Prius Personal Log #1129
February 25, 2022 - March 1, 2022
Last Updated: Sat. 3/26/2022
page #1128 page #1130 BOOK INDEX
Squandered. Rhetoric claiming failed outcome is a
sign of worry, on the part of enthusiasts: "This really shows the fallacy of giving a rebate to
hybrids. Now that Toyota actually has an EV or two, they've squandered the
rebate on gas guzzling hybrids." That is such a distorted
portrayal of goals & intent, it is difficult to determine what they think
will happen next. It is yet another red-flag that enthusiasts really
didn't have a plan, they just hoped for the best and now that risk is
starting to reveal severe consequence. Such circumstances are exactly
why I documented Volt history as it was playing out. Enthusiasts of
that time absolutely refused to provide any type what-comes-next
information. They were gambling on a miracle, clueless to how unlikely
that would be to succeed. They squandered opportunity. I learned
from witnessing their repeated failure to heed warning. Ugh.
Now, it's happening again. Some never learn from history:
To squander is to waste an opportunity by seeking an outcome other than the intended goal.
That is exactly what we saw with GM. Rather then using tax-credits to actually change what their own loyal customers purchase, they wasted the opportunity on conquest sales. Looking at their dealer lots, achieving a shift from ICE to BEV was not achieved. Status quo remained intact.
That most definitely is not the case for Toyota. Not only did they pull the entire fleet forward by discontinuing some ICE entirely... Sienna, Venza, Sequoia... and offer the rest of the fleet hybrid models, 2 of those hybrids now offer plugs. That did indeed change what is now sold by dealers to their own loyal customers. That also set the stage for those same customers to now want to add a BEV to their household.
If you take a deeper look at bZ4X, you'll see much of the technology already implemented in RAV4 Prime is carried forward with refinements to that BEV. There is some resulting innovation rolling out too, like the infrared heating system. None of that equates to squander.
Of course, your entire premise is flawed. Calling the eligible hybrids "gas guzzling" is really an act of denial. With both Prius Prime and RAV4 Prime, you can drive your entire commute with nothing but electricity. So what if it has a gas-engine for backup purposes? The experience gained from the EV components... motor, invertor, controller, charger, heat-pump, software... are all leveraged knowledge for their BEV.
Infrared Heating. The outcome is familiar. The term is anything but recognizable though. I had to do an online search to ensure I was correctly informed. This simple example I found was great: "Test persons in a room with a temperature of 50°C (122°F) of warm air and cooled walls froze deplorably; when in a room with a cool air temperature of 10°C (50°F) and warm walls, they broke into an unpleasant sweat." Give it some thought. Remember rooms heated by radiator? It seems odd looking back upon that now seemingly primitive means of providing warmth. Rather than waste energy heating air, which has very little effect means of effectively retaining it, transmit the energy instead. In other words, feeling warm has nothing to do with air temperature. You want the recipient to absorb it, not the carrier. The goal is to warm up, preventing any lose through radiation. Think about how a radiator is used to cool down a system. Think about how your skin feels when exposed to the sun. That air those energy waves traveled through isn't actually warmed much. In fact, the vacuum of space is extremely cold. Yet, that sunlight passed through it to reach your body. That concept is what Toyota will be introducing with bZ4X. The new system direct infrared energy at your feet & legs. Why waste electricity to warm the air when you can focus it directly on what actually needs heat?
Hypocritical Complaints. They are quite common.
Most participants online enable them, rather than calling out the obvious
bias. A few take that bold step though: "Funny, when Elon Musk doesn't come through with the $25k EV
it's all peaches and "they're selling every +$50k BEV they make". When OEMs
complain it's not profitable to make EVs for the mainstream segment, Elon's
cultists conveniently forget their former arguments." I was quite
curious what the reaction to that would be. Most of the time, it is to
simply ignore the conflict... don't address anything that could reveal you
as bias. I couldn't care less. In fact, going for the provoke is
how I get useful feedback. So, I did:
That low-hanging-fruit problem is nothing new. GM thrived on it with Volt. It all came down to audience. Those sales were conquest, early-adopters seeking opportunity. Tesla is milking a similar situation with the same hope... to somehow become established enough to sell low-cost, low-margin vehicles. The CEO of Stellantis is well aware of the problem. BEV simply can't compete against the same parameters yet.
What's quite telling is the reaction to it here. Toyota's focus on 90% capacity retention after 10 years with a 1,000,000 km warranty. The response to that is changing the subject to range. Those same people are avoiding the "modest drop of range in subzero temperatures" statement too. They fear Toyota may actually have learned from their hybrids to squeeze out greater efficiency while also reducing cost. Look up infrared heating.
The idea of $25k EV is a monumental challenge for all automakers. Legacy is well aware of how difficult that market is. Tesla sees how they would fundamentally undermine income from FSD and reduce appeal for high-profit models. Notice how sales of Model S/X plummeted when 3/Y became available?
Complicating matters is that of range perception. We have been taught to fear range-anxiety. It's to the point where arguments of carrying "dead weight" used against PHEV are now used hypocritically for BEV. Somehow that extra range rarely ever needed, whether it be a gas-engine or more battery-capacity, is now ok to carry. But as more DC fast-charger stations are built, that argument makes less and less sense.
Those inconvenient truths are really going to become problems for enthusiasts.
Skipping Steps. The twist of Toyota's alternate path to success has been to portray it as resistance. That's pretty easy too. All you have to do is present measurement criteria with a bias toward a specific method. It gives the impression that only the one course is the right course, since that is the only one which would depict significant progress. Group-Think enables such perception. Internet blogs amplify it. For example: "Drag your feet, get stuck with the bill." Nothing but that vague sentiment is needed to keep the narrative going. They just strengthen the message at that point, no need for detail. Claiming their will be a penalty for doing something different does a great job of convincing everyone that critical thinking reveals a problem. So, they don't. I continue to find that attitude quite amusing. It's the head-in-sand approach. Ugh. This is how I responded to today's nonsense: That is what those skipping steps to race ahead would like you to believe. The cold, hard reality is it will come back to bite them. Consider how emphasis on range has encouraged. Why? Improvement to infrastructure, which will happen anyway, will address that. It is also a squishy target with diminishing return. Making that top-priority is a red flag, especially when actual production cost doesn't scale well to smaller vehicles. An inexpensive ICE will have a far lower price than a comparable BEV. Making matters worse, they marketing BEV will vary significantly. Consequence of racing ahead are not apparent yet. Those involve the non-production costs... like warranty... which has been Toyota's focus. Their 90% retention target means trading off something, like range. Notice how that topic is rarely addressed with anything beyond vague reference? The same goes for charging speed, another tradeoff... unless you are willing add to production cost. In short, narratives with regard to progress are overly simplistic. Who gets stuck with the bill is far more difficult to determine than what basic talking-points lead you to believe.
Evidence. Stellantis CEO spoke out about the challenges of change. Enthusiasts took that constructive information as a sign of weakness: "This guy should just admit the task is beyond his ability and let someone else captain the ship." The motto of enthusiasts is to criticize what you don't like to hear. I have to deal with their belittling all the time. It is an interesting indicator of struggle. Absence of substance leaves them without any type of rebuttal... no evidence. I continue to remind them of that too, by posting alternatives to their narrative: We don't have any evidence that others are steering there own ship into calm water. In fact, we know there are a number of challenges to come. It has been pretty much all low-hanging fruit so far, something others don't want to admit. Put another way, how will growth be achieved? Diversifying BEV won't be easy and it will indeed be expensive. We need to look beyond appealing to early-adopters and strive for the far more difficult to reach, like the affordable market where the bulk of sales come from. Think about how incredibly competitive you must be to sell a vehicle that's less than $30,000. Those costs related to electrification make profits that were already razor-thin nearly impossible. Hasn't anyone noticed the average vehicle price has climbed? That's evidence of industry struggle.
Recognizing Change. We frequently hear about reaching a "tipping point", but it is almost never actually given any parameters. How would you recognize that happening? It occurred to me today that people have no idea what to look for. While reading blog comments about Mach-E being rated "better" than Model 3 and Model Y, I noticed something missing. The fanboys were missing. Remember when all the friction from Volt faded away? That was a clear sign of change. We're seeing it now, again. This particular snippet made me realize that: "Bolt is an odd duck because its prices dropped due to weak demand. Those are the only two examples we have." Supposedly, only Model 3 and Bolt ever had prices drop due to sales struggle, regardless of tax-credit status. I begged to differ and saw it as an opportunity for some exposition: No, there was Volt too. Inventory pile up resulting in price reduction happened several times. It was decent technology poorly packaged. GM's own loyal customers didn't want a small hatchback. Bolt doesn't appeal to GM owners either. As for Tesla, that is an intriguing situation. It's a sedan so recognizable in appearance now, some of the appeal has faded. Human nature is to be attracted to something new or different. Look at Ioniq 5. It screams retro. The first time I saw one, fond memories of the early 80's returned. That look stands out. That begs the question of how much price plays a role with current shoppers, especially when prices for every vehicle are higher. This supply-constrained market will distort influence of tax-credits, which themselves have an uncertain future. In the meantime, we have F-150 Lightning on the way. That secondary BEV endorsement from Ford will shake up electricity perception. Having a popular pickup available as a plug-in will awaken an audience Tesla was never able to appeal to. It will be interesting to see how people... and media sources, like Consumer Reports... respond to that attempt to reach new shoppers.
Strategy? Enthusiasts absolutely love to tear apart Toyota for their strategy. Ever notice how they never present an alternative though? They all follow the same basic pattern of accepting "all in" as a better approach. That is a meaningless term. There is nothing of substance to support it. Notice how GM made that bold promise of 20 by 2023 and not a single person now wants to acknowledge the "over promise, under deliver" problem? They go suckered into the scam again. That is why they are referred to as enthusiasts rather than supporters. Taking a look at the situation objectively simply hasn't been happening. Today though, I got a response to a post from 24 days ago. It was in response to a discussion about which legacy automaker will lead with EV sales. This was the comment: "It will be interesting to see how that strategy plays out. If the flip to BEVs happens as rapidly as several are predicting, the market for PHEVs may not last long." And this was my reply: The devil is in the detail. Any type of "flip" takes quite a few years when you're dealing with an expensive product with a long service-life. Those predictions are for favor to shift BEV in the next 3 to 4 years. What that actually means is market investment will pretty much abandon non-plug vehicles, but production will continue until amortization completes. It simply makes no sense taking a loss when funding for ramp-up has to come from somewhere. What will happen in the meantime will be consolidation. Only the strongest selling vehicles will live on, milking their current investment to keep a steady flow of income. This is why we already see Toyota phasing out ICE models for hybrid... Sienna, Venza, Sequoia... and switching over from sedan to crossover... Camry to RAV4 and Corolla to Corolla Cross... as well as adding plugs to hybrids... Prius and RAV4. Looking it the situation from a different perspective, this is an approach to sustain business during the transition. Unlike other automakers planning to just jump off the cliff hoping for the best, their is something in place to keep for consumer & dealer. It never ceases to astound me how many here just think lack of strategy is a strategy. We are told # of models will be available by a certain year and all the leprechauns & unicorns will come out to play.
Utter Nonsense. That topic of winter is stirring boasting like this: "Tesla is by far the most efficient manager of heating and cooling since they seem to have properly modeled it and then designed a system to optimize the various heat flows needed for an EV." That, of course, is utter nonsense. I wondered how others will react to finding out that isn't the case, so I posted: Actually, we have seen Toyota in that leadership position. It's ironic how the "behind" narrative carefully avoids drawing attention to the reality that heat-pumps were deployed as standard equipment back in 2016, starting with Prius Prime. Having only a 8.8 kWh capacity battery, it was absolutely essential to use the most efficient cabin-warming equipment to deliver as much EV as possible when heating was necessary.
Winter Driving. It's always amazing to see how long it actually takes for vital topics to finally get addressed. There was a lot of denial in the past. We are seeing that change now... not necessarily for the better... but even terse discussion is better than nothing. For something so big to be dismissed for so long, you know it won't be easy to over. We're trying though. Yesterday's article on the topic started with: "There has been a lot written lately about driving electric cars in winter. Some say..." That was the invitation I had been waiting for: I remember getting slammed for writing about EV driving in winter, an entire year before Volt was rolled out. Enthusiasts were furious with me to claim electric heating would have such an impact to range. Back then, you were labeled anti-EV to even suggest such a challenge plug-ins must address. It is quite interesting to see how things have changed since that decade past. People are finally becoming aware of the difference between heat-pump and resistance heating. Unfortunately, it isn't a simple comparison. Heat-Pump effectiveness drops as the temperature drops, since it extracts existing warmth rather than generating it. That makes heating much more efficient, but doesn't cover the entire span of winter for those who experience extreme lows. As mentioned, heated seats are a very useful means of reducing range impact. Vents that only open for occupied seats is another. Toyota will be expanding the features available for countering affects of winter. Next time you get in a car below freezing, note what part of your body feels most cold. It will be your feet & legs. bZ4X will introduce a new warmer targeting exactly that, providing another means of not having to rely on cabin warming as much. What I would like to see more of is the sharing of real-world data. So far, it is all quite vague. Heck, even the definition of "cold" and "winter" varies dramatically depending upon where you live. As a Prius Prime owner, I have been enjoying the benefits of a heat-pump for 5 winters now, here in Minnesota. It works very well down to 12°F, which covers all but our extremes for the snowy season. What is your miles/kWh?
The Catch. I found this quite compelling: "By 2025, 25% of all new vehicles sold in the U.S. will be fully electric or plug-in hybrids... That means the U.S. will need at least 1 million public chargers by 2025 - up from about 131,000 publicly available plugs today... 90% of them will be "slow" Level-2 chargers for apartment buildings or for topping off while at destinations like stores, libraries or churches... 10% will be "fast" chargers that can recharge an EV to 80% in just 20 minutes - about the time its takes to grab a snack and use the bathroom at a rest area." That provided great context for what comes next, consideration of cost. Level-2 is one-tenth that of a mid-speed DCFC (fast-charging of about 150 kW). Based on the study stating what we need, that works out fairly well. The catch is, that isn't what BEV enthusiasts want to hear. They want the majority going toward fast. Seeing an investment the opposite way is a very real point of contention. Addressing need is the conflict. Even just the thought of massive plug-in hybrid growth stirs fear. The don't see them as a means of quickly getting a massive shift toward BEV underway. They truly believe those PHEV will never be plugged in. Ugh. I see RAV4 Prime owners concerned about gas getting stale from going unused for so long. More public chargers means more opportunity charging and their gas sitting in the tank even longer. Think about my stops at the grocery stored. Just the few minutes I'm in there is more than enough to ensure I get home entirely with electricity. It's quite handy. Think about what a level-2 will provide when you go somewhere for awhile... like working out at a gym or enjoying a cup of coffee. An hour there will provide roughly 20 miles.