Prius Personal Log  #1121

January 9, 2022  -  January 15, 2022

Last Updated:  Sat. 3/26/2022

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1-15-2022

Performance.  We got a reveal from Toyota yesterday, a GR model of bZ4X.  There were some... enthusiasts... who demanded that any type of special model should include a speed & horsepower increase.  A long explanation of that ended with: "...in competition with the other performance crossover EVs."  I was amused.  That's the same nonsense I have seen for 22 years now.  Even with an entirely new approach to vehicle propulsion, they insist all traits much remain the same.  What was a selling-point in the past should still be.  Ugh.  I responded to that nonsense by asking:  Why do you think "performance" shoppers are the targeted consumer?  The market is changing.  Think about how many times we hear about kW speed for charging.  Toyota's focus is on reliability, which all their upfront efforts with EV design so far and that expectation of 90% capacity retention after 10 years, clearly support.  Adding a GR trim level is a cosmetic enhanced to appeal to Toyota's chosen audience, not enthusiasts participating in online discussion about plug-ins.  That assumption of audience has been a fundamental mistake in the past.  Think about the emerging market now.  BEV offer a smoooooooth and silent ride.  That in itself turns the "performance" market upside-down.  There is no loud roar or grumbled vibration anymore.  Key traits have disappeared.  That means rethinking sales & audience.  There is no guarantee that focus on horsepower and acceleration speed will be a draw to mainstream consumers anymore.  The paradigm shift to plugging in redefines the ownership experience.  Don't rely on past marketing to work the same way in this new period in automotive history.

1-15-2022

Small Cars.  I especially enjoyed this today: "And GM will still insist you can't make money on small cars! "  It was a reply posted about a very interesting topic... sales of that ultra-small car in China.  With the tiny motor & battery-pack, it was something that would never sell here in the United States.  Such a mini-car has nothing this audience finds appealing.  The fact that this topic was called out as something GM could address caught my attention... especially since I had just watched a new video presenting an alternative history of Volt.  It included incorrect claims about how the system operated and why the approach was abandoned.  We are now far away enough from those reports go without question, assumed correct.  Ugh.  Having that in mind, I climbed up on my soapbox to spread some witnessed-in-person perspective:  The paradigm in China is quite different.  Think about how direct sales with production close to the market itself from workers that don't get paid as much changes the equation.  A vehicle that cheap skips out on what is deemed essential here... like safety features and thermal management and the ability to drive at highway speeds.  There is also the reality of ownership costs.  The push their for shifting to electric makes owning an ICE very unappealing.  In other words, those same conditions don't exist here.  Combine that with the fact that GM has spent the last 2 decades cutting vehicles that only make a small profit, there's simply no incentive to even try.  Ironically, the shift to SUV/CUV platforms is actually an enabler in this market.  You can squeeze a lot of battery under the floor without any noticeable impact to vehicle height or interior.  That's why seeing Corolla become Corolla Cross... retaining the look & feel from the driver's perspective in many ways... is such an obvious next-step for electrification.  Adding a plug to the hybrid model will be as basic as it was for RAV4 to undergo the same evolution.  A similar next-step from GM was expected over a decade now.  Their Two-Mode system, which Volt was a successor to, even had a PHEV concept vehicle.  When the Saturn brand ended, the expectation simply shifted over to Equinox instead.  It made sense.  That would be how GM could avoid the Osborne Effect.  When they embraced BEV (quite a contradiction to their "range anxiety" campaigning), the variety of PHEV offered would buffer the transition.   It was an opportunity to electrify without having to sell small cars... wasted.  Now, GM is stuck without a good means of transitioning their fleet.  It makes you wonder what stockholders & customers will insist.

1-14-2022

Dead Weight.  The article was quite bizarre.  It appeared to have come from a new writer with some engineering knowledge but no background on the topic itself... or even the market it pertained to.  The writing was an explanation of what make BEVs better by calling the components within a traditional vehicle dead weight.  I was not alone with my struggle to follow the logic.  It got bizarre when vibration from the road was sighted as a problem.  Supposedly, there is wasted weight to alleviate vibrating and associated noise, but there was nothing quantified.  It was just anecdotal observation.  Ugh.  I read through comments and found many shared the same sentiment.  It was just weird and without any clear reasoning.  Someone basically just got paid to provide something new in support of EVs.  With so many plug-in media sources struggling for attention, that was no surprise.  This is what I had to say about that:  I was very surprised to see "dead weight" mentioned with regard to EVs, since that has become quite a hypocritical identifier recently.  In the past, we heard on a regular basic how PHEV with lots of EV range were a terrible idea since their gas-engine was "dead weight" most of the time.  Now, we are hearing about how great BEV offering +300 miles are essential to goal of souring ICE appeal.   Those claiming that avoid the reality of their own group having said any capacity over 200 miles would achieve the same thing.  That additional 100 miles is dead weight most of the time, totally unnecessary for everyday driving and even some road trips.  That's why Ford targeting a 230-mile range for F-150 Lightning is just fine.  Notice how the idea of "extended range" is catching on as a BEV option, making it a choice for the consumer whether or not to add dead weight to their plug-in?

1-14-2022

Lost All Respect.  When you become aware of the market as a whole, with its massive scale & diversity, you can't help but to be amused by comments like this: "I have lost all respect for both Honda and Toyota, two companies I once looked up to.  Do they really think this global warming and poisoning our kids with emissions is a joke?"  Some enthusiasts don't want to face that big-picture reality.  It isn't as exciting as they hope.  Solutions are not always dramatic or outwardly visible.  In fact, subtle is usually the way mainstream change actually takes place.  I know that after watching for the past 22 years.  Enthusiasts typically don't have anywhere near that kind of patience.  That's why we see them drawing conclusions even before a particular objective is implemented.  They make lots of assumptions and generalizations.  Ultimately, that comes back to haunt them.  Most just abandon ship at that point.  I find it quite redeeming to watch that full cycle play out.  In the meantime, it is posts like this to provide a reality-check:  Toyota has a well refined EV system already, real-world proven in both their PHEV and BEV converts.  That work up front set the stage for a smooth rollout of dedicated-platform BEV while not forgetting about the rest of the fleet.  In other words, the narrative of "behind" is being revealed as a desperate effort to avoid address a growing problem.  Enthusiasts absolutely refuse to acknowledge the Osborne Effect.  When we reach a tipping point and ordinary consumers are actually interested... prices are competitive without subsidy and enough public-chargers are available to be considered common (some type of standard established)... there won't be a variety of choices available from others.  Toyota offers hybrids fleet wide and the PHEV family is expected to expand, while at the same time the BEV family rollout is about to begin.  How is that not taking global warming seriously?  At the same time, we see a continued effort to phaseout ICE models by pushing battery improvements.  Their bipolar design is an obvious advancement and solid-state will usher in new opportunity.  So what if the hybrid platform is being leveraged for that?  By reaching such a wide audience and directing supply to smaller battery-packs, it significantly accelerates real-world exposure while also mitigating risk.  That is a comprehensive plan for change which others consider a joke.  It is really unfortunate some enthusiasts don't take that seriously.

1-13-2022

The Con.  That study from a few years ago continues to feed undermining efforts.  All you have to do is publish something seemingly reputable and allow people to quote from whatever conclusions are drawn.  The data doesn't have to support the claim.  It just needs to provide an appearance of being some type of expert measure.  This is how the latest effort referred to the results of the study: "...even calling the claims of hybrids’ environmental advantages a "con". "  It was the closing thoughts on why it is justified to end incentives for PHEV.  Rather than make subsidy criteria more strict, raising the bar to eliminate those unable to compete, the conclusion was drawn that none should qualify.  That enables waste on the other end.  An easy to foresee consequence is BEV taking advantage of no minimums.  That precedent of anything-without-an-engine will be abused.  We'll have more and more electricity guzzlers.  Just think of the wait at charging-stations from vehicles with massive battery-packs getting terrible mileage from how inefficient their BEV actually is.  That doesn't take much imagination either.  Large, inefficient, and unnecessary fast & power is our motto.  Ugh.  Anywho, I commented about that study (yet again) with:  The con was cherry-picking data. BMX X5, Volvo XC60 and Mitsubishi Outlander in no way reflect the market today.  You want a true representation of what the PHEV market potential, look at the top-selling RAV4 Prime. 42 miles of EV driving makes it a realistic all-electric vehicle for most daily driving.  Seeing the same RAV4 hybrid to plug-in hybrid transformation with Corolla Cross is looking like a strong possibility as a next offering from Toyota... neither of which are mentioned in the supposed research.  If it was an objective study, how come such vital information is mysteriously missing?  Such a blatant omission of how PHEV have evolved would be like claiming Leaf & Bolt are all the more we'll ever get for BEV from legacy automakers.  The study cherry-picked data to misrepresent. That's a con no one should be gullible enough to accept. Critical thinking isn't difficult.

1-13-2022

Early-Adopter Messaging.  It is loaded with outdated assumptions.  Today, it was from commentary about how the average EV range is dropping.  Some were quick to point out how median is the appropriate representation of trend, not average.  Regardless, that didn't take in account how chemistries change.  I was also annoyed by the hypocrisy.  For all those years, we were told by BEV owners that 200 miles was the tipping-point.  Once that distance became affordable, the pursuit of distance would no longer be the top priority.  Focus would then shift to how appealing to the masses could be achieved... like from lower cost and better packaging.  That didn't happen.  Obsession with range continued... by early-adopters.  They still think that is vital, which is fundamentally flawed when you don't recognize what has changed in the meantime.  They weren't expecting chemistry to alter their talking-points.  For example: "If you only charge to 80% to protect the battery it is really a 144 mile vehicle."  That mindset of 80% took a lot of discipline to get all the early-adopters convey the same message.  Don't mention range above that unless absolutely necessary.  They didn't want to misrepresent by stating something they don't recommend.  But now, that is recommended.   LFP will change to 100% by default.  You don't have to stop at 80% for longevity.  This type of lithium battery doesn't have the same limitation as the common BEV batteries, which are now outdated as a result.  Anywho, this was my response to what was intended to be a simple explanation of how a 200-mile capacity battery would be looked at in terms of real-world expectation:  LFP is very likely what someone looking to stretch their budget will purchase. That will provide a much longer life and there is no upper buffer.  Charging will routinely go to 100%.  They will have 40 additional miles readily available, a usable capacity of 184 miles.

1-12-2022

Discovered Years Later.  It is fascinating to listen to a YouTube video about dealing with cold temperatures coming from someone unfamiliar with Toyota's design.  They have no idea some of what they are speculating has long since been addressed.  Of course, we see a lot more history being made up now.  A recent video about Volt showed up on my feed.  That guy had no idea how the system operated.  Like many, he assumed the gas-engine was nothing but generator.  That's wrong, the design was always a parallel type.  But rather than stop there like most, he drew conclusions about GM's following decisions based on that incorrect information.  That's not even a rewrite, it's just plain wrong.  Misdirection happens on its own after enough time goes by.  That's why I am particularly curious about discoveries taking place now.  Up until recently, the topic of heating was evaded.  Enthusiasts would ignore detail and just write off observations as a confirm of range loss.  That was it.  Considering different type of heater was an attempt to troll.  You would get attacked, especially if you pointed out just how far ahead Toyota actually is in that regard.  I tried despite that, hoping this relatively subtle information drop would stir interest rather than more hatred:  The setting to cabin-warm only the front seats with auto-detect for driver-only has been standard in Prius Prime (which uses a heat-pump) since its initial rollout back in late 2016.

1-11-2022

Pointless Spin.  Sometimes an enthusiast just rants.  They finally found something viable that fulfills their hopes and we come along to endorse change.  There are a number of BEV owners who see LFP as a threat, since it veers progress off in a direction they hadn't anticipated.  You know the formula... range increases and charging gets faster.  That's it.  Anything else messes up their messaging.  It's like their cost of ownership not taking warranty into account.  That's a squishy number with no solid basis of comparison and no means of measuring against miles driven.  So, they pretty start complaining.  Rather than FUD, they attempt to dismiss.  It gets really bad sometimes.  This even provided such an example.  I don't even want to quote what was posted, though I will include my reply here:  How is elimination of troublesome elements (cobalt & nickel), resulting in lower cost and longer life, not an advancement forward?  Counting those up, that's +4 and -1 for the energy-density drop.  Even that crude math shows a net gain.  The reality that LFP will routinely be charged to 100% reduces the impact of that negative too.  With respect to the supposed need of 500 miles per charge, that wouldn't change the lots of stations.  People will still need both travel & local public chargers.  The advantage of plugging in is being able to distribute locations far more than the paradigm we have for gas.  So once you hit around 300, the reality of diminishing returns becomes rather pronounced.  In other words, don't lose sight of the goals... lower cost... longer life.

1-09-2022

Seeking The Spotlight.  GM is doing it again.  There are plenty of enablers for that too: "You have to look at the facts 350KW DC charging, 800 volt system, with 100 miles in 10 min, and 400 miles of range flat out KILLS the other trucks."  It's the same old game, just like we see in politics.  GM exploits hype, focusing on want rather than need.  This is a little different now though, a new twist to basically the same con.  I pointed it out with:  That is a new twist on the "over promise, under deliver" problem.  Even if GM delivers exactly those specs promised, where could the owner actually use them?  Finding a DCFC station providing that speed for a truck pulling a trailer is like finding a unicorn.  Look on the PlugShare map.  Find a location that could accommodate a vehicle towing a load.  Doesn't even matter what speed.  The spots simply aren't designed for pulling through or a trailer.  Having to disconnect for charging negates a time-saving expectation.  In other words, that assessment of "GM knocked this thing out of the park" is more of their seeking-the-spotlight approach rather than solving problems for their own loyal customers.

1-09-2022

We Moved On.  A well-known troublemaker from a smaller, less popular blog website joined the one I frequent.  He was clearly looking for a fight, hoping to stir the same trouble here as he did there.  I got called out as a Toyota troll without anything to support the claim.  There was no objectivity.  So, I let him have it:  The article is all about Toyota plug-in sales.  It mentions "electrified" to provide context.  Not including that would have presented a distorted perspective by omitting data.  I was curious about how an angered Volt supporter would take being called out by a Toyota customer.  GM never did anything with that their plug-in hybrid tech.  Promises to apply knowledge gained from Volt to a mainstream offering... like Equinox... never happened, despite all the hype & expectation.  Being frustrated by Toyota for having done exactly is understandable, especially prior to tax-credit expiration.  That's worrisome for a GM supporter.  Knowing Toyota can react faster, proven by RAV4 Prime's evolution, is reason for concern.  Labeling me as a troll won't change any of that.  Look at how many here attempt to use Toyota as their scapegoat.  It doesn't do any good.  If anything, it draws attention to the upcoming bZ4X.  In other words, will you get all worked up about the presenting context related to overall production or will you focus on how the fleet is changing?  Toyota has 7 upcoming new dedicated-platform BEV in the works and another group with the more traditional approach.  Think about what GM needs to do to compete in a new market when BBB finally passes.  We're done with qualifying laps.  New EV tax-credits along with funding for both Level-2 and DCFC stations is when the actual race begins.

 

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