Personal Log  #1008

May 18, 2020  -  May 30, 2020

Last Updated:  Sun. 7/19/2020

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Finally.  The price of RAV4 Prime here got revealed yesterday.  So, we are now seeing articles & commentary being posted in response.  The reaction is what I have been waiting years for.  Impatience & Purity clouded constructive discussion on what could be offered in future generations.  Antagonists did everything they could to undermine, based on incorrect assumptions and incomplete information.  It was unfortunate, but quite predictable.  Finally, the situation has turned.  The technology is maturing and denying opportunity being presented is unwise.  So are beginning to see the errors in their ways.  It's great to hear from them.  After all, my quest all those years ago was to seek out allies.  Today, we start a new chapter.  I posted this to get the comments rolling on that big EV blog:  It is interesting how the anti-engine narrative caused so many to use the "laggard" label, only to come to realize it was a "tortoise and the hare" situation.  Enthusiasts were quite short-sighted about the technology's potential.  Reality is, the point is all about getting the masses to embrace plugging in.  That means finding a way of targeting them directly, to offer a product they'd be interested in even without a plug.  That's why RAV4 makes such so much sense.  The platform debunks so many misconceptions about PHEV, there will be a rethink.  It is a nice balance of price & features, even without the tax-credit.  This is what will appeal to the ordinary consumers.  They won't care about what early-adopters had to say either.  They will enjoy EV commutes, driving most days only using electricity. The industry is moving to the next stage.


Legacy Nonsense.  We are beginning hear tidbits from GM plug-in owners now.  I suspect the loss of momentum is starting to make them crazy.  Going from endless hype to nothing by empty hope is quite disheartening.  But then again, they built that up without merit.  So, some type of downfall was inevitable.  I keep explaining why.  Today, it was from an owner of the second model of Cadillac with a plug GM rolled out.  It was the first of their luxury vehicles that was a conversion, rather than a dedicated platform.  This is what possibly could have become of Malibu, had that hybrid and the sedan itself survived.  Anywho, I was quite direct, focusing on how inefficient that system was:  That "31 miles from 18.4 kw batt in a big boat" you observe makes it an electricity guzzler... as the 54kW/100mi rating clearly confirms.  42 miles from the 17.8 kWh battery in RAV4 Prime makes far more sense, especially at less than half the price... yet, still big.  Sorry, but this is yet another example where GM could have delivered, but decided not to.  Imagine if some type of SUV with a plug would have been offered.  CT6E confirms the potential with its 265-hp engine.  Not targeting their core consumer was a dead giveaway the effort wasn't being taken seriously.  Rolling out a compact hatchback, a compact wagon, and a few plug-in Cadillac was such a waste of opportunity.


$8,500 Incentive.  Merit of GM's latest move... putting $8,500 on the hood... to incentivize purchases of Bolt is a discussion topic today.  I obviously have a great deal to say on that subject.  With well over a decade of posting about the mess GM got itself into, there's much to look back upon.  The question was asked: "Why not simply cut the list price and attract more potential buyers?"  I am especially intrigued to get feedback on the topic now, since the industry is no longer depending upon subsidies... and we obviously have a force rethink due to the pandemic.  So, I posted:  GM cannot cut the list price, since that would further undermine the purpose of selling it.  Remember, the tax-credit offered to each automaker is for the purpose of establishing a plug-in product with the intent of it achieving profitable & sustainable sales prior to reaching the 200,000 phaseout trigger.  GM's failure came about from targeting the wrong audience.  They focused on conquest purchases rather than their own loyal customers.  The result was no change to the status quo In other words, current GM owners had no interest whatsoever in a compact hatchback.  Now, we see the same mistake being repeated with a compact wagon.  In other words, the technology was wasted on the wrong platform.  It's sad too, since product diversification is a basic principle of good business.  This is exactly why Toyota is offering hybrid technology across their entire fleet of passenger vehicles and is now spreading PHEV the same way.  We see a hatchback (Prius), a sedan (Corolla), and the upcoming SUV (RAV4) all with a plug added. The next could be a crossover (Venza).  Stated bluntly, cutting price won't achieve what is needed.


Hydrogen Potential.  Whether the personal fuel-cell vehicle market ever takes off really doesn't matter.  It is really about commercial implementation.  There's much with diesel that must be replaced in a wide variety of ways.  Looking at this particular quote I found while doing some research makes the potential clear: "The best production battery packs today have 200 WH/kg energy density, 1,000-2,000 cycle life, and recharge time of 45-plus minutes.  In contrast, a liquid hydrogen fuel-cell system can get to 3,000-plus Wh/kg and 15,000-plus cycle life and it refuels in 20 minutes. Therefore, the higher the energy intensity and utilization, the more the balance tips toward hydrogen."  When that is put into context, like the needs of an aircraft, the importance of cycle-life becomes all too clear.  So even without the energy-density or fueling-time considerations, that alone makes it a winner.  So what if the vehicle market is limited to mostly just fleet use?  There are a lot of those which need to endure very numerous cycles.  It's information like that which the BEV purists turn a blind-eye toward.  They just plain do not want to acknowledge a co-exist reality.


Trolling.  When someone known for their behavior of stirring controversy posts this, it is best to respond carefully: "Any doing that in the maintenance or problem solving subforum would be a troll."  You don't want to fuel the fire, since that would just end up with backlash or a devil's advocate excuse, rather than actually addressing the issue.  Since this was a new topic about researching the purchase of a used Volt started on the big Prius forum, I was intrigued.  That post included a surprisingly extensive list of issues found when searching online.  I wanted to make sure the bigger picture would be taken into consideration.  Not sure how that will be responded to in this venue, but I gave it a shot:

Ironically, applying a label in itself is trolling, it what they do to stir attention.  That point is to look beyond petty efforts like that. Seek out facts.

In this case, we saw how Volt was over-engineered... which made it a good choice as a consumer and a terrible design for business. So, early-adopters taking advantage of the opportunity did really well.  They enjoyed GM's tradeoff of range & power for the sake of appealing to their niche priorities.  That was a decision which had consequences.  It made the vehicle too expensive and quite inefficient... but it did indeed deliver an all-electric driving experience.  In the end though, it wasn't sustainable for the wider audience.

That means buying a used one could be quite rewarding, if you do your homework.  Online research is a good starting point.  Just be aware of how negatives tend to be amplified.  Owners pleased with their experience usually don't post in forums.


White Papers.  It is fascinating when someone comments about a white-paper they stumbled across.  Their hunt for information resulting in a discovery brings about quite the excitement.  Today, it was terminology that person hadn't ever encountered.  To find something entirely new is especially rewarding.  The exhilaration in the post was obvious.  I was happy to indulge the discussion:  CD (charge depleting) and CS (charge sustaining) were terms commonly used back in Volt's time, prior to enthusiasts discovering it was really a PHEV not actually an EREV.  Identification of those operating modes seemed clear until the label of "EV" became easier to understand, since BEV would otherwise confuse matters.  Look at it this way, if you are plugging in at a charging-station, no should care whether there is an engine and how it may be used.  The point is to promote the use of electricity for transportation, taking advantage of external sources.  The term "EV" is quickly becoming a means of simply informing a plug is somehow involved.  This is the stage we have been hoping to reach for a long time, where the audience is growing and those among them have little to no background in vehicle design.  They just want it to somehow always deliver a clean & efficient drive, taking advantage of having a plug. In other words, they would never read anything titled "Analysis and Model Validation".


Faster Charging.  It sure is nice seeing more discussion focus on the act of charging.  That's a fun topic, something we can all collectively participate in.  This was a sample of that shared excitement: "Oh!  And then there's driving in charge mode.  That'll charge the battery to 80% in about a half hour.  Almost four times faster than L2."  I look forward to seeing more of that.  Hopefully, we can get some ideas in the meantime to conjure up more interest.  This was my attempt, of course adding a video link at the end:  It's actually only twice as fast.  The video I filmed (below) made it to 80% (from 14%) in 37 minutes.  Looking at the aftermarket gauge, rate is roughly 7.2 kW... which is still quite modest it terms of what can be pushed to lithium batteries for automotive use. Tier-1 for Tesla goes up to 60 kW.  The industry is trying to push well past 150 kW... attempting to double that if cost can be properly addressed.  So, a sustained 3.6 kW from a L2 is nothing, especially if you let the pack cold soak for a few hours before starting the charge.  Prius Prime - Charge Mode (drive data)

5-20-2020 Comparisons.  There is a recognition among EV enthusiasts to place Tesla at the top, portraying its approach as a model for all others to follow.  That just plain does not make any sense.  Tesla produces a small fraction of vehicles compared to the legacy automakers.  That's a huge oversight no one wants to take seriously.  An even bigger problem is the reality of having been financially supported by the backing of venture capital, generous federal subsidies, selling of green credits, and the advanced purchases of self-driving.  None of that works well for mainstream penetration, especially as such a high starting price.  It is great for a startup effort though, catering to enthusiasts.  So, comments like this should be taken with that understanding: "Toyota is (2nd place after the winner Tesla) the company with less emissions in Europe. It may not be fined for exceeding emissions, all others will."  I had much to say with regard to that:

It doesn't make sense to put Tesla in the same category as legacy automakers.  In fact, that does a disservice to those trying to be objective about approach.  Tesla doesn't have to address change.  All the others do.

That lack of constructive perspective is why Toyota didn't join the push to adopt CA rules.  They are well aware of the litigation waste which comes about from each state trying to do that on their own, one at a time.  It simply makes no sense not to do it on the national level... an approach that should be obvious now that the pandemic responses are also suffering from resource waste caused by divided efforts.  Toyota also knew this administration was too selfish and too stupid to be able to actually pull off an EPA deregulation effort.  And sure enough, there are court fights already emerging from the haphazard method and blatantly false claims.

By Toyota getting overlooked and labeled as second, it really isn't all that bad.  They are doing exactly what they set out to do... phaseout traditional vehicles.  The challenge comes from avoiding the Osborne Effect.  You don't want to shot your dealers by offering something so amazing, it creates a supply/demand problem.  This is why we have been getting a series of new rollouts all within the same year... each a notable, but somewhat modest with regard to technology impression (though what's hidden is quite amazing).  In fact, this is the very reason for settling on 8 kWh for Prius Prime.  Something too amazing would have had a negative impact on the rest of the fleet.

Getting back to Tesla, total worldwide sales last year were very close to Camry in just the United States.  Not having tax-credits to subsidize Tesla sales anymore and the reality of how much dramatically larger Toyota is, there is nothing constructive about comparing approaches.  They are far too different.  Fortunately, they do share the same overall objective.  Both are striving to reduce emissions.


Stupid.  I really got a kick out of reading this today: "In the rush to finalize this rule - and in the middle of a pandemic, no less - they broke just about every rule in the book."  That came from a stir caused by the abrupt EPA changes.  This administration sabotaged the agency, then did everything it could to remove regulations related to air emissions and ground pollution.  It's that obsession for money and desperation to retain the status quo causing such obviously desperate action.  That quote continued on with: "The result is a policy that fails to protect public health, fails to save money, fails to result in safer vehicles and will, ultimately and undoubtedly, fail in court."  The irony of health, money, and safety failing is so amusing, since that is exactly how the policy change was promoted to deliver.  It's just like the same old nonsense I dealt with from the Volt enthusiasts.  They absolutely refused to state goals.  It was obvious why too.  Their obsession blinded them to the mission.  When challenges came along, they made excuses to justify the outcome.  In this case, we have an administration feeding greed, rather than recognizing need.  Efforts to blur responsibility and cast blame are effective undermining tactics to allow spoils to be gained.  That will cause quite a bit of damage along the way, but they don't care.  When you are that stupid, covering your tracks isn't a concern.  They just dismiss the impact of their decisions as something that would have happened anyway.


Flexibility.  Our discussion on design & approach came to a summary: "TNGA is a platform Toyota now using for all Toyota vehicles, it enable Toyota the flexibility to produce any vehicle at any of it's plants worldwide by adding length and/or width to particular vehicle main body..."  I wasn't actually sure if the poster of that comment was quoting a source or coined the appropriate wording on their own, but the point was quite clear.  In fact, we already have an example with the Camry to RAV4 shift.  Being able to take advantage of the obvious upcoming surge is a really big deal, despite the fact that almost no credit will be given for having planned so far ahead.  Flexibility is rarely ever noticed... which is what you really want when done well anyway.  I see that quite frequently at work.  They love it if you can be flexible.  In fact, that option to adjust on-the-fly is highly desired and often talked about.  The catch is, no one wants to actually champion it.  Anything requiring what basically equates to a start-over is considered high risk, even if it comes from a lesson-learned situation.  There is just always a resistance to change.  Ironically, that fight to keep things supposedly stable is the risk.  Not being willing to rework design in a changing market simply doesn't make sense.  You are gambling on the chance that there won't be a paradigm-shift triggered by something unusual, like a pandemic.  This is why instability in oil market should be a warning sign.  That's a big clue preparation should be made, since the inevitable is approaching.  This is why I admire Toyota.  Their continuous improvement efforts, striving to always remain flexible, really add up.  It's quite redeeming too... since antagonists will often portray any such change as a mistake correction.  They don't want you to discover flexibility was part of the plan all along.


Hybrid Reveals.  The quick notes I jotted down during the live event were interesting.  It is "All new, all Hybrid, all American".  It will come standard with version 2 of the Safety Sense and the combined efficiency rating is 33 MPG.  All the usual appeals... size, power, comfort, convenience... are delivered exactly as expected.  The key is, no traditional model.  Phaseout is undeniable at this point.  Toyota stated they are pushing for 100% electrification, with each model offering a hybrid choice, and a goal for 2025 to reach a 25% penetration.  Think about that.  A quarter of the fleet sold by dealers will be non-traditional choices.  That is what I call leadership.  It translates to a profound reduction of emissions & consumption.  Niche offerings don't do that.  In fact, the disastrous outcome from Volt is basically no change at all from GM dealers.  With so few Bolt now being purchased, the count is only a fraction of 1%.  That's pathetic.  This is why all of the enthusiasts have vanished.  Not a single one of them harasses me anymore.  In fact, I have no clue where they all went.  My guess is online participation has been abandoned.  They lost and gave up.  This is why the second reveal was so telling.  We know that Camry has been dethroned by the loss of favor for sedans.  We know that RAV4 has become king.  This is why my prediction of something between the two in the form of a crossover was a no-brainer.  In fact, it should have been obvious to everyone.  It did indeed happen too.  Venza has re-emerged.  It will be only offered as a hybrid.  It will come with AWD.  It will blend Sedan & SUV nicely.  Delivering 40 MPG combined, seeing it become a choice to help with the phaseout of traditional vehicles is no surprise.  It's right on time.


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