Prius Personal Log #1009
May 30, 2020 - June 3, 2020
Last Updated: Sun. 7/19/2020
page #1008 page #1010 BOOK INDEX
Approach Thinking. How many EV miles and how much original range questions came about from the on-going discussion. That provided a great opportunity for providing more background. The incorrect assumption newbies often make is that an automaker sets a target and works toward that for years, often generations, to finally deliver it. They don't recognize how goals will typically reveal that an approach will need to altered to achieve. That's why a specific target may not be what to actually aim for. You make discoveries along the way. That's why continuous improvement is the better choice. Working to deliver a target has the potential to become an innovator's dilemma trap... which we witnessed with Volt. It's amazing how many of those enthusiasts attacked Toyota for their approach, only to later learn that was a valid choice... which has now been overwhelming confirmed, simply by the test of time. Anywho, this is that background I injected: The approach of measuring "EV Miles" doesn't work with the first generation PHV from Toyota, since that was never a goal. It was designed to augment the hybrid system, delivering a MPG boost rather than replacing miles with EV. The result was blending when traveling faster than 100 km/h (62 mph) or requesting more than 38 kW. As for EV range, my 2012 was still delivering 13 miles (on my daily commute under ideal conditions) of EV in 2017 when I replaced it, which matched what it delivered when new. That is 2 miles more than the original range rating. So, the concept of degradation is skewed with the reality of standardized estimates. To this day, there is no agreement upon setting age expectations. Think about the difference between MILES driven and KWH consumed. There are many influencing factors, which is why discussions become such a mess... especially when the design of PHEV vary so much, even within generations from the same automaker. GM also changed their approach as the years progressed too.
More Thinking. When you get people to engage, they tend to start by making suggestions that have already been reasoned out with sound logic. They are aware of that though, so you must provide some background to keep things constructive. If done well, they will either move on to other ideas or request detail. Both are perfectly fine to keep the discussion going. I give them some background for more thinking: Your arguments in favor of DCFC resemble that of adding a plug to hybrids 15 years ago. That makes sense from a logic & engineering stance, but from a market & business, the effort is overkill. Return from such ability without infrastructure to support it means a return of very little. Basically, it's that chicken or egg problem. There are so few CCS chargers here (Minnesota, which is a fairly progressive state) that trying to push the option as an advantage is a waste of effort. It will happen. They will become common, but not with this generation of offerings. We are quite a few years... especially now with the economic collapse... from hope of seeing that as practical for the masses. Think about how long other better technologies take to deploy. Think about the lack of any standard still, either for connection or speed. Think about how pricing is far from anything you'd call consistent or even affordable.
Rethink Thinking. Simple statements like this are as
complete as they would seem: "It is highly unlikely the battery will actually fail, especially considering
the EV rollout in China states warranty at 70% capacity." My
usual comeback would be to ask what that vague "fail" actually
means. Would it represent the battery-pack becoming unusable or just
part of it that the owner wouldn't even be aware of? Does that even
matter, since it is more likely just reduced capacity across all the cells?
The point is to look beyond just the immediate implementation. Is that
entire battery-pack really worthless at that point? Most discussions
treat it as if that was the case. Why would it be? For that
matter, why would an owner wait until failure before doing anything?
After all, people replace tires long before the thread is completely worn.
It's part of that rethink necessity. My contribution today was:
How that capacity is actually measured is a bit vague. For example, my Prius Prime uses EV from 84% to 12% of SOC. Calculating that 72% usable from the 8.79 kWh overall, you get 6.33 kWh. That's more than my car ever takes from the plug, including overhead from losses. Yet, I still routinely get more EV than the rated range after 3 years and 45k miles. With my Prius PHV after 5 years and 92k miles, it too was still delivering more than the rated EV range... and yes, there is video documentation of that.
So, it probably comes down to what the market is like all those years & miles from now. Toyota could get clever by pursuing aftermarket opportunity, offering a discount on an upgrade battery-pack to avoid the possibility of an aged replacement even coming up as a warranty claim. That would be a novel way to reinforce consumer loyalty. They know many of their vehicles end up as great hand-me-downs anyway, resulting in a new Toyota vehicle getting purchased. It's an overall benefit. Profit is profit, and legacy automakers are facing a paradigm shift.
There is the realistic possibility of used packs becoming a resale commodity. Reduced capacity is no big deal when the goal is to build a bank to store excess renewable electricity that cannot be sent to the grid right away. So, it is a rethink for beyond just the automotive industry.
Crude Comparisons. After 2 decades, the expectation should have been that the audience would move beyond the most crude comparisons. Clearly, that isn't the situation: "I was going to wait for the RAV4 Prime but decided to go full EV with a 2020 Bolt. The deal was too good to pass on and to be honest, the front end on the RAV4 is fugly. I decided I could not pay full MSRP for something that homely even if the overall vehicle concept was compelling." That gives you some insight into the lack-of-thought from some purchase decisions. It's absurd to even consider such extremes. Yet, there it is. Ugh. Oh well, at least I get an opportunity to point out my observations: Wow! It's like 20 years ago. Back then, there were some who debated between Prius and Insight. That was beyond bizarre. One was a 2-seat manual transmission assist hybrid. The other was a 5-seat automatic full hybrid. Nothing in common was obvious to everyone except those shopping for a hybrid. Comparing a RAV4 Prime to a Bolt is very much an attempt to match extremes too. Ironically, the vehicle often identified as "homely" is Bolt, so that makes this even more bizarre. One is very much a SUV design... large tires, heavy-duty suspension, high ground-clearance, towing capable and AWD. The other is a compact wagon. Other than both offering a plug, they have nothing else in common. By having jumped on the really good pricing for 2020 Bolt, you didn't get its most complained about missing feature... which the 2021 model will finally offer... that comes standard with all RAV4 Prime... adaptive cruise control.
Outright Lying. He did exactly as predicted, ignored the evidence and repeated the same nonsense: "...which is why the video was done on flat ground and over a short distance. It's cherry picking data to make the hybrid look much better than it really is. And it still looks bad!" Seeing posts like that, now armed with high-quality detailed video to support my statements, it's rather odd. Why in the world would someone try so desperately to mislead? Oh well. That's what makes it so easy to just post a reply without having to hold back: He is outright lying. At 1m 9s in the video, you can clearly seeing the acceleration up a steep hill onto the highway never starts the engine. In fact, if you playback at 0.25x speed, it is easy verify kW draw. The highest is 33. That's it, only half of the maximum 68 kW available from the battery-pack. At 1m 22s in the video, you can see the effortless acceleration to 74 mph... again, no gas use whatsoever. That climb up into the parking ramp near the ending obviously isn't flat either.
No Difference. Rhetoric is being stirred. That mantra of dominance is coming back. Remember how Volt was better in every regard, period. There was no argument, no debate. It just was and nothing you could provide would change their minds. They heard what they wanted. They said what they wanted. I can see some of that attempted to be brought back. Ugh. This is how I handled today's stir: It was only a matter of time before the "vastly superior" posts began to emerge again. The same history is repeating. Words like "pathetic" and "inadequate" are a dead giveaway of intent. Fortunately, lessons learned from the past is that appeal effort is to the wrong audience. Ordinary consumers shopping the dealer's showroom floor couldn't care less what enthusiasts claim online. They draw their own conclusions by seeing the vehicle and experience a test-drive. Anyone taking the time to research will carefully observe information and seek out more detail. That's why belittling adjectives with vague claims and no supporting data make no difference.
Thank You. This seemed innocent on the surface: "Ok, so I got it reversed. I thought an icon indicating a
fan or something else was the ICE kicking in. Instead, it's using all
battery. What size battery? Clearly not large enough, as it used nearly 50%
(83% down to 36%) on a short commute. So option 1 was used: stress the
battery out." But when I dug deep, I found out he really just
plain didn't care. I was able to confirm insincerity though by looking
up his previous posts. Seeing that history tells the real story.
That's why I decided on a somewhat sarcastic response:
It is very interesting to have discovered that you were confusing kW draw with battery capacity. That disconnect between actual real-world data and speculation is quite apparent now, and has nothing to do with being "large enough". That video shows discharge rate is low, clearly indicated by the measure displayed. That numeric value is confirmation of low stress.
What you have been assuming all along is that the battery experiences a full cycle each time it is drained. That is most definitely not what actually happens. Again, the video confirms it. The way most PHEV are designed is to avoid the stressful extremes. That means there is always a buffer near the top and the bottom. The longevity benefit from this approach is very well proven.
For Prius Prime, a "full" charge is really just 84% of the overall available. When the EV is fully depleted, there is actually 12% remaining. This is referred to as "usable" capacity. Consider this teaching-moment, time well spent. I would not have discovered your misunderstanding had you not continued to participate in the discussion. Thank you.
It Is Not. When a generalization doesn't work, the antagonist tends to focus in on something very specific: "State it as often as you like. It doesn't change the fact that hybrids have small batteries, and small batteries can't handle the stress. No matter how you try to spin it, hybrid tech is a dead end, and any new hybrid you buy is going to be worthless within five years, sooner if companies like VW live up to their EV claims." I was especially impressed by the bold conclusion. Not only was the vague statement made without any proof (not even a cherry-picked example), it brought up a new perspective that was also vague. What has VW claimed? I have no idea. Do you? Anywho, this is how I dealt with that: It's not worth arguing with someone clearly attempting to mislead about PHEV tech. To everyone else reading this, the plug-in hybrid tech used by Toyota allows for full EV operation. A one-way clutch completely disengages the gas-engine from the propulsion system, enabling you to drive exactly like any BEV. There's an electric heat-pump and electric A/C. So even when cabin conditioning is needed, it is entirely electric... using electricity provided by recharging when you plug in. Don't listen to the those desperately trying to portray it as a regular hybrid. It is not.
Generalizations. This is often what you get when the antagonist simply has nothing to work with: "Your problems will come later, as they do with all ICE vehicles." They attempt to undermine by making generalizations. It's the same old nonsense we have seen for 2 decades. So, my reply is rather brief now, especially since the technology has advanced so well: A plug-in hybrid that uses only electricity for daily commutes and the engine only from time to time won't have anything beyond basic fluid changes. Aging will take place remarkably slow with a system that barely gets used. In other words, I'm calling you out on the FUD attempt. A plug-in hybrid with a 42-mile EV range has almost nothing in common with the operation of "all ICE vehicles" as you claim.
Setting The Stage. I enjoy getting to inject tidbits
of history and foresight into discussions. So, I watch for statements
just like this: "I also feel the Prius Prime is starting to
look obsolete next to the Rav4 Prime. I hope they will increase the range on
the Prius Prime too... It really needs another 10 or 15 miles of range added
to it!" That was my invitation, which I did not hesitate to take
We have already seen Toyota's proactive effort to position Prius for the upcoming market. They were well aware of the "family" vehicle style shifting to Crossover/SUV as the favored purchase. When Prius Prime was first revealed, it was clearly stated the target had changed and the hatchback was now designed to appeal to those who were now beyond the raising the kids stage. That's why a seating area in back with an armrest (and later possibly seat-warmers) were the new approach. Remember, that was prior to the Uber & Lyft boom, where a rear middle seat was required.
Now with the sedan no longer a centerpiece offering, it only makes sense that a Prius continues on that path of change. Seeing the hatchback get more range & power is a natural next step toward refreshing the product-line. It's that continuous improvement methodology Toyota is well known for. After all, having flexibility a foremost trait in design is how Prius survived the test of time.
Keep in mind, design of RAV4 Prime was well underway while Prius Prime was getting rolled out. In fact, Corolla PHEV was in the works too. Toyota studies the market carefully in the meantime, adjusting along the way. We know for a fact that is how Prius Prime got the larger battery-pack, which reduced cargo space in favor of adding capacity. That is also how Prius Prime got that rear middle seat added. It's always a matter of balance price & priority. That's agile. If it doesn't make this upgrade, perhaps the next.
Faster Charging. It didn't take long for this to surface: "Toyota should have made the 6.6 kW charger more of a priority by offering it as a stand-alone option..." That is a fantastic education topic, a great way of stirring those teaching moments. I jumped on that opportunity today: 6.6 kW is far from a necessity. It makes sense being offered in a premium package. Remember, they are a for-profit business. Think about it. The 3.3 kW speed delivers 3.3 kWh of electricity in 1 hour. A vehicle with a 25kWh/100mi efficiency rating will squeeze out 4 miles per kWh of electricity. So even with just a quick 10-minute charge at the grocery store (exactly what I did with my Prius Prime 2 days ago for a coffee), I got over 2 miles of EV to drive home with. An ordinary 20-minute visit delivers 5 miles. (I see real-world efficiency over 5mi/kWh during the summer.) How much do you actually need? On longer trips, a few more miles really doesn't come into play. Overall efficiency is what matters then, and that is where the remarkable hybrid MPG makes a difference... hence the balance.
Overnight Charging. Remember a decade ago, when there was basically the only one option available for charging a plug-in hybrid? The 240-volt chargers (level-2) were only just startup efforts, new companies founded with a hope of delivering to the masses for at-home use. Chargers publicly available were quite rare. For that matter, so was the ability to find them. Think about what data-service on your phone was like back then. We have come a long way. We are still very much at an early milestone though. RAV4 Prime will be offered with 2 speeds of level-2 charging. It's pretty clear people have no clue what that means either. They are still trapped using a standard household 120-volt connection... which will work just fine, overnight. Faster charging requires some of that rethink. The base is what RAV4 Prime comes with, the 3.3 kW speed. That delivers 3.3 kWh of electricity in 1 hour. If you know the efficiency rating for your vehicle... for example 25 kWh/100mi... you can figure out a distance expectation. That calculates to 4mi/kWh. Multiplying that times the quantity... 4 * 3.3 ...you get roughly the 12.5 mile standard. So, with the faster speed of 6.6 kW, you get the often quoted "25 miles per hour" charging rate. Keep in mind, the system needs a little time to ramp up and there are pauses throughout the charge process. Also, there are variations from the supply itself. Public chargers are 3-phase AC using 208 volts. At home chargers are single-phase, but the AC is at 240-volts... which varies a little. Mine is actually 246 volts, so recharge time is slightly faster than others who could be at or lower than 240. Needless to say, there is a variety to recognize & understand now... before even realizing there are different vehicle efficiencies and they varying quite a bit based on temperature and driving conditions. I pretty much consistently see over 5mi/kWh during Summer. So, a quick 10-minute recharge at the grocery store delivering 0.5 kWh of electricity means I could go 2.5 miles on EV. That's way more than I need to get home, less than 1 mile away. It puts some perspective on how things have change, that we are moving beyond just overnight charging with the ordinary outlet you already have in your garage... now addressing want, rather than just need.