Personal Log  #812

May 28, 2017  -  June 1, 2017

Last Updated: Sun. 6/11/2017

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Excuses.  Sales results for May brought out the spin, specifically GM defenders.  Bolt inventory far outweighing purchases isn't a good sign.  The supposed demand was expected to struggle with supply shortcomings.  Instead, the hotspots have many available for immediate ownership.  The lead ahead of Model 3 and the new Leaf isn't amounting to much.  Volt is in a worse position.  This is the second year for gen-2 and sales are flat.  We saw between 1,600 and 1,700 monthly for a large portion of gen-1 availability.  Seeing a balance of 1,800 is a clear sign of not having achieved growth.  We do expect a growth in the outlash against Prime though.  Enthusiasts won't be happy with the reality of Toyota having kept focus.  I took the offense and fired off this before anyone could get a chance to attempt that type of attention:  GM set a target of "nicely under $30,000" for good reason.  It's what the bulk of their car-buying customers would be willing to pay for a plug-in offering.  The MSRP for both is simply too high.  GM chose not to configure either vehicle for mainstream acceptance.  The size of the packs and power of the EV impresses enthusiasts, but that doesn't compel their own showroom shoppers to purchase... even with the generous $7,500 subsidy... which will be yet another barrier to deal with when phaseout begins mid-cycle.  Toyota didn't make that same mistake.  They kept focus of making what they offered something that could realistically result in high-volume profit sales, then rolled it out worldwide in the first year.  No excuses anymore.  It's not badging.  It's not advertising.  It's an unwillingness to accept their own pricing target by configuring a choice that's affordable for their own loyal customers... those who just choose to purchase a Cruze, Malibu, or Equinox instead.


Huh?  I wasn't the only one confused upon reading this: "However looking at the two vehicles, one screams appliance, the other statement."  I think it was intended to be an insult to Toyota.  But it was a commented emerging from a discussion of i3, which is definitely a unique looking vehicle.  It doesn't look like anything else on the road.  Prius is well known for being basic reliable transport from point A to B.  The radical styling gen-4 welcomed broke that stereotype and Prime refined it.  I was truly baffled what the poster actually meant.  Others sound off to that affect as well.  Confused and without a point made it too irresistible to pass up.  So, I jumped into the discussion:  BMW i3 compared to Prime.  Huh?  What statement?  I constantly get compliments about the surprisingly sporty front and curved back. The array of headlights and that wavy glass certainly don't resemble any appliance.  Prime... it's not your father's Prius.


Prime Purchase.  It was a memorable experience.  Neither of us had anticipated getting a second plug-in vehicle so soon.  Things just fell into place though.  There was that beautiful new Prime waiting for us to finish with the paperwork.  That's takes awhile.  There's some setup to complete in the meantime as well.  Timing looked perfect though.  Recharging of the battery would be done very close to when we'd be ready to drive home.  Sweet!  All went as hoped.  No surprises.  It was a beautiful evening too, quite a harsh contrast to the torrential downpour of rain when experienced when placing the order.  Arriving at home sure was surreal.  When the garage opened, there was my Prime.  The red & blue would soon be together... sharing a single 120-volt outlet.  What a rare experience.  Fortunately, it will only be another week or two before the new 240-volt lines are added.  Knowing we'll get $500 for each vehicle from our electricity-provider for doing that sure made the decision to upgrade easy.  We'll be set for many, many years to come.  My wife and I now have Advanced model Primes.  This sure is going to be interesting.


Delivery Confirmed.  The holiday weekend didn't include a shiny new Hypersonic Red Prime.  Oh well.  It's worth the wait... which didn't turn out to be that much longer.  My wife and I couldn't commute to work together today.  Her commitment this evening meant I was on my own.  So, I took a detour on the drive home and swung by the dealership.  Sure enough.  There in the back lot, delivery confirmed.  What great timing.  I was able to see it even before our salesperson.  Sweet!  That means tomorrow will be trading in the old car and driving home with another plug-in hybrid.  Hooray!  Of course, we only have one outlet to share in the garage.  Thankfully, that won't be for long.  And rather than just adding another 120-volt line, we'll be going all out with 240-volt for each.  Yeah!  What a rare opportunity.  It's a bit of a cheat too.  We just happened to be at exactly the right place at exactly the right time.  The order wasn't actually ours.  There was a customer who must have had financing or some other circumstance mess up plans for that purchase.  We pounced on the chance to snap it up.  So, rather than the usual painfully long wait other had to endure (which included me), my wife only had to wait a few weeks.  That's amazing luck.  We'll do our best to pay forward the blessing by helping out those seeking their own Prime purchase.  Much can be shared about the purchase & ownership experience... which starts tomorrow for my wife.  Yippee!


5,700 Available.  The anticipation for this month's sales results is becoming apparent.  Threads in forums are popping up ahead of time.  That's unusual, but May 2017 is expected to be rather significant.  Last month, Prius Prime beat Volt for the first time, despite Midwest rollout having barely begun by the end of April.  That heightened awareness of the struggle GM has had with sales growth... the very problem I emphasized as a major concern for gen-2.  The biggest issue though is Bolt.  GM chose the following states for inventory availability by May: CA, OR, MA, MD, VA, NY, NJ, WA, CT, ME, RI, VT, NH, CO.  Ordering began for the last 6 in March.  The others were stagger earlier, with the first 2 starting in October last year.  Needless to say, if there was a waiting list, those would have been fulfilled by now.  Having 5,700 listed as available is a lot.  Dealers don't want the upcoming clearance markdowns (they usually start shortly after the 4th of July) to include first-year offerings.  The next 2 states are FL and IL.  Both have very small counts already.  Is that the result of dealer orders or GM assignments?  Needless to say, there's quite a bit of uncertainty... hence the lively discussions.  My perspective is Bolt's resemblance to Fit & Versa and unfamiliar body type to GM customers spelled doom from the start... a pattern we recognize as a problem for Volt.  With Tesla & Leaf arriving in the next few months, things aren't looking good.  Remember, the phaseout of tax-credits will be yet another issue to deal with in the next year.  Sales will become even more difficult then, especially with Hyundai entering the mainstream plug-in market.

5-28-2017 EVSE Purchase & Installation in 2017.  I started a new thread on the big Prius forum:

Doing a search, you'll find a lot of outdated information.  Too much has changed since plug-in rollouts began.  So... let's start a new thread with facts relevant to 2017.

Since back in 2012, I have been recharging my Prius (originally a PHV, now a Prime) at home by plugging into a standard 120-volt outlet.  In a few days, we will have 2 Primes in the household.  That means capacity must be added to the garage so my wife and I can both recharge at the same time.

Taking advantage of faster recharging from 240-volt service and discounts from Time-Of-Use meters requires purchasing EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment) chargers and running new power lines.  The following documents what I have done so far...

We decided to get hardware as forward-compatible as possible.  If we ever upgrade a vehicle in the future or a friend with an EV visit, we'll have a nice plug already available.  We also get $500 per vehicle setup from our local electricity provider.  So, why not?

Prime has a maximum draw of 3.8 kW (as observed when plugging into a public station).  The charger we found with a Wi-Fi interface is capable of delivering 10 kW.  That's plenty good.  With a 200-amp service-panel in the garage, feeding each 40-amp charger with the needed 125% capacity requirement wouldn't be too much of an effort for an electrician.  #8 gauge wire and 3/4 inch conduit is more expensive though.  Smaller chargers wouldn't need sizes that heavy or large.

The cord for the outlet plug is only 12 inches.  But having a line put in specifically for the charger shouldn't make that an issue.  It won't be hardwired either.  So if removable is ever needed, no big deal.  The cord for the car plug is 24 feet, so that will reach anywhere in the garage and parked outside in the driveway.

JuiceBox Pro 40 is the EVSE we purchased.  $599 each.  I now have them mounted on the wall to confirm cord placement and internet connection are well suited for both of us prior to getting an estimate from the electrician.  I also got meter boxes for each of the lines.

Progress updates & photos to follow.

Anyone else have a recent purchase & installation experience to share?


Signature Change.  How to display my real-world data at the conclusion of each post, in an automatic signature, was a problem with the switch from PHV to Prime.  This is what my final entry was before the upgrade: "91,355 miles  1,286 gallons  7,544 kWh  71.0 MPG"  With the precedent having been set about not reporting either gallons or kWh, I had to seriously consider the value of reporting MPG.  Those terrible Volt enthusiasts who fought the effort to exclude gallons and kWh clearly didn't care about misleading.  Just MPG was their focus.  They'd tell you want it was and how many months between fill-ups.  Actually fuel consumption of either type wasn't included.  Heck, it was rare to even be told a distance.  So, after all those years of their instance to report that way, they have no choice but to deal with it is now coming from Prime owners too.  The antagonist posts, always claiming vastly superior stance from their MPG number, was incredibly disruption.  Irony can provide ammunition though.  I can fire back the very same thing now.  Treating Prius as player on the same team was never acceptable.  Too bad for them.  If their goal really truly is to replace traditional vehicles, they have no choice by to accept another vehicle actually achieving that.  So, to all who read my posts on the big Prius forum, they will now see real-world data in this format: "2,075 miles so far, overall average: 100.5 MPG"


Understanding EV.  Now that we have Prime, the first Prius with a plug available nationwide, hope has been that understanding EV would be less of an issue.  The larger pack offers more power, enhancing the design already part of the system.  True, it was an augmentation with PHV.  With the next-generation, that line is blurred, since the addition of a one-way clutch technically changes operation.  Nonetheless, the perceived behavior is no different.  It's just more power is delivered.  Reaching mainstream consumers means finding a way of conveying benefit in terms you don't need any type of background for.  It they can pick up on the basics quickly, the desire to find out more comes naturally.  That's why the test-drive has been such a powerful tool for stirring interest... which some certain enthusiasts still don't grasp the important of.  Oh well.  It's not like I've having been trying to convey that message.  In this case today, it was on the big Prius forum to an owner wanting more information.  I replied with:  Electric-Only operation is based on kW draw from the battery.  If demand is low, the top EV speed will be faster and automatically engaged.  This is known as "stealth" mode, since it is an inherent part of the hybrid system.  That EV button offers a mode you manually engage.  It draws more from the battery, giving you more power but at the tradeoff of a slower speed maximum.


No Charge-Mode.  It has been interesting to read about gen-2 Volt owners use of Hold-Mode, how they keep wishing there as a Charge-Mode available instead.  They'll use regen to push EV range beyond that of when they pushed their "Hold" button.  It's what Prius PHV owners called "stacking".  You could add to the EV capacity available, but only by reassigning electricity generated from braking.  You couldn't actually just run the engine to recharge the battery-pack, as the system in Prius Prime offers.  The reason GM avoided it was the MPG penalty is quite noticeable.  Their HV operation isn't anyway near as efficient as Toyota's design... and enthusiasts hate when I make any reference to that reality.  So, I tend to quietly just lurk when things like this are posted in those discussions: "The Prius, 135 miles, 55 mpg, 2.45 gals used @ $2.579/gal = $6.31. The Volt, full charge 16 KWH, $1.80 (all cost taxes, fees, delivery charge, everything) 65 miles on gas 1.24 gals @ 2.579 = $3.20 + $1.80 = $5.00, savings of $1.31 over the Prius."  That caught my attention.  The poster had avoided mention of Prime.  Such an obvious exclusion is clear evidence of not being constructive.  Looking closer at the data itself though concerned me.  Notice how he didn't actually state MPG for Volt?  Dividing that 65 by 1.24 gives you 52 MPG.  How is that at attempt to be honest?  The highway rating is 42 MPG.  Of course, the 55 for Prius wasn't right either.  I'm thinking his embellishment of one was used a justification for the other, even though their values weren't realistic.  What got me those was the 65 miles itself.  To travel a total of 135 miles for that comparison, the Volt would have had to deliver 70 miles of EV on the highway.  How is that even remotely correct?  Was his hope that no one would actually do the math to check the figures that were posted?  Grrr.  I'm so sick of greenwashing like this.  There's no excuse for such misleading efforts.  Makes you wonder what they'll do when it becomes common knowledge about Prius Prime offering a charge-mode.

5-28-2017 Mistakes.  There are a few who still don't understand: "And btw, GM's original research centered on 40 miles, not 25."  That entitled me to return a BTW of my own, which I didn't hesitate to do:

That was what had been heavily promoted.  It wasn't the actual focus of development though.  Big difference.  Think about how early that "nicely under $30,000" target had been set and the hope for "50 MPG" following depletion.

Whenever I brought up how unrealistic that was for the 2010 rollout, it was enthusiasts who brought up the "40 mile" expectation.  That wasn't GM.  In fact, what we got from GM quickly became a disaster.  Remember that terrible "230 MPG" campaign?  That didn't bring up mention of EV range.

So, I continuously brought up the topic of heater use, pointing out how much of an impact that would have on Winter driving.  That was always met with denial & dismissal, even after rollout when confirmed correct.

That's how the 25 came about. It was an effort to look beyond the gen-1 shortcomings, shifting focus to what would actually help sell Volt profitably at high-volume levels.  Toyota took all that online banter seriously, adding it into the consideration factors for their gen-2 design.  Combined with the wealth of real-world data they had collected from their own gen-1 experiences, there was a great deal of potential to tap into.

Prius Prime was the result. It delivers a "25 mile" rating, even with heater usage factored in.  It also delivers upon the "nicely under $30,000" target.  And for the "50 MPG", that hope has been greatly exceeded.  Owners routinely see much higher following depletion.  In other words, it is the version of Volt enthusiasts had always hope for.

Too bad if that's not what you want to read about. It's not like GM doesn't have the ability to deliver something similar.  They just don't want to.  Like enthusiasts, they feel the word "compromise" has a stigma, rather than being an effort to deliver balance as it is actually defined.  Having increased EV range to 53, rather than just leaving it at 38 was a mistake.


G-7 Summit.  The start of an article highlighting outcome stated it as: "The other six members reaffirmed their commitment to swiftly implement the 2015 accord to limit greenhouse gas emissions."  That situation was doomed anyway.  We knew the other 194 nations participating wouldn't matter, since our new leader doesn't believe in cooperative efforts.  Having to also listen to a close relative complain about the previous administration and claim that nothing good came out of Tesla was a harsh reminder of how poorly informed many people are.  He also believed our new president's claim that efforts like this are job killers.  That's more of that scare tactics we've seen countless times in the past.  Ironically, it a twisted way, it's actually true.  If we don't invest in the new technology, we'll miss out on great economic opportunity.  He believes the opposite, if we move away from the tried & true, we'll end up losing what we've worked so hard to establish.  Sadly, that backward mindset is quite common.  We've become complacent... so much so, we now praise ourselves for accomplishments that don't actually achieve goals... hence why I've been so hard on Volt enthusiasts.  Poor implementation of great potential is such a profound loss, which some still don't see.  They make excuses & dismiss, just like this president is doing now.  Rather than strive for a better future, it's a desperate effort to hold on to what we currently have.  That's really going to cost us.  It won't take long to come to the realization of having made such a huge mistake either.


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