Personal Log  #1024

August 2, 2020  -  August 7, 2020

Last Updated:  Tues. 10/13/2020

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High-Speed AC Charging.  It is a pointless topic... which makes it no surprise GM is now exploiting it.  To utilize this ability at home, it's very expensive.  So much so, Tesla actually dropped it.  There really wasn't appeal.  Yet, that is the very thing GM decided to promote with their reveal of Cadillac's upcoming first BEV for this market.  That type of pointless focus is the first of what is expected to be many warning signs.  Remember how we went through this same thing with Volt, how GM would focus on traits without any substantive value?  Ugh.  Here's how I replied to that:  19.2 kW is the maximum spec for SAE J1772 charging.  It sounds great on paper, but that level of charging ability isn't realistic for most.  It requires AC service with a dedicated 100-amp line.  Think about the limitation households have for recharging more than a single vehicle at the same time.  It obviously gets much more expensive to increase panel & wire capacity.  For perspective, a 40-amp line (which supplies the common 6.6 kW rate, 7.7 max drawing 32 amps) will deliver about 200 miles in 8 hours.  Setting up a garage with 2 dedicated 50-amp lines is the most likely scenario for those trying to be realistic about fast at-home charging.  That bumps speed to 10 kW max.  Justifying more than that for overnight charging (the duration which discounts are offered) would be difficult with such a large battery-pack to begin with.  What purpose would it serve?  Finding that AC speed in any commercial setting is even less realistic.  Not only is that expensive, it simply doesn't make sense when DC can provide so much faster charging.  In other words, it's pretty much just the newest gimmick now that acceleration & horsepower have grown well beyond the practical ceiling.


Confused.  This reply was great: "High-speed internet requires huge investments in high-bandwidth cables and infrastructure while EVs basically need electrical outlets."  It was a response to me about how I used the analogy of high-speed internet availability challenges reflect how much effort it will take to get high-speed charging.  The internet access takes much less; yet, it still hasn't happened for a surprisingly large chunk of the population.  So, a realistic expectation needs to be set for chargers.  Since most arguments are completely absent of detail, it's almost pointless to argue.  A basic understanding of components & cost and what consumers actually need almost never materializes.  At best, we get random numbers thrown about.  That's how I know it's going to take a very long time still for any type of momentum to build, especially here in the United States.  Not even recognizing the issues will make solving them a series of hopeless battles.  However, a small few do pay attention.  Posting information does pay off eventually.  So, I keep at it:  Wow, that's quite a confused understanding of the situation.  Getting high-speed internet to the masses is a matter of bouncing the signal from tower to tower, then finally to the person's wireless device.  The only infrastructure is on the commercial side, an investment by the provider.  Getting high-speed charging to the masses requires an update to the household/parking location, an infrastructure update paid for by the individual.  Each BEV requires a dedicated 40-amp line & circuit.  That capacity will provide about 200 miles of range from 8 hours of charging.  Having less power available at the outlet means longer recharge times.  Some locations simply cannot support that without a service-panel upgrade and the install of new wires.  In short, it is far from a basic need... and it gets even more complicated (which translate to expensive) when you consider how to support multiple BEV in the same location.


Advancing Forward.  It's like some of the antagonists aren't paying attention at all: "Hybrid should be the new default engine.  It's the lowest hanging fruit."  Some simply are clueless.  Some do all they can to impede.  It really doesn't matter much anymore.  Their agenda is difficult to push with so much working against them now.  I find it easier and easier to convey that now too:  That's exactly what is happening with the Toyota fleet.  A large portion of their vehicles are now offered with a hybrid option and 2 of the newest are hybrid only... the Sienna minivan and the Venza crossover.  Prius, Corolla, and RAV4 have the plug-in hybrid available in select markets too.  So, it isn't just low-hanging fruit.  That's a breaking of the status quo, a true advance of the entire base forward.


Purity Argument.  The attacks on plug-in hybrids for allowing ICE (Internal Combustion Engines) to continue to be put into service are endless.  There's a argument for purity, an insistence that the mere availability is defeat.  It's a "play the victim" move.  They are unwilling to address any benefit whatsoever.  Unless it is an absolute, it doesn't matter.  That's not reality.  Yet, we get it on a regular basis anyway: "3 million more ICEs to get off the road *sigh*.  Refusal to acknowledge that a 42-mile capacity would dramatically reduce ICE usage.  42 miles per day is a lot.  That's over 15,000 miles per year just from overnight recharging.  Adding EV miles during the day also increases the overall gain... if you actually drive that far.  If your commute is shorter, it's all a wash.  100% electric is their goal, isn't it?  So what if there is an engine on-board?  There's no way to push the "dead weight" argument anymore, since battery capacities are growing far beyond daily need.  So, they pretend there is nothing to discuss.  I get annoyed, hoping others will notice how the poster is really just an antagonist without any sound reasoning to argue.  When it comes to attacks on Toyota, there is always an invitation available to express that sentiment too.  With over 15 million hybrids sold, they make a large target.  I'm happy to join into that fight with some simple logic to expose argument shortcomings:  Such a significant improvement over traditional vehicles should not be so callously implied.  The reduction of both CARBON and SMOG type emissions from those hybrids is quite significant, not to mention the reduced consumption of gas.  No other automaker has had an impact on such a large scale.


Too Late.  I find these declarations quite amusing: "Right now, not for the foreseeable future...  Not even in its home market, Japan.  Toyota might be too late to save at this point."  It is a prediction of doom.  That polarized mindset of either failing entirely or being the ultimate winner is not based in reality.  In fact, it is absurd to think there is no possibility of adaptation.  You learn and adjust.  Nope, they see it as drawing a conclusion already and proclaiming victory.  Ugh.  Having watched the consequences of such a narrow view of the world has provided an endless source of blogging material.  I write these entries to think through recent exchanges.  Then, I look back years later at the failed predictions they made with the hope of becoming more adapt at squashing them.  After all, that daily blog for Volt became a fake news source.  People didn't realize such a thing was possible, despite me desperately trying to point out how their meritless hype was influencing automaker decisions.  They could manipulate executives by turning propaganda into difficult to detect rhetoric.  They learned the art of deception.  I had little power... back then... to fight back.  Now with video and lots of documentation, it is much easier.  Anywho, this is how I responded:  Too late for what?  Their design of PHEV and EV continues to spread, proving robust & reliable in the process.  That's a very important part of change.  Being able to produce a high-volume of something not able to check those boxes isn't how you achieve change that's both profitable & sustainable.  Remember, sales beyond the "foreseeable future" won't have the benefit of government incentives.  So, taking the time to establish a new normal is fine.  That's the right way to approach business change.  Rushing can have consequences.


Missing, rebuttal.  As the argument gets older and older, the point becomes clearer and the response easier.  That comes from recognizing patterns.  You look for the repetition.  This antagonist was putting everything on range.  Nothing else mattered, not even emissions.  It was absolutely vital his requirements were 100% met.  Understanding the 90-10 rule was clearly outside of his knowledge or experience.  That's the way it had to be, period.  Anything else was looked upon as failure.  Another way to understand the situation is seeing it from a zero-sum perspective.  There's nothing in between.  Ugh.  That makes any type of rebuttal in vain.  It won't achieve anything with someone so close-minded.  That all-or-none attitude was quite common in the past.  It was one solution for all... which completely misses the point.  I enjoyed drawing attention to the lack of awareness by pointing out the fundamental mix up he had made:  Conflating DESIGN with CONFIGURATION explains the problem.  That incorrect recognition is a fundamental business mistake commonly made... and frequent source of conflict.  Simply adding higher energy-density cells as cost/tech allows is profoundly different from changing how the system itself operates.  That forward-looking approach is what I support.  Putting an arbitrary requirement on capacity is counter-productive.


Missing, argument.  I watched someone start a rant.  It got rather obnoxious.  Others were struggling with him.  Finally, time came for me to step in.  This is what triggered my response: "Why is it so difficult for you to see that I'm asking for a PHEV that functions as an electric car virtually all of the time.  Plug it in at night, unplug it in the morning.  Go about virtually every day in all electric mode?"  Nothing that was posted up to that point satisfied.  He was demanding purity, the very same thing I saw with the EREV nonsense for years.  Those enthusiasts failed, in an epic manner.  How would this stand any type of success with those ramblings of the past simply being repeated?  Of course, now it is worse.  What's available now is clearly an improvement in several categories to that of the past.  Think about how Volt falls short of RAV4 Prime in terms of both technology and audience targeting.  Missing the point to such an extreme is bizarre.  But then again, we have many here who worship the leader tearing our country apart.  It's about want, not need.  That makes it easy to overlook priorities, very easy.  I try to point that out:  That has already been delivered.  How many times must I point that out?  It's bizarre to get such deep denial about that not already being available.  My guess is you are responding based on outdated information, unfamiliar with how some PHEV now operate.


Replacement.  Understanding a paradigm-shift, or as it has been coined "game changer", is difficult.  Most people look for something to base it upon.  That defeats the point when looking for a new way of defining a product or business.  So, we end up in this trap.  With all those years of Volt, focus was on bragging-rights.  That meant you had to have some type of limited scope for making comparisons.  Enthusiasts forced that into an "EV Market" box.  Nothing outside of it mattered... hence the neglect of both dealer & consumer.  That makes bring up entirely new topics about the featured technology a challenge.  They simply don't want to view it from a new perspective.  Every now & then though, you run into someone within that "they" crowd receptive to new ways of approach the problems we have to solve.  I jumped on that opportunity today:  Here's something else to consider...  Above you mentioned cycling & longevity.  What if the owner actually plans on popping in a new pack years later?  Purchasing a BEV with a smaller capacity and driving it really hard, as some type of service vehicle perhaps, is not such a wild idea.  Think about how little the vehicle itself actually ages.  A smaller pack would be less expensive; you would probably get something for the old trade-in too.  Replacement almost restores the vehicle to new.

8-02-2020 BEV Messaging.  The topic of how to promote has growing interest.  Last week had an article, with a follow up today: "Underneath my recent article on this topic, "Is Elon Musk Wrong About An Under-250-Mile Range Model Y?", I'd venture that the vast majority of the 200+ comments agreed with Musk."  I could not resist jumping into this week's commenting on the topic.  Seeing focus take into account more business aspect of sales is vital.  So much of past efforts fell apart due to heavy emphasis on engineering, to the point of neglect.  Enthusiasts figured if it was loaded with impressive specifications, that alone would be enough to sway consumers.  They didn't understand balance.  More is not always better.  Some are learning that the hard way.  Hopefully, discussions taking place now will bring expectations back down to a realistic perspective.  Overkill is not what that audience accepts without struggle.  We'll see.  This was my contribution to that:

That "vast majority" is the wrong audience.  They are enthusiasts, active online participants, a group of individuals not representative of the mainstream.  Ordinary consumers have very different purchase priorities.  In fact, this is how the problem of Innovator's Dilemma comes about... which we all saw play out with Volt.  GM listened closely to feedback from owners, failing to recognize that entire audience was nothing but early-adopters exploiting the opportunity... those who find it rewarding to seek more.

In fact, this is how the rhetoric toward PHEV progress has grown.  Proof that a vehicle with less than 50 miles of EV range works just fine for a large portion of showroom-shoppers undermines the messaging for BEV.  It's exactly as you also stated: "300–400 miles of range is what most Americans want - but they don't actually need it."  However, now that the economy has collapsed, it has become a much harder sell catering to want.  Also, keep in mind that it could be argued that more capacity is needed because people don't trust EV technology yet.  So, consider messaging very carefully.

Focus on need is what automakers like VW and Toyota do.  They appeal to the masses with appliance like vehicles, making profit through high-volume sales.  Tesla thrives on their S3XY approach, standing out by pushing limits of power & range and to offer evolving tech like Autopilot.  However, there is a point of diminishing return.  Elon's recent move to up the minimum to 300 miles was clearly an effort to shift goal-posts.

Ironically, a common argument in the past against PHEV was that they carry around dead-weight, a waste since it's rarely needed.  Those in favor of 300-mile BEV who argued against dead-weight are now in the position of being hypocritical for supporting it.  How often is that long-distance travel capacity actually required?  The cost is not only dead-weight, which clearly reduces efficiency, it also increases the purchase price.  You would be better off with more SuperCharger access instead.

As battery chemistry continues to evolve and infrastructure improves, it makes less and less sense having massive battery-capacity.  A robust pack able to rapid recharge is the future, not adding more cells.


Marketing Gimmicks.  Remember 20 years ago?  That was my first drive in a Prius, when the term "Stealth" mode was coined.  It came about from an observation, not a trait promoted by Toyota.  In fact, there was nothing beyond simple advertising.  The hybrid system delivered cleaner emissions and better efficiency.  It was messaging that carried forward throughout the years and continues today.  Simple.  Easy.  Basic.  There's no complicated promoting like the Volt enthusiasts constantly got entangled with.  Yet, some still think that is the way to market: "Again psychologically, if the ICE engages much of the time, it creates a distrust of the EV system and a dependence on ICE."  That came from a BEV purist attempting to accept the reality of PHEV sales, but unwilling to accept them as designed.  My on-going efforts to explain will likely never get through, but I keep trying:  It doesn't though.  You're just pushing rhetoric.  In fact, you have an army of Volt owners strongly positioned against that claim.  They enjoyed the EV system so much, those instances when the ICE did actually engage became a source of annoyance.  There was never any question of trust.  What reinforced that psychology was the fact that Prius Prime supported the same approach.  Owners thoroughly enjoyed driving in EV, favoring that over the ICE starting.   There wasn't ever a trust issue. Now, we see RAV4 Prime validating the same sentiment.   Your desperate efforts to brand PHEV as having an ICE for emergency-use-only serves no purpose. Who is that supposed to appeal to? Think about sales of RAV4 Prime.  Usage of ICE is already minimized, no marketing gimmick necessary.  Those interested are ordinary consumers already sold on the idea of taking advantage of having a plug.  Their endorsement of EV speaks for itself.


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