Prius Personal Log  #985

January 7, 2020  -  January 12, 2020

Last Updated:  Mon. 2/10/2020

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So What?  I pushed back, on a very familiar topic but with a 2020 view:  That narrative is beginning to fall apart.  Top-Down has been presented as the only viable means of achieving EV growth.  It's proving incorrect, an absolute pushed by purist.  Reality is, bottom-up approach can be a powerful way to reach ordinary consumers.  It's not as exciting, but it works.  The company pursuing that is Toyota.  So what if Prius Prime "only" delivers a 25-mile EV range?  With only overnight charging, that's still a potential of over 9,000 miles annually using nothing but electricity.  With a $27,750 base price, it's clearly aimed directly at middle-market.  More expensive, but still on target with pricing for the masses will be RAV4 Prime coming this summer.  Knowledge & Experience gained from the motors, batteries, controllers, and software to provide EV driving from those plug-in hybrids will provide a major contribution toward long-range EV offerings later.  Cost & Production on that scale simply isn't realistic yet, but what can be learned from the production of those plug-in hybrids right now is priceless.  Later is only a few years away.  Profit from repairs & maintenance is still a concern, but if something with a plug can be a compelling choice for a dealer, there's still hope.  It takes very little effort to get a customer already interested in the popular RAV4 hybrid to consider a RAV4 hybrid with a plug.  That's a major step in the right direction.  Too bad GM didn't do the same.  Imagine how popular an Equinox or Trax using tech from Volt could have been.


Denial.  It's becoming even more difficult to push that "laggard" narrative.  In fact, that label has fallen out of favor as a result.  Antagonists keep trying though.  They provide a convenient means of measuring progress.  The harder they struggle to send a message of supposed failure, the easier it gets to see that isn't true.  At times, that can be very informative.  It's like a gauge for change.  Anywho, today I dealt with yet another attempt:  Getting real is to ignore the continuous dismissal.  No matter what is presented, you'll refuse to accept it and cherry-pick to feed the narrative.  Reality is, the moving forward of their largest production facility is a clear sign of preparing for large-scale change.  It's not a token effort when you take your top-seller and begin offering it with a plug. The PHEV model of RAV4 will offer a 39-mile EV range, along with an impressive 302 horsepower, 5.8 second 0-60 acceleration, AWD, and towing.  Rollout will begin this summer.  There's simply no reason to listen to rhetoric claiming "a company in full denial of the transition" when evidence to the contrary is becoming obvious.

1-12-2020 Continued Attacks.  They never end; however, some with knowledgeable information to share do stand up from time to time to deal with it.  Today, this came from someone who worked for Toyota for 32 years: "Toyota does not care about rushing something to the market in 2020.  They advanced the 2030 plan to 2025.  The BEV push will come in 2022.  They have 157 billion in cash and financial reserves and no significant debt, they own all 40 assembly plants."  His long comment ending with that statement was great.  I jumped in (after liking the post, of course) with:

Well said.

I have been closely watching Toyota's technology advancement for the past 20 years.  Each next-gen Prius has delivered an obvious effort to improve the entire platform along the way.  The extremely successful rollout of TNGA very much sets the stage for eTNGA, confirmation of a massive invest in the future.

It's unfortunate that most daily contributors post comments with no regard to that type of fundamental investment.  They focus on elementary aspects of design, mostly range & power, completely neglecting the importance of what it takes to rollout a diverse & profitable technology.

To be able to deliver on a massive scale, avoiding as many challenges along the way, takes a lot of work that will never get proper acknowledgement.  Evidence of that is the obvious overlook of what it takes to get a PHEV to flawlessly deliver a full EV driving experience.  All of the hardware & software necessary for a BEV must be included. Toyota has already achieved that.  They are now in the process of refining the technology.

Warnings of doom for supposedly ignoring the market are meritless.  It's just spin from those who don't bother to consider the bigger picture.

1-12-2020 Claiming Denial.  There are some who have become so entrenched in the effort to portray Toyota as a "laggard" they are now posting claims of denial that are blatantly incorrect and very easy to disprove.  It's bizarre when you witness such desperation.  For example: "If they were just biding their time then it would be wise to show that the know that and prepare factories, make battery deals, make sure they have a steady future supply of necessary materials, start educating their engineers and factory workers.  So far every sign points to that they are in denial and will have an extremely rough time to keep up in the transition when it accelerates."  That absolute is just plain wrong; yet, it was posted with great confidence.  Dismay for such bold moves to undermine is something that never cease to amaze me.  Some simply don't care.  Ugh.  This was my response to that nonsense:

Narratives to claim "denial" are abundant, because Toyota doesn't hype.  That's not part of their culture and they have no interest to engage in rhetoric.  So, they remain quiet.  If you actually take the time to research, you'll see the very claims you presented are false.

Toyota is preparing factories, making battery/supply deals, and educating their workers.  In fact, they have a $7,000,000,000 (yes, Billion) investment underway in that regard for just a single location.  Their largest production plant (the one in Georgetown, Kentucky) has just begun production of RAV4 hybrid.  That's a major step forward in their effort to deliver a PHEV model of RAV4 later this year.

Note that RAV4 Prime will be Toyota's third PHEV model, joining the Prius & Corolla hybrids with a plug.  In addition, there is the upcoming EV models of C-HR and UX300e being rolled out.

How you can state "every sign" with any type of sincerity is a mystery.  Toyota is clearly preparing for the transition.

1-12-2020 Up North.  A new thread started on the big Prius forum came from a new member identifying himself from: "in the deep north of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada".  He shared interesting data.  It matched mine remarkably well.  So, I took the time to shared some detail in addition to providing some data points: 

Here in Minnesota, we have been experiencing Winter warmer than usual.  The outcome is just like what you have observed.

Lows have only been below -10°C (14°F) a few times so far.  That means much of EV range has been shared with heat-pump operation.  Resulting EV range has been around 35 km (21 miles) for my usual mix of driving.  With mostly highway, I have seen it drop another 5 km (3 miles).  None of that is a surprise.  It's routine for me driving a PHEV since 2012.

When the warm weather returns, so does the EV range improvement.  My results in Summer are very close to yours too.  My longest EV range also ends up being 55 km (34 miles).  Seeing even higher, like those who live much further south, is something I can only imagine.

As for calculating operation costs, I don't bother.  My recharging at home is done off-peak (late night hours), to get a discount from my electricity provider.  When taking trips to visit my sister-in-law's family in Wyoming, the consumption at 80 mph (129 km/h) is an indulgence I can afford... and MPG is still more efficient than everything else I encounter along the way.  Those kids are growing up fast and there aren't really that many opportunities to visit.

1-12-2020 Trolling.  There are a few who work hard to stir discussion.  They bring up the same topic over and over, as if it had never been addressed.  They ignore evidence already presented in previous posts.  They use ambiguous references to cause incorrect assumptions.  The list goes on and on.  Their purpose is to keep posts active.  So, drawing a conclusion, is unwelcome.  They work hard to undermine any advancement in that regard.  The goal to prevent a change of mindset is all too familiar.  Ugh.  The only good thing I can say about this type of "troll" is that they are polite.  Others are rude & hostile, so I do at least appreciate that aspect of their posting.  Today, it was: "Not sure what exactly you were counting as an "early-generation EV", but the fast depreciation on many of them was due to incentives on new."  It was about resale value.  I was annoyed.  That topic simply doesn't make any sense in such an early stage still.  He pretended to have no idea what I was talking about, despite beating this issue to death with him already.  I humored him anyway, this time, since it was a nice opportunity to provide some exposition:

You know.  It's the entire "EV Market" up until December 31, 2019. Not a single vehicle with a plug competed directly with traditional choices yet, because the qualification had not been met.  Its price must not be subsidized.  To deliver sustainable profit, it must be able to stand on its own. Looking at how that is achieved, we see 2 obvious examples:

Tesla is striving to achieve high-volume sales without the generous $7,500 tax-credit and an early-adopter audience now faced with many choices.  The gigafactory efforts combined with migration to Model 3 are big steps toward the goal, but it has only been 11 days since phaseout of the federal subsidy.  Delivery of enough profit to everything necessary to sustain the business remains a challenge, without any clear path or timeline.  Mainstream buyers are far more difficult to appeal to than early-adopters.

Toyota is demonstrating they are already well on their way to high-volume profitable sales with a plug, looking well past their phaseout of tax-credits.  Evidence of that is undeniable.  Their largest production plant in the world (over 9 million square-feet, with 8,000 full-time employees) has added RAV4 hybrid to what they produce.  It's in Georgetown, Kentucky, making it an ideal location to capitalize on PHEV opportunity.  Adding a plug to the hybrid is an option showroom-shoppers will naturally be drawn to.

Both examples look beyond the "early" activity in the market still playing out, one that doesn't even adhere to a standard approach for charging yet.


Expensive.  This was the answer I got to the "Worst?" question: "Worst case scenario it reduces every year and 7/10 years later the battery tech or design is outdated and too expensive to replace as that design is no longer in production."  Turns out, he had nothing of value to argue with.  Merit is usually lacking.  But without any substance at all, it was just a move along situation:  7 years after production ends, the automaker must stock replacement parts.  That's a federal regulation, part of what allows then to continue selling new vehicles.  As for "too expensive", that's an evade.  There's no contest that it will cost far less to breath EV life into the car with a small-capacity battery replacement.  Keep in mind, a PHEV will retain far more resell value than an early-generation EV, due to having a gas engine.  Even with reduced range, the PHEV continues daily-drives and long-time just fine.


Worst?  When someone insinuates doom, why not call them out on it?  Far too often, we get an antagonist attempting to stir emotion.  It always depends upon being vague.  If you actually confront them asking for detail, there's the potential for their argument too fall apart.  Most of the time, they'll just change the topic as an escape to avoiding admitting to the deception.  Sometimes though, you get lucky.  In this case, it was a rather simple catch.  What do they actually mean by "worst" with regard to plug-in ownership?  I asked:  Worst case scenario is what?  Replacement of the battery-pack after 150,000 miles (or 10 years, whichever comes first) would result in an entirely renewed EV capacity connected to a hybrid system without many miles on it.  Isn't that an ideal for an old vehicle?  Think of how much potential age problems a traditional vehicle faces at that point.

1-11-2020 Refusal.  Some just don't want to accept what's happening:

It has been interesting to watch the same failed lines of reasoning used again.  Much of this we've seen in the past with GM from Volt enthusiasts.  They didn't understand the larger market either.  It's easy to appeal to early-adopters, especially with subsidies.  They refused to acknowledge that limited audience though.  They refused to recognize the dependency on tax-credits too.  But most importantly, they absolutely refused address the need for growth.

To achieve growth, the technology must diversify.  Tesla managed to avoid the innovator trap by sacrificing Model S for Model 3.  That better targeted their premiere product to the wider audience, bringing price down in the process.  They still don't have a true second offering yet, something quite different from the first.

That's where Toyota shines.  So what if Prius Prime is supposedly small and under-powered.  In contrast to it is the upcoming RAV4 Prime.  That's large, fast, powerful, and offers more range.  True, the next-gen Prius Prime will deliver similar improvements, but one is a hatchback and the other a AWD SUV.  That's true diversity.  They appeal to entirely different audiences.

RAV4 Prime, along with the upcoming EV models of C-HR and UX300e, all demonstrate taking a step forward to reach out to entirely new consumers.  Each will offer its own appeal.  Each set the stage for higher volume to come.  Many here refuse to acknowledge that.


Hummer Returns.  We haven't heard anything for GM for quite awhile.  Today, there was suddenly a buzz about Hummer coming back as an electric variant.  There's no detail of any sort.  It's the same old ambiguous nonsense... only this time, there's a blatant effort to completely ignore middle-market.  In the past, we had Volt promoted as a vehicle for the common person, but it was obvious by the price that wasn't the slightest bit realistic.  Yet, that was the way it was presented for many years.  In fact, it wasn't until the end that their was admission of it really just being a niche.  That expensive and for a limited audience is what stirred so much trouble.  GM clearly had not delivered what they promised; yet, enthusiasts continued claiming they did.  I never expected such outright dishonesty.  Fortunately, the end of tax-credits for GM brought an end to Volt, which heavily depended upon that subsidy for survival.  So, the idea of Hummer returning is a head-scratcher.  Who exactly is that intended for?


Video:  Battery Temperature.  We have had an ongoing discussion on the topic of battery temperature.  The exchanges have been rather well thought out too, quite productive.  I enjoy those rare opportunity to share like that.  Today's addition to the stream of observations & conjecture was: "If the garage is 39 and the battery is at 59, it's pretty unlikely that the battery heater ran.  It only runs enough to get the battery to a few degrees over 32 (maybe up to 37 at most)."  That was an excellent point, which got me thinking.  So, I took the time to collect some real-world data:  I was able to confirm behavior.  The battery temp was 69°F at midnight when charging completed.  I unplugged, then checked 3.5 hours later; the temp had dropped to 62°F.  Another 3.5 hours later, I plugged back in; at that point it had dropped to 57°F.  An hour later, the temp was now at 55°F and the charger did not report and electricity draw during that time.  btw, I have witnessed 41°F from that battery-heater with the garage at 14°F and charging not having taken place for 3 days.  Here's video showing exactly that... Prius Prime - Extreme Cold (commute to work)


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