Prius Personal Log  #1106

October 30, 2021  -  November 7, 2021

Last Updated:  Sun. 11/28/2021

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5 Years Later.  Predictions of an industry collapse are grossly overblown.  There will indeed be a shift, but there are far too many barriers still for a majority of change to happen within just a single generational cycle.  Think about how often people replace their vehicle.  Think about suppliers and manufacturing equipment.  Think about the inevitable backlash coming to fight change.  Things are going to get messy.  So when you see a comment like this, think about the big picture: "In 5 yrs they like the world soon after will only profit from EV sales since ICEs will be so discounted to sell, the sales price will be less than building, selling price."  I responded to that exaggeration with:  In overall terms of inventory, it would appear that way.  But such a generalization is grossly oversimplifying the true market.  What we will actually see is the dealership model turning upside-down.  Those easy-to-sell ICE vehicles will turn into easy-to-sell EV models (anything with a plug and all-electric drive).  The catch is ICE was high-profit.  Those EV will be low-profit.  The twist of profitability will become a survival of the certain ICE vehicles.  Dealers will specialize in a few select models, which will be limited in quantity... making them high-demand and easy to sell at a premium.  This is where Toyota will thrive.  The extremely popular RAV4 hybrid is an easy up-sale for RAV4 Prime.  That next step up is unnecessary, since the Prime already delivers all-electric drive.  This is where salespeople come into play.  Enticing the shopper to consider a bZ4, bZ3, or bZ2 will be a matter of promoting BEV-only benefits, like DCFC.  It's a problem early-adopter continue to fail to recognize the importance of. PHEV from Toyota are full EV, whether enthusiasts finally admit to that or not.  They dismiss rather than address.  That misses opportunity.  Ordinary consumers need to know why "range anxiety" is not a concern... which requires compelling reason... something this group fundamentally lacks.  This topic of "to be taken seriously" is getting attention because it has not.  We need to address the real issues and stop obsessing with range & speed.  There are real obstacles still.


Less Than 4%.  Reported global numbers from Tesla for Q3 of 2021 were 9,275 deliveries for Model S/X and 232,025 deliveries for Model 3/Y.  That brings the fall of those original offerings to less than 4% overall, very much as anticipated.  In other words, Tesla is backed into a corner as was foretold by non-fanboys.  Call it Innovator's Dilemma.  Call it something else.  Whatever the identifier, that lack of diversity is a sign of trouble.  The rather abrupt shift from those planned new 4680 cells (both packing & chemistry) to a choice favoring LFP instead confirms we are in the mist of a stage change with moving targets.  How will growth be achieved without a variety of models available?  With a base-price above $40k, there's simply no chance of reaching ordinary consumers.  That's so far out of reach, it's pointless... which is the sentiment commonly expressed.  It's too expensive.  A large high-performance sedan is not what mainstream shoppers are looking for.  Think about how far back the need was expressed for something affordable.  Think about how focus shifted to Cybertruck instead.  That familiar pattern of chasing profit from speed & power has claimed Tesla too.  That lack of balance is a warning.  Watch what happens as China prepares to take advantage of the void being created by that absence of choice.


Loud.  I rarely participate in those random posts on Facebook that appear as part of your feed.  But from a title like this, the bait was too tempting: "With an expectation of $4 per gallon..."  The purpose of the article was to focus on the potential for high gas prices, placing blame on electric vehicles for diverting resources from oil drilling.  The aspect of "loud" came from a commenter who favored the roar of a combustion engine, being deprived of that with gas prices expected to rise.  The priority of self-indulgence over responsibility is no surprise.  In fact, that has become an American trait.  We place our own personal want above the greater need, even when the greater need provides pleasing results.  In this case, we see the speed & power delivered from Tesla vehicles grossly outperform the vehicles delivering a lot of noise.  All bark and no bite has been GM's theme for years.  Ugh.  Anywho, I was quite annoyed.  With regard to travel-cost, it is especially irritating.  Heck, even with electricity much more expensive, it is still cheaper than gas.  They don't understand.  They don't take the time.  It's nothing but emotionally stirred resistance.  To that end, I posted:  $0.075 per kWh for my car, which averages 4 miles per kWh.  It's cheap fuel with smooth & silent electric drive.


Dead Weight.  Remember that endless argument?  It suddenly ended and people conveniently forgot.  That's what made this snippet today especially telling: "explaining that it's better for the environment".  The antagonist argues a fact when it is in their favor only.  I enjoy pointing out how that backfired, that their stated benefit has now become a penalty.  They don't have anything constructive in return.  It's a trap they set.  This was today's reveal of their self-inflicted problem:  It is a rather interesting twist.  For someone to argue against that, they have to extremely careful to not be hypocritical.  Think about how many times a BEV purist would argue against a PHEV with EV drive, claiming the gas-engine was just unnecessary dead weight, while at the same time justifying battery-capacity well beyond what is used for everyday driving.


Supporting Unions.  They can do a lot of good for workers.  They have nothing to do with the spread of plug-in choices though.  In fact, favoring union-backed employment puts up a barrier.  It holds back growth.  When you have domestic resources intentionally shunned, how is that helpful?  Quite annoyed by that money proposed for union-built vehicles, there is much a stir online.  I kept my statement about the situation to the point:  It makes no sense to divide America workers.  If you are here working to build a product that would be purchased & used here, why shouldn't that work be treated equally?  It's all taking place here in America by Americans for Americans.


Stumbled.  It is quite remarkable how mixed up some of the enthusiasts get.  It is a loss of perspective caused by constantly seeking validation.  Objectivity is gone.  They don't care.  Facts don't matter.  They only want to exist within an echo-chamber to support their own belief.  That makes posting commentary like this about an article which has also lost perspective very easy:  Problems related to market growth are often misunderstood, as this article stumbles over.  It is Tesla who is having to deal with Innovator's Dilemma.  That is an automaker which has delivered great choices for early-adopters, each model received well deserved praise.  However, options for ordinary consumers are missing entirely.  There is nothing in the affordable (mass-market pricing) category.  That trap is Tesla's challenge to overcome.  Legacy automakers are confronted with something different, a problem called the Osborne Effect.  That's the challenge of rolling out a product so highly desirable it has a negative impact to current offerings, to the point where existing business is threatened... which is a very big issue for dealerships.  Demand for new means long waiting lists and getting stuck with old inventory, both of which really impact profit.  Look at it this way, all involved must target mainstream consumers.  That means a change of priorities.  What we all participated and contributed to prior to this is complete.  The technology is proven.  Now, adaptation is required for it to appeal to less enthusiastic shoppers.


Profitable Propaganda.  I'm watching it grow.  I discovered that guy producing videos who is so anti-Toyota, had another channel early this year.  He was pro-Toyota back then.  Watching the difference in content is quite stunning.  But rhetoric delivers riches.  He rebranded to take advantage of the opportunity.  Producing 5 videos per day for those with subscriptions is obviously really bringing in the money.  Think about how little substance there is available with such frequency.  He just goes on rants and people watch.  Substance is simply not there.  I waited for it too.  When the reveal from Toyota last week played out, he was totally silent.  What we learned was much of his claimed had been debunked.  The rhetoric has since turned into propaganda.  It took several days before he even mentioned the reveal.  What we got was a bunch of nothing, just random b-roll stating bankruptcy was inevitable with such half-hearted effort... never actually providing any detail to support that.  The complete absence of merit doesn't matter though.  This is just like the daily blog for Volt... a source of legitimization for antagonists.  Ugh.


Long Ignored Chemistry.  LFP has been around for so long, the 20-year patent on it just recently expired.  There is only a single commercial protection for it now and that expires in this coming April.  That opens it up for wide use.  The reason it hadn't been until now was explained well with this: "Lithium iron phosphate cells have long been ignored by many carmakers because of their lower energy density - they were mostly concerned with being able to store as much energy as possible in the available installation space.  Due to the price increases for raw materials such as cobalt, nickel and manganese and the increasingly dense charging network, the cheaper and more robust LFP cells are coming back into focus."  That obsession with range & speed was the focus of enthusiasts.  Their domain was defined by whatever offered the most.  It was their shortcoming, an undeniable weakness contributing to inevitable failure.  I have seen that same trait cause their undoing for over 20 years now.  They simply don't care about what is needed for ordinary consumers.  They only cared about want.  The want to drive the farthest and recharge the fastest.  Ugh.  Thankfully, we are at tipping point with regard to priorities.  The mainstream audience is unwilling to make those sacrifices.  Safety & Longevity resulting from the choice of a much lower cost (and both easier to recycle and easier to produce) chemistry is well worth the tradeoff of speed & weight.  That's what they need.  Rhetoric circling around want has already begun to fade away.  Phew!


Worst Enemy.  We got this from one of the moderators commenting on his own article about bZ4X details recently revealed: "GM is its own worst enemy."  It the concluding remark from a comment of how innovative and forward-thinking GM supposedly was.  That reputation for "over promise, under deliver" is basically never taken seriously.  People don't want that to be true, so they ignore the past.  I jumped in with my own observations on that topic:  Volt enthusiasts absolutely refused to accept those words of wisdom back when it became evident that Voltec was doomed to the same fate as Two-Mode.  Management in GM simply did not want to upset the status quo with new tech.  Seeing that pattern repeat should have been a red flag taken seriously.  Waiting for Voltec to finally be spread to popular vehicles, like Equinox, never happened.  Ironically, the supposed antithesis of it all did exactly what had been hoped for.  Toyota delivered RAV4 Prime, a plug-in hybrid SUV, which has proven to be exactly what those long-ago GM supporters had wanted.  Remember the Two-Mode plans to deliver a plug way back in 2009?  The point is, we move on.  You take what you've learned and apply the experience elsewhere.  That didn't go well with Bolt, but we can ultimately see GM biting the bullet with Ultium vehicles... delivering something actually targeted at their own loyal customers... which is exactly what Toyota is doing, starting with bZ4X.  It was really unfortunate their was so much impatience related to the steps required to adapt technology to reach beyond early-adopters.  Enthusiasts clearly don't have the tolerance for what it takes to appeal to other audiences... which brings us back to the comment about GM, since its management in the past didn't either.


Magic Potion.  This was exciting to see today: "I don't care about the specs, but I find it very interesting that Toyota apparently warrant the battery to have 90% of its capacity after 10 years or 240.000 km, whatever comes first.  What magic potion did they come up with?"  That is an indication of critical thinking.  Gasp!  Needless to say, I was excited to respond to that post:  The industry is moving on to next-gen battery chemistry.  Look at what Tesla just did; you now have a choice between their popular NCA cells or the new LFP.  The latter just had its 20-year patent expire.  That means the more robust chemistry can now be used outside of the limitations it was previously restricted to until just recently.  Any new chemistry that eliminates cobalt & nickel results in a battery that is far less prone to fire, is far less expensive, is easier to recycle, and will last a lot longer... hence next-gen.  LFP delivers that. It comes with tradeoffs though.  The battery must be heated in the winter to prevent a rather large efficiency loss and the energy-density is much lower.  Interestingly, both LFP tradeoffs don't end up being much of a penalty.  Having a heated battery returns greater efficiency than one that is modestly warmed.  And the loss of capacity can be somewhat made up by the fact that the chemistry supports charging to 100% without longevity penalty.  In other words, it isn't magic... but the advancement of battery chemistry is clearly taking a step forward... which puts those who labeled the slower as "laggards" now in a challenging position.


Off-Peak Benefit.  Yesterday's post about overkill was like hitting my head up against the wall.  He completely ignored what I said, instead sighting his personal preference in reply.  It was yet another one of those want verses need arguments.  Because he felt it would be nice to have, everyone should have it.  Rollout to the masses shouldn't weigh value based on opinion.  There is indeed an emotional aspect to be taken into account, but it shouldn't have such a big tradeoff without good reason.  He simply wanted to recharge at home as quickly as possible, period.  It's the same thing I have dealt with for years.  They cannot explain why more is better, it just is.  I hit back with a reason why faster isn't the best choice.  My guess is he'll divert rather than address the fact I brought up.  Think about off-peak charging.  It is not only the cleaner choice, it is also the least expensive.  Providing someone with an easy means of misuse doesn't make sense.  This is why time-of-use agreements have billing highest during peak hours.  You can draw then, but it is strongly discouraged for good reason.  This enthusiasts clearly didn't have one.  So, I replied with:  That disregards a major benefit from encouraging overnight charging.  Just because you as an enthusiast can, which helps prove the technology, doesn't mean it is a good idea for the masses.  We want ordinary consumers to plug in when they get home to take advantage of off-peak discounts.


Government Subsidies.  Congress is getting closer.  There is a framework now being refined, something with potential to actually get passed.  It is only half of what had started at, but there's still a lot of good stuff remaining.  Subsidies for plug-in vehicle support is my focus, but all aspects of that equate to roughly a third of what's being considered.  Anywho, I jumped on someone today in the discussion who is clearly a BEV purist, one of those who just plain does not like PHEV in any form.  II was especially annoyed since he sighted that supposed study as his primary reasoning.  Ugh.  This is how I addressed that:  Debunked research isn't helping your argument.  It was proven to cherry-picked, intentionally misleading.  But even without that, it is outdated and from a completely different market.  There's nothing wrong with PHEV, the catch is to ensure they are competitive with BEV.  If it is also delivers an all-electric commute, what's the problem?  In other words, the minimum should have simply just been pushed up.  In Europe, there is a proposal for 80 km (50 miles) minimum of EV range.  That works out to just over needing about 15 kWh to travel that distance.  Why not start with that (disregarding usable capacity) as required from now until the end of 2024, then bump it to 20 kWh starting in 2025?  The absolute of fighting to eliminate PHEV is just wasted effort.  So it reducing the subsidy.  Forcing that bar to be raised helps move the process along.  Think about what PHEV owners eventually do.  When they upgrade to a BEV, their PHEV becomes a great used purchased for someone else.  Long story short, those who are fighting incentives aren't taking the bigger picture into account.


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