Prius Personal Log  #1039

October 24, 2020  -  November 3, 2020

Last Updated:  Sun. 2/21/2021

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To The Bitter End.  The election is quite interesting, pretty much exactly as predicted.  The race will be extremely tight, but counting of ballots later (after polls close) will favor the challenger.  The incumbent will throw a fit, backed into a corner with nothing else left to fight with.  All excuses & lies have been exhausted.  Defeat is all but final.  Yet, they fight to the bitter end.  I witnessed that firsthand with several of GM's failed project.  Each time, the denial would drag on and on, with encounters becoming more and more hostile as desperation grew.  Like with the problem of emissions & consumption, the problem will still exist even upon defeat.  Our horrific president ended up being far worse than anyone imagined; yet, he was still able to con a massive amount of the population right to the bitter end.  So many futures destroyed in so many different ways.  But like what we see with the auto industry, it still must go on.  We absolutely have to find a solution, some means of emerging out of the ashes.  Who knew things would get so bad.  I look bad at the days of those lies being repeated over and over again online, attempt reinforce a false narrative... thinking that mindset of evil was somehow just isolated to online spin from enthusiasts.  There was always a fear it was really a glimpse into the psyche of our society on the bigger scale.  Unfortunately, it was.


Waiting For The Inevitable.  That was the thought which popped into my head today.  You know that it will happen... eventually... but have no clue how long that will actually take.  What to even hope for gets perverted along the way too.  The presidency we really, really, really want to see come to an end should be tomorrow.  But even if our idiot-in-chief loses the election, he'll still how the office for the next 2.5 months and the damage he caused over the past 4 years could last a generation.  Think about how many people have lost touch with reality.  There's no perspective after so much chaos for so long.  The story of purpose & expectations continuously changed along the way too.  Sound familiar?  That was the very think people feared about GM entering the plug-in market.  There was a very real reason to be concerned about the mess that could result upon failing to succeed.  Sure enough, that's exactly what happened.  GM screwed up so bad, they ended up having destroyed everyone's outlook... to the point of potential recovery being almost impossible, as well as extremely expensive.  I knew all this well before it even started, since I recognized the pattern.  It's the same thing I have witnessed from decades of software development.  Making big & bold promises without the expertise and willingness to adapt spelled a long & painful journey to nowhere.  There's not much you can do either.  Just waiting for the inevitable...  When it finally happens, you then step in to do damage control... which is what Toyota is challenged with now.

11-01-2020 No Plug, No Sale.  The topic of tax-credits never ends.  It never makes any progress either.  We get the same old stuff: "This is a strange system that penalizes leaders, which makes very little sense."  My message really hasn't changed over all that time either:

The point of those original tax-credits established in 2009 was to allow legacy automakers the flexibility to change their own status quo with whatever approach they felt would be most effective.

GM did not; instead, it used them for conquest sales.  Appealing to those outside your customer-base does nothing to change your customer-base.  That's sound obvious, but they managed to sucker countless enthusiasts to support that exploit... which in the end did nothing to change GM's status quo.  Look at their dealers for proof. Inventory in those lots are actually less green now than they were a decade ago.

Meanwhile, we continue to hear "laggard" labeling used to describe Toyota's approach, which is indeed changing the inventory dealers carry.  RAV4 Prime is exactly what GM enthusiasts expected GM to deliver.  Toyota managed to before using up their tax-credit allotment... which is exactly what needs to be done to change the status quo.

In fact, Toyota is following Tesla's success model.... which is remarkably challenging for a legacy automaker, since they are tied to business structure a newcomer with much smaller production volume does not.  Nonetheless, it looks very promising.  They establish a highly desirable product prior to triggering tax-credit phaseout, then ramp-up production dramatically when the subsidy switches to the unlimited stage.  It worked well for Tesla, why not for several plug-in models from Toyota targeting their own customer-base?

This next round of tax-credit must address changing to vehicle purchases by loyal customers.  A current owner of a popular GM vehicle, like Equinox, should have the ability to purchase a new replacement that offers a plug.  Remember... no plug, no sale?

11-01-2020 Seasonal Discussions.  Winter is the "hot" topic.  It's the same thing every year.  As the temperature drops, people start asking questions... and making assumptions.  This time around, with a pandemic in full swing, things are a little different.  The advice really hasn't changed though.  I posted a few suggestions along those lines:

This will be my 9th Winter in Minnesota driving a plug-in Prius.  So, it's very easy for me to simplify that cold-climate list.

 1) Drive at least once per week with EV mode, using electric-heating generously.

 2) Drive at least once per month with HV mode, ensuring at least 20 minutes of driving.

 3) Take advantage of Charge-Mode to exercise the entire system (engine & battery).

 4) Enable the battery-warmer (permanently) and have the car plugged prior to driving.

 5) Don't worry about battery charge-level.  Less than 30 days of non-use is not a concern.


Charge Rate.  They are difficult to set expectations for when there are so many variables at play.  That often means conclusions like this go unchallenged: "...the Lexus doesn't even have 7.4kW!"  How would you respond to such a claim.  The 6.6 kW rate which is listed officially appears to be the official specification.  But digging deeper, that's really just the large number posted under a string of smaller values.  This is just like the EPA rating 20 years ago.  Few actually took the time to discover what everything on the window-sticker was actually telling you.  They just see a value, then jump to a conclusion.  Drawing upon other detail simply doesn't happen.  Many have no idea what to look for, so it's really hard to overcome.  This is very much the same situation now, match that of the past but simply with a different measured rate.  I tossed some information into the discussion, hoping for the best:  As for charging rate, the 7.x is a misunderstanding of how Toyota lists their specifications.  They focus on the 208-volt connection for commercial chargers.  So at a public EVSE like ChargePoint, you'll see a 3.3 kW max return for Prius Prime, which is what Toyota lists for it.  But if you plug the Prius Prime into a JuiceBox at home using a 240-volt connection, you'll see a rate of 3.6 kW.  Doubling that, like we see for RAV4 Prime, you'll get 7.2 kW.


Some Reality.  When putting "cost parity" news into perspective, it can be a bit humbling.  This is what started that: "As BEVs gain marketshare they will drive the price of ICE higher as economies of scale unravel."  I replied with some critical thinking... not what many would hope to hear.  You know, this audiences likes to be hopeful.  All to easily though, it tends to turn into hype.  I'm trying to keep the group grounded with facts.  We'll see how this goes:

That supposition unravels with just a simple Google search.

According to a 2017 study by UC Davis, the drivetrain of an ICE only accounts for 22-24% of the overall vehicle cost.  (That breakdown is 35-40% Engine, 18-22% Auxiliary Units , 20-27% Transmission, 8-11% Exhaust System, 7-9% Others.)  For a BEV, the drivetrain is 8-20% and the battery-pack 35-50% of overall vehicle cost.  So, that impact isn't a great as one would hope.

We know that Chassis & Body production are location specific and automakers tend to push to retain volume, allowing weaker selling vehicles to be discontinued.  That would open up locations for BEV, which would basically keep things status quo rather than driving ICE price up.

Other components, like suspension, brakes, windows, seats, etc., wouldn't be impacted much or at all.  In fact, many are third-party supplied anyway and production is already highly optimized.

Think about how much cost for battery-cells has already dropped.  A decade ago, it was roughly $1,000 per kWh.  Now, it is around $150 per kWh.  So, we have already witnessed cost-reduction on a profound scale.  As important as being able to reduce it by another $50 will be, that pales in comparison to the prior $850 drop.  It's a humbling perspective.

In short, the anticipation a dramatic price decline for BEV doesn't look promising.  It looks much more like what we witnessed in the computer industry, where cost-reduction followed a continuous-improvement pattern.


Remember Smug?  It's back!  No that the antagonist can no longer attack Toyota for not offering a BEV, they have turned to belittling.  That's the next chapter in the hater's handbook.  Ugh.  We got this today about the Lexus offering in Europe: "Wrong charging plug, slow, low top speed, inefficient.  This is what failing in BEVs looks like, but I'm sure Toyota apologists have readied meaningless platitude to excuse it."  I was amused.  It's the same old nonsense... 20 years later.  I fired back with:  How does your opinion, as an enthusiast, apply to ordinary showroom shoppers?  My stop at the grocery store today was 37 minutes.  Odds are pretty good I wouldn't be stopping there with an empty battery-pack, so that would have put me very close to reaching the 80% fast-charge limit.  A stop at a coffeeshop or somewhere to eat would have resulted in a long period of time being parked.  How does "wrong" fit into any of those scenarios?  Mainstream consumers are much less likely to pay for an unnecessary level of performance, quite different from the premium early-adopters are willing to pay... want verses need.


Teachable Moment.  That newbie shot this back a long-winded response to me.  This point peaked my attention: "Charging a lithium battery when the electrolyte is frozen can permanently damage it."  The desire to achieve maximum EV had really been a concern about harm coming to the battery.  An inherent fear about the unknown (per specific application, he obviously has some general background in the matter) has emerged.  I like productive exchanges like that.  Perhaps we can have more constructive discussion.  I carefully thought about what to post in return... trying to avoid overthinking the situation myself.  This is what I came up with:  This is teachable moment.  Think about how long Toyota has been collecting real-world data.  Think about how I drove a 2012 Prius PHV in Minnesota for 6 winters... 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 ...without any battery degradation; that generation of plug-in never had a heater for the pack.  Think about how you should use Google more often; the lithium electrolyte freezes at about -22°F.


Overthinking.  New owners trying to maximize results tend to overthink the situation.  Sometimes, that comes to their detriment, where the actually experience a reduced return as a result of their interference.  In this case, the new owner with his very first post on the forum, started a new thread asking this: "Any way to trick the traction battery heater into running after 3 days?"  And he concluded his first post with: "I'd like to have a warm battery if I drive anywhere on Tuesday."  I was quite curious what he felt "warm" was such a high priority.  My guess is that "like" was to be able to drive entirely with electricity.  But that isn't the best efficiency choice.  Think about how much electricity could be used to keep the battery warm for more than 3 days.  That is likely more energy than simply running the engine for a few minutes.  So, my reply was:  That's not the right question to ask.  Think about what you are trying to achieve.  Why do you feel a warm battery is necessary?  I live in Minnesota. I know cold, proper cold.  Ironically, my example comes from a trip to Wyoming to visit family over the holidays.  It was definitely winter there too... -9°F ...for the duration of Christmas day.  Plugging in to warm-up the battery-pack was pointless.  We needed cabin-heat anyway.  For us, letting the engine run while loading the car then our journey to the paved road was all it took to get enough heat for the engine to start cycling on & off.  Remember, it's good for the engine to run from time to time, especially when sitting unused in extreme conditions.  Having a cold battery simply means it has to deal with higher electrical resistance.  Lithium chemistry works fine in sub-freezing conditions.  No harm comes from the cold.  It simply cannot charge or discharge as much then.


Assumptions.  Wow!  I actually got a construction question from that: "I assume they did a huge amount of research and testing and determined that for a non-performance model, air-cooling is enough."  Usually, my climb up onto the soapbox is just me talking to emptiness.  True, lurkers leave the read with useful information.  But the enablers don't get confronted by many.  There are only a few of use trying to fight assumptions.  That's sad.  It's what we must address though.  Being allowed to feed a narrative is just plain wrong.  Getting someone to challenge it by asking for clarification is wonderful.  That's exactly what we need to drown out attempts to undermine.  With regard to this topic, that was especially welcomed feedback I was delighted to respond to:  Liquid cooling is overkill for a vehicle that is neither towing, nor tier-2 DC fast-charging.  This model of Lexus BEV is simple a drive-around-town and basic-travel configuration, a vehicle that will fulfill the needs of many.  If you are routinely taking long trips that require multiple fast-charges in a row, this isn't the configuration for you.  Wait for the new platform instead, one of the vehicles Toyota plans to reveal next year.


Everytime.  Ugh.  I wonder how long this nonsense will continue: "Air-cooled battery?  This sounds like it's competitive with the Nissan Leaf."  The lack of research, or even question, is disturbing.  People just make and pass along assumptions.  It comes about from talking points.  The concept gets attention, but detail is almost entirely absent.  So naturally, it never progresses beyond the idea.  Actual data being shared is basically an impossibility.  That's why I have collected so much of the real-world stuff on video already.  It's ammunition for a prompt & harsh rebuttal.  We shouldn't have to deal with such stupidity.  They can't be bothered with any type of effort beyond posting an opinion is a very real problem.  Remember the Volt enthusiasts, specifically when I posted Nissan Leaf review observations about the heater?  It was a year prior to rollout.  They were furious with me to point out cabin-warming would consume so much electricity.  It was a blatant effort to dismiss findings... the same "ignore data" problem we face now with the pandemic.  Some don't want to face reality.  In this case, I kept my reply brief:  Not at all.  Leaf was just a passive system where radiant heat would dissipate... a sealed design, which obviously prove a bad choice.  This system in Lexus forces dedicated A/C air through the pack, which proves an aggressive approach in comparison.

10-24-2020 Nice Backwalk.  I pushed and pushed.  That specification for wireless charging did not include burying the wire.  Someone glossed over that, pretending it was a certainty and we could promote it as such.  I totally agree with the evolution, but strongly disagree with that process.  You build upon successes.  Promoting a hope is how hype comes about.  In other words, setting ambiguous expectations will come back to bite you.  Volt enthusiasts learned that all too well.  Remember how much I pushed them to state goals?  They refused and continued to disregard what had been achieved.  It was that blindness, focus only on something singular at the sacrifice of everything else.  Ugh.  Needless to say, I remained positive something like this would come out of yesterday's exchange: "Is it that difficult to imagine the future won't be the same as today?  Literally the most bizarre discussion I've ever had, people insisting that cords will be laying on top of the ground because, well because things can't possibly evolve."  It was exactly what I had been waiting for.  Phew!  I provided this in return:

Know your audience.  This group fights tooth & nail against the evolution of design.  Assertions that PHEV simply cannot possibly improve or contribute to EV technology are abundant, that BEV is the only solution.  They set the precedent.  They refuse to adapt.

Giving you a dose of what I have been dealing with for years is an effort to find an ally.  That means acknowledging the situation and addressing the issues.

In my case, I fought for years that the EV tech in Toyota's PHEV would evolve into what we now have available in RAV4 Prime.  They absolutely refused to acknowledge capacity, power or speed could ever increase.  Those started as bizarre discussions, then turned sour.  I learned how to promote from those exchanges.

Of course the specification for J2954 will evolve over time.  That doesn't help with implementation now though.  You cannot just promote a hope and disregard what's currently available.  I called you out to prevent that mistake.  Making an effort is how partnerships are forged.  Remember, looking for an ally?

My stance has been to invest in infrastructure.  The cry-babies here don't think that's a worthwhile idea and instead whine about "laggards being rewarded".  They want the next round of government incentives to be again on vehicles, rather than on growing EVSE availability.  What is your stance?

Now you should understand the callout.  There is a method behind the madness.


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