Personal Log  #785

December 28, 2016  -  January 2, 2017

Last Updated: Sun. 3/12/2017

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Television Advertisements.  All that recent "vastly superior" nonsense emerged from a daily blog commentary about an article published claiming television advertisements for plug-in vehicle are radically fewer than that for traditional vehicles.  While true, it really didn't address what is actually needed.  It was only a count analysis based on the assumption that more advertising that way is better.  I wholeheartedly disagreed, but couldn't express that until I dealt with the onslaught of trophy-mentality.  Thankfully, that ended.  So, I posted the following:

Television commercials are what people like to skip. They are generic, poorly timed, and really don't tell you anything. How much can actually be conveyed in just 30 or 60 seconds anyway? They very idea that showing more of them can be better is fundamentally flawed. Who really wants sound-bites forced upon them from an automaker? All they do is draw attention. There's no detail, no real information to make an informed purchase decision.

Spending a lot of money to show commercials hundreds or thousands of times on cable & broadcast television simply isn't a good idea anymore. Automakers should be using more effective means of reaching consumers. It's not the 20th century. Why use such an outdated medium like that to advertise a plug-in vehicle? To actually learn about the vehicle, you have to do research on your own. Automakers should invest in material which provides that type of advertising instead, not television commercials.

Simply go to YouTube and search for "Prius Prime". Look at the long list of results. There are dozens of in-depth reviews from third-parties. Those are the advertisements that actually compel people to seriously consider a test-drive. All Toyota had to do was provide those third-parties with a vehicle to drive for awhile. Getting an endorsements from someone who has had an opportunity to film their own experiences, their own way, then publish a long video telling you about it is far more effective than anything the automaker can provide.


Not The Same.  Our resident troll on the big Prius forum is well informed and likes to debate.  So, he routinely drops bait.  Heck, he even calls himself a troll.  From time to time, I bite.  It can be informative.  Stirring the status quo is ok, if done in a constructive way.  This is what caught my attention today: "That's like saying NiMH prices didn't fall fast enough to save the gen1 Prius."  It was in reference to pointing out that battery-cost did not drop anywhere near as fast as GM had anticipated or Volt enthusiasts had hoped.  I responded with:  How is that the same?  Toyota didn't set a mainstream level sales goal like GM.  Whatever the case, it isn't gen-2 Volt either.  That $7,500 dependency is a very big problem still.  Battery cost for 18.4 kWh capacity simply is not going to drop $7,500 in the next few years.  If the beliefs of $200 per kWh are true, that means the entire pack for Volt is only $3,680 in terms of lithium cost.  It would currently have to cost double that just to break even.  To actually grow the market, price of the vehicle must come down too.  And what the heck does "save" mean?  That generation ended production as planned, following the usual product-cycle schedule.  The plans for Volt achieving mainstream sales was mid-cycle.  The gen-2 is expected to go full cycle.  That means at least 4 more years of sales.  The tax-credit will run out long before that.  Bolt will be gobbling them up.  Look at Prius Prime.  With an MSRP of just $27,100 for the base model, there is no dependency.  Even without any tax-credit, it has the potential to grow.  Any mid-cycle update will contribute to that.  It most definitely is not the same.


Vastly Superior, advertising.  The thread topic was advertising.  It exposed yet another vulnerability of Volt, showing how the mismatch to mainstream consumers is making a bad situation worse.  It's really unfortunate.  The technology itself works fine.  The configuration is at issue.  Think of the situation as a computer configured in a manner unhelpful to the user.  If the case is smaller than needed, the hard-drive bigger than needed, and the processor faster than needed, asking someone to pay more than what they budgeted for to purchase it just plain doesn't make any sense.  Yet, that is very much the way Volt is.  The capacity (battery) and speed (acceleration) are overkill.  The small case size (cramped rear seating) makes usage difficult.  No amount of advertising can overcome the shortcoming of priorities.  Need isn't fulfilled.  Needless to say, I'm quite pleased this is all coming to a close now.  We're starting the new year with an effort to move on.  Yeah!  Here's what I wrote:

I titled my commentary on the post yesterday "evade & avoid" without any idea just how much the reply would reinforce that.

Choosing to start the response with a textbox exaggeration followed by several denials of easy-to-confirm facts made the effort to not actually address the advertising topic quite obvious.  Should I even bother to reply to such counter-productive posting?  Well, perhaps I could with a summary by highlighting "EREV".

It was a failed attempt to promote "vastly superior" status.  Problem was, the definition kept changing each time a new plug-in hybrid offering was rolled out... since they ended up fulfilling the criteria stated, which wrecked the superiority claim.  That advertising by enthusiasts became a confusing mess; adding to it was a series of ambiguous press releases, all so vague that hampered the entire market.  There was no clear message of goals or intent.

Now, we start 2017 with that continuing... more spin & rhetoric with no effort to even try to discuss advertising.  The final sentence wrapped it up really nice though: "I haven't seen a single advertisement for a PP."

That shows a lack of understanding how advertisements are distributed.  Toyota has clearly stated they will not be promoting Prius Prime in a traditional manner.  Generic television commercials are a waste of money in many cases.  Unless there's a specific sales event, those only serve to build or retain reputation.  That's why targeted advertising is being used now instead.

Do a search online for "Prius Prime".  Watch what happens to the websites you visit afterward.  Notice the flurry of advertisements promoting Prius Prime?


Happy New Year!  We're seeing a trend emerge.  Many of the automakers seem to be targeting the 25 to 30 mile range for EV capacity of plug-in hybrids.  That's clearly adding to the annoyance of Volt enthusiasts.  They continue to absolutely insist that more is necessary to achieve high-volume sales.  It's really unfortunate how uncooperative they've been.  Rather than usher in plug-in hybrids as the next step to ending the reign of traditional vehicles, we're seeing a confusing collection of contradicting messages.  Emphasis on EV driving makes sense.  Disparaging electric-only vehicles to convey the value doesn't though.  Belittling the smaller capacity plug-in hybrid offerings doesn't either.  Remember 10 years ago, back in January 2007 on the 6th?  Most people don't.  I do.  Looking back at my blogs, I can confirm my memory.  Problems immediately emerged.  There was a "trophy mentality" that undermined attempts to have constructive discussion.  When a sensible question was raised about battery capacity & cost, it was met with unusually stout resistance.  That made no sense.  How could such blindness come about so easily?  Prius certainly didn't have a history like that.  Toyota talk was well balanced, with a sincere effort to address all concerns.  GM support came in the form of cheerleading, optimism based solely upon hope.  Any type to clarify ended up getting the "vaporware" label.  There was a stubborn push to avoid & evade.  Now, a decade later, we're still seeing it.  Ugh.  Oh well.  Happy New Year!


More Fake News.  The flow of articles published, an obvious effort to undermine Prius, continues.  The content of each has been reports of inferiority.  There's quite the collection at this point.  The series follows the same pattern still too... with the exception of title taking a hostile turn: "2017 Hyundai Ioniq Shows The Toyota Prius How Much It Sucks"  The data provide was haphazard.  That's what you want to when leading people to assumptions.  Being vague & ambiguous helps as well.  No real substance and lots of generalization is all we've been getting.  Clearly, it's some staff writer searching the internet for something to write about which they can sell.  Making money from such articles is likely what's feeding the effort.  Never having actually driven any of the vehicles or even having anything beyond a stock photo is quite telling.  It's unfortunate such things exist.  Why do we have to deal with such nonsense, when there are several reputable websites?  The war of propaganda is well underway.  We have evidence of election influence by such efforts.  Now, it's becoming clear the green choices are struggling with similar problems.  I wonder what counter-measures will be dreamed up to deal with it.  Hmm?


Vastly Superior, evade & avoid.  The situation growth well beyond tolerance.  I was quite willing to be patient though, waiting 2.5 days for a reply.  That's an eternity on a daily blog.  It was worth it though, to draw the year to a conclusion with a reply to this the morning before: "No one is dismissing anything."  That was has final post.  He clearly just did too.  But rather than follow that bait, I decided to make it very personal by addressing exactly what he had posted.  This is how:

Yet, that's exactly what your list does, by specifying such a narrow focus:

* superior drive
* 100% torque off the line
* 1000 mile between gas station visits

You have also had several days to provide detail, but still have not.  So, it's time for me to attempt to look in depth at what you did provide.

The claim of "superior drive" is interesting.  It very much resembles the common adverting approach we've seen for decades: "new & improved".  That does indeed grab attention, but it doesn't actually tell us anything.  Compared to what?  Which components are superior?  How much more will it cost?

Next is saying "100% torque off the line".  We rarely ever see people racing away from stoplights and rush-hour merging certainly doesn't require full-throttle.  When is this important?  Who is that trying to impress?  How does less matter?

Lastly, the "1000 mile between gas station visits" raises even more questions.  That is obviously impressive compared to the usual 400 to 500 miles people typically get with traditional vehicles.  But you have told us many, many times that other plug-in hybrids are the competition, not traditional vehicles.  That being the case, it's easy to see the trouble... since Prius Prime does too.

Sorry, but that's the precedent you set.  We've also been told by you how absolutely vital it was for the drive experience to be 100% electric.  That came with the implication that Prius wouldn't ever be able to deliver it.  Not only does Prius Prime fulfill the same criteria, it is also a little bit more efficient in the process... which earns it an "A+" grade.

The ultimate selling point though is price, a factor you continue to evade & avoid.  GM set a target of "nicely under $30,000" for reaching their high-volume profitable goal. MSRP for gen-2 Volt hasn't achieved that yet.  Could it mid-cycle, with battery improvements and some package tweaks?  Possibly.  That current $33,220 for the base model may be able to drop enough by then.

Toyota's approach for the plug-in Prius was quite different.  They set a target of a "$3,000 to $5,000" premium over the regular hybrid model.  They clearly didn't reach that goal with gen-1, which was a major factor in limiting rollout to only 15 states.  But since that was only a mid-cycle update anyway, it was a great opportunity to collect real-world data to help with gen-2 refinements.

The first nationwide rollout is that gen-2 design.  Price of the base model Prius (package "two") is $24,200.  Price of the base model Prius Prime (package "plus") is $27,100.  It does indeed achieve the MSRP target.  It delivers a superior drive, more torque, and more miles between gas station visits.  It also includes an appealing array of standard features to draw new buyer interest.  There are some attractive unique optional features available as well.

In other words, it's time to come up with a new way of advertising Volt.

Happy 2017.


Vastly Superior, defeat.  Remember how Two-Mode faded away?  Without a spotlight anymore, the sales struggle turned to dealer disinterest.  Why bother?  Not only has Volt lost the spotlight to Bolt, it also faces a wide variety of plug-in hybrid competition.  That makes traditional competition even more difficult, since the plug-in hybrids still have plenty of tax-credits available.  The delightfully low MSRP for Prius Prime puts even more pressure on the situation.  Once tax-credits run out, Toyota will still be fine.  Volt is in a world of trouble.  What will GM do for it, especially with so much emphasis being placed on Bolt delivering high-volume prior to Tesla's rollout of Model 3.  So much time was wasted on proclaiming Volt as being "vastly superior" to Prius.  It boggles the mind how pride could led to so much lost opportunity.  It's still happening too.  The idiot posts of recent confirm it.  My favorite quote coming from all the desperate spin was: "Toyota again has settled for another weak offering."  That shows us how little this individual actually cares about ordinary consumers.  He's been so obsessed with EV performance, sacrifice for that benefit became the norm.  He was willing to dismiss the priorities people shop for in favor of promoting superiority.  Only electric purity matters.  It was amazing to witness such blind hope.  And after so many years of excuses and an obvious end approaching, he's still not going to admit defeat.  Of course, I'm not looking for a surrender anyway.  I just want the next step to be taken.  Get over it.  Analyze lessens learned.  Move on. 


Vastly Superior, signs.  There are things to watch out for when certain personalities are encountered online, clues that indicate you are in a no-win situation.  The first sign should be obvious... when they take something personally that has nothing to do with them at all.  Just out of nowhere, an emotional respond abruptly appears from someone who was offended without them ever actually being addressed or anything of a personal nature having been posted.  Not much can be done about that.  There isn't an preventative either.  In this case, there was a need for superiority in a market where finding compromise is required.  It's a guaranteed losing situation when winning isn't even an option.  The second sign is much more difficult to notice... when the topic switches to something popular to discuss.  Those red herrings are very compelling, temptations so irresistible, someone will inevitably respond.  It's not trolls dropping bait either.  This situation is simply that of strong interest.  But once that is responded to, getting back on topic is nearly impossible.  You won't win that either.  The original line of logic is lost.  In discussions that are nothing but a daily thread, there is simply no hope of return.  The third sign is when a desire is stated rather than a goal.  They'll just state it over and over and over again, as if that was a need being fulfilled.  But when you step back to look at how it accomplishes a business objective, there's nothing supportive about it.  This is what we see at auto shows.  You hear great praise about an aspect of appeal that isn't ever a priority when actually shopping for a vehicle.  Long story short, this is how we've fallen into the trap with Volt.  Some developed a mindset of superiority so self-confirming, they've lost sight of what the ultimate purpose was.  Remember the intent to replace traditional vehicles?


Vastly Superior, struggle.  When dealing with someone who will never accept defeat, bringing it to an end requires giving them a good fight.  Then they feel like pride has been retained.  What seems to work best is just head-butting the best you can, then leave them confused.  He certainly was today too.  References to other vehicles and options having nothing to do with plugging in were outright dismissed with the claim of being off-topic.  The comments most definitely were not.  But when your world is a simplistic view, omitting everything you feel has nothing to do with the purchase decision, it's easy to say something is incongruous.  I was somewhat surprised that the entire list was summarily rejected.  It was comprehensive, addressing a variety of features ordinary people express interest in... efficiency, safety, greenness, techy, style, comfort, and convenience.  I repeated it too, stressing the diversity.  It has always been a struggle for any of the hybrid & plug-in choices to reach beyond the stereotypical audience.  Growing the market requires new approaches... something he clearly is unwilling to accept.  He continued to recite the same old advertising criteria from way back in 2011.  That stay-the-course-and-be-patient approach is what I call a "good enough" attitude, unworthy of spending any more time on.  So, I concluded with:  Dismissing the rest of what GM builds & sells has been a fundamental barrier to understanding why sales have struggled.


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