Personal Log  #1060

March 19, 2021  -  March 25, 2021

Last Updated:  Fri. 5/21/2021

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Misleading or Incomplete.  Someone in our EV owners group posted a link to an article titled: "Are Electric Cars Really Better for the Environment?"  With so many well-informed group members, you would think someone would have pointed out the obvious problems with it.  2 days later, not a peep.  It was sad.  This wasn't journalism.  It was lying by omission.  The cherry-picked facts should have been quite evident.  Why the silence?  Are they also poorly informed?  I ended up posting this to the group:  Such a blatantly flawed comparison not getting called out is disappointing.  Since when is Model 3 the appropriate compare to a RAV4?  They are not the same size. Model 3 parked next to my Prius Prime is nearly identical. RAV4 is much larger.  Also, since Toyota's sales of RAV4 hybrid reached 26% last year, that trend of moving away from the traditional choice should have been mentioned.  Of course, their emphasis of CO2 emissions wouldn't have been as much of a difference then.  There's the existence of RAV4 plug-in hybrid was omitted as well.  Mention of that would have blurred the lines to a point where there conclusion becomes a confusing mess: "Consumers making individual choices between cars will make a difference."  In short, we cannot make informed choices if we the information we are provided is misleading or incomplete.


Tactful Replies.  I followed shortly after with another comment.  No replies yet.  There will be though.  Expecting to be attack is par for the course.  I know the routine... insult the person, evade the message.  That's sad, but telling.  It's how you know the claims made showed merit and identified a worrisome topic.  I'm not sure what it will be... that distorted history or the obvious avoidance of plug-in hybrids.  No mention of that is a clue.  Why was such a blatant oversight made?  My impression is it doesn't matter.  Being poorly informed is a problem regardless of reason.  Anywho, my second post was:  Keep in mind that during the first decade with hybrids, it was Toyota fighting misconceptions about electric tech.  That was a difficult struggle proving motors could deliver power & speed while also confirming battery longevity.  Think about how much of that was well established by the time we saw our first Nissan Leaf.  Supporters of BEV like to compare rollout timelines, but overlook the benefit of what hybrids has already established.  Some also fail to acknowledge how much of the PHEV tech is interchangeable with BEV.  Toyota is setting up for an economy-of-scale opportunity, leveraging their extensive experience to share the tech across a variety of platforms.


Poorly Informed.  It was interesting to watch an attack video created by a plug-in advocate.  She was upset by the stance Toyota has taken on ICE ban proposals, but focused entirely on history that was distorted.  That came about from having some incorrect information along with some that was incomplete.  I was really disappointed with lack of research, though not at all surprised.  She's not a journalist in that regard.  Her profession is present what's happening now, making it easy to understand and relatable.  Looking back did not go well.  I tried my best to be considerate with the comment I posted:  Strange to have such a large omission in the history.  There was no mention of Toyota's switch to lithium for gen-4 Prius or anything about the models of plug-in hybrid.  It's as if the perspective was from a number of years ago.  Since then, several PHEV and BEV have been rolled out to various markets.  Toyota is delivering a mix of plug-in and fuel-cell offerings.  They sell to diverse markets.  This year, reveals of another BEV and two PHEV are expected.  Also, don't forget that hybrids did not have generous tax-credits here like they did for plug-ins.  In fact, they weren't even available until January 1, 2006.  And even then, the money was half as much and only available for 60,000 before phaseout.  Lastly, don't overlook how much the 42-mile electric-only range delivered by RAV4 Prime does to reinforce how well refined Toyota's EV drive already is.


Pushing Narratives.  That's what pays the bills.  Some green news sources publish click-bait.  It's that simple.  After all, who can resist a headline like: "Toyota Insists Phasing Out ICE Cars Will Pose Tremendous Challenges"  It's actually quite a bizarre statement.  The opposite of that is being in denial, claiming there will not be tremendous challenges.  Ugh.  My approach to that is to read what everyone else posted, then wait until the crazy has settled and post something of my own rather than replying to anything.  In this case, my comment was:  It has been quite interesting to read comments coming from the early-adopter perspective.  That success we have seen so far is still very much low-hanging fruit.  The technology itself works great, but it represents only a portion of work still needed.  What makes the situation even harder is the disingenuous claims about cost & complexity related to infrastructure upgrades.  That's being downplayed so much, it is harming those who enjoy driving a plug-in daily.  We cannot promote something misrepresented like that.  To make matters worse, we all know that hydrogen will be the replacement fuel for large ships, aircraft, and long-haul trucks.  There's simply no way batteries will work for commercial transport.  Their weight & density shortcomings mean a co-existence with plug-in solutions... which means an overlap for some manufacturers.  What really puts all this in perspective though is the denial. RAV4 Prime demonstrates a full EV driving experience already well refined by Toyota.  They developed their own hardware & software many, many years ago and used hybrids to evolve it.  So what if the first BEV offerings are only rolling out now.  Commonly overlooked aspect of design are in play.  That evolution helped bring about cost reductions and production experience.  Anyone can brag about initial success.  Reaching the stubborn, poorly informed, and disadvantaged isn't easy.  Toyota knows this well. Toyota is attempting to draw attention to those challenges.  Some are not taking the situation seriously.  That hurts everyone.


Learn More?  I am upsetting some people.  That's easy to discern when the response back has to read several times to figure out what the person was trying to say.  For example: "Tax incentives "do very little to provide point-of-sale appeal"?  $7,500 or even $10,000 off the price of an EV or PHEV?  No, I'm not taking that seriously."  The rant went on for awhile, then concluded with: "Learn more.  Spread a better message."  What exactly was his message?  The text he had quoted from my previous post was only a snippet and was taken out of context.  The following sentence provided an example.  Clearly, he didn't understand or bother to consider why "monthly payments" was sighted.  Ugh.  It doesn't matter.  The claim was not what I actually posted and his didn't make any sense.  Learn more?  I attempted to reply with something helpful without being too irritated:  POINT-OF-SALE means the price is lowered at the time of purchase.  Tax incentives clearly do not do that.  You must wait to get that money the following year, when you file taxes.  And even then, there is no guarantee you will get the full amount (or any) as you would with the discount resulting from POINT-OF-SALE.  Watch for context.  The following sentence brought attention to month payments.  That is directly tied to the price you pay when purchasing (not leasing) a vehicle.  Basic math shows a $7,500 price reduction would result in roughly $150 less per month.  That's a really big deal for those on a tight budget.


Future Proof.   It is nice to see questions on a regular basis about charging from new RAV4 owners.  Oddly, that was a topic avoided to an extreme by Volt enthusiasts.  With battery-pack capacities so similar, you would expect discussions to be similar too.  After all, using a 120-volt EVSE takes all night for a full recharge.  That means if you go out in the evening, there may not be enough time before you need to leave for work.  So, you would think the topic would come up from time to time.  It didn't.  And when I attempted, my effort was looked upon as an attack.  In other words, I had identified a weakness.  What exactly was it?  My guess is that the expense soured the appeal for Volt.  $500 for a EVSE and roughly $1,000 to run a 240-volt was too much of a deterrent.  That has obviously not the same for RAV4.  Being a vehicle appealing to an audience more willing to spend on extras (large SUV buyers verses compact hatchback) is likely a major contributor to the attitude/outlook difference.  Anywho, that makes discussion of the topic so much easier.  So when questions are asked, I can just dive right in with detail:  If you want to future proof your setup, purchase a larger than currently needed EVSE (charge adapter device) and install a heavier gauge wire.  40-amp line (32-amp draw) seems to be the common "fast" speed emerging for level-2.  That's a max rate of 7.7 kW (240 volts * 32 amps).  For RAV4 Prime, the 6.6 kW rating is labeled as such for those with a electricity provider only supplying the minimum required... 220 volts.  If your service supplies higher, the same EVSE can deliver a faster charging speed.  In my case, I see 3.56 kW due to my service being 244 volts.  That's notably faster than the 3.3 kW rating.


Wrong Audience.  Yup, that turned into a complete disaster.  I got attitude from the "vastly superior" perspective.  It ended with a LMAO.  That was really unfortunate.  It's a sign of being too late, that they have already made up their mind and nothing will change it.  The classic problem is a nightmare to deal with.  They refuse to listen to any type of reasoning.  I doubt anything I post will make any difference.  I know that audience.  I did respond to the rhetoric anyway:  Hanging around the echo-chamber too long will cause that loss of touch with the market beyond early-adopters.  You may not have heard that for years, but as a plug-in owner who interacts with mainstream consumers on this topic, I hear pushback excuses & meritless rhetoric on a regular basis.  That remark of LMAO indicates you aren't taking the situation seriously.  You see the technology as proven and don't realize that's only the first stage.  There's is still much more to do to appeal to ordinary consumer.  This are difficult to sway.  There are people who will fight to prevent your progress to.  This is why a simple message is needed.  I have done my "little more learning" and see the problems with group-think.  Now, it's time for you to do the same.  Look around.  Notice everyone how many are enthusiasts?  That's the wrong audience.  You're preaching to the choir.


Messaging.  How do you know any difference is actually being made?  Look back at how Volt enthusiasts were absolutely convinced change was happening.  Even though they argued relentlessly, the status quo was never impacted.  They couldn't see it.  They denial was so deep, there was a complete lack of perspective.  The big picture was lost.  Opinion pieces get posted from time to time with the hope of keeping things fresh, shaking up the routine.  The thought is a new voice will stir new participation, new topics, and new interest.  Sadly, that usually falls flat.  They tend to not know their audience.  In other words, it just ends up more of the same.  They enable the enablers, reinforcing the same message to the same people.  That's not how growth is achieved.  Volt enthusiasts failed miserably in that regard.  That question of "Who?" was never understood.  The same problem is emerging again.  This was my attempt to draw attention to the predicament:  The article is a nice overview of the problem, an executive summary.  It points out issues, but provides nothing it terms of actual steps to take.  There's no detail, topics to cover.  That's been the issue for the past 20 years.  Getting beyond that barrier still not being address.  For example, the suggestion of sharing practical information doesn't provide us with anything compelling to work with.  "We can emphasize the ease of charging, the distance one can drive before needing a charge (vehicle range), and the joy of never needing to buy gasoline."  How is plugging in every night better than as going to the gas station 2 or 3 times a month?  Think about the uncertainties a shopper faces.  They have no clue what it will take to setup their home for charging, especially when there is more than one vehicle in the household.  Remember, things like tax incentives must somehow be funded and they do very little to provide point-of-sale appeal.  Filing for an uncertain amount the following year doesn't do anything for those looking for a lower monthly payment.  And topics of "Climate Change" & "Oil Dependency" have proven ineffective when up against money-in-hand considerations.  In other words, the sales pitch is missing... advertising.  What simple message can we convey that will turn EV driving into a must have?


Posting Format.  Not only do venues & audience change, so does the format.  Neither the classic blog or format could keep up with the posting of comments.  Those articles attempting to draw audience, then lose them shortly afterward is a strange business model.  Nonetheless, it works for business.  What doesn't follow that is the posting of something within group on Facebook.  There's nothing that resembles an index or style.  It's all haphazard.  Even the timeline for when people will be fed a notification is unpredictable.  The format is basically an anything-goes, with no real expectations.  That provides an invitation for just random contributions.  One such write-up happened today.  This was the opening: "I've never viewed a hybrid as a good transition step.  It's not reasonable to be hauling around 2 drive systems in one vehicle.  Not efficient."  I followed with:  Nice, thought-provoking write up.  That's a common misconception for PHEV offering full EV drive.  Both gas-engine and battery-pack are optimized for efficiency.  Since that combustion part only aids the electric-side, there's no need for it be full power like traditional vehicles.  Since the plug-in part has a backup generator, it only needs to supply routine daily driving range.  The "drive system" itself isn't doubled either in designs like Toyota.  There is nothing but a power-split device to blend power sources.  Elimination of a transmission (no gears) simplifies both cost & efficiency.  Looking to your 10-year projection, at that point will should indeed have hit the tipping point where it becomes obvious purchase of something with a plug is the norm.  There will be traditional choices, but they'll be falling out of favor and definitely won't have much for resale value expectations.  Sadly, we are going to see a low-hanging-fruit problem play out in that meantime.  Installs of EVSE where people park overnight will be a painful process.  Households will struggle to figure out how to afford upgrades were there isn't a service-panel conveniently located or there simply isn't the capacity readily available for multiple vehicles.  Apartment & Condo dwellers will have those challenges, in addition to payment & liability concerns.  We'll get there, but it will take the more capable hybrids (those with a plug that favor all-electric driving) to help push the process along.  Transition is never has straight-forward as people hope... technically.  There's also the cold, hard reality of those fighting the status quo.


Venue Differences.  Witnessing the downfall of what had been very popular daily EV new sources is a sign of change.  There are several which had served the early-adopter audience well.  One had fallen fast, promoted by the return of propaganda appeal, it allowed comments to become hateful & profane.  In other words, it got personal.  Objectivity from both writer & participant was lost.  This is what sends people looking elsewhere.  They lose interest in what it transformed into.  There's another heading toward that same outcome.  It originally was a trusted website for news, but then lost its way.  With other venues offering much different experiences for readers, why bother with those failing to live up to journalistic expectations?  It's a familiar pattern.  People leave when that happens.  Enthusiasts don't seem to notice... or care when it is pointed out.  They thrive on their echo-chamber, just looking for validation... a classic group-think trap.  Thankfully, other sources of news are emerging.  There tends to be legitimate writers seeking true journalism opportunity, somewhere.  You just have to do some searching.  They seek out opportunities just like this.  Audiences change, as do venues.


Challenges.  There are quite a few enthusiasts angry with Toyota.  It's about to get worse.  The problem comes from Toyota being the voice of reason.  Today, this statement is expected to be part of a formal inquiry to congress: "If we are to make dramatic progress in electrification, it will require overcoming tremendous challenges, including refueling infrastructure, battery availability, consumer acceptance and affordability."  Those topics are what stir antagonist posts online.  Rather than an enthusiast finally becoming a supporter to provide help for genuine progress, they go in the opposite direction.  The sentiment about to be officially on the record is what I've been expressing for year.  But every time I post something about those very real challenges which still must be overcome, I get attacked.  It's really sad how the lack of critical thinking can grow to such a scale.  Online blogs thrive on enablers.  They simply don't care about being objective.  They only want validation for what they believe in.  Evidence of that is overwhelming.  It's the same origin we saw from Volt... blind hope.  A constructive approach is not exciting... rewarding... or even noticeable.  True progress tends to be subtle.  There's nothing to be enthusiastic about that in most people's mind.  But that what change is all about.  That's how you overcome challenges.  Mainstream means it is a fundamental acceptance, meaning it's available everyone.  That should be the goal.  They don't want that.  So, the challenges remain.  It's disheartening to see those wanting change to be their own worst enemy.  But that's reality and we need to somehow deal those barriers, despite how much enthusiasts continue to hinder.  Ugh.


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