Personal Log  #984

December 28, 2019  -  January 6, 2020

Last Updated:  Mon. 2/10/2020

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1-06-2020 Over Promise, Under Deliver.  It is rather bizarre to witness mistakes being repeated.  You'd think the online forums as a whole would become better educated over time, learning from the past to prevent tripping up over the same problems & oversights again.  Nope.  Newbies keep joining, poorly informed and easily influenced makes them quite vulnerable to falling into the same trap.  They do too, taking most of the group with.  Watching that can be somewhat surreal, like knowing an accident is about to take place, then watching it play out.  Even when you try to prevent the repetition, they go out of their way to stop you from interfering.  True, some actually want & encourage the mess.  Others just don't understand.  Anywho, it continues to happen:

Think about how wanting some have become, blinded by logic.  They gobble up every word, as if it was guarantee.  Those who question for detail get drown out by a sea of enablers.  GM worked that angle for years, providing ambiguous statements that would feed hype.  Enthusiasts thrived on meritless claims. Substance wasn't important.  All that mattered was a commitment without any accountability. Now, we are seeing VW follow in those same footsteps.

Meanwhile, those automakers actually trying to make a difference, but in a much more subtle way get the "laggard" label.  We see Toyota about to deliver a 39-mile PHEV system, offering 302 horsepower, 0-60 acceleration in 5.8 seconds, and AWD.  That will come as an option in a very, very popular choice of vehicle.  So what if it includes a gas-engine for driving after depletion?  Most people's commutes will be entirely with electricity, providing exactly the same experience as driving an EV.

This is why the advice of "Know your audience" has become so vital.  Automakers sell their product to dealers, not directly to consumers.  Those impressive specifications are what will appeal to dealers purchasing inventory, not some grand plan to electrify.  Those promises are meaningless to them.  They want something that can be easily sold with little effort for a decent profit.


Calling Out Publications.  I finally had it.  Tired of bumping into references to that misleading article, I commented on Facebook post linking to it.  That would stir feedback.  And it did right away, before I could even finish my blog entry.  Turns out, some reading it hadn't actually realized there was such a blaring omission.  This was my comment:  Notice how the article makes no mention of Prius Prime, only pointing out the most vague "PHEV Prius" reference possible near its conclusion?  Focus was placed exclusively on the hybrid model, creating a narrative is used to draw interest to a publication.  Real journalism doesn't leave out vital information like that.  To be objective, the article should have pointed out the sales of Prius Prime have been showing signs of increase due to the mid-cycle upgrade halfway through 2019 but that would have confused the "If Toyota could re-envision the Prius..." message at the end of the article BECAUSE THAT IS EXACTLY WHEN TOYOTA JUST DID WITH PRIUS PRIME.  Omissions like that are troublesome.  Ugh.


Reviving The Past.  I wasn't expecting new life to emerge on the forum part of the dead Volt blog.  It happened though.  Ugh.  A familiar troublemaker was attempting to stir some of the same old rhetoric, but as new lies focusing on RAV4 instead of Prius.  I really don't even want to post those quotes, since they used blatantly incorrect information to show favor for the claimed superior design from GM.  Their propaganda for EREV is attempting re-ignition.  What possible benefit could come from trying to undermine Toyota's progress?  None of their arguments were compelling enough to kept the technology from ending production.  Rather than the Two-Mode evolution to Volt ever coming back to an SUV form, it died.  Why would anyone attempt to push the same narrative again?  You'd think any type of effort to get GM's attention would try a different approach.  Making the same meritless claims again doesn't make an sense.  Renewing failed arguments is bizarre.  That's a degree beyond desperate.  This isn't even a repeat a history at this point.  It has turned into some type of anti-green movement, where they are so upset about having lost they can only achieve fulfillment by trying to bring back what happened years ago.  Trying to revive the past is a new twist.


New Year Spin.  I found this quite annoying: "It sure seems like Toyota's other hybrids are eating the Prius' lunch."  That article title wreaked of click-bait.  Reading a little into it, I found: "It might be the subject for more prognostication later, but as we discussed Prius sales in the office, many of us wondered if it is the beginning of the end for the hybrid and PHEV Prius."  Why would Toyota discontinue offering a hatchback, especially with the introduction of rear-view camera mirrors?  It's the ideal replacement for the loss of market with sedans.  Looking at comments posted, I didn't see anything related to plugging in.  The existence of Prius Prime was totally overlooked.  It's how narratives are established... they just portray a view as if it represents a comprehensive look.  That reality of pushing a perspective is nothing new, but this is still good reason to call out the publication attempting to get away with it.


Past Sales.  There was silence yesterday, nothing to report until today.  All the reporting would take an odd twist too.  Rather than the usual rhetoric stirred from monthly statistics, everyone is shifting to quarterly outcomes.  That should help to reduce the usual entertainment posts, those with no constructive value.  Hoping for such discussion is a bit of a stretch though.  And of course, it is way too easy to slip into the trap of looking backward... which is exactly what happened.  That perspective long after-the-fact results in a tainted view, since most of the time some vital aspect of that situation is forgotten or overlooked... as was today: "BEV sales today are similar to HEV sales in 2005.  If you look at 2000-2005, you see exponential growth."  That seemed innocent.  I pointed out why it didn't portray sales of the time accurately:  The overlooked reality is there were no tax-credits back then, only a tiny deduction... between $300 to $400 for most people.  It wasn't until 2006 when the first tax-credit became available and its purpose wasn't to establish technology, as is with EV purchases.  Purpose was to push hybrids into the mainstream.  Now, PHEV is what ordinary consumers will embrace to fulfill plug-in interest.  It's a best-of-both-worlds approach at a time when cost makes it directly competitive with the well-established choices.  As much as people hope for strong growth among EV choices, its just not realistic for the masses.  They have bigger fish to fry.  Upgrading their home for recharging and trying get the most from electricity simply isn't a priority for them.  They aren't the customers anyway.  Automakers make money from dealers... who have other priorities too.  We'll see a shift in 2020.  Change is slow though and there are many forces working against electrification of any type.

1-01-2020 Renewed Rhetoric, reason.  That troublemaker from the past failed to attract any enablers; instead, there was a fairly objective post which I decided to respond to.  This was the quote I specifically highlighted: "There's no reason why smaller PHEV's can't be very quick, handle very well, and go at least 50 miles on electric power alone."  Hopefully, this ends up stirring more construction discussion:

There's no reason?  That belief comes from years of rhetoric, which the death of Voltec has overwhelmingly confirmed a terrible idea.  GM started with an understanding of the market, stating a primary goal of "nicely under $30,000" to set a clear expectation of affordability & profitability.  That was to be their small PHEV offering.  They abandoned their own goal in favor or range & power.

Toyota's delivery of RAV4 Prime shows what the PHEV market could have become for GM, an automaker whose audience is would have wholeheartedly embraced a SUV with a plug just like that.  Keeping Prius Prime on the balance for range & power makes sense for this generation of battery chemistry & packaging, since it meant an affordable price without dependency on tax-credits.  It still got the suspension upgrade for handling well, in addition to the industry's most efficient electric heating system.

Focus on what priorities will draw in the largest audience.  This is vital for sustainable high-volume sales.  It way the article of Kia's future offerings address a variety of electrification approaches.  Heavy emphasis on range & power proved a fatal choice for GM.


Happy New Year.  It started with: "Without access to the full $7,500 federal tax-credit (or even part of it), Tesla is now at a competitive disadvantage to other manufacturers that offer an EV model in Tesla's market segment."  Coming from a blog website for all plug-in vehicles whose posted content at times is almost entirely Tesla topics lately, that was no surprise.  There's a lot of Tesla content available, but the imbalance makes it appear to have a bias.. which is a formula for attracting enablers.  They lose credibility as a result.  It's a difficult problem to overcome when you want to attract participation daily.  Anywho, I obviously had something to say on the topic:  Those key words... IN TESLA'S MARKET SEGMENT ...reveal the narrow scope we cannot afford to be trapped within for 2020.  For Model 3, there was an audience with very limited choices and tight deadlines.  Over 16 million is the expected outcome from new vehicle sales for the United States for 2019 means it achieved the amazing feat of capturing 1% for the year.  Kudos!  That is a temporary low-hanging-fruit situation though.  The challenge will be to maintain it.  With a variety of new choices becoming available and the reality of just how small of a quantity that actually is for a mainstream automaker to sustain their business, their "market segment" far from certain.  For perspective, there were 2,129,385 Toyota brand vehicles (which doesn't include Lexus brand) purchased in the United States in 2018.  The outcome for 2019 is expected to be similar.  Any regard to "competitive disadvantage" is short-sighted and narrow-scoped.  Sales must grow significantly, without any dependency on subsidies.


More Confusion.  Sometimes, you have to wonder if some people are so poorly informed, they just make wild guesses.  I didn't get the impression this writer had any idea what he was really dealing with: "In today's market, several automakers like Volkswagen and GM have completely abandoned plug-in hybrids, while only a handful of PHEV models are actually able to handle the average American round-trip commute of about 32 miles without tailpipe emissions."  Since when is that the average?  VW just upgraded Passat from 9.9 to 13 kWh.  And Ford is about to introduce its new Escape plug-in hybrid.  More importantly though, what does he believe the purpose of PHEV is supposed to be?  We are about to start a new year where many of the apparent industry experts really don't have a clue.  That's going to cause quite a bit of confusion.  Ugh.


Tax Liability.  I wonder how common this is: "I've been trying to search online but couldn't find an answer.  Is there an income limit to claim the federal tax-credit?"  It's an interesting question, especially if you really given it any thought.  Without any experience, it would be difficult to even know what to look for.  I suspect most people probably haven't ever been in such a situation.  So, I'm hoping my short & sweet answer does the trick:  No limit, you just need enough tax liability to cover it... which most households commonly do.  Remember, it reduces what you pay to the government, rather than being a monetary gift.


Until 2020.  This caught my attention: "Good thing Tesla that Toyota is on a limited run of Prime..."  It was a great opportunity to provide some exposition for all those now paying attention:  Toyota knew 2020 would bring a mid-cycle upgrade for Prius Prime.  Toyota knew 2020 would bring about the rollout of RAV4 Prime.  Toyota knew 2020 would bring an end to tax-credits for Tesla.  Let's not forget the perceived competition for Prius Prime either.  Every time it got a mention, someone would always squeeze in something about Volt, despite its obvious mismatch to customers.  Toyota knew 2020 would bring an end to tax-credits for GM.  In other words, it simply made no sense to go beyond a limited run until 2020.


Provoke.  This attempt was quite telling.  Comments about an article highlighting expectations in the coming year from Kia was: "All electric range for the plugin? <=25 miles, color me unimpressed.  I'm not looking for much over 25; Toyota has become the inadequate standard."  There was nothing mentioned of EV range or Toyota.  It was just a former Volt troublemaker absolutely desperate for some type of interaction.  The death of all hope from GM has left him without any type of daily fix.  That old blog provided an on-going source of rhetoric to stir excitement.  With that now long dead and nothing at all to anticipate anymore, not to mention Toyota becoming an even greater threat to whatever he wanted in the past.  I was absurd.  Several people took a bit at his trolling trap, but none stuck with the theme.  He's basically getting the cold-shoulder from everyone.  That's what happens when your goals become insincere.  What had been once anticipation of great change turned into an effort of spite.  Seeing the provoke fall flat was a nice reminder of why it is so important to stay focused on the big picture.  He dug himself so deep into a false promise, he lost touch with what really mattered.  What would winning a discussion really accomplish?


Former Foes.  I check up on the old GM forum from time to time.  Remember their meritless praise for Two-Mode and blind hope for Volt?  It was a terrible venue for any type of progress... which made it a great source of rhetoric research.  They provided a wealth of undermining insight.  I was always fascinated by how they would unknowingly volunteer very helpful information.  Anywho, there were a few there who hated Toyota so much, they would relentlessly attack anyone who showed favor.  I did, so I was always having to deal with surprisingly hostile posts.  It was quite remarkable.  I look back in dismay just how bad it actually got.  Having documented their actions sure is nice.  It's hard to believe just how bad things really got at times.  Needless to say, times have changed.  GM failed miserably, several times.  Many there have simply given up.  One particular individual who never showed me any mercy posted this today in response to the recent details revealed about the upcoming Highlander hybrid: "This is going to cement Toyota as the go to for a 7 passenger.  The MPG without any real penalty is huge."  That 36 MPG rating is so much better than anything GM every delivered in that category, it's no surprise to finally see a change of heart.  This quote that followed cemented the sentiment: "You have to be an idiot to not applaud Toyota on this."  To finally see even the much staunch express positive attitude toward a former competitor is a very good sign.  Of course, he still may be a little combatant toward me, but who cares.  Highlander hybrid will deliver incredible efficiency and will be built in Texas.  That's something he could never say about a large SUV from GM, even on a big GM forum.


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