Prius Personal Log  #1091

September 6, 2021  -  September 10, 2021

Last Updated:  Sun. 11/28/2021

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9-10-2021

False Hope.  Enthusiasts like to bet the farm on whatever the automaker rolls out that appeals to them.  That tends to be quite successful within their own bubble.  It turns into a group-think outcome.  That's fine if you are collecting data with such an isolation in mind.  After all, automakers offer a wide variety of choices.  When that is either forgotten or overlooked, it becomes a problem.  Those enthusiasts enable the niche to become the focus.  In the automaker takes that endorsement as a literal rather than just a template, they can fall into the trap of Innovator's Dilemma.  It is exactly what happened with Volt.  Feedback from those early-adopters enabled the mistake of specialization to flourish.  Rather than adapting the technology to other vehicles, the automaker continued to refine it to appeal to that specific audience.  This is what I kept asking the "Who?" question over and over and over again.  I was dumbfounded that anyone could be so blind.  Volt was racing toward a cliff, a dead-end due to the lack of potential customers.  Sure enough, it died for that very reason too.  How many times must it be pointed out that a vehicle like Equinox should also be provided with the same technology?  Looking back, that is incredibly obvious.  We see RAV4 Prime having done essentially that very thing and it is in very high demand now.  The reason for such a relentless push to get off the path to nowhere was the automaker is a for-profit business.  You can't just select a favorite buyer and cater only to them with an expectation of surviving.  It is a false hope; yet, that is what needed to be dealt with back then and still must now.  Look at what happened to Bolt.  GM rushed to satisfy.  Now every Bolt ever made must receive a new battery-pack.  Somewhere in that story is a warning of hast.  What was the goal?  Remember the celebration for having beat Tesla Model 3 to market.  What did that accomplish?  Needless to say, don't proclaim victory unless the purpose really did fulfill a move beyond the status quo.  I posted such a message of recognition... to those still stubbornly holding on to false hope... with this:  The ironic part of all of this is the narrative of "EV market" has become so normalized, people have lost touch with actual business need.  Sure, you could purchase something seemingly better, but it was really false hope.  In other words, those other legacy choices were being sold at a loss.  Look at Bolt.  We got a very clear statement from GM, which in itself is quite a departure, pointing out in would never be profitable.  So, seeing Toyota test the waters with pricing shouldn't be a surprise.  Reuse of existing well-proven technology to achieve that is a practice everyone seems to have forgotten about... especially coming from a source who has mastered continuous improvement.  Why not try that while its replacement is still being finalized?

9-10-2021

Understanding Growth.  I asked how Model Y will outsell Corolla in just 2 or 3 years.  That claim of steep growth expectation continues to be made, especially when there is an article about Toyota highlighting plans for next year.  Antagonists do everything they can to distract and mislead.  It drowns out naysayers, which is definitely a positive outcome.  But it's also a red herring.  Anyone who actually studied business knows there are challenges along the way, making growth difficult.  Heck, that initial major barrier has a name: "Innovator's Dilemma".  Adding subsidies to an emerging market muddles that situation even more.  Think about the competition.  They person who posted this obviously didn't want to: "Tesla on track to sell 900k cars this year, half of which are model Y.  Berlin and Texas are each planning to ramp production to 2 million cars in a few years.  That brings Tesla to 2.5 million model Y.  This isn't speculation as Tesla has stated these production targets publicly. Corolla is the worlds current best selling car at 1.1 million units in 2020 and Tesla will likely pass this with model Y in 2023."  I was both amused and annoyed, so I posted:  That's not how the industry works.  Simply just producing more won't result in more sales.  There is a market saturation point.  There is also the low-hanging fruit paradigm. Growth is not linear; projections must take that into account.  Tesla will end up doing just like legacy automakers.  They will alter production locations to build whatever sells well.  As for comparing Model Y to Corolla, that's absurd.  Starting price of $39,990 for the Tesla and $20,075 for the Toyota puts them is profoundly different categories... meaning their audiences won't share the same purchase priorities.  In fact, they have very little in common with regard to sales location as well.  Think about where the 50 Million Corolla sold so far have been distributed to.  That is exactly why we continue to hear speculation about a lower cost Tesla.  The so-called "Model 2" will be an affordable hatchback, smaller to reach the audience with smaller wallets... those who would otherwise consider purchase of a Corolla.  btw, it is quite telling how you carefully avoided any mention of the actual competition... the topic of this article... bZ4X.  Anyone taking a moment of critical thought will notice how Model Y will compete with many new choices, including this from Toyota.  That monopoly won't last.  Don't forget about growth of CCS charging either.

9-09-2021

Catch Up.  There was no response from the writer of that article.  I wasn't expecting any.  I do expect recognition though.  That's happened in the past.  I'll post information that wasn't well known prior to then, but future topics bring it up.  On a different website, that happened pretty much overnight with this same type of discussion.  They kept presenting Toyota as anti-EV, then I pointed out how C-HR was about to be rolled out as an EV model in China.  It likely only took them a few internet searches to verify I was speaking the truth.  And since it supported their narrative, they took the discovery and capitalized on it.  Will that happen with this website?  I doubt it.  Knowing audience there, I can see a difference.  Sentiment for Toyota on the other was more of indifference.  On this one, it is seeking of a scapegoat.  They blame Toyota for their own struggle.  I see claims all the time of wasting time & money on hydrogen rather than discussion of their preferred automaker's choices... or the market itself.  I found this comment an excellent post to respond to in that regard:  "Let's see if it can now catch up or if it will left behind like other Japanese companies over the years."  This is what I posted:  Catch up to what?  The market has barely reached beyond early-adopters.  In fact, some sales still very much rely upon subsidies and infrastructure is clearly in its infancy.  Heck, we don't even have a DC fast-charger standard here yet.  The select of vehicles to actually purchase is quite limited too.  As for Toyota itself, their EV drive in RAV4 Prime is second-generation PHEV with 4.5 years of flawless operation from Prius Prime already.  That included a debut before Tesla, rollout of a heat-pump for cabin warming.  And the carbon-fiber hatch was a great example of unrecognized success, just quietly produced without any fanfare.  In other words, Toyota has been just about their business of refining technology and ignored rhetoric.  Plans to deliver 7 models in their upcoming new BEV brand will take place their way on their schedule.

9-08-2021 Blatant Pandering.  It is really unfortunate when you start to recognize a pattern with published articles from particular writers.  Today, it was this confirmation: "There are different theories for why Toyota has been such a laggard on fully battery-electric cars (BEVs) — and it doesn't yet sell any..."  No one who refers to themself as a journalist, which he does in his by-line, has an excuse for such outright lies.  When you write on the topic so routinely, you get to know the facts.  Such an obvious omission is not justified.  He made a claim that was very, very, very easy to disprove.  You can ask why, but motive is almost certainly to help generate revenue.  He knows those articles with controversial content stir lots of participation.  I was quite irritated.  He keeps doing this.  So, I found this as a strategic means of pointing out that choice to mislead: 

Toyota does sell BEV (listed below) in select markets, just not here.  That's why the narrative of supposedly being behind has taken hold.  Reality is, Toyota is following their own approach, waiting until every little detail is worked out before going all in.  That's what the brand is known for.  That solid reputation for quality & reliability came from not following others.  Why would BEV be any different?

Toyota iX4
--------------------------------
   46 kWh battery
   270 km / 169 mi NEDC
   132 kW / 177 hp
   full regular-speed recharge in 8 hours
   50 kW DC fast-charge (80% in 30 min)

Toyota IZOA & C-HR
--------------------------------
   54.3 kWh battery
   400 km / 250 mi NEDC
   150 kW / 201 hp
   6.6 kW level-2 charging
   50 kW DC fast-charge (80% in 52 min)

Lexus UX300e
--------------------------------
   54.3 kWh battery
   315 km / 196 mi NEDC
   150 kW / 201 hp
   6.6 kW level-2 charging
   50 kW DC fast-charge (80% in 52 min)

9-07-2021

Market Damage.  What will be the impact of the Bolt recall?  It's quite obvious that owners will feel the pain.  Having to part outside, only charge to 90% capacity, and stop discharge at 70 miles, will be difficult to address.  That's quite an unplanned set of restrictions.  Those watching GM response will likely notice change elsewhere.  I have already seen a few postings about parking restrictions at ramps & lots.  This sentiment seems to sum in up well: "This is a PR disaster.  The best-selling and most affordable long-range EV got fully recalled completely.  This hurts all EVs."  Hopefully, it is really just a pessimistic prediction about perception.  It really is a financial disaster for GM regardless of how it looks from the outside.  I chimed in with this perspective:  Yup... and it fulfills the original concern that GM would somehow impede the entire industry.  Moving forward will be a challenge.  Consumers are attentive enough to recognize upcoming chemistries or DC fast-charging improvements.  That obvious effort on GM's part (conquest sales, rather than focusing on their own loyal customers) makes figuring out what the new messaging should be for BEV will be especially difficult.  In other words, some of our petty conflicts... like recognizing PHEV with full EV drive and +40 miles range as beneficial to BEV acceptance... will need to be resolved mighty quick.  Think about how audience is changing.

9-07-2021

Indulging Speculation.  Knowing that Toyota has big plans which antagonists are working hard to undermine, I felt it was ok to indulge in speculation.  That new "bZ" brand of BEV on the way with 7 models planned by 2025, along with 8 other BEV models in the same timespan, it's quite obvious Toyota has not been negligent.  That contradicts so many supporting the "behind" narrative, it is undeniably setting up a moment in history to remember.  In the meantime, we still have Toyota's other odds & ends to wonder about... or at least, others do.  Since I do that professionally anyway, there's nothing to do outside of just feeding conjecture.  My plans are set.  I endorse technology from ordinary consumers.  Heck, that is why I was welcomed into the plug-in owners group despite having a vehicle with such a small battery-pack.  My support for the use lithium cells matched exactly what they wanted, but had a reach beyond their own audience.  A plug-in hybrid with supposedly shortcomings demonstrated being quite capable, despite so much naysayer pushback.  That's how comments like this come about: "So are you saying that they don't actually expect to sell this car to ordinary consumers at retail price, but that they've just released it for regulatory reasons or whatever but actually expect most models to go through cut-price leases or other arrangements to a "selected audience" who will provide feedback and data?  If that's the case, that kind of makes sense."  Seeking out endorsement from unexpected sources requires a give-it-a-try approach.  Think of it as a type of advertising with an education benefit.  My own employer sees that type of expenditure well worth it, especially with retention & recruitment of talent.  It's not always what faces consumers that is important for a business.  I kept my reply brief with:  Yup, for the most part. That's what we have seen in the past... rollout is spec'd to only appeal to a particular audience.  Those interested in that particular market are who they are specifically targeted.  It's an effective method of getting meaningful feedback from ordinary consumers while at the same time satisfying some type of mandate.  That's a level of research some automakers don't bother with.

9-06-2021 Why?  It is always nice to hear from someone in the naysayer role, rather than consistently having to fight off antagonists.  This was the comment: "If it is an engineer build, and if it is the level their knowledge is up to before they proceed to the bZs, then why would they release it commercially?"  It served as a great example of the background many simply don't have.  When you have been in the role of getting paid for work in an engineering profession for over 3 decades, it can be a challenge to confirm audience perception.  That's why I constantly reach out to diverse groups for feedback.  In this case, they seek my observations.  So, I posted:  If you ever get a chance to witness an innovation tournament, you'd understand.  It's an opportunity to apply what you know in a different manner to achieve a short-term goal and hopefully learn something in the process.  That type of exercise can be very rewarding for the participant.  Ideas emerging from those events can be a gain for the sponsor too, a takeaway for long-term benefit.  Toyota's practice has been to release a limited product into a limited market to collecting real-world data for that purpose.  UX300e fits the pattern, especially when you take its generous warranty into account.  That is a win-win for consumer & business.  As an engineer myself, I find it quite fulfilling when chances to wander off path come about.  Even with a small scope and not using the latest resources, those side projects typically turn out to be a great learning experience.
9-06-2021 Other Voices.  It is especially nice to hear from a long-time friend who moved on to other pastures (Tesla), but still keeps in contact and shares very useful information.  Today, it was just a nod of shared history on that thread with my posted on engineering: "Ah! The Gen-1 of Toyota EVs..."  I volleyed back with:

What we recognize as Gen-1 is actually the successor to the Prius Toyota offered only in Japan, starting way back in 1997.  For those who program in lower-level languages, where the first number in a counting sequence is 0 rather than 1, we refer to that Prius as Gen-0.  It is a model we never got here in the United States.  That one used D-cells in the battery-pack.  We got the improvement, the introduction of prismatic packaging.

Way back then, Toyota set the precedence of requiring patience.  I got to see that original model in person.  The screen wasn't touch-sensitive and the engine delivered fewer horsepower.  It was quite interesting to witness that beginning.  Waiting was just fine, totally worth it.  Now, something similar is happening with bZ4X.

We see others getting their feet wet too, just like what started it all in the first place.  Remember the PNGV (Partnership for the Next Generation Vehicle) program, where Toyota was excluded from funding?  That nurtured what resulted in a provoke others came to regret.  Think about how Toyota is on its own schedule still, going about delivering their own evolutionary design, not following the others.

Antagonists spin that behavior by Toyota as "feet dragging" or "kicking & screaming".  But when you look for evidence, you find there have been 4 rollouts of BEV already.  Each are obviously compliance.  But since you have to deliver something anyway, why not an engineering build?  Challenge the army of resources available to exploit hardware & software to squeeze out even better performance than originally designed.  After all, that's what competing with other automakers is about.

Watch for the upcoming detail about bZ4X late this year.  I suspect that will be in the second-half of November, during the Auto Show in LA.

9-06-2021 Engineering Build.  There's lots of speculation, much based on nothing but anecdotal observation.  Coming from those with limited background and exacerbated by those who thrive on controversy, the rollout of UX300e is feeding that fire.  I jumped into what would inevitably become a drawn out & spiteful debate, I posted:

The vehicle is an "engineer build".  It's a process used to final test your knowledge gained so far before taking the next big step.  Within confines of existing resources (both hardware & software), you are challenged to champion an effort to produce the best all-around product.  In other words, that is a practice effort, preparation for what's to come... a learning exercise to shake out weak points.  That's what you do when you want to be thorough about a major commitment.

We already know what that commitment is too, the upcoming "bZ" line of vehicles.  That is Toyota's new e-TNGA platform which allows a wide variety of BEV configurations... exactly what UX300e does not.  By actually participating in that engineering build, you end up discovering what the challenges to come will be.  That how you confirm investment money is allocated properly.   There's a lot at stake.  Comprehensive research is priceless.

Think about it.  We already know what bZ4X is targeted to achieve.  That first offering will be a new dedicated BEV model, a really big deal for Toyota.  In the presentation for it from late last year, they sighted their challenge "to secure quality & durability and minimize cost".  Sound familiar?  That's the very same thing they did with PHEV tech, specifically Prius Prime.  It was an effort so successful, we now have the high-praise, high-demand RAV4 Prime.

I find it quite telling by those who criticize Toyota for wasting time or dragging their feet.  You don't just dive into the pool expecting to win gold within lots of practice.  UX300e is that practice.  So what if it uses outdated standards, like CHAdeMO charging?  We know there will be an adapter available.  We have also been shown that bZ4X will feature CCS charging.  Being forced to find a way to squeeze out as much as possible with what you have already is how you learn to make the next better.

Don't forget about the new battery technology either.  We know there are better things to come.  Even before achieving solid-state design, there is the benefit of eliminating cobalt & nickel from existing lithium chemistry.  There's an expectation of hybrid demand to explode, as much as a 600% increase by 2025.  That's a lot of potential for any technology using batteries.  Keep in mind, all segments are being targeted (B, C, D, E) for electrification.  Being comprehensive takes time & practice.

 

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