Personal Log  #1093

September 15, 2021  -  September 20, 2021

Last Updated:  Sun. 11/28/2021

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Ugh.  Don't you wish reality was actually this simplistic: "I can't believe that there are still people who don't see it coming.  Tesla doubled production to nearly 1 million cars for this year and still have a 6 month wait list.  At this point, it's pretty obvious that Tesla is going to keep growing until they are the dominate car maker in the world."  I suspect he has absolutely no idea how complicated the situation actually is.  The intricate nature of business, with so many influences constantly, is very difficult to grasp.  Heck, even the concept of a "moving target" exceeds the scope of what many understand.  That is why what seems obvious really isn't.  You can't get most people to acknowledge their own shortcoming though.  So, it turns into an argumentative mess with no expectation of change.  They just think more is better.  Faster is better.  Growth is only a matter of building more.  Ugh.  I responded with:  That is not obvious.  Growth is not simply a matter of producing more of the same thing.  It's unfortunate, most discussions do nothing to actually address the real problem.  In fact, the use of "entry-level" in this topic title helps to obscure what the issue of growth must acknowledge.  How is a base-price of $39,990 even remotely representative of reaching out to draw mainstream buyers?  You can't achieve large-scale growth in that market without a far lower price.  It's quite bizarre how deep the denial goes related to the neglect of affordable choices.  Remember the reason for the "nicely under $30,000" target?

9-19-2021 4 Years Ago.  I stumbled across an old blog topic I had bookmarked: "Reality of the Plug-in Hybrid"  It was from the days of Volt, when attacks on Prius Prime were still going strong.  There were 187 comments posted.  My jump into the mix was this: "Prius Prime is more efficient in EV mode, more efficient in HV mode, and had the ability to compete with traditional vehicles without any dependency on tax-credits."  It was how I described the formula for success.  There was a series of belligerent responses.  None of that back then was ever effective.  The enthusiasts remaining were absolutely desperate at that point.  Claiming all three of those were false was what stirred me to mention the encounter again here, now.  Looking back, there were so many of those fights, I'm amazed how accurate some of the predictions were.  If you kept studying the situation and really focus on goals, there can be a sense of clarity that emerges.  Many won't like that though.  You sound like a broken record, and what's good for the masses is often a disappointing outcome for an enthusiasts.  They want excitement, something to standout.  Being normal is exactly what they despise.  Know your audience... or do like I did, keep asking the "Who?" questions.

Cost Estimates.  I stumbled across this information today and found it very interesting: "According to Nikkei Asia, developing a new EV model costs some $455 million, and converting production lines to build EVs costs about $90-135 million per factory.  Batteries account for 40% to 50% of production costs."  That is remarkably supportive of why Toyota isn't rushing to market.  Enthusiasts like to refer to VW as the best example of legacy commitment, a true statement of willingness to embrace change.  That is a load of bull, of course.  VW was forced to.  Their acceptance of the penalty for the diesel scam is really just making the best of a bad situation.  Given a choice, that would not have happening.  Enthusiasts portraying the situation as if there was is just another form of rewriting history.  Building a BEV is very expensive and very risky.  Toyota's wait for so many of the pieces of the puzzle to first be put into place is not an denial delay, it's good business.  Many pieces are really investment elsewhere, wisely made so sharing could take place later.  Stuff like motors, invertors, and heat-pumps are interchangeable.  Some battery chemistries may be as well.  Software obviously is.  Learning as much as possible... in others words, research before purchase... is sensible.  Based on those cost estimates, why wouldn't you?

9-18-2021 Poorly Named.  I was especially amused today when the only response an antagonist could come up with upon learning about bZ4X was attacking its name: "Good looking car, poorly named.  Sounds more like a fax machine."  It was the wrong choice.  Here's why:

The naming makes sense, quite unlike other automakers.  "bZ" indicates the vehicle is from the new brand.  "4" indicates the relative size in the choices that will be available.  "X" indicates it has AWD.

GM had trouble with "Volt" and "Bolt" from the day naming was announced.  It was so confusing, some speculated it was a plan-ahead move for the potential end Volt, an intentional move to obscure history... which indeed, it did.

Tesla is just a mess.  Model naming of S, 3, X, Y comes off as cute, but it is the very essence of useless.  The letters tell us nothing whatsoever.  They aren't even easy-to-remember.  At least with a name, you stand a chance of association.

Looking at VW with ID.3 and ID.4, we see a familiar pattern of brand & size as Toyota.  Seeing examples of others for context, are you still saying that is poor?


Ironic.  Stuff like this is always fun to reply to: "In the case of the UX300e, the difference between it and its rivals on every metric is enormous.  It'd take a hell of a lot of brand loyalty for people to choose it over its competitors, and I think the risk of long-term damage to the brand..."  It was one of those conclusions they draw for you without providing any information whatsoever.  Who are they trying to convince and of what?  It is the equivalent of screaming out "I win!" in a crowded room while standing alone.  No one knows what you are talking about or is the slightest bit interested.  It is pointless.  But that's what they do to self-validate.  I pointed out the twist in their logic:  Every metric for whom?  Think about what ordinary consumers want, what they consider important.  LFP reduces cost, reduces fire risk, increases heat resistance, and increases cycle-life.  The tradeoff is loss of range... but that is the only trait which can be compensated for in a variety of ways... like improved efficiency, which is something else Toyota has been hinting at.  Put another way, aren't those long-term goals?  It basically looks like people would prefer Toyota play it safe rather than take risks.  I find that incredibly ironic.

9-16-2021 It Seems.  That narrative stirs comments like: "It seems a good 5-10 years - maybe more - behind the competition.  It's not like Toyota doesn't have money or technology, so it seems remarkable that they'd manage to build something so abysmal."  I had much to say about that:

Anecdotal observation is how narratives thrive.

Think about how Toyota does things on their own schedule their own way.  They tend to be subtle too.  You have to really watch the big picture to notice when a stage is being set or an opportunity taken.  In this case, consider where the UX300e is being made available and how.  All you get from the video is perspective on a single market rollout, one within Europe.

Look at the market in China.  There are 37 automakers and quite a number of battery manufacturers.  There are also different chemistries and different license arrangements.  For Toyota, we know for a fact they are supplied by a company that has been making more advanced batteries for years now.  But distribution was restricted to China.  We also know that UX300e is a secondary offering, one that leverages knowledge gain from the BEV models of Izoa & C-HR.  There's nothing stopping Toyota from using this newest model as a test-bed for chemistry comparison.  Think about how convenient that would to slip in LFP cells instead, starting with China.  That real-world data would be absolutely priceless so far ahead of bZ4X... which we already know will use a new chemistry.

In other words, what seems to be 5-10 years behind may be quite the opposite.  With no one was paying close attention, Toyota can race ahead.


Intent & Feedback.  There is a video channel which takes great pride in being unbiased & comprehensive.  That slip up from time to time though, missing something important.  Being quite open-minded and receptive to feedback is how they build credibility.  That's worked well in the past.  I have a feeling this post won't though.  Their particular video today was a feed-the-narrative push against Toyota, framing then as anti-EV still.  I was really disappointed.  Oh well, at least we can post comments.  So, I did my best to present the letdown message in a constructive manner:  bZ4X is on the way from Toyota, coming the first half of 2022.  It promises improved battery chemistry along with improved system efficiency.  No mention of that left an incomplete assessment of automaker intent.


Clout.  We see a new stir now: "Part of the point of the union rebate may indeed be to encourage construction of assembly plants in states which don't have right-to-freeload laws.  Foreign producers like Toyota, Honda and VW understandably don't have the political clout of Ford and GM, but it seems that the manufacturer with the highest domestic content doesn't have much clout either."  Discussion of how vehicles are actually built, rather than obsession with engineering, is a refreshing change.  Sadly, it still comes down to what side you've taken... a polarized perspective.  Motivation is either this or that, nothing else, period.  Ugh.  That overly simplistic view of the world is quite disappointing.  Sadly, that's all we have to work with.  I keep trying to be one of those who helps show there's more to life than what others assume:  Turns out, there are other tools.  Clout isn't necessarily the most effective anyway.  Look at narratives, like the one within this guest contributor article: "It's not like either of these companies [Toyota & Honda] are really on the leading edge of bringing you amazing EV choices, so that's probably also part of it."  Think about how many reading that will take it at face value, never considering whether "amazing" is even relevant to their own purchase decision.  For example, the expectation from Toyota's upcoming BEV rollout is the introduction of a more robust battery that's lower cost in a system that's higher efficiency.  That's very important progress for the industry; yet, none of the enthusiasts seem to care.  In fact, many are either downplaying the possibility or outright dismissing it.  That lack of objectivity is how we got into this mess.  It will continue until there's an acknowledge of what BEV really need rather than who builds them.


Lead.  That perspective of "follow" certainly will received at a sucker-punch when antagonists finally put pieces of the puzzle together.  Just guessing based on what they think should happen does not result in success.  I studied that in college and have since collected 2 decades of data from personal witness with the automotive industry.  Prior to that, it was 2 decades of computer industry.  Yup.  I'm old now.  But that background sure comes in handy sometimes.  Anywho, I understand how much research & development it takes before serious investment is a good idea.  With the case of batteries worthy of wide-scale BEV use, it's best to take you time.  For years, we've known that Toyota has been striving to improve both efficiency & reliability.  I can look back to long ago and recall concerns of that nature taking priority.  Fruits of that labor seem ready to be shared.  Last week, we got word of Toyota planning to spend more than $13.5 Billion by 2030 on battery production & supply.  The company's hope is to take a technology lead for the industry.  That means checking all the books.  We know the elimination of cobalt & nickel, taking advantage of LFP chemistry, is a tradeoff.  The result of such a switch results in robust battery cells.  That can tolerate more heat and will last longer.  Cost is lower too.  It comes at a penalty of capacity though.  That's where another piece of the puzzle fits.  This quote from Chief Technology Officer Masahiko Maeda summed it up nicely: "For the vehicle, we aim to improve power consumption, which is an indicator of the amount of electricity used per kilometer, by 30%, starting with the Toyota bZ4X."  Remember years ago the talk about upcoming semi-conductor improvements?  This appears to be implementation of that.  A better system will offset the loss of capacity.  That is the way to lead.  It is yet another example of finding a way of squeezing out more from less.  Sweet!


Follow.  It annoys me when enthusiasts oversimplify the situation.  That's a dead giveaway that aren't taking the situation seriously, that they are really just reacting to circumstances rather than seeing the bigger picture.  This is an example of that: "EV has won the battle and Elon is the General.  Toyota will follow."  Leadership isn't about battles.  It's about long-term strategy and addressing all that much be achieved.  Tesla has done a wonderful job of proving technology viable.  We still don't have a charging standard though.  For that matter, there is chaos within the DC fast-charging world.  No message of speed or pricing existing.  It's a wild, untamed environment still... which means no ordinary consumer will be interested.  In fact, they won't even consider a purchase until quite a long list of uncertainties finally become certain.  Know your audience.  I know them and I recognize the limitations of discussion with those online.  So, I kept my point brief:  Don't make the same mistake as others by assuming the war is being fought on just one front.  You'll discover that a single approach is how to achieve victories in battle but is not how the war is won.  It's like fighting with just one weapon.  Odds are pretty good that isn't enough.  Markets vary.  Objectives vary.  Audience varies.  Toyota is positioning to address what Tesla hasn't been able to.


Hypocritical.  Rather than absolve Toyota directly, it is quite insightful, telling, redeeming, vindicating... to see a post like this: "LFP is the answer.  Too bad Chevy is tied to their hips with a loser like LG."  That is recognition of the problem, a level of critical thinking beyond just acknowledge of a misstep.  That's great... and long overdue.  There is so much of the need-solution-now approach, people have lost perspective.  You want to do it right, you take the time to validate the choice.  A poor decision initially can have massive consequence later on... as we are now witnessing with Bolt.  That was very much the "Tortoise and the Hare" story playing out right before our eyes.  There was celebration of winning the race as the first steps were being taken.  It was absurd.  No one is that stupid, right?  Turns out, GM had a reputation for doing that.  For those who studied their past... Two-Mode, BAS, eAssist, gen-1 Volt, gen-2 Volt... they recognize the pattern.  Upon pointing that out to others though, you get either outright denial or a hostile reply.  That has turned into hypocrisy now.  The comment today was to point out the situation:  Ironically, much of the rhetoric about Toyota becomes quite hypocritical when LFP is taken into account.  They really weren't behind or scrambling to catch up.  They were simply waiting for the patent to expire... which is now just 1 week away.


Expectations.  Last week, Hyundai revealed their large SUV to follow the small SUV rolling out later this year.  Expectation for that BEV is 2024.  So, I'm not sure if the person was being sarcastic when posting this or he was annoyed by the speed it takes to get anything on the road: "Hyundai will almost have its Ioniq 7 on the road by the time Toyota finally has something to offer.  So I guess I am one of those that don't necessarily want 'rapid' results, but would have expected 'results by now'."  Whatever the case, always expect there to be a long wait.  When it comes to Toyota, it is worth it.  When it comes to others, it is a gamble.  When it comes to online debate, know your audience.  That was my reply too, a reminder of who:  Know your audience.  Mainstream consumers have different expectations.  They want a robust battery.  No replacement.  No risk of fire.  It has been that way for entire decade now.  History of Volt makes that very easy to confirm.  For perspective, think about how many people will actually care what was offered when.  That's completely pointless for someone shopping before we even have a DC fast-charging standard established.  How long will that take still?  Speed...  Location...  Pricing...  None of that means anything to such an audience yet.  As for results, look for substance.  Notice how flawless Prius Prime has delivered EV driving?  That rollout was so successful, we now have a RAV4 Prime too.  Think about how much of that same technology will be shared with bZ4X.


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