Personal Log  #1126

February 5, 2022  -  February 9, 2022

Last Updated:  Sat. 3/26/2022

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Not Until.  The attitude of not yet, with an excuse of not until, is a never-ending problem.  People always have reasoning for their stance at the ready... even if it doesn't make any sense.  This was an example provided today: "First question drivers who are not familiar with EVs always, repeat always concerns range.  We have a friend whose life perfectly conforms to an all suburban short trip small EV, but because she can't envision hopping in and driving 400 miles to see friends in NY state, something she never does because they also have a "regular" size SUV, she won't even take a test drive in an EV."  As supporters striving to help the market move forward, barriers like that represent a lot.  Enthusiasts dismiss such concerns as a non-issue, something that will magically get solved with the next technology breakthru.  I have watched that play out for over 2 decades now.  They just hope for the best.  Ugh.  I suggest the opposite, actually doing something.  Today, it was this suggestion:  Knowing your audience means proactively addressing concerns.  Don't give them the opportunity to be concerned.  That's why engineers do such a poor job of selling.  It's the same mistake we sell enthusiasts here repeat over and over and over again.  You change the paradigm.  Right away, promote DC fast-charging by presenting a few facts about how they work.  Hearing how a quick stop to use restrooms and grab a snacks is relatable.  It is something they already do while traveling. Point out how that same 15 to 20 minute stop can provide range.  For example, 50 kW for 20 minutes will deliver around 16.5 kWh which at 3.0 mile/kWh is about 50 miles.  At 100 kW for 20, that jumps to 100 miles. If you are able to pull faster speeds, even more.  That simplicity really makes a difference.  Learn how to sell it.


Not Ready, Still.  When you finally break through and get critical-thinking for a reply, you know you have progressed forward.  From the craziness which emerged as a result of Subaru Solterra reservations beginning, I got exactly that.  It took some pushing though.  Phew!  His reply was very nice, an explanation of what was needed in terms someone shopping a showroom floor would actually convey.  To that, I posted:  A sensible, well thought out reply... that's great!  Notice how others just like to argue without any context to reach beyond this audience here?  The point is to find a means of getting that idea of ICE replacement through to ordinary consumers... not preaching to the choir.  Basically, we are still waiting for a BEV with 300-mile range selling for $30k.  Sadly, it won't happen for a number of years still.  The technology simply isn't there and no enthusiast wants to admit that... especially since it means a few compromises to their own priorities.  I have done the 700-mile trip a number of times now, from the Twin Cities to the heart of coal country in Wyoming.  I'm well aware of the impossibility of travel with a BEV for certain locations, even with those hoped for specs.  Someone will always find a way to argue "not ready" still.  The point is to shoot for what any good engineer will do, set specs based upon the 90/10 rule... knowing you'll be lucky to actually hit 80%.  That's way anything delivering +200 miles and 150 kW charging will do fine for this generation of BEV.  Know your audience.

2-08-2022 Range.  Quite a bit of smug emerged from today's opportunity to now be able to submit a reservation request for Solterra.  (That along with a $250 refundable deposit reserves you an opportunity to place an official order once production gets going.)  Like we expect from Toyota, the Subaru offering is getting labeled as half-hearted and un-competitive.  I point out how that misses the point for mainstream consumers.  Range is fine, especially as the DC fast-chargers become more common.  The goals were to decrease cost, increase speed and increase longevity.  Again, this is a different audience who has different priorities.  Enthusiasts don't get it though.  They obsess with specifications, putting range as the highest of importance.  More is essential, period.  There is no arguing.  There is no reasoning.  There is no listening.  They have made up their mind.  The idea of someone shopping for a vehicle that can be used around town and just charged frequently if they ever go on a trip with it is unacceptable.  Just like with hybrids, the BEV must check every single box before it is deemed worthy.  That's so bizarre coming from those claiming to endorse BEV... if you didn't have the background like I have shared.  Volt enthusiasts responded the same way.  They had a fear that less would dilute & disenchant.  A bar was set and anything less was attacked for somehow being "anti" to their cause.  Ugh.  Seeing that history repeat is interesting.  Prius Prime triumphed.  Not only did the supposed underdog survive, sales are actually growing now.  That makes sense too.  As the market learns about the technology, any implementation using it that focused on being reliable & cost-effective such enjoy the spoils.
2-07-2022 Subaru

Rotten Smell.  Change is all around now.  This reaction didn't come as a surprise to anyone: "Something smells rotten in denmark meaning!"  We keep hearing spin about Bolt production.  Some say it will resume, others it will not.  Both sides have opinions whether or not that is a good thing.  None are really paying attention to resulting attention that gets.  It's really an intentional distraction.  All those claims feeding the "kicking & screaming" narrative about Toyota were contributions to the same thing, attempts to keep focus off of GM's growing problem.  They have nothing at all green to sell.  Efficiency for the fleet is dropping.  Hope is turning to hype, yet again.  That's what happens as each self-imposed deadline approaches.  The next is coming and there is clearly a sense of panic.  You can tell by the silence.  No one is arguing anymore.  That is recognition of the problem.  Nothing can be said that wouldn't sound hypocritical or desperate at this point.  So, you get nothing.  I like that kind of confirmation.  It is served well as an indicator of change in the past.  This is no different.  I stated it this way:  Remember GM's promise of "at least 20 new all-electric vehicles that will launch by 2023" made back in 2017?  Remember GM's history of new tech announcements when each existing product failed... when the disaster unfolded for Two-Mode... it brought about Volt... which brought about Bolt... now, we get Equinox EV.  Think about what "Equinox" could be as a BEV.  The ICE version starts at $25,800 and is a nice family size vehicle.  Bolt starts at $31,500 but was never profitable with tech of its time.  Ultium should address that, but there is also an expectation of this larger less aerodynamic vehicle taking its place, while also delivering competitive updates (like faster DC charging).  Of course, if GM could pull off a decent entry-level BEV for this market, they are at risk of the Osborne Effect (people holding off purchases to see what else is rolled out) or a massive backlog of orders to fill.  Either way, that would put massive pressure on financial well-being.  GM doesn't have anything other than ICE to leverage in the meantime.

2-07-2022 Vigilance.  We see posts of denial, replies from the uninformed, and there's the never-ending attempts to undermine.  Cutting through that mess to clarify goals and set milestones is a challenge.  Some people get it: "Expect that sort of head-turning path change/branch to happen every couple of years for the next 20 years as things shake out, solidify, find their rhythm."  That quote was from a helper trying to get those all worked up right now to set back and look at the bigger picture.  Getting caught up in the moment is far too easy of a trap to slip into.  Think about what happened last year.  VW made tremendous progress.  GM fell more than anyone imaged.  Toyota confirmed their BEV plans, then upped the ante.  That's a lot to take in, especially as you watch Tesla lose the spotlight.  I jumped into the discussion with:

Unfortunately, that ability to remain flexible and quickly adapt gets spun as having to drop plans and scramble to catch up. 

Toyota provided a great example.  Their gen-2 Prius was designed from the start to be primarily electric (up to 100 km/h), but battery-tech back then was woefully inadequate.  When the gen-3 came along, the power-split-device was improved to allow more EV power.  And sure enough, mid-cycle the battery was switched from NiMH to Li-Ion along with a substantial capacity increase to provide EV driving.  When gen-4 came along, a clutch was added for even more EV power, providing all-electric drive up to 135 km/h.

Naysayers claimed that ability to adapt as opportunity came along was really a desperate act on Toyota's part to compete.  Reality was, Toyota is a master of continuous improvement. They are well aware of the benefit of being able to alter course as they go.  RAV4 Prime is evidence of that, because those on-the-fly adaptations from Prius enabled the opportunity.

btw, take a closer look at the platform for bZ4X.  It offers both FWD and AWD using two different battery types.  No one knows what the differences are beyond slightly different capacities (71.4 kWh verses 72.8 kWh) from different providers (CATL and Panasonic).  The model from that platform for Lexus will offer substantially more powerful traction motors too.


Kicking & Screaming.  He has been downvoting and contradicting my posts for weeks.  His comments didn't have any substance though.  So, I called him out asking who is doing the pulling and with what to the claim of kicking & screaming.  This was his response: "Gotta block you bud, Toyota shill?"  It was confirmation of having nothing.  Absence of merit is vindicating, which made it feel really good to reply to his nonsense with:  How is putting your head in the sand constructive?  There is a narrative online which claims "kicking & screaming" but does nothing beyond just repeat old talking-points.  Who is that message supposed to reach?  Mainstream consumers couldn't care less.  At most, all they will hear is some random internet noise.  What they will see is upgrade choices at the dealer.  Toyota is well aware of this, as is BMW.  They know how effective that has been getting people to purchase a hybrid model instead, which has now become an easy path for plug-in hybrids.  When I ask for substance, I'm pointing out how incredibly weak your argument is. bZ4X production starts in just 3 weeks.  Even before purchases begin, we already know it contains real-world tested design. bZ is move to BEV dedicated platform, not an introduction to EV tech.  UX300e & RAV4 Prime clearly demonstrate Toyota has not been kicking & screaming.  Reality is, Toyota has been quietly refining their EV tech and ignoring rhetoric.


Creating New Problems.  That is what FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) is all about.  It usual comes in the form of exaggeration.  Someone will make a claim using extremes as there example: "So, what is the remedy for 20,000 gallons in underground tank at the gas stations?  What's is your course of action by 2028, then ICE is abandoned?"  That was beyond absurd to read.  If you have that much inventory and it is selling slowly, why would you continue to maintain so much?  Then it got worse by claiming abandonment.  With 276 million registered vehicles in the United States right now, how can he possibly expect so many to vanish in such a short amount of time?  Ugh.  I fired back with:  Such an attempt to create a new problem where there is none is quite telling.  No one is stupid enough to believe a narrative that ICE will be abandoned in 2028.  If you purchased the very last ICE ever produced in 2027, you would still be sharing the road with +100 million other ICE that will be purchasing gas for many years to follow.  In the meantime, gas station owners will be purchasing less gas and installing DC fast-chargers.  In other words, it will be a transition, not an abrupt abandon as that FUD claims.


Gradual Phaseout.  This caught my attention: "I fail to see how phasing out ICE cars over the next 13 years is not gradual.  That's 13 years, for god's sake.  If you can't get your act together in 13 years, it's on you."  Dealing with those who have little to no background in a topic is what I routinely do both personally and professionally.  As a software engineer for over 30 years, it's quite common for me to provide training sessions for other developers.  You'd assume since they also create software, they would also know how to support it.  That cold, hard reality of having no experience, no exposure, or even any context is abundant.  It simply wasn't in their scope of what they needed to know to write code.  It is essential to support it though.  That's much like vehicle sales.  Just because you have strong engineering background does not mean you have anything with regard to customer perspective.  Needless to say I get worked up about that, but it is even more frustrating when someone refuses to listen to feedback.  At work, the training is effective.  Online with enthusiasts, ugh.  Some just plain don't want to see complexity.  They seek out excuses & blame.  That was today's encounter.  This is how I responded to it:  Product cycles are 5 to 6 years.  Having the next-gen model of a vehicle already well planned out years in advance is quite normal.  Think about how massive the financial commitments are to be competitive.  Taking on both phaseout & replacement is a monumental effort.  Basically, you have to finish the current cycle and find a means to bring the next to an end while continuing to bring in profit needed to build new production.  At the same time, you have to fund development of those new vehicles.  On top of that, you immediately start your new branding and reputation building with an introduction of a handful of new plug-ins.


New Hybrids.  The largest vehicles in the Toyota product-line needed to become hybrids.  They finally will.  Their 8-cylinder engines will be discontinued.  Tundra gets a 48 hp electric-more with a 1.87 kWh battery-pack.  Toyota expects 25% of their buyers to choose the hybrid version of this pickup.  For their largest SUV, the Sequoia will become a hybrid... with 100% of those buyers choosing it, because the traditional model will be discontinued.  Combined horsepower is 437, so there shouldn't be any issue with the electrification effort.  It's the benefit of rolling out new platforms.  Along with those cost & production saving, you reduced environmental impact.  That moves the entire fleet forward.  It was a loooong time in the making.  Sure glad it is finally happening.


DCFC Speeds.  Most people have no clue what DC fast-charging really is.  At best, they might remember a number.  That means telling them about the influence temperature or state-of-charge has is basically pointless.  They don't have the background.  Without any exposure to the actual act of plugging in and waiting, such an absence of context means you have quite a challenge to get some type of understanding.  Sadly, it gets worse.  All things are not the same.  Even if you had a good recognition of circumstances and could estimate what to expect, that really only applies to a particular speed.  In this case, it's the emerging standard of 150 kW.  That speed is quite common as a target for ordinary BEV configurations.  More expensive vehicles will push for faster, but what does a target like 350 kW actually get you?  With the case of a review I just watched about the new Kia EV6, that meant a difference of 7 minutes.  How much is that without context?  In other words, the speed is likely perceived as faster than it really is.  This is kW-per-minute.  Most people have no idea what that means.  They do know what miles-per-hour means though.  They also know miles-per-gallon.  350 is profoundly more than 150 in both measures.  But with this, not anywhere near as much.  The reviewer charged from 10% to 70% both times.  The first session was at 150 kW and it took 25 minutes.  The second session was at 350 kW and it took 18 minutes.  How much is that 7-minute difference from your perspective?


Not Ready.  Attacks have continued throughout the day: "The actual fact was and still is to a large degree is that Toyota was and is not ready for the electric car revolution..."  It is just more of the narrative that we are already at a tipping-point and that growth is now just a matter of ramping up production.  That level of naive about how the business actually works and how the market accepts change is a fairly tale.  The actual fact is that sales so far have basically only been low-hanging fruit, purchases to those who really did not need any education or background.  They wanted a BEV regardless of the circumstances.  Those believing easier days are ahead are not ready to face that actual fact.  I put it this way:

Ordinary consumers don't see any legacy automaker as ready for the electric car revolution.  In fact, they see the industry as a whole just barely in its infancy.  They look around for indication of change.  Same old story.  There are lots of cars at gas stations and nothing but a few token level-2 chargers here and there.

You have lost your mind if you think we are anywhere near ready.  It would be absolutely fantastic to see CCS chargers delivering 150 kW in neighborhoods and along highways.  That's a major step toward swaying the difficult-to-reach audience.  The other will be a major drop in BEV prices.

It is an evolutionary process still.  We are not to the revolution stage yet.  That remains a number of years out... and you doing everything you can to misrepresent the automaker saying the same thing is telling history pattern.  We saw the same thing from Volt enthusiasts also not wanting to face the challenges.

Those inconvenient truths tell us a lot about resistance to change.  Some are not prepared to deal with complexity of finding true solutions... like this topic, reality is that hydrogen has a place within the industry.  So what if the end use is primarily commercial?  Starting small provides many benefits.


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