Personal Log  #847

December 10, 2017  -  December 14, 2017

Last Updated: Sun. 1/28/2018

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It Happened.  This was the outcome of my post: "The technology has taken the market by storm.  Plug-ins sales are increasing month over month.  Even today's articles is about the #1 selling plug-in in Europe.  Even Toyota finally joined in.  Hybrids are old technology, no matter how much you try to say otherwise.  Plug-ins are the future."  I was quite surprised to see such a drastic measure being taken.  The expectation was a quiet fade away, not a parallel to what we see in the Oval Office.  But then again, he got into this position by the same means.  So, I sounded off one last time with:

Wow!  I haven't said otherwise.  In fact, what you posted goes well beyond desperation.  It is a last ditch effort to paint a rosy picture with distortion & misrepresentation before the inevitable end.

You know all too well that sales of Volt have been dropping.  The much hoped for second-generation was not able to achieve growth.  Watching Prime take its place as the vehicle that was able to appeal to mainstream consumers is simply too much to accept.  Making the situation worse is hearing that Mitsubishi, Honda, Kia, Hyundai, and Chrysler all have new offerings to fill in the gap GM wasn't able to.  Each strives to appeal to their own customers.

It wasn't supposed to play out like this.  The technology used for Volt worked fine.  Problem was, the capacity was overkill.  That much didn't result in taking the market by storm; instead, it just dragged along for years using up precious tax-credits on nothing but conquest.  I was correct.  Reducing the battery-pack is the key to sale growth.  Combine that with a vehicle type appealing to GM customers, you've got a winner.  Only problem, pride gets in the way.

So, we see this final attempt to conceal the true story.  Go ahead. Say whatever you want.  I'm done.  We can see the end coming.  This chapter is over.

12-13-2017 Goodbye.  The ultimate death-blow to the Volt enthusiasts came from Mitsubishi.  With the news of Kia's small plug-in hybrid SUV and Honda's large plug-in hybrid sedan, they couldn't take anymore.  It was clear the discussion-topic on it today would bring about an undisputable end to their avoidance.  So much else going in the industry left them without anything of merit.  It was literally down to just spewing rhetoric.  Evading the inevitable wasn't going to work.  They faced a day of reckoning.  I was pleased to sum it up for them:

The extreme reaction here today, defending the "too little, too slowly" situation with gross over-generalizations and hiding posts, is more than enough proof to confirm the problem is finally a serious concern.


To be told over and over and over that GM had this amazing technology which would take the market by storm, yet not actually do that after 7 years and 2 generation, was terrible to have to deal with.  The "over promise, under deliver" denial became a major barrier to progress.


Seeing Volt enthusiasts shift support from EREV to EV is quite the hypocritical thing to witness; nonetheless, the act of pointing that out is acceptance of it.  Volt has been abandoned in favor vehicles with no engine at all.


The sting of financial burdens will become all too apparent for this group of die-hards here.  GM will succeed in craving out a niche, but the challenge of appealing to the masses is an entirely different effort.  Overcoming their apprehension to change is far more difficult.  Unwillingness of the market to adapt will take a great deal of time & money... far more than many want to admit.


The approach of top down isn't providing viable for legacy automakers.  The idea of building an expensive vehicle, then convincing consumers it is worth the money, simply doesn't work for them.  Far too much of the existing system already in place needs to change.  That's only realistic for a business starting from scratch.


You're going to need it.  Today's topic makes that all too clear.


Not Enough.  I found this an absolutely wonderful way to wrap of the rhetoric: "But 22 miles of pure EV range is just not enough today."  That claim had no merit, nothing whatsoever to back it.  I knew it would hit hard.  There's simply no way to respond.  All their efforts provided practice for me, allowing an opportunity to refine responses prior to it actually mattering.  No one really cared much until now.  Early adopter opinions are meaningless to mainstream consumers.  This is why knowing your audience is vital.  A common about someone passionate about performance is just a waste of time to someone looking for an affordable choice.  They just plain don't care about extremes.  They just want to get from point A to point B without ever any trouble.  It's that simple.  That makes selling the benefits of plugging in a monumental challenge.  Anywho, I made it quite clear their enthusiast opinion didn't matter:  Not enough for what?  SUV is not a single-occupant commute vehicle.  That usage never made any sense, nor could it be realistically justified.  In other words, wasting electricity isn't acceptable either.  Simply switching from gas isn't enough.  The vehicle should be used for the purpose it was actually designed.  Running around town with the kids or to do some shopping is a realistic use.  22 miles fulfills that for a large number of potential buyers.  You can do those weekends trips towing the boat to a fishing hole too.  In other words, without solid reasoning, any distance qualification is arbitrary.


Soon.  I could feel it coming.  An end to the absurdly long problem call "Volt" was approaching.  The car itself was actually rather nice, but in no way realistic for mainstream buyers.  Being so small and expensive never made any sense.  In fact, it was as if GM has sabotaged gen-2 for the sake of moving on to EV instead.  After all, it's not like they didn't do that already in the past anyway.  They say it didn't work and move on.  In a manner of speaking, it really didn't work.  The catch is, some of us saw that with the approach back when Volt was still being designed.  The specification simply made it too expensive.  It was a very risky "top down" strategy.  Both the price of gas and the price of batteries needed to remain expensive.  Turns out, neither did.  That hurt Volt so bad, it was doomed years ago.  Some simply didn't want to acknowledge the facts placed before them.  Some still don't: "Really?  In the same thread you have two opposing views?  Everything should be plug-ins, but, they don’t compete with each other?  Yikes."  I was happy to address the denial:  Still not understanding that each automaker must address their own customers is indeed a major problem.  No opposition.  No contraction.  No competition.  "Who is the market for Volt?" was asked literally hundreds of times to point out that GM's own production for GM's own loyal customers is what must change.  When a shopper goes into a GM dealer to purchase a GM vehicle, they couldn't care less what the other automakers are offering.  That's how it has been for decades.  Like other new technologies of the past PLUG-IN will be just another step forward... a big step... but nonetheless, seen as the expectation for each automaker to replace old technology.  No amount of short-term spin will change that.  We see the need for a plug-in SUV from GM for GM shoppers.  Period.


BRAKE!  That certainly was impressive.  Off in the distance, the Prime detected stopped traffic and recognized I hadn't done anything to decelerate yet.  Having your foot still on the accelerator-pedal indicated there was no acknowledgement of the danger being approached.  So, the system buzzed an audio & visual warning.  That was sweet!  I hadn't realized just how far ahead it was scanning or how active the response would be upon recognition of a problem.  This is why Toyota's choice to include collision-avoidance in virtually all their passenger vehicles is such a great investment.  That's quite a number of years ahead of the auto-braking mandate (2023 model-year, I believe).  To see it in action like that was a great demonstration of worth.  Thankfully, I responded to the bright red "BRAKE!" message on the screen, rather than the Prime having to do it for me.  That advanced warning of an imminent could be really helpful.  Another new standard technology included is auto-highbeams.  Those sure are nice and surprisingly quick.  Handy improvements like that make the driving experience much less stressful, as well as safer for everyone.


Video:  Ordinary Winter.  "Just Drive It" was the approach with this video.  Again, I was able to deliver 4K resolution.  Winter cold had finally come to stay, here in Minnesota, so I captured my morning to commute to share detail of that all-electric experience.  It was a non-event, an ordinary commute for me in the winter... hence the name.  I got to the charger at the ramp with electricity to spare, despite the need for running the heater very close to the heat-pump threshold.  A few more degrees colder, the engine would start to supplement warmth.  It was nice enough though to avoid that.  So, you see the maximum 199.9 MPG displayed on the screen was the outcome.  Results like that are what others in a less hostile state will see routinely, all throughout the cold season.  I'll see that often, but there will be cold-snaps later where that won't be realistic.  I can't wait to see what the results are then, when the plug-supplied electricity is used less often, since the engine will cycle from time to time.  The threshold for that is 14°F.  In the meantime, temperatures slightly above are all with EV driving...  Ordinary Winter Commute


Reality Check.  The clueless nature of some people is truly amazing.  They make assumptions and never bother to verify.  That fundamental mistake leads to countless errors being made.  Even after that, they still don't take the time to check original sources.  They continue to assume incorrectly.  That level ignorance is very difficult to overcome.  Not having any awareness of the problem allows it to persist pretty much indefinitely... as we have seen play out.  It may change as some point though, as I eluded to today:  Reality check isn't necessary.  We already know there will be problems, but those are easy to address... once the vehicles are carried in inventory.  This is how the "Prime" models will demonstrate a strong approach for penetrating dealerships.  Much like the popularity growth of RAV4 hybrid, it will simply be a model available to choose from.  In other words, the dealer will have to do little to stock them and the salesperson little to promote them.  It will just fit into the existing process... but also have a plug.  When I went on a test-drive of Prius Prime, it wasn't charged.  Go figure.  That was no big deal though.  No plug required.  For the first part of the drive, we put it in CHARGE mode.  That aggressively charges the battery-pack using the gas-engine (at a faster rate than you can pull from the grid, in fact, an 80% recharge in roughly 40 minutes).  This allowed the return trip to the dealer to be entirely in EV mode.


Wake-Up Call.  Reading post after post with smug remarks.  They were so insulting, intended to offend & harm.  It has been quite amazing.  Prius is slow.  Prius is ugly.  Prius is short.  So much attitude toward blind hope.  Volt was supposedly "vastly superior".  Their market was tiny though, just niche.  No one cared beyond their own group.  Those Volt enthusiasts were terrible.  Closing of this year will bring their failure-to-grow vehicle to an end.  Ordinary consumers will simply brush it off the same way they still do with Prius now.  We see it coming.  Signs are obvious.  This attention that will come from the affordable plug-in hybrids is why Volt will die.  Who knows what GM may do with the technology itself.  The barrier it caused will be gone.  I posted: "It's a wake-up call for many who assumed people like you and I were the customers.  All along, it has been the dealerships who the automakers must appeal to."  This was the vital mistake, a catastrophic oversight.  This is what held back growth.  This is why Volt  failed.  Those terrible troublemakers slewing all those insults didn't realize their efforts were for the wrong group.  Prius supporters weren't who mattered.  If you cannot get a dealer to support more than just a few token vehicles, there won't be much for sales.  No inventory was a problem they took seriously.  Salespeople won't bother with a vehicle that's difficult to sell and won't earn them much commission either.  This was missed opportunity.  So much could have been done, but wasn't.  All those attacks were a huge waste.  They didn't pay attention.  They didn't learn.


Failure.  You'd think they would finally see it.  Apparently, that's asking too much.  How anyone thought GM could blow away Tesla with conquest sales is mind-boggling.  Who of the early-adopters shopping for an EV would take that comparison seriously?  Bolt has a price higher than Model 3.  It simply makes no sense choosing a small wagon over an elegant sedan from an audience beyond a very small niche.  Sure, you'll get some people unwilling to wait and those desiring a more practical shape.  But the comments of Bolt looking & feeling cheap inside puts much of that consideration to rest.  It's a small audience, period.  You don't build mass-market expectations on such a small prospect.  That isn't realistic.  In disbelief that I actually had to post this, it happened:  GM is not seeing SUV owners express interest for Volt or Bolt.  Small hatchbacks & wagons do not appeal to them.  Their priorities are quite different.  This is why the "it's worth it" approach failed for GM and simply doesn't apply to Tesla.  Know your audience.


Innovative!  Turns out, those enthusiasts really are just stupid: "...they just stopped innovating!  They still haven't equaled what the Volt offered in 2010, never mind offering an EV of their own."  So desperate to defend GM from Toyota, none are bothering to do any type of study anymore.  It doesn't take more than just a few minutes of research to find out Toyota is far from the only automaker pushing GM out of the picture.  This is why I stated the "too little, too slowly" concern so often.  Rather than actually paying attention to the words, they took it as an insult.  It's like yelling "watch out" and them brushing it off as a joke.  You tell them what's wrong and what to do about it, but the advice is outright dismissed.  Ugh.  Oh well.  It's not like I didn't try.  They're in for quite a reality shock next year.  In the meantime:  $27,100 MSRP is not being innovative?  Not able to see that the challenge of making the plug-in choice affordable is a problem Toyota has taken quite seriously.  Despite the use of carbon-fiber for the back hatch for weight reduction and waved glass for aerodynamic improvement, they delivered.  It's a remarkable efficient vehicle, in addition to being affordable.  That's innovation.


Stupid?  It's getting to the point that the question needs to be answered: "No matter how you look at it Toyota are behind and are a part of the problem rather than the solution."  After reading that, what do you think?  It goes beyond just be clueless.  But then again, we have a person now in the highest office of the country who doesn't know a number of the things he comments about.  It's so bizarre to hear such blatant errors, things so easy to fact-check, being spewed on a regular basis.  Hearing that there makes the nonsense here very easy to accept.  It's like posting help-info 15 years ago.  The internet of that time didn't have many who would do that simply to be helpful.  Why would anyone do that without getting paid?  It was a reasonable question to ask.  Now, all this time later, it seems almost absurd to even consider that.  People reach out to other people online just for the good of making humanity a little better.  That's rewarding, even if it costs the provided time & money.  It's what many do now.  So, hearing people outright lie to defend their beliefs... knowing it is so easy to disprove what they claim... isn't so far fetched.  It is weird though.  Why would you do that?  Are they so desperate they are already at the "nothing left to lose" stage?  Needless to say, it is rather baffling.  Fortunately, I persist through all of it still:  Are you unaware of what it took to make Prius into Prime?  That hybrid to plug-in transformation was basically just adding a one-way clutch and increasing the size of the battery-pack.  Having other models of hybrid at the ready for the same thing puts them in an excellent position to offer affordable plug-ins for the masses.  What other automaker is preparing to provide a wide variety of choice in the near future like that?


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