Prius Personal Log  #1099

October 7, 2021  -  October 11, 2021

Last Updated:  Sun. 11/28/2021

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10-11-2021 Exaggeration.  Some people like the attention.  That can do a real disservice.  When you exaggerate, the truth will eventually be discovered.  At that point, your credibility is lost.  So today, I wasn't about to let that happen with this: "Iowa -30F in winter and 100F+ in summer".  When a person who lives several hours south of your makes a claim like that to proclaim superior technology (yes, it was a Bolt) calling them out with the hopes of a "my bad" in return is worth a try.  He could double-down.  I'm curious if I'll get any reply.  Whatever the case, I hit back with some real-world data:

It pretty much never gets that cold, even north of you in Minneapolis. Note the record lows there for the past decade:

  -12°F  February 14, 2020
  -28°F  January 30, 2019
  -14°F  January 01, 2018
  -16°F  December 31, 2017
  -20°F  December 18, 2016
  -11°F  February 23, 2015
  -23°F  January 06, 2014
  -13°F  February 01, 2013
  -11°F  January 19, 2012
  -16°F  January 21, 2011
  -15°F  January 02, 2010

Since that is where I live and drive a plug-in vehicle, I don't appreciate focus on extremes.  Routinely seeing the temperature drop below the heat-pump threshold (14°F), I know those days are limited.  Dropping well below that simply doesn't happen often and driving then should be avoided due to ice build-up from ICE exhaust.

Keep your vehicle plugged in and the battery-warmer active, just like everyone else who experience sub-freezing temperatures.

10-10-2021

20 Million Per Year.  The absurdity continues.  Wild claims of Tesla being able to sell 20 Million vehicles per year by 2030 continue.  It boggles the mind that a quantity of VW & Toyota combined is expected in such a short span of time.  Enthusiasts clearly don't understand that extrapolation of early growth patterns to project the future doesn't work.  That's why I bring up audience so often.  You can't just push more of the same to a different audience an expect the same outcome.  Ugh.  I posted this to address the nonsense:  Diversity of product is a business fundamental that is always missing when there are discussions of Tesla production volume.  Those participating seem to think simply building more factories will result in more sales.  That clashes with reality.  The automotive industry does not operate that way.  In fact, it thrives on variety.  Tesla needs to diversify.  Not everyone wants a Model 3/S and Model X/Y.  When Cybertruck is finally delivered, it will need some type of affordable counterpart.  Tesla has nothing whatsoever in the "economy" category.  That supposed $25,000 offering will be up against some serious competition.  For perspective on variety, looking at the top-sellers from other large automakers.  From Toyota in this market, there's Camry & Corolla for cars, RAV4 & Highlander & 4Runner for SUVs, Tacoma & Tundra for trucks, and Sienna for a minivan.  Think about how many other models are offered elsewhere and how many there are that sell in lower volume.  In short, Tesla must expand choices, not just production. Far more models will need to be rolled out to even just achieve the level of being large.  To double sales of the biggest by 2030, some fundamentals need to change.

10-10-2021

Fall of Journalism.  Sadly, it has become sensationalism.  Article with titles like this seem to be more common now: "Why Toyota Has Got It Wrong On Electric Cars".  Some of it could simply be a matter of people wanting to read more content about electric cars.  Though, we have been seeing a growth in the draw to scapegoats.  Things are going well.  People look for someone to blame.  Since Toyota was the leader with hybrids, many expect "leadership" the same way.  Only problem is, they aren't familiar with Prius history.  They have no idea just how much time it took to refine the technology to the point where it grew beyond the appeal of just enthusiasts... with regard to platform.  The technology itself appealed to mainstream consumers surprisingly early on.  Seeing it deployed to other vehicles was the hold up for purchase.  Finding the hybrid system in Corolla & RAV4 is what turned the industry upside-down.  No other automaker has that level of success.  But looking back, no other automaker invested 20 years in the process either.  It's too bad Honda stumbled.  But then again, Ford had potential too.  GM never did.  Out of that mess, Tesla emerged.  There was much opportunity for conquest sales, catering to early-adopters with income to spare.  That's fine, but avoiding the masses is a problem... one that Tesla is only now starting to struggle with.  VW was thrust into that fire, forced to deliver something for ordinary consumers in a competitive manner.  Selling in high-volume is quite a challenge, especially when profit is required early on.  Some journalists don't care though.  In fact, some only want to feed the blame narrative.  That "wrong" article clearly did that.  It jumped straight into the rhetoric, only briefly mentioning Toyota's hybrid success.  Then came the BEV focus and we got this: "Toyota, in contrast, has only released one BEV so far, the Lexus UX300e, and merely teased further BEVs such as the bZ4X, with no clear launch date."  That's not true.  UX300e is actually Toyota's fourth offering and bZ4X rollout was clearly stated as mid-2022.  What frustrated me though was the complete omission of recent hybrid success... RAV4... Sienna... Venza... Corolla.  Not a peep.  No mention whatsoever, despite the strong sales tells us a lot about the motive to paint a false picture.  Omitting the entire category of plug-in hybrid makes that ill intent even more obvious.  RAV4 Prime is selling extremely well and gets great praise from those supporting plug-in vehicles.  Yet, nothing.  That is electric car technology absent from the article on electric cars.  It's quite clear there isn't research taking place before writing.  In fact, there doesn't appear to be much beyond hearsay.  It's really a sad statement about our integrity. 

10-10-2021 Devil's Advocate.  Sometimes an antagonist can actually be helpful.  Perhaps this was one such example: "The positives of LFP are great, but the negatives do have a big impact.  LFP is only available for the Model 3 SR+ because a LFP pack for the long range model wouldn't fit into the car."  He has expressed the same sentiment of pessimism in the past.  You know, spinning alternatives as a somehow being technical debt, rather than an opportunity to advance.  So what if the solution doesn't fulfill the needs of everyone?  It's still progress.  Not everyone needs every box checked.  I responded with: 

Know your audience.  There is clearly a market for low-cost, long-life batteries, as LFP offers.  In fact, the benefit of them being more robust is rapid-charging becomes far less of a longevity concern.  Shorter charging-sessions more often... which ironically is what BEV tend to recommend anyway... work out just fine.

Turns out, Tesla can only cater to their niche for so long.  That market will become saturated and it would be idiotic not to diversify... a mistake GM continues to repeat.  You neglect a market-segment for too long, someone else will step in.  Remember, that "nicely under $30,000" target is still vital.  GM just recently reaffirmed it. Tesla must finally acknowledge it.  Toyota never took their eye off that ball... despite endless efforts from antagonists.

No cobalt.  No nickel.  Both have been problematic battery materials.  Elimination of them by LFP chemistry not only addresses those political/social, environmental, and safety issues, it also opens up the market for low-cost vehicles.  This is exactly why some Chinese BEV have thrived and why Toyota simply focused on their component advancement in the meantime.  Initial offerings we have seen so far really were just qualification laps.  The actual race has yet to begin.

In other words, drawing a conclusion of "big impact" really doesn't equate to much.  Sales to mainstream consumers is something we must still wait for.  The entire industry is still just preparing for the countdown lights, since cost isn't quite there yet.  LFP is one of the opportunities to achieve what the early-adopter market could not.

10-09-2021

Discovery & Awareness.  People are beginning to discover there's more to an EV than just the battery-pack & plug.  So much assumption comes from the everyday use of rechargeable devices, like the cell-phone, that people are completely unaware of how the power is actually supplied.  That becomes quite obvious when if you ask about the charger a person uses.  Most are completely clueless.  They have no idea that differences exist, that there is a variety available.  So when it comes chemistry, forget it.  That could be changing though.  Choice is coming.  There is no one-size-fits-all anymore.  Like with the variety of chargers, there will be more than just a single battery-type too.  Hopefully, situations like this article points out will help bring about that awareness: "Chevy Bolt Battery Recall: How Could This Have Happened?"  The comment posted online with the link to that was: "Avoid charging above 90% or discharging below 70 miles range; park outdoors after charging; avoid charging overnight."  That article takeaway is enough to get others thinking too.  I responded with:  It will be interesting to see what happens as people become aware of other choices.  Anyone else notice the split now taking place with Tesla?  They recently began offering the choice of LFP batteries, a chemistry that eliminates cobalt & nickel.  It sacrifices energy & weight for the benefit of being far more robust, including fire resistance.  Offering significantly more recharging cycles and greatly reduced cost will be the highlights though.  And yes, this is what we expect Toyota to use for their first dedicated-platform BEV, the upcoming bZ4X.

10-08-2021

Continued Vague.  I asked for clarification by requesting detail... please share some of your experiences.  He kept responding that it was unnecessary.  The topic was stops at SuperChargers.  Wanting to know more about the when, where, and how is a reasonable outcome from reading a vague post.  He absolutely refused, then went on to do it again.  This time, it was charging speed.  I was still quite annoyed by his "Nobody cares about..." response.  In other words, I has called him out about his narrative.  Detail obscured his overly simplified message.  Know your audience.  He clearly didn't.  So, I repeated my provoke to get beyond vague:  There's that vague again.  What kind of chemistry?  Detail is important.  With the case of next-gen batteries, the topic of speed is a very big deal.  Notice how Tesla is quietly rolling out LFP packs now?  That chemistry is far more tolerant to heat, allowing continued high-rate charging through the charging cycle.  In fact, it can exceed the usual 80% without issue... going all the way to 100% without degradation concern.  You can't do that with the current generation of lithium battery.  This adds a new twist to supposedly slow DC fast-chargers.  Most early-adopters despised 50 kW chargers due to the quick drop of rate.  LFP basically eliminates that, allowing for the 50 kW to be retained throughout the charging, regardless of SOC.  It improves charging speed outcome without having to upgrade the charging-station itself.  Again, detail is important and opportunity is missed by not sharing.  It informs us that this is very much an evolving market, that facts of the past may lose relevancy rather quickly.  Assumptions are common. It's a disservice to allow them.

10-08-2021

Real EVs.  I laughed when I saw this: "Nope... Basically anyone who has had a PHEV and then drives real EVs would know that there is a big difference."  It can from a well-known purist, someone who absolutely demands the BEV as the only solution.  You are a traitor to the country and a hater of the planet is you endorse anything other than a vehicle powered exclusively by plug-supplied electricity.  Ironically, he doesn't care if the vehicle guzzles electricity or if the electricity comes from dirty sources.  It simply cannot have an engine of any kind.  This is where a true despise for Toyota comes into play.  Hydrogen fuel-cells don't have an engine either.  The tank doesn't contain any type of fossil-fuel.  FCEV aren't as efficient as BEV though... the efficient models anyway.  That catch is a problem.  Massive battery-packs on bulky & non-aerodynamic platforms is a very real problem.  They aren't efficient either.  So when you point out a PHEV that delivers decent efficiency from an all-electric driving experience, it makes the purist crazy.  He's lashed out at me several times already.  I don't care.  His rants fall on deaf ears anyway.  It is the same nonsense we saw years ago.  Remember why the "Who is the market for Volt?" question was asked so often on that daily blog?  Know your audience.  I fired back with:  Portraying all PHEV as the same is an act of desperation at this point.  Consumers have figured out that automakers designs differ, each having their own twist on operation, power, and capacity.  Toyota's Prime vehicles are full EV, providing all-electric driving without ever running the gas-engine.  Denying that reality is your own problem to deal with. Anyone who drives one sees there is no difference.  Electric-Only is electric only.

10-07-2021 Can't Do.  Another example of negative messaging emerged today: "Crippled by the 50 KW charging, so it can't do road trips."  They make the decision for you.  Think about audience.  How many casual readers will have any clue how fast or slow 50 kW charging actually is?  That implication that it is so slow, you can't do road trips, is more vague.  Why not?  It went on to sight the past, again in a vague manner.  I suspect that was fear of Volt, how both models of Prime have proven more wasn't necessary to sustain sales in the early market.  Early-Adopters like to set parameters for ordinary consumers though.  They feel their experience allows them to define what mainstream shoppers will deem important.  Stating priorities like that is absurd.  Since when is their influence a means of control?  All someone in the initial market can really do is demonstrate potential and provide suggestions.  Making the decision for you doesn't really work.  This is why I bring up the showroom so much.  Know your audience.  Not everyone thinks more is better.  Providing background is a means of drawing in the non-enthusiast.  By conveying information, you enable them to choose on their own.  So, that's exactly what I do:  50 kW is not supercharger speed, but it is enough to enable road trips.  Ironically, there is the potential of having to wait in line, making the slower much faster.  How many DC fast-chargers will be available when you are traveling during the holidays?  In other words, it is far less expensive for a business owner to provide several 50 kW charging-stations than it for just one 350 kW.  The price paid for usage will be less too.  When it comes to mainstream appeal, what "we've been through this for years" with enthusiasts means nothing.  Priorities are simply too different to provide any realistic expectation.  Different audience.
10-07-2021

It Can Be Done.  Knowledge gained from innovation exercises is priceless.  That act of trying stirs creativity.  While sometimes resulting in discovery, you sometimes get confirmation of what is a bad idea.  The point is you tried.  There's nothing wrong with hypothesizing, then taking a chance.  This is especially true with the automotive industry.  Rolling out a new product to a select market shouldn't be a surprise to anyone.  Yet, we have antagonists making Toyota's practice of doing that sound like an act of insanity.  If you set aside money for research, why not conduct some in that manner?  Antagonists don't agree.  It clashes with their anti-EV narrative.  For example: "It looks like a skateboard platform for a uni-bodied car.  There's no good way to squeeze that many batteries into an ICE uni-bodied platform because you've enormously raised the floor."  See how it was framed to draw a conclusion of bad for you?  We're back to vague claims?  How much is "enormous" and what difference does it make?  In RAV4 Prime, it made no difference whatsoever.  Who's to say what "good" represents?  Needless to say, they simply see it as an opportunity to criticize & undermine.  Keep sending out the message of failure with hopes people won't actually question the reasoning.  I don't let that go by unchallenged.  I'll push back, as I did today:  It can still be done though.  Lexus UX300e demonstrates that.  Toyota basically took a stab at the "parts bin" method to see what they could come up with.  It is an interesting project.  I suspect they will continue to experiment, swapping out the regular lithium for LFP.  Having a direct basis of comparison like that on a traditional platform is worthwhile "what if" opportunity to collect real-world data with... especially when it can be done in plain view without anyone actually noticing.

10-07-2021

Equinox BEV.  There was indeed more from GM, no detail though.  It was really nothing but an announcement about Equinox becoming a BEV.  This particular comment is what I decided to reply upon: "Hoping we get to see them soon."  It seemed a worthwhile means of conveying background & prediction:  Soon is unlikely.  I would expect timing to coincide with an Ultium SUV counterpart to Equinox.  Since GM was unable to deliver a competitive Voltec model, they have no choice but to offer a BEV convert as a buffer to address the Osborne Effect.  Offsetting a dedicated-platform SUV with something more traditional makes sense for each legacy automaker.  VW has ID.4 and will be offering a PHEV. Toyota already has RAV4 Prime and will be offering bZ4X.  Enthusiasts here don't want to acknowledge the reality of how long going "all in" will actually take.  Legacy automakers still have to sell something in the meantime.  It won't be an overnight switch regardless of how many leprechauns & unicorns they catch. The transition will be painfully slow.  In fact, infrastructure upgrades will be so painfully slow, they will finally learn what it means to compromise.  Keep in mind that GM has a reputation for "over promise, under deliver".  No matter how much Toyota is used as a scapegoat, the cold hard reality of what & how each legacy automaker deals with change will have to be faced.  Change is much more difficult than the hope we all wish for.

 

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