Prius Personal Log #952
July 3, 2019 - July 5, 2019
Last Updated: Mon. 7/29/2019
page #951 page #953 BOOK INDEX
Understanding MPGe. Those trying to run reputable venue for sharing information about all vehicles with a plug are really struggling with those who are poorly informed... and those who just plain don't care to learn. They keep publishing articles from time to time about how efficiency is actually measured & represented. That makes a huge difference toward understanding the variety of technologies available. Not all electrics are the same. Not understanding that is a big problem, since it prevents advancement of discussions. If the knowledge sharing is remains stuck at a basic level and is routinely posted about with incorrect comment material, the integrity of the venue is at risk. For example: "It should be just RANGE for an EV. For a PHEV it should be EV range then MPG when the sloppy OPEC gas awallower starts to spew it exhaust." That seems innocent enough. But it is highly misleading. Any automaker can just add more cells to give the impression of efficiency. But in reality, its really a waste of resources. I tried to explain, yet again: Capacity of the battery-pack is a red herring, telling you nothing whatsoever about how efficiently electricity is actually consumed. 44 kWh/100 mi. 25 kWh/100 mi. Those numbers are from the article's illustration. They reveal that one vehicle uses far more electricity to travel the same distance. This is why even a short-range PHEV can be a much greener choice than an EV with a long-range capacity. More can actually be a disadvantage. After all, unused capacity doesn't accomplish anything. That's why the consumption rate is a necessary measure of true efficiency. In this case, the data reveals the one is an outright guzzler in comparison since it requires an additional 19 kWh of electricity to travel that same 100 miles. Think about the added expense to pay for those extra kWh and the wasted time waiting for longer recharge.
Misrepresenting Sales. Stuff like this is very irritating to encounter: "Hybrids flat since 2017." It's nothing new. People have been over-generalizing like that for 20 years. Anything with a battery-pack was called a "hybrid" vehicle. Nothing about its design, or even shape or size, made any difference. All the numbers were just lumped together and averaged. It's just like averaging price, instead of using median. That is deception tactic often used to misrepresent. The catch is, there are many who either don't care or don't bother to research what information they are actually passing along. The number simply validates their stance, so they use it. That's why I jump in with facts regularly to give a heads up to those who honestly didn't know and keep those who might be hoping to mislead something actually constructive to consider. In this case: Notice what's happening with the new RAV4 hybrid? It's a midsize SUV that delivers 40 MPG. There's a massive market for that particular audience, especially with a starting MSRP of $27,850. Consequently, growth has been dramatic. Comparing the first half of 2018 to the first half of 2019, the growth rate is 142%. In terms of actual numbers here, June had 9,013 sales. For Toyota's design, that only requires the addition of a one-way clutch. Finding room for that extra battery-capacity is obviously with a larger interior like that too. So, there's a lot of potential. Flat is misleading.
BEV vs PHEV Sales. An article posted today on that
topic left out a lot of things to consider. It was basically just a
fluff piece to generate discussion, which is great. But that obvious
exclusion of vital information was quite annoying. That's what happens
when you focus entirely on numbers. Looking at influencing factors...
the market itself... was disregarded entirely. That type of omission
borders on fake news. Hopefully, the missing facts will be addressed.
We'll see. In the meantime, this was what I had to say:
There are 3 major factors at play with regard to PHEV sales in the first half of 2019 that were not addressed.
First was the discontinuation of Volt. Knowing GM no longer had any definitive plans to rollout an type of PHEV tech to any of their traditional vehicles meant that production end represented an abandonment of that market. That means whether or not other automakers move in to fill that void must be taken into consideration. Remember, sales of Volt were almost entirely the conquest type. That meant there was interest from elsewhere, but few choices from elsewhere available.
Second was the limited availability of Prius Prime inventory. Toyota knew it had a 2020 mid-cycle update on the way for the second half of the year. That meant supply of 2019 models would be in small quantities to only the select markets it had been available. Nationwide rollout would not happen until after that update. So, sales results in the first half wouldn't be representative of actual demand... especially since the 2020 model would offer improvements based upon market feedback.
Third is the on-going influence of tax-credits. With them in place, we're still only looking at early-adopter buyers. These are people who cross-brand shop and take advantage of subsidy opportunities. Regular showroom shopper are an entirely different audience, not in any way represented by the sales results to date.
Promoting Change. The end of this year bring the end
of tax-credits for Tesla. That's stirring lots of renewed discussion
when sales results are a hot topic. July sales was an especially good
example: "If you can't charge it then it isn't included, no charge port
then no inclusion. Hope that helps. BTW, that also excludes Toyota's
"self-charging" cars." There's lots of how-to-report monthly
totals. Some EV supporters want nothing to do with PHEV. Others
get irritated by the lack of clarity among hybrid offerings. This is
the very reason Toyota is taking yet another risk that many refuse to
acknowledge. The love to cherry-pick. I love to point out that's
what they are doing. I try to do it objectively though, hoping to
prevent confrontation by presenting lots of information to consider.
This was today's attempt:
That is actually the point, when you come to realize "self-charging" is really just the first stage in marketing shift. Next will be to promote "plug-in" without deprecating the effort to draw attention to their work to phaseout traditional vehicles. This is a big problem for legacy automakers, a barrier to overcome that Tesla and their supporters often don't give credit for.
Consider how abused the term "hybrid" has become. 21 years after sales of Prius began, it represents anything that delivers more than just a continuously running engine. By changing to "self-charging", it forces new discussion... which this group took and ran with, despite being such an EV-centric venue. They helped set the stage for that next stage. The term self-charging is now recognized as the type of no-plug hybrid Toyota/Lexus sells, not what other automakers sell with the "hybrid" label... a necessary distinction for phasing out traditional vehicles.
Think about how little showroom shoppers actually understand about the technologies available. There at the dealer, being presented with a "self-charging" and "plug-in" choice, there's no confusion. Both are obvious improvements over traditional offerings with obvious definitions of purpose.
EV supporters really struggle with how to get dealers to embrace change. Toyota doesn't. Toyota is setting the stage for a quick & easy transition. Consider how vital effective marketing much be to appeal to ordinary consumers. The "self-charging" and "plug-in" labels don't intimidate. They are a simple means of promoting change.
10 Year Ago. It has been interesting to read through the discussion thread from exactly 10 years ago. This was back when Volt enthusiasts were under the belief that the design GM would be rolling out roughly 16 months from then would be a SERIES type hybrid. This was also when it was common knowledge that Toyota's newest generation Prius (rolled out just 2 months earlier) had a "plug-in ready" design, which meant a larger Li-Ion battery-pack could be swapped with the existing NiMH. Things went soar though and exchanges got ugly. By the time Spring came along (9 months later), those enthusiasts discovered Volt would actually be a PARALLEL hybrid instead and that new Prius had become far more popular than anticipated. Rhetoric had become more and more nasty as a result. In those decade old posts, I found lots of meritless claims about how superior the GM design would be over Toyota. It was evidence early on that they really didn't have much knowledge of how efficiency was achieved or the problems related to implementing the technology. They mocked Prius for having an "evolutionary" design, not understanding that's what would be needed. Revolutionary is not how you appeal to ordinary consumers, since those mainstream buyers are shopping for affordable & reliable choices that are well balanced... because that's what the dealer will sell. Anything related to good business was disparaged for the sake of endorsing what seemed then to be a "vastly superior" approach. It wasn't. 10 years later, that is overwhelmingly clear. Now, they are choosing to repeat those same mistakes, dismissing what they don't like and clinging to hope with substance. It's a mess, again!
Profitable Stage. I especially liked seeing this: "Honda and Toyota continue to duke it out to see who can dominate with last decade's technology!" It came from an antagonists who clearly didn't want to read anything drawing attention to PHEV progress. Watching others from a distance, rather than being dragged into the mess, is preferred. There is worry that Toyota & Honda could see success on a scale large enough to cause problems for GM, who has abandoned the PHEV market. Not having anything in that category to offer is a very real problem without a strong infrastructure to favor only EVs as the path away from traditional choices. Knowing Toyota & Honda, as well as others like Hyundai/Kia, will have a variety to plug types to offer makes the hype coming from supposed profitable rollouts coming in the next few years rather dicey. How much eggs-in-one-basket risk can be taken? GM's failure with Volt was costly. The closing of Lordstown production really hurt. This is why I stated over and over and over again the importance of diversifying prior to tax-credits running out. Imagine if GM had to retool to get Trax with Voltec offered in greater capacity? Switching over that location from Cruze to more Trax would have been a welcome improvement for everyone involved. It's a next step which should have taken place years ago. Instead, countless direct & indirect employment opportunity has been lost from inaction. That's really sad. I put the situation this way though, being sensitive to those impacted by such major executive decision mistakes: In other words, the effort is moving on from early-adopter to mainstream. That's the normal progression when a technology matures. It's the high-volume profitable stage all automakers hope to reach.
Better. From time to time, there are attempts at constructive discussion. It usually breaks down when no substance for follow up is provided. For example: "A common reason I hear from non-enthusiasts who want an SUV is being able to see "better" because they sit higher and feel safer." That sounds reasonable, but there's no context. When? Who? And now the question is what? What exactly is the "SUV" they are referring to? Is a crossover in their want list? With the acceptance of non-sedan variants becoming so popular, how small & short of a vehicle are they actually talking about? That element of better becomes a wash when everyone else is driving larger anyway. Notice how lack of detail makes you wonder what substance, if any, is credible to the aspect of better? Of course, there's me to inject some logic into those posts: Not following as close allows then to see better and it is safer. They really just use that as a justification... hence, know your audience. The takeaway from learning that is logic doesn't always sell. In fact, critical thinking is pretty low on the decision-making process for vehicle purchases. This is why Toyota had taken the time to create a hybrid design that's readily adaptable to support a plug.... RAV4. So when the time is right, they pull the trigger without consequence... the Osborne effect.
Approach. The desperation is unbelievable now. Back in the, there's was the propaganda to leverage. But with real-world data so readily available, that doesn't work anymore. Attempts to misinform get debunked very quickly. Unfortunately, antagonists just switch to other tactics. In this case, they do whatever they can to change the topic. Diverting attention elsewhere doesn't work with someone so aware of their behavior. I just keep hitting back with facts: You're overlooking the platform those hybrids use & share. TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture) enables that move forward, but time was needed to roll it out. That's worldwide. The discussion is about automakers & approach. GM bet the farm on Volt, choosing not to spread the technology until it was too late. Toyota is aggressively working to diversify, quite the opposite.
Continue To Lag. They don't give up. There's a never-ending push of the narrative about Toyota being behind. It's that mindset of making themselves feel better about GM's trouble by claiming someone else has it worse, even if there's no substance to the claim. Ugh. I hit back at today's slander attempt with: Toyota taking a different route to mainstream BEV doesn't mean they are behind. No legacy automaker has had any sale yet that wasn't subsidized. Others taking advantage of tax-credits is terrible gauge for how good ordinary demand will be. The race hasn't even started yet. That's why you question focus on Volt. It was an impediment for all those years. Always gloating about how far ahead it was, even though its reach never extended beyond niche. All that "leader" hype amounted to nothing. The technology never found a way to grow... which is why the approach Toyota is taking still has a great deal of potential. The smooth, quiet, efficient EV drive Prius Prime demonstrates is a taste of what's to come. There's a lot of other platform type work to take place before affordable, everyday type offerings are realistic. Notice how other legacy automakers really aren't doing much more than promoting what they are planning, rather than actually selling?
Decline. It's quite common to focus on a single
vehicle. Remember how the Volt enthusiasts would obsess with Prius,
absolutely refusing to even acknowledge the existence of other Toyota
hybrids. It was Camry hybrid that made them especially crazy.
Having such similar size electric-motors was reason to be concerned about GM
slipping behind. Of course, now with RAV4 hybrid so popular, it's
over. The "too little, too late" has become a reality on
several fronts. GM's supposed leadership didn't have any merit.
There was no investment to spread technology to other vehicles, as Toyota
has done. I make sure everyone understand that lesson learned too:
That perspective only works if you look at just Prius, disregarding what's happened with the rest of Toyota and the market here.
Toyota has used that window of time to rollout the new Camry hybrid, the new RAV4 hybrid, the upcoming new Highlander hybrid, and introduce Corolla hybrid. They also rolled out a new look for Prius, staging it for AWD and Limited models only while allowing the PHEV model to become the dominant offering.
Notice the when the mid-cycle upgrade of Prime was revealed? That's not a coincidence. It was part of a well thought out plan. Toyota was well aware of how GM was exploiting the tax-credits for conquest sales, rather than targeting their own customers. That meant Toyota would have to fight a pointless battle, wasting those limited subsidies with nothing to gain. So, Toyota avoided it by waiting... until the day after the first month of phaseout began for GM. It worked well too. Damage control efforts for Volt had come to a close at that point. The chapter in history it held had ended. Toyota got the spotlight and took full advantage of it, releasing a press announcement about the 2020 model.
Notice how well RAV4 hybrid is selling? That would make a great PHEV platform. All the work Toyota did will Prius Prime will transfer over nicely. You get the economy-of-scale benefit with a reputation for reliability established. It's a win for everyone along the Toyota production, distribution, sales, and ownership path across a widening array of choices... the full perspective. Growth is needed... many models... no dependency on tax-credits.
That's why an impression of decline doesn't matter. As stages change, there will be ups & downs. It's all about the overall advance.
June Sales. When EV sales are posted, there's always a stir related to Toyota. The results of Prius Prime are an enigma. I provide background to draw interest in the thread, hoping to draw constructive discussion. Yes, I know, critical thought is a challenge when dealing with enthusiasts. But among early-adopters, a few helpful supporters will eventually emerge. This topic is great for filtering out hype. Hopefully, this helps that process along: 2019 Prius Prime inventory has been low, due to the 2020 model being that long awaited mid-cycle update which brings about that rear middle seat along with Apple CarPlay. The outgoing model was only available in selected markets as well, so sales expectations were never high with such limited access. When that new model begins delivery, the hope is there will be a ramp-up of production and nationwide distribution will become the norm. Knowing there will be market fallout from tax-credit phaseout anyway, it made sense waiting until the mid-cycle update was ready before going all out.