Personal Log  #848

December 15, 2017  -  December 21, 2017

Last Updated: Sun. 1/28/2018

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Clarity Attacks.  One the wide-audience blogs for plug-ins, we're seeing a lot of attacks on Honda's upcoming new offering already.  The Clarity is getting the "vastly superior" treatment from... you guessed it... the Volt enthusiasts.  They sure are a pain.  It's the same old "leapfrog" nonsense all over again.  This is no surprise, of course.  They've been all-bark-and-no-bite for so long, they've lost touch with goals.  Sales growth clearly doesn't matter to them anymore.  All that seem to care about is showing some type of dominance.  It's like the alpha parading around expecting everyone else to provide praise.  Who cares if all you are doing is an exhibition.  Actions speak far more than words.  Yet, we're not seeing it from GM.  But we are already from Honda.  That's impressive.  The initial round of reviews are demonstrating ability worthy of attention.  Enthusiasts are more worried than ever about losing their spotlight.  Well, too bad.  This is what the "too little, too slowly" was all about.  You can't just rest on laurels like that.  Now, they have good reason to panic.


Insight Gen-3.  Rumor or Sneak-Peak?  It was hard to tell.  The impression given from an image being circulated on the internet today was that Honda will be revealing a gen-3 version of Insight at the Detroit autoshow.  It looks a little bigger than Civic, squeezed in between it and Accord for size.  That would be an interesting twist.  With the newer two-motor hybrid system, that approach does make sense.  Why not?  After all, the offering for vehicles in the future will be some type of hybrid.  Since plug-in models won't work for everyone, that's definitely a wise option to offer.  The question is, when will it be rolled out?  With the Kia/Hyundai offerings entering the market, there's new competition to deal with for the usual initial round of conquest sales.  Then once things settle down, the plug-in hybrids will be established.  2018 certainly is shaping up to be interesting.

12-19-2017 Know Your Audience.  No matter how much I share that message of importance, certain people just plain don't get it... or don't care.  They keep the blinders on, concentrating exclusively on what they prefer rather than what is necessary.  It's the problem of want.  Some don't understand the difference.  Anywho, it has been interesting to witness the person having brought up "innovator's dilemma" not understand what it actually means.  Ironically, he's suffering from that very issue.  This is where psychological behavior of reflection originates.  You see what's wrong, but don't realize you are the one experiencing it.  I posted this about it today:

It's quite clear that the majority here don't recognize how vital that advice is.

Applying the early-adopter perspective to a mass-market audience doesn't work in many situations.  The problem is called "innovator's dilemma".  It's when the formula for success in the initial stage of rollout is assumed to be what's needed for the stage to follow.

In this case, we see how GM's upgrade of Volt to gen-2 focused on enhancement of the same traits which drew sales for gen-1.  That clearly didn't result in the much hoped for sales growth; instead, the opposite happened.  We've been witnessing sales shrink.

The reason why should be obvious.  GM listened to the same audience that jumped on tax-credit savings and low-lease opportunities for Volt, who have since moved on to Bolt... because it was the next step in electrification: large-capacity batteries.

Abandoning everyday consumers for the pursuit of the latest & greatest is perfectly fine, when your purpose is pushing the leading edge forward.  That is a horrible mistake though, if you are trying to deliver a product for the masses.

This group clearly isn't interested in that audience.  They prefer support of the innovation, the push.  That's ok, but mainstream consumers still need their "ordinary" choice to purchase... which is exactly what Toyota seeks to deliver.

PHV/Prime models of Toyota other hybrids are on the way.  We see the impressive upgrade to larger and more powerful, yet still remarkably efficient, from the new Camry hybrid.  The upgrade to deliver a plug is the obvious next step for mainstream consumers.

Too bad if you find it dull or boring, that's how the bulk of the automotive business makes sustainable profit.  Know the buyers.

12-18-2017 Known Plans.  Remember how FUD works?  It's the spread of Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt.  That's used to undermine progress.  We see this coming on a regular basis from Volt enthusiasts, the very same individuals that will take GM vague annoucements at face-value as a solid promise.  Yet, when it comes to Toyota they pretend nothing is ever told, that intent is a total mystery.  When confronted with detail, they just brush it off.  The hypocritical nature of their behavior is what I key into.  That's what I use as confirmation that nothing has been overlooked.  Since the upcoming new year will bring an end to certain debates, it's good to have researched each of the topics as thoroughly as possible  This was my response to their latest FUD attempt:

We have known about the plans for quite awhile.  The entire passenger fleet being offered as hybrids is a positioning maneuver to make the plug-in option an easy next step… at low cost…

 - Corolla hybrid
 - Camry hybrid
 - RAV4 hybrid
 - C-HR hybrid

Each of those await the opportunity to exploit the "Prime" update similar to what was delivered for Prius.

Being simple & affordable is key and the HSD design makes that realistic.


Misinformation Harm.  When someone reads the misinformation, they base assumptions upon it... contributing their part to making the problem worse.  For example: "Since they had two separate battery packs in the car, and since (as I understand it) the car operated most of the time in parallel hybrid mode, just like an older non-plug-in Prius..."  See how easily the situation gets blown out of proportion.  How would you go about correcting that, knowing the person spreading misinformation may not be the slightest bit receptive to what you have to say.  Why would they?  Who are you?  How could you know more than some unknown on the internet?  Ugh.  That happens all the time.  It's amazing how much damage is caused as a result.  There are misconceptions that emerge which can live for decades.  You can't stop understanding issues.  You can work to prevent them from starting though.  I certainly try:  Neither the prototype, nor the PHV model, operated like that.  As the video clearly reveals, you could drive the entire EV capacity without the engine starting. In that example, it was 14.1 miles.


Spreading Misinformation.  Figuring out how to respond to something like this can be quite a challenge: "I found it strange that Toyota's very first PHEV, a Prius Plug-in with quite minimal EV-only range, had two separate battery packs, but both were li-ion!"  Where exactly did that information originate and what is the intent of spreading it?  Fortunately, I don't encounter stuff that misleading too often.  Simply being that vague makes it less likely to go anywhere.  But nonetheless, we do get comments about having read it from some source in the past... making you wonder if this was an effort to supply exactly that, hoping someone else will pass it along without questioning its reliability.  Needless to say, I jumped on that right away, pleased I had some supporting video to help back up my claim:  That very first was just a prototype, used for testing the system prior to the production pack.  I got to drive one for a few days back in August 2010.  That was very different from the actual rollout model, which I purchased in May 2012 and drove until I replaced it with a Prime in April.  Prius PHV most definitely only had a single pack, shared for both EV & HV operation.  Here's one of many videos I filmed proving that...  Prius PHV - Commute Work (Deplete EV)


Winter Charging.  A strange new topic emerged today.  Some random newbie posted a random question: "So I guess what I'm saying is, should I give up charging in the winter? Am I still saving money when I'm charging every 3 days?"  That's as random as you can get.  I certainly didn't see that coming.  My assumption was the benefit of plugging in would obvious, even when the depths of winter arrive.  Apparently, that's not the case.  I wonder why.  Hmm?  There's lots to learn from owners new to plugging in... hence, the intentional limited rollout of Toyota.  Keeping the markets limited made study of usage behavior somewhat easier.  With so many variables at play, it's quite a challenge to identify patterns and pinpoint bottlenecks.  We're all trying though.  From an owner to owner perspective, I shared:  Any electricity you use will provide a greater benefit to the gas used.  That has been overwhelmingly confirmed by those who drove their Prius PHV in the winter, leaving home with full charges every morning.  When the engine runs, that heated coolant will circulate to provide warmth for quite awhile, allowing the EV drive to be taken advantage in the meantime.  MPG clearly shows the resulting gain.  Electricity use will also help reduce pollution, which is worse during the winter.  So whether it saves money or not, there's still a win in return.  Leaving Prime plugged in will take advantage of the battery-warmer too, which reduces impact from the cold.  Have you looked into time-of-use discounts from your electricity provider?  I had a sub-meter installed.  That dropped my price paid for overnight charging to 6.74 cents per kWh.


Few Years?  The denial continued: "It's a safe bet the tax credits for Tesla, GM, and Nissan will run out within the next few years."  I was rather surprised to see that, so must so I posted the following... making sure there was lots of detail to ensure it was overwhelming clear that the loss of subsidies would come sooner:

Few years?  GM is already at 158K. With the year-end scramble to take advantage of tax-credits, it's easy to see that count climbing to 163K.  Assuming no growth in demand or supply, a Bolt/Volt sales rate of 4K per month would me the phaseout would get triggered at the end of Q3.

That would mean the last quarter of 2017 and the first of 2018 would offer the tax-credit at 50%.  The following two quarters would be at 25%.  The final tax-credit opportunity would be September 30, 2019... which is not a few years.  That's less than 2.

Volt is already struggling with sales, primarily from being too small and too expensive.  Even with a miracle price-drop from battery-tech improvements, it wouldn't be anywhere near enough to offset the $7,500 tax-credit loss.  From $200 per kWh to $100 is only a saving of less than $2,000.

GM's supposed leadership cannot just settle for sales well below mainstream levels for Bolt and barely niche levels for Volt.  The loss of the tax-credit will make that situation even worse.  This is exactly what the "too little, too slowly" concern was all about.

Remember, both Tesla & Nissan are planning for much higher sales volume and neither has a tax-credit dependency as part of their plan.  Model 3 is competitive at $35,000 as a low-end luxury offering and Leaf has a base price of $30,000.


Both Are.  The rhetoric has really ramped up lately.  It is obviously a final desperate act to save reputation.  We are watching Volt's failure to grow sales come to an end.  It didn't achieve the necessary goal.  So much was invested in a poor configuration choice.  Management made the decision not to take their engineering advancement to mainstream consumers.  Volt was designated a niche and was doomed to stay that way.  Gen-2 made that overwhelmingly clear.  Trouble was.  Few wanted to admit it.  Acknowledging sabotage isn't easy.  But it isn't hard to see the cramped seating and lack of advertising as anything other than disinterest.  Rather than deliver something for the masses, focus remained on faster & further.  Giving it more power & range then the previous generation was exactly the wrong thing to do.  The size of motor & battery should have either remained the same or been made smaller.  That's how cost-reduction is achieved.  Increasing specifications is the opposite of what was needed.  Anywho, I've been witnessing the resulting mess play out to its inevitable conclusion... denial:  You seem to be suffering from a chicken/egg situation.  GM is focusing on the chassis, hence rumors of the Bolt platform being offered as a SUV in the future.  Toyota is focusing on mindshare and reputation, hence replacing their existing production with hybrids & plug-in hybrids.  Both are pursuing the same goal.  Both are refining production of components within to reduce cost.  Both are improving hardware & software operation.  Yet, you claim that GM has a "huge head start" and Toyota has "squandered its leadership" even though evidence proves that's not the case.


Analogy Attack.  There is one particular individual on the EV forum who feels threatened from the rise of Prime.  He's been doing everything he can to undermine that progress.  That most obvious is spinning an analogy of doom.  Yesterday, someone chimed into that narrative: "A better comparison would be Nokia or Blackberry, both of which delayed going to keyboard free for far too long and then messed up the transition when they eventually went. Toyota are at the first stage obviously."  Drawing someone else into the narrative to impede is a problem.  Can't let that happen:  That analogy falls apart when it's pointed out that neither Nokia nor Blackberry had decent software to support a touch-interface.  That most definitely isn't the case for Toyota.  They are already delivering the full EV drive with Prime.  Toyota already has a ton of experience producing a variety of electric-motors and battery-packs.  Prius Prime includes a heat-pump and optional CHAdeMO charging to build upon that foundation the analogy overlooks.  Claims of delay don't have a merit; there simply isn't anything to support that.  When the next-gen batteries become available (higher density with faster recharging), Toyota will have a vehicle shaped to pack in lots of those cells.  Everything else is already established.  Think about how far along Toyota is with reliability and cost-reduction.  They even have an extremely efficient electric-drive system already, both hardware & software.  The analogy doesn't apply.


Tortoise.  The same old nonsense continues, only with new voices now.  On the blogs dedicated to EV advancement, there's quite a bit of smug emerging.  They're measuring leadership the same way.  The bigger the battery-pack, the further along the automaker supposedly is.  It's so naive of a perspective, taking the posts seriously is a debate.  Should you?  They obviously don't have a business background, so any comment posted in regard to market behavior is just blown off as blind loyalty.  The very idea of affordability or diversity is outright dismissed.  Some have already made up their mind that it is over.  The race has been won and Toyota lost.  Ugh.  It's so bad, I won't even waste including a quote this time.  You can easily guess what was stated.  I responded to the growing rhetoric with:  For that narrative to work, one must pretend the newest hybrids being rolled out aren't plug-ready.  We already know that isn't the case.  Prius is now available as a Prime model by having added a one-way clutch, increasing battery-pack size, and upgrading the heat-pump.  Those are all cost-effective modifications.  The rest of the system is already designed to handle the EV driving.  It's pretty difficult to argue the new Camry hybrid isn't the same way.  And now from this discussion topic, we've been told the Corolla hybrid is too.  Think about RAV4 hybrid, CH-R hybrid, and the upcoming replacement for Prius v.  There's an Avalon hybrid too.  We also know there's a next-gen Highlander hybrid on the way.  That means a lot of denial is required to see that Toyota isn't taking the goal of phasing out traditional vehicle production seriously.  They are clearly positioning to offer a number of plug-in models.  Attracting that audience is far more difficult that the early-adopter (tax-credit incentivized) sales so far.  That progress is how the race is won, not by position in the first stage.


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