Personal Log  #833

September 22, 2017  -  September 28, 2017

Last Updated: Sat. 10/21/2017

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Noticed A Pattern.  This statement of closure provided a great sense of vindication:  I noticed a pattern with the obsession to hide posts.  There are attempts to rewrite the past.  Asking why reveals a disturbing revelation.  Some are now agreeing with me.  The pest who kept providing goal reminders now getting vindicated is terrible.  Can't have that.  But after 7 years of missed opportunity, what can be said?  Other automakers are stepping in to fill the void GM created.  The latest is what we all had expected from Voltec advancements, a SUV.  The very popular Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is finally on the way to the United States. $35,535 is the base price with a 12 kWh battery-pack.  Why so much silence from GM still?  Who wants to make a bet there will be an announcement at the Detroit autoshow?  Who wants to acknowledge it won't be up the standard Volt enthusiasts pushed so hard for, despite knowing that wasn't actually what GM customers were looking for?  Spin all you want.  It doesn't change the reality that we have new offerings from previously silent automakers.  And with the inevitable triggering of phaseout for the GM tax-credits, it doesn't matter what happened in the past anymore.  What happens in the next 6 months will be quite significant.


Extreme Variety.  Now that the market barrier Volt created is gone, there's an extreme variety of plug-in hybrids emerging.  Those terrible enthusiasts of Volt did indeed become the antagonists we feared.  Claiming GM was a leader, when in fact it had become an example of what not to focus.  Rather than focus on improvement to emissions & consumption, there was an obsession with faster & further.  It was good technology spoiled by foolish management decisions... based primarily on what the enthusiasts were rallying for.  They are who I blame.  We knew the executives would cater to what they hear from GM supporters.  That was how Two-Mode became such a disaster and why I knew Volt would suffer the same fate.  That pattern of mistakes was easy to recognize.  But every time I brought up the parallel, pointing out how closely the history matched, I was attacked.  It was relentless.  They took it very personally and tried to humiliate me in response.  Their retaliation was an epic fail though.  It made no difference.  I wasn't impacting sales, they were.  Belief that the market would sway in their direction was a fundamental effort.  The idea of "if you build it, they will buy it" doesn't actually work... since the approach isn't actually that simplistic.  They were too naive.  They took that literally.  Ugh.  Oh well.  Long story short is that we are now hearing from even the most quiet of automakers, like Skoda.  They are even making plans to offer a plug-in hybrid.  The catch is, each automaker's offering will be different.  The standard Volt enthusiasts hoped would become ubiquitous by now has totally collapsed.  In fact, very little of what they tried to push actually survived.  The precedent they attempted to establish was far too unrealistic.  It's one thing to set an ambitious goals.  It's another though to ignore & dismiss evidence as you discover the goal wouldn't work.  In fact, that's why a target is so heavily scrutinized.  You evaluate milestones along the way to confirm that it can ultimately be reached.  What was the point of the goal those Volt enthusiasts were supposedly pursuing?  It certainly wasn't sales growth.  That failed miserably and left a disastrous mess in its wake... leaving very little for them to work with now... hence others now carrying on as if it was never there.


Abandonment.  How it would end was a mystery.  I have been witnessing abandonment of Volt.  Enthusiasts who pushed "range anxiety" concern are now claiming this outcome was inevitable.  All those excuses for so much defending has paid off in their minds.  It's interesting to witness such damage-control playing out.  When pride plays such a major role in their actions, it was quite clear nothing with "failure" as would be part of their message.  That would make sense if it was just a matter of moving on with a generational upgrade.  But that's not the case.  Volt is only now starting its third year of sales for gen-2.  That's not even mid-cycle year.  The product is too new still.  There's no diversification either.  It would be easy to justify if that long awaited SUV with a plug was finally announced.  But there's no sign of any intent from GM and no support whatsoever from enthusiasts.  They have simply moved from EREV to EV.  The idea of a vehicle with an engine of any kind has abandoned entirely.  It's really strange.  There isn't a voice for Voltec anymore.  The hope of any plug-in hybrid choices from GM is gone.  Believe it or not, that's actually a good thing.  That terrible group-think from those faster & further pushers was holding back opportunity.  With them turning favor to Bolt instead, the ability for GM to finally announce (or even reveal) a Trax or Equinox using an augmented hybrid system is far easier.  Barriers of the past are no longer there, now that there's a 60 kWh battery-pack available.  An affordable system with a smaller (right sized!) capacity can be offered without loss of pride.  Phew!  That's long overdue.  Want to make a bet that will happen in Detroit early next year?


Teaching Moment, part 2.  Here is what I ended up posting:  A teachable moment, in education, is the time at which learning a particular topic or idea becomes possible or easiest.  The count of negative votes was a clear indication that not only did the post have everyone's attention, it also was understood well enough to result in a participatory act.  It was directly on topic and a relevant response as to which the topic was presented.  The reaction though was for Volt enthusiasts to panic. I had pointed out a factor of advancement they were unwilling to acknowledge, providing a reason for which competition could indeed be stronger.  There was a major effort to suppress the information, followed by indication of a shift away from plug-in hybrids.  That abandonment of Volt in favor of Bolt is not a total surprise.  Change on such a scale due to business realignment is a good thing when sales are not as expected.  You try something. It doesn't work. You try something else.  This is the learning process.  Sharing that information is how we are taught.


Teaching Moment, part 1.  Attempting to hide posts by negative voting them out of view is bizarre.  All you have to do is click on the link to make it visible again.  It doesn't actually go away.  In fact, the act draws attention to them as a form of highlighting.  I couldn't care less, since the goal is simply to get the message across.  Posting again achieves the same thing: "Being less complex than traditional vehicles has been the selling point for battery vehicles.  Cooling the battery with liquid is not a step in that direction.  This is why advanced chemistry for cooling with air is progress forward… as well as a cost reduction.  Explain how such a straight-forward sentiment could cause such an uproar."  The discussion just happened to have drawn attention to teaching moments anyway, so I jumped right in.  The point was to get those intentionally trying to mislead about active cooling to finally acknowledge that doesn't mean liquid only.  The push to get that misconception to become a major source of disappointment is getting intense.  They simply don't care about getting caught.  They just repeat the same implication over and over.  Passive cooling doesn't exist as far as they're concerned.  So, when I point out Prime is active and Leaf is passive, despite but using air, they get very angry.  They don't want me to expose their efforts.  Finding out there are 2 very different approaches to cooling battery-packs with air can be used will undermine all the worked they've done to create a misconception.  Well, too bad.

9-24-2017 Wrap Up.  It took awhile to sort through all the crazy lately, as a result of the impeding change, to come up with a fitting analogy.  Knowing that it's not an end.  Knowing the game is far from over.  Knowing that pride often creates barriers.  Knowing that taking the next step is hard.  Since you've got the upper-hand from having studied and made better choices, it's difficult not to sound condescending.  Those struggling simply don't want to listen to you.  So, we go through the usual personal attacks and false history.  Just like with our president, wild statements are made without providing any detail whatsoever.  It's just a vague claim that results in instant gratification.  Ugh.  The expectation is someone will stand up as a peacemaker, saying whatever it takes for the loser to shut up by addressing the winner suggesting they take a different approach.  It's a physiological move that can actually be rather effective.  That guy with the upper-hand has to play along though.  Thinking about that is how I came up with the game analogy for the wrap up:

Too expensive to compete with traditional vehicles was the message conveyed from Toyota all those years ago, back when Volt was still being developed.  Volt enthusiasts didn't want to accept that message, so they changed it to too dangerous instead.  It made them feel better.  All these years later, there's the same behavior.  The upcoming phaseout of tax-credits is really pushing that denial.  So, they do what they can to suppress information, rather than accept it.

Rhetoric intensifies the situation when new offerings emerge.  Toyota is always a thorn in GM's side, so they don't count.  They're just treated as a scapegoat.  Panic comes from other automakers.  With gen-1 Volt, it was Ford's plug-in hybrid.  Wow!  It got very intense when C-Max Energi became available.  Enthusiasts of Volt would post whatever they could to defend.  Despite the lack of substance and obvious desperation, it made them feel better.

Honda's new offering is doing the same thing to gen-2 Volt.  There's that same pattern of panic again.  It's very easy to see too.  Rather than take the situation seriously, the behavior is to use Toyota as a scapegoat and last out at those providing the message of concern.  But as difficult as it is to accept defeat of a move, it's just a failed play in a very long game.  No need to panic.

GM took a step in the wrong direction.  It's not the end of the world.  It's just a fumble.  The technology is still sound.  The configuration doesn't meet consumer requirements though.  It's not like adjustments aren't possible.  Getting back into play is just a matter of trying something different.

Too expensive continues to be the fundamental barrier for mass acceptance.  A compact car like Volt has far too high of a price tag to draw interest in the showroom.  Shoppers simply don't want to pay that much.  More EV range and more power has proven ineffective for sales growth.

In a game when throwing the ball repeatedly to the same player fails to advance the team, you send in a different player.  It's not a big deal.  There's no need to panic.  With the case of GM, they finally need to call in their most popular player.  What are they waiting for?  It's long overdue.  The appeal of offering a plug-in SUV had long been known.  Even before Volt, there was strong interest.  Yet, GM hesitated.

We need to hear from GM that they plan to offer a plug-in SUV.  Fans of the game (Volt enthusiasts) should be screaming for that at this point, rather than hiding posts and spinning history to pretend all is still ok.  Things are obviously quite bad, but the game is not lost.  Don't enable GM to continue with the wrong player.  Shout out for the favorite to finally get a chance play.


Full Circle.  Recognition of the pattern by the antagonist is a very encouraging sign: "Your protests are awfully convenient to your case, aren't they?  We try to hide you with negative votes..."  He didn't understand what was wrong, but knew it looked a little too much in my favor.  The problem comes down to realizing there's agreement, but not wanting to admit it.  I've seen that before.  When I depart, posts will start conveying the very same thing I had been saying all along.  Knowing that I'm not there anymore makes it a simple next step.  That's why I'm making sure to wrap up everything.  The reveal from Nissan brought an end to rhetoric of the past and lost enthusiasts are looking for a new focus.  So, I remind them what's important prior to moving on:  "NICELY UNDER $30,000" is the target GM set for Volt.  So no amount of hiding my posts or asking alternate questions will change that.  It was a goal set for good reason by GM, not me.  Traditional vehicles must be replaced quickly.  That makes sense.  If my reminders of the importance of it is considered a protest, too bad.  What difference does opinion make anyway?  A goal is a goal.  Working to maintain the status quo doesn't accomplish anything.  It is just enabling.  Protest is a push for change.  The reality of sales growth being the measure of progress is just something you'll have to accept... an inconvenient truth.  As this discussion points out, competition is expanding.  We need high-volume sales not dependent upon tax-credits right away, hence NICELY UNDER $30,000.


Selling Points.  That lengthy list of Prime advantages I posted a few weeks ago has turned into the new "selling points" document.  Just like with previous generations of Prius, identification of standout features of what Toyota delivered will occur.  You end up with a list of strengths.  That's exactly what I ended up getting out of the antagonists.  Their push to exploit what they consider weaknesses will end up exposing the best points to highlight.  That's how we sell Prius... letting those who want it to fail most help stir what sells it the most.  The ironic backfire is something well worth patiently waiting for... while tolerating the onslaught of attacks.  Today though, I got this: "Where is Toyota's actual, technological leadership?"  That was an unexpected opportunity to share the entire list, rather than draw attention to each point individually.  The feedback to it was intense too.  Rather than even trying to argument, it was an admission of defeat.  He just blew it off entirely.  Running away is a dead giveaway.  The usual response is to just cherry-pick wasn't attempted.  I was thrilled.  Knowing the list had been so carefully researched and so thoughtfully assembled, that first test of worth was very encouraging.


Pack Upgrades.  This particular information published today summarized the outlook well: "In mid-2016, BMW introduced the current 33.84 kWh battery which was an upgrade from the 21.6 kWh battery previously available.  That bumped the i3 BEV’s 81 mile range to 114 miles per charge.  The new battery, which is being introduced sometime later in 2018, is rumored to have a total capacity of 43.2 kWh and offer an EPA range rating of 150 – 155 miles per charge."  At some point, that should become an expectation, rather than a special situation.  When Prime was first revealed, I pointed out how the raised floor in back served as a market test to find out if the perception of usable cargo space loss would be more of a deterrent than the increase of capacity mid-cycle would be as an encouragement.  Toyota gave itself the option to adapt design without major rework.  Increased battery-capacity, due to increased energy-density, could easily be provided.  Increased cargo-storage, due to increased energy-density, could easily be provided.  It's a choice they don't have to make until mid-cycle.  They'd let the market decide which is more important.  An interesting twist is that could be an upgrade for existing owners as well.  Imagine many years later a buyer of a first model-year plug-in trading in their battery-pack for the newest available, rather than the entire vehicle.  There's an interesting profit venue yet to be explored.  Why let the aftermarket sellers have exclusive opportunities?  Why not the automaker itself?  Needless to say, technology for batteries is advancing faster than generational upgrades.


New Ally?  It's rare to have a new ally emerge, especially in the belly of the beast.  That daily blog is getting pretty nasty as the end draws near.  This stirred that pot: "GM please give us Volt/Bolt customers a vehicle to grow into, do not squander all of those conquest sales.  And just to be clear, throwing a diesel in any vehicle is not an alternative.  No plug no sale."  With the very encouraging news from Nissan and the undeniable conflict GM must resolve, its difficult to know just how receptive enthusiasts who seem to be losing everything will accept change... especially coming from someone who could say "I told you so".  That's why letting someone else do it instead is so interesting.  I jumped into that mess with:  This audience works hard to hide information that upsets the status quo.  It's really sad how much has been squandered as a result of their denial.  This time next year, phaseout of tax-credits for GM will be a grim reality.  Intent of those subsidies establishing high-volume sales never materialized over the past 7 years of trying.  Lack of growth confirms it.  Something to appeal to mainstream buyers still isn't offered.  What draw will there be for a plug-in SUV that's $7,500 more when it is finally rolled out to attract GM's own loyal customers?  Notice how much of a challenge it has been to grow sales even with the tax-credit?


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