Personal Log  #1019

July 12, 2020  -  July 18, 2020

Last Updated:  Sun. 7/19/2020

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Android Auto.  Exactly as expected, the new model Prius Prime will include Android Auto.  It wasn't ready last year.  Many people refused to look at detail of the situation though.  They used it on their phone and just assumed that would seamlessly integrate into the automotive use without any need for modification.  They were wrong, but were unwilling to check facts.  That was a very frustrating situation.  Avoiding detail is never good.  They just got frustrated, then complained.  Absence of critical thinking has become the major contributor to most problems now.  In the past, that was reflected in sound bites.  Now, it is memes.  There is a cultural foundation now well established here to avoid complexity.  It's an expectation of simple solutions.  Working hard for a reward has been replaced with getting a lot for a little.  In other words, taking shortcuts comes at a cost.  This was a great example.  Toyota could have delivered immediately upon the first release, but it would have been a step backward due to the continuous need to push updates and support the work-arounds in between.  Why rush to market when you know it isn't ready?  Toyota knew.  Those complaining refused to accept that.

7-17-2020 Enough Already.  The resident troll on the big Prius forum... the one who never quotes his replies, always posts in lower case, and rarely provides any actual detail... crossed the line again.  It was this: "is this the anti bev guy?"  That was in response to a thread started that featured a Toyota executive highlighting some of the upcoming new offerings.  His comment had nothing whatsoever productive to contribute to the discussion (it was only the second post) and it clearly an effort to divert attention away from the topic at hand.  That's what trolls do.  There was no value or even any point to posting that... other than for his own amused.  Quite annoyed by how he frequently lowers the value of discussion by interjecting such obvious waste into threads, I fired back with:

Toyota is making a serious effort to phaseout traditional vehicles.  Any automaker can rollout token vehicles to exploit tax-credits and garnish praise.  That does virtually nothing to actually change the status quo, even if it does provide a BEV model.  So, taking a stance out of context isn't helping anyone. In fact, it can be counter-productive as an enabler.

That target of 40% electrification for 2025 is looking realistic.  It sets the stage for easy transition to plug-in offerings.  The resistance we are seeing from dealers now will fade away as they witness firsthand how well the first phase went.  Key to that is making the choice of hybrid effortless.  With Sienna & Venza, that strategy is undeniable, since they will be hybrid only.  With RAV4, sales in June reached a tipping point... a tiny bit over 50% were hybrid.  As the spread continues across the fleet, the sustainability becomes undeniable.

Far too often, we see impatience blind people from logic.  The economics of change is challenging.  Taking a bottom-up approach, as Toyota continues to do, makes it easy to draw incorrect conclusions.  Think about battery supply.  The unexpected surge in popularity for RAV4 hybrid was met without any recognition.  So what if that cause a ramp-up of RAV4 Prime to take longer?  It was an opportunity for Toyota to take advantage of... so they did.

In other words, stop with the label attempts.  Otherwise, posts with clarification will continue to be posted.  It serves no purpose to single out a person anyway.  The bigger picture involves worldwide production & distribution for a very wide variety of vehicles.  No amount of cherry-picking will change that.


Complacency.  There is upset that yet another automaker reveal includes a statement about our market not being included in rollout plans.  We have become complacent in the United States, taking things for granted and not doing our part to better the world.  Of course, that's putting it politely.  Being more succinct, we are selfish.  It's sad to have to say that.  But after a decade of watching the Volt enthusiasts try to justify overkill, there's no denying it.  Today's stir came from Jeep announcing 2 upcoming PHEV models, neither of which we'll be getting here.  This was the spin: "The establishment is only interested in playing the compliance game in North America. None of them care about the environment, only meeting regulations."  There is always some type of deflection.  Rather than take any responsibility, it's an effort to blame someone else.  Ugh.  In return, I posted:  Don't overlook the enablers.  We have had a decade here of "vastly superior" nonsense, a push from early-adopters to focus on want rather than need.  Everyone reading this should be well aware of that obsession for more.  There was never an effort to balance priorities or demonstrate patience.  That blindness from speed, power, and range is what reinforced our reputation for not taking priorities seriously.  So, there was simply no gain from wasting resources here... which is a really sad statement about us.  Look through topics posted over the past month.  Notice the pattern of dismissal & disregard?  Automakers are focusing on other markets, hoping we'll get our priorities straightened out in the meantime.  In other words, that perspective of "playing the compliance game" does have some truth to it.  Problem is, the reasons why are not being addressed.


Nissan Ariya.  It was revealed today.  Nissan went all out.  300 mile of EV range... for $40,000.  That puts it way out of the reach for the masses.  It is the way things typically start in a wider market though.  It will help to bring about a standard finally too.  CHAdeMO is getting dropped in favor of CCS.  That's the DC fast-charging standard much hoped for in Europe and the United States.  Lack of anything agreed upon within the industry was one of the bigger reasons why BEV adoption has been so slow.  Another reason is cost of providing higher tier speeds... it's very, very expensive.  Anywho, the vehicle itself is quite nice.  Nissan seems to have done an excellent job pursuing the market for those of whom have extra money to spend on transportation.  The specifications aren't in the luxury realm though.  Closer to the Tesla offerings would have bumped the price-tag up even higher.  So, it's a bit more down-to-earth of a configuration.  That's encouraging from any of the automakers once they move beyond initial offerings.  This design gives the impression of complimentary vehicles later, with this being the premiere choice.  Configurations that are more modest seems realistic when you look close at some key details.  That's much like RAV4 Prime.  You can see a smaller sibling to come next.  So, kudos to Nissan for keeping at it.  This makes me wonder when eyes will turn to Hyundai.  They have been quietly selling lots of Kona, which is positioned more like Bolt.  But again, our lack of a standard isn't helping matters.


Doing It Right.  I was asked if I knew whether the RAV4 Prime used the same transaxle as the RAV4 hybrid.  That's the kind of constructive thinking we need more of.  Rarely does any discussion take us into actual detail, especially something that tackles anything beyond capacity or power.  I know how Prius has evolved over the years, improving upon past design in ways most people will never be aware.  There are many engineering choices.  This is why knowing audience is vital.  You can tune the design to the preference of the buyer.  That means a wide variety of choices are possible.  Choosing the right configuration takes very careful consideration.  Anywho, I replied to that with:  That question carries us into the next stage of mainstream penetration.  Sweet!  Until now, it has a basic approach.  Quite unlike the traditional market, variation wasn't addressed.  Asking about transaxle is like asking about clutches.  There wasn't much attention to detail, but there was an understanding of performance differences.  One that's more robust or had a different tooth count alters what the system is capable of.  In this case, that would have an impact to towing-capacity and electric-efficiency.  As for the precise specs of RAV4, I really don't know.  There is only the knowledge of the design supporting variety... which is absolutely vital when you want to spread that technology across the fleet.  This is the very reason why rollout speed isn't a primary focus.  It's all about doing it right, not doing it quickly.


Troll Attacks.  There are a number of us who routinely get targeted.  Each time, it is a personal attack loaded with insults.  Sometimes, they will throw in some disparaging about the technology too.  It's all the same... just a waste.  Those posts contribute nothing to the discussion.  The effort is to harm & distract.  I rarely bother addressing the poster anymore.  They just look for antagonist material, throwing back whatever you supply.  It doesn't work well if you comment to someone else about that instead.  So, that's what I'll do.  My reply ends up going to someone else directly involved, as if I am giving them a nudge to share some information discreetly.  It tends to work out well.  This was the example today in response to an article highlighting the market for RAV4 Prime:  The reason for such attitude is having a fundamental argument fall apart.  Attacks against Toyota were focused entirely on Prius Prime, never bothering to actually read the detail provided.  That information shared was about approach, how the hybrid design inherently supported a plug.  All that was necessary was additional battery-capacity and a one-way clutch.  The rest of the propulsion system was already in place, a very important plan-ahead strategy.  Now, there is undeniable proof it from RAV4 Prime... which completely debunks the nonsense we've had to deal with.


Mainstream.  I liked when a cornered enthusiasts attempts to alter a definition or focus.  Like when they attempt to change goals, it reveals their level of desperation.  Anywho, I got this as a reply: "You are claiming I'm an early adopter, which was true 7 years ago when I bought my first PHEV.  But I became a mainstream buyer when I realized an EV is a better car."  Notice the attempt to change from vehicle to buyer?  Remember the low-hanging fruit problem?  I certainly did and wanted no part of that game:  To be a mainstream vehicle, it cannot be subsidized and must be commonly available to compete directly with the wide selection of other offerings available.  That is not the case yet with plug-in choices.  The reason for this should be obvious; an automaker must make sustainable profit.  Offering a niche that is promoted through government incentives does not fulfill that requirement.  Once we see sales ramp up to volumes similar to traditional vehicles without any outside dependency, then it has become mainstream.  Until then, it is still a niche with lots of potential.  There is nothing to argue when it comes to business essentials.  The cold, hard reality of economics is something even the best of engineering and most sincere of green intent is challenged to overcome.  Automakers build vehicles to make money, period.


Misrepresentation.  Conquest sales of Volt were to early-adopters who had no loyalty whatsoever to GM.  When the next opportunity came, they abandoned ship.  Many ended up purchasing a Model 3.  It's ironic how they repeated the very history they complained most about.  But there it is.  That played out exactly as anticipated.  So now, there's quite a bit of effort to misrepresent that pace.  The most common means of doing that is to make up false claims of how a plug-in hybrid functions.  For example: "Many PHEV owners will be annoyed that when they drive it like their previous ICE it will run as an ICE most of the time anyway."  That doubles as an excuse, reasoning for their own abandonment.  I find it both hypocritical and telling.  Such a reveal is difficult to walk back afterward, so I do my best to corner them right away.  This time, it was:  That isn't at all how a PHEV like either of the Primes actually operates.  The drive is 100% electric, unless you go out of your way to switch it out of the default EV mode for extra power.  And even then, demands for power above the maximum electric-only threshold are brief... a minute or two, not even remotely close to "most of the time".  Fortunately, a showroom shopper won't make that same assumption.  They'll take a test drive and notice the engine never started or not care and just see amazing MPG.  They know the engine will run at some point. It's a matter of appealing to their balance of purchase priorities.  There is no purity requirement.  You are an early-adopter, viewing the market through the eyes of an enthusiast.  There's nothing wrong with that.  In fact, emphasis on a "no gas" experience is perfectly fine.  But buying a Volt, then having replaced it with a Model 3 is no way representative of what a mainstream shopper will experience.  Again, know your audience.


Performance At Any Speed.  In an article comparing PHEV efficiency ratings, a Volt owner brought up the same old bragging rights about acceleration.  After 10 years of that trait failing to attract anything beyond the early-adopter audience, you'd think there would be recognition of it being an unsuccessful appeal approach.  Clearly, that's not the case.  Some never figure it out.  Yet again, I had to point out why:  That's called a red-herring, when a point is made but there's nothing about it beneficial or even related to the topic.  In this case, that trait for Volt didn't achieve anything toward being a "game changer".  Owners gloated for years about an ability which didn't serve that purpose.  Why would a vehicle specially designed to seamlessly blend motor & engine do everything possible to avoid ever using the engine?  That never made any sense.  The design was self-deprecating.  It sent a mixed message about purpose, contributing to confusion... giving ordinary consumers even more of a reason not to bother.  Clarity of purpose is vital.  GM still hasn't learned that lesson.  Toyota has made it obvious, who is phasing out traditional vehicles with a message no one can deny understanding.  You want a regular hybrid, you purchase the "self-charging" type featured in their advertisements.  You want one that plugs in, you buy one with a "Plug-In Hybrid" emblem that has "Prime" in its name.  This is how an automaker moves their entire fleet forward.  Think about what someone on the showroom floor is looking for.  What appeals to an ordinary consumer?  They couldn't care less about a "performance at any speed" ability.  That is a worth for enthusiasts, not mainstream shoppers.  Know your audience.

7-12-2020 Lip Service.  It's ironic how a statement like this reflects the person's own action: "To me, they are still playing lip service to plug in vehicles... Toyota are a company that really does not want to sell you a car that will do any distance on Battery."  It was clear he hadn't considered anything else, that he was just passing along the mantra others had echoed.  Ugh.  Oh well, it was yet other opportunity to share some perspective:

GM clearly never wanted to sell a plug-in that would in any way impact their traditional offerings.  Volt was a compact hatchback, a vehicle sharing no resemblance to what their own loyal customers were interested in. How come there weren't complaints about that total absence of any effort to actually change their status quo?  It's just so hypocritical for a blind-eye to have been turned on such blatant behavior.  Toyota was made a target as an excuse to draw attention away from GM's disinterest and continues to be.  Enthusiasts needed a scapegoat.

Of course, it is rather disingenuous to make the "does not want to" claim an absolute.  Anyone who takes the time to study the situation will end up instead seeing a slow pace from Toyota, not disinterest.  The platform used by Prius Prime is shared with Corolla & Lexus UX.  The crossover available as a hybrid is a very strong candidate to become a plug-in hybrid.  That SUV is already available in limited quantity as a EV with a 54.3 kWh battery-capacity.  And now we see a larger platform also beginning to offer a plug.  So the more you look at it, the more it becomes a matter of confirming change from a difficult-to-notice perspective.

In other words, Toyota is demonstrating a real effort to make change happen.  So what if the methods doesn't meet your expectations for approach?  Those subtle moves... even if in low volume... are stirring their base.  That's the point, not high-volume sales right away.  Dealers are seeing things happen, enough seemingly small moves forward to add up to fundamentals getting a shake up.  Think about how much of a core product RAV4 has become.  Think about how much attention they are drawing to it.  Think about how much of an expectation of change they are setting. That's what makes them different.

Put another way, don't listen to the narrative... cherry-picked examples.  Consider what the entire collection of facts mean to making the necessary paradigm shift.  Complexities of breaking status quo cannot be addressed by focusing entirely on advertisements of the moment.


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