Personal Log #1125
January 31, 2022 - February 5, 2022
Last Updated: Sat. 3/26/2022
page #1124 page #1126 BOOK INDEX
Ties To Oil. Seeing Toyota suddenly get attacked from multiple directions is a sign of impeding progress. Some fear such a juggernaut. This is yet another example today: "It will never be a viable fuel for passenger cars. It the Toyoda family wasn't so tied to the oil industry they would be all over BEV by now." It was a comment posted on an article pointing out how hydrogen vehicle sales have rebounded. I found the confirmation of progress comforting and replied with: There are no ties. Investment has been to take advantage of passenger car opportunities for demonstration of commercial potential. The smaller and more efficient the fuel-cell stack, the more you can do with it. Showing potential commercial customers how robust & refined the technology has evolved is key. Mirai has been doing exactly that. Ironically, one of the many commercial opportunities is for grid decentralization. For that, mass off-grid storage is required. Hydrogen provides that. In other words, you may find someday that the DC fast-charging station your BEV is plugged into is getting supplemental electricity from fuel-cells. So whether or not it is a viable fuel for passenger cars is a moot point. That technology will still be part of the commercial side. Lastly, Toyota has continued investment in EV technology. Their motor, inventor, and heat-pump knowledge & experience has been shared across the product-line. It's those pushing the narrative of distraction pretending Toyota had abandoned battery advancements... which is blatantly false if you take the time to look at the improvements they have rolled out for hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles.
Twisting Reality. It continues: "The reality is that many OEMs are no longer pushing PHEVs because they need their EVs to sell." Some of that perspective comes from nothing but simple anecdotal observation. People draw conclusions based on what they are exposed to. That limited view distorts reality. When you listen to narratives... which intentionally twist facts to mislead... you end up with group-think & enablers. It becomes a mess. Pointing out a shortcoming with their logic often leads to trouble. I have engaged in a number of fights by doing exactly that. Rather than being critical, a person will sometimes get angered or embarrassed. You have to try anyway. It's worth the risk to prevent the spread of misinformation. Here is yet another of such attempts: That is not why. Reality is, they could not figure out how to make PHEVs competitive. In fact, that was the why GM gave up on Voltec. It couldn't turn a profit. Toyota, on the other hand, has figured it out. Their 2 decades of hybrid refinement taught them how to squeeze out more from less. Notice how Toyota is discontinuing traditional models, moving to only hybrids for Sienna, Venza and Sequoia? It is setting the stage for easier sales of plug-in models. Notice how well positioned Corolla Cross hybrid is for a PHEV model?
Like Norway. We are not. A number of
individuals pushed to make that point clear too. The reason discussion
attempted to mislead, spinning a reality that did not reflect what we should
be expecting. The situation there is quite difficult. It's a
wonderful proving ground for potential, but not a realistic model to follow.
Anyhow, the comments related to PHEV sales decline there continued to be the
focus. I jumped in again:
That's why sales of Prius Prime here are increasing. I have had mine for nearly 5 years, enjoying its all-electric drive with heat-pump. Level-2 chargers at work made the short-range a non-issue. That made my commute and most of my errand-running entirely EV. Now with many working from home due to Covid and the increase of charging-stations, it is now easier for others to do the same.
I will be replacing it with a bZ4X, which has made me acutely aware of the absence of infrastructure. Here in Minnesota... the first ZEV state in the Midwest... we have only a handful of DCFC for non-Tesla. They are almost entirely single-unit locations limited to 50kW. The only CCS option in the cities is 27 miles from me... an Electrify America station with eleven 150kW units, two 350kW and two 50kW.
For comparison, that's basically only 15 fast-chargers for the 3.7 million people here. Norway has a population of 5.4 million. They have over 3,300 fast-chargers. Having that type of infrastructure support makes a massive difference. Sadly, even if Tesla were to convert all their SuperChargers to CCS, it wouldn't really make any difference. There are only 6 locations in the metro area.
Like it or not, PHEV will be around for awhile. European Union emission requirements will raise minimums, forcing the less capable designs to exit the market. When you have a large battery, delivering full EV drive with electric-heating and faster charging, they make sense where infrastructure is lacking. We have been expecting to see similar raising of minimums in the United States related to tax-credits.
In short, Norway may serve as a guide to our future, but we are still a long way from that.
Observation Spin. There was an article about Norway's trend of PHEV sales dropping. Beside the obvious supportive infrastructure there (abundant charging stations), discontinued incentives for PHEV is having an influence. Antagonists don't want you to know that though. They jump into discussions with intercepts like this: "The PHEV collapse is interesting. It seems to support the theory that PHEVs are a gateway drug to EVs. Once people are really comfortable with full EVs then the PHEV sales drop...people no longer need the ICE security blanket." That was the entire post from a hater who frequently attacks supporters like me. I punched right back with: Know your audience. Norway is not the United States. Here, things are quite different. PHEV teach people they can get by with just basic charges at home for everyday driving. Then once there are enough DC fast-chargers all using the same type of plug along commonly traveled routes, it makes moving BEV a no-brainer. The catch is, those BEV have changed. Pursuit of greater range is no longer a priority. Think about how practical a BEV is with just a range of 225 miles when you have lots of places to recharge. There simply isn't any need to carry around that "dead weight" and pay a premium to do it. Smaller capacity makes the vehicle both more affordable and more efficient... an ironic trait shared by PHEV. Sadly, here in the United States, that is still a long time from now. We will see PHEV growth in the meantime. Households with a BEV purchasing a PHEV as their second plug-in is quite common. In other words, it is not about the technology. Watch how infrastructure improvement changes the situation.
May 2022. Exchanging information across this country and with some in Europe is sweet. Those individuals who have been closely watching Toyota's readiness are getting anxious to place their bZ4X order, including me. Today, it was reaction to a tweet that stirred comment. Word of deliveries starting in May or June was the highlight. I jumped in with: The UK is ahead of the United States, perhaps due to the right-hand drive. This is what their Toyota website says: "You can reserve your Toyota bZ4X from 17th January 2022, with customer deliveries beginning in May 2022." We know that March 1 is when production starts. We also know the AWD model will be have a different battery supplier (the two are CATL and Panasonic) than the FWD. Sounds like there is an upcoming drive event. I suspect it has a press embargo, so we will get a sudden flood of video reviews. Hopefully, the package & pricing info for us will be revealed at the same time. This will be my sixth deliver wait... 2000, 2003, 2009, 2012 (PHV), 2017 (Prime)... each a Prius debut release. It will be the first to break the pattern, but still holding true to placing an order as early as possible. Each time was totally worth it.
Our Behavior. It is a rare treat to get a candid
perspective of Americans, especially when it comes from someone in Russia.
His commentary was what we have in common, a "president lies to the
whole nation". That came about as the result of how Biden has
been completely ignoring Tesla as an EV leader. Then it got real, what
followed was: "And there are people among you, who support such blatant
lie from your commander-in-chief?" His advice was to not approve
such behavior. I was fascinated by the parallel across such different
countries. Of course, I saw that on the smaller scale 15 years ago.
Volt enthusiasts became enablers, turning a blind-eye to truth. They
would just outright lie to support their beliefs. Sadly, that became
normalized. Critical thinking has been lost. We now struggle to
find our way. I replied to his insight with:
Problem is, that behavior isn't obvious. It has become a fundamental aspect of our society.
With regard to GM itself, that was the basis of how Volt came about. Goals set in early 2007 were clearly unrealistic for late 2010. Enthusiasts didn't care and attacked those pointing out challenges, labeling them as trolls & haters. GM fed that attention with ambiguous press-releases, allowing their supporters of hope to become enablers of hype. What started with an effort to move forward turned into rhetoric & denial.
We're seeing that play out again. Lyriq & Hummer do nothing to move GM's base forward. Silverado EV now plays the role Volt did... a distraction from failing to meet their own goals. Back then, it was Two-Mode. Now, it is the promise of "at least 20 new all-electric vehicles that will launch by 2023" made back in 2017... another problem that is obvious, but enthusiasts turn a blind-eye toward.
GM is just trying to stay in the spotlight. Leadership has become a meaningless term. People here have no idea what it really means to change. Notice the complete absence of attention to the rest of the fleet? Nothing but a vague mention of Equinox EV sounds exactly like expectations for gen-2 of Volt. Enthusiasts were very excited about something without any basis to support that excitement.
Sadly, many won't take your advice. Instead, they'll approve of that behavior. Sigh.
Lexus RZ450e. It was revealed today. This particular offering takes us a step further, more than antagonists can handle. They dismiss the EV models of CH-R and UX300e. They downplay bZ4X and the bZ series as compliance offerings. They even lie about the experience Toyota has gained from RAV4 Prime. This one though, they are going to have a problem with. Being the first BEV for Lexus and knowing the entire brand is transitioning to just electric-only models, it makes sense that this one will stand out. I have already seen comments that it will just be a rebadged Toyota. After all, we have seen that with other vehicles. You get the luxury components with drive-system that is only modestly enhanced. But this is different. Sharing a platform does not mean components within need to be shared too. Sure enough, that's what the detail ended up revealing. I found an article stating RZ450e will be AWD standard and expected to feature two motors producing 150 kW (201 hp) and 221 lb-ft of torque each. That is significantly more powerful than the AWD model of Toyota featuring two 80 kW (107.5 hp) motors. The Lexus will definitely stand out... and be very difficult to dismiss or downplay.
Blind Hope. At least there are a few with sensible outlooks: "I do enjoy articles that blindly believe that the whole world will suddenly be fully BEV in a few years..." It is rather bizarre to see the mass-delusion play out, where quite a number of enthusiasts sincerely believe ramping up battery production is all that is required for traditional vehicles to fall out of favor. That seem to be absolutely clueless that the automaker still needs to deliver vehicle choices. Not everyone wants a sedan like Model 3. Delivering more of the same thing will not in any way guarantee sales growth, especially as time drags on. The market will eventually become saturated, people will grow tired of the lack of difference, then flock to whatever finally breaks the trend. Since the audience I'm participating with lacks even a basic level of critical thinking to see that, I moved on to other problems. Sadly, they have many. This is how I responded to this latest round of blind hope: For perspective, expectations toward DCFC location, quantity and speed are all over the place... not to mention plug standard or billing. If we can't even agree on how the BEV will be supported, massive growth makes no sense.
Transition Survival. It is wonderful to finally see constructive comment: "The debt loads that the legacy auto companies have is staggering. Once they try to flip to EVs, all the equipment they have purchased with that debt becomes dead weight. They won't survive that transition." I was delighted to join such discussion with this reply: That is exactly why Toyota is focusing on hybrids. Their ICE development ended and now they are amortizing that investment in a form which delivers a bridge to plugging in. Getting a loyal customer to consider a plug-in hybrid (RAV4 Prime) over a regular hybrid is a simple next step, especially when you have already discontinued traditional models (Sienna & Venza) and introduced a new series of electric-only vehicles (bZ4X). It is all about getting dealers to embrace (rather than exploit) change and appeal to an audience beyond early-adopters. Think about how much hype and unrealistic expectations we have to routinely deal with here. Enthusiasts treat the low-hanging-fruit sales as if that is what mainstream buyers will do. Not a chance in hell. They've lost touch with the real world. They don't consider how challenging some home upgrades will be to support multiple vehicles. There will be households where they do nothing but 120-volt recharge whenever possible, because 240-volt is well out of their budget. Some homes don't have the option without major rewiring to catch up to code or to reach the needed location. For that matter, how do you recharge multiple vehicles all at the same time? It can all be quite expensive; instead, they will depend upon nearby DCFC stations for when they need to travel beyond when that 120-volt charging provides. Toyota is well aware of these challenges. Rather than diving into a quixotic move to BEV, they are planning out a transition with both financial well-being and employment-retention in mind. So what if the online community doesn't like it.
Which Narrative? We enthusiasts clash, it is fun watching them scramble to come up with a new story. I called them out on exactly that today: The contradictory narratives about Toyota are becoming difficult to maintain. One claims Toyota is slow-walking change and the other is that we could see a sudden 180-degree shift. Both are evidence of misrepresentation, efforts to distract from what is actually happening. Reality is, Toyota already sells EV systems. In the PHEV models, we see both Prius and RAV4 deliver all-electric driving, complete with heat-pumps and battery-warmer. In the BEV models, we see sales of UX300e (successor to the C-HR/Izoa converts) doing better than those here ever imagined. That all contributes to better real-world understanding of how plug-in technology will play out with the upcoming bZ series... which begins production next month. Notice how others are conveniently disregarding Toyota's expectation of 90% capacity retention after 10 years? In other words, it comes down to how "leader" is defined. What measure will determine successful departure of ICE offerings? We have already seen how the mix of PHEV and BEV make abandoning something without a plug easy. We also see Toyota setting the stage for more PHEV choices. Take a close look at Corolla Cross. Think about how easy the hybrid model could transform the same way RAV4 did.
Pie In The Sky. Actual business plans for each automaker's future are absent. That's fine as first models attempting to be competitive are rolled out. After all, we seriously lack infrastructure and prices are quite expensive. Claiming leadership is an entirely different matter. We see GM trying again. It would be the same old nonsense too, if it wasn't for a few others also remembering history and being quite willing to speak up: "GM couldn't find its buttocks with both hands and there is zero chance they will catch Tesla without replacing its leadership and moving to a non-union state. The disastrous Chevy Volt apparently taught them nothing." I used to get attacked for sighting the same disaster. You don't learn anything from the past if you aren't even willing to address it. I'm glad some are. Of course, I couldn't resist joining in either: GM learned how powerful hype could be. They would stir hope among enthusiasts who became their enablers. Absence of a long-term plan should have made it obvious trouble awaited. Ironically, we are seeing the same thing play out with Tesla. The building of re and SuperChargers are absolutely wonderful... infrastucture for true change. However, there is a absence of a plan with that too. Put another way, the clash between 4680 and LFP should be raising concern. They don't share the same goals. A mismatch like that exists with the clash between Tesla's proprietary connection here (in the United States) and CCS. For either Tesla or GM to be a leader, then actually have lead us to solutions to particular goals. Notice how neither has any clarity about what to expect from them? It's all just pie-in-the-sky stuff still.