Prius Personal Log #1042
November 18, 2020 - November 28, 2020
Last Updated: Sun. 2/21/2021
page #1041 page #1043 BOOK INDEX
Repeating Assumptions. It looks like we have an
entirely new audience. This was quite expected:
"If you have to have PHEVs, then they should be like this with only the
electric motor driving the wheels. PHEVs are built from an ICE perspective
not and EV perspective and most PHEVs and hybrids are complex beasts with
all the ICE bits plus a few. Series hybrids at least relegate the ICE to
being a generator as in the discontinued Chevy Volt and their efficiency is
more consistent as a result." It is confirmation of Volt
enthusiast influence having vanished entirely. All those nonsense
battles amounted to nothing in the end. They lost the war. That
means starting over. Assumptions addressed long ago must be addressed
again... since none of the participants now have any clue of that history.
It's all new to them. So, I climbed up on the soapbox again:
Several false claims and one oversight.
First, the Chevy Volt was that way. Enthusiasts always hoped for the ICE to only be a generator, but were shocked to discover it wasn't way back in April 2010 when someone let that little tidbit slip during an interview. That was gen-1. For gen-2, the parallel ability was further refined to deliver greater hybrid efficiency.
Second, the Toyota Prius was designed from gen-2 (yes, way back in late 2003) to drive the wheels exclusively with the electric motor. The catch was, way back then, you couldn't get enough battery to deliver the needed power or range. So, the 100 km/h (62 mph) EV ability was withheld until the gen-3 model for 2012. Then for 2017, the much larger battery-pack allowed the second motor to join in, bumping the EV limit to 135 km/h (84 mph).
Third, Toyota's design eliminated some parts. That's how it can be cost-competitive directly with traditional vehicles. There is no transmission; instead, there's nothing but a power-split device. The alternator & belt was eliminated too. There is no starter either. For that matter, there is power-steering fluid or pump. Heck, you can point out the reduced stress on the ICE as well.
Fourth, it isn't the most efficient use of the ICE to charge the battery-pack exclusively. With the Toyota PHEV design, you can deliver a sustained 7.2 kW to the battery-pack while also maintaining a cruise on the highway. For me in my Prius Prime, that results in a 0 to 80% charge in 40 minutes while also delivering 37 MPG in the cleanest possible manner (SULEV rated emissions).
And that's what brings us to the vital omission from this article. When is the emission-rating for the Nissan Note with e-POWER hybrid? If it does not achieve at least SULEV, it would be a poor idea bringing it to the United States. Reduction of carbon pollution at the cost of higher smog pollution is the very problem diesel contributed to. Remember?
Even GM Killed It. That was someone's entire post injected into a fierce debate attempting to dismiss PHEV as a viable solution. Naturally, it came from a BEV purist. They hope such brief statements become a talking point, something to be repeated endlessly without thought as a mantra. Just accept at face value. Ugh. More and more though, we are seeing the look beyond early-adopters. It's getting recognition as a much bigger problem than simply proving the technology being up to the chore. Remember that lesson learned way back with the first generation of Prius. They obviously don't. The problem is getting more complex too. But then again, complexity isn't a bad thing when it comes to delivering a "simple" solution. Knowing how to deliver "simple" is quite challenging. Volt enthusiasts learned that the hard way. BEV purist still have no idea. It all starts with a look into why history played out the way it did. They won't bother. It's available in great detail online, but following blogs is a challenge when you discover multiple venues were interacting with the same individuals at the same time. That overlap isn't obvious. In fact, it can be almost impossible to piece together than puzzle. This is why only a source, like a blog, can glue together all those influencing events playing out in real time. For those who document that history as it is unfolding, we try to deliver highlights along the way: GM faced a problem of having no path forward. Offering Voltec in an Equinox would have destroyed their sales of traditional Equinox, a vehicle essential for business sustaining profit. So the configuration was avoided. Toyota isn't that stupid; instead, they developed a competitive hybrid that could easily support a plug. That allows them to move the entire fleet forward, onto a platform ready the next step forward. We are seeing the benefit of that already. Sienna & Venza no longer have traditional models, they are hybrid only. Prius, Corolla, and RAV4 hybrids now offer a plug in some markets. C-HR hybrid has skipped the PHEV step and went straight to BEV. At the same time, new dedicated BEV platforms are being developed. In other words, that "Even GM killed it." was a pointless comment. Just because GM failed to find a non-disruptive path forward does not mean other legacy automakers will too. It also exposes shortcomings of the "pollute more" study.
Not The Same. It is quite remarkable how arguments from 20 years ago follow the very same theme now. Same dance... different song. The twist now is the attempt to reverse the perspective: "Summing up, PHEVs should be more like EVs." Instead of claiming they are the same, they are claiming they are different. The key to that is understanding where the focus actually should be. The compare isn't actually PHEV to BEV (or the "EV" as they attempt to confuse with labeling). It's comparing PHEV to each other. They are not the same. The category of PHEV is filled with variety. Remember how hybrids faced this misrepresentation? It was very frustrating. But that's what antagonists do. They want you to make incorrect assumptions based on the false narrative they work so hard to convey. There isn't much you can do about it for those who listen for talking point. Actual critical thinking is required. For those who seek that material, I try my best to keep providing it: Some already are. That outdated report from T&E fails to acknowledge the difference variety of PHEV, resulting in a false narrative about what operation is available. With a newer PHEV excluded from the study, like RAV4 Prime, you have a full EV driving experience in a package very appealing to the masses. It works exactly like a BEV until the battery-pack is depleted. And with public charging-stations becoming more abundant, range can be conveniently extended. The goal of dramatic shift to electricity is accomplished. You want people to depend upon the plug even more, incentivize its use. In fact, we are seeing that already with some utility companies. Their efforts to promote level-2 installs and time-of-use discounts is a win for any type of plug-in vehicle. Summing up, it is counter-productive to pass along messages of PHEV misrepresentation. They are not all the same.
Doom & Gloom Attacks. There are a number of us with sound, constructive information to reply with. This was such a post: "Toyota is a conservative, multibillion dollar public company. Going all in on EVs isn't smart for existing market share. Outside of forums like this, EVs are still a nonstarter with most in the US. That will take time to change. When it does, Toyota will be exceeding popular and profitable." Anything with regard to large-scale legacy response always gets a Toyota focus. People have basically given up on GM, never had any faith in Ford, and really don't know if the effort is sincere from VW. You can see the potential from each, but what happens beyond initial an offering still remains a mystery... which is exactly where Tesla is now. What comes next? Reaching mainstream consumers is far more difficult than early-adopters. Infrastructure shortcomings become much more pronounced for the larger and less-forgiving market segment too. Despite that, nonsense like this continues to be posted by the few desperate remaining enthusiasts: "Toyota is at risk. Sorry if you don't see it, but money talks and so does the future of the planet." Their effort to spread generic fear is telling. There's no substance. For that matter, there really isn't any actual claim. Risk of what? To that type of rhetoric, I keep my responses brief: RAV4 Prime delivers full electric-only driving. Those same components are already being spread to BEV. That economy-of-scale benefit, along with experience & reputation, will carry them well into high-volume profitable sales. What is at risk?
Excuses. Some fights linger on, but there's nothing to gain. I find it bizarre how some refuse to give up, long after they have lost. Of course, we're seeing that with our president right now. Admitting defeat and accepting the role of "former president" is too much. Just like with Volt, to disappear entire is more important than the idea living on in some other form. Ironically, that's exactly what we see now happening with the Prime models. Prius lost the spotlight in favor of RAV4. It's a worth succession. The next-gen Prius will likely have a strong following, but it's not going to be as mainstream as RAV4. That's just the way things are. I don't make excuses or move the goal posts. I recognize the bigger picture and understand how that pertains to the audiences involved. That's why the posts now by those few remaining antagonists are so telling. They have nothing to work with anymore and no clear direction. They just keep fighting for the sake of fighting. Ugh. This was my reply to such an effort today, just a short & sweet rebuttal: There's no excuse for passing along misinformation. 42 miles of EV is more than average daily driving and comes to over 15,000 miles per year, from just overnight charging. A brief stop at a grocery store (20 minutes) can provide 8 to 10 miles of EV for the drive home. The claim of "too much of a bother" is meritless nonsense.
Change. It's coming... finally! There was far too much nonsense in the past, fighting for the sake of holding pointless ground. That was in their nature. Enthusiasts feel they much push harder; otherwise, they get the impression goals won't be achieved. That's why I pushed so hard for them to state goals. Not clearly defining what you are actually trying to accomplish meant a lot of wasted effort. That's why being able to post this now without much pushback anymore is great: Wasting time in litigation has been the theme, so that "go along with" really didn't make any difference. For that matter, being "leader" or "behind" was meaningless too. What happens with the technology itself is what matters... and that isn't political. It's all about appealing to consumers, since they are how change comes about. Government incentives are great for establishing, but altering status quo is beyond executive or legislative reach. Their encouragement definitely helps though.
Emissiongate. There is an enthusiast website that is now milking the opportunity, exploiting a study that was obviously bias. Knowing that will stir traffic, its no surprise... feeding a new controversy. That's a common practice for online media. They seek attention. Sadly, it give the impression of journalism. But the lack of objectivity doesn't matter to participants, since they thrive on the resulting activity. There isn't much to counter the effort. We've see it for 2 decades now. It will continue. It never dies. All you can do is point out the activity. Today, I did that with: Using outdated & cherry-picked data supports the narrative T&E is claiming. For whatever reason, they want to portray all PHEV as polluting. It's a blatant misrepresentation, which is easy to debunk. Just look at more recent data. Notice how there is no mention of recent additions to the market, most notably RAV4 Prime? That omission of a vehicle delivering 42 miles of EV driving (no gas consumed) from just overnight charging will result in over 15,000 miles per year using nothing but electricity... which is exactly why RAV4 Prime is missing from report. It's sad when such attempts are made to mislead. The claim is a desperate act, an obvious effort to undermine by misrepresenting what PHEV is capable of.
Notice The Pattern? More hype from GM enthusiasts
should be a surprise to no one. They thrive on anticipation, even if
there is no basis for such expectations. It is optimism gone bad.
What purpose does it serve when the outcome is typically disenchantment?
How many enthusiasts ended up abandoning ship after things got so bad, even
the die-hard gave up? So what if a boring outcome isn't fulfilling?
At least it is actual progress. Hype that leads to loss of interest is
far worse than just a small step forward. Don't let them tell you
otherwise. Watch for the pattern:
Waiting a day before chiming in has been interesting, knowing GM's history quite well.
Two-Mode was an "over promise, under deliver" nightmare. A lot of hope had been gambled that GM's reputation for that would be a redeemed with that effort. It failed miserably. You could tell problems were stirring during development, since the story of intent kept changing. Goals were vague at best.
Volt's reveal almost immediately had a "vaporware" backlash, due to clarity being provided about goals. Criteria set for delivery just a few years later seemed wildly unrealistic. How could so much be achieved in such a short amount of time? Turns out, it couldn't. Goal-posts kept being pushed back as a result.
Bolt intent was suspicious from day one. Its name choice caused a great deal of confusion, which set the stage for abandoning Volt without much backlash. That's exactly what happened too. Neither generation of Volt was able to draw interest from ordinary consumers, allowing Bolt to draw focus without stigma from of the past.
Now, we have a muddled look forward. Hummer EV carries the spotlight of unrealistic hype, gross overkill for anything mainstream consumers would use as an everyday vehicle. Lyriq EV will be far too expensive (base price of $59,995 is expected) to even remotely reach GM's core audience. Bolt EUV emphasis has been on Super Cruise, a feature that in no way pushes the need for electrification.
Notice the pattern? It's a history of mixed messages and unclear intent continuing. What is GM's purpose with these introductions? There's no apparent theme, beyond trying to draw green praise and sell high-profit vehicles.
Very Limited Life. This was the outcome, a nice example of downplay: "The RAV4 is nice, but it has the same long term problem and the reason GM cancelled the Volt. There is no future with ICE based vehicles. Think about the states that are now talking about banning ICE. The RAV4 could have a very limited life." I doubt my reply will make any difference: Since PHEV and ZEV share technology & components, there is a mutual benefit from economies of scale... especially since their diversity allows a reach far beyond what either could on its own. As for long term, that's a moot point. The most aggressive proposed ban is more than 2 generations (typically 6 years) away still. That supposed "very limited life" could result in many millions of vehicles delivering daily EV miles. In other words, that is not why Volt was cancelled. There was a massive amount of potential, which is something other automakers will now exploit. Think about the variety of needs people actually have. Most importantly, this isn't an academic discussion about a hypothetical. RAV4 Prime is already on the road. Focus is now on ramping up production, which will offset non-plug offerings.
Investing $20 Billion. A great example of not
checking facts was: "What's going on at GM is the same at
every large OEM." They don't know history. They don't see
patterns. They believe the promise and make excuses when shortcoming
emerge. And while some others actually deliver, that's downplayed or
distracted from. It's an endless game most are unwilling to keep up
with... hence the conclusions being made. They think enough facts are
presented to understand what is really at play. You can't do much to
counter it either. Many won't bother to read rebuttals like this:
Not true. Each faces their own unique set of challenges. In fact, that was why the freedom to use tax-credits at their discretion was so important. This is why that "punish the leader" mantra lacks merit. There were no time-table or approach any particular OEM was required to take. GM's choice to squander in the pursuit of conquest was their obsession for attention now revealing consequences.
Ironically, Toyota took the path GM supporters had loooooong hoped for. RAV4 Prime is overwhelmingly the SUV with a plug many envisioned GM to deliver. It is missed opportunity that's really starting to sting. It targets core consumers, hitting many of their priorities extremely well... so well, talk of doubling down on EV is quite predictable.
Just look at how GM has lost the spotlight evidenced by Hummer EV and Lyriq. Neither of which does anything at all to change the status quo. GM is, yet again, racing toward a cliff. They must finally focus on their bread & butter products, the business-sustaining profit that doesn't actually draw much attention. That's how long-term well being is achieved.
What for upcoming news to be ambiguous, lacking focus or any actual detail. That's a dead giveaway the cycle is restarting.