Prius Personal Log  #994

March 11, 2020  -  March 14, 2020

Last Updated:  Weds. 3/25/2020

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3-14-2020 Not Plugging In.  It's very difficult to follow ongoing attacks.  Antagonists hit multiple fronts all at the same time, hoping to find a weakness.  I do the same thing, but my desired outcome is to learn what their narrative... since I already know their weakness.  In this case, I just followed the thread.  Choosing to respond to someone else also getting attacked provides an ally as well as a new front.  The troublemaker is desperately trying to portray PHEV as just a gimmick with the hope of painting a picture of BEV being the only viable means of significant oil-consumption reduction.  This was the quote from that other online combatant: "Regarding not plugging in PHEVs, I cannot fathom why anyone would buy one and not plug it in..."  He was having the same trouble overcoming the nonsense.  I jumped in with:

Those claimed studies of "many people don't bother to plug them in" lack merit.  Notice the absence of when, where, and who detail?  That's a red-flag, a warning about the content being misleading.  It's really easy to publish a study based on a small sampling in a limited market and continue to quote it many years after any relevance it may have had has faded.

I own a Prius Prime, recharge at work, and like you also live in Minnesota.  My commutes on all but those days when the temperature drops below the 14°F threshold for the heat-pump are in EV.  So, the benefit from plugging in is rather blatant.  And with range increasing, as we see with the upcoming RAV4 Prime, it becomes an easy sell.  In the warmer months, EPA rating can effortlessly be exceeded.  I routinely see range in the low 30's for the 25-mile rated battery.

Long story short, there's no reason to believe the studies.  Overnight charging with just an ordinary household outlet works just fine.  For those who do choose to invest in a level-2 charger (and take advantage of the tax-credit for one this year, in addition to whatever rebates & discounts their local electricity supplier provides) can recharge significantly faster.

Think about it.  The sustained 3.6 kW rate I see from my JuiceBox means I can replenish 28% of my usable capacity in just 30 minutes.  That's 7 miles of EV.  Knowing the rate has doubled for new PHEV offerings, that means you'd get 14 miles in just 30 minutes.  Why not plug in?


Deal With It.  He didn't care; instead, I got this in return: "Which is it, striving to support a backward narrative or facing the truth or facing reality.  If the truth hurts, wear it on your chest.  The i3 EREV is history in Europe.  The Volt is history.  Deal with it."  That was actually a lingering comment from a previous posts, something obviously difficult to let go.  Seeing it come up was a nice confirmation of the message getting through.  He's upset by the past and blames growing success of PHEV as the cause.  I just fired right back, using his own sentiment against him:  Continued claims of "most PHEV owners" is a desperate attempt to push a narrative based on the past, going out of your way to avoid mention of what is to come.  I keep pointing out how power (hp), capacity (kWh), and charge-speed (kW) continue to increase.  The upcoming RAV4 Prime is a undeniable example of that and will inevitably be a popular new choice as a result.  Technology improves over time.  This generational upgrade is a clear step forward.  Change happens.  Deal with it.


Continued Attacks.  It's a renewal of the Volt enthusiast nonsense now coming from EV purists.  I find those efforts even more desperate than in the past, since they are so much easier to disprove.  The videos resulting from those battles in the past are very effective ammunition for rebuttal posts now.  For example: "But its EV range is low, only about 26 miles.  That hampers its EV only efficacy."  Not only was I amused about the misunderstanding of how efficiency actually works, I was pleased to have that video to refer to as reinforcement of how easy it is to achieve those 26 miles and how much 26 miles of driving really is.  In this case, I'll save that reference for a secondary reply, should I need it.  His thinking that more range equates to greater efficiency is what I want to initially deal with.  That's better material to address attacks with, since it is well beyond just misleading.  It is just plain wrong.  So, I posted:  EV efficiency is a measure of consumption, not battery-capacity.  In other words, range doesn't matter.   It is how the electricity is utilized that matters. For Prius Prime, it has a rating of 25.9 kW/100mi.  That puts it among the top for EV efficiency, far from anything that could be labeled as hampered.  In other words, if you are driving within the range available, it will use less electricity to travel that same distance as most other EV choices.


Model Y.  The first one got delivered today, on Friday the 13th.  Ironically, this appears to be the official start of a new recession.  With so many businesses making plans to shutdown, scaleback, or switch to work-from-home, there's a lot of uncertainty growing.  How long will this abrupt shift to avoid a sickness outbreak on the pandemic scale last?  The automotive industry is incredibly complex.  Technology is only a part of that equation for success.  Many, many other aspects of business & industry are involved.  Anywho, with respect to Tesla's progress, the only version of Model Y currently offered is the long-range with all-wheel drive.  That start at $52,990.  So, any hope of it attracting mainstream sales are just a dream... especially with the financial sector showing so much instability.  Now is not the time for expensive choices.  Focus on ordinary consumers is more important than ever.  Remember how the "nicely under $30,000" target came about and why it was so important?


Safe.  I find stuff like this annoying: "Just remember, Toyota does not care about you or EVs.  If they think they need to protect the company they will axe anything..."  Everyone should reminded that no legacy automaker has a mission-statement to be green.  That's mixed somewhere into the priorities, but don't pretend that profit isn't very important.  That makes is conclusion pointless: "Toyota plays it safe."  What automaker is truly taking a risk?  We hear bold statement, but their really isn't much to speak of in terms of actually changing their business.  Rolling out a new vehicle with new technology doesn't guarantee anything.  Look no further than VW.  Despite all the encouraging new, there's nothing yet to support their EV investment in terms of dealer acceptance.  For that matter, we have no clue how their own showroom shoppers will react either.  Heck, we don't even know about the risk.  It seems like a big financial gamble.  Is it?  How much is really required for payback, to ensure a steady stream of sales after the low-hanging fruit is gone?  Sustainability is a big deal often not regarded as important.  That comes from the belief of mainstream sales being just a matter of delivering enough range at a seemingly competitive price.  How exactly will that be gauged?  It's all so vague.  Sound familiar?  That pattern recognition is why I don't take the "safe" claims seriously.  GM provided the appearance of taking risk, but detail contradicted the narrative.  That's why I kept my response to this brief:  Do you really expect readers to not notice the very real progress Toyota has demonstrated with making their hybrid platform available across their fleet without compromising profit or performance?  It's a win for everyone involved.  The fact that the design carries over so well to a plug-in offering adds to the success.  What is their to worry about?  That's true progress forward.


Solid-State.  Ugh.  With so many new chemistries now being tested, I shouldn't have to deal with stuff like this: "What battery new tech?  Main battery-makers are all at the same level and there's no sign the future will be different from the recent past."  Even without any obvious breakthru, the investment in research alone should indicate just how much of a desire there is for a better future.  But then again, there are some who ignore & dismiss signs.  After all, I routinely encounter a few who absolutely insist that no specs for RAV4 Prime have been released yet, therefore it should be treated with any credibility.  That's just plain wrong.  Not only has Toyota pointed out the 39-mile expectation for EV range, the 0-60 acceleration in 5.8 seconds, and the 302-horsepower, we have also got the leak of a 17.8 kWh expectation for battery-capacity.  Heck, we even know that carbon-dioxide emission will be below 29 g/km.  We also know there will be 520 liters (18.4 cubic-feet) of cargo-capacity.  For that matter, we also got a confirm that this system will have the same top EV speed of 135 km/h (84 mph).  Lastly, we have been told "The battery is cooled by refrigerant of the air-conditioning system."  Pretending all that isn't known takes quite a bit of desperation.  What is especially interesting though is the 230-volt outlet available in the cabin of the premium European model.  That makes you wonder how many will take notice of where battery technology will take them, quite literally.  Anywho, this is how I responded to the "future" comment:  Huh?  The entire industry is striving to eliminate the electrolyte.  In fact, we got news just yesterday from Samsung about their progress toward solid-state batteries.  Watch what happens with the phone industry for a general idea how the auto industry will be able to commercialize those advancements.  No longer having current constraints of heat & density is a paradigm-shift that will tip the balance heavily in favor of exploiting electricity.


Remember.  Watching GM failed to recover from ruin, despite their huge statements made only a week ago, has been interesting.  Again, what's being said now is what I had been attacked for in the past... even without that attitude, like this: "This is hilarious.  Does nobody remember the Saturn EV-1?  GM had their shot at electric vehicles several years ago."  They were so smug and simply didn't care.  It started with "vastly superior", then became a narrative taking them in a direction of self-destruction.  Pushing a technology by telling people it is worth the tradeoff doesn't make sense.  Paying a premium to move from a large SUV to a small compact is absurd.  That's no how mainstream consumer think.  In fact, many of those large SUV owners sacrificed efficiency and paid more, to avoid having to drive a small compact.  Pretending that wasn't the case was a horrible waste.  That's why I say "Know your audience." so often.  They clearly didn't.  I pointed that out to help those in denial remember:  Enthusiasts tend to dismiss the past.  Those pushing Volt worked extremely hard to suppress Two-Mode history, hoping those more recent hybrid to plug-in hybrid mistakes would carry over to GM's next endeavor.  Instead, they ended up becoming enablers.  It was fascinating to watch that denial play out. It comes down to setting realistic expectations.  They were so obsessed with the hope of a better future, they turned a blind-eye to the warning signs.  Hype fed the "over promise, under deliver" problem.  Volt fell well short of expectations and excuses were made to downplay barriers, rather than actually address them.  The situation about to play out with regard to plug-in hybrids is the class "Tortoise and the Hare" story.  Could the same happen with BEV too?  You better believe it.


Could.  It certainly is interesting to hear others state what GM could do.  There was a lot of that today.  The situation is surreal.  Battles I fought long ago are now being repeated, but with very different outcomes.  Rather than being attacked relentlessly by Volt enthusiasts, it is mostly just agreement.  In other words, the enablers have abandoned ship.  They finally saw the inevitable disaster coming.  And now that it did indeed sink, what can be said?  There is much, and I'll say it:  GM's reason for abandoning that path was a matter of not being able to figure out how to make that choice profitable.  It had nothing to do with the technology itself.  That emotion you mention was an opportunity wasted.  Purchasing a plug-in hybrid SUV was something that their customers would have found sensible.  It's a simple choice... and quite the irony.  Driving around a "guzzler" delivering an EV commute and 40 MPG following depletion negates most of arguments from voices of the past.  Going all in now with BEV doesn't change any of that.  In fact, those conquest sales with Volt may likely work against GM.  That audience has moved on.


Potential.  Change of attitude comes in odd ways at odd times.  All of a sudden, there's some turning point you never saw coming.  Things like this reinforce the abrupt shift: "So when GM talks about caring about the environment..... I call BS.  They care about the fat pockets of the shareholders and stakeholders."  That's not even hypocritical.  It's a statement of fact... now well proven.  Back when it was mostly just the "over-promise, under-deliver" problem, there wasn't much evidence to support true green intent.  Now, such a stance is obvious.  That pattern can be detected with little effort now.  My arguments long ago had lots of enablers fighting to suppress what I was pointing out.  Those same observations are being made by others now.  Though it all sounds new, it isn't.  Keeping quiet about it is a wasted opportunity.  Like before, I want to prevent the repetition.  So, I keep drawing attention to the situation:  Those were fighting words in the past.  Bringing up the concern about GM squandering the opportunity they had resulted in "laggard" claims about Toyota.  It was always an effort to distract, rather than take the situation seriously.  The technology in Volt, praised by owners, never spread to GM's primary product.  No SUV.  No Pickup.  Nothing but a small hatchback.  There was so much potential... lost.


Sales Pitch.  The effort being put forth to undermine RAV4 Prime is getting noticed.  But rather than me fighting battles at the forefront, I'm instead providing reinforcement.  It's nice not being a lone voice like much of the past.  Prior to rollouts, there were very few of us well informed enough to play offense.  We'd be forced into defense.  But now with Prius Prime having provided so much real-world data already, it's not difficult.  In fact, I have even seen some Model Y enthusiasts turn on Model 3 with the simple sighting of cabin warming.  That difference is profound, but far from obvious.  Tesla finally made the switch from relying exclusively on resistance-heating to actually including a heat-pump.  The advantage Toyota had must have been quite annoying, in general.  But now there's that differing technology within Tesla itself.  There's no argument to be made either.  It's common knowledge that heat-pumps are more efficient.  Using less electricity to achieve the same goal is obvious better.  How do you sell that though?  The online fighting makes it clear audience matters.  Showroom shoppers couldn't care less about what's posted in discussion threads.  The nonsense in those venues is meaningless compared to the in-person encounters.  That's why it is important to have your sales pitch ready.  Enthusiasts generally remain clueless in that regard, not cluing into the importance of appealing to a prospective buyer.  He tried to dismiss.  That doesn't work when you are trying to draw interest, which is why I fired back with:  0-06 acceleration in 5.8 seconds is slow?  That 39 miles of EV is enough range to cover daily commutes.  It comes with an effortless sales pitch too, just plug the charger into the standard outlet you already have in your garage.  Your attempt to simply dismiss such obvious appeal isn't going to work well with ordinary showroom shoppers.


Reaching the Masses.  Looking back at yesterday's look back from 2 years ago, I can't help but remember the ultimate GM set for itself and failed to achieve.  It was the "nicely under $30,000" pricing.  That was how they would be able to reach that larger market, the masses.  Another quote I pulled from that hostile exchange which brought the daily-blog to a close was: "To achieve & sustain high-volume profitable sales has always been the goal."  Supposedly, that was GM's overall mission for the technology from Volt.  So.... 9 months after that when GM pronounced it dead, there was resentment.  Emotion which had been focused on me had been revealed to be an embarrassing mistake.  They got confirmation of having fallen into the trap I warned them about.  It was that innovator's dilemma played out over so many years, they lost sight of purpose.  They fought hard for a niche, not something ordinary consumers would want.  My repeated message of "showroom shoppers" finally sunk in.  That was the "Who?" asked about over and over and over again.


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