Prius Personal Log  #1131

March 6, 2022  -  March 13, 2022

Last Updated:  Sat. 3/26/2022

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Future-Proofing.  There was a comment today about upgrading from level-1 charging (120-volt, 1.4 kW maximum speed) to level-2 (240-volt, 7.7 kW maximum from a 40-amp line).  This is how it concluded: "...some of those who needlessly installed level-2, forget about all the thousands of lost EV miles they could have bought for the price of that level-2."  Arguments can be said either way about how that relates to their driving situation and the price of gas.  But what it doesn't address is purchases to follow.  If you invest now, there will be no incurred cost later.  In fact, you could benefit in the meantime.  That wasn't being taken into account though.  The thing that caught my attention though was the use of "need" in that context.  It was a forced paradigm, one that disregarded having a 240-volt line installed.  It becomes part of the household, something you'll never need to do anything to maintain it and a plus if you ever sell.  In that regard, I posted the following question:  What is future-proofing, a need or a want?  5 years ago, I put in a level-2 as a want.  This year, I will need it for my upgrade to a BEV.  I gained 5 years of convenience (not to mention time-of-use discounts) for $0.


Sarcastic Reply.  Well, this did indeed satisfy my curiosity: "You're absolutely right. Instead of a short fb post I should have written a doctoral thesis on it with all the different parameters covered so nobody would feel offended."  Exaggeration tends to be a common response when corner.  He got way too upset and I called out the some facts.  It's what I have been doing for ages, sharing experiences.  Those bits of real-world information are priceless.  They cut through the noise.  They get attention.  That's quite a challenge online, especially nowadays where the venue is so haphazard.  Facebook is worse than blogs.  Most people remain unknown and threads are nearly impossible to keep active for long.  You need to get it right the first time.  He didn't.  Maybe he will next time.  This is what I information shared, based on my experiences:  There are some basic facts we all need to share to avoid conflict. Focus on informing rather than suggesting.  By providing enough detail, the person can make a decision on their own.  Remember, KISS.


Making Suggestions.  This was the revised post, after editing as a result of getting so much backlash: "I have a suggestion for first time phev and ev buyers, before you rush out and spend thousands to get a level 2 charger.  If you're driving less than 50 miles a day, you're probably fine with using the evse at 120."  The author was quite frazzled by the original feedback.  Quite curious about objectivity, I joined into the discussion with:  Thousands is quite a generalization.  No mention of rebates and time-of-use discounts is quite an omission too.  For us, we got 2 checks, each for $500 from our electricity provider when we installed dedicated level-2 chargers on their time-of-use discount program.  We get the benefit of faster charging at a reduced rate, as well as payment to help cover some of the installation/equipment cost.  Now 5 years later, I'm looking forward to upgrading from a Prime to a bZ and nothing will need to be upgraded in the garage.  That same EVSE seemingly overkill (7.7 kW capable) when first installed will now work great for my electric-only needs.

3-13-2022 Build A Better BEV.  There was an EV article today sharing advice about how to improve efficiency during the winter.  This was among the suggestions listed: "If you precondition the cabin, running the heater may be almost unnecessary, and you could use the seat heater as a supplement to maintain driver comfort."  That was opportunity to provide a sucker-punch, pointing out a bit of innovation no one has noticed yet.  Smug coming from enthusiasts has been pretty bad lately.  Attacking Toyota for being "late" without any substance to actually back the claim is tiresome.  Congress is still striving to finally send some type of unified message of support to plug-in vehicles.  Current tax-credits were enabled the start of 2009, following the financial crash.  It was a means of helping the automotive industry rebuild.  It was limited in quantity and did nothing in support of infrastructure.  There is nothing to celebrate yet.  We are still waiting for that party to begin.  Needless to say, I was happy to share some critical thinking:

Sounds like advice from someone who experiences winter in a state where those of us enjoying snow & ice recreation have to wonder.  When the daytime high is under freezing, there is no almost.  The heater is necessary.

That could be subject to change though.  In addition to heated seat & steering-wheel, there is a new electric warming feature about to be introduced.  Rather than consuming electricity for the sake of warming cabin air, transmission of warming energy will be used instead.  For those of you familiar with the radiant approach, that is called "infrared heating".

Ironically, this new efficiency improvement for winter travel will be coming from the automaker said to be years behind, late to the party.  Turns out, the narrative falls apart when you discover they had been concentrating on building a better BEV instead.  Pay attention to the upcoming bZ4X from Toyota.  When watching review videos, notice the vent by the pedals.  There's one for the passenger too.  That's the new infrared heating port.  It is directed at your legs & feet.

Think about what part of your body remains cold, even when the heated seat & steering-wheel are active.  Think about how much more efficient that directed energy will be rather than just blowing warmed air.  Think about who will be delivering that first.


Super Smug.  A video was published from the Portland autoshow.  That one highlighted Subaru Solterra.  This person went over to the Toyota display, nothing but the vehicle itself.  The platform cutout from the Chicago autoshow was elsewhere, never mentioned.  Perhaps it is Las Vegas, where the NADA show is taking place at the same time.  It made me wonder how much journalism was about to be shared.  Turns out, not much.  The piece started with a snub that "Toyota" didn't want their new electric vehicle to be referred to as b "Zed" 4X.  That made me immediately question who that "they" was and why such a big deal was being made over the name.  The attitude conveyed was a snub, disappointment that Toyota wasn't making a big deal out of their BEV debut.  That is not Toyota's way.  They don't hype like the other automakers.  They tend to favor subtle to an extreme, so much so, innovation often goes unnoticed.  After reading the comments posted for that video, it was obvious she was catering to the enthusiast audience.  They gobbled it up.  Smug was overwhelmingly bad.  That was terribly disappointing for a source which is normally quite objective.  Of course, being subtle what the media thrives on.  So, I understand her letdown.  Toyota hadn't provided anything she could hype.  Oh well.  I ended up posting this comment to address the nonsense:  How many Model 3 owners use M3 to refer to their vehicle?  The new brand of electric vehicles coming from Toyota will all be BZ.  It this case, 4X will be the common reference.  The way some get hung up on that, yet dismiss ID.4 as problematic name tells much about misplaced priorities.  Branding is important.  When the smaller 3X is rolled out, it will be clearly understood what BZ indicates.


Nissan Qashqai.  This new vehicle was introduced as having a "range extending" system.  That made now sense.  It is just another model using E-Power.  That's a series hybrid, not an EREV.  Yet, the article when on and on about it being another such vehicle.  Ugh.  Fortunately, the comments jumped all over the claim.  I was happy to pile on to that mess:  EREV was a meaningless label anyway.  i3 Rex and Volt only had a plug in common.  The BMW had that tiny engine in back, nothing but generator feeding the system electricity.  It was series hybrid with a plug.  The Chevy had an actual physical connection to the drivetrain itself, providing an efficiency over just generating under some circumstances.  It was a parallel hybrid with a plug.  This new vehicle doesn't have a plug.  That's the meaningful difference.


4 Days Parked.  What a strange set of circumstances.  I tend to drive almost every day.  Going 2 days without is quite rare.  Today, it was actually over 4 days.  But today was Friday, the very last of work lockdown since the pandemic began.  On Monday, the building opens back up for regular business.  My commute will begin again.  It will be a hybrid approach though.  I will be going in 2 to 3 days per week and they won't necessarily be all there.  Starting from home (due to working with others on the East coast and overseas) will be part of the routine.  That should be interesting... and certainly won't be conducive to such a long time having the vehicle parked.  It may bring about a few more commute videos as a result.  There simply haven't been any since I have been working at home for the last 2 years.


Looking Back.  We got this today: "The group backing Trump also includes Mazda, Nissan Motor Co, Kia Motors Corp, and Subaru".  It was an attempt to stir the past, reminding people what the challenges were 3 years ago but excluding important context.  I wasn't happy.  It was what united enthusiasts, but for the wrong reason.  That opportunity was exploited and the shortcomings are now being revealed.  That quote from the article was followed by this posted comment: "Didn't Toyota, GM, Hyundai, and Fiat also back this deal with Trump?  Why are they also not on this list?"  Recognize the topic?  It was when the EPA pushed to revoke California's exemption to make their own rules, overriding federal minimums with more strict emission standards & requirements.  That really annoyed me then, since enthusiasts absolutely refused to address the outcome.  They were angered by the approach.  Ugh.  Now though, it is very difficult to argue... since we now know the outcome.  I was happy to point that out too:  Concern was absence of a national standard would hold us back.  No unified effort left every state fending for itself. Looking back at decision years later and realizing there was indeed reason for concern.  We are now having to deal with the consequences.  Look at Europe.  Their united push to make CCS the standard for DC fast-charging is clearly paying off.  Now here, we're stuck with years to come of incompatibility.  Making matters worse is the reality of how long it actually takes for individuals states to adopt ZEV rules, then update them later.  It is a point-in-time adoption that took years for Minnesota (the most recent and the first in the Midwest) to finally get approval.  Those first rules don't even start until 2024.  An initiative from the federal level would be much faster.  In other words, it wasn't really a backing.  People weren't listening.  The actual problem still remains.  Only now, we are even further behind.


Order Preparation.  I have been watching the news transform to waves.  Constant bombardment of the past is waning.  Heck, even a recent hype attempt from GM fell apart.  There is an expectation of continued uncertainty.  At some point, we will see issues... like the tax-credit... be addressed.  But even without that, there's the unknown of how infrastructure upgrades will be addressed.  The disarray for DCFC support makes you wonder.  We also have the very real restraint of supply.  Issues like that make a mess of the bigger picture.  But with the smaller picture, I'm getting ready.  Order preparation... so I can finally get on a list to buy a bZ4X... has stirred much behind the scenes.  I just recently upgraded my website, transporting everything over to a new server with a lot more storage & bandwidth.  It required some rebuilding of webpages, since access now involves a certificate and with secure connections.  But getting that all in place has its rewards.  I went back to my original edits, a massive collection over the past +20 years.  There are over 2,700 photos.  Each one got re-rendered for my higher resolution sharing.  The results are amazing.  I had no idea just how much nicer those larger files would look.  Wow!  Being able to share all that confirms I'm in a good position to deliver content for my new purchase.  It reminds me so much of my first Prius.  There was so much we needed to do, and could do well as owners, to educate consumers and defeat antagonists.  Like the Boy Scout motto taught me, be prepared.

3-06-2022 Sharing Experiences.  I especially like seeing this: "Actually we need more mundane, this is my real life experience, articles like this.  One problem is that people (at least in the US) know nothing about electricity.  Watts, amps, volts are not taught, beyond how bright is this light bulb.  As the world moves to electric, I think we should be using these terms in grade school, in commerce, etc, so people have an innate sense of them.  Keep sharing your experiences!"  That really helps tell the story of early-adopters, to finally get past the rhetoric enthusiasts continue to dish out.  Reaching ordinary consumers is difficult.  You have to take the time to recognize & understand their perspective, as well as their wants & needs.  I enjoy doing that.  In fact, I provided some with the reply:

Quite correct.  Share your experiences.  In general, people have no background on the subject nor do they have any idea what should be known.  Electricity has always been a plug & play component of the household.  It is far too easy to make assumptions.  Education will come from us, EV owners.

Simple level-2 concepts even to us are a problem though.  Look at the charge-speed equation. 32 amps * 240 volts = 7.7 kW.  Ever wonder why automakers list that as 6.6 kW?  It's because commercial charging-stations use 3-phase electricity, which means lower voltage.  32 amps * 208 volts = 6.6 kW, slower than in your home.

Understanding the upgrade from level-1 gets even more complicated.  People wonder about reusing their dryer outlet for faster charging.  Sure it works, but there's a catch.  Most are setup to deliver a maximum of 30 amps. For sustained use, the draw must be 20% less.  That means 24 amps * 240 volts = 5.8 kW. They will end up with a longer recharge times without any understanding of why.

Complicating matters even more are DC fast-charging.  Ugh.  Depending upon the temperature of the battery-pack and its state-of-charge, the kW speed can vary dramatically.  So even if you recognize the potential at that station, it doesn't mean that's what you'll get.

We have much to share.  Owners experiences make a big difference.


Constructive Feedback.  I found this interesting: "One aspects of the disadvantage of CCS vs Tesla is that physically, CCS is bigger and bulkier which makes it more difficult to get the thing plugged in especially under varying conditions."  He had a point, but to make it required a disregard for tradeoffs.  In this case, the vague claims amount to what?  Disadvantage or not, is it worth it?  I asked:  That sounds reasonable, but lacks substance.  What makes it bigger & bulkier?  Is it cable thickness for 350kW support?  What about equipment longevity?  Keep all parties in mind.  A heavier setup may be less convenient for the user, but if the tradeoff is lower priced charging that's more reliable, that may be worth it.  Think about the cost involved to install & maintain.  There is also liability.  Mainstream use won't be as accommodating as SuperChargers providing service for early-adopters charging only Tesla vehicles either.  They won't be a caring and their port locations won't be as convenient.  That added stress may benefit from more robust cable & handle.  This is why the seemingly "best" choice may not be as obvious as first impressions convey.


Design Flexibility.  Kia just revealed their approach to BEV design flexibility, calling it "Integrated Modular Architecture".  Yes, it is referred to "IMA" just like Honda design for hybrids called "Integrated Motor Assist".  That's rather bizarre.  Why would an automaker intentionally do that?  Or was Kia poorly informed and didn't bother to do a quick internet search?  Or did they simply not care?  Whatever the case, this is nothing new.  In fact, someone even pointed out another similarity: "This sounds amazingly like GMs plan they announced several years back with their Ultium platform with 3 motors, 5 drivetrains and 2 platforms."  The point is to be able to mix & match without needing much effort.  That flexibility is how you identify the difference between rapid engineering and the carefully thought out kind.  It is ironic how slow is portrayed as "kicking & screaming" resistance when those who rush to market are praised.  In the end, that "happy path" design will prove to be costly.  Haste makes waste...  Anywho, I was delighted to point out:  Each automaker has their own means of achieving benefit from platform reuse, mixing of components to deliver a variety of configurations without requiring redesign.  We saw that with Toyota's hybrid system.  A great example of that was the original plug upgrade for Prius back in 2012, swapping out the battery from a small NiMH to a large Li-Ion.  Resulting EV power increase, without any other component change, confirmed design flexibility.  Something similar happened with the Prius Prime upgrade in 2016, only that included a small dry-clutch to augment power.  We are about to see that flexibility with their BEV rollout. bZ4X will come in 2 flavors.  One with just a 150kW motor in front and another with 80kW motors in front & back.  Speculation is the Lexus model sharing that same platform will offer 150kW motors in front & back.  That flexibility is vital as market growth becomes an essential part of survival and the competition becomes far more complex.  That type of design is confirmation of having successfully emerged from a difficult early-adopter stage.


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