Personal Log  #799

March 13, 2017  -  March 20, 2017

Last Updated: Sat. 10/21/2017

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Midwest Deliveries.  They have finally begun... or at least Prius Prime offerings are now listed.  I haven't confirmed any are actually at local dealers yet.  Searches show some though.  So, we can at least say "soon" is realistic.  Mine is supposedly getting closer.  The end of next week is a possibility.  If not then, it should be by the early part of the following.  Whatever the case, it will no longer be Winter.  I was able to place an order for a hitch.  My effort to call ahead, prior to websites being updated, allowed for that opportunity.  I was the first to get notified.  That's nice, just in time for biking season to begin.  I already have floormats in the garage... waiting.  Meanwhile, I do know of a delivering in Nebraska.  He's been anxiously hoping.  That worked out nice.  This reminds me so much of the first deliveries of the Classic model back in 2000.  Similar rollout reports and restless wannabes were keeping the forums lively.  Exactly as anticipated, we're seeing rollout ramp up just before Earth Day.  This is getting really exciting!


Safety Coup.  The clever move on Toyota's part to offer a collection of safety features standard looks to become a coup.  Automakers weren't expecting that.  Hybrids have always focused on efficiency, with the expectation of other options being upgrade packages.  In fact, most comparisons were mismatches as a results.  That constant misrepresentation of writing a review comparing a fully loaded Prius to a base model of something else was just plain wrong.  Stuff like that is how the "greenwashing" term cam about.  Now, we're seeing comment sections pointing out how the effort to avoid bias by comparing base models of both is misleading... since even the lowest priced Prius comes better loaded.  Safety features are a strong selling point too.  In other words, Toyota stacked the deck and no one noticed.  Having such a nice advantage is really a wise decision in this time of oil over-supply.  Gas is cheap and there's no end to that expected for many years.  This added appeal makes choosing much easier.  Sweet!

3-19-2017 Ioniq Reviews.  They are starting to trickle in.  Competing directly with Prius won't be easy, especially with the misleading precedents established by Volt enthusiasts... the very thing I fought for many years, foreseeing impeded market growth as the result of such narrow-minded views.  Anywho, the initial impressions of Hyundai's approach are looking good.  This is what I posted as a comment for an article comparing Ioniq to Prius: 

3 months of 2016 sales were lost to slow rollout of that next-generation model and the stop caused by the parking-brake recall.  You simply cannot buy what isn't available.  Some customers shifted interest from Prius to the new RAV4 hybrid too.  There was also a wait-and-see delay from the introduction of Prius Prime.

Judging demand of the newest Prius is easier in 2017.  Looking around, you'll spot them on the road much more frequently.  Like with the previous generations, that "polarizing" demand is what draws new buyers after the first year.  For those who prefer to blend into the crowd, there's the new Camry hybrid coming this fall and the RAV4 hybrid.

Looking beyond the visual appear, sticker price, and efficiency numbers, people will discover Prius comes loaded with safety features standard.  Things like dynamic radar cruise, pre-collision braking, lane departure with assist, and automatic high-beams are all new and unfamiliar, so most people currently are not including them in the purchase decision.  Those are part of the base for Prius, included in all models.  Hyundai offers some in upgrade packages for Ioniq.

As for Hyundai itself, they seem to have done an excellent job of delivering a well-balanced high-efficiency choice of design to appeal to the masses.  Ioniq should have a very positive effect on the hybrid market.  The big influence will come from the 2 plug-in models though, not the regular hybrid.


Environment Attack.  It's getting ugly.  All we hear is rhetoric.  Unwillingness to consider any detail of any sort is a warning sign of major problems to come.  Federal funding reduction is being planned on an enormous scale.  The belief is that the approach to clean air & water will come from state choices instead, that they will provide the regulations, enforcement, and funding.  Problem is, jurisdiction beyond state lines is a major obstacle.  Litigation is costly too.  Dirty emissions from burning coal or river pollution from manufacturing or construction from neighboring states is a very real dilemma.  Who's going to oversee those issues and ensure everyone is treated fairly?  The disastrous outcomes can be very, very expensive to resolve... and that's not even taking into account the MPG issue.  Even with guzzler sales remaining in place, there are many other concerns the EPA must address still.  Preventing that by cutting funds is dangerous for everyone.  This administration is so short-sighting.  What a terrible situation we are now having to deal with.  They don't show concern for climate or the environment.  Seemingly benign budgetary cuts, can have huge consequences.


Refill Distance?  I could have reached 1,000 miles for a single tank with my Prius PHV.  It was the right combination of weather and driving circumstances.  Unfortunately, I ran out of time.  The next day was July 4th and plans were to travel.  Opportunity lost.  Oh well.  That should be much easier with the Prius Prime.  The longer distances between refills should allow me to collect sizeable discounts from the local grocery store too.  Normally, I only have a few cents accumulated.  But soon, I'll be making various purchases many more times in between visits to the pump.  That should make things interesting... even more saving, beyond plugging in while shopping there.  Anywho, these are the numbers from my over the past 5 years:  After 91,355 miles and 172 refills, the real-world average tank distance with my Prius PHV is 513 miles.  That's as real as it gets.  There's a wide mix of short drives, long trips, and top-offs.  The variety represents the randomness encountered from everyday need, where you don't plan when.  You just do when needed.  With the Prius Prime, I'll be able to drive the entire commute with just electricity.  There will be a lot of errand running with EV only too.  The tank is larger as well.  So, it wouldn't be much of a stretch to routinely expect +1,000 mile tanks.


Many Sightings.  I'm seeing a lot of gen-4 Prius now.  The first-year glut doesn't appear to be reflective of the second.  Seeing quite a number of older drivers (those who look like they've been retired for awhile) has made me wonder.  Could it be that the radical look... to them... is the futuristic vehicle they had always dreamed of owning someday?  What an interesting perspective.  From their point of view, the design does indeed resemble what had been marketed to them long, long ago.  After all, we are well into the second decade of the 21st Century.  That's beyond what many ever expected to ever live.  Imagine being able to fulfill a childhood desire like that.  Cool!  The new Prius really stands out.  It handles remarkably well.  Technology is gushing out.  That approach really is something they thought they'd never had.  What in the world does that send for a message to their grandchildren?  For me, I remember inspiration of new-tech coming from my grandpa.  Remember how the Mercury Sable had headlights that wrapped across the entire front of the car?

3-15-2017 MPG Concerns, avoidance.  To my surprise, the most intense of the antagonists avoided discussion yesterday.  He didn't post any type of rebuttal today either.  I knew he was active online, since the new topic had several new posts from him.  Normally, he'd lash out afterward to get the last word in.  This time though, I obviously drove the point home... Volt has serious shortcoming, so obvious that consumers are not interested.  It's really unfortunate a second model configured for mainstream buyers was never rolled out.  Oh well.  This is how I brought the senseless bickering to an end:

See the reason for MPG regulations?

Investment in battery production and charging infrastructure is a whole lot easier when you know the entire industry is working toward delivery of efficiency improvements.

GM's rollout of Bolt is surprisingly slow.  By the time nationwide availability is reached, Tesla will be in a position to shoot past.  The hope was that being early meant opportunity would be capitalized upon.  We're not seeing that.  We're not seeing anything in terms of high-speed charger availability from GM either.

This brings up back to asking about Volt.  More of the same is clearly not going to achieve needed growth.  Not hearing anything whatsoever about next steps leaves us only with that, which is really unfortunate... and give good reason to push.

Watching GM turn to diesel for higher MPG, because their plug-in sales growth continues to remain a challenge and unsold inventory of traditional cars builds up, is not what anyone hoped for.  There's definitely reason for concern at this point.


MPG Concerns, goals.  The big problem with GM's struggle has been a disregard for goals.  They'd ambiguously state the intent to reach some milestone, then never mention it again when it was missed.  With Volt, we heard the 60,000 annual goal repeated on a regular basis.  Reaching that sales rate (5,000 per month) would be strived for by the end of the second year of sales.  There were attempts to retarget along the way, like the claim that count was really 45,000 for this market and 15,000 for Europe.  But when neither of those were met, talk of sales got ugly.  Attempts to discuss the much touted 120,000 annual production capacity which has been a popular justification point of the past turned to claims from Volt enthusiasts of Prius owners attempting to undermine & mislead.  That's why turning on them by pointing out "vastly superior" aspects of Prius Prime is long overdue.  They need a wake-up call, to finally accept what needs to be done.  The concerns about MPG regulations being rolled back is a good reason to give them the kick in the butt they've deserved.  It's not like Voltec is a loss.  It's just poorly configured to actually compete with traditional vehicles.  The upcoming expiration of tax-credit subsidies will be such a wasted opportunity too.  Time is now to do something to prevent that.  Addressing goals is how.

3-14-2017 MPG Concerns, superiority.  After a series of senseless attacks, I decided to fight back against that same comment: "Yet another vague rollup of straw arguments, half remembered history and meaningless queries. Meanwhile, GenII Volt easily out-performs GenII PiP in all but extreme edge driving scenarios."  Re-quoting it again, but this time blatantly pointing out the advantages of Prime Prime... rather than sticking to the usual regiment of GM only discussion... was well earned: 

Hope was the situation would finally be taken seriously.  Cards about being stacked against plug-in vehicles.  But rather than consider the market as a whole, it was just more of the same old "vastly superior" nonsense.  I remember that history quite well... and really enjoyed your ironically vague reply today.

In what categories does it easily out-perform?

Volt = 0-60 acceleration

Prime = electric efficiency
Prime = hybrid efficiency
Prime = heater efficiency
Prime = emission rating
Prime = safety rating
Prime = turning radius
Prime = recharge rate

Keep in mind that 25 miles covers more than 50% of commuters, so calling it an extreme would be a bit of a stretch.  There will be some, like me, who can recharge at work too.


MPG Concerns, attacks.  It got personal immediate, attacking me rather than even bothering to acknowledge the actual problem: "Yet another vague rollup of straw arguments, half remembered history and meaningless queries. Meanwhile, GenII Volt easily out-performs GenII PiP in all but extreme edge driving scenarios."  It was the same old disregard of any concern; instead, that childish "better" rhetoric was repeated.  Ugh, again.  Oh well, again:  That attempt to downplay & evade doesn't change the intent of the "nicely under $30,000" target.  As for performance, that claim is a clear indication of misunderstanding purchase priorities for ordinary consumers... which is a big reason why Volt isn't competitive with traditional choices.  The claim of "all but extreme" just plain isn't true either.  Prius Prime is more efficient with both electricity (kWh/mi) and gas (MPG).  Those are very important performance measures for everyday driving.  Again, the question of next step for GM...  What should it be?

3-14-2017 MPG Concerns, next steps.  This new administration is working hard to undo legacy of the previous.  There's an intense need to erase anything credible from the past, paving the way for change... in the wrong direction.  Eliminating efficiency improvement regulations is getting a lot of attention.  This is yet another consequence of "too little, too slowly".  The naive nature of Volt enthusiasts prevented them from coming to the realization that engineering alone wouldn't be enough to overcome potential future obstacles.  They foolishly expected gas prices to rise and battery costs to fall enough to overcome shortcomings with the vehicle itself.  They were wrong, very wrong.  Now, those same concerns are even more of a problem to overcome.  Ugh.  Oh well, this is how I put the situation:

All those years ago, in the early stages of Volt development, there was a statement made about price.  Specifically, it was a target for delivery was set at: "nicely under $30,000".  When the literal interpretation of that was not fulfilled, we saw a wide variety explanations attempting to justify having missed it.  The spirit of such a goal remained though… to offer something competitively affordable.

Today's topic makes the reason for that overwhelmingly clear.  Worth of hybrids was always measured based upon purchase price, with efficiency gain the means of offsetting the upfront premium paid for the better technology.  Worth of plug-in vehicles will be measured the same way.  15 years of history taught us that. It also taught us how difficult diminishing returns based upon MPG increase would be to show.

This is why concern for the heavy dependence on tax-credit subsidies has been a forefront issue.  It's proving an extreme challenge to grow the market, even with that $7,500 discount.  Watching it be phased out, then disappear prior to the current product-cycle of Volt ended, is a major problem in the making…. which brings us back to initial price.

I am not sorry to point out that Prius Prime achieved target, since I saw this coming years ago and pushed for a second model of Volt to deliver the same.  Instead, there was an intense effort to silence that concern.  Now, I ask what should be done.

What next step do we expect GM to take?


Blatant Denial.  We've been seeing more and more of this lately: "We are not familiar with any scientific institution with relevant subject matter expertise that has reached a different conclusion."  That goes well beyond the usual greenwashing tactic of raising doubt.  This is just a flat out lie, pretending there is no evidence whatsoever to formulate even an alternate perspective with.  In this case, it was about climate change.  So much proof is now available and so many scientific experts have confirmed our need to reduce carbon emissions, there is literally nothing remaining to debate.  That puts them in the position of either admitting defeat or attempting to push their own agenda by ignoring everyone else.  They chose the latter.  This reminds me of the tobacco industry decades ago, doing everything possible to avoid their inevitable downfall.  Basically, they are now just fighting for delay... but the damage they'll cause in the meantime could be enormous... especially since this is coming from the new administration.  Driven by greed, money, and power, some will do anything they can to impede change.  Sad.


800-Mile Trip.  The first Bolt owner long-distance trip published with details for others to critic didn't go well.  The expense (time & money) made it clear GM should have invested in some infrastructure.  The charging network is still quite limited.  After 150 miles of high-speed travel, the hunt for somewhere to plug in becomes a critical concern.  Chargers aren't always available.  The ones that are have limitations.  Some restrict use to 30 minutes per session.  Others deliver a slow recharge rate.  It's not as simple as using a Tesla supercharger.  Bolt's charging speed isn't as fast either.  As we know though, GM is terrible at balance.  They focus on a strong trait and let other aspects of importance slide.  With Volt, it was power & range.  With Bolt, it was range & price.  As useful as those purchase priorities can be to some, you don't sacrifice others... without some type of penalty.  Dealer interest was a major negative consequence from Volt's obvious trade-offs... now inarguable sacrifices.  It was intended to overcome the same problem as Bolt, to alleviate range-anxiety.  Clearly, there is some still when taking an 800-mile trip.  Oops!


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