Prius Personal Log #1037
October 11, 2020 - October 20, 2020
Last Updated: Sun. 2/21/2021
page #1036 page #1038 BOOK INDEX
Echoes Of The Past. I was amused by the repeat of history. It was a rant about timing without anything to actually support the claim. The same old baseless rhetoric has emerged again. That's solid confirmation of what Toyota rolled being seen as a threat. I responded to that familiar nonsense with: Echoes of the past came from the same type of selective participation. To justify "too late" claims, audience had to be cherry-picked. Consider this analogy. Think about streaming 4K on-the-fly. You get great video immediately, if you have the necessary hardware & connection. The same is true for a BEV. With level-2 charging, the experience is great. Owning a BEV with just level-1 presents challenges though. Lacking the better EVSE, opportunity is missed. Some mornings, you simply wouldn't be able to leave home with a full charge. How compelling is that for purchase? With a PHEV like RAV4 Prime, you can start with an ordinary 120-volt outlet, allowing an unplanned plug-in purchase to be realistic. The mainstream consumer just wandering a dealer's showroom floor can leave that day with a plug-in vehicle. Upgrading to 240-volt later is just a natural outcome of the ownership experience. It's a no-pressure upgrade with a very high probability. Go ahead, repeat history by disregarding those facts. Many have already claimed "too late" and have little to nothing to show for it.
Hummer EV. The reveal was very bad sign. GM has
clearly fallen back into the same old trap. There's an obsession with
size & power and a clear neglect toward real change. What else can be
said. A plug-in vehicle with a $79,995 starting price, who is the
market for Hummer EV? This is another repeat of the same old nonsense.
History is repeating, yet again. GM is not making any real effort to
address the status quo. What is offered in their dealer lots will
remain the same for several years to come. What happened to the
supposed leadership? Ugh.
Physics & Math. I liked this comment: "Tons of people don't
understand physics and math." It went on exactly as expected too,
a detailed description of what the physics & math entailed... but that was
it. Scope was cherry-picked, though I don't think the person realized
they had made such a big omission. That's an outcome of devoting
attention... you sometimes forget there's more to the situation.
Anywho, I saw what he had done and called attention to it: Even if
they do, leaving out economics from that equation results in mistaken
expectations. In this case, you can't just tell the petroleum
industry to stick it and produce vehicles that won't use anything they can
produce or supply. They will fight to the bitter end, causing a massive
waste of time & resources. They must be included. To our benefit, we
can have them shift over to producing hydrogen... which if you are a
critical thinker... requires massive investment in renewable energy. They
already use hydrogen as part of the process to refine gasoline. So, it's not
like they don't have some experience working with it. They have a workforce
desperate for new opportunity as well. Let them foot the bill for all that. In other words, this is far more than just an exercise in engineering. Solutions on the grand scale must include the entire audience of those
impacted by a paradigm shift. It's a win-win to have the petroleum industry
help push solar & wind build-up as a means to their own survival.
Lastly, think about how hydrogen can be locally produced (which creates new
employment opportunity) and used as a storage & supplement for electricity
supply. SuperChargers require a massive amount of electricity quickly,
something the grid cannot provide easily or affordably. It's ironic how BEV
supporters don't see the beneficial role hydrogen can play to assist with
Hydrogen Denial. Reading through his rant, I locked in on this: "Mirai has already failed." Those are words of desperation. It's easy to see why too. Simply ask what it failed to do? Toyota always stated their fuel-cell vehicle would be low-volume, a means of collecting real-world data for next-generation design. And now that the reveal of that next-gen is approaching (it is 6 weeks away), there is very real fear emerging. The fragile BEV market, which depended heavily upon subsidies and early-adopters, is saturated. Growth with competition isn't what enthusiasts can deal with. That's why the rant started with: "... uh .. EVs are growing exponentially with no sign of a slow down. They are poised in fact to displace the entire ICE market by as soon as 2030 assuming enough batteries can be made." Statistical misleading by focusing solely on numbers from an emerging market is the trap he has fallen into. Reaching the next audience is far more difficult. We have the petroleum industry working hard against any type of change too. So even if infrastructure could be addressed that quickly, change will require a profound attitude adjustment. Think about what it will take to get homes and parking lots/ramps wired for overnight charging. Anywho, I hit back with some common-sense about how plug-in and hydrogen choices will be adopted: The term EV is ambiguous, since it includes both PHEV and BEV. It refers to any type of vehicle that uses plug-supplied electricity to propel the vehicle. As for that timeline, are you aware that 92 million vehicles are produced worldwide annually? Reaching every market with every type of infrastructure challenge in just 9 years isn't the slightest bit realistic. This is where the automakers diversifying their product-line come in. They will provide a choice where PHEV or BEV simply cannot fulfill the need. Like it or not, FCEV will co-exist.
Experience & Knowledge. There are some who get
"I'm sure they'll do fine, but I wish they weren't so anti-plug in (yes I
know hydrogens are considered EV's) and would've just worked on a viable EV
we could buy in the US in addition to their other offerings."
That's an objective look at the situation, though rather limited in scope.
You have to start somewhere though. Recognition of the what's happened
on the larger scale helps. I added:
Know your audience. Complaints about whatever happened in the past mean nothing to mainstream consumers. In a few years when they are ready to seriously consider a plug-in purchase, the PHEV and BEV choices that Toyota is rolling out now will be well established and the technology they use is already.
Think about how well Prius Prime has operated. It has been basically flawless... no concerns of battery failure or fires. There is a small base of owner spread all over the world proving viability. That experience & knowledge gain from the previous generation Prius PHV carried forward to ensure reliability. Toyota has established a reputation for "plug & play" which we see quite clearly from the demand for RAV4 Prime.
So what if enthusiasts never give Toyota any recognition for that effort? Mainstream consumers couldn't care less with regard to early-adopter history. It will no impact toward the decision about what they will purchase. They'll see a BEV Toyota brand equivalent to the system using in Lexus UX300e or whatever gets rolled out in their upcoming dedicated BEV platform. Meanwhile, there will also be a wide array of PHEV choices.
The supposed "anti-EV" stance will be as meaningless as was with GM. Remember all that "range anxiety" promotion for Volt? It teetered on the edge of propaganda it was so bad. All of their enthusiasts abandoned ship when sales failed to grow. In fact, the lesson learned from that was "know your audience".
Aging. It is interesting what new owners try to
interpret something in the owner's manual and take it too literally, but
don't actually have enough detail to actually draw a proper conclusion.
We have several enablers who help that process along by pushing assumptions,
rather than actually taking real-world data into consideration. Yes,
they dismiss detailed measure in favor of some vague statement. That
happens quite often with regard to battery-pack aging. Why are some
people so stubborn? It's bizarre how they refuse to accept... or even
acknowledge... efforts to provide analysis. There's a continued
fallback to the manual... a guide to advise & inform, not a book of law.
Far too many variances of ownership & operation make it possible for an
automaker to provide specifics, hence the rather cryptic wording.
Anywho, this is how I jumped into today's discussion on the matter:
That "when leaving the vehicle undriven for a long period of time" really throws people and has been a good source of misconceptions.
But when you dig into details of how real-world driving actually plays out, intentionally leaving it vague makes sense. There's simply too many variables at play to draw a line anywhere. The demand & stress on battery-packs varies far too much. That's why all the experience Toyota has had with reliability from their hybrid offerings never increased any detail on the dashboard. It still resembles what it did way back in the late 90's. There's more available, if you want it. But you have to be smart enough (a critical thinker) to understand what the data tells you, so the process to retrieve it is left for the better informed.
The best example I have found to define "long" came from my electric lawnmower manufacturer, EGO. Built into their batteries is a protective system that will cause the battery to self-discharge down to 50% if it hasn't been used for 30 days. That is their storage strategy. It resembles what we have been saying all along (since 2012) for Toyota PHV. If you are going on a "long" vacation, it is best to not leave the battery with a "full" charge.
Realistically, how many owners don't touch their vehicle at all for an entire month? You run into other maintenance steps being neglected beyond that anyway. Engine fluids need to be circulated and tires lose pressure. Gas obviously ages too. Using the vehicle from time to time is part of ownership responsibility. There are consequences if you don't. This isn't rocket science.
It's like leaving your car out to cook in the sun day after day. Use some critical thinking to find out how "long" extended exposure to extreme heat is tolerable before it has an big impact. Engineering is filled with tradeoffs. It won't destroy the battery, but it will accelerate aging.
Potential. Seeing potential is difficult for those
who focus solely on winning whatever the current battle is. That's why
Volt enthusiasts lost the war. Rather than just sacrificing their
particular configuration and moving on to the next for the greater victory,
they held tight to a specific. That lack dedication to the bigger win
distorts perspective: "They're working on EVs and PHEVs as well. But they
were late to the game, that's for sure." Whether there is any
merit to that or not makes no difference. It's all about the end goal,
which enthusiasts refuse to focus on. I keep telling them about that
mistake too, especially when they attempt to distract with hydrogen
Toyota doesn't play the game... cater to early-adopters. They have watched GM and Ford fumble with that market for years, doing nothing to expand their reach to appeal to mainstream consumers. Tesla is facing the same challenge now. Getting beyond that initial wave of enthusiasts interest is very difficult. In other words, so far, we have only witnessed what happens with low-hanging fruit.
Toyota knows hydrogen will be a massive market in the commercial arena. Shipping in all regards... boats, trains, trucks... will transport cargo using fuel-cell technology out of necessity. Diesel is an unrealistic future, period. The airline industry is facing major change with regard to passenger travel; that will bring about a rethink with their planes and cost of operation. All that spells opportunity in a market that will thrive as the solar & wind industry ramps up.
With regard to Mirai itself, there's a large market for fleet vehicles. They can thrive on limited distribution of hydrogen. In fact, they can help promote local build-up of infrastructure. There's no need for centralization of production when the product itself doesn't need to be pumped or mined from the ground. Partnerships with nearby solar & wind farms will be great economic & employment opportunity. Mirai demonstrates the potential, showing how realistic scaling-up will be with on-going refinement of the technology... technology that can be shared throughout the transport industry.
It never ceases to amaze me how short-sighted & limited-scope discussions related to Toyota's potential have been. They belittle the potential and turn a blind-eye to the efforts taking place to also establish PHEV and BEV offerings, in addition to FCEV. Think about how the electric components (motor, battery, controller, heat-pump, etc) are all shared among those different vehicles. Benefit from economy-of-scale should be obvious.
Put another way, Toyota simply doesn't care about the rhetoric. They will continue to refine their vast portfolio of technology regardless of how enthusiasts claim their stance to be. The so-called "game" is only just beginning.
Lastly, don't overlook the non-transport opportunity. Using hydrogen for backup or supplemental power is an emerging market with lots of potential.
Lost. That's what happened when you become blinded by optimism. It reads like this: "I just think BEVs in 2023 will simply be too compelling to ignore by consumers and they will chose to stop buying ICE and hybrids since they are obsolete now." Imagine such an abrupt change, where all of a sudden there is a plug-in model of your favorite vehicle readily available. Ugh. Even when there isn't, but really sweet new tech is, people still don't flock to in enmasse. The mind of an early-adopter has a very difficult time seeing beyond their own niche. That makes for really difficult discussions about those who aren't well informed and have no issue trying something new. I replied with: We have already seen many swing factors... dropping renewable costs... loss of fossil-fuel jobs & talent... $4 per gallon gas... creation of gigafactories... and the end of personal diesel vehicles. None of which had a draw-the-line impact. Each contributes to the advancement forward, away from traditional dirty & inefficient technologies. Thinking there will be an abrupt cliff in 2023 that will suddenly turn the industry upside-down isn't realistic, especially when you consider how much resistance their will be from business & political influence. As much as we focus on green engineering, that resistance is why we must embrace a variety of solutions: PHEV, FCEV, BEV. In other words, look at what "obsolete" actually represents, then try to find an example of where change truly did happen that quickly. Reality is, those types of "overnight" changes end up taking far longer than enthusiasts care to admit.
Silence. We seem to be in that lull again, when the entire industry is paused... nothing new to report and a sense of lost direction. This happens from time to time when online participants come to realize there won't be anything to fixate on for awhile. In other words, they thrive on hype and there currently isn't any. It's a sad reality. But that's what enthusiasts are all about, showing enthusiasm. It isn't usually a bad thing either. Unfortunately, we have seen unsubstantiated claims grow out of control, creating meritless hype without acceptance of objectivity. If you question their absolute, you get attacked. That refusal to be critical is a very real problem. When you actually make a valid point... or in this case, it becomes obvious by some industry move or statement... you get silence. This time, it was the quarterly sales results. We basically have no outlook anymore. Some sales are good. Others are bad. Lack of momentum or even direction is a big problem that quite easy to see now. Think about what. What are we expecting from 2021? No one can even suggest any type of expectation. We know ID.4 will be coming to the United States, but the complete absence of any detail from VW is leaving everyone with that pause, waiting for some news. Toyota is basically always silent anyway, never much of a purveyor of their own advances. There's the Hummer EV reveal on the way... which will fuel the very fire that's barely an ember now. Blah, a new mindless noise.
Low Quantity. For awhile, those frustrated by Toyota (due to having a different expectation for leadership) had a number to refer to. It was the initial allotment planned for rollout of RAV4 Prime to the United States. Anyone familiar with the legacy automaker's approach would recognize the pattern. A surge of supply isn't looked upon as beneficial. If there is strong demand right away, their dealers will find out first hand. It's a very effective means of getting the message of change across and providing a little time for them to prepare accordingly. How else would you get them to take the situation seriously? Think about it. With a market in deep denial about climate-change, there is simply no easy way to convey necessity. Anything people encounter they don't like, they dismiss it. 20 years of experience with hybrids makes this all too clear. The direct approach doesn't work, period. Don't believe Toyota's assessment, consider what happened with GM. Still not convinced, look at the outcome with Nissan. Want more? Ask everyone you know how seriously they would be about their next vehicle purchase being a Tesla. Needless to say, we have a very real problem. Toyota's solution is slow & steady, push incredibly hard but in a manner so subtle no one really notices... hence, stealth mode. Anywho, this is how I replied to the latest denial: The narrative of "low quantity" has already been debunked. Rollout is very much on-par with other rollouts of the past, matching some and actually exceeding others. And that's just here, in this market. The fact that RAV4 Prime was rolled out worldwide all in the same year, while 2 other plug-ins were also (both BEV) and 2 traditional vehicles replaced entirely by hybrid, tells us the real story. In other words, some of us our tired of the rhetoric. That intentional distortion of what's happening overall by cherry-picking to misrepresent is just plain wrong. Progress forward cannot be denied. No amount of impact downplay changes that. This is why Jeep committing to a PHEV is important. So what if it is not enough range or power for you? It is an automaker actually delivering something, which forces the dealers to finally acknowledge the inevitable.