Prius Personal Log #1001
April 8, 2020 - April 12, 2020
Last Updated: Sun. 7/19/2020
page #1000 page #1002 BOOK INDEX
Range. A new discussion was started, comments posted based upon range/price measures... which is as informative as something like horsepower/price. What purpose does it serve if some of that capacity is rarely or ever used? If you never tow anything that massive, what is the cost of having that ability? It turns into a penalty when you pay for far more than you actually need. Sound familiar? It's that same old want verses need problem. The oldest example is acceleration speed. Some people absolutely insisted more was necessary, but couldn't actually prove it. In fact, they were so desperate to spread such a narrative to undermine Prius, they just started lying. That's what pulled me into this mess. I was shocked how far they would take the dishonesty in the name of supposedly helping endorse cleaner technology. That's why they were so baffled that I would endorse more than just a single automaker. It made no sense from their perspective, since they were really just serving their own interest. So when I see stuff like this, I question motive: "Meanwhile in the real world, range is often the most important metric with a BEV along with price and msrp/range metric is an excellent data point to show value of each model in a comparison chart." Before I could even respond, someone else sharing the same concern as me jumped on that same statement. It's nice no longer being alone. It's also nice that range is finally getting scrutiny, which is long overdue. I sounded off by replying to him rather than the troublemaker with: Totally agree. If most of your driving is nothing but a daily commute, focus on range makes no sense. My daily commute is 36 miles. That makes a PHEV with a supposedly "inadequate" capacity of 39 miles reason to question the priorities of those against it. Increased range doesn't accomplish anything for the bulk of that vehicle's usage. It is a blatant example of diminishing returns no one sharing Price-Per-Mile statistics is willing to address. At some point, more is not better. In fact, it can be a negative. Why carry around capacity you will rarely ever need?
Doubting Purpose. Even when it is told directly, acceptance can be difficult. But hey, that's still better than the outright dismissal I have grown use to getting. So, this was a definite improvement over that: "I'm not even sure they want to sell us PHEVs being how poorly the Prius Prime is stocked in the USA, despite the fact they could sell a ton more than they do." It's easy to fall into that feeling of doubt when the sentiment is passed along so often. Undermining purpose by repeating a different message over and over again is the tool of an antagonist. They say what they want you to believe at every opportunity. Critical thinking is how to overcome it. I try to provide a means of helping that process along: That anecdotal reasoning is easy to understand, but doesn't match what we've been told or Toyota's goal. All along, we've seen an effort to move the entire fleet. That means having lots of patience and the willingness to not succumb to the easier path. Lots of Prius Prime simply doesn't make sense knowing there's a RAV4 Prime on the way. Why would they waste tax-credit opportunity like that? The goal of reaching the masses wouldn't be achieved by hatchback. Know your audience.
Understanding Tax-Credits. Some still don't, despite so many years of exposure. Much of that comes from so much exposure to intentional misleading. There's quite a bit of propaganda aimed at undermining the message of purpose. That confusion from mixed messages, spinning outcome, and just making up stuff is rather effective. Sadly, we get stuff like this as a result: "The whole tax credit argument makes no sense. I mean, if Toyota is dependent on tax credits to sell the Rav-4 Prime, then what are they going to do when those credits run out?" That came from someone who is well informed in the plug-in community, yet still uncertain. But at least he is aware of that lack of clarity and is asking for more information. I especially liked his look forward, a scope often avoided... because so many are just hung up in the moment. Finding out about the bigger picture makes it challenging because of that. I tried my best to convey purpose is a relatively short response: Those tax-credits are for breaking the status quo, to finally get dealers to embrace the technology. Getting them to establish momentum to create a new norm (inventory readily available) was the subsidy purpose. GM perverted it into a use for conquest instead, which is where the dependency came from. Nothing changed with regard to dealer interest. The reason why should have been obvious. Those purchasing Volt were not loyal GM customers.
No Plan. Regardless of what argument is using,
ultimately, each automaker must have a plan. No statement of intent or
even a clear investment should be reason for concern. Yet, those that
support GM don't. Just like our current administration, there's just a
mix of confusing messages, no accountability, and no obvious direction.
Heck, for that matter, there isn't even a next step identified. That's
the same old nonsense we've seen from years with both the troublesome
automaker and certain people in office. We get these bold declarations
of advancement without anything ever happening. In fact, it is often a
slip backward. Ugh. I continued on with the replies to the
That narrative of "GM killed the Volt because they think there is no place for PHEVs anymore" gets more interesting each time someone tries to support it. The reality of the situation is easy to see once the perspective is backed away from the weak argument based solely on range comparisons.
Put simply, GM couldn't deliver something profitable. Their design was inefficient. That put it at a clear disadvantage for competing in the PHEV market. Neither the EV efficiency (31 kWh/100mi) nor the HV efficiency (42 MPG) of Volt made it compelling from a business perspective. Ironically, the "vastly superior" tech it had to compare to came from its nemesis, Prius. Delivering EV efficiency of (25 kWh/100mi) and HV efficiency of (54 MPG) meant it would use less fuel to travel the same distance. In terms of battery, that meant a lower cost since fewer cells would be needed.
Dealers seek easy profit. They refuse to carry inventory something that's challenging to sell. A high sticker-price without anything compelling beyond EV range is a very real problem. Not having any tax-credits remaining and having wasted the opportunity to exploit the unlimited aspect of phaseout means GM has nothing to work with anymore. Their squandering of subsidies for conquest, rather than transforming their own customer base, really does mean there is no place... for them.
For the rest of the market, the PHEV still offers a great deal of potential.
Sarcastic Insults. This was inevitable:
"Gee, Toyota has "advanced" the state of its PHEV tech from "0 to 12 miles"
all the way to... well, they are touting "39 miles" for the upcoming RAV4
PHEV." I seek out that type of attack, where they try to put you
on the defense, as an opportunity to take an offensive position. I
certainly took advantage of that this time, creating a nice outline of what
he was attempting to avoid:
Pretending to address the tech by throwing out one random fact is a dead giveaway of a nerve being struck, especially when the post ends with both "sad" and "pathetic". The reason why is obvious, those other facts are quite relevant to this discussion as well. Those characteristics carry over nicely to a pickup.
SIZE matters. The offering from GM had a cramped interior, but included a technology lots of potential. Unfortunately, the opportunity to make it grow into a much larger vehicle was squandered. Toyota will soon be delivering that instead.
SPEED draws lots of attention. Whether it's useful or not, that is a selling point. Showroom shoppers are impressed by the ability to accelerate quickly. 0-60 in 5.8 seconds will put many vehicles to shame. That will indeed be impressive.
HORSEPOWER for those times you do actually load up the vehicle or find a need to tow, that desired power is there. The upcoming plug-in hybrid RAV4 will deliver 302. Having so much torque available is part of the fun-to-drive equation too.
AWD is a major selling feature, so much so, even a model of both Prius and Camry offer it. That is a purchase priority for many. Having it included as a standard feature for the PHEV in a SUV platform totally makes sense.
HEAT-PUMP offers cabin-warming efficiency many plug-in owners are envious of. That is most definitely advanced tech to avoid discussion about what you are trying to undermine the message of automaker progress.
EFFICIENCY when the battery-pack is depleted will be impressive. Just like the other Prime design, resulting MPG from hybrid mode will be substantially higher than its traditional size & power counterpart, about 38 MPG.
RANGE seals the deal. As much as enthusiasts tout the desire for more, real-world statistics simply doesn't support the claim. Ordinary consumers simply don't routinely drive beyond those 39 miles of EV it will provide.
In other words, all those facts avoided add up to make a compelling purchase. And that's without mentioning the 10-year, 150,000-mile warranty or any of the safety features included on all models. You have been called out for attempting to undermine Toyota's best-selling vehicle soon to be available as a PHEV.
Who? It continued with a long, drawn out soapbox presentation. It was a pie-in-the-sky presentation without any scope. You know they type, where both audience & timeline is undefined but no one seems to have a problem with that. So it sounds credible, but there was no relation to how it applied to the situation at hand. In other words, it was a long-term prospective completely void of any relevance to what happens right now. That happened a lot with Volt in the past. They focused so much on the ideal, they lost touch with the moment... which is how so much opportunity was missed. Who was all that supposed to be addressing? I grabbed to of the basic conclusions draw without any supporting evidence to rebut with: Again, who are you trying to make a case that "the days of the PHEV are over" to? The painful lesson learned by Volt enthusiasts is that they had no audience. Their preaching to the choir meant nothing to mainstream consumers, those who shop the showroom floor. So, none of their claims of superiority ever reached beyond the niche. It turned out to be an approach that didn't appeal. Why? That question is what should be addressed, not drawing a conclusion of "I don't think PHEVs satisfy anyone anymore." simply based upon generalizations of simpler & cheaper. After all, that doesn't at all resemble the business of automakers or dealerships. Think about it. What is your sales pitch to a potential buyer? Remember, the audience. What does a SUV or Pickup shopper consider for purchase priorities in 2020? How are you going to convince an ordinary person that short EV distances from an ordinary household outlet for a reasonable price isn't better than the other choices there on the lot?
Building Narratives. There are some who have questionable motives posting stuff like this: "...it's because Toyota isn't interested in building anything more than mild hybrids." then go on to include: "...it's safe to say the percentage of electric-powered miles is far lower than it is in a properly designed and built PHEV, such as the Chevy Volt and the Honda Clarity PHEV." It originates from being a Volt owner, then getting burned by GM abandoning the technology. But what was the purpose of becoming a plug-in owner if you don't want to see the market move forward? So what if your preferred approach failed. That's no reason to spin stories to build narratives about another that is showing genuine progress. Annoyed, I responded with: Trying to relive glory days of past doesn't change the reality that GM chose not to participate going forward. Voltec died as a result of the decision not to spread it to other vehicles... like a SUV or Pickup. Meanwhile we see this Pickup planned from Ford, along with a SUV. As for the nonsense of "properly" designed vehicle, the avoidance of addressing how Toyota's tech advanced is quite obvious. The effort to not mention Prius Prime's ability or its successor, the upcoming RAV4 Prime, couldn't be any more of a wish-GM-would-have-done-that situation. How will GM respond? It is all about targeting the core market. That's why Ford is looking into augmenting a F150. Owners will be thrilled to finally get an electrification choice that will return a noticeable gas savings. Whether or not it meets your approval as a Volt enthusiast doesn't matter.
Guessing Operation. Having a discussion about a plug-in hybrid pickup brings in an entirely new group of people into the mix. Some have no background whatsoever and just start wildly guessing about operation, how the upcoming new system will likely work. That means all the same old assumptions get stirred up again. In this case, it was about horsepower. I jumped in to provide some insight: Horsepower equates directly to battery size, not just what motor is available. We've seen that with Prius. As the pack grew, so did the power without any change to the hybrid system itself. The gen-1 model increased from 27kW to 38kW from nothing but capacity increase. The gen-2 model introduced a clutch, so that larger pack combined with a second motor distorts the calculation. Be careful when looking at numbers. In this case, that is correct, 44hp would be just an assist. Prius Prime is able to draw 68kW from its pack. The result is 91hp available for EV driving. That's enough to propel that size vehicle just fine without ever starting the engine. The same cannot be said for a much larger vehicle, like F150.
10 Miles. That's the rumor circulating today about
the EV range for an upcoming PHEV model of F150 pickup from Ford. This comment, in the
long discussion thread, is what caught my attention: "...it won't be worse than the first generation Prius
Plug-in, which had an all-electric range between 0-12 miles. You ask how
Toyota could possibly build a plug-in car that might have an AER of zero
miles? I don't know; ask them! Seems like an amazing feat of engineering to
me." It came from a known troublemaker and was my invite to dive
in... and I did:
AER (All Electric Range) was a marketing term coined to distinguish plug-in design like Volt from Prius plug-in. Since they served entirely different purposes, it made sense. Forcing an unfit definition on so many years later does not. So whether it delivered 0 miles or 12 miles was always a moot point, a red herring with the intent to mislead about how the system actually operated.
Having a larger battery and a plug was provided Prius with the ability to take advantage of supplemental electricity from a source other than gas. That provided more power for a MPG boost. The system was able to draw 38kW for propulsion. If demand was below that threshold, the engine would remain off. If it exceeded that, the engine would start to provide the additional power needed.
Prius Prime has a larger battery-pack, providing the ability to draw up to 68kW of power for propulsion. That's enough to accelerate onto a highway and cruise up to 135 km/h (84 mph) without the engine ever starting. Of course, calling that distance AER is a moot point now too, since Volt is dead, has no successor, and lacks what comes standard on Prius Prime... a heat-pump.
In short, your criticism of "worse" doesn't take into account what really matter. The vehicle will still be taking advantage of a plug, regardless of whatever rating or label it is given... using electricity instead of gas.
Caught Unprepared. I certainly have a lot to say on this topic. Over and over and over again, I repeated the "too little, too slowly" concern. There was years of downplaying the situation and use of every possible tactic available to try to get the speaker to shut up. Sound familiar? That same type of nonsense from both Two-Mode and Volt... it's hard to believe such terrible history could repeat like that... is now happening right before our eyes with our presidency... every excuse imaginable, along with finding someone to blame. Upon getting caught unprepared to such an extreme, what option is available at this point? It's the trapped-in-the-corner situation again. That's quite remarkable. Opportunity was wasted. Time & Resources were squandered. The very same reaction witnessed all those years ago... lash out at anything... the final act of desperation. This is the consequence of not preparing. Denial of the problem won't make it go away.