Personal Log  #875

May 23, 2018  -  May 27, 2018

Last Updated:  Fri. 7/20/2018

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Admit What?  News from Toyota that automotive-grade versions of solid-state batteries won't be realistic for at least a decade (roughly 2 product-cycles) is naturally stirring spin.  No one takes into consideration that they could work just fine for next-gen offerings, but be so unrealistically expensive that they aren't used.  Sound familiar?  That's exactly why the plug-in Prius didn't come out sooner.  Even with limited capacity, the pack wasn't affordable.  Anywho, there's quite a bit of brainless attacks now.  For example: "With hybrids you increase the power train complexity and cost for minimal increased efficiency.  This is why they have never caught on.  Toyota can't admit it because they invented the tech and have a lot invested in it."  I was annoyed by how meritless that claim was.  Worse though is the thought that this audience could be so poorly informed or so gullible as to accept the claim without question.  Ugh.  It could happen.  There's so much tribulism now, some people simply don't bother to listen anymore.  Remember how bad it got on the daily blog for Volt?  They just stopped caring.  Oh well.  I can at least try to convey some sensibility to the discussions:  Real-World data proves that false. 12 million have been sold, the emission & consumption reductions dramatic, and the cost is competitive.  With my Prime, the current tank just barely reads below full, despite having driven over 700 miles already.  I have been averaging over 100 MPG for lifetime efficiency.  That's an incredible result from a hybrid with a MSRP starting at $27,100.  Toyota has already delivered a full EV driving experience.  Whether or not the first non-hybrid plug-in offered here uses solid-state batteries doesn't matter.  In about a year, the EV model of C-HR will makes its debut in China.  So what if it uses the most advanced lithium battery with electrolyte instead?  There is nothing to admit.


Spinning Reality.  It's quite bizarre to read such inaccurate claims: "Toyota likes to spend a lot of time perfecting something before releasing it to the public.  It has served them well in the past.  Unfortunately for them for them, the plug-in vehicle market is evolving too quickly."  They are just spinning their own reality rather than acknowledge, or even recognize, what actually happened.  My guess is people posting greenwash like that are clueless, totally guessing about the history they had no part of.  After all, it's easy to make fundamental mistakes about a past looking backward using only vague references you stumble across in recent posts.  Annoyed, I fired off a contradiction to that dribble with actual facts:  Toyota's electrification history is filled with incremental upgrades.  That has been anything but unfortunate.  Prius was rolled out in 1997, then got a major mid-cycle upgrade for the battery-pack in 2000 prior to arriving in the United States.  In 2003, the gen-2 of Prius was rolled out.  By 2006, the technology has been upgraded & spread for use in a sedan (Camry), an AWD minivan (Estima), and a SUV (Highlander).  In 2009, we got the gen-3 Prius was rolled out.  In 2012, the first-gen plug-in Prius was rolled out.  In 2016, the gen-4 Prius was rolled out.  In 2017, the second-gen plug-in Prius was rolled out.  What part of that doesn't confirm the moving quickly?  You do realize how easy it would be for Toyota to rollout a mid-cycle upgrade for the plug-in Prius?  An upgrade to the battery-pack for a bump in range & power is quite realistic.  After all, Toyota did exactly that for the gen-1 Prius.


500,000 Dieselgate Vehicles.  The numbers are quite staggering, so far.  300,000 are already stored at 37 facalities around the United States.  Another 50,000 being retrofit for resale.  Ultimately, there will be 500,000 from the buyback, resulting in $7.4 Billion paid back to former customers.  85 percent of the work must be complete by June 2019, or there will be additional payments required.  A total of $25 Billion will be spent to deal with the situation.  The videos & photos stir emotion.  There's a see of parked cars shown in each flyover.  What will become of them?  It's an amazing mess.  We were lied to.  Diesel enthusiasts attacked hybrid supporters.  How many do you think apologized for that?


Ignore Rhetoric.  As a senior leader of effort to promote, there's no reason to put up with any of the rhetoric anymore.  There's plenty of real-world data to work with now.  So, I'm back to playing offense.  When an antagonist jumps into the mix, I don't even bother to respond directly (unless there just happens to be an opportunity for useful feedback).  My post focuses on promoting.  For example, today there was an article on "hot plug-in hybrids" which naturally stirred up some vastly superior nonsense.  I ignored it, choosing to post this as a new comment (rather than a reply) to draw attention back to what actually matters:  5.7 mi/kWh is what I saw on my most recent commute home from work in my Prime, with the A/C running  That's value most people... even some plug-in owners... don't recognize the significance of yet.  Anyone can brag about EV range from a larger battery-pack, but it's how that electricity is actually used is what really matters.  Admittedly, I don't see efficiency that high routinely.  But for the month of May (so far) here in Minnesota, my average is currently at 458 MPG.  So, even when the freakishly efficient gas engine starts, there isn't a major impact to overall results.  As for what makes a "hot plug-in hybrid", all you have to do is answer the unsolicited questions people ask when you are using the free chargers at the local grocery store.  The most common are "How long does it take to recharge?" and "How many miles will it go on electricity?" Upon providing the answers, slipping in a "Sticker-Price starts at $27,100." stirs further inquiry... rather than the instant dismissal you get with more expensive offerings.  It's very clear ordinary consumers are looking for a balance, not an emphasis on range or power.

5-26-2018 Goals.  There are some who like to brag.  When Model 3 comparison info clearly bias toward Tesla, was posted on the big Prius forum, a few of us pounced.  What was he expecting with such obvious trolling?  I pointed out his use of bait, asking for him to state goals.  Of course, he didn't.  Instead, he just bounced the question back to me with: "State your goals then."  That act of deflection is a clear sign of his true intent.  He was just looking for an easy fight to win.  Sadly, that's the behavior of a bully.  Some people never outgrow inapproriate acts.  Anywho, I punched back with:

I already have... countless times now.  They haven't changed in the past 18 years either... to significantly reduce emissions & consumption in a reliable & cost-effective manner.  That means I call of those who misrepresent the needs of mainstream buyers.  There's nothing wrong with supporting something you believe in, but if it's different from what ordinary consumers will care about, expect attention to be drawn to that fact.  In this case, Tesla is a great car that simply isn't something you'll be able to most everyone we know to seriously consider for purchase.

How many people where you work would even be remotely interested in any type of plug-in vehicle now, in 2018?  Most choices are just plain not realistic.  When tax-credit phaseout begins, that situation is going to become even more of a grim outlook.  That's a fact, nothing which can be debated.  True, it will change over the course of the next few years, but that's not what you just tried to present... hence the request for goals.

Think about how few of your friends could just jump into the deep end without any hesitation.  Installing a 7.7 kW charger connected to a dedicated 40-amp line in their garage is too much for most... and that's just a minimum for plug-in vehicles with 200-mile ranges.  How many households have more than just 1 vehicle? Upgrades at home to accommodate recharging take time & money.

Prius Prime is extremely realistic for serious consideration in 2018.  Toyota's well proven tech is now offered in an affordable package.  You don't need anything more than a normal 120-volt outlet to greatly benefit from it either.  This is the first plug-in hybrid to be realistic competition directly against traditional vehicles without any subsidy.

I watched both generations of Volt fail miserably, based on the sales goals we were told to expect.  They were to "leapfrog Prius" with its "vastly superior" technology.  That most definitely did not happen.  Being able to change the status quo is remarkably difficult.  Impressive engineering from GM or Tesla or even Toyota isn't enough.  Careful consideration of need is required. Appealing to want just plain does not work outside of the enthusiast audience.  Mainstream consumers have very different priorities.

What are your goals?

5-25-2018 Repetition.  You know when an antagonist says it, times are changing: "Sounds like a history repeat."  Yes, it's ironic that seeing the repeat represents change.  But at least being in a cycle means the next step is a predictable... which opens up the opportunity to influence.  Eventually, a pattern will break if you know exactly how & when to push.  That's what I've been hoping for.  Think about the gap being created each time.  Between the successes & failures, it widens.  At some point, drawing enough attention to that will cause the resistance to weaken... which is why I keep bringing up goals?  Think about technology advancements.  When does it start to appear silly to fight change?  For example, when did you stop using a landline at home?  Why did you make that decision?  How long did it take for that change to come about?  Did you upgrade your cell-phone several times before realizing that phone still connected with a cord wasn't serving any practical purpose anymore?  You get the point... eventually:  

The repetition isn't as obvious sometimes though.  I was attacked relentlessly on GM forums when pointing out the pattern Volt was following.  It was the same disaster as Two-Mode playing out again. GM was focusing heavily on size & power again.  Only this time, the measure of "size" was range rather than physical dimension.  GM sacrificed affordability then and was repeating it for gen-1 Volt.  Then then did it yet again with gen-2 Volt.  Now, we are witnessing that same obsession with Bolt.

Ironically, that "size" issue will be the center of attention yet again.  GM will finally have to deliver a plug-in their own loyal customers will actually be interested in purchasing... a SUV.  Imagine trying to squeeze 53 miles of capacity into an Equinox.  It's just plain not realistic (weight, efficiency, cost, etc).  This is why we don't see any advertising of gen-2 Volt.  Each time the cycle repeats, they move back the goal-posts.

We'll see a more modest design... all those who absolutely insisted more was needed and that Toyota's approach wasn't enough would have vanished.  It is a reset... which they will likely make the same mistakes, yet again.

5-25-2018 Whining.  Sometimes, that seems the best recourse: "It feels like most of these manufacturers just push their money grubbing SUVs and trucks, as long as the masses will suck 'em up.  I'm waiting for those nice, big fat gasoline price increases to bring back religion to the marketplace!  Then let the whining begin."  The better thing to do is share insight into the situation and reflection upon the past.  Knowing history and getting an idea what to expect is help... though, whining provides a good feeling.  Guess what I did:

It's a sad reality watching the cycle repeat.  That desperation for profit leads automakers down that easy path, one that's self-destructive.  They don't care though.  It is very much a live-in-the-now situation.  Leaving their successors to clean up the mess is a normal part of the game they play.

We saw that happen before the recession.  Unfortunately, we have even seen it happen with plug-ins.  Remember how literally everyone involved with the Volt development program "moved on" prior to rollout?  That makes no sense whatsoever.  You don't work on a project for years, then walkaway just before people begin to use what you developed.  It was an "abandon ship" no one seems to actually notice.

We're going through that again.  These big guzzlers don't have anyone to be held accountable when things go bad... which they inevitably will.  The price of gas is going up and mainstream consumers are witnessing hints of plug-in success.  From our perspective (the well informed), we are witnessing quite a fight taking place to retain the status quo.

The only fortunate thing out of the @#%$!& guzzler mess is those unnecessarily large commuter vehicles can accommodate a battery-pack easier than a car.  That wasteful space in a SUV can actually be used for some good.  True, those vehicles will be expensive & inefficient compared to the likes of Prius Prime, but buyers of SUVs aren't known for placing a high priority on cost-of-ownership anyway.


Marketing.  The same thread that's been going on for days has taken a turn for the better: "Ironically, Toyota is really not "marketing" Primes either, at least in Southern California, that I know.  They're relying on word-of-mouth to sell the car; there are no ads!"  That's getting back on track, figuring what works and what really matters.  I jumped back in with:  Word-Of-Mouth has been how all of the Prius were originally sold.  Toyota wants the limited initial supply to go to the well-informed... which means knowing someone who already owns one.  It's you and I that begin the process, sharing what we experience firsthand.  That information reaches those who seek it, the savvy online participants, who ask questions in return.  Think about how long it takes just to gather enough real-world data to set realistic expectations.  Greenwash & Disenchantment are problems avoided by targeting specific audiences first.  The wider market will naturally follow, once there is a path laid down by us.  In fact, we're the ones who provided detail about how Toyota should formulate the general audience advertisements.


Tribalism.  It's easy to get off-track and flustered when people put up barricades, unwilling to listen to other points-of-view.  This expressed that sentiment: "I have avoided further comment on this thread because it is symptomatic and symbolic of what is happening in the US society today, TRIBALISM. it comes down to "what I believe is right and what you believe is wrong", whether we are talking about politics, religion, environment, cars, etc. for example."  Sharing that view, it was easy (and vindicating) to post:  I ran into that many years ago, as well as recently on this thread.  It's a one-size-fits-all belief. The close-mindedness is really unfortunate.  They want change to fit into their template only.  Nothing else matters.  In fact, no matter what you say, they only hear "Toyota" or "range" or "profit", since the idea of multiple solutions or approaches is impossible in their mind.  That wall is extremely difficult to overcome.  Real-World data has proven to draw attention through all those shouting their perspective.  You'll encounter pushback & dismissal, even when they are proven wrong.  You'll encounter a lot of distraction too, extra noise that confuses focus.  It's very easy to lose track of goals.  Keep your message clear.  Knowing purpose is helpful to everyone.  Most often, conflict comes from limited score... time & audience.


New Zealand.  I stumbled across 2018 first-quarter sales results for New Zealand.  That's quite a unique market.  Limited in resources and isolated to an extreme, what is their approach when it comes to transportation?  Turns out, Prius Prime is doing well there.  Of the 12,100 plug-in hybrid sales, Toyota's was the top-seller.  Sadly though, the exact quantity wasn't actually mentioned.  There were counts for hybrids though.  C-HR hybrid was the leader in that category with an amazing 52,301 sold.  Whoa!  Prius came in second with 46,652 sold.  Following that was Suzuki Spacia, a hybrid I haven't ever heard of.  Fourth place was capture by Prius c (known as Aqua everywhere but here) with 39,252 purchases.  In fifth was the Vitz (aka Yaris) hybrid with sales of 37,080.  Those are impressive numbers... especially for a population of 4.6 million.  It makes sense that hybrids would be popular there.


Work Parking.  Many of my videos feature the ramp I park at for work.  After all, that's where I drive to on a very regular basis.  The catch is, that was scheduled to be changed.  This Fall, the plan was to replace that nearly 50-year-old structure with a modern one... complete with a section devoted to charging-stations.  Unfortunately, it experienced some trouble... despite all the work over the years to reinforce with new rebar and add more support to guarantee integrity.  A crack developed and chunk of ceiling broke loose.  As a precautinary measure, they closed the ramp for inspection until further notice.  That may mean I'll simply end up finding an alternative location to park for quite awhile.  So much for offering consistent data measure over time.  Oh well.  Variety is good too.  Eventually, the new ramp will open.  But you know how budgetting and contracts go.  That's a very slow & complicated process.  It could take quite some time before returning is realistic.  We'll see.  Perhaps certain sections will be opened for limited use.  Maybe I'll get lucky with the location of the chargers.  Whatever the case, there is another ramp nearby that may have room for use to plug in.  Not being able to park as close to work is a bummer.  I sure was lucky with that old setup.


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