Prius Personal Log #979
November 21, 2019 - November 24, 2019
Last Updated: Mon. 2/10/2020
page #978 page #980 BOOK INDEX
Unable. That recent statement from GM marked the end. It was a clear abandonment of the past. This is what declared their war over: "We've announced we'll have 20 EVs globally by 2023." We witnessed Two-Mode, then Volt (which was really the next-gen design), then gen-2 Volt fight major battles and each lose in spectacular fashion. To put things in perspective, that was 15 years of claiming to be vastly superior, but failing to actually deliver. The propaganda effort was amazing. Their minions were ruthless. I was attacked on a regular basis for pointing out how a hybrid could be properly done. They simply didn't believe in incremental upgrade. It's amazing how continuous improvement is disregarded as an effective means of change, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Much of the resistance to that approach is a cultural issue. Management of some corporations don't operate that way. Focus on the biggest financial return, rather than long-term viability, is a self-destructive problem. Yet, we watch it play out several times from several sources. GM is by far the best example of that. They screwed up, repeating the same mistakes over and over again. It's amazing how enthusiasts absolutely refused to acknowledge the pattern. Just like with the political efforts now, they did everything possible to avoid addressing the issue itself. It was an endless stream of excuses, blame, and distraction. The outcome is a reveal of being unable. GM never found a way to deliver an affordable & profitable solution which could actually compete with itself. Their hybrids weren't good enough to compel their own loyal customers to switch. Toyota's reveal on Wednesday is why GM's statement on Friday happened. RAV4 Prime offers such an enticing draw to showroom shoppers considering a RAV4 purchase, there isn't anything to argue. The reasoning for that choice is sound.
Approach. I'm really enjoying this abrupt shift in
discussion: "Is the Prius Prime being de-emphasized by Toyota?"
It's the result of antagonist rhetoric having vanished. There's
nothing left for them to work with. Every single exploit they tried
has finally been debunked. Phew! That was a painfully long
endeavor. Now, we can answer questions like that. I was happy
First, keep in mind that Prius rarely gets advertised anyway. In fact, Toyota has even stated the power has been passed to us, where owner endorsements are far more effective. So, we end up promoting it via word-of-mouth instead.
Second, Toyota has a long history of being a quiet player. They simply don't promote until they are ready. That means regardless of how intense the rhetoric gets, it really doesn't matter to them. Their cards aren't played until it's time to call.
Third, the strategy of diversification is absolutely vital at this stage. To be able to both reach deep into their own customer base and to take advantage of the tax-credit phaseout opportunity, they will wait until supply is built up before jumping.
Watching the inventory rise in the established states, it's rather obvious Toyota focusing on them prior to the RAV4 Prime reveal. Quietly wait for old inventory to be cleared out while delivering the mid-cycle update (2020 model introduces a middle-rear seat) in the meantime. That sets the stage for an onslaught of purchases from those wishing to take advantage next month to file a credit claim on their 2019 taxes rather than having to wait an entire year for 2020 taxes. Then in mid-January when the Detroit auto show stirs attention for RAV4 Prime, Toyota can then respond accordingly. If deliveries to the established states keep up with demand, rollout to the rest of the United States can begin. If not, supply will continue to focus there. At some point, national rollout will begin. It's not like you can't order a Prius Prime elsewhere. You just have to wait.
The point is Toyota offers a variety of choices and they are working hard to discontinue traditional vehicle offerings. The increase of warranty across the board to 10yr/150k is solid evidence of that. Drawing attention to new choices is key. So, we are likely to see emphasis on the AWD Prius in the meantime. The new look and that obvious new feature is very well timed to coincide with the dramatic changes unfolding in the industry, related to both dropping demand for cars and the desperation of others to distract from the success Toyota is having with hybrid upgrades.
In other words, 2020 is going to be a year to remember. Think about where the market will be by Earth Day. Neither GM nor Tesla will have tax-credits available anymore, while Toyota will be very well positioned to take advantage of them.
Troll Types. Most anyone who has participated online for any amount of time has encountered the troublemaker type. They are just there to serve as an antagonists from an outside interest, stirring upset for the ultimate purpose of undermining whatever the goals are of that venue. This is why the enthusiasts on the daily blog for Volt hated me so much. I was polite & constructive, quite the opposite of a troll. I would carefully analyze all the information they'd share to counter me, then respond with something to debunk their assertion. Point after point, I would show them how they were incorrect with real-world data to support my claim. It was an effort in madness. They would desperately try to shut me up, but could not... and the moderator saw I was bringing in more participation and wasn't ever doing anything to hurt or offend. My work to prove technology worth (or lack of, in that case) was vindicated in the end too. You can read my old posts as shockingly accurate predictions now... because I based them on quite a bit of study, which I opened shared. My findings were never a secret. My position was always clear. They just didn't like it... which brings us to the other type of troll. That type is very friendly and is often looked upon as an ally. They are always there to respond, but rarely provide anything of substance. That's the rub. They basically just serve as a means of emotional support. There's no real harm... unless you actually need help. When post after post after post isn't constructive, you have a difficult time finding content of value. Their posts end up cluttering up what would otherwise be useful information. Anywho, after saying that, I have something new. This is the first time I have ever witnessed the 2 types of trolls take over a discussion topic. Watching them battle it out for attention was intriguing. Both lost their audience. It became nothing but a 1-on-1 posting exchange. Both ended up without an audience. That's what we call a lose-lose situation. I was quite amused.
Pack Warming. We are getting more questions about that now. Unfortunately, I'm not having much luck collection data for that. Detail remains elusive when there's a delay of Winter. Here's what I had to contribute today: Sorry, it hasn't been cold enough lately to give you a firm answer yet, with respect to the battery. It will though in a few weeks. Two years ago, my Prime spent Christmas week outside in -9°F high temperatures (Wyoming) without any trouble whatsoever, despite not having a place to plug in. Here (Minnesota) at work when I plug in, I have checked the battery temperature. It's kept at 39°F in those same conditions. When the outside temperature is near freezing, I have seen the battery temperature at 59°F. The question now is if there is warming activity when not plugged in. Stay tuned. The warm spell will soon be gone here. With respect to the engine, it will just stay ice cold until called upon. Then when that moment happens, the battery-pack will supplement power to keep the engine from getting stressed. Basically, it just idles for the first 1/2 mile or so to get everything going before taking on any load.
Tipping Point. That term is being brought up a lot
recently, but it doesn't actually tell us anything. I used a new topic
featuring the expression to once again point out how it means different
things to different audiences. After stating exactly that, I wrote:
For example, we hit "Peak Oil" an entire decade ago based on the simple fact that the audience changed. The instability initial caused by $4 per gallon gas was dealt with by introducing a flood of new investment. Now looking back, we see that those big players never actually recovered. The stability was restored by a number of smaller players filling in the gaps... but with newer technology... which permanently altered the dynamics of the playing field. So as someone directly involved in that market, you have new players.
That parallel works its way into the automotive industry as well, but with climate change and emission concern adding to the problems related to that change in the oil industry. Like gas stations, the true buyers of the product aren't the consumers. They require their big tanks to be filled so they will have something to sell. Sound familiar? People still need transport. People will still go to a seller for their purchase... their local dealership. Newer technology comes into play here too. The new players are suppliers.
Most drivers looking to purchase a new vehicle couldn't care less. That audience doesn't matter. They do though, to dealers attempting to make sense of where their business is heading. That's what makes this topic so complex, no brief online discussion thread can address it properly. In fact, some won't even really notice what's playing out until years later. Just look at the failure of GM to do anything with their once highly praised technology for Volt. All that effort only to abandon the effort.
Notice how GM's CEO just made this statement: "We've announced we'll have 20 EVs globally by 2023." Think about who that was directed at. It was a group of investors, not future GM customers. That diversity of a product-line addresses exactly what Volt failed to achieve. It doesn't address volume though. Having a wide-variety of choices doesn't mean there will actually be enough produced to meet demand. Supply isn't being talked about yet. That audience will have to wait until this audience is first satisfied.
In short, focus on actions, not words.
Pack Cooling. The topic is a "hot" one (pun
intended) among EV enthusiasts. Support for what type is far from
universal. Some absolutely insist liquid is required, but material to
support the claim remains elusive. Reasoning for keeping the pack as
cool as possible is for the sake of longevity. This is especially
important when it comes to super-charging. Transfer of electricity
involves some loss of energy, which comes about in the form of heat...
resulting in the acceleration of chemical aging. What none will tell
you though is that heat is required for super-charging. The catch is
not overheating... but no one ever provides those numbers. Lack of
detail is a red-flag. I have read comments that Tesla warms their pack
to 121°F for enabling high-speed DC charge-rates. That's hotter than I
have ever seen the battery-pack get in my Prius Prime. In other words,
there's much we don't know about various systems & chemistries. That's
good reason to not insist upon something without supporting evidence,
especially as the technology advances. Outdated information can be a
problem too... which brings us to the upcoming Lexus EV. This
observation was posted: "Examining the battery pictures reveals an air
cooled battery using a blower motor up front by the HVAC system. Probably uses
cooled air from the ac system you can see the air passage ducts."
I posted the following as a reply to that: Forced active-cooling works just fine with Prius Prime, which has a
smaller pack... resulting in it getting pushed to full draw for EV
acceleration. Longer operation from a heavier vehicle, but with a much
larger pack and cooling supplemented by direct HVAC, seems an effective
means of temperature control... especially with on-going chemistry
Lexus EV. It was revealed today, for China, Japan, and Europe. The name will be UX300e, like its traditional counterpart but with an "e" suffix. Range estimate on the NEDC cycle was 400 km (249 miles). Motor output will be 150 kW (201 horsepower). Battery-Pack capacity will be 54.3 kWh. Fast-Charging (DC type) will be 50 kW, which works out to roughly 50 minutes for a full charge. Using 6.6 kW at home (AC type) takes about 7 hours for a full charge. Vehicle weight is 1,900 kilograms (4,188 pounds). This will be the first EV offering from Toyota, but more are on the way. Lexus will also be getting its first PHEV offering too. Availability of UX300e is expected by 2020 year-end for China and sometime in 2021 for the UK.
Owner Encounters. An unspoken benefit of having a
public charger near the entrance to the grocery stores is the opportunity to
get to chat with new owners. I have done that a number of times now.
They're easy to spot. You see them struggling to either get in the
spot itself or struggling to figure out how to use the charger. Each
has been quite relieved when seeing my gesture to help. I take the
time to talk them through the process, demonstrating how the system works
with some detail about setup. Those have been great experiences.
The one this evening was too, but it wasn't with a new owner. I just
stopped to chat with a gen-2 Leaf owner at a ChargePoint
station. He was having trouble with his card, so I used mine to unlock the
charger. It was a great opportunity to collect real-world data. With the
Leaf this evening, it was steady 6.1 kW. The result was 11.24 kWh of
electricity delivered in 1 hour 50 minutes. His timing was interesting. That
is precisely how long it takes to recharge my Prime. I get a steady
3.5 kW rate to deliver 5.8 kWh. He got all charged up and I got some
Choose Wisely. That same resident troll is continuing is ways on the big Prius forum... not quoting the post he's replying too, overwhelming conversations by posting so frequently, and never bothering to use uppercase letters. Recently, he has added to his lack of constructive material... not reading carefully. I've seen posts that simply don't make any sense. All that is annoying, but not as unfortunate as his latest: "you have to flex your muscles when you can. i'd like to see them ban toyota" It really becomes a problem when there's encouragement to resist or fight without actually providing any reason why. His posts are always so vague, it's hard to even spin them as ambiguous. There's just nothing to support claims. How do you counter someone who's just using the venue for entertainment & attention? He clearly doesn't care about doing anything meaningful. Dealing with troublemakers of the past, there was always some type of vendetta. They were trying to achieve something. He just passes time, convincing himself that limiting posts to a quantity per day similar to others is unnecessary. Being the top by a very wide margin isn't a concern. Ugh. That example from today was a substanceless protest against Toyota's take on varying requirements throughout the United States. Naturally, that's be spun as siding with the current administration in favor of freezing regulations. It's not. But really can't argue with people who thrive on group-think. There are many enthusiasts who need to make themselves feel better by exclusively focusing on others, rather than including some self-evaluation for balance. Anywho, the best response is to be brief when replying to individuals like that: Choose wisely. There are unintended consequences. In this case, we have witnessed automakers gaming the system rather than actually changing.
Asking People. This was great: "Go ask 10 random people." That's not who. Ugh. Know your audience! Think about it. If the person isn't even in the market for a vehicle, how much shopping would they have done recently? Odds are, they don't have a clue what the market has to offer. Why bother researching if there's no chance of purchase? Financial situations change over time anyway. Driving situations do too. So even if you have heart set on something, it simply may not work out. I was annoyed by how carelessly that comment was made. This is how I expressed my feeling about it: That's not the audience. Focus is on showroom shoppers, not random on-the-street people. Ask 10 of them in the summer of 2020 whether they would like the regular, hybrid, or "Prime" model. How many do you think will recognize (at least on a high level) the difference and be curious to find out more?