Personal Log  #876

May 27, 2018  -  June 1, 2018

Last Updated:  Fri. 7/20/2018

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Audience, again.  Debate about the 2 top-selling choices is inevitable, regardless of how meaningless the claims are.  It is madness that anyone could even imply Tesla and Toyota are targeting a single group of consumers.  They clearly are not.  Yet, we have endless arguments sighting contrary points.  Ugh.  Oh well.  At least it is well documented that someone had a solid understanding of who within the mindlessness:  There's no reason to take banter on this thread seriously... since it makes no sense whatsoever comparing vehicles so dramatically different.  They clearly don't target the same audience.  Many here simply thrive on the participation, which is fine, but important not to overlook.  It's that problem of normalization.  Enthusiasts sharing information isn't an issue in any regard, as long as the context of what say, they are all aware that much of what's discussed won't apply to ordinary shoppers.  Know your audience.


Confirmation.  GM really screwed up by putting so much emphasis on range & power.  More and more of the enthusiasts are pointing out the shortcomings as a result.  Today's complaint eminates from the sales report being so bad.  Even though GM switched to quarterly reporting (to obviously conceal their trouble), the process of estimating sales based on inventory is accurate enough to still reveal the trend.  The use of "gain" really being a spin to hide the fact that "recover" is actually the proper term is telling.  But more importantly is highlighting the reasons why sales have been such a struggle.  To get certain features, you much choose the most expensive package for the GM plug-in vehicle... since range & power were deemed much more important.  I knew when enthusiasts blew off everything but those traits, they would be in a world of hurt later.  Ordinary shoppers want a balance of features... exactly what both Volt & Bolt lack.  A complaint about that emerged in today's discussion.  I was happy to point out why:  Adaptive Cruise (aka: Dynamic Radar Cruise Control) is included standard on all the common Toyota cars... RAV4, C-HR, Corolla, Camry, Prius.  GM's sacrifice if leaving off features like that hasn't proven a wise choice.  It's more confirmation of having focused too heavily on enthusiast interests, rather than mainstream consumers.


Volt Trouble.  The spin was intense right from the start today.  Volt is in trouble.  GM hasn't expressed any interest.  Selling it has become pointless.  Bolt was to be the replacement, but it too is struggling for attention.  If you want a seriously nice EV, you buy a Tesla.  There's no debate.  For an affordable solution, it's well worth considering considering Nissan.  Those are the EV choices.  It's either Model 3 or Leaf.  That's why Prime has emerged as the plug-in hybrid of choice.  True, we see other options offered, but the market is so limited they have no following established yet.  So, the spin to keep Volt relevant is well underway.  I hit back with detail to debunk the effort:  "Volt Gains Ground" doesn't reflect history.  Monthly sales of 1,600 to 1,700 was the trend throughout a bulk of gen-1 offerings, with the exception of year-end rushes and the price-drops.  That was considered poor no matter how it was looked upon too, which is why much higher expectations were set for gen-2 sales.  For any plug-in to be realistically competitive with traditional vehicles (a true mark of replacement progress), unsubsidized monthly sales here must be at least 5,000.  Below that, the status quo simply isn't getting changed.  To sustain momentum into the world of electrification, significant growth is required.


Low Volume.  Don't you love how claims like this come out of no where: "Model-3 will retain the sales crown as Prius-Plugin is only a low volume car."  The person saying that pretty much never provides any supportive data either.  They just make the wild statement, then vanish.  It's a blatant effort to undermine.  Make a vague post as if it is fact, without bothering to supply anything of any merit as proof.  It's just like our current president... keep interjecting the same lie into comments, repeating it so often people take it as true.  Seeing that type of nonsense play out in the automotive industry is very frustrating.  But to see the same behavior on that political scale is very disturbing.  We'll see oil & coal get support to further environmental damage... to the world.  It's hard to believe such activity on the basic online forum emerge on such an enormous scale, the same spin.  The suggestion to combat that is to inform as many people as possible through real-world data.  They'll try to debunk everything you say, but witnessing it firsthand conveys the message better.  That's why I film so many drives.  Each video is packed with detail.  You can't deny that much evidence after awhile, especially when it is so easy to share with others for review & feedback.  You can break first impressions that way, get beyond the problem of anecdotal observation.  People don't research.  They often just accept what they read as fact.  So, that is where you start... especially in the case of availability.  Make them curious enough to start watching roads more.  They'll notice, eventually.  In the meantime:  Low volume car based on anecdotal observation would give that impression.  In reality, the first year was a worldwide rollout, so availability was very limited.  Despite that, there were still 51,000 delivered.


Fizzle.  Think about how many times I asked for enthusiasts to state goals.  Think about how many times they changed the definition of EREV.  It's easy to become frustrated or disenchanted afterward, when clear expectations were not actually set.  For example: "I think a lot of people are unfairly judging the Volt as if it's a type of car it was never meant to be."  That comment was made following a post of what will likely be the outcome of May sales.  He never actually stated what it was meant to be.  So naturally, the likelihood of sales continuing to struggle is a source of frustration.  Demand should have been so strong at this point that GM would be struggling with supply.  After all, that was the point of provided tax-credits.  The money was meant to subsidize sales so production could be ramped up to a profitable & sustainable level prior to phaseout.  GM fell well short of that, not even close.  Having delivered a niche for enthusiasts, rather than a plug-in replacement for traditional vehicles spelled doom & gloom right from the start.  And sure enough, all these years later, that's exactly the problem faced now.  Ugh.  I kept my response to that short:  Volt was promoted as a vehicle for mainstream consumers, a choice that would "leapfrog" the green market leader.  Technology that doesn't reach ordinary people unsubsidized in high-volume is a failure in that regard.  GM's leadership fizzled.  Their own loyal customers are still waiting for something to replace their current GM guzzler SUV with.


Brake!  That was sweet.  I was reminded just how smart the accident-detection system is in Prime today.  A vehicle up in the distance suddenly braked really hard.  The sensors detected its abrupt stop and made me aware that it was no longer in motion.  That's a really big deal.  When a vehicle comes to a full stop, rather than just continuing with a slow roll, it can be indication of a problem.  So, an alarm sounded and "BRAKE" appeared in red on the dashboard.  Since I was following with a generous gap, there was plenty of distance for me to stop too.  I had forgotten just how far ahead and how sensitive that detection is.  Preventing accidients is very, very important.  Yet, most people still only focus on crash-test ratings.  It's really sad that avoidance isn't promoted much.  Thankfully, we have been seeing mention of it from time to time with auto-braking advertisements.  But it is still far from being an expectation.  People think of it as a nice extra, rather than a must have.


Big Wind.  I was listening to videos while commuting to work.  Letting YouTube serve up recent news clips can be quite informative.  Today, that was especially the case.  When the advertisement between clips mentioned "Big Wind" it gave me a sick-to-the-stomach feeling.  I had stumbled across propangda.  The rhetoric was quite obvious too.  They voice kept stressing how much money would be wasted on solar & wind investments because the needs of customers don't happen exclusively when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing.  For you to be suckered into that belief, you cannot be informed that there is no means of storing that electricity.  Knowing that banks of batteries of tanks of hydrogen can be used to hold that energy in reserve until it is needed later completely wrecks their argument.  You also cannot be informed that the grid itself can help for distribution, since cloudy & calm days don't happen everywhere at the same time.  Another thing you shouldn't be aware of is how quickly that field is growing, the number of employment opportunities solar & wind are creating.  It was really sad to hear the desperation of Big Oil playing out.  But then again, they would only use such deception when the cards are stacked against them.  We know the end of petroleum use for personal transportation is approaching.


Doom & Gloom.  I find it quite amusing how some obvious Volt enthusiasts hoping to undermine Toyota don't really listen to what they are actually saying.  They try to spin a story of doom & gloon, but don't recognize it applies to the very thing they are trying to provide an endorsement for.  That's why they are enthusiasts, rather than supporters.  Blind hope and claims without merit don't account for much.  But that lack of recognition of the situation is why they shouldn't be taken serious.  Though, I do humor some with questions from time to time:  What automaker are you referring to?  Looking at GM, we see no path to the future.  It offers 2 low-volume, unprofitable plug-in vehicles that don't appeal to their own loyal customers.  GM shoppers want nothing to do with a compact hatchback or wagon.  They want SUV choices... of which, GM offers none with a battery-pack.  Toyota, on the other hand, has a clear path laid out for electrification.  There's a wide selection of hybrids now that will lead to plug-in hybrid and EV models.  It's an obvious stage being set for their entire consumer market, a diverse offering from a wide variety of shoppers.

5-29-2018 VIDEO: Using the Electric A/C.  I especially enjoyed filming this trip.  It's a really nice location I have been taking Prius photos at from the very beginning, all those years ago.  The park has been improved upon over the years.  There is now a charging-station and more trails.  So, that's a very appealing destination.  Anywho, you get to see my drive to & from there in this newest video: 

A/C use requires electricity from the battery-pack.  That need to stay cool will shorten EV driving distance available.

This example, where I go for a drive to the bluffs along the river (great bike trails there), shows how the impact hot conditions.  Normally, I would just plug in while parked to recharge the Prime.  But in this case, I immediately did the return trip to show total EV distance available in that heat while driving the scenic country road.

Watch the temperature on the dashboard display rise.  You start cool from having begun with a car in the shade.  But as you drive, even with the air blowing from the drive, that nasty heat eventually registers.  The video states 92°F to be reflective of an average for the entire trip.

EV distance for that charge was just shy of 27 miles.  Total distance driven was 33 miles.  Overall MPG for the round-trip was 342 MPG.

Note that the gauge data in the lower-right is from an aftermarket application, captured with my phone using an ODB-II port reader.

Watch it here...  Prius Prime - Using the Electric A/C


Big Oil.  So much spin has emerged that the basic unstanding of "peak oil" has been lost.  We hit that point a number of years ago.  It's easy to recognize when you step back to look at the big picture.  That was the moment when stability became uncertain.  For different audiences, that realization happened at different times.  It did happen though.  For everyone, that is now in the past.  There's no guarantee of anything anymore.  Price, Supply, Demand... are all anyone's guess.  The industry has no idea what to invest in now.  Peak occurred already.  How long the downfall will take is extremely uncertain.  There's nothing to bank on at this point.  We see success from vehicle electrification and the undeniable pushback against pollution sources.  That future is cannot be argued.  How we get there is subject of debate.  But the nature of the course doesn't matter, since we all see a common destination... one that no longer includes Big Oil.  I summed up the situation as of mid-2018 with:  Oil isn't only used for personal transportation.  Commercial use beyond just transport is an array of petroleum based products.  There's also the reality of product turnover.  Buying a new camera no big deal. T he purchase of a new vehicle is an entirely different matter.  It is far more expensive and you don't replace anywhere near as often.  The problem of where to plug in won't be overcome quickly either.  It will take a long time, but it will eventually happen.


Too Expensive.  That's what it boils down too.  Being cliché conveys the point well.  Those GM enthusiasts still clinging on to hope, rather than being realistic about the situation are losing attention.  Non-Enthusiasts simply aren't interested due to high sticker prices.  So, the fact that tax-credit phaseouts will soon be triggered basically ends even the most optimistic.  That's why most have vanished.  I made that all too clear with:  The cold, hard reality is you don't want to acknowledge the problem of cost.  Saying Toyota should at least have as much range as Volt overwhelmingly confirms that fact.  It's simply too expensive still.  You would be just as disappointed if price has been raised to compensate for that increase.  Keep in mind how high of a priority sticker-price has been for Prius.  Toyota has stayed true to that, not giving into tax-credit dependency like GM.  Looking at Volt sales, it's quite clear that the loss of the $7,500 subsidy is going to make that bad situation even worse.  Another thing to keep in mind about Toyota is the spin coming from antagonists.  Remember how much rhetoric we had to deal with when gen-1 Prius PHV production ended.  There were countless posts for months about how Toyota didn't believe in plug-in cars.  The internet is filled with those who are short-sighted and those hoping to disenfranchise.  Don't listen to their claims.  We'll get an increase of range & power as costs justifies.  Toyota is not going to compromise affordability just for the sake of pleasing enthusiasts.  Their focus is sustainable high-volume profitable sales to mainstream consumers.


Cleaning What?  Attempts to belittle Toyota's approach don't have much to work with anymore.  So many automaker announcements are for offerings a few years from now that anything with respect to a need to wait reference is hypocritical.  Yet, some try anyway: "Always waiting for some next development while someone else is cleaning their collective clocks."  It's basically the new twist on "behind" claims.  I'm not going accept any of that nonsense:  Who is cleaning what?  We aren't even out of the early-adopter phase... clearly marked by the presence of subsidies, in our case generous tax-credits.  Whether or not any legacy automaker can achieve sustained mainstream sales volume (at least 5,000 per month) to compete with the true competition remains to be seen.  Traditional vehicles pose a monumental challenge to overcome still.  Don't be fooled into complacency by initial sales to those willing to accept new technology that isn't able to take on the legacy offerings yet.  Remember, appealing to ordinary consumers is much, much more difficult than our group here.


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