Personal Log  #881

July 2, 2018  -  July 8, 2018

Last Updated:  Fri. 7/20/2018

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Punish Who?  More and more people are making blanket statements like this without providing any reasoning: "It punishes pioneer and rewards sluggish automakers."  It's that complete absense of follow-up that gets me.  Not stating a purpose of any kind makes the claim a worthless contribution to the discussion.  Without anything to suggest what  advancement should be rewarded, or even what inaction should be punished, why are they sounding off?  Every time I ask, there's silence... which is a confirmation of not having actually thought the situation through.  Anyone can make a generalization.  Very few take the time to stand behind their decision though.  That lack of commitment is a dead giveaway there's shortcomings not addressed.  Needless to say, my perspective is quite different:

Economics state otherwise.  In fact, we now have proof of that.

GM used their tax-credits for conquest, attracting sales from outside to sell a vehicle clearly not viable as a sustainable high-volume product that's profitable.  Rather than using the money to subsidize a design to appeal to the masses, they wasted it.  Why should more money be provided for the same thing?

Volt technology should have been adapted for use in a vehicle GM customers actually want.  For many years, concern about the disinterest GM had to deliver a mainstream product fell on deaf ears.  Gen-1 was clearly a niche.  Gen-2 should have been an effort to rectify that; instead, it became even less of a vehicle appealing to their own loyal customers.  How can rewarding that be justified?

Consider the number of Volt owners who abandoned GM when their lease expired. Consider how low the sales of Volt continue to be, even with that generous $7,500 help.  Consider how little Volt actually did to change the status quo.  GM sells a massive number of guzzlers and has no actual path to electrification for them.

Meanwhile, we have Toyota being labeled as "laggard" even though their entire fleet has a clear electrification path.  Prius has already been delivered as a plug-in hybrid.  Next year, the Corolla hybrid will get a plug-in model too.  That makes it very easy to see how Camry, RAV4, and C-HR hybrids could also offer a plug.  So, why exactly is that an activity to punish?

Think about which will do more to replace traditional vehicles with something offering plug.  With millions of sales each year, we should not allow more waste.  It's the ability to bring about change the tax-credits should be used for.

Based reward on merit, not enthusiast praise.  The homework assigned was to bring about real change prior to tax-credit expiration.  In fact, that is the very reason why there is a phaseout stage that does not have a count limitation.


Inflicting Harm.  There are a few who do it intentionally.  This was the case with our EPA administrator yesterday, hours before he resigned.  He granted permission to proceed with business as usual for a diesel freight truck, which will equate to a major emission loophold.  The argument (of course) was the financial hardship would outweigh the environmental benefit.  I call that a load of crap.  Allowing that particular vehicle to contineu polluting as much as 55 times what emission-controls would restrict is absurd.  One years's worth of its sales would release about 13 times as much NOx (the nasty smog type of emission) as all of the VW dieselgate cars combined.  Remember that disaster?  How can giving permission for more violations in the name of profit be acceptable?


Distraction.  This gave me reason for pause: "Trump is also a master of distraction, and he has a polished record of creating new political storms to disguise scandals and dramas that could damage him politically."  Sound familiar?  That's what contributed to a bunch of the blogging I did in the past.  GM provided an endless source of the same nonsense.  When something big approached and you knew the inevitable face-the-music moment arrived, there would be an annoucement about something totally unrelated.  That news would be spectacularly captivating.  It would also be horribly vague... which contributed to a variety of understanding problems... exactly what you want when trying to distract.  Enthusiasts gobble it up, taking it every word as a promise written in stone.  It didn't matter how absurd or outrageous the claim was, they supported it as if delivery had already taken place.  Their blind trust was appalling.  Excuses were plentiful.  Blame was obvious.  It's rhetoric you cannot believe.  How could so many people be so gullible?  Distraction shouldn't be that effective.  But when dealing with those who inattentive and lack constructive reasoning skills, you have an audience easy to manipulate.  It's a scary part of "know your audience" that hurts to understand.  He does.  GM does too.  They both have a past filled with examples of distraction.  Sadly, we can expect more in the future too.  Watch for it.


Propulsion Power Reduced.  Today started with a stumble across a comment on the Volt forum about a "PPR issue" which caught my attention.  Why hadn't I ever heard of that?  Turns out, it's a problem antagonists have gone to great lengths to keep quiet.  This is an aspect of Volt operation they clearly have been trying to hide, since knowledge of it helps confirm Volt is even more of a plug-in hybrid than any EREV propaganda would have you believe.  Technically, it is this: "At some point, the computer decides you're not allowed to pull any more out of the battery and reduces propulsion output to 55 KW in order to prevent any further drain from the battery."  In other words, if the available capacity is too low, all power must come from the engine... which is a condition those nasty antagonists claimed would never happen.  Demand for more will pretty much only happen when climbing a long, steep hill.  But when you do searches for the issue, you will find a collection of owners who have encountered the situation.  It's why GM introduced the hold feature and specifically labeled it as "Mountain" mode.  If you don't use it, you may experience the issue too.  Knowing some owners won't take that preventative action, which is what I wondered about, there is a system update available.  I suspect this is applied whenever an owner reports the issue, as one had put it this way: "As an aside, there is a software fix for the PPR issue, though you'll likely lose 10% usable battery."  That would be a simple remedy when seeing the message on the screen and having the engine-light come on.  It equates to 5.3 miles of range loss though, putting it dangerously close to Honda's rating.  Being called out for hypocritical power claims and being matched by a clearly nicer PHV offering isn't the way enthusiasts hoped things would play out.


Fake News.  We've been dealing with it for countless years, long before most people realized propaganda material would be disguised as news.  It was so annoying to have to deal with that on a regular basis.  Back then, there weren't comment sections associated with online articles.  Instead, we'd have to try to fix the trouble stirred by the misconceptions being created.  People would refer to those published articles as if that was a credible source never to be questioned.  This is why I ended up pushing so hard with the videos.  That real-world detail became a powerful tool.  I remember so many posts stating the EV range of Prius PHV was only 6 miles, despite their being endless posts disputing the claims.  It wasn't until people started seeing those drives easily exceed the supposed distance limitation that antagonists backed off... since they didn't want to get called out as intentionally spreading greenwash.  I still remember filming a drive that delivered 13 miles and feeling so good.  True, that was far from my record of 18 miles, but this was with the battery-pack now 4.5 years old.  Sadly, some attacks using fake news are happening with Prius Prime too.  Fortunately, I was lucky effort to capture a bunch of footage during my first year of ownership.  So, there's lots of material to fight back with already.


Recognition.  Many, many, many years too late, at least what some of us had been saying is finally getting recognition as a next step: "By all accounts the "voltec" drive system is very good.  If they put it in a small crossover style body it would sell very well I think."  The harrassment I had to endure for saying the same thing...  Ugh.  The enthusiasts of Volt absolutely hated me for suggesting what GM do with the technology.  It was amazing what they did to fight change.  Any type of acknowledgement of that GM should do something else was, in their mind, an admission of defeat.  So, it an endless stream of brutal posts trying to prove me wrong.  That never worked though, since ultimately I knew my message would triumph.  Diversity is absolutely necessary for growth anyway.  But it was the reality of Volt being poorly configured to appeal to mainstream consumers that made them crazy.  To succeed, they would have to compromise by giving up on an ideal.  It feels good knowing all those confrontations were polite on my part.  No matter how much they attempted to personally offend and hurt me, I remained true to my support of affordable solutions without ever lashing back at them on their terms.  In other words, I was unwilling to stoop to their level, unwilling to give them the pleasure of providing a reason for them to call me out.  I just kept repeating the same message of GM needing to spread their technology to other vehicles.  Read through my older blogs for detail on that nasty past.  Understanding how we got to this point is very helpful to know.  We prevent future errors by learning from mistakes of the past... and they sure provided lots of educational opportunity.


Ahead.  Antagonists are really working hard now to undermine the progress by Toyota.  Virtually all of it is coming from EV supporters, those who believe "BEV" is the only solution.  That means "Battery Electric Vehicle", which is a term used to disqualify plug-in hybrids and fuel-cell vehicles even though both can operate entirely with electricity.  Don't only want purity and believe taking a single step with that as the ultimate solution is the only choice.  That's quite unrealistic.  The market is far too diverse and infrastructure far too limited to achieve that quickly.  But since they don't believe in transition and refuse to acknowledge anything outside of BEV sales, it very difficult to get any type of constructive discussion.  This is just like Volt of the past, they just plain don't care.  Nonetheless, I continue to push back on their message that Toyota is supposedly dragging their feet:  RAV4 and CAMRY hybrids are quite popular, not all at the "old news" narrative you attempt to portray.  COROLLA is an extremely popular vehicle worldwide and will be making its debut as a plug-in hybrid next year.  CH-R will be making its debut as an EV next year as well.  That all represents wide-scale efforts to steer their own loyal customers toward electrification… putting them ahead of many other automakers.


Smart Incentives.  There is a growing effort to retain the status quo.  Tax-Credit phaseout is becoming a terrible reality for some.  That concern of "too little, too slowly" is too much for them to finally accept.  So, they are choosing denial.  Just extend the tax-credits.  That's their solution, despite the obvious flaws.  The biggest complaint was they favored the rich, rewarding them for endorsing vehicles far too expensive for any of us to ever purchase.  Why provide such generous incentive for those who don't need it?  Giving to the rich while doing nothing to help those who would gain great benefit makes no sense.  Yet, that's what they want more of.  Ugh.  There has also been the problem of how overly simplistic the incentive actually was.  There was nothing to promote actual merit, something to reward engineering achievement.  It was nothing but showing favor for size... which we all know who exploited.  Hope of a vehicle emerging for the masses prior to phaseout from GM clearly didn't happen.  In fact, it is now rather difficult to argue Volt was designed to appeal to mainstream buyers.  Anywho, I keep punching back at the effort.  Today, it was on a long and very active new thread about the topic:  What about having to meet a minimum efficiency level?  Subsidizing vehicles that guzzle electricity certainly isn't a step in the right direction.  Cramming more battery into a vehicle to meet an arbitrary distance doesn't promote efficiency.  In fact, it wastes a variety of resources.  We want smart incentives, not what seems good.


Heavy Lifting.  New words, like "punish", continue to emerge.  Other words, like "ground breakers", would be a welcome shift.  That isn't realistic though.  There isn't any sense of cohesion yet.  I chose to focus on another today, hoping the drastic attitudes don't become the mantra:  "Heavy Lifting" is cherry-picking.  No large-scale rollout can succeed without significant investment in the work required to appeal to ordinary consumers... the unseen efforts... like what Toyota did to make hybrids such RAV4 and Camry a very easy transition to plug-in.  Rewarding those who went after low-hanging fruit is helpful for next-stage market penetration.


Unfair.  Discussions will likely go on throughout the remainder of the year, never really getting resolved.  Think about how there is no sense of agreement among plug-in supporters about how charging-stations should be used.  For that matter, there still isn't a shared approach agreed upon for how to deal with ICE'd parking spots.  That lack of any clear message is how problems are created & sustained.  Look at Volt for another example; enthusiasts disagreed about audience & purpose for years.  So when it comes to an even more diverse potential audience, we're simply stuck.  What to do in the form of subsidies to help promote growth is a complex issue with no easy suggestion.  This is how I contributed to the discussion today:  Unfair?  What about those who wasted their credits, using them for conquest sales rather than attracting their own base?  Remember, purpose of the tax-credit was to reduce each automaker's traditional production by getting loyal buyers to switch.  Not using the subsidy for that purpose is good reason to prevent more from being wasted.  Missing that opportunity was their choice.  They had their chance, but squandered it.


Expiring Tax-Credits.  The fallout is about to begin.  We expect news soon that Tesla crossed the 200,000 threshold, which will trigger tax-credit phaseout.  That means things are about to get ugly.  Focus is always on "leadership" in the form of which ever automaker delivered the most EV range.  Supposedly, that is the only measure of worth.  Being affordable or the most efficient is still being ignored.  Enthusiasts  are obsessed with battery-packs becoming larger and larger.  That's really sad.  Lack of balance is never a good thing.  Success among mainstream consumers requires the satisfying of a wide variety of criteria.  Their priorities don't focus on just the most of something.  In fact, this has always been the secret to high-volume sales for Prius.  It was never just impressive MPG alone.  Yet, there are some that want to reward GM for focusing so heavily on range anyway.  Virtually every day, I hear some enthusiast belittle PHEV offerings from other automakers for still not matching what Volt delivered all those years ago.  Other factors are completely ignored.  Again, that's really sad.  So naturally, I have much to say about the upset related expiring tax-credits.  The purpose was to achieve high-volume sales prior to them expiring, which is why each automaker had their own time-table.  GM clearly wasted that opportunity.  Why should more be offered?  Tesla, on the other hand, has actually achieved that.  Kudos!  That could be rewarded; however, the manner in which that occurs should be discussed.  Progress means setting new goals.  What should they be upon entering this phase, on focusing squarely on mainstream consumers rather than plug-in enthusiasts?  I stated the situation this way:  Sounds like some want to reward OFFENSE for winning the game.  Don't overlook the importance of DEFENSE when it comes to what the team must do.  Think about how much Nissan, Hyundai, and Toyota worked to deliver affordable choices that don't have any dependence on tax-credit help.  Their efforts to deliver a sticker-price able to compete directly with other vehicles sharing the same showroom floor are vital.  In other words, those who sought the low-hanging fruit shouldn't reap all the reward.  It's a team effort.  Spoils should be shared based on what we set for goals in this next stage.  We are done appealing to enthusiasts.  Are range & power really as important to draw mainstream consumer interest?


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