Prius Personal Log  #1035

September 30, 2020  -  October 6, 2020

Last Updated:  Tues. 10/13/2020

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Hydrogen.  There is market stir again.  We've heard about shipping (both boat & train) looking to fuel-cell technology, using hydrogen as fuel.  It makes sense.  They don't have to worry about infrastructure.  Docks will have industrial supply for their commercial transport consumption.  People don't equate that will Toyota though.  The reality that the same stacks in Mirai can also be used for that is somehow a concept too extreme for them to grasp.  Of course, these are the same individuals who don't believe the EV drive in a PHEV can also be the very same EV drive in a BEV.  Ugh.  So naturally, any time there's a mention of fuel-cell advancement we get "fool cell" comments being posted.  None are of any intelligible worth.  It's just some rambling message about gray hydrogen.  Of course, they have never heard the label of "gray" before or even realize there are different types.  The well-informed would know that is the type which originates from fossil-fuels, like oil & coal.  When you introduce carbon sequestration, it can be cleaner.  Not allowing carbon-dioxide to be released from the production process makes it a "blue" hydrogen.  That's better, but not the best type.  Identified as "green", this is hydrogen originated from renewable sources like wind, solar, hydro, biomass or geothermal.  That's truly clean in every regard... something plug-in purists have trouble accepting.  They still prefer electricity directly, rather than being carried in hydrogen.  But if cost of that type can be reduced to a competitive level, it puts BEV in an awkward position.  For commercial use, that cleanest form of hydrogen may be the overall optimum choice.  Anywho, this is what I posted in response to one of the antagonists today:  BLUE hydrogen is already an active market.  In the United States, approximately 10 million metric tons of hydrogen are produced every year, most of which is used for petroleum recovery and refining purposes as well as fertilizer (ammonia) production.  Using it for transportation and energy storage instead would be an effective way of promoting the green type.  It also helps oil dependent nations transition away from fossil sources, giving them something else to invest in.  GREEN hydrogen is growing as solar & wind opportunities grow as a result of dropping costs.  H2 is already treated as a commodity, coming from a variety of sources. The fact that it is inefficient will be offset by the fact that it can be used to store electricity currently wasted.  Wind turbines are limited to what the grid can handle at that specific moment.  Being able to store excess instead, then use it later for supplementing DC fast-chargers is a paradigm complimentary to plug-in vehicles.  Owners of charging-station can have it delivered from local providers.  It's a win-win for new infrastructure and new employment.  This addresses cost & supply during peak demand for DC fast-chargers.  Pulling that much kWh through a powerline has limitations which fuel-cell stacks on-site could overcome.


Reconsideration.  It was strangely quiet online for the past few days.  Perhaps the so-so results of quarterly sales were a reality moment.  Perspective is desperately needed.  Moving beyond the early-adopter stage is far more difficult than enthusiasts have ever wanted to admit and it now looks like they have to.  We have seen some sales continue strong and some slip behind.  There isn't much to speak of in terms of growth though.  The market stands potential from VW rollout, but there really isn't anything in terms of expectation.  Reason for that should be obvious.  VW delivering a nice product doesn't mean it will be accepted well... or even understood.  Think about how perfectly good technology sometimes takes what seems like forever to be adopted.  How is Tesla actually portrayed outside of the world of enthusiasts?  What message are they sending to ordinary consumers?  The people I encounter think Tesla offers great vehicles, but they are far too expensive to be considered for purchase.  That's it.  10 seconds of consideration, then they move on.  That's why comments like this are finally starting to be taken seriously: "Some people aren't Tesla fans, but I think even the biggest critics have to admit that Tesla's reconsideration of how a car could be built is fascinating.  BMW did some really cool stuff with the i3, but then it seems like their management dropped the ball and didn't do much with it."  That step out beyond just power, speed, and range reveals an entirely different perspective.  Perhaps there's more to an EV than just plugging in.  This is how Prius success grew.  Without really understanding how the technology worked, there emerged a recognition of having taken a new approach.  That propulsion system was somehow more than just an addition of motor & battery.  It was a redesign which had proven reliable.  When people come to that conclusion on their own, they reconsider purchase criteria.  This is where true improvement becomes vital.  Much of that is hidden, subtle, often overlooked.  All if it adds up, making for a better product even if the consumer doesn't know why.  I pointed out one such example, which happened to coincide with the posted comment quite well:  The tech from BMW was carried through their partnership with Toyota... who took their carbon-fiber knowledge and applied it to Prius Prime.  Most people have no clue just how much of a "redesign" that actually represents.  In a vehicle with a plug you can purchase for under $30,000 (without subsidy), there's a carbon-fiber hatch standard.  That is a component with complex shape which must be able to endure slamming and retain a waterproof seal.  It's exactly what should happen with new tech... become so well proven, people don't even notice.  It reduces weight and add strength, exactly what you want from true vehicle advancements.  That's measurable progress.  Toyota doesn't hype though.  So, stuff like that doesn't get attention.  Tesla, on the other hand, is a master of the spotlight.  So, of course what they deliver gets recognition & praise.


Obsolete.  I hear that term being used on a regular basis.  It's intended as an insult, but too vague to really have any substance... just another label with stigma.  There's no real audience though.  When an enthusiasts sees it, they chime in to help enable the effort to impede.  Problem is, their reach is just other enablers.  Posts online intended to undermine don't actually accomplish anything beyond basic hearsay.  When a person is shopping the showroom floor, whatever comments they may have heard in the past are lost to emotional appeal and our curious nature.  Think about what a big, shiny, new RAV4 does to the casual shopper at a dealer.  The person wants to see more.  They'll look inside and wonder about a test-drive.  Having a plug available is a bonus.  That reality of being green isn't the primary draw, it's what helps finalize the purchase.  "It can be driven using only electricity?"  "Cool!"  "How far?"  "Does it cost a lot more?"  "How do I charge it?"  Notice how all of those questions are quite basic and all come after the discovery?  Notice how being supposedly "obsolete" never comes into play?  It's a scenario that doesn't take much to recognize as the new norm.  So, all the spin happening now to undermine & downplay PHEV really doesn't make much of a difference.  If a person was shopping for a BEV, that's a different story... but it's also a different audience.  Being able to entice those who stumble upon the technology is key.  Dealers need to learn how to capitalize on that.  Vehicles like RAV4 Prime make it very, very easy.  Meanwhile, I still deal with antagonists:  What does "obsolete" actually mean?  Simply being out-of-date isn't a big deal. It works just fine and will continue to until 2035.  The 10-year warranty must still be honored.  As for being serviced, those PHEV capable of sustaining high-volume sales even without incentives won't need much service.  A plug-in hybrid like RAV4 Prime delivers 42 miles of EV per charge.  That's over 15,000 miles annually of electric-only driving.  The engine will mostly just be a backup, so it should last for a freakishly long time even with just minimal upkeep.  Think about how helpful it is overall to phaseout traditional vehicles as fast as possible... now... in 2020.  In other words, how much of each automaker's fleet do you expect to be green by 2025 year end, 5 years from now?  For Toyota, an expectation of half is looking realistic.  In other words, what will be obsolete by then for everyone else?  The entire fleet must be accounted for.

10-01-2020 Leadership & Disappointment.  It was an absolute delight to get this as a reply: "They simply didn't put the proper effort and interest to make it happen."  It followed a very active day of people commenting in reaction to Toyota revising end of decade targets.  Plans are proceeding faster than anticipated.  In this case, it looks like reaching 5.5 million electrified cars could happen in 2025.  That's several years sooner.  Think about how much of their fleet it represents.  A little over half their annual production no longer traditional vehicles is a really big deal.  None of the other automakers will come even remotely close to change on that scale; yet, enthusiasts are expressing disappointment.  The reason why is simple, an obsession with longer range and faster recharging.  It is how they see leadership.  That is becoming a very real problem, again.  They believe more is all it will take to appeal to the masses.  It is a repeat of the same mistake Volt enthusiasts made.  We are hearing the echo of history with this.  I'm sure glad I paid attention, so I could provide this simple summary:

The claim of "to make it happen" is profoundly different depending upon audience & goals.

As an enthusiast, it means you are defining leadership as breaking of new ground, striving to deliver specifications & operation beyond that of competitors.

As a mainstream consumer, it means you are defining leadership as having changed the status quo, successfully achieving sustainable & profitable sales.


Subsidy Arguments.  Thankfully, use of "laggard" has become a thing of the past.  It fails to stir rhetoric anymore.  Stigma associated with the label has lost effectiveness and turned into a means of drawing unwanted attention to the antagonist.  So, we don't see it in posts.  There is still a lot of animosity toward Toyota though... from those who believe GM and Tesla are being punished for having supposedly led the way.  Problem is, leading early-adopters is not the same as leading mainstream consumers... a reality which is now more harder to conceal.  There's a vital difference... the size of the audience.  No longer being able to direct attention to something else, strategy has fallen back to the desperate argument point of range.  I find that incredibly encouraging, simply by the fact that it's a subtle acknowledgement that EV means both BEV and PHEV.  That opens up new opportunity for replying to new propaganda efforts like this with my own: "THIS is why all subsidies to hybrids and low MPC (Miles Per Charging) EV need to stop NOW."  That's exactly what I did too, posting this in reply:  No, all subsidies for all vehicle purchases should stop.  Focus should be shifted over to charging infrastructure instead.  Then, no matter what kind of plug-in you purchase, there will be a very direct benefit immediately and for decades to come.  Think about how effective time-of-use discounts can be.  Getting a $$$ incentive to charge overnight using a EVSE connection to report your usage for automatic reduced pricing on your electric-bill is a win for everyone.


Inconvenient Truths.  They didn't like what I had to say about Toyota.  It doesn't fit into their narrative at all and choosing a different legacy automaker wouldn't be as effective.  GM is a complete mess.  Ford hasn't stirred interest.  VW remains absent from this market.  Hyundai/Kia is still looked upon as small.  The rest only have niche offerings.  So, it makes sense that Toyota has been targeted as a scapegoat.  They don't like what I have to say though.  It draws attention to their own problems, as well as contradicts their claims.  That can be quite vindicating.  Stay true to goals.  Be objective.  Share detail.  Call out those who do not... by posting information they don't want others to know:  Toyota is already producing all the EV components necessary for a BEV, used in their hybrids and PHEV.  That's an important step in the process of refining design & process to make them affordable.  So, there really isn't anything at issue.  In fact, the risk claim is really just a narrative.  Think about it.  Toyota is already rolling out BEV models.  Next step is a dedicated platform, which would have been revealed during the Olympics.  So, we know those are actively being tested.  Next year, we'll get to see them.  In the meantime, reputation is being built by the plug-in offerings currently on the roads.  There is also the very real issue of customer & salesperson education.  Even the best of technology will be slowed by that type of market barrier.

9-30-2020 Decades?  Those hoping for purity (electric-only choices, nothing with a combustion-engine) like to attack Toyota.  They feel it necessary to have an enemy that's easy to target and takes attention off themselves.  Have you ever notices how BEV gets pushed from the perspective of single-vehicle ownership?  It's actually quite rare to hear about what else is in the household.  That omission provides context for the attacks.  They need a distraction.  Overcoming that first hurdle was easy for them.  Finding out what it takes to get over the second is telling.  They are coming to realize just how long it will actually takes.  They see Toyota has a plan to address that.  It reveals their approach as short-sighted.  So naturally, they do what they can to take attention off them.  In this case, I welcome the opportunity to provide information about their supposed nemesis:

This very article points out an acceleration, how Toyota's plans are coming to fruition faster than expected.

What I find telling is how those claims "slow" and "behind" conveniently turn a blind-eye to the rest of the fleet.  They focus entirely on first offerings, which are really only a token... since early-adopters are much easier and a much smaller group to appeal to than the mainstream consumers who follow.

Toyota has advance their hybrid technology to the point where it is competitively offered across a wide variety of platforms and it is can be easily augmented to offer a plug.  In fact, we see Prius, Corolla, and RAV4 already do as PHEV.  We also see that EV technology used in the PHEV has already been carried forward to offer UX300 and C-HR as BEV models.

That makes any speculation of mass-production intent contradictory to the evidence of advancement already playing out.  We are witnessing the stage being set for exactly that.  Ramping up volume requires the technology to be proven reliable and a good buy in the minds of ordinary shoppers for sales to be profitable & sustainable.

Tell us about the steps other legacy automakers are taking to ensure they can achieve profitable & sustainable sales of BEV in high volume.


Intended Purpose.  Sometimes, the desperation becomes so obvious, you have no idea how to respond: "Toyota wasted value of their 200,000 tax-credits by having microscopic batteries in the PIP as opposed to all GM vehicles which EVERY ONE of them was eligible for the full $7,500."  That's an outright lie.  Toyota still has roughly one-third of them remaining, before reaching the expiration trigger.  Then when it does, that's when the big numbers can happen.  GM squandered their 200,000 allotment on praise, then did nothing upon triggering phaseout... when the tax-credit changes from a quota to unlimited.  Tesla exploited that opportunity.  You get 1 full quarter (3 months) following the trigger-quarter to sell as many qualifying vehicles as possible, each of which can collect 100% of the tax-credit value.  Following that, it changes to 50% for the next 2 quarters.  Following that, it's 25%.  Those circumstances were carefully planned for by Tesla, with a major ramp-up taking place at exactly the right time.  It should be obvious Toyota is looking to play out the same move.  After all, people same automakers game the system.  Why not play the game exactly the way lawmakers hoped for?  In fact, they wanted that level of participation.  To be so fully engaged in the process is the ideal.  Sadly, the one legacy automaker to have actually used up their tax-credits did not.  Volt was colossal failure.  The technology within wasn't spread across the fleet.  It simply died when the subsidies ran out.  Enthusiasts hate me for being correct about that outcome prediction.  It should have been obvious to them.  Seeing that timeline was easy.  Their was no effort made to fulfill expectations of early-adopters, never to actually deliver something to allow traditional offerings to be discontinued.  Ugh.  I kept my response short & sweet:  GM failed to use the tax-credits for their intended purpose... to establish a sustainable & profitable product prior to expiration.  Signs are looking very good Toyota will achieve what GM did not.


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