Personal Log  #1098

October 3, 2021  -  October 7, 2021

Last Updated:  Sun. 11/28/2021

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Senseless Comment.  This was one of the comments posted on that troublemakers latest video:  "Because of people like *** (and others), I withdrew my deposit on a 2022 RAV4 Prime.  I will be buying a 2023 Tesla Model Y instead."  The sentiment then went on to show favor for acceleration with no regard for vehicle price.  Ugh.  The premise of this particular YouTube video was to promote a boycott of Toyota.  How would that ever make any difference?  With inventory of plug-in vehicles so limited, there would be no way of that indicating to the automaker of any consumer issue.  Sending a message is usually done effectively with the opposite approach anyway.  You purchase what is desired, not ignore what isn't.  And since the demand is high and supply limited, the impression is to make more of the quick seller.  In this case that's RAV4 Prime.  Next year, the first "bZ" will be joining that wait-list.  Of course, I'm well aware of Toyota's approach, making it easy to understand intent.  They have played "under promise, over deliver" many times throughout the past 2 decades... the complete opposite of GM.  In other words, the 2030 plans could simply be a bluff to measure market response.  Gauging the market that way is nothing new.  Enthusiasts pretty much miss the play every time too.  Too bad if they miss the clues.  It's not like I don't share them.  In this case, I didn't bother.  I was quite curious if I would get a reply to this, since the posted comment didn't make any sense:  Why not get a 2022 bZ4X from Toyota?  After all, that takes their EV drive system from RAV4 Prime a step further with a next-gen battery and elimination of the gas-engine.  What does waiting for a 2023 Model Y instead achieve?


YouTube Propaganda.  There's a lot of awareness being raised about the issue I have been dealing with for 20 years: antagonism sells.  You attract a lot more traffic with hate than you do love.  Attacking Toyota is especially rewarding.  All you have to do is feed the popular "late" narrative.  Of course, that is now transitioning to "fail" as more online sources saturate the topic.  There's a new one on YouTube who is really milking the opportunity.  His videos are sprinkled with "toyota has utterly squandered their position" and "now there is zero chance that toyota is going to change its stance".  Omitting the plans for a "bZ" brand and the target of 15 models of BEV by 2025 is required, of course.  That vital information is conveniently missing.  No mention whatsoever is made.  It's just more of the same old nonsense, but now with a claim of inevitable bankruptcy.  Ugh.  I will start posting comments to raise awareness for those who read them.  Who knows, maybe he'll adapt & embrace.  That's difficult though, knowing that the reveal today about Facebook intentionally feeding narratives was a standard practice.  The company knew that type of content was more profitable.  Odds are, this guy won't risk income by changing.  You never know.  So, I'll try to share short & sweet tidbits:  bZ4X will be the first of 7 new dedicated-platform BEV coming from Toyota.  Details of the first will come late this year and sales mid next year.  Cries for a boycott don't acknowledge those plans.


GM Announcements.  We got a whole lot of nothing from GM today... their "investor" day brought several announcements.  Yet again, there's hype without substance.  And yet again, there was an enthusiasts to promote the vague: "You clearly do not know anything about cars or GM.  GM is extremely innovative."  History is loaded with examples of setting an expectation of grand change, but no detail whatsoever.  Supposedly, there will be major investment & profit from business outside of direct vehicle sales.  We can expect to see more in terms of service, like autonomy & insurance.  That's interesting, especially with enthusiasts not paying attention (nor caring) about information related to BEV production & sales.  Of course, this resembles Gm. of the past.  Remember how much of the financing division kept the automaker profitable?  I do.  It was a troubled history.  Unfortunately, that pattern is an easy one to repeat.  So, I kept my reply brief... wanting something more will come in the next few days, but not being hopeful:  Many of us lived through several "over promise, under deliver" chapters in GM history.  Each one started the same way.  So now, we look to see if anything makes this different.


Understanding LFP.  This got brought up in a comment made about GM's upcoming next-gen BEV models: "LFP's biggest selling point is that it likes being charged to 100%, not just 80."  The chemistry is gaining attention.  Reasons for that are far from obvious.  Ultium (the name of GM's new lithium chemistry) will still use nickel & cobalt, making it outdated even before production begins.  Few will likely recognize that; however, some may discover the unusual choice from Tesla.  You can select the option to get a LFP battery-pack instead of the standard one.  Later when the still-delayed new cell from Tesla gets rolled out, it will likely be positioned to address what some are discovering just now... from posts just like mine, adding comment to another comment:  That is indeed an advantage, but not the only one.  LFP also has the advantage of not using either Cobalt or Nickel, which are both expensive and have political/environmental issues.  LFP also has the advantage of being far more heat tolerant, which means there is no drop necessary in kW charging rate as SOC nears full.  LFP also has the advantage of providing far more charging cycles, which obviously provides longer battery life.  Tradeoffs a reality though, LFP holds less energy (so lower capacity packs) and they chemistry is heavier. But the durability and much lower cost, along with those other advantages, will definitely be a draw for some audiences.

10-05-2021 Milking Narratives.  It seems as though the online hype sources for plug-in vehicles sees an end approaching.  They are now milking the narrative that Toyota is anti-EV to an extreme.  You can tell when they publish an article with something like this:  "Speaking of delusional, how about Toyota, whose head honcho is doing his best to destroy the company his grandfather created.  He thinks Brand T will still be selling *self charging electric cars* -- a.k.a hybrids -- in the year 2929.  Does it have any plans to stave off the competition from Tesla and the Chinese manufacturers?  If so, it is a heavily guarded secret that Akio Toyoda has shared with no one up until now."  That is a blatant effort to attract antagonists, an undeniable move to get lots of posting activity.  Rather frustrated by the loss of journalism, I took the invite and didn't hold back.  Hopefully, it will inspire some actual thought rather than more continued provokes & enabling.  If nothing else, it does provide a different point of view for lurkers:

You already know the answer.  In fact, many who have followed years of "over promise, under deliver" from supposed industry leadership know.  Toyota doesn't show their cards.  They don't play the game the way early-adopters prefer.  They are subtle about next moves and are not swayed by enthusiast rhetoric.

Toyota's audience is what matters, not outside hype.  That audience will take notice of the emerging "bZ" brand.  They will see why those next-gen batteries are an improvement upon what's available now.   That's key.  Getting a sense of understanding from ordinary consumers is something the industry is really struggling with right now.  You can't just build lots of charging-stations and expect mainstream shoppers to embrace the technology unfamiliar to them.  Toyota knows this.

Think about why VW refuses to sell ID.3 in the United States. Look beyond the current pressure from Tesla.  VW's biggest rival, Toyota, has success in spreading technology across the entire fleet.  RAV4 presents tremendous opportunity as a PHEV and with similar styled dedicated platform BEV on the way (bZ4X).  Retaining the spotlight with ID.4 may become quite difficult as more bZ models are introduced.

That will be playing out as Toyota presses on with RAV4 Prime... which is opening the door for a Corolla Cross Prime.  Notice how VW just released plans for their own next-gen PHEV coming in 2023?  Toyota's phaseout of traditional vehicles with hybrids that can easily be adapted to a PHEV sets an interesting stage.

The climate-change war will be fought on multiple fronts.  China brings even more to the challenge, addressing problems with their own twist and potentially adding confusion to the mixed messages we already face.

In short, there are plans.  They are very difficult to recognize so early in the process still.  When around 70,000,000 vehicles are sold worldwide each year, it's very easy to make assumptions about plans.  There's so many different markets with different needs.


This Is Why.  Toyota has been well aware of the lack of support on many fronts, that the only way to true change is delivering a product the masses would accept as the next natural step.  Pushing BEV still doesn't make sense.  Yet, we get comments like this: "Can you tell us how Trump crippled the EV industry?"  I was quite annoyed by that.  But then again, the short-sightedness of enthusiasts is quite predictable.  I replied back with:  This is what Google returns when you do a simple search on the topic: "On June 1, 2017, United States President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. would cease all participation in the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change mitigation, contending that the agreement would "undermine" the U.S. economy, and put the U.S. "at a permanent disadvantage."  That withdrawal was a deliberate act to undermine.  Ironically, his reason to prevent putting the United States at a disadvantage was in fact the outcome.  Hopefully, it isn't permanent.  But the complete absence of any support definitely did cause harm to climate change efforts.  There was nothing with regard to infrastructure support.  There was nothing to encourage sales.  Heck, the tax-credits were allowed to expire without any consideration of reinstatement or other subsidies to help the industry.  He did support the fossil fuels though, opening up new opportunity by deregulating.


Speculation.  I discovered a new forum today, one dedicated to the upcoming "bZ" brand from Toyota.  It didn't have much posting activity yet.  Most of the topics were just a means of providing the limited information available so far.  There was a little bit of discussion though, which is far better in that venue... since content can be followed, quite unlike the quick loss from daily blogs.  Anywho, I found this compelling: "This probably really means that Toyota does not have access to enough batteries to go into full scale production...  Disappointing."  The start of the long post ending with disappointment really got to me.  So, I decided my first comments there were be to provide a glimmer of hope:  Don't overlook the fact that batteries improve and most automakers are locked into older chemistries.  Waiting to commit could provide a major advantage.  In other words, research NCA and NCM. Notice how LFP addresses heat, cycle, and cost shortcomings.  There are tradeoffs, of course.  But on the balance, LFP is far more competitive.  Note how Toyota is setting an expectation of 90% capacity retention after 10 years of use.  Knowing all that, are you still disappointed?


Addressing Change.  Instinct can sometimes lead you to see benefits as obstacles.  There's a common scenario which has many enthusiasts is convinced of exactly that: "As more EV charging-stations are continuously being built, PHEV's with dirty ICE engines are counter-productive and undermine the fight against climate change."  I jumped in to point out:  Quite the opposite, PHEV address infrastructure shortcomings and consumer reluctance.  You can start driving all-electric immediately, without any effort or expense at home.  Just plug into the outlet already available in your garage.  That starts the upgrade process by stirring interest in faster recharges as well... which sets the stage for a no-brainer next vehicle in the household purchase to be a BEV.  Ironically, their value increases over time.  As more charging-stations become available, the PHEV becomes cleaner since there will be more opportunities to plug in.


Not Yet.  Progress is almost always much, much slower than enthusiasts can tolerate.  They get frustrated & disenchanted after awhile.  Stuff like this is a warning sign: "Once upon a time, 7.5kW charging at places like Supermarkets made sense but that was in 2016/17.  Things have moved on a lot since then.  It is long past time that these were upgraded to meet the need of today not yesterday."  Even if you inject a dose of reality, it doesn't often do any good.  That want more now.  Patience is not a virtue for them.  I try anyway:  Level-2 was for the sake of establishing the sight.  Expectations were DC fast-chargers would follow.  Those slower stations wouldn't go away after the upgrade.  They would remain as a failover for if the DC had issues or there was simply a long line and you needed something while you waited.  Sadly, we still don't even have a standard yet... speed or port.  The expense is plays a major role, both for the install itself and electricity service.  There's the consideration of capacity too.  Several 50 kW stations cost the same as a single much 350 kW unit.  Far more vehicles would be able to take advantage of a minimum like 50 kW.  Is faster worth it?  How long you want to wait and how much you are willing to pay for each session?

10-03-2021 $5,000 Target.  In China, the bar is set far below the "nicely under $30,000" target price.  With a goal of being extremely affordable, and neither safety nor speed being a priority, a vehicle within that category can be produced.  It will be small and lacking for power, but it will get the job done.  That approach has been working so well there, the same will be tried in Africa.  It is quite interesting.  Until now, enthusiasts never bothered to actually consider detail.  All they did was quote generalized numbers.  Ugh.  One of the models about to be upgraded had these for specs: "120 km of range using 9.2 kWh battery (NEDC) for just $4,112 in China."  Another had these: "170 km of range using 13.8 kWh battery (NEDC) for $5,540 in China."  They were both tiny vehicles with a top-speed of 100 km/h (62 mph).  The expectation is to bump battery-capacity to 26 kWh and motor-power to 30 kW.  That makes you look back at the first Nissan Leaf with awe.  Anywho, it's enough to stir decent exchanges of perspective.  Here was mine on that topic:

Think about how long a 9.2 kWh battery-pack takes to recharge using a 120-volt connection.  Consuming 12 amps non-stop for around 6 hours could be realistic, for those with capacity available.  Now consider the market challenge of upgrading it to 26 kWh.  It's not as simplistic of a situation as enthusiasts like to spin.

I visited Tanzania back in June.  There's a lot of variety there.  I saw areas with no-electricity homes to villages with limited capacity.  They make do with what they have available.  Expecting more & faster simply isn't realistic.  Tiny plug-in vehicles with low-power motors can be very efficient.  They will be a welcome technology, something to leverage their build up of solar.

It's ironic how those who mocked & belittled PHEV now see there are large markets elsewhere in the world that will benefit from those well-proven "inferior" builds.  In fact, it may be that some BEV enthusiasts feel threatened by mini-EV offerings... since they completely contradict the importance they have placed on size, speed and power. It makes you question goals & motive.

The rest of the world will look at our Cybertruck & Hummer plug-ins as more American waste, gross overkill.  Going from guzzling gas to guzzling electricity doesn't really solve the problems we face.  It just makes us feel better.  Ugh.

10-03-2021 Station Growth.  The discussion of charging-stations is fascinating.  We finally have some critical thought taking place.  Of course, those who argued against CHAdeMO using speed for their reasoning are now in a hypocritical place, since 50 kW was claimed as impractical and far too slow.  Within that "100 Stations" commenting, I added: 

We know there will not be a direct correlation to gas stations; that is what "balance for daily & travel charging" was meant to imply.  There will be a paradigm-shift, not an elimination.  It is not a binary situation as many here like to portray.  People without the means of charging overnight will use DC fast-charging similar to gas station visits.

The question comes down to process.  It is significantly more expensive to provide super-speed DC fast-chargers (up to 350 kW) than it is for just 50 kW.  In fact, several can be 50's can be delivered for the same price as just one of the faster.  This isn't rocket-science.  The hardware & service costs more.

As a business, you don't want to depend entirely on a line of vehicles queued up to use a 350.  That simply does not make sense.  Why have them sitting in their car when instead they can be patronizing your store?  Come in and buy something while they wait.  It is an obvious win for gas stations already sharing a location with coffee or food.

As a consumer, why in the world would you get in line to wait?  Driving up to a spot and immediately parking is far, far, far more appealing.  After all, you'd end up spending time waiting for a 350 anyway.  So what if a 50 is slower?  Many more could be available.  With LFP chemistry, even inexpensive BEV should be able to maintain that 50 kW rate throughout the entire charging process, all the way up to 100%.

In more simplistic terms, think about how much more a 5-minute charge at 350 kW would cost compared to a 25-minute charge at 50 kW.  You pay a premium for speed.


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