Prius Personal Log #1101
October 16, 2021 - October 19, 2021
Last Updated: Sun. 11/28/2021
page #1100 page #1102 BOOK INDEX
Don't Hold Your Breath. Voices from the past sometime re-emerge: "When the Volt first came out, I thought the same thing, hoping for PHEV Silverado to come to market. Sadly, never came to anything. All I can say is, don't hold your breath." They will never apologize for their counter-productive past or even acknowledge what you had pointed out what correct all along. Instead, they will make an effort to place blame. In this case, it was reply echoing the sentiment that GM messed up. The reality that he was an enthusiast who strongly encouraged those choices GM made is something that will be fiercely denied. The advice of not holding your breath is interesting, likely a damage-control effort. My response to change of stance was: There were countless calls for a model of Equinox using Voltec. GM failed to ever deliver any type of plug-in SUV for its own loyal customers. Ironically, Toyota did. In fact, RAV4 Prime is selling so well, it has become the centerpiece for hybrid growth. We now see the Corolla Cross being produced in Huntsville, Alabama. Being offered as both a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid... a smaller version of RAV4 Prime... is quite realistic. This is why Toyota will thrive while other legacy automakers struggle to transition their fleet.
Toyota's Abrupt Shift. Spin that Toyota would suddenly awaken was inevitable. You can only push a narrative so long before evidence to the contrary becomes overwhelming & undeniable. The title of an article today stated it well: "Toyota has gone from lobbying against EVs to spending billions on battery development." I find it rather telling that we have learned that some of that lobbying was the result of concern for unionized automakers being favored. That potential of those automakers to have an artificial $4,500 advantage is good reason for concern. Yet, the hype media sees no interest in keeping that information in the forefront. Instead, we get a new story that Toyota recognizes the big change coming and is now scrambling to address it. The reality that heavy investment in EV drive components is already paying dividends is completely ignored. When I bring it up, the comments are dismissed. Enthusiasts and the media sources they enable want no part of any of that. Facts portraying them as intention agents of deception are a very real problem. Getting exposed as being a contributor to undermining efforts is quite harmful. They are already taking quite a gamble with their endorsement for potentially crippling battery chemistry. As more people learn about next-gen batteries, like LFP, it will get them to rethink their view upon BEV. They will see those steps being taken to improve upon current choices. That's vital for growth and reaching wider audiences. It is progress they will understand enough to recognize who is using the new tech and who is not. Think about Toyota's subtle mention of aiming to deliver a retention of 90% capacity after 10 years of use. That's a really, really, really big deal which few enthusiasts are placing value on. Ugh. It's not abrupt. It's awareness & planning. We found out about the battery-development back on Earth Day this year. That effort was solidified then with a signed agreement. I other words, lots of research and proposals had already taken place long before that.
Quick Is Better. The mentally that going as fast as
possible will result in the best outcome is a extremely difficult perspective
to overcome. The possibility of success when you set goals without any
means of controlling approach is an incredible risk. I'm always
baffled by how many enthusiasts remain clueless about how the business
actually works. When disenchantment comes from their awakening, it
almost always results in abandon. They jump ship when things go
horribly wrong. In fact, that was how the daily blog for Volt was
defined. It was a stream of reckless posts flaunting vastly superior
claims... all of which ended in disaster. One after another, those
voices of hostile comments disappeared. It was quite interesting to
watch the cascade of failed dreams. They were disillusioned from the
start, absolutely refusing to face reality. Hope turned to hype.
Fortunately, not everyone is that way:
"For anyone who wishes part shortages will end soon, be careful what you
wish for. The longer all manufacturing is down, the fewer ICE
vehicles will be consuming oil the next 20 years, and the longer battery
manufacturing has to ramp up." Of course, the voice of reason is
rarely looked upon favorably, even when it comes from a new source. I
added to that with: Ramping up of battery
manufacturing is a bit of a paradox. Most people here think more quick is
better. Do we really want high-volume production of outdated chemistry? Consider
LFP. It eliminates troublesome elements... cobalt & nickel... while
at the same time returns a much more robust battery that cost less and lasts
longer. There are tradeoffs, of course, but priorities still aren't being
taken seriously. Delay caused by part shortages buys us time to try address
what is truly important.
Learning From Hybrids. Observations of how hybrid
technology was accepted taught me to watch out for statements like this: "If
you just need a quick zap, the ID.4 can add 60 miles of range in about 10
minutes at a public DC fast charger. (Disclaimer – ID.4 equipped with
fast charging capability maximum rate of 125kW. Based on charging at a
125kW or higher charger. Charging times and range will vary and depend on a
variety of factors including ambient temperature, charger type, battery age,
condition and initial state of charge, vehicle condition, driving and
charging habits, accessory use, topography, load and others. Frequent
and consecutive fast charging can permanently decrease battery capacity.)"
It came from a sponsored post, where VW itself provided the article and
an online website hosted it. Based on my 2 decades of experience, I
responded to that with:
It's nice to see disclaimers being added, since consumers know little to nothing about plug-in vehicles. But realistically, they have no clue what the disclaimer actually equates to, nor do they have a simple means of finding out. That "initial state of charge" is likely what will catch most off guard, since it isn't obvious like temperature or age or charger. In fact, evaluating impact it has could be quite a challenge for them even when they do finally notice.
That 60 miles in 10 minutes only applies to charging when SOC (state of charge) is below 30%. That's when estimated EV range is below roughly 75 miles. Above that, rate of charge drops from the 125 kW to about 110 kW at 40% and 95kW at 50% and 80 kW at 60%. The drop continues to about 65 kW from 70% where it flattens until 80% at which drop plummets. That becomes a numbers mess the typical person would be challenged to grasp. Put another in more simplistic terms, if you stop to recharge at 50% that 10 minutes only delivers 45 miles. At 60% you get 38 miles. At 70% it's 31. See the problem?
It gets worse when you discover the more commonly available DC fast-charger is delivers a maximum of 50 kW. The reason for that is cost. With so much lower of a price (ICCT estimates $28,000 for a 50 kW station and $75,000 for a 150 kW station), it makes sense that the choice to install more slower stations is favored. So at 50 kW, a 10-minute charging session will deliver 24 miles... a quantity far lower than the "advertised" value of 60 miles.
In other words, we need to set realistic expectations for those considering the purchase of a BEV. Quotes with easy to assume incorrect outcomes are something we need to prevent. We don't want a feeling of disenchantment after purchase... since word-of-mouth endorsements are a power means of growing the market.
Studying Comments. An article today was published by the big Detroit paper, written by the anti-Prius journalist I often complained about over the years. It was piece highlighting the difficulty finding charging-stations. Ironically, none of the photos mentioned where they were taken. His audience was non-plugin owners. They have no idea chargers are available due to such poor signage. Most have are completely unaware of the existence of phone-apps too. Since this writer is a professional, I can say the content was pathetic. He listed "What's the charging speed?" as key information people should be informed of. But within the article, all we got was this related to speed: "A level-2 charger is fine when you charge through the night. More powerful DC fast-chargers are important when people need to get back on the road quickly." Knowing the audience was non-plugin owners, it makes sense to avoid kW and kWh values. But to not even mention time in terms of minutes or miles, that's absurd. How are people supposed to learn from such vague statements. What does "quickly" mean? Geez! Anywho, I was quite curious what readers had to say. It was a very mixed audience, a variety of non-ready-yet consumers and BEV owners. There was quite a bit of bickering amongst those posting debunked propaganda and those fighting the daily rhetoric. As expected, I found a comment supporting the very thing I was annoyed about: "It takes several HOURS to fully recharge an electric vehicle, but just a few minutes to fully refuel a gasoline powered vehicle." So much for being a journalist. Mentioning DC fast-chargers, but making to effort whatsoever to explain what that means is pathetic. What was the point of writing an article about charging-stations but not explaining the purpose they fulfill. Ugh. I did a search for "dc fast charging speed". The second link Google provided was titled: "What is DC Fast Charging?" And with 1 minute of reading I found this: "DCFC chargers can range in output from 50 kW to 350 kW. They can recharge an EV battery to 80% in anywhere from 15 minutes to 45 minutes, depending on the vehicle's voltage capacity." That's not several hours. In fact, it isn't even a full hour. Yet, the writer didn't bother to include anything related to speed even though he pointed out the fact that speed was important. Ugh.
GM verses Tesla. 2 more videos were published today. One was another ramble about Toyota, the other was about how GM could possibly overtake Tesla. I was intrigued by the latter. In it was a suggestion that GM should greatly reduce the number of planned BEV models to less than half. I found that ironic. Instead of 30, it would be 15... exactly what Toyota is planning. He conveniently omitted that fact, of course. The narrative is Toyota might struggle with just the one, which is supposedly a rush job, and nothing else is in the works. We know that is false. In fact, we have known that since early Summer 2019. Pretending that information doesn't exist is key. Anywho, I saw the opportunity to provide it by responding to this particular comment posted on that video: "32 models: too big a lift for practicality. 5 or 6 models, covering the main body types, would do fine. gotta wonder what kind of execs blunder into such a morass." So, I did: Large SUV, Medium SUV, Medium sedan, Medium crossover, Medium minivan, Compact. That is what Toyota has stated they will cover with their upcoming BEV dedicated-platform "bZ" brand. 7 models are planned by 2025.
Getting Attacked. This was one of the comments posted on yesterday's video, in its entirety: "Toyota are just being conservative. They are watching to see which way the technology goes before committing to one thing or another. Having said that, they have committed a lot of R&D money to researching solid state batteries, which they obviously believe is the future. But basically, we need better batteries before EV's go mainstream. Batteries that don't catch fire, have more energy density, charge faster, last for more charge cycles, can be recycled, don't use unethical mining practices to source the materials, cost less to manufacture and can be made quickly in huge numbers. Whoever cracks the code for THAT battery breakthrough has got it made, because then EVERY EV maker will be wanting THOSE batteries. Until THOSE batteries come along, Toyota will hold back because they have more to lose than every other manufacturer on the planet, by committing to a dead-end technology which takes them nowhere." Naturally, the person was attacked for posting such information. The thought of remaining profitable and watching out for business partners is not important. The safety of consumers and an effort to raise the bar is unimportant. Enthusiasts just want electrification, regardless of cost or consequence. It's ugly. Raising to the finish line is all they care about. Sound familiar? I jumped in with this reply of support: It's not really conservative. Their approach has been bottom-up, instead of top-down like the rest of the industry. That means focus on the under-lying tech while battery-chemistry advances. As a result, we have seen the hybrid system evolve to the point were it now delivers an all-electric drive. RAV4 Prime provides 42 miles of EV from every recharge. That no-gas driving has proven extremely reliable... exactly what you want well establish, long before a high-volume commitment to BEV. That same tech has been rolled out to the EV models of Izoa/C-HR and UX300e. Again, without any issue. That success is what Toyota's upcoming dedicated-platform BEV will leverage. Watch for detail on bZ4X. You'll see the effort to refine prior to commit will result in a huge payoff... something other automakers have been willing to gamble on.
How It Works. One of the biggest takeaways for me from the Volt enthusiasts war was that some key voices had no clue how their own vehicle actually worked. Evidence hinting of that disconnect emerged when I came to realize that just how far off they were with claims of how Prius PHV was designed. It all seems to be coalescing around the belief that serial operation is better. The hate video yesterday added to that perception. He said Toyota would gain a credible standing with him if they converted their hybrids to run that way instead. The gas-engine should never contribute propulsion power, despite the reality that greater efficiency & lower emissions has been proven by parallel design. My guess is he assumes the PHEV model somehow must pass thrust through a transmission has a direct link to the combustion source, because he has repeatedly talked about simplicity. In other words, he is assuming there is a transmission. In the Toyota hybrids, there is not. Transfer of power comes from a power-split device. There are no gears and nothing to shift. In fact, with the Prime vehicles, there is a clutch to physically separate the 2 electric-motors... allowing them to deliver a pure EV drive. I await the reveal of detail for bZ4X, which will likely be from the Los Angeles auto show next month. Some of the absurd claims based upon not understanding the hybrid system will lose attention as BEV discussion ramps up. There will be spin, of course. Sadly, many EV enthusiasts don't actually know how BEV work either. Things like kWh consumption and different in cabin-heating continue to remain beyond the comprehension of some. They don't recognize the importance of efficiency. In their mind, if it has a plug, it is vastly superior. 10 years later, I am fighting the same battles with a new audience. That's progress. I knew the war itself would take decades... and most of it comes down to being better informed.
Taken Aback. That new guy creating all those hate videos had a new one this morning. The way he glosses over and outright dismisses items is what really stands out for me. There's no detail whatsoever. In fact, it is so vague, the content is really just propaganda. Without substance, what else would you call it? The hearsay and double-standard makes be wonder who his audience really is. I use comments posted to gauge reception. That feedback builds a picture of how the content is being received. It never ceases to amaze me how perception of reality can be distorted by people listening to what they want to hear and avoiding what they don't. I get a sense of absolutes being the driving factor. If an automaker doesn't project an "all in" message, they must be against BEV. There is no in between. There is no transition. It is a zero-sum situation... winner & loser, nothing to support a diverse market. The variety of adoption challenges are outright dismissed as "anti" strategy. That polarization is a sign of trouble to come. I'm always taken aback by how many don't take that seriously. An empty-promise is still preferred over smaller steps representing true change. It's really sad that consideration of audience... consumers... dealers... production workers... is deemed unimportant. There's a belief that diversification is bad. There is also a lot of hypocrisy. Other automakers are given a free pass if they rollout a token offering. It gets worse too. Anything Toyota does gets labeled as "compliance" sales regardless of what it is. Toyota can never do enough, period... hence being a scapegoat. Make sure attention is on them, not the struggle your own favored automaker is having... which is exactly why there was so much hate for Prius from Volt enthusiasts. The perception of "can do no wrong" came about because Toyota studied audience so well, mistakes were always small... not monumental, like GM. The short-sightedness and talking-point nature of online exchanges exacerbates the problem. My favorite quote from recent comments was this: "...I knew about the Prius early on and was aware that it hadn't changed much since the 1997 model. Even today, there's almost no change!" When a rant ends that way, it is pointless to reply. RAV4 Prime is a direct descendent of Prius. We saw the hybrid system evolve & diversify. It adopted a plug and continues with that spread. Now there is a large, powerful, all-electric drive experience shared by many. Yet, this person feels compelled to feed a narrative of no change. Ugh.