Personal Log  #773

November 2, 2016  -  November 8, 2016

Last Updated: Sat. 12/10/2016

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Let It Go!  Some just plain cannot:  "People are still pissed about the old lexus ads.  The new ones just smack of desperation."  Reading that was annoying, but it did provide a chance to say my piece:  It's hard to believe how blown out of proportion and complete disregard for the business a select few people will take a situation.  First, what Lexus does has nothing to do with Toyota.  They are separate divisions.  Second, each automaker is a primary purpose of making profit, not being a green savior.  Third, you have to be rather clueless to believe an ordinary consumer could care less.  Fourth, anything can be taken out of context, especially with a quickly changing industry.  Need I say more?  Pretty much everything happening now will go almost entirely unnoticed.  The mainstream isn't ready, so they aren't paying attention.  Think about how absurd other claims were by automakers now supporting EV sales.  We don't actually see any volume, yet they are praised for delivering very little.  Put it this way, Toyota is the hidden giant.  They have been producing lithium batteries in high volume for gen-4 Prius.  No one has really noticed that ramp up though.  But it's exactly what's needed to ensure a strong rollout of Prius Prime.  We get an affordable electric-only platform.  Who cares if some of the tech came from hydrogen research.  For that matter, who cares how small battery-packs start out at.  All if it contributes to a competitive EV offering in a few years.


Hypocrites.  Another thing those particular Volt enthusiasts on that blog just plain don't care about is being honest.  At times, they just outright lie.  It can be quite frustrating.  Today's example was actually quite vindicating to read though: "When developing the gen 1 Volt, GM said they relied heavily on what they learned from the EV1 and many of the team that worked on that program were also working on the Volt."  Over and over and over again, the person claiming that absolutely insisted Volt was entirely new.  Since all the technology in Volt had been created from scratch, with no experience from EV1, Two-Mode, or BAS/eAssist, that was good reason for being patient.  We had to wait.  The "no prior history" message kept getting repeated, despite pointing out how GM was building upon what had been gained from those previous endeavors.  Now, there's claims of the opposite.  They just rewrite history anyway that fits.  It's so hypocritical, responding would just be a waste of time.  They don't care.  They'll say whatever they want to support their beliefs.  Remember how dead-set they were against EV offerings?  Volt was the ultimate solution to "range anxiety".  There was no purpose for an electric-only vehicle.  Now, they contradict themselves, abandoning that message for Bolt instead.  If you want to call someone deplorable, here's a worthy situation.  Ugh.


Spin.  A major reason for having stuck with what had once been a daily blog for Volt was to observe the spin.  Volt has almost entirely vanished.  There's only a brief mention here & there now.  It's amazing to watch something like that disappear into the background.  But then again, it's not much different from Two-Mode.  Remember, that's what Volt replaced.  It was another technology doomed to fail... not due to the engineering, it was due to the cost choices.  GM felt performance was more important that being affordable.  Enthusiasts were too blind to see the pattern repeating.  They made excuses every time an expectation fell short... taking their disappointment out in the form of hate for Toyota.  The biggest lashing out was FCV (fuel-cell vehicle) focus.  They'd call attention to hydrogen as a distraction.  The reason why became much more difficult to deny too.  Toyota finally made an announcement about support for EV offerings.  The true supporters always knew that would happen.  What's the point though of promoting something years in advance, if it is detrimental in the meantime?  That's why Toyota got as much hydrogen work done as possible prior to this.  Since it is a mutually exclusive technology (different audience) with shared components, why not?  Now that Mirai is in a good position, focus on Prius Prime can take place without harm.  Both have the same goal of becoming affordable choices.  Both have years to go before advancements will drop cost enough for large-scale acceptance.  But in the meantime, both can establish the all to vital need of reliability reputation.  That doesn't happen overnight.  Unfortunately, that time does provide plenty of opportunity for spin... which happened today: "Looks like now that Toyota has admitted they were wrong about li-ion batteries and their fuel cell efforts are not going so well, and they have already made their watered down version of a Volt knockoff, they are now going to attempt a knockoff of the Bolt EV."  That's so annoying.  Toyota has been ramping up production of lithium.  It started back in 2012 with Prius PHV.  It grew dramatically with gen-4 Prius.  Now, it will get even bigger with Prius Prime.  I won't bother pointing that out though.  It's not worth it.  Those particular Volt enthusiasts on that blog just plain don't care.


In The Now.  The best response is "ugh".  I suspect we'll see an increase in greenwashing throughout next year.  Interest in plugging will stir a few to mislead by posting outdated & extreme information as if that's what everyone should expect.  I find that quite frustrating.  Sadly, it doesn't just come from those against electrification either.  Reading my blogs, you'll be well aware there's a superiority complex to deal with.  Some fight affordable offerings, doing all they can to keep their niche vehicles special by undermining the progress of those with mainstream potential.  Again, ugh.  Today's example was attacking the plug-in vehicles that didn't offer liquid-cooling for their battery-packs.  I was annoyed, especially with the short-sighted approach, so the response was shorter than an all-out rebuttal:  Later chemistry advancements have basically proven a wide variety of configurations will work just fine.  That isn't a problem anyway.  It's the lack of clear goals and the uncertainty of audience.  That makes marketing extremely difficult and dealers reluctant.


What's The Point?  It sure is good to not have to deal with this routinely anymore: "I and others had stated 'back in the day' that the PiP could have outdid the Volt in sales if Toyota had committed to going nationwide with it.  They choose to play it safe instead, and now their national plug in debut is against the gen2 Volt and new Bolt."  Fortunately, that take on history is quickly fading.  I asked:  There were indeed a number of supporters who believed that.  The catch is, they also believed audience was the same.  Toyota wasn't targeting enthusiasts as GM though.  That fundamental difference is why another approach was taken.  Toyota already knew back then what the next-generation would offer.  Saving tax-credits for that instead makes a lot of sense.  It was a wise business choice, especially since it saves any need for a re-education effort.  The first plug-in hybrid most consumers will encounter will be a much improved design.  It's really unfortunate some people didn't recognize history playing out for a second time.  That approach is similar to what happened with the Classic model Prius.  Most people had no idea what improvements the hybrid system delivered in that next-generation.  Their first exposure ended up being the Iconic model... which proved to be a wise business choice.  Back in the day, some attempted to point out the situation.  It often resulted in spin or dismissal.  That's easy to understand.  I'm not sure how "safe" applies.  Though, being patient could be considered risk avoidance.  But then again, goals would have to be the same.  Clearly, gen-2 Volt is not targeting the same buyers as Prius Prime anyway.  So... what's the point?


Green Herring.  Read this without wanting to post a reply immediately: "I don't like that PHEVs are put in the same group as BEVs.  Technically, PHEVs are closer to HEVs than to BEVs, because they both have ICEs.  PHEV needs Gasoline, how much is irrelevant, because still has to be refueled unlike BEV."  I could not, as this expressed:  Get used to it.  Hybrids suffered from the same problem.  Heck, this very article did that.  The difference between ASSIST and FULL hybrids was profound, just they are still getting dumped into the same category.  As for what is closer to what, that is a green-herring.  The point doesn't tell us anything and only serves to distract.  It's like arguing EV range.  Results vary so dramatically based upon driving distance & conditions, the type of system is only a minor factor.  Other aspects of the design become far more important instead, like the size & price of the vehicle.  In other words, we aren't discussing what has actually influenced sales numbers.  But if you do want to look at the graph, make note of what the lack of detail distorts.  It doesn't tell you that Prius sales didn't begin until the last third of that first year.  It also doesn't tell you that sales of Prius were only available via internet orders until May 2002.  They weren't available on dealer lots anywhere prior to that.  It doesn't tell you how long the deliver wait was due to inventory limitations either.


Plug Squatting.  To find a plug-in spot occupied by a plug-in vehicle not plugged in is frustrating.  To see that situation with a plug-in owner driving by with disappointment on their face seeing that has no words... yet.  That term hasn't really been coined.  Today, I called it squatting.  Fortunately, I was able to direct the disappointed owner down to the other end of the parking lot where another charger was available.  Hopefully, that won't happen much.  Sadly, it has been discussed at the plug-in owners meeting.  I'm not alone with such encounters.  Others have also seen chargers go unused by chargeable vehicles.  Wasting a plug like that is wrong.  Adding to the trouble was the fact that there were empty spots nearby.  The owner was clearly lazy & uncaring.  That's when you know a technology is gaining popularity.  There are no HOV privileges here.  There are no monetary state incentives.  The only way to benefit from the plug is plugging in.  That person didn't.  We were both disappointed to see that.  Oh well.  Not much can actually be done about such behavior.


60,000 Sold.  BMW's i3 hit that milestone recently.  It took twice as long as the mainstream expectation.  But this is a luxury offering, so that many isn't a level to strive for anyway.  Achieving it sure is nice though.  The goal was to prove the technology using an entirely new approach & platform.  The tiny range-extending engine, along with quite a bit of carbon-fiber structure, obviously worked.  We suspect the next generation will come in the form of an i5 sedan.  It's an approach being proven by real-world driving.  Gotta like that.  It's refreshing to know what possibilities are available.  You never really know what will catch on, especially in the luxury market.  Though, mainstream buyers present challenges too.  However, that volume & variety is more flexible.  Fewer customers means a lot of experimenting is required.  Fortunately, the nature of that market does allow for model changes sooner.  In other words, it's a mix of trail & error.  Better research yields better results.  In this case, it seems to have worked out well for a gen-1 offering.  The next should be quite interesting.


Prius Gathering.  We're in the early stages of establishing a group which meets monthly.  There's plenty of us around looking for an opportunity to share stories and help promote.  The catch is finding a location that works well.  It's hard enough just scheduling.  The unpredictable nature of weather & seating makes it even harder.  We'll work something out.  The ones I organized in the past had good participation.  Owning a Prius Prime, possibly before the next meeting will obviously, stir interest.  This evening's had modest participation.  It basically comes down to having a clear purpose.  The problems GM supporters are now struggling with due to not understanding the market and having set contradictory precedent seems to have been avoiding with us.  Toyota has remained true to the mission of keeping cost low and striving for balance.  That leaves you with a vehicle enthusiasts like to modify and ordinary consumers find rewarding.  No matter what Prius you purchase, it's always clean & efficient.  Rarely do you hear of disappointment.  That often comes from knowing what you buy.  Small groups around the country are what take the knowledge learned online and carry it forward into their own neighborhoods, in person.  Reaching further is our goal.  How can we convey the value to those without any mechanical background, those simply looking for affordable transportation that's very reliable.  Selling the idea of less gas and few emissions is nearly impossible.  The gain from electricity isn't though, even without a plug.  We'd benefit from some type of material to share.  It's nice having ideas from the past to leverage upon.  As always though, the catch is audience.  This absurd upcoming presidential election has everyone quite distracted.  Oh well.  That provides us with some time to plan.


In-Person Training.  What an unexpected outcome!  We saw someone pull into the plug-in spot.  They parked with a strange sense of uncertainty.  We had immediately assumed it was a driver who simply didn't care that they were blocking the plug from being used for recharging.  Nonetheless, I decided to park across from them and potential confront the driver.  Always being polite, that sometimes works fine.  Turns out, they were actually confused about what to do.  They also had a plug-in vehicle.  In this case, it was a Fusion Energi.  I introduced myself and provided a quite demo of the plugging process.  You could see the desire to find out more.  I got out my card and handed it to them and suggested taking a photo of the back with her phone.  The information on the charger stated a credit-card would be needed.  They didn't understand why, since the charger was supposedly free.  I pointed ou the charger-card would allow them to unlock the handle without the need for a credit-card.  I used my card again to unlock the handle for them.  It was a great opportunity to educate and share a brief moment of common good.  That simple minute of in-person training likely had a big impact.  You could see the intimidation melt away, replaced by excitement.  That sure was fun.  My wife got to witness it all too.  I appreciate her support, but never have had the opportunity to include in an encounter like that though.  What a great visit to the grocery store!


Half Million.  The official total through September for sales of plug-in vehicles here in the United States was 512,137.   That count from the Department of Energy is a nice milestone now getting a lot of attention.  It's quite a bit less than the One Million hoped for.  But then again, no one imagined gas dropping to such low prices.  Of course, you-know-who getting into office would destroy hope of progress.  Having so much power wanting to turn back the clock and fund dirty/wasteful energy is unbelievable.  It is understandable though.  People have anger for other reasons and they've found of means of venting.  Feeling overwhelmed and let down is very difficult to overcome.  Just look at the mess we've seen as a result of "over promise, under deliver".  Finding out you've endorsed something unable to live up to expectations really hurts.  Just think of how the EV supporters felt when plug-in prospects 15 years ago turned into giant gas-guzzlers.  Finally seeing recovery from that, despite being slower than desired, is an advancement forward nonetheless.  Then you've got people like me endorsing smaller batteries for mass penetration.  Making a vehicle lower enough cost to actually compete directly with traditional offerings means not getting a configuration that stands out.  It's hard to stir excitement for anything intended to become ubiquitous.  Each automaker will get 200,000 tax-credits before phaseout begins.  Roughly a total of 300,000 per would work out to somewhere around 3 million vehicles.  Knowing that over 14 million are purchased every year, it's easy to see how much more is needed.  Oh well.  At least we can celebrate this achievement.  There's no denying this progress.


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