Prius Personal Log  #900

November 7, 2018  -  November 12, 2018

Last Updated:  Tues. 12/18/2018

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No Pickup Plug.  An execute from GM made a statement today that shook the online community: "The core business is going to be the core business for a couple of decades to come.  There will not be any AV/EV pickups."  Hope had been that there were finally be some type of EV (Electric Vehicle) or AV (Autonomous Vehicle) annoucement related to pickups.  Instead, we got nothing.  There won't be a plug-in hybrid or even an ordinary hybrid.  Either choice is long overdue.  Remember Two-Mode?  That long-forgotten technology for GM's fleet of SUVs was a complete disaster.  It was expensive and didn't deliver much improvement.  Pretending it never existed is what enthusiasts and even supporters choose to do.  Having already tried is knowledge to suppress.  Any technology to improve emissions & efficiency is unacceptable... since that supposed means compromise.  The stiff competition for high-profit pickup sales is something they don't want to mess with.  So, they will pretend it isn't important.  Ugh.


Performance.  I was pleased to encounter this: "EV owners have been making the wrong argument this entire time."  That's very much a "know your audience" situation.  We hear from early-adopters with authority, claiming to be a voice of the people.  It reality, they're just enthusiasts.  You can't take someone seriously who took advantage of a $7,500 tax-credit claiming it won't be necessary to make the same purchase decision.  Yet, they imply that it doesn't matter all the time.  The biggest greenwash though is that the automaker will suddenly drop price $7,500 to make up the difference.  How does that work on vehicles targeted to make profit 3 years from now.  We certainly won't be seeing Volt as a high-volume offering from GM with such a large automaker subsidy.  Even if they did use profit from Pickups and large SUVs to provide that, what difference would it make?  Sales are low already.  Where the $7,500 comes from won't matter... unless it is a direct markdown.  But then again, what incentive would there be for a dealer to carry them?  In other words, there is so much a play with cost, the topic of performance doesn't draw more sales.  We've seen that approach fail miserably with Volt.  GM delivered performance.  Their own dealers & loyal customers weren't interested.  Mainstream shoppers were not impressed.  How many times can you point out the same issue?  I did, one more time:  "Fun to Drive" is a very difficult sell for mainstream consumers, especially if there's a premium involved.  They have different priorities, like size & horsepower, as opposed to impressive handling.  It's a diminishing return problem anyway.  The suspension & body-stiffness upgrades to Prius, combined with the added torque from the larger battery, make Prime more compelling.  But how much would even more actually draw if the audience is primarily SUV shoppers?  Think about who you are trying to convince.  Ordinary consumers... like my mother... couldn't care less.


Cross-Forum Attacks.  Angered by their own failure, some enthusiasts will follow you from forum to forum looking for an excuse to make themself feel better.  That's what this post was all about.  I'm drawing attention to his actions without direct reply, providing as much exposition as possible to catch up this audience to happenings elsewhere.  Not sure how effective it is, but the practice of summarizing is always helpful:  Toyota's goal is affordability.  GM failed to deliver on their own "nicely under $30,000" target and certain enthusiasts now hold a grudge, feeling the need to lash out at other legacy automakers for having got burned.  So, don't listen to the disenchanted.  $27,300 MSRP for the base Prius Prime is an amazing achievement.  That 25-mile electric-only range delivers impressive results for those not ready to spend a premium to get an EV.  We're still in the early-adopter stage. So, drawing conclusions is far too premature.  Ordinary consumers (those shopping the dealer's showroom floor) have yet to even consider the purchase of a plug-in vehicle yet.  It's just a "someday" idea still.  Sticking to a capacity that can be served by nothing but a standard 120-volt outlet overnight allows the opportunity to reach a very wide audience right away... which is ideal for legacy automakers hoping to quickly reach a large number of customers.  Whether you accept that approach or choose to listen to the disenchanted makes no difference.  That is their intent, like it or not.


Calling Out Lies.  Our society isn't good at that.  We are taught to avoid confrontation.  In fact, this is how the problem with enablers came about.  Not taking a stand to calling out issues, like blatant dishonesty... to the point of outright lies, isn't something we do but should.  Timid moderators make it especially difficult online.  That's starting to change.  Some of it comes from the encouragement stemming from the political arena, where news teams weren't willing to directly confront.  I welcome the attitude shift.  More playing offenses is in order.  This morning, I punched back to a personal attack.  After a fluffy of meritless rhetoric, I had it.  That technique of flooding a thread with distraction shouldn't be allowed to continue, especially when its such an obvious effort to greenwash & undermine:  ""A compact hatchback is a terrible platform" says the guy promoting a 4 seat compact hatchback."  That crossed the line, since it left out of the rest of the sentence to change meaning.  I left everyone konw it too:  Quoting out of context is an act of deception, intentional spin to mislead.  That omission of "for GM customers" was an obvious effort to greenwash… which becomes especially apparent with what followed.  I have been promoting SUV rollout for plug-in hybrids... TRAX, EQUINOX, BLAZER ...those are all familiar model suggestions for GM as a next step to take.


Attitude Adjustment.  Sometimes you need to remind early-adopters that they are really just enthusiasts, not by any means representative of ordinary consumers.  They forget.  They lose tough.  They can't see that perspective anymore.  It's like trying to remember what the world was like before the internet.  That connectivity becomes so second-nature, you don't recognize what life was like without.  That leads to complacency, like this: "Meh. 25 miles of range is truly uninspiring."  Naturally, I was annoyed... but jumped on the opportunity to reply:  Spoken like a true enthusiast.  Know your audience.  Mainstream consumers have different priorities.  They quite pleased with the mix of EV and 200 MPG averages.  Don't forget the success of Toyota hybrids in the past: Prius, Camry, RAV4.  Were any of them given "inspired" reviews?  No.  They were just solid contenders in their market segment, paving a clear path to greater electrification efforts... which builds up a strong purchasing base for next-gen offerings.  The goal of a legacy automaker is not to please niche consumers.  Their bread-and-butter sales come from "ordinary" vehicles sold in very high volume with very little effort.

11-10-2018 Recognizing Efficiency.  Phew!  There are constructive discussion threads elsewhere.  Today, it was a boost to the hope of raising awareness about electricity waste.  To think that I was fighting that 8 years ago, raising concern about Volt owners dismissing electricity consumption as important.  That terrible propaganda of "saving gas" was all they cared about.  I'm sure glad that attitude is getting recognized as inappropriate, and gladly contribute to the effort to draw attention to waste:

This discussion topic is loooooong overdue for plug-in vehicles.  Real-World efficiency verses estimated values have been a major problem for hybrids over the past 2 decades, but few seemed to recognize that same impact would affect users of plug-supplied electricity too.

Slower driving and the need for cabin heat during the winter, combined with the usual losses related to cold batteries should have been an influence often mentioned.  Instead, there has been barely a whisper, despite being such a major factor to consider when comparing various designs.

When it comes to speed & power, I've been laughed at for pointing out "electricity guzzling" as a concern.  Only now some are starting to recognize the problem that creates when waiting for your pack to recharge.  You need to do that more often and it takes longer when the system is less efficient.

Simply adding more capacity brings about problems.  Look at how expensive that made Volt.  Giving it enough to deliver that "40 mile, all condition" range goal made it unable to compete directly with traditional vehicles... rendering it a niche, rather than being the next logical step in electrification.  That's why the other automakers are trying to squeeze out greater efficiency, as we've seen from efforts by Hyundai & Toyota.  Note their kW/100mi ratings verses other automakers.

Kudos to those helping to spread the knowledge needed for a better understanding of how electricity is consumed by plug-in vehicles.


Change Is Coming.  I kept at it, pushing that message of change and drawing attention to the effort to prevent it:  Use every technique available to avoid discussion about the topic at hand.  Scream "Troll" and "Toyota" to dismiss any opportunity to be constructive.  Our president couldn't have done any better.  Major change is coming for GM. The failure of Volt to achieve high-volume profitable sales is not just an issue of oil-dependency and emission-reduction.  It's having to answer to stockholders.  GM is a business.  The expectation is for technology investments to deliver a substantial return.  GM should have diversified Voltec a very long time ago.  A compact hatchback is a terrible platform for GM customers.  That technology should have been deployed to a small SUV, like Trax, years ago.  So much opportunity was missed.  Both time & tax-credits were wasted.  Now, we see the other automakers approaching with their more affordable and more efficient designs.  They still have ample tax-credits available to, able to use them for the intended purpose of mainstream penetration.  Evade the inevitable as long as you can.  That behavior is obvious & pointless though.  Major change is coming.


False Narrative.  The "fallout" thread ran its course.  Time to bring it to a close:  Why would a person on a GM venue continue to bring up Toyota over and over again, accusing someone else of doing that, despite obvious evidence to the contrary?  It's really an effort to solidify a false narrative.  By pushing the belief that Toyota is scrambling to catch up, it gives the impression that all is fine with GM.  In reality, this is a means of undermining GM's position by preventing discussion of it.  Notice how any attempt to share detail about GM design is obscured by a certain Tesla Model 3 owner trying to divert focus to Toyota?  This particular thread has served well to reveal that pattern.  Detail about GM to help provide a look forward to a realistic next step is followed Toyota rhetoric, just empty spin to confuse & mislead.  That is clear confirmation of big change to come from GM.  This end of tax-credits will force the status quo to finally break. Certain people have a very difficult time accepting that... especially when it will lead to a paradigm-shift with respect to how plug-in hybrids are accepted.


New Audiences.  Ending of the early-adopter stage will bring about newbies, those who have no clue what happened in the past.  You have to take the time to explain marker operation & perception; otherwise, assumptions get out of hand.  That's how mistakes are repeated.  Learning about history is vital.  Be a source willing to share your experience & observations.  I do all the time, as I did today:  MAINSTREAM has been defined for the past 15 years here as any vehicle selling at a minimum rate of 5,000 per month (average 60,000 annual) without outside assistance.  The reasoning was simple, that level of sustainable sales was a benchmark for profitability.  This rate from the automaker was necessary for suppliers & dealers to guarantee the on-going business without losses.  The fact that EV and PHEV sales still have that tax-credit assistance for sales disqualifies them from the measure of mainstream.  That's not a bad thing either.  We are still in the early-adopter stage.  It doesn't make sense to rush drawing any conclusions yet.  Think about how different ordinary showroom shoppers are then our group here, which is very well informed and willing to spend extra for the sake of helping along the electrification effort.  Wait to see what happens when the extra $7,500 is no longer available.  Put another way, the current sales are low hanging fruit.  Attracting interest will be much more of a challenge when appealing to the wider audience, that group who is just looking to replace their old vehicle.


AWD Teaser.  The timing is remarkable.  Right as we are witnessing these final moments of fallout, the stir of hope has already begun.  Toyota released a teaser photo today, complete with a rhyme to get people thinking: "Fall is here, winter's near, but the 2019 Prius performs on roads whether snowy or clear."  In that image, we can only see a little bit of the car itself.  Most is obscured by a cloud of snow.  So, there's no possible way to even get a hint of what the new tail-lights look like for the mid-cycle update.  All we get the impression of is that AWD (All-Wheel-Drive) model of Prius that has only been available in the domestic market will soon be available elsewhere.  That supports the rumor I had heard... and it makes sense, knowing Subaru is about to employ some of that tech from Toyota anyway.  It's the next logical step to take for market acceptance... and great timing to do it.  Within the next 2 weeks, we'll hear more about the new RAV4 hybrid.  The week following that, new Prius stuff.  Sweet!


Fallout, failure.  The end of tax-credits for GM clearly identifies a deadline having been reached.  That expectation of high-volume profitable sales was not achieved.  Volt failed to fulfill the goal of sustainability prior to phaseout being triggered. It's good reason for enthusiast disenchantment, which explains the irrational attempts to seek blame and divert attention elsewhere.  The time to recognize market need over want is long overdue.  GM's choice to sacrifice cost in favor of range & power was a tradeoff that did not work.  Mainstream shoppers were not interested.  GM will now focus efforts toward seeking a balance, reducing range & power goals for the sake of delivering a more affordable choice.  We see in China there will be a plug-in hybrid offered by GM using a larger platform, providing a more comfortable interior to improve upon design shortcomings of Volt.  We have confirmation that the power output will be much lower than Volt despite the heavier weight, delivering 85 kW (114 horsepower) rather than the 111 kW (149 horsepower).  No mention of potential range has been disclosed, but priority for a larger space inside and a lower cost implies it will be less than Volt.  In other words, this is the vehicle many had hoped GM would deliver years ago, but a group of enthusiasts fought fiercely against based on irrational fear that a "diluted" design would result in weaker demand.  Since the stronger design failed to achieve needed sales, this is the next logical step.  Put another way: Get over it.


Fallout, next.  It's pretty bad when you have to spell out the situation.  After so many years of evade & deny, a few hope someone is willing to support the possibility of a miracle.  That's why vague becomes so common.  Detail isn't optimistic.  It points out the cold, hard reality of having to accept defeat and move on.  I'm happy to provide some:  196,986 sales so far.  Time to take the situation seriously.  3,014 before year-end will happen.  The point is to find out what comes next, from both GM itself and what's left of the enthusiasts.  New vehicle.  New approach.  New audience.


Fallout, redefine.  The world of the enthusiast is about to change.  They won't provide the redefine as in the past... when things went wrong.  Being able to just move the goal-posts only works for so long.  You eventually back yourself into a corner.  That time is near.  They've exhausted absolutely every excuse for lack of progress.  Not understand goals or even who is involved is why.  It's basic avoidance.  It will fail at some point; then, you're stuck having to deal with fallout.  Soon.  It will happen.  In the meantime, words of warning:  On a GM blog doing everything possible to avoid discussion about GM...  Enjoy that while you can.  Triggering tax-credit phaseout will bring about an abrupt end to the early-adopter bliss far too many enthusiasts didn't take seriously.  Buick Velite 6 will very likely become the Volt replacement.  Like it or not, that will redefine the "range anxiety" approach for GM.


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