Prius Personal Log  #1020

July 19, 2020  -  July 24, 2020

Last Updated:  Tues. 10/13/2020

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7-24-2020

Taking Bait.  I was quite amused how my previous post only took 5 minutes to get a reply.  It wasn't from the original poster though.  It was from some other individual who also wanted to spread misinformation.  He didn't try hard either: "What kind of new age math did you need to use to claim hybrid powertrain has less moving parts than a pure EV?"  No where in my post did I make any type of assertion or imply.  In fact, I said nothing at all about the count of parts.  I completely avoiding that topic, knowing all too well it was just a red herring.  The hope is you'll follow that, abandoning your line of reasoning in the process.  I wasn't about to.  In fact, I saw it as an opportunity to repeat my message:  I made no such claim.  I was unwilling to take that bait and won't now either.  Deny all you want, it won't change the reality that 42 miles of EV driving from a PHEV means 42 miles of travel using only electricity.  Not starting the engine means those moving parts never moved.

7-24-2020 Completely Wrong.  The awkward situation Tesla is now in has stirred revitalized interest.  Unfortunately, some of the same old rhetoric is being stirred again as result.  Reading through yesterday's nonsense, I homed in on one particular post which others also had much to say about.  It was an attack on hybrids.  So, no surprise about what I had to say:

It is interesting to see that much misinformation packed into such a short post.  Of course, it really doesn't matter.  Feeding an effort to undermine aimed at this audience doesn't make any sense.  They are not the correct audience.  This is about appealing to showroom shoppers.  Those so-called "Tesla competitors" have the attention of their loyal customers already... and those customers simply don't share the priorities considered high here.  We they see at the dealer matters.

With regard to the attack on hybrids, Toyota hybrids don't have a complex transmission.  In fact, they don't even have one.  There's no gears or anything to shift.  Inside is nothing but a power-split device... basically a differential, which is a device that almost never needs replacement.  There is neither a timing nor a serpentine belt.  There is no power-steering pump or fluid.  The system is just a light-duty engine that is protected by an electric-motor.  As for the "it may cycle three times on a trip" claim, that is blatant rhetoric... a desperate attempt to spread false facts.  The criteria of a "cycle" is not reached even upon several recharges.  Anyone taking the time to research will easily confirm those charge-buffers at the top & bottom contribute to longevity.

Not much of that matters though.  Remember who the audience is.  They don't research.  They just look for well-established reputation for reliability and a price reasonably comparable to the competition... which is not other automaker brands, it is the collection of choice available there at the dealer while they shop.  Spinning that this is still just an "EV market" and the rest of the consumers don't matter doesn't work anymore. Growth comes from attracting that larger group new to the idea of plugging in.

Lastly, your own argument of electric-motor reliability is your downfall.  That isn't just a BEV benefit. PHEV share that same advantage over traditional vehicles.  Think about RAV4 Prime, how it delivers 42 miles of EV driving.  That's 42 miles of travel every day where the engine never starts.  So, your claim of "most ICE vehicles are shot before 200k miles" applied to an engine that rarely gets used means it will last much, much, much, much longer than 200k.

In other words, your "That's completely wrong." was completely wrong.

7-23-2020 The Same Mistake.  This was a classic "What About?" attempt to change focus of discussion.  Diverting attention isn't constructive.  Yet, many try it anyway.  They seem to think fear is most effective too.  For example: "100k people a year die due to pollution."  It was from an EV purist, someone who is against all types of combustion engine.  I find that perspective so limiting.  What's wrong with a combustion engine that rarely gets used and runs entirely on renewable fuel?  Toyota produces an E100 system for the market in Brazil.  That type of carbon-neutral approach with smog-related emissions reduced to a bare minimum is the future.  We don't need to entirely eliminate.  In fact, we realistically can't yet.  The technology will evolve.  We're helping it along.  Repeating the same mistake isn't the way to do it though.  I felt well-informed to explain why:  That is why Toyota's primary purpose for hybrids has been to reduce SMOG related emissions.  The fact that there is also a CARBON reduction is a great bonus.  That intent is easy to confirm too; just watch the engine run for the sake of heating the catalytic-converter to cleanse emissions.  Notice how all the hybrids get either a SULEV or PZEV emission rating?  So when it comes to Toyota's next step, rolling out plug-in hybrids, the benefit is a dramatic reduction of the need to run the engine.  It also furthers their experience with EV propulsion, since their PHEV design runs entirely with electricity up to 84 mph.  In other words, your claim of Toyota neglecting pollution and falling behind clearly doesn't match the facts.  Remember, it is about changing the entire fleet, not just rolling out a token vehicle or two like we have seen from other legacy automakers.  You need to consider how that variety of choices will be achieved.  Dealers resist change.  Think about how terrible of a job GM did with Volt & Bolt, despite getting so much praise from enthusiasts.  Toyota is addressing that, not making the same mistake.
7-21-2020

Winter Gas, Still.  I filled up the tank way back in late February.  Only a handful of trips since then have taken me out of EV range.  All that driving with only electricity means the gas in the car is getting old... and in my case, it is still winter-formula.  That isn't really a big deal.  The system is well equipped to handle that, but some owners are not well informed.  That's been an on-going discussion online... and one individual who was well informed lashed out at me.  He got very upset about my description.  It was the usual problem of focusing so much on nuance that purpose is lost.  Some people expect wording to be expressed in a very specific manner.  Any deviation from that is considered incorrect.  That type of intolerance to the variations of life is what contributes to misunderstandings.  Listen for context, not wording.  Ugh.  Needless to say, a simple matter of still driving with gas from Winter gets blown way out of proportion as a result.  But rather than return the frustration, I turned that escalating emotion into an opportunity:  That choice made this a teaching moment.  You'll find on forums it is quite common for a discussion to turn into an argument of semantics.  It's breaks the spirit of the information attempted to be shared.  Wording is easy to stumble on, but the message remains clear.  Suggest better language and move on.  Remember, this will happen again.  Learning how to handle it, then leading by example, is a gain for everyone who participates.

7-20-2020

Called Out.  20 years later, the obsession with speed continues on in a few.  These individuals tend to dominate discussions.  So, seeing the backlash today from an enthusiasts favoring acceleration above all else was quiet satisfying.  He got a bunch of down-votes and posts informing him how little value that trait really delivered.  I piled on to that with:  Focusing entirely on 0-60 with regards to performance is quite telling.  It is cherry-picked to mislead about what else is available... like when you are accelerating onto something other than a highway (which rarely needs a pedal-to-the-floor request anyway).  The detail clearly being avoided is acceleration when driving around in the suburbs.  That instant low-end torque really makes a difference.  So what if it fades once you get beyond about 50 mph?  Off the mark from a stoplight, you can punch it.  Since there isn't that obnoxious high RPM which you'd get from a combustion engine, the smooth & silent power can be taken advantage of.  It's quite noticeable, even in a Prius Prime. In other words, focus on 0-60 exclusively is a weak argument, at best.  We see it as an effort to draw attention away from a feature shoppers will find compelling.  You can't just omit important information like that and not expect to be called out.

7-20-2020 Who?  It became a question in response to this: "The saddest part is the 5000 limited sales, over two decades after the original Prius was announced (1997) and Toyota can only figure out how to make 5000 batteries for the RAV4 Prime.  This limit is a complete joke!"  It was a great opportunity to provide some perspective on the rollout obsession clouding judgment now.  I find it quite comforting to confirm efforts were so successful, even if no one acknowledges just how much change the 15 Million hybrids Toyota produced actually brought about.  Prevention, in this case emissions & consumption, rarely gets rewarded.  It's the same in my profession as a software engineer.  You almost never get recognition for avoiding fatals.  The programming simply works.  No complaints and continued funding are typically the only clue things are going well.  Anywho, this is what I posted:

Pull back the spotlight.  Look at what's happening with the rest of Toyota's fleet.  In other words, don't fall for that cherry-picking trap so many are setting. They focus entirely on a single offering, pretending the rest of whatever an automaker doesn't matter yet.  When in reality, what happens next is vital... and Toyota is addressing it already, putting then well ahead of most everyone else for that next stage.

Phasing out traditional vehicles is Toyota's focus by pushing hybrids, really hard.  Think about how easy it is to consider the purchase of a plug-in hybrid or an electric-only vehicle when the standard choice already has a battery-pack.  It sends a very strong message of confidence in propulsion based upon electricity.  It also dramatically reduces the number of guzzlers from being put on the road.  Now two decades later, their resulting MPG far outweighs the competition in addition to setting the stage for what comes next.

As for the battery shortage, Toyota is ending Camry & Avalon hybrids use of NiMH cells.  That increased use of lithium is the move everyone here complained & whined about in the past.  Notice how they are now dead silent?  The new Sienna and the new Venza will be hybrid only, no traditional model at all is more of that confidence messaging.  Venza in particular highlights battery challenges.  Ordering in Japan just began.  The expectation for this year was to deliver 3,100 for that market.  Toyota has already received over 45,000 orders.  That same type of demand is a realistic expectation in other markets now too.

Demand for lithium cells from the rest of the fleet is a big deal, already.  And that doesn't even address the upcoming next-gen chemistry planning to be rolled out.  So in addition to the worldwide rollout of so many new offerings, including RAV4 Prime, there is a lot to consider when evaluating it as a "complete joke" situation.  Who is doing the laughing?

7-19-2020 Who.  VW's electrification effort continues to stir backlash toward Toyota.  It's the same old nonsense we saw well over a decade ago.  Remember how Volt enthusiasts kept trying to narrow the market to just EV buyers?  That absolutely refused to acknowledge anything beyond their niche.  Being in the early-adopter stage, that was easy.  Now moving beyond that (marked by tax-credits expired & expiring), that audience is quite different.  This is a much wider market, serving buyers far less willing to accept something aimed at enthusiasts.  Growth of sales much increase dramatically too.  Slow will not be an option soon (with the next few years).  It is this generation of rollouts that pave the way for high-volume change.  So, spin & insult of the past is very easy to counter now, which is exactly what I am doing.  The quote his time was: "Only Toyota was and is explicitly on bad terms with it."  Recognize that effort to set Toyota apart?  I did:

That narrative about Toyota is getting harder to sell, even more so with VW entering the picture.  In the past, it was easier with all the early-adopter obsession.  Focus was entirely on that audience, leaving the market for the masses something to address later.  So, there was never any discussion of how to get beyond that initial stage.

VW's approach is much like Tesla's... setup production for high-volume sales and hope if-we-build-it strategy works.  That's risky, especially if you have a configuration that doesn't match what mainstream buyer priorities.  There are far too many examples of great engineering that failed due to not having targeted wants & needs properly.  And remember, it isn't just consumers.  A significant portion of the equation is the dealer aspect of stocking & selling vehicles.

Toyota's approach is to build up from the bottom, appeal to dealer priorities with the expectation their shift in acceptance will match up with consumer priorities, both of which have been moving targets.  That's an advantage for Toyota that neither VW nor Tesla can address as well.  We have seen evidence of that mounting already.  Tesla pricing makes their vehicles too far out of reach for the masses.  W hopes to differ with lower cost designs.  Meanwhile, we see Toyota repositioning its entire fleet, which gives the impression of "bad terms" due to the lack of visibility.

Realistically, its all just spin.  Sales are what measure the progress of actual change.  To assess potential, you must look at the entire approach.  VW's building & refitting supports a commitment to change.  Toyota's shift to hybrids and plug-in hybrids, along with its first BEV rollout, is the next step beyond commitment.  It is a quantitative shift away from traditional vehicles already taking place.

In other words, don't expect a knock at Toyota to be received without expecting it to be countered.   Change comes in different forms.  Top-Down is not the only approach available.  Bottom-Up can also be very effective.

7-19-2020 VW Support.  Anticipation for ID.3 is growing, but there isn't much substance yet to actually support the hope.  It is already turning into rhetoric hype.  That's a sign of trouble to come.  You need real-world stories of ownership to deal with meritless cheering.  There is potential for great things from VW, but lack of patience can have terrible consequences that are easily avoided.  In other words, we are dealing with an entirely new audience.  So, the potential for repeating the same mistakes as in the past are quite high.  An overlying enthusiastic post in a VW thread taking a shot at Toyota provided a nice opportunity for me to jump in with some perspective:

Claiming VW is the farthest ahead legacy automaker, yet pointing out the software issues are bad, is rather contradictory.  Reality is, Toyota has that subject area mastered.

3.5 years later, the EV operation of Prius Prime has proven flawless.  There hasn't been anything at all to raise concern about the way that propulsion system has operated.  Experience gained from past electric endeavors has clearly paid off. S o what if fuel-cell use for consumer vehicles has limited potential?  Commercial potential is enormous and the knowledge gained can be shared with BEV advancement.   That variety of experience from all their offerings contribute to a better end product across the fleet.

As for claiming Toyota showrooms will suffer because they deserve it doesn't really tell us anything.  In fact, it kind of hints at the possibility of VW attracting shoppers with a BEV offering but not necessarily selling them one... hence, shopping.  That image draw is known as the "halo effect" and is definitely not what any automaker should be proud to achieve.  All it does is persist sales of traditional vehicles.  Not achieving change to the status quo is a very big problem.  For GM, that has already proven to be a massive waste of opportunity.

VW moving forward will be measured by success across all aspects of manufacturing.  Software issues can result in not only major support headaches, it can also harm reputation.  VW doesn't have much good will from consumers to risk.  Great hardware suffering from computer-related challenges could be a deal-breaker for the undecided.

Think about what Toyota did with Android Auto support.  This time last year, people were freaking out, calling Toyota's lack of adoption a major blow to their sales... saying they deserve to suffer as a result.  Sound familiar?  Turns out, they were dead on with their assessment of the software's status.  Switching from phone-centric to an automotive-centric interface was far from ready for the masses.  It took Google another 9 upgrades before the software settled down to something ordinary consumers would accept.  Now a year later, we see that many new models from Toyota will include Android Auto, including Prius Prime.

In short, downplay or disregard for software can be a costly mistake.  It isn't worth the rush.

 

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