Personal Log  #822

July 17, 2017  -  July 21, 2017

Last Updated: Sat. 10/21/2017

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Holy Crap!  Online reaction to the news was amazing.  Pressure had obviously been building.  Despite Prime's limited availability, it has already become a major irritant for Volt enthusiasts.  GM's shift of emphasis away from Volt (to the point of almost abandoning it entirely) for the sake of building up Bolt as a true competitor with Model 3 and the next-gen Leaf made that situation even worse.  A rumor emerged yesterday that BMW will be pushing i3 even harder soon, with a big upgrade in the works too.  Then there's the reality of Hyundai attempting to undercut everyone with a very affordable plug-in hybrid offering.  VW is, of course, taking electrification serious as well.  Needless to say, it was no surprise that today's revelation came when it did.  I certainly saw it coming.  The reaction to my posts from enthusiasts confirmed they felt change coming too.  The status quo had been crumbling.  Everything they could do to avoid acknowledgement of that fact didn't work.  News finally penetrated their stubborn domain.  The supposed "troll" had been vindicated and they were exposed as "fanboi" posters in a state of desperation.  Who knew the denial would result in such a build up, then dramatic response.  Whoa!


Surprise?  This was the result of a very significant news break today: "I cannot decide if this is good or bad."  It was the reveal that GM is struggling much more seriously than realized.  Union issues are arising due to production halts.  Inventory problems can no longer be denied.  Some plants have inventory piling up and others cannot build fast enough.  That's a very big deal.  Jobs are at stake.  Lots of money will be lost.  It's a big mess.  Plans for vehicle production are now getting lots of attention.  That exposes Volt as a serious problem.  Sales did not grow, despite gen-2 upgrades.  Significant growth was required to overcome the loss of tax-credit help.  No subsidy available is big trouble.  Needless to say, ending production of Volt is being considered.  That has set off explosive reaction online.  The variety of emotion is stunning too.  I jumped in immediately, using that comment as my launch point:  It's good.  The expectation for years has been that GM will move on from Volt… hence the answer to that much asked "Who?" question about market.  The interior layout of gen-2 all but confirmed that when they didn't address complaints about back headroom and created a legless middle seat.  The catch is we had hoped this move would be sooner, especially knowing the European demand for Outlander plug-in and the potential for Pacifica plug-in.  Now with Kia about to rollout a plug-in SUV, it totally makes sense that GM is finally looking ahead too.  And of course, Toyota is preparing for the opportunity to offer Camry, RAV4, and C-HR hybrids with a plug.  Don't court out Ford either.  The new expectation from GM would be for Trax to become the first Voltec offering in a package that appeals to GM's primary audience.  Volt proved the technology.  Trax could be the first for a larger group of customers, something dealers will embrace & promote.


Using Charge-Mode.  I like responding to questions like this: "And then the question is whether there's really much value in driving that part in EV mode?"  The fact that Toyota offered a charge-mode is making people think.  Rather than it being academic, there is a real application of what had only until recently been hypothesized.  What if you could recharge the battery-pack with the gas-engine at times?  When would it make sense?  How much is too much?  Would the penalty be significant?  Could there be a net gain?  In what manner would we convey the potential advantage?  Is there potential for misuse?  Could the ability be misrepresented in some greenwash effort?  There are lots of questions with few answers, so far.  Fortunately, I already have a little bit of some real-world experience with on-the-fly charging to share:  For us on vacation, there was a very obvious payoff.  Running out for something, once settled at your destination, EV provides the opportunity to avoid the warm-up penalty entirely... especially if you need heat or cold.  Charging while cruising on the highway has been a very efficient, while that extra power needed has minimal impact.


Closure.  With tax-credits about to run out and no clear message still about what GM intent is, there's reason for concern... especially since all the hype has had such an undermining effect on the market.  The very thing well-informed green supporters worried about a decade ago has been playing out.  Just like with diesel, they offered something that wasn't actually competitive.  Promises were made that were not fulfilled.  Worry is that GM will claim there was no interest and will abandon the idea of plugging in all together.  Making "green" transform to "ordinary" is no where near as easy as enthusiasts understood and their role as enablers is proving quite costly.  So much time wasted.  So much opportunity missed.  All we can do at this point is to attempt to get some focus on the self-inflicted disaster, to make those who contributed understand the resulting damage and find a way to overcome it.  My attempts at closure today included:  Notice the timing?  Countless posts here shifted focus from Volt to Bolt... with little clarity.  It didn't matter much when it was just rhetoric.  But soon, we'll see offerings from Tesla and Nissan stirring mainstream interest.  Rubber hits the road.  That closes the chapter on the 3 prior stages from GM leading up to this.  It also brings about the very topic I have been pushing: GOALS

7-20-2017 What A Waste.  I asked the goals question, again.  This was the response: "We refuse to answer this question when *you* ask it..."  The self-deprecating nature of their problem makes it impossible to ever get a straight answer.  Of course, that isn't what I was actually going after from the enthusiasts anyway.  My purpose was to finally get acknowledgement of need.  To do that, it required elimination of want in every regard... revealing what remained in the end as necessity.  That sure was a challenge to get though.  But today, if finally happened.  Phew!  This is how I replied to having to deal with such counter-productive behavior:

We know why.  It is a simple matter of want verses need.

The problem first emerged when Two-Mode was being developed.  Goals were set to surpass requirements without regard to cost.  Desire for more than what was necessary clouded judgment, leading to a fundamental misunderstanding of the market.  The result was a system too expensive to be competitive.

Later, when gen-1 Volt was being developed, echoes of that past were dismissed and warnings were not heeded.  There was a blinding obsession to deliver more than was necessary.  The original intended audience was forgotten.  Same outcome resulted.  The system was too expensive to be competitive.

When gen-2 Volt was being developed, enthusiasts lashed at those pointing out the obviously recognizable pattern.  Those same mistakes were being repeated, yet again.  The desire for faster & further had become such a preoccupation, nothing else mattered.  Goals of the past were entirely abandoned.  The result is now becoming all too apparent.

Stating a goal requires recognition of need and how the gamble on want failed... which would validate what I have been saying all along.  So, I totally understand the reason for refusal.


Perspective.  Saying the reaction was explosive would be underselling it.  Witnessing the extremes a few will take to avoid & dismiss Prime has provided a very clear picture of how Toyota has adapted to the changing market… and how they have taken notice.  We only need to wait for inventory to finally settle.  There is still a lack of availability in the Midwest.  In fact, some areas have long waiting lists still.  The switchover to 2018 models and the very high demand in the domestic market (sales in Japan) give good reason for expectation of strong sales.  As with all things Prius related, patience is required.  Time will resolve issues of perspective.  What's perceived as a problem may not be in the long-run.  Basing hope on what we've seen recently is an encouraging sign.  The naysayers see it and have reacted accordingly.  Whoa!  Makes you wonder what they'll do next, eh?


Real-World Data.  It goes a long way toward squashing misconceptions.  It can also help snuff out intentional misleading.  The catch is figuring out what data to actually convey.  True, all real-world observations can be informative.  But knowing what won't be subject to cherry-picking or bias dismissal takes some careful observation.  Much like the data itself, you have to look for patterns.  The more common you see it, the more likely it is to stand the test of time.  You have to start somewhere.  Since the duration of ownership for me is brief still, there isn't much to work with yet.  So, all I can do for now is mention totals & highlights:  6,479 miles.  60% EV ratio.  99.9 MPG.  That includes a 1,700-mile trip from MN to WY and back, driving at 80 mph the entire way through SD and in WY with no opportunity to plug in.  $27,100 base MSRP (not including tax-credit) is very good reason for interest shifting over to the plug-in hybrid model.


New Voices.  I don't have to listen to the rhetoric anymore.  The antagonist posts are getting overwhelmed by new content coming from new sources.  That equates to a quieting of voices that had once been so loud, nothing else could be heard.  They were not the voice of reason either.  They were just the most prominent... who hated my never ending chatter.  It was a steady stream of logic that the new voices are now echoing.  I'll never know if they picked up on what I had posted or were simply in agreement based upon their own study.  Whatever the case, those members are the change taking place.  Yeah!  To that, I posted:  When there are no excuses left, when all you can do as pretend everything's okay by evading facts, it's over.  The faster & further approach clearly didn't work.  It was too little, too slowly.  Watch how the market responds to newcomers, those who didn't follow the same path.


Reversal, mandates.  Bolt production has come to a halt.  Inventory is piling up.  There are only 6,000 unsold now.  That's a very real problem.  Some of it comes from only the CARB states issuing Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) credits being the only place a Bolt could initially be purchased.  That's California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont.  Why rollout to the rest of the United States didn't happen sooner remains a mystery.  Aren't mainstream sales the goal?  By the end of next month, that should happen... finally.  In the meantime, the situation looks grim.  Tesla's new Model 3 and the upcoming next-generation Leaf from Nissan are taking away attention from Bolt.  That is what is making the situation with Volt so much more of a problem.  With market change comes winners & losers.  GM's failure to branch out with Voltec, offering it on another vehicle is long overdue.  Enthusiasts had expected it years ago and boasted about that would be so much faster than Toyota's expansion of HSD.  Now that the time has pasted and it didn't happened, the reality of having fallen behind is crushing.  This new anti-EV campaign makes it even worse.


Reversal, panic.  Wow!  I had a feeling this particular subject matter would bring out the worst.  The daily blog today was about a new anti-EV campaign from oil lobbyists.  It's quite nasty to see such publicity against plugging in.  But with an industry dependent upon consumption of non-renewable energy that's dirty, the reaction was expected.  The information conveyed is not only very misleading, some of it is just plain not true.  What's most interesting though is how the Volt enthusiasts are taking the news.  Anything that shakes the status quo causes panic... and this certainly did that.  Within minutes of my posts, there was a lashing out at me, the messenger.  Typical.  Always look for someone to blame for your own self-inflicted problems.  Ugh.  I posted this upon observation of their behavior:  I see a frantic effort to hide what I posted.  Getting caught with a hypocritical post will stir such an extreme.  On this particular topic, it's ironic too.  Continuing to vote down the message to make it not visible by default won't make the problem itself go away.  What should GM's goal be?


Reversal, hypocrite.  There's no excuse; yet, the hypocritical posting continues.  This time, I was stunned by the irony: "It's a sad world we live in, where tin-foil hat wearing, **** wannabes, consistently type into Google searches the results they want to see, and as soon as it pops up they say "I knew it!".  Rational thought, on any topic, is becoming extinct."  That is precisely what the Volt enthusiasts have been doing a lot of lately.  Being able to call out the biggest of the antagonists with his own words of being guilty of exactly that is an odd situation.  It wasn't unexpected though.  Surprise would have been if it didn't happen.  The build up to a major lashing out that exposes what's been happening was inevitable.  That's what we've seen every time fallout approaches.  This is the turning-point they could see coming.  It's regret that will really sting.  That's how next steps are taken though.  Revised goals will emerge from the fallout.  Learning from mistakes is part of the process.  Volt was a mistake.  Too much emphasis was placed on faster & further.  I pointed out what had just occurred:  Like hiding posts you don't want to see by negative voting them.  That's exactly what this group here has been doing on a very regular basis.  Makes you rethink the situation now, eh?  This type of behavior is why I have been repeatedly asking for GOALS from participants.  That's how you overcome the rhetoric.


Reversal, diesel.  Today's daily blog topic is about holding onto the past as long as possible.  We're seeing very large efforts to retain the status quo emerge.  In an interesting twist, the issue often sighted as a major problem with Toyota is now haunting GM.  Enthusiasts don't support diversity.  To them, it's plug only, period.  No support for anything else is given.  So naturally, there's rhetoric about fuel-cell advancement.  The fact that those vehicles are fully electric is disregarded.  Improvements to motor efficiency, cooling efficiency, heating efficiency, and cost reduction of related components like the inverter are completely ignored.  The idea of mutual benefit is dismissed.  That's really sad... but true.  So when I point out GM's new investment in diesel, you can imagine the hysterical responses.  Saying they panic is putting it mildly.  Whoa!  This opportunity to poke came from: "Just breathe in those wonderful Koch Brothers’ diesel micro particulates!"  That sarcastic remark was the perfect opportunity to reply with:  2018 Chevy Equinox Diesel is what GM will deliver instead of one with Voltec.  Why?


Dealer Sighting.  What are the odds of encountering another Prime coming in for routine service at the dealer the exact moment when you arrive?  For the only other vehicle there in the entry area at the very same time to also be one was virtually impossible.  Yet, it happened.  There are so few still in the Midwest, I was blown away.  Then another drove by.  Whoa!  Being at the right place at the right time is remarkable.  What a sweet treat!  I couldn't have planned that any better.  To think that someday the sightings will become routine.  There are not a ton of gen-4 Prius yet, but I do see them pretty much every time I drive now.  That give a general idea when Prime will become common enough for the same.  In other words, the expectation is 2 years from now.  Cool.  In the meantime, there apparently is a high concentration of them near my local Toyota dealer.


93°F Commute.  The first truly hot drive home from work with the Prime was today.  A/C blowing generously was all it took to satisfy curiosity of potential.  We were comfortable.  There was clearly no impact to EV power.  It simply worked.  The fan running to cool the battery-pack was pleasant too.  It was more of a surprise to hear it with the PHV.  With this, the sound was just a subtle noise in the background.  I suspect that had to do with the larger vents and new placement of them.  I bet the fans are larger too.  Thankfully, we don't have heat that intense too often, here in Minnesota.  The radiant feel coming from the cooking concrete surface of the parking ramp informed us how much hotter it seemed.  The thermometer in the car confirmed it.  Having cool air blowing so quickly, from the electric A/C, sure is nice.  Of course, what would be even nicer is if I would have brought my Prime into the dealer sooner.  When I go there tomorrow, I'll be having them program my FOB to provide the all-windows-down feature.  You just press the "unlock" button and hold it until there's a second beep, then all the windows open.  That's a great way to always cool the interior of the Prime quickly.


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