Personal Log  #976

November 4, 2019  -  November 11, 2019

Last Updated:  Mon. 2/10/2020

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11-11-2019 Making a Difference.  Some people desperately hold onto the past, rather than adjust accordingly to move forward: "The fact that the 2020 Prius Prime has half the EV range of a 1st gen 2011 Chevy Volt is pathetic, especially considering battery prices have dropped substantially since 2011."  Appealing to the enthusiast market, who was willing to spend more and had a generous tax-credit, was never a realistic path to follow... and they still don't get it: "The Prius Prime would get me to work on battery power, and then back using gasoline power.  A 2nd gen Chevy Volt (2016 onward) can do the round trip on battery power, and would eliminate all of my gasoline driving other than out of town trips.  That's a huge difference."  It didn't actually make a huge difference.  There's much more to a vehicle than just range.  I posted what really makes a difference:

Cries of "pathetic" ring with irony.  Better loaded.  Real 5th seat.  More headroom.  And a starting with a base price $5,770 lower, there's no contest.  Prius Prime was far more appealing to the audience Volt had intended to target.  That's why we are now witnessing Volt fade away into history and Prius Prime inventory ramp-up.

Taking a closer look, we see that Toyota's offering was more efficient with both EV and HV efficiencies.  The rating of 25 kWh/100mi from Prime was far superior to 31 kWh/100mi from Volt.  That's also the case with Prime's 54 MPG rating compared to Volt's 42 MPG.  Additionally, the heat-pump in Prime is the industry's top offering.

Want more impressive advantage?  Take a look at the carbon-fiber hatch Toyota delivered with Prime.  All those claims of GM being the heralded leader and Toyota being hopelessly behind make no sense when you consider how well that weight-reducing, strength-adding technology was implemented.

In other words, I've been waiting a long time to get the opportunity to point out how the "vastly superior" mindset wouldn't measure up to the cold, hard reality of automotive business.  Sustainable sales in high-volume for a profit don't come about from range bragging rights.  That's the real difference... and it is quite huge.


Journalist Truth.  Enthusiasts don't when they write statements like this: "Unlike Europe and China, demand for EV's in the US has been methodically strangled.  Except for the narrow demographic of affluent and progressive EV buyers, the general public knows little about EV's, except that they are too expensive."  Efforts like that point out facts to support the truth of the situation.  Fear of GM strangling the market was brought up way back when Volt was first unveiled.  If done poorly, the entire market would be negatively impacted... just like what GM did with the diesel market.  Their offering was so unappealing to the ordinary consumers, the entire market lost interest.  They soured appeal for all automakers.  That's what happened for plug-ins too.  The promotion of EREV was so confusing and so poorly targeted, it only served to confuse and to work against the next step of EV.  Now, there's a "why bother" attitude here.  This is exactly why Toyota steered clear of GM fallout.  Waiting until phaseout of GM tax-credits are just about complete is an ideal time for pushing PHEV offerings forward.  Watch what happens as the next few months progress.  EV interest will fade as plug-in hybrid interest grows.  The reason why is simple.  Consumers won't have to spend much or even learn much.  They'll simply see the choice and seriously consider it.  Seeing a RAV4 hybrid with a plug will be a very compelling vehicle to make a decision about.  Think about how little either salesperson or buyer will need to do.  It's a vehicle with basically no compromise, something they would have purchase anyway... but in a much more clean & efficient model.  That's going to be a very difficult truth for some to accept... and they won't have to listen to me saying it.  Journalists are already pointing out the coming change.


Make It About Someone Else.  That's the typical response, rather than ever addressing the problem.  This is what I got from the plan question: "Actually Toyota holds the position of feet dragging on EVs."  Do nothing to acknowledge GM troubles or even how they relate to the market as a whole.  That bigger picture problem of dealer acceptance or consumer education means nothing to an antagonist.  They only want to claim a win online.  True change isn't a priority.  It's all about appearance.  Ugh.  Oh well, their audience is getting smaller and smaller.  I replied with:  That narrative is for who?  In 2 weeks, the reveal of a plug-in hybrid model of RAV4 will take place.  The fact that it will be a PHEV will result in wide acceptance from mainstream consumers.  You get EV commutes without any concern related to range.  The fact that Toyota is working to get the hybrid built in Kentucky sweetens appeal.  Customers will get a locally built vehicle with a plug.  Spinning that to represent "feet dragging" is beyond laughable.

11-10-2019 Late To Notice.  This couldn't have come any later: "Something appears to have very gone awry in GM-land.  The promised EVs aren't materializing..."  An entire decade ago, we saw the mess unfolding.  From there, it got worse and worse.  Enough not paying attention or blindly loyal will help keep real change from happening.  History is allowed to repeat, to the point where mistakes become more and more consequential.  Even the rhetoric sends mixed messages.  There's no plan anymore.  It's a big mess, as I was more than happy to point out:

For those watching GM way back when Two-Mode was first announced, the reputation for "over promise, under deliver" was already established.  So when its failure resulted in the project to develop Volt, there was good reason to express doubt.  When the bankruptcy task-force addressed expectations for Volt, they expressed a "too little, too slowly" concern.  There was good reason to make sure GM didn't rest on its laurels following rollout.  Unfortunately, gen-1 of Volt fell well short of expectations and hope was shifted to gen-2.  The outcome of that was a heavy dependence on tax-credits and no interest other than from early-adopters.  But rather than spreading the technology from Volt to a vehicle & configuration more appealing to GM customers, that got abandoned entirely in favor of its own antithesis.  Bolt never made any sense either.  It had no audience.  Knowing GM heavily favored Trucks & SUVs, that compact wagon made no sense to shoppers at a GM dealership.

Think about it.  GM introduced both Trax & Blazer.  Creating new vehicles targeted directly at their own loyal customers that didn't include hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or electric-only technology was a terrible decision made many years ago.  Going awry is not recent.  Evidence of fundamental neglect has existed for quite some time.  Nothing whatsoever to offer showroom shoppers shouldn't have to be promised anyway.  The expectation has always been some type of advancement forward would take place.  Instead, GM is still pushing only old-school guzzlers.

Notice how the supposed "laggard" already has a strong selling SUV hybrid and in 2 weeks will be revealing a plug-in hybrid model?  Another automaker is delivering instead.  What is the plan for GM now?


Local Supply.  A post first thing this morning on the big Prius forum was from someone local, commenting about the lack of inventory for the Minneapolis area.  It's always nice to see local interest grow.  I can't wait until supply actually becomes available.  Then, I'll start up local gatherings.  Those in-person encounters are priceless.  They get to see the technology firsthand and get answers to the questions they needed to help solidify interest.  There's very little point doing that until an immediate purchase is possible.  So, I've been using the time while waiting for the mid-cycle update to finally reach local destinations to continue to collect data.  I'll have lots to present by the time Winter here begins to fade.  There's should be a ton of opportunity by then.  In the meantime, I'll keep filming new video with narration.  Preparing for a new User-Guide is already well underway.  Things are falling into place.  In the meantime, I posted this as a response:  Minnesota isn't part of the original rollout market, so we have to tough out special-order only until the second wave.  Fortunately, the inventory in those other markets is increasing and the sales swings are growing.  That's a good sign.  It's right on time for the upcoming PHEV expansion announcement too.  With regard specifically to Minnesota, efforts are underway to become a ZEV state.  That will result in a push for automakers to provide local supply.  In also means new incentives.  Work to provide public chargers is building.  There's also an HOV access program starting next month.  Stay tuned.  2020 will bring about change.


Supply & Demand, deleted.  I have been checking that blog website to confirm the articles really do limit comment posting to just 48 hours.  Turns out, they do.  With so much new content provided on such a regular basis, it makes sense that they want to get readers to quickly move on to the next.  I checked back on that scarcity article and was surprised to find one of the comments I had replied to was now deleted.  It left my response out there, but the original source I was commenting about was gone.  Fortunately, most of my posts include the original statement when it's buried within a long-winded comment.  That ensures everyone knows what I was replying too.  This is why I get so angered by that troll on the big Prius forum who never includes any quotes.  You don't know what he's referring too... a common trait for dropping bait to stir discussion.  In this case, it was nothing but a single sentence.  It was also bait though, clearly an effort from an antagonist to provoke: "Toyota get with the program, you will be left in the dust!"  The fact that it got deleted was intriguing.  Did my reply actually get the message through?  Not having a 2020 model widely available yet does make sense when we are still 2 months from 2020.  Having next year's model debut just prior to next year makes sense... not several months earlier when dealers are still clearing out remaining inventory from the current year.


New Drive Videos.  I need to drive from St. Paul to a suburb on the opposite side of Minneapolis from time to time now.  (We're preparing grandpa's house to sell.).  It's a heavy traffic situation, cutting directly through a busy corridor during rush-hour.  It's time to run the heater too, here in Minnesota.  That makes for a very interesting commute.  All that stop & slow driving, following by some highway travel provides the opportunity to add to the variety of video footage.  My tires are only a few days old though, definitely not broken in yet.  I'm also in desperate need of new wiper blades (which are on order now).  The windshield was dirty and I had no easy means of cleaning it in the dark & cold.  So, I just used this first drive as a chance to get sample captures.  After all, this drive will be in the dark, something I have no experience with using the new camera setup.  So, my attempt this evening was the complete effort.  Sadly, I had an issue with the dashboard footage.  It was underexposed.  The rest came out well.  Due to the timing & distance, I ran out of electricity just as I was exiting the highway.  It provided a great example of how the hybrid system takes over after depletion.  I can't wait to try the drive again.  That next time, I will carefully check the settings on that dashboard camera.  btw, seeing the approach of Minneapolis from the highway, then driving through the tunnel, looked great... especially in the dark.


Supply & Demand, reply.  I couldn't reply.  Apparently, one of the growing sources for all-things-electric news will lock out posting after 48 hours.  I started typing up a response to this, when I discovered the reply link wasn't available: "Then it's weird they advertised against their own models."  It was a comment on the scarcity article from a person obviously not paying close enough attention to notice there is more than one type of message conveyed from an automaker.  From big reveals, you tend to get mostly philosophy, direction, and strategy type information.  From television commercials, you tend to get promotion of what's for immediate sale.  Though, with all the misleading efforts at play, it is realistic to become confused.  Also, there are certain automakers who are ambiguous by their very nature... to avoid accountability for having broken so many promises of the past.  Anywho, I wasn't able to post this.  In fact, I really didn't even finish my thought upon noticing it wouldn't be possible to actually reply.  Ugh:  The difference between advertising products and corporate plans is a concept lost to many commenting on articles like this.  Of course, there are some who intentionally spin them to be thought of as the same.  They most definitely are not.  One is short-term.  The other is long-term.  In the case of the supposed "self charging" controversy, that's just marketing campaign for immediate sales.  It has nothing whatsoever to do with expectations a few years from now.  Remember, there are some who have much to lose from Toyota being successful with hybrid sales now and plug-in hybrid sales later.  Think about how popular RAV4 hybrid has become.  When the reveal of the PHEV model takes place in 2 weeks, there will be quite a number of enthusiasts upset by Toyota surge into the mainstream with such configuration that will undoubtedly be popular.


Supply & Demand, why.  This was a constructive comment that emerged out of the scarcity article stir: "I don't understand why Toyota even offers the non-Prime Prius at this point, especially considering how many regular hybrids they have elsewhere in their lineup."  That's the kind of thing you get from someone new to the discussions, unfamiliar with any of the history and without any type of business background.  They tend to come from an engineering interest, someone drawn to the technology with nothing resembling passion for sales.  The aspect of economics tends to have little to no support in online discussions.  That's why enthusiasts thrive and supporters battle with the mess they create.  Knowing this audience, I kept my response to that inquiry brief:  Those watching the rollout of TNGA know exactly why. It's all about raising the bottom first.  The entire fleet gets that upgrade before taking the next big step... e-TNGA.


Supply & Demand, debate.  The typical media outlet will stir controversy to attract reading & participation on their website.  This was a long since debunked claim from 2.5 years ago republished: "And its gas engine might come on randomly and too often making its EV status debatable."  I was quite annoyed.  That's the basic FUD from publishers, doing anything they can to keep strong stories from the past alive.  From individuals, it is known as "bait" from a troll.  I posted this to draw attention to the act:  That statement in the opening of this article is not a subject of debate.  It is evidence of having either inadvertently switched into "EV Auto" mode, a feature designed to ready the gas engine for brief bursts of power when called upon, or plug-supplied electricity was used up and the system was in "HV" mode.  Because in "EV" mode, driving up to 84 mph and down to 15°F is all-electric.  Even if you drop the pedal to the floor, the gas engine stays off.


Supply & Demand, behind.  That desperation to spin Toyota's position as behind continues on: "Toyota get with the program, you will be left in the dust!"  I find it all quite vindicating.  I did my studying and shared my findings with a wide variety of those willing to provide feedback.  From friendly to outright hostile, they confirmed what played out and what is to come as a very effective means of change:  It made sense for Toyota to remain only in the original markets (roughly half the United States) until the mid-cycle update was ready.  That update (known as the 2020 model) is only now reaching decent supply levels in those markets.  You can actually check inventory with just basic searches.  The expectation is that 2020 model will be rollout out to the rest of the country sometime in the next few months, putting it right on schedule for 2020.  Having waited means the introduction of Prius Prime in the center & southeast of country will be with seating for 3 in back.  Combined that with some quick searches revealing the car itself is on it's 4th model-year, you've got evidence of Toyota leaving most others in the dust.  Establishing reputation for a solid, affordable choice takes time.


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