Prius Personal Log #1028
August 22, 2020 - August 29, 2020
Last Updated: Tues. 10/13/2020
page #1027 page #1029 BOOK INDEX
Solid-State Batteries. It is nice to seem some comments shifting focus to when, rather than the "if" mantra of the past. It will happen at some point. The interest now is how that will have an impact to plans within the next few years. Next-Gen design for BEV offerings is well underway. The prospect of solid-state brings a new dimension to the discussions. Forcing the importance of a large packs falls apart in favor of higher speed charging without restriction. That potential for pushing the battery harder with no real consequence is a paradigm shift. Anywho, it takes time. Most participating with comments don't seem to have the background. Those few who were active participates with other technology rollouts are well aware how lengthy the process becomes. Even when that milestone of commitment to scale up takes place, it is still a very long journey ahead. I put it this way: This is just like other paradigm-shift technologies we have seen in the television & computer industries. Even when it becomes viable, there is still much work to be done making the tech affordable. Refining the manufacture process to increase yields and decrease time isn't easy. Enthusiasts will go nuts in the meantime, spinning stories and getting distracted. It all works out in the end for those patiently watching for confirmation of progress.
Doing the Math. This was interesting: "Well, let's see what the math says... Strictly by projecting straight exponential growth, it appears Tesla shouldn't have any problem getting to 15 million by 2030. So that's not "hard to imagine" at all!" It came from a troublemaker who continues to post projections that are nothing but a calculation. It's just a crude number game, not anything addressing how. That absence of thought spells trouble when repeated over and over again. It's exactly what I battled for all those years with Volt enthusiasts who would post empty statistics. Without context, they don't reflect reality. It was all about bragging rights, not actual change. They would appeal to what felt right, not what made sense. In this case, it was lack of imagination too. Math is supposed to be logical. Simply multiplying number doesn't mean anything when just taken at face value. I was annoyed, so I posted: In other words, turn a blind-eye to the basics of automotive business. A one-size-fits-all solution just plain won't work. To grow, the product selection must diversify. Look around on a dealer's lot. There are a wide variety of choices available. Tesla can't possible increase annual sales with niche offering we have now. S and X are simply out of reach, too expensive. 3 and Y should become reasonably affordable for the upper-tier of mainstream, but they are essentially the same vehicle. Cybertruck will also be expensive and will be challenged by competitors with good reason to take risks. VW is already targeting an audience Tesla can't reach with ID.4 here. What is their plan in that smaller BEV category, exactly what the typical middle-market consumer would shop for? It would be "hard to imagine" growth on that scale without Tesla offering several of those types of choices.
Finally. There are signs of change emerging: "Drove a Chevy Bolt for 3 years. Loved it. But GM needs to stop talking and be WAY MORE aggressive. Or, put it this way, who is going to be the second largest EV maker in the US?" It is remarkable how long it takes sometimes for the message to come through. Some will fight for so long, they forget what they were fighting for. It just becomes a feeling of the need to oppose. The reasoning for "why" gets lost for a variety of reasons... none of which make any difference if you don't state goals. That's why I push for them. If you don't keep focused on purpose, you miss opportunity. Allies can emerge from discovery, when you come to realize there was some type of miscommunication or misunderstanding. This is how that daily blog for Volt killed itself. Enthusiasts just started lashing out in every direction. They became defensive & dismissive without reason. Either you take the time or time takes you. It is now the latter, where "finally" has arrived. Their arguments fall apart simply because no progress has been made. I stated it this way: The label of the pattern changed from "over promise, under deliver" a decade ago to "too little, too slowly". It's the same old hype coming from management. We know the engineers are capable, but executive actions simply are supportive. The technology doesn't take on a mission of game-changer. It's just their to present an image of leadership. Think about how Lyric & Hummer will do nothing for ordinary consumers. It will definitely be interesting to see how promises made for Bolt EUV actually play out. Something able to compete directly with their traditional offerings... basically an affordable BEV version of Trax... is needed.
Only Used Level-1. The standout bit of information from all these recent discussions online is the fact that a surprising number of early-adopters only used a level-1 charger... the 120-volt EVSE that came with the vehicle. That puts a different perspective on PHEV endorsement when you move onto BEV later, then do the 240-volt upgrade. Never having a level-2 means they missed out on opportunity charging. They never had a time-of-use discount. They probably didn't take advantage of pre-conditioning. It explains the shortcomings falsely associated with plug-in hybrids. They dismiss the technology as having been transitional, nothing more. That looking back, instead of looking forward, is a real problem. There's a lasting impression based on what the technology was, not what it has become. Referring to outdated facts is nothing new. But when getting called out on it does nothing to change their opinion, it becomes a challenge. It's the enthusiast barrier that fortunately doesn't have much of a reach beyond online postings. Showroom shoppers typically don't encounter their rhetoric; nonetheless, it is still quite a pain to deal with. Anywho, that slow connection means a long overnight recharge. It also means the likelihood of a second vehicle with a plug cannot happen until upgrading... which PHEV can encourage, without pressure. That the goal, which makes the message a simple one of sharing information about the benefits of level-2 and the convenience of upgrading when you are ready. You can start with level-1, but don't depend upon it for the entire ownership of that vehicle.
Statistics & Audience. It's nice to get something constructive from time to time: "I don't know about VoltStats - if that is just a self-selected sample of data from people that bother to sign up, then it isn't representative. There are a lot of people that just want to treat a PHEV like a regular car." Understanding the who and the what is never easy, but at least we get some trying to figure it all out. Hopefully, stuff like this helps: Volt owners were never representative anyway, since they were all early-adopters taking advantage of the opportunity. $7,500 provided a lot of conquest purchases, most of which never equated to loyalty. It was just move on to the next opportunity... in many cases, that was Tesla. The point is, that low-hanging fruit does a wonderful job of proving out technology, but is by no means in any way representative of what will happen later. So the stats really don't tell us anything. Mainstream consumers are quite fickle and won't have the benefit of subsidies. There will be a variety of competition too, resulting in a wide selection of choices all fighting for a narrow profit-margin. It's that cold, hard reality of sales to ordinary people which most discussions here refuse to address. We see "EV market" references forcing a perspective of just plug-in vehicles. In short, that assessment of simply just wanting to "treat a PHEV like a regular car" is dead on. The typical showroom shopper will consider the overnight recharge using 120-volts. That's it. Later in ownership, an upgrade to a level-2 charger will probably happen. But when at the dealer, their chance encounter with a plug-in vehicle will only result in a purchase if the decision is simple. KISS.
Dose of Reality. The absence of critical thinking is astounding. Stuff like this, void of any detail or follow-up, is nothing by senseless rhetoric: "It's the apartment dwellers that drive the number of years up." It comes from BEV purists dead set against PHEV. They believe anything with a combustion engine is counter-productive, period. That absolute is impossible to overcome. They have made up their mind and refuse to reconsider. Reality comes crashing down at some point. You cannot deny forward. In this case, it comes in the form of simply asking how, then providing detail. The idea of a BEV is really an ideal. It simply isn't realistic for some, which is how apartment dwellers get attention. Discussion never proceeds though. It is a dismissal... until someone starts looking at what it would take and how many people are impacted by the same issues. In other words, it is a tip-of-the-iceberg situation. Far more is a problem than the narrative implies. I stirred the pot with these few facts: You clearly haven't seen the old post-WWII neighbors. All those mature trees surrounding power-lines delivering electricity to under-sized service-panels. When an entire household is running off of just 75 amps, there's a very real expense required to support even just one BEV. So with a multi-car family, it's going to be quite a number of years still. That's why PHEV will play such a vital role in the transition. You can get EV driving even without infrastructure upgrades.
Already Dead. You gotta like this: "Toyota, like other legacy automakers is already dead. They will not survive the transition from selling fossil fuel vehicles to full EVs. You cannot promote the vast benefits of BEVs without condemning everything about fossil fuel vehicles." It was just more of the same, reinforcing the binary mindset by repeating the mantra. Ugh, again. So, I replied again: Portraying a narrative that Toyota doesn't already sell PHEV and BEV is remarkable. But then to go on and cast the market as an absolute is flat out denial of reality. It is very easy to promote benefits without condemning. In fact, that type of transition is ordinary business for the computer industry. It's called the upgrade process. There's a balance between the latest & greatest (want) and what is actually required (need). People make educated choices based on their circumstances. It's a continuous process, how sustainable profit is made. That comment of "already dead" deserves a bookmark. It is quite telling of how enthusiasts have a disconnect with mainstream sales.
Differences. I find it quite telling how people insist on a
binary mindset. Automakers cannot have anything in common, the
competitor must be an opposite. Ugh. That's how stuff like this
gets posted: "Another significant difference between the two companies
would be that Tesla is devoted to software, while Toyota worries about
hardware quality." Whether the person is poorly informed or just
close-minded really doesn't matter. They feed the narrative. I
keep pushing back to point out the overlook.
The actual difference is Toyota doesn't say much. Toyota is devoted to both hardware & software. Evidence of that is overwhelming. Look at the EV drive from Prius Prime, which is now also available in RAV4 Prime. 3.5 years of flawless operation, as well as impressive efficiency, confirms the work was done well. You don't get that from not having also devoted a lot of resources to software.
Another difference is Toyota doesn't focus on low-hanging fruit... in other words, appealing to early-adopters... the right-away crowd. Instead, they have also quietly devoted resources toward change for their core customer. That audience is slow & hesitant. These are loyal owners who fully intend to purchase another Toyota when their current one needs replacing. When they shop the showroom floor, they will see some traditional vehicles only available as a hybrid. They will also see some hybrids offering a plug. That's a true paradigm shift, advancing the entire fleet forward. Emissions & Consumption is still getting addressed right away, while also setting an expectation for more reliance on battery use in the future.
The biggest difference though is scale. Mainstream buyers are the domain of Toyota, not Tesla. True, we'll see Tesla not only retain what they have, but grow to be a big player. They simply don't have the reach of an automaker selling over 10 million vehicles annually worldwide. Think about how long, if ever, Tesla will offer a Kona-sized BEV. That's a tough market, very difficult to address with razor-thin profits... an arena Toyota thrives in. So, there will very much be a place for both automakers.
It Takes Time. The lack of understanding how technology gets upgraded and rolled out is always a source of intrigue. No matter how much we advance forward as a culture, there is always an element of not paying attention. There are people who have never taken a moment to consider what is involved or how long it actually takes. They just assume is just naturally happens without barriers or pushback. They really don't have any idea of audience either. Someone needs to try it in real-world conditions... early adopters. Those aren't mythical creatures. They are you and I. This is why over-the-air upgrades are becoming the expectation for vehicles. We think nothing of them on our portable devices. So, why not something far more expensive. I liked this particular quote today in regard to that: "Over two years ago, Google finally made it possible for Android Auto to connect wirelessly instead of needing to be connected via USB to your car stereo. However, the wireless capabilities have so far only been available on Google's Pixel phones and Samsung Galaxy phones." This is why that absurd outcry of Toyota failing to deliver never made any sense. People were getting all worked up about having something that wasn't realistic. They wanted it all, immediately. This stuff takes time. It won't happen quickly, but it will happen... eventually.
More Prime. It's nice to see comments like this: "I'm hoping Toyota expands the Prime line within a few years." Needless to say, I had thoughts on that topic: I suspect Corolla PHV currently available in China will end up becoming a Corolla-Cross Prime here. That crossover shape would obviously work better to accommodate more battery. That could possibly end up leaving Camry as their last sedan offering here. It appears realistic the next-gen Prius will grow a little to provide increased EV capacity, which could easily mark an end of the no-plug hybrid model. It's all about adaptation to an ever changing market, which Toyota's hybrid system does well. It makes sense too. As their dedicated BEV rollout takes place, spreading Prime tech to phaseout old tech is a sensible way to advance the entire fleet forward while avoiding business disruption or risk. That said, I am very curious how VW will deal with their rather abrupt transition... which started out of necessity. Seeing Golf offer PHEV models could be a hint of larger vehicles will start with that step, rather than going straight to BEV. It's a touchy balance with so many factors at play and a diverse set of customers worldwide.
Setting Expectations. It is quite intriguing to have
accumulated so much real-world experience that setting of realistic
expectations can now be done with surprisingly high confidence. Today,
it came about in an article features VW rollout of Golf in 2 configurations
of PHEV. This was a resulting comment: "The main argument for
PHEVs IMO is as a transitional technology for the limited period..."
I found a new perspective to share on the same subject, reflecting old to
This is another example of a chapter in automotive history repeating. Back when focus was on hybrids, the term "stop gap" was used. Now with PHEV, we are seeing "transitional" as the reference instead. Purpose in the past was to downplay the vital role they would play. The same will be true this time around too.
Much of the problem is based upon the belief that once BEV become cost-competitive, people will just naturally desire that instead of an ICE. After all, such a reduction on oil-dependency should make the choice a no-brainer... right? Supposition that purchase decisions will based upon that have already been proven wrong. In fact, history has also shown us the reduction of complexity doesn't even help. Toyota hybrids eliminated many belts, pumps, and even the transmission. The typical consumer has no clue how their own vehicle operates. Traditional design is an complete unknown, so making comparisons is pointless. Know your audience.
The real barrier to overcome is understanding the technology. This is vital, since the purchase also requires an upgrade to the owner's residence and a change of behavior. Getting them to purchase a EVSE and run a dedicated circuit is far easier when they recognize what the flurry of numbers actually mean. Terms like "kw" and "kWh" are complete unknowns. "Amp" means nothing in terms of cost. It's all new to them, each contributing to intimidation. There's the obvious trepidation of battery-pack replacement too.
PHEV will help over the barriers. Like it or not, their contribution to BEV transition is vital... and the role they will play in terms of quantity will be enormous. It's a simple matter building confidence, while also helping push infrastructure improvements. With the ability to deliver most daily driving in EV miles (40 * 365 = 14,600) using nothing but 120-volt overnight charging, they make a compelling sales pitch. No upgrade at home necessary. An interest to upgrade to 240-volt charging will emerge later though. That's the key, especially when the household has multiple vehicles. The next purchase will inevitably have a plug too.
This brings us back to the automaker. Since PHEV share many components with BEV... motor, inverter, charger, software, battery, and heat-pump, the role of transition is very helpful in terms of building both expertise & reputation. Dealers certainly don't want to carry inventory consumers aren't confident about. So, the step is necessary. Expecting more than just enthusiasts to readily embrace the new technology is futile... yet, that's the message "transitional" tends to portray. It will be much, much more than just a limited period.