Prius Personal Log  #884

July 21, 2018  -  July 30, 2018

Last Updated:  Sun. 10/07/2018

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Design Assumptions.  It's quite a challenge to confront someone who obviously doesn't understand how Prime operates.  They base assumptions entirely on observations of the past... without any clue that claims are way off, in some cases, quite wrong.  Unfortunately, I encounter that a lot.  Fortunately, Toyota is well aware of the situation.  This is why rollout of Prime has been incremental.  Each market segment reveals more about the consumer interest, which is especially important in this rapidly changing industry.  You don't just dump something out there and hope for the best... which a certain automaker has done several times and failed several times as a result.  Anywho, it starts with education.  Find out what people know and don't know, then figure out a way to convey the missing & incorrect information.  Sometimes, you need to be a little terse about it.  I was rather annoyed by this individual who obviously didn't know what he was talking about:  Clearly, you haven't actually driven a Prime.  There's is very obvious difference for the electric power available compared to the regular Prius.  The larger battery-pack combined with the one-way clutch provides a major performance advantage.  You get the full EV driving experience.


End of Life.  I asked the following:  Range will reduce over time.  But what about the next step in aging, when power also diminishes?  It can be a sign of cells in the pack becoming imbalanced.  The system will begin to rely heavily on the gas engine to compensate for the power loss.  That brings about a major decision.  GM designed their battery-pack for maximum longevity, adding cost & complexity for the purpose of never needing replacement.  With the large T-shape and liquid-cooling, the process to swap in a new one will likely be quite expensive.  Looking at the approach Toyota took, there's just a basic module in the hatch area.  You disconnect wires and air-tube, then remove with an ordinary engine lift.  That's a very simple process in comparison.  This is where the audience question applies.  Old Prius become great hand-me-down cars.  A battery-pack replacement can bring about several more years of service.  Keeping size small makes that a realistically affordable, a choice not shared by Volt.  What do you do when the replacement point is reached?  At some point, the vehicle will be traded in as a junker.  With TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) quoted so often, how many miles should that actually include?  In other words, what should be the expectation for end of life?


Making It Worse.  When a major oil-executive and refinery-owner speaks out with words against the current path being taken, the hope is enablers will finally notice the terrible course we are taking: "They're doing whatever they can to close themselves off from the new, hold on to the past and prevent change."  Far too many not speaking is a major problem.  It is that boil-a-frog problem.  People just follow the rhetoric because it feels right.  He went on to state: "This is a natural tendency, but it's a destructive one because when people act in protectionist ways, they erect barriers, which makes everyone worse off."  In other words, they stay where it seems safe.  It's self-destructive.  You back yourself into a corner.  Remember all the attacks I had to endure back when Volt sales first started to fall apart.  It was like prey fighting for survival.  They would lash out at anything I posted, knowing it was already too late.  I had proven my point.  They lost.  We are at a point like that again, but with the approach as a whole for GM, not just the vehicle.  The difference now is pressure from the oil industry.  It is obvious "peak" has been reached.  The indicator is the loss of stability.  An unpredicatable market makes risk significantly greater... hence the effort to prevent change.  Even the poorly informed are starting to take notice of the barriers.  They now need to speak out about them, rather than allowing them make things worse.


Voices of the Past.  I jumped on an effort to stir the pot.  That old daily blog is dead.  So, there's no surprise about boredom setting in.  Those who fought want to fight again.  Problem is, they lost before and have nothing new to fight with now.  The attempt to move goal-posts back even further with hope of new conflict declare superiority about was nothing I would be willing to accept.  That's worse than just giving up.  It's intention rollback, pretending progress wasn't made.  Having dealt with that type of deceit from Volt enthusiasts, it's the type of greenwash I have prepared well to prevent.  So, I drew the line:  Nothing about that is new.  Remaining "as it is" was the position of concern.  Finally offering the technology in a crossover 10 years after rollout is not what had been hoped for.  Expectations were set for mainstream sales volume to have already be achieved by now, prior to tax-credit phaseout so the business could sustain a profitable level competing directly with traditional offerings.  Notice the news for the Tahoe/Suburban/Yukon large SUVs?  That statement of "Hybrid variants of the vehicles are expected as early as 2022." is a rollback of expectations.  10 years ago, there was a Tahoe hybrid already on the road.  It used GM's Two-Mode system, the predecessor to technology used in Volt.  There was even a plug-in prototype being promoted back in 2009.  Notice the reintroduction of Blazer?  It fits nicely into the popular SUV line-up of Trax, Equinox, and Traverse... none of which offering any green option. All are still stuck using engines without battery-packs.  In other words, the goal-posts have been moved back so successfully, people haven't noticed.  All the hype turned out to be a bust. Those who were attacked for their critical thinking have been vindicated.  Hopefully, this means constructive discussion going forward.  Not taking into consideration the repetition of "over promise, under deliver" will invite it to happen yet again.


Feeding Hype.  Some people just plain to not get it: "We are well on our way to introducing 20 new all-electric vehicle models globally by 2023."  Those gullible Volt enthusiasts were the means of spreading greenwash for years.  They would feed the hype by making assumptions and building excitement from annoucements without any actual substance.  It feels quite inappropriate to call some of them "stupid", but sometimes you have to say it like it is.  Remember the "basket of deplorables" comment?  As offensive as that may have been, it was accurate.  Regret won't change that situation either.  The lesson learned from such exchanges is to prevent future ones by taking a more concise stance sooner.  Get in front of the issue by forcing a position of purpose.  When you state goals, there's a clear effort to remove subjective factors.  If you stick to criteria that can be measured, many problems can be avoided.  What are you trying to accomplish?  Asking things like that seperate the emotion and contribution to constructive discussion.  In this case, it's asking what "model" represents.  We could see rebadging or repacking, which would greatly reduce the diversity of what's actually delivered.  Variety that's limited won't reach a wide audience.  The quantity of what is produced is an even bigger deal.  Problems from lack of inventory is an all too real barrier already.  Only having a few available at each deliver doesn't change the status quo.  Real change requires more than just token effort.  I pushed back at post sighting the link with that quote by making my viewpoint clear:  Typical GM announcement... so vague, there's nothing to be held accountable for.  Notice the absence of detail?  No commitment to volume or price is a red flag.  This is how they fed hype in the past.


Consequences.  They are difficult to see, especially when there is disagreement about goals... or none actually stated.  The big picture can even be a problem to see as consequences play out.  If you aren't paying close attention, how can you tell the difference between intended & unintended outcomes?  Fortunately, some of that doesn't actually matter.  Even if you aren't watching the market at all, you still must exist within it.  Choices are limited to what is available.  This is how I stated that reality today:  It comes down to being able to stand the test of time.  We are now witnessing some approaches that we not been able to... hence the low hanging fruit.  Appealing to just a limited audience is a very real problem.  Dependency on tax-credits made it even worse.  Consequences of all that will be playing out soon.  Watch what happens.


Trade War.  What a disaster... already!  This is classic fallout from a "gut reaction" maneuver.  It can't even be consider an "unintended consequence", since so many of us sounded off about the potential outcome long before any decision was actually made.  The problem should have been obvious.  Vehicles are global products.  Their expense & complexity is why sighting them as a fundamental in economics is so effective.  The wide variety of resources & expertise required to make them reliable & profitable is mind-boggling.  You don't mess with such a fragile balance, especially when such monumental dependency for sustainability is in the balance.  Yet, we now have this emerging: "GM cuts 2018 outlook as Trump trade war drives up steel and aluminum costs..."  It was an inevitable outcome.  Far too much of what we need comes from outside the United States.  A policy of protectionism is doomed to fail.  I can't imagine how costly such rash decisions will have.  Seeing immediate fallout is very concerning.  To make matters worse, there will be a short-term appearance of profitable gain in the meantime.  Manufacters will hoard supply, placing orders for as much raw material as possible to bet the price hike coming from the tarrifs.  We are starting a trade war.  No amount of relabeling can hide that situation.  It is self-inflicated harm, despite how good the intentions are supposed to be.

7-24-2018 Hypocritical Posts.  I found this amusing: "We can learn from the past."  It came from someone who lashed out at Toyota with assunptions, was proven that his rhetoric was indeed the spread of greenwash, then pretended none of it ever happened.  Ugh.  I responded to that with:

Who was among those that didn't believe the possibility of Toyota having ended early production of gen-1 Prius PHV because there was a much better gen-2 already being prepared for production?  I remember certain Tesla owners backing the DOA claim based on rhetoric of Toyota abandoning the market. I also remember the reason why... low hanging fruit.

There is very real concern now growing about Tesla overcoming the critical transition from delivering a great vehicle to delivering a sustainable product that generates sufficient profit.  It's a difficult challenge for a high-performance vehicle.  They tend to stay in the niche category.  Less exciting offerings are what business depends upon though.

The disaster playing out with GM right now overwhelmingly confirms that.  Design focused on range & power. Favoring aspects of performance sacrificed balance, a critical requirement of mainstream sales.  Those drawn the unique offering have already made their purchase.  No one else is interested.  Most everyone with a Volt were conquests, buyers from other automakers.  Loyal GM customers were never drawn to it.

Toyota has carefully studied audience.  They understand what their own shoppers will consider for purchase.  Impressing the media, enthusiasts, or fanboys is of no concern.  That rhetoric will persist regardless of what's delivered anyway.  Think about what the other automakers will be up against... competition from every direction.

Watch what happens as the tax-credit phaseouts are triggered.  What happened in the past won't matter.  That new history in the making will shape the market.  Designs with a production cost too high to compete with traditional vehicles directly will face serious decisions.  No more will it even make sense to isolate the "EV market" from the rest of what we see on dealer lots.

It's about to get very real.  Not every plug-in offering will survive.  There will be some losses.


Beetle Hybrid.  People are singing praise for VW annoucements.  There's no substance yet.  In fact, many of the upcoming new choices won't be rolled out until at least 2020.  True, the annoucements aren't quite as vague as what GM typically provided.  They are mighty close though.  You get nothing beyond basic information.  Essential stuff, like an expectation for price or availability, is totally absent.  Like the hybrid Jetta, it may not even get noticed as an offering.  How much of a market is there for the Bettle now anyway?  It's as if they learned nothing from GM.  My guess is it's a move of desperation, more token efforts to repair reputation.  Ugh.  Why isn't there a mainstream vehicle being sighted for plug augmentation?  Anyone else concerned that their aren't accountabilities for any of these news blurbs?  Thankfully, we are getting some infrastructure updates as a direct consequence of the diesel deception.  But what is there in terms of actually advancing the automaker itself forward?


Critical Thinking.  It has been absent from much of the online posting.  Most people comment about green vehicles without much thought.  They focus on just the short-term or completely abandon logic by following emotion.  That reality is beginning to emerge as an undeniable theme.  In the past, it was easier to dismiss.  Whomever made the observation would be labeled as a troublemaker, someone with an agenda counter to advancement of cleaner transport.  The fact that a person could be providing constructive feedback was regarded as utter nonsense.  Seeing the situation change is assuring.  Unfortunately, there isn't much to take comfort in though.  GM has fallout to address.  Their enthusiasts & supporters have vanished.  It's quite bizarre that Volt has pretty much become a footnote in history already, even before tax-credit phaseout is triggered.  Bolt's struggle is the reason.  Much needed high-volume sales were never achieved.  Why bother with a high-cost risk when the vehicle type (wagon) is fundamentally unacceptable to their customers?  GM shoppers want a SUV of some type... hence the wide variety of models being offered... none of which come with a battery-pack, unfortunately.  That status of "fallen leader" is now forcing critical thinking.  What went wrong?  How could GM have missed such obvious opportunity?  What should happen now?  It's a mess other automakers must distance themselves from and supporters must somehow explain.


Electric Draw.  The answer to that question of whether or not remote A/C will use the battery or the plug for power is not clear cut.  People were hoping for an absolute, not a hybrid approach.  I wanted to find out myself.  It affects how recommendations of pre-conditioning are given.  I gave it a try, watching activity on the graph of live data coming from my 240-volt charger.  It showed 0.9 kWh of electricity taken directly from the wall when remote A/C began.  Following that, the battery supplied power.  Upon completion of the cooling cycle, power from the wall resumes.  Another 0.25 kWh is drawn.  Knowing the process started with the system already fully charged and knowing that the MAX setting will consume a lot of electricity, that seemed about right for consumption.  The bulk came directly from the plug, but then a smaller part was from the battery.  That's not as definitive as one would hope for knowledge of operation.  Why does it do that?  I wonder if there is secondary cooling of some sort, something related to the pack.  Hmm?  I guess more research is needed.


New Photos.  There are so many I have yet to publish.  The collection of unshared work continues to grow because I'm focusing on video & research instead.  There's documenting of the changes taking place too.  As the stage of early-adopter activity comes to a close, this very different  new audience... mainstream consumers... has new questions.  They are the market that really matters.  They are the ones who will have more involved with learner & acceptance.  So, I'm busy getting all that ready in the meantime.  Eventually, photos will be made available.  I'll have fun sorting through those memories.  Some are trips from what is now awhile ago, back when Prius Prime was new to me.


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