Prius Personal Log #1032
September 19, 2020 - September 20, 2020
Last Updated: Tues. 10/13/2020
page #1031 page #1033 BOOK INDEX
Good Journalism. It's really a letdown when a publication you looked up to in the past writes an article that's clearly a misrepresentation. It asked: "Plan to buy an electric car? Is a plug-in hybrid a real EV?" The article focused on GM's failure with Volt. I was intrigued... until noticing what has been excluded. The data was clearly cherry-picked. Reading further, I discovered the contributor was a former Volt owner who seemed a bit let down by how things had played out. That type of disenchantment is exactly what I had warned about. Know your audience. Anywho, I wanted to make sure everyone else who followed the same link I did would be made aware of what hadn't been included. So, I posted: That's not good journalism. The expectation of GM's next step, which ended up being abandoned, is missing. They were expected to rollout a SUV using that technology. GM did not; instead, Toyota did. RAV4 Prime represents the plug-in hybrid GM had been promising since way back in 2008, when it revealed their 2009 intentions to offer Saturn Vue as a Two-Mode with plug. Notice the complete absence of RAV4 Prime? That missing mention of the newest PHEV to capture the hearts of those seeking a plug-in hybrid... in an article about plug-in hybrids... is quite an omission.
Planning Ahead. I always found it vindicating when an
antagonist would spin the situation to make it seem as though Toyota was
caught unprepared. I know that's not the case, because I can read
about those plans documented in my blogs written many years prior.
They don't know that history. They react to what they observe.
That incomplete information leads them to draw incorrect conclusions.
That's what happens when you don't make an effort to collect good data.
Ugh. I climbed up on my sandbox today to point out that problem to one
particularly problematic antagonist to elucidate:
The greatest fear is some major electrification endorsement right around the
corner. Something like "Battery Day" excitement or a strong reception to
ID.4 could tip favor toward plugging in. We all know how vague that category
is too... as this study clearly confirms. Anything with a plug will stir
interest. Toyota is in a position to exploit that opportunity. With
the successful rollout of TNGA across the fleet, they have platforms at the
ready for augmentation. Transforming one of their hybrids to a plug-in
hybrid is a matter of adding a one-way clutch, which is already inherently
part of the design. Toyota planned ahead for this. Camry, Sienna,
Venza, Avalon, C-HR and Highlander hybrids are all quite capable of
supporting a plug. Prius, Corolla and RAV4 hybrids already do. That
level of diversification is what's needed for serious growth. A single
offering... which most legacy automakers are limited to... represents a
major barrier to overcome still. The single-mindedness of arguments
here by die-hard enthusiasts do not represent mainstream consumers. They are
a niche attempt to place their values & priorities on an unwilling audience. Toyota has figured out a means of appealing to them. So, your claim
of "It's not the driver. It's the car." is really an
effort to distract from the bigger picture. It is both.
Threatened. The level of desperation is
becoming obvious: "For the most part, PHEV are compliance cars for
manufacturers that don't have EV tech." I stumbled across that
with delight and was ecstatic to reply:
That conclusion in your long rant reveals why attacks on PHEV have ramped up so much lately... because a PHEV that has recently captured the spotlight does.
RAV4 Prime shares EV tech, operating exactly like a BEV. The battery-pack supplies ample power, enough to provide electric AWD for a large family vehicle. Cabin heating & cooling comes from an advanced electric heat-pump. Recharging at home is available at the faster 6.6 kW rate. And for added capability, it can to tow up to 2,500 pounds.
That is a clear threat to those pushing purity, hoping the only plug-in choices will not include a combustion engine. 42 miles of EV driving covers most commutes and is built upon proven EV technology.
You have lost the battle. PHEV will thrive, side by side with BEV, for years to come. And as public chargers become more common, opportunity recharging will grow... meaning those PHEV will drive even more EV miles.
Remember, this is a war against traditional vehicles. It makes no sense fighting any PHEV that shares EV tech.
Empty Claims. They never let up. Those attacks continue. It is literally a repeat of the situation we witnessed with Volt... something "vastly superior" is so much better of a choice, the other should be eliminated immediately. They declare victory and deem the other a waste of resources based on nothing but hearsay. The absence of substance to back the claim doesn't matter. They find something to support their view and sight it as evidence relentlessly. It's truly remarkable how the pattern of history is so easy to match. Of course, it shouldn't be a surprise. The same tactics are used in politics... which provides all the more reason to continue fighting them: Outdated information is helpful here how? Plugging in is far easier and more affordable now. Incentive programs for EVSE setup at home are quite new. So, whatever happened in the past has little relevance to what will happen, especially since the audience itself has changed. Doesn't matter anyway. A fatal argument flaw was just exposed: "But you have to wonder, is it because you can plug it in or is it because it has 300 hp?" To achieve that power, you must plug it in. And as everyone else continues to point out, once you experience that EV driving, you strive to avoid having the engine run. Realistically, it doesn't matter. This study doesn't reveal any data sources. All we get is a vague summary. There's no quantities, dates, or even locations. It's just another empty claim exploiting media hype opportunity.
Relentless Attacks. A great outcome of many desperate attempts to undermine is eventually the antagonists will make a mistake. Their continued effort to get something... anything... to turn the situation in their favor will reveal a weakness in their defense. On this occasion, it was the use of "lifetime" as the measure of success. That was exactly what I had been waiting for: Lifetime is measured by how long the vehicle remains in service. Replacing the battery-pack late in life with a new one that provides a greater range than the original is something we are already witnessing with the oldest plug-ins. Since the brushless motors being used can last many 100's of 1000's of miles, the option is quite realistic and prevents the need to manufacture a replacement vehicle. That means some of these supposed wasteful PHEV could end up living a freakishly long time. Keeping the vehicle on the road longer is a win for everyone.
Toyota Narrative. Anytime PHEV gets some positive attention, the BEV purists come out of the shadows to undermine. They hate detail. I'm more than happy to provide it. This time, it was a muddled equation attempting to distort reach by focusing entirely on kWh capacity used overall. I immediately saw the omission of overall energy. You can't just focus entirely on electricity and expect that to be considered objective. Ugh. I called him out on the attempt too: That narrative has already been shown to have major flaws. Among them is the partnership with Panasonic & Toyota having only been finalized this year in April. Toyota is discontinuing the ICE model for 2 vehicles, rolling out a PHEV model of PHEV worldwide, and rolling out 2 models of BEV in China. And despite the pandemic, that schedule was maintained. So what if they don't follow your approach? It's still progress across a diverse set of offerings. The entire fleet is being carried forward. Most amusingly though is how you left the other 6 vehicles out of your equation. Comparing 1 BEV to 7 PHEV isn't appropriate. You can't just ignore the 6 ICE vehicles the BEV was unable to offset. Emissions are a total of all vehicles sold, not just any single particular technology. In other words, 1 BEV and 6 ICE are not in anyway the same as 7 PHEV in terms of overall emissions. This is where Toyota shines. Their push to replace traditional vehicles with a variety of green options advances them as a whole. This is why a 42-mile EV range for AWD SUV is such a big deal. So what if ramp-up for volume takes awhile. In the meantime, they are selling an impressive number of hybrid models instead of the traditional guzzler. That's progress, no matter how you attempt to spin it.
Same Nonsense. It was put this way: "This is a tired old argument." I found it a great opportunity to turn the table: Insincerity from those supposedly endorsing all-electric is validated each time a post against PHEV comes from a BEV supporter. There's no way to deny it either. Rather than tell PHEV owners about the benefits of always plugging in and the discounts available for setting up their home with a level-2 EVSE tied to a time-of-use program, they attack. That choice to make it an offensive post rather than a teaching moment is really sad. It makes you question their true motives for endorsing the plug. Think about how much focus goes into extreme acceleration and power. Guzzling electricity doesn't get addressed. As long as their waste isn't in the form of gasoline, lack of kWh efficiency is given a pass. Fortunately, there will be a market turn. Mainstream consumers have very different priorities. PHEV owners will continue to ask how to get the most out of their EV system, even if naysayers here spin stories of never plugging in.
Crutch Excuse. The blind-eye is far too common still: "As a former PHEV driver (LEAF is now the second car in a 2 BEV household), I have to agree that the time for good PHEVs has come and gone. The legacy auto industry is using them as a crutch to avoid going all electric." The ironic nature of that is always outright dismissed. Enthusiasts don't want to believe they have been played in a game of misdirection. GM did that with Volt, leading their die-hard believes to think their technology would flourish. Instead, their symbol of hope was abandoned only to be replaced with another empty promise. Bolt hasn't resulted in anything mainstream and there's nothing to look forward to anytime soon, despite many years of waiting. Meanwhile, Toyota is delivering exactly what was always expected from Volt. It is a bittersweet reality they don't want anyone to celebrate. BEV should become the standard, now, period, no exceptions. That absolute is loaded with shortcomings & faults... many of which are becoming more difficult to deny. I put it this way: BEV are also being used as a crutch to avoid going all electric. Rollout something enthusiasts like to shut them up, then don't bother ramping up volume or actually marketing them. Notice how many token offerings there are out there from legacy automakers? Diverting blame to PHEV is exactly what they want you to do.
Supposed Credible Studies. I have searched and searched online. No where can I find data to support the study stirring such controversy. There is nothing but a briefing, just an executive summary. History has shown how distorted findings can be from not knowing source. Remember just last month. A push come from sighting a study from 2014. That in itself should raise concerns. Much as changed since then. But when you hunted down detail, it revealed that of the 1,981 vehicles providing date, over 92% (that's 1,831) were gen-1 Volt. It was misrepresentation of PHEV to an extreme; yet, no one was calling out that problem. In fact, I was apparently the only one who even bothered to do any research. Ugh. That's why this post is so important. It is a rebuttal to deal with obvious attempt to mislead from sources clearly not credible. So, I asked: Transport & Environment collated "real world" data from approximately 20,000 PHEVs. Where is that data? We have absolutely no clue how the vast selection of PHEV choices were actually represented. When you read the briefing, a section begins with big bold letters stating "Claims PHEVs drive in zero emission mode are a con". Then it goes on to misrepresent all PHEV by cherry-picking with this quote about a Kia offering: "When the coolant temperature is lower than 14°C, and you turn the climate control on for heating, the vehicle will automatically switch to HEV mode as the engine is required to provide heat for the passengers." At the end, it draws this conclusion: "Manufacturers of PHEVs advertise the range of the car driven on the battery only and advertise the car as being capable of zero emissions in urban driving. The reality is it is almost impossible for the car to drive in zero emission mode even for short distances on a regular basis." That is blatant misleading, a clear effort to portray PHEV incorrectly. The hope is people will just pass along the conclusion, never questioning it or even seeking out data of their own... which is how I enter the picture. Rather than provide a study of my own, I provide lots and lots and lots of detailed data. Go onto YouTube and search for "priusguru" videos. Notice the large collection of real-world data contradicting the "impossible" claim? It is really sad that misinformation campaigns can be so successful. People assume studies are comprehensive. Those publishing with ill intent prey on the naïve, who help to spread their false narrative.
Wolf in Sheep's Clothing. The propaganda effort is all too familiar. When something threatening makes a splash, studies appear out of nowhere to claim the success is a fraud. The effort to mislead is desperate from the start. Claims don't represent real-world criteria; yet, people gobble up the press from those claims. I remember a Hummer story comparing to Prius made the claim of Prius having an incredibly short life... shorter than the warranty. It made no sense. Anyone taking a moment to think about how absurd that was would question merit. Most didn't though. This is how "fake news" came about. Discovery of how gullible some people were provided new opportunity to exploit... which we are seeing the fruits of now. That's really sad, but not at all surprising. Annoyed, I jumped into a new discussion on one of the supposed studies making the rounds now with: Claims of not plugging in are really fodder to feed the narrative. Detail of studies reveal selective & outdated data. In other words, they cherry-pick to support a generalization. When you look at PHEV that are trending now, the latest & greatest like RAV4 Prime, you get a very different story of use & intent. Owners & Wannabes seek out information about how to upgrade charging at home, so they can get the most of their vehicle. That's a stark change from older offerings, where owners were content with overnight recharges from nothing but an ordinary 120-volt outlet. In fact, if you really dig for information, you'll questions about how to best use the electricity they have available. Owners ask what the best approach is to choosing when to drive in EV mode while on a long drive that will exceed electric-only range. Needless to say, this is very much reminiscent of propaganda efforts of the past. Those with knowledge of green-car history will recognize the pattern.
Missing The Point. There can sometimes be a fine line between asking constructive questions and feeding uncertainty. This was a great example of that: "If PHEVs become dominant why would charge stations become more common? How many people on a 200-mile journey stop every 40 miles to recharge their PHEV?" The red-flag with that was those values stated. They are quite arbitrary. There is no basis whatsoever mentioned why either was highlighted. Specifics with such vague references are a warning about intent. Sure, it could just be a hypothetical. That's why pointing out the oversight should be responded to with critical thought. We'll see if that happens: That misses the point. Focus should be on ordinary driving, not the rare long-distance trip. PHEV seek out opportunity charging routinely. When I stop at the local grocery store, I plug in. That short visit results in several miles of EV range... exactly what I need to extend my errand running. Seeing a BEV with a massive battery-pack at the same location doesn't make any sense. What's the benefit for them? In other words, you cannot argue "charge stations" without including context of purpose & location.
Demand Spin. They are very much on the attack now: "PHEVs use smaller batteries, this leads to less pressure to increase battery manufacture which leads to an increase in the time for an all electric transition." It is a relentless narrative, one that contributed heavily to the death of Volt. Mixed messaging will ultimately lead to an end, every time. To make contradictory statements on a regular basis and not expect failure as an outcome is madness. Yet, we witnessed in firsthand with GM. It was a battle from within, confused statements of mission. When purpose is not made clear & concise, how is the consumer supposed to respond? Even worse, it tears apart supporters... causing groups of enthusiasts to battle each other, which is playing out right now: Neither Bolt nor Leaf - both BEV - resulted in any major push in any regard. RAV4 Prime - a PHEV - is now proving the opposite. Demand from it to increase battery manufacturing is all too clear. Demand to increase availability of public chargers for opportunity recharging has increased too. Demand for help upgrading homes for faster recharging has increased as well. In other words, whatever observation you had about past offerings doesn't necessarily apply to what is happening now. The reason why should be obvious, but most people overlook it. The difference is audience. RAV4 Prime appeals to an entirely different segment of the market. Toyota found a way to overcome Innovator's Dilemma by diversifying their technology to appeal to consumers who had not been interested. That's proper business growth, exactly what is needed. They recognized building pressure and responded accordingly.