Prius Personal Log  #1015

June 26, 2020  -  June 29, 2020

Last Updated:  Sun. 7/19/2020

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Disconnect.  Attacks on Toyota are ramping up.  RAV4 Prime obviously has antagonists worried.  They have such a polarized perception of how the business works, you get rather extreme replies even from the most benign discussions.  That explodes later, of course, since they refuse to acknowledge the environment that business must operate.  Recognizing their point-of-view is an ideal never happens.  They simply believe that is the only approach, period.  Ugh.  Oh well, that attitude keeps responses shorter:  By viewing sales as the "EV market", you have fallen into the same trap as many other enthusiasts.  Ordinary consumers see the situation as the difference between traditional and plug-in.  By calling PHEV a situation of being "fooled" and "scammed" about BEV, you are blatantly disregarding the reality of traditional vehicle competition... which isn't in any way representation of the shopping experience on the showroom floor.  It is a major disconnect which has already had significant consequences.  Know your audience.

6-29-2020 Misrepresentation.  That is putting it politely.  Realistically, this is on-going attempts to undermine.  They know all too well that with enough facts, you get a very different impression of what Toyota is striving to accomplish.  So when anything comes up to address the bigger picture, what is actually happening across the fleet, they try to convince you the move forward is in the wrong direction.  It is the same thing every time.  Though, with Volt gone now, the distraction itself has become a singular focus... which makes the pattern undeniable... which makes lack of substance more of a challenge for the antagonist.  I keep throwing facts out there to deal with their nonsense:

The effort in some comments to portray Toyota's approach as exclusively hydrogen is quite informative.  It tells us the level of denial/desperation some have to evade the bigger picture.  Fuel-Cells are inevitable for commercial use.  Whether or not that technology is included for personal vehicles beyond fleet use really doesn't matter. It will simply be part of the automaker's investment & business.

Reality is, much was learned from Mirai and the hybrids.  The 201 hp (150 kW) electric motor for the now available BEV from Toyota (the Lexus UX300e in China) is undeniable proof of technology sharing.  We see the same thing with the heat-pump.  Platform doesn't matter.  Once the component is well proven, it can be shared among a variety of vehicles.

We're seeing that knowledge from batteries carrying forward as well.  The most obvious is the 54.3 kWh capacity of the new BEV is exactly 3 times the capacity of RAV4 Prime.  That's a strong indication what was learned from research & design of the stack made it interchangeable, available to anything with a plug.

That EV presence already established through FCEV and PHEV to help establish a foothold for BEV even before rollout is powerful.  It confirms Toyota was setting the stage ahead of time, proving out the technology through the use of other platforms... which is why there is no so much effort to prevent others from discovering just how much Toyota has already prepared.  And that's just the engineering.

From the business perspective, they getting their dealers ready for the transition.  Seeing over 20% of the RAV4 inventory shifted to hybrid even before the rollout of the plug-in model begins is solid evidence of change.  Their mindset is shifting from traditional to something depending upon a battery-pack... which becomes a much easier sale for the showroom shopper.

Go ahead.  Keep up the efforts to distract with hydrogen claims.  The change at dealers will continue regardless of the nonsense posted in comments online.


Achieving Growth.  It's not just about increasing production count of existing models.  It is expanding with variety.  Watching Tesla reimagine the Model 3 platform by offering Model Y was good business for the sake of addressing similar shoppers with a choice.  If someone wants a truly different type of vehicle, forget it.  That isn't Tesla's game yet.  That is why the legacy automakers thrive.  They offer a selection of types, not just models.  Anywho, most enthusiasts are obviously to that... hence being enthusiasts, not supports.  Pointing out why is a never-ending process.  I suspect many haven't ever considered what it take to design for many audiences.  That's why we kept hearing "EV Market" all throughout the past decade.  The scope of "mainstream" was beyond their grasp, complexity outside of their engineering expertise.  Business is unfamiliar, which is often why it is disregarded as important.  Today, I tried to bring that up by making reference to something Tesla has pondered, but in no way has committed to yet.  It will be necessary, eventually.  But for now, it is nothing but an academic exercise:  Model 2 is where the line is crossed, Tesla attempting to play in a very crowded field with narrow profit.  Legacy automakers have showrooms to attract that audience of ordinary consumers they understand well.  They have been able to capitalize on downsized SUV sales with "nicely under $30,000" choices offerings a balance of priorities.  Tesla is still a niche, offering overkill in terms of what middle-market deems important.  For example, what would justify the cost on a Model 2 for offering more than just tier-1 (60 kW max) supercharging?  Having tier-2 speed available is great, but it requires some battery-capacity (for preconditioning) and a willingness to pay the premium for that feature, as well as the price at the charger itself.  Know your audience.


GM's Growth.  Sales of Volt were always a struggle.  Even with generous incentives, the reach was never beyond niche.  Monthly averages were between 1,600 and 1,700 for years.  Bolt had an even more difficult time, selling fewer despite being supposedly the future.  Knowing that, most people have given up on GM growth, turning to Tesla as their great hope instead.  That's getting blown way out of proportion though.  Somehow, the expectation of 4 million sales annually has become a focus for 2026.  With 6 factories, the impression can get passed along.  But lack of critical thinking strikes again.  There's no context.  How many factories (including suppliers) does it take for an automaker like Honda, which produces & sells 5 million vehicles annually?  Anywho, this was my reply to the short & vague reply I got:  No, since it doesn't explain how.  We have seen Tesla's strength as a niche offering, demonstrating that volume has potential to grow quite a bit.  There is no indication what the sustainable level is though, how so much production capacity can become a source of reliable profit.  Please explain the steps needed to go from 350,000 annual sales to 4,000,000 in less than 6 years.  The two high-end vehicles... Model S & X... are clearly too expensive for the masses.  Model 3 has a great deal of potential for pricing, but its a sedan competing for the attention in a market dominated by crossovers and one size does not fit all.  Model Y is both expensive and not a SUV competitor.  Pickups are a complete unknown still.  As for an anticipated Model 2, the low-cost market will be highly competitive.  In other words, with an audience of ordinary consumers in a newly emerging and very confusing market, that level of growth in such a short time-span does not seem in any way realistic.


GM's Ruse.  It started with Volt enthusiast.  They claimed "vastly superior" and coined "EREV" as a means of presenting the technology delivered by GM as somehow being more advanced, further along.  That was a misrepresentation that persists even to this day: "Toyota should be responding to the threat being posed by their biggest rival, VWAG instead of relying on their 23 year old hybrid technology."  This time, it is with those pushing BEV offerings.  They want the same thing, to portray Toyota's technology as outdated.  This is why there are such desperate acts of denial now.  They don't want people to discover just how far along Toyota really is.  That's why "EV" as a term to describe electric-only propulsion is becoming a source of frustration.  It describes the hardware & software shared among both PHEV and BEV offerings.  Seemingly different models of vehicle having so much technology in common is the real threat, their fear.  This is why the shift from Volt to Bolt became such an issue.  Enthusiasts ended up fighting amongst themselves.  This is why stating goals is so vital.  Some people never learn.  To them, I say:  Listening to the common narrative, that impression seems to make sense.  Looking at the evidence though, you see a stage being set to do exactly that.  Toyota's hybrid technology has delivered an EV system capable of being affordably competitive.  So what it if is currently sharing a chassis with an ICE here?  We already see an example in China where it does not.  Why isn't that BEV acknowledged?  Think about it.  Lexus UX300e is taking advantage of PHEV technology to demonstrate the potential in future offerings.  It shares already produced components, helping to confirm a strong EV presence in the future.  Its 54.3 kWh battery-pack is exactly 3 times the capacity of RAV4 Prime, very likely using the same stack design to ensure lower-cost and a retention of robust design.  How is relying on that a lack of response?  In any other industry, utilizing proven technology is beneficial.  How is something with a forward reaching design not a good thing for automotive use?  In other words, I'm calling shenanigans on the "old" claim.  It is really a ruse to distract from the reality of the technology having matured to the point of being directly competitive with traditional offerings.


GM's Approach.  By nature, enthusiasts see the world from a perspective of delivering amazing technology, then later figuring out how to make it affordable.  Shooting for a price-target upon initial delivery is unheard of.  In fact, they don't even acknowledge the possibility of that ever being a successful approach.  It is their way or no way.  So, I keep responding with the reality of that not being the case, that there is more than one way to achieve the goal.  It boggles my mind that some are so poorly informed that they don't ever figure out a solution does not always come about from the same means of searching.  Discovery comes from trying different things.  And with such a dynamic market, being able to adapt should be obvious.  Just because something worked in the past doesn't equate to a guarantee of success when tried again later.  Heck, tell that to the president attempting to get re-elected using the same approach as before.  The likelihood of it working again is far less realistic.  Too much has changed.  The automotive market resembles a similar shift... consider audience.  Differences between the past and now are simply too great to ignore.  Yet, enthusiast keep trying to portray the situation as that way or failure.  Ugh.  Someday, they'll realize that's a huge waste of opportunity:  That all makes sense, but only presents the top-down methodology.  It is quite counterproductive to push a belief that progress forward can only be measured one specific way.  Disregard for bottom-up is why narratives about Toyota thrive, despite undeniable evidence of continuous improvement success.  So what if there is no demonstration of courage? In fact, the business culture of high visibility is what helped get GM into the mess they are now in.  Praise for supposed leadership didn't actually change anything.  As a matter of fact, their dealers now look worse off than when Volt was first rolled out.  Put another way, I strongly disagree that "as bold or as sweeping a statement" is necessary to move forward.  Examples of advancement where it was slow & subtle are abundant.  The reason for the difference is there are far more players involved than just management.


GM's Management.  The previous post went nowhere.  He had nothing beyond vague propaganda and a long-term outlook.  There wasn't anything to support the view forward.  Looking backward, there was this: "The problem with legacy manufacturers is that they have decades of fossilized management.  Barra may be wonderful but she can't move GM by herself."  It was another comment without any actual substance.  So, I posted:  That statement doesn't amount to anything.  We knew GM management would be the problem with Volt even prior to rollout.  No matter how great the engineering is, there's the reality of far more than just profit to address.  That's why claims of leadership never equated to anything of substance with regard to business.  This is why it was vital for Volt actually be a "game changer" by shifting the product sold be dealers.  The technology should have been spread (to something like Equinox) to build an audience of those watching reliability.  Building of trust for new offerings is vital... and GM failed miserably, missing so many opportunities along the way... blinded by praise and short-term gain.  The reputation for "over promise, under deliver" has transformed to silence.  There is nothing of substance anymore and no message of direction.  Without that, expectations of pace & volume for change are dead. The momentum has slowed to a stop... for GM.  We see a culture of change stirring with others.  The other big legacy automakers (VW and Toyota) are demonstrating change.  Pressure upon management has been from different sources than with GM; nonetheless, it is still movement forward directly addressing their core customers.


GM's Business.  An interesting article was published yesterday.  It was well thought out and looked to be quite constructive.  How it would be interpreted was the big question.  This particular comment posted in response is what stood out for me: "And that is the problem GM must face, if they are not ready, there is NO transition period, one day people are buying ICEs and the next people will only want BEVs."  That was my queue to push for detail.  What supported that outcome?  It was a conclusion drawn from nothing presented.  So, I asked:  Evidence of an abrupt change will come is where?  What I have witnessed over the past 2 decades in the automotive market is strong resistance to change.  In fact, that is how Toyota has done so remarkably well with appeal to ordinary consumers.  There is a balance that audience seeks.  Hybrids like Camry & Corolla serve as clear evidence of mainstream acceptance to change.  The fact that RAV4 hybrid sales have been explosive and the upcoming Prime (plug-in) model already in high demand, could potentially support your claim... but only if by "NO transition" you actually meant getting caught mid-cycle and having to alter next-gen plans.  Expecting legacy dealers to adjust overnight would be beyond miraculous.  Change itself takes years.  Offerings like PHEV provide a bridge, directly addressing needs of dealer & consumer... not just the automaker.


How It Happens.  Within that retrospective came this: "We went for the Volt as a second vehicle so we were not range limited with 58 miles EV enough for commuting and infinite gas reserve when needed."  That misrepresentation of Volt was a warning that he likely wouldn't be object to anything posted in response to that.  And exactly as expect, whatever the mistake or ambiguous reference may have been, it became this in the follow up: "The Volt had 58 miles EV YEARS ago...Toyota with 42 just now".  That was confirmation of being nothing but a desperate attack.  He was willing to outright lie about range.  He then went on to post arbitrary limits without any explanation: "Today a PHEV should have 7KW charging and usable range of 80 miles to function mainly as an EV primarily..."  That is how it happens.  Anytime a milestone is meet or exceeded, they change the goal to always make it an unobtainable.  I saw that for years with Volt.  Of course, it was the "vastly superior" that got GM into trouble.  Enthusiasts became enablers, pushing the automaker in the wrong direction.  It was Innovator's Dilemma playing out, right before our eyes.  We could see the mistakes being made.  Supporters grew quiet.  Enthusiasts hailed praise.  It was a recipe for disaster.  What did they learn from that experience?  Apparently, nothing.  Supporters still don't speak up, allowing the same mistakes to be repeated.  I looked back at his original post, what started the rant.  It was this: "Why has no EV company addressed the SUV market..."  Knowing it would anger him, but simply not caring because I wanted to make it clear to everyone else what he had just attempted, I posted this:  Volt 2019 was only rated for 53 miles of EV and it was a cramped hatchback, so any attempt to portray similarity to a SUV with AWD and a 2,500-pound towing capacity is absurd.


Owner Rant.  It was inevitable that a Volt owner would respond to the disparaging remarks about GM with an attempt to portray Toyota in the same light.  In other words, he got burned and didn't want to look ignorant... mindless... uninformed... gullible... naive... laughable... or whatever other label may be fitting.  Whatever the perspective, the point is the same.  GM was never sincere and evidence now is overwhelming that their EV ambitions are dying from neglect.  So naturally, the response to claim other legacy automakers are in the same position.  That couldn't be further from the truth with regard to Toyota.  Again, this is the big difference between the bottom-up and top-down methodology.  My reply to his attempt to misrepresent was:  That narrative about Toyota is really falling apart now, especially with such stark contrast to GM. Toyota's ceaseless evolutionary push of hybrid technology, to the point now where it completely contradicts your "don't deliver enough EV range to matter" claim. RAV4 offering a plug is a very big deal.  42 miles per day from overnight charging equates to over 15,000 miles of EV annually.  Saying that doesn't matter is blatant propaganda, since it is actually more miles than the per-year average.  And of course, taking advantage of opportunity recharging during the day bumps the EV potential substantially higher.  The other reality being disregarded is rollout of Lexus UX300e.  That's a BEV offering which reinforces their continuous improvement approach.


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