Prius Personal Log #981
December 6, 2019 - December 8, 2019
Last Updated: Mon. 2/10/2020
page #980 page #982 BOOK INDEX
Better Chargers. I see quite a bit of effort being expended to justify sticking with the standard 120-volt charger that comes with Prius Prime, rather than considering an upgrade at some point. There are things that make a 240-volt charger better. That rarely gets attention though... mainly because those leading the discussions don't have one. Lacking that experience, it is somewhat of a bias claim. And of course, there's the shortcoming of not being able to support a second vehicle. One standard outlet is fine, but you'd have to be lucky enough for it to be one with an higher capacity (20-amp wiring) and be willing to tolerate slower recharges for both vehicles. In other words, upgrading at some point is inevitable. That's why I keep pointing out that any type of future subsidy should focus on infrastructure, not the vehicles. Anywho, this is what I posted to at least keep the discussion somewhat flowing: People overlook the basics. Sure, the standard charger can handle the load, but only under controlled circumstances. That's why there is no recommendation for extension cords. Even if you use a gauge large enough to support maximum draw, it doesn't mean the outlet it is plugged into is actually properly wired for that. It also doesn't mean the charger will be safe from whatever it will get exposed to while being used and not used. That's why the point of some of this is moot. Who will accept liability if something goes wrong? 240-Volt certified chargers provide heavier & longer cords with weather-resistant cases and mounting brackets.
Posting Battles. Scope is changing. That really
throws those who haven't moved on. They argue a perspective without
anything to gain. The just like to win online. I suspect some
simply aren't aware of that pointlessness. For example: "That argument about subsidies is old.
Maybe you could have claimed that in 2018. But as the subsidies have
dropped in half twice Tesla is still production constrained..."
Evidence of outdated audiences & objectives is abundant. So, these
posts are to just summarize the history:
Age of an argument doesn't make it any less relevant. In fact, that constraint doesn't even address the bigger problem. Being able to more easily supply 150,000 to 200,000 vehicles per year still very much means Tesla is trapped in the "EV Market" rather than moving to the next stage of sales... which is what this discussion is supposed to be about.
That next stage is being able to supply several vehicles annually at that capacity. In other words, the goal moving forward is to achieve greater penetration into the mainstream. That's why the tax-credit was such a feared barrier, no one wanted to discuss it. In fact, that's why so many "EV Market" arguments took place. People put on the blinders and didn't want to admit 200,000 per automaker over the course of 10 years was so tiny of a volume, it only served the purpose of proving the technology.
Tesla has very, very successfully proven the technology. Kudos to them for that. It's exactly what Toyota needed for them to take the next step. Because the business reality was, Toyota needed an endorsement from another major player for the entire industry to move forward. But now, it gets difficult for everyone. Each automaker must figure out how to reach out to a much wider audience, maintaining reasonable supply while also delivering a reasonable profit.
In other words, stating "old" means acknowledgement of what "new" represents. The big automakers sell several 150,000 to 200,000 vehicles per year. For perspective, there were 2,129,385 Toyota brand vehicles (which doesn't include Lexus brand) purchased in the United States last year. Think about how difficult selling plug-in models on any type of meaningful scale (representing noticeable change at dealerships) will actually be.
Put another way, upping the game is going to be far more challenging than just winning some online posting battle.
Winter Questions. It's nice having a collection of video to share that provides detailed answers for those wanting to learn more about cold-season operation. This is what I provided in that regard to today's questions: That battery-heater alone is reason to stay plugged in during "extreme" cold. For those who experience intense winters (for me, that's Minnesota), it means the plugged-supplied electricity can be used far more than you'd expect. Notice on the following video how, despite the outside temperature of -1°F (-18°C), the battery-pack is kept at 55°F (12°C). That means it can be taken advantage of still. Watch the % for the charge-level in the detail provided by the following video: Prius Prime - Extreme Cold (commute home) The coldest extended duration I have experienced without plugging in was Christmas 2017. We were out in Wyoming celebrating with family. Sitting there for over 8 hours in -9°F (-22°C) unassisted meant only minimal electricity from the battery-pack would be available. (Lithium chemistry experience a increase in resistance when its temperature drops below freezing, hence heating it for better draw & charge efficiency). The system started just fine. I obviously let it warm about for a few minutes before driving, but there was nothing else special needed... only some patience. For those who experience ordinary winter, the battery-heater means you'll be able to squeeze out as much electricity efficiency as possible. You still driving in full EV mode until the entire EV capacity is depleted, as this video shows in detail: Prius Prime - Cold Commute thru Minneapolis
Stage Confirmation. That article got so much
attention buried within an somewhat related discussion thread, it was
freshly posted in the news section of the forum. That should attract
new participants, hopefully more than just the trolls who were exploiting
it. This is what I posted as the first comment in that new topic
Misconceptions tend to emerge when a new market stage begins. That's easy to identify. A new audience is drawn to the technology, which is exactly what we are witnessing now.
In the past, we saw that with "hybrid" technology. There were countless incorrect assumptions, some fed by intentional efforts to mislead. People didn't understand and would often fall victim to simple answers to there questions, accepting the information at face value rather than questioning it. Lack of detail makes the situation worse. You end up fighting for years to debunk preventable problems.
We are seeing the same thing happen with "Innovator's Dilemma" claims. Most don't actually know the full definition. They just hear about the challenges related to adopting new technologies and don't dig any deeper. Assumptions abound from there. You end up with scores of misunderstanding to address. Ugh.
In this case, the dilemma is more involved than just what the technology itself seems to present. Success from innovation comes about from catering to a desire. You ask enthusiasts what they want, then build to satisfy that criteria. When the next generation design opportunity comes about, the manufacturer is supposed to reach out to other audiences.
The reason for this is simple. The manufacturer must switch from proving the technology to making it appeal to a much wider market. This is where GM failed with Volt. The gen-2 design became even more specialized, targeting only niche buyers. GM's own loyal customers were not interested. The technology became a dilemma.
That most definitely isn't the case with Toyota. We already see the hybrids taking the next natural step, to offer full EV driving. The addition of a plug and much increased battery-capacity (with resulting power increase) is already taking place with Prius, Corolla, and RAV4. That's a clear demonstration of the technology not being limited to a particular audience.
That "Prime" technology can also be used in the next step to follow, going from plug-in hybrid to electric-only, since many of the components are shared. The motors, controllers, battery-cells, and even the heater & cooling are all on their way to becoming high-volume & profitably produced... which is the goal, not a dead-end as the "dilemma" is believed & portrayed to be.
It's really unfortunate we have to deal with such misconceptions, but not at all a surprise. They are what comes about when a technology advances forward. In fact, that's how you know a new stage has begun.
Downplay. This came from an antagonist: "Every manufacturer has been cutting models, even if just because there are fewer buyers now." He's basically a troll who has been accepted as a regular forum member, despite very frequent posts of an argumentative nature. I suspect he thinks of himself as a devil's advocate. His endless upset doesn't fit the profile though. He continues to be vague too, which is a sign of not being objective. I was intrigued if a vague reply in return would stir anything constructive: Add "downplay" to the types of responses. You continue to treat GM's failure to use the tax-credits as intended as it if was no big deal. They were squandered on conquest, rather than establishing a new technology for their fleet. It was a big waste. Not only isn't Toyota doing the same thing, they haven't used up their tax-credits yet. In fact, they are positioning to take advantage of the phaseout stage just like Tesla did. That's a very, very big deal. Again, it's about each manufacturer targeting their own loyal customers to advance their entire fleet to greener choices, not to earn trophies and gain praise.
This Next Stage. Following a very argumentative
discussion, a topic that drew it the usual trolls, I tried to wrap up days
of efforts to prevent closure using this: "The big take away from that
chart is that the Tesla Model 3 is crushing everyone. AND sales are
increasing even as incentives are decreasing. Talking about everything
else is like discussing the deck chair positioning on the Titanic. No?"
His post was intended to bring a constructive nature back to the forum, so
we could actually draw some type of conclusion. I took full advantage
of the invite:
Ironically, using an analogy to Titanic is quite fitting, but not the message you were trying to convey. Tesla could be compared to Titanic surviving the iceberg hit, not sinking and actually making it to port. It's just a single ship arriving to the destination at great expense. That's why my push to get acknowledgement of the bigger picture continues to get the positioning of chairs response.
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE requires looking at the entire fleet and all of the use that will actually occur, not just a single trip. In this case, that's what GM failure with Volt was all about. They gambled everything on a single vehicle. It was pretty obvious how desperate enthusiasts were to force narratives to the contrary too. When the potential for Camry hybrid with a plug was brought up, they'd attack the messenger. Then when RAV4 hybrid came along and the second generation of Volt fail to grow sales, the hostility was raised more distractions raised.
Tesla was the easiest distraction to focus on. It relied upon lots of venture capital, money from green credits, and heavy utilization of subsidies... none of which could be sustainable. Fortunately, excitement about the potential remained strong. But now with less than 4 week left of federal monetary encouragement (the sales boom resulting from the unlimited phaseout stage), the question of sustainability becomes all too real. Innovator's Dilemma already played out with dire consequences for GM. The outlook for Tesla depends upon breaking out beyond the single-product reliance, especially since that AUDIENCE could just be low-hanging fruit... the EV market... not mainstream consumers.
That brings us to the main topic, addressing that bigger picture. How will GM building a battery factory change the situation with potential for market saturation? In other words, who is being targeted for selling those resulting battery-packs?
We keep hearing the narrative of Toyota focusing intensely on hybrids but ignoring the reality of dropping sales for Prius. That's a cherry-picked perspective. It hopes you won't notice both the regular Prius and the Prime model were undergoing mid-cycle updates, consequently there being little inventory made available. Waiting until 2020 for that new production to ramp-up, timing it to coincide with the availability of the introduction of Corolla hybrid, rollout of the next-gen RAV4 & Highlander hybrids, and the reveal of RAV4 Prime.
That is what's called a well thought out coordination of fleet change... because it so nicely matches up with both the ending of tax-credits for both Tesla & GM. Think about the position Toyota will be in for Earth Day 2020.
With all that change carefully orchestrated to directly target their own showroom shoppers, it sets the stage nicely for a turn to dedicated EV designs. The technology itself will already deployed in the 3 plug-in hybrid models (Prius, RAV4, Corolla) while the EV models of CH-R and UX300 make their debut. It represents a moving forward of a wide variety of choices. You won't be forced decide upon that single offering designed specifically to appeal to enthusiasts of the past.
Read through all that history of spin and now damage-control if you want good background. It isn't necessary to understand what this next stage involves though. All you have to do for a clear look forward is to consider what the sellers will actually sell.
Damage Control. I'm seeing a rise in antagonist posts: "...but the damage-control phrase is too vague understand what it may apply to. Sorry." When that comes from someone you know you have already had this discussion with many times, it's pretty clear their motive isn't sincere. They tends to be polite trolls, those who are respective of others but absolutely refuse to be constructive. This just spin & evade to keep the posts coming. When it comes to Volt specifically, that is literally all they have left. There simply isn't anything else remaining. All other excuses have been exhausted. Production ended and GM has no intent to do anything more with their investment. They are writing off the effort to blend engine & motor & battery as a massive loss. They'll take what they learned with regard to the motor & battery part and abandon engine entirely. That's an incredible gamble. Expecting existing customers to make the jump directly from traditional guzzler to EV is a massive risk. How will they get dealers to even just start with a modest inventory? Who among their salespeople will want to try to sell such a dramatic platform change? That's far more than the usual paradigm-shift more enormous industry players can handle. With so much profit at stake and so many customers (their dealership network), reaching their consumers will a clear & concise message seems nearly impossible. GM has done a horrible job with that in the past. People still don't really know what Volt was intended to address... hence the damage-control. Spin like that wouldn't come about if the goal had been obvious. Duh! How many times in the past did I try to point that out. Ugh. Oh well. They are dealing with it from the point of failure now: Detail has been posted countless times. Volt needed to achieve sustainable sales prior to tax-credit phaseout; otherwise, production would be cancelled. Since that's exactly what happened, any excuses now are damage control. Even worse is the technology itself became too much of a niche... hence Innovator's Dilemma. That most definitely isn't the case for Toyota. We're seeing the Prime tech in Prius being deployed in both Corolla and RAV4.
Strategy. Sometimes, it just goes on and on: "Toyota vs. electric cars: Smart strategy, or Innovator's Dilemma?" That article has been republished and referred to several times. It's how the rewrite of history takes place. You just keep pushing an idea, leaving out detail. The narrative eventually takes hold, but never really gets a strong following due to the lack of substance. Oddly, it can still be advantageous. I jumped on that opportunity to raise awareness: That's smart strategy. It's easy to recognize the difference. Just look at tax-credit dependency and the diversity of product. GM exploited conquest sales, wasting the subsidy opportunity for that rather than establishing a profitable & sustainable base. In other words, they innovated for enthusiasts instead of focusing on their own base. That is exactly what Innovator's Dilemma refers to. Toyota did the opposite, directly targeting showroom shoppers. We see Corolla & RAV4 hybrids being sold so fast, keeping them in supply has become a challenge. This is why Toyota is switching over their Camry production in Kentucky to RAV4, which has capacity to deliver 500,000 annually. That will become a vital part of meeting RAV4 Prime demand. It will be high-volume sales Toyota's core buyers. No part of that is a trap of innovation. Notice how GM never spread their technology?