Personal Log  #1116

December 16, 2021  -  December 20, 2021

Last Updated:  Sat. 3/26/2022

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Propaganda Videos.  They were getting really bad.  That individual who was using anti-EV messaging to fortify the narrative against Toyota caved.  He had resorted to outright lies.  Every time delivery of bZ4X was addressed, he stated it would be the fourth-quarter of 2022.  That was to the point of propaganda.  When you a blatantly dishonest to make money, what else should that be called?  Turns out, getting that much attention means the risk of getting caught.  So, he changed his story.  Now, he's saying mid-2022 like everyone else, including Toyota.  I was quite surprised he pushed such an easy to debunk claim so far.  But then again, what did he have to lose?  That was already his second channel.  The first was pro-Toyota.  Timing wasn't my big issue with him though.  It was price.  He made such a big deal about bZ4X being so expensive, it was supposedly a ploy by Toyota to sabotage the market.  Ugh.  In several videos, he went on and on about that without anything to support his stance.  It was nothing but meritless spin to provide content for people to comment about.  Attention is what he thrives on.  So, I was bit surprised when he walked back his "expensive" claim.  Based on various pricing examples in established green markets, there was enough substance to reveal he was mistaken... to put it politely.  I was annoyed.  Like with Volt enthusiasts, he simply said whatever he wanted to confuse messaging.  After all, we'll know what RAV4 Prime sales were for the year soon.  The count will be well above what the propaganda claimed... to the point of Toyota nearing tax-credit expiration.  In fact, the trigger will almost certain be reached next quarter.  That could make mid-2022 delivers start sooner... which means it won't be long before we find out what the price will actually be.  Notice how time heals?


Plug-In Vehicle Basics.  It has been many, many years since I have published a document for sharing.  With the strange place PHEV had been... Volt racing toward a cliff... and it necessary for Toyota's tech to both spread & evolve, there wasn't really an audience.  So, I focused on collecting as much video data as possible.  That real-world experience captured digitally will be priceless later, as I move on to BEV and those wanting some type of plug-in become curious about choices from Toyota.  After all, with Corolla PHV inevitably spilling over from the market in China to something in that category here, it would only be a matter of time.  I find it intriguing how each automaker must partner with a domestic business to sell vehicles in China.  Knowing Toyota is interacting with both BYD and CATL there, as well as Panasonic in Japan and here, the time was drawing near.  There's enough to carry us beyond the realm of early-adopters... at least to start discussions.  Sure enough, that's what happened too.  I get together monthly with a group of coworkers who are now retired.  Getting to chat with them like that is quite refreshing.  I have a number of years to work still.  They provide both perspective & wisdom.  Today though, I got to return the favor.  One of them attended a board meeting for his condo's association.  They were addressing the topic of upcoming parking spots to provide electricity for plug-in vehicles.  That document I had been researching for years now had an audience.  It would the "basics" from a newbie point-of-view.  Don't assume anything.  Keep the language brief & simple.  Don't obsess with numbers.  Treat the content as introductory material.  That's surprisingly difficult... especially when the potential for it to be really expensive is a reality.. facts without hype... but still enough to stir excitement.  His next meeting is in 2 days.  I sent a draft and now await feedback.


From The Past.  Within the discussion of that recent Toyota reveal, I got attacked by foe from the past.  He didn't like me pointing out Toyota was ahead of the industry with regard to warranty coverage.  Breaking the narrative by posting something antagonists were totally unprepared for was quite a sucker-punch.  I didn't realize it would have such an impact.  Sweet!  Of course, I didn't give him the satisfaction of direct reply.  That makes undermining efforts harder.  Instead, I waited for someone else to chime in.  After all, the point is to draw others into the discussion.  Raising awareness is key.  I got my opportunity.  It was someone in support of Nissan who didn't like my outdated reference.  Strangely, I couldn't actually find anything newer.  So, that worked out really well.  My response to that was:  It is a starter-list to get the topic addressed.  We need finally have discussions on this topic so often avoided.  Notice the question mark?  Since he was strong supporter of Bolt, the thought was that he would help get things going by filling in that needed detail... rather than trying to raise FUD instead.  You seem to have detail too, but didn't actually provide any.  What is the newer threshold and the year/miles warranty?  Now, set back and look at the bigger picture.  Ask yourself why this topic is so often avoided.  Why don't supporters want to address the very thing ordinary consumers express so much concern for?  This is something Toyota is doing that the rest of the industry has failed at. With the total recall of Bolt, you would think the topic would finally get some priority.  After all, GM made the situation worse by the way it handled it... which ironically was the very fumble Toyota made with Lexus in its beginning.  Think about what it takes to sell a vehicle.  We see enthusiasts attempt to focus on just speed, power, and range thinking that is all it takes for a purchase decision.  Other decision factors come into play for non-plug vehicles... like warranty.  Again, if you have detail to add to that list, please do.  We know there is a next-gen Nissan system coming, but not sharing those numbers doesn't do any good.

12-18-2021 Weight & Tires.  A member of the big Prius forum who lives in Norway got to see a bZ4X yesterday.  It was on display for a showcase tour.  His comment (along with a photo) caught my attention: "My dealer let me know the bz4X would be stopping by today, and I had a look. I liked it.  The huge wheels make it look less efficient, but depending on range (in winter) that may not be a concern."  Needless to say, I had much to comment about that topic.  I posted

At our State Fair this summer, I very specifically looked at ID.4 wheels on the display there.  Knowing I would be ordering a bZ4X and never really having a desire for larger wheels, I was curious.  After all, less sidewall makes the added battery weight easier to support.  Taking that specification into consideration, you discover something:

ID.4 = 4,559 to 4,665 lbs
bZ4X = 4,232 to 4,420 lbs

When someone claims Toyota is desperately "behind" and struggling to "catch up", I point out how Toyota already has a vast amount of experience.  25 years of efficiency refinement should not be dismissed or ignored.  They have been making critical decisions about weight for squeezing out efficiency long before most of the rest of the industry.  They have also been refining electric-motor design for the same purpose.  Along with that comes countless software refinements.  Funny thing is, none of those naysayers attempting to feed that narrative of Toyota struggle say anything in reply.  They go silent. It's crickets when that detail is brought up.  That is the "big lie" our group has to deal with.

Toyota is on their game and hasn't felt any need to attend the early-adopter party.  Toyota is well aware of the challenges to come when all that low-hanging fruit is gone.  Appealing to the masses in a crowded & confusing market is what Toyota excels at. bZ4X will establish precedent for BEV in the realm of mainstream consumers.  Curiosity will grow about bZ3 and bZ2 without hype.  Just like with Prius 20 years ago, it will again be a word-of-mouth campaign driven by us... the owners.

Look at that weight specification to stir curiosity.  It is very likely that Toyota is using a lower-density cell for the sake of longevity and reduced cost; yet, somehow their vehicle type & size match to VW weighs less.  True, the resulting range will be less, but why isn't the weight similar?  Regardless of what the answer actually is, the point of stirring interest is achieved.  It gets people to think beyond just the basics of 0-60 acceleration and EV range.  What is truly important to a loyal Toyota customer?


Using LFP?  The question of what Toyota will actually use is an interesting one.  I'm glad some are starting to wonder about that: "Is there official news that the bZ4X is using LFP?"  No.  We may not get detail either.  I suspect it is some variant with the same purpose... eliminate cobalt & nickel while seeking something with less heat obstacle.  Resulting lower cost and longer life is well worth reduced energy capacity.  I also suspect that chemistry shares similarity enough to LFP that waiting for the final patent-related component to expire in April was well worth getting labeled as a "laggard" or "behind" in the meantime to avoid potential legal challenges.  There's the problem of premature lock-in too.  It will be interesting to see how that plays out for automakers with less forward-looking chemistry commitments.


Shorter Range.  I always wonder what other supposedly well-informed and actively-involved enthusiast think when I question their conclusions like this: "...thus shorter range. It's kind of a crapshoot as to whether shorter range EV's will be as popular as those with - say over 250 miles range."  My guess is it's a mix of emotion, since sometimes I get constructive reply.  In this case, it was from someone who has had a grudge with Toyota for years.  He felt they were holding back progress with no intention of leading anymore.  Finding out about the large line-up of plug-in vehicles planned and hearing about the potential of Toyota having been quietly advancing their tech more than anyone thought gives reason for pause.  I eagerly await his feedback from this:  That's quite vague.  Besides not having a top buffer with LFP, there's no reason to stop or even significant slow down at 80% either.  It is a paradigm shift.  You cannot just measure value based on previous generation criteria.  There's the gain from infrastructure improvement too.  Having a chemistry more resilient to heat means a quick stop for a partial recharge anywhere there's a charging-station becomes realistic.  No planning ahead.  No concerns about rate slowdown.  Stopping wherever can be part of the travel experience.  It also makes the supposed "slower" DCFC more beneficial.  As appealing as 350 kW seems on paper, having a steady 150 kW ends up being both more practical and more affordable.  The easier to fund 50 kW speed becomes an interesting option for providers too.  Put another way, the argument of faster being better is starting to about to be questioned by the impact of diminishing returns.  When it comes to serving the masses, more is usually better.


Figuring Range.  It's nice to get a truly constructive question from time to time.  His paragraph of thought was followed by: "My question: when an EV is rated at a figure such as 250 mi range, is this figure based on any particular speed? I'm driving 75 mph and EV miles don’t last as long at this speed. Just wondered how range is calculated."  I was delighted to take the time to provide an answer for that:  Ratings are only estimates based upon criteria for that market... which is why you see such a huge difference between WLTP (Europe) and EPA (United States) values.  (China varies even more.)  Efficiency is measured using the same influencing factors & conditions, regardless of vehicle type.  Testing is performed in a lab. Results will vary even for you on the same route.  The only suggestion for owners is to ensure there is some type of charging-station available as you venture further out... since they will tend to push it as the become more familiar with their vehicle.  Fortunately, we will see that get easier over time.  Those years bring convenience.  For those just curious, use whatever you have available for real-world sampling.  With RAV4 Prime, you can get a good idea of basic efficiency & variance.  Use that same resulting number as a guesstimate calculation for range from a larger battery.  For example, 3.2 miles/kWh. If the BEV has 64 kWh of usable capacity, anticipated range would be 204 miles.


Waiting.  I liked reading this: "Are you waiting for someone to do a real-world test?"  It was an online friend of mine asking other online friend about bZ4X.  I couldn't resist jumping into that discussion:  Oh!  Pick me!!  I'll do it!!!  Toyota gives the impression of having rather vigorous battery conditioning for cold-weather driving.  With some LFP type chemistry, that warmth is required.  Why not put in something more substantial than what NCA or NMC require if there's a decent efficiency return as a result?  We'll find out at some point.  Of course, patience is always required with Toyota.  Way back in late 1999, thoughts of Prius first emerged.  By April 2000, I was going nuts wanting to place an order.  When I finally got to, there was still more waiting.  September 2000 is when I took delivery.  22 years later, I'm hoping this next wait isn't that long.  It could be.  There's plenty of time regardless.  Winter lasts a long time here in Minnesota.  My expectation is to eventually provide that data.

12-16-2021 It Needed To Be Said.  When you get a headline starting with "GM Head Of Innovation Leaving", the memories of Volt start flooding in.  Remember when everyone jumped ship just before Volt rolled out?  That was beyond suspicious.  How could you were on something for so many years, then leave as delivery approached?  Having committed to much effort to the cause, not seeing it through is bizarre.  Why wouldn't you want to be part of it?  In this case, it was the executive who had been intimately involved with so many things EV for GM, leaving at this time makes you really wonder.  Anywho, I wasn't interested in that.  What caught my attention was this little snipped from a comment posted: "...GM is leading the EV revolution."  That was the conclusion presented from all that has been happening with GM lately.  I was beside myself.  Most everyone supporting GM is keeping quiet for now.  This person was not.  So, I fired back with:

Such an out of touch with reality statement...  Both Volt & Bolt took leads, but GM never actually did anything with the technology.  Neither a PHEV nor a BEV was delivered that appealed to their own loyal customers.  Purchases were almost entirely conquest.  In fact, when you looked at dealer lots (prior to pandemic-related inventory shortages), GM had actually taken a step backward... sedans were vanishing, taken over my more traditional guzzlers.

VW is in a much, much better position to claim leadership.  That market penetration with ID.3 and ID.4 was forced as a result of scandal though.  Good things could come from that long-term, but there is no guarantee.  Reason why is the same as GM's conundrum.   How do you get dealers interested? Without their support, leadership cannot be claimed.

That's how this topic of innovation comes into play.  The measure of a vehicle worth based on speed & range is quite juvenile, an out-of-touch assessment with regard to consumer need.  Warranty is a great example of striving for leadership in a crowded market.  Notice anything?

Nissan Leaf = 66.25% threshold, 8 years or 100,000 miles.

VW ID.3 & ID.4 = 70% threshold, 8 years or 100,000 miles.

Tesla Model 3 (std & mid) = 70% threshold, 8 years or 100,000 miles.

Ford Mach-E = 70% threshold, 8 years or 100,000 miles.

Kia EV6 = 70% threshold, 10 years or 100,000 miles.

Chevy Bolt EV & EUV = ? threshold, 10 years or 100,000 miles.

Toyota bZ4X = 90% threshold, 10 years or 150,000 miles.


Meantime Actions.  The hype gets out of hand frequently.  That's to be expected as a new chapter begins... and Toyota certainly stirred the pot on this one.  Antagonists did not see this coming.  It very much qualifies as a sucker-punch.  bZ4X would be a token of failure, good on paper but nothing came of it.  They would just spin news in their favor.  Undermining a new vehicle doesn't take much when there is nothing to associate it with.  That's why I have been pointing out bZ3 and bZ2 intent.  I didn't even realize we would get to see full-scale models of that already.  My guess is they were functional prototypes.  That would be an engineers dream to be part of the first assembly for presentation.  It isn't often you get to show off design efforts like that.  Anywho, I found it reminiscent of the October 1997 reveal.  Industry heads had no idea Toyota was so much further along.  Their quiet nature resulted in a shock to the world.  There was a Prius, ready for production... years ahead of schedule.  How much you want to bet this is the same situation?  The next bZ model is likely just waiting for bZ4X to confirm the build & approach.  Obvious benefit comes from real-world feedback too.  It's a winning formula to have the plans in motion staying in motion.  After all, the other automakers won't know how to respond... just like we are seeing now with the online troublemakers.  To one of them today, I returned there nonsense with:  The point of "kicking and screaming" claims is to draw attention away from the passive-aggressive behavior of other automakers, those who also make noise but don't actually do anything to alter the status quo.  Notice how we see actual change taking place at Toyota dealers?  They sell & support vehicles with battery-packs to the point where we see sales approaching 25% overall.  That has helped to remove some of the traditional barriers while also setting expectation for more change.  In other words, Toyota's in the meantime actions has been meaningful.  What are the other automakers doing to set that stage?  Anyone can cater to early-adopters.  Reaching the more difficult consumers is what Toyota excels at.


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