Personal Log  #1084

August 1, 2021  -  August 4, 2021

Last Updated:  Sun. 11/28/2021

    page #1083         page #1085         BOOK         INDEX         go to bottom     


8-04-2021 Wow!  When you thought it couldn't get any worse, they rewrite history by pushing absolutes: "Toyota was the disruptor, but has never faced disruption before."  I was astonished by such a blatant attempt to mislead.  In fact, I had to step away for awhile to think about how to best response to such nonsense.  Here's what I ended up posting:. . .

Wow!  That is so absurdly false, it's difficult to take such a claim seriously.

TWO-MODE was what emerged after years of being flanked by Toyota, it would become a technology to "out Prius the Prius".  GM launched a disruption assault and maintained their propaganda for years.  Trouble was, what had been delivered couldn't actually compete.  Toyota's hybrid system not only triumphed, it was being spread across the fleet.

VOLTEC emerged from the ashes, an idea formulated as hope for Two-Mode faded.  That next-gen tech was intended to disrupt the entire industry.  It did too, becoming a source of confusion & disappointment, rather than the "game changer" it had been hyped to be.  Toyota triumphed over that too, delivering what GM supporters had always hoped for... a plug-in hybrid SUV.

DIESEL was the long-time challenger of gas hybrids, but didn't become a true disruptor until success of Toyota's hybrid system dominated the "green" market for non-plug vehicles.  Wild claims of clean & efficient diesel operation frustrated & bewildered hybrid supporters.  Eventually, the truth was uncovered, exposing desperate deception.  That disruption abruptly ended.

Now we see efforts to mislead & downplay EV tech that Toyota has already delivered and continues to expand upon.  Their first dedicated BEV platform is less than 4 months away from full reveal of the production model.  It will take advantage of many years of real-world experience already achieved, as well as vital knowledge about how to reach disinterested dealers & consumers.

In short, not only has Toyota faced disruption before, they are well prepared for this next round of it.


Against.  Painting a picture that Toyota has the most to lose, so it will fight the hardest to prevent change, isn't going well.  Antagonists are struggling to portray being against EV when there is evidence to the contrary.  We see potential in difficult markets being addressed.  It reminds me of how Volt enthusiasts did everything in their power to prevent discussion about anything other than Prius.  When I brought of Camry hybrid, they would pretend it didn't exist.  When I mentioned RAV4 would become a hybrid and had the potential later support a plug, then got angry and lashed out.  It got intense.  I knew who was really against change.  They had their own particular audience and didn't care about anyone else.  It doesn't work that way for worldwide sales.  You must support that wide variety of markets, recognizing their specific needs.  We didn't see that in the past and we still are not now.  One solution for all won't work.  We will have a variety of solutions.  Think about how much flexibility there is for configuration of motor & battery.  They don't.  They tell stories instead.  I point out reality:  That "against" narrative only works if people disregard Toyota's entire audience.  Painting a picture as if the market here and in Europe is like the rest of their selling locations is a blatant effort to mislead.  10 million vehicles per year means production for a wide variety of regions around the world.  I was in Tanzania in June.  That country in Africa has a lot of Toyota vehicles, in fact, that is the dominant brand for ordinary consumers who own a 4-wheel vehicle.  Seeing the next-gen Aqua (Prius C) there makes a lot of sense.  Being able to find a place to recharge where electricity access is very limited is very big barrier to BEV and will continue to be for an extremely long time.  In other words, to cherry-pick like that is to portray all regions of sales as the same.  They most definitely are not.  Evading the obvious part of that next-gen rollout either.  Toyota was able to deliver a high-efficiency, low-emission hybrid for just $17,996.  That price is so low, they can't turn a blind-eye to the effort to deliver affordable solutions.


Controversy.  When the attacks become non-stop on several fronts, you know pressure is building.  Makes you wonder what will happen.  All the supposed pledges are painting a picture of a better future, but there's no substance.  It's like when everyone sings together spontaneously.  You feel better, but it doesn't actually accomplish anything.  Enthusiasts don't care.  They simply see unity from having a common enemy... even if there is no justification.  They desperately want something to focus on.  Toyota has been made the target.  I pointed out:  Everyone likes a controversy, especially when it distracts from their own challenges.  Reality is, we're seeing pledges from legacy automakers, but they are without any actual obligation.  People overlook that lack of commitment and accountability detail.  There is no consequence for falling short or even milestones for measuring progress along the way... a problem we have seen again and again. Meanwhile, we see technology being refined.  From Toyota, the successful EV drive implementation in Prius Prime resulted in both RAV4 Prime and UX300e.  By year-end, we'll find out details of the upcoming bZ4X.  So, it's not like what was delivered isn't continuously being improved upon.  Looking at business approach is the biggest hurdle still being brushed off as unimportant.  Just building more of the same vehicle few vehicles is not how to grow the market; yet, that's been the mantra.  Product diversification is absolutely vital to reaching a wider audience... something Toyota excels at.  They figured out how to spread hybrid tech across the fleet, getting dealer buy in along the way.  That same experience will be priceless for BEV acceptance.  Notice how big of a problem that already is for other legacy automakers?


Deep Denial.  It's starting to get really bad: "So Toyota plans, for every ZEV vehicle they sell (and notice the lack of commitment to BEV) they will sell more than 4.5 vehicles with an ICE.  That is crap."  Like how there's no accountability for anyone else, just Toyota?  He went on with: "F%ck Toyota.  They are planning to pollute as much as possible, for as long as possible, and they are brazenly bragging about it."  It's as if all the automakers are eligible for sainthood, but somehow Toyota is pushing the opposite extreme.  It is that late-to-the-party attitude with no concern whatsoever about what happens when the party is over.  They don't last forever.  In fact, they are only a brief moment in time.  The denial about what must follow introduction is unbelievable.  How do they think the rest of rollout will proceed?  It gets harder, not easier.  Convincing enthusiasts is trivial in comparison to what the masses expect from a plug-in.  It's either being naive or denying there are any challenges yet to come.  Ugh.  Here's how I'm addressing that nonsense:  Toyota is honest & upfront about their observations of how the market will respond.  But rather than push the other legacy automakers for their own stance, you try to distract from the obvious double-standard by declaring a scapegoat.  Reality is... GM... Ford... VW... will all continue to sell lots of vehicles with ICE... but will lack the ultra clean & efficient design of Toyota's system, one that's easily adaptable to support a plug.  Think about how little time there is to prepare for 2030 volumes.  The product must be rolled out years in advance to grow to the scale stated.  Toyota is in an excellent position to actually deliver.  What about the others?  How will a supposed boom in 2025 really play out?  Consider how many different models must be offered to reach 5 million BEV from a single automaker.  Ignoring what the others are doing by attempting to focus the spotlight elsewhere is a red flag.  Whether it is accepted or not, the inconvenient truth is those others will be slow too.


Green Naive.  There are a lot of new voices, many of which have no background to makes assertions.  Yet, they are abundant: "With so many automakers pledging to sell electric vehicles only within 10 to 15 years..."  Promises based on nothing with no context or even any detail are scary.  It's manipulation on such a grand scale, there's little reasoning available.  The dark ages have returned.  Ugh.  At least we can try to dealt with the absence of critical thinking:  Pledges don't really mean anything.  There's no actual obligation or consequence.  In fact, the complete absence of accountability measures (quantities, timelines, types, costs, etc.) should raise concern about commitment.  We have been burned in the past.  Those setting expectations vanish prior to the deadline and previous statements are dismissed as misunderstood or taken out of context.  Don't allow vague or ambiguous statements to serve as a promise.  It's far too easy for them to game results.  In other words, there's a sucker born every minute.  Green naive is an exploit to be aware of.


Setting The Stage.  I asked what the transition plan was, this is what I got in return: "It's taken all the time since 1996 to get Toyota's total sales to 20% hybrid.  VW is aiming for 50% BEV in nine years.  So who's educating the consumer better?"  I found that ironic, since VW doesn't seem to be doing anything with regard to education.  They are just rolling out and hoping for the best.  It's another audience problem.  They really don't understand the market.  That is likely why sales are far below expectation in China so far.  That slow start could have been avoided by setting the stage ahead of time... what Toyota has been doing.  You don't get any credit for that.  In fact, you get mocked for supposedly wasting resources, since there is nothing to show for the effort.  But when rollout finally begins, the preparation pays off.  That should be obvious.  With enthusiasts, it clearly is not.  This is how I responded:  Evading the question by asking a different one instead is a rather telling move.  Let's try again this way... Making a consequence-free pledge is just another "over promise, under deliver" situation.  What is VW's transition plan?  How will it be achieved?  Toyota has a plan encompassing the entire fleet.  They are phasing out traditional vehicles, replacing them with hybrids, then adding plug-in hybrids to the mix.  They carry the interest of both dealer & consumer along the way.  It sets the stage for BEV rollouts.  Preparation for that took a very long time.  They started with a custom design called THS.  That became a more sharable design called HSD.  The platform onto which all vehicles carrying the system was then developed called TNGA.  It is flexible & profitable, exactly what you need to easily take the next step... which will be called e-TNGA.  That is Toyota's plan.  It offers rapid deployment for existing vehicles and provides a path for new vehicles.  VW's plan seems to be similar to GM's plan, introduce entirely new vehicles and just hope for the best.  Meanwhile, their traditional choices will supposedly just die on the vine.  That doesn't say much for how they will encourage dealer support and entice customer purchases.


Playing Catch-Up.  The narrative being spread all over place is that Toyota is desperately behind, having to scramble now for survival.  This sub-title of an article featuring Nissan's new offering for 2022 stated: "Honda and Toyota will have to play catch-up to Nissan Ariya."  It caught my eye.  I was curious how they would explain such a supposed lead.  Turns out, they did it with omission.  That section with the explanation was titled: "That was ultimately squandered..."  It mentioned the history of Prius and its expansion to other Prius models.  No where was there any mention of the rest of the hybrid fleet here... Camry, Corolla, Avalon, Highlander, Sienna, Venza, RAV4 were all missing.  The writer painted a picture of Toyota never spreading the technology to any other vehicle.  No mention whatsoever of RAV4 Prime, yet pointing out the upcoming bZ4X concept, was a far more than just an oversight.  You can't just exclude the latest offering, but still make reference to a successor.  It's quite incomplete and extremely misleading.  That was without even mentioning how Nissan would have such a lead.  It wasn't nothing but a deceptive article coming from what supposedly is an automotive source for true journalism.  I wonder how what was basically a propaganda piece ended up getting approved for publish.  Stuff like that can be harmful to reputation.


Receiving Attention.  That's the gauge most enthusiasts use to measure success.  (The other is sales within a cherry-picked segment.)  If you aren't getting it, you have failed... as this comment states: "They pushed so hard the hybrid cars for years, but for my personal experience they failed spectacularly, and never received the attention they deserved."  It's like declaring "peak oil" as having been reached.  They want some undeniable sign of some apex having been reached with an expectation of continued decline to follow.  Any other measure doesn't count.  The loss of stability with a long series of ups & downs doesn't count.  It must be noticeable.  So things like profit reduction, fewer new investments, and bankruptcies don't count.  Neither do expenses to maintain.  It's all about show for enthusiasts.  They feed on attention.  That's why their sense of good business stinks.  I put it this way in my reply:  That's the point!  The nature of ordinary consumers is to resist change.  For a technology to become ubiquitous, it must go basically unnoticed.  Toyota's effort to overcome resistance has been so successful, it is viewed upon as the next natural step forward.  Evidence of that is sales of Sienna & Venza.  Both are only available as hybrids now.  Further evidence is how popular RAV4 hybrid has been.  That success has been so significant, it made the decision to add a choice of plug-in hybrid an easy step.  Toyota is moving their fleet forward.  It is so subtle, it gets no attention.  Their dealers have hybrid choices that are profitable and easy to sell, which is how you get them to carry more and more choices with a plug.  Notice how the other legacy automakers really don't have any type of transition plan?  Most here don't; instead, attention is wasted on frontrunners.  They miss the point.  Fate of the rest of the fleet is neglected.


Tragic Sales.  This was wonderful to read: "The eye-popper for me was Toyota's tragic 13th place on plug-in sales..."  The reason why was the way it concluded: " them from financial ruin?"  That never ending effort to raise FUD is quite amusing.  They have to continuously feed their narrative.  Allowing an alternate prospect of the industry is unacceptable.  I'm always delighted to provide exactly that:  That only works if you buy into the narrative that approach to change is only possible top-down.  Reality is, Toyota has been pursuing bottom-up instead.  From an enthusiast perspective, that's slow & boring.  From those with strong business backgrounds, that's the stock to purchase for solid long-term investment.  Look at how Toyota successfully rolled out TNGA across the fleet.  Most people never noticed the transition.  So naturally, they won't recognize potential for e-TNGA.  Focus on being common and avoiding trends is the last thing early-adopters are willing to endorse.  There's nothing exciting about that.  That's why blogs preach to the choir rather than the congregation.  Know your audience.  As for financial ruin, it will be more and more difficult to deny the foundational technology Toyota is proving out with their current PHEV and BEV offerings.  They are building up real-world experience for their upcoming "bZ" brand of vehicles, almost completely unnoticed.  That's how a reputation for reliability is built.  You study extensively before stepping into the spotlight.


back to home page       go to top