Personal Log  #918

January 27, 2019  -  February 1, 2019

Last Updated:  Sun. 2/24/2019

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Serious?  Remember the "do no wrong" attitude toward GM and Volt?  Things got confusing when Bolt was introduced.  It contradicted much of what enthusiasts had praised GM for.  That got worse and worse as time proceeded, finally coming to this today: "...if they were really serious/pushing this EV. Right?"  Questioning motive was one thing.  Questioning interest is entirely another.  I happily jumped in with:  Wrong, since we know that GM wasn't really ever serious.  From an automaker who heavily favors SUV and Pickup choices instead of cars, it never made any sense to make their premiere offerings a compact hatchback and compact wagon.  Talking about a colossal customer mismatch.  Also, we know that January (the dead of winter) is terrible for sales of most vehicles anyway.  Combine that with having to wait an entire year to wait for getting a tax-credit, there's simple no incentive.  Might as well just wait to see what others in the market will be offering.  That being said, there is basically no inventory of Volt's antithesis still.  There are only 150 Prius Prime 2019 models available for the entire country right now.  That lack of inventory seems to be in line with Toyota preparing to take advantage of GM's downfall.  Timing of GM phaseout dropping to 50% is perfect for a mid-cycle upgrade reveal, exactly the right timing for Earth Day.  Imagine a 2020 model rolled out shortly afterward.  It's good reason not to build up much new inventory.  This is that opportunity missed a chorus of us raised concern about.  Wasting time & credits on conquest achieved what?


Cold Commute.  I did indeed film my drive to work today.  That data is priceless.  Having so much detail to share about a single experience effectively conveys an understanding while also avoids overwhelming.  That's a difficult result to achieve.  Lots of feedback makes striking that balance easier.  People will provide guidance, if you listen for it carefully.  What they pull out and share from observing what you share gives something to build upon.  That's how my videos have evolved.  It starts with a basic description.  I summarized the experience this morning as follows:  Commute to work today.  Prime hadn't been driven for 3 days.  Was plugged in to keep the battery-pack warm.  41°F is what the ODB-II reader stated the battery-pack was at. Outside temperature was -5°F. I drove 18.7 miles. 32% of the drive was EV based on engine-off duration. 61.7 MPG overall result.


Engine Cycling.  Back to the basics, just explaining various aspects of how the hybrid system in Prius operates.  Right now, there are many questions being asked about how the engine runs in the extreme cold.... which is very much what I will experience when I head out to work in a little bit.  Sharing of those firsthand experiences goes a long way.  The words of an owner really taking the time to explain what happens while driving are very powerful.  That's what really sways those uncertain about a purchase.  We convince them by simply providing everyday information.  The detail really matters.  It is why I'm compelled to film whenever the situation can add to the understanding of goals & results.  With the question about engine cycling, that was easy to answer in the form of setting an expectation... since we have collected so much information, it has been confirmed as fact:  When the air-intake temp drops to 11°F, the engine will provide primary heat.  It warms the coolant to a threshold you set (based on cabin temperature), then shuts off when reached.  It starts off until it cools down.  At that point, the engine will repeat that same on/off cycle.  Note that the minimum threshold will become greater as the entire vehicle warms.  So, you'll see more and more EV the longer you drive.

1-30-2019 Top / Bottom.  I have no idea if the request I got to provide more information about approach will be understood or taken seriously.  It isn't everyday that someone actually responds back with a question.  Most of the time, it's just a head-in-the-sand reply... in other words, a down-vote.  Never taking the time to find out what is meant harms credibility.  That's why the daily blog fell apart.  They embrace group-think to the extreme that the venue became nothing but a brainless chanting website.  If you didn't agree, you were wrong.  Ugh.  I try my best to be constructive.  In this case, it was this response as an answer to explain those differences:

GM decided to use the TOP-DOWN approach.  That meant delivering their vision of the final product configuration, which required a premium price as a result. Selling a Chevy compact hatchback with such a high sticker made no sense.  Only early-adopters were interested, hence focus on conquest sales.

GM figured production-cost would fall rapidly, allowing the automaker to take advantage of the technology within just a few years.  That expectation was grossly miscalculated.  GM was stuck with an expensive halo, rather than something for the masses.

Toyota took the opposite approach, choosing BOTTOM-UP instead.  That meant delivering a design through a series of generational upgrades.  The results was a highly flexible vehicle that was affordable immediate.  Tradeoff was range & power would improve over time... hence starting from the bottom.

Toyota's approach enabled the ability to adapt on-the-fly.  For example, the advanced heat-pump could be deployed when it became affordable to do so.  Waiting for the rest of the industry to catch up wasn't necessary, which is how Gen-2 got it.  That is also how the carbon-fiber hatch and the aero-glass window was rolled out.

Those 2 fundamentally different approaches have demonstrate profoundly different paths to mainstream acceptance, the economics of which are rarely understood in online discussions.


Adoption.  One way is the only way.  Ugh.  That mindset goes so deep, many won't accept the idea that problems can be solved by other means.  There usually isn't just one approach.  That really messes up rhetoric though.  Narratives are based upon a single-mindedness.  For example: "Toyota is worse, they try to burnish their fading green credentials and gaslight us into thinking they care about the environment more than sacrificing a bit of profit to speed up the adoption of electric vehicles."  It all comes back to approach.  So many think the way GM pursued the challenges of electrification is the only means possible.  Problems like this come about from not being aware of all the factors at play.  This is why all the engineers get confused when their obvious brilliance is rejected.  Regardless of how amazing the results actually were of whatever project was delivered, there's a mystery as to the reason people didn't embrace it.  This is where I bridge to the other world, that thing called "mainstream".   It is so different, confusion is the norm.  Adoption of technology includes obstacles that have nothing to do with science or mathematics.  Appealing to emotion or justifying a comfort is beyond quantification.  It is still very important though.  But how do you sell "green" as a feature?  This is where approach comes into play.  Not everyone comes to terms with a problem the same way.  That's why the solution won't be the same for everyone either.  Whether or not enthusiasts ever figure this out is their own reality to accept.  Meanwhile, I share what I observe:  Belief that the only means of electric-vehicle adoption must be a top-down approach is a very common problem among early-adopters.  Not recognizing how effective bottom-up can be will be a painful lesson to learn... which is the ambivalence we are witnessing now from those who had high hopes for Volt.  It's too bad that understanding of economics is absent from discussions like this.


Not True.  Spreading FUD will never end.  In this case, it was the "U" for uncertainty: "With one exception, all other PHEVs have an electric range below 30 miles and will switch to the gasoline engine under strong acceleration."  When I posted a rebut to that, I knew there would be quite a backlash.  Enthusiasts don't like to be called out when wrong, especially on a pivotal point.  This was definitely one that really hurt.  Volt was supposed to be the only plug-in hybrid with such behavior.  This is what the current definition of EREV had mutated to.  Getting confirmation that a PHEV with the name Prius behaved the same was beyond reproach.  My contradiction would stir anger.  I didn't care.  The truth cannot be silenced.  After all, this is a fact, nothing a topic of debate.  Ugh.  I fired back with:  NOT TRUE.  Even with the pedal dropped all the way to the floor in Prius Prime, the engine will *NOT* start when in "EV" mode.  Reviewers often mistake "EV Auto" mode to mean pure electric-only operation.  Their mix-up is understandable.  Spreading that confusion here is not.


Halo.  When reality finally comes crashing down, then what?  Only now are discussions emerging.  It's far too late to be constructive.  They are looking back long after anything can actually be done.  We see that Prius was able to weather the storm.  All the craziness Volt introduced didn't amount to much.  So many promises were broken.  It comes down to a lot of the effort being expended upon image, rather than actually moving the fleet forward.  Reading this now as a result of all that is strange: "Probably the biggest flaw in all of it was that GM always and only saw value in the Volt as a halo car."  To think, how many times was I attacked for pointing out Volt wasn't actually achieving anything?  I'd point out wasted opportunity, miss after miss with nothing to show for.  They built up hope without substance to support it and completely losing sight of goals.  That mess would only get worse as more time passed... and it did.  All that happened when the difference between want & need became so obscured, they couldn't tell the difference.  It's sad to win this way.  So what if I get vindicated.  My own goal was to forge an alliance, to find friends from other automakers.  Instead, they chose to fight.  Oh well.  At least the lessons to be learned will be difficult to deny this time around.  I closed the discussion with:  That's how enthusiasts became such a problem, pushing mainstream hope with a niche vehicle.  It was a conflict of goals they absolutely refused to accept.  This is why the "too little, too slowly" concern grew.  GM didn't show any interest toward spreading technology to a popular vehicle, like Equinox.  So much loyal customer opportunity was missed, while wasting tax-credits on conquest sales for the sake of that halo.


Game Playing.  Getting early-adopters to recognize their own enthusiast perspective is very difficult.  They don't see how intimidating new technology appears compared to commonplace approach.  When a person doesn't understand or even have the background, they don't bother.  Change requires effort.  People are busy with other aspects of their lives.  How green a vehicle is doesn't matter.  They don't deem that important.  What we do is looked upon as a game, actions with an outcome inconsequential regardless of what happens.  They'll never be a part of what's happening the industry now.  Years later, they'll look upon whatever spoils the victor gained.  There is nothing at stake for them.  In other words, all the posts now are just rhetoric from everyone.  It doesn't matter to them.  I can't stress that enough either.  Enthusiasts refuse to accept that reality.  So, all you can really do is point out the situation:  Toyota isn't anti-BEV, they are just avoiding the early-adopter mess.  That slowness rubs some people the wrong way.  So what if the EV model of CH-R doesn't rollout until next year and only in China at first?  It makes no difference with respect to high-volume sales.  GM got too much attention from Volt.  It was clearly only a niche, never targeting mainstream consumers.  Toyota doesn't play that game.


Damage Control.  Things fell apart to such an extreme for GM, there isn't really much to save anymore.  A few are trying though.  I keep hitting back, reminding them of how that mess came about what when they did to downplay & distract from what was important.  Looking back at the terrible decisions.  With so many warning signs, it wasn't worth risk.  They now know that all too well.  You don't put all your eggs in one basket, especially when that basket is so small.  Volt had such a small audience, it made no sense continuing with that approach.  Moving the technology to a vehicle appealing to a wider audience never happened though.  Volt remained a compact hatchback among a fleet of SUV choices.  That never made any sense.  Yet, there are some still defending it.  I'm happy to point out the problem that invites:  Damage control is the stage Volt is in now.  Many pointed out right from the very beginning that the goals were unrealistic.  How could a profitable vehicle with specs so high be achieved so quickly?  When the bankruptcy recovery plan was put in place, the task-force assigned to that expressed a "too little, too slowly" concern for that very reason.  Sure enough, Volt-1 struggled with sales.  But rather than spread the technology to another platform, GM decided to make Volt-2 even more in the image Lutz envisioned... which had proven a terrible choice.  The design approach is expensive & inefficient.  What to do with it at this point is a very big problem, especially now that tax-credit phaseout had been triggered.


Choices.  This is a great example of someone basing judgment on anecdotal evidence: "If the Prime is any indication, Toyota can make a good BEV, they just choose not to."  Rather than actually taking the time to research the entire business, they make the mistake of focusing on just what they see with a single vehicle at that time.  Ugh.  Worse though is the reality that those individuals making that assessment don't place any value on quality.  It's a focus almost entirely on market presence.  No BEV offering is bad, period.  That disregard for what's truly important is disturbing.  Of course, it's nothing new.  We've seen that for decades.  Remember how the SUV was pushed as the safest choice for your family?  It clearly wasn't.  So, even the feature being promoted as most important didn't deliver.  Ugh.  I deal with that nonsense on a regular basis.  Today's volley back was:  Good is not enough.  They feel no pressure to rush.  Taking their time to do it right... deliver something great.. is why PiP was just a mid-cycle upgrade to a limited market, then halted all together.  They waited with Prime, and even then moved slowly... seeing the market had issues.  It should be obvious that the tax-credit dependencies the other automakers were struggling with is what Toyota is trying to avoid.  Simply waiting is an easy solution.  Having to wait annoys some and results in rhetoric being stirred.  Overall, it's still worth it though ...and that's the way Toyota chooses to operate.


Encouraging.  It's amazing how many don't notice, or even look for, clues.  They are all around.  It's just an endless & senseless attack on Prius.  Even though the potential for this new RAV4 hybrid rolling out right now is enormous, it gets totally ignored.  That's because an affordable large hybrid that squashes the competition doesn't fit their narrative.  They have nothing to fight that with, so they choose to pretend it isn't there.  That's where Corolla hybrid comes in.  It is the vehicle which will push Prius to become plug-in only.  With the world's most popular car of all time finally offering a hybrid option here, the game is over.  You can see the entire fleet embracing hybrids, simply because it has become an undeniable endorsement from the automaker.  For them to offer the technology on that scale (models & quantity), the decision becomes a no-brainer.  I shared that wisdom this way:  We've known about the plan for awhile.  Sadly, that information was drown out by cries of the "laggard" narrative.  Far too many don't understand the complexity of a massive legacy automaker.  So when they don't find the simple answer they seek, it leaves them vulnerable to being misled... which the antagonists have been exploiting lately.  Toyota tends to be very quiet, the opposite extreme of what online venues thrive on.  So. It's easy for the vitals to be overlooked, like this.  You won't find much, even when you look.  Those who get caught misleading will spin the situation to appear that Toyota has finally woke up and is now scrambling to catch up.  Those of us who were paying attention know that's not the case.


Battery Warmer.  My hope for extreme cold data has been fulfilled already.  It was just something to anticipate, this morning.  Now in the evening, I see exactly the activity I was hoping for.  To my surprise, I ended up having to drive into work.  That certainly wasn't planned, but it was beneficial.  Since there's a 240-volt charger there, I could collect some unexpected data.  Rather than the Prius being parked in my insulated, but unheated garage, it was exposed to the elements in the parking lot.  That's the kind of real-world information which tells us a lot.  The battery-warmer kept it at 39°F while parked outside for 9 hours with the outside temperature at 5°F.  Slightly above freezing is the goal, since freezing is the point at which efficiency drops significantly.  That warmth really makes a difference.  Remember decades ago when people routinely plugged in their vehicles to power an engine warming?  Now, we're doing the same thing for battery warming... but the reason is quite different.  In the past, that was to ensure the car would start.  Now, it's just to squeeze out remarkable efficiency and significantly improve emissions.


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