Personal Log  #1053

February 11, 2021  -  February 17, 2021

Last Updated:  Sun. 2/21/2021

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2-17-2021 Home Installs.  Study of the market reveals plug-in infrastructure is seriously lacking.  People in general simply aren't ready.  The lucky ones have a service-panel close by and capacity available.  That's it.  Having an outlet already available to provide 240-volt appliances is highly unlikely.  The best we see is an opportunity to share one with a clothes drier.  And of course, that's only in the south.  Here in the north, doing laundry in the garage is absolutely unheard of.  Our garage temperatures drop to refrigerator temperature all Winter long.  During the coldest week or two, we have to bring in soda.  Otherwise, it explodes when the garage temperature drops well below freezing.  Anywho, the problem is obvious regardless of where you live.  There's no possible chance of recharging 2 vehicles at the same time.  You need a second outlet... and preferably a second line for faster recharge speeds.  That's why here in Minnesota, there is legislation being promoted for new construction.  New home would require an outlet for each parking stall.  That raises the concern of legislators understanding what capacity is beneficial.  A shared 120-volt line wouldn't provide enough power.  You need more to satisfy the needs of a households.  Here's what I posted in today's discussion on that matter:  40-amp line (which supplies 32 amps sustained) will provide roughly 200 miles of EV range in 8 hours.  That rule-of-thumb gives you a general idea of where some type of mainstream expectation will settle.  It's the "7.2 kW" rate often sighted.  The next larger gauge wire (6 instead of 8) will support a 50-amp line, the maximum for NEMA 14-50 outlets.  That would bump rate up to 10 kW.  There wouldn't be any benefit if your future vehicle isn't designed for faster though.  The rate itself can be even higher, but to support that the EVSE (charging unit) must be hardwired rather than using an outlet.

New Audience.  Those with RAV4 Prime who basically are new to the entire world of hybrids are interesting to hear from.  It's quite amazing to see so many jump on the opportunity too.  Toyota's success of having targeted their technology rollout so well that they attract an untapped audience must be making GM crazy.  With an automaker so heavily dependent upon SUV sales as their primary revenue stream from mainstream buyers, it is quite an error to accept.  Of course, they were told of the mistake for countless years and new the failure of Two-Mode would eventually come back to haunt them.  Anywho, it was their biggest green rival who won that particular battle.  I wonder if it will escalate to a war or if GM will just give up and try something entirely different.  Needless to say, I am delighted to help out the newbies.  For example: "I've yet to hit over 38 combined mpg. I live in the south so sub-freezing is not of consideration thus far.  I'm wondering if some of the numbers from Toyota are hype or if things will get better with warmer weather."  That was just too good to resist.  It's basic knowledge to share, the same info that's been passed along for over 20 years now:  The usual MPG lowering factors still apply.  Break-In of tires takes roughly 5,000 miles.  There's the impact of tire PSI too, soft reduces efficiency.  Very short trips don't give the engine enough time to warm up.  Winter formula gas is an influence in some regions as well.


Obsessing With More.  Note the pattern: "In NA (as well as Europe from what I can tell) there are many new DCFC that are 150+kW (not 50kW as you stated above).  Making the Bolt charge faster really wouldn't cost much more (it's just a BMS software change, and slightly bigger internal wires)..."  Seeing repetition of obsessive focus is no surprise.  Enthusiasts lock onto a favorite trait and fail to recognize anything else of importance.  That shortcoming gets them in trouble.  They don't care.  I can see now that they have shifted from range to speed.  More is better, period.  Ugh.  It never ceases to amaze me how the same trap will catch so many.  They fail to see what should be obvious.  Lack of balance is extremely risky, even in the short-term.  For long-term expectations, a single strong trait will inevitable spell doom.  A product must be well-rounded to reach a large audience and sustain high-volume profitable sales.  That's the way it works.  No amount of hope or hype will change that.  It's the reality of business... which they refuse to accept.  Oh well, it's not like I don't point that out on a regular basis:  That is an incomplete view of what the market is moving toward.  50kW as a max means the automaker can offer a robust warranty.  Never super high-speed recharging means no concern about the battery ever having been strained.  That's a really big deal later in life with this BEV.  Think about where solid-state will be at that point.  Think about reputation of the automaker.  Think about cost to those providing chargers.  In other words, some gains now may result in a short-sighted outcome... missed opportunity.  Changing the entire market means offering a variety of choices.  Finding a well-balanced option for the low-end is vital to success of the high-end.  Tradeoffs are important... and have consequences if not well thought out.  Put another way, that 150+kW is quite arbitrary.  It does not take into consideration how more DCFC in more locations can be achieved.  There is a very real cost & complexity problem that limits public charger availability.


Anecdotal Observations.  It's basically hopeless expecting an enthusiasts to be productive.  Their very nature is enthusiasm, not support.  Otherwise, they would be known as supporters.  But since that's all we on most public forums, you work with what's available.  Fortunately, there are resources who do actually make a difference... like the group we have in Minnesota.  They have a concise purpose and clear messaging.  Anywho, that's not the case elsewhere, as this confirms: "If you want proof, just look at Bolt sales."  He didn't even try.  The pricing for the next-gen Bolt will start at $5,500 lower than the outgoing generation.  So anything that happened in the past really doesn't give us an idea what will happen going forward.  This is basic economics.  For anyone who claimed I was a GM hater, they clearly weren't giving the situation proper consideration.  The automotive business involves far more that what a snap observation can conclude.  However, you can reply in that manner, as I did today:  That's an anecdotal observation.  If GM offered an Equinox with Bolt guts, it would almost certainly sell much better... even with lower EV range.  Unfortunately, it would cannibalize sales of several of their popular SUVs... throwing their business model into chaos.  That's why these newest offering share no resemblance with anything else in the fleet.


How To Market.  The main complaint about Volt was lack of any type of marketing.  So naturally, there still is no concise message... after all these years.  How in the world are enthusiasts expecting a move forward without having a plan in mind.  You cannot convince people to change by not doing anything to compel them.  Ugh.  Start with the technology itself.  What should goals be for that?  Pointing out shortcomings and asking questions continues to fall on deaf ears:  Absence of any type of base is hurting DC offerings.  Speed & Pricing are all over the place.  How do you market something without any type of common expectation?


Chevy Killed It.  Enthusiasts are declaring GM's effort dead already.  It is the consequence of setting unrealistic expectations.  At some point, you get let down.  Damage control won't be easy.  It must start somehow.  This will be especially important as new battery chemistries & designs are introduced.  Think it's confusing now?  Just wait.  There is already must to think about... as I try to point out & ask:  You ever consider the perspective of providers?  It appears that fastest DC rate is the most that can be squeezed out of a 240-volt source.  How many small businesses are realistically going to be able to afford the cost of 480-volt lines for commercial EVSE installs?  50kW charging provides quite a bit of electricity from just a short rest at a coffeeshop or the typical stop for groceries.  An ordinary consumer getting 100 miles from that is going to feel it was a worthwhile experience.   Why do *you* as an enthusiast feel that isn't enough?


Here It Comes.  All those years of misguided & misunderstood enthusiasts resulted in a failed group-think, enablers who pushed for an unrealistic outcome.  Volt died, taking its technology with as a result.  GM was encouraged to follow the wrong path, listening to the voices that didn't really know the market.  Now, GM must get back on track.  So much damage was done, that isn't going to be easy.  That made the reveal today a painful one, a reveal of the next-gen Bolt and its new EUV model.  Comments like this were common... "No excuse whatsoever for this.  Big fail . Far too little, far too late."  All an enthusiast cares about is pushing limits.  Offering something ordinary for mainstream consumers was never their interest.  They would always just dismiss such need as trickle-down, whatever impresses early-adopters now will just naturally become a standard for everyone else later.  That isn't how it actually works.  How could it?  There is nothing standard with that approach.  It's just a barrage of various technologies & configurations, all competing.... a confusing mess where the apparent best is rarely the winner.  That's how we get vague follow-up comments like: "I suppose the 55 kW rate must be some limit on the battery pack..."  When that happens, carefully try to encourage constructive discussion with a few facts and a question:  The limitation is more likely to be a cost barrier.  We have seen Tesla (tier-1), VW, GM, and Toyota each with entry-level fast-charging basically all at the same speed.  From a 240-volt line, I believe the maximum you can sustain is 120 amps.  For DC output, that works out to 50 kW.  Why not have something that supports the fastest in a particular category?


Video: Engine Cycling in Winter.  Even during the extremes of winter, EV driving is still possible.  The catch is, cabin warming from the electric heat-pump isn't possible after dropping below 14°F.  There simply isn't much heat to extract from the air.  So, the job of providing warmth switches over to the gas engine at that point.  It runs from time to time to heat coolant, which is then circulated through the cabin to keep you warm.  In this video, you can witness that process.  The engine will cycle on & off routinely to provide heat in the most efficient manner... taking advantage of the hybrid system during those cold temperature extremes.  This allows engine-off opportunities which provide spans of time for EV driving.  Watch the aftermarket gauge in the lower-right for detail about how the system operates under those conditions, during the peak of cold season in Minnesota... Prius Prime - Engine Cycling in Winter

2-13-2021 Attitude & Audience.  From witnessing the second impeachment trial, much was learned about how to treat those with no interest in the long-term or the greater good.  This comment posted about Toyota's upcoming BEV (which we know virtually nothing about yet) provided an ideal opportunity to fire back with some perspective: "YAWN.... will somebody please let me know when they actually make an interesting, compelling and competitive product available for purchase rather than standing over there in Toyota-ville/Lexus-land waving their arms, desperate for attention?"

Yawn?  For some perspective, compare this to GM.  They never delivered any competitive. 14 years ago, their supposed push for plug-in vehicles began.  Nothing ever emerged for their own showroom shoppers.  Loyal customers coming into the dealership to replace their aged Chevy with something new had the choice of a compact hatchback and a compact wagon.  Neither even remotely resembled anything the shopper wanted.  That's why both floundered, only resulting in conquest sales to early-adopters.  In other words, you are not the audience.

RAV4 directly targets Toyota shoppers, as sales of all models (including hybrid and plug-in hybrid) clearly confirm recognition of audience.  Corolla Cross is a new crossover model just introduced, an ideal platform transformation to help usher in common & affordable designs with battery-pack storage below the flooring.  The stage is being set.  We can see vital pieces of the puzzle being laid, preparation for their dealers... who couldn't care less about enthusiast opinion.  Know your audience.

Put another way, Toyota is doing what they need to do for high-volume profitable sales.  That is their future.  Those long-term plans don't include enthusiast critique.  They are not interested in your attention.  They sell vehicles with a reputation for being reliable & affordable... attributes which don't fulfill "interesting" or "compelling" criteria.  Their audience are ordinary people, many of which simply don't share priorities with those excited enough to post online commentary.


Antagonist Activity.  It serves as a gauge.  The closer Toyota comes to hitting the bullseye, the more they panic post.  Lack of scale & patience is a dead give-away.  They want to satisfy their audience as quickly as possible.  Consideration for the masses is of no concern.  They portray the process as mainstream automatically accepting whatever enthusiasts deem worthy, without question.  That reality of priorities being different is outright dismissed.  They don't care.  They push an ideal, period.  Ugh.  Today, it was: "If Toyota has such a great battery, where is there EV strategy?  The fact that they won't put their money where their mouth is tells you everything you need to know."  There's no way of reasoning with someone who has already made up their mind.  That close-mindedness does provide opportunity though.  It is an invitation to reply.  So, I do... but with exposition for lurkers, not anything with the hope of actually changing the antagonist.  Sometimes, you can get through to them.  But that's a long-shot.  I just take advantage of the situation, knowing they wanted me to post something in return.  In this case, it was:  That isn't how a 10-million-vehicle-per year business operates.  Even if the technology could be produced with both high yields and high profits, that doesn't mean it will sell well.  There is a massive amount of disinformation & misinformation to still address, as well as serious need to build up infrastructure.  It's a painfully slow process.  It's not like Toyota is just resting around waiting either.  Look at how flawless RAV4 Prime operates.  EV works fine.  That type of appliance-like usage Toyota customers expect is clearly being refined to the point of being ready for the masses.  In other words, there is few more than just a great battery at play.


Only 2 Kinds.  Ugh.  What they supposedly "know" isn't correct: "We don't know everything here, but we do know there are two kinds of plug-in hybrids - those that use a gasoline engine to recharge the battery only, like the Chevy Volt, and those that use a gasoline engine to help propel the car directly, like most everybody else's PHEV products."  That not-really-knowing comes from not paying close attention.  Many websites like that looked upon plug-in hybrids as a stop-gap for electric, never really assigning them any value.  Their role was looked upon as trivial.  Now looking back, they are guessing based on hearsay... not actual research or firsthand knowledge.  That's why I put so much into video.  It's a very powerful reference back in time.  Anywho, this is how I dealt with that particular mess:  That is an interesting error.  BMW i3 was actually the only one to operate that way.  Volt operated with ability for the engine to contribute direct power to the wheels right from the very start.  The second-generation Volt improved upon that, blending better and more often to increase efficiency while in hybrid mode.  As for there only be two kinds, reality isn't so clear cut.  Some plug-in hybrids offer far more electric power than others, so there is actually point at which the engine joins in.  That varies quite a bit across the industry.  There is also the fact that some offer heat-pumps, some resistance-heaters, and other lack electric heating entirely.  Each impacts how & when the engine will run.  In short, there are a number of different PHEV designs & configurations.  Portraying them as just two is as misleading as stating there are only two types of transmission, automatic & manual.  Think about how many different designs & configurations there are for automatics.


It Simply Works.  Enthusiasts have no idea how to deal with ordinary consumers.  Mainstream mindset is so different, it baffles them to even contemplate such a profoundly different perspective.  Fortunately, that is just them.  Toyota is well aware of the situation.  That's how they have been able to rollout so many different models of hybrid, with basically only Prius getting any real attention.  Their technology simply works.  There's no hype, no excitement, no spotlight.  The tech is just a package option for most of their traditional offerings... two of which no longer offer a traditional model... they have become hybrid only.  Anywho, the short story is that serves to be an effective means of change.  Enthusiasts refuse to acknowledges that though.  I keep reminding them:  Toyota works out detail of their design/approach via limited quantity/market rollouts, prior to any type of ramp-up.  That real-world data from controlled sources is priceless.  We saw it play out firsthand with Prius PHV.  Enthusiast spin, claiming the abrupt halt to production and supposed struggling sales, was proven to be quite incorrect.  Prius Prime proved them wrong.  It was a huge step forward, but still not enough to directly target the masses... hence another round of limited rollouts.  Sure enough, that also proved worth the patience.  They now have a vehicle so appealing, it's making enthusiasts crazy.  But since they aren't the audience, no matter.  Time is still required to work out the rest of the detail... getting dealers to learn about and finally embrace plugging in.  Remember, this isn't a race.  It's a journey.  You can't change a 90-million annual production market quickly without collateral damage.  Patience.  While you're waiting, notice how Toyota's hardware & software gets no attention whatsoever?  That's a sign of having seriously studied & invested.  It simply works.


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