Personal Log  #958

July 31, 2019  -  August 7, 2019

Last Updated:  Sun. 10/06/2019

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Attacked.  Sure enough, it happened.  I saw this coming: "You are just a Honda and Toyota shrill."  Just like our president, make it personal.  Attack the messenger so the message itself gets lost.  I suspect he'll be relentless too.  That's when I get my best insight & confirmation.  Sometimes, you'll even get a revelation out of it.  The person will be so desperate to get you to stop providing data, they'll post something revealing.  My experience with confrontations like this in the past has been fruitful.   This is what happens when you feed the troll.  So, sometimes I take the bait and run with it:  Your reaction to the growing reach of Toyota has been interesting to observe.  It's proof of the potential.  So what if Honda pulls beck to regroup in the meantime.  We're still in the early-adopter stage (clearly defined by tax-credit subsidizing) anyway.  When the true competition begins (direct sales against traditional vehicles), then it gets real... and none of your nonsense will matter.


Clarity Pullback.  Seeing Honda take the step to pullback current inventory has invited narratives to be spun.  Remember when that happened with Prius PHV when Toyota stopped production?  Antagonists made up stories, claiming whatever they wanted.  I suspected Toyota simply reached the stage of a next-gen design where they could confidently commit to it.  They won't disclose that, to avoid the fallout related to new announcements.  They'd simply burn down current inventory and wait.  Sound familiar?  That just happened again with Prius.  The mid-cycle upgrade for Prime followed that same pattern.  So when I saw this, I got rather annoyed:  "In a few years, PHEVs will just be overcomplicated EVs with woefully short range.  These are Hondas. With careful maintenance they'll still be serviceable well into the 2030s.  But they'll be obsolete well before then."  It's a narrative attempting to downplay the upcoming surge of PHEV sales, led by Toyota.  I find it amazing how the patterns play out.  You can see it coming.  They respond in textbox style.  Oh well, it's not like I don't point out my observations:  The word "obsolete" does not carry any weight.  It's just a buzz word used to make early-adopters feel better about the slow progress.  We've seen that for 20 years now.  Reality is, a PHEV like Prius Prime is less complex than a supposedly competitive traditional vehicle.  Rather than all those gears to make the old-school guzzler more efficient, there's nothing but a power-split-device... which has overwhelmingly proven highly reliable.  Addition of the one-way clutch to allow the system to disengage the engine entirely adds to engine longevity.  That leaves you with a weak argument of "woefully short range" which falls apart as more and more destination-chargers become available.  It becomes an even more difficult of an argument as the popularity of RAV4 hybrid grows.  The idea of it later offering a PHEV model will drown out any last hope of "obsolete" having any impact.  In other words, ordinary consumers simply won't care.  Look at how indifferent they have been up to this point about what happens under the hood.


Unused Capacity.  I'm on a roll.  There was an article published today titled: "Electric Vehicle Efficiency Explained".  It covered all the basics.  The same old content about EV benefits will get distributed over and over like this.  That's unfortunate, since some will just lose interest.  But then, it is nice having a readily available source of information like that.  What differs are the comments.  This specifically caught me eye today: "You are always either carrying around the extra unused capacity of a battery, or the extra unused weight of a gas engine, or both."  It hadn't crossed my mind to punch back with something rather terse.  Shutting up EV enthusiasts who do anything they can to belittle PHEV is becoming more of a problem now though.  Rather than looking upon them as a simple means of getting people plugging in with much greater numbers and much sooner, they don't want anyone to produce or purchase PHEV.  The idea of plug-in hybrids is counter-productive in their minds.  So, they spread whatever nonsense they can to impede.  But now, with EV range so much longer and the spread of public chargers, it raises the question of necessary.  Do you really need that much unused battery capacity?  This situation is becoming the same "needed to tow my boat" argument.  Does your daily-driver really require that ability?  Why can't an infrequently used old vehicle serve that purpose instead?  Remember decades ago hen people had recreation vehicles, like the old pickup?  That was capacity set aside for a specific purpose... a far lower cost option than driving around day after day with an ability you'll rarely actually utilize.  In other words, park the aged guzzling SUV and start using a plug-in vehicle with a right-sized battery.  Think about how much appropriate to be using close to its entire capacity each commute.


Expired HOV Stickers.  Rhetoric that never caught on, but still gets attempted on a regular basis is the claim that plug-in hybrids never actually get plugged in.  Their spin is that HOV stickers are so valuable, people are willing to spend a premium just for the sake of getting an improved commute.  It's difficult to argue with someone who just outright lies like that.  There's data to support such a stance.  But even lacking merit, they still accomplish their goal of diluting & interrupting discussion.   So, it has been a lose-lose situation... until having the thought about what happens to the vehicle once that valued special-lane access expires.  Knowing the person exploited incentives, it only makes sense that they move on to something else.  Such a move puts a used plug-in hybrid on the market... which is a fantastic means of achieving market growth.  It's just like holding out until mid-cycle for highly wanted features.  Some owners will upgrade because they have the means & desire.  It's a brilliant approach... something I can't wait to point out the next time an antagonist attempts that deception again.


LOL.  The smug is really getting bad.  That's a clear sign of the next stage.  Enthusiasts who took the gamble and lost are trying to make themselves feel better by laughing off the situation.  In this case, it's those who bet everything on GM and now finally recognize that wasted opportunity I had pointed out countless times.  Oh well.  After years of getting attacked for expressing concern, seeing this outcome play out is great.  It's confirmation of progress... clearing the path forward, as I expressed this way:  Corolla has already become a PHV.  Both RAV4 and C-HR are likely next candidates for the plug-in upgrade.  Attempts to divert attention away from them by making the discussion about Prius is blatant desperation, a damage-control effort to make Volt look less of a failure.  It's the same old rhetoric as whenever I asked when Voltec would finally get spread to another vehicle, like Malibu or Equinox.  Face reality.  Legacy automakers must design & distribute a green technology capable of competing with their own current traditional offerings.  No amount of tit-for-tat will change that cold, hard fact of business necessity.  Again, we see that RAV4 hybrid has the opportunity to become a plug-in hybrid by getting the same upgrade as Prius.  With the addition a one-way clutch, the existing system can utilize its generator motor for added propulsion power.  That's an elegantly simple approach with lots of business potential.


Downplay.  Here's more from that damage-control effort: "My Volt and your plug in Prius are both nobodies.  They don't matter."  There's an element of fear at play too,  That's harder to detect, until you notice how many facts the person is willing to dismiss along the way.  The desperate enthusiast ends up going way out of their way to avoid dealing with some important point you bring up.  When you confirm that pattern of evading, it becomes an invitation to hit back fairly hard.  They reach a level of uselessness like a troll who should no longer be ignored.  It's especially good if you can constructively use their own words against them, especially in the form of a question:  Attempting to portray Toyota's approach the same as GM is wasting everyone's time.  Toyota created a far more flexible design and still has an ample number of tax-credits available.  GM has nothing anymore to offer in the category of plug-in hybrid.  Prius PHV gen-1 was only rolled out to 15 states, then production was halted when gen-2 design got far enough along to show that it should be the first nationwide offering instead... especially considering the plug-in market back then.  When gen-2 was rolled out, restricting inventory to select regions meant tax-credits could be saved for mid-cycle rollout later.  So, claiming it has already seen "sales peak" cannot be taken seriously.  As for the muscle-flexing nonsense, that is incredibly weak... ironically.  You know that the ability to augment any Toyota hybrid for plug-in operation is just a matter of adding a one-way clutch... which has already happened with Corolla.  Just think of what that means.  How many of those who "most guys wouldn't want to be dead in" won't be interested in a RAV4 hybrid with a plug?

8-03-2019 Lame.  There is still some damage-control taking place for Volt.  With failure on a such a monumental scale, there's hope GM's mistake will be absurd... since there's no way to forget it.  That's exactly what happened with Two-Mode... which is why some of the same mistakes were repeated.  Misrepresentation of what actually took place is how you enable that.  I was always amazed how foolish of a choice that was.  Now, they're doing it again!  Ugh.  Oh well.  This post yesterday about July sales results started with: "1875 PiP's is lame"  then went on to claim: "The Leaf and the Volt have had much better years than this way back in the day.  The Volt sold more than 24,000 in 2016 or 2,000+ per month on average.  And the Volt did nearly as well in 2012 and 2013."  I was not surprised in the least upon seeing that.  That repetition of behavior is quite predictable.  I wonder if he expected this in return:

That selective portrayal of Volt sales history paints a distorted history, since it doesn't take into account temporary surges caused by price-cuts when inventory piled up.  The proper depiction of demand was the measure taken during steady periods.  Those sales averaged between 1,600 and 1,700 per month for gen-1.  It was a very consistent result, making the growth for gen-2 demand an easy measure to gauge.  Volt failed to grow though. Sales remained at that same level... which is below what you label as "lame" for the plug-in Prius.

Reality is, supply of Prius Prime is still limited to the initial rollout markets (roughly a little under half the country).  Delivery of the 2020 model (which is a mid-cycle update) didn't begin until the final week of July either.  No mention of those supply factors is distorted history in the making.  Omission of vital detail is not helpful in any regard.  In fact, it provides material for anti-plug rhetoric.

Volt was doomed from the beginning anyway.  Having such an extreme dependence on that $7,500 tax-credit for sales and those sales coming only from conquest buyers sent a clear message GM would need to take serious steps to push the technology prior to reaching phaseout... very much like what Tesla did.  That never happened though.  GM never even tried to spread Voltec to a choice GM's own customers would find compelling, like Trax or Equinox.

Prius Prime is an example of taking a very different approach.  The technology was designed from the start to be offered at a MSRP low enough to compete directly with other vehicles Toyota dealers, giving it far more potential to achieve marketshare those who once favored Volt could only dream of.  The technology was also designed to easily be spread to other vehicles, as Corolla hybrid has already proven with rollout of a plug-in hybrid model.

Put in a completely different perspective, your effort to draw a parallel of the past to Tesla results now is what should be labeled as lame.  As successful as Tesla has been (kudos!), it's still tiny in comparison to legacy automakers like GM and Toyota.  Absence of a dealer network adds major challenges to growth too.  Reaching mainstream consumers is far more difficult than early-adopters taking advantage of tax-credit opportunity.

Watch what happens as the effort to appeal to fickle-shoppers attempts to step forward.  There are many difficult challenges to face still in the realm of plug-in appeal.  Change doesn't come easy and far to much focus as been on results of picking the low-hanging fruit.


Trying?  I was a bit befuddled to read this: "The truth is, neither manufacturer is really trying to sell very many of these cars."  I thought that particular individual, who routinely posts on multiple forums and seems rather well informed, would recognize the change taking place.  It was in a discussion comparing Clarity to Prius Prime.  Being an owner of a Prius Prime and an active participant there, I didn't expect such a statement.  Apparently, he hasn't been paying attention.  Oh well.  There's a chance of getting something constructive in reply.  This venue is a source of useful discussion... quite unlike some I've dealt with in the past.  We'll see if this stirs anything useful:  The reality is, inventory from Toyota for the 2020 model (which is a mid-cycle update, for those not paying attention) is growing nicely.  Just 2 weeks ago, there weren't any.  Now, the nationwide search shows 750 available.  August should be interesting for Prius Prime.


Extreme Denial.  Reading posts like this had become such a norm in the past, it was an expectation: "Wait, as mature as the Prius is, and as big as Toyota is, they are still only "limited to specific markets"?  That screams like "Compliance car" to me ........... LMAO."  Reading it now though, you have to wonder.  That smug attitude serves no purpose anymore.  We are well past the stage when there was any type of required quota.  Focus has turned to the entire fleet can be improved.  That pushes attention to design.  This is why range isn't considered as important anymore.  Obsession Volt enthusiasts had with a minimum EV range collapsed when it failed to lure new interest.  In other words, they came to the realization that "compliance" equated to "enthusiast".  As much as they fought my "Who?" question, they can no longer deny the association.  Some extreme attempts still take place though, as the "LMAO" clearly confirms.  I'm done with that nonsense.  Dealing with it isn't necessary anymore.  Their days of feeding fake news are over.  I put it this way:  Scream whatever you want.  Who exactly will care?  Reality is, the choice to wait to align national rollout with a mid-cycle update and avoid GM fallout looks to be an extremely wise decision.  Getting some compliance credits along the way is just a bonus.


Squandered.  It's amazing how things can change: "I really thought that GM was a market leader back in 2010 and 2011.  Now?  Not so much.  Nissan?  Dead in the water.  So the early leaders have squandered their advantage."  That reflection of my concern is a sad validation of recognizing market factors correctly.  Remember how often I got attacked for that very sentiment years ago?  I kept posting "too little, too slowly" with evidence if opportunity being missed.  Later, that turned to the use of "squander" to point out how tax-credits were being wasted.  Rather than use their momentum to build a market by spreading that interest in their technology to other vehicles, all was lost.  It wasn't even really a gamble.  You cannot expect sustainable profit to come from a single vehicle.  Voltec should have be diversified; instead, enthusiasts fought to retain the status quo.  They became their own worst enemies.  Battle after battle was to keep focus on just that one vehicle.  Any mention to offer it in a vehicle like Malibu or Equinox was met with hostility.  It's amazing to look back into the blog entries here documenting just how fierce the resistance to change really was.  They allowed the squandering to persist, becoming enablers of a failed approach.  Ugh.  Of course, what's worse is not recognizing who.  Those Volt enthusiasts blame GM, not themselves.  Taking no responsibility for the obvious rhetoric they posted is terrible... and how history ends up repeating.  Remember Two-Mode?


Next Steps.  I am so looking forward to Prius Prime finally rolling out beyond the initial markets.  Toyota's choice to hold back until after GM's inevitable fallout, then taking advantage of that timing to introduce a mid-cycle update, is fantastic.  Areas which haven't ever had any Prius Prime on dealer's lots, like mine, will start from day-1 with a compelling configuration that doesn't have to compete with hype.  The price makes it realistic.  True, the decision to go with robust & affordable made cargo space limited.  But that does a great job of setting the stage for whatever comes next.  2.5 years of real-world exposure (in my case, that means 35,000 miles of driving) is proof the design is sound.  Time is the only means of achieving reputation.  This certainly looks like it was time well spent.  With only a single week of inventory listed online and much of it questionable (available already or en-route still?), the handful of deliveries mentioned in posts make July a month to exclude.  No statistic from such a limited scope can indicate what's to come.  August may not reach nationwide either.  My expectation is to watch inventory in the established regions grow to available-for-immediate-purchase levels, prior to the usual next-year model rollout timeframe.  That's usually in October or November.  So, by 4th quarter things should be get rather interesting.


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