Prius Personal Log  #1090

September 1, 2021  -  September 5, 2021

Last Updated:  Sun. 11/28/2021

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Nope.  I got outright denial: "No sir.  Just drive a Tesla and you will experience the difference."  That is exactly the same nonsense I got from Volt enthusiasts all those years ago.  Their behind-the-wheel belief was so strong, they couldn't understand why sales failed to grow.  They seriously believe great engineering alone was all that a shopper required to make the purchase decision.  That thrust of power from acceleration beyond expectation was supposed to be enough to convince any disbeliever.  There was some truth to that.  It did indeed overcome misconception, but that had nothing to do with the importance of reliability or affordability.  In fact with Volt, you had to overlook the serious shortcoming of cramp rear seating.  It was an absurd situation to even have such an argument.  No matter how often I brought up the need for GM to spread their EV tech to others vehicles... most notably a SUV, like their popular Equinox... there was no recognition of value toward doing that.  The idea was just outright dismissed.  I was beside myself at such a level of stupidity.  The necessity to diversify product is a business basic, one of the first things they teach you in economics.  Ugh.  This is yet another example of how Innovator's Dilemma comes about.  A niche product will get promoted as it if what everyone wants and that entire audience agrees.  They don't recognize the self-validation problem.  It's a dangerous trap with lots of warnings.  Yet, there is a continuous flow of new victims.  Ugh.


No Surprise.  Sure enough, it boiled down to the same old nonsense... denial.  I got this: "Which means it is still a dream and not an actual product."  I tried to be polite by sighting his response as anecdotal, presenting the opportunity to resume the exchange with something constructive.  Planning ahead and seeing potential is not a strong trait of early-adopters.  In fact, some fail so miserably at recognition of what recognizing future necessity involves, they end up living in their own dream world.  So naturally, I found his reply quite ironic.  Far too many supporting Tesla expect a miracle.  Growth will supposedly be achieved simply by producing more of the same thing.  In fact, yesterday I read an article claiming Tesla's production capacity by the end of this year will have expanded to build 5 Million vehicles annually.  Really?  5 million what?  Does he expect everyone to choose from the extremely limited selection currently available?  This mindset is why the upcoming "bZ" brand of BEV from Toyota doesn't make any impression on them.  They are unimpressed by something intangible, despite the enormous potential.  So, I provided a does of reality, actual products to consider.  I wonder if this will result it increased denial or a request for detail.  The odds of this stirring inquisitive reply are quite low.  Unlikely would be stating it way over-optimistically, but you never know.  I'll give it a try:  Toyota already offers 4 different BEV models outside of our market here in the United States.  That same EV tech is also shared in both their PHEV and FCEV models.  Knowing that, the claim about "10 years" goes from anecdotal to cherry-picked.


To My Surprise.  I got what I was hoping for, a reveal of how he had determined superiority.  He provided: "I am quite certain the 10-year cost for the Model 3 is far lower as there is no required maintenance.  I have spent more to maintain the Prime at 20K miles than the Model 3 at 65k.  And the fuel cost on the Model 3 is half that of the Prime."  That claim of being ahead was really just an estimate based on a cherry-picked data and ownership cost.  Addressing the actual technology wasn't part of his equation.  That's the very same thing Volt enthusiasts did.  Whenever I brought up potential by pointing out Camry or RAV4, they would shift discussion to something else.  They would evade the EV tech itself.  That potential was too much to accept.  Their denial ran quite deep.  I was intrigued to find out if this is the case for some Tesla owners as well.  That early-adopter mindset is a powerful blinder.  They fail to see how different priorities are for ordinary showroom shoppers.  I attempted to get the exchange back on track by posting:  That anecdotal observation has nothing to do with Toyota's EV tech.  BZ4X will be available this time next year.

9-05-2021 Invaded Discussions.  I found this fascinating: "Sad that every topic where Tesla is not number one is invaded by people explaining why consumers are wrong."  That's a great example of history repeating.  I was very excited to point that out and make it clear what such a thing can be very important.  I asked:

How is that sad?  For an entire decade, Volt enthusiasts invaded Toyota discussions.  Every time there was mention of hybrid tech, especially with regard to plug-in hybrid evolution, someone who attempt to undermine the discussion with "vastly superior" nonsense.  In fact, they literally said "vastly superior" for a number of years.  What that proved was they had no idea what "vastly superior" actually represented.

The same could be here too.  Topic of discussion is about sales.  Obsession with what attracts early-adopter purchases is exactly the trap those favoring Volt fell into.  Those enthusiasts absolutely refused to acknowledge that mainstream consumers have different priorities.  So, we ask if either or the Volkswagen offerings have the same shortcoming.

Some of the traits we desire as early-adopters make no difference to the purchase decision for someone who stumbles across the opportunity to buy.  This is how Toyota endured the attacks from GM.  Tesla owners tend to promote performance and SuperCharger access.  Is that really what a consumer loyal to a legacy automaker really favors more traditional traits?

2 days ago, I got my second close-up look at ID.4 while at the MN State Fair.  It is the closest representation of what the upcoming bZ4X from Toyota will offer, so the opportunity to examine what draws interest from a showroom shopper was fantastic.  Consider what a consumer at VW thinks when they encounter ID.3 or ID.4 on display at a dealer.

When another inevitable invasion happens, point out why VW has an advantage for VW customers.  In short, know your audience.  That how sales growth is achieved.


10 Years Ahead.  You know this spells trouble to come, when someone ends their rant with: "...the Model 3 as it is a good 10 years ahead of Toyota and is a much more fun and powerful car to drive."  I was curious though.  Sometimes, you will get feedback that's unexpected, a reveal of how they person actually drew their conclusion.  Most of the time, they are so close-minded, you don't stand a chance of anything constructive.  Remember all those years of exchanges with Volt enthusiasts.  They would argue and argue and argue, but never make any progress.  In the end, it was just the same obsession with speed or power.  They hoped that appeal to them would be shared by mainstream consumers.  They were wrong, very wrong.  It's why I asked the "Who is the market for Volt?" question hundreds of times.  That's where "Know your audience." came from.  They didn't.  I recognized that weakness in their argument.  They same problem lives one.  This time, rather than Volt & Prius, it is with Model 3 and RAV4 Prime.  I was intrigued, hoping to get him to expose his reasoning... whether it be intentional or accidental... I asked:  How are you determining 10 years ahead?  Toyota's EV is already well refined and will be rolled out on a dedicated platform next year, complete with AWD.  Keep in mind, Toyota delivered a heat-pump years before Tesla.

9-04-2021 How Fast?  That question is extreme common.  Providing a simple reply can be challenging though.  I can and do, but that is typically provided with some detail first.  I think it is important for people to recognize the complexity of the situation to understand the means to which that simplicity in the end was achieved.  It's not mysterious or scary.  Most just don't have any idea where to begin their research.  So, I supply background and an expectation this way:

With regard to speed, there are many limitations.  The vehicle itself will have a maximum supported.  For the level-2 standard we all use (SAE-J1772), that is 19.2 kW.  Doing the math, you'll find that is 240 volts * 80 amps.  To achieve that, a hard-wired 100-amp line is required (20% of that capacity is reserved as a safety buffer).  That's very expensive.  A more realistic household setup for multiple vehicles would be a 40-amp line for each EVSE for a rate of 7.7 kW (that's 240 volts * 32 amps).

For a vehicle like RAV4 Prime, the maximum is advertised as 6.6 kW (since it can accept a maximum of 30 amps) for those who have 220-volt electricity service.  If you are fortunate enough to be on the upper side of the standard 220-240 volt variance, you will see a faster rate of 7.2 kW instead.

In terms of how that all works out for ordinary minds not interested in doing math, figure a 40-amp line will deliver 200 miles of EV in 8 hours.


Charging Speed.  The previous post along with yesterday's exchange got me going.  I continued on with another reply to the same comment with:  As for the "How big are J1772 chargers in BEV's?" question, that's a misconception.  There is no difference.  That SAE standard is the same for all vehicles.  Most public chargers deliver 6.6 kW as a max rate.  That's all you get, regardless of being a PHEV or BEV.  To get faster, a very large box is needed to convert high-power AC to high-power DC.  Ever notice them at charging stations, tucked away in some corner?  That standard will likely be CCS for us, the first of which for Toyota will be in the upcoming bZ4X.


First Step.  It was interesting to read a Facebook comment posted about a RAV4 Prime owner who got to try a charging-station available at a rest-area along the highway.  That was their first time.  It was exciting for them.  Not sure how the comments about that will be accepted though.  So, I jumped in specifically when it came to criticism about usefulness.  It was the typical complaint about lots of tax-payer money being spent with little value in return.  Seeing below level-2 shouldn't be difficult.  After all, most DC fast-chargers offer that too.  It's a standard practice for when there is a high-speed issue, an alternative means of still charging is available.  Anywho, I posted this:  That first step in a long rollout process makes the goal being strived for very difficult to see.  It's start with basic level-2 charging to establish and prove out the viability of the location.  Next comes a few DC fast-chargers, which brings about questions of connection standards, charging speeds, and usage fees.  It can take years.  Seeing that first step is encouraging.  A row of 150kW CCS charging spots is a massive investment.


Teaching Moment.  My wife and I went for a walk at the State Fair over to the "Eco Experience" building again.  We were there the other day briefly and looked at the variety of plug-in vehicles on display.  I wanted another look at the ID.4, closer this time since it is the closest in design/configuration to what bZ4X will offer.  The person there overseeing the display exchanged comments with me.  That turned into a few questions in both directions.  To my surprise, she kept asking more and more technical questions.  I was well informed and she saw the opportunity to collect information.  I was intrigued, since my wife actively participated.  Turns out, she has picked up quite a bit of knowledge over the years simply by building upon real-world exposure.  That's pretty sweet!  Anywho, it was quite evident from that expert there we have a very long way to go.  These quarrels coming from BEV owners now are nothing but early-adopter acclimations, challenges they were unprepared to deal with or accept.  Detail from our discussion made that all too clear.  Mainstream consumers require far more than just technical accomplishments for their participation to become realistic.  Understanding of that technology is vital... and quite slow... with lots of help along the way.  We have a very, very long journey ahead of us still.


Your Guide.  I almost never respond to random articles in my Facebook feed.  This one caught my interest though: "Need help understanding electric vehicle chargers?  We explain the differences between home and public charging stations."  With such an introduction, I was curious what their "Your Guide to Electric Vehicle Chargers" link actually provided.  Turns out, it was rather informative.  I thought they did a good job of introducing those topics to newbies.  What my interest always goes to though are the comments.  Most end up being a place where antagonists attack.  To my surprise, this was so new there were only 2 posted.  One was benign.  The other stated: "How is the electric produced?  CRICKETS"  I couldn't resist the attempt to post a no-response-expected comment with a response.  How could anyone pass by such an opportunity?  I kept my words simple & strategic:  The refinement process for gas requires quite a bit of electricity.


Expecting Trouble.  The reveal of that December 2022 date included a mention of hydrogen.  Antagonists went nuts, spinning that every possible way they could.  All if it was an obvious diversion.  So what?  None if it changes the fact that we now know a gen-5 Prius is in the works.  Ugh.  I was especially annoyed that a conclusion was drawn based upon Toyota's BEV stance back in 2019.  Think about what the outlook was back then, especially with the political turmoil taking place in the United States and the battle with Tesla in Europe for a DC standard.  Rather annoyed, I posted:  2019 is not current.  A lot has changed since then. Think about when the bZ brand was first revealed.  Hydrogen will co-exist, period.  With the necessity so high to replace fossil-fuel use in commercial & industry transport, it simply doesn't make any sense not extending fuel-cell availability to some personal transport as well.  Consider how many fleet vehicles there are.  The cold, hard reality of plugging in is that DC fast-charging still has a very long way to go.  Jump on the PlugShare app.  Look for CCS availability.  Notice how few stations there actually are, how few plugs are offered, and how speeds faster than 50 kW are quite rare.  If we want to reach the wide variety of markets out there, you can't just push a single technology.  I visited Tanzania in June, where a large portion of non-commercial 4-wheel vehicles are Toyotas.  The fact that they recognize their own customer need is vital.  Go somewhere like that for perspective on what a lot of the non-industrialized world must deal with.  They have many challenges and plugging in is far from being a priority.  Toyota has a diversified business.  They will sell many fuel-cells for commercial use.  Hydrogen will become available for those uses.  It's renewable & decentralized. That's a really big deal.  Who cares what the narrative is.  We'll still get plug-in choices here.


Setting Expectations.  That's quite a challenge, especially when you know how much of a backlash there will be.  Being so well prepared for this market shift, Toyota will be attacked from every direction.  Others not having done such extensive research about audience and being unwilling to accept what they learn is a very real problem.  Consequences of that mistake will become rather obvious as time progresses.  The problems with battery chemistry is new to most people.  They recognize fire risk, but have no idea what contributes to it.  Studying Tesla, you'll find elimination of both cobalt & nickel has more than just cost & political benefit.  It also reduce fire potential.  Toyota is following that same goal, also pursuing a similar step forward.  That comes down to using what is looked upon as the next-gen batteries referred to as LFP (Lithium Iron Phosphate).  In other words, you can look further into the future than most people realize.  It gets messy with GM though.  Their rush to get BEV established seemed a risky move and has since proven to have serious consequence.  I always asked what benefit is their to rapid deployment.  GM's next battery will still use cobalt, but with reduced quantity.  What kind of perception problems will that bring?  It gets even more complicated when you try to adapt messaging to audience.  Who is their audience?  Toyota is great at answering that question, especially when it comes to Prius.  In fact, Toyota knows what that audience will start asking.  When will the next Prius come?  Today, that expectation was set:  December 2022.


Misconceptions.  This was rewarding to respond to: "Realizing not everyone can source this, I use 100% ethanol free gasoline 89 octane.  This fuel causes no problems typical of ethanol enriched gas that sits extended periods."  I got a reply shortly afterward.  He acknowledged the assumptions made were based on experiences from long ago, that it would be very easy to have a misconception now.  His experience was with small engines from recreational & service use.  Remember the era of carburetors and unsealed tanks?  So much has changed since then, especially with regard to the highly refined emission & efficiency vehicle market.  I kept my respond to the point with this, which thankfully was taken with constructive consideration:  All I have ever used is E10, for over 9 years of Toyota plug-in hybrid ownership (both the original PHV and Prime).  Whatever supposed "problems" ethanol causes, I have never encountered that.  I haven't ever heard of that from any in the local plug-in owners group here either.  Misconceptions are common though.


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