM is really feeding the hype. We have absolutely no clue what his "shake up" or "status quo" references actually mean. It's that same misleading expectation setting as in the past. Both Two-Mode and Volt started the very same way. Ugh. I asked: How is what we're now hearing about Bolt different from the past? GM hyped Two-Mode for years, attempting to avoid their "over promise, under deliver" reputation by being a little ambiguous. Each announcement was just vague enough to not be something which they could be held accountable for later. We watched the very same thing happen with Volt. Heck, even the term "game changer" is being used again. What does "to completely shake up the status quo for electric vehicles" mean anyway? Wasn't that the purpose of Volt? Who will Bolt be marketed to? What should we expect?
Crash Prevention. Remember all the emphasis on crash tests? People obsessed over their favorite vehicle's ability to survive a crash with complete disregard for being able to prevent crashing in the first place. It was quite disturbing. Why in the world wouldn't you want to just avoid it instead? Sadly, the answer to that question was simple... the large powerful vehicles they preferred had terrible maneuverability. Crashing was the only option. Thankfully, technology is coming to the rescue. Unfortunately, those vehicles typically still lack the ability to stir clear of an accident, but they do offer something new... well, new for some. Prius has offered it for a number of years. With mine in particular, I've had it for 3 years. Telling Mr. Vastly Superior that though wouldn't have been constructive. So instead, I took the avoidance approach responding to this: "I really do hope that GM at least offers adaptive cruise on the Volt 2.0. It's a perfect companion to a quiet smooth electric ride." He was quite nasty with his superiority flaunting over the years, declaring Volt 1.0 to be so much better... even though it lacked some standard features... like midsize legroom in back and a rear wiper. Sadly, the next Volt still won't offer either. It may offer this though, as an upgrade feature like Prius already does, as I posted: It also doubles as a safety feature… which I'm seeing more advertisements for on television lately… crash prevention. Since adaptive-cruise requires radar for sensing vehicles in front and it has the ability to apply brakes, it will detect a collision and take action before you even have a chance to react. The first time I experienced it was when a turkey jumped out in front of the car. The system sounded an audio alarm, flashed a danger message on the screen, ratcheted the seatbelts tight, and hit the brakes incredibly quick. It was an impressive demonstration of new technology.
Short Sighted. When a cherry-picker, one who pushed very specific data for years while dismissing most else, it's good to pay close attention. This conclusion really irked me: "I really believe super charging is a dead end. The mass market won’t accept 30-minute charge times every couple hundred miles. That's not competitive with today's solution." Lately, he's been making lots of generalizations is strongly outspoken against EVs. So, that comment wasn't much of a surprise. What got me though was the opportunity to point out how short-sighted that really was. Needless to say, there was no response afterward. Lack of any rebuttal whatsoever is a sign of acceptance. Normally, there's some type of denial or spin. The nothing was a nice change. Here's how I replied: You're overlooking a fundamental. The chargers are not just for those who travel long distances. They are for local travel too. One just installed here is among the first in the area to encourage retail purchases while you recharge. Think of it as the 21st gas station, but you don't necessarily need to refill the tank entirely. It makes lots of errand running around more practical. It other words, it's an alternative solution to "range anxiety". Why carry around an engine when you rarely ever will need it and can just plug-in for a few minutes instead?
176 MPG. This morning's commute to work was one I really, really I would have filmed. My assumption was that with fresh snow falling, it would be difficult to keep the windshield clear. Turns out, it wasn't too bad. The part that made this commute special was only reaching a top speed of 48 mph. The slippery conditions prevented going any faster. That worked out nice though. The traffic was slow & steady as a result. The end result for the 17.4 mile drive was an overall average of 176 MPG. Bummer. That's absolutely incredible for Winter temperatures. That was my only chance to record it too. I'll be moving in less than 2 weeks. My commute will change. It will become 2 miles further and that river route will change to large rolling hills. It will be great for gathering mass quantities of different real-world data. But the memory of today's drive will never be relived. Oh well. It was nice to experience... especially knowing that just about everyone else on that same drive weren't getting anywhere near that level of efficiency.
Looking Back. It has been almost 4 weeks. The fuel-cell rhetoric has finally ended. Geez! No matter how much information is shared, there were a few individuals who absolutely insisted the technology was intended to replace that in Prius. Pointing out how it is mutually exclusive and designed to fulfill a different purpose feel on deaf ears. That's why the nonsense around Volt is now in a death spiral... spinning out of control now. The excitement about Bolt has squashed it. No one talks about "range anxiety" anymore. The next-gen batteries are looking to offer great potential. That makes a so-called EREV competing directly against an EV the type of clash to make you wonder. Why? In the meantime, talk of the refreshed look for GM's Equinox is stirring interest. Last month, that 19,555 of that small SUV was sold. It is clearly a threat to be taken seriously on the showroom floor. That puts Toyota in a position of independence. Yeah! No more senseless attacks. Phew! That chapter in history where the "Who?" question could be disregarded is over. The intent to deliver an affordable hybrid able to compete directly on the showroom floor cannot be denied. It's quite obvious to see that, as well as the need. We can actually look back at this point. Change is coming. The market will be filled with a wide variety of choices... which is great, since there is such a diverse consumer market. Expect new approaches. Heck, even the way plug-in "range" is measured will be getting a re-evaluation. Acknowledgement of traditional vehicle competition is finally happening.
Apartment Plugging. I took care of a friend's dog over the past 5 days, while they were out of town. That required stopping by the apartment several times per day to take the dog out for a walk (and other stuff). All those trips over there gave me a close firsthand look at the prospects of being able to plug in a car there. Put simply, the opportunity is pretty much non-existent. It just plan won't happen for many, many years to come. Sadly, that solidified the talks I've had with other apartment dwellers. You're extraordinarily lucky if you actually can. That means the odds of enough spots for multiple parking-spot to plug in at the same location are totally unrealistic. See why Toyota is choosing to offer fuel-cell vehicles as an alternative for those who need to "recharge" elsewhere or need to "recharge" within just a few minutes? The infrastructure simply isn't going to be able to accommodate a single "recharge" approach. Options will be necessary. Direct electricity for batteries will worked great for some. Indirect electricity from hydrogen for fuel-cells will work for others. Think about how expensive & complicated the request is for installing charging stations.
Sales. For the Prius family, there was a teeny tiny bit of growth. Remaining basically flat in a time of weak sales (Winter) and cheap gas ($2 per gallon) that's a nice outcome. Seeing a little more than that is even better. Everyone was obviously focused on Volt though. Unlikely with Toyota who reveals then rolls out fairly quick (5 months for the current generation Prius), there's going to be a lag by GM. Originally we heard June. Now, it's sometime in the Fall. What does that mean for sales between now & then? Anywho, it dropped from the 1,600 per month we've seen for years to just 542. That obviously meant a rather moot discussion yesterday on the blog. I chose not to participate. There's nothing else to say. In the forum section, there was this summary: "The Volt really is a hard sell! $35-40K OTD for a compact car with cramped rear quarters and small cargo space is a deal-breaker for most. While tax incentives help to level the playing field, not everyone qualifies for the full amount and the benefits are not realized until the next tax year." That said it all. And coming from a Volt owner, there was little else to contribute. It makes you wonder how much will actually change with the next-gen. Needless to say, neither the enthusiasts nor the supporters wanted to address the big picture sales numbers... 18,693 Cruze... 11,878 Malibu... 9,214 Impala... 3,521 Sonic... 3,170 Spark. Each of those mainstream cars sharing the showroom floor with Volt are absolutely crushing it. Supposedly though, the next-gen will appeal more to the fun-to-drive buyers. But looking at the 4,991 Camaro and the 2,127 Corvette sales, that doesn't work either. It should be absolutely crystal-clear at this point why Toyota chose to delay the next-gen Prius. That true competition (traditional vehicles) presents a daunting challenge to overcome.