Prius Personal Log #1021
July 24, 2020 - July 28, 2020
Last Updated: Tues. 10/13/2020
page #1020 page #1022 BOOK INDEX
No Bite. There are times when you encounter a person who will never change. They have made up their mind and just press the reset button anytime their perspective is challenged. It's the FUD tactic. You raise Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. In this case, I keep getting the same question over and over and over again. Sometimes they will get creative though, by stating the situation in the form of an observation... which is exactly how he replied to the definition provided: "It seems that Tesla, years ago, reached your definition for "mass production" (which was 60,000/year). You then shifted to this nebulous term of moving beyond early adopters." I consider that confirmation of him simply not caring. It's his way or now way. Ugh. I ended up posting: 60,000/year has always (for the past 15 years) represented a minimum-viable-product measure for this industry in this market. It's a rough gauge of an automaker having reached the level of sustainable profit. Again, that measure is nothing but a milestone. Growth beyond that is essential. GM was not able to achieve that with either Volt itself or Voltec, so they eventually cut losses and moved one. Also again, the goal is to replace traditional offerings. Token offerings don't achieve that. Look at the production. Look at how much is changing to clean the fleet. Recognize how "shoot across the bow" can be nothing but a lot of bark and little to no bite.
Definitions. When the same person asks for clarification over and over and over again, how should you respond? It's the same topic every time, always with an effort to make it person. He either doesn't like the answer or is intentionally trying to undermine. Either way, it's not constructive. I find it quite telling, since there is no effort to change. Repetition is not progress. But one more time, I humored this request: "Please help us understand your definition." If nothing else, it is an opportunity to provide information for lurkers of the discussion. So, I did: This is still just basic economics. No amount of trying to make it personal changes that. Fleets must transition and milestones are simply how progress is gauged. Once one is reached, that next will likely present new challenges. Remember, it becomes more of a business matter as the engineering barriers are overcome. In other words, use some critical thinking. Look at what has changed and what remains. Don't use the excuse of not understanding, despite having so much exposure to the topic.
Survival. I am enjoying the latest spin: "Toyota knows that they cannot survive a transition to BEVs and their tactic is to say "Yeah we care", but to do nothing - just like GM." It both reveals a growing sense of panic and tries to provide damage-control at the same time. They see progress coming from Toyota. Seeing new plug-in choices rollout, especially one that would supposedly never happen, is devastating. It contradicts their claims and doesn't give them any means to respond without sounding hypocritical. What we said is indeed the case. Remember the whole "Tortoise and the Hare" situation. This is it, playing out as the finish line draws near. The slow & steady didn't prove to be a failing strategy. To make matters worse, they see the reputation already taking hold. That's an impossible foe to fight. People favor what they trust, even if the tradeoffs aren't easy to justify. This is why Toyota hybrids continue to thrive. With gas so cheap, the numbers don't equate to such strong sales. Yet, they are popular anyway. That's what you get from relentlessly pushing quality, always remaining true to the continuous improvement approach. I put it this way: However, they are demonstrating EV technology to prove they can survive. Prius Prime already delivers flawless electric-only driving. RAV4 Prime will build upon that reputation for reliability. That's essential for BEV acceptance. It's a chicken/egg situation people like to gloss over with the hope of undermining Toyota's undeniable step forward to address that move to BEV.
Production Delay. It is interesting to read through comments posted by those who are clearly trying, but obviously don't have the background. For example: "If you actually know not just what the hurdle is, but also how you will solve it, then why does it remain almost 5 years out?" Look for some type of reasoning to help determine that person's motive. If they don't provide any (which this did not), then you can wonder if they have ill intent or just don't have any background to make such a statement. Whatever the case, a request for detail usually reveals what you need to know. In fact, how they respond can be as telling as whatever fact they provide. I stuck to exposition in this case though, not even bothered with a request: The situation is very similar to what we witnessed in the computer industry. They could produce the technology, but yields were so small it wasn't worth the rollout. Quality control is a very, very, very big deal and having to too many cells not pass acceptable minimums is good reason to hold off. It's expensive in terms of both financial & reputation. Remember how long it took for the large LCD market to ramp up production? Think about how each next-gen processor ends up seeing multi-year delay. It all works out in the end, but there is always a lot of patience required.
Battery Chemistry. It is becoming a source of entertainment to watch antagonists attempt to spin a narrative to belittle & undermine Toyota. More and more, the tactic is becoming an effort to spread outright lies. They simply don't have material of a misleading nature anymore. Those old days of just pushing assumptions are gone. Being dishonest is, sadly, a normalized situation. So, we get stuff like this: "By 2025 when Toyota plans their first EVs everyone else will be on their second or third generation." I was happy to respond to that nonsense: Lack of patience in the beginning of your rant is topped by that concluding statement, which only serves to mislead. Toyota already has a well-refined EV system proven in their PHEV and FCEV offerings... full electric-only driving which has worked great for years. Adding to that this year is Toyota's first BEV rollout, the Lexus UX300e. So, any claim about first coming later is a load of garbage. This article highlights that reality, putting focus squarely on the industry weak spot... battery technology. We cannot expect the masses to embrace what's available now as a direct competitor to traditional vehicles. But with next-gen chemistry, upgrades to cost, speed, and longevity should make it a worthy adversary. In other words, the narrative lacks substance. Every automaker is facing the same challenges and Toyota is not woefully behind as you attempted to portray.
Battery Aging. Simple concepts, like DoD (Depth of
Discharge), goes a long way toward understanding how batteries age.
Some online participants don't bother to take the time to research though.
They see a "cycle" count and just assume a battery can only be recharged
that many times. That's one of the reasons behind the push for higher
range vehicles. Prior arguments, like carrying around unneeded
die-weight, are disregarded as a result. So when I bring up the
buffer, which is used to prevent deep discharges... which is a contributor to
battery aging... it just gets blown off. Certain individuals don't
care. They hold to their misconception and absolutely will not listen
to reason. That was the case today. So, attempting to explain
what the equivalent of a cycle was fell on deaf ears. It's so easy to
understand too, especially with a plug-in hybrid. There's an engine
available to protect the battery. Ugh. Today's exchange was
exceptionally bad. He didn't care. He was right. I was
wrong. Period. It's bizarre how close-minded some people can be.
Real-World data is just outright dismissed. All those years of all
those cars being driven, proving the claim false, don't matter. He was
right. This of course was coming from a BEV purist, the type of
plug-in supporter who gives the rest of us so much more work to do.
Feeding misconceptions is not helpful. Yet, online discussions are
filled with such nonsense. All we can do is keep posting information
to counter their spread of misinformation, as I did today:
Using up a charge (usable capacity) does not represent a full cycle. When I
sold my 2012 Prius PHV, it had been driven 92,000 miles. I would recharge
overnight at home and during the day at work. I recorded over 2,700
recharges during the course of over 5 years of ownership. That grossly
exceeds your claim of being limited to roughly 1,500 recharges... and that
was 3 years ago. The new owner is a friend of mine who recharges whenever he
can. The battery-pack is still working just fine. Again, the criteria
for a battery "cycle" is not the same as a recharge of usable capacity. No
automaker is going to push cells to that limit, knowing it would accelerate
aging. Instead, they stay within tolerance that promotes longevity. That's
why examples like my old plug-in hybrid are exceeding the assumptions about
how cycling works.
Hypocritical History, reviews. Looking back to the past is becoming more common. Today, I encountered this review: "Why Did the Chevy Tahoe Hybrid Fail So Hard?" Those were fighting words in the past, nothing of an interest to enthusiasts. But now with attention turning toward plug-in hybrid SUV choices and their hybrid counterparts becoming common, there's a sense of renewal... which stirs up discussion of how we got here. The article highlighted how timing was terrible for such an expensive offering and it provided "less than ideal" efficiency. That type of review is annoying. It glosses over the situation, leaving out vital detail. That's why blogs written at the time are far more valuable, providing insight long forgotten to those who participated back then... and in this case now with this writer, never known. A major downfall completely overlooked was towing-capacity. The hybrid's was much less than its traditional counterpart. The reason way was cooling. GM's assumption that squeezing everything hybrid-related into the transmission housing would make production easier... which it indeed did. That design allowed for an easy swap; however, it came at the cost of reduced output. Towing pushed need beyond the tolerances available. It serves as yet another example of how taking the time to do it right pays off in the end. Reviewers rarely see that though. They write a short article with little research for the sake of drawing readers to their publication. That's unfortunate, but not at all surprising. In fact, that's very predicable. The past is forgotten, overlooked, or dismissed... which is what brings about the hypocrisy.
Hypocritical History, progress. I thoroughly enjoyed interjected this into the discussion: For some perspective... I remember how much of a stir pointing out how Two-Mode design carried over to Volt. It was bizarre how much pushback there was with regard to the idea that engineers from a prior project would continue on to the next. Enthusiast would argue that Volt was "all new" rather than an evolutionary step forward. Logically, that never made any sense. Emotionally, it meant accepting that reality of expertise spread throughout the automaker was an admission of GM being on similar footing with Toyota. Fast forwarding to 2020, we see that this newest PHEV offering is very much a "little bit more" upgrade to Prius Prime in several aspects... range, speed, power. It is in no means "vastly superior" to RAV4 Prime though. And the 1,000,000-kilometer warranty for the battery-pack on their new BEV, the Lexus UX300e, should put any other stir to rest. Of course these 2 new offerings from GM share other technology GM developed in the past. Not leveraging that knowledge doesn't even make sense. In other words, all that hype and effort to avoid addressing detail didn't pay off. GM is still in the same position it was a decade ago in terms of how much they have been able to change the status quo at their dealers. Keep in mind, that's who purchases inventory and make decisions about what type of product to favor... because in the end, each automaker is a for-profit business. That means what happens in online discussions is only a small component of progress forward.
Hypocritical History, ordinary. Price is the ironic part of this situation. Shortly after the reveal of Volt back in 2007, that "nicely under $30,000" goal from GM itself started to get lots of attention. In fact, that's what pushed it into the vaporware category. No one, except the wildly optimistic enthusiasts, believed that would be even remotely realistic by the end-of-2010 rollout date. Heck, even for gen-2 later, that seemed too far out of reach. The pricing target made sense. It was a means of reaching the masses. GM's failure to deliver really hurt. Enthusiasts did everything possible to provide damage control, for both generations coming up short. It was a disaster. Appealing to ordinary consumers couldn't happen with too high of a price, period. That made today's press-release especially interesting. Price for Buick Velite in the market for China is set at $22,770 for the base model. That puts the "lite" in the Volt design, exactly as what had been suggested all those years ago. Remember the hostility brought about from the suggestion of a second model, one with a reduced configuration to achieve a more affordable price? That is exactly what this vehicle is. The specs include a shorter range, slower acceleration, and reduced power. It's what they feared, something ordinary for the masses, rather than a stand-out niche.
Hypocritical History, change. This is what I posted on that new discussion topic provided the press-release detail about Buick Velite 6: Those specifications provide some rather powerful vindication. That's exactly what supposed anti-GM trolls had advocated for years ago. Range, power, and speed are just a bump up from what Prius Prime delivered. It shows GM really did recognize how to target mainstream consumers, but simply didn't want to. Such delay from a legacy automaker praised for being a leader in the segment makes any move here in the United States now a challenge. It would be a blatant contradiction to take a step which had been previously argued against. Of course, outright abandonment of PHEV in favor of BEV is contradicted by Velite 6 already proves GM backed itself into a corner. Realistically, it won't matter. All hype & disparage so far has been limited to enthusiasts anyway. Ordinary consumers don't really care. Just look at how Toyota squashed rhetoric by delivering a 10-year, 1-million-kilometer warranty with their first BEV rollout. Claims of being hopelessly behind quickly evaporated. Online nonsense doesn't alter the status quo. It comes down to offering something truly able to bring about change.
Hypocritical History, waste. That day of haunting was today. Volt enthusiasts got what they most feared... detail confirming GM had followed the same path as Toyota. Buick Velite 6 available in China shares a striking similarity. The battery capacity will be 9.5 kWh, which is just a little bit more than the 8.8 kWh in Prius Prime. 0-100 kilometer per hour in 9 seconds, which is just a little bit faster than 0-60 miles per hour in 10.2 seconds for Prius Prime. And the power output is 80 kW, which is just a little bit more than 68 kW for Prius Prime. The catch is, this offering comes 3 years later... following the rollout of RAV4 Prime... which offers a much larger pack is quite a bit faster and offers much more power. So, there's nothing for enthusiasts to argue. They are now exactly where we wanted them all along, playing on the same team for the same win. It should have been this way from the start. They didn't want to compete against traditional vehicles though. It was easier to belittle & insult another PHEV instead. So, they did... relentlessly. What a waste of opportunity. They absolutely refused to acknowledge anything beyond their niche. Now, they have to deal with the consequences. In this case, it is getting called out for being hypocritical. That's a difficult history to accept, especially when pride played such an important role in their claims to victory. Oh well. That's what happens when you put want above need for too long.
Stirring Hype. We have returned to that stage again. The constructive nature of forums & blogs is falling apart. It's a very predictable cycle. Covid and the expiration of tax-credits, combined with a wave of upcoming offerings, has made it an especially vulnerable time. Few understand the transition in the first place. Lacking background to recognize the next steps necessary spells disaster. Far too many simply use those venues for entertainment and a means of validating their own opinion, rather than discussing facts constructively. I fired back with: Notice how everyone is carefully side-stepping the topic itself, identifying who the "competition" actually is? Yet again, we have reason to push the KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE advice. To move beyond the early-adopter stage, purchase priorities of the masses must be addressed. Clearly, Tesla is not targeting the masses. Price is far too high. Look at what has been considered by other automakers. We see the idea of offering different packages for the same model of vehicle. One that offers a smaller battery with a lower powered system would achieve a cost-reduction enough to appeal to those who don't or can't spend as much. This isn't rocket science. It is basic economics. The obsession with range, speed, and power has blinded our society to such an extreme, some of the world sees us now as not worth the bother. Ironically, this was exactly what was warned about back when GM's vaporware push took hold. It's that "over promise, under deliver" problem no longer taken seriously. If you want to appeal to the crowd who provides business-sustaining profit... someone like my mom who is perfectly content driving around an old Corolla... you have to deliver something they'll be willing to actually purchase. The idea of plugging in is a hard sell to that audience. So a vague mention of "competition" simply doesn't make any sense. It's just hype to get people to post comments.