Prius Personal Log  #1051

January 7, 2021  -  January 24, 2021

Last Updated:  Sun. 2/21/2021

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1-24-2021 Video: Energy Monitor (Winter).  This new destination provides a great example of demand on the system.  It's drive out to the park, at the lake where I bring the kayaks during the summer... but it is winter.  That means electricity will have to be shared with the heater.  That also means more dense air to push through. Both reduce EV range.

Since there is a charging-station available, the entire drive is usually all-electric.  Today's drive will be without a stop to recharge.  Instead, it's a complete round-trip to provide an example of how the engine operates in the cold with the heater running.

Watch the Energy-Monitor, the display on the left.  Those arrows show the flow of energy.  When the heater is drawing electricity for power, the flow will come from the battery.  When warming comes from heated engine-coolant, you won't see that arrow.  Notice how frequently the direction (also indicated by color) changes.  There are many opportunities the system uses to be as efficient as possible.

That display on the right is an aftermarket app, presenting data retrieved from the ODB-II port.  It shows numeric data for the flow of power. It also shows temperature of the engine-coolant and battery-pack.  Watch the variety of information as a I, especially when the engine shuts off after having warmed coolant enough to continue providing heat for non-electric heating... Prius Prime - Energy Monitor (Winter)

1-20-2021 Simple Math.  You can tell some people don't bother to actually research.  They latch onto a particular ideal and refuse to consider any other perspective.  That's why this particular comment today caught my eye, in response to PHEV growth: "Build more BEVs; this does little to get rid of fossil fuels."  It was an opportunity to present some numbers.  So I did.  Notice how simple the math really is:

Quite the opposite.  18.1 kWh per vehicle equates to 35 to 50 miles of EV driving each day from a single overnight charge.  That will provide far more of a reduction that a BEV requiring needs 3 times the battery capacity, resulting in far fewer traditional vehicles being offset.  It's basic math... 40 miles per day:

  2 gallons of gas = 1 BEV + 2 ICE (40 MPG)
  0 gallons of gas = 3 PHEV

In other words, the only way to portray BEV as having a greater impact is to cherry-pick.  When you look at the bigger picture to consider the fleet of vehicles being sold, it tells a very different story about fossil fuel use.

1-19-2021 Design Guessing.  We're dealing with a lot of newbies, an audience totally new to the plug-in market.  That means there are a bunch of individuals guessing and no one challenging them.  Most just assume the postulation is correct.  Here's an example: "Interestingly, the car doesn't let you use the last 25% of its battery pack.  Instead, it reserves that energy for normal hybrid operation."  It was a number that came out of no where, without explanation of course.  Interestingly, that quote wasn't in the comments.  It came from the writer of the review.  So naturally, I was quite curious what the response to this would be:

That is a misunderstanding of how the system works.  That "reserve" is actually the HV capacity along with buffer for battery longevity.  In Prius Prime, HV is only 5%, as this SOC level chart below reveals.  RAV4 Prime follows a similar approach.

  100-86% = longevity buffer
  85-14% = EV capacity
  13-9% = HV capacity
  8-0% = longevity buffer

Also, note that the gas-engine will frequently shut off for electric-only propulsion while driving in HV mode.


Abrupt Attacks.  You gotta like the attack out of nowhere by some unknown person.  All of a sudden, a relatively benign discussion turns ugly.  That was the case with an article about RAV4.  In the past, some review favoring Toyota would be pounced on by those protecting GM.  It was always Volt enthusiasts fiercely against a supposed foreign competitor.  Reality is, Toyota is a massive domestic automaker employing 10's of 1000's of American workers... with a solution GM should have delivered many, many years ago.  Anywho, the point is that those enthusiasts now see how wrong they were about approach.  That's why most have vanished from this discussions.  Every now & then though, one will re-emerge.  I'm assuming that was the case today with the supposed newbie.  My guess is it was someone who had remained quiet for a very long time and simply couldn't take it anymore.  This is how I responded to that:  A sign that Toyota is on to something that will shake the status quo is when the threads about it get attacked.  This is especially obvious they are numerous and include misleading information.  13 posts by the same individual within just 35 minutes was exactly that.  In this case, it was a blatant effort to undermine RAV4 Prime... a plug-in hybrid which offers 42 miles of EV driving per charge.  That's over 15,000 miles of electric-only annually from nothing but overnight recharges using nothing but an ordinary 120-volt outlet.  Adding to the appeal is AWD and the ability to tow up to 2,500 pounds.  What really panics the attacker though is the reality that Toyota's entire fleet can adopt the technology.  Enhancement of the hybrid system to offer a plug is simple & profitable.  We see evidence of Toyota setting the stage for that too.  The newest hybrids (Sienna & Venza) don't even offer a traditional model anymore.  Two of Toyota's smaller hybrids (Corolla & Yaris) just got their platforms raised too; those "Cross" models will have room to hold larger battery-packs.  In other words, go ahead and continue with the attacks.  They provide a welcome invitation to provide exposition.


CARB States.  More accurately named, states which adhere to California Rules, they are limited.  Unfortunately, it is a painful and drawn out process to become one.  So naturally, this question was met with a disappointing answer: "Is there any chance that the Lone Star State will become a CARB state in the not-to-distant future?"  How do you tell someone there is a massive amount of resistance to doing what it takes toward making the world better for our children?  That's the type of information most people don't want to hear... which is why there are so many excuses.  It makes a person feel better if they can convince themselves it isn't possible to do the right thing.  That's a sad, but true reality.  It's what I have been dealing with for 20 years.  All of this was quite predictable.  There is a glimmer of hope though, if you are patient and willing to accept facts.  This is how I shared that knowledge:  The answer is no.  That process is painfully slow.  There is a lot to consider and a massive amount of resistance.  Minnesota has been pushing hard to adopt California rules.  After a 1.5 years of work, the final proposal is just about ready to officially be filed.  Upon approval, the first phase will begin in late 2024 for 2025 model-year vehicles.


Purpose & Outcome.  The mindset of an enthusiast tends to be a focus on short-term gain.  They figure any step forward will generate momentum.  Consideration of cost & direction is absent.  They just see an end result and figure any effort to stir change is helpful.  That is very much how Volt progress played out with GM.  Racing toward a cliff, but seeing the destination on the other side, wasn't a concern for those enthusiasts.  They just kept racing along, without any interest in warnings of what was to come.  That's why we get comments like this now: "Watch Toyota burn up all 200,000 of their tax credits on Primes then use that as their excuse for not producing a full EV."  Same thing, they are focused entirely on the end result without any concern about how to get there.  I posted this as a reminder:  The purpose of the tax-credit is to promote true change for each legacy automaker.  That means seeing a permanent shift of inventory carried at their dealerships, getting them to offer vehicles with a plug.  Just because an enthusiast believes it must be used to deliver a "full EV" doesn't make it a reality.  Toyota will very likely follow the path of Tesla by preparing for serious production ramp-up to coincide with what happens upon hitting the 200,000 threshold.  At that point, the tax-credit eligibility switches to unlimited quantity.  Toyota can flood the market during that phaseout period, taking advantage of the opportunity the same way Tesla did.  What part of that would an "excuse" apply?  It would achieve exactly what the tax-credit was intended.  That's a benefit to both dealer & consumer, resulting in a large number of vehicles on the road using nothing but electricity for their daily driving.  There's simply no need for a "full EV" push to get a plug-in vehicles to become an ordinary purchase.


New Audience.  There are gaps of several days now with nothing.  Enthusiasts have moved on.  Becoming mainstream is not what excites them.  So now... instead of rhetoric... we get comments that come from those totally new to the topic.  For example: "So when you have 50% of the cars running off batteries you will have a huge percentage that don't need fast charging."  That came out of nowhere.  It was some newbie just arbitrarily tossing times & quantities into the discussion.  Something like that can be even worse than a troll, since the person has no idea what they just did.  It makes replying quite difficult too.  You have no context.  How involved did that poster want to be?  Were they just making a comment and moving on, or were they attempting to engage in a constructive exchange?  I didn't have any clue and just hoped for the best with:  Where are you getting numbers from?  Think about what "huge" and "need" supposedly represent.  What does it mean for a household with only 120-volt charging?  That only fulfills a minimum for a single vehicle.  Those not living in a home (apartment, condo, townhouse) will face even greater challenge.  Being able to fast-charge is very much part of the formula for growth.

1-17-2021 Delay & Patience.  I followed up the previous post from several days ago with:  Slow ramp-up with a focus on profitability is not a mind-boggling concept.  It's called good business.  Remember, the goal is to actually change the status quo.  Rushing to push a new interest can turn that demand into a trend, something easily dismissed as temporary.  Think about the true customer... dealers. The last thing they want to deal with is a rush on something that doesn't show promise of sustainability.  This is why they couldn't care less about hype.  They simply don't bother initially, unless a consumer is willing to pay a premium markup.  In the meantime, the supposed "delay" is actually serving a very useful purpose.  This has been a fundamental part of Toyota success.  They rollout to the devoted, those who collect & share real-world data.  That is what plays a major role in what ultimately sways the dealer.  Also in the meantime, Toyota is able to pursue the profit part by negotiating realistic volume contracts.  Too few or too many results in losses.  Finding the right balance isn't easy, but it vital to ensuring their isn't waste.  In short, the opportunity is not being overlooked.  It just requires patience.

Too Late.  The need is now.  This is far too late: "What traditional carmakers need now is to milk very profitable ICE vehicles to have money to finance the transition to electric mobility."  That is what happens when people don't pay attention.  Opportunity is missed, as I pointed out:  No, it's too late for that.  The last thing we want is a push for more guzzlers. 10 years ago, that was the advice.  This is how hybrid rollout was funded for Toyota, who has successfully spread that technology across their entire fleet.  Now, adding a plug in a sustainable & profitable manner is quite realistic.  We have seen that here already with Prius & RAV4 hybrids.  In China, the Corolla hybrid also offers a plug.  Remember, the primary purpose of the Toyota hybrids was to reduce SMOG related emissions.  Following that was CARBON related emission.  Their "SULEV" and "PZEV" ratings meant nothing to those obsessed with MPG.  But all these years later... from ICE vehicle profit... the hybrids offer extremely high MPG too.  Focus must be on all things with a plug now.  Phasing out traditional offerings is essential.  Profit must come from other sources now.


Finding Allies.  It's nice when the host of a rather large YouTube channel promoting electrification chimes in on a topic, especially when you aren't expecting it: "One of the important discussion-point you've glossed over from the original video is that not all plug-in hybrids are created equally.  There are some great ones that DO suit the needs of their owners.  There are those which are simply for compliance.  It's urgent to electrify, but we also need to remember not everyone can fully go electric."  That was really helpful.  I replied with:

Thank you.

Far too often, discussions like this don't include such vital detail.

The best example is Prius Prime, how it almost always gets belittled for "only" having a 25-mile range.  Everyone dances around the fact that it is a profitable platform, making it a standout among the array of choices.  Toyota isn't resting on the laurels in the meantime while waiting for the market to catch up either.  As infrastructure & education move forward (at a painfully slow pace), they are spreading that technology across their fleet.  RAV4 Prime is an undeniable example of growing potential.  It offers much more power & range than Prius Prime and it is undoubtedly already profitable.

Key to all of this is getting the dealers on board.  A big contributor to the problem has been "for compliance" offerings.  Delivering profit is the magic behind-the-scenes needed to overcoming that.  All of us participating on this website are well aware of how disinterested dealers have been.  We know it is extremely difficult to sway them.  Glossing over a discussion-point doesn't help.

Again, thanks for chiming in.


Video: Winter Driving EV & HV.  This was a drive I had been looking forward to capturing.  The weather was great, fresh snow from a few days earlier.  With the temperature just below freezing, this 30-mile trip would not be entirely in EV mode.  Use of electricity from the heat-pump reduces range.  This was a great opportunity to show how HV mode takes over after the plug-supplied energy is depleted.  At that point, the gas engine starts and driving switches over to hybrid operation.  Watch detail from the aftermarket app (lower right) with respect to what is displayed on the dashboard (lower left).  You can see information not usually available, such as actual battery-level (which includes the longevity buffer) and temperature of both battery & engine-coolant.  This route is two 15-mile loops.  It is the same route you have seen in several other videos, to that coffeeshop and back.  Repeating that drive under a variety of different circumstances and over a number of years is providing a nice basis of comparison for aging & operation.  Hope you enjoy watching it... at 10 times regular speed, of course... Prius Prime - Winter Driving EV & HV


Solid-State Batteries For 2022.  It was an exciting headline which drew lots of attention, but amounted to nothing.  Just another vague promise from an unfamiliar source with no merit to support claims.  Yet, this stirred the pot: "Maybe this will push VW and Toyota to release their solid state batteries early."  How would that be helpful?  Some people online shouldn't be posting.  Lack of substance is not how you achieve change.  Think about the possible benefit and how cost comes into the equation.  Early doesn't necessarily equate to long-term success.  I pointed out:  It always comes down to production cost.  The amount of effort it takes to build the battery itself, combined with yield quality, is a really big deal.  That must all reach acceptable levels of return before high-volume can be committed to.  Notice how incredibly vague "customer deliveries" is?  We don't need token rollouts.  We need genuine change of the status quo.  What will it take to push the industry to a tipping point?  And then of course, what are the consequences of being a huge success.  Automakers must prepare for the supply/demand shift.

1-07-2021 GM Should Have.  Sometimes, you do get a little constructive feedback: "Honestly GM should have kept developing the Volt, it was by far the best GM product made in years.  If they made an AWD one I would gladly own one today."  Problem is, it falls on deaf ears.  Why not push GM to revive the technology?  It's not like an automaker no longer owns the rights.  It simply got dropped because it had taken a terrible turn.  In this case, the configuration was all wrong.  There was no audience beyond enthusiasts.  Why not just reconfigure it to actually appeal to a large market?  After all, barriers of the past have faded away.  I replied:

Prior to Volt was a plug-in hybrid SUV prototype.  It used Two-Mode, which was the predecessor to Voltec.  GM gave up though.  Rather than taking what it learned, then upscaling to a larger platform, it focused on evolving their compact hatchback platform. I t was an obvious step in the wrong direction, an undeniable missed opportunity not to turn toward their primary product... SUVs.  Ultimately, it became a modern Innovator's Dilemma example.  GM listened to enthusiasts, rather than their own showroom shoppers.  That's why sales never grew beyond the conquest type.

Ironically, Toyota directly targeted that audience and has shown massive growth potential.  RAV4 Prime is something ordinary mainstream consumers want.  That's exactly the outcome Volt supporters always dreamed off.  It makes you wonder if GM is going to allow that opportunity to be wasted again.

42 miles of EV driving daily, from nothing but overnight charging, is over 15K annual miles.  That represents a massive reduction of gas consumption.  Who cares if it falls short of some arbitrary criteria set by enthusiasts online.


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