Prius Personal Log  #1097

September 29, 2021  -  October 2, 2021

Last Updated:  Sun. 11/28/2021

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Omission & Percents.  Dishonesty to spin a narrative is complex.  Those hoping to undermine use many techniques... and are more than happy to continuous feed it.  Detail becomes so muddled, and in this case exacerbated by the pandemic, that few are likely paying close enough attention to notice... or care.  Consumers are basically just waiting for some type of "normal" to return.  It makes this misleading effect very easy: "Tesla sold 241,300 cars in the third quarter while other automakers saw big drops."  I immediately wondered who would be mentioned.  That count represents massive growth compared to the total of 367,500 for all of last year in this market, which was indeed sighted in the article.  It doesn't provide much for context though.  Comparison was made to GM, who sold 446,997 vehicles in the same 3 months.  But rather than provide a count to previous sales, only a percent was provided.  That's a warning.  Statistics can be very misleading when you flip-flop between counts & percents.  Nothing else was stated with regard to "other automakers" either.  The article just moved on to how Tesla was able to avoid supply problems.  Sighting only a specific data-point is cherry-picking.  Excluding the most important one is lying by omission.  Toyota wasn't mentioned, despite it having the best quarter by quite a bit compared to "other automakers".  Sales were 484,912.  That's a little more than double Tesla, without including Lexus.  What I found most telling though was the "big drops" part.  Sales for Toyota are up significantly in 2021 compared to 2020.  From January to September was 1,270,139 for last year and 1,619,078 this year.  That's a big climb, not a drop.  Needless to say, there are many ways to undermine and there are those who think nothing of using them to mislead.  Ugh.


100 Stations.  That's how many Tesla Supercharger stations there are now in Shanghai, each with 10 chargers per location.  That unique milestone in such an extreme example got me thinking.  What about here?  So, I did some research and posted:  As of March 2021 according to NACS, the estimate of total fueling outlets in the United States was between 145,000 and 150,000.  The count directly tied to convenience stores was 121,538.  They serve a current population of 333 Million.  Seeing just 100 stations serving 25 Million makes you wonder how many is truly enough.  What percentage strikes a reasonable balance for daily & travel charging?  For my own states perspective (Minnesota), we represent about 1.7% of the country's population.  As of Mid-2019, there were 2,059 gas stations (1,889 of which were convenience stores).  VW Settlement phase-2 (2020-2023) for here will provide reimbursement for 43 fast-chargers (50kW units up to $65,000).  Maintaining them (cords, handles, clearing of snow & ice, etc.) along with payment for service & use complicates matters.  Speed faster than 50kW is significantly more expensive too.  In other words, we still have much to address in terms of infrastructure.  Stories like this are among the first milestones in a very looooooong journey.


Refusal.  That narrative lives on: "The real question is... Will it be supplied in any greater volume than the RAV-4 Prime?  The R4P is the king of PHEVs at the moment, but unfortunately hindered by Toyota's refusal to build more of them."  Even though Toyota delivered quite a bit more RAV4 Prime last year than planned, there is still an effort to mislead, claiming they failed to meet expectations.  There was never any promised anyway.  So, their effort to undermine is rather desperate.  That's when you have no context.  That real question came about from a comment posted about Ford Escape plug-in hybrid, which is just now becoming available.  There are no expectations of volume from it either... just a slam on Toyota.  Ugh.  Anyone who takes the time to look at numbers should pause for consideration of what the market currently faces.  I was rather annoyed with the refusal to accept reality, so I posted:  Outdated narratives tell us what?  Toyota had a fixed quantity available for first-year rollout, which was worldwide.  Pushing for more during that initial phase while a pandemic was playing out made no sense.  There are benefits from sticking to the plan.  Since then, we have seen production grow.  Ramp-up is clearly taking place.  So far this year, there have been 19,996 sales here.  What are your expectations for Escape PHEV?


First 3 Quarters.  There was excitement today.  Toyota is doing much better than the naysayers had anticipated.  I pointed out why:  Numbers for both Prime really screw up the narrative.  They already far exceed what antagonists had claimed would happen for all of 2021.  We still have an entire quarter remaining and end-of-year usually stirs a buying frenzy on tax-credit opportunity.  It would be great if Toyota was able to capitalize on it... especially knowing there will not be a Toyotathon this year and that detail of bZ4X will further reinforce Toyota's slow, but steady growth of plug-in production.  22,407 Prius Prime and 19,996 RAV4 Prime so far this year.  Sweet!


BEV Travel.  That's a topic I take to heart now.  Planning to purchase a bZ4X means trips up north become domain of the Prius Prime.  We could potentially do them someday with a BEV, but the absence of DC fast-charging makes that a very real problem now.  You can't sneak in a day-trip of over 200 miles when there is no where to recharge either at the destination or where we leave from.  In other words, going up to the lake isn't realistic yet.  That's fine though.  The situation will change over time.  In fact, I discovered 2 new places to recharge with Level-2 stations.  One was an oasis for travelers, not really convenient.  The other was the extreme far end of a strip-mall parking lot from a bar where we stop to get burgers anyway.  There were 4 spots available too.  That was sweet.  It was also only Level-2 though.  With a 6.6 kW speed system (a rate up to 7.2 kW, dependent upon voltage available), that equates to about 25 miles of EV in 1 hour of charging.  It's beneficial, but no where near the speed you would want for a BEV when traveling.  It's really just a fill-up for your PHEV.  But if in a pinch, it would work just fine.  What I seek would be the 50 kW rate sustained from start to 100%.  That's what a LFP type battery should, in theory anyway, be able to deliver.  In practice, we don't know yet.  This market doesn't have them, yet.  50 kW means 50 kilowatts per hour.  At a somewhat inefficient 3.5 mile/kWh consumption rate, that would give you roughly 175 miles in 1 hour.  See the benefit of DC fast-charging?  The 5 governors around here did... from Minnesota, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin... all signed an agreement to create "a network to charge electric vehicles".  There was no detail whatsoever.  It was nothing but a brief statement of intent with signatures.  But that's a start.  Thankfully, my state is already on it's game.  I shared that detail in a discussion about this:  Minnesota recently became the first California-Rule state in the Midwest.  So, it makes sense to see this next step... reaching out to adjacent states to help establish a charging network for travel among them.  VW Settlement phase-2 for Minnesota (2020-2023) resulted in allocation of $3,525,000 for EV charging-stations.  Using that, planned count for DC fast-chargers is 43 with eligible reimbursement per 50kW unit up to $65,000.  Planned count for Level-2 stations is 52 (each dual-port, providing 104 chargers total) with eligible reimbursement per unit up to $7,500.  Note that all DC fast-charging stations will be proposed for Greater Minnesota (locations outside of the seven-county Twin Cities metro area).

10-01-2021 Transition Plan.  They aren't the topic of any discussion, even when survival of tax-credits is in the balance.  Enthusiasts obsess with politics.  They also sight Tesla is the ideal, despite its audience & product being so limited.  For that matter, Tesla's production is growing no one asks how or to what end.  Absence of any real model-year or obvious generations, combined with very limited selection, you have to wonder how new buyers will be reached just by increased push of the status quo.  An external force will need to help things along.  Tax-Credits are looked upon as the solution.  Some critical thinking stirs other belief: "If legacy auto makers put in just a fraction of that effort toward an EV future, it wouldn't matter as much what the crooks on the hill were up to."  That's rather vague though.  It depends upon a scapegoat too.  I responded with:

It isn't how much you spend, it is who you target.

That was the fundamental flaw with Volt.  It was blatantly obvious to all but enthusiasts its audience was not GM's own loyal customers.  Buyers were almost entirely early-adopters seeking tax-credit & discount opportunity and fleet sales.  Catering to conquest like that did nothing to impact the status quo.  Targeting the wrong audience was proven to be a monumental waste.

In other words, GM did exactly what you said and nothing became of it.  That was quite predictable too.  The same thing had been done with Two-Mode.  So when the pattern repeated with gen-1 Volt, it should have been a warning.  Instead, even more money was wasted catering to a niche for gen-2 Volt.  All 3 failures repeated the same mistake.  True to form, GM repeated it yet again with Bolt. It was undeniable.  Their offering did nothing to appeal to their own showroom shoppers, a small wagon does nothing to stir interest from those wanting to purchase SUV.

Ford knows better. F-150 Lightning targets their core.  They took their own conquest vehicle Mustang Mach-E and already have plans in place to leverage that knowledge & experience gained to direct their appeal to loyal customers.  It's a winning formula; though, marketing still presents a challenge.  How does an legacy automaker avoid killing their own sales of the current product when introducing a new one far more appealing?

Toyota will be creating a separate brand.  That new "bZ" line of upcoming BEV models will resemble current offerings, but will be complimentary.  The first (coming this Spring) will be bZ4X.  It will resemble RAV4 and will indeed impact traditional sales; however, that should be blunted somewhat by popularity of the hybrid and plug-in hybrid models.  Corolla has transformed into crossover too, built in Alabama by non-union American workers.  Seeing that also offered as a hybrid and plug-in hybrid is only a matter of time.

In short, Toyota has a transition plan... a means of doing something with their effort.  Look at VW for another legacy example of how to overcome the audience challenge.  After ID.4 rollout, what will be the next step?  Who will be targeted following that initial SUV audience?


Getting Attitude.  This sounds familiar: "They are actually doing something.  When your reveal yourself to be an executive of a green energy company moving the ball forward then we'll listen other wise STFU."  That comment came about from someone defending GM's effort to capture the spotlight by making grand token gestures.  It never ceases to amaze me how people lose track of what's really important.  Doing a one-time, feel-good effort doesn't ensure change.  In fact, it can often serve as a distraction.  Priorities get forgotten as a result.  It's really unfortunate.  It's also a very easy trap to fall into.  I have extensively document examples of that throughout history.  Some simply don't see it.  They get excited and don't pay attention to detail.  The result is getting attitude for pointing out that oversight.  Ugh.  I don't let that deter though.  I keep pointing out what they fail to recognize:  Look at GM's past for perspective.  Remember that "over promise, under deliver" reputation?  GM has thrived on attention for so long, people get lost in the hype.  They roll a new technology... Two-Mode... Voltec... Bolt... but that falls short and nothing becomes of it.  Their tech just dies on the vine.  There's no real commitment.  Influence of loyal customers clearly isn't a priority.  Sales are pretty much all conquest.  In other words, to "actually do something" the status quo at dealers must change.


Irony.  This caught my attention: "I kind of wished they offered a heat-pump heater instead of resistive as an option on all models, and also cut down on the amount of tube heat pipes under the bonnet that will eventually fail over time, it would be a nightmare is one of them blows or gives out to the cold."  It isn't necessary to have a name or brand or even context to recognize the significance of that statement.  It is indication of sight beyond just range & power.  Those enthusiast obsessions had dire consequence.  It's just like in my profession of software engineering.  Focus too much on any specific trait is risky.  You jeopardize outcome.  In fact, that can often cloud judgment.  Think of how many times I pointed out blindness from turning a blind-eye.  The cliché fits.  Too much importance was put on a trait with diminishing return.  It simply wasn't worth pushing for more.  A greater benefit could come from focus elsewhere.  In this case, there are some discovering how much of a payoff better utilization of the battery could result in a better overall vehicle.  That sounds so obvious; yet, enthusiasts don't see it that way.  It's why faster DC charging is absolutely essential from their perspective.  Ugh.  Seeing the opportunity, I kept my reply to this particular comment short... hoping for some type of constructive response, but not planning on it:  The irony makes me wonder what the next focus will be for BEV traits.  Toyota has supposedly been hopelessly behind, yet they have been using heat-pumps standard in their plug-in hybrid (all models of Prius Prime) since late 2016.  That's almost 5 years ago!  Next, they may be LFP batteries standard.  That chemistry enables routine recharges to 100%, making a topic like this one here pointless.  No need for a buffer.


Outlet.  It is quite refreshing to provide some advice from time to time:  NEMA 14-50 outlet is pretty much the standard now.  6-guage wire is ideal (50-amp breaker) for non-hardwired capacity. 8-guage (40-amp breaker, which provides a sustained draw of 32 amps) is for the most common charge load.  That's the 6.6 kW rate you often see quoted.  It delivers roughly 200 miles of range in 8 hours.

9-29-2021 It's Economics, Stupid.  There was an attack-blog posted to use an anti-EV publication as a scapegoat.  It sighted a series of negative articles for reasoning.  That's valid to some extent.  But not also looking at the bigger picture... to include yourself... you will never see the problem.  Of course, you can't always say it that way.  You have to start with something like this I found in the comments: "So until the small-town grocery stores start with at least a half dozen, then 12, 24, 64 and eventually 256 DC fast-chargers capable of 50 KW each in the parking lot, *no-one* in rural gravel road country is going to rely on a battery-only car."  It was much better than some of the extremes posted, enough to get the point across.  I added to that objective look at the situation with:

Those negative votes confirm the cold, hard reality enthusiasts continue to refuse to accept.  Areas outside of the metro couldn't care less.  They won't even consider the possibility of purchasing anything with a plug until the ability to recharge at their using parking location offers charging.  Seeing charging-stations in quantity and used routinely is a necessity to sway those quite content with filling their tanks with expensive gas.

Having family and friends from metro provides some perspective for me, as a two PHEV owner looking to replace one of them with a BEV.  Sadly, it isn't necessary to recognize the problem.  Even in the suburbs... of a state now following California rules (Minnesota officially joined recently)... I am really disappointed by how few charging-stations there actually are.

Worse though is the enthusiast obsession with DC fast-charger speed.  They believe faster is better.  That group-think has consequences.  More slower connections is what we require.  With LFP chemistry, being able to sustain a speed of 50 kW all the way from start to 100% capacity, concerns for travel fade away.  All you care about then is simply having a plug available.

That small-town grocery store is going to be extremely reluctant to install superchargers.  Establishing a row of "slower" spots off to the side or in back, somewhere with room to expand, is far more likely.  A bunch of 50 kW chargers will be less expensive than a few superchargers and will attract more repeating customers.  This isn't rocket-science.  This isn't politics.  It's economics.


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