Prius Personal Log  #1030

September 3, 2020  -  September 11, 2020

Last Updated:  Tues. 10/13/2020

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9-11-2020 Misconceptions.  This was interesting to stumble across today: "I think my biggest challenge now is going to be keeping my battery in a depleted state when I'm not driving much.  I hear that's better for battery longevity.  I'll need to find a balance between EV and Hybrid modes."  There are certain individuals who post based upon anecdotal evidence and dismiss whatever detailed data you actually present.  They figure as an owner themself, there's no need for additional input.  It has become an irritating source of trouble.  They just plain don't care, as the forum to them is a means of connecting with other owners.  Being constructive is not important in their eyes.  Hence, they end up feeding misconceptions.  This was my intercept to deal with a common one, sighted in that quote:

Reminds me of the misconceptions we had to address back when Prius was new... decades ago.  btw, I just celebrated my 20th anniversary of Prius ownership.  You'll find that assumptions come from people not posting enough information.  That ends up feeding a common belief.  After awhile, that becomes a misconception... which can take years to finally squash.  Fortunately, we have many years of data to combat with already.

In this case, longevity belief comes from people not understanding that there is no "full" for Prius Prime.  There is for other devices that us lithium batteries, like your phone or an electric lawn-mower.  But for the Toyota system, maximum is really only 84% of total available capacity.  There's a buffer built into the software which prevents you from ever reaching full.  So when the display shows 100%, it really isn't.

That limits the "not driving much" concerns down to if you aren't driving at least once per week or you have the vehicle continuously parked in very hot conditions.  Otherwise, there is no longevity benefit.  My old 2012 Prius PHV is still working just fine without ever having done anything special for it.  I recharged twice per day (overnight and at work) for over 5 years.  The new owner (a friend of mine) just recharges whenever without any concern.

9-10-2020

Critical Thinking.  We get a lot of deflection, when rhetoric like this is called out: "id.3 presents several cost cuts, the car price will come down very fast as VW is for sure adding an insane margin on top of it."  I pointed out how familiar that was, hearing the very same claims made for Volt was history repeating now.  That repetition is what freaks out enthusiasts.  They do everything possible to change the subject... deflect.  This was the reply I got from a well known troublemaker: "He also forgets that the GEN 2 volt was designed to have a much lower manufacturing cost..."  Refusal to just acknowledge the pattern is all I need.  We saw the same with Two-Mode, when I pointed out how its history was repeating with Volt.  It's quite remarkable how they dismiss.  It's not even downplay.  Heck, they'll even outright lie to get to stop posting observations.  This is different, period.  No, it's not.  That's why I blog.  Being able to confirm the repetition is quite empowering.  I have evidence.  Things look different when you look back.  But if you took the time to document detail about what people were thinking at the moment, you have a solid record available for comparison.  Here's how I replied to today's nonsense:  That's the problem and this post clearly the lesson was not learned.  Those "excellently designed Voltec vehicles" may have been lower cost to manufacture, but that was alone wasn't enough.  Price needed to be reduced significantly too.  That target of "nicely under $30,000" was never achieved.  GM was all talk, unwilling to do what it actually took.  The most obvious opportunity missed that enthusiasts do everything to avoid addressing is not having increased range.  Enthusiasts were proud of how far gen-1 could travel with a single charge.  Their need was fulfilled.  More would be nice, but sacrificing price simply wasn't worth it for ordinary consumers.  By retaining roughly the same range, kWh capacity could have been reduced.  The cost & weight savings would have made a big difference.  GM knew they would get bashed for such a move.  VW is about to face similar pressures.  Doing what is necessary isn't easy.  Whenever I pointed out how Toyota was indeed doing just that, I got labeled as a hater.  Some still try to spin that history too, by evading certain detail.  Fortunately, critical thinking prevails.

9-09-2020

Battery Abuse.  When a third owner of a 2005 Prius posts their first post on the big forum listing a number of major problems, you should be suspicious.  If there is a lot of detail provided that seems to support the overall status reported, it may be legit.  Someone joining the group to ask for help does happen.  What triggered the move was the ABS failing.  In addition to the expenses already having dealt with, that makes an owner second-guess the decision to hold onto the vehicle for much longer.  After all, 15 years is already a long time.  I homed in on this particular comment: "However, in the 3.5 years I've owned it, the hybrid battery, wheel bearing, water pump, and hybrid inverter coolant pump have failed."  Knowing he was averaging well over 20,000 miles per year (75,000 miles driven during his ownership), it was time for me to point out:  That raises a warning flag of the car having been abused by the previous owners, something that would not show up on any records.  The generation of Prius you have uses a bladder in the gas tank to reduce evaporative emissions.  That made the non-linear gauge inaccurate when at the low end.  Owners who liked to squeeze out maximum distance would tend to run out of gas as a result... which means they ended up driving short distances using nothing but electricity.  That type of power demand grossly exceeded what the was designed to handle.  As a result, the car will experience accelerated aging on the battery and related components.  Do you know why the previous owners sold the car?  Frustration from running out of gas would be a good reason.

9-09-2020

Wow!  Within just a few minutes of my post, I got this in return: "Nissan has shown air cooled is not the way to go.  Even if the problem was their specific implementation, they have forever turned people off to the idea..."  I was beside myself.  An example of precisely what I had just draw attention to was provided.  It's difficult to know whether my post was actually read at all or if it was just reply without thought.  My guess is it was nothing but an instinctive response based on outdated information.  He probably has no clue there are new designs now.  People tend to hold onto sound reasoning of the past and never check if anything has changed since.  That's why I jump on posts like this.  It's great opportunity to provide exposition, which I gladly did:  Wow!  You repeated exactly what I sighted as a problem.  I guess it requires greater emphasis: "AIR COOLED" IS NOT THE SAME FOR ALL PLUG-IN VEHICLES.  The approach Nissan took was to allow heat to dissipate through their sealed pack with a passive design.  There was no exchange of air or even any circulation.  And yes, that did prove not the way to go.  That literally has nothing in common with the "air cooled" approach Toyota/Lexus has taken. With RAV4 Prime and UX300e, there is a forced circulation of A/C air using a dedicated path.  That means you get cooling throughout the pack, a design very much like what liquid provides.  In terms of effectiveness, expect an extreme difference between the "air cooled" systems.  There is without doubt a significant improvement from the design lacking an aggressive priority for cooling.

9-08-2020

Overkill.  In a discussion about batteries on the general blog for all things EV, we got this today: "GM engineers have said they were overly conservative in both the Volt and Bolt battery pack designs as they were the first consumer available EVs from the company, PHEV and BEV respectively.  As a result, both packs have turned out to be massively over-engineered for what they needed to do."  I knew it was just more superiority nonsense.  When something is "better" but you don't gain anything from the design, is it really better?  In other words, this is yet another diminishing return situation.  Paying so much more for so little doesn't make sense... unless you are an enthusiasts obsessed with engineering.  They don't understand the balance required to appeal to mainstream consumers.  Tradeoffs are unacceptable, period.  With awareness of that mindset, I replied with:  Spinning overkill as necessity is still a problem. Enthusiasts refuse to acknowledge liquid cooling isn't a requirement to make PHEV and BEV competitive with traditional vehicles.  They feel compelled to point out superior performance without specifics while also misrepresenting "air cooled" by implying all non-liquid approaches are the same.  It's that kind of undermining which ultimately hurts any type of plug-in promotion.  Yet, it continues, despite efforts to raise awareness.

9-06-2020

Seeing Change.  What do you look for?  Some have very specific expectations: "That's why I think they may change tack and go BEV."  This is why much of what Toyota has been doing is either overlooked or dismissed.  For that matter, other players in the industry have the same fate.  Until they play the game, there is no recognition of progress.  It's the narrative of enthusiasts.  That problem they create for themselves is endless.  In fact, I find it truly remarkable how much history ends up repeating as a result of them never learning the lesson.  We're on the edge of it happening yet again.  Both Tesla & VW are venturing into territory GM has already stumbled in.  Growth beyond early-adopters is that innovator dilemma.  Some great products simply don't appeal to mainstream buyers.  Far more subtle progress is what truly brings about the paradigm shift.  In fact, it must be perceived as the next natural step forward to be accepted.  When there is a commitment presented as an across-the-board upgrade, the ordinary consumer finally takes notice.  Otherwise, it's just perceived as a niche offering.  In other words, being able to see change requires the ability to understand who.  That is why it really irritates some when I post "Know your audience" in reply to their rants.  None of their attention-grabbing tactics have any impact on showroom shoppers.  So, I post without regard to their nonsense:  That already happened.  Prius PHV remained a true hybrid, very actively blending both power sources to achieve optimal overall efficiency.  Frequently turning on the engine for short bursts was a fundamental of the design.  Prius Prime changed that, switching to an approach which favored EV even when that wasn't the ideal choice.  So whatever the next configuration, it will predominantly be electric.  That would usher in a BEV model, in combination with a PHEV model.  After all, leading the way for other vehicles in the fleet is what Prius has done well.  Think about how Hyundai/Kia and BMW have already delivered a multi-approach.  Seeing Toyota do the same thing isn't much of a stretch.

9-06-2020 Vaporware.  Someone will inevitably bring up semantics, arguing about how something is labeled rather than focus on anything of substance.  Actual thought is usually not the domain of enthusiasts.  They simply like to support their favorite propaganda.  I saw that coming rather quickly this time, when this popped up: "Bottom line, right now the 5th gen Prius is vaporware, it's anything we wish it to be."  It was an obvious attempt to stir rhetoric, to keep the posting on the assertive side.  There are those who thrive on conflict.  It's difficult to get constructive content in focus as a result.  I keep trying though:

Vaporware comes about when a manufacturer makes a promise to deliver something quite impressive, but delivery seems questionable... too good to be true.  Later when the delivery date is reached, they fail to fulfill that promise.  Since Toyota has not made any such promise, there is nothing to question.  We are just pointing out history and noting how that pattern can be used to set realistic expectations.

This is how I summed up GM's promise shortly after the big Volt price drop and inventory had been piling up, clear confirm of the project was seriously struggling: "The primary reason Volt was labeled as "vaporware" right from the start was its price, range, and efficiency targets didn't make sense.  How could so much be delivered in so little time?  Having a price of "nicely under $30,000" was absurd for 2010.  There's no way a battery that large could have a cost low enough.  Then to also deliver a 40-mile range even in winter along with 50 MPG following depletion, it sounded too good to be true."

Keep in mind, it should go without saying that sales must be both sustainable and profitable.  So even with those promises fulfilled, there is no guarantee of long-term success... which is absolutely essential for business.  Again, this is why Volt failed.  Even with that validation of sales trouble back in 2013, there still could have been an effort to rekindle the technology itself.  After all, a goal of rollout is to find a means to spread what had been developed to other offerings.  Diversification is the next step to achieve growth.

Seeing how successful Toyota has been spreading PHEV technology from Prius to RAV4 is undeniable confirmation of showing strong potential for continued growth, as well as being sustainable and profitable.  With an ever-changing market and now being at the diversification stage, Toyota has the opportunity to explore possibilities with Prius... which could make some wishes come true.

9-05-2020

What Comes Next?  The discussion continued:  Gen-5 Prius will follow Toyota's quest for appealing to mainstream consumers, bringing about change in subtle fashion.  Claims that approach must change to an aggressive push like Tesla are pointless.  That is a different audience with different goals.  The next Prius will deliver improvements upon its predecessor with rock-solid reliability at a reasonable price.  People may call that boring or uninspired, but that's what has successfully brought about change across the fleet.  So, thoughts of embracing the plug as standard make sense.  That's a reasonable next step.

9-05-2020 Safer Why?  Asking what actually makes a difference isn't unreasonable.  Yet, that request is almost never acknowledged.  Those attempting to mindlessly promote "better" just ignore the post.  I suspected this is going to be another example of exactly that:

Pushing fear with a mantra of "safer" is exactly how the SUV was marketed years ago.  It worked well too.  Many used that as justification for purchase, despite not actually having anything beyond cherry-picked claims to support their position.  Eventually, detail began to emerge.  That data contradicted prior statements.  Marketing moved on to another propaganda effort, but we still remember.  Look for vague references.  Without detail, there can be no critical thinking, no honest critique.

The most obvious standout is the use of "operating range".  Notice how that says literally nothing.  What are the values?  When is it important?  Watch how antagonists attempt to change the subject, diverting attention away from questions being asked.

When does the battery get too hot?  People assume high-speed travel would cause excessive heat.  Turns out, very little actual power is required to sustain fast propulsion.  So, it's not that.  People assume acceleration would cause excessive heat.  Turns out, demand from the battery is limited to short bursts.  So, it's not that either.  People typically aren't aware of how much heat results from fast-charging.  Those hoping to undermine won't provide any detail though, hoping you'll assume all fast-charging is the same.  They don't want you to discover how the speeds vary, to the point of different tiers being available... which make a big difference.

In this case, fast-charging is limited to 50kW.  We have seen a number of vehicles with that as an upper limit.  Some of that came about from limitations & costs on the provider side.  Some of it was from faster being a nice-to-have, rather than a necessity.  Some of it was from varying battery chemistries.  Whatever the case, it is a nice starting point because that speed generates far less heat than the faster rates.  So, it's safe.

9-04-2020 Kayaks.  We took them on a road-trip today.  Sadly, I didn't actually take a photo of them on the Prius; however, I did take plenty of us on the water.  We met up with some friends 30 miles from home.  Being outside like that makes it very easy to socially distance.  It was likely among the final opportunities to do such a thing here too.  Living in Minnesota, the end of Summer becomes rather difficult to deny.  Next week, temperatures will drop into the 40's F.  Anywho, the entire trip resulting in a 70 MPG average.  That's amazing when you take into consideration the large aerodynamic disruption, especially when traveling 65 mph on the highway.  We had a good time and I didn't do anything special for the driving.  It was just load & go.
9-03-2020

6 Months Later.  Do you remember what things were like 6 months ago?  Most people don't pay close enough attention, especially when expectations are realistically set.  We're seeing that already with the pandemic.  They just give up and call it the "new normal" when they don't have much control over the situation.  That kind of acceptance is what contributes to enabling, if they are complacent.  Asking questions is how you overcome that.  I get a lot of pushback for stirring the pot though.  The belief is any type of resistance is bad.  Being objective isn't looked upon as a helpful.  It's a parallel to green transportation I marvel in.  The psychology is an easy to recognize pattern.  In fact, predicting it is basically textbook.  There's nothing people are doing any different.  Change is change.  Not being prepared or even trained to deal with it will result in the messes we are witnessing.  People have no idea how they actually got into that predicament or what desired outcome should be.  Needless to say, I've been through this many times.  Experience with the car stuff gave me a decent background for understanding the reactions people would have to the change forced upon them by the virus.  It will be interesting if this prepares them for dealing with climate issues.  That too is a problem where the opponent cannot be reasoned with.  There is no negotiation possible.  Those external pressures keep pushing, whether you acknowledge them or not.

 

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