Personal Log #1025
August 7, 2020 - August 10, 2020
Last Updated: Tues. 10/13/2020
page #1024 page #1026 BOOK INDEX
Hydrogen. Sensible information gets shared sometimes. Gasp! This was an especially good example: "There's one sector, however, where hydrogen power could be critically important: manufacturing, the part of the economy that makes steel, cement, and basically every other material good. Industrial processes, most of which involve burning fossil fuels on-site for energy, account for over 20 percent of fossil fuel pollution worldwide. Those emissions are notoriously difficult to cut, but experts say that hydrogen, produced with renewable energy, could provide a solution." It messed up the zero-sum approach to problem solving. There's often a bigger picture being overlooked. You can't just focus on what the paper calculations show. Other factors can come into place, innocently overlooked but with serious consequence. Energy must come from somewhere and it often involves tradeoffs. The need to be "green" can sometimes not be ideal. We don't need an ideal solution anyway. Simply going for carbon-neutral is fine. Not making the situation worse can be an acceptable result. Heck, even not being an efficient as possible but the waste coming from renewables isn't so bad either. Better is nice, but what are the tradeoffs. That's how hydrogen comes into play. Think about what else happens besides our personal vehicles needing fuel. We need a variety of resources & approaches to make the world better. It won't all come directly from batteries. That's not easy to accept if you are a purist. I keep reminding them we're on the same team: Hydrogen will have a major commercial & industrial applications. Being able to leverage their technology for both that and some personal vehicle offerings is just part of a strong business portfolio. Toyota will thrive with their variety offerings. The spin about not investing in BEV is falling apart already. With their 2 recent rollouts in China, it's really difficult to claim they are not tending to the BEV market. PHEV just happens to be a very compelling means of getting their dealers to embrace plug-in offerings and sway their loyal customers not quick ready to go all out yet.
Ioniq BEV Family. That was the big announcement today from Hyundai. The "Ioniq" name will go from identifying a single vehicle to being a family name. Several plug-ins will share that name. It's all marketing. If it helps, great. If not, no big deal. Sales are what matter, not labels. That's why this particular comment in response to the announcement was so enlightening: "Toyota does not sell any EVs." Obviously, there are many who are simply unaware of the recent rollouts. No big deal. I was happy to clue them in with: Incorrect. Toyota's rollout of BEVs has begun. Their first 2 are now available in China, the Lexus UX300e and model of C-HR. These resemble their traditional counterparts. 6 with new dedicated BEV platforms are on the way in the next few years. Some were to be shown at the Olympics this summer, highlighting prototypes of the solid-state battery tech they have been working on. That obviously got delayed. But since Toyota is a major sponsor and the games will take place next year, they may simply get revealed then instead. After all, none of the other automaker reveals are for anything soon anyway.
Change. The topic has been getting quite a stir lately: "If GM doesn't move seriously towards EVs, and if EVs are inevitable, that means that GM will die and other companies will take over." The recent reveal of Lyric actually ended up raising a lot more questions than providing answers. It's like we know less know about GM's intent than we did for "Battery Day" in the Spring. What is the role of this late 2022 debut? Will almost nothing happen in the meantime? What will follow? For those who were screaming "behind" about Toyota, this puts them in a very hypocritical position. So, I keep asking questions: How would one define "serious" move? Remember all the "success" of Volt in the past? There was always a sense of ambiguity followed by moving of goal posts. Nothing ever changed at dealerships. Wasn't that the point? Lyric got revealed just now but won't be available for over 2 years still. It will be the vehicle to bring about the new chemistry & packaging. How does that in any way help the Bolt EUV coming next year? Will that new Chevy still use the current generation battery? We don't get any detail in these press releases. That's the same old game GM has been playing for a decade. What has actually changed?
Parallel vs. Series, thank you. To my complete surprise, I got a very polite response to my "you are wrong" post. Being blunt like that made me feel uncomfortable. Even with trolls, I always want to be polite. This had push the limit. I was a little terse, but had good reason. It paid off. I got a thank you for providing detail to clarify the situation. So, I returned that with some background and more facts: I had no idea how to properly convey that. There is so much variety, as well as outdated information, it's really difficult to get such a message out. The bizarre part about how far along the technology has come is seeing a larger vehicle, like RAV4 hybrid, deliver both cleaner emissions and better efficiency than "green" vehicles of the past. What it really boils down to is the ability to produce small, light weight combustion-engine components optimized for hybrid operation. The bulk of the power comes from the electric-motor, with a shortcoming of losing torque as RPM gets really high. That's where the engine can join in to help. It's that combination of the two which delivers such impressive results. With a plug-in hybrid, you have more battery to work with. That equates to the torque drop happening later than with a hybrid. So, you can be cruising along at 70 mph on the highway and still have EV power available for passing. It's just a matter of having more electricity at the ready. An interesting bit of trivia from my Prius Prime driving experience is that Charge-Mode will deliver a 7.2 kW flow of electricity for recharging the battery-pack and while also getting 37 MPG for efficiency when cruising at 65 mph. Obviously, that type of operation is only possible with a parallel type hybrid. But even so, you wouldn't expect such results.
Parallel vs. Series, being blunt. There was a rant posted about the superiority of a SERIES hybrid compared to PARALLEL. That was a very odd argument to come out of nowhere, one long dead too. It was a question long ago answered put in a seemingly new light. I was rather confused about audience & intent. So, I risked posting a direct counter. Telling someone they are wrong isn't in my nature; however, it can prove useful. Sometimes the person honestly doesn't know and your interjection actually saves them from embarrassment. That makes takes the chance somewhat worth it. In this case, I gave it a shot: Wow! There is so much incorrect information there, even bothering makes a person wonder if it would make a difference. The problem with that post is it's loaded with assumptions & generalizations. Taking the time to study outcomes of the variety of designs rolled out would understand. There are many, some indeed are complex & expensive... but not all. In short, you are wrong. That's easy to say too, simply by sighting how you failed to identify all the requirements. Think about how emission reduction is actually achieved overall, not just while the engine is running. Being able to optimize for recharge in PARALLEL delivers both cleaner operation as well as an improvement to efficiency.
Patience. It's the same old nonsense, a short-sightedness blinding people from looking beyond what's immediately happening. That's typical... or at least, typical in our culture. We have grown to want everything now. That adage of patience has been lost. So, the cycle is endless. Of course, each time further reinforces the message. What's the rush? It came up yet again. So, I used the opportunity yet again: That use of "witness" is anecdotal, a bit of cherry-picked data. At best, it is a weak representation of what might be. It is by no means proof of anything. There simply isn't enough to draw conclusions with yet. The process is slow and there's nothing to do to accelerate it. Simply pushing a product doesn't mean it will sell. You do a limited rollout, usually to selective market segments, then study the outcome. That's what informs you what the next step should be in terms of distribution & promotion. Think about how configuration of packages can make a big difference. Perhaps the market is not as it first seemed and adjustments need to be made accordingly. All that works out great while you are waiting for the time it takes to build reputation. Think how ordinary consumers avoid the purchase of any first-year vehicle. Starting in places where, as you say they don't have a choice, makes it a win-win situation. In short, what would there be to gain by rushing?
Serious. There are sources of integrity. It's not all crazy; though, it certainly seems that way at times. This was a breath of fresh air: "Give PHEV makers, especially Toyota, a little time to get batteries. PHEV's are the best place to put the current expensive, heavy, slow-charging, short-range, limited supply Li-ion battery. PHEV's hide their faults, take advantage of their assets..." I jumped in with: That says it well. RAV4 Prime is what GM had hyped about the potential from for over a decade. We were told about production intent for a 2009 model plug-in Two-Mode hybrid (remember that Saturn Vue?), then the technology shifted to the next-gen design from Volt instead. Nothing came of it though, when realization that wouldn't be high-profit became all too clear. The only way to maintain business was to convert the fleet... exactly the path Toyota is already on now. We see that Prius, Corolla, RAV4 offer plug-in hybrid models and UX300 & C-HR full electric-only models. It's transitional, using the limited resources available. But waiting until production can be ramped up isn't a bad thing. Dealers need to learn about the technology firsthand to recognize the commitment it represents from their automaker. That endorsement is how the sales & profit will come about. It's a process that cannot be rushed. In fact, we will likely see hesitation of some sort with VW after the initial demand surge from early-adopters. Reaching ordinary consumers isn't easy, but it is absolutely essential for sustaining the business.
Vague. Not all is well on the big Prius forum either. That same troublemaker was at it yet again: "most manufacturers are hedging their bets, but hoping oil prices stay low and governments don't force their hand." He's a troll, always posting comment in lowercase, almost never quotes what he's referring to, and the frequency by far makes him a top poster. That's annoying, but not the real problem. That simply isn't what a leader should do. He floods each topic with vague posts. That's a terrible use of the spotlight. Absence of substance, especially on such a scale, brings down the usefulness of the forum. He doesn't care either. In fact, he jokes about how the forum is there for entertainment. I see encounters now with him as pointing out what a troll does, without actually applying the label. For example, this was today's exchange: What does "hedge" represent? What is the "low" limit? Every automaker has some type of electrification plan, so such a vague statement doesn't tell us anything. Of course, that "force" is doesn't tell us anything either. Such absence of detail is just wasting everyone's time. Remember how the "success" game has been played in the past? How about actually sighting some measurable target, like what CARB sometimes does? For example, 2 decades ago there was a requirement set for 10% of automakers sales needing to be ZEV by a specific date for dealers to remain qualified to sell. We need a who and when and how much. Otherwise, there's no point. Heck, just look at the article. What does "serious" represent?
Purpose. Watching an online resource slowly loss
integrity is nothing new. I have witnessed several collapse over the
past 2 decades. Catering to enthusiasts for the sake of keeping
comments active has consequences. They learn the hard way. Stuff
like this continuing on a regular basis unchallenged is how you can tell:
"GM "dropped the ball" miles and miles ahead of Toyota, so
they still have more than enough time to pick it up. Let me know when Toyota
has sold more PHEVs than GM. I'll wait." Watch for a
narrative getting repeated over and over again without any substance to back
up the claims. The lack of merit is thrives on a venue unwilling to
call it out... hence losing integrity. That's happening on the big EV
forum. It's easy to spot too, since that isn't the case on one of its
biggest competitors. Sadly, the rhetoric is common on smaller one.
Anywho, it always comes down to purpose. What the heck is the
automaker trying to achieve? Attacks from apologists ramp up
predictably, like with the recent reveal of Lyric. I finally had it
when it became a game, again:
That trophy-mentality is what doomed Volt, way back from the start in early 2007. Enthusiasts became so blinded by bragging-rights, they grew to obsess about conquest. It was a loss of direction. They forgot what the purpose was. The matter devolved into a numbers game with goal posts being moved several times.
In other words, I couldn't care less about your wait. Lyric is just another chapter in GM's loss of leadership. Calling them "miles and miles ahead" is confirmation of that. What part of the business has actually changed? Looking at dealerships, its the same old business as usual. In fact, it is worse off than it was a decade ago. GM is more dependent than ever on their guzzlers for profit.
Change at Toyota is undeniable. Hybrid models of Camry, Avalon, Corolla, and RAV4 are easy to find and selling well. The new Sienna and Venza are hybrid only. Prius and RAV4 now offer a plug-in model. All that is a step forward, very measurable progress. It sets the stage nicely for plug-in sales growth too. Salespeople and dealership owners see the automaker's commitment & success.
Go ahead. Keep shoveling the same old nonsense as in the past. Bragging rights are a shallow victory. Most advances in the status quo are so subtle, they rarely get acknowledgement. But when you look around, the ubiquitous nature of that achievement cannot be dismissed, denied, or distract from. It is the purpose fulfilled.
Attitude & Arbitrary. This was the attitude I got from that previous post, just a belittle with an arbitrary measure: "Let me know when Toyota sells 1/10th the number of BEVs as GM. I'll wait." It told me what I needed. My observations has struck a nerve. It was an invitation to continue on: What would such an arbitrary milestone inform us about? We see that GM is now trying to pick up the PHEV ball they dropped. Velite 6 should have been offered many, many years ago. And now that it is so far behind RAV4 Prime, should it really be ignored? After all, the purpose is to change what customers purchase to something with a plug, not cherry-picking what kind. And of course, what will the next milestone be? This is about transforming the entire fleet. Phasing out traditional vehicles goes way beyond just the low-hanging fruit. GM milked that opportunity, exploiting tax-credits to appeal to early-adopters. You will obviously cry foul with that first 1/10th anyway, claiming the same thing... that it's just a niche or for compliance. Truly changing the status quo is what we should be looking for. An offering like Lyriq is clearly a distraction. It will never be sold in numbers significant enough to achieve any sort of shift. After all, Cadillac is a low-volume brand. Having to wait until late 2022 already tells us it won't be a game-changer anyway. So, how about you tell me when GM sells 10 times more BEVs.
No Clear Plan. The propaganda machine has been
waiting for something to work with. GM's tactic of feeding enablers
ambiguous information to help promote & distract has been come up short
until recent. Revealing Lyric, a Cadillac BEV that won't even be
available for over 2 years still, gave them some new material... nothing of
substance though. I was more than happy to point that out too:
Notice how GM doesn't really have any clear plans for their core consumer still? Finding an expensive niche doesn't advance the fleet forward... or even break the status quo.
It is quite redeeming to see the scores of those who were attacking Toyota not too long ago with the narrative of "behind" now painfully silent. GM's proclaimed leadership turned out to be a lot of opportunity missed... and it continues. Promoting Lyric & Hummer serves what purpose? They will never be more than niche offerings, too expensive and too much emphasis on want. Supposedly, there will be a CUV model of Bolt coming a year from now, but that only solidifies their lead having been squandered.
Meanwhile for those paying attention, we see Lexus UX300e and Toyota C-HR rollouts of BEV models in China have begun, exactly as planned. Along with this is a $1.2 Billion investment for a production plant intended to deliver 200,000 electric vehicles per year there (Tianjin). That helps bring some realism to the target of producing at least 1 Million BEV/FCEV annually by the end of this decade. Starting with those ordinary vehicles available in BEV form followed by several dedicated BEV platforms in a few years seems a sensible plan.
The messaging from GM recently doesn't help clarify their intent. In fact, there are rumblings of a "behind" mantra for them now, due to that absence of detail. So if nothing else, we can finally put the rhetoric to rest. Toyota has clearly stated BEV with 50 to 100 kWh capacities and FWD/RWD/AWD configurations featuring 80 to 150 kW motors are on the way, based upon e-TNGA platform.
It's unfortunate GM keeps digging its own hole, but at least the nonsense of the past can be put to rest. Legacy advancement is far more complex than the pointless debates online try to address, as this confirms.