Prius Personal Log #957
July 27, 2019 - July 30, 2019
Last Updated: Mon. 7/29/2019
page #956 page #958 BOOK INDEX
Pointless? Sometimes, drawing attention to puzzle piece doesn't actually help finish the puzzle. I noticed a potential clue about Toyota's entertainment system upgrade, but didn't know if raising discussion about it would be useful. I've learned at work, some people never really understand technical design no matter how much information you provide. It is sometimes a reality of them lacking the background to relate. They simply don't make the connection... like a puzzle piece. In this case, we never really had any detail explaining why Android Auto has been limited to just a few select vehicles. But to me, it seems obvious. A switch from phone-centric to automotive-centric is a really big deal, one that represents too fundamental of a change to taken lightly. In other words, it will be more of an introduction for a new native format rather than being an upgrade. It's similar to the shift from phone to tablet. Most people were blissfully unaware of how much actually changed. So, bringing up this shift could be rather pointless. Regardless, I did anyway: Being a software engineer, one who has worked very closely with many rollout challenges in large enterprise, that type of announcement raised red flags. Why the hold back? What weren't we being told? Today, that omitted vital bit of info became obvious. Toyota didn't want to commit to an outdated version. Android Auto hasn't been upgraded for 4 years. Pushing that out with the 2020 Prius Prime as an introductory offering would have been absurd. Toyota would have been lambasted for using such outdated software. Google just began rolling out the new version today. Think about how complex software upgrades to just phones are. Carriers routinely take a very long time to provide a new OS. Having to wait 6 to 9 months is quite common... and quite unrealistic for a vehicle model-year. See where I'm going with this?
Not The Same. It's amazing how much problems repeat. Today, it was: "and yet, bolt and prime sales are similar" That premature conclusion draw in terms so vague, it's difficult to readily identify intent. Of course, I know this person. He has just recently exceeded 80,000 posts on the big Prius forum. He just uses the venue for entertainment now. It's a big waste of everyone's time to have so many posts daily coming from someone who doesn't try. It's just a chatroom from his perspective. No time is taken to share posts of value. That contributes to enablers & misleading... which I find very frustrating. Anywho, this was my response to that today: Comparison of a vehicle with nationwide availability for years to one with limited inventory & market should not be taken seriously. Those sales have almost nothing in common. You know all too well Toyota held back 2019 offerings due to the mid-cycle upgrade for 2020. Remember those discussions back when 2018 inventory burn down was taking place? Even then, approach was difficult to deny... which is why similarity claims now don't hold any merit. Some still argued though, trying to convince us Toyota's patience was really disinterest. Watch what happens as 2020 models roll out.
Future Influence. This perspective is quite
understandable: "Early adopters, like me, you and others who bought gen
1&2 Prius models, influenced many future Prius buyers in the next decade the
time came for them to consider a new car." However, it isn't
helpful. Hopefully, this is:
That's a red-herring. Prius Prime is setting the same stage. Again, know your audience. Ordinary consumers, those showroom shoppers that are looking to replace their aged Toyota with a new Toyota, will see the plug being presented as a new choice. Quite unlike you and I, they won't be well informed. They will simply trust the reputation of Toyota and measure it against the price they are willing to pay for a new vehicle. They won't cross shop. They won't get a tax-credit. They won't have a charger.
Think about what it takes to achieve mainstream popularity. It's not going to be a standout vehicle like Prius (though Prius will still very much be a player on the team). It will vehicles that are basically just another vehicle on the street, only there will also be a small badge indicating it is somehow different. That will be Corolla and RAV4 as hybrids, then plug-in hybrids, recognized as "one of those" influencing others.
Toyota is targeting the masses by working their way up. It's the continuous-improvement approach they are well known for. It's entirely possible Prius only be available as a PHEV for the next generation. Whether or not an EV from Toyota is widely available yet won't make any difference on that front. Think about what an upgrade to battery chemistry & capacity would do for its draw for the Prius audience. Think about how much it would do to promote other plug-in choices.
Rushing to market is the monumental mistake GM made with Volt. They wasted tax-credits on conquest, only to lose those potential repeat customers later. Sales to the wider audience that are both sustainable & profitable is worth having to deal with the appearance of lagging. Notice how Volt enthusiasts claiming exactly that about Toyota have completely vanished? We faced their rhetoric on a regular basis. Now, they've grown silent... quietly watching what happens with the mid-cycle upgrade to Prius Prime.
Sorry about the push from time to time with reminders of scope & purpose, but you are the type of audience who takes the time to consider the bigger picture. So, the discussions are worthwhile for all of us. Think about how much has changed and how much we've learned since this particular thread was first started.
Forward Thinking. It's a lot harder than most realize. I'm constantly having to explain why a perspective just provided is not that of an ordinary consumer. People participating online usually lose touch with what it's like to not be well informed. You just naturally learn about the market by getting a daily injection of new information. Catch is, that information isn't necessarily the bigger picture. In fact, most of the time it is about the immediate next step only. Fortunately, it is now getting easier to deal with that... so much so, I don't really even need to include the quote that provoked my post... since most is just the same old rhetoric, but completely absent of substance at this point. Speculation of the past now no longer applies. We have outcomes to refer to. Anywho, I kept the forward-thinking response rather generic today: This is why "know your audience" gets brought up over and over. As an early-adopter, you have little to nothing in common with a showroom shopper. Anyway, strategy is long-term. A purchase now isn't part of that. Remember the 2030 plan Toyota laid out? Think about how obsessive GM enthusiasts were about the first 200,000 sales, how no attention was being paid to WHO would be next to purchase. Look what happened as a result. Toyota isn't going to play that game and Tesla isn't a legacy automaker.
Suffer? Lagging? This popped up out of nowhere:
"Market forces are going to drive Toyota to release a BEV or suffer
lagging sales." Well, not nowhere, it was actually a thread from
6 years ago someone bumped with a recent post. It was an intriguing
place to stir old discussion with an audience of changed perception.
Quite a bit has happened with regard to plug-in sales so far this year.
I jumped in with:
0% sales are without subsidy here still. Of those sales dependent upon tax-credits, how many are actually profitable?
That criteria alone informs us the "lagging" is a long time coming still, even without consideration of the actual competition... traditional vehicles. With many provide high profits with very little effort to sell, the idea of a hard push for a vehicle requiring lots of information sharing to entice a purchase and razor-thin profit in return is futile.
Then when you consider the rest of the problem... home charging... the situation becomes almost pointless still. Much work needs to be done to stir those household infrastructure updates. How many people have nothing but a single 120-volt line available in their garage available for overnight charging? That's an ugly best-case scenario... and very much a reality, presently.
Toyota's push for PHEV penetration into the mainstream helps move that process along. The choice to get a Prius Prime is painless. It really is plug & play. It also stimulates the household consideration for upgrading. Being able to benefit from a 240-volt line becomes more and more obvious over time. Having it available paves the way for a BEV purchase later.
In the meantime, Toyota will be building up a solid reliability reputation for their plug-in offerings. Elimination of the engine later is not scary in any regard once that customer confidence takes hold. While that is taking place, there's also the gain which comes from refining production and preparing for ramp-up. These are all vital business steps the "suffer" forecasts don't ever directly address.
Put another way, evidence of Toyota positioning itself for the upcoming paradigm-shift is stronger than most other legacy automakers. They are doing something now, rather than just rolling out a token offering or releasing a lot of press info. Notice how TNGA is on-target to reach 80% of their fleet by 2023?
Charging Infrastructure. An article with a rather gloomy stance was published today. It pointed out waste from a lack of new thinking. There isn't much benefit to speak of still. Other than Tesla SuperChargers, most of the public chargers either get little use or get no attention at all. There's a variety of reasons why. Location & Pricing were among the most obvious. Very real challenges face business support still. Who? When? How? All those details need some type of common message, once the obvious challenges are addressed. It came down to not putting much reliance on public availability for market growth. Banks of charging stations will happen someday, but we shouldn't put emphasis on that. This is what I posted in response to reading the article: That's why I have stated tax-credits for vehicles should not get renewed. If there is to be a next batch, let it be for home upgrades. Keep in mind, most households can just barely support 1 vehicle. So, there's a very real limitation that will holdback market growth later.
Fantastic Timing. For years, I have been talking about how Toyota is refining their technology while waiting for GM fallout. That's exactly what we witnessed too. Played out right before our eyes, the supposed "laggard" achieved a great deal. Legacy strategy can't be a hope-for-the-best gamble. Yet, we watched it happen. Ugh. Now at the Volt is dead and Bolt is going nowhere... as confirmed by second-quarter sales results... the mid-cycle upgrade of Prius Prime has begun deliveries. Not having to deal with any of that GM rhetoric is fantastic timing. Every time plug-in Prius was mentioned, some Volt enthusiast would attempt to overrun the comments with a superiority claim. It was so annoying, since it wasn't going to accomplish anything... because GM wasn't investing in the technology. Volt just flopped around like a fish out of water, unable to achieve anything other than conquest sales. It was good reason for Toyota to steer clear. GM's terrible dependency on tax-credits made the fallout timeline easy to predict. No plug-in hybrid Trax. No plug-in hybrid Equinox. Nothing at all became of GM's huge investment in technology to blend engine & motor. What a colossal waste. Anywho, not getting pulled into that wake from that ship sinking is such a relief. Toyota can proceed unimpeded. Yeah! Looking online, I see 643 listed for the entire country. That inventory seems to be making its way here from the West Coast. There are some available in Colorado. I haven't found anything closer yet. Most everything else I see listed as "nearest" shows New York, New Jersey, and Maryland locations... which is 1,000 miles from here. Looking further, I see Arizona. Interestingly, there are some in Florida. That's a market formerly unwilling to carry any inventory of Prime. Perhaps they are ready to jump on board now... which adds to the fantastic timing. California obviously has a bunch, but that inventory is normal. What's expected to be new is stocking them in the Midwest. Only special-order shipments ever made it here. Hope is that will soon change.
Too Simple. Someone else joined into the discussion: "His logic was simple, he stated not to lump all hypermiling techniques as deadly or puts other motorists lives in danger. Not all techniques are deadly or let alone even cause a wreck." Even back then, I struggled with generalizations. Remember all those "not the same" posts? Intention omission of detail is unacceptable still. I replied back with: Not identifying what those techniques actually are is the problem. Being vague contributes was always the underlying issue. It should be crystal clear at this point. Remember, that all took place prior to gen-2 of Prius rollout. Not being concise confirms understanding is still a challenge. Keep in mind, the goal is to grow the market. That means reaching out to a new audience... which cannot require any assumptions. In other words, simple is not always a good thing. We must seek & promote a balance. Wisdom from owners is what sends the strongest message. I suggest only mentioning techniques we want to endorse and not even bother with labels. The term serves no benefit anymore. Think about how worthless the label of "hybrid" has become. It's too simple.
Back To Basics. This step back is even further than just new owners asking about how their Prius operates. Someone brought up hypermiling and that stirred this: "I think you have a much too narrow view of what hypermiling really is." Which continued with a vague reference to choices & circumstances, then concluded with: "But too many people focus on just a couple controversial items and use those an excuse to demonize the whole concept." Remember my focus? I looked up one of my blog entries for an example and effortlessly found this: "Among many things, he was the one that used to pump up his 44 max PSI tires to 50 PSI in his Corolla and drive only highway miles with it. That made his MPG abnormally high, in no way representative of what the typical person would actually get." He later bumped the PSI all the way to 60... hence becoming so controversial. Other things, like throwing the vehicle into neutral and drafting was promoted. I wanted no part of that and made it quite clear of not wanting to be associated with any of that. My push was how the word originated. Being so anti-hybrid, he really didn't want that to be associated with Prius anyway. I posted the following in response to today's post: Remember, that term was coined from an argument with me. That very specific first ever mention in a post way back in history was when the fight was about how superior a Corolla was to Prius. He was dead set against hybrids. He later discovered how well thought out Toyota's approach actually was and changed his tune rather profoundly. In fact, he even very politely apologized years later when we met in Detroit. So, of course the view is far wider now. The original problem still remains though. Promoting a driving technique or approach to squeeze out greater efficiency sends a confusing & misleading message to ordinary consumers. Setting realistic expectations is how mainstream buyers are reached. Hypermiling does not. That is what enthusiasts do. So, it is very important for everyone to understand what actually takes place. By looking a wider view to recognize the concept, you make the situation worse. That fundamental flaw has never been overcome.
Our Own. It's really sad when photos are posted of
plug-in vehicles parked in charging spots, but not actually using the
charger. This is how one of those posts sharing a photo of one such
situation ended his comments: "You'd think our own would be more willing
to do the right thing. Nope." My attitude toward not
recognizing competition is well known. It's not other plug-ins or even
other dealers. It is those who still favor traditional vehicles.
I stated my observations with:
As time goes on, it becomes easier for others to see what I've been conveying for many years... know your audience.
Watching Volt enthusiast "vastly superior" attitude spread was a sign of not recognizing we were on a team all working toward the same win. They would fight and fight and fight, claiming victory against those who were trying to be players on their side. That effort to squash all other PHEV efforts was a clue about the trouble to come with EV efforts. Sure enough, we saw that same pattern coming from Tesla enthusiasts. They dominated plug-in events and didn't take tax-credit dependency seriously they same way, creating barriers for supporters (the rest of us) to overcome.
Fortunately, things are finally changing. Most enthusiasts have lost their voice due to tax-credit phaseout so significantly influencing market shift. There's still the reality of much needed agreement having been stalled... to the point of undermining efforts causing widespread disenchantment. Absence of a common approach for shared chargers is overwhelming evidence of that.
Notice there is still nothing in regard to a common message with regard to parking in those spots? Heck, we can't even agree upon what to do when one of our own parks next to a charger but doesn't use it. That basically invites non-plug-in vehicles to park there. If we don't care, why should they?