Personal Log  #850

December 29, 2017  -  December 31, 2017

Last Updated: Sun. 1/28/2018

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Video:  Extreme Cold.  6°F is the coldest temperature many Prius Prime owners will ever encounter, so this particular commute home provided a great opportunity to capture & share.  Being below the 14°F threshold for the electric heat-pump meant the gas-engine would need to cycle to provide warmth inside.  Electric-Only driving would still be available, but from time to time rather than continuously.  No plug was used.  That meant the battery-warmer could not be taken advantage and a recharge would not occur.  The car just sat there in the cold all day while I was busy at work.  18.5 miles of driving through traffic dealing with fresh fallen snow resulted in an overall average of 64 MPG.  That's quite remarkable for what was basically treated as an ordinary winter commute here in Minnesota.  Here's the video, as I asked the question... What happens in extreme cold?


Avoidance, goodbye.  I got a response from another Volt enthusiast, one who got burned so bad by gen-1, he still holds a grudge after all these years.  It was captivating: "Look for more in 2018."  I took that as more rhetoric... which will be quite a surprise for him.  There's no reason to participate on the fanboy website anymore.  They made it overwhelmingly clear it is only for cheerleading, that anything of a constructive nature which could be construed as negative is not welcome.  Their hate was always fascinating.  For some much to be sacrificed for so little in return.  They got nothing but a sense of righteousness from attacking me.  It did nothing to actually advance their cause.  Pride was more important then progress.  Ugh.  I was delighted to finally say goodbye.  Toughing it out had been a test of character.  Learning from other leaders I look up to provided a common suggestion... participate in groups that don't share your perspective.  It makes sense, but isn't easy.  It sure is worth it though.  That taught me far more than just simply going along with the mantra they were spewing out.  I still had to fire back one last time though:  More what?  Being vague is key to avoiding responsibility.  That's why GM is routinely so ambiguous with announcements.  We only get basic information, lacking any quantitative value.  Yet, those here embrace that anyway.  They get played and are too naïve to realize the problem.  Asking to state goals is a raising of awareness to the problem.  If you want to defend the subterfuge, that's your choice.  I'm choosing to draw attention to it, even if I get labeled as a troll for not accepting the status quo.


Avoidance, conclusion.  It took nearly a day to finally get a response.  Such an extreme delay (with obvious multi-downvoting still taking place in the meantime) but no posted reply, is an clear sign of having correctly identified a major shortcoming.  Since the usual turn-around is only a matter of minutes, that's a pretty solid confirm.  He posted a series of attacks.  All were antagonist nonsense, intended to divert attention.  There was nothing of any substance, just vague ramblings about Toyota.  That's was key... and I knew it.  That was a lesson learned from the past.  Enthusiasts established a concise definition for what "Volt" would be.  But when the final production model was revealed, that "Volt" didn't fit the vary criteria they had preached so much about.  Specifically, it wasn't a SERIES hybrid.  It turned out to be a PARALLEL, similar to Prius.  That was a painful error to accept... and that was before finding out how expensive & inefficient their pre-praised plug-in hybrid actually was.  That's how EREV came about.  If you don't like an existing definition, make up a new label with a definition to fit... a key to avoidance.  Making matters worse.  2 years later when Ford rolled out their plug-in hybrid, it fit the EREV definition.  Ack!  They got burned again.  2 years following that, when BMW rolled out their plug-in hybrid, it all became a chaotic mess.  Not only had BMW actually met the specifications those enthusiasts has so desperately manipulated, BMW has grossly exceed this... by a very significant amount.  This is how the attacks on Toyota became so intense.  GM could not compete with those other traditional automakers, so enthusiasts look for seemingly weaker prey.  Little did they understand though that there's power in numbers.  Prius has won many battles in the past by overwhelming opposition.  Enthusiasts see the modest goals as a joke, something to be mocked & belittled.  Mainstream shoppers see them as an automaker's effort to deliver an affordable choice.  That fundamental difference ties back to the key... being concise.  Needless to say, I found the response quite vindicating.  He did precisely what I had anticipated, to provide the ideal conclusion to such a senseless waste of time... so much missed opportunity due to pride getting in the way... some just play the game... which is why I point it out:  Avoid.  Avoid.  Avoid.  That continues to be the theme.  Do every but actually step up and accept some responsibility.  If you don't actually commit to anything, there's no accountability.


Avoidance, next year.  We've reached that tipping point were Volt is no longer an impediment.  GM dangled a carrot in front of the entire industry, setting a precedent of supporting unrealistic expectations... to the point of them being normalized.  If the plug-in hybrid wasn't at least as good as what was delivered in late 2010 by GM, it was unworthy of consideration.  The market damage that caused is truly remarkable... exactly what people who witnessed the GM diesel fiasco of the 70's feared would happen again.  And it did!  The vehicle of praise was unprofitable, so production in high-volume simply couldn't ever happen.  That hampered the entire industry, holding back consumer acceptance.  Enthusiasts set the bar so high, failure was inevitable... which is the state Volt is at now.  In a few days, sales results for year-2 of gen-2 will be revealed.  Rather than the significant growth the upgraded Volt was to deliver, we'll see an undeniable decline.  Demand isn't there.  They built it, but enough people didn't buy it.  True to form, GM will follow the timing pattern we recognize all too well.  This point in history has repeated itself several times already.  They will make an amazing new vehicle announcement to conceal the problem with Volt.  A new hope will be revealed, at the Detroit autoshow.  Knowing that Honda, Kia, Hyundai, BMW, Chrysler, Mitsubishi, Toyota, VW, and Ford are all actively going after the plug-in hybrid market GM could not reach, it makes sense that GM will move on just focusing on pure electric vehicles instead.  Bolt doesn't stand a chance of competing directly with Tesla though.  No one is going to compare a small wagon to the sleek sedan and consider it a toss up.  GM must finally turn to its own customers... the SUV buyer.  Offering one that reuses the Bolt platform is a sound next step.  Putting a small SUV body on that motor & battery configuration makes sense, especially since they would be able to justify the higher price.  Remember, the $7,500 tax-credit for GM is expected to only last 9 more months.  Then, it drops to $3,750 for the following 6 months.  After that, it drops to $1,875 for 6 more months.  In short, the challenge of growing sales will become quite a bit more difficult next year.  Time is running out.  Change is necessary.


Avoidance, missed opportunity.  Enthusiasts would spin excuses, place blame, and make assurances... all to cover up missed opportunities.  Volt was the only choice.  GM was offering unbelievably low leases.  Gas prices were expensive.  Early adopters were eager.  Think about how many aging Prius being replaced by the first of the plug-ins to be offered.  That was when something else should have happened, when the momentum was still strong.  Instead, it fizzled.  Posts become an effort to defend GM and offend everyone else attempting to deliver on those same goals.  Now, all these years later, we see several contenders striving to fill in the void GM left behind.  What a waste.  Those enthusiasts know it too.  That's why so many disappeared.  The only few left are so desperate now, then have no idea what to do.  Is there any opportunity remaining?  Their propaganda about "All Electric Range" has been annihilated by Bolt, leaving Volt completely without a purpose now.  I knew their goal was to crush the competition... which they believed was other plug-in vehicles.  They were wrong, very wrong.  It was a mistake so profound, the enthusiasts were able to convince GM of that purpose.  This is why gen-2 was so poorly configured to face direct competition with traditional vehicles.  The design had focused on other plug-in hybrids instead.  Oops!  Really big oops!!!  What a terrible missed opportunity.  Of course, the other automakers actually listened to their own shoppers looking for a plug-in hybrid, not early adopters who already owned one.  That's why focus was on affordability instead, a priority GM didn't think was important due to the influence online posts had.  This is why I documented so much of their propaganda and there's so much effort now trying to conceal the mistakes they made.


Avoidance, stating goals.  That was by far the biggest problem, right from the start too.  The first attempt was immediately called out.  Those goals were so unrealistic, the label of "vaporware" quickly became an expectation for Volt.  That infuriated enthusiasts.  They had nothing to support their blind hope either.  Making that bad situation worse was me... armed with lots of real-world data pointing out their oversights.  The fighting never ended.  I kept pushing for goals.  But rather than stating specifics anymore, it turned to mindless propaganda... hence the "vastly superior" nonsense.  Eventually, that settled down, becoming "no plug, no sale" instead.  Being so horribly vague though, it didn't actually help.  Needless to say, my push continues by exposure their efforts to avoid:


  • Nicely under $30,000 MSRP

  • Real-World average of 100 MPG

    12-30-2017 Avoidance, facts.  Attempts to discredit totally fall apart: "You keep trying to push your narrative, but the facts don't agree."  It's what happens when the discussion continues for too long.  They run out of material and their transparent efforts to misleading become exposed.  You need something to actually suppport claims.  People need proof.  No merit means no progess.  Even enthusiasts want something to work with.  Empty chants falls apart.  Facts can be manipulated to mislead.  They know that.  So, not having anything at all to work with makes it a dead issue... nothing to argue about.  I gladly pointed that out:

    Facts don't agree... which is why you avoid actually posting them.  Omitting that detail is the spin.

    Mainstream volume is the most avoided fact, the statistic which angered you most.  It was very specifically sales at a rate of 5,000 per month.  That's an annual production of 60,000 vehicles, here in this market.  The target date for that was the end of the second year of sales... which was 2012... that's 5 years ago.

    The reason for that target was obvious.  It was what GM needed to put Volt on the path to profitability, so sales could continue on with dependency on the tax-credit and expansion to other vehicles could take place.  All of that fell apart though. Sales fell well below that target... and continue to, despite so much time passing and a second-generation upgrade.

    That fact is especially difficult to accept with the knowledge of Toyota not having made the same mistakes... hence the constant insults... "laggard"... "lame product"... "obsolete"... "too little, too late".  You know quite well they have a clear path to electrification.  Their hatchback already demonstrates how easy & affordable it is to go from hybrid to plug-in hybrid.  Now, the rest of the hybrid fleet awaits the same upgrade opportunity.

    The ultimate though is this quote, since spin about the past doesn't matter: "We've ALL been saying this since day one, 10 years ago.  We want Voltec everything."  Fact is, you are omitting detail about who "we" actually is.  A large portion of Volt supporters from the past don't want that anymore.  They have turned to saying Volt was just a bridge to Bolt.  Now that "range anxiety" has been resolved with a larger battery-pack, they see no need for a plug-in hybrid.

    Take your own advice.  Pay attention.  That is why I use "notice" so often in my replies.  You clearly are not.  So many former Volt enthusiasts have abandoned ship, there are only a handful left.  They either switched over to Bolt or left GM entirely.  The count is remarkable.  In the past, when those amazing Volt leases expired, those owners moved on to purchase a Ford Energi (plug-in hybrid).  Now, we see many planning to switch to a Chrysler Pacifica or a Honda Clarity.

    In other words, we already see trouble brewing for GM.  Phaseout trigger for the tax-credit is only 9 months away and Volt sales are declining.  Adding to the struggle is the rollout of the Kia & Hyundai plug-in hybrids.  Both are nicely under $30,000... the other goal GM still has not achieved.

    Avoid this supposed narrative all you want.  Negative vote to hide the facts.  That won't change the path GM is on though, which you enable by avoiding acknowledgement of the bigger picture.

    Vague claims of "We want Voltec everything." doesn't actually tell us anything.  Total absence of detail, no specifications whatsoever, leaves people wondering what you really mean.  This is why stating goals was requested over and over and over again.  Instead, that is still being avoided. After 10 years, you'd think that lesson would have been learned.


    More EV.  The belief of more being better is very effective marketing.  We've been brainwashed into thinking it is necessary, that less simply won't work.  With things like medications & foods, the size of doses & portions have grown ever larger.  Cutting back isn't easy.  People mix up want & need so frequently, many don't even recognize the difference anymore.  That's really sad.  Think about how often we hear that 5 seats are necessary, even though there is rarely ever more than 2 people in the vehicle.  Remember how the reasoning for 5 instead of 4 eventually fell apart?  Volt enthusiasts forgot and have consequently become hypocrites for contradicting their own past statements... but that's another story.  This one is about more EV.  Supposedly, range in the 20's isn't enough.  I ask: "Enough for what?"  Every response I get is a want, not a need.  No one has been able to state necessity.  That's because the purpose of a plug-in hybrid is to take advantage of having an engine from time to time.  If it wasn't, everyone would just purchase an EV instead.  Needs vary.  Neither enthusiast, nor antagonist, understand that though.  It is the problem of knowing audience.  They don't... or they don't care.  Either way, it's a problem we have to deal with when promoting plug-in hybrid choices.  Today, I dealt with the "more" claim this way:  There is no need for bigger. The system will blend, still taking advantage of electricity... just not as much in extreme cold.  My commute yesterday was in the single digits.  18.5 miles at 6°F in my Prime delivered a 64.1 MPG result.  That's amazing overall efficiency at such a low outside temperature.  So what if the engine runs.  Between the heater delivering warmth via engine coolant and use of the heated seat, I was quite comfortable.  The windshield stayed clear too.  What more do you actually need for such an affordable price?


    Prime Availability.  With the end of the year quickly approaching, there's lots of talk about demand.  Perception of it is derived from sales.  Consideration of supply is almost always overlooked.  We've seen that countless times over the generation rollouts.  People simply view purchase counts as the indicator of interest.  I know all too well that you cannot buy a vehicle if it isn't available.  For Prime, that's been a big issue.  2017 model rollout was awkward.  With production challenges of the new technology (carbon-fiber hatch and dual-wave glass) adding to the usual challenges of physical delivery to several very different markets all in the same year, its no surprise that penetration wasn't going to be comprehensive.  Some dealers wouldn't get supply until the following year, regardless of demand.  To draw attention to limited supply, I did some quick research and posted what it revealed:  Doing a search within 500 miles of Kansas City, MO for Prime, only 15 are found.  That's an inventory count so low, it basically can't be considered available.  Sliding east over 650 miles to Columbus, OH and repeating the 500-mile search for Prime, there were 1,046 found.  That pocket of the country actually has choices.  Going down 570 miles to Atlanta, GA and searching 500 miles again, there are only 13 found... another large area without any.  In other words, the wait for 2018 models is necessary.  We simply didn't see 2017 on a large number of dealer's lots.  Demand cannot be properly gauged until then.  Fortunately, even with limited availability, Prime still ended up with decent sales counts for the year here.  Worldwide, it looks like total sales will end up hitting the 50,000 mark.  That's pretty good for a start.


    Deep Discharging.  Whoa!  We found out today how Hyundai was able to squeeze out 4 more miles of EV range from a battery-pack only 0.1 kWh larger than the one Toyota uses.  It simply didn't make sense.  28 kWh/100mi = 29 miles EV for Ioniq.  That's no where near as efficient as 25 kWh/100mi = 25 miles EV for Prime.  Turns out, Hyundai made the decision to utilize more of the overall capacity available.  That capacity is usually used as a longevity buffer.  If the system doesn't ever deep discharge, the battery-pack should retain capacity longer.  Only 9% was programmed to remain untouched though.  (That's 8.1 of 8.9 kWh.)  Again, whoa!  It's so much less than the 28% that is reserved as a buffer in Prime (that's 6.3 of 8.8 kWh), it makes you wonder what magic chemistry or poor management influenced such a decision.  This seems a terrible idea.  Just like with the stories from diesel supporters, something doesn't add up.  Do we really have all the correct information?  What happens many years from now when EV range drops considerably due to diminished capacity?  Maybe that's just part of the design.  People will just trade-up for a new battery-pack years from now.  That would be an interesting new business-model.  After all, vehicles with electric-motors providing propulsion should last considerably longer.  Maybe Hyundai sees the opportunity to capitalize on their own post-upgrade sales, rather than letting aftermarket providers reap the benefit.


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