Prius Personal Log #1092
September 11, 2021 - September 14, 2021
Last Updated: Sun. 11/28/2021
page #1091 page #1093 BOOK INDEX
Missing The EV-Boat. There was yet another article today, a new attempt to spin the same old nonsense. I will sure be glad when real-world data is finally available. Throughout history, antagonists have taken advantage of the lull prior to rollout to spread lies. After all, it is very difficult to defend a design when all you have is specifications. Regardless of how detailed they are, people aren't swayed by logic. If they can't get their "sound bite" of info to validate or dismiss, they aren't interested. It's a battle of the brainless. Ugh. Oh well, all you can do in the meantime... while enduring the long wait... is remind people of what's really happening: We've heard the narrative over and over. There are some who simply detest their approach, insisting upon rapid results. So, they undermine by omitting, selecting, misrepresenting. It's really sad. For those who have the patience to wait for a more refined product, we see the first of Toyota's upcoming BEV brand being prepared for production. Search for "bZ4X". You'll be surprised how well planned out Toyota's strategy actually is.
FUD. The same propaganda article tends circulate online for months, treated as if it were new information by each of the various sources. Eventually, that hype settles down and the supposed facts end up getting referred to later as if their were provided by an authority on the topic... since no one bothers to trace back to the original source. Basically, it is a roundabout means of legitimizing rhetoric. Those wanting to undermine just make up stuff... Fear... Uncertainty... Doubt... then spread it over and over and over again with the hopes of it causing a loss of perspective. That repetition tactic rarely gets noticed. People simply don't pay attention. They don't know how information came about. So, we end up with nonsense to routinely deal with. Today, it was just more of the same coming from someone who innocently started a thread with a link, completely oblivious to what they had just done. I jumped in right away with: It's interesting how some use lobbying as a distraction. If you can keep attention on a cherry-picked activity elsewhere, your big mistake unfolding will hopefully go unnoticed. Naysayers can spin whatever they want. It won't stop the Toyota juggernaut though. We already see how much practical experience they have accrued through a variety of limited real-world rollouts... all that prior to a wide-scale dedicated model offering. Something others would have benefited from. People always feared GM would screw so bad, delivering a rushed offering with such confused messaging, that it would negatively setback the entire industry. Sure enough, it happened twice... with Volt and Bolt. That was actually their third very expensive failure, but Two-Mode was tiny in comparison. Reality is brutal, especially when challenges aren't taken seriously. In other words, don't waste time on narratives. Seek out detail to confirm the bigger picture.
Slow-Motion Catastrophe. It is rather bizarre watching GM fall apart, yet again. Having witnessed Two-Mode, gen-1 Volt, and gen-2 Volt each fail to achieve anything long-term, it was with fascination to see all bets being placed on Bolt. We knew it would never return any profit. That was fine though... if establishing a reputation for long-term reliability is the intended outcome. That's well worth the expense. You build up to the next generation, setting expectations. That failed though. There's no "but" in that outcome either. The reason why is simple. Regardless of whatever problem emerges, what counts is how you handle it. Remember Lexus? Apparently, GM didn't. 50,930 Bolts (2017 to 2019 models) were identified as having a potential for defective cells leading to fire... back in November. That count grew by another 17,770 in July when more was learned about the problem. There were actually 2 defects and the software work-around was insufficient. Things got worse from there. A public-relations nightmare was growing. Owners dealing with restrictions weren't getting clear or timely answers on buyback requests either. That's when a new fire raised concern about newer models, the ones which were supposedly not a concern. Since their batteries came from a different location, would it matter. Turns out, it did. GM added all 63,680 newer models (both sold & unsold) along with 9,340 remaining 2019. What a mess. Think about how long it will take to replace battery-packs in each one of those, not to mention the wait for a solution first. Now, it is 3 weeks later (the final nail in the coffin was August 20) and there is still much uncertainty. This goes so far beyond the "over promise, under deliver" problem, it's rather perplexing to try to figure out where to go from here. Note how I was always begging for enthusiasts to explain what GM's next step should be. Now, who knows? Remember early this year when there was the promise of going entirely electric by 2035, how GM was leading the way to a clean future? Ugh.
Backtrack. As detail of bZ4X gets closer, I find narrative claims like this fascinating: "Toyoda (the CEO, not the company) doesn't want to have to backtrack on his anti-EV rhetoric." They provide a clue that antagonist are beginning to recognize their statements of how far Toyota was behind were incorrect, that Toyota really isn't struggling to catch up. From their perspective, it was easy to frame a story of misguided intent. Finding out it really was a difference of audience & approach, that people like me were correct all along, is too much to accept. That means either admit to the error or change the narrative. Obviously, they are going with the latter. So, I find it of great interest to witness those damage-control attempts. As time goes on, the sentiment of "anti" becomes increasingly difficult to support. In other words, they lost their scapegoat. I responded to that nonsense with: There isn't anything to backtrack, since "anti-EV" claims were really just rhetoric. Anyone taking the time to actually read what was said would see that Toyota's stance was one of timeline. They continue that too, pointing out how phaseout of ICE will take longer than is hoped. The reason for that should be obvious. Look at where Toyotas are actually purchased. They are all around the world. In places where electricity infrastructure is almost non-existent, you'll find lots of Toyota vehicles. Heck, they are even the preferred mode of transport for terrorist groups, due to the extreme reliability. I was in Tanzania a few months ago. There were Toyotas everywhere.. and no where to plug in though. Even many of the villages along the many roads had very limited electricity availability. Being able to recharge a vehicle within this decade is quite unrealistic. Think about how long it will be until we get landlords here to start providing even just 120-volt connections for their tenants. Sadly, that is many years away still and will need lots of financial incentive to make it happen. In other words, that's not rhetoric. It's realism enthusiasts don't want to accept. Their denial has created a narrative to avoid dealing with those challenges BEV still face. Note that we don't even have a standard DC fast-charger connection here yet.
Misunderstanding Purpose. Comments like this is how you learn about audience: "My Prime has three amp settings: 8, 16 and 32. I had to switch my setting to 16 to get my level 2 cable to charge at the higher rate. And to get fastest, I have to change it to 32. And, actually, to get my 12 hour charge with the stock cable, I had to do same (16)." The system defaults to the highest setting. It's intended to be that way. At most, you set it and forget it. There's no reason to ever have to adjust if you aren't plugging in another high-draw device into that same line. His series of posts didn't reveal that; instead, there were statements of needed change from time to time. Ugh. In other words, the purpose is to slow charging, not to speed it up. His understanding was reverse of what had been designed & delivered. That's fascinating. Think about it. He had been switching between 32 and 16 depending upon which EVSE he was using. For level-1, he would set it to 16. For level-2, he would set it to 32. There is literally no benefit from that. You just leave it on 32 all the time, regardless of what you plug into for charging. The setting is within the car, not the "stock cable" or the "level 2 cable". The car makes a request for that maximum and the EVSE delivers the fastest it can up to that maximum. Again, ugh. I responded to the series of argumentative posts with this: That is a misunderstanding of purpose. That option to specify amp is to reduce draw when you are sharing the electrical line with something else. In all other circumstances, you want to just leave the setting at maximum.
Sedans Vanishing. It tells you a lot about audience when they only now discover what you have been watching play out for decades. Automakers gravitated to SUV sales back in the 90's due to their high profit and efficiency exemption. That later shifted to a desperation for profit by misleading about safety. The crossover emerged from that, a vehicle redefine... since the SUV was clearly being used for daily commutes to the office, rather than being a off-road warrior as promoted. Higher profit continued to be the draw for automakers and consumers were willing to pay. An interesting twist all these years later is a certain reality not yet noticed by most, even those online. So, I enjoy pointing it out: Necessity of battery placement made the phaseout of most sedans so obvious, many of use saw it coming years ago. In fact, rollout of Corolla now as Corolla Cross should be a hand-to-forehead moment. Look at how remarkably simple it was for Toyota to transform RAV4 hybrid to RAV4 Prime (plug-in hybrid). There's little doubt the same thing will happen with the hybrid model of Corolla Cross. Once customers recognize that approach simplicity, the next step from PHEV to BEV is one that readily addresses change.
Delayed Attack. There is always someone who jumps on
a blog article and responds to a bunch of the posts several days later.
They are familiar names, well known antagonists who like to provoke. I
found today's compelling: "Toyota plans on having enough battery
capacity in 2030 to build 3 million electric cars (they said this a few days
ago). Last year Toyota sold 11 million cars worldwide. Do you
think Toyota will be able to sell 8 million ICE vehicles in 2030?"
When there is a fact presented that is blatantly false, how can you resist?
It's so easy to disprove an exaggeration like that and it serves as an
invitation. So, I replied to that provoke with:
9,528,438 is not 11 million. PHEV that deliver full EV-drive are not ICE vehicles either. Get your facts straight. Think about what projections are from other automakers verses what they are planning to rollout. From Toyota, we see 7 distinct models in the upcoming "bZ" brand. We also see some rebranding will take place in Subaru. All that is exactly what you want to do with maturing technology.
Now look at Tesla's challenge to diversify. Cybertruck still appears more gimmick than practical. Could you actually see that being used as a worksite vehicle? It clearly doesn't target the same audience as F-150 Lightning. We also see issues with a Model 2. If it performs well and is affordable (smaller and without FSD), it will cannibalize sales from Model 3/Y. Growth is not a simple process.
For a legacy automaker perspective, consider VW. Ask why they are so hesitant to rollout ID.3 here in the United States. That lack of choice isn't how you grow sales and reach a wider audience. VW has the added problem of its own ICE vehicles completing on the same showroom floor. At least with Toyota, some ICE will be phased out entirely. Sienna & Venza are now only available as hybrids. As a result, seeing them become plug-in hybrids is an obvious next step that won't present much resistance from dealers.
Lastly, look at the disasters GM continues to make. The promise to spread Two-Mode technology across the fleet failed on such a colossal scale, it is a history most supporters try to hide. Volt is suffering a similar fate. GM didn't bother to diversify. Looking at the demand for RAV4 Prime, it is undeniable there would have been an audience for an Equinox using Voltec. Instead, the entire effort to deliver choice was abandoned... at substantial risk. Without Bolt available anymore, GM has nothing with a plug to sell now.
Looking Back. Not years, just days... This was the title of an article published 4 days ago: "Toyota Promises the bZ4X Battery Pack Will Retain 90% of Capacity in a Decade" Armed with the knowledge now of that likely to use LFP chemistry, doesn't that narrative of "behind" take on a new perspective? I had heard rumors of such a move, but didn't have any facts to even base speculation on. The market in China used them. Why was a mystery though. Finding out it was a patent negotiation that ended up a win-win for usage inside and out of the country, it makes sense. Chinese automakers were restricted to their domestic market. Only use there was allowed. The same was true for automakers outside of China. There could be no import/export of the technology. But with the patent about to expire, new light is being shed on the situation... like why bZ4X rollout in China & Japan was starting well ahead of the United States. Knowing that can happen right away in certain locations, rather than having to wait until the end of April next year, explains not having a worldwide rollout all at once. Of course, the disaster GM has created makes delay worthwhile now anyway. Regardless of consumer impression, the reality that a patent restriction limited use, tells us more about what actually influences business decision. Think about what happened with NiMH use. That legal barrier disappearing opened up opportunity which Toyota jumped on. Why couldn't something similar happen with this too?
Timing. Over the years, it has been interesting to
see what big auto shows bring. Right now, all the buzz is on Munich.
Having actually visited that city in Germany and toured BMW there, it is
especially exciting to see random footage surrounding the event. It
also makes you wonder what will be revealed. Not everyone follows
those happenings though. In fact, most don't... even active
participants in online forums. Such is likely like case from this
post: "Rant: I hate that Toyota has not created an EV Prius Prime for
Prius lovers. I would have paid 50K for it. I loved the Prius and just
wanted full EV. At least 65 KW capacity. Why is toyota late in the game with
EV while it waits to roll out hydrogen. Wouldn't it be smart to keep
EV lovers in their cars until they could roll out hydrogen widely?"
It came from someone who had just sold his 2017 Prius Prime a few days ago,
replacing it with a BEV has wasn't especially excited about. Intrigued
to get some feedback and unwilling to entertain certain troublemakers
elsewhere, I posted this on his new thread:
The narrative of Toyota being so far behind and being distracted by hydrogen happened for a reason, one that will become much easier to understand the next year. In the meantime, some thrive on the attention by attacking Toyota. It's been pretty bad too. Some of the articles published... by supposed journalists... contain outright lies. Misleading through omission is one thing, but making blatantly false claims is another. Those are an invitation to antagonists, stirring comment posting to generate revenue. That's sad.
Think about the challenges that follow early-adopter rollouts. Automakers face a market without subsidies for an audience without background knowledge in a land lacking both public charging-station infrastructure and EVSE support for high-volume residents. That puts them in a chicken/egg position, one with large risk and small reward. Dealing with that is extremely difficult. How do you get over decades of expectations catering to want rather than need? It's an ugly situation. If you study what's happening behind the scenes though, there is hope.
Necessity to build a better battery is obvious. How is not. A major contributor to both expense & backlash is the chemistry within. Both cobalt & nickel are elements used which stir controversy. They also add expense and fire potential. Both have been eliminated in "LFP" batteries (Lithium Iron Phosphate). Using that improvement results in a cheaper & safer battery while also improving longevity. The tradeoff is lower capacity. In less than 2 weeks, some patents on that chemistry are about to expire. In April 2022, the final one will expire.
Notice how such timing lines up perfectly with bZ4X rollout?