Personal Log  #719

October 27, 2015  -  November 11, 2015

Last Updated: Tues. 1/12/2016

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Shameless.  The topic of misleading through omission has surfaced again.  Over and over and over again, we'd see some Volt owners gloating about their efficiency.  Always being in terms of "gallons" and almost never hearing about "kilowatts" was frustrating.  It was blatant greenwashing in the eye of many.  Speaking out against that terrible behavior is happening a lot now.  This time of change has some of the honest owners seeking a better way.  Why the reputation of a few tarnish everyone else's?  The unfortunate reality of it having been delayed so long is sad.  We put up with that nonsense for years.  But then again, so much hope was placed on gen-2 Volt, they didn't think having to play friendly with others would be necessary.  That long sought after partnership is becoming inevitable.  Many Prius owners were simply looking for an ally in the quest to squash traditional vehicles.  We didn't expect a "vastly superior" conquest would emerge.  Thank goodness that is over.  Looking back, I state the situation as:  Those particular owners had no shame.  Even after terse exchanges many times pointing out the blatant misleading by omission, they keep doing it anyway.  But what really soils the reputation of owners are the enablers who watch it happen time and time again, never bothering to speak out about the poor behavior.  It's quite telling when you see that.  A strong candidate for mainstream acceptance wouldn't rely upon such actions.  The data should speak for itself.  Using MPG alone doesn't tell the whole story.


$500 from VW.  That's the offer TDI owners are getting.  It's a prepaid Visa card they can use for anything, also included is $500 of dealer service and 3 years of roadside assistance.  But what kind of compensation is that?  The very thing they purchased the car for (efficiency & performance) will be taken away.  The conversion to become cleaner requires that loss.  It's really sad... for the honest owners, especially since their resale value will plummet... far more than $500.  As for those who gloated about "clean diesel" and harassed hybrid owners, an apology would be nice.  We put up with years of their dead-end nonsense only to find out we were right all along to question how their clean was actually achieved.  It never added up.  The approach seemed flawed and in no way guaranteed like the strict requirement for SULEV and PZEV certification.  Simply meeting the minimum 50-state criteria was a weak attempt to be clean.  And that was just clean enough to be compare with low-end gas cars.  The ordinary ones, like Corolla, were clearly cleaner with their ULEV certification.  Oh well.  The truth has been revealed.  We were correct.  Of course, it didn't matter anyway.  There was no way in the world a diesel-only car could possibly compete with a plug-in hybrid.  My 73 MPG average is so much better than the 42 MPG some diesel owners were getting, it wasn't worth the effort to argue.


RAV4 Hybrid.  Patience is redeeming.  Detail is now available.  We now have something worthwhile to move on to.  The AWD (all-wheel drive) RAV4 delivers 25 MPG combined (22 city, 29 highway).  That's competitive with offerings of similar SUVs from other automakers.  It makes the hybrid especially noteworthy.  33 MPG (34 city, 31 highway) is quite an improvement.  That's the news we've been waiting for.  194 horsepower, 206 ft-lb torque, zero to sixty in 8.1 seconds, and a variety of goodies available... Pre-Collision System, Dynamic Radar Cruise, Lane-Departure Alert, Automatic High-Beams, and Blind-Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert ...will make it a nice choice.  It can tow too; capacity is 1,750 lbs.  Starting price will be $28,370 along with $900 delivery.  In other words, it will be very interesting to see how this new hybrid is received.  With gas now $1.86 per gallon in Florida, $2.25 here in Minnesota, and $2.45 on the West Coast, this hybrid will be entering a strange market.  Having no competition helps.  People know gas prices will eventually go up again too.  We'll find out soon enough.  Sales will begin in a few weeks.


Irony.  By far, the most common insult to Prius PHV from Volt troublemakers was the supposed fact that it was just a "compliance" vehicle.  That's a vehicle built for the purpose of earning EPA credits... practice used to offset emission shortcomings from other vehicles in the fleet.  This was a big reason why they absolutely hated when I'd point out sales of other GM vehicles.  Anywho, we know that the effort from Toyota was to advance the technology by real-world data collection.  They needed to better understand how a plug-in hybrid would actually be used.  Getting that type of feedback from consumers is priceless.  It gives you a very good idea what to invest in for the next generation.  That's why both GM and Toyota offered free connect service for 3 years.  It's how the data was collected.  Every single vehicle sold was routinely delivering lots and lots of driving detail.  With that, you'd expect the next offering to better match consumer need... rather than want.  Ironically, the revelation from that data was that consumers desire an all-electric driving experience... in other words, a system without any engine at all... not Volt.  That's how Bolt came about, an approach GM was dead set against only a few years ago.  Even more ironic is the reality that the new Volt is currently limited to "compliance" markets.  Having availability of a premiere product match the very thing troublemakers had used as an insult in the past is quite humbling.  No one should wonder why Toyota tries so hard to keep a distance.  Being associated with the spin is good to avoid, especially when irony is involved.


EREV vs PHEV, the past.  It becomes very easy to validate the next chapter is going well when the past changes.  Saying that another way, spin is in full swing now.  Rather than claiming whatever didn't happen, those who supported that thing which failed to reach its goals will alter perception of prior events.  That's why I document things in such detail as they happen.  Referring back to them later, with written record of what actually played out along with the reactions at that time, is quite vindicating.  After all, this isn't rocket science.  For that matter, it isn't even science.  It's just basic business.  For a product to continue, it must achieve self-sustaining profit.  That simple fact meant reality would eventually catch up with even the most stubborn of deniers.  In this case, its the disassociation of Volt with Two-Mode.  I had to endure years of claims that they weren't related in any way, that Volt was truly a first-gen vehicle with nothing from the past contributing to its rollout.  That continued too, right up until the details of the second-gen were released.  That seemed a bizarre stance to take.  Why wouldn't you want to build off of the past?  That answer is obvious if you know the history, the past before this past.  Two-Mode was expensive and not as efficient as hoped.  Sound familiar?  That's why so much importance was shifted over to gen-2 of Volt, that upgrade would overcome the shared shortcomings.  Problem though.  Seating space in back didn't increase, a request countless many made over the years.  Cost didn't come down anywhere near as much as hoped, still not achieving the goal set for back in 2010.  Improvements focused on engine & battery, nice generational upgrades had the other goals also been addressed.  Instead, emphasis was on power... a quality no one ever complained about.  In fact, that was a factor often praised.  Why spend so much on something already meeting expectations well?  Didn't any study the past?


EREV vs PHEV, same page.  The previous night's posting went well.  This morning, it was this to stir the post: "People made fun of the GM 2-Mode hybrid trucks and made the "I told you" comment when they stopped making but it appears GM never gave up and now we have the wonderful Voltec II power train."  What a great way to blur the supposed line between EREV and PHEV.  These exchanges are proving to be fruitful.  Evading certain realities is becoming more and more difficult.  I was happy to contribute to that:  Many, many here made the claim that Volt was a fresh start, a completely new design that should be treated as first-generation.  They absolutely refused to acknowledge any of the expertise gained from EV1, Two-Mode, and BAS/eAssist was part of Volt.  It was delay-tactic to make us wait for Voltec-II before placing judgment.  We saw what was really happening.  We knew Volt was really a second-generation Two-Mode.  The reason for that friction was simple: COST.  It was a major risk for GM to attempt to deliver an end-product first, then use subsequent generations to find a way to reduce cost.  As a result, Toyota’s approach was ridiculed & belittled to no end… always excluding cost-consideration in those claims.  In reality, Toyota made the choice to offer more as cost permitted, improving each generation along the way instead… the opposite approach from GM.  The end goals are the same and always have been.  The difference is one depended heavily upon gas prices remaining high and tax-credits being generous.  The other did not.  It's really unfortunate so many fought so hard against what ended up happening anyway.  Product diversity is absolutely essential for business-sustaining profit.  Those "one-size-fits-all" arguments look silly now that GM is indeed delivering a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid, in addition to Volt.  Oh well.  At least we're all on the same page now.


EREV vs PHEV, emotion.  When the moderator post this, it's a golden opportunity: "People can get emotional about these subjects."  That was in response to the personal attacks that resulted from my previous post.  Rather that trying to be even remotely constructive, it was an all out attempt to shoot-the-messenger.  That's the confirm I was looking for.  Not wanting to address what was posted in any way can indicate you identified the issue correctly; otherwise, they'd try to spin it in some way.  Instead, it was the blog's webmaster adding his observations.  I followed with:  It's quite interesting to observe how riled up some people actually get.  They'll even lash out with personal attacks.  Meanwhile, the rest just wait, knowing it will eventually pass.  Studying automotive history, you'll see the early hybrids went through basically the same thing.  Civic was an ASSIST type hybrid. Prius was a FULL.  Explaining the difference over and over and over again educated supporters, but did nothing to reach ordinary consumers.  Seeing that, some supporters stopped providing the complete definition.  They focused on just a single trait instead... hoping that would reveal the distinction better.  It didn't.  The same thing is playing out again.  As much as the "full electric" seems an appealing draw, it really hasn't amounted to much.  To make any new technology the next standard, mainstream buyers must show interest; instead, they've shown they simply don't care.  After all, they have no idea how their current traditional vehicle works.  Heck, with gas now below $2 per gallon, why would they bother to find out?  Know your audience.  Ordinary consumers will do the same now as they did in the past.  Engineering detail will get lost in the search for a good all-around vehicle.  They'll continue to focus on the basics.  The difference between EREV and PZEV is only a technical specification anyway.  The average joe will see that efficiency is at the top of the 100 MPG scale while cruising at 65 mph.  They won't care whether or not the engine is running.  Forgetting to plug in after getting back home is the only real concern they'll ever have.  Gas consumption will be significantly lower, regardless of what happens under the hood.  All plug-in hybrids deliver outstanding MPG.  The augmentation of battery with plug is quite obvious, a draw to even the most untechnical shopper.  I filled my tank today. 7.024 gallons of gas took me 746 miles.  Sure, I could point out the 81 kWh of electricity consumed displayed on the dashboard.  But we know they won't be interested.  They'll only want to know about the resulting 106 MPG.  The next-generation promises to improve upon that, which is what consumers will be interested in... not a branding or category label.


EREV vs PHEV, engine.  That exchange the other day was intense.  I knew revealing shortcomings in their claim would do that.  It's how you confirm & refine.  The feedback is quite valuable.  Promotion of a technology becomes easier and easier as exchanges like this take place.  So, I dove at the opportunity to sound off to this: "The green media insistence on not accepting the EREV designation and not highlighting Volt's full EV capabilities vs. ordinary PHEVs (this appears to be changing)."  You could imagine my excitement to comment and the desire to want to post the descriptions again:  That's because the category criteria has been so arbitrary and over time has become contradictory.  The approach taken over the past 5 years to differentiate has clearly failed.  Factors like short-distances, suburb-speed, and freezing-temperatures are fundamentals problem were not taken into account.  They contributed to the confusion and lack of acceptance.  It's time to move on and try a new perspective, one that actually informs about the non-electric side instead.  Simply point out how the gas engines differ...  EREV uses a standard engine as a backup to alleviate range-anxiety.  PHEV uses a highly-optimized engine to supplement clean & efficient driving.


EREV vs PHEV, simple.  They weren't happy, not in the slightest.  So, I fired back:  The effort to separate EREV from PHEV has failed miserably.  The criteria has been arbitrary.  Nothing has been achieved by the labeling approach taken over the past 5 years since rollout began.  Some of those claims of the past were contradictory too.  Outlander offers 32.5 miles of EV range CT6 is expected to offer 34 miles.  Prius PHV gen-2 offers 68.3 mph EV top-speed.  C-Max offers 85 mph. How do those "weak" and "limited" criteria apply for PHEV?  They resemble EREV when rolled out.  It would have been far more effective simply stating the engine differences instead. EREV uses a standard engine as a backup to alleviate range-anxiety.  PHEV uses a highly-optimized engine to supplement clean & efficient driving.  It's that simple.


EREV vs PHEV, horsepower.  I wondered how long it would take for this nonsense would begin.  When all else fails, labeling is the default argument.  The latest spin is that more horsepower will win consumers over.  Ugh.  Don't they study the market at all?  I sounded off with:  How is that any different from comparing a traditional vehicle offering high horsepower?  Even though they've been available for decades and clearly deliver a much more responsive drive, people continue to purchase the lower horsepower offerings anyway.  It's easy to entice an enthusiast.  Getting someone who is perfectly happy with less power and unwilling to spend more for it is a major challenge.  That's why all the attempts to establish EREV verses PHEV categories haven't made any progress.  As far as mainstream consumers are concerned, the difference doesn't matter.  The criteria is arbitrary to them.  They see purchase-decisions factors like PRICE, MPG, and SIZE as more important.  They aren't going to be dropping the pedal to the floor.  They aren't going to cruising at speeds well above the legal limit.  They aren't interested in sport handling.  Mainstream buyers have different requires.  It's that simple.  Know your audience.  PHEV still deliver electric-only driving, just not under times of high demand.  The gas engine assists.


That Never Happened.  Confirmation of having entered the next chapter in this history was surprisingly obvious today.  There was outright denial of any type of fight against diversification from ever having happened.  It never did.  Period.  They claim to have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about.  And yes, their own quotes to prove otherwise are easily found here in these blogs.  What's the point of bringing any of that up though?  An empty victory is still a victory.  It's their way of moving on.  We're not looking for spoils anyway.  And for them, rather than trying to play the victim-card or hearing any more of the fruitless excuses, it's denial.  Ok.  That works.  It's hard to believe the end has come.  It's finally over.  We had the one-size-fits-all attitude for so long, gambling business need by focusing everything on engineering.  That failed... miserably... again.  Two-Mode was the first to crumble.  Volt is now the second.  No other automaker hypes to that extreme or has enthusiasts who blindly celebrate like that.  In other words, this is how a financial disaster plays out.  You don't even bother to count your losses.  You simply move on.  That never happened.


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