Prius Personal Log  #1004

April 21, 2020  -  April 27, 2020

Last Updated:  Sun. 7/19/2020

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4-27-2020 Early Majority.  I tend to avoid quoting very long statements, since the message tends to get muddled.  This one was easy to ensure it would get followed up without confusion.  So, I that's what I engaged in: "You talk about "enthusiasts" and "mainstream", but highly efficient cars tend to be small and aerodynamic and look like the first generation Honda Insight, which doesn't appeal to the mainstream and driving one labels you as an enthusiast.  EVs are approaching a transition from "Early-Adopter" to "Early-Majority" buyers.  But to make that transition, EVs need to appeal to mainstream tastes that prefer larger, boxier, SUVs and crossovers.  Pick your poison: do you want hyper-efficient EVs that are limited to niche hyper-milers, or do you want moderately efficient EVs that are widely adopted by the mainstream?"  It should be no surprise why I decided to pursue such an overly simplistic lack of thought.  That's how misconceptions perpetuate.  So, I replied with:

It's always intriguing to encounter someone who hasn't given the matter any thought.  The assumption you are making is quite obvious... and quite incorrect.  How will you respond is my curiosity.  That's the type of feedback we can use to constructively inform others.

Consider RAV4, Escape, CRV, Equinox, Outlander, Tiguan and Rogue.  All are Crossovers with FWD similar in size & shape.  Despite having shared aerodynamics, they deliver very different efficiency... 26/35... 27/33... 28/34... 26/31... 25/30... 22/29... 26/30.  Those city/highway MPG ratings are all over the place, not in any way what your "poison" implies.  Reality is, there are far more elements of efficiency at play than just the generalization you claimed.

When it comes to EV propulsion, the situation becomes even more complex.  Conversion from DC to AC is a matter of hardware, which varies profoundly from automaker to automaker.  Did you ever consider that?  What about the traction motor?  What about the type of cabin heater?  What about the software controlling it all?  Then there aspect of performance, the trade-offs better power, speed, and consumption, most definitely have an influence.  You ever think of that?  There is also the weight of the battery-pack.

In other words, you now have very good reason to take a closer look at what "kWh/100mi" ratings actually tell us.  It most definitely is not just a vehicle size & shape category.  That's how you know whether a similar looking vehicle is efficient or if it guzzles electricity.


Range Ratings.  There is a website which... up until recently... served as an objective source of plug-in related news.  The growing struggle with Tesla has shifted a bias over to hyping video-footage completely unrelated to the promotion of electric vehicles and focusing on range.  In other words, they have lost direction.  That clear sign of goal uncertainty is a warning.  Red flags like that in the past weren't taken seriously, so it is no surprise they get blown off now too.  Disregard for actual market change is a very real problem... hence the Tesla issue.  Sure, those vehicles are great, but they are proving to be an expensive niche.  Reaching ordinary consumers has been far more pie-in-the-sky of a hope than anyone wants to admit.  This obsession with range reveals how much further (pun intended) they still have to go.  Even when some supposed threshold of distance acceptance is reached, there's much more to address still.  That's where Toyota shines.  Their approach is reverse.  They are focused on those other factors, the priorities that become a major barrier when trying to reach out beyond the niche.  Larger audiences require thought beyond a single mindset.  What I find amazing is how many people need to have that brought to their attention.  Most are clueless as to how business operates.  In this case, there's far more to sales than just range ratings.  Ugh.  Rather annoyed, I jumped into the topic today with:  These ratings reveal a serious loss of priority.   Looking at range based on battery tells us what with regard to purchases?   There is a very real problem of diminishing return that no one seems to want to address.  We just keep getting more of the wrong focus.  Attention should be directed to vehicle efficiency, not the size of the tank.  It's really unfortunate when the "kWh/100mi" efficiency rating is completely ignored, disregard from topics like this as if it makes no difference.  In reality, that's far more important. It is how much electricity you actually consume that matters, not how much can be held when full.  Sadly, this is why EV supporters get labeled as enthusiasts, rendering their opinions to just that of someone out of touch with the mainstream.  They can be their own worst enemy at times.


Feeble.  It can be enthralling sometimes to read comments relating to the "behind" narrative for Toyota, for example: "These feeble range numbers prove Toyota is way behind.  If you're not passionate about something, you come out with stuff like this."  Since when has Toyota ever focused on passion for the secret to their success?  Even back when I was waiting for the delivery of my first Prius 20 years ago, I was well aware of Toyota's reputation for their "boring" vehicles.  They were looked upon as family movers.  Those who owned them were pleased about the affordable & reliable choice they had purchased.  I worked great for getting from place to place.  The reality that speed & power has been mixed into the equation now goes completely unnoticed... by those making an effort to downplay.  That's no different than decades ago.  They focus on a number that appears disappointing, then beat it to death hoping you won't notice anything else... which is where I come in.  I point out those other traits of interest.  But in this case, I was just on the attack.  The post came from a well known troublemaker, burned by supporting GM to Volt's bitter death.  Now, he wants to ensure Toyota has a difficult time advancing forward.  I attacked back, injecting some logic into the on-going comments:  Measuring progress based on range is either naive or doltish.  It tells us nothing about the technology itself.  Anyone can squeeze in a lot of capacity.  Making it reliable & affordable is an entirely different matter... something Toyota has proven to deliver exceptionally well.  Those of us who actually take progress seriously measure it based on how much that technology changes the status quo.  Rollouts appealing to the "passionate" fail to achieve that.  Mainstream consumers are fundamentally different from enthusiast.  Know your audience.


$1.11 Per Gallon.  I noticed the price while in the drive-thru at the gas station/coffeeshop today.  Since my approach was from the back entry, that was quite a delight to see while waiting in line.  After getting our coffees, I drove through the pump area to snap a quick photo to mark that moment in history.  By dumb luck, a new Prius just happened to be driving through the scene precisely at the time.  I hadn't even noticed it coming.  So, there was nothing to prepare.  Looking at it afterward, the sight of an in-focus white hatchback perfectly lined up in the capture was a very nice surprise.  I highly doubt I will ever see prices that low again.  That's a scene from 20 years ago, when I got my first Prius.  What a surprise to relive such a memory now... well, kind of.  It has been what, at least 2 months, since I last filled up and only 1/8th of the tank has been used so far.  I won't be needing to fill up again for a very long time.  That's fine.  I can witness it from the eye of a lense instead.


Watching It Again.  The start of the first day after the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day sure got off to a good start.  I got the same old nonsense from 13 years ago.  Remember how Volt started?  It was literally the same thing I am seeing again.  To watch that history repeat is remarkable... since I know exactly what to watch for this time around, and have the experience to counter it.  This time, it was rant to me posting: "Toyota's top-selling vehicle in just the United States alone last year was RAV4, which sold 448,071.  That raises the question of what Tesla's growth plan is..."  That was in reply to a supposedly bashers of Tesla listing sales results from the past 8 years.  367,595 was the worldwide total for all Tesla sales combined last year.  My interjection of reality stirred a rebuttal absent of any facts.  It was just a repeat of the very same propaganda we saw for GM way back.  That cheerleading without any actual leadership direction is a dead giveaway of a problem.  How will such "progress" be achieved?  I asked about such a future this way:  It's ironic how you respond to a fact by appealing to emotion, then conclude with a remark about goals but don't actually state any.  That type of posting is what turned genuine support for Volt into enthusiast rhetoric.  They would do everything they could to stir a passion for the technology by focusing on its appeal, doing as much as possible to avoid reality of the business itself.  Seeing you repeat that history is fascinating... especially since their posts ended up diverting so far from goals.  The question of Tesla's growth remains.  Avoiding any measure of quantity and mention of product diversity is a solid confirm of history repeating.  How will Tesla achieve "biggest automaker in the world" with such an incredibly vague response?  What are you endorsing?


Is Tesla Thriving?  That is an interesting question to pose.  It was not taken well though.  Comments were argumentative right from the start.  There was no sense of balance or any interest in being objective.  It was very much an enthusiast response.  That's unfortunate, Tesla has opportunity and has demonstrated an impressive ability to adapt.  Those traits should be very helpful with the next steps.  Problem is, no one really knows what that means... and the growing antagonism is evidence of that representing challenges to come.  Uncertainty isn't the friend of those to focus too much on passion to sell a product.  Mainstream consumers need more substance; want is less important.  Anywho, I tried to give praise, among with some foresight:  With regard to low-hanging fruit, Tesla did indeed thrive.  Tesla had a lot of venture capital available, carbon-credits to sell in a market hungry for them, and basically a monopoly.  All that is changing now.  This next stage without tax-credits, needing to draw attention from those not enthusiastic about change... in a world with the oil industry now struggling to survive and other automakers attempting to grow in the market... is going to be very challenging.  There is also the bitter reality of people in general having less disposable income even after the economic recovery.  Think of the perspective of what legacy automaker dealers have.  What are they going to want to push to bring in consumers with.  Those business-sustaining sales are what keeps the industry going.

4-22-2020 Subaru Evoltis.  This is co-development effort with Toyota to deliver an EV by 2025 with a possible range target of 300 miles.  That kind of news has been putting antagonists in a difficult position.  They require an enemy to focus on, someone to attack & blame when things go wrong.  Seeing Toyota break out beyond their carefully constructive narrative is a big problem.  They are trying to spin the situation back in their favor though: "Toyota could easily have pushed to adopt CA standards nationwide.  That is not what they have done.  All you have to do is adopt the highest standard and you are safe.  Let alone being a leader and pushing standards forward.  The only pure EV Toyota ever shipped in the USA was a Tesla designed RAV4.  It is 2020 and over a decade since the first Tesla shipped and nothing from Toyota but hybrids.  It is almost as if they said we innovated once in the last twenty years and that is good enough for us."  That was the full post, the attempt to belittle & mislead in its entirety.  That's the kind of post I like to take the offense on.  I'm more than happy to take on their nonsense.  And, I did:

Completely disregard what was posted and respond with a blatantly false narrative instead.  Ugh.  The legal hurdles involved with that adoption is a trap and Toyota unwilling to take the bait; instead, they are just going ahead with the technology push anyway.  There's a big difference, lessons learned which others also disregard.

As for the claim about RAV4, that's absurd.  Toyota rolled out their new architecture throughout the entire fleet, enabling affordable upgrades with minimized overhead. In other words, a variant of RAV4 EV will begin rollout in just 1 week and a RAV4 PHEV will rollout in a few months.  Both are undeniable efforts to fulfill that highest standard.

With regard to being a leader, that comes from actually changing the status quo... not just agreeing to do so.  Phasing out their traditional passenger vehicles across the fleet, replacing them with hybrids that can easily be offered as plug-in hybrids is genuine leadership.  They are focusing on their core customers, making a true difference.

Downplaying that reality won't change it.  Toyota continues to push forward, and as this topic confirms, they are helping pave the way for others to follow.


Progressive Rollouts.  A series of upgrades is far more effective than attempting a big bang.  In fact, significant change all at once is exactly what should be avoided.  Toyota wrote the book on how to do it write, quite literally.  They learned how to promote improvement and showed the world.  It was quite fascinating at work to take a certification class and discover that process would be the basis of what we would be studying.  That turned out to be one of the most enjoyable classes I have ever taken in my life too.  Though challenging and quite a draining experience, I took away a lot from that.  Some of it came from already having made so many real-world observations of Toyota's approach.  It clearly works, despite all the claims those naysayers attempt to tell you otherwise.  It works.  That's why what we are witnessing right now provides encouragement of what will likely follow.  I keep it short & sweet with:  Don't forget there is a higher density chemistry on the way.  Rolling out the platform to China with existing lithium makes a lot of sense.  Refine the vehicle itself before expanding to other markets, with a battery upgrade.  That is exactly what Toyota did with Prius 20 years ago.  Gen-0 was for Japan only. It used D-cell batteries.  Gen-1 was rolled out to the United States 2.5 years later, featuring prismatic batteries.  That was quite an upgrade... which most people didn't even know about.  In fact, I bet many just learned about it from this post.


Reality Check.  Lashing out at Toyota is really just an excuse, a distraction away from the true struggle.  That means we get this on a regular basis: "How many electric cars do they make? Who cares of the death spiraling ICE."  To them, it's a numbers game... not a measure of true change.  Remember how GM played it?  Volt sales were almost exclusively either leases or fleet.  That's why I argued so often about the "game changer" not actually accomplishing anything.  Neither of those "owners" were loyal customers who went to a dealer to replace their aged GM vehicle with a new GM vehicle.  They were nothing but conquest with little to no business-sustaining profit.  It was really just a shallow effort to game the system, one which focused almost entirely on ways to exploit the tax-credit.  This is why there is so much rhetoric now with regard to how Toyota has instead focused on upgrades across the fleet.  Their new architecture was rolled out almost entirely unnoticed.  It sets the stage for phaseout of traditional vehicles while at the same to preparing for plug-in offerings.  Getting such a massive audience to take notice is genius.  They hate that reality.  Highlander, RAV4, Camry, Corolla, Avalon... all well known Toyota choices available as hybrids, both affordable & efficient.  They are directly competitive with their traditional counterparts.  That annoys the antagonist to no end.  Making matters worse, we see the possibility of a new minivan only being available as a hybrid and the next Prius only be available as a plug-in hybrid.  That's real change.  Needless to say, some of that underlying infrastructure shift is starting to get attention... by those who don't like it... which makes be quite delighted to punch back with a reality check:  Toyota is a very strong industry player in the design & production of electric-propulsion components.  So what if most are currently only used with systems that have small battery-packs?  They are a juggernaut in the BEV realm, which is still very much in the early stages.  Heck, we don't even know how the expiration of tax-credits will impact the market, because that literally just happened.  The experience gained from hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and fuel-cells is priceless.  All depend upon highly refined hardware & software for EV driving.  Attempts to downplay that are futile.


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