Prius Personal Log #954
July 11, 2019 - July 14, 2019
Last Updated: Mon. 7/29/2019
page #953 page #955 BOOK INDEX
Kicking & Screaming. Some just plain don't
care. They like the narrative and are happy to contribute to rhetoric
to keep it going. The usual "...with Toyota being dragged kicking and screaming."
was interjected into what started out as a discussion about sales in Europe.
As expected, a post without any supporting detail came along. It's
just post an insult and wait for cheering. Ugh. I always have
something to contribute when that nonsense attempts to derail constructive
Confusing patience for resistance is a common problem, especially online.
That spin tactic is used by enthusiasts favoring other automakers to draw attention away from their silence. Notice how painfully quiet GM has been? Remember the narrative claiming Volt was dropped so GM could go all out with Bolt instead? Nothing happened though. Literally, the only message related to EV sales is that we can expect profitability in 2021. What kind of thing is that for the supposed leader of legacy automakers to say?
Of course, what evidence of kicking & screaming is there? A few point-in-time advertisements mean nothing compared to action taking place. In the first half of 2019, we have seen rollout of Corolla hybrid to new markets and introduction of Corolla PHV. That's a resounding step forward. It is overwhelming confirmation of change. You don't mess with the world's top-selling sedan unless you are serious.
To add a plug to a Toyota hybrid, it's only a matter of adding a one-way clutch. That allows the second motor (usually used as a generator) to contribute the extra power from the larger battery-pack to the wheels. It's a bump to performance with minimal cost... exactly what good design should deliver... which confirms Toyota had planned ahead... making claims of resistance an act of denial.
Tax-Credit Phaseout. There's a lot of mindless
comments dominating discussions now. It's a passing along of the
established sentiment without giving any thought to how things have changed
recently. That makes you wonder how they'll react when recognition
finally takes place. Not paying attention is putting it politely.
I stated in this way:
Low-Hanging fruit can be beneficial. Tesla used their phaseout opportunity to ramp-up and sell as many vehicles as possible to establish a customer base and reach as far out into the market as possible. That's absolutely fantastic, exactly how those tax-credits were intended to be used. Kudos to Tesla.
Toyota still has tax-credits available and it certainly looks like they are doing the very same thing. Evidence of that is overwhelming. Rollout was limited to just select states. Within 500 miles over the past 2 years, Prime has basically been impossible to get here in the middle of the country and in some southeast states. A truckload would be special shipped from time to time, just enough to acquaint dealers with the technology. That holdback was an obvious wait for the mid-cycle update. Why waste tax-credits when you know that upgrade will be a more appealing vehicle?
Think about it. Phaseout period doesn't have a quantity limit. Toyota waiting until just before triggering that stage before significant ramp-up is exactly what Tesla did. That gives them valuable opportunity in the meantime to build up reputation from real-world data and experiences being shared by owners. Spreading endorsements like that is far more effective than any type of advertising. Again, that's what Tesla did. Their focus was the update too.
I find it quite telling how Volt was omitted from tax-credit discussion. Such a profound outcome from such a fundamental effort is a topic that should always be referenced. The lesson learned from that massive misuse of tax-credit sends powerful message of industry complacency. There's no denying anymore that GM exploited those tax-credits for conquest sales, using them for green praise rather than actually delivering something to appeal to their own customers. Enthusiasts loved the technology. Engineers did their job well. Kudos to them. GM management on the other hand, refused to spread that technology to vehicles GM shoppers would be interested in. No Equinox with a plug. No Trax. Nothing. They just let the phaseout period approach without even trying to reach beyond that niche audience.
Watch what happens in the second half of 2019. You'll see that preparation for ramp-up taking hold. Toyota knows their audience. They understand how to appeal to showroom shoppers, which is what their dealers depend up for stocking that inventory. Neither cares what rhetoric is spread online from antagonists. They simply want to sell lots of vehicles at a profit without a lot of effort... which is exactly how Prius Prime was configured.
It is interesting how those antagonists will spin that careful planning & patience as a narrative about "dragging". For that to be accepted, readers must dismiss facts to the contrary.
Equinox Diesel. Rather than spreading Volt technology to other vehicles, GM decided to focus on diesel instead. That's something even those wrong focus enthusiasts have a difficult time dealing with. That's evidence of just plain not caring. What a waste. The spin was quite amusing. They try to portray the situation as just one of disinterest. We tried. Customers weren't interested. End of story. It isn't though. Reading though one article on the situation sighted the hassle of "needing to refill the Diesel Exhaust Fluid". That's a major downplay, not journalism. Have they provided detail, you'd end up wanting even more. I remember estimates of needing roughly 7 gallons for every 15,000 miles. Think about where that fluid for cleaning emissions (it's urea squirted into the exhaust). You need a tank, a means of filling it, and the pump/squirt equipment for it to operate. That space, weight, and cost never mentioned by any diesel supporters. Curious, eh? By the way, if the system runs out, it is supposed to halt vehicle operation... like when you run out of gas. So, the effort on GM's part to roll that technology out for diesel models of Equinox & Cruze was a means of evading the obvious. Volt should have had a successor. Imagine what things would have been like if Equinox or Cruze would have been given that technology from Volt; instead, all that "range anxiety" work was just abandoned. Such wasted opportunity. Ugh.
Most Don't Bother. A few of us on the thread discussing sales in Europe provided some numbers to consider. I was one of them: Avoiding detail is a common tactic from those unwilling to face the reality is actual sales. Pointing out how to best use the limited quantity of battery-cells currently available is an excellent means of stressing how a small number of EV sales achieves far less emission reduction than a massive number of HV sales. Put it this way. 1,152,108 Toyota/Lexus brand vehicles were purchased in the United States in the first half of 2019. Of that total, there were 110,267 hybrids. That's just under 10%, which is pretty much a solid 10% now due to the rapidly rising demand for RAV4 hybrid and the introduction of Corolla hybrid. Take that quantity and say each one uses an average of 1 kWh worth of battery-cells. 60 kWh capacity for EV would reduce supply ratio to just 0.16% of overall inventory. Why would a dealer bother when such a tiny quantity would be available? It makes no sense... which is why most don't bother.
Wrong Focus. There's an obsession with production
capacity to such an extreme, many enthusiasts stuck. They have nothing
to contribute... hence being an enthusiast, rather than a supporter.
To provide support, something to help the process along must be done.
Online arguing for the sake of defending a position doesn't accomplish
anything... though, you'd never know it based on the number of
chest-pounding posts lately. Capacity focus of the past was for range.
So, the problems of being so single-minded are nothing new. From
reading their posts, you'd think they were experts. That past will
come back to haunt. Repeating the mistake of focus is common.
It's about critical thinking. They don't. I try to provide
constructive information, hoping some lurker will get it:
Production capacity doesn't matter when there is so much at play to retain the status quo. Setting up infrastructure (in this case, getting an atmosphere of change established at dealers) is far more important, especially when we know newer battery chemistry is forthcoming anyway. That's why Toyota is investing so much toward delivering affordable hybrids in the meantime. They make that next step to affordable plug-in hybrids a small one... which in turn makes the following step to an EV small too.
Remember, the dealer wants something that's easy to sell and the consumer wants something that's easy to buy. The decision to replace a RAV4 with a RAV4 hybrid is quickly becoming a simple one already. There's only a small price difference and the MPG improvement is obvious. It's an effortless step forward.
Think about Prius Prime. It will recharge entirely using nothing but the standard household outlet most people already have readily available in their garage. Plugging in takes no effort to understand. The act of plugging is simple. The benefit is obvious.
This is why having more battery-cells available isn't a priority. Focus currently needs to be on the market itself. Then when demand grows, that helps with the major decisions of where to actually setup that production and how much each location should deliver. Rushing that part can be a costly mistake. Think about how suppliers are already struggling with change.
True Change. The enthusiast trap is a simple one. You become fascinated with a new product, then lose sight of the bigger goal. That's so common of a problem, many fight to a bitter end without ever really figuring out why their dream fell apart. Oh well. All you can do to provide reminders of purpose. Today, it was with regard to how successful the progress forward has been for Europe: The point is to replace ICE choices with HV, PHEV, EV choices. That's exactly what Toyota is very successfully doing. They are transforming the showroom floor, appealing directly to loyal shoppers. This isn't about the subsidized conquest nonsense we saw with Volt from GM. This is about demonstrating to their customers (dealers who purchase inventory to sell) that embracing hybrids will feed a growing demand for more and more electrification. Automakers are a for-profit business. No matter how great a technology may appeal to enthusiasts, is makes no difference to the bottom-line. Far too many don't take challenges of having to achieve high-volume profitable sales from ordinary consumers seriously. Seeing Toyota/Lexus reach that tipping point in Europe, where more than 50% of the sales are now hybrid is a landmark achievement. That's what represents true change.
Already Delivered. Things get really interesting why rhetoric turns to outright lies. It's so easy to disprove claims, you have to wonder if anyone falls for that nonsense. Based on my observations, that type of activity tends to soar interest. That's why moderators sometimes step in to deter the behavior. Bringing down the integrity of their forum will indeed make people lose interest. Anywho, you have to watch for them, then callout their post when found... which is exactly what I did upon seeing a post providing a suggestion of what should be done to make the idea appear untried: 88% is my EV drive ratio with 2,350 miles on the current tank. Your "Most of the time Drive in electric mode, and use the ICE engine only on long routes." has already been delivered. Toyota's focus now is affordability. They are spreading their newest hybrid system, which is easily adaptable to support a plug, across their fleet. That will bring about not only economy-of-scale reduction of cost, that also provides a strong endorsement for the technology itself. Also, keep in mind that size of the battery-pack itself matters less and less as more businesses offer chargers for their patrons.
Dead. You can't help but to be amused by posts like this: "Hybrids are dead, as they should be." That's a desperate attempt to spin a narrative of assurance. It doesn't work, since such a reality is fictitious. Nonetheless, you see them on a regular basis. This time, I punched back with cold-hard numbers: 110,267 purchases of Toyota/Lexus hybrids in the United States alone the first half of 2019 contradict that claim. 275,300 purchases of Toyota/Lexus hybrids in the first half of 2019 for Europe.
Neglect. It makes you wonder how the big blogging website for plug-in vehicles continues to push a perspective like this: "...but with just 1,100 Prime sold in H1, it's neglecting plug-ins." Seeing that on the subtitle of an article posted about Toyota European sales for the first half of 2019 was troublesome. Was that included to stir participation, knowing it would result in some rather passionate posts? I jumped in immediately, with this as the first comment: It made no sense stocking up on model about to become outdated. Those paying attention know that 2019 inventory was extremely low due to 2020 rollout on the way, which is a mid-cycle upgrade. That newer model will introduce center seating in the back (the real thing, not a mock spot like Volt had) along with a few refinements to interior features. The entertainment system gets Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa. There is no way to spin that as neglect.
Your Impact. Most people don't realize just how much
of a difference their contribution can actually make. Some people do: "I don't
mind paying a little more to companies who are putting more charging
stations in, after all how much more is it really and will that small amount
make or break us?" That made telling my story quite worthwhile:
Most people don't consider the true impact of that type of mindset... or haven't, until we share more experiences. Here's mine.
Back in 2012, the ramp downtown I park at installed 2 chargers (total of 2 level-2 connections). That worked out great with my Prius PHV. I could recharge for the commute home. That usage fee added up, drawing the owner's attention. A few years later, 2 more chargers were installed, bringing the level-2 connection count up to 6. That was great! They would actually fill on some occasions too. Last Fall, those newer chargers went offline (some network issue), though charging was still available. The choice was to replace all of them with the nicer models. Now, we have 8 connections available. It's really sweet!
That daily charging expense on our part was validation on the owner's part about that having been a wise investment. So, the investment grew. It's too bad that "pay forward" mentality isn't more common. There's no way of knowing if the owner actually made any money from the charging fees, but the benefit to others is undeniable. More chargers for people parking there is a win for everyone.
Think about what the visibility of more chargers does for those considering a plug-in purchase.
They Already Have. This rhetoric was especially interesting to respond to: "I still don't understand why PHEV manufacturers didn't follow the Volt model. That is a PHEV (strictly speaking it's a range-extended short-range BEV like the BMW i3 REX) that could be used purely in all-electric most of the time." That second sentence was a confirm the person had no idea how Volt actually worked, that for possibly many years he has been spreading misleading information. Without additional context, that's difficult to assess. With a preceding sentence describing PHEV choices, you get a better idea of the mindset: "But most models on sale now or being introduced have pitiful all-electric range and impotent performance." Those colorful metaphors are a dead giveaway of a problem. They are insulting and extraordinarily vague. To belittle & mislead is exactly the type of response antagonists post. Hopefully, my reply to that had some type of positive impact: They have already. The common narrative would have you to believe otherwise though. It's a successful effort to undermine. Prius Prime works exactly as you describe. My EV drive ratio is 87% with 2,261 miles on the current tank. It will only get better over time too. As more chargers become available at retail & grocery locations, the opportunity to recharge while out & about will rise. That will push the EV miles even higher. Don't believe the rhetoric stating "short" range and "anemic" power. Those claiming that have an agenda to push a purist approach. That's really sad, knowing we have such a diverse market.