Prius Personal Log  #1080

July 13, 2021  -  July 19, 2021

Last Updated:  Mon. 8/02/2021

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7-19-2021

$1 Connection.  When I waved my wallet in front of the charger, it didn't recognize my card.  I wasn't aware what had actually happened.  I just assumed the problem was nothing had been detected.  Normally, I would simply try again.  This time, I took a somewhat closer look at the screen.  It was presenting me with an option to accept.  Knowing that public charger at the grocery store was free to use anyway, I decided to choose that option.  The charger started.  I thought all was fine and proceeded into the store.  Very shortly after making my purchase, I got a fraud alert.  Huh?  My credit-card provider had noticed a purchase in Minnesota and a purchase in California happening almost simultaneously.  The latter came from the company who operated the charger.  It was for $1.  The reason didn't take much to confirm.  Recalling the circumstances of connect earlier and the vague message on the screen, I was able to confirm it was a fee for connecting without an account.  The charger had scanned my debit-card and prompt earlier was asking for permission to bill $1 for use.  That was interesting.  I had always wondered if there was an option for those unwilling or unable to connect using their phone or hand not requested a physical card.  All those years back when I started using public chargers, the interface was nothing but a text display, so options like that would have been clumsy at best.

7-19-2021

Prius C Gen-2.  It was discontinued in our market (United States), but lives on in Japan.  In fact, the smaller Prius there known as "Aqua" has been upgraded.  That next-generation rollout delivered a more efficient hybrid system, roughly 20 improved.  This newest version includes the latest edition of the Safety Sense package too, featuring a range of ADAS including the Full-speed Range Radar Cruise Control, Lane Tracing Assist, and Teammate Advance Park..  Along with that, there is an optional AWD drive model.  Included with all models is a 1,500-watt AC power (100-volt in Japan) outlet.  The best part about all it though is the price.  Toyota has been striving to deliver something in the entry-level category, that segment pretty much the rest of the entire industry hasn't been able to address.  The base model already available in Japan starts at 1,980,000 million yen ($17,996).   The AWD fully loaded tops out at 2,598,000 yen ($23,657).  It's nice to see Toyota knows their audience.  The importance of reaching lower costs is vital.  We know how enthusiasts avoid any discussion of that.  It's a huge issue.  Sales here in the United States do not reflect was a large portion of the world can afford; yet, the choices presented are portrayed as if that was the situation.  That can be quite frustrating for those of us trying to make change realistic.  This new Prius C helps with those shortcomings.

7-17-2021

In A Bubble.  There is an absolutely desperate effort to portray Tesla as unstoppable.  It's truly bizarre.  Basic business principles are simply being ignored.  This reminds me so much of Volt.  Those enthusiasts didn't care either.  It was just an endless push for more of the same.  Great product or not, it faces incredible of odds of continuing as if it was the only choice.  Essentially having the entire market to themselves, they see unlimited potential.  Ever notice that Model S is basically the equivalent to gen-1 Volt as Model 3 is to gen-2 Volt?  The historical resemblance is uncanny.  Heck, even Model Y mimics the spinoff of Volt.  Remember that Cadillac?  It was different, but not really.  Anywho, this is what that nonsense has turned into: "We just recently saw Tesla "refresh" the Model S and Model X after 9 years and 6 years respectively on the market.  They are likely to follow a similar strategy with the Model 3 and Model Y after they reach a sales plateau."  That was a very strange thing to post, since it really didn't do anything to save the slipping sales of Model S.  It is still just an expensive predecessor to Model 3.  A true variant still doesn't exist.  This is why those Volt enthusiasts always kept focus on Prius.  No matter how many times I would bring up Camry, then later pointed out the potential RAV4 hybrid could have, they would ignore the posts.  RAV4 hybrid was not only successful, it ended up offering a plug... just like imagined it would.  That's what diversity is all about.  The market needed the variant and that was the logical platform to deliver it.  Of course, they knew that a decade earlier from Two-Mode... but stayed in denial and became increasingly more desperate.  It kind of looks like that same situation is playing out again.  This is how I responded to the situation, watching it degrade more and more:  Refreshing a low-volume vehicle (Model S) does not compare to the extremely successful new-generation cycle we have seen with high-volume vehicles (Camry, Corolla, RAV4).  How will Tesla defy consumer expectation and natural human desire for something new?

7-17-2021

Same Style.  I continue to see posts of the expectation that no matter how many Tesla Model 3/Y are produced, all will be sold quickly and without discount.  It's quite absurd.  You cannot increase from roughly 500,000 sales to 10,000,000 sales by just pushing the same cookie-cutter product for years and years.  Eventually, reality sets in... especially when you run out of low-hanging fruit.  This is what the latest in that mindset posted: "Tesla is attempting to break the mold of people's expectations of styling facelift every few years.  Volkswagen sold the original Beatle with the same style for about 30 years."  The world first saw a Beetle back in 1938.  Think about what stage the automotive industry was in at that point.  Things were very, very, very different.  Comparing a vehicle of that origin to something well into the 21st Century makes no sense.  There is no good basis for comparison.  Anywho, I was happy to point out why:  The original Beetle survived for so long because it was simple & cheap to produce and was very easy to service.  Human nature is to desire change.  How will Tesla fight that instinct to seek out something different from everyone else?  Model 3/Y will hit market saturation at some point.  Early signs of fatigue will be a plateau of sales in established markets.  Other choices from other sources will become the source of pressure at that stage, but that's just the next wave of buyers.  Following that will be ordinary mainstream consumers, who are even less willing to compromise.  In other words, getting into Business 201 topics will become quite a wake-up call for enthusiasts.  Tesla will be faced with the same challenges as legacy automakers at that point.  The attitude now of "just produce more" will fall apart.  Beetle was just the right set of circumstances in a past when the automotive industry was much different.  Look at much more recent examples, like the replacement Beetle or Volt.

7-16-2021

Forecasts.  Gotta like how the antagonists just make stuff up: "Half of sales being electric in 2030 isn't ambitious, but it's a lot better than Toyota's forecast.  Toyota expects 85% of its sales in 2030 to be ICEVs.  For some reason, Toyota's management can't see the obvious.  Could a company as big as Toyota go down the drain?"  It's all part of their narrative.  They just keep posting stuff to undermine & mislead.  Ugh.  Some of this comes from the CEO of VW having provide a vision of half their sales being EV by 2030.  Knowing audience is vital their.  With VW's worldwide sales around 10 million, it's easy to imagine low-hanging fruit being the first half.  There are a lot of sub-compact sale opportunities for BEV.  There are many markets that skew in the direction of small.  In fact, that is why ID.3 won't even be offered in the United States.  I didn't want to get into that though.  I kept focus on Toyota by posting a direct quote from their vision:  By 2030 our goal is to annually sell more than 5.5 million electrified vehicles around the world, including more than 1 million zero-emission vehicles (battery electric and fuel cell electric vehicles).

7-16-2021

Cost Reduction.  There are countless articles about how battery cost is the biggest obstacle to BEV success.  Yet, when at article is published about cost being cut in half, all the antagonist do it call that out for being vague: "50% of what?  How many $$ per kWh?  If their current production is able to produce cells for $200 kWh then 50% puts them even with the competition."  We already know the market is extremely tight.  In fact, there are countless articles about that too.  50% is hardly vague in that context.  They just want to pretend we don't know anything else about that market.  Ugh.  This is how I responded to that nonsense:  50% of current production cost for their current plug-in offerings is a big deal.  What would a specific $$$ value actually tell us?   Reduced cost results in higher profit, period. That is what is needed for support from dealers.  They see the progress.  They see the commitment.  Know your audience.  As for the competition, you've lost your mind if you think it is anything other than traditional gas guzzlers.

7-16-2021

Belittle, Insult, Undermine.  It's a formula for the desperate.  Each time Toyota makes progress, the antagonists move the goal-posts.  Basically, they are hypocrites just like we see in so many other walks of life... just another disenfranchised person looking to vindication of their own short-sighted decisions.  Ugh.  Oh well, what they choose does actually provide some insight.  For example: "Only 80,000 packs annually?  What a joke.  This is only 1/10 of little Tesla's annual production.  Coyota continues to set a low bar on the inevitable electrification."  In this case, it was fear of the bigger picture.  When you look beyond that current niche, there is much uncertainty.  A legacy automaker like Toyota knows how to reach the hard to reach.  A newer automaker like Tesla, who is about to face a new stage of growth, has pretty much no experience with.  Think about Tesla owners.  Think about what it took to appeal to them.  Now think about someone who couldn't care less about plugging in.  It's a much, much bigger problem than the fanboys ever want to address.  Somehow, simply building more of the same is a solution.  Ugh.  I responded to that nonsense with:  Attempts to mislead tend to indicate worry.  Exaggerating Tesla production by stating an anticipated capacity rather than actual deliveries is one red flag.  For 2020, it was just under 500,000... not even close to 10 times.  Another is omitting total battery production for Toyota.  There were 1,400,000 deliveries of HV batteries.  That's a lot of cells to exclude.  There is an expectation of 500,000 more for next year.  I find it all quite telling. 80,000 for their first dedicated production line, coming next year with a goal of significant cost reduction, is a big deal.  What Toyota currently sells is already profitable.  Foreseeing potential for more profit incentive to pass down to those who sell is really important news... no matter how much some attempt to mislead about it.  That's how a legacy automaker approaches change on the grand scale, striving to appeal to their existing customers... both dealer & consumer.

7-15-2021

At Least 50 Miles.  There are many who like to draw a line.  But when confronted to ask why that particular threshold was decided upon, they cannot support it.  I saw that over and over and over again.  It starts with a statement like this: "PHEVs with decent ranges should be considered as a serious options for cleaner transportation.  And that needs to be 50+ miles to handle a lot of real-life daily needs (not just the average 32 miles number).  The Chevy Volt was one such great PHEV."  Nothing ever becomes of that though.  It is an example of a "died on the vine" ideas.  Nothing becomes of it because there is little to nothing to support it.  Anywho, like countless times in the past, I point out the shortcomings of such a statement:  What was the purpose of Volt?  Based on data from sales, it was for conquest.  It was not targeted at their own loyal customers, like an Equinox would have.  GM never bothered to spread the technology to other platforms.  Remember how Volt emerged from Two-Mode?  The expectation was a plug-in hybrid SUV.  In other words, I challenge that necessity of 50+ miles.  Know your audience.  Think about how many kWh can be charged overnight from a level-1 connection.  That 120-volt outlet is all most households will have available.  It gets especially challenging with multiple vehicles.  There is just barely enough time to fully charge an 18 kWh capacity battery-pack.  Again, what is the purpose?  If you are trying to appeal to someone shopping the showroom floor, paying a premium for more EV miles can be a very hard sale.

7-15-2021

Assumption Confirmation.  This is quote from that same writer in the same article which I did not respond to: "Most new PHEVs are parallel hybrids because it's just easier to design on a presently-used ICE platform."  It was what I needed to confirm he really didn't have any idea how hybrids can be designed, the variety of configurations possible.  If all he was aware of was the "series" and "parallel" types, it was basically worthless arguing.  That's the lesson I learned from certain Volt enthusiasts.  It took me years to finally discover they didn't actually understand how Prius worked.  Lacking such fundamental background is why they fought so intensely... and ultimately lost.  They were clueless, making assumptions that were incorrect.  This is why there were a few who got outright hostile.  They figured I was lying... despite providing video to the contrary.  They convinced themselves what I was presenting was an anecdotal observation, not well summarized data based on years and years and years of research.  Think about readers of today's article.  How many will actually click on the link providing information about the writer.  How many will assume the article was a comprehensive study of history?  I had my confirmation and attempted to provide some information to point out something had been overlooked.  My goal is to raise awareness by supplying detail.  But in this case, I had to start at the very beginning.  Not even being aware of the "series-parallel" type means any discussion of design impossible.  Think about it?  What makes "parallel" easier?

7-15-2021

Not Journalism.  I read this in dismay: "The Volt was one of the few series hybrids.  Unlike most PHEVs using a gasoline engine with a transmission to the wheels (parallel hybrid), a series hybrid would use the gasoline engine as a generator to provide energy to the battery or the electric motor."  It was from a new article highlighting the top plug-in hybrids available in 2021, but naturally started with some history... or at least the writer's interpretation of history.  A quick look at his credentials revealed he is a young freelance writer who will be starting as a freshman in college this fall.  His photo shows the history he was writing about was too long ago for him to be a participant in.  So, hopefully he'll take the feedback as constructive.  I don't want to scare away new interest, but you don't build a career based on assumptions.  You research and acknowledge errors.  That effort and learning from mistakes is what makes a writer become a journalist.  We'll see.  This is the comment I made in response to that quote:  Volt was actually a series-parallel plug-in hybrid.  Gen-1 used parallel operation in limited ways.  Gen-2 expanded upon that ability to directly contribute power to the wheels, taking advantage of more efficient operation across a wider span of driving opportunities.  It's quite bizarre how the marketing effort to differentiate Volt from other offerings ending up feeding a myth about being different.  It wasn't and should never have been promoted that way.  GM should have treated the technology as a natural step forward instead, spreading it across the fleet.  Seeing how successful Toyota has been with their own series-parallel plug-in hybrid approach for Prius, then spreading that technology to RAV4, confirms potential wasted.  Think about what's really important.  Ask yourself how much EV driving the particular design provides.  Does the range and top electric-only speed cover daily needs?  Does it have a heat-pump, resistance-heater, or depend upon the gas-engine for cabin warming?  Does the system offer 6.6 kW charging?

7-13-2021

Sales Struggle.  We witnessed sales of Volt struggle for many years.  It was a niche that targeted a very specific group of enthusiasts, kind of a niche of a niche.  So whether or not the enthusiasts wanted to acknowledge its limited audience, the resulting sales made it undeniable.  Some people are unwilling to allow that same situation play out elsewhere: "I am an Audi aficionado, having owned quite a few in the past, but this is counterproductive to their image in particular, and PHEV's in general.  I have a PHEV with a 16.1 kwh battery pack and I get a real life 40+ miles - somebody please kill this miserable dog!"  That was posted about an Audi PHEV coming out that will only deliver EV miles in the low 20's with a similar sized battery-pack.  Audience for a high-priced plug-in with limitations is small.  Heck, that's actually what Prius Prime revealed.  But then again, that wasn't the purpose of Prius Prime.  It was to prove the technology being worthy of spread across the fleet.  That same approach with the regular Prius hybrid was extra-ordinarily successful.  In fact, almost the entire passenger fleet now offers a hybrid model and 2 vehicles in this market (United States) have discontinued their traditional offering as a result.  It's quite the opposite of sale struggle.  It's a matter of adapting to each platform in a configuration complimentary to what those buyers seek... hence Prius Prime still holding its place among the spread of growing choices.  Anywho, I kept my response to this nonsense brief too:  The under-performing PHEV will naturally struggle for sales.  Ordinary consumers simply don't have an appetite for configurations that don't fit their priorities.

 

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