Personal Log #785
December 28, 2016 - January 2, 2017
Last Updated: Sun. 3/12/2017
page #784 page #786 BOOK INDEX
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:
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:
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:
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.