Prius Personal Log  #1108

November 13, 2021  -  November 14, 2021

Last Updated:  Sun. 11/28/2021

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11-14-2021

No Way to Recharge at Home.  Would you purchase a BEV if there was no way to recharge it at home?  That question was asked this way today: "Context: I am planning on ordering a VW ID.4 Pro.  Chargers in area: several L2 chargers, one EA CCS charging spot near my apartment. Landlord currently does not allow L1 or L2 charging (L1 because the outlets outside are wired to their box) and L2 because the hardware is not even installed.  Commute: 40mi every day plus some travel on the weekend.  There are no charging areas near my work.  I have a coworker with a Tesla but I have never seen them charge using outlets at work.  Should I just get a RAV4 hybrid and call it a day?"  That was the entire post coming from someone who genuinely wanted to find out what was realistic.  Naturally, there was a lot of noise... claims on either side suggesting yes or no.  Few actually took the time to explain why though.  I was rather disturbed, especially when people treat the situation as an either/or choice.  So many people are now presenting options as ICE or BEV.  Omitting the existence of PHEV and being extremely vague about what information is needed to make a decision is a sign of trouble.  The topic is becoming polarized, where people choose a side but don't understand why.  Anywho, I responded with this:  With just apartment L1 charging, you could manage it.  But being totally dependent on public recharge locations, that would become quite a burden.  We have 2 plug-ins hybrids now.  Even with limited EV range, most of our driving is entirely electric.  One will be replaced with a BEV next year... an easy decision for our circumstance.  For you, I would suggest seriously considering a PHEV instead.  The all-electric drive from RAV4 Prime will retain a high resale value for years to come.

11-14-2021

Market Confusion.  This post in a thread pushing the narrative of Toyota refusing to accept BEV emerged this morning: "If Toyota carry on with this attitude they will lose market share, in Europe they already are.  Last year hybrids just about outsold BEV+PHEV.  This year BEV+PHEV are comfortably ahead of hybrids, next year BEV alone will outsell hybrids."  That was such a mess, it took a bit to figure out how to address it.  I ended up replying with:  That's quite a bit of cherry-picking.  You are failing to acknowledge Toyota's growth from PHEV sales.  That all-electric drive success from Prius Prime resulted in RAV4 Prime.  The next likely hybrid to deliver plug-in EV operation is the new Corolla Cross.  That's a solid path forward, setting the stage for BEV sales... starting with bZ4X.  There will be 6 more that follow by 2025.  As for losing market share, you are turning a blind-eye to the rest of the legacy automakers.  Just because GM and VW are pushing forward with BEV offerings doesn't mean people will actually buy them.  It's a delicate balance, with a risk of the Osborne Effect... something Toyota is striving to avoid with PHEV as the buffer.  Consider the labor force available and how to best use kWh availability across the entire fleet.  With regard to acceptance rate, there could easily be a plateau.  It's important to recognize what happens with the early-adopter market becomes saturated with choices.  Ordinary consumers will pause by that confusion from such variety.  There is obviously the barrier of cost and limited charging options too.

11-14-2021

Absolutes.  That writer is quite stubborn, continuing to push that an absolute is the only way: "The focus of the game now is exit from ICE. Toyota tries to spin it differently but they are not making headway.  Nor should they.  Transport has to become electrified and you don't get electrified if you have an ICE."  Again, I replied back with quite a different perspective than his:  That has been proven false.  We are seeing RAV4 Prime owners striving to use as much electricity as possible.  And as the public charging-stations become more common, the opportunity to recharge gets easier and easier.  That EV drive stirs desire for the next purchase to be a BEV. If the PHEV is no longer needed in the household, it enters the used market... which will help bring an end to ICE production sooner.  A used PHEV with 42 miles of EV range is far better than a vehicle without any.  In other words, consider the bigger picture.  That's how we can quickly achieve market shift without having to focus government funding on vehicle subsidies.  That money would be better spent on infrastructure, providing more places to recharge and making electricity sources renewable.

11-14-2021

Automaker Messaging.  I have been getting some rather interesting replies back from the writer of that recent Toyota electrification article: "The evidence for a Toyota BEV program is sparse.  I've argued previously that Toyota's messaging and stance is to distance the BEV from its core business.  This continues."  To that, I posted the following comment:  Messaging is how legacy automakers like Ford and GM game the system.  Look at what actually gets delivered rather than press releases.  As much as you dismiss anything with an ICE as unacceptable, you should acknowledge the EV drive from Toyota in its PHEV offerings is amazing.  That all-electric operation has been flawless.  It simply works, exactly what Toyota strives to deliver with from all vehicles.  That success has been quiet though... no hype... no messaging... despite the resulting significant reduction of gas consumption.  Most driving is exactly like a BEV.  As for distancing that BEV from its core business, that's an anecdotal observation.  The plan is to deliver 15 models by 2025.  Only 7 of them will come under the new "bZ" brand label.  The other 8 will be within Toyota's core.

11-14-2021

SUV Appeal.  I found this interesting from a rather constructive efficiency discussion: "It is in line with other SUVs.  It should come to no surprise that SUVs are less efficient.  This is why both Tesla and Lucid started with sedans - to get the most range and lowest efficiency, before offering SUVs."  Naturally, I had observations about that topic to share:  Labeling Model Y as a SUV is quite a stretch.  A quick glance at both Ford & GM webpages overwhelmingly confirm Tesla's offering looks nothing like any of them.  It is really a very large hatchback, benefiting from the aerodynamics of the smoother shape.  Of course, that lack of hard edges (for a more robust look) is exactly what appeals to the Ford & GM customer.  In fact, if you compare Corolla Cross to the first Highlander Hybrid you are in for quite a surprise.  Know your audience... which begs the ultimate question of this discussion.  Toyota is clearly targeting the legacy shopper with bZ4X.  How will Tesla respond?  There is nothing from Tesla in that category... something with a rugged appearance that is competitively priced. ID.4 from VW will be the obvious compare to bZ4X.  In fact, that's why there is speculation that Toyota will undercut its price.  The balance power & range would offset any supposed shortcoming.  In other words, growth beyond early-adopters requires a think reset.  It is a very different market than what we all knew in the prior decade.  Sedans are vanishing and the basics of range-anxiety have been addressed.  This next stage has new challenges.

11-14-2021

A Step Forward.  The move from Tesla to offer a "long life" version has been causing a stir.  For example: "The whole move to LFP is a backwards step - it's an old battery tech with poor energy density and poor cold weather performance."  I found that quite annoying, since being older isn't necessarily a negative.  In fact, that often equates to mature.  In this case, it means no patent restrictions.  Anywho, that claim was followed by: "The only reason to use LFP is to save them money & charge you the same."  Upon reading that, I was ready to pounce.  So, I did:  No, that's almost to the point of greenwash.  Think about why so much of the industry is suddenly shifting attention to LFP just weeks after the patent expired.  Elimination of Cobalt & Nickel is an undeniable improvement.  Some of the lower energy-density difference can be made up by the fact that recharging to 100% becomes routine without penalty.  With regard to cold-performance, that can be compensated for with well designed pack warming.  The big wins are much lower cost and much longer life.  There's a benefit post-life too; LFP are easier to recycle.

11-13-2021 BEV Efficiency.  It's nice to see the topic pop up from time to time.  I just happened to be extra prepare this time too.  When this was posted, I was ready: "ID.4 is not that efficient (97 MPGe)"  That was my invitation to share what I had happened upon recently and was looking for a receptive audience to get feedback about it.  This is how I provided in that content:

I ran across a video recently that unexpectedly mentioned efficiency detail... giving the impression of EPA estimates, like a publish timing slip before an embargo lift.  It was just buried within spec compare information.  The narrator even stated nothing official has been released from Toyota; nonetheless, these values caught my attention.

200 Miles AWD
230 Miles FWD

106 MPGe Highway
115 MPGe City

They could be initial test results providing ballpark expectations.  We've seen that in the past.  So, it wouldn't surprise me to find official values later rather close.  They seem realistic.  Somewhere around an efficiency of 3.1 mi/kWh would be reasonable for the size, weight, and shape.

11-13-2021

Overwhelming.  After watching that video, I got hit from the other direction.  It was bizarre reason for justifying the more expensive choices.  Some people have no perspective.  Neither a dependence on lots of range or lots of chargers is a good idea.  That's quite a gamble in fact.  Yet, I keep seeing quite a number enthusiasts claiming it will all just work out.  No worries.  They don't take this seriously.  It's the same nonsense I saw with Volt enthusiasts.  That importance of "nicely under $30,000" was beyond their grasp.  It made no sense why someone wouldn't pay more to get more.  Ugh.  It's like they were completely oblivious to the affordable market.  Now, I'm seeing that again.  Adding more battery doesn't actual solve the problem.  Hoping locations for charging will just magically appear doesn't either.  Complex issues require well thought out solutions.  They don't see that though.  The mantra of "if we build it, they will buy it" is what they truly believe is necessary, nothing else.  Supply will stimulate demand.  Ugh.  They don't understand... and likely never will.  Despite that, I share market knowledge anyway:  Making the vehicle larger, heavier, less efficient and more expensive isn't a winning formula for those simply looking for an alternative to Jetta ($19K) or Passat ($27K) or Taos ($22K) or Tiguan ($26K).  In fact, it is a guaranteed fail on the showroom floor.  As for Ionity or Electrify America, that is how many years out still before even just a minimal quantity of charging-stations become available?  That could easily backfire too.  Level-2 opportunity recharging provides a big return with regard to PHEV capacity.  Know your audience.  Like Toyota's, VW's is massive, diverse, and widely spread out.  Those who shop the showroom floor will need something very compelling to jump directly to BEV.

11-13-2021

Underwhelming.  It was another one of that rhetoric videos: "Toyota's bZ4x has left me wanting more."  If you say something to entice antagonist interest, you will get lots of views, likes, and comments.  Ugh.  I followed the link to it and watched.  Doing that allowed me to comment on that post pointing out the video.  The same old nonsense was repeated.  For Toyota to be a leader, they must strive to exceed all boundaries currently in place.  More is essential.  The very idea of delivering less with good balance of form & functionality for a competitive price is unheard of.  Such an approach is "boring" and doomed to fail.  Catering to niche extreme is not good business... for long-term anyway.  We have seen automakers use it effectively in the short-term for greenwash... but it simply doesn't work for the masses.  Paying a premium to satisfy a want isn't viable for anyone beyond enthusiasts and early-adopters taking advantage of the opportunity.  I posted my observation and moved on:  It's the usual enthusiast focus on speed & range, sacrificing mainstream appeal for the sake of niche appeal.  We've seen that obsession blindness for decades... want verses need.  His disappointment means nothing for ordinary consumers.

11-13-2021

Loyal Customers.  I asked this question: "How will the others... including VW... get their loyal customers to switch?"  The expectation was a reply with some type of information to sell the idea of BEV being superior.  Simply ending production of a traditional model and replacing it with an all-electric isn't a strategy.  It's an act of desperation.  In fact, we have seen large-scale resistance to that already.  Roughly a third of GM's Cadillac dealers have chosen the buyout option rather than commit to BEV sales.  With such a lack of interest on the dealer part, what should we expect from consumers?  Think about the dealer who opt in?  Will they really be well informed and ambitious for change?  Anywho, this is the reply I got: "By skipping PHEV and going direct to BEV by scaling battery supply yesterday."  That was beyond clueless.  It did nothing what so ever to address audience.  It was nothing but a push and hope for the best.  Ugh.  I replied to that nonsense with:  PHEV like RAV4 Prime already deliver EV driving. 42 miles of all-electric is a short-range BEV with a gas-engine as a backup when electricity is depleted.  Being only BEV is a negative in that regard.  Know your audience.  Again, what will the VW do to get the range-anxiety concerned shopper to switch?

11-13-2021

Online Spin.  I especially liked this comment to one of my posts yesterday: "You are talking about compliance vehicles, grudgingly made to meet minimums not made with leadership and innovation in mind."  He was wrong, very wrong.  I was happy to point out why:  No, that is online spin.  PROACTIVE automakers... Toyota... have been planning for that all along.  We see their design almost meeting that future minimum already.  It is the result of the 2010 Prius plug-in prototype that resulted in the 2012 Prius PHV rollout that resulted in the 2017 Prius Prime rollout that resulted in the 2020 RAV4 Prime.  All that continued improvement is how profit is made.  REACTIVE automakers scramble to deliver upon a mandate, not having planned to rollout anything with such requirements.  That resulting product is rarely profitable.  In other words, Toyota showed innovation... finding a way to fulfill certain need without complaint... quite the opposite of the kicking & screaming narrative.  At the same time, they have been planning BEV rollout.  Put another way, most OEM are not anywhere near as comprehensive as Toyota.  The pledges for "all in" are the result of having no other option... being forced to deliver, like compliance.

11-13-2021

One Basket.  There is an article featuring the very hot topic of refusing to go "all in" with BEV.  Toyota is an obvious target, even though VW and GM and Hyundai/Kia and Renault/Nissan are also big names not pledging either.  This was asked in that discussion: "I don't understand.  How it'll be unprofitable to make ICE?"  I was delighted to contribute to a constructive inquiry like that with:  Toyota is a master at squeezing out profit from low-margin, low-demand segments.  In fact, that is why most automakers have abandoned their efforts to compete.  Leaving behind opportunity is what Toyota capitalizes on.  A great example of that is the minivan.  Sienna is the result.  Toyota is carrying that segment forward too.  Phaseout of the traditional model gone so well, it is now only a hybrid.  And since Toyota's hybrid approach makes plug-in augmentation both simple & profitable, seeing that later offered as PHEV with substantial EV range is a no-brainer.  In other words, so what if it has an ICE that delivers little to no profit?  The rest of the platform can be highly desirable.  In fact, we are seeing the SUV market for Toyota transform in return. RAV4 Prime overwhelming confirms that.  It shouldn't take long for Corolla Cross to do the same.  Think about range-anxiety for those who really, really want a plug-in but purchasing a "bZ" model simply isn't realistic.  Other automakers only offering BEV will be very challenged... all their eggs in one basket.

 

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