Prius Personal Log  #1069

April 30, 2021  -  May 4, 2021

Last Updated:  Sat. 5/22/2021

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5-04-2021

Harsh Reality.  When a South African oil industry consultant and former oil executive says this, how do you respond: "Someone who is sitting in Norway and has a very good quality of life because of the oil that was found in the North Sea is now telling the world that it should run on renewables.  If you are sitting in Africa, your incentives are very different."  Struggling countries that are poor but have large oil reserves are in a very difficult situation.  Think of the pressure coming from drillers wanting to exploit that opportunity.  Doing the right thing at the cost of well people for your people is a harsh reality some never have to face.  We have a choice.  They don't.  I can't imagine that magnitude of a problem.  We knew it would come to this though.  The idea of "peak oil" being defined by declining supply was always absurd.  My entire life I have been inspired by those who found resources something to use carefully not carelessly.  This is exactly how everything should be treated.  In other words, think about what you are doing.  Maybe it isn't a good idea after all.  Ask what other choices are available?  In this case, push those interested in the oil hard for alternatives.  Seek other investments, something that will still provide income but not do damage in the process.

5-03-2021

Benefits of Plugging In.  My quest to find out what VW promotion would be was heightened.  I looked, but couldn't find much.  Section titles like this seemed to present promise: "Electric now looks as good as it feels."  There wasn't any substance though.  In fact, if you weren't paying attention, you wouldn't even know the vehicle being featured was electric.  Perhaps that's the point.  Perhaps VW is going for a stealth approach, making BEV appear much more normal than any of the stereotype or rhetoric would lead you to believe.  Under the technology section, this was the title: "Smarter than ever."  Strangely, there was no mention whatsoever about it being electric.  Every feature listed was the same you can get in other vehicles.  What I found most baffling though is there was no detail about charging.  It was more of the downplay.  This is the entire text from their "At-Home Charging" section: "The most practical way to charge your Volkswagen ID.4 electric vehicle at home is with a L2 wallbox charger (sold separately).  Your VW ID.4 will include a L1 charging cable but charging times will be longer than a L2 wallbox.  Electrify Home offers a L2 home charging solution, purchase your charger and get assistance finding an installer via Qmerit at Electrify Home.  22-33 miles of range in about 1 hour charging (at a L2 charger).  Full charge overnight, 7.5 to 11.5 hours."  That's pretty much the barest minimum for information.  It would be difficult to convey much less.  Of course, mention of outlet location or type stirs a variety of concerns and raises awareness of added cost.  These are the barriers Toyota warned about, challenges still not being addressed.

5-03-2021

The Competition.  I jumped onto VW's website to get information about their new BEV here, straight from the automaker itself rather than third-parties.  There was a link enticing me to "See how the ID.4 stacks up to the competition."  You can't resist clicking that.  I was presented with a one-page flyer.  It compared ID.4 to Subaru Forester, Honda CR-V, and Toyota RAV4.  That certainly caught my attention.  I was expecting a compare to other BEV, not traditional gas vehicles.  The fact that no PHEV was included got me especially curious.  What features would VW highlight and avoid?  Price was first.  $39,995 for ID.4 was a terrible start.  $38,250 is the base for RAV4 Prime.  Horsepower was next.  It is 201 for ID.4 and 302 for RAV4 Prime.  As if that wasn't a bizarre effort to compare, it got worse.  Focus turned to cargo volume, which was far greater for the Toyota & Honda and only better than the Subaru.  From there, the list included phone, touchscreen, and navigation features.  That was it.  The promotion was beyond desperate... especially if you do any research.  The RAV4 listed was the XLE Premium model for $30,050 rather than the base starting at $26,250.  Even with the $7,500 tax-credit, that doesn't stack up well with a $39,995 starting price from VW.  Seeing that was baffling.  With such a cherry-picked list, who is that compare intended to sway?  I can't imagine the experience at a dealer.  What are they using to appeal to those anticipating the purchase of a traditional vehicle.  Having nothing to promote what makes EV better is bizarre... and certainly not a reflection of competition.  Tell us the benefits of plugging in.  Ugh.

5-03-2021

Outright Lies.  We are back to them again: "The link in the first post of this thread gave some examples of Toyota's anti-climate/environment lobbying."  That's what I got after calling out their vague claims.  Blatant efforts to mislead by implying what supposedly happened was getting out of hand.  It's the same old nonsense.  Once undermining becomes so obvious, antagonists just turn to outright lies.  In this case, there was nothing but a worthless link hidden in a single word at the end of the first post.  Following it just led to more of the same... quotes of what others had said and links to opinion articles, much of it based on what supposedly happened in 2019 too.  There was no actual substance.  It was all quite generic, reflecting industry change and not Toyota specifically.  That's what you do to spread propaganda.  No one really knows what happened or what is happening now, they only have someone to blame for some assumed opposition or barrier.  That's what you do when things aren't going well for you... find a common enemy.  This familiar pattern is a sign of frustration.  I recognize their frustration.  Rollout isn't going well for their preferred approach.  Toyota has been the most vocal about problems to overcome.  My guess is that translates in their mind to "lobbying" even though no examples of actions have been provided.  There isn't even any hearsay.  We just get a narrative of Toyota not wanting to support plug-in vehicles... despite evidence to the contrary.  It's quite desperate.

5-02-2021 Losing Money.  It is quite interesting to see profit being stigmatized.  Unless the automaker operating in a charitable manner, they are evil.  It is absurd... but understandable in a time when so much as been polarized.  That is what happens when the battle losses add up and you can see an end to fighting draw near... with your belief about to vanish from relevance.  It's that reminder of purpose which provides a wake-up call.  Automakers work to earn profit.  They seek out the best means to achieve their own goals.  Not all share the same goals.  We remember GM following profit, abandoning good will for the sake of survival.  Toyota sacrifices short-term gain for long-term well being.  Then there's Tesla, neither legacy nor large.  That subjects them to interesting & conflicting perspective.  For example: "When the profitability is there, Toyota will make huge numbers of EVs.  Tesla still loses money building them."  Seeing that posted was refreshing.  I added:  Tesla has done an excellent job of following opportunity.  There were subsidies, carbon credits, investor capital, and basically no competition.  All of that was limited and will be coming to an end.  It's part of what Toyota has been sighting as unaddressed challenges.  Selling millions of plug-in vehicles annually requires a dependable means of profit.  The hybrid platform upgrades Toyota has been rolling out sets the stage for profitable PHEV sales.  As much as enthusiasts complain about the speed of rollout, that focus of sustainable profit is undeniable.  BEV sales in high-volume without losing money simply isn't realistic yet.  We're getting closer though.  Impressive engineering can win over consumers, but it cannot overcome the pressures of political & legacy resistance... which is how the money ties in.
5-01-2021

Tipping Point.  I was curious about such a claim.  Supposedly, we are rapidly approaching the tipping point: "And within just the next two years, the average cost of a 250-mile range EV will fall to $24,000 - while the cost of the Toyota Camry rises to $25,000."  Since $25,045 is the current base price, I wondered about motive.  Misrepresentation is not a good way to promote change.  Chevy Bolt offers a range of 259 miles (well, now only 233 miles due to the recall) and has a current price of $36,500.  See the problem?  Doing some math, figure 4 mi/kWh for efficiency... which would mean a 250-mile range battery would have to be about 69 kWh.  That's 250/4 plus a 10% longevity buffer.  At the current anticipated $100/kWh cost in two years, that would come to $6,900 for the cells plus roughly $2,100 for packaging, cooling, charging, and controllers.  Things clearly are not adding up, despite the assertion: "By 2024, the cost is expected to swing greatly in favor of EVs."  We will indeed see cost continue to drop, but significantly in just 3 years simply isn't realistic.  There will be a plateau eventually too.  Since when is 250 miles a widely accepted minimum anyway?  Who finds that enough and why?  What about the barriers of recharge speed?  What about access to charging-stations?  What about the cost of EVSE installs at home?  That articles was presenting the challenge of BEV adoption as only being a matter of vehicle price.  Ugh.  It is Volt all over again.  There is far more than a single barrier to overcome.  btw, the new ID.4 from VW offers a 250-mile range starting at $39,995.  So, the idea of tipping... no.

5-01-2021

Not So Difficult.  I was amused by the frustration, his struggle to get me to look at his cherry-picked information.  His conclusion was wonderful: "See not so difficult when you look at the numbers."  It was all about what Tesla has achieved.  That's great, but there's still much to do.  Growth beyond the early-adopter market is difficult.  Those consumers are far more difficult to sway and you much reach (work) much harder for each sales.  They aren't as well informed and they are far less forgiving.  It's quite a challenge, a problem some still refuse to acknowledge.  I responded with:   To see what?  Selling 1,000,000 vehicles worldwide is impressive, when details are excluded.  But when you dig, you discover profit is razor-thin, prices are still beyond the reach of middle-market consumers, and a big chunk of what sustains the business is the sale of carbon-credits.  To complicate matters, we have no indication of how proprietary supercharger locations will grow to meet demand or how that equipment/usage will be funded.  This is all taking place within the context of limited competition too.  It's more of the short-term perspective being projected as if long-term variables are the same.  Continuing to refer to "lobbying" in such a generic way, without any detail whatsoever, is why past and recent decisions from GM are being brought up.  It's all about the lack of substance. Enthusiasts thrive on hype and evade accountability.  In other words, looking at numbers without context feeds a narrative some of use see faults with.

5-01-2021

Warning Flags.  This was the response from yet another of those who have nothing better to do but find ways of keeping the discussion alive.  They'll do everything possible to prevent conclusions from being drawn.  It's quite remarkable the effort expended to prevent progress.  For example: "That's GM, who hasn't been a market leader in a awhile.  They are doing interesting things with their BEV platform, but people aren't looking to them for the way the market is going.  That would be Tesla and VW."  That's a typical was-not-important-let-us-move-on dismissal.  It's an enabler for history to repeat.  Ugh.  You can only reply to repetition of the same old thing so many different ways:  That is exactly why what GM did is so relevant now.  We have the same "Who?" problem.  How many hundreds of times was "Who is the market for Volt?" asked?  Over and over and over, it was dismissed as unimportant.  We can see the history pattern playing out, again.  Those references to "people" and "looking" and "going" are meaningless, without any defining substance.  No critical thinking can be attributed to such vague claims... hence the question.  None of us really know where Tesla is going.  Reaching middle-market (the source of sustainable profit for large automakers) is necessary for growth, but how will that be achieved?  The required price drop won't come from technology alone.  That won't be enough to sway those living from paycheck to paycheck.  Offering a smaller vehicle with less range would trigger a paradigm-shift, forcing Tesla to take a new approach with promotion & sales.  That's an entirely new category for Tesla.  As for VW, we see a number of prototype vehicles being presented and hear about factory building... but nothing else.  That should raise warning flags.  How will the rest of the process be achieved?  What will be done to draw customers to VW and what will dealers do to entice EV sales?  Our market is especially skeptical of VW and they were never that big of an automaker here anyway.  That means heavy emphasis on existing owners to achieve any type of real change.  In other words the same barriers GM faced still exist.

4-30-2021

5th Generation Prius.  I'm seeing more speculation about Prius coming standard with a plug for the next-generation model.  That opens up discussion for constructive expectation setting.  What should the range be?  People post stuff like this without anything to support their stance: "It would make more sense if Toyota made the 5th generation Prius a standard Prime model that had an electric range of 75-100 miles."  More sense than what?  Remember the obsession with GM's target of 40 miles for Volt?  It was the basis of all arguments... until delivery fell short of promise.  Such a battery-capacity back then simply wasn't realistic.  Energy-Density of the chemistry back then, combined with cost, was a recipe for upset.  Yet, they hoped beyond reason anyway.  Their logic was sound though, that distance covered daily driving need.  Why would things be any different now?  In fact, with a post-pandemic world, commute congestion is projected to be 25% to 35% less.  Will that reduce range averages, who knows?  Will the distance increase, probably not... especially not doubled.  I wanted to know more about how 75 to 100 miles was chosen.  So, I requested more info:  That's well above our national daily average of 41 miles.  Explain why that particular range is worth the cost, specifically for Prius here.  Keep in mind, the priority of price varies throughout product-line.  Diversification is important for good business.

4-30-2021

Yet Another.  There are times when antagonists come out of hiding.  What I remember most about this particular one is how he outright dismissed that daily blog for Volt as being anything of influence.  That was prior to the term "fake news" being coined.  He seriously believed there wasn't a means of swaying the masses through just a blogging website.  He was quite naive to the power of undermining through repetition of lies.  With all my posting recently about Toyota's motivation, this is what he got out of those comments: "Why are you still focused on 2012..."  Reading beyond that opening was difficult.  What would the point be?  He was so far off base, nothing would matter.  I ended up replying with:  I'm not.  My posts make that quite clear too.  I regularly point out aspects of BEV design and infrastructure related today... then reflect back about how the pattern of dismissals & disregards match history.  Repeating the same mistakes is what Toyota is taking the time to prevent.  The fact that other automakers don't place that as a priority is analysis of the past is so important.  Of course, I noticed your obvious attempt to mislead by intentionally avoiding more recent Volt decisions.  Gen-2 in 2016 was a blatant omission.  And the decision to abandon that entire investment instead of moving it to a better platform... like Trax or Equinox... was quite recent, just 2 years ago.  Again, diversification is vital for good business (long-term sustainability).  Rather than offer anything at all to GM customers currently looking to replace their aged Chevy SUV, the decision was just divert attention to the "30 EV models by 2025" without any mention or commitment to volume.  It's just another setup for "over promise, under deliver".  Meanwhile, Toyota is rolling out both PHEV and BEV.

4-30-2021

Increasing Complexity.  A counterpoint to the article claiming "Simple Hybrid" was an argument about how much increasingly complex traditional vehicles have become, sighting additions of the past to meeting efficiency & emissions regulations.  The obvious trigger for me was the complete absence of any reference to what some have delivered.  True, we have seen others... like GM, VW, Honda, and Hyundai... all add hybrid components onto their existing traditional design.  That addition is indeed an increase in complexity, but neither Toyota nor Ford did that.  Such a difference is not an insignificant other to be so arbitrarily dismissed.  Not even a mention by either the author or the person to whom I replied is troubling.  That's why I worded my post in this manner:  That would be a perspective which omits an important chapter in history, how a certain hybrid design simplified design.  We saw that with Prius.  By eliminating the transmission and replacing it with a power-split device, it became as simple as a differential... just directing power instead of having to shift gears.  That simplicity in Prius lead to an addition of a simple dry-clutch, allowing it to completely disengage the gas-engine for electric-motor only operation under all driving conditions.  It is a reality which breaks the narrative of powertrains becoming increasingly more complex.  Think about how long a plug-in hybrid Prius or plug-in hybrid RAV4 will remain in service with a gas-engine so infrequently used.  With almost all daily miles driven using electricity, the cost of replacing that smaller battery-pack +200,000 miles later isn't a big deal.  You can dramatically improve cleanliness using an approach very easy to sell to customers already accustom to complex system, despite it featuring a plug for primary power.  So to the author and those unaware of what engineering has to offer, take a moment of pause to recognize the importance of reaching customers.  How do you appeal to them in terms they deem a priority?  Think about the number who actually understand how their current vehicle operates.

 

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