Personal Log  #802

April 5, 2017  -  April 12, 2017

Last Updated: Sun. 5/21/2017

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Change, more.  It's not better.  Ugh.  You'd think they'd finally come to terms with that, even at this final hour.  Nope: "...don't twist the fate that Prime EV mode is relatively weak."  I find it truly amazing how they think their point-of-view is shared by everyone else.  Some people simply aren't interested.  That's just the way things are.  Different people have different draws.  Not everyone likes the same thing.  That's why no matter how many times they tell you that the higher price is worth it, some simply won't we willing to pay more.  Oh well.  All you can do is hope the message eventually sinks in:  Face reality.  Faster & Further isn't worth a premium for most people.  That's why Camry & Corolla are so popular.  They target that same market, the middle.  Being "strong" loses to being well-balanced.


Change, audience.  I was waiting for the enthusiast perspective: "Many reviewer said that they would rather pay more for the Volt due to FAR SUPERIOR driving dynamic."  It's amazing to confirm how naive some can be.  They think their excitement is shared by ordinary consumers.  I know mine certainly isn't.  If I can draw any interest from my mom, who couldn't care less about a vehicle other than it being comfortable, practical, and reliable, it means I'm on the right track.  That means anything related to how the vehicle operations is of no value.  That simply isn't a priority for her, as is with most middle-market people.  This is how I stated the situation, to hopefully give some perspective:  Wrong audience.  Ordinary consumers couldn't care less.  Those mainstream buyers are looking for a good all-around value.  They are unwilling to pay a premium for more, no matter how much enthusiasts provide praise.  People declare bias, not realizing they themselves are not representation of those shopping showroom floors, nor having anything in common with them.  Volt began as a niche and continues to be.  That's fine.  We all like faster & further.  But that simply is not what middle-market is looking for.


Change, weak.  Lasting out at Prius Prime was inevitable.  Attack the obvious source of the growing sense of failure: "The PP is weak as an EV."  It came from an antagonist attempting to defend Volt on a blogging sight not receptive to that type of posting.  Sure enough, it fell on deaf ears.  Knowing that would be the outcome, I posted this anyway, seeing the exposition opportunity:  I've got 640 miles on mine now and all my commuting has been entirely in EV.  No gas engine for highway merging, passing, or cruising.  It's all electric, with power to spare.  The vapor-injected heat-pump is the industry's most efficient electric heater.  The electric A/C is a top-notch offering too.  I'm also seeing averages around 4.5 miles/kWh.  What part is supposedly weak?


Change, hybrids.  I found this especially exciting to read: "This 'hybrid' movement is a mistake. We can't afford the time to take this 'temporary' answer to the climate problem. The Auto companies are promoting them to slow the transition from ICE to EV. Ignore them, avoid them, make them go away or we will be sorry."  That attempt to dismiss absolutely everything is denial to the extreme.  That certainly is one way of resisting change, though futile.  I responded with:  Generalizations are not constructive.  Spreading fear isn't either.  The commute today in my 'hybrid' was entirely with electricity, even though it had a gas engine.  Promoting them accelerates the transition, by forcing a competitive return immediately.  That means the battery, motor, inverter, heater, etc all must be affordable right away.  Those same components can be used again later when cost of larger battery-packs comes down.


Change, strategy.  Next came an effort to deal with the change by setting the focus forward as a positive outlook:  It would be quite interesting to find out that GM has been working on the delivery of a "lite" model of Volt after all, something addressing tax-credit expiration.  Imagine a Cruze hatchback with the Voltec system using a 9 kWh battery. That would be a winning scenario for GM. Volt could remain a niche, marketed as a premiere plug-in hybrid offering. Cruze would be the choice for everyday users, ordinary consumers who weren’t interested in Volt.  The situation would save the reputation of enthusiasts while at the same time vindicate those who had argued for a second model all along.  Sounds like a win-win.


Change, sacrifice.  It started with a repeat of goals, to highlight the sacrifice made:  Targeting mainstream consumers was always an effort to deliver something affordability competitive with traditional vehicles.  Volt production cost of gen-1 was far out of the reach of that goal.  That's why it failed to draw any audience beyond enthusiasts.  Ordinary consumers just plain were not interested.  No amount of "faster & further" made any difference.  Even with a $7,500 tax-credit, the price was too high.  GM's struggle was avoided by Toyota when the decision to keep their mid-cycle rollout of Prius PHV limited to just the initial market. They could continue to learn about meeting purchase priorities to achieve high-volume profitable sales, without having to deal with any legacy issues.  So, rather than follow an upgrade path, they could start fresh with Prius Prime... and they did.  Spin from that decision was remarkable, especially from those setting expectations for Volt gen-2.  We now see they were wrong.  The "faster & further" approach failed to result in the hoped for sales growth.  Consumers simply haven't been interested.  Too much.  It's overkill.  Ironically, that is proving the opposite for Prius Prime.  Toyota made their next plug-in go faster & further... which fulfills the very criteria suggested for a "lite" model of Volt ...and it is showing strong initial demand.  GM should not have sacrificed affordability for the sake of increasing power and increasing range.  What gen-1 offered was enough already.


Change, now.  We hit that point today, that undeniable day in history where change can no longer be evaded.  I expect an explosion of trapped-in-a-corner responses to result.  When an enthusiasts runs out of a excuses, all they can do is lash out to go down with a fight.  That's what makes this moment so decisive.  It's happening right now, this very moment.  The final words in the chapter are being written.  I'm actually rather intrigued how it will play out.  Looking back, I vividly remember that collapse on the big GM forum.  It's happening now on what's left of that broken Volt blog.  Change could only be delayed for so long.  Some will face denial.  Some will be clueless.  Some will just accept it.  We'll find out soon enough.

4-08-2017 Final Attacks.  There is a handful of Volt enthusiasts who have chosen to attack Prius Prime, rather than deal with the "too little, too slowly" issue.  It has been a legitimate concern for  years.  It wasn't taken seriously though.  It was an endless stream "vastly superior" nonsense posts to deal with.  That has transformed to an effort to mislead.  The greenwashing of Prime is well underway.  That was expected.  Too bad it couldn't be avoided.  Unfortunately, it was inevitable.  Those who point it out get attacked too: "An inability to let something go can be a sign of serious psychological malady, and you should really see a therapist."  That was how a post attempting to distort timelines ended.  I was amused.  Personal responses are a dead giveaway the person has become desperate to change the topic.  I simply bounced this back:

Staying true to goals.  Keeping focus on audience.  Ignoring all the rhetoric.  That's bad?

Reality is, Volt promises were renewed for gen-2 and the results aren't looking good halfway through the second year.  But rather than actually address that, the choice is to continue to look at the situation through rose-colored glasses.  Pretending all is well, that all that's needed is to patiently wait some more, is nuts.

That tradeoff of affordability, for the sake of being able to drive faster & further, has not proven a successful means of achieving market growth.  The slow rate at which sales are increasing for gen-2 clearly confirm that.  Yet, enthusiasts of Volt refuse to let it go.  Claiming I have a problem for pointing that out is crazy.

Dealers won't be interested in selling a vehicle, already a challenge to sell, when the $7,500 tax-credit is no longer available.  Meanwhile, we see other automakers striving to reach mainstream consumers with new plug-in choices.  Saying it's best to just let it go and do nothing is idiotic.


Along The River.  As we were approaching a little town on our road trip, we noticed a park with a road leading down to the river.  That would allow me to park close to the water and take some unusual photos.  The large trees filled with bare branches up against a gloomy gray sky would really make the color of the Prime pop out.  I was really excited to find such a unique location.  The location looked very old, something established ages ago, a nice oasis for travelers to just take a break at.  Getting close, we could see where boats were launched and were a lot of fish remains had been dumped.  With all the bald eagles in that area, I bet a number of people stopped just for the sake of watching them fish rather than going out to fish themselves.  That area known for extremely high concentration of bald eagles during migration.  So, keeping it in mind for a future visit would be a good idea.  We hadn't originally planned to drive how on that side of the river.  That made this an especially rewarding find.  Anywho, this is what we saw...  photo album 206


Who?  Gotta like this: "Thanks for helping us fall more in love with our Volts with every post."  Again, oh well:  You are an enthusiast, not a mainstream consumer.  That's been the problem from day one.  Put on your "could I get mom to buy a plug-in" glasses.  You're in for a surprise.  Reality is, most ordinary consumers couldn't care less.  So whether it goes faster or farther doesn't mean anything to them.  They simply aren't interested in paying such a high premium.  Another reality is that Prime has a base price $6,000 less than Volt's base and it's better loaded.


Trophy.  This falls into the category of reading what was posted, but not actually comprehending its intent: "Nothing about trophies was mentioned in the article, or by anyone else except you."  Ugh.  After a decade of a tainted perspective, some people simply don't have the desire to figure out if they are viewing the situation from a bias.  It's shocking how each of us, including myself, will fall for that trap from time to time.  Only difference here is, they've been informed that it's happening.  You'd think after someone points it out, you'd check to see if that was actually the case.  Nope.  Still can't see it.  Sad.  Oh well.  It's not like I don't keep trying:  Repeatedly through the comments posted, acceleration speed and electric range were both touted as superior. That is an implicit trophy claim… which only enthusiasts care about and enjoy rubbing it in with inferior declarations. None of that helps sales. Ordinary consumers don't hold either as a priority. They are nice and often get praised, but there is clearly no ambition to spend the extra required to have that. In other words, you are a victim of the autoshow effect. It's a common loss of perspective. Enthusiasts attempt to normalize it too… but usually fail, as we’ve seen with the confirmation of painfully slow sales growth.


Unwilling.  This reply to the stubbornness I routinely encounter speaks for itself:  First mention of the "trophy mentality" problem was a decade ago, shortly after Volt was first revealed.  That became the "vastly superior" attitude which pushed Volt further into a niche... where it has remained ever since.  Appeal to the masses is vital; yet, that point still isn't taken seriously.  There continues to be a focus on going faster & further, rather than shifting attention to what mainstream buyers actually want.  Look at how many SUV purchases there are still.  Do you really think a large battery-pack will draw sales?  A configuration to be affordable is a better choice, something GM has been unwilling to try.  Ask yourself why.


Nope.  I've heard this over and over again: "I'm telling you, if you put a Toyota emblem on the Volt, John would be it's biggest supporter."  It's a great indicator that the person doesn't actually read what I post.  If they did, they'd avoid giving me yet another opportunity to repeat a certain goal.  The simplicity of understanding how GM missed the mark is remarkable; yet, enthusiasts believe a compelling argument will justify paying a huge premium.  That's why so many believe Volt's failure is primarily the result of GM not advertising it.  They truly believe faster & further will triumph over affordability.  I responded to that rhetoric with:  Nope, and you know why… NICELY UNDER $30,000.  GM's goal was to deliver a plug-in hybrid with a MSRP price able to compete directly with their own traditional vehicles.  That meant a decent EV capacity combined with great HV efficiency.  GM still hasn't.  Toyota just did.  Attempt to distort history all you want; it won't change the goal… or the need.


Prime Sunset.  I went out for a ride with a friend.  We drove by a lake as the sun was setting, quite by accident.  The timing or location wasn't in any way planned.  It just happened to be the route to get from where we ate to back home.  I saw the colors and a parking area along the lake.  I also noticed a boat launch.  So, I took full advantage of the situation.  Interestingly, there were others doing the same.  I actually had to very quickly take my turn.  I parked strategically, then popped out of the Prime with my camera and snapped a few photos.  It sure is nice being able to do that handheld now.  The old days of setting up a tripod are gone.  Phew!  Good thing too.  Time was up.  Getting even more lucky was being able to sneak in with the Prime facing the other direction.  Since others weren't including their vehicle in their photos, that worked out well.  It was a beautiful day with a great sunset.  The reflection of colored light off the lake is what really made the scene.  What stands out though are the leaf-less trees.  Having open water and nothing but silhouetted trees with lots of branches isn't common.  There's only a short span of time in the year that happens.  The ice melted early this year though.  Check out what I was fortunate enough to capture...  photo album 205


March Sales.  This was very easy to predict: "I would bet dollars to doughnuts that the minute the credit gets cut in half, the price of most of the top 10 BEVs/EREVs will drop by a nearly identical amount. GM, Nissan and Ford are milking the system to get as much profit, as early as possible."  Of course, half doesn't account for everything.  Dropping $7,500 doesn't seem realistic in any respect.  How could those automakers be making so much from such a demanding design.  It doesn't make sense.  For that matter, just half of the tax-credit is more of a margin than people can reasonable account for.  And that's just to retain the status quo!  Growing the market requires an even greater drop.  I responded with:  That's when Prius Prime will really begin to shine.  With a starting MSRP of $27,100 that includes a nice collection of safety features, it stands a chance of holding its own.  The tax-credit dependency is much less.  For that matter, the tax-credit is only 60% compared to others anyway.  Current sales are still in the ramp-up stage, with multiple markets being supplied all at once.  For here in the United States, that means supply in the Midwest is basically nonexistent.  There are many still waiting to finally just see one in person.  I got mine on April 1st, after being willing to put a deposit down and waiting 6 months... long before anyone really knew how Prime truly worked.  Now that they are finding out the to-the-floor EV acceleration and 84 mph top-speed EV really does deliver, interest will grow.  The efficiency while in HV mode is remarkable too; seeing over 60 MPG is routine.  In short, there's quite a bit of potential the other automakers don't have.


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