Prius Personal Log #945
June 8, 2019 - June 10, 2019
Last Updated: Mon. 7/29/2019
page #944 page #946 BOOK INDEX
Tundra Hybrid. Someday, it will actually come. The whole world is waiting for that day, when a full-size pickup actually gets a full-hybrid offering. Toyota is a strong contender to fulfill that desire. The latest rumor comes about from some spy photos of what appears to be a mule. The photographer claimed acceleration that was silent until about 30 mph. It gave the impression of being a hybrid. Knowing that the Lexus LS 500h sedan already implemented a comparable propulsion size requirement (354 horsepower from a 3.5 liter six-cylinder hybrid system), that isn't too far fetched of a hope. That setup delivers a 33 MPG rating. Seeing the same thing in a pickup delivering around 30 MPG would be remarkable. It's fairly realistic for efficiency. We expect the next-gen Highlander coming late this year to deliver about 34 MPG. When you look back at Toyota's big picture plan, the entire fleet getting a hybrid choice was an expectation. After all is said and done, that is the outcome you'd want. Within the next year or so, that's reasonable. Despite all the problems other automakers have, it's not a problem for Toyota to invest heavily and relentlessly try until they get something competitive to offer. You may not hear much along the way, but results speak for themselves. The latest victory... RAV4 hybrid... make it clear that never giving up is their mantra. That slow & steady of the tortoise means crossing the finish-line at some point. Being able to pass others along the way is a nice reward for the effort.
Behavior Repetition, Late. It's getting to the point
of being unbelievable: "The only way to make EVs price competitive is to
actually start making and selling them in large numbers." Dealing
with individuals that have no background related to business is difficult
enough. But when they don't even bother to try to learn what's
involved, it's like shooting fish in a barrel. They set themselves up
for failure. It's impossible to actually win an argument when you
don't know what the argument is about. Ugh. Now I'm in dismay.
How can certain people be so blind to what actually makes a difference?
I tried to point out the lack of understanding and provide some reasoning
why. The behavior repetition doesn't provide any hope though.
This same old nonsense will continue elsewhere with someone else. My
old foes are long gone now. They death of Volt silenced them.
Now, it's new misleading to deal with. Not even trying to understand...
Here's how I replied:
That grossly over simplistic claim is why each time there's a "Toyota is very, very late to the game" post, it is validation of either being poorly informed or being disingenuous.
Of course, who here is gullible enough to believe that anyway? We know there's far more involved to making a vehicle price-competitive than to simply building more of them. Volume does not equate to being a better product.
Toyota is using their current electric deployments to make the future ones better. That 151 HP motor in Mirai would make the next plug-in Prius really nice. The carbon-fiber already in Prius Prime is proving extremely durable for the hatch. Using it elsewhere in the next-gen offering would be a nice improvement, since reduced weight means better efficiency by not needing as much battery to travel the same distance. The improved aero-dynamics from the dual-wave glass is another efficiency benefit. Then there's the heat-pump, an impressive use of electricity for keeping the cabin warm that other automakers have yet to use.
In short, Toyota is already working hard to get costs reduced. Each time they refine the motor, invertor, or software in their hybrids, that gain is transferred directly to EV efforts. The same goes for any improvement they come up with for lithium chemistry used for those battery-packs.
Put another way, the spin that Toyota is woefully behind just a lame effort to mislead.
Behavior Repetition, Downplay. Becoming absolutely desperate at this point, I got this: "That's just a HEV, a mild hybrid; that's old tech. Toyota has been remarkably resistant in pursuing plug-in EV tech, let alone BEV tech." It's just like nonsense of the past. Repetition of the same old behavior with the hopes of impeding the progress Toyota continues to make is something I'm all too familiar with. Ugh. It's such a recognizable pattern. You'd think there would be something to make it different over time. That's not the case though. Over and over again, with nothing new, really surprises me. I'm in dismay at this point. There's no way they can get away with the deception. In this case, it's an attempt to downplay. With such impressive offerings now, how does anyone think it could work? I punched back with: That attempt to downplay a 219 HP system delivering 40 MPG plus AWD plus 1,750 pounds towing capacity for a base price of $27,850 is quite telling... and ironically, fitting. Reality that the technology is designed for plug augmentation simply by adding a one-way clutch, just like what was done for Prius Prime, is clear evidence of Toyota planning ahead... forward thinking, not backward. They'll be able to advance their entire fleet with little to no disruption of business. It's a sensible plan... hybrid to plug-in hybrid to electric. That's the fastest way to get large-scale change for a extremely diverse audience accomplished.
Behavior Repetition, Vague. Typical response to getting cornered is to change the topic, being extremely vague in the process: "The problem with Toyota's analysis is that once supply of BEVs is sufficient there is going to be a wave of government regulation essentially banning the sale of IC engines for everyday use. The health impacts and the environmental impacts will force their hands." I'm quite familiar with that tactic. It usually doesn't equate to much. That basically just serves as confirmation to me that they have nothing to argue with about my point and have given up. Despite that, I do ask for detail: Who? When? Where? If you think other legacy automakers have a more comprehensive and faster plan, dish up. Let's here about GM's plan to rollout hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or EV offerings for their primary product: SUV. Toyota is already deep into RAV4 hybrid (which is easily adaptable to offer a plug) and the new Highlander hybrid is coming later this year. Ford is going down a similar path. It's expensive and takes a very long time to get in place for high-volume production & sales. Vague claims about "regulation" don't mean much. Bans are extremely difficult to implement... especially when "health & environmental" impact is involved, since Toyota hybrids already directly address those issues. In other words, what is the goal? Without that clarity, investment in the needed infrastructure to support whatever regulation is proposed won't happen. Change cannot happen in a vacuum.
Behavior Repetition, Silly. This is what I got when in reply to the audience post: "That's a really silly argument. The charge time is related to actual battery consumption. The only reason the Prius Prime can be recharged overnight is because it has a pathetically small battery." It was the typical type of rhetoric I had dealt with for years from Volt enthusiasts. Some just plain don't care about mainstream sales. Their niche was "vastly superior" and any less was a target of insult & ridicule. Ugh. I was annoyed, if you couldn't tell: You're calling Toyota's effort to appeal to ordinary consumers silly? $5,920 lower base MSRP for Prius Prime than Volt is clear evidence of striving to do that. No dependency on tax-credits, which is very much what contributed heavily to Volt's death and no EREV successor. It's a sound business approach, especially when embracing change on such a large scale. As for claiming "pathetic" to the size of that battery, that's a obvious effort to conceal the reality that Volt's is too large to be practical for a 120-volt connection. 13 hours for a full recharge is a very real problem. If you start recharging at 6 PM, you'll be good to go at 7 AM for the morning commute. That means you'd have to charge during peak load and wouldn't have a car available for going anywhere after dinner. Remember, adding a 240-volt charger and line to your garage add to both cost & complexity. People want an affordable plug-in choice that's simple to purchase. Know your audience.
Behavior Repetition, Oblivious. The situation is not only dismissed,
it's claimed as an extreme: "If you read the Innovator's Dilemma, you would realize Toyota's
approach is 100% wrong." That was the response to the ongoing
discussion about Toyota's announcement 2 days ago. There are a few who
will deny what they witness, doing everything they can to distort reality.
It's quite an act of resistance to observe. They'll never admit to not
recognizing something. When an important aspect of a situation is
overlooked, they'll just outright dismiss it. If I push the issue, I
get personally attacked. They're purpose is to win arguments, not to
actually address the topic. Ugh. This is how I dealt with that
Toyota has diversified their technology. We now see it taking 3 paths. RAV4 hybrid, Camry hybrid, Corolla hybrid are all successful implementations of the original Prius offering. Each is contributing to the goal of traditional vehicle phaseout. Prius Prime demonstrates how effectively (simple & profitable) each can be upgraded to offer a plug. C-HR hybrid is a raised Prius platform, offering the height required for more battery-capacity.
None of that shows any sign of innovator's dilemma. Toyota carefully studied their dealers & consumers, then responded accordingly to serve that extremely wide audience.
You want an example of a legacy automaker who did the opposite, look at the disaster Volt became for GM. It started out as a risky approach, one that didn't make sense for the business. How could such an expensive design, one that clearly exceeded requirements, attract & sustain profitable sales? Gen-1 didn't even remotely achieve that goal. GM made the problem worse with Gen-2 by listening to enthusiasts (their own early-adopter customers) rather than finding out what people on their dealers showroom floors would be interested in... hence, falling into the trap. Taking even more risk resulted in a production abruptly ending midway through its product cycle. That's a very expensive problem. The technology died without a successor. All that promoting of EREV as the solution rather than EV fell apart as a costly mistake.
Toyota has a clear electrification path, as the 45-page presentation spells out. They are striving to appeal to dealer & consumer every step of the way, which is very appealing to stockholders. Everyone will see a strong commitment to phasing out traditional vehicles by offering a variety of electrified choices.
Again, none of that resembles being 100% wrong.
Behavior Repetition, Forest. Much of the conflict I deal with online is those participants tend to only see a single tree. When you're in a forest, that's a very bad problem. Ignoring everything else around you is a terrible mistake. Yet, that's what they do. In fact, they argue it's all that's important. Ugh. It's that single-mindedness I keep referring to. They refuse to acknowledge more exists. I do my best to point out there is far more to recognize & consider: Looking at just the hatchback market creates a very distorted view. The next-gen RAV4 hybrid is selling remarkably well and the newly introduced Corolla hybrid is showing lots of potential. As Prius transforms from predominantly being a hybrid to just a Limited and AWD offering with the rest PHEV, we'll see those others sour appeal for their traditional counterparts. Have you noticed how nice the 52 MPG Camry hybrid? Right now, effort is being focused on Toyota's primary customer, their dealers. Those are the ones who need to be convinced the automaker is committed to wide scale change. Toyota is a for-profit business after all. Enthusiast obsession with conquest is not a wise path to follow. GM learned that lesson the hard way with Volt. Rather than diversifying their technology as Toyota has done, they catered to niche interest. That was a terrible mistake. That midsize electric sedan you predict will be shipping at 500K per year isn't a realistic forecast. The market will be saturated and the tax-credits used up. It will make that expectation of continued market growth far more of a challenge... even without taking into consideration offerings from legacy automakers. Tesla sales will plateau or even fall at some point in the not too distant future. In other words, the time will be right in a few years. In the meantime, there is a very hard push coming from Toyota to phaseout traditional models. Getting their dealers to favor hybrid choices will give Toyota a major advantage over the other legacy automakers hoping to skip that step. Think about how each automaker will need to entice consumers to purchase a plug-in. There's a lot more to it than just rushing out a one-size-fits-all solution.
Behavior Repetition, Naming. Confusion for the naming of Bolt, being mixed up with Volt, was no accident. It was clearly an intentional act to provide damage-control ahead of time. GM already knew Volt was in trouble. Calling attention to their abrupt and rather drastic objective was something to be avoided at all costs. Bolt was the antithesis of what Volt had been designed to compete against. Promotion of Volt shows that extremely well. Remember all that "range anxiety" advertising? The discussion today certainly didn't. In fact, someone attempted to take advantage of that damage-control mechanism by trying to mix up my reference. My focus has been entirely on Volt; yet, he claimed I had referred to Bolt. The hope was that slip would go unnoticed. It didn't. I called him out on it too: Interesting how even you mixed up a Bolt and Volt reference. Some of us called that problem out right away, seeing that GM would benefit from the confusion later. And sure enough... As for what I actually did say, I did indeed point out the mistake GM made with Volt. They fell into the innovator's dilemma trap by catering to enthusiast want rather than striving to understand mainstream need. It was the very same mistake they made with Two-Mode. Had GM really wanted to "out Prius, Prius" the approach would have been different. Gambling with an overkill design set to an expectation of achieving high-volume profitable sales by mid-cycle was nuts. That simply was never realistic. Pushing out the expectation to gen-2 could have worked if the design had been altered to appeal to their own showroom shoppers. GM didn't do that though. As for the abrupt decision to abandon the technology in Volt to pursue its antithesis instead, that doesn't make sense. There is clearly a market emerging for a Trax or Equinox as a plug-in hybrid.
Behavior Repetition, Audience. The truly remarkable aspect of some of the nonsense I have to deal with online is the obsession with more being better. There's no sense of balance. The vehicle must deliver more distance and more power, period. That's absurd. You don't attract ordinary consumers that way. They look for a variety of purchase priorities. In fact, this is why the popularity of online comments posted about products has become such a powerful means of solidifying demand. Remember all those years ago how Toyota got ridiculed for doing little to promote Prius? It was all about empowering their own consumers. Toyota knew long ago that owner endorsements were far more influential than anything they could do. That's precisely why they reached out to that group online leaders. We each had captured & maintained an audience they didn't have the means of effectively tapping. It was the key to growth... something that became a fundamental barrier to Volt. Those enthusiasts always reverted back to GM, never actually taking an action to promote as owners. It was strange to watch such great opportunity passed by. They obsessed with the daily blog, not even bothering to explore what the forum venue had to offer. Ironically, I got attacked routinely for hosting my own personal website to share my experiences. Taking about not understanding audience. Ugh. Needless to say, that same nonsense continued it today's post. I kept my next reply to it short too: Who are you trying to convince about Prius Prime range & performance? Enthusiasts here is the wrong audience. When people hear that I effortlessly drive for many, many weeks without refilling the tank, they want to be told more. When I tell them that equates to over 200 MPG, they ask if charging at home is difficult. I tell them the 25 miles of EV can be achieved with nothing but an ordinary 120-volt outlet. In other words, you don't stand a chance when I finally mention the base MSRP of just $27,600.