Prius Personal Log  #1082

July 27, 2021  -  July 31, 2021

Last Updated:  Mon. 8/02/2021

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Overlooking Necessity.  Focus on extremes is what enthusiast posting is all about.  They seek redemption from exception and completely neglect ordinary.  That's why enthusiasts magazines never liked Prius when it first rolled out.  A vehicle designed to appeal to the masses was represented a fundamental contradiction to their very foundation.  They support want, not need.  That's why I confront comments like this: "You're spending far too little on highway charging stations, and far too much for charging stations at shopping malls and grocery stores."  What is the basis for such a statement?  In other words, I am pushing for their acknowledgement of audience.  Who are they providing a solution for?  Necessity is not that of highway travel.  You can rent a car for that or just fly.  Long-Distance travel is rare for most of us, limited to vacations & holidays.  Most of the time, you're within range of most BEV capacity now.  So claiming "too much" definitely requires some clarification.  How do you determine the correct amount?  Since most need would come from daily driving, not travel, it's easy to question.  I asked this way:  Think about those without any means of overnight charging.  Where are they going to plug in?  Stopping at a shopping mall or grocery store from time to time is something they need to do anyway.  Those locations tend to have overflow parking, since they are located in places where land isn't a premium.  Such a location, with a consistent flow of potential users, makes sense to invest in.  Don't overlook the necessity for the equipment to somehow generate enough profit to sustain itself.


Do You See?  I especially liked being asked this question today: "Do you see Tesla chargers at grocery stores and restaurants?"  It was in response to my infrastructure comments.  Most enthusiasts really don't critical think.  They come up with a set of canned responses and post them endless without giving any new thought.  Thank goodness we have other venues elsewhere with sensible discussion.  For this one, I posted:  Yes.  There is a Hy-Vee (grocery/restaurant) and Target (retail) here installed to attract local traffic, not the supposed long-distance paradigm.  I also see the level-2 stations being routinely used there too.  Put another way, don't draw conclusions based on early-adopter behavior.  With choices so limited and technology far from being well established, you can't reasonably assess how the masses will actually respond.  As for the suggestion of highway charging stations, there's the logistical problem of physically not having enough parking spaces at existing facilities.  It's somewhat affordable thing to tap into existing infrastructure to upgrade existing parking spots, it's entirely different to have to purchase & build a new location... especially when highway rest stops are state owned & operated.  There's the added problem of not being able to include any type business at rest stop locations, something a user of a charging-station would want to spend time at while waiting.  That places the burden onto near-highway locations, like gas stations & restaurants.  Same problem, there physically isn't room at most for adding lots of stations.  Parking tends to be a premium.  Ever notice how full most of them were already, without anyone there charging?


New Problem.  There was an interesting article featuring infrastructure spending related to the money in that bill for charging stations.  It focused on quantity & type using estimated costs.  Calculations seemed logical.  This many, for this use, at this type of location...  Problem was, it completely ignored anything the owner would need to pay following the install.  It was an effort to deliver some aspect of true journalism, but failed to recognize the entire issue.  I pointed out what had been overlooked:  This only addresses expense related to installation.  What owners must pay following that... for electricity service (costs beyond just the electricity itself), connection fees, payment fees, liability coverage, location care (snow & ice), service contracts, handle/cord replacement... is really important.  Unknown post-install expenses are what can make or break deals to get the charging-stations installed.  For that matter, how long is the equipment supposed to last?  How many charges can be expected to deliver?  Do the DC converters need routine maintenance?  Can the chargers be used continuously under all weather conditions?  What about figuring out what people should pay for a charging session?  Who will oversee usage issues?  In short, figuring out the initial purchase is only part of the challenge.  Complicating matters is each situation is different.


New Downplay.  Coincidently, just 6 minutes after my previous post, that daily EV blog published an article featuring the definition of BEV.  I was quite amused by the timing.  This really got me though: "You may also hear the term PHEV floating around.  This stands for Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle.  In this case you have a combustion car that also has a small battery and relatively weak electric motor that can turn the wheels in fully electric mode for a few miles."  How could I resist that?  It was a must-respond-to statement.  So, I did:  It is quite inappropriate to generalize, placing all PHEV into a single category.  Design can significantly vary, just like BEV.  For example, RAV4 Prime: 42 miles from the 18.1 kWh battery-pack is hardly a few miles.  179-hp/199-lb-ft (front) and 53-hp/89-lb-ft (rear) from the electric motors is hardly weak.


New Attack.  Signs of growing frustration are emerging.  Those pushing purity are discovering their reasoning does not address the general market well.  In fact, some find it doesn't at all.  They have been living in a "EV market" bubble for so long, they lost touch with the rest of worldwide needs.  It was all about their wants and their success at finding an audience to validate their beliefs.  That cruel reality of not recognizing the tree from the forest is a tragic mistake, one we saw play out with Volt.  History repeats if you don't learn from it.  Clearly, some have not: "It can't be a better EV because its not an EV -- its a PHEV and so stop calling it an EV jeeze what dumb reporting.  To make it a better EV you have to redesign it as an EV and not a PHEV.  You must make the distinction between the two, author."  Sound familiar?  That's just like the "EREV" arguments.  They would go on and on with endless attacks trying to convince us there was a difference compared to PHEV.  They failed, miserably.  That will inevitably happen again.  I posted a rebuttal anyway, hoping the battle will be shorter this time around:  Know your audience.  Pretty much everyone except enthusiasts accept the fact that any plug-in offering all-electric driving is referred to as an "EV".  Like it or not, that's the way it is.  An electric-motor drawing from a battery-pack provides the same outcome, regardless of whether or not a gas-engine is also available.  Arguing semantics won't change anything.  When a commute in a PHEV never using any gas and a BEV using only electricity, do you really think the ordinary consumer is so stupid they won't see that as the same?  It's electricity from a plug being used to power the vehicle. Facts cannot be disputed.  As for making a better EV, that's a load of rubbish too.  We have seen examples of both terribly inefficient BEV and remarkably efficient PHEV.

7-30-2021 Standards & Priorities.  My time up on the soapbox continued with a response to: "Tesla allowing non-Tesla EVs to use its Superchargers is obviously a play for federal subsidy."  Finally having some attention shift over to topics other than the enthusiast obsessions is wonderful.  Here's my thoughts on that: 

It could also be a move to avoid disqualification.  Why should a government support something that isn't standard, a technology available to everyone?

Think about the position Tesla is in.  Enthusiasts claim that is the automaker to follow; yet, it is an automaker that doesn't offer any product for ordinary consumers.  There are no vehicles available at mainstream prices.  The typical shopper is not going to accept excuses for higher sticker-prices and the government simply doesn't have the money to provide a large number of vehicle subsidies... hence shifting focus to infrastructure.

In short, Tesla knows low-hanging fruit is almost gone.  To appeal to the affordable market, it must address priorities of that market... something Tesla has been unwilling to do.  Ironically, that very problem is what Toyota has been addressing and has labeled as "behind" and "late for the party" as a result.

Notice how no one has wanted to acknowledge the elephant in the room?  Toyota did.  They pointed out what should be obvious.  When you deliver an affordable BEV, the appeal of luxury BEV fades.  Both offer smooth & silent power.  Why spend more if you don't have to?

Put another way, the fastest charging speed and the longest range capacity isn't the most important aspect of appeal to many people... despite all the propaganda trying to convince you otherwise.  When it comes down to how much they are actually willing to spend, a lower price is a very strong draw.

This is exactly why Toyota has been striving to figure out how to do more with less.  The 8.8 kWh capacity from Prius Prime seemed like a joke, until that success resulted in the 18.1 kWh capacity for RAV4 Prime.  Toyota continued to squeeze out more from less.  GM gave up at 18.4 kWh from Volt, a much smaller and less capable plug-in hybrid than RAV4 Prime.  We also see Toyota tripled the stack count, creating a 54.3 kWh capacity pack for their UX300e.  So what if that BEV was a traditional model refit?  It was an obvious effort to learn as much as possible before producing any vehicles in their upcoming "bZ" brand.

Toyota sees the dam is about to break and is preparing for it, rather than wasting time appealing to enthusiasts.  This infrastructure bill to fund charging stations is evidence of the dam starting to crack.  Tesla allowing non-Tesla EVs to use Superchargers is more evidence.

7-29-2021 Inconvenient Truths.  It has been interesting to watch inconvenient truths come up online.  Comments about them rarely lead to discussion.  Typically, the response is propaganda.  People post what they want to be the truth instead of facing it.  Problem is, change eventually catches up with them.  You can only force a false narrative for so long.  Infrastructure is getting attention now.  Someone stated it this way: "When the dam breaks EV chargers will be everywhere."  I especially liked seeing that and joined in with:

Nicely said.  It's the reason why some of us were not in favor of making more vehicle tax-credits a priority over infrastructure.  The proprietary barrier Tesla created for itself would need assistance to overcome.

We thank Tesla for proving the effectiveness of such an investment.  For that, the automaker has earned a strong standing and deserves some support... but the fanboys claiming superiority are only hurting themselves.  Think about what it will take to reach the audience legacy automakers have a firm grip on.  Look at the under $30,000 vehicles each offers.  Consider what Tesla must focus on now to prepare for the dam breaking.

A quick check of Ford reveals starting prices of Maverick $19,995.  EcoSport $20,395.  Ranger $25,070.  Escape $25,555.  Mustang $27,205.  Bronco Sport $27,215.  Bronco $28,500.  F-150 $29,290.

For Chevy, we see starting prices of Trailblazer $19,000.  Trax $21,400.  Malibu $22,270.  Equinox $23,800.  Colorado $25,200.  Blazer $28,800.  Silverado $29,300.  Traverse $29,800.

For Toyota, they start at Corolla $20,075.  C-HR $21,595.  Corolla Hybrid $23,650.  Prius $24,525.  Camry $25,045.  RAV4 $26,250.  Tacoma $26,400.  Camry Hybrid $27,270.  Prius Prime $28,220.  RAV4 Hybrid $28,800.

In other words, appealing to the SHOWROOM SHOPPER for legacy automakers here is a massive challenge that short-term subsidies won't really cover.  We need long-term investment... infrastructure.


Getting Called Out.  Seeing my response, he was quite angry.  It reminds me of the stuff going on right now with the January 6th hearings.  It is attempt after attempt to avoid talking about the issue itself.  Evade at all cost is their motto.  Ugh.  My comeback to their avoidance is to keep calling them out and presenting the issue.  Not wanting to discuss that problem itself is a confirm they aren't taking the situation seriously.  I posted:  That use of "BEV market" is the same selective problem we have been dealing with for years. It focuses entirely on initial buyers, completely ignoring the reality that the other 97% of the market has little to nothing in common with that audience.  That inconvenient truth is a very, very real problem for growth.  Many here refuse to address those barriers too.  In fact, there was a Op-Ed here just 2 days ago which confirmed it.  Claiming disruption to legacy automakers is a means of distracting from the actual problem.  There are issues Tesla has yet to overcome.  Being a "poster child of BEVs" doesn't mean squat to a loyal customer of a legacy automaker.  They couldn't care less.  They simply want an easy purchase at a price competitive with other vehicles on the showroom floor.  This is why infrastructure is now becoming the primary priority.


Poster Child.  The latest round of infrastructure investment going through Congress right now includes $7.5 Billion for EV charging.  There are some who are attempting to reinforce their narrative: "Tesla owns 70% of the BEV market in the U.S.  They are the poster child of BEVs, its matters little that you don't like it."  That is no difference from nonsense of the past.  They cherry-pick, selecting only the slice of market they wish to present.  That forced perspective is just plain wrong.  You can't ignore what you don't like.  Sound familiar?  It's the same rubbish we dealt with back in the Volt days.  They would define their own audience then too.  Ugh.  I kept my response to that brief:  Turning a blind-eye to the rest of the market is a mistake, a fundamental flaw no one making wise business decisions would ever make... unless the goal is to remain a niche.


Looks Like.  There was a comment posted about the impression that Toyota is in an awful position, appearing to be behind all other automakers.  It was yet another vague conclusion drawn on hearsay.  I replied to it with:  Asking for detail as to "looks like Toyota" comments is always interesting.  Those responses are almost entirely about battery supply.  Addressing rollout strategy or the success already achieved with EV systems is simply ignored, despite being absolutely vital to growth.  People have an extremely difficult time seeing beyond that initial stage, where early-adopters endorse the technology.  In this case, we see Toyota rolled out Prius Prime with such a degree of success that it resulted in RAV4 Prime and UX300e rollouts.  Both are plug-in offerings laying a foundation for the upcoming BZ4X.  Yet, none of those making the "looks like Toyota" ever mention that.  Try it sometime on a group that isn't as constructive as this.  You'll see those spreading doubt attempt to change the topic or make up some excuse without substance.  Their behavior is quite telling.


Op-Ed Comments.  Those comment posted on that blog for early-adopters were a mess.  They focus so much on the engineer, you can't ever get to actual discussion.  They just argue what they want to defend, not the full context.  That's the very definition of a narrative.  You can't just omit recent changes or make claims without substance; yet, that was exactly what I was seeing there.  Fortunately, the local plug-in owners group here in Minnesota has a very different attitude.  Some of that comes from the official announcement yesterday, that all the papers had been filed to make the state a ZEV state.  Here, we are now following the California rules (as of the time of filing).  Anything new will have to be voted on to amend what has been put in place.  I shared advice about what to look for.  Is the automaker promoting their technology for just pushing for sales & image?  Notice how we are getting promotion specifically for Hummer EV and nothing about the upcoming the first Ultium battery vehicle for ordinary consumers?  Of course, that was before the rash of fires and the recent recall.  So, it is especially important now more than ever to watch messaging.  What is the automaker spending money on?  That brings us to the promise problem, a vital aspect that GM stands out for.  Are we getting realistic expectations or more of the blind hope nonsense?  Whenever Toyota shares some inconvenient truths, there is an inevitable series of attacks to follow.  Reposting of the same old rhetoric happens like clockwork.  You can depend upon the antagonists to overwhelm commenting with off-topic and outdated content.  Ugh.


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