Personal Log #829
September 2, 2017 - September 4, 2017
Last Updated: Sat. 10/21/2017
page #828 page #830 BOOK INDEX
Vastly Superior. This level of smug is truly amazing: "HAAAAAAAAAA! You bitter and conceited complete fool!" That type of attitude cannot be dealt with. The person making such proclamations is so far gone, all you can do to address everyone reading it. Lurkers must find it quite enlightening to witness such an extreme. I was rather stunned by the arrogance... but not surprised. The feeling was to be expected. The visible out lash though, I wasn't certain. But with so much stacked against the old beliefs, something was about to peak. I let it go this way: With only 2 days left before another player in the plug-in market makes their big reveal (Nissan Leaf gen-2), the attitude of vastly superior to the very end was expected. That's the way paradigm-shifts play out. There's always someone who wants to go down fighting. When cornered like that, lashing out at a scapegoat somehow makes them feel better. It's sad that the sell for Volt is still so difficult. A simple message of purpose never came about from either GM or owners. Neither made an effort to explain what made the design compelling for a traditional vehicle shopper to consider. The solution ultimately delivered to prevent "range anxiety" concerns was Bolt, which left Volt in an position of uncertainty. Who was it for? With a price clearly higher than that expected from Nissan & Hyundai and significantly more than Toyota, the appeal is missing. Drawing GM showroom shoppers over to Volt simply won't happen with a sticker so much higher... and only now enthusiasts are coming to realize.
Charger Progress. There is a really nice park where we like to bring the kayaks. It is such an appealing destination because there had been an entrance-fee to pay years ago. That money was invested to build recreation paths, provide picnic tables, and for finishing & launch docks. Last year, they added charging-stations. Unfortunately, they were often unavailable due to traditional vehicles blocking the spots. That became a problem often complained about. Park officials finally did something about it... a solution so effective, we can spread this as a successful example others can implement. Sadly, we often see abandonment after the initial setup. Owners of the charging-stations are clueless about what to do when someone who shouldn't park there does. This is the first instance I know of where they actually tried something to improve. All they did was absorb the 2 adjacent parking spots, then paint the entire area green. That made purpose & violations quite apparent. There's no way to make a "mistake" parking in one of the charging spots anymore. It is very obvious what that location is for. Interestingly, that location was off to the side, not by anything. So, it was somewhat bizarre that people would park there. Why not by the facilities instead? Choosing far away, rather than close to your destination, should have made the choice to avoid the chargers an easy one. But for some reason, people without plug-in vehicles would park there anyway... until now. We're making progress. Yeah!
Finally. The end is drawing near. Having to put up with such desperation. None of the other plug-in vehicles were trouble. It was only Volt with its small group of enthusiasts working damage-control to save pride. They had a great vehicle serving their niche. Mainstream buyers just plain were not interested. Neither generation was able to draw interest. Sales remained flat. Growth never happened, despite all the supposed evidence they had saying otherwise. It was a colossal waste of time... is what I'd like to say. Unfortunately, it was actually a squandering of tax-credits. That money was lost opportunity. What's the good attracting those who move on as the vehicle ages? Most didn't stay loyal to GM when their leases expired. And now that enticing EV offerings are beginning to hit the market, they are abandoning the very concept of "range anxiety" solutions. Why be concerned when you can just have a larger battery-pack instead? It's quite hypocritical, especially for it to happen prior to the third year of gen-2. It's the very disaster I had warned about. Unfortunately, they did everything they could to suppress historical references pointing out the pattern repeating. It was amazing how much they fought to prevent discussion of Two-Mode. Oh well. Finally, it just about over now. Posting this will do: Ordinary consumers are the target, not enthusiasts. That's why the obsession by some here with faster & further makes no difference to them. That is also why MSRP is such a big deal. Toyota will use up their tax-credits much faster than GM, but won't get stuck afterward like GM.
Rhetoric. It never ends. What gets posted
"I was speaking last week in the parking lot with a guy that owns a
Prius. He asked me about my Volt in the winter, and I said it does great. He
said his Prius is horrible in the winter." That was the latest
undermining attempt. There's always a confusing & vague message.
I used my reply as an opportunity to convey some facts:
Why would anyone compare a regular hybrid to a plug-in hybrid that way? It makes no sense.
Comparing a used gen-1 Volt to a new Prime would be an entirely different matter. You can get a steal of a deal for Volt. Of course, the depreciation of any vehicle makes it a great consideration for purchase... especially when there's technology upgrades and tax-credits involved.
Comparing a Prime to a gen-2 Volt is what will have an impact though, since new purchases are what change the status quo. Prime is more efficient with both EV and HV driving. Prime uses a more efficient electric heater. Prime has a lower MSRP and post-subsidy price. Prime comes with some safety features standard that Volt does not.
I'm quite curious about real-world data that will emerge during Winter extremes. With Prime's battery-pack warmer and ability to pre-condition from the grid, it's going to be a lot tougher than enthusiasts think to position Volt as a better buy.
My commute is 18.6 miles. EV distance observed for Summer months has been low 30's. The Prime will be plugged in at both ends to a 240-volt charger. Errand running in the evening is usually within 3 miles from home. The grocery store, our most frequent stop, has several chargers. Nothing about that fits a "horrible" description. In fact, the word "competitive" will be quite realistic for Winter.
Few Days Remaining. What else can be said? Remember how Volt was supposed the ultimate solution to "range anxiety" concerns? It was to be so superior, the appeal of electric-only vehicles would simply fizzle. The very idea of an EV wouldn't make sense... according to the enthusiasts. They went on and on, relentlessly, during the development years that Nissan's Leaf wouldn't be able to sell. People would find it pointless with the fear of running out of battery power so high. It was an intensity they continued to spin, even after sales remained strong. Eventually, they finally gave up and started attacking Toyota's Prius instead. It required a disregard of purpose & goals. It became more a matter of pride. This is when the "faster & further" idea to got out of hand. Enthusiasts began to obsess with power & range of Volt, focusing entirely on that to make it appear superior... to Prius, since Leaf was selling quite well. It never worked. Interest in a plug-in Prius persisted. They got angry and hostile and resentful... The situation was really quite a profound moment in history... because even GM admitted failure. Even the second-generation upgrade did nothing to promote growth. That's how Bolt came about and has continued holding the spotlight ever since. It was to be the solution to range-anxiety instead. Now, we see Nissan about to reveal a Leaf upgrade so impressive, the expectation of significant sales growth is quite realistic. We have already seen the same potential building up for Toyota with Prime too. Only a few days remaining to remove whatever doubt may remain. Yeah!
Who is the market for Volt? I posted that question
over and over and over again. The purpose was simple. It was to
stress the importance of audience and to bring about acknowledgement that GM
did not target Volt at mainstream consumers as enthusiasts continually
claimed. It simply wasn't true and they were in deep denial about it.
Their resistance to accept that was building a barrier to progress as a
result. They were holding back the advancement of plug-in technology
by setting a percent of unrealistic expectations. I was determined to
overcome that, as well as point out why. When confronted with
something like this today, I really push back:
"So you say. Feel free to research and provide reference to the forum
supporting your position in the future." That was my opportunity,
which I took full advantage of:
According to Google, I have said that 303 times on this website alone. Who is the market for Volt? It was the question raised each time someone hear claimed Volt was a vehicle for the masses. I pushed to expose the reality that it was not over and over and over again.
Enablers here pushed the idea faster & further was actually the solution, countering GM's original goal of delivering a plug-in with a MSRP that was nicely under $30,000. When things went horribly wrong with gen-1 Volt sales, we were ensured gen-2 Volt would be different. It was to be targeted at mainstream consumers instead. Upgrades to the design were to make shortcomings just a memory for early adopters.
Who is the market for Volt? As sales of gen-2 struggled, that question continued to be asked. Growth wasn't happening. Sales were flat and attention was shifting away, to Bolt instead.
Volt continues to be portrayed as a competitor to Prime. Why? It makes no sense. Toyota clearly targeted Prime at the masses, their own showroom shoppers. In fact, the price is so affordable (very nicely under $30,000), that there have been countless claims that Prime is stealing away sales from Prius... which is indisputably for their ordinary customers.
GM doesn't offer anything for their ordinary customers, still, after all this time. Sales of Equinox, Malibu, and Cruze are brought up every month, as a reminder of the audience Volt was supposedly designed to appeal to. Who is the market for Volt?
My position now is the same as it was 10 years ago when the bold promises about Volt were first being made. GM showroom shoppers need something affordable to replace their traditional GM vehicles with.
Two-Mode was a disaster, with "too expensive" as its primary shortcoming. Both gen-1 and gen-2 Volt suffer from a repeat of the same design mistake. $33,220 for the LT (base) model Volt gen-2 is simply too expensive. $26,000 is the MSRP for the LT (base) model of Malibu and the Premier (fully loaded) model of Cruze is just $24,820. Shoppers just plain don't care about going faster & further when they can get such a better buy for their money from GM.
My position makes no difference when such an obvious problem persists. Loyal GM shoppers will see that for themselves.
Attacks. Will they ever end? Yes, in just a few days. It's quite clear that things are about to peak. That's very good. Pressure has been building for quite awhile. The timing was easy to predict due to the rollout of Model-3 and the new Leaf so close together. Remember how Bolt was expected to be a strong seller at this point, having demand so high that Volt would just naturally ride that wave of acceptance to victory? None of that happened. In fact, the slow & steady pace GM had set was followed rather closely. None of the hype materialized. Yet... we still have to deal with attacks. Ugh. For now, they are annoying. In about a week, I wonder how they'll be perceived. Hmm? Here's what I have to say about the build up: Year-3 of Gen-2 means looking at the big picture. Honda discontinued the first Insight much sooner, for the same problem Volt continues to struggle with… being too small and too expensive. Attempting to distract from GM's problem by diverting attention to Toyota won't change that. Volt has fallen well short of the business-sustaining level, despite 7 years of trying with a very generous tax-credit.
Problems. They are rather significant. They are quite clear. They are all undeniable. I wonder how people will react to them. Nonsense of the past won't even pass as weak excuses at this point. Heck, even a claim of desperation is pointless. What does any of it achieve? So, it looks like the best choice is to simply state the facts... or in this case, the problems: Tax-Credit phaseout will be triggered mid-2018. Voltec is still uncompetitive with other GM offerings. Voltec is selling in volume well below other GM offerings. Voltec is not available in SUV or CUV format.
Promotion. What aspect of this can be taken seriously: "...Toyota did a terrible job of promoting it." Some supporters of Toyota are understandably upset. That's what happens when you make assumptions about the market. Without study, that's very easy to do. The big picture isn't easy to see... unless you participate online routinely. Then, it's difficult to not notice what's going on. We have a diverse array of buyers, but the actual quantity is still extremely limited. Supply simply isn't there. Dealer incentive isn't either. With many more profitable vehicles so much easier to sell, what is there to actually draw interest? This is why to focus isn't exclusively on plugging in... especially since knowledge of that topic is so limited. It's attention to other aspects of appeal that need to be established in the meantime. Think of the advanced new features that have nothing to do with the hybrid system. Then think of how plugging in enhances the ownership experience. While all that is being discovered by the first owners, reputation is being built. Those impressions from firsthand observation go a long way. This is why having the worldwide rollout take place all right away is so valuable. It makes more of an impression. Anywho, this is what I ended up posting: That wasn't a priority for year-1. Remember, focus was on production & penetration. Delivering a new model with the waved-glass and carbon-fiber into 3 major markets was a major undertaking for just 12 months.
Faster & Further: Priorities. Coming from the trophy-mentality perspective, the need to appeal to the masses isn't a consideration. In fact, there is an outright dismissal of attempts to match traditional vehicle configurations. That isn't important, period. Why bother? Needless to say, they still don't understand: "At the moment the PP is cannibalizing standard Prius sales from people who don't do research and blindly buy from Toyota." To not see the audience is so different, comparing ordinary people to early adopters, boggles the mind. How can they not recognize priority differences? Oh well. It was just another thread with deaf-ears not hearing what needs to be accepted: Thinking conquest is better is a fundamental mistake. That is just purchases from new customers. Legacy automakers must get their own loyal existing customers to change. Replacing older offerings with new is the goal. It's called an upgrade. This is why MSRP is so vital. Falling into the trap of thinking faster & further is better happens all the time. Don't let that distract from the purpose of attracting ordinary shoppers, who have very different priorities.
Faster & Further: Some. The reply to my comment was weak: "It may be leading some pack, but not the PHEV/EV pack. They would have to double EV range, cut 0-60 time by 33%, and have five seats to even be in contention to do that." Acknowledgement that it wasn't actually an absolute opened up opportunity to actually have some dialog. Though, I knew that would be brief. That audience doesn't need a reminder of audience. What ordinary consumers consider important is nothing they share in common with these enthusiasts. So, I kept it simple again: That "some pack" is mainstream consumers, the group that matters far more than early adopters.
Faster & Further: Sad. The idea of leadership coming from the "faster & further" crowd is just an adolescent desire for more. There's never enough. There no sense of balance. It's just an obsession to go faster & further. That makes any type of response to this pointless: "Someone like Toyota should be near the front of the pack, if not leading. Releasing two generations of anemic PHEV Pruises is just sad." Understanding anything other than an increase of power or capacity for the electric system simply doesn't happen. There's no priority given to other aspects of the purchase. Heck, even affordability is dismissed as something of important. Those particular enthusiasts simply are not interested. So, I just stuck to the one-sentence reply: $27,100 base MSRP with an assortment of included new safety features is leading the pack.