Personal Log #915
January 16, 2019 - January 18, 2019
Last Updated: Sun. 2/24/2019
page #914 page #916 BOOK INDEX
Spin. When you corner an antagonist, proving your point, they attempt to change what you said by stating something different. In this case, he took my phaseout to mean the vehicle itself, rather than the technology it used: "What specific "traditional vehicles" are they phasing out? They just introduced the new Supra - 100% ICE. Stupid, at least make it a hybrid like the i8." Those reading the thread not paying close enough attention will get drawn into that diverse attempt without even realizing the topic was intentionally shifted to undermine the discussion. This isn't as easy to notice as moving the goal posts. Rather than not meeting an objective, they try to change what that objective represented. It's the usual trolling we see to keep posts active. Never allowing a conclusion to be draw is key. I find it very frustrating how some use forums for their entertainment, rather than a venue for exchanging information. Oh well. There will always be those who waste resources. My attempt to un-spin was: Phaseout of traditional vehicle production has been mentioned so many times over the years, it's difficult to not recognize that reference. Don't you remember any of the press releases about offering a hybrid model for every vehicle? As for the Supra, there will always be niche offerings. The point is to move the fleet forward, which is exactly what the HSD system does. It standardizes motor & battery-pack while improving emissions (SULEV rating, as well as carbon reduction) across all mainstream offerings.
Stalemate. Hearing from others is interesting: "It is obvious that Toyota is stalemated with this "disadvantage" that Tesla does NOT have." That's a perspective based primarily in anecdotal observation, I assume. Seeing Toyota's necessity to address diverse customers and the corresponding responses isn't easy. Most people focus entirely on a single effort. In most cases of the past, it was all about Prius. They wouldn't see anything else. Not seeing anything else is what contributes to my assessment of someone being an antagonist. Recently, that single-mindedness has shifted to Mirai. You have to wonder why they don't recognize the big picture. I often see "EV market" referred to as the entire relevance of conversation. The world outside their niche doesn't exist from their perspective. It's bizarre... but not surprising. Many like to live in their own world. It's human nature to filter. That's a survival instinct... which means, all I can do is try to get some to notice there's more to the topic than what they have noticed so far. In this case, Toyota has lots of opportunity. Tesla is just a player on the team. The game hasn't really even begun yet. When Toyota does play, it will be on the same team... not a competitor. It's that audience problem. Understanding what will be sold is very important. Only customers interested will buy. Purchases cannot be pushed. Remember those "one size fits all" arguments of the past? That's what inspired my reply: Some of us pointed out years ago that GM would be even worse off having chosen to push Volt, wasting tax-credits on an approach that didn't compel their own customers to switch. Addressing how to change the status quo is something Toyota is aggressively working on. Giving Prius AWD and pushing RAV4 hybrid is clear evidence of trying to get their customers to accept letting go of the past. So, the assessment of "stalemate" isn't accurate.
Audience. You get reason for pause when a troublemaker parrots back your own catch phrase: "Know your audience." He clearly doesn't understand what that actually means. In fact, he's basically turning into a troll. More and more, I'm seeing nothing but worthless post message. They will be one sentence comments without a quote, just a general sentiment of agree or disagree. Most of the time, you know clue what he is actually responding to. He doesn't care. That behavior is to draw attention to himself, bumping his post count up as some type of badge of authority, without doing anything worthy to earn it. Ugh. That's what I have to deal with though. I've heard others grumble upon noticing that behavior too. He's not breaking any forum rules, so there's no way to stifle the activity. It's an effective means of undermining. That's why many blogs lose participants. Thankfully, most forums offer an ignore feature. Sadly, that doesn't help many newbies who aren't aware that some people are not there to help. Oh well. I just keep posting what I can to keep topics relevant. In this case, it was with: Toyota does and they are well aware of how Tesla's current draw is completely isolated from ordinary consumers. As for the cannibalizing, that's true for all legacy automakers... most of whom are afraid to even mention the issue. At least Toyota is setting the stage by phasing out traditional vehicles.
Risk. I found this ironic: "A Kodak moment is not when a company takes a risk to stay relevant. It’s when a company fails to do so." It came from someone pushing a smear campaign against Toyota, doing everything he can to portray the automaker as close to death. It's somewhat absurd reading his posts. The propaganda is so obvious; yet, he thinks the message is undebatable. Statement of fact using vague references and limited scope is such a waste of constructive discussion opportunity. It undermines threads by stirring rhetoric. Others chime it to repeat the same meritless claims. They feed on each other, never actually providing content of substance. Just repeat the mantra. Ugh. I found it redeeming to respond to that nonsense with: Ironically, investing in the hybrid platform to offer an affordable plug-in option later is taking a risk.
Insults. Gotta like this: "Hybrids can only be a stepping stone from ICE to EV for the slow and faint hearted, never anything more." That new spin on smug is an insight into how the dismissal becomes so easy. Hearing statements like that routinely makes resisting change the norm. It empowers the status quo... which is the very opposite of the message that comment was intended to convey. Rather than helping electrification along by endorsing any form of it, they are downplaying. That essential step is how overcoming the intimidation will take place. The scale is absolutely enormous too. Knowing that it will still take at least a decade for the foothold to take place... that's the time needed to establish a market by experiencing a full generation of a mainstream offering... is a difficult message to convey. People don't want to accept that reality. But with cars, that's a very normal expectation. The masses watch & wait. It's what we had to deal with from hybrids. Gen-2 Prius was the first mainstream offering. Gen-3 was a big hit among ordinary consumers. (Gen-1 targeted early-adopters.) That's the way things are. People have other priorities. Insulting them is a terrible mistake. I conveyed that sentiment this way: Know your audience. Calling people "slow and faint hearted" is turning a blind-eye to finding out why there is resistance. Those hurdles must be addressed, not dismissed as invalid.
Pre-Game. A few are still attempting damage-control efforts for GM. These comments are really getting old now, not stirring much reply anymore: "They are late to the Li-ion game, after all...." Part of that loss of interest is having provided the insight of big picture perspective. Even the newbies (and I suspect the lurkers) online are noticing most of what has already played out has been nothing but "pre-game" type activity, that the true "game" has yet to begin. That's even better than my observation of "Tortoise and the Hare" similarities. The first race was nothing but practice before the real thing. After all, sales with subsides don't represent how the technology will actually be received by the typical consumers. Ordinary showroom shoppers won't have a generous tax-credit helping them make their purchase decision. In fact, the very idea that an automaker who produces several million vehicles annually won't really see much of a benefit of 200,000 credit purchases spread over several years. It's to small to be meaningful with respect to sustainable profit. Strong business depends upon sales expectations being met on a continued & predictable basis. So, the nonsense still coming from a few enthusiasts is beyond annoying. It's intentionally disruptive and I don't like it. So, a callout to draw attention to their efforts to undermine is necessary from time to time... as it was today: Like I said, spreading FUD. As for claiming "late", that's just rhetoric. No one cares about the pregame except those actually watching it. Subsidized sales are warm-ups prior to the actual game starting. Having that generous tax-credit available obscures true demand. We saw that with the way GM exploited theirs, wasting them on conquest sales for Volt rather than establishing something capable of sustained profitable sales. The game starts when showroom shoppers get involved. That's after government incentives have ended and early-adopters moved on. It's not rocket science. It's business. When just an ordinary person considers a plug-in purchase the same way 10's of millions of others do each year, that's when you know.
Gamble. It started with this: "It is sad that Toyota is sitting on the sidelines." Then it ranted for a bit, and finally ended with: "Doing nothing seems like an incredible gamble." I didn't even bother bringing up the aspect of risk. I just focused on the game, pointing out how Toyota was very much in the game: Toyota is rolling out their next-gen RAV4 hybrid, an ideal platform to offer a plug. That AWD system offers substantial electric-motor power yearning for a larger battery-pack. It's affordably priced ($28K) and offers impressive hybrid efficiency (39 MPG) for such a large, comfortable vehicle. Think about what that plug-ready system has for potential, especially while building loyalty & reputation in the meantime. Claiming that is nothing takes quite a bit of denial. It's an undeniable effort to diversify offerings. Don't forget the RAV4 model of the past that was an EV. It had a cost far beyond anything realistic for mainstream sales, but it did an excellent job of confirming Toyota's preparation for the future with a plug. So what if they aren't moving as fast as enthusiasts would like? They aren't the ones who provided sustainable profit. They just test the waters... which everyone appreciates... but they don't represent ordinary consumers. In fact, most don't actually know much about the automotive business. Their technical expertise often distracts from the challenging reality of low-margin, high-volume sales. Toyota is very much in the game. They just aren't playing a position that gets much cheering.
Loyalty. I found this compelling: "There is little brand loyalty in this transition to EVs. Toyota had better be careful." It was posted on a discussion thread on the EV blog about Toyota's recent comment regarding EV take over. He said the belief was overstated. The article provoked discussion by calling Toyota "blissfully unaware and unprepared". Being a social media site with the purpose of drawing online participation, coming across such an intentionally polarizing provoke was par for the course. It shouldn't surprise anyone. I joined in, of course. But my participation is to inform: There is no sense of loyal from early-adopters. They understand the technology and have the means of taking advantage of the generous tax-credit. So, the jump on the opportunity regardless of who is providing it. The true measure of demand doesn't emerge until the subsidy is gone and there is actual competition. This is the painful lesson learned from Volt. A large portion of sales/leases were the conquest type. When other choices came along, those owners jumped ship. Toyota was smart enough to avoid that loss GM is now having to deal with. Toyota couldn't care less about enthusiast's online comments, a teeny-tiny fraction compared to their over 10 million customers each year. In other words, what's the rush? There's very little substance, if any, to the "knocking" in this current market. In fact, they seem to be playing negatives, exploiting attention stirred by a hungry media by poking the "now" crowd with in-the-moment comments. Know your audience. In the meantime, Toyota just quietly pushes along refining their electric system in hybrid & fuel-cell vehicles, waiting for the time to offer a vehicle with a large battery-pack to the masses at a cost directly competitive to traditional vehicles.
Plug-In Hybrids. Voices of reason begin to emerge
over time, as we are starting to see now: "As long as batteries remain in short
supply, PHEVs are the main route to electrification." Losing
touch with how ordinary people perceive a situation is a very real problem.
That's the difference between a "supporter" and an "enthusiast".
The one recognized that problem. The other dismisses it as rhetoric. In
this case, the situation is quite complex. There are several challenges
which much be addressed. That confuses matters and makes online discussion
very difficult. It's far too easy for a topic thread to lose focus. That's
why those blogs with only a lifespan of a day or two are basically
worthless... except how I use them, as an opportunity for learning more
about argument perspectives and making discoveries. It you watch patterns
and carefully read posts, you'll sometimes discover a clue about what's
really taking place. There can be a subtle mention of technology or
audience that most people overlook. That's online treasure for those trying
to find true solutions. In this case, finding out how the potential for
plug-in hybrids can be used to accelerate electrification proliferation.
Put in more simple terms, I'm trying to identify what is truly preventing
Combine that [short supply] with the reality that most households are barely able to support a single EV. Sharing a 120-volt connection is pushing it just for the one. But that's all some people have. Their service-box is too far away from the garage or doesn't have the capacity available. That makes the consideration of a second EV basically impossible.
Like it or not, there will be quite a market for PHEV choices until both production & infrastructure shortcomings are dealt with. We see how GM pulled out, implying no demand. It really did turn into a form of sequel to EV1, where they killed a product with lots of opportunity.
It's unfortunate EV purists created a divide, unwilling to acknowledge an affordable plug-in solution like Prime could help bridge a future to EV ubiquity. My commute in is usually 100% electric. Sometimes, I wander elsewhere after work instead of going home. So what if the engine runs then? Seeing my overall consumption at 80% electricity is a major step away from gas. It's a simple solution for the early stages of EV.
Seeing the shortcomings combined with obvious cost/subsidy hurdles to still overcome, it makes now sense not embracing what PHEV can do for speeding up market transition. Those choices target the masses, while the EV purists can lead the way for future purchases... the obvious upgrade later, an easy sell once you start plugging in routinely.
Trust. Fear at the beginning of Volt was that it would
become a replay of EV1, that GM would rollout a product, then sight low
demand as a reason to end production. Decry of such concern was
intense. That would never happen, period. Now... 12 years
later... we see that is exactly what happened. There's an overwhelming
sentiment growing of GM having made a serious mistake of prematurely ending
their efforts with plug-in hybrids. It was the lack of any effort to
diversify that raised my concern. When Volt-1 sales struggle became
blatant, there should have been talk of strategy change. GM abruptly
dropping MSRP without any growth result, the problem should have been a
major reconsider. Remember the stir to get a second model introduced,
one with an affordable configuration (smaller battery & motor) to make it
competitive and possibly profitable? Remember all those posts
complaining about not spreading the technology to a common GM offering, like
Cruze or Malibu? That rollout of ELR was a dead giveaway GM didn't
care about making "Voltec" a common choice in their fleet.
Heck, even the marketing term of "EREV" remained ambiguous.
There was never any agreement what it actually meant. That's how trust
is lost. Each failure to support a perceived purpose takes away from
the hope of it ever being achieved. GM kept making steps in the wrong
direction, each with proclamations of amazing progress from enthusiasts.
Ordinary consumers don't accept nonsense like that. They only see the
failed effort. In this case, GM tried, then gave up. Volt was
showing potential, then it got cancelled. Think about how that looks
when plug-in hybrid choices from Hyundai/Kai, Honda, and Toyota are all
being promoted. Why did GM stop? Not knowing makes trusting
their next effort very difficult.
Understanding, Messaging. A big chunk of my blogging over a decade ago involved documenting the mixed messages coming from GM. That automaker was an endless source of change. They set expectations, exploit the resulting meritless hope, then switch to something else. There was no clear direction. Purpose always remained a mystery. We saw that on a regular basis with Two-Mode. No one ever really knew what that technology was meant to accomplish or even whom it targeted. That situation of uncertainty was compounded by Volt. Right from the start, goals weren't clear. Was the engine to be a basic emergency backup, supplying emergency power in the event of unexpected battery depletion, or was it to be a full-power system complement. In other words, would it be an EV or a hybrid. No one ever really know what that HV mode was intended to deliver. Upon rollout, disagreement grew. That's why sales suffered. No one really understood the messaging. Press releases provided a mix of purposed, never really clarifying purpose. That's why the introduced of Bolt brought about so much chaos. It compound the problem of intend with the problem of audience. This is why the asking of "Who?" increased over time. GM was originally thought to be competing with Prius. Then it switched to Leaf. Then it switched to Model 3. No one had any idea what GM was trying to accomplish. That's why Toyota was the favorite distraction, spinning their "traditional to hybrid" goal as overly simplistic and not accomplishing much. Hype from GM spinners made a much bigger impression of achievement, even though very little was actually delivered. You know... "over promise, under deliver" ...that problem with GM starting long before even Two-Mode came about.