Prius Personal Log #1117
December 21, 2021 - December 26, 2021
Last Updated: Sat. 3/26/2022
page #1116 page #1118 BOOK INDEX
Losing Touch. I especially like reading this in reply to a previous post today about prices: "The "middle market" has recently leap to $40K-$50K. The average *used* car listing is now over $27K." It is difficult to see how some people have such a perspective problem, but I more than happy to provide detail as to why: Losing touch with reality is a common problem, especially online where you can selectively follow content. Here is a quick sample starting prices from the top-3 sellers here... Chevy: Trax $21,400. Trailblazer $21,600. Malibu $22,270. Colorado $25,200. Equinox $25,800. Blazer $28,800. Silverado $29,300. Traverse $29,800. Ford: Maverick $19,995. EcoSport $20,395. Ranger $25,070. Escape $25,555. Bronco $28,500. F-150 $29,290. Toyota: Corolla $20,075. C-HR $21,695. Corolla Cross $22,195. Prius $24,525. Camry $25,295. Tacoma $26,500. RAV4 $26,525.
Oversimplified Analogies. Reading this stirred a thought about pushing detail: "EVs are already offer a cheaper Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), and the answer to low sticker prices from fossil cars is to simply build more EVs... which is happening." The analogy to Kodak was always vague, a judgment long after the fact without any context at all. There is nothing every provided with regard to time, market or audience. It's always a generic characterization. So today, I pushed back with: That's an oversimplification which tells us the challenges are still not understood. It's like the Kodak analogy so often used. What that chapter in history tells us was clearly not learned. True, they did indeed ignore the signs of change and attempt to retain the status quo. But the solution to digital was simply just not a "all in" commitment. Digital may have been competitive from a TCO perspective, but it fell short in a number of other categories. The same is true for EV. Toyota is one of those automakers getting the bad wrap for saying that too. The best example is their action to push for better legislation. That pursuit of improvement is looked upon as resistance to change and gets spun as "anti" efforts. The cold, hard, bitter reality is that EV can still be much improved. Just like with digital photography, what we should expect for battery and speed of operation, as well as quality (efficiency) leaves much to be desired. It works, but we all know that an "all in" now would really be a premature lock-in. Enthusiasts avoid addressing that though. Building more is really just the next step in a very, very, very long "race".
Non-Enthusiast Venues. An article striving to be objective about Toyota got attacked. It was all about solving problems with carbon, suggesting Toyota may have got it right by diversify. The person focused entirely on hydrogen, completely disregarding all that had actually been stated in the article. I did what I could to point out that blatant effort to mislead: The article pointed out "A truly innovative company is one that’s able to create multiple solutions to a single global problem" and listed "hybrids, plug-in hybrids, fuel-cell electric vehicles, and battery electric vehicles". Misrepresenting Toyota by implying their only pursuit is hydrogen only goes to feed the narrative "to make Toyota an evil corporation with no regard for climate change". They have it right by offering a variety of choices, all working to reduce carbon emissions. Take a good hard look at the how much Toyota has achieved already with regard to cost & reliability. Their all-electric system in Prius Prime and RAV4 Prime clearly confirm Toyota has a very solid basis to build their new "bZ" brand of BEV vehicles upon. It has already proven quite capable of EV drive. Think about the extremely diverse markets Toyota produces & sells vehicles for. Think about what it will take for recharging infrastructure to be able to support BEV exclusively for private transport. Like it or not, the PHEV produced by Toyota will go a very long way toward getting to address vital goals, such as significant carbon emission reduction.
EV Race. That article was quite a contradiction to
the type of article we have seen published in the past. In fact, it is
so extreme to sentiment of the past, the obvious attitude shift is likely a
subtle nod to the recognition of their Toyota narrative having failed.
Media interest has clearly shifted. That's a good sign. Someone
even echoed my observation: "*** has definitely been making more
balanced articles lately, which is really good to see. I hope they
keep going in this direction." I jumped on with a fresh post.
Hopefully this add with contribute to the shift:
Winning the "EV race" depends upon where people think the finish-line is. We have seen from early-adopters that they believe it is the measure of sales. To them, more is better. Why at such an early stage is that a measure of success? When you're in a long race, milestones along the don't predict winners. They do provide insight to approach though.
Toyota is a great example of not following boiler-plate expectations. They used hybrid experience to advance their EV expertise before producing a BEV. Sales of Prius Prime weren't revolutionary, but that all-electric drive & heating provided real-world experience to deliver RAV4 Prime here and a few BEV converts elsewhere. Now they are about to rollout bZ4X with what they learned along the way.
At the same time, we see that 25-mile EV range at a $28,220 from Prius Prime and the demand for RAV4 Prime as an enabler for Corolla Cross Prime. Anyone who has see Corolla Cross will recognize it as a successor to prior generations of both RAV4 and Highlander. It is an ideal platform for a more affordable PHEV in SUV format and an excellent means of enabling the next household purchase to be a bZ3 or bZ2.
Approaches like that are how the race will be won. It's all about how to entice the masses, those perfectly content with another ICE and unwilling to spend a premium for BEV. Legacy automakers must find a means to making the plug-in a draw, competing directly against traditional offerings on the same showroom floor.
Producing Turds. An article asking who will win the electric-car race was published this morning. After it being available for about an hour, this was first & only comment posted: "They will all win. Unless one of them drops an occasional turd, every brand will pretty much sell every EV they can produce for the next dozen years. And we need all of them because everyone needs/wants something different in a vehicle, and something like 70 million new cars were sold in 2020. And in a few years we'll have a strong used EV market and that is when the ICE market begins to collapse." I couldn't resist adding to that: There will be turds. In fact, we are seeing the early-adopter stage come to a close. That will bring about a harsh reality for some enthusiasts to face... those who obsess with speed & power, believing those traits are purchase priorities for ordinary consumers. We all witnessed how poorly that approach went for GM with Volt. It was so disastrous, supporters jumped ship and the lessons learned aren't even talked about anymore. The fresh attempt to restart with Bolt didn't achieve any type of change to the status quo either. In fact, it is about to vanish into history as well. Interestingly, we will see Tesla face similar challenges to legacy automakers. How will it avoid growth fallout? Success of Model 3/Y has been so epic, it is backing the automaker into a corner. Sales of Model S/X are minuscule in comparison and there no clear path to diversification. What will a smaller, less expensive Tesla do to current sales? VW, Hyundai/Kia and Toyota are addressing for-the-masses offerings. Tesla, GM and Ford are all quiet about middle-market choice. An occasional turd isn't a bad thing if a variety is offered. Figuring out how much range, along with charging-speed and sticker-price, is a matter of trying. Failure is ok if you fail quickly... the lesson GM didn't learn.
Price Rhetoric. Yesterday was a Christmas gift to
those who like to attack Toyota. Pricing for the UK was posted in an
article. There was no context, only number for bZ4X. That was an
invite for antagonists. They didn't waste any time either, despite it
being a holiday. I waited until today before posting any type of
reply. This is what I pushed back with:
Reading through the comments posted, this was clearly fodder for the narrative. It's intriguing to watch antagonists volley rhetoric back & forth to each other, never actually achieving anything. They just post feel-good messages thinking that will somehow make a difference.
Know your audience. Ordinary consumers couldn't care less about acceleration compared to other BEV choices. They see the new offering from Toyota has comparable speed to their current Toyota. The box is checked and they move on to the next purchase criteria.
Ironically, the next is what many fanboys here bring up a lot on the website... but side-stepped it in this topic. That's charging speed. How come 50 kW is just fine for Leaf and Bolt but 150 kW is somehow woefully inadequate for bZ4X? Neither is a SUV either.
Often avoided is price, but that wrecks the narrative... which is what brought about the nonsense posted in this discussion. VW is the nearest competition for Toyota. £41,330 for ID.4 compares quite well to £41,950 for bZ4X. Those prices are very close. So are the specs:
71.4 kWh battery
500 km WLTP range
150 kW (201 hp) FWD
150 kW DC charging
VW ID.4 Pro
77 kWh battery
520 km WLTP range
150 kW (201 hp) FWD
135 kW DC charging
The devil is in the detail when you look at warranty though. ID.4 has a 70% threshold, with coverage for 8 years or 100,000 miles. Toyota bZ4X has a 90% threshold, with coverage for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Toyota also offers a special warranty programme that covers the battery-pack for 1,000,000 km (621,000 miles) if you have it inspected annually.
Speed & Range Upgrades. Rather than waiting for mid-cycle updates. We are seeing upgrades to speed & range within the first year of rollout. That tends to make sense, since they are nothing but OTA (Over The Air) updates to software. Ford added about 10 miles of EV (it varied based on model) to Mustang Mach-E. VW added 10 kW of charging speed to ID.4. Both were just pushed limits for existing hardware. It is a means of staying competitive and retaining attention, but it is a long-term sacrifice for short-term gain. It that really worth it? What will they do later capture headlines? We see Tesla successfully pushing OTA updates. That strategy works when there is a continuous flow of improvements. What happens when the technology matures? In other words, when the tech reaches a point which mainstream consumers all the "kinks worked out" then what? You know this will be twisted to more being better. Toyota will rollout software that is already well refined. All those years of refining Prius PHV and Prius Prime to evolve to RAV4 Prime in itself took them a long way into mature programming. It is already proven, even without looking at any of the BEV or FCEV advancements. Upgrades become subtle after awhile. In fact, when it comes to software updates, you don't want upgrades to be noticed. If the consumer just naturally starts using whatever improvement programmers provided, that's a success. Avoiding drama is key. You don't want attention... which begs the question of how tweaks to the system for speed & range will be perceived by ordinary consumers.
For Money. Each video starts with self-promotion, boasting about being an authority in the category of BEV based upon the number of videos produced daily. It's him re-reporting news from other sources with some B-roll added... or it was, until the opinions started being added. The obvious bias of being dismissive toward Japan resulted in a lot of attention. Milking that opportunity is difficult though. With Nissan's next-gen BEV on the way and Toyota clearly investing in a BEV future, he needs new material to keep rhetoric alive. Yesterday, it was about how America went from doom & gloom to having a very positive outlook. By 2025, there should be 14 new battery production facilities in the United States for legacy auto. He figures that would cover half of annual sales. But 2030, he figures growth would have expanded to the point of 100% coverage. All new sales would be BEV. Crisis averted. Today, he completely contradicted that be saying legacy auto is doomed because all of the battery production will be coming from China. That made no sense whatsoever. To further confuse matters, he predicted the long-awaited mini BEV from Tesla was about to make a surprise market entry based upon the serious ramp-up of battery production. He went on and on about how this would be how Tesla would crush legacy auto due to this small-sized offering. That made no sense either. He isn't even trying anymore. Anecdotal observation is enough for his viewers apparently too. Ugh. The first Rivian was delivered to a customer this week. F-150 Lightning is on the way. GM is about to reveal their first EV pickup. Obviously, the ramp-up of battery production is for Cybertruck. Starting with a 200 kWh battery-pack, that is going to need a lot of production. With nearly triple that of the mid-size BEV we see now and will be seeing more of, that should be a simple fact to recognize. At least there is a recognition of the necessity for small vehicles now, but the attention is so vague that particular point is missed. With most offerings still beyond the budget of middle-market consumers here, predictions of growth are quite premature. For that matter, what about the boom of sub-standard BEV sales in China? Lots of teeny-tiny BEV with barely any range, slow & gutless, no safety features, and no thermal management don't inspire confidence. Something like that would never sell here... which begs the question of these videos for money... what is the draw for them from an audience quite against what he is endorsing? My guess is hype. Just like with Volt, blind hope is what compelled them to enable.
EPA Anticipates. This pretty much speaks for itself: "By 2026, the EPA anticipates that just 7% of the new vehicle fleet will have "strong hybrid" powertrains, and EVs and plug-in hybrids combined will make up just 17%." That isn't at all what enthusiasts want to see or hear. They want a complete collapse of anything using an ICE (Internal Combustion Engine), along with the legacy producing them to go bankrupt. That picture of doom & gloom for the old and victory for the new isn't the slightest bit realistic. Change doesn't happen that fast. It will be a gradual transition. It will upset & disenchant. It won't be what they hope... and hyped. It will be true change though. We will get people plugging in routinely. They will be driving with all-electric miles. That will make a difference. The slow pace is difficult to accept though. I have learned to deal with it after 20 years of addressing resistance. More than anything, it is denial from enthusiasts that gets in the way of progress. They don't want to accept the harsh reality of human nature. Fighting change is a part of our what we are. It is what keeps us strong. What keeps us smart is knowing when to move up. What you fought for isn't necessarily a good thing to hold onto forever. That's why setting proper expectations is so important. In fact, that is why EPA sharing what they anticipate is something we should take seriously. Obviously, that news wasn't well accepted online today.
Real-World Experiences. I found an awesome set of videos from a new ID.4 owner. He took a few road trips with his girlfriend and filmed the experience. It was quite real-world. You got commentary along the drive and some really helpful detail at the stops. Just like here, there are very few DCFC (DC Fast Charger) available. Those fast-chargers don't always work well either. But what he was able to get to work, was enough for the road trip. It was in the spirit of adventure, being among the first to give that a try. I hope to do the same. I wish that wasn't actually the case. But reading through the Minnesota PCA (Pollution Control Agency) info related to the Volkswagen settlement, the current phase (through 2023) should cover the funding of 43 new DCFC locations. 39 proposed areas were listed in the document, with the number of in each roadway corridor identified. Exact locations haven't been established yet, but a few will be helpful in my case. Hopefully, my experiences won't involve slow or not working chargers as he encountered. Seeing that was quite informative. It provided a nice background, a basic expectation of how things should and shouldn't work. We are still very much in the early-adopter stage in that regard. It's all new to everyone still.
Lexus RZ450e. That was revealed today. Not much was actually shared though. It is simply the luxury model of bZ4X. Typically, that means a more powerful, less efficient version of the same vehicle. You get a plush interior and a nicer ride. Some people find that higher quality material well worth the higher price. The exterior is what really reinforces that idea of getting what you pay for. It certainly does look nice. I'll be quite happy with my bZ4X. Toyota under the hood... and under the floor... is what matters. They support variety without reliability difference. Both models will contain that collective knowledge of nearly 25 years of production experience. It's hard to believe that much time would have gone by since that magic moment when Prius was first revealed to the world. But come the second half of 2022 when deliveries do indeed become a reality worldwide, that duration will be history. I look forward to seeing it.