Personal Log #1067
April 19, 2021 - April 24, 2021
Last Updated: Sat. 5/22/2021
page #1066 page #1068 BOOK INDEX
Not Recognizing The Problem? This one had me wondering: "I don't resent their decision as much as wish they changed direction." Perhaps he used the wrong word to describe the situation. I provided some more background hoping for a reply with clarification: Direction? You know that Toyota is simply taking a different approach to get to the same destination, right? We all know that dealers are a major stumbling block when it comes to plug-in sales. Tesla wants to avoid them all together. GM has been losing the battle with their dealers. VW is preparing to force their dealers to sell. It's a mess that Toyota is working hard to avoid. RAV4 Prime targets their core customer, drawing attention to the potential. That stir of interest doesn't exist yet from the other major automakers... GM, VW, and Ford. It's a build of up demand that's essential, since we still seriously lack infrastructure. Public charging is woefully scarce and sporadically distributed, without any type of consistency for connection or pricing. That secondary mess makes dealer interest nearly impossible. Why bother? To address that, Toyota has been quietly refining their plug-in tech and preparing platforms. Notice how there isn't any transition plan for the other major automakers?
Level-2 Installs. There are quite a number of
questions people have when it comes to upgrading your garage for faster
charging. This response from an owner who has repeatedly expressed
interest in knowing more about how the system operates but refuses to
actually purchase a ODB-II reader to be able to see that detailed
information, added this comment to a new discussion thread about installs: "The
main reason we chose it is that we had only one available 240V circuit, on a
30A breaker. Code requires 20% margin on such circuits, and the LCS-30 was
the only unit I could find rated at 24A." Seeing this as another
teaching moment, I contributed:
That is what circuit-breakers are for. If you connect more to a line than it can handle, power is automatically cut. Watch what happens when you plug a high-draw device (like a hair-dryer or vacuum) into the same line as your level-1 device while it is being used. The moment you press the on button, overload is detected and power to line halts.
This is why better EVSE (level-2 devices) offer the ability to be adjusted. Our 240-volt lines in the garage are 8-gauge, which provide a maximum capacity of 40-amps. The EVSE itself is rated for 40 amps (that's 20% from a 15-50 NEMA outlet on a 50-amp circuit using 6-gauge wire), but we set it to a maximum of 32 amps. If we had needed to share the same line instead, putting both EVSE on that same circuit, each could have been set to a maximum of 16 amps. Like with any household outlet, you should be aware of sustained usage on the same line. Notice that EVSE are not all hard-wired anymore.
If for some reason our next plug-in vehicles draw more than the common 7.2 kW rate maximum, which is the sustainable draw from our 32-amp capacity, we could pull 6-gauge wire through the metal conduits and replace the 40-amp breakers with 50-amp. Doing that, we could set the maximum for the EVSE back to 40 amps to allow a 10 kW rate.
Excuses. When Toyota points out a problem for everyone, it is ignored. Some people don't want to face reality. It's just like when they claim a "need" but it is really a want. Convincing themselves took years of denying facts. That is what the whole saga related to Volt was all about. Emotion clouded logic. You can't just disagree with science. There are specific hurdles we can't just wish away. Remember the blind hope? This is more of it: "Toyota is using those challenges to make excuses to show support for fossil-fuel industry and arguing against electric-car deadlines ten or more years away, while at the same time promoting themselves as an environmentally responsible." It's that same situation again of downplay, unable to the true size & scope of the problem. It's easy to grow tired of dealing with it. The desire to finally declare victory is overwhelming... you know, impatience. Taking the time to do it right isn't an option in their mind. They don't see time saved up front as a consequence later. It's the same kind of thing I face routinely in my career, where designing software in a multi-year project has tradeoffs. Rushing can be costly. Anywho, this is who I stated what's happening: Toyota is smart enough to not allow shortcomings of the past to be carried forward. Notice how the "good enough" attitude is being used to spin their stance as an excuse rather than an effort to give the next generation something better? Most people don't. Fortunately, some recognize history's pattern. There is good reason for taking it slow to do it right. We see token efforts, vague promotions, and pledges with no accountability or consequence. We're being played and some are more than happy to defend those actions... using Toyota has a distraction & scapegoat.
Reply With Detail. Sure enough, several of those same antagonists responded with their quite predictable posts. Avoiding detail is key. They know it can be a costly mistake to actually address the issue itself; instead, the effort is to draw attention to any type of rhetoric about it. That makes it seem as though constructive discussion is taking place. But if you look for substance, you won't find any. It's just banter back & forth about what one opponent or another did without any context or purpose. It's just a pointless tit-for-tat which never achieves anything... other than provide material for them to argue about. They seek a scapegoat for their own shortcomings. To blame someone else is their own version of vindication. Witnessing that pattern repeat over and over and over again is a pain. They are stuck in trap, but don't recognize what's going on or even how they got there. So what you do to deal with that mess is allow them to say their piece, then hit them with someone else's detail. I posted this quote from a reputable source: "California, through its Air Resources Board, had been working to craft a compromise between the Obama-era standards and a Trump rollback, agreeing with several automakers on a state-based framework. That deal was to increase efficiency by 3.7% annually from model years 2022 to 2026." It was quite supportive of what I had said about Toyota holding out for something better. Turns out, the act of simply pushing CARB rules across the nation will not be enough. I know that all too well from the effort taking place here in Minnesota. Those current rules are just a minimum, no where near enough to actually get the job done... but those antagonists are too stubborn to consider detail about what they are defending. You know how people pass along the "choose your battles" wisdom? They chose poorly. It's not a fight worth fighting.
Anticipated Attacks. It is very easy to predict the what & when certain people will lash out at Toyota on the big Prius forum. In fact, it is an expectation that those same antagonists will live up to their reputation of arguing for the sake of arguing. For example: "But when it comes to basic social responsibility and a fast approaching new era of electrification Toyota is not aging well and their shareholders are starting to measure an increase in risk/cracks in Toyota's long term plan." That was posted at the start of a new thread to stir discussion. It was a quote from an article attempting to do the same thing. With an incredibly vague claim like that, there will obviously be some who will go for that trolling bait. And as we have learned, you cannot just let them do that unchallenged... since that's how narratives solidify. Ignoring the problem doesn't make it go away. Well aware of the circumstances, I replied back: That narrative is finally falling apart. Toyota was smart enough to hold off for a better deal and avoided wasteful litigation in the process. Those who were impatient or didn't care about the bigger picture were the ones complaining. Think about audience. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that China & Europe are leaving the United States behind. Settling for what CARB had really didn't make any sense. For those of us now trying to adopt those standards (like here Minnesota), the shortcomings are obvious. Thankfully, some of that is now easier to see... as of President Biden's address this morning, on Earth Day about the Paris Climate Agreement.
No Concern. Asking about the need for vigilance is common. We see new owners of both Prime who have no idea how the system works. Many haven't given recharging much thought. They have phones & tablets that are plugged in out of habit, a routine without any question. You just do it. There's no real pattern to those though. It's not like the daily commute, then an evening outing to make you wonder if there is a better approach. Most never give any consideration to improved results or optimized approach. They just plug in. So, it is wonderful when questions do pop up. We had a variety on the topic today. I jumped into the middle of the discussion addressing several concerns which had been raised: I recharged twice per day for 5 years with my 2012 Prius PHV and for 2 years with my 2017 Prius Prime. As stated already, it's not a big deal unless you are routinely baking your car in the sun for hours prior to the charging. I never noticed any degradation after all that time. A cold-soak (rest for awhile to allow the battery to cool) is beneficial to the chemicals within for longevity, but that's how lithium batteries work in general. Operation of Prius Prime doesn't generate that much heat in the first place. And since we can never DC fast-charge, high temperatures aren't ever really an exposure. Think about how DC fast-charging works. The battery must be heated to achieve those super-fast speeds. That minimum temperature is higher than Prius Prime's pack typically gets anyway. That is 50°C (122°F). So, there really isn't much to be concerned about.
Better? How one assesses a situation is not how everyone will assess it. Today provided a great example of that: "I would definitely agree that 50kW charging at a sustained rate is not too bad, but a 50kWh battery is still going to take an hour to recharge on that system. Better to get 150kW for a period that then tapers to 50kW so that the 50kWh battery charges in 20-30 minutes rather than an hour." Notice the absence of why? There's no reasoning provided to explain why faster is better. It is easy to assume the convenience of the vehicle owner is of upmost importance, but you must ask what the priority actually is. For most people, it is highly unlikely they would be willing to pay a premium to save some time. It's nice having that option, but service-tiers are not just arbitrary categories. Drawing more electricity faster does have a cost. It's not free. There are longevity tradeoffs as well. Here's what you need to know: Engineering involves balance. Pushed too far, the tradeoff will please some but disappoint others. Think about who the players really are. There's the customer, the automaker, and the charging-station owner. Somewhere in the middle is a configuration to make everyone feel their needs were addressed. In this case, there's sound argument for reducing the time for a full (DC max of 80%) recharge. Not everyone will need the entire amount each session either. Faster is more expensive for both consumer and provider too. Not recharging with breakneck speed means less stress on the pack. That limitation enables a longer battery warranty. This contributes to how Toyota is able to offer a 1,000,000 km (621,371 mile) warranty for their current BEV. This is why we have to meticulously analyze all factors involved. What we hypothesize as "better" isn't always what we discover after all the data is collected & considered.
Wrong Audience. Some understand when you ask questions to the wrong audience, you won't get answers that are actually helpful: "We, who love cars, often forget that most people want a boring appliance. Maybe spruced up a bit but generally not too out there or radically different." That's why I continuous pushed "Who?" as a reply to baseless attacks. I really didn't matter what you learned if goals aren't stated. What are you trying to achieve? This is why declaring "success" or "failure" is so meaningless. Without an understanding of what was trying to be achieved, claiming success can be just a hollow victory. This is how I replied to that: Well said. Know your audience has been a fundamental aspect of the automotive industry for longer than most of us have been alive, electrification exacerbated the disconnect. Understanding why is key. There's no reason enthusiasts can't have their cake and eat it too. But when pushing their beliefs upon those who have profoundly difference priorities, things get ugly. Some of us got to watch that textbook problem play out right before our eyes. GM queried Volt owners for advice about how to make "it" better. That was a group of enthusiasts, an crowd of early-adopters passionate about vehicles and excited about the opportunity. As a result, GM got feedback about how "it" could be improved. Getting perspective about their specific vehicle rather than the technology as a whole was a terrible mistake. "It" died a foreseeable death called Innovator's Dilemma, something rather obvious now... looking back from a mass-market assessment years later. In short, just like you stated, most people really do just want a boring appliance. They have no clue how the technology works, nor do they care. To them, it is about getting reliable transportation with a few creature-comforts at a reasonable price.
Baseless Attacks. When all else fails, just make something up: "You seem to be skipping over their long history of bashing EVs and pushing hydrogen fuel cell cars. But I guess that doesn't fit your narrative so you'll pretend that did happen." I end up having to read their own version of history with their own depiction of me. Often, I'll see quotes from other people transposed to something I supposedly said. That better reinforces their narrative. I find it quite intriguing to see how they interpret the past. I routinely find myself looking back their my blogs, reading my documentation of what was noted at the time it was happening. Not only do I get an accurate report of what was thought & said at the time, I also have detail preserved for future reference. It is difficult to forget something if it is written about immediately. Knowing that history will be valuable later is preparation for future attacks. Taking the time to do it right... in this case, documenting what you observed & learned... is a priceless means of prevention. Mistakes has a nasty way of repeating if you don't do anything about them. Ignoring a problem doesn't make it go away. Today, it was me reminding them of some history: Who is doing what? Why haven't you been calling out GM for doing the same thing? They also have a past of bashing EVs and pushing hydrogen fuel-cells. I remember how they originally declared Prius a "stop gap" since they would be delivering fuel-cell vehicles by 2010. Then, they gave up on that quest and switched to promoting Volt as a solution to "range anxiety" for BEV. Most interestingly is GM's past was one of exclusion. What they were promoting was to be the only solution. Toyota doesn't do that. Toyota's approach is quite the opposite, one of inclusion. They are pursuing a diverse product-line, exactly what any good business should have. You don't want to have an inflexible portfolio. Bad things could happen when times get tough... like bankruptcy. As for the supposed bashing, anyone taking the time to look for a reason to be "anti" will find it doesn't fit a narrative well. The current barriers are undeniable. Battery technology still has cost, size/weight, and speed/safety limitations keeping BEV from reaching the masses.
Setting Expectations. The best you can hope for in the form of acknowledgement is spin. When they recognize having made some type of oversight, they'll twist the situation. It's their form of damage control. That's what happens when you see the world as binary, when reality isn't a zero-sum outcome. This is what that looks like: "So we should be seeing these types of improvements. The technology is always moving forward. What I hate seeing is more of the old technology, such as 50kW charging, being delivered on new models. It really needs to be moving forward at this stage. I think 150kW should be the minimum by now, and these fairly flat charging curves becoming more common." I especially liked that part with: "old technology, such as 50kW charging". So, that's what I quoted in my reply while pointing out the shortcoming (oversight) of his perspective: There's a word missing in that: "sustainable". We all watched the original 50 kW rated tech quickly drop away from its top speed and sputter down to painfully slow. So, it really wasn't as fast as the label implied. Think of how differently that would have been looked up if it were to start at 50 kW and sustain that speed throughout the entire 80% capacity, even when the pack was hot. That would be considered new, despite being identified as "50 kW charging". In other words, consider the precedent being set by how this example is perceived. How will people accept a BEV connected to a 350 kW service only getting 230 kW? Then think about how much top speed could be subject to change, either by controller parameters of the vehicle or limitation of supply from the charging-station. Put another way, ask yourself what lessons have we learned so far about promoting public charging?