Personal Log  #1011

June 7, 2020  -  June 10, 2020

Last Updated:  Sun. 7/19/2020

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Operational Assumptions, part 2.  Sure enough, he was receptive to the exchange of information, following up with this ask: "Is the reason why they are not using MG1 in Hybrid because they may need at any moment to start the engine?"  Reading stuff like that is always encouraging.  I contributed more to the dialog:  Think of MG1 as a second battery-pack.  It provides a balance for the engine during hybrid operation, allowing it to maintain a fairly constant RPM.  That's how some efficiency is achieved.  That also results in MG1 acting as a generator, supplying electricity for both immediate consumption and storage for use later.  It is also used for engine startup, but reaction speed is so fast it is a non-issue.


Operational Assumptions, part 1.  He truly had no idea, but certainly tried to figure it out: "I'm not sure about the comment at 8m20s implies that they are downgrading the electrical power in hybrid mode compared to electric only.  The reason why the electrical power and the gas power don't add up to 121HP is because they are MAX powers: the electrical power curve and gas power curves have a different profile and don't max at the same point.  It is the same with every hybrid."  I appreciate efforts like that, when there is an obvious attempt at critical thinking.  He was wrong, but that doesn't matter when you are having a constructive exchange.  In fact, those can turn out to be great teaching moments.  I gave it a shot:  HV mode only uses MG2 for traction power.  EV mode combines MG2 with MG1 through the use of a one-way clutch (to disengage the gas-engine) for traction power.  So, there is indeed a downgrading that takes place when switching from electric-only to hybrid operation... or an upgrade, if you are looking at it from a perspective of figuring out why the Prime model offers more from EV mode than the regular hybrid.

6-10-2020 Reliability.  It both started and ended bad: "Being present rather than being flat footed when the market blows up....  Of course there are the losers on the sidelines who pooh-pooh the EV market because they know they cannot compete in it."  Despite being a new audience (RAV4 Prime has definitely stirred new interest), I recognize the attitude.  Now, I'm working to confirm background & motive:

Are you aware that mainstream buyers (ordinary consumers, those shopping showroom floors) will recognize "EV" as any vehicle offering a plug? In other words, a PHEV will indicate just as much of a statement of foothold as a BEV.  After all, both represent a clear step away from traditional choices.

The reasoning for that is pretty basic, as is the mindset of the typical vehicle owner.  They will recognize a stated range as miles you can drive using electricity provided when the vehicle was plugged in to recharge.  That's it.  No other knowledge will be leveraged.  Remember, KISS is a vital part of reaching the masses... who are essential for the necessary growth of "EV".

Think about that message being sent from the automaker.  Whether or not there is long-distance capacity or if the vehicle includes an engine for travel beyond depletion won't have any influence on assessment of reliability... which is how an ordinary consumer will judge automaker progress into the "EV" market.

Put another way, the same priorities for mainstream buyers remain.  Is the technology reliable? Establishing proof that an automaker's plug offering is trustworthy technology is what will validate having moved forward.  It's the same old grading system we've had for decade... A, B, C, D or F.  Once a high grade is achieved, volume from non-enthusiast purchases will follow.


Charge-Mode.  There was a great review on RAV4 Prime today, part of the flood of videos posted from a variety of sources.  This batch was the walk-around type, giving us the first close-ups of stuff inside and out.  The layout is very, very nice.  Even without the performance information (we'll be getting that in early July), it is easy to tell the wait for delivery will be painfully long.  Anywho, a reviewer said he couldn't find any information anywhere on whether or not the battery-pack could be charged using the engine.  I was a bit let down and baffled, since the button now indicates that ability with a "hold" note.  Oh well.  It was my invite to chime in with detail:  There is indeed a function to recharge the battery-pack using the engine.  It's a feature I have found handy on long trips, where your destination does not have an outlet or charger available.  This allows you to save up a little electricity for later, when you have short-trip to run (preventing the need for an engine warm-up cycle) or you simply want to pre-condition the cabin remotely before driving.  Hold the HV/EV button down for at least 3 seconds.  That will activate Charge-Mode.  What's most interesting about Charge-Mode is that it provides electricity at double the usual level-2 rate.  So, rather than seeing a sustained 3.6 kW, you get a flow of electricity averaging 7.2 kW.  The rate fluctuates, since the system strives to squeeze out MPG efficiency at the same time.  From 0% to 80% of EV capacity takes about 40 minutes while driving.

6-09-2020 Calling Them Outdated.  Worry stirred by RAV4 Prime is obvious.  Purists were so hoping the death of Volt would cause all plug-in hybrid offerings to fall apart.  They hadn't anticipated such a strong new offering from Toyota.  There is an effort to downplay by claiming the time has passed for such designs, that only BEV are worth investing in now.  Of course, that requires more of the pretending business is not important approach.  I found in intriguing it was actually stated in such a way: "From an engineering standpoint it clear that PHEVs don't make sense anymore..."  For all those years, I pointed out how an engineering-only perspective meant doom.  I was confirmed correct too.  That doesn't stop them from rewriting history by pretending that past never took place.  They just acknowledge existence and pretend it was never important.  Ugh.  Obviously, I won't settle for that:

Lesson learned from the GM disaster was making decisions based on engineering alone is a futile endeavor.  It was amazing how many argued that wasn't the case.  They were proven wrong, very wrong.  Neglecting business was a terrible choice.  Those who pointed out the imbalance got attacked for their critical thinking.  Volt became an great industry example of exactly what not to do.

In other words, you cannot ignore how dealers conduct sales.  What they carry for inventory and how potential buyers are interacted with is vital.  Dismissing that as important was a horrible mistake made with Volt.  Feedback was the technology was very appealing, but the packaging horrible.

GM's own loyal customers wanted absolutely nothing to do with a compact hatchback.  Refusing to acknowledge that and having an army of enablers (Volt enthusiasts) defending the course GM was taking spelled doom.  Rather than investing in PHEV to transform it back to a SUV platform (ironically, it originated that way from a plug-in Two-Mode prototype), they abandoned the effort... since it was far too late.

So, we now get excuses validating the decision, using idealistic reasoning rather than recognizing the current state of the market and the current state of charging infrastructure.  It also turns a blind-eye to growing resistance from the oil industry.  PHEV provide far more potential for fighting back, simply because their numbers can grow much faster than BEV.


More Attacks.  The same people trying the same rhetoric... it never ends.  They attack those pointing out their ways too.  In this case, it was misrepresentation about Toyota.  I wasn't part of it.  In fact, it was on a website I rarely participate.  But it was a friend who would appreciate an ally there, so I jumped in with:  The dying brand is those who still think contributing to the greater good could possibly be motivated to do so without financial incentive.  Just to a quick search on YouTube for a dose of reality.  There countless "how to" videos out there where people simply share information about something they have helpful knowledge of.  It's their passion and they find it rewarding to participate online with a level of detail others lack.  In my case, I have a passion for digital video.  As a result, I am able to share a wealth of real-world data in very high quality format.  So, I do... and get attacked on a regular basis for providing such material... claiming I must be getting paid, that I would have no other motivation.  That is just plain not true, but they don't care.  Their point is to undermine the message by making the discussion personal, rather than focusing on the data.  My advice to those having to deal with the same nonsense is to keep pushing real-world data.  The more detail you can provide, the harder time those claiming you are paid for doing so.  Provide them with lots of detail.  Eventually, your message becomes the focus simply because you are enabling participants to make judgment for themselves.  As for the rhetoric about Toyota, notice the absence of any material supporting that claim.  It's just another effort to distract from the message.


Easier Now.    The vastly superior nonsense never really went away.  Failing to see the big picture... failing to understand the technology... failing to recognize the business... they all contributed to that mindset.  Fortunately, the beliefs of enthusiasts don't matter anymore.  Rhetoric from them simply doesn't have the influence in had in the past.  Phew!  We do still have to deal with their perspective though: "I drove more Volt for about 8 years.  I loved it.  I did get tired of banging my head against the wall on destination chargers at my work..."  Thankfully, I find that quite a bit easier now:

Yet with such insightful observations of that experience, you still don't acknowledge the "vastly superior" irony.   That should indicate to everyone else how easy it is to fall into the idealistic trap.  You're reasoning for BEV makes sense.  It's all quite valid.  But in the here & now, that just plain does not work.  The market you desire won't arrive until an entire next-generation of BEV runs its course.

What's offered now is far too expensive, there's almost no charging infrastructure with respect to vehicle population, and the technology still has to prove itself robust.  All that takes time.  It will happen.  You will see the numbers grow significantly.  But in the meantime, hundreds of millions of vehicles with an ICE will be produced.  Racing to get those vehicles to include as large of a battery-pack as realistic is monumentally beneficial.  Don't dismiss that reality.

Remember, the current barrier is not the technology.  It is the sales process.  Dealers simply are not interested in keeping BEV in their inventory.  Heck, the best of them will only stock a few.  It's sad... an inconvenient truth.  So, we must address it.  PHEV is overwhelming the best compromise, a balance of priorities appealing to a very wide audience.  With that approach, the popular selling vehicle can be offered as a plug-in hybrid model.

That actually makes it a "vastly superior" solution for this point in time.  In fact, getting as many PHEV on the road as possible is what will push the penetration of BEV deep into the mainstream.  Appealing to just enthusiasts means little... as the "vastly superior" history has taught us.


Supposed Backing.  Each time I read a statement like this, it provides a better glimpse into the assumptions many are making: "I wonder how confident Toyota and GM feel about backing Trump's emissions rules at the moment.  They seem to have backed the wrong horse."  I tend to request detail to explain their observation.  Almost nothing is ever provided in response.  From replies I get, there isn't ever any substance.  It's just more rhetoric.  They pass along what they read without any thought.  More and more, evidence mindless posting is becoming obvious.  So, I usually post information like this as a follow up:  It isn't actually a backing.  That perception comes from not knowing what takes place when rules change.  It is awareness of the litigation fight that happens when each state attempts to adopt CARB.  That turns into massive waste of resources... which is why Toyota wants a national standard instead.


Series Hybrid.  This is becoming less and less of a surprise: "Volt showed the way with the series hybrid but almost a decade later and it's not moved forward a single step."  I'm getting confirmation that some who supported Volt never actually understood how it operated.  They were arguing based on assumption and never bothered to research.  I first came to that realization when the dismissal of facts started to give the impression that they were recognizing what they had seen.  Lack of any acknowledgement was a clue.  You can't have critical thinking if there is no thought of any sort.  In other words, they were just passing along rhetoric.  Ugh.  So, I confront issues like that a little differently now, as I did today:  It's rather bizarre how some people still believe Volt was a series hybrid.  It absolutely was not.  Some of us clearly remember the "direct drive" uproar when it was discovered that the engine contribute propulsion power, not just electricity generation.  Volt featured some parallel operation with gen-1 and expanded upon that with gen-2.  The BMW i3 design was what GM originally planned to deliver, but never actually did.  In other words, Volt has far more in common with RAV4 Prime than anyone wants to admit.  In fact, the technology would have made a great offering for Equinox.  Though, GM's design is more expensive than Toyota's... unnecessarily so, hence no effort to ever deliver.  Ford, on the other hand, is striving to deliver an affordable plug-in hybrid SUV.  That should help stir the market.


Video:  Windy Summer Drive.  I was looking forward to a repeat of the previous drive, a standardized measure I have plotted out to gauge battery degradation.  Just like with my previous plug-in Prius, there isn't any.  Confirming that requires repetition of the same driving conditions & circumstances to match the past.  So, that's what I have been waiting for.  The hope was it would come soon; instead, my opportunity to film faced an element of weather I hadn't really ever filmed.  Being extremely windy turned into an opportunity.  Since it would be a round-trip, I was curious if I could measure its influence with this route & timing.  So, I took advantage of the situation.  Same drive as in the past, but very windy this time.  I was curious what kind of impact the wind would have on overall efficiency, especially when traveling a familiar round trip.  You aren't going to gain back everything lost from a headwind when you turn around and get pushed by it.  There are always losses.  I had never quantified that though.  This routine drive I take for measuring range was the ideal to repeat under those conditions. So, I did.  Watch the variety of gauges as the EV range is consumed.  You can see both "usable" capacity and true capacity of the battery-pack.  There's other important information too, like temperature and kW draw.  Follow this link to view it...  Windy Summer Drive

6-07-2020 Goals.  It is nice when someone actually asks a question of goals: "What is the goal here?  If it is reduction in CO2 emissions, Toyota is doing fine."  The brainless following of more EV range being better and no engine is ever a good thing marches on.  Absence of critical thinking is the theme. 

Reduction of carbon & smog emissions has been highest on the list of priorities since way back in 1993 when it all started.  An implied benefit from that was the consumption reduction.  Originally, that meant oil.  Now, there is a very clear success record of delivering high-efficiency EV components... a very real problem for other automakers.

You don't just want to shift consumption to a new fuel.  You want to also ensure it doesn't waste it.  That's why the topic of KWH/MI rating causes such a stir.  There are some electric systems that guzzler electricity.  Toyota takes great pride for being an automaker not included in that list, even if it means having to deal with misrepresentation as a result.

RAV4 Prime demonstrates the effort to refine technology of the components within, prior to rolling out a dedicated platform.  The priority is setting the stage for a smooth high-volume introduction.  They will have years of real-world experience from their PHEV before even introducing an everyday BEV for the masses.  You can see shared knowledge coming from their EV in China and their FCEV around the world too.

So really, those goal is actually a series of milestone.  Each part contributes to the bigger picture.  So, things like pushing range further or recharging faster don't address the diminishing return from resource allocation.  Remember, one important priority often overlooked is time.  A large & diverse fleet of PHEV now will do far more than a niche offering of BEV now.


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