Personal Log  #944

June 5, 2019  -  June 8, 2019

Last Updated:  Mon. 7/29/2019

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Behavior Repetition, Business.  It never ceases to amaze me how narrow the scope of focus is on discussions like this.  Participants will obsess with a particular aspect of the technology and disregard the rest of the business.  That's such a fundamental mistake, I cannot believe it happens so frequently.  They either don't understand or don't even recognize how the rest of the business works.  It's not about engineering alone!  Ugh.  Failing to gasp the reality that legacy automakers must maintain a continuous and reliable flow of revenue is apparently beyond their grasp.  Simple matter of accounting boggle their minds.  Why?  It's not that complicated.  Dealers must purchase inventory they know their salespeople will easily be able to sell.  Each sale must return enough money for that cycle to continue.  These are all people expecting to be paid.  They aren't motived by doing what's better for our world.  So, extra effort to make the purchase happen or a reduction to the monetary return is a major deterrent.  That shouldn't be difficult to acknowledge.  Yet, it happens all the time.  Those online fighting me fiercely resist any type of acceptance for that aspect of the automotive business.  They just plain don't care.  It's sad.  The result is a lot of spin.  The most comment is to portray Toyota as being "late to the game".  Ironically, their treatment of the situation as a game shows it isn't being taken seriously.  This isn't a game.  This is a for-profit business.  Even the engineering itself is far more involved than they'll even admit.  Knowing that, I kept my reply to the latest response short:  Toyota is already producing motors, invertors, pumps, etc. for electric drive in high volume.  So what if they associated battery-packs are smaller?  Instead, there are the same cells stacked together as a longer range vehicle.  "Late" doesn't hold much merit, especially when you add in profitability to the equation.


Behavior Repetition, Obsolete.  My post was quickly responded to with an attempt to undermine the sales growth of hybrids:  Rhetoric claims of hybrids fast becoming obsolete are rather desperate at this point.  We're seeing very strong demand for the new RAV4 hybrid.  40 MPG from such a large AWD vehicle with a base MSRP of $27,850 is all Toyota customers need to know.  They are placing orders and waiting for delivery.  It's quite impressive to see such excitement.  Meanwhile, there's the new Corolla hybrid.  Well loaded with safety features and with a starting price of $22,950 it is also a compelling draw for those shopping for a well-balance purchase from a Toyota dealer.  There is a next-gen Highlander hybrid coming later this year. 34 MPG from a 240 horsepower system will make people take notice, especially with such a competitive market in that size category.  Obsolete, not a chance.


Behavior Repetition, Whoa!  I had no idea that same behavior of enthusiasts on the daily blog for Volt would emerge on the large general audience EV blog.  It is virtually an exact match.  My assumption of that audience taking the time to be open-minded and being better informed due to the wider variety of content was quite incorrect.  I was wrong.  Gasp!  They are making the very same mistakes.  These are basic errors you'd think they'd be aware of.  Clearly, that's not the case.  Ugh.  It's just like whenever I'd point out to the Volt enthusiasts how I recognized the response pattern as frighteningly similar to what Two-Mode enthusiasts did.  Their reactions were a match too.  It was amazing.  Now, it's happening again!  People who don't learn from history really are doomed to repeat it.  This blog spanning nearly 20 years of that activity overwhelmingly confirms it.  Whoa!  Anywho, after a day of crazy posting, I started a new thread with on that blog topic with this:  It has been interesting to read the opinions of early-adopters who don't have an understanding how much change is needed to appeal to mainstream consumers.  They look at the situation through a micro economics lens not realizing how different macro will be.  They also turn a blind-eye to history, remembering only that fits their preferred approach.  Well, too bad you don't like the reality that Toyota isn't taking a different path to the same future.  The market is plenty big for that diversity.


Desperate Spin.  I suspect the discussion is already spinning out of control, that no aspect of being constructive can be stirred at this point.  It's what happens with most of these blog topics.  They simply become a venue for self-validation and spreading rhetoric.  That mantra of Toyota being cast as a "laggard" helps them deal with the reality now crashing down as a result of tax-credit expiration marking the death of Volt.  That expensive niche was far too dependent on government incentives.  Not rolling out the technology to other platforms... any SUV model... market its death long ago.  That is what the investment in Gen-2 should have been.  Making their niche hatchback even more of a niche was an obvious sign that interest to continue had faded.  In fact, that would have been the ideal endorsement for Volt.  Dealers would take carrying it in stock with the knowledge that another offering would be on the way.  That would have been a great way to prepare salespeople for an upcoming SUV with a plug.  Experience with the technology prior to wide scale rollout is essential.  Does that approach sound familiar?  It's exactly what Toyota is doing... which is exactly why those in favor of GM are against it.  They don't believe in cooperation.  There isn't even a spirit of shared goals.  All they do is desperately spin the situation.  It's really sad.  I pointed out that situation will the cold reality of being a for-profit business:  Bottom line is none of those BEVs have demonstrated the ability to sell well with subsidies.  In fact, most didn't even sell well with subsidies.  The claimed growth is still far under what's needed for those businesses to achieve & sustain profit.  Treating early-adopter outcome as if it is representative of how ordinary consumers will respond is a grave error... as GM just showed us with failure of the technology from Volt to achieve & sustain profit.

6-08-2019 Bandwagon.  Hearing that Toyota officially has plans to deliver EV offerings is taking some aback.  They are spinning it as if there is now a rush to jump on the bandwagon.  One individual trying to help bring some sense to the wild discussion stated it this way: "People seem to think that it just finally occurred to Toyota that electric is a thing."  My statements that there was an effort already underway in China to target an EV model of C-HR for next year basically fell on deaf ears.  Acknowledging that meant nothing more to complain about, that they'd have to admit their scapegoat no longer exists.  It makes them feel better being able to say the entire industry could have been much further ahead if Toyota had made such an announcement (actually a 45-page presentation released today, with some video) years ago instead.  They never want to recognize the reality that there's far more to just increasing production capacity for battery cells.  The reality of the market not being ready and Toyota striving to rollout both platform & technology upgrades in the meantime is just ignored.  They don't see all that extra work required to actually setup the business part of the infrastructure as anything more than an apologist attempting to distract from the actual issue.  Ugh.  Needless to say, I expect the posts to spin out of control.  Enthusiasts don't deal with change well.  For that matter, enthusiasts don't recognize it.  That activity can take place for years and the best they'll do is deny it has any relevance to their demands.  I simply stated the situation as:  It's like the musician who gets praised for being an "overnight success" even though they worked hard for decades to achieve their goal.

Taking the Bait.  I found this quite amusing: "His point whizzed right over your head."  That's when you really know your audience.  Someone tried to set me up and another tried to take me down.  Both end up disappointed.  I don't play that game.  It's all about the bigger picture, winning that overall war, not battling online for a tiny victory.  In other words, they really don't take the matter seriously.  It's just like the daily blog.  Many find it satisfying to be part of something, even if it really doesn't accomplish the goal they had hoped for.  That's why we see participants disappear.  They give up upon discovering a mistake had been made.  How is that constructive?  Why not just course correct instead?  You are supposed to learn from mistakes.  I always hope some lone individual will heed the advice & observations:

That's called not taking the bait.

Going forward, there will be multiple types of electrified vehicle, one with a plug and one without.  Using the term "hybrid" simply doesn't make sense anymore; the technology has changed too much over the past 2 decades.  So, Toyota being well ahead of everyone else in the hybrid category, coined a new name for the non-plug hybrids.

Ironically, the more you post about the "self-charging" category, the more you are doing to help promote it.  Drawing attention is exactly with Toyota wants.  It's a page right out of the negative-publicity handbook Microsoft so successfully used.  Your contribution is appreciated.

Think about how meaningless "hybrid" is now.  There are so many different types, coming up with a new identifier is a wise move for the entire industry.  After all, other industries do that as the technology advances.  For example, the Wi-Fi successor to "ac" has been named "6".  The need was there, just as it is for "hybrid".

If you still don't like "self-charging", start promoting something else instead.  Otherwise, you'll be stuck with it to differentiate between non-plug hybrids and those referred to as "plug-in".


Competition & Goals.  There are a lot of clueless people who participate in discussions online.  For example: "It is not just Tesla cars.  Other cars like I-Pace, E-Tron and Taycan will be in their second, maybe third generation by then.  That means they will be facing a lot of competition..."  That seems innocent enough, until you did for detail.  There's nothing of substance.  That's literally all some have to contribute.  Not having any idea how that is actually achieved is a very big problem.  That's why I start by asking "Who?"  When you discover they don't even have an answer to such a fundamental question, the lack of understanding intent is revealed as a major barrier unlikely to be overcome.  Think about what that "generation" reference actually means.  What must an automaker do for the next step?  For that matter, what is the purpose of that next step?  Most of the time, you confirm they really don't have any clue... because they have neither the background nor make an effort to find information.  It's just a gibberish of guessing and gut reaction.  Ugh.  I kept trying to get them to think these things through.  I rarely makes any impression though:  Toyota will be using well proven technology, heavily real-world tested for many years before rollout.  Mirai already has great 151 hp traction-motor that would work well in a the shared C-HR/Prius platform.  Prime already has an extremely efficient heat-pump.  Prime also great use of carbon-fiber.  There's also the work done with the variety of hybrids to refine their lithium chemistry.  Lots taking place behind the scenes positions Toyota well for competing with the true competition, their own traditional vehicles.  So what if other automakers offer different configurations?  Conquest isn't the goal.


Timing.  Toyota announced a partnership with Subaru.  The joint venture is expected to result in an EV platform to share.  Since Toyota is the biggest stakeholder in Subaru (17% holding), it's a sensible step.  There's a mutual benefit for the emerging plug-in market.  Of course, some feel the effort is never fast enough: "Would have liked to see this announcement 5 years ago."  Naturally, those comments are coming from the same crowd who praised GM not too long ago for being so far ahead of all others, showing leadership among the automotive industry beyond anything we could ever imagine.  Well, that certainly wasn't true.  GM has fallen to still being roughly 4 years away from having something competitive with traditional vehicles.  Ugh.  It never ceases to amaze me how some cling to meritless hope, wishing for miracle instead of being practical.  Oh well.  They can look back at this announcement 5 years from now and wonder how Toyota managed to get everything in place.  In other words, you won't see much... since there is no specific "time" to really attribute the word.  Preparation is quiet & subtle without ever ceasing.  In fact, sometimes so much must happen on such a wide scale, the state of those continuous & numerous small improvements go unnoticed.  I put it this way:  Other automakers have made announcements and come up way short.  So, the timing is a wash.  Toyota already has lots of experience to leverage.  So not only is the likelihood higher, the probability of it being profitable and competitive with the true competition (traditional vehicles) is quite realistic.

6-06-2019 Terrible Mistake.  Seeing this was rather vindicating: "It's brand loyalty...nothing more.  If they had a Prius before they don't even check to see what else is out there."  That type of generalized assumption without any actual data to support the claim is a clue they don't really have any idea what they are talking about.  At least with others, you get some sort of anecdotal observation.  In this case, I knew there was nothing... because the discussion leading up to it was completely absent of any history.  Watch for clues like that.  In the meantime, consider how I responded:

What you carelessly dismiss about Toyota has been a very hard lesson learned for GM.

The disastrous end to Volt came about because GM didn't understand the power of loyalty.  Rather than create a plug-in hybrid targeting its own customers, focus was entirely on conquest instead.  That's why so many abandoned their Volt when the leases expired and traded up for a Tesla.  Those tax-credits were supposed to be used to establish a technology for dealers to embrace, something to appeal to showroom shoppers.  In other words, GM did nothing to build loyalty.

All these years later, Toyota has built up a reputation that contributes heavily to both the millions of Prius owners considering the purchase of a new Prius along with a massive armada of Toyota shoppers considering the purchase of a RAV4 hybrid.

Note how easy & obvious the next step for Toyota is.  They have a clear path laid out. RAV4 hybrid with a plug is quite realistic.  Meanwhile, GM has no expectations set.  Neither dealers nor consumers have any idea what GM will do next.  In other words, dismissing loyalty is a terrible mistake.


May Sales.  That fall I had been talking about for years is now playing out before our eyes.  Every time a Volt enthusiast brought up affordability, they would always include the tax-credit.  Portraying it as a guarantee for everyone with no expiration was a doomed approach.  If somehow the price of batteries ever dropped so low it would make Volt competitive with traditional vehicles, the benefit would also be true for EV offerings.  It was a lose-lose situation.  That's why Toyota's effort to squeeze out as much efficiency as possible from both HV and EV operation was so important.  That was a win-win.  In other words, it could compete.  We're seeing evidence of that stage being set now.  It's all about preparation.  You don't gloat & promote.  You quietly get everything in place.  I keep telling them to get ready.  May sales just brought about more rhetoric though.  They don't what to hear this:  2020 model-year brings about a mid-cycle upgrade.  That should open up availability to the whole country.  The current limitation to just selected regions has demonstrated the potential for significant growth.  917 miles on my current tank.  Only used 1/8 of the gas so far (about 1.25 gallons).  That's 90% of the driving EV.  Works great, highly efficient, no effort.


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