Prius Personal Log  #1113

December 3, 2021  -  December 5, 2021

Last Updated:  Sat. 3/26/2022

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12-05-2021

Differing Approaches.  This cannot be stated often enough...  There is more than one path to success.  So many enthusiasts are blinded by the success of Tesla, their failure to see alternative routes to the same goal becomes an enablement for narratives.  The result is a group-think mentality.  Because Toyota is different, Toyota is doomed.  It's that stupid zero-sum belief.  Multiple winners isn't possible, period.  This situation is an absolute... how our polarized society persists.  It feeds upon itself.  Breaking that cycle it incredibly difficult... due to the increasing pressure.  It will be very interesting when the final details of bZ4X are revealed.  I suspect that will be just 10 days from now, a date which had been stirred long ago as when pre-orders could be placed.  You need to know package & pricing at that point.  We shall see.  That reveal will bring about a new wave of attacks.  I highly suspect Toyota's focus will be on reliability, that means trading off range & capacity for the sake of longevity & affordability.  This first round of BEV rollout is what will establish bZ.  That precedent is vital for marketing.  Remember the focus for Prius 20 years ago... the image it later fortified to the point of changing the status quo?  It was far more than just a disruptor.  Enthusiasts didn't see it that way though.  Many attacked Toyota for its approach... sound familiar?  We're seeing that again.  Here's what I had to say about that today:  Establishing the new "bZ" sub-brand worldwide is their short-term focus.  Tesla growth will plateau until their product diversifies; absence of anything small & affordable means limited sales in Europe.  Both VW and Toyota are already working to offer a variety of BEV choices, focusing heavily on their core customer... not the high-end conquest opportunity Tesla thrives upon.  As Toyota recently stated, their projections for 2030 is roughly 50% of their market in Europe will be all-electric vehicles.  So, watch for growth following 2025.

12-04-2021

All Automakers.  A well known troublemaker is at it again, attacking Kia this time.  It was the same old nonsense, not even worth quoting his spin.  I did respond to it though:  That enthusiast definition of "compliance" is a desperate attempt to divert attention away from lack of diversity.  Tesla has a "toys for the rich" shortcoming that will remain for years to come.  Legacy automakers are well aware of market limitations related to expensive choices.  Notice how that goal of $35k faded away and the chance of something in the 20's just a dream still years away?  Sales in China are booming for cheap EV choices... tiny, low power, low capacity vehicles without any thermal management and absent of safety features.  That middle-market configuration in between is what legacy automakers are striving for.  Remember GM's goal was for Volt price?  All those years ago, that "nicely under $30,000) target was set and to this day continues to be the key to sustainable high-volume sales.  That means having to deal with razor-thin profit from vehicles without subsidy.  Legacy automakers know how to deal with that situation.  Tesla has no experience in that market yet.  In other words, call the current situation whatever you want.  It won't change the supposed "compliance" outcome.  To reach the masses, all automakers still have work to do.

12-04-2021

Like Norway.  Extreme claims are becoming the norm, even the seemingly objective: "The automakers who believe that will not happen until 2030 or even 2035 are going to have to readjust in record time or go bankrupt."  When you read into that, there is nothing.  It is an abyss now.  There is nothing constructive to work with.  That's how you know we are entering the next stage.  When talking-points of the past no longer work and there is nothing new to reference yet, its a good sign.  I see progress originating from Toyota.  They know how to deal with fickle markets.  Responsive & Supportive markets are an entirely different matter.  That was getting attention today.  My contribution was replying to the comment with:  That is a rather vague statement with a very wide margin-of-error.  Reality is the "happen" will be slow and spread out.  With so many different markets with such diversity of wealth & need, having the entire 70 million vehicle annual production change in such a short amount of time borders on absurdity.  The low-hanging-fruit sales will help to encourage policy & funding changes, but infrastructure itself doesn't move that fast.  In other words, by 2030 there will be no doubt that personal transport will be electric.  The oil industry would have been turned upside-down, but they won't be gone.  Roads will be shared by gassers for many years to come, even then.  Flooded by used ICE inventory, we'll see struggling nations mixed with solutions.  In fact, that's how PHEV now with full EV drive could help accelerate the end of gas station visits.  When charging-stations are common, even small kWh battery-packs can take you a long way.  In short, know your audiences.  The world is a very big place.  Some locations already pay the full burden of gas prices.  They aren't subsidized like they are here.  It hasn't been a deterrent to gas consumption.  It only makes them keenly aware of true cost.

12-04-2021 That Warranty.  Speculation on my part about warranty being a component of bZ4X was correct.  The official reveal of Toyota's new BEV took place in Europe today.  They revealed it would indeed include a 1,000,0000 km (about 621,000 miles) battery warranty.  Just like the coverage in China, you must bring in the vehicle annually for a checkup.  That data will be priceless for Toyota.  They will be able to collect real-world detail you will gladly exchange for longevity assurance.  It is an intriguing means of keeping dealerships (at least here in the United States) part of the ownership experience too.  They will have service for BEV provide in place of some lost ICE service.  As long as you are there anyway, why not have your tires rotated & replaced at the same time?  Upon seeing the news, I posted the following in the big Prius forum:

There are some here who question Toyota's wide variation of approaches, despite the long-standing history of successes from limited rollouts to limited markets.  This is one such example where the payoff should be obvious.  In China, with the C-HR/Izoa experience of their BEV convert models (as well as iX4 and Proace), we saw the rollout of UX300e with that extremely long warranty.  Those naysayers argued the wisdom from getting real-world feedback from an vehicle clearly not designed exclusively for EV drive.  It was well received.  Whether or not the vehicle sold well was beside the point. In fact, there was an expectation of it being more of an exclusive... an intentional rarity, something Toyota delivers from time to time.

Anywho, that warranty is an aspect of "price" many completely overlook.  Both antagonists and supporters simply don't address the topic.  Toyota is helping move the industry along, pushing from a vantage point that brings them from supposed "laggard" to an automaker demonstrating leadership to reach the masses.  Squeezing batteries into an expensive niche isn't their game.  That party isn't one Toyota wanted to attend.  Their effort is to appeal to ordinary consumers.

Think about what most people are concerned about.  Sure, there is range-anxiety, but everyone knows charging-station availability will grow.  That expansion will happen regardless of their participation.  Such a lengthy warranty not only directly addresses their concern about battery replacement, it also stirs interest.  It brings about curiosity of just how far the EV technology they always heard was coming has actually progressed.

In other words, the juggernaut is on the move.  We have been witnessing what happens when the "Tortoise & Hare" story plays out in the real world.

12-04-2021

Rewriting History.  This is probably the best attempt I have ever seen: "Don't forget where the Prius drive system originated from....GM held the patent but thought it would never fly so Toyota bought it and sold millions then GM had to license the Volt drive train from Toyota, now Toyota is looking for someone else again..."  That is so blatantly false, it isn't even worth addressing, especially since it came from a online blog which has been transforming into a propaganda source.  The publish articles for the purpose of making money.  Their is nothing with regard to journalist integrity when the obvious bias becomes a source of income.  Content is provided for the sake of getting eye to read it and fingers to comment.  Ugh.  I can't help but to be amused at this point though.  Volt coming from Toyota would have been such a massive controversy, there's no way to imagine the upset.  Remember all that EREV nonsense?  It was the enthusiast effort to send a message of how unlike Toyota the design from GM actually was.  But looking back all these years without any knowledge of history or even context to view it, the ability to spin any new story is easy.  Just look at RAV4 Prime success.  Those attempting GM damage-control from Volt fallout don't want the potential for an Equinox PHEV to be realized.  Rather than blame GM for resting on it laurels, focus attention on Toyota while playing the victim card.  Make it appear GM was left without an option by reflecting that onto Toyota.  It's a bizarre mind play.  Being accurate isn't required either.  All you have to do is introduce confusion.  Muddled messaging is all you need when things are going bad.  After all, look at GM with nothing at all to sell with a plug anymore and the only hope is a giant electricity guzzler.  Ugh.

12-04-2021 Ex-Customer.  That identifier really doesn't tell us anything.  Neither did the comment itself: "If anything, I'm an ex-customer of theirs who is very disappointed in their foot dragging and overtly anti-EV actions and statements."  In fact, that couldn't be any more vague.  When it comes to the online audience, most are upset with Toyota.  They want it all... power... range... speed... nothing is ever good enough.  That very concept of setting a goal and adhering to it simply doesn't work; they absolutely refuse.  So, I really don't give much weight to their feedback.  After all, they are not Toyota's targeted audience.  This is what I posted in reply to his perspective:

Depends upon perspective.  We have known for years that Toyota was planning to rollout an entire line of BEV based upon their upcoming e-TNGA architecture.  Each would be built upon a dedicated platform.  If you ignore that and listen only to the rhetoric coming from those wanting faster progress, you will indeed get the impression of resistance.

Cold, hard reality of the situation is other automakers were dragging too, only they kept quiet about it until recently... then started making promises with no accountability or consequence.  2030 for sales to be 100% BEV never made any sense.  No one wanted to admit it though, since they would then get the "kicking & screaming" label.  2035 was always the reasonable goal.

Consider the ordinary consumer, someone who only now took a close look at a charging-station installed in their area.  They almost certainly see a Tesla from time to time, but may not have even noticed any other BEV on the road.  It's all new & mysterious to them.  Prices still aren't within reach.  The technology is unfamiliar.  They have lots of questions to find answers for and assumptions to sort out.  In other words, Toyota is right on time.

As for enthusiasts continuing to spin "anti" sentiment, that will get more and more difficult as bZ4X rollout begins and word of the next "bZ" vehicle to emerge.  There will be 7 by 2025.  That puts Toyota on schedule to have enough choices & volume built up by 2030 to achieve around 50% in Europe by 2030.

Keep in mind, Toyota is leveraging the all-electric technology they have already delivered.  Prius Prime has been providing EV drive to owner for 5 years now.  That use of motor & battery worked so well, it enabled a successor... RAV4 Prime... which has also being providing EV drive for awhile now.  Both work fine.  In other words, this is really just a timing issue.  Some simply don't like Toyota's approach.  Heck, some may even become resentful of the negative publicity from the supposed turn-around.

Remember this time last year when we discovered Toyota had filed trademarks for "bZ" names?

12-03-2021 Foolish Beyond Measure.  Talk of how BBB (Build Back Better) money will be used is starting to get attention... and everyone has their own opinion.  Having been part of the local plug-in owners group for so many years and witnessing firsthand the effort to both adopt California rules and submit proposals for how the VW settlement money should be used, I feel well informed.  That has been a routine part of our meetings for a long time.  That topic is vital to getting state support.  We must justify requests in great detail.  Those studies are eye-opening.  Anywho, this is far from new for me.  The subject-matter is quite new for others though... and their own select slice of reality distorts the bigger picture: "Using federal dollars to install 150kw equipment is foolish beyond measure."  That was followed by a "completely useless" statement.  It is more moving of the goal-posts.  Never enough is the enthusiast mantra.  Ugh.  I replied (to this person who is argumentative on a regular basis) with:

Wasting federal dollars to install X number of 350kW chargers when the same federal dollars could be used to install 3X number of 150kW is foolish beyond measure.

The fact that you continue to refuse to acknowledge federal dollars are limited and locations should vetted before major investment is also foolish beyond measure.

Let's look at the supposed "slower" fast-charging speeds for context. Based upon an efficiency of 3.5 miles/kWh on a vehicle able to sustain that rate up to 80% SOC, we see the charging range possible:

50 kW = 58 miles in 20 minutes
50 kW = 88 miles in 30 minutes
50 kW = 131 miles in 45 minutes
50 kW = 175 miles in 1 hour

150 kW = 175 miles in 20 minutes
150 kW = 263 miles in 30 minutes
150 kW = 394 miles in 45 minutes
150 kW = 525 miles in 1 hour

There is an easy to see diminishing return.  There is also the aspect of not recognizing shortcomings.  To receive that rate of 350kW, the battery-pack must first be heated... which requires time... a fact conveniently missing from this discussion.  Why is that?

I will continue to remind you about budget too.  Those federal dollars are extremely difficult to get in the first place.  There will be a very large number requests submitted for charging-station funding with those dollars.  Splurging on just a few ultra-high-speed chargers makes no sense considering DCFC locations are currently so limited.

That insistence of having them located along the highway is somewhat difficult to justify the faster speed.  People tend to take longer breaks while on trips anyway.  Those same people won't want to wait in their car in line either.  Given the choice, they will choose to be able to park immediately at a slower charger instead.

In other words, the situation is not as simple as it initially appears.

12-03-2021

Consequences.  You can't just push for the best indefinitely.  Enthusiasts hate that reality.  This is why we saw each one, even the most obsessed, leave the daily blog for Volt.  They would come to grips with the inconvenient truth of mission accomplished.  What they had set out to endorse had been achieved.  That left them without purpose.  When you are very good at fighting, the win is difficult to accept.  No more battles.  Knowledge of strategy is needed.  Small victories won't be celebrated anymore.  It's over.  When there are consequences, you come to realize you lost.  Oops!  Not allowing that to happen is extremely difficult when it means abandonment.  That is key to winning a war though.  You choose your battles.  In this case, it is obsession with the fastest recharging possible.  A balance is unacceptable.  Compromise isn't a trait they embrace.  In fact, it is regarded as a weakness.  You don't acknowledge engineering tradeoff.  You instead pretend the solution simply hasn't been found yet, so there is no reason to consider balance.  Ugh.  Today was such nonsense with regard to funding the build of DCFC (DC Fast Charging) stations.  I responded to the rhetoric with:  350 kW minimum and no closer than 100 miles between on highways only?  That contradicts the data, which clearly show they need to be closer and that slower will enable far more installs.  Basically, it would be an act of sabotage.  We don't want to send a message of focusing only on the most expensive options with only specific uses.  What's wrong with starting with the basics, any site able to show they have high-traffic location... malls... parks... city centers... recreational areas?  Starting with 150 kW for speed would work well, especially since we know the next-generation of BEV will primarily focus on that for a maximum anyway.  Follow-Up for the next series of grants would analyze usage data to provide funding for upgrading to more and/or faster.  The idea of an oasis along the highway sounds great but you are basically undermining market build-up in the process.  It will just be looked upon as more toys for the rich, not taking the needs of those less fortunate seriously.  Think about consequences.  As we see BEV become more popular, the market is going to flooded with lots of used ICE with dirt-cheap prices.  If you were less fortunate and there are only 350 kW chargers spaced far between and only for those who travel, there's no reason not to buy a used ICE.  After all, there will over-supply of gas keeping those prices down.

 

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