Personal Log  #750

June 17, 2016  -  June 23, 2016

Last Updated: Tues. 6/27/2017

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$10.2 Billion.  That's what the cost to VW appears to be for the United States.  The end of next week, it will be official.  Supposedly, two-thirds of that money will go toward upgrading the diesel system to make it clean enough to pass the emission criteria it violated and the other third will be used for paying state & federal fines.  Diesel is obviously dead now.  There's no point of it for consumer vehicles.  The gen-4 Prius out performs by such a large margin, competing is impossible.  To that effect, plans are to drop their only hybrid offering next year.  The expectation is that major investment will be made toward offering a variety of EV choices.  It's a massive commitment, but what other option is available?  Without diesel and having hybrid that doesn't provide a large MPG gain leaves them with only that.  The consequence of sticking with diesel until the bitter end was clearly a terrible decision.  We always anticipated the emissions & efficiency of hybrids would widen the gap enough to simply draw sales away from diesel, enough to slowly sour the milk.  We had no idea it would come in such an abrupt manner.  Corruption certainly wasn't expected... though, some of the attitudes did support theorizing that.  Some were dishonest.  They'd cherry-pick data, showing you only results to show favor.  Some were dismissive.  They'd state how much cleaner diesel had become, ignoring the fact that it was still among the dirtiest vehicles on the road.  Those new "clean diesel" offerings were always suspicious.  How could they possibly achieve what was claimed.  It just didn't add up.  Of course, now we find out the real math.  The total is $10.2 Billion.  And that's just here in the United States.  Think about the impact in Europe.  Think about how much investment it will take to aggressively switch over to electric-only offerings.


Misdirecting.  This was the spin I got today: "You do anything to misdirect attention away from Prius."  It was the result of accepting bluffs from 2 antagonists.  They were desperately attempting to disparage the upcoming new plug-in Prius, but didn't actually present any substance.  They simply concluded it was a pointless endeavor.  Being well aware that detail exposes false claims, I was more than happy to welcome whatever supposed fact they wanted to provide.  Neither one delivered.  It was nothing but another day of meritless rhetoric.  When they have nothing but propaganda to spread, that's a good sign.  I'm very much looking forward to rollout this Fall.  In the meantime, I'll keep responding to attempts to distract & discredit with stuff like this:  Asking directly for feedback about Prius repeatedly is misdirecting?  No.  We know all too well that they've got nothing to support the failure and doa claims looking forward.  As much as they want to dismiss Prius Prime from attention, it simply won't work.  There are a number of traits shared with the other plug-in hybrids.


14.3 Miles.  That's the highest EV range estimate I have ever seen.  It's just a calculation based on prior driving history.  Actual EV will obviously vary.  Nonetheless, it is interesting to see.  That makes me wonder what people will think when Prius Prime becomes available.  My videos of driving to work and around town will go from showing really impressive MPG to all-electric in some cases.  The further driving examples, when the hybrid system really shines, will be difficult to film.  I'd have to have the camera on time-lapse.  The complex setup for lighting would be even more of a challenge to sustain for long distances.  I'll have to come up with some new approach.  In the meantime, I'm enjoying Summer with the Prius PHV.  It's still delivering that solid 11 miles of EV... despite what the antagonists claim.  That's after over 4 years of driving & recharging too.  Toyota clearly designed a nice system aimed at the mass market.  There's no doubt about that.  The catch is getting the right balance of battery & cost to deliver that electricity use, whether it be EV or EV-BOOST (that's HV with plug-supplied electricity).


Time.  Constructive discussion can be quite fulfilling.  I enjoyed answering this: "You keep asking the same question, but your answers fall short in my mind.  I can't prove you wrong until the car hits the street.  I hope i'm wrong, but I just don't see the attraction of prime for people buying ice vehicles at todays gas prices."  Not having all the information you need, but asking questions rather than making assumption is great.  So, I provided:  That's because you left something out of the equation.  It's a very common oversight.  You're in large company.  So, no worries.  The missing element is time.  It will take 2 years following rollout for Prius Prime to become established.  Anyone who thinks the distribution, education, and real-world data sharing can be achieved in a shorter duration clearly hasn't studied history.  Think about where the industry will be at that point.  Many tax-credits would have expired and EV sightings will have become routine.  At that point, the MARKET WOULD HAVE CHANGED.  It's that upcoming audience is what Prius Prime is targeted at, not what we'll in just 6 months.  Think about what their perspective will be.  Low gas prices won't have as much of an influence since battery-tech will be affordable.  Parking spots with charging-stations becoming common by then is a realistic expectation.  Reputation for reliability would be established. Uncertainty of industry intent will have diminished.  8.8 kWh may be thought of as "too small" by some now. 2.5 years from now is an entirely different story.  That will be entry-level for plugging in, much like around 1.2 kWh became for hybrids.  Rather than being treated as insufficient, it will have become an expectation for mainstream competing with traditional vehicles.  In other words, a platform like Camry and Corolla still won't be realistic for plug-in hybrid offerings.  Prius Prime will.  It's configured to become competitive within this generation, even with cheap gas and expired tax-credits.  It has the potential to bring about a RAV4 Prime offering as well.  What other approach has that going for it, being able to survive as a high-volume profitable vehicle in a market so different from the one it is currently being judged against?  Remember, Toyota will still be producing traditional vehicles.  That presence on showroom floors represents a serious barrier to overcome in the minds of ordinary consumers.


Group Think Problem.  Ramping up for Prius Prime rollout has begun.  My push is growing.  Some won't like it.  Some will be thrilled by leaders emerging in the effort to promote.  I thoroughly enjoy doing it.  This will be the fifth major release to participate in.  Each was very exciting and very fulfilling.  I'm looking forward to this Fall.  Can you tell from this post:  I'm somewhat surprised by how deeply entrenched the group-think problem has become. True, a large chunk of that will fade away as the rollout of Prius Prime progresses.  Real-World data can be a very effective tool.  But prior to even knowing what the price will be, some have dominated discussions with what could be looked upon a rhetoric.  That should be easy to see too, simply because the market-attitude toward plugging in has changed yet the perceived audience has not.  In other words, there's still an perspective of us & them.  Either you're in the market for a plug-in vehicle or you are not.  It's an approach that intentionally limits scope.  Rather than take on the monumental problem of traditional vehicles, you choose to stay within the realm of those who won't settle for anything without a plug.  It's a head-in-the-sand stance that no one seems to notice.  How can so many be so naïve?  I'm beyond frustrated with the pig-headed nature of this outlook.  It may not be intentional, but it sure is predominant... so much so, it's getting in the way of progress.  You've heard of "being your own worst enemy" used as a reason for getting stuck.  Seemingly harmless habits lead to years of struggle.  This group-think problem is becoming the very barrier we've been trying to overcome.  It's a self-inflicted situation which prevents goals from being achieved.  Don't expect me to stop pointing out the true competition or the reasons for Toyota's approach.  Knowing audience & purpose is absolutely vital.  Acknowledgement of that is a necessity; otherwise, we'll continue to argue amongst ourselves rather than actually make any progress.

6-19-2016 Conquest & Cannibalization.

Back in 2012, Toyota delivered what supporters of Prius had been asking for.  It took many years.  Toyota simply wasn't interested in delivering a configuration which would allow a plug to be taken advantage of.  The reason was simple.  Cost of batteries for that was prohibitively high and the source of much of our electricity was dirty.

A tipping point still hadn't been reached yet, but the time had come to prove the system design was capable of what supporters though consumers wanted... a hybrid with significantly improved efficiency.  Increased electric-only driving was an expectation, but there was never any priority set on having a full EV experience.

The only supposed "competition" was struggling.  Volt had the industry spotlight.  GM wasn't able to draw in its own customers though.  Sales came primarily from conquests & early-adopters.  That was confirmed as the shockingly low lease-prices were phased out.  That was followed by dramatically lowered PRICE with no correlation to COST having been reduced.  It didn't anyway.  Sales continued flat.  Now in 2015, we see GM struggling with flat sales of gen-2 Volt and the new problem of cannibalization.  Bolt will be stealing away potential Volt buyers.

Toyota is working really hard to avoid falling into the same trap.  Rather than trying to conquest or cannibalize, they configured Prius Prime to be different from Prius.  The true competition is traditional vehicles.  How do you entice a customer who's been absolutely delighted with their Camry or Corolla to consider the purchase of a vehicle offering a plug?

Squeezing a battery-pack large enough into a sedan just plain isn't realistic.  Ford has only had modest success with Fusion Energi.  The loss of trunk space is so extreme, most potential buyers abandon the idea upon seeing it.  Prius Prime doesn't have that limitation. Even with the slightly raised floor (less than the height of a smart phone), the area available for cargo still significantly exceeds that of what Camry or Corolla offer.

The 22-mile range for EV easily covers traffic congestion spans for long work-commutes and the entire distance for short work-commutes.  That also covers errand-running around the suburbs in the evening.  In other words, it's enough to make selling the idea very easy.  Sales people don't even have to bother with any discussion of level-2 chargers.  The customer can simply use the standard 120-volt electrical outlet they already have in their garage for recharging.

Think about the test-drive.  When someone who was shopping the showroom floor is offered the opportunity and suddenly finds themselves behind the wheel experience the full-power EV drive, what do you think their thoughts will be?  They'll be trying to remember when the last time was that they actually had more than 2 people in their Camry or Corolla.  They'll wonder if any are available for immediate purchase and what colors are offered.  They'll consider what their MPG average will be.

In other words, it's a carefully considered approach to overcome barriers of the past.  Toyota did their homework, studying every bit of data the limited Prius PHV availability could provide.  The rollout of Prius Prime will be to 35 states which will see this plug-in as Toyota's first offering.  The others will see a greatly improved version.  The nation as a whole will see it as an undeniable step away from traditional vehicles.


Corolla Hybrid.  The market in Australia will be getting a hybrid version of Corolla.  It's a hatchback model, sharing a resemblance to the discontinued Matrix.  It's quite a bit more efficient than the traditional model, 4.1L/100km compared to 6.1L/100km.  But it still doesn't match the 3.4L/100km the new Prius delivers.  It looks nice.  I suspect it will be a candidate for replacing Prius c here.  Toyota will be faced with a decision about replacing that smaller model of Prius anyway, why not try a Corolla hybrid here?  Though, it wouldn't be a hatchback.  That's much like the decision coming up about replacing Prius v too.  The hybrid version of RAV4 is a larger cargo-carrying alternative.  True, it doesn't deliver the same level of MPG, but the market here for small SUVs is huge.  Selling wagons is quite a challenge.  Whatever the case, we know choices are being explored.  This time, it's in Australia.  We've known about others in Japan and Europe for many years now.  After all, there have been 9 million Toyota and Lexus hybrids sold now.  Only 5.5 million of them have been Prius.


Repetition.  I needed it.  The point still wasn't coming across; however, there was a glimmer of hope.  "I understand where you're coming from now... but it still misses the point... not the same audience."  That was my own comments in response.  It didn't work.  So, I tried again:  In reply to myself, I will quote myself: "Who is the market for Volt?"  That question was asked scores of times over the years for a very specific reason... to learn about audience.  Clearly, some still haven't figured out the underlying purpose of Prius Prime, despite it having been stated many times.  It's to grow the market. Simply appealing to prospective Prius buyers won't achieve that.  Drawing in new customers, rather than achieving sales through conquest is a terrible business plan.  Yet, that's what Volt thrived on.  The aspect of drawing in those shopping on the showroom floor was outright dismissed by enthusiasts.  They just plain didn't care about those lost opportunities.  So, GM kept on catering to them.  Toyota isn't following that same approach... since it clearly didn't work.  Achieving mainstream sales still hasn't happened.  Instead, they will be offering a plug-in Prius that really isn't a Prius.  It's different enough to draw the attention of shopper who were just looking around and hadn't ever considered Prius a choice for them.  That ability to plug in.  The distinct visual appeal.  Those enticing tech features.  See how some not interested in Prius would give it test-drive?  It's an audience who wasn't even looking for an EV driving experience in the first place.  That's the ultimate prize.  You don't expand the market by appealing to those already interesting in being green.  You find a way to entice buyers away from traditional vehicles.


Balance.  Sometimes, you feel like the person is clueless.  When they keep drawing the same conclusion without reasoning to explain how the different factors end with the same result, what else can you think?  Clearly, the very idea of balance eludes some people.  The win or lose mentality, with nothing in between, contributes heavily to thinking all situations are polarized.  That's annoying.  But... I'm willing to put up with it.  After all, the term "spin" came about for a reason.  Some people do it intentionally.  In this case, it wasn't.  He was having a misunderstanding and I was hoping to be helpful:  You did it again!  By what other means would you like the situation explained?  Clearly, this approach isn't working.  I'm open to suggestions...  Here's the most simple alternate way I can state it:  The past has taught us that people will consider the plug-in when shopping, but will not view it as an "upgrade" model.  It will stand alone, sharing only certain traits of Prius.  The differences will be viewed as tradeoffs, a clear acknowledgment of pros & cons.  That overall balance will be the selling point.


Audience.  I enjoyed seeing this pop up in the now very active thread: "But pretending that the missing fifth seat and raised cargo floor of the Prius Prime that potential buyers in a dealership can see and touch, and compare to a Prius on the lot, won't have any bearing on their decision is delusional."  It gave me the opportunity to dive into the discussion to poke the antagonist.  Like always, the argument comes down to audience.  So, it shouldn't take much.  Misleading claims are fairly easily exposed simply by stating the situation, as I did:  Why are you continuing to state the situation as an absolute?  Of course it will have a bearing.  The point of a Prime model is not to replaced Prius.  Stop portraying the situation as if that was the goal.  This is the very problem Volt enthusiasts failed to overcome.  They refused to acknowledge who the audience actually was.


Cargo Perspective.  There are very few counterpoints remaining.  Here's one: "The loss of trunk space hampers their hybrid sales, and the loss of cargo space will hamper the Prime's."  The fact that it persists surprises me, since it is only in online forums.  No one else is stating any concern.  So, you lose a little height in back for tall objects.  You still get more than some sedan trunks in that regard and dramatically more in length.  Width is roughly the same, but diagonal gets you a little bit more play room too.  I put the rapidly fading topic (now obvious with the vague nature of the claims) to rest by asking:  Sounds like a loss of perspective.  The hatchback area is Prius Prime is dramatically larger than a sedan's trunk.  Bulky items can easily be transported.  What's the supposed problem?  Don't give cubic-foot data either.  That's clearly a red-herring.  What actual real-world cargo are you referring to?


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