Prius Personal Log  #1064

April 5, 2021  -  April 10, 2021

Last Updated:  Fri. 5/21/2021

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Certain Misconceptions.  There are a few that never die.  Today, it came in the discussion about Nissan's series hybrid: "Add plug-in and VOILA!  You have a gen-1 Chevy Volt."  It is a testament to how little some antagonists actually knew about Prius.  They attacked based on assumption, not fact.  Some of the confusions we got long afterward (following the end of Volt production) were quite enlightening.  They really were clueless.  There was so much emotion, it clouded judgment... even with regard to engineering.  They simply blocked out anything that could sway their narrative.  Remember the downvoting?  Anywho, this is how I addressed the problem today:  11 years later after finding out that Volt would not actually be series hybrid as anticipated, incorrect claims about the design continue.  That's remarkable!  Of course, denial of such a revelation is understandable when comments like this were posted as a result of that confirmation back then: "WHAT??? This is not anywhere close to the drive train I have been reading about for the last 3 years."  Finding out Volt had direct-drive, a mechanical connection from engine to wheels rather than wire only, was a devastating blow to enthusiasts.  It originally operated that way under just certain circumstances.  But as gen-2 was being designed, GM embraced the efficiency benefit and enabled the system to use that approach more often.  Some of the persistence of the false belief came from the relentless effort of enthusiasts to portray Volt as profoundly different from Prius.  The reveal of it sharing a fundamental undermined their messaging about Volt technology being "vastly superior".  Now all these years later, we see Prius operating just like Volt with nothing but an added clutch.  That brings us back to supposed benefit of using an engine for electricity only.  After all these years, only Nissan is left pursuing that hybrid approach.  What do they hope to achieve from an offering like that without a plug?


Gen-5 Prius.  People are beginning to see a little beyond the pandemic.  An expectation of normal isn't for anytime soon.  But like all things Prius related, patience is required.  So, that in a way is normal.  I suspect the next generation Prius won't be a 2022 like some are hoping for.  The current state of the market simply doesn't support it.  There are chip shortages and the outlook for plug-in vehicles hasn't produced clear messaging yet... which means lots of speculation in the meantime: "Wonder if they will synchronize the Prime and Prius generation years?"  That came from regular big Prius forum member who basically likes to stir the pot.  Lack of a constructive nature in posting patterns is an annoyance.  Some people have nothing better to do.  This individual simply wants to keep the discussion from fading.  So, I indulged with my own stir:  What makes you believe there will be a non-Prime version of Prius?  We have been watching interest in the regular model drop and the plug-in model rise.  Knowing Toyota will be introducing another Prime and 2 new electric-only vehicles this year, it simply doesn't make sense to continue with the split.  Notice how well Sienna and Venza are selling as hybrid-only choices?  It's time for Prius to again to lead the way for the next stage of phaseout.


Note e-Power.  There was an article posted about how well Nissan's series hybrid has been selling.  No context was provided though.  No background.  No detail.  It was one of those mentions that tells you a whole lot of nothing.  What is the purpose of that technology?  This is how the promotion material describes it: "e-POWER is a 100% electric motor-driven system from Nissan that gives you the same high-performance driving experience as an all-electric car."  In a world where series-parallel hybrids didn't already exist, that would sound remarkable.  In fact, it did over 20 years ago.  Efficiency couldn't deliver though.  Automakers saw Prius and were inspired to try other things.  I jumped into the discussion with:  Absence of any detail should be a red flag.  When you hunt for specs, you find the vague reference to "conventional hybrid" doesn't tell you anything useful.  Looking at power output, we see it is 85 kW (114 hp) for Note e-Power. Claims of "low-output motor" is somewhat misleading.  True, the regular model Prius outputs less. But when its existing motors are connected to a large-battery pack and clutch-enabled, output climbs 65 kW (91 hp).  That isn't as big of a difference as the compare seems to imply.  Looking at efficiency, we see that it is 90 MPG rating (Japanese JC08 test-cycle) for Note e-Power.  That doesn't really stand out as market leading, since gen-4 Prius delivers a 96 MPG rating and the plug-in model much higher.  That all tends to put a focus on pricing & convenience.  Much smaller battery-pack obviously gives it a cost, size, and weight advantage.  Not having to plug in obviously has some marketing appeal. But the whole point of greatly reducing oil consumption is lost.  Deployment across the fleet would be an effective means of phasing out traditional offerings and setting the stage for models with large plug-in battery-packs... much like Toyota, but no where near as far along.  The question is, does Nissan have that planned and how long would it take?


New Audience.  Proof of have reached a new audience comes in statements like: "Anyone else amazed that people are buying this wonderful expensive car, then worrying about gas going stale because they never drive more than 45 miles a day?"  We saw that a lot as the reach of Prius expanded.  Witnessing the same extension into new territory, but at a much faster rate, is very promising.  It's quite the opposite of what Volt experienced.  Remember how the focus of enthusiasts continued to become more and more specialized?  They would focus on characteristics of the vehicle no one but their own small group cared about.  Their arguments backed them into a corner, an action most refused to acknowledge.  This is why I kept asking "Who is the market for Volt?" over and over and over again.  They didn't want the technology diluted by spreading it to other platforms like Cruze or Equinox or even providing other configurations of Volt.  They wanted their message crystal clear, but couldn't ever agree what the message should be.  So when it came to simple matters like gas going stale, argument would erupt about priorities.  This is what pushed people out, why that daily blog saw so many supporters abandon the effort.  Were they worrying about gas or did they have experience of their own to share.  Unanswered questions contribute to disenchantment.  The point of my ramble is the "Who?" should be obvious.  Does someone provide a response?  If so, was it another newbie who was able to find & share that information?  If so, you know the new audience will thrive.  While waiting to find that out, I share a tidbit of history:  Owners of such tech have been around for entire decade already.  So, this is a very old topic.  What's new is the packaging.  RAV4 appeals to very wide audience.  Lots of people are interested... many of whom have never given your question any thought.


Beyond Zero.  The timing of Toyota filing a trademark application for the "Beyond Zero" sub-brand they wish to create for BEV offerings was interesting.  It provided exactly what I can been posting about.  Rather than using such an element as a distraction, it is used as a reminder.  Toyota is seen as being so heavily invested in pushing green change now, the message of future choices to come is lost.  People see change happening right now... for Toyota, anyway.  From the old rival GM, there's hype of extremely expensive rollouts.  Hummer EV will be around $110,000.  Silverado EV will be around $80,000.  Nothing else.  It's all a build up of a promise, without any actual promise.  You just get the impression that something affordable will eventually follow.  Quite the opposite is what we are seeing take shape for Toyota.  There will be a variety of models, apparently 5 and each will have a 2 grades.  That's what you get when searching for trademark & patent type information.  Those filings provide a glimpse of intent.  It the same thing we see with the shift to mirrorless cameras.  There is usually a name and tidbits of detail.  That's exactly the situation now with the plug-ins to come from Toyota.  I pointed that out, adding to the official sub-brand being confirmed:  News of an upcoming filing emerged mid-December last year.  The following were listed for vehicle names: BZ, BZ1X, BZ2, BZ2X, BZ3, BZ3X, BZ4, BZ4X, BZ5, BZ5X.  They will feature the modular e-TNGA platform (Toyota's architecture for their electric vehicles).

4-06-2021 Complex Change.  Well that previous post fell on deaf ears: "It's only limited because Toyota didn't bother to order enough.  Toyota is one of the largest automakers in the world and has an established supply base for batteries.  The "limited battery supply" excuse doesn't hold up."  There is no getting through to some people.  Of course, I read an article today noting GM's history with BEV.  Their experience stated how EV1 evolved into Bolt, which will years from now be joined by BEV models of Hummer & Silverado.  Volt was omitted entirely.  It's the desire to keep things simplistic, forcing a "tree" perspective.  In fact, that's why Volt was doomed from the start.  Rather than even trying to see the forest, key elements of engineering were fixated upon.  Nothing else mattered to them.  If that simple marketing approach were pushed, the complex world we call reality wouldn't matter.  Again, ugh.  I address this round of insanity with:

Some here like to throw around "compliance" with no concern for tradeoffs.  They treat the situation as if there is no penalty for simply ordering more supply or accelerating production of a specific offering.

The reality is large automakers sell a wide variety of vehicles.  That means actions for micro benefit could have macro consequences.  In this case, that is very much a risk of an Osborne Effect.  The last thing a large automaker should do is hype something the customer will want right away.

For example, GM keeps focus on the years come, stirring interest in what is being developed.  It is a perpetual cycle of green promotion without actually delivering anything to upset the status quo.  The current example is upcoming BEV vehicles using Ultium battery tech.  That has no impact whatsoever to current sales, yet still earns praise for the automaker.

The opposite example is that of Toyota, an automaker working hard to keep their development subtle.  The penetration of hybrid models into the fleet and how they set the stage for widespread plug-in support is the subject of complaint & ridicule by enthusiasts and difficult to notice by mainstream consumers.  It is preparation for macro benefit with only micro tradeoff that's minor.

In short, labels like "compliances" or claims of "behind" make no difference.  They are just rhetoric noise coming from early-adopters spinning a narrative based upon their frustration of how complex change truly is.


The Forest.  There always seems to be someone even less aware than troublemaker.  He chimed in with: "The iceberg is an obstacle, not the destination."  Finding someone that clueless is intriguing.  They take the analogy so literally and without question, there's no way to get any type of message through.  You are wrong, period.  That outright dismissal comes from being poorly informed.  Drawing conclusions with incomplete or incorrect information will do that.  This is why I so frequently ask for the person to state goals... forcing them to consider purpose.  If they don't understand motive, what's the point?  Far too often, belief that automakers will do the right thing is accepted as a given.  Recognizing the risks that come with change are a very real problem.  They dismiss the issues... those other trees in the forest.  Only the one matters to them.  It's a fools errand to believe there isn't more to a situation than a single influence.  Ugh.  I ended up posting:  That's a great example of misunderstanding the problem.  This iceberg is enormous and will inevitably smash into the shore, causing damage.  It cannot be prevented.  So, whether you can steer around is irrelevant.  To make matters worse, that isn't the only iceberg.  In other words, this isn't a binary situation and there is no way to avoid it.  The goal is to minimize impact.  It's carbon neutral, not carbon elimination.


Iceberg.  Turns out, some enthusiasts are really bad at analogies: "I realize companies like Toyota have a lot of inertia, which is why they tend to fail when they miss their mark.  VW has the right idea.  Toyota appears to be aiming for the giant iceberg while saying we are the best, nothing can sink this ship..."  The know-your-audience mantra came about from the blindness of enthusiasts not seeing the rest of the forest.  They'd focus so much on a single tree, the rest of the world around them didn't matter.  They figured studying just that one is all that was needed to understand all the rest.  Ugh.  In this case, it was even more simplistic.  What was the goal?  Why are you in the forest in the first place?  How does the iceberg fit into the picture?  I responded with:  That is a telling analogy.  Other automakers see the iceberg as something to avoid, so they steer away and celebrate.  Meanwhile, the iceberg remains on a collision course with our homeland.  Toyota is facing it directly, heading straight for it trying to intercept.  In other words, we see the games those other automakers are playing.  Heck, they even refer to Toyota's choice as "late to the party".  Reality will catch up with them at some point.  They'll see what the iceberg actually represents.  For those not wearing their critical-thinking caps, the iceberg is sales to the masses... those low-profit, high-volume purchases which sustain the business.  It is far easier to appeal to those with disposable income than those carefully watching monthly payments.  As for VW specifically, what is happening at dealerships?  Shipping ID.4 is only an initial step toward change... a single push attempting to change course of the iceberg.  Toyota is pushing with several models of hybrid, two models of plug-in hybrid, another plug-in hybrid on the way, and two upcoming BEV.  It's a plan to address the wide variety of customers, not just those easy to sway.


Downvotes.  In the past, I saw them a lot.  When someone didn't like what you posted, they would downvote it until the post disappeared (upon getting 10 negative votes).  They would do that even for facts.  Not wanting to face the truth is something I cannot relate to.  Ironically, many of the antagonists doing that would accuse you of putting your head in the sand.  The hypocrisy is amazing... but not surprising.  You can used to the nonsense.  Today, it was disagreement with the fact the it cost more for tier-3 service.  How can anyone argue something so easy to prove?  Are they ignorant or just plain stupid?  To get more electricity faster, of course you will have to pay a higher price.  How is that different from anything else?  You want to be able to download more data faster, you will naturally have to pay more for that internet service.  Ugh.  Oh well, all you can do is post the facts and ask questions... since some obviously don't want to listen:  800-volt service won't be cheap for charging-station owners.  That higher tier expense will be passed down to the vehicle owner.  How much will the owner be willing to pay?  The standard rate for Electrify America currently is $0.43 per kWh.


Totally Bias.  The attitude comes in all forms.  This one especially caught my interest: "I come here for the totally biased EV perspective.  It makes me feel better and help me rationalize my decisions.  I didn't read the article since I already know what it says.  But I can assure you it didn't compensate the owner for the hundreds of hours EV owners spend waiting for their vehicle to recharge.  Thanks...  But no thanks."  This is why we get so many click-bait articles.  Everyone participating has already made up their minds.  They are basically just there to get validation of their position.  It's quite typical.  Many have simply become lazy, unwilling to research & listen.  It's far easier to just find someone who agrees with you or someone to argue with.  To the situation we face, I say:  That perspective is "totally biased" because it is presented as if it were a binary situation.  Reality is much different.  You have choices that have intentionally been omitted, to force the discussion for a favored outcome.  Presented with what's missing, you'll probably come to a different conclusion.  In this case, information about PHEV (plug-in hybrids) is absent.  Being able to drive EV almost all the time from nothing but an overnight charge using the 120-volt outlet you already have in your garage is quite realistic.  It even comes in popular vehicle style... a SUV with AWD and towing... RAV4 Prime.  Put another way, you can have your cake and eat it too.  RAV4 Prime delivers 42 miles of electric-only driving range.  When that plug-supplied electricity is used up, the gas engine starts to operate the hybrid system.  It's a best of both worlds option never presented in these types of comparisons.


Barriers.  The real problems are shielded from investment capital and carbon credits.  Things like the 5-Year cost analysis are obviously cherry-picked.  People own vehicles longer than 5 years.  Expensive repairs don't happen until after that.  Resale values is a bitter reality too.  Those are barriers some absolutely refuse to address.  Instead, we get nonsense like this: "Wow!  That's more than half as many HEVs as the BEVs Tesla sold."  It's quite annoying, though informative to understand what the enthusiast audience believes.  They may not reflect the mainstream market at all, but what they focus can often expose weakness... revealing what they are trying to avoid.  It sometimes comes down to endless sparring.  Other times, it's just their belief of superiority getting the best of them:  Comparing a well-funded startup with limited choice to a massive legacy automaker is futile.  It doesn't tell us anything meaningful about growth or change.  It just points out what happened with an early-adopter audience.  Think about how impressive Toyota's reputation is for reliability and how much that trust demonstrated by 10,000,000 purchases annually.  Think about what it takes to carry that entire market forward, to offer something improved upon that.  This is why the other legacy automakers are still stuck in the stage of introducing themselves.  They face major barriers to overcome the status quo... challenges Toyota is taking on and showing sings of success.  Those HEV sales you mock are an undeniable step away from traditional offerings... true change.  Too bad if you don't like the approach.  It's a step forward regardless whether you accept it or not.


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