Personal Log  #877

June 1, 2018  -  June 9, 2018

Last Updated:  Fri. 7/20/2018

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TCO.  Total Cost of Ownership has been the approach many trying to endorse plug-in vehicles take.  They feel a proper conveyance of overall savings will draw more sales.  You prove to the person money is better spent by paying more upfront, since it takes far less with an electric motor & battery to operate.  Reality of that approach not reaching this audience is becoming all too clear: "I fully agree, but most people don't calculate that way.  They respond mostly to upfront costs, and/or cheapest monthly lease cost."  This problem is why SUV acceptance has become so popular.  People see monthly payments as managable and simply don't give it any more thought.  It's an obvious mistake from the accounting perspective, but emotion... that feeling of just getting by... is all that some people want.  They are not compelled to maximize.  This is what our mainstream has become.  True, other markets and those without disposable income, see the situation quite differently.  But knowing this audience means taking a different approach.  It's nice to see others beginning to recognize that problem.  Imagine if that enlightenment would have happened long ago, when the "Who?" question was first asked.  They couldn't figure out why their "it's worth it" logic was ineffective.  Logic doesn't work for everyone.  Know your audience.  Anywho, I responded to that with:  Bingo!  That's a difficult reality for some to recognize.  How do you appeal to people who don't place a high priority on saving money?


P0A80.  Helped a friend yesterday with his 2004 Prius.  At 213K miles, the engine is still working great, but the pack is shot.  It spent a lot of years used daily and without a garage, so it was a good lifetime.  I was able reset codes to confirm it truly was just the battery having issues.  This will be my first opportunity to witness a pack replacment.  It is basically the same experience I had 20 years ago, when the transmission in my Taurus gave out.  People do make that choice of major vehicle repair like that.  In fact, this is what there were so many transmission shops.  It happens.  Strangely though, the outcome isn't so extreme.  Putting a new transmission into a vehicle simply restores slipping gears.  Putting in a new battery dials back the clock to a new status.  It will be odd for a vehicle clearly showing age to be operating as if it was brand new again.  You don't get as much stealth (the electric-only mode in the hybrid mode) as the pack ages.  The engine runs more often simply due to the fact that capacity has faded over time.  Remember, it bares the brunt of propulsion, protecting the engine from strain.  With new cells, you get renewed life.  The Prius will be back to favoring electricity more again.  That certainly will be interesting.


Damage Control.  The outcome of GM's attempts to deliver a mainstream efficiency choice have been one disaster after another.  They equate to expensive conquests that never end up changing their status quo.  That loyal base of GM customers continue to keep buying the same thing.  So, it makes the announcement that GM just made about partnering with Honda appear quite different when you know the background.  Volt enthusiasts really doing damage control, appologizing for GM stumbles by making it look that they are actually the ones helping: "Honda is so behind on EV game, it’s not even funny.  Glad they decided to partner with somebody, anybody."  The approach is to simply distract by posting something seemingly on topic.  It's bascially hiding in plain view, pretending everything is fine.  After all, the damage is already done.  Drawing attention to it only makes the situation worse in their mind.  So, rather than learning from mistakes, they set themselves up to repeat them again.  Ugh.  Oh well, all you can do is point out what really happened:  Honda has already delivered what we still wait for from GM.  When Volt was rolled out, there's was an expectation for that technology to be spread to their core offerings... specifically, a model of SUV.  It still hasn't happened.  For that matter, there isn't even a full-size sedan comparable to Clarity announced yet.  Why hasn't the technology from 2010 made its why to anything other than Volt in this market?  The answer to that question is simple.  GM doesn't know how to make what they offer affordable.  Low cost wasn't part of the design approach, so now they are stuck with a difficult to sell technology.  Some of us expressed concern about that right from the start.  We saw the disaster Two-Mode had become and were witnessing the same mistakes being repeated with gen-1 Volt.  Not only did that indeed end up being the problem, that very issued wasn't addressed for gen-2 Volt either.  It's still not affordable. MSRP is too high to appeal to mainstream consumers.  Knowing this makes it easier to understand how the need for a partnership came about.  There's mutual benefit from sharing technology.  Look at how well the carbon-fiber knowledge from BMW made its way into Toyota's plug-in Prius.


Market Understanding.  I summed it down to this simple perspective: "Stage 1 = subsidized sales.  Stage 2 = actual competition.  Remember, the goal is to compete directly with traditional vehicles, replacing them with clean & efficient choices."  It is truly amazing how few people online actually understand that.  They think the plug-in market is isolated, emerging without any resistance from traditional vehicles.  They are quite naive to think that those offerings will be embraced by resellers.  Such a lack of business recognition is quite expensive of a mistake to make.  But then again, GM has been doing that for years.  All the "Who?" problems came from this same problem of not knowing audience.  We learned that lesson long ago with Prius.  Dealers weren't interested in carrying inventory which delivered a tiny profit that was a challenge to sell.  That's why Prius required standout traits.  It couldn't be just another vehicle back then.  Now, we see amazing performance from the likes of Camry hybrid.  Unfortunately, plug-in offerings aren't that well established.  So, there's a conflict within dealerships... whether those online want to acknowledge the problem or not.  Most think I'm nuts to show such concern for what seems to be a trivial point.  They are wrong.  Volt overwhelmingly proved it.  Here's what they still need to learn:  Plug-In vehicles are competing with traditional vehicles already.  It is a fight to be carried as inventory and to be displayed on showroom floors.  That perspective of the dealer is more important than that of consumers.  Because if there's nothing offered to buy, the status quo will not change.  In other words, the dealer is the true customer, they are determining who the competition is.


Sad Reality.  There's not much to say when the situation is spelled out like this: "People in America don't even attempt to disguise their corruption any more.  They revel in it and defy anyone to do anything about it."  That is what this nation filled with lots of short-sighted, self-centered people has become.  I saw that transformation as the Two-Mode disaster unfolded... which is why it has been such a symbolic feature in these blogs.  When it emerged as the biggest "over promise, under deliver" problem of modern time in the automotive business, the supporters developed an attitude... hence the emergence of enthusiasts.  Not caring whether there was anything to actually support their claims of being "vastly superior" didn't matter.  They had their talking points.  The fact that their chosen technology was unrealistically expensive, making it unsustainable didn't matter.  In fact, we are watching the final chapter of that playout now.  None of them seem to show any concern about the lack of sales growth or the upcoming loss of the $7,500 tax-credit.  They just plain don't care.  So, with an atmosphere like that, there isn't much of a barrier to keep corruption from filtering in.  After all, we already saw that with the diesel scandal.  It makes you wonder what other surprises could emerge if the usual checks & balances have faded away.  We already know the expectations for solar have dropped dramatically due to the upcoming new tariffs.  That will hurt EV support.


Limited Scope.  It never ceases to amaze me how there can be so many plug-in supporters who see nothing but the plug-in market.  They don't consider traditional vehicles competition.  There entire scope is limited to just vehicles with plugs... which has the unfortunate consequence of giving a distorted impression of what's actually happening with the industry.  Ironically, it was GM enthusiasts who slammed Toyota for only delivering a "compliance" vehicle.  For that to be true, they had to overlook the fact that Prius PHV was a mid-cycle rollout.  Looking at Prius Prime, the first full-cycle rollout, that clearly isn't the case... which puts Volt in a hypocritical position, since it is one its second full-cycle and Toyota is already exceeding what GM was able to achieve.  Watch for comments that don't take scope into account.  Expect there to be many more with the upcoming tax-credit phaseouts about to be triggered.  In the meantime, I'll keep posting comments like this one today:  While tax-credits are still available, the game is rigged.  Measure of true demand won't be accurate until subsidies are phased out and inventory is available locally for immediate purchase.  Until then, you are just sampling enthusiast interest.  Mainstream sales are far more difficult, but essential for sustainable profit.


Insufficient.  We are still having to deal with the "bigger is better" mentality.  It's based upon lack of knowledge.  Without real-world data, they just make assumptions.  So, whenever the 25-mile capacity is mentioned, it's the same old rhetoric all over again.  Their brainless assertions of "insufficient" make it easy to push them aside.  I just keep posting more real-world data:  966 miles so far on this tank, which reads less than 1/8 used so far.  That's what happens with a Prime when where you park at work and some destinations have chargers available.  When you don't, results are still amazing.  I wasn't able to plug in on Saturday.  So, the 39.6 miles I did running around town were with just the overnight recharge.  The result was 263.4 MPG.  Yesterday, I got 67.9 MPG from my 31.5 mile drive today without any electricity at all.  So, even when the engine runs, overall results are well over 200 MPG...which is quite sufficient.


Dying Industry.  We were presented with a plan today to force taxpayers to rescue the coal industry.  The claim is investment by utility companies will strengthen our national security.  How?  That doesn't make any sense.  Investing in a non-renewable source that causes harm to the environment is exactly what we should avoid.  Wind & Solar can be widely distributed, located close to those who will consume the electricity.  It can also be transport via wire without any resulting pollution.  Coal is quite the opposite.  What is the expected outcome anyway?  This won't result in higher employment.  Much of the coal industry has adopted large-scale automation.  Machines are doing most of the work now.  We know employment is growing in the renewable industry.  Think about how many workers are needed to install all that new equipment.  There's the upcoming energy-storage market too, where large battery facilities will hold electricity generated during times of wind & sun for use later when it is calm & dark.  The same will come about for commercial hydrogen use too.  Coal doesn't have a future.  It is only a bridge to it.  The plan today, which will ultimately raise energy costs (remember, coal competes directly with natural-gas), is harmful to ordinary consumers.  They will end up paying the price.


Waiting.  You never really get it.  Progress is a moving target.  There is always something better to wait for... at least, that's the situation with technology.  We've seen it that way with personal computers for over 4 decades now.  With vehicles though, there is a difference to that dynamic... being willing to pay for what you don't actually need.  That type of waste isn't common with those daily personal electronic devices we carry... despite them being far less expensive than a vehicle.  With that in mind, it makes you wonder how to respond to this: "Do I really have to wait until I'm in a nursing home before they start offering an affordable truck?"  What exactly is he actually waiting for?  It's somewhat of a contradiction wanting a guzzler to become more efficient, yet to still be within the guzzler category.  Could something else achieve the same goals?  As somewhat of a wake-up call, I formulated my by-the-way with:  It won't ever happen.  The reason for trucks being pushed so much is they are high-profit vehicles.  Making them affordable would defeat that purpose.  The only good to come out of the crazy obsession is that conversion to plug-in is easier than with a car.  That wasted height & bulk can be used by battery.


Behind.  That rhetoric claiming Toyota is "behind" sure has fallen apart rather abruptly.  GM made a series of announcements today.  All had dates in the early part of the next decade... basically, following the same schedule Toyota had all along.  Only problem is, Toyota's path to electrification is quite clear.  Each hybrid will offer a plug at some point.  That's simple.  That's affordable.  That's sensible.  In other words, the automaker supposedly "kicking & screaming" about having to embrace the future obviously isn't.  So, the antagonists have suddenly become quiet... especially since nothing GM announced mentioned the United States specifically.  It all very much had a focus on the market in China instead.  Volt & Bolt are being left to struggle alone.  Meantime, we see Prius Prime advancing with an undeniable target of mainstream consumers.  Nissan is sharing a similar course.  Affordability with a nice balance of features is key.  That makes the others... like Honda, Chrysler, and Mitsubishi... a bit uncerrtain.  They are all much more expensive and each is rather specialized.  There's lots of potential.  Maybe we'll see more rounded options in the next few years.  Hope from VW and Ford is realistic too.  We see the industry changing... just not the way enthusiasts had claimed.


Defeat & Hope.  It's over.  You can tell by looking at the sentiment of hope.  That transformed from pushing wants to finally acknowledging need: "I hope someone at GM is taking note of these trends and will consider a decent ad campaign for and larger follow-on to the Volt."  This came from an nasty antagonist on that daily Volt blog, but posted on a general-audience EV blog.  He absolutely hated my one-size-fits-all compliant.  Hearing me push for diversity made him absoultely crazy.  The lashing out at me for expressing "too little, too slowly" concern was deep, deep denial on his part what was necessary.  Diversity is esstential.  It's a basic principal of good business.  Yet, he fought me with every possible attack method.  In his mind, that next step would dilute the EREV approach... which was so vague, it didn't actually represent anything anyway.  But holding onto hope is all some people have.  Admitting defeat is difficult when you don't have a solid plan for progressing forward.  Volt was a gamble, a huge risk that failed to attract mainstream sales.  Could advertising have helped?  Yes, of course.  But it was obvious GM wasn't interested... a stance still difficult for some to accept.  GM's obsession with SUV sales should have made that crystal clear.  After all, that is what I pointed out when suggesting the "follow-on" for the technology in Volt.  Having someone like me be correct is difficult to embrace though... when you identify the competition as other plug-in vehicles, rather than traditional choices.  It was a flawed approach from the start, hence the defeat... what I predicted a decade ago.  That's how the "Who?" question came about.


Audience, push.  I'm unwilling to allow the status quo to continue.  Back to playing offense means I push, like when seeing this: "The Ioniq for the most part reminded me of the Prius, weak acceleration"  Coming from a frequent antagonist (know your audience) who thrives on negative attention, I mixed it up by taking over the narrative.  Not allowing the pattern of belittling to continue is all it takes.  Step up, rather than be an enabler.  So, I did:  Sloppy or Careless reporting will get called out, as I am doing now to that.  Off the line, I'm almost always the leader of the pack.  The electric-motor has substantial torque with zero noise or feel penalty.  So, being generous with the pedal is very realistic.  We also know for a fact that the Toyota system delivers more electric-power than Hyundai's.  Of course, how often do you actually need maximum EV power?  I find it quite rare when merging onto the highway.  So, that vague use of "weak" is misleading at best.  You can always switch to HV mode for more power anyway.  Remember, the audience for Prime is quite different from that of Tesla.


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