Personal Log  #813

June 1, 2017  -  June 4, 2017

Last Updated: Sun. 6/11/2017

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Misplaced Anger.  Blaming the scapegoat is their plan, but what happens when that planned effort gets exposed?  "We have a group who wants to learn about and discuss the Volt and Bolt.  The idea of continually bringing up the Peeus (for years and years now) just boggles the mind."  That was a post to me, implying I was the source of the problem.  Whether he was confused about who was actually starting the problem each time or was intentionally trying to make me a scapegoat didn't matter.  It was clear I couldn't be labeled as a troll, since posts were very clearly about the thread's topic.  Sticking to that prevents antagonists from turning the table on you.  It also always me to state my case on them:  They have indeed been bringing up Prius for years.  The reason why is simple.  It's to get focus off of GM.  Haven't you noticed the stir caused with each month's end report? I'd bring up the concern of too little, too slowly.  Sales results overwhelmingly confirm there is indeed reason for concern.  The needed growth simply isn't happening.  Between discounts & upgrades, all we have seen is the average climb from 1,600/1,700 sales per month to 1,800/1,900.  That is so far below the required 5,000 monthly level required for profitable sustainability, it's a very real problem.  And once the tax-credit phaseout begins, it will become even more difficult to achieve that growth.  To complicate matters, the very premise of Volt has been cancelled out by Bolt.  How come I'm the only one who seems to see the hypocrisy an anti-EV automaker, who heavily pushed the "range anxiety" fear to promote Volt, is now selling an electric-only solution called Bolt?  Everyone avoids the topic whenever it is brought up.  Ironically, the distraction brought up for years by others has become the protagonist in the quest to deliver a plug-in hybrid for the masses.  Ask them why the suggestion of a "lite" model of Volt keeps getting dismissed.  They'll do everything they can to deny saying that proposed configuration is what will attract ordinary GM showroom shoppers... because it now resembles what Toyota delivered... which has been selling very well.


No Replacement.  The denial and damage-control has become so bad, having to respond to claims like this make you wonder: "More Volts are sold per month in the US than half of all other car models.  We say that IS mainstream."  Do they really have a clue just how desperate that sounds?  It should be obvious.  The numbers certainly make it easy to understand.  The situation is bad, really bad.  Oh well.  All I can do is point what has happened:  The purpose of Volt was to lead the replacement of traditional vehicles, not to be trivia statistic.  The counts for May reveal the obvious sales growth problem: 20,908=Equinox; 20,718=Malibu; 17,120=Cruze; 7,841=Camaro; 3,269=Impala; 2,535=Corvette; 2,143=Sonic; 1,817=Volt.  The cold hard reality of the situation is that even with a $7,500 subsidy and a generational upgrade, attracting buyers is still a major struggle.  Sales are falling well short of replacing GM's own traditional offerings.  No vastly superior.  No leap frog.  No replacement.


Online Battles.  Purpose of engaging in them often gets questioned.  Revelations like this speak for themselves, the antagonists unwillingly provide debate material and practice to go along with it... which prepares us well for dealing with their rhetoric:  Looking closer at the EPA sticker information, there's an interesting observation to make.  That range stated for all-electric miles is a subtle indication of the system's efficiency design advantage.  Prime offers a higher rating for both EV and HV driving.  25 kWh/100mi for Prime is quite a bit more efficient than the 31 kWh/100mi for Volt.  In fact, that makes Volt appear to be an electricity guzzler in comparison.  As for gas consumption, there's no contest that Prime uses less.  1.9 gal/100mi is far more efficient than 2.4 gal/100mi.  Focus on labels of "AER" or "EV" only distract from what's actually important.  Those numbers tell the true story of efficiency, the very purpose of EPA rating values.


Return of Smug: Failure.  You wouldn't think that level of cockiness would still emerge, after so much attention to that attitude was given over the years.  Yet, there it is.  Some of it is surprisingly entertaining too.  The same old mindless roar & chest-beating does draw interesting reaction.  Ultimately though, it is an effort to counter progress.  They do all they can to undermine progress.  Claiming superiority is how you impede the advancement of a better solution.  That's why real-world data can have such a powerful effect, given the opportunity.  Nonetheless, I do expend a little effort to make sure lurkers understand the facts.  In today's example, it was an attempt to label Prius PHV rollout as a "failure".  That's easy to do, long after people are no longer of the goals it set out to achieve.  Antagonists simply state they were something different.  That's why I pushed so hard on the Volt enthusiasts to state goals... knowing the written record of what they claimed would come back to haunt them later.  That's why they continue to be vague and evade the questions whenever possible.   Anywho, this was my reply to the "failure" claim:  Toyota delivered a plug-in hybrid, by far the most efficient blended offering of that time.  The fact that their design & approach was flexible, allowing them to adjust to the changing market, has clearly paid off too.  We see that success in the sales now.  Consider how "failure" is defined.  It made no sense whatsoever to squander tax-credit opportunity by rushing to market like GM did with Volt.  Yet, somehow that is still regarded at the better strategy.  Ugh.


Arguing Semantics.  That's how you know the antagonist has become desperate.  It's their last resort.  They have nothing left to argue.  This morning, I woke up to: "Since it has no AER... it is a hybrid at best, and should not be considered a true "EV". "  Seeing that same old rhetoric return brought mixed feelings.  True, was confirmation that they have nothing of any substance to fight with.  However, they keep fighting anyway.  I responded with:  That's called an "oops".  They made a mistake in the review, not realizing there was a difference between EV and EV-Auto mode.  Putting the vehicle in the wrong one results in an incorrect conclusion.  As for exploiting a classification label to mislead about how a system actually operates, that's called "greenwash".  After having been informed of the situation, here's what actually happens from the words of an owner:  PRIME FUNCTIONS AS AN EV FOR THE FIRST 25 MILES.  The propulsion system provides pedal-to-the-floor acceleration with just electricity, allowing speed to be maintain up to 84 mph.  Both the Heater & A/C are electric too.  Use of the gas engine is for when you deplete the plug-supplied electricity, want to save that plug-supplied electricity later, or want to force-charge the battery while driving.  The point is, the system delivers an EV driving experience.  For me on my 19-mile commute.  That is achieved entirely without using any gas.  Though the absolute isn't necessary, it does prove driving in that variety of traffic (suburb & 70 mph highway) is totally realistic with only electricity.


Discounts Already?  I really liked reading this: "Several reports suggest the prime has very low inventory. So it's strange they would offer a discount."  That's a good sign.  Rather than having to deal with rhetoric, there's some constructive discussion emerging.  People are thinking through the factors influencing sales.  Yeah!  I jumped into that with:  The multi-market rollout can contribute to confusion of overall intent.  It turns out to be an effective means of measuring consumer response though.  Why not test out promotional offers in isolated areas initially, prior to going nationwide all at once?  It is unfortunate for those of us in the Midwest still waiting for delivery of orders, but it does set the stage for high-volume sales sooner.  After all, the goal is to have inventory on the lots ready for purchase at appealing prices prior to the tax-credit expiration.  Experimenting with potential long before that is a sensible move.  Learning what is most effective early is a big benefit in an emerging market with lots of uncertainty.


Sales Fallout.  As anticipated, it has been quite intense.  The rapid rise of Prime, despite limited availability, is emphasizing just how big of a problem GM has.  The well-informed always had a fear GM would repeat mistakes of the past, causing the same fallout.  Quite specifically, it was concern about how they soured the diesel market back in the 70's.  What they delivered was so bad, it made all diesel offerings unappealing across the entire automotive market.  That's why the push to make sure Prius was recognized as different has been so vital.  Knowing the configuration of Volt was for conquest sales from enthusiasts, rather than something to draw ordinary middle-market consumer interest, was sign of trouble from the very start.  It was obvious to those recognizing need.  Those obsessed with want couldn't see it though.  A reminder of that is quite clear to all... now that sales are reflecting the anticipated fallout:  Prime is the result of Toyota carefully studying what their customers will actually purchase.  That's what the limitation of the mid-cycle Prius PHV rollout was all about.  They collected a massive amount of real-world data.  Adhering to an affordable target was absolutely vital.  They clearly delivered, making sure power & range did not exceed need, so profitable high-volume sales would be realistic without tax-credit dependency.  GM messed up with both Volt & Bolt by giving in to the faster & further temptation.  That delivered a very pleasing design for enthusiasts, but left their own showroom shoppers without a realistic choice.

6-03-2017 The Pebble.  Playing offense again is necessary.  I went all out this morning to convey the message some continue to refuse to accept:

Prius has always been the protagonist in the story of plug-in hybrids.

Way back in 2003, we knew of the 100 km/h (62.1 mph) electric-only aspect of its design.  Batteries simply weren't able to deliver that in either an affordable or a practical manner though.  So, a prototype exploiting the inherent part of that design wasn't even revealed until 2009, which served as a demonstration of what could later be delivered.

The next generation Prius saw battery energy cost & density reach a tipping point, where small-market rollout became realistic.  In 2012, we saw a mid-cycle offering to select locations to collection real-world data from ordinary consumers willing to purchase the predecessor to a future all-market design.

That generational upgrade to follow was indeed that design.  It confirmed the original milestones GM had targeted for their gen-1 offering were reasonable for high-volume profitable sales.  Ironically, those very milestones had become goals abandoned by GM for their gen-2 offering.  The enthusiasts who set high hopes for those original targets ended up becoming antagonists, upset that Toyota had actually delivered.

Too bad if you find the messenger of that story a pebble in your shoe.  Ignoring the message by hiding it doesn't make it go away.  You know all too well what needs to be done.  The enthusiasts hear once cheered for a "lite" version of Volt.  So what if Toyota beat GM at its own game.  Swallow your pride and finally get on board.  Acknowledge the problem.  Take your damn shoe off already.  Geez!

The concern of "too little, too slowly" has overwhelmingly been confirmed.  GM screwed up by not adhering to their original plan, so much opportunity wasted.  Delivering a vehicle with a MSRP price "nicely under $30,000" is even more important now than it was way back in 2007 when that target was first set.  The upgrade of range & power for gen-2 has not proven an effective means of growing sales either; rollback to what gen-1 offered would help achieve that required cost reduction.  It would also help improve depleted efficiency, to finally reach that original target of 50 MPG.

That pebble isn't going away.  Change is necessary.  It's time to accept what needs to be done.


Spreading Electrification, draw.  Remember one of your first lessons taught in kindergarten?  It was to not judge a book by its cover.  That meant looking for substance within, rather than deciding worth upon visual appeal.  It's important advice.  Yet, that lack of substance is what enthusiasts continue to push.  For example: "After taking a look, I try to look away..."  That's becoming the universal response to anything related to how the system actually operates.  So, it is somewhat of a futile endeavor to argue those points.  Focus on other aspects of interest seem to really be gaining traction.  That's how overcoming the obsession with faster & further will ultimately be won; otherwise, antagonists will just keep pushing the brainless acceleration & range arguments.  I summed up the situation with this today:  Customers want more than just a plug and the needed sales growth won't come from just EV driving.  Toyota made an effort to think outside the box, offering some other features to draw interest.  What did GM do to provide appeal from an aspect that has nothing to do with the propulsion system?


Spreading Electrification, push.  There will be some winners and some losers.  The point is to continue pushing forward, not to celebrate flat sales.  Yet, that denial of the true situation persists.  Ugh.  This was my push that started out the day on a thread highlighting May results:  What compels a GM salesperson to convince a GM customer to choose Volt rather than Cruze with a much lower price?  Take a look at Prime.  The array of headlights in front, the dual-wave glass in back, and the distinct LED flare of the brakes, all make it difficult to label as an regular Toyota offering.  Upon closer inspection, you'll notice the carbon-fiber hatch and the translucent grille.  You wouldn't expect those as a mainstream choice either, especially with a MSRP of just $27,100.  That positions Prime well for standing a chance at attracting someone who would otherwise choose a Corolla.  GM hasn't delivered anything like that. Volt as has suffered as a result.  Bolt is in an even more difficult situation, with its higher price and the mindset challenge associated with not having an engine anymore.  Rapid sales growth is required to overcome the approaching tax-credit expiration.  GM is racing toward a cliff and there's celebrating that sales have or haven't fallen.  That kind of denial is so harmful to the effort of spreading electrification.  Much more is needed right away!!!


Fallout Coming.  What a monumental day.  It was the first having 2 plug-in hybrids at home... and only 1 outlet to plug into.  Fortunately, we also had an electrician scheduled to estimate cost of running 240-volt lines for each Prime.  We're not skimping on specifications either.  Both will have excess capacity, so no need to upgrade years later.  Good thing too, since the need to promote starts with understanding what is to come... and today just happened to bring the biggest newest *ever* in the history of environmental efforts.  Hearing that the United States will not support measures to reduce carbon-emissions impacts every aspect of clean.  Putting America first means turning our backs on allies.  What a terrible thing to do.  Regardless of climate impact, these were partners.  You don't just walk away from people working with you like that.  No support from the government means a lot of grassroots sweat those here.  It will be up to us driving the affordable solutions to help influence change.  Being part of that is great, but the necessity is unfortunate.  Who knew our president would choose to do something so careless?  In the name of saving jobs, he said we would withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord.  That's so embarrassing.  Not investing in the future is what causes job loss.  We are literally abandoning opportunity.  Rather than choosing to be part of the new manufacturing endeavors, he is guiding us to a dead end.  Investing more in oil, natural gas, and coal is absolutely nuts.  All are dirty and non-renewable.  What an idiot.  I can't imagine what those who voted for him will think when they realize the damage they contributed too.  Of course, they may not ever find out.  Their children will though.  What a sad day in our history.


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