Prius Personal Log #1006
May 8, 2020 - May 14, 2020
Last Updated: Sun. 7/19/2020
page #1005 page #1007 BOOK INDEX
OMG! It's hard to believe stuff like this even gets posted: "Tesla increased its production rate on average power of two within the last 12 years. Even with a slight slow down you get to a few million. My estimate is: 2019=365000; 2020=500000; 2021=900000; 2022=1.5 million; 2023=2.5 million; 2024=3.5 million; 2025=5 million; 2026=6 million." Fortunately, a bunch of people voted dislike and started sounding off about how thoughtless that was. No automaker could ever grow to that scale with a single vehicle. Expanding to offer a wide variety at that speed isn't possible either. Of course, imagine if that could be. Many enthusiasts make the incorrect assumption that they represent mainstream consumers. That's why so many argue with me and I always repeat the same mantra... know your audience. Expansion beyond niche can be painfully difficult. They don't understand how different it will be, as was clear from this post. In fact, appealing to early-adopters seeking opportunity has very little in common with someone shopping the showroom floor. It's quite remarkable how what I dealt with from Volt hype translates so well with the EV crowd as well. They really don't have any idea how the business aspect works. That blindness from focusing entirely on the engineering is a serious pitiful. Almost all of them fall into that same trap. Ugh.
Basic Advice. It's nice getting back to sharing
knowledge. In this case, it was in an thread very actively discussing
charge options for a new owner's Prius Prime. I jumped into the mix
with: As already stated, NEMA 14-50 is by far the most common 240-volt outlet, an
option heavily favored for level-2 charger sellers. Keep that in mind when
shopping. Something else to keep in mind is getting a charger with
Wi-Fi support. The very first no-meter-required program in the entire
country available for all customers in the provider's district was just
started by Xcel here in Minnesota. It takes advantage of Wi-Fi connectivity,
which enables time-of-use discount on a non-dedicated circuit. In other
words, you can get reduced electricity rates when charging your vehicle, yet
share the same 240-volt line. The billing distinction is automatic due to
the charger, not a stand-alone meter you would have to install. That
means if you have other devices that can plug into a 14-50 outlet, there's
no need for any separate wiring. For example, you may have a heater or
compressor that also uses 240 volts. That same line can be used. It's a
no-brainer advancement in EV support at home... if you have a Wi-Fi enabled
Continuous Improvement. The effort to cut cost is often
confusing and difficult to identify. The on-going discussion made that
all too clear: "The question to me,
is with the death of the Prius family, should we ever expect a NEW from the
ground up built hybrid or will the future for Toyota be continued
introduction of Hybrids that are Hybrid versions of existing ICE models? I
tend to think, the Prius model line alone will be the only truly from the
ground up built Hybrid. But I could be wrong." Knowing
whether or not what I post makes any difference to him will be slim, but at
least it gives others information to consider:
Diversification. The basics of business are absent with many. It's much like what we are discovering from the pandemic. There are many who are science illiterate. Not having any background, yet drawing conclusions anyway is quite dangerous... as we are witnessing, with horrifying consequence. Thankfully, the situation with vehicle technology isn't that drastic: "It seems that Toyota is all over the place and trying to see what will actually take hold in the market." When you don't have any basis to gauge observations upon, it is easy to see how mistakes can be made. They have no idea why certain decisions came about, so understanding the next step becomes nearly impossible. I chimed in again: That is another "seems" example of rhetoric. Antagonists pass along the "take hold in the market" as a red herring, hoping you'll follow it without question. They don't want you to discover BEV will co-exist. Reality is, the need for fleet & commercial vehicles with fuel-cells is already there and the oil industry embracing it inevitable. Our cargo transport must shift away from diesel. So, there will be high-volume production of hydrogen anyway. Toyota is simply diversifying its business, seeing that obvious opportunity to share EV-related technology. Using the Mirai platform to help refine that technology is a sensible approach.
New Crossover. Hearing about something new
coming from Toyota, while in the depth of a pandemic, seems
counter-intuitive. The analogy given was: "Isn't this like
launching a cruise ship during a Hurricane? Seems like pretty bad timing to
be launching two new hybrids... Then you had the seeming abandonment of that
concept, with the birth of... Now it seems Toyota is gravitating back
to..." Coming from someone who has a reputation for stirring
controversy and not open to criticism, I wasn't sure how this would be
taken. It didn't stop me from posting it though:
That's called rhetoric and it "seems" you are happy to pass it along. Ugh. Stepping back to look at the big picture, we can confirm Toyota has stayed true to their overall effort to phase-out traditional vehicles and now is the ideal time to make that commitment clear.
Why wouldn't an automaker take a next step at a time when the entire world is forced to re-evaluate anyway? Change is necessary. That should be obvious. It would be bizarre not to take advantage of the opportunity.
With regard to this upcoming reveal. Think about where the market was heading before the pandemic. Sedans were falling out of favor and the industry required platforms which could easily accommodate a decent size battery-pack. Seeing a new vehicle emerge that fits in between Camry and RAV4 makes a lot of sense. It would start out as a hybrid while offering a very easy path to plug-in hybrid. That's sensible business.
In other words, Toyota has weathered many hurricanes already. This is what being prepared for the big one looks like. What other automaker is so well positioned to shed their old traditional vehicles?
Barriers. It is quite eye-opening to witness the contribution to barriers. Most have no idea they are doing it. A few notice though, asking: "What is not correct? Believe me, having driven a 2014 Nissan LEAF, doing a 0-100% charge to get to the next available charging station is a bummer." Having constructive questions come up is great. That's exactly what we should be getting as new rollouts take place. In this case, it was about the new EV in China from Toyota: Know your audience. Toyota/Lexus isn't targeting the long-distance traveler. They are well aware that most households will have multiple vehicles, that the BEV will be used for daily commute, running errands, visiting friends, etc. When travel out of that range is required, the other vehicle will simply be used instead. This requires us to recognizing priorities. Remember in the 80's when a truck was a truck? It was only used when necessary, parked on the side of the garage otherwise. Most of the time, you were using the car. Now, that older vehicle will become the "truck" and the BEV used for everything else. Think about how long those old trucks latest as a result of the limited use and how little it took to maintain them. We're getting back to our roots. A daily driver does not need to fulfill every possible scenario. The narrative that is must is counter-productive, causing harm to BEV adoption. Don't contribute to the barriers.
Priorities. There are some who spread misinformation instead of FUD. Their hope is the same, to undermine progress. It's what happens when you don't like the direction a solution takes you. When you make a hypothesis, then discover you were incorrect, you are supposed to learn from the experience... not deny the outcome. Ugh. Fighting it makes no sense. We see it regardless: "Why is Toyota selling this only in Chinese and European Markets and still saddling us North Americans with Hybrids and FOOLCELLS , do they take us for FOOLS?!!!!! " I had this to say in response: We have overwhelmingly demonstrated how our priorities are all screwed up. It is the outcome many feared would come about at a result of GM pushing its desire for range & power over the goal striving for a balance. Volt made it all too clear how that obsession sacrificed our original intent to change the status quo. A decade later, dealer lots look worse. Sedans are vanishing, replaced by traditional guzzlers. Think about covid will do to infrastructure investment. People here will be arguing for a supposed need to have ultra-high-speed DC chargers. Why sacrifice so much money for a few of those when you can instead get a bank of 50 kW chargers? That type of tradeoff makes no sense, especially when buyers at this stage will almost certainly have a second vehicle for long-range travel anyway. It never ceases to amaze me how the desire for more blinds so many to what is really important. Thankfully, Toyota knows their audience and simply ignores what just ends up as enthusiast rhetoric. After all, we have been acting foolish. Having to wait until the after markets with better priorities get rollouts is a sensible approach.
Supposed Facts. People just make up stuff, not citing source or scope. They just post what they feel is right: "To match Toyota/Lexus, Tesla just have to dial back the charge rate to 50 kW - but that would slow the transition to EV's as no-one really wants to double a journey just for charging stops." Nothing provided to support such a claim gives me the opportunity to ask how that conclusion was drawn. That irritates some, calling me out as a troublemaker... and some not so polite labels. I turn it around with facts. In this case, I was armed with data: According to a survey of 8,500 consumers and industry experts conducted back in March by J.D. Powers, that is not correct. In fact, rate didn't even make the top 3 barriers listed. They were charging station availability, driving range and purchase price. A charging rate of 50 kW would likely do the opposite, since it would satisfy the availability concern. Think about it. 50 kW will deliver a rate of 167 miles/hour for charging. It requires 480 volts on a 75-amp line. That is a reasonable balance of cost & performance. Faster is much, much more expensive to setup & maintain. For that matter, who pays for the equipment and who pays for the electricity? Like it or not, overcoming the availability barriers by providing lots of chargers with lower rates will accelerate transition. It is counter-productive to believe that faster is necessary.
FUD. Right out of the classic handbook for spreading Fear,
Uncertainty, and Doubt came this:
- Lose sight of the big picture.
- Divide & Conquer.
- Lie & Distort.
- Conjure up conspiracies.
- Accuse the accusers.
That list of tactics for misleading & manipulating was used to describe what the president has been doing. It matches exactly what I dealt with from the past with vehicle technology. From a wide array of antagonists, the same old nonsense had to be dealt with. Nothing in that list is constructive. So, none of that should be present in what we face. Yet, the frequency is abundant to an extreme... to the point when tolerating it becomes impossible. You either choose to ignore or confront. I'm distressed by the number who ignore. They just pretend there isn't a problem and nothing said is inappropriate. That is the goal, to get people to become disenfranchised, making they enablers. It's a sad reality when critical thinking doesn't happen anymore.
One Week Later. Not a single person responded to my software upgrade post. There were so many people angered about my response before, with many different ways of telling me I was wrong. None of them said so much as a peep this time. They were all passionate about a topic they had no background in. Their posts 9 months ago have proven to be hasty & anecdotal, the same nonsense I have to deal with in other disciplines related to the rollout & spread of technology. Those assumptions are costly at times. In this case, the belief was opportunity had already slipped away and there would be no way to make up for such a tragic loss. They truly didn't understand. That's typical. Being a software engineer for 3 decades now, I'm familiar with that behavioral pattern. Knowing what it takes to build, deploy, and support is a complete mystery to most people. Keeping up with the ever-changing technology makes it difficult even when you do have the background. So, this was no surprise at all. I waited for the validation. Unfortunately, no one wants to address next steps. They all abandoned ship when the challenge became far more than they had anticipated. Sound familiar?
Addressing Speculation. There's a lot speculation
with regard to Toyota's rollout of the new Lexus EV in China and the very
generous warranty it includes. Lacking any industry standard or even a
consistent expectation, it leaves much subject to wild guesses based on
little to know information. Trying to get in front of sources which
could generate & spread misconceptions is key... especially knowing there
are some who intentionally create misinformation. With lockdown and
the industry basically at a stop, along with the market in China showing
signs of slowing, its difficult to find anything solid to work with.
So, a good chance of speculation growing is likely. Ugh. Oh
well, all you can do is address problems as they are detected:
Nissan's pack essentially didn't have any cooling at all. It only employed a radiant approach, simply allowing the heat to pass through the case to the outside. It was a sealed battery, so even just passive air circulating through it wasn't possible. That's why just pushing cabin-air through the pack for Prius Prime has proven worthy of longevity. The next step up is A/C cooled air being directly funneled along the entire casing to draw out heat. That's aggressive by comparison. So, the generous warranty seems reasonable.
As for the maintenance program, that may be more of a throwing-a-bone-to-the-dealer situation. They need to provide service in place of no longer maintaining a combustion-engine. They still need to make money. Bringing in your vehicle from time to time for a measure, inspect, and cleaning of the battery system shouldn't be that big of a deal. In fact, it could just become part of the routine when you bring in the vehicle for tire-rotation. After all, services like inspecting brakes & shocks, changing the cabin-air filter and wiper-blades will continue. You'll need to replace tires at some point too.
And how exactly is that an "unnecessary" expense if you are guaranteed 70% capacity throughout 612,371 miles of ownership? It's like paying for insurance but never having to file a claim. Isn't the goal of a BEV to bring an end to the surprises that come about from maintaining a traditional vehicle? Think about what the confidence of a that guarantee does for resale value too.