Prius Personal Log #1017
July 1, 2020 - July 5, 2020
Last Updated: Sun. 7/19/2020
page #1016 page #1018 BOOK INDEX
Today's Rant. It's the same old nonsense, but with
the twist now of having so much more history to refer back to. I'm
surprised how little the pattern has changed. The spin is basically
the same rubbish we heard years ago, just regurgitated to a new audience.
They don't even try. Passing along misconceptions to feed assumptions
is an everyday occurrence. I don't climb up on the soapbox that often
though. Today, I did:
Lumping all legacy automakers into the same category isn't constructive. They vary dramatically. That variation comes from their approach, led by very different management cultures.
We have watched GM and Ford follow profit, delaying the inevitable back in the early 2000's by shifting focus over to high-return vehicles. To them, it was a sensible move. To those who take long-term sustainability as a serious priority, it was writing on the wall. Emphasis on quarterly sales and dividends turned their financial situation into a disaster. That led to praise becoming more important than actual change. With GM in particular, we saw enablers endorse Volt to an extreme, pushing Innovator's Dilemma to the point the technology itself being abandoned from such terrible sales.
Meanwhile, Toyota pushed their methodology of continuous improvement to such a successful magnitude, other industries began adopting it as their new business strategy. The backlash has been naysayers spinning stories about the slow & incremental representing an automaker so far "behind" they will never catch up. So much so, those hoping to undermine are getting clumsy and by evading facts that don't fit their narrative.
Reality is, this is a chicken & egg situation. A large battery commitment without a strong product to back it will just flounder... which leads us to stage 2 of GM's struggle. Bolt works fine, but it is so poorly configured there isn't any interest beyond early-adopters. So even with production capacity, there's no demand. Toyota, on the other hand, is about to deliver a choice in low supply but offering a very compelling case for taking that next step... direct appeal to mainstream consumers.
To summarize, the "too little, too late" lacks substance. There is far more at play with the supposed propaganda. Details that go unaddressed reveal aspects of business most absolutely refuse to acknowledge. Even the most simple challenges, how much year-2 typically differs from year-1, are omitted from discussions. That's a sign of rhetoric, not constructive discussion.
To put it another way, consider purpose. What does a statement as your "Like all legacy mfrs" attempt to achieve? There is no expectation set or even a suggestion of what to do. Generalizations without any point are just a distraction and paradigm-shifts are not fast.
Keep Digging. I found this inspirational: "Toyota's bigger picture is chasing the hydrogen myth." The world has much to offer when you open you mind to possibilities. Being able to accept the fact that opportunity is not single-dimensional is not a big deal. Why would anyone make any important decision based on only one attribute? It makes no sense. When it comes to technology, that's especially true. Many features & components build upon each other. None of that is new either. It's been that way for generations. Yet, some don't see the world that way. They choose to ignore what they don't like or don't understand. It's really sad, for them. For us, it is a burden having to deal with such closed minds. Oh well. That's never going to change. Someone will always try to simplify, even at the cost of missing out. I replied to that with: Gotta love that cherry-picking. Rather than accept the reality that an automaker can develop & advance multiple technologies simultaneously, it is easier just to push the belief that the situation is binary. That narrative cracks me up. Each time someone posts it, that further confirms how deep their denial goes. Keep on digging.
Predictions. There are certain things that antagonists love to post. It's the same thing every time. They'll make a declaration and draw a conclusion. Most of the time, it looks very much like this one today: "It's already been reported that the US is only getting limited numbers and only for ZEV states. Sadly, as I predicted, this purely a compliance car from Toyota." In other words, they just pass along material to support their favorite narrative. Ugh. I challenged that claim with: Since pretty much every green vehicles (offering a significant reduction to both emissions & consumption) starts that way, that is really just a moot point. In fact, what is there to comply with? It's quite telling why "compliance" is declared but not detail is ever provided. That is either because the person is just mindlessly repeating a mantra or they are hoping the withhold of detail will be enough to allow assumptions to undermine. Either way, the absence of substance to back the claim is telling. We already know that Toyota has a runaway hit. So, whether they ramp-up production for RAV4 right away or spread the technology across the fleet, it is a winning formula. In other words, a "prediction" doesn't mean much when you consider the bigger picture and timeline.
Surprise. This came from someone who gets
called out routinely for his never-ending attacks on anything Toyota.
The desperation is obvious too. There's never any substance.
It's just the same old meritless spin to reinforce a narrative. Today,
it was: "Toyota continues to be surprised that people want plug-in
vehicles!" The hope is to stir enabler posts. He simply
wants others to confirm his perspective. No proof necessary. All
he wants is posts to obscure discussion... anything to distract from the
topic at hand. I see that as an invitation, especially when I can turn
the focus back using his own words:
That is just lost-in-the-moment spin, an exploit often used by those hoping to undermine. Toyota includes flexibility into their plans, allowing them to adapt. An example of that was with Prius Prime rollout. They decided to squeeze in an extra stack to increase the range based on consumer feedback. That caused the pack to get taller, raising it into the cargo area. It was a tradeoff, not a surprise.
This initial demand for RAV4 Prime will make shifting production, which had been planned anyway, come sooner than anticipated. The hope was to take advantage of the Kentucky location (their biggest facility) by reducing Camry output in favor of RAV4. Being able to ship only battery components instead of a fully assembled vehicle is an obvious gain for the United States, one that nobody will spin when that becomes well established. Until then, antagonists will be busy coming up with their own narratives.
Reality is, showroom shoppers actually expect things to be a bit of this & that in the first year anyway. Whatever happens for early-adopters is a normal process, the means to which production settles. That is why wait. They see no need to rush. It's not a big drama, activities blown out of proportion as we commonly witness in the blogs.
The flexibility also has the added benefit of easily ushering in change. There is nothing anywhere that says production in the higher volume must match initial rollout. In fact, it has become somewhat of an expectation now for updates to happen along the way. We already know that Toyota is giving cylindrical cells a try in Corolla PHV, rather than sticking with the usual prismatic format. So, the idea of not bumping production up until a newer chemistry is tried out isn't much of a stretch. In fact, there are some here who would complain if Toyota didn't do that.
In short, not matter what happens, someone will claim the reason is really only an excuse for delay. The catch is, you must turn a blind-eye to their claim for that to work. That cherry-picking eventually become obvious if you watch for the pattern. It won't be a surprise.
Usable Capacity. It is nice to hear this new stir. Ford is toying with the idea of presenting usable capacity as their means of promoting battery-pack size. That would mean no more unknown buffer for longevity or degradation. You will know with certainly what is being offered for purchase. Inconsistency between automakers and even model-years has made the situation no better than napkin-calculations. Overall kWh really doesn't tell you much. An owner has no idea what the actually capacity available really is in terms of electricity. There is the guess-o-meter, which at best just approximates your potential EV range. But without taking a variety of driving conditions into account, it's not that helpful. More information has always been desired. Now, it looks as though the first steps to making that happen are being taken. In other words, we desperately need standards to take hold. Without a common language, sales will continue to be a challenge. How do you sell a product that isn't understood? This is progress... though, painfully slow and still uncertain. Any push for knowledge sharing is appreciated. We're all in this together.
Patience. Sometimes, it is best to just like a
discussion thread payout almost entirely... then you play the wildcard.
That wait can really payoff. This is what I was greeted with on the
morning of the fourth day into the discussion: "If there are no battery
constraints for HEVs there shouldn't be any battery constraints for PHEVs."
It was exactly when I had been hoping for, my invitation to bring the
antagonist ramblings with an end with:
Are you saying you know something about HEV supply? If not, that posted is a FUD contribution. Think about it. There are 2 new hybrids also getting rolled out at the same time, both represent no more equivalent traditional model in that category. Sienna is one, a popular minivan that will be hybrid only. Venza is the other, a nice crossover bring-back that will be hybrid only.
In other words, Toyota is striving to make hybrids available across their fleet. All using the new TNGA platform which helped to bring down costs, enabling this step forward of phasing out traditional models. This allows Toyota to move on to the next stage, the e-TNGA platform. That is for their upcoming dedicated all-electric vehicles. Remember, there are 6 in development, offering battery-packs with capacities ranging from 50 to 100 kWh. Traction motor output will range from 80 to 150 kW. The system will vary with offerings of front, rear, and all-wheel drive.
Notice how every post here over the past 3 days conveniently excluded that information? They intentionally contributed to FUD, unlike you who likely was just unintentionally vague. They know better. They know that next stage for Toyota will be big, very big. Rollout of Lexus UX300e in China is a demonstration of what is to come.
They Plan Ahead. It's the familiar twist: "With the decisions Toyota has been making -- it sure seems like a company that doesn't want to be around 10 years from now." Antagonists do everything they can to distract from recognition of the bigger picture. Keeping focus on a narrative is the only means of survival sometimes. Without anything worthwhile currently being offered from anyone else... or even something to look forward to... that's quite predictable. GM has been dead silent. VW won't be delivering anything the United States for at least a year. Ford is still wishy-washy (new rollout, but surprisingly underpowered configurations). Tesla's next step remains a complete mystery. That's it. No other big player. So, I hit back with: That's just spin. Reality is, they plan ahead. Notice how all the comments posted about batteries only focus on supply? None mention chemistry. We know newer compositions have been in the works. Commitment to that (production contract) may not sync up well with rollout. With consideration of the pandemic, that would make it especially challenging. Yet, the rollout continues on schedule. Remember, Toyota wants yield quality to be outstanding. There is much to lose from rushing. We saw this payout already with Prius Prime. The manufacturing process for the dual-wave glass presented new challenges. That delayed rollout. It wasn't a big deal. Early-Adopters just had to wait longer for delivery and ordinary consumers weren't impacted at all. Personally, I find all the doom & gloom posts quite telling. Almost all are absent of next steps for the supposed winners. That's a dead giveaway when you push for substance to back the claim, you won't get bupkes. Adding to that is how they turn a blind-eye to the plans Toyota has already laid out, pretending BEV isn't part of their product intentions.
Hurt. Now is when the "know your audience" really comes into play. The situation tonight was trying to figure out what the motive was for a post starting with this: "Toyota is only hurting themselves by not making these available." and concluded by this: "Trying to save face on that may be seriously hurting Toyota." I am dealing with new players. Who they are is a mystery. Almost all the old antagonists are gone now. In between those sentences was a rant about compliance and fuel-cells. So, I suspected it was just an enthusiast not actually meaning any harm, despite the ironic comment. Reading through his profile, recent posts were all loaded with detail related to the technology with heavy emphasis on related numbers. It was very technical in nature... exactly what you'd expect in that kind of blog. So any type of business discussion is pointless... as all those years of Volt failure confirmed. They don't understand "Who?" That won't stop me from providing that perspective... never has... never will: Constructively speaking, history contradicts that claim. In the past, we have seen a series of rollouts from Toyota with long waiting list. No harm became of those. A few sales to other automakers isn't actually a loss. It stimulates the industry, helping pull the masses forward... which stirs interest among consumers that are extremely difficult to reach. Having a monopoly is not useful beyond the early-adopter stage anyway. So, what disastrous outcome this time are you expecting from ramp-up not coming until sometime next year? In other words, we have a bunch of enthusiasts with engineering backgrounds trying to figure out macro-economics.
It's Not Fair. Sometimes, you are just left beside yourself with bewilderment. When someone posts what can easily be interpreted as a childish protest, how should you react? For example: "It's not fair that US makers GM and Tesla who took the initial risks get no more credits -- yet ALL of the foreign SLACKER ICE makers do. That is NOT FAIR." I could see a constructive compliant from the same situation, but that's not what this was... especially when you consider Volt was mostly from Korea. Seeing how much Toyota is working to get RAV4 securely footed in Kentucky, enabling all models for this market to be domestically produced, how can he use "foreign" objectively? Of course, the use of "slacker" in all caps is the tell-tale sign of not really trying. Though, I would like to know what the risks actually were. Absence of detail up front tends to confirm the attitude. I don't put up with such obvious bait; instead, I post perspective: Each automaker gets the same amount of credits. Each automaker gets flexibility of what to deliver. Each automaker gets to choose speed to market. Each automaker's actions have rewards & consequences. Tesla took advantage and it worked really well to help establish, then reinforce, their brand. GM wasted opportunity, settling for conquest sales rather than pursuing their own loyal customers. Toyota is working hard to appeal to showroom shoppers.
Embargo Expired. It seemed like forever. The wait is always worth it though. RAV4 Prime was given to the media for reviews. They were able to capture video to share and present their findings anyway they wanted. This is how word is spread about what people really want to know, both enthusiasts and those who just happen to stumble across a mention somewhere. That process has worked well in the past and certainly didn't disappoint this time either. We got some informative reviews. To the surprise of none, the plug-in hybrid performed well. It's a well thought out design with an obvious effort to deliver balance... in that price-point, of course. RAV4 Prime will obviously be on the higher end for mainstream shoppers, but reasonable for those looking to spend more. Toyota carefully studies the market. That's why targeting specific markets and limiting quantity is part of their strategy. It pays off in the end. In this case, we see in all the videos shared today that it was well worth the effort... and the wait.
Stupid. It is assessments like this which provide hope: "The US needs to scrap this stupid EV tax credit -- and instead make one lump sum available to any new EV -- and once it's done -- it's done.....this way it does not reward the Toyota's and Mercedes of this world who DO NOT deserve it!!!" Those comments, which I have seen countless of all sharing the same mindset, don't achieve anything. There's no substance to bring about any change. They are just post for the sake of venting. It may seem like an argument, but I don't bite. I just shovel back their own wasted opportunity: The only "stupid" part of the tax-credit is having to deal with posts in support of more waste. We watched GM squander opportunity, using their allocation of subsidies for praise & conquest rather than its intended purpose. That federal incentive was to help establish the new market by encouraging change. Looking at the lots of GM dealers, there is no evidence of Volt or Bolt having achieved anything. Providing a lump sum for more of the same doesn't make any sense. Toyota is carefully choosing how their allocation is used. They are a giant legacy automaker carefully planning out long-term change for their entire fleet. Rhetoric coming from sources like this doesn't change anything. They witnessed how horribly wrong that approach went for GM. Saying Toyota doesn't deserve the subsidy by avoiding from those same mistakes is preposterous. We rewarded waste. Now, it is time to reward those who are truly trying to move forward.